• Published 11th Nov 2016
  • 890 Views, 96 Comments

Intriguing - Purple Patch



In the great and perilous metropolis of Canterlot, Fancy Pants and Fleur must foil a nefarious outbreak of corruption together.

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Chapter 3

Here he was again.

Somewhere he’d rather not be, talking to ponies he’d rather not talk to and saying things he’d rather not say.

Fancy Pants did so love the high-life.

As usual, Swan Song had presented him in pomp and ceremony and, accompanied by Golden Gavel and Silver Frames, was ensuring he was never short of refreshment, information and compliments for every breath he took.

And the sad thing was that the three acquaintances of his were among the least sycophantic of his retinue.

Some ponies he still didn’t quite know the names of were truly beyond all help. If he’d have shown them the contents of his handkerchief they’d have said it was praiseworthy!

Still, he appreciated the effort Swan Song had made for him and Thousand Island was ready with jests and tales of their foalhood at Trottingham Academy. As an earth pony, he hadn’t gone to the School of Gifted Unicorns but the memories of the academy years between Fancy’s magic studies were still very much alive in their minds.

But regardless, he was looking forward to taking a break later and meeting Fleur in the Central Gardens.

Just the thought of her standing there with that lovely smile kept him going.

“I remember, Fancy,” Thousand Island chuckled “...how you once succeeded in dropping an entire raspberry blancmange sculpture on the Marchioness of Braggadocio. Don’t you remember that, old colt, at Monterey Jack’s estate?”

Fancy blushed and rolled his eyes as Swan Song, Golden Gavel and Silver Frames chortled in unison and Earl Grey shook his head, stifling his own laughter.

“You mean that awful snob, Lady Prepotentia?” he asked “Well...strictly speaking, I only meant to levitate it over her but you know what I was like with my magic”

“She was asking for it, old fruit!” Thousand gave him a nudge with his elbow “The way she made Fine Line and Éclair Crème cry like that! You were defending a good mare’s honour, sir!” He slapped him on the back as Fine Line giggled beside him.

“You were very noble, Fancy” she said a little teasingly “Me and Éclair were laughing all through the day. They must have heard her scream in Fillydelphia!”

“The truth of the matter was that she laughed at the story of the Natter Jack Poltergeist and I hoped if I just levitated the plate it was on, rather than the whole thing, nopony would notice and the mare below would think the old ghost’s curse had fallen upon her. As it turned out, something indeed fell upon her but...it wasn’t a curse”

“How wonderfully droll!” Swan Song tittered.

“How marvellously witty!” Golden Gavel guffawed.

“How splendidly amusing!” Silver Frames hooted.

“Yes, yes, I’m sure” The receiver of their praise gave a tired sigh.


“Really, young Thousand Island, we’re trying to show the ponies here that Fancy Pants is a capable and sensible Chairstallion” Earl Grey admonished, his smile betraying his amusement “Regaling us with the follies of his youth is rather counter-intuitive”

Tchah, nopony’s perfect, Earl!” Thousand said, shrugging “Besides, the public want to know you’re a merry old soul who knows how to have some good honest fun once in a while. They’re tired of all these stuffy, self-important snobs in office. They want somepony relatable”

“Thousand’s not wrong, chaps” the blue-maned gentlecolt chuckled “Still, better to be discreet”

“Not backing out are you, Earl?” Fine Line asked.

“Not likely” the old unicorn blustered “I’ll vote for Fancy this election and the next. I’ll vote for him however many terms he does a good job. I see no reason to get rid of something good just because it’s no longer new. He’s a politician, for goodness sake, not a bottle of milk!”

“Well said” Fine turned to Fancy “In fact, we’re considering a petition to the Princess to reintroduce the position of Lord Minister”

“I say, now really” Fancy started “That’s going a bit far, don’t you think?”

“Well an indefinite position would avoid all this fracas every few years. The Princess would be the one to keep or remove you and she’s a level-headed sort” Earl Grey put forward “The hours would be easier and you’ve more than earned the honour. Canterlot needs you, Fancy. We need you”

“No, no, it wouldn’t feel right to undermine the whole system like that”

His colleagues shrugged in admittance and proclaimed another toast.

“Your pardon, Mister Chairstallion” Swan Song’s butler, whose name Fancy hadn’t yet committed to memory, stood before him “But his royal highness, Prince Blueblood, is outside the estate and demands to see you without delay”

Fancy rolled his eyes as those around him gave him glances indicating they shared his disdain for the prince’s antics.

