• Published 28th Aug 2017
  • 7,540 Views, 73 Comments

How to Date a Princess - Piemaster128



Twilight needs a date to the Gala after blurting out to a noble that she already had one. The captain of her personal guard, Flash Sentry, volunteers. Things get sappy yet entertaining from there.

  • ...
22
 73
 7,540

The Gala

Flash Sentry straightened his tie one last time as he gazed at the mirror. He was wearing a sharp black tuxedo with a dark blue tie. His orange coat and blue mane had been washed and combed to perfection, and his teeth shone after a vigorous brushing. All in all, he looked ready. Nodding at his reflection, he turned away from his mirror and trotted across his room in Princess Twilight’s castle and out the door, only stopping once briefly along the way to pick up a single purple rose with no thorns from his desk.

Walking down the hallway, he tried to imagine how the night might go. He had never been to the Gala, and, based on the stories he’d heard, he wasn’t sure he would have ever wanted to. But Twilight needed him to avoid the criticism showing up alone would bring, especially after what happened a month ago with Duke Bull Horn. He was jostled out of his thoughts as he arrived at Twilight’s room.

Raising a hoof, he knocked on the door, receiving a quick call of ‘just a second’ from inside. When the door opened, any doubts Flash had were washed away as he tried to keep his mouth from hanging open and his wings from springing out in excitement.

Twilight was breathtaking. She wore an elegant purple dress that seemed to flow with every move she made. It was covered in star designs that made it look like the beauty of the cosmos had wrapped themselves around her. Her mane was pinned up, like it had been at her coronation, and it seemed to shine with its own set of stars. She was blushing, which somehow only made her even more beautiful.

“Well…” she asked, nervously, not making eye contact with Flash. “How do I look?”

Flash blinked and said the only thing that came to his mind: “I think you might make Princess Celestia jealous.”

Twilight only blushed harder as her head shot up in surprise. “FLASH!”

“What? You look spectacular!” he said, gesturing at her with his hooves. “I bet you are going to outshine everyone there, even Celestia and Luna!”

Twilight just lowered her head and let out a sigh, muttering, “You don't need to exaggerate so much.”

“First, I’m not exaggerating. Second, as your date, it would normally be my job to compliment you and exaggerate. The only problem is that there is no way I can possibly think of exaggerating how good you look.” He smiled gently as he lifted her chin so her eyes met his own. “Trust me, you. Are. Perfect… almost.”

He reached into his pocket and pulled out the purple rose and gently slid it behind her left ear. “There, now you’re perfect.”

Twilight rolled her eyes and lightly punched his shoulder as she finally got her blushing under control. “Ha ha, very funny Mr. Romance. Anything else you need to do as my date?”

“Engage in playful banter, maybe flirt with you, and make sure you have a good night so that I can ask you out again,” Flash said, earning himself a deadpan stare from Twilight, though he could make out the smile that was trying to work its way through.

“Technically, you only asked me out because I was refusing to ask you out given that I didn't want to force you to make up for my mistake, remember?”

“But I WAS still the one to ask you.” Flash smiled as he took his place by her side and raised a wing to ask permission. Twilight gave a small nod and Flash dropped the wing across her back. Much easier than holding hooves. Her dress was smooth under his feathers and he could feel her wings twitch against him. “Besides, if this night goes well, maybe we can have a real date. One without nobles and all this pomp and circumstance.”

“Even though I don’t really know much about you?” Twilight asked playfully.

“That’s what dates are for,” Flash said. “Think of them like research.”

“Then I guess we’ll just need to see if this project requires multiple tests to reach a conclusion,” Twilight said as the two began to leave the castle to meet up with her friends.

“I suppose so…”


One month ago…


Flash Sentry was not a happy soldier. And as was usually the case, it had nothing to do with his job.

About five months ago, Shining Armor, his commander, had selected him and a group of crystal ponies to transfer to Ponyville in order to serve as The Twilight Guard. Similar to the Solar, Lunar, and Crystal Guards, they would be responsible for protecting a princess, in this case, Princess Twilight. While Princess Twilight had originally refused to have guards, saying that she didn't need them and that they would disrupt her life too much, the aftermath of the Starlight Glimmer Village Incident had led to Celestia, Luna, and Cadence all overruling her on the issue.

The group was small, only about thirty ponies, but Shining Armor had said that this was mainly to allow Princess Twilight to get used to them, before he expanded it. What had come as a shock to Flash was that he was put in charge as Princess Twilight’s guard captain. Thankfully, it actually didn't turn out too be to difficult. His primary job was setting up the schedule and positions of the guard, and insuring that everypony was keeping up to date on their training. With such a small group, it wasn't such a big task.

The only issue was that Twilight had received no guards up until this point, which meant that their primary concern was making sure her castle was secure as this was the most likely place that she would be attacked, if it ever came to that. While this might not have normally been a problem since he could just request more guards, Twilight was still stubbornly refusing to allow any more guards than the ones Shining had already sent, which meant that Flash didn't have enough guards to protect her and the castle at the same time due to the castle’s size and the numbers he had to work with.

