• Published 5th Aug 2017
  • 4,385 Views, 261 Comments

A Royal Mistake - All Art Is Quite Useless

It seems that no amount of stalling, negotiation, or bargaining will stop the council. Since Twilight's coronation, they have insisted that she be tied to a Canterlot noble, so as not to lose their hold on Twilight's dominion. Tied in marriage.

  • ...

Shock and Disbelief

Twilight passed through the gates of the Royal Palace, the guards parting and putting a reasonable amount of distance between themselves and her as she strode past. On the surface, Twilight was the picture of perfect serenity; inside, Twilight had the jitters, badly.

She wasn't sure why Celestia had summoned her, nor why it had been such short notice. Usually, due to the Solar Princess's tightly packed schedule, Twilight would receive a date for their meetings weeks or even months in advance, as well as a full reason for the summons.

Twilight had received this letter yesterday. She had briefly considered there being a new threat to Equestria, but she was sure that Celestia would have found a way to make her aware if that was the case, however cryptically. Well, reasonably sure. No, this had to be something else, but the needling worry in the back of her mind didn't leave easily, no matter how she tried to coax it out.

She trotted past another pair of guards, making her way into the castle grounds, the layout of which she knew all too well from years of experience. With a tremulous shake of her tail, she made her way towards the throne room, hoping that she could simply find Celestia there and put her mind to rest.

As she walked, she began to consider the plethora of reasons Celestia might have needed to speak with her on such short notice. Her eyes traveled upwards and she habitually brushed away her bangs with a flick of magic as she considered the possibilities, be they related to changelings, a royal duty, or some other inconceivable issue that she was unaware of. Her magic subconsciously partitioned her tail hairs, thread by thread, as she gave thought to each of the intersecting possibilities crossing her mind at once.

If she hadn't been so wrapped up in the worries that gripped her, she might have noticed that there was a door directly in front of her, and that it was currently swinging open with some speed. She might also not have been hit in the muzzle by it.

"Ngghh-ahh!" she cried out suddenly, unceremoniously dropping onto her haunches, cradling her precious snout while fighting back a steadily building stream of tears. That had hurt like a bitch.

When her eyes had cleared somewhat, she was able to make out a rather apologetic looking handmaiden, holding out a hoof and offering Twilight some help in getting up. "I am so sorry, princess! Ah, uhm, P-Princess Celestia sent me to come and find you, but I didn't expect you to be," the young mare paused and apprehensively waved a hoof at the stunned Twilight, "For you to be, ahh—" she trailed off, looking both worried and confused.

A few moments, and Twilight had managed to regain her faculties. It was nice to have a distraction from her crippling concern, even if it was a clumsy, pain inducing one. She stood, still rubbing her muzzle, and winced out her best attempt at a convincing smile. "I-It's fine, really! Honestly, I should have been watching where I was going," she let out a nervous laugh, looking around at the castle staff, who all seemed to be trying their hardest to ignore her predicament, be it out of respect or fear that they might offend royalty, "Can't exactly be mad at you for opening a door now, can I?" she grimaced, painfully aware of her insincerity.

The handmaiden either didn't notice or didn't mind, as she still stood with her hoof outstretched, stammering over various apologies. She took a deep breath, and proceeded to speak with an affected calm: "As I was saying, princess," she meekly began, "Princess Celestia has asked me to fetch you, and bring you to her at once."

At this, Twilight's eyes widened and she bolted up to standing. She remembered why she was at the palace, and that thought alone was enough to put some movement into her bones. Something about what the handmaiden had said appeared odd though. "Wait, why would Celestia send somepony to get me? I know my way around, I could find the throne room with my eyes shut!"

As Twilight sprung up, the handmaiden's face whitened. "Uhm, begging your pardon, your highness, I didn't mean to insinuate that you didn't, but I'm just doing as I'm told, and the princess told me th-that she'd actually be receiving you elsewhere today--"

"Really?!" Twilight jumped in place, incredulous, "But these are court hours! When does Celestia ever take time off during the day?!"

The rapidly paling handmaiden was becoming more and more skittish with each of Twilight's bombastic responses. "I-I'm not entirely sure it's my place, to, ah, say that, Princess Twilight. As far as I know, Princess Celestia has always performed her royal duties to the best of her ability, and I never meant to imply that she didn't! Oh, I'm sorry, princess, first I attack you and next I talk badly of Celestia, ohh, please don't tell her—"

Twilight knew that any other pony wouldn't take much heed of the information she had just received, but those ponies didn't know Celestia like she did. To Celestia, her duty to her country was everything, and only the most pressing of circumstances came before it. To Twilight's alarm, she realised that whatever she had been summoned for, it was important enough for Celestia to take a break from presiding over the throne room, presumably without much notice. With her mind suddenly racing as it was, she barely noticed the pony melting into a puddle in front of her.