“I won’t be a moment” he told them and walked swiftly to the end of the garden. He had found himself instinctively walking in a ‘marching’ manner several times since putting on Knickerbocker’s old uniform but everypony had complimented him for it. It gave him great pride.

And it added to his air of authority which would hopefully prevent the prince from getting above himself again.


He sensed something was off once he’d got a good look at the prince’s face.

“Blueblood” he began and noted that the young stallion did not attempt to correct him “You don’t look well”

“Fancy...help...” Blueblood’s voice was hoarse and hushed and the hood on his cloak was up.

Fancy wasn’t entirely sure this was indeed the Blueblood Equestria knew.

“What’s wrong?” he asked “Tell me”

“Fancy...” He was beginning to weep, his legs wobbling ungainly “I’ve done a terrible thing!”

He fell to his knees.

“It’s Fleur”

What?!” At the mention of the mare’s name, Fancy grabbed the prince by the neckerchief and hauled his face toward his own.

“What’s happened to her?!”

“It’s Nitpick...” Blueblood whimpered “He’s got her in the Lower Gardens...I’m sorry, Fancy, I’m so sorry!”

Fancy did not hear the prince’s apologies. He released him, leaving him sobbing, practically lying on his belly, and turned his gaze to the Lower Gardens.

It would take at least five minutes to get from where he was to Fleur and Nitpick if he went by the walkway.

And he didn’t know how many minutes he had.

“Fancy what’s wrong?” Thousand was making his way over, his voice full of concern.

“Thousand, I must go” the gentlecolt barked, eyes blazing with zeal “A mare needs me”

“Pardon?”

And like a bolt of magic, the Fancy Pants took a running leap off the Upper Garden Tier down into the Central and ran on, his teeth gritted, his walking stick tucked around his foreleg.

‘Fleur’ he whispered to himself ‘I will protect you’

On the Upper Gardens, the ponies present stared perplexed as their stallion charged like a mad beast.

Octavia gave her cello a glance and spoke dejectedly.

“I didn’t think I was playing that badly"


*


Fleur gave a pained gasp as the two guards wrapped ropes around her chest, lashing her tightly to the tree, stealing her breath away. Try as she might, any amount of struggle amounted to precisely nothing. She shut her eyes tight, desperately praying this was just a particularly bad dream.

“You Ponyville mares clearly aren’t aware” Nitpick purred obscenely as his hoof trailed down Fleur’s neck and gripped her tender shoulder “Nopony in Canterlot escapes the long foreleg of the law. And around here, young mare, I am the law”

“Stop it!” she hissed, striving in vain to move her head away “Stop touching me! I’m not your toy!”

“Here, for the moment, you are whatever I wish you to be, my dear” Nitpick began to move his hoof up and down Fleur’s back leg “You have only yourself to blame. I made you a generous offer for your company at the theatre that night but you instead elected to take advantage of me” He glowered at her, gripping her chin and forcing her eyes toward his own “And caused me great amounts of disgrace”

“I didn’t want your money!” she retorted “I didn’t want anything from you!”

“Oh please” he snorted “All that mane and make-up on a mare of your status? My dear filly, you may as well have worn a price-tag

That did it. Her rage boiled up, Fleur lashed out and bit her captor hard upon the hoof he held her with.

Nitpick gave a cry and drew back, nursed the bite-mark which had begun to bleed, and glared at Fleur with eyes like furious white-hot beads of metal.

“You little nag!” he snarled as his free hoof flew out and struck her viciously across the cheek. Her head was thrown to one side and hung low, tears falling from her eyes mixed with a streak of blood emerging upon one side of her face.

The earth pony guard beside her looked to her master, who gave him a nod. Obligingly, he landed a sturdy punch to Fleur’s chest, causing her to double up as far as her bonds would allow and cough furiously.

The unicorn, meanwhile delivered Fleur an electric shock, causing her to spasm violently against the tree, her perfect face twisting in agony, and then slumped sideways. She was unable to scream, choking and gasping painfully for air.

“I think that’s enough of that” Nitpick sneered “Let’s leave her face alone. We wouldn’t want to spoil that now, would we”

“Please...” Fleur managed to whimper, tasting blood in her mouth “Please don’t...”

