• Published 1st Jul 2012
  • 4,144 Views, 112 Comments

Shipping Wars - Soothing Stone

When Fluttershy invites Spike to a romantic-ish dance, everypony tries to figure out why.

  • ...

Chapter 6

It was finally here. After weeks of preparation, the day of the Ponyville Palace Dance had arrived. The storm had created a lot of debris, but it was cleared when everypony had woken up, as Luna used her unit of Royal Guards to clean things up overnight. Since all the structures remained intact, it was almost as if it never happened.

The princess went inside Twilight's house around four in the morning for a quick rest, looking forward as much as anypony to tonight. She didn't have the need to sleep as she was a demigod more or less, but it still helped to get some shuteye.

As she went to the floor of the hollow tree, she caught Twilight Sparkle snoring high above her, muttering something from a dream Shining Armor was in. It seemed to be a good dream, so Luna left her alone for the time being.

Meanwhile, Cheerilee was snug in bed with Big Mac, for what was their first time in bed together. Sweetie Belle was sleeping inside the Boutique dreaming of Spike, and so was Rarity even as Fancy Pants was laying next to her.

Once the day had started, everypony was up and about with their regular business, but the Dance was in every discussion being held. As it was a Tuesday, the fillies went to another round of books and lessons, much to their disappointment. They wished they got a day off just for today, like every day in the final months of the school year.

However, Luna was hard at work on the final touches to the school gym. It was designed like any classic basketball court, but could also double as a stage arena for any plays the school had scheduled. Redesigning this place to contain the splendor of the Canterlot castle took a lot of work, yet she had managed to do it. Now it was just the minor details left to arrange.

She had invited the Royal Canterlot Symphony over around noon, and gave them specific instructions on the song list. It played up to their skill set, so they were content with the task. But Octavia had noted one of the songs had a star next to its name, and all Luna did to explain was "It will be the last song you will play tonight, but do not play it until I tell you to."

Many banners had gone up, decor was in every spot imaginable, and Luna took the honor herself to use her magic to put the chandelier up on the ceiling. It didn't matter that she would need to use her horn throughout the night to keep it up, she could handle it. If she could raise the moon, this was nothing.

The theme of the Dance this year was that of the cosmos, of an otherworldly atmosphere. It took a light black and white color scheme, and occasionally there was a planet hanging up, but tastefully done as to not go overboard.

Once it was 15 minutes until the doors would open, Luna waited near the main lobby, acting as the greeter for all newcomers. It was a ticketed event, so she knew when to stop...still, with over three thousand tickets sold, a new record, it could take a while.

She invited Twilight Sparkle to arrive early, to begin her role as Luna's assistant for the night. The wait was killing her, every second feeling like a minute to her. The Royal Guards standing watch outside were given orders to let Twilight in as soon as they saw her, and Luna began to wonder what was taking the unicorn so long.

Then the doors swung right open, and Twilight Sparkle had arrived. The alicorn was shocked when she saw her, looking even more beautiful in her Canterlot-designed dress than she had pictured.

"Twilight Sparkle...you look amazing. Are you ready for tonight's festivities?" Luna asked.

"Ready as I'll ever be," Twilight responded. "But...I am a little nervous."

"How so?"

"The last time I've been to an event like this, it was the Grand Galloping Gala, and things didn't turn out so well. I acted as Celestia's assistant there, and I'm your assistant here. I really hope it doesn't get as crazy as the Gala."

Luna smiled, finding the Gala catastrophe amusing when Celestia told her all that happened. "If things went as 'crazy' as they did then, it would be very entertaining. But I don't believe you should fear such things."

Twilight pawed at the ground with a hoof, covered in purple-coated glass slippers. "I guess you're right. I should try to have some fun!"

Then the doors swung open for real, and the first guests of the party filed in, within a single-file line to the Princess and the Element of Harmony. There were many ponies within well made dresses and tuxedos, and they looked ready to dance.

"Hello, and welcome to the Ponyville Palace Dance. Enjoy the festivities, and your special somepony," Luna said like clockwork. She had been given a card written by Celestia to memorize, and it had the phrase she was told to say to every new guest, and she rehearsed it well. She seemed genuinely thrilled to be there, and Twilight greeted every pony as well.

It was weird at first, because Twilight knew everypony that came in, which was almost required to every citizen of Ponyville. When she saw Fancy Pants with Rarity, Sweetie Belle with Spike, Cheerilee with Big Mac, and Fluttershy with Angel, it was especially odd, as she had to remember AGAIN the most insane three days of her life.

