• Published 17th Nov 2014
  • 13,387 Views, 5,574 Comments

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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Facades

Admittedly, Crystal had no idea how to react to the news. She certainly didn't feel glad or happy, but on the other hoof, what she had heard of Stratus Knight didn't give her an immediate feeling of sorrow. The emotion that did bubble to the surface after a moment of numbness, however, was sympathy.

"Why don't you come in and I'll make you some tea," Crystal said in a soft voice.

Winterspear drew a ragged breath and looked Crystal over, then shook her head. "No, I'm sorry. It looks like you have somewhere you were planning to go, I'll just—"

Crystal raised a hoof to interrupt her. "Right now, I think that somewhere is inside, making a cup of tea." She turned and started into the kitchen, her magic retrieving the kettle and starting to fill it with water.

A smile appeared and disappeared in a flash. "If you're sure..." Winterspear took a tentative step inside before walking in all the way and shutting the door behind her. "You look nice."

"Thank you," Crystal replied simply.

Winterspear sat on the couch and allowed her gaze to wander freely, almost nervously. Silence fell on them and seemed to grow too heavy because she blurted out, "I just ran away."

Crystal moved into the living room to settle on a pillow while the kettle heated up on the stove. "Hmm?"

Winterspear's ears flattened against her mane. "From my mother. I had to get away. I couldn't stand sitting at home with her another minute. She's so... so..." She groaned.

After a moment of recollection, Crystal offered, "Unfeeling?"

"Yes." Winterspear looked at her with a furrowed brow. "How did you know?"

Crystal drew a small circle in the fabric of the pillow beneath her. "I met her, while Silent Knight was in the hospital."

Winterspear paused, her gaze focused on nothing in the distance, and idly nodded. "Right, yes, you were there." She dropped her head, her mane falling into her face. "I just don't understand. How can she always be so okay with everything? Does she just not care?! Silent Knight, he—" Her breath hitched and a shudder ran through her. "He's going to be s-so upset!"

Crystal chewed on her bottom lip but remained quiet. Sometimes, it was better to say nothing at all.

A tear slid into view and down Winterspear's cheek before it fell onto the couch. At the sight of it, Winterspear jerked her head up, wiped at her eyes, and stared directly at Crystal with a hardened expression. "I can't stand it. I can't stand that he just gets to die and we're supposed to be okay with that and there's nothing I can do or say to change it! How am I supposed to protect Silent Knight from this?!"

Finally, Crystal spoke up to say in a soft voice, "I don't think you can."

The words struck a pained look across Winterspear's face. "But that's my job!"

A whistling sound from the kitchen drew their focus away, and Crystal went to attend to the kettle. She set out two teacups, added a green powder to them, then poured a few drops of hot water to make a pasty mixture before filling the cup.

While she did, Winterspear continued, "You don't understand. My—Our stupid father means—meant so much to Silent!" She flinched with every word that came out wrong and her gaze darted about in search of some kind of answer. "Despite everything he did to us, and now he's just—he's just gone. That's it. There's nothing I can do about it."

Crystal's magic set the cups of foaming green tea on the coffee table and she nestled back into her pillow, remaining otherwise quiet.

"And Mom, she just drops the news in my lap like he broke a leg or something again. But he's dead. She's not even crying! She's just sitting there, reminiscing on her life, talking about it like it's nothing." She slammed a hoof against the cushion. "How can she just be so calm?! Her husband's dead!"

"I'm sorry," Crystal said. She took in a deep breath, then let it out slowly. "I've not spent a lot of time with your mother, but when I first met her, I thought she was horrible for how little she seemed to care for Silent's wellbeing." She ducked her head, afraid of seeing Winterspear's face as she finished, "But she does. I don't know if that is any consolation, but after a while, I was left with the distinct impression that she cares."

Winterspear sneered, "It'd help if she acted like it." She picked up the tea cup in front of her, blew the steam away, and took a sip.