“Ah yes, that’s a little more courteous, I think” The Lord Magistrate give another sadistic leer “But I’m not sure you’ve quite learned your lesson yet. Let’s see, shall we?”

Fleur could feel him breathing upon her neck as he drew close.

He smelt appalling. His hooves were stained with tobacco and felt rough and coarse as he trailed them along her body.

“Stop...” she whimpered, her worst nightmares since their last encounter becoming all too real “Please...you can’t...”

“Hush” Nitpick ordered, horribly quiet “It’s the Lower Gardens, young mare, nopony comes round here. Nopony will hear you...or believe you once this is over. Here, far from critical eyes, I shall be allowed to do society a service and discipline you”

“No! Don’t do that! Stop! No!” Fleur found her voice, yelling and sobbing as the stallion’s horrible hooves worked their way across her “You can't! You mustn't! Stop! No! NO!

“Nopony’s coming, little wench” Nitpick was inches from cackling “Nopony can-gyargh!

He was cut off from his statement by some form of wooden shaft flying through the trees and delivering him a great blow directly across the spine, knocking him to the ground enfeebled. His guards snapped to defend their employer but before they could even get close, a bolt of golden magic caught the unicorn in the chest, blowing him back into a nearby tree-trunk. The earth pony grabbed a truncheon and made to raise it as a stallion leapt into the fray and dealt him a mighty hoof across the face.

The newcomer stood before them, adopting an aggressive stance, teeth bared and eyes blazing but speaking in a surprisingly calm and collected tone of voice.

“Sirs, I am a reasonable stallion. So I shall give you exactly a minute to release Fleur de Lis immediately. If not, sirs...then I will, very swiftly, stop...being...reasonable


Fleur had been close to blacking out when Nitpick had begun his sick game. Her eyes had instinctively shut tight in the hope that by the time it was over, what she hadn’t seen might not linger in her mind.

But she could hear. She heard Nitpick cry out in pain, the guards beside her fall and a voice.

That wonderful voice.

“Fancy?”

She opened her eyes.

The stallion she loved had indeed worn a suit, a suit that exactly resembled the uniform worn by the statue of Knickerbocker in Briefly Manor. It was blue, white and gold in colour with a winged white shoulder pad adorned with a fibrous crimson trim and a pearl spike, half-a- metre long, representing Princess Laurelore’s favour. A walking stick hovered beside him gripped in gold magic.

No, only half a walking-stick...and half a sword.

Fancy Pants was truly dressed for war.

Though Nitpick was still sprawled pathetically on the ground, his two guards had gotten to their hooves and drawn their metal truncheons. The truncheons in question had a pointed edge on one side, for breaking doors, locks and, perhaps, bones.

But not a blade, as Fancy was about to demonstrate.

Undaunted, the gentlecolt put his academy fencing lessons to the test, his blade spinning and whirling before the attackers like a dancing miasma of gleaming metal. His sword occupied the unicorn who held his truncheon with his own magic. The earth pony, meanwhile, charged towards him, raising his weapon above his head.

With a leap and bound, Fancy dodged the truncheon strike which, to the guard’s anger, embedded itself in the tree before him. As the earth pony fought to free it, the gentlecolt gave him a solid back-hoof to the side before going after the unicorn.

Now with full control over his sword, he quickly gained the upper hand, getting in decent strikes on his opponent, delivering deep cuts on his legs. As he cut close to the fetlock, the guard gave a cry and dropped to one knee.

Fancy Pants saw definite fear in his eyes as he raised his sword just below the unicorn’s neck.

“Back down” he commanded “I won’t ask tw-eyargh!

He cursed himself. He’d made a rookie mistake.

Never turn your back on an opponent before making sure he’s unconscious.

The earth pony had grabbed him by the chest and was hoisting him up to suffocate him.

Fancy felt his ribs straining in the guard’s grip. He sincerely hoped his suit was starched enough to keep them from breaking.

“Quick! Whack him!” the earth pony yelled.

The unicorn had gotten to his feet and was obligingly raising his truncheon with a vengeful grin.

“Say goodbye to your teeth, pretty-colt!” he snarled.

Fancy quite liked his teeth however and he had little wish to lose them. Bracing himself, the gentlecolt grabbed the earth pony’s constricting forelegs and barked.

“I think not, sonny-jim!” he barked.