"...And if I'm banished to Tarturus, I'll never see my friends again, or my family! Oh, princess, she's not going to banish me, is she?" By this point, the pony was visibly shaking –her fetlocks bent forwards– and she looked as if she could collapse at any moment. Before she could become any more panic-stricken, Twilight raised a hoof, silencing her.

"No no, please, I'm so sorry," Twilight looked away for a moment before eyeing the handmaiden sympathetically, "I've made you all worried... None of that's going to happen, I promise," she spoke in soothing tones, walking over to the confused and upset pony, wrapping a soft wing around her barrel and gently pulling her in, "I'm just a little pent up right now, I didn't mean to make you so afraid."

The young attendant flinched at the contact, but quickly settled into it. She took a few calming breaths, allowing herself to deflate. "No, princess, It's not your fault, I should have been straight to the point. Princess Celestia asked me to escort you to the antechamber in the southern wing, are you familiar with it?"

Ponies peered at the pair's impromptu cuddle with little restraint as Twilight cast her gaze skyward, trying to determine whether or not she did remember where that particular room was. When nothing promising came, she shook her head.

"Then would you like me to show you the way?" The pony's tone had swiftly become quite upbeat, Twilight smiled, she must have done a good job of comforting her.

"Of course," she beamed, eyes briefly squeezing shut, "Please. lead the way."

The handmaiden moved to do as instructed, but was stayed by a purple, feathery barrier. She shuffled awkwardly on her hooves before turning to Twilight, who was again staring into space. "Uhm, your highness?"

Twilight's vision snapped back to her, her eyes swiftly gaining focus. "Oh!" She looked at her wing, "Right, that!" grinning sheepishly, she retracted her wing and folded it, "How's that?"

The mare stood up straight, testing her footing and smiling at Twilight before beginning to walk away. "Great! Thank you!"

Apparently, the mare had taken her question a little too literally; Twilight couldn't help but laugh. She quickly trotted up to keep pace with the mare, feeling the last pangs of pain fade from her muzzle as they walked through the winding corridors of the castle.

All the while, Twilight found herself to be a little curious about the mare. Maybe it was just a means of distraction from the impending meeting, maybe it was her tendency to want to understand other ponies, she wasn't sure. Twilight found the swiftness with which her mood changed interesting, as well as her genuine fear of the princesses, despite having worked for the royal sisters for an indeterminate amount of time. Twilight figured she must be new to the job. It helped to be able to deduce why ponies acted the way they did, it helped to affirm her understanding of the world.

Soon enough, her curiosity drifted back to the situation at hoof. "Say, do you know anything about why Celestia wants to see me here?" It was a long shot, but the worst she could say was no.

"I'm afraid not, princess, I was only told to escort the ponies."

Twilight nodded, turning a corner with her escort. I didn't think much would come of that. As they walked, she mentally recited the pony's words. Wait, 'ponies'? She looked quizzically at the handmaid, "Who else did you have to pick up?"

"Prince Blueblood, your highness," she sweetly smiled.

Twilight said nothing in response, but her expression barely diminished. Blueblood? But why? Does he even have anything to do with royal proceedings? Twilight considered asking the handmaiden for more information, but knew it wouldn't be much use.

"I know it really isn't my place to say this, but that Prince Blueblood really is quite the caring stallion."

Twilight involuntarily snorted with laughter. "Really? Blueblood, caring?"

"Why yes, he was nice enough to offer me lunch when I arrived at his estate, said I looked as if I had been on my hooves all day without a moment to spare! I declined, of course, but he insisted! In fact, he refused to leave until I had eaten, and I have to say, the food was scrumptious! It's funny, once we left he barely said a word, but I couldn't stop thanking him!"

Twilight raised an eyebrow. "That is, err, strange," she nodded, unsure what else to say. Twilight's opinion of Blueblood –or what little she had of one– was pretty skewed. On one hand, she had heard the stories of his treatment of Rarity (at some length), and that was enough for her to vehemently dislike him. On the other, she had witnessed his behaviour herself at the Equestria Games, and saw him then to be polite, respectful, and most importantly, not pompous or arrogant in any sense of the word. It would have confused her, had she ever paused to think about it, and now that she gave it some consideration, she realised it didn't make much sense at all.

