• Published 17th Nov 2014
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Crystal's Wishes - Crystal Wishes



Crystal Wishes thought she was content just writing about ponies falling in love. While her career takes off, her love life is somewhat... lacking. Can she be happy living vicariously through her stories or will she find her own happily ever after?

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Acceptance

Crystal fought the urge to lick her lips as a plate of steaming zucchini and pasta, lightly coated in alfredo sauce, was set in front of her. Instead, she politely thanked her mother for bringing the plate over and began to unwrap her napkin, which she rested over her lap, while she waited for both of her parents to be seated.

"Now, darling, are you still writing successfully?" Upper Crust asked, raising her wine glass with her magic wrapped around the stem to take a sip. "You aren't struggling to pay the bills, are you? You know that your father and I are still willing to send you money while you're in school."

"I—"

"She's an independent mare," Jet Set interrupted. "She doesn't need her parents' support anymore."

Upper Crust snorted lightly. "Need and want are different things."

Crystal's ears flattened and she glanced between them. "I'm fine," she said, her voice raising from the irritation already buzzing in her chest. "My writing is fine. My finances are fine. Velvet and I are fine. Pass the salt, please?"

The salt and pepper shakers floated over and she seasoned her meal while Upper Crust said, "Yes, that's right. Velvet just gained a brother, didn't she?" She clicked her tongue. "At her parents' age, I'm just glad the foal is all right."

"They're younger than you and Dad." Crystal had to focus to ensure she didn't slam the salt shaker on the table when her magic lowered it.

"And you don't see us with another foal so late in our lives, do you?" Upper Crust twirled some fettuccine around her fork.

Jet Set frowned at his daughter. "Now, dear, I don't mean to pry, but as your father I have to make certain... Have you talked to Velvet about what we talked about?"

"Yes, what did you two talk about on the balcony?" Upper Crust glanced between them.

"Not yet," Crystal admitted, blatantly ignoring her mother by looking directly at him. "She's been so busy with little Red that we haven't had much time to talk lately."

Jet Set balanced his silverware on the outer rim of his plate, steepled his hooves, and furrowed his brow. "It won't affect your friendship with her, will it? You have been friends for so long."

Upper Crust frowned at them, sighed loudly, and resigned herself to merely listening while she ate.

"Huh?" Crystal tilted her head, then shook it. "No, of course not. She'll understand."

Jet Set tapped his hooves a few times. "I see." A smile crossed his lips. "Ah, I don't understand you young ponies. So free-spirited these days. But, as long as you're happy, dear, then your mother and I are."

"Don't speak for me," Upper Crust chided. "I don't know what you two are discussing without me, so how can I be happy about it?"

Jet Set glanced between the two mares, then looked to Crystal, gesturing for her to speak.

"Oh." Crystal bit her lower lip before she straightened up. "The friend in the hospital is a stallion that I... like." The word was difficult to say, not because it wasn't true, but because—

"Like?!" Upper Crust squawked. Her magic flickered out and her fork clattered to the plate. "As in, like? Crystal, you—" She sputtered. "I didn't—" She jerked her head toward Jet Set, and Crystal watched the two engage in an unspoken conversation using a language she was pretty sure was reserved for married couples.

Finally, after a few gapes, brow raises, and shrugs, they looked back at her, Upper Crust staring wide-eyed and Jet Set keeping a calm expression.

Crystal rolled her eyes. "I know, okay? Velvet and Horsey have been on my case about it for years. Honestly, I'm surprised you weren't, Mom. But it might not matter anyway because I was talking to Dad about how I don't know if he's the one for me."

Upper Crust took a hurried sip of her wine before she said with careful precision, "Darling, could you tell me more about this stallion?"

"Why?" she muttered. "What's the point?"

"Why? Is it wrong for a mother to want to know her daughter's interests so that she could keep an eye out for a partner that might suit her?"

Crystal glared at her. "I don't need you playing matchmaker, Mom."

Jet Set cleared his throat and shifted his attention to Upper Crust. "He's a royal guard, dear."

"Dad!"

He shrugged almost helplessly. "She would interrogate me later, and I don't keep secrets from my wife. I think it makes more sense for you to be here to answer her questions."