And placing pressure on his back-legs, he vaulted upwards and kicked out with both back-hooves, catching the unicorn full in the face, knocking him out for six.

With a roar, the earth pony hurled his foe against a tree. Fancy hit the trunk with a smash, landing in a heap of fallen leaves and groaning. He wasn’t sure if anything was broken but he’d certainly feel a mite sore in the morning.

Regaining balance, he groggily continued his duel.

Only he realised quite late he no longer had his sword with him.

Ducking a would-be-truncheon strike to the nose, he searched round frantically for his blade.

‘Blast it!’ he thought as he dodged another strike ‘Where the ruddy hay did it land?’

The earth pony seemed to be asking the same question. Though from the look of him, he didn’t much want the question answered while Fancy Pants was still breathing.

The third strike caught Fancy upon the shoulder, bringing him to his knees with a cry, clutching at the injury.

With a grimace of triumph, the earth pony raised his truncheon to finish the job.


“Fancy!”

A mare’s strained voice cut through the commotion and Fancy’s sword hovered weakly in between the two.

Encased in primrose-pink magic.

Fancy instinctively took hold of it and blocked the incoming strike.

In retrospect, he probably should have taken hold of it with his magic.

Not his teeth.

Blocking the truncheon was more effective than he would have thought but it still caused no small amount of pain and tremor to his general jaw area. Fighting it off, he brought up the sword to lock it with the pointed edge of the guard’s weapon. But the earth pony had the advantage of brute strength and Fancy found himself pressed hard against the ground.

He couldn’t hold on for long.

A glint upon the leaf litter partly caught his attention and he felt lights go off inside his head.

It was the downed unicorn’s truncheon.

Suddenly holding the sword in his teeth seemed a very good idea.

Fancy Pants’ horn blazed gold and the truncheon rose behind the guard. With as much force as would render the strike both safe and solid, he brought the rod of metal round in an arc toward his foe who had just looked up and widened his eyes quite noticeably.

“Oh-”

He didn’t have time to finish his expletive so, for the sake of propriety, Fancy assumed he was about to say ‘Oh dearie me’, as the truncheon gave the earth pony a sound clobber around the head, giving off a rather satisfying ‘Ding!’ sound as the assailant was thrown a clear three feet through the air and landed senseless upon the ground.

Fancy Pants was victorious.

It felt suitably fulfilling.


“Fleur? Are you alright” he panted, glancing over at the tree.

Fleur de Lis sagged against her bonds motionlessly, her head bowed and covered by her mane.

Fancy Pants tilted her chin up and saw that she was completely comatose, her brow moist with sweat and her eyes blank.

He remembered to his worry that she was still wearing the anti-magic ring.

Levitating his sword in that duel must have taken staggering quantities of energy.

Any longer and it could have killed her.

“Oh Fleur...” he murmured, feeling hot tears at his cheeks “My poor Fleur”

He checked her pulse and winced as she felt it going unnaturally slow.

Magic exhaustion was akin to suffocation in unicorns. It could literally sap the life out of the user or leave them permanently handicapped, physically or mentally.

She needed help.

With a flash of his sword, he cut her bonds and removed the magic ring with care. As she fell into his forelegs as limp and torpid as a ragdoll, he gently rested her upon the ground on her side.

Kneeling, he used a magic transference spell, advanced magic but, fortunately, a spell he’d never had particular trouble with in school.

Fleur’s inert body flickered with life. Her chest heaved upwards as she gasped for air, looking utterly bedraggled.

Fancy looked over her. Her beautiful figure was dotted with bruises and a few cuts here and there. A red streak lined her right cheek and a great blue-grey hoof-mark had formed in the middle of her chest. She may have broken several ribs.

Her body was hot and he could have sworn he smelt smoke on her. Gently brushing at her mane, he wasn’t surprised to feel mild static snap against his hoof. She had been tortured with electricity spells.

The mare’s breath came out in scared, silent shudders as she curled up on the ground, nursing her bruises and covering any areas she didn’t want harmed. Tears were pouring from her eyes and running down her face.

It broke his heart to see his darling Fleur, a mare so full of charm, wit and liveliness, so badly beaten and frightened.

He would make this right. He swore it.

There was a groan behind him as Nitpick slowly scrambled to his hooves, rubbing his aching back.

Fancy had been angry when he heard that the Lord Magistrate had tried to have his way with Fleur those months ago.