Eventually, Luna had counted up the the three thousandth guest, and turned to Twilight, "That is every guest we have on the list. Let's go on to the gym, there is a long list of activities tonight."

"Right," Twilight cheerfully responded. "Wait, what's the first thing they do again?"

"First, we allow everypony to get accustomed to the theme. That way, when it's time to dance, they'll be very comfortable with planets and galaxies everywhere. Then, we begin."

She nodded as they went through the lobby and into the main hall, and her breath was taken away by the splendor and expense of what she saw inside. Everywhere she looked, there was something else that was demanding attention, to the point where it almost overwhelmed her.

The way it was arranged made the gym look huger that it really was, as the area was wide open, and the purple and black color scheme really helped the decorated stars and swirls stand out more.

On top of that, the Symphony, playing a slow song from a boxed stage above the main section, helped establish the mood with their first song, which was designed to be a mental picture of a flight in space.

Meanwhile, the ponies inside were just as surprised as she was. They enjoyed just gazing at the decor for this year, remarking that Luna's involvement seemed to be much more than just showing up, as the uncanny similarities between this and a Canterlot party were obvious.

"I don't know how you did it," Mayor Mare said, greeting Twilight and Luna, "but this is incredible, and everypony's saying the same thing! I don't know how to repay you, but I will somehow."

"That is not necessary," Luna responded. "As long as you appreciate our services, that is all the repayment I desire."

"You have no clue how much. I hope you enjoy yourself tonight," she winked at Twilight, moving on to find her spot with her husband.

Twilight didn't understand then what the Mayor meant by that, thinking she meant to wish her good luck with tonight's job. She trotted by Luna's side as they found a place outside the crowd.

"So what's the first part of being the assistant?" Twilight asked.

"You'll see soon enough," responded Luna. "Don't worry, I won't throw you unprepared, like I know you fear."

The unicorn gulped, wondering if the alicorn could read her mind. That was exactly her biggest fear about tonight, since she had no idea what was going to happen, as it wasn't just Luna's first Dance this year.

Using her size to tower over the crowd, Luna approached the crowd to begin, and they stayed silent and watched her every move, knowing she had something on her mind.

"Greetings, citizens of Ponyville!" she said, in a voice that wasn't as rough as the Royal Canterlot Voice, but still loud enough to count as shouting. "Welcome to the 23rd annual Ponyville Palace Dance, and I, Princess Luna, along with my friend, Twilight Sparkle, will be the hosts for tonight!"

Twilight waved, hoping she wasn't looking like a fool, as the ponies stomped the ground in applause. Maybe she would do well after all.

"And now, with music from our fairest sister's Royal Canterlot Symphony, let's begin the Dance!"

Octavia nodded and picked up her bow, and began the opening notes for the first song in their playlist. The other band members joined in a fast-paced song that instantly sent the audience in a dance rage.

Other in one corner, Sweetie Belle began to trot around the floor, and she was moving so fast, Spike found it hard to keep up pace. He tried his hardest, but she became a little ball of energy, almost going to Pinkie Pie levels of intensity.

"Um, can we slow it down?" he asked, hoping their first "date" went well.

"Oh, yeah!" she shouted. "If it helps you from not falling over!"

She joined her hooves inside the dragon's claws, and swung around so hard, his feet lifted off the ground, freaking out before he landed back, only to be swung around again and praying he could hang onto her hooves.

"SWEETIE BELLLLE!" he screamed, hoping the swinging would end soon. She saw what she was doing and stopped, crashing Spike to the ground.

"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean it!" she said, dusting the dirt off of his tuxedo. "Are you OK?"

"Yeah, I'm fine, just need to get back up..."

He sluggishly got back up to his two feet, but as things looked better, he accidentally belched and sent a fireball to the ground, turning that section of floor into ash.

"Maybe we should see what they have to eat..."

"Yeah, let's do that," she laughed, dragging her dragon friend over to the snack bar over by the side.

In another place inside the dancing arena, Big Mac and Cheerilee were holding each other's hoof, joining with each other step in step, as they were both trying their best not to fall over on each other. Even after many lessons he had troubles getting the most basic moves right, and this was the first time since she had braces on her teeth that Cheerilee was dancing.

And it was obvious from the start, as both of them were shaking throughout their moves. Big Mac tried to sidestep, but he slipped and almost tripped over his own hooves. Cheerilee joined in the move, trying to keep with the pace with him, yet she slipped and left him alone for a moment.