Crystal glanced up to watch as the tension visibly escaped the mare. Her wings were no longer tucked in close to her sides, her ears raised from their flattened position, and her jaw unclenched.

"What is this?" Winterspear asked, looking down at the vibrantly green liquid.

"Matcha tea." Crystal smiled "I learned how to make it in my first year of tea club. That was more ceremonial, though. This is my home version."

"It's good." Winterspear kept her gaze focused on her tea until she set the cup down and shook her head. "I'm sorry. I should go so you can get back to your life."

Crystal's smile fell into a firm, straight line. "This is my life." She paused, then quickly corrected, "I mean, supporting a friend. I would much rather be here to help you than off courting the socialites all evening." She rolled her eyes.

Winterspear sighed and stood. "I should still go. I just left Mom sitting there without saying anything." She rubbed the back of her neck. "I don't know what we're going to do about Silent Knight."

Crystal tilted her head, rising to her hooves as well. "Can't Iridescence get in touch with him?"

The feathers on Winterspear's wings raised and quivered slightly. "I don't know. I haven't really talked to her about it, yet, so..." Her gaze darted off to the side. "I don't know."

"Oh." Crystal blinked a few times. "Why not?"

Winterspear looked directly at her, as if weighing her very soul, then sat back down. "It might help to talk to somepony," she muttered, looking away again. "Do you know about Caramel Mint?"

Crystal hesitated to mull the name over before she finally shook her head. "I'm afraid I don't."

"The short of it is I was serious about her, and she hurt me pretty bad." Winterspear shook her head. "I thought I was over it when Iridescence and I started dating, but it just sits there in the back of my mind. I can't just forget it, and when I look at Iridescence, I sometimes just wonder how much time we have left together before it happens again." She raised the teacup and took a long, slow sip.

Crystal's expression softened. "Oh, Winterspear." She walked around the coffee table to sit beside her, placing one of her hooves on the mare's. "I can't begin to understand how you feel, and I won't pretend I do. But I can tell you that I'm terribly sorry."

Winterspear glanced at their touching hooves before raising her gaze to meet Crystal's. She stared at her for a while until she finally smiled and said, "It's okay. I think this is something I have to figure out for myself, but..." Her wings ruffled to shake out her nerves and she stood once again. "I think I just needed to tell somepony. But I really should get back to Mom." She started for the door, then paused to look over her shoulder. "Could you come over sometime soon? Mom might talk to you differently than she does to me."

"You mean without fighting?" Crystal lightly teased. As soon as she heard herself say the words, she froze, and her eyes widened. "I'm sorry, that—"

Winterspear interrupted her with a short bark of laughter. "No, no, no, don't apologize, you're right. I do mean without fighting." She waved a hoof and made for the door. "Good luck courting the socialites."

Crystal rubbed the back of her neck, laughing softly. "Thank you. I'll drop by tonight after the art show."

With a nod of the her head, Winterspear let herself out. Once the door shut behind her, Crystal slumped against the couch and released the mournful groan she had been biting back.

Silent Knight's father was dead, and he had no clue. It was such an unsettling notion that for a moment, nausea crept up from the pit of her stomach. She clenched her eyes shut and breathed in through clenched teeth, out through her nose. After breathing that way a few more times, she opened her eyes to stare at nothing in particular.

There was nothing she could do about it. All she could do was keep moving forward, so she pushed herself up off the couch and went into the bathroom to retouch her makeup and mane.

---

Crystal was only halfway to the art exhibit when her ankles threatened to give out. She was an absolute fool for thinking she could just jump into a pair of heels and walk her way across Canterlot. The first few blocks had been easy, but now it felt like a death march. The dread she was feeling for the event itself didn't help any, either.

"Miss Crystal?" called a voice from behind her. "Miss Crystal, wait up!"

Crystal stopped and turned her head, blinking at the sight of a red stallion trotting toward her. "Axel?"