Crystal sunk down in her seat, crossing her forelegs over her chest, scowling at the table. This conversation wasn't going anywhere near the direction she liked, but when did they when her mother was involved? "Fine."

Upper Crust started intently at her. "A royal guard? Is he one of those unicorns that just stand around all day at the palace?" Her nose scrunched up briefly. "Well, I suppose that's a step up."

"Not all royal guards just 'stand around all day,' Mom," Crystal said, clenching her jaw. "And he's not a unicorn, he's a pegasus. A lot of royal guards are actually earth ponies, you know."

Upper Crust hummed as she mulled the information over, then nodded. "You could do better, darling."

Crystal blinked a few times. Her gaze darted about as her mind kicked into gear before she jolted upright, chair sliding back and napkin falling to the floor. "Step up? Better? Oh my Celestia, Mom, is that what this is about?!" Her voice rose as the anger boiled in her. "It's because Velvet's an earth pony, isn't it? That's why you're always judging her?"

She kicked the chair out of her way, dropped down onto all fours, and stormed out of the room, ignoring her parents' pleas for her to calm down. "I don't care if she's a donkey! And for that matter, I wouldn't care if Silent Knight was a donkey. I still love him!"

The front door slammed behind her to punctuate her sentence, though it likely startled her more than her parents. A hoof flew to cover her mouth, but the words had already escaped. Her ears folded back and the anger deflated into trembling uncertainty as tears rushed to her eyes.

I still love him.

---

Crystal sighed, sprawled on the floor in the back room of Sunridge Sweets while Velvet and Sunbeam rushed about with a large order. She tried to find some kind of joy or disgust in the way Red gurgled happily while chewing on her braid, but instead she just sighed again.

"Keep it up, Crystal, and I'm going to put you in time out," Velvet scolded, pulling a batch of cupcakes out of the oven. "You're going to teach Red that it's okay to mope around all day."

Red giggled and turned his bobbing, wobbling head toward Velvet at the sound of his name. Velvet made a silly face at him as she hurried past to put the cupcakes onto a cooling rack and he squealed in delight, then returned to chewing on the braid.

"How are you not upset?" Crystal rolled her head to peer up at the mare. "My mother is acting like a barbaric pre-Equestrian!"

"Oh, sugar, it's not her fault," Sunbeam coaxed from the decorating table. "From my experience, that sort of attitude is common in Canterlot, even if nopony says it outright." She giggled and added, "My, my! It looks like the students are besting the master in Canterlot culture!"

"Indubitably!" Velvet cheered.

Crystal scrunched up her nose. "I mean, I knew some ponies were like that, but... my own mother?"

Velvet turned toward her after rescuing all the cupcakes from overcooking in their hot tin cells. "Are you really surprised, or are you just upset for me?" Crystal grunted, and Velvet smiled. "Aww, that's sweet! But I don't care what your mom thinks of me. I've got way bigger problems than her."

Crystal rolled onto her stomach and straightened up. "Like what?"

Velvet tapped one hoof against the other as she listed off, "Well, there's my mopey friend and her mopey love, there's the ever-annoying Perennial, and this little guy!" She bent down and scooped Red into her forelegs. "Who's a little drool monster? Huh? Yeah! My little drool monster!"

Sunbeam giggled and stacked the last cupcake onto the tray. "Now, now, I'm not so tired of him yet that I'm ready to give him away! He still has that new foal smell."

"Aww..." Velvet bounced him up and down. "You're so greedy, Mom! You got to have me and now you get to have him?"

"Well, I did go through the whole labor ordeal." Sunbeam playfully stuck her nose in the air. "I think that entitles me to some amount of greediness."

Velvet sat down beside Crystal, setting Red in her lap and playing with his hooves. "Uh-huh, yeah, whatever. I could do it. Maybe." She turned her head to look at her friend. Her voice fell to a serious level when she asked, "So, how are you doing?"

Crystal didn't meet her gaze. "I don't know. I thought I knew what I was signing up for, but..."

"But you rushed in headfirst and tripped over your hooves?" Velvet smiled halfheartedly. "Can you get somepony to cover your shift? Maybe you shouldn't be there six hours a day every day."

"I could ask Runic... Maybe I'll offer to work the shop so he doesn't go out of business?" Crystal sighed. "Iridescence was right, though I'm loath to admit it."