Now, witnessing him going far further and having to prevent it at risk to his life and that of Fleur’s, he was no longer angry.

He was completely and utterly enraged.

Grabbing the old stallion by the collar, he slammed Nitpick against a tree and hissed with pure, untainted loathing.

You depraved, worthless piece of trash!


Nitpick’s eyes focussed and he steadily realised the gentlecolt before him was intent on hurting him, if the floating sword inches from his eye was anything to go by.

“Wha...you...tha...” he babbled “Fancy Pants...you...are...is that a sword?!

“Well...” Fancy Pants gave him a mordant scowl “It certainly isn’t a bouquet of roses”

“You...you’re mad!” he spluttered “You touch me and everypony in Canterlot will call you a criminal!”

“You seriously overestimate your standing in the capital, Nitpick” The sword gave a meaningful turn, just enough to sting without drawing blood “I believe Canterlot will think rather less of you when they find out you tried to force yourself on a young mare your thugs had beaten and tied up in the forest! The authorities will not allow this to go unpunished!”

At this Nitpick’s frightened face grew hateful and arrogant, his lips curling around his jaw in a feral grimace.

“Authorities?” he growled “And what authorities would that be? The Courts? The Press? The Royal Guard? They’re all in my pocket! And besides, you’re my competitor. You’d say anything about me and it would carry exactly zero weight! You can’t touch me!”

He doubled up as the gentlecolt broke civility and delivered him a hefty punch to the gut.

“Wrong” Fancy hissed.

“You...you can’t do this!” Nitpick choked “I’ll have you locked up! Locked up and hanged!”

“You’re my competitor. Anything you say would carry exactly zero weight” Fancy felt unclean repeating Nitpick’s words but it satisfied “You’re quite right, Nitpick, I cannot see you punished for what you’ve just done...for now...but don’t think that means you will be allowed to continue this perverted endeavour. If you try to harm this mare, or any other, again, sir...I tell you now” Fancy’s hooves gripped at the Lord Magistrate’s collar and the sword hovered around his throat.

“There won’t be a single thing, no law, no code, no witness, which will prevent me from tearing you apart!

Nitpick’s cowardly expression returned as his quivering hooves raised in front of his face.

Fancy had made his point...almost.

“In the meantime,” he said calmly “here’s so you don’t forget”

The sword whipped forward and Nitpick fell to the ground, howling as he clutched his bleeding shoulder.

Argh! To Tartarus with you, Fancy Pants!” he roared “You’re mad! Mad, damn you! Just like your parents!”

He shut up as the sword tickled his chin again.

“Little survival tip, Nitpick” Fancy said, turning his back to him “Never insult the parents of somepony with a sword at your throat. And take care in the Lower Gardens in future, you don’t want any more cuts from the brambles”

And with that, he left the Lord Magistrate in the dirt and set about helping Fleur de Lis.

Fleur was no longer crying. From the looks of her, she’d passed out or very nearly.

Struggling to keep composed, Fancy picked her up, held her back-legs in one hoof and rested her head over his shoulder.

He wouldn’t be able to move fast on three legs but he wasn’t about to let Fleur remain here any longer.


He didn’t go unnoticed making his way back home. Nopony said anything, at least not to him, and he didn’t care.

From the look of his stern, steely-eyed expression and walk that was close to marching, it was clear that whatever had happened was quite a serious incident.

He knew he’d have journalists a-plenty crowing outside his home come morning but he’d worry about that later.

Fleur was breathing, he could feel it upon his shoulder, but it was weak and haggard. She needed help and quickly.

He made his way to Briefly Manor as fast as he was able, ignoring the looks others gave him.

One such look came from a hidden photographer who knew that the sight of them could be interpreted in several different ways.

Elsewhere, Prince Blueblood caught his breath in an alleyway as his valet offered him a bottle of cider. He took it and drank it readily.

“Thank you, Conkers” he gasped “You’re a good stallion”

The valet smiled.

“You’re very welcome, sir” It had been years since he had chosen willingly to speak out loud.

The Prince got to his hooves, somewhat invigorated, and turned to the unconscious pegasus stalker. Conkers had subdued him as soon as he was called for, being exceptionally skilled at hoof-to-hoof combat.

“Right then” the prince said “I think we should hand this ruffian to the guard. He’s got some explaining to do..."

He sighed with what Conkers hesitated to believe was shame.