Axel smiled as he drew closer. "I was hoping to surprise you. Your neighbor said you had left already... Glad I caught up with you." He turned to the side to swing the sulky he pulled behind him into view.

It was exactly as she had imagined: a shimmering white fabric covered the seat with gold and pink seams and her cutie mark was emblazoned on the sides. Simple and not over-the-top, but certainly an eye-catching statement piece.

Crystal's eyes went wide after she took the sight of it in. "You finished it?!"

Axel bobbed his head in a small nod. "Yup. You sent the payment in advance, and... I know Canterlot ponies have events all the time. I assumed you'd need it soon." He grinned sheepishly. "And it looks like I was right, huh? You look nice."

"Oh, thank you." Crystal giggled and pranced over to get a closer look, her ankle pain quickly forgotten. "How did you get it done so quickly, yet it looks so exquisite?"

"I got some help." He rubbed the back of his neck. "I'm not too great with all the decorative stuff. But there's lots of ponies that are pretty generous with their time... So, yeah, I got some help." He lifted his head to his full height. "Anyway, guess I'll be your driver for tonight. Don't want you to be late."

Crystal paused to lift each hoof individually, plucking off any dirt she could see with her magic, before she gingerly stepped onto the one-pony cart. "I would attempt to politely refuse your offer, but seeing as you made the journey out here and I'm already running later than I should be, I will gladly accept. Just keep going straight down this road, then take a right at the ballet studio."

Axel chuckled, checked the harness, then started forward. "Not a problem at all."

Despite the cobblestone street beneath them, the wheels glided smoothly with hardly any bouncing or rattling. "You are a master at your craft," Crystal commented in awe as she stared at the wheels. "How do you keep it from bouncing?"

Axel glanced over his shoulder and winked. "Trade secret."

Crystal giggled, straightening up to correct her posture. There was little sense in putting on a show of a custom sulky if she was just going to slouch. "You may want to stay for the event. It's an art exhibit. As long as you ignore the ponies, I'm sure it's wonderful."

"An art exhibit, huh?" Axel kept trotting forward. "I don't know."

"It shouldn't be too large of a crowd, if you're concerned about that." She glanced down at the wheels again, smiling with foal-like curiosity. "Though, if you'd like, I could drop your name and garner you some more business."

Axel shook his head. "No, that's all right. No offense, but... I don't much care for most Canterlot ponies. I prefer my Ponyville clients."

Crystal hummed in thought, then nodded. "That's all right. It will be more fun teasing about my secret sulky source." She giggled. "I really do appreciate this. Now, not to talk business when you're so kindly pulling me along, but how is Horsey's marriage carriage coming along?"

"Maybe halfway done." He bobbed his head. "I'll have it ready in time, for sure." As they turned the corner, the brightly lit building came into view. "That it up ahead?"

Crystal nodded. "Yes, it is."

He pulled up to the front of the building and slowed to a halt. Crystal paused to primp her mane casually before she stepped down from the sulky. With her nose in the air, she looked at Axel with a light smile. "Thank you, driver."

Axel blinked, then smiled and nodded. "No problem, ma'am."

Crystal turned her gaze to the ponies outside the art exhibit and simultaneously relished and hated the eyes on her. She got what she hoped for, but their greedy eyes and raised hooves to shield their gossip only reminded her of why she had stopped going in the first place.

The doors opened and Upper Crust trotted out. She stared at Crystal with clear disbelief on her face as she exclaimed, "Darling! I didn't expect to see you here!"

That was the other reason. Crystal kept her smile firmly in place. "Hello, Mother."

Upper Crust looked her over before her expression settled into that of mild interest. "You look well, darling." Her gaze fell to the sulky behind her. "My, my! Is that yours?"

"Yes, it is." Crystal tossed her gently curled mane over her shoulder. "I had it custom made, as you can see."