"Oh yeah?" Velvet tilted her head.

Crystal nodded and dropped her head down to rest on her forelegs, closing her eyes halfway. "She said normal ponies aren't prepared for situations like this."

"That's true," Sunbeam interjected, "but you're not a normal pony, sweetiecakes."

Crystal's head lifted to look up at the mare, brow furrowed. "Aren't I?"

Sunbeam shook her head. "Certainly not! You're my precious little daughter from another mother!" A chime of laughter escaped her. "You got Pepper and me this wonderful bakery when you were just a filly. Surely that counts for something?"

Crystal smiled, but the downtrodden look didn't leave her eyes. "That's a little different from getting involved with a stallion who puts his life in danger as part of his job."

Sunbeam hummed in thought while she stirred a bowl of frosting. "Is that really true, though?"

"Huh?" Crystal blinked a few times. "Of course it is. He's in the hospital, isn't he?"

"You've known him for about a year, right?"

Crystal pursed her lips. "Give or take."

"And how many times has he been in the hospital?"

"Only this once," she admitted in a quiet voice. "But—"

Sunbeam giggled. "No buts, muffinlump! Until it happens a second time, you can't know if it's going to happen again. Pepper Ridge forgot our anniversary once." Her expression darkened. "And only once." The smile returned. "He learned his lesson, so I forgave him!"

Crystal laughed, albeit somewhat nervously, and looked at Velvet. "Remind me to never forget your mom's birthday."

Velvet gave a stern nod of her head. "Never forget Mom's birthday."

"That's my girls!" Sunbeam winked and turned back to her decorating work.

---

It had been several days, and though Runic had been happy to take on some of Crystal's hours, she still had three hours to spend with Silent Knight and they never got easier. She sat in the usual chair beside him, looking at him, the clock and machines filling the silence.

"Did I tell you about Baltimare?" she said rather suddenly. "I don't remember what I've already told you, so just let me know if you've already heard this, all right?" She groaned a laugh. "Right..." There was a pause as she took a slow breath in. "They talk so strangely there. I didn't explore too much because everywhere I went, I was so confused that I ended up hiding in my hotel room. I did get a crabapple pie, though. It was worth the time it took trying to figure out how many bits the vendor wanted."

She licked her lips. They were dry. "The ocean was beautiful, too. I watched the moon rise over the sea. I wonder if you were watching that moon, too? It would have been rising over the gryphon kingdom, wouldn't it?" Her ears fell to the sides and she looked down at her lap, adding in a tentative whisper, "I thought about you the whole time you were gone. Did you think of me?"

A knock from the door startled her and she raised her gaze to see it open, revealing the instantly recognizable figure of the Captain of the Canterlot Guard, Shining Armor.

"Hello?" he asked, his voice firm but gentle. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to intrude. I'll come back later."

"Oh, no, no!" Crystal nearly stumbled trying to stand. "It's perfectly fine, sir."

Shining Armor inclined his head to look at her with a smile. "You don't have to call me sir. I'm off duty."

Crystal felt the blood rush to her face. Though he was somewhat imposing, given his position and well-built figure, his smile was casual enough that it stirred butterflies in her stomach. Few ponies made her feel starstruck, but he was one of them. "O-Okay. Anyway, I'll wait outside, so don't mind me."

"Thank you." He paused, then asked, "You're Crystal Wishes, aren't you?"

Her knees threatened to buckle. "How did you know?"

Shining grinned. "You're on Princess Luna's access list. I'd not be doing my job very well if I didn't know who you were."

"Oh. That makes sense." She smiled lopsidedly. "I'm leaving... Actually, this time." She stepped toward the door. "Bye."

A sigh escaped her as she walked out into the hall. One of the most notable things about Shining Armor that got her all twitterpated was that he was married to—"Lady Cadence!"

The regal mare sat on one of the benches with all the poise befitting somepony of her bloodline. "Yes?" She tilted her head. "I'm sorry, who are you?"

Crystal lost all sense of self. Lady Cadence was regarded as the Lady of Love and Crystal would be lying if she said she wasn't infatuated with the idea of her. She squeaked, "S-Sorry, I'm nopony. Nopony at all." She tried to back away down the hall. "Don't mind me."

