• 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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Country Roads

With a triumphant smile, Crystal closed the lid to the wicker picnic basket, a corner of the pink plaid tablecloth that was tucked inside peeking out. She had crafted a perfect picnic to go with what would be a perfect date. To her delight, Silent had arranged for their country ride the weekend after their first date. That he would be eager for another so soon filled her with absolute glee.

She set the basket by the door and hummed her way to the bathroom to make sure everything was still where she had wanted it. Her mane and tail were brushed at least a hundred times each and gone over with an application of Liquid Crystalline, a shine serum that was a little too expensive but worked wonders without weighing the hair down. Her Crystal Empire addiction was going to be the death of her savings, but she'd be the shiniest homeless pony on the street, that was for sure.

After a quick touch-up of her lip gloss and mascara, she turned to head back into the main area and settled herself on a pillow. A book levitated toward her, wrapped in her magic, and she idly opened to where the bookmark indicated to pick up where she had last read.

The door to Velvet's bedroom opened and Velvet wandered out with a loud yawn. "Morning." She paused, blinked a few times, then chuckled. "You're up early."

Crystal huffed lightly. "I am capable of waking up before you. I just choose not to."

"Uh-huh." Velvet flopped onto the pillow beside hers. "You probably didn't wake up because you didn't go to bed in the first place. Did you stay up all night practicing kissing with your Silent Knight doll?" She puckered her lips and smooched the air, then laughed.

"I did and have no such thing, thank you very much." Crystal snubbed her nose and hovered her book between them to break line of sight. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I just got to the good part." At the sound of three knocks on the door, the book dropped almost unceremoniously onto the coffee table. "There he is!"

Velvet snickered. "What happened to the good part?"

"This is the better part, obviously." Crystal's ears flicked and she picked up the picnic basket in her magic. She opened the door, offered Silent Knight a smile in greeting, then looked over her shoulder. "Bye, Velvet!"

Velvet reached out to pick up the book Crystal had discarded, waving the other hoof absently. "Yeah, yeah. You two have a good time. Bring her home in one piece and don't stay out too late. Do anything you want whether I'd do it or not!"

"Oh, hush!" Crystal huffed as she hurriedly shut the door before the mare could continue. "I swear, sometimes..." She sighed, shook her head, and smiled up at Silent again. "Anyway, shall we go?"

Silent nodded. "Yes. I found the perfect spot. I went scouting yesterday to find a nice place for a ride."

"Sounds wonderful." Crystal shivered lightly in anticipation. Depending on the carriage, it could mean some potentially close encounters. As they walked down the stairs, she imagined how wonderful it was going to be, riding through the countryside snuggled up to her stallion...

When they walked out the main doors, she paused and glanced around. There was no carriage in sight. "Are they late?"

Silent stopped a few paces ahead, turning to look at her. "Is who late? Oh." His ears lowered some. "Did you invite somepony else along?"

"What? No! I would never!" She furrowed her brow. "I just meant, is the carriage late."

"The carriage?" He mirrored her confused expression.

"Yes, the carriage." She gestured between them. "To take us on a ride."

There was a pause before he simply replied, "Oh."

"Oh?" Her forehead almost hurt from the further knitting of her brows.

"I, well." He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. "I meant a ride."

Crystal's head started to tilt. "And so do I. A ride, in a carriage, to see the countryside."

Silent fidgeted slightly, a small, awkward laugh escaping him. "I meant a ride as in a run."

"A run?" Her eyes widened. "Well, that..." She trailed, trying to find the right words. "That's certainly a first." She laughed her surprise away and stepped toward him with a small smile. "Let's go for a run, then."

A look of relief washed over his expression and his confidence returned, his shoulders squared, and his head lifted. "Climb on and hold onto your picnic basket, then." His wings spread out and slightly forward to expose the whole of his back.

"On your—Are we going flying?!" The question came out more like a squeal and she was not ashamed to admit she bounced up and down a little. He nodded and giggles bubbled up from her chest as she started to climb onto his back, then froze. "Um, how exactly do I do this?"

He shrugged. "However's comfortable. We won't be going too fast. We have all day, after all."

She stared at him, working out various positions in her head until she settled on what seemed the easiest, albeit the least ladylike. Rising up onto her hind legs, she braced her front against him, pushed herself up, and swung one hind leg around to straddle his middle. The idea of the word 'straddle' brought a flush to her cheeks, but she shoved the notion away and instead focused on hugging the picnic basket to her chest.

"All set?" he asked, inclining his head to look up at her, smiling when she nodded. "Then we're off!"

She squeaked when he trotted forward and braced herself with her free forehoof clutching his shoulder. Nerves kicked in and clenched the pit of her stomach. What if she fell? What if she gripped him too tightly? What if she dropped the picnic basket?