"Anddd, here we are!" the handmaiden announced, beaming as she gestured toward an exquisitely crafted oaken door, "If you do get a chance and would be so kind, could you please tell the good prince that Meadow Springs says hello?"

Huh, so that was her name, Twilight thought, annoyed she hadn't asked for it sooner. "Uhh, yeah, sure. Well, thanks, Meadow!"

"No problem!" Meadow called, already skipping away to whatever new task awaited her.

Twilight no sooner faced the door as it opened of its own accord. Luckily, this door opened inwards, and there was no chance of it hitting her. Not wasting any time, Twilight stepped inside, soon spotting Princess Celestia and Prince Blueblood sitting together at a small gilded table, purple satin pillows pushed underneath the pair as they sipped from small porcelain cups that hung in each pony's respective aura.

The scene was almost tranquil to look at, and relaxed Twilight somewhat, though it also gave rise to small pangs of jealousy.

Twilight was well aware that Blueblood was Celestia's nephew, but it felt strange to see another pony sitting and drinking tea with her mentor, as she had grown accustomed to doing herself. The only reassurance the picture gave her was that whatever this matter was, it couldn't be as grave as she had anticipated, not if everypony appeared so calm.

Then again, Celestia always appeared calm, and Twilight had no clue about Blueblood. She slowly stepped in, not too eager to make her presence known, but not looking to skulk around in the shadows either. Luckily, Celestia's infallible perception drew her to the fray.

"Ah, Twilight," she said without looking, "Please, come and join us. You've met my nephew, I presume?"

With this, Blueblood's head languidly rose, his eyes regarding Twilight briefly and then narrowing, though he remained silent, save the odd sip of his drink.

"No, I haven't, Princess Celestia, though I have heard of him," Twilight smiled at the pair, hoping she didn't look too false. Just remain cordial, Twilight, you'll be fine. "It's nice to meet you, Prince Blueblood."

Blueblood nodded in response, his face stolid as ever. When Twilight extended a hoof to shake, his features appeared to harden, but he returned the gesture nonetheless, briefly and gingerly shaking her hoof.

Celestia smiled at this. "Good, it seems you're, ahem, already acquainted," Celestia looked away for a moment, and then proceeded to repeat the word 'good' a couple of times.

If Twilight didn't know any better, she would assume that Celestia was currently blanching.

"Now, I must apologise to you both in advance," she eyed Blueblood, and then Twilight, her expression penitent, "For many things, honestly, but first of all for bringing you both here and then thrusting this meeting upon you without any notice or explanation as to why."

If Twilight shared any trait with Blueblood, it was the instinctive smile they both offered to Celestia in forgiveness. Twilight chose to ignore that, and instead try to get a better scope of the situation. "You mean you've not told Prince Blueblood anything yet, Princess?"

"I have not, and he has been very patient in waiting."

"Thank you, Princess Celestia," Blueblood said, softly and clearly.

"Aunt," Celestia sternly corrected.

"Yes, Aunt Celestia," he repeated, his tone childishly querulous for but a moment.

"Honestly, Blue, you don't need to be embarrassed in front of Twilight, she is a wonderful pony."

Twilight stifled a laugh, "Blue?" she wondered aloud, mirth in her eyes as she regarded the prince.

To his credit, Blueblood's strong features didn't falter, he didn't blush nor flinch. "Yes, Celestia has called me such since I was young, I have grown quite accustomed to it."

Twilight put a hoof over her mouth, pushing back a sudden wave of giggles. She wasn't sure why, but she found it difficult to place the idea of Blueblood having a childhood nickname, one given to her by the Princess of all Equestria, no less.

Celestia cleared her throat for a second time, abruptly halting Twilight's laugh before it could break free. When they both turned to regard her, she appeared unsure how to proceed. "I, uhm, I do believe I have kept you waiting long enough, you in particular, Blue, and I'd like to explain why you had to have this meeting."

Twilight instantly raised a hoof like a schoolfilly in a classroom, Celestia nodded her way and she proceeded to speak. Blueblood raised an eyebrow by a centimetre at most.

"Excuse me, Princess, but you used the past participle 'had' to refer to a meeting that hasn't even happened yet."

Celestia smiled at her student's characteristic punctiliousness, but it was overshadowed by a small sigh. "Usually, you would be right as always, Twilight, but I'm afraid that in this case, the meeting has already taken place."

Twilight cocked her head, bewildered. "Wait, what do you mean? I thought I was meant to be present at the meeting?"

"That's the thing, Twilight, you were. You both were. In fact," Celestia briefly chewed her bottom lip, "How do I say this? This meeting was simply an opportunity for you to meet each other."