Cadence smiled, though her brow knitted curiously. "If you were in Sergeant Knight's room, then I highly doubt that." She patted the empty space on the bench beside her. "Why don't you wait here while my Shining visits him?"

Crystal obeyed with her head held submissively low and sat down. She crossed her legs and twiddled her forehooves.

"How do you know Sergeant Knight?" Cadence asked. Her voice was light and airy and wonderful.

"Oh, I, well." She glanced up at her. "My name is Crystal Wishes. We're... friends."

Cadence looked at her in a strangely familiar way—not in the sense of being friendly, but as if she had been looked at by somepony else in the same manner. It was a briefly intense stare, not quite focused on her face, instead somewhere lower. Cadence's gaze then wandered away and a smile illuminated her face. "That's not quite true, now, is it?"

Crystal's ears folded back and she leaned away from her, then looked down at the floor. "I-It is, Lady Cadence. We're just friends."

"Hmm..." Cadence tapped a hoof to her chin. "Well, if you want to be in denial, I suppose I can't help you with that!"

They sat in silence for a moment while Crystal's mind rapidly worked over the encounter until she sighed. "How do you cope with it?"

"Cope with what?" Cadence blinked. "You being in denial?"

"No, I mean"—she raised her hooves to gesture at the door—"this. You're married to a soldier. How do you cope with knowing he might end up in a hospital, too, someday... or worse?"

Cadence's expression grew serious. She didn't respond at first, instead just staring intently at Crystal before she said, "I don't cope with it. I accept it." The smile returned, softer than before. "It's who Shining Armor is. He cares so much about the safety of everypony, which is why he takes his job seriously and it's my job to accept that about him."

"But—"

"Why do you think I married him?" Cadence interrupted.

Crystal hesitated, then replied, "Because... you love him?"

Cadence nodded. "And that means I love all of him, for better and for worse. This may not be what you want to hear right now, but it's the truth and I think you need to hear it."

"Okay," Crystal said tentatively, her ears pinned back against her mane. "I'm listening."

Cadence wrapped her hooves around one of Crystal's. "You don't just get to pick and choose what you love. You're either in, or you're not. You can't change a pony, and you can't change your heart." She smiled and squeezed the hoof she held. "The heart wants what the heart wants, Crystal."

Crystal opened her mouth to say something, but Cadence raised a hoof to close it.

"You're both still young. There's plenty of time to figure things out." She smiled and patted Crystal on the head.

"Are you patronizing her, Cady?" Shining Armor teased as he walked out into the hallway.

"What?" Cadence gasped in mock offense. "No!"

"You look like you're patronizing her."

Cadence giggled and slid off the bench to walk over to him. She nuzzled her head under his, then turned to look at Crystal. "I was giving her love advice. Isn't that right?" She winked.

Crystal flushed when Shining Armor looked at her with his brow raised, waiting for an answer. All she could do was gulp and nod.

"Well, that's good." He placed a kiss on Cadence's temple. "It was nice to formally meet you, Crystal Wishes. I just wish it could have been under better circumstances. Keep an eye on my sergeant, will you?"

"Oh, I'm sure she will." Cadence giggled again. "Go on ahead, Shining, I'll catch up with you." After he nodded and started away, she approached Crystal and lowered her voice. "Sergeant Knight will pull through. I like to believe only good things happen to good ponies, and from what Shining tells me, Sergeant Knight is one of the best." She put a hoof on the other's shoulder. "Try to smile, okay? It makes things a little easier when you add a little sugar to a tough situation."

Crystal nodded slowly. "I... think I understand, Lady Cadence."

Cadence winked before she turned to walk away. "He'll have a lot to apologize for, though, making a pretty mare cry. Remember to smile!" Her voice raised to address her husband. "Oh, Shining, dear, wait up!"

Crystal waved her off as she struggled against the redness heating her face. "Try to smile?" she mumbled under her breath, forcing the corners of her lips upward. Once they were out of sight, she turned her head to look at the door. As usual, two of Princess Luna's House Guards stood on both sides, not because they had to but because they wanted to. Today, Miley Hooves and Harvest Moon were standing at attention. Though their armor alone stood out against the overly white surroundings, with how still they remained at all times, it was easy to forget they were even there.