"Then I must see..." he murmured "...a friend”


*


Fleur awoke with a weak groan. One she wasn’t sure had even made noise.

Her head was killing her.

It took all the effort in the world to open her eyes and even more to focus.

She definitely wasn’t at home, that she could tell before she could fully see.

Her apartment ceiling never had a painting on it.

She took notice of the couch she was lying upon, a gaudy item but comfortable. It made a more comfortable bed than her own apartment’s. A linen blanket was draped over her and cushions served as a pillow below her head and back hooves.

She wracked her head, ‘wrack’ being the right word with the headache she had, for what had happened before she must have passed out.

She wished she hadn’t. Her mind filled with the awful images of Nitpick approaching her, touching her, hitting her.

A horrible thought entered her head.

What if he was still around? What if he’d continued his sick game after she passed out and was keeping her in his domain, completely at his mercy?

She raised her blanket and took note of bandages and plasters placed in various parts of her body. Even so, bruises dotted her body and angry red streaks lined her chest and forelegs from the ropes that had bound her.

She definitely wouldn’t be modelling any light-wear garments for a while.

Though Nitpick didn’t seem like the sort of pony to give her dressing and rest in such a way. If she was his prisoner, she likely would’ve woken up in a cellar or an attic.

The scenery seemed familiar. All quite traditional but kept very clean. Very little in the room showed signs of wear.

Then it dawned on her. She could’ve laughed.

The smoking room at Briefly Manor.

Fancy Pants had finally found a use for it.

She felt so much more relaxed as she remembered hearing Fancy’s voice in the forest. Feeling his magic flow through her, helping her breathe and move again. Feeling his gentle hooves pick her up and wrap themselves around her like the warm blanket that covered her.

Protecting her.


“Ooh, pardonnez-moi, mademoiselle

Fleur recognised Prench when she heard it. Her father spoke it regularly. But the voice was female, light and lilting.

Groggily, with quaking limbs, she sat up and turned to face a pretty little pegasus maid with Chineighse features, prominent blush and a long dark mane with a fringe. She had placed a feather duster back at her belt and was gazing at the mare upon the couch worriedly.

“Are you feeling alright, mademoiselle?” she asked “You are awake earlier zan we would have assumed”

“Oh...I...” Fleur found speaking a lot more difficult than she had once done. Her hoof fell to her forehead and she felt the need to lower herself back down on the couch again “I...don’t...I don’t feel good...”

Repose toi, mademoiselle. You do not need to worry” The maid assured her, hurrying to her side and placing a gentle hoof on her shoulder “You came here, very injured but we all ensured you were properly cared for. Pris en charge, you see”

“Now then, Miss Plumette, what’s the commotion?” A reedy, almost wheezing voice came from a room close by and a neat but weathered-looking dark-grey goat appeared. At the sight of Fleur moving, he ambled over to the maid’s side.

“Ah, how are we then, ma’am? A little wonky, I’d imagine” he spoke with a West Trottingham accent through several missing teeth “No worries. You’ll be right as rain in a few minutes”

“Fancy...” Fleur murmured.

“Ah yes, the young master had you brought in, so he did” the goat chuckled “Caused a right panic but we had you taken care of”

Oui, Monsieur Fancy Pants entered looking quite ze gallant, you know” the maid giggled “He would not rest until he knew you would recover”

Fleur gave a great exhale of relief, close to joy at their words. Fancy had saved her.

Fancy had protected her.

“Oi now, give ‘er some room, you two” A dumpy, bespectacled silver unicorn mare entered with a massive tea tray. Behind her, a small grey colt with a well-combed red mane followed her with a china pot and a pair of dainty stainless silver tongs.

The goat and the maid parted for her as she set the tray down on the table and smiled in a motherly fashion at Fleur de Lis.

“Good to see you’re awake, ma’am. The master’ll be pleased to hear it, so he will”

“Aye and no mistake” the goat added “When I recall what he looked liked when he came in from the cold, as it were”

“I’m sorry...” Fleur began weakly, confused at the sight of so many unfamiliar faces “Is this...Briefly Manor?”

“I very much hope so, ma’am, else we’ve been taking care of somepony else’s house for free” the goat laughed. The colt and the maid joined in but the large mare tutted in disapproval.

“Not now, Mr. Gruffleby” She turned back to Fleur.