Twilight looked at Blueblood, who returned her gaze, apparently equally confused, then looked back at Celestia, who looked as if she had just bitten into something very sour. "Uhh, why would you call us here for that, princess? I don't really follow."

"I must concur," Blueblood stated. "I see little merit to this short interaction, what were you hoping to accomplish?"

Celestia briefly closed her eyes before looking at each pony, resolute. "This 'interaction', as you put it, was necessary. I'll try to explain this as best I can. Recently, I came to the end of a long dialogue with the Royal Council regarding a certain topic that I've been trying my hardest to keep off the table for months now. Unfortunately, they've found a way around my efforts to impede them."

Blueblood's eyes widened at mention of the council, but he otherwise remained silent.

"The council members, spearheaded by one in particular, posed a certain plan to me many months ago, and I immediately took every step to veto it. Unfortunately, it seems they've found a way to ensure that they get what they want. Namely, in ancient Equestrian law, long before Luna's banishment, when the royal families were large and diverse, there was a clause that stipulated the allowance of arranged marriage between two noble or royal houses of neighbouring counties, to strengthen the royal bloodline and ensure heirs."

"Hold on," Twilight interjected, "What's this got to do with us?"

"Please listen, Twilight. Luna and I are fully aware that there may come a time in future when we are no longer fit to rule, or when we may no longer want to, and we will not wish to leave Equestria in the hooves of an unchecked republic if we can avoid it. As far as we can see, the only alternative is to have a continuation of the royal bloodline, allowing democracy to be balanced with the monarchy, and for both systems to keep one another in check, but both Luna and I are unable to facilitate this ourselves. The council realise this, and likely have their own agenda for wishing to see the royal tree expand, but while Luna and I have consulted on this extensively, we see no better alternative. We just wish it did not have to be you two."

"W-wait, us two?" Twilight stuttered, "You mean we both have to go and find ponies to marry?! That's crazy!"

"No, Twilight," Celestia softly exhaled, wishing her student was not so oblivious, "I mean that you two must marry. Prince Blueblood controls the Trottingham Duchy, and many of the lands south of Canterlot fall into your own dominion. Because of that, a continuation of both of your respective bloodlines ensures that settlers do not claim independence, should anything ever befall either of you. This union should help to propagate the ideals of a true royal family, and bring a further degree of unity to Equestria. Do you understand that there is little alternative? During the Crystalling, we were all put in a situation where we might have lost our lives. What would happen to Equestria then?"

Twilight had ceased responding. Instead, she had dropped onto her plot, and sat with her muzzle hung open. She appeared to be tracing a few of Celestia's words around the side of her mouth as her expression became increasingly vacant, as if the words were foreign to her.

Reluctantly removing her gaze from Twilight, Celestia turned to Blueblood. "You understand that my hooves are tied, yes?"

Blueblood glanced at Twilight, who still sat in a daze, then back to Celestia, his tone forcibly placid. "If the council wills it, I will not actively oppose the decision. But," he seethed, his face briefly contorting into a deep frown, "This does not mean I will be happy about it."

Celestia pensively rubbed a pair of hooves together. "Honestly, I didn't expect you to react this well," she adjusted her gaze, "As for Twilight..."

"I share the sentiment she is displaying so strongly, though I also believe you should snap her out of it. I will assume that a date has already been arranged, it would be unlike the council to not be fastidiously prepared."

"Yes, there is a date in mind, roughly three months from now. Twilight, did you hear that?" Celestia turned to her student, watching her eyes dart back and forth across the room as she attempted to process all the new information, "Twilight? Did you take in anything I just said?" Celestia asked her directly.

Suddenly, Twilight perked up, turning away from Celestia. "Oh yeah, Blueblood! A pony called Meadow Springs told me to say hello to you," a beat, "from her, I mean."

A second passed, and Twilight slowly began burying her face in her forehooves. "Why is this happening to me? Blueblood is, well, he's—he was rude to my friend in the past, and-and he ruined her night, and now... Now I have to marry him?" Twilight's voice became shrill, "You want me to have foals with him?!"

Blueblood cast a sullen gaze out of the stained glass window, levitating his drink to his lips. "It appears we have a similar opinion, there is not much I would prefer less. As for Meadow Springs, it appears I will not be able to respond to her amorously even if I had intended to, as my betrothed would surely have an issue with it," he grumbled, eyeing Celestia with a mostly restrained anger. Blueblood then allowed his gaze to settle back on the window, where he looked out over the splendor of Canterlot's gardens in the radiant afternoon sun.

With such a superb view at the centre of his focus, his mind surely must have shifted to happier thoughts.

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