"Is that so?" Upper Crust turned and went back inside, her magic lightly gripping Crystal's hoof to force the mare to follow. "Jet Set, dear, look at this!"

"Yes, dear?" As he turned around, his expression brightened at the sight of Crystal. "Crystal! Fancy seeing you here!" He walked over, his glass of champagne levitating alongside him.

Upper Crust pawed at the air in Crystal's direction. "She's what all that ruckus was about, dear. She pulled up in a sulky. A custom one."

Jet Set smiled. "Is that so! Then I suppose we'll be seeing more of you from now on?"

Crystal lifted her shoulders and dropped them in a light shrug. "I suppose."

"You simply must come with me, then, darling," Upper Crust said with an airy, sweet cadence. "I will introduce you to all the ponies you should know."

"I—" Crystal snapped her mouth shut. Though she was loath to utter the words, her lips twitched into a smile and allowed her to say, "That would be most appreciated, Mother."

As they walked over to a group of ponies, Crystal saw it out of the corner of her eye. Her mother bobbed her head from side to side just ever so slightly. She jerked her gaze back forward and flashed a well-practiced smile at the ponies they approached while she tried to ignore the dread building in the back of her mind.

She could maintain the facade for one night a week. She'd done it all her life until she moved out, and that was not even three years ago. After all, her much-too-pleased-with-herself mother had ensured that she breathed the socialite world.

"Pardon my interruption," Upper Crust said and smiled when the three ponies turned their heads to look at her, "but my daughter has just arrived." She inclined her head to look at Crystal. "Darling, you remember Lyrica Lilac, surely?"

Crystal nodded. "Most certainly. How is your daughter faring as of late, Mrs. Lilac?"

The earth mare brushed back a blonde strand that had strayed from her carefully maintained pompadour, then smiled. "Oh, you know how the fashion world can be, cricket. Darling Au has just hit a bit of a rough patch, but I'm sure she'll be back in vogue soon."

Crystal didn't have to glance at her mother before Upper Crust tactfully explained, "Yes, it is dreadful for her that the crystal ponies have dominated the industry as of late."

Lyrica sighed and clicked her tongue. "I'm sure she'll make a wonderful comeback. Oh, cricket, have you ever met my brother, Sealed Scroll?" She looked at the stallion beside her.

"We have met before, I believe, albeit not formally introduced," Crystal said with a polite bow of her head. "It's a pleasure."

The stallion tossed his light blonde mane, which resembled a deflated version of his sister's pompadour. "No, no, the pleasure's all mine. You've grown into such a wonderful young lady, it seems."

"And this is my dear friend, Royal Ribbon," Lyrica said, turning her head to the mare standing at her other side. "She's Au's stylist, you know. Best in Canterlot."

Crystal kept smiling. It hurt to maintain it, but she wouldn't dare let it fall. "I did not know that. It's a—"

Upper Crust raised her nose as she interrupted, "My darling Crystal is a very popular author, you know."

Lyrica nodded. "That only seems fitting for such a thinky filly."

"And," she continued, pausing to examine her hoof, "as of late she has been in the familiar company of the Commander of Princess Luna's House Guard."

Crystal's blood ran cold when all three pairs of eyes turned on her with almost predatory interest. She wanted to grab her mother, shake her, and scream in her face for treating her relationship like a prop, but it was too late. Her smile tugged just a little wider to hide the rage boiling inside.

"What prestigious company you keep," Royal Ribbon purred. "Does that mean you spend time at the castle?"

"Oh, only as is appropriate," Crystal replied. She had to keep smiling. "Of course, to me, he is just a stallion."

Upper Crust huffed. "Darling, that's disrespectful to the owner of a Celestia Cross."

The eyes on her grew even more greedy. It was too late to back away now, however, so she shrugged and said, "I suppose, Mother." She made eye contact with Upper Crust and they both held firm, neither giving ground, both maintaining their trained smiles.

Just one night. That's all she had to endure. One long, painful night of being her mother's puppet.

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