When she opened her eyes, she squeaked again. They were already airborne and with a few more flaps of his wings, they lifted higher and higher.

"We're flying!" she exclaimed, staring down at the ground that grew further away in awe.

He laughed. "We are!"

They rose above the taller buildings and a breeze ruffled through her mane. She took a sharp intake of air at the sight. Sure, she had been on an airship before with her grandparents when she was a filly, but it was nothing like being flown on the back of a pegasus. The whole of Equestria lay before her in all directions as far as she could see, beautiful expanses of fields giving way to dark forests, mountains cropping up like magnificent guardians of the lands at their bases.

"It must be amazing to be a pegasus," she said in a breathless voice. "I wish I had wings."

"I take it for granted sometimes," he admitted, "but it kind of is. Magic is pretty amazing, too, though."

Crystal shook her head. "Not like this. At least, not mine. Perhaps if I was capable of more spells." He flew them near a cloud and she wrapped the basket in her magic just long enough to free her foreleg. She reached out and touched the cloud, which felt like little more than a light mist. "I would trade it for flight, I think."

They crested over the Unicorn Range and rolling hills came into view. "Really?" He chuckled. "Then you'd have to write all your novels with your mouth. It's not very convenient."

She hummed in thought. "Perhaps I would make friends with a unicorn and hire them so I could dictate my stories."

"That could work. Anyway, how does there look?" He pointed to a valley below, nestled between mountains that sheltered it from winter's snow. "I saw it yesterday and thought it'd be perfect."

"Seems as good as any place." She giggled. "This is all new to me, you know."

He angled forward just enough to begin their descent. "I hope you like it. I do. It's... Well, it's different. Just like flying is different, running is different. Feeling the wind beneath your wings or the earth beneath your hooves. It's nice to get out from the towering buildings and off the hard cobblestone streets."

"I never thought of it that way before," she mused quietly, smiling.

After he landed on a flat stretch of grass, she slipped off his back and looked to him for an indication of what to do. He stretched out his legs so, while the picnic basket hovered beside her, she followed suit. Crystal felt her muscles tense before a warmth spread through them as though they had been waiting for her to do that all along.

Silent shook out his coat before he started a brisk trot forward. "Always warm up first," he explained as she followed alongside him. She had to add an extra step to her gait to keep up with his. "You'll hurt yourself if you don't."

"Right." She nodded. "Velvet always stretches before she goes off to practice. She just stretches more there, but she takes her physical health so seriously. I think she'd be lost without ballet."

Their talking subsided when Silent started to canter and Crystal's focus went to her unsteady breathing. A mare like her who spent most days sitting on a pillow was not exactly suited for physical exercise, but she was determined to keep up with him. This clearly meant something to him and, by proxy, it meant something to her.

Once she got into a rhythm, her mind was freed up to appreciate their surroundings. A cold breeze swept across her coat, a welcome reprieve from the hot sweat that was already starting to bead around her sides and flank. The air she breathed in was fresh, clean, and tinged with the crisp taste of winter. Most of all, it was quiet. Her ears could pick up the sound of wind rustling the few leaves that clung on to their branches, but other than their hoofsteps and breathing, it was perfectly serene.

The sun came out from behind a cloud and warmed their backs, urging them onward. A surge of excitement shot through her and she broke into a full gallop, darting across his path and calling over her shoulder, "Warm up time is over! Show me what you're made of, then!"

He laughed between breaths and chased after her, though he remained a few paces behind. She urged her legs to move faster, knowing that if he were so inclined he could easily catch up and pass her. Her heart pounded so hard she thought it might burst, but she couldn't help herself. It truly was fun to throw all caution to the wind and run like she had never run before.

She gasped for air and tried to tease, "You—You must not be—be very fit for a guard if—if I can outrun you!"

The thundering sound of his hooves fast approaching startled a squeal out of her that turned into laughter when he tackled her. The picnic basket dropped onto the ground when the concentration was broken, but managed to land right-side up. His forelegs wrapped around her and he tucked his body under hers so that when they hit the ground, he broke the fall. As the momentum carried them further, his wings curled around the both of them to keep her from harm, but once they slowed down he let go. She tumbled onto the grass beside him, laughing and panting at the same time.

"You were right," she finally said once she caught her breath, rolling her head to the side to beam at him. "Running—is exhilarating." Her head lolled to the other side and she raised a tired, trembling hoof to point at a nearby tree. "Lunch?"

He nodded. "Sounds good." With a small grunt, he pushed himself up onto all fours, then helped her to her hooves. "What did you pack?"

"Oh, a little of this, a little of that." Her magic retrieved the picnic basket from where it had fallen and they walked up the small hill to rest under the shade of the oak tree. She set the picnic basket down, spread out the blanket, and listed the items off as they were lifted out, "Dandelion and avocado sandwiches, some fruit, a couple muffins... If I had known we were going for a ride I would have packed more protein. Oh, and some cucumber water, though the ice may have melted." She squinted at the clear liquid, a few slices of cucumber floating within. "Correction. The ice has definitely melted."