“This is Briefly Manor, love, and the master had you sent ‘ere to recover. And it was lucky for you, he did. You were a right state when he carried you in. But don’t you worry, you’ll feel much more at home with a good cup of tea inside you, I’ll reckon”


“I’ve...been here before...” Fleur mumbled “I’m...Fleur...Fleur de Lis”

“So we’ve been told, dear” The dumpy mare set about pouring tea “You didn’t see us though last time you came here, I’m afraid”

“No...sorry...I only saw the...butler...and the waiter...”

Oui, Monsieur Tombola and Ramekin, zey told us all about you”

“Well, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you, ma’am, though we’d have preferred it under better circumstances but regardless. We shall introduce ourselves, if you’d wish” the goat said, bowing “I am Billious G. Gruffleby III, formerly Sergeant Major of Her Highness’s 3rd Caprine Chargers Regiment and caretaker here at Briefly Manor, I’ve also served as the master’s lawyer, driver and, in a pinch, I can do a spot of bodyguarding. Oh yes, my old fighting days aren’t behind me just yet”

The maid took over, giggling at the old goat’s bluster, and curtseyed.

Oui mademoiselle, and I am Plumette, enchanté. I am ze maid around ze manor. I keep ze place tidy. I can also manage ze weather, play musique and if I must, I know some fighting techniques from ma mère’s side of ze family”

“Alright you two, that’s enough now” the large unicorn said sternly, before turning back to Fleur “How would you like your tea, Miss?”

“Um...” Fleur felt like it wasn’t exactly the time or place to be making tea but the earnest look on the mare’s face in front of her pressured her into accepting “Milk please...and two sugars”

“Of course, ma’am” he turned to the colt beside her “Alright, Tinny, you heard that?”

“Yes, auntie” the colt said, possessed of a similar voice which he was quite eager to use, calling out the request as if he were relaying orders on a train or barge.

“Two sugars, no more, no less”

Also being a unicorn, the colt picked up the tongs with his magic, a periwinkle blue in hue, and set about removing two cubes of sugar from the china pot and placing them in the tea cup on the tray. His aunt stirred the tea and offered it to Fleur who gladly took a sip.

“Thank you...” Fleur mumbled, feeling somewhat revitalised “And...you?”

“Ooh, where are me’ manners?” the mare flustered.

“Yes, auntie, where are your manners?” the colt asked cheekily.

“Hush, Tinny” she ordered the colt with a stern but not exactly angry look, before answering Fleur.

“How do you do, ma’am? I’m Mrs Fuss Pot, the housekeeper around the manor. I’ve more than several duties, one of which being tea-making as you can see, and I take pride in each one, as I should”

The colt waved his hoof meaningfully. Mrs Fuss Pot sighed and continued.

“And the colt here is me’ nephew, Tinny. He helps around the manor wherever he can. He’s a good colt, is our Tinny”

“Hello, Miss Fleur” Tinny said excitedly “We’ve all been really busy helping you. Everyone in the manor’s saying Master Fancy Pants saved your life!”

“Yes...” Fleur sighed, managing a smile “Yes he did”

“It was Lord Nitpick, they said he'd captured you” Tinny continued in stride “He’s horrible, he is. They say he’s crooked. But Master Fancy Pants isn’t afraid of him! He isn’t afraid of anything! And he had his sword with him, so he did! I bet he looked cracking good when he rescued you, ma’am! I bet he fought off a thousand guards, armed to the teeth, and a dragon! No, ten dragons! With laser beams attached to their heads!

“Trelawney Tintinnabulous Can, you control yourself this minute!” Fuss Pot snapped “It’s not right for you to turn whatever this poor mare’s suffered through into storytale rubbish”

“Sorry, auntie” The colt bowed his head shamefully “Sorry miss”

“It’s alright” Fleur gave him a smile “Where’s Fancy Pants now?”

“He’s resting himself downstairs. Took quite a beating, whatever happened” Gruffleby said “Took him long enough to realise he’d twisted his fetlock and nearly shattered his shoulder-blade. But he wouldn’t have it seen to, not 'till he knew you were safe. He wanted to give you his bed but Tom said it would be easier for everyone to help in the smoking-room”

“He’s asked us to check on you so many times, mademoiselle” Plumette added “His poor heart is heavy with inquiétude

“He’ll be glad to know you’re alright, miss” Fuss Pot turned to the door “Shall we bring him up?”