She raced to rejoin him, her nerves almost shutting her body down. They rejoined hooves and tried to keep "dancing", but it was slip after slip after fall. Thankfully, nopony was noticing, up until Big Mac did a risky move that resulted in both of them flat on the floor, their bodies aching.

"Ow...what happened?" she asked, seeing stars everywhere. A few stallions came over to help them both up, and she saw bruises on the top of Big Mac's head. "Big Mac, are you OK?"

"Eeyup, I'll be fine," he moaned, more hurt than he would admit. He tried to rejoin Cheerilee, but he couldn't make two straight steps to save his life. She laughed and tried to dance along with him like that.

"Let's face it, none of us know how to dance," she giggled. "So let's try it this way, who knows, this might be better."

He kept trotting around in circles, and she circled around him in delight. Somehow, this was more fun than anything else they were trying, so even when his sight recovered, he continued to circle around like a drunken maniac.

Soon enough they were even beginning to have fun with it, as the song seemed to get faster and faster inside their ears. As they went with the silliest routine of all time, they stopped attempting to impress the other with their dancing and just went with whatever popped into their minds. And it seemed to work.

"Wow, you're getting good at this," Cheerilee commented. "Did you learn anything of THIS at the dance studios?"

"Nope," he breathed, keeping his breath up to not wear himself out. "Honestly, I don't think they taught me all that much, though everypony else seemed to."

"It's fine, you're doing great."

He nodded, and they kept circling around, with the minutes going by like seconds.

And finally, in the other place of the gym, Rarity was doing her best to pay attention to what was happening around her, and not get lost within Fancy Pants' gaze. He lead her into a simpler routine, where all they would have to do were simple hoof stomps on the ground.

But even then she was having trouble, thinking she would faint if they made direct contact again.

"And then, we take the right front hoof like this," said Fancy, doing as he said, "and then we take both of the front ones around to the right swimmingly! Rarity, are you feeling ill?"

"What?" she questioned, snapping back into reality. "Oh, you mean like this?" She did the corresponding movement with ease, hoping she was half as good as Fancy.

"Yes, excellent!" he complimented. "You seem to be getting the hang of it! Have you been practicing?"

"No, I'm afraid. But you make it look easy."

"Only because I practiced since I was a young lad. Practice is the only reason I've gotten good at any leisure activity like this."

She nodded, and danced around with her stallion. Rarity kept her eyes on his hooves, careful to follow along in what was the best instructional lesson of all time. When she did that, she was pretty good, breaking a sweat even, and she was wondering if she should pursue this "dancing".

But when she got a better hold of the routine, and Fancy repeated it to make sure she knew it by heart, she kept looking higher up on his frame. She admired his well-stitched tuxedo, before she fell for the trap of his dreamy eyes again...

Oh Fancy Pants, she thought as she gazed into them. I have met many ponies with charm, with charisma, and with handsome looks, but you are better than them all. Every time you breathe a word to me, I want to savor every moment I get to listen to your voice...

"And be there by your side when you wake up," she breathed, not realizing she was starting to think out loud.

"Excuse me, what did you say?" he asked, wondering what this had to do with the crossing backside move. Yet she couldn't help it, and kept thinking out loud.

"Is it fine if I kiss you now?"

He was surprised, as it registered for him to realize that's what she was thinking about the whole time. "Of course. Anything for you, darling."

"I love it when you call me darling."

"I know."

She came up and kissed him right on the lips, and he kissed back, moving a hoof through her mane. Rarity moaned a little with that, thinking he had the most gentle touch.

He pulled back, blushing just a little. "Thank you, you are a good kisser. But can we return to the routine?"

"Oh..Oh! Yes, let's continue the dance. With the hooves! And the crossing," she stuttered, and she was clearly not thinking straight.

"Or would you like to go someplace else? I'm content with anything you choose to do."

"No, I apologize about all of that. I'll promise I won't get carried away next time."

"You don't have to apologize for that, dear."

They continued to dance, as the second song began. Octavia adjusted the strings on her cello to get ready for the next piece. It was slower in design, and allowed for waltzing patterns this time around. Not as demanding as the first, but it still provided a challenge for all.

Meanwhile, Fluttershy moved around as slow as the song, careful not to hit anypony as she walked around with Angel on her back, acting more as a chaperone because of their huge size difference. Last time they tried to dance in Fluttershy's house, she crushed him with a hoof and had to take him to the vet, but he made it out in one piece, and she promised not to force him through that again.