"That's all right. Cold or not, I could really use a drink." He took one of the bottles from the pink aura and twisted the cap off. After a long, slow sip, he smiled down at the food. "Wow. You really went all out. Is that a pasta salad?"

She nodded and pushed the covered bowl toward him. "I just used olive oil and some seasoning. I didn't want to include anything that might spoil, but I know how much you like it."

He picked up a fork and took a bite of pasta and tomato, his eyes closing briefly in food bliss. "It's delicious!"

She smiled, retrieving one of the small sandwiches for herself. "I'm glad." Her head turned to look out across the idyllic scenery. "This was a wonderful idea."

"Good. I was a little worried back there when you said you were expecting a carriage." He chuckled and paused for another bite. "I thought maybe I had screwed up and we hadn't even started the date yet."

"What is it a very wise pony told me before?" She tapped her hoof to her chin in mock thought. "Something about dates being more about the company?"

He grinned much like a sheepish young colt. "I guess a wise pony did say that."

"A very wise pony," she corrected, giggling.

Companionable silence fell on them as they ate until Silent broke it by saying, "I know I don't have a lot of dates under my belt, but I think this is the best yet. It really helps that you're simple."

A small snort of surprise escaped her and her brow arched. "Simple?"

His eyes widened. "Oh, no, that's not what I meant! Not simple. Um, easy?" When her expression didn't change, he rubbed the back of his neck. "No good? Worse? Sorry, I just mean, you're easy to be around. I don't feel like everything's a test. Well, except for this. Am I still failing?"

Finally, she laughed and reached out to pat his hoof. "It's okay, I understand. I'm glad you think I'm simple." She winked. "It's a good thing you can't read minds."

"Why is that?" He tilted his head.

"Oh, you'd realize how very wrong you were if you could." She laughed again. "Sometimes I think I'm crazy with all the things that go through my head."

A frown crossed his lips. "I doubt you're crazy. You're a writer. It's probably just necessary for that."

Her horn lit up to pluck a grape off the bunch resting on a plate and floated it over to him. He paused, then accepted it and while he chewed, she said, "Maybe so. Still, I'm just happy to be with you, even if I do fantasize a little too much for my own good."

There was a pause as he seemed to consider her words more seriously than she had meant. He nodded just as she started to get nervous. "I understand. I'll try to be more romantic."

"No, you won't." She waggled a scolding hoof at him. "I didn't mean it that way. I like you the way you are! I didn't say I'd fantasize less, did I?" She tossed her mane over her shoulder and smiled. "I'm not going to change, so I'm not expecting you to, either. Just be you, okay?"

Another pause and another eventual nod. "If you're sure. You do write about stallions pretty different from me, you know."

She plucked another grape and offered it to him, pushing it a little forcefully against his lips. He chuckled and opened his mouth to take it, but she tugged it just out of reach when he bit down. "If I wanted a different stallion, I think I would have given up months ago."

"Months ago, huh?" He chomped at the grape again, successfully this time. His ears wiggled triumphantly as he enjoyed his hard-earned snack.

"If I recall correctly," she said in a matter-of-fact tone, snubbing her nose at him, "I developed a crush on you just after the changeling attack."

He swallowed and blinked a few times. Open surprise showed on his face. "Wow, really? That's kind of more than a few months. That's..." He shook his head. "Really?" When she nodded, he continued, "That's embarrassing. I really had no idea this whole time." He looked down at the remaining food and picked up a sandwich to literally chew over his thoughts.

The expression he had was contemplative, so she sat still and waited, nerves starting to flutter in her chest. Perhaps that was a detail she should have kept to herself.

Surprisingly, once he seemed to make up his mind, he laughed. "So I guess that really does mean I don't have to change." A playful grin tugged at the corners of his lips though he tried to hide it behind the sandwich he held in both hooves. "I could ignore you and you'd be happy."

"That's not true!" She puffed out her cheeks. "Fine, perhaps I want you to change a little bit. Happy?"

"I am." He finished off the sandwich before he said, "I feel pretty happy knowing I had a mare like you waiting for me that long."

The pout faded into a smile as she teased, "A simple mare, you mean?" She laughed when he nodded. "Well, you were worth the wait, it seems." She started to put the empty plates into the picnic basket. "I don't think any other stallion would have asked me on a running date. To think, I might have gone my whole life without doing this!"

"We should do this again, then, if you liked it that much. But," he raised a hoof almost plaintively, "next time, how about I just take you to dinner?"

Next time. He said the words so effortlessly that she nearly giggled herself silly. "That would be nice, too, I think."

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