“I..I need to go down and-” Fleur made to rise but a cramping in her joints put an end to that. The servants present steadied her and returned her to the couch.

“Nonsense, dear. You need your rest. Stay here and the master will come straight up for you. He weren’t near as badly beaten as you were, love. He’s alright getting up the stairs”


“Yes...yes, I was”

The master’s voice behind them caused Fuss, Tinny, Plumette and Gruffleby to jump to attention as Fancy Pants, still in his uniform and propping himself up with his sheathed walking stick, stood in the doorway, gazing at Fleur with caring eyes.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

“I...I think so” Fleur murmured “Though...my head feels like there’s a griffin tavern fight inside my skull...and my legs ache worse than after posing for still-life...Fancy...” She stared at him “You...you saved me...”

“As best I could” He made his way over to her, limping slightly and wearing the face of a truly regretful pony “I am so...so sorry that I couldn’t get to you sooner”

“Fancy” Fleur paled as another horrific thought entered her aching head “He...he didn’t...”

“No, dear Fleur” Fancy interjected, banishing that thought, before taking a measured breath “Had he done so, he would not have seen tomorrow’s sunrise”

Gruffleby cleared his throat.

“Perhaps there is work around the manor that requires our attention, ladies and gentlecolts”

“I think you're quite right, Mr Gruffleby” Fuss Pot agreed “Come along, Tinny, let’s set about preparing some supper”

“But I want to hear about the fight” the young colt whined.

“I'll tell you what happened over supper, Tinny, don’t worry” Fancy assured him “You go and help your auntie, there’s a good chap”

Oui, let us depart” Plumette gave the colt a gentle pat on the back as the four servants bustled out the door “Perhaps ze story is not suitable for foals”

“Why? Was there lots of blood and swearing?” Tinny badgered any who would answer.

“You’ll find out later, young’un” Gruffleby chuckled

“Did the dragon lasers get him?”

“Oh hush up now, you little rascal, and let’s get supper ready” Fuss Pot clucked, shutting the door behind them.


Fancy and Fleur stared at each other for what seemed like a lifetime.

The gentlecolt knelt down, wincing as he momentarily put weight on his twisted fetlock, and gazed at Fleur on her level.

“Forgive me, Fleur” he began “Had I known you were in danger...”

“No...” it was her turn to interject “You couldn’t see my distress signal spell, I doubt anypony could...” She weighed that sentence in her mind “How did you know?”

“I was informed beforehoof” Fancy answered “By Blueblood”

Fleur scowled in distaste at the stallion’s name.

“He sent me down to the Lower Gardens. He was leading me right into Nitpick’s trap”

“I know” Fancy placed a calming hoof on her shoulder “He came to me soon after I’d gotten home and explained everything. He was...not proud of what he’d done, especially after he found out exactly what the Lord Magistrate planned on doing to you. I let him understand, in no uncertain terms, that he should have known better than to trust scum like Nitpick but I am inclined to believe his story”

“Are you sure he wasn’t involved?”

Fancy shrugged.

“He’s never been a good liar”

“And what about Nitpick?” Fleur asked, clutching the edges of her blanket on impulse.

Fancy frowned.

“I’m afraid we cannot press charges, at least at the moment...but rest assured, I made him regret coming after you and I believe he will be disinclined to return”

“Fancy...” Fleur’s delicate hoof reached out for his as she leaned over and kissed him, on the lips, causing the gentlecolt, as usual, to blush wildly and blink at her in that manner that she found so very enchanting.

“F-Fleur...” he stammered “I-I-I...”

“Shh” Her hoof moved to his lips and felt the kiss she’d just given him. She smiled, looking far more like her elegant self and whispered some words he’d been longing to hear.

“Thank you...my love...for protecting me”

Author's Note:

You didn't really think Fancy was going to let Nitpick have his way with Fleur did you?
(Well, I did say nothing comes of the harassment theme on the main page. Let's hope this doesn't cross the margin. Let me know if it might)
My first time narrating a pony fight. Sorry if it seems a little jolty.
Artemis Fowl reference, see if you can find it.
You won't need long to find the Austin Powers reference, however.
It's not over just yet though.
You're about to find out exactly what the Countess and her 'contact' (Guess Who) intend to do with the photos they've been collecting.
Please leave comments if you can. :pinkiesmile::twilightsmile: Feedback is appreciated.