"Wow, everypony seems to be enjoying themselves," said Fluttershy. "Do you like it, Angel?"

Angel seemed to like what he saw, except when he had to shield his eyes anytime a strobe light was in his eye sight. He sniffed the air, and caught the scent of something familiar, something that was making his tummy rumble...

He looked towards the direction Sweetie Belle and Spike were lounging at, and found the ultimate prize in the snack bar: A whole plate, with every inch filled with carrots upon carrots. He went rabid, and hopped off and scurried around the moving hooves over to the table.

"Why are they serving carrots again?" Sweetie Belle asked, when she went from cupcakes to...that.

"Maybe they're serving healthy foods in schools again?" Spike shrugged. "They do look delicious. You want to try one?"

"Not in a million years. Do dragons like carrots or something?" she noted, since Spike was drooling over the plate.

He grabbed one in his claws, and threw the whole thing in his mouth. It tasted delicious to him, so he grabbed another, only to find that he also grabbed Angel, clinging onto the same carrot.

"Hey, let go!" he said, trying to shake the bunny off. But he never let go, and crawled up to the dragon's face and kicked him hard into the cheek. He yelped in pain and let go of the carrot, and Angel escaped with his prize, hiding over by the wall.

"Nobody does that to my Spike, NOBODY!" Sweetie Belle yelled, trying to find where the badly named bunny was hiding out at.

Fluttershy came in, thinking she saw Angel around the snack bar, when she saw the little filly looking prepared to tear into some poor creature. "Have you seen Angel around here? I saw him here, I know it!"

"He was just here," Spike moaned in pain, "and I don't think he likes me."

Angel was happy to see Fluttershy around, and he hopped over to her back. Sweetie Belle eyeballed him, huffing and ready for a fight to remember.

"Oh, thank you Sweetie Belle," Fluttershy said. "I don't think I would've found him without you."

"He kicked me in the face because I wouldn't give him a carrot!" Spike confessed.

"Did you really?" she questioned, turning to Angel. He hid within her tail, which answered the question for her. "That's it, we're going home, and you're in a lot of trouble, Angel!"

He quivered in her tail, hoping it didn't amount to more than a week without cherries. He loved cherries.

"Thanks again, I'll take care of him myself," she huffed, turning around to go to the exit. It was a good night for her anyway, not getting out that much.

The night continued on, with the main playlist lasting for six more songs with an intermission in the middle. Within it, Twilight's main job was more of an assistant manager, checking with Luna to make sure everything in the snack bar was well stacked, the decor was holding up, and to take care of the ashy spot Spike had left.

It went smoothly after the chaos of the first two songs. There were plenty of good moments to be had, and it was one of the Royal Canterlot Symphony's best performances to date. And with a tradition that seemed to form over the years, there were many marriage proposals made during the songs, to much buzz.

As every proposal was made before her eyes, Luna got a little more nervous as the dance marched on. It was just as amazing of a night as Celestia had told her, but she was still impressed by what she had seen.

But it added to the pressure of the final moment of the night, when everypony had left.

She and Twilight said goodbye to the guests as they made their way out the doors, with a lot of ponies asking her to return to next year's. Maybe I will, she would always say. I'll find out when the time comes. The couples Twilight knew well seemed happy with themselves, but she told Spike to go back to their house. Alone.

He groaned, but there was no point in arguing with her. He kissed her hoof, she was flattered, and they went their separate ways.

Now it was just Luna, Twilight, the Symphony, and a hoofful of Royal Guards keeping watch over the facility while there was a princess inside.

"I thought that was cool," Twilight mumbled, a little tired from the job. "You're right, it didn't go as wrong as the Gala. It must have been because I did a better assistant job this time, right?"

"I wouldn't know," Luna breathed, getting more nervous with the time, "but you were perfect tonight. For that, I thank you."

There was a pause, and the Symphony never left their instruments, waiting for the signal. Twilight stretched out her hooves, saying "Well, I think it's time to hit the hay. It's good to meet you again, Princess Luna. You really knew how to catch up with modern Equestrian society."

"Wait," Luna stopped her, as she was walking to the exit.

What now? Is there something else I forgot? I hope I didn't forget anything, Twilight thought. "What is it, Luna? What do you want me to do next?"

"It's not a task," Luna said, her breaths getting heavier. "There's something I want to say before you leave."