She offered them a small smile as she walked past. Miley broke form to smile back and Harvest Moon cleared his throat to pull Miley's focus back to the task at hoof. At the castle or at the hospital, if they were on duty, they were expected to act accordingly.

Inside, Silent Knight was, unsurprisingly, right where she had left him. "I'm back," she said with feigned cheer in her voice. "Did you have a nice talk with the captain?" She tugged the chair into place and sat down. "I got to talk to his wife, the Lady Cadence. She's wonderful." Her brow furrowed. "She reminds me of somepony, but I can't put my hoof on it."

She sighed and leaned forward to take one of Silent's hooves into her own. "Nonetheless, I think she more than anypony else can understand how I feel. I'm scared, Silent Knight. I thought this would be fine, that I'd just sit here and talk to—talk at you, and that it'd be a little bit fun to tell you all sorts of secrets." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "Like how last week, I told my parents that I love you. I didn't mean to, it just... it just happened..."

As always, there was no response. His hoof remained limp in her grasp and, slowly, she set it back down. She simply sat there for a while, just breathing, though somewhat raggedly as emotions rumbled around like billiard balls after being struck by their lone white counterpart.

"I need you to wake up," she pleaded. "Not just for me. For everypony. Do you know how many visitors you receive? I mean..." She gestured around the room. There were several vases filled with bright, hopeful blooms strewn about. It had been a bit of a creative struggle to arrange them on the limited furniture available. "Do you really appreciate how many ponies care about you?"

A knock came from the door and it creaked open. Miley's little head poked in, her helmet off to let her long black mane cascade down her shoulders. "Hi! Is it okay if I come in?"

Crystal smiled and leaned back into her seat. She wiped her eyes to ensure they were dry before she said, "Of course, Miley."

Miley trotted over to the bed. "I just finished my shift, but before I left, I wanted to talk to you."

"Okay?" Crystal tilted her head, brow furrowed.

Miley turned her attention on Silent Knight. "Sorry, boss, but I hope you'll forgive me for saying what I'm going to say." She looked back at Crystal. "And I hope you'll forgive me, but I couldn't help overhearing your conversation with Lady Cadence."

Crystal's gaze fell to the sheets. "Yes?"

Miley took a deep breath, then said all at once, "I know that you're worried about Sergeant Knight getting hurt again but you shouldn't be because he made the decision he did to save the rest of us and it was really brave of him, not reckless or anything like that, and he made that decision at the last possible"—she gasped desperately for air—"moment because if he didn't we'd all probably be dead."

Crystal stared at Miley while the little mare panted. Sweat was visible on her dark brown coat, beading around her forehead and dripping down her temple. Finally, Crystal smiled. "I think I understand what you're trying to say. It's just a hard pill to swallow."

Miley stuck her chin in the air to assert her mini-dominance. "It's not easy for us, either, Miss Crystal. But we have to do what we have to do because if we don't, then something will happen to the ponies we care about. That's why we put ourselves out in harm's way. We don't want to get hurt, but if that meant keeping my friends and family safe, then I'd have done the same as Sergeant Knight."

Miley cleared her throat and her smile returned. "Anyway, I've got to go get ready for my date with Runic. We're actually going out tonight." The smile faded once more, a distant look in her eyes. "Out on the town, in open spaces. Actually, we haven't gone out of the shop for a date since I got back..." She shook her head quickly. "Anyway, have a good night, Miss Crystal. Try to think about what I said, okay?"

"I will. Thank you, Miley." She smiled. "Have fun on your date!"

"I hope so!" Miley chirped before she left the room.

The door clicked shut. She was alone again with Silent Knight, though she didn't look at him for a while.

"Everypony seems to agree, Silent." She stared at the wall. "I shouldn't give up on you. I should forgive you. I should accept who you are. I should understand your motivations. That all sounds so easy, but..." Finally, she turned her head and sighed at him. "Oh, who am I kidding? If I could give up on you, I would have already."

Crystal breathed in, then back out slowly. "You're strong, Silent Knight. I hope you can be patient, too, because I don't know how long it will take, but I'll learn to accept this." She placed her hoof on his and smiled. "I'll learn to accept you, for better and for worse."

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