As a solution, Flash himself volunteered to be Princess Twilight’s personal guard. This made sure she was protected when out of the castle, and with help from communication crystals made in the Crystal Empire, Flash could always call for backup should the need arise. That had yet to happen, thankfully, despite the crazy shenanigans that happened in Ponyville on a weekly basis (usually on Tuesdays).

Because of this arrangement, Flash was given his own room in Princess Twilight’s castle so that he would be nearby should an emergency occur. The rest of the guard was located in a new barracks building a short distance away from the castle. Also, this arrangement meant he had more time to talk with Princess Twilight outside of his scheduled duties.

One of the first things that had happened when Flash and his ponies arrived at Ponyville was that Princess Twilight had immediately told them to just call her ‘Twilight,’ saying that she didn’t want the ponies who would be working so closely with her to call her ‘Princess’ all the time. She had then worked to befriend every guard. It had been a little surprising, but many of the guards seemed to like getting to know her on a more personal level. Flash had to agree with them, especially since she was nice enough to give them a bit of a pay bonus whenever they had a family birthday coming up.

But, unfortunately, things weren't always so good.

Because of her new status, and possibly the new castle, many of the nobles now assumed that Twilight had the same authority as Princess Celestia, whereas in reality she could still be overruled by Celestia or Luna due to the fact that she was still learning how to rule. As such, many nobles had tried at least once to convince Twilight to overrule something that had already been decided by the Solar Sisters. Not only could Twilight do nothing, but most of the time she agreed with Celestia and Luna’s decisions. It had led to more than one… awkward conversation, to say the least.

Seriously, who would approve of cultivating poison joke for use in pranking powders!? That idea was insane!

And today was another day where a noble had come seeking something stupid, but this time it was both idiotic AND insulting.

“Duke Horn, for the last time, I will not, under any circumstances, be taking your son to the Gala as my date,” Twilight said coldly, glaring at the pony standing across from her throne in the map room. Said pony was Duke Bull Horn, a slightly overweight unicorn with a brown coat, a light red and orange mane, and a cutie mark of a lion head, his family’s crest. He was, at least in Flash’s opinion, one of the worst nobles to exist. While some, like Prince Blueblood, were annoying, they would leave you alone if you left them alone. Bull Horn, on the other hoof, would constantly seek out others and would verbally attack anypony who didn't give him what he wanted.

In his mind, he was the only one that mattered, and he would stop at nothing to make sure he got everything he felt he deserved.

“And I’m telling you that there is no other option!” The duke proclaimed, nose hoisted in the air as it had been for the entire meeting. “You are a princess now, so despite what you may have done when you were still of COMMON blood, you NEED to be escorted to the Gala by somepony of status and prestige, and my son is the only one who can POSSIBLY be worthy to fulfill such an important role.”

‘Yeah, right,’ Flash thought, trying not to roll his eyes. Bull Horn’s son, Money Bags, was just as bad as his father. The only difference was that he was a brat, and was far more likely to simply whine and throw a tantrum than to actually do anything of import. Judging by the skeptical frown Spike was giving him from his small throne at Twilight’s side, Flash knew the young drake was thinking the same thing.

“YOU don't have the authority to decide who I take to the Gala, Bull Horn, just like you don't get to open a dangerous gem mine on protected land or start a lumber factory in the Everfree Forest,” Twilight said, not breaking her gaze even as the duke’s face became contorted in rage.

“You little—”

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence,” Flash snapped, stepping forward. “You may be a guest here, Duke, but that doesn't mean I can't kick you out for insulting or harassing the princess.”

“Keep out of this, you worthless airhead,” the Duke replied, only to find his mouth suddenly gone as Twilight lit her horn, her eyes glowing.

“I DO NOT tolerate racial slurs in MY CASTLE!” Twilight thundered. “Now you listen to me. I WILL NOT be courting your son because I ALREADY HAVE A DATE, and if you do not drop this issue, I will make sure you never receive another Gala ticket as long as you live.

“Now GET OUT OF MY CASTLE!”

And with that, Bull Horn vanished in the flash of a teleportation, one that most likely left him upside down in the town’s fountain, if Flash read the little quirk of Twilight’s mouth correctly.

Twilight’s eyes stopped glowing and she she sank down into her throne before facetabling on the crystal map. Or, at least, she would have facetabled on the crystal map if Flash hadn't grabbed a pillow from underneath the table and slid it under her head and the map. He had made sure to keep at least one pillow under the table since it became clear that Twilight would facetable after every audience with a noble. At least, this way, he could prevent her headaches from getting any worse.

“Thank you,” she mutter into the pillow, releasing a long sigh.

“Of course, Princess,” Flash said with a nod.

“Flash…”

“Er, Twilight. Sorry. Force of habit.”

“At least he’s gone,” Spike said. “But I didn't know you had a date, Twilight.”

“I don’t,” Twilight groaned into the pillow. “Which means when I show up at the Gala alone, he’s gonna just harass me even more and claim that I’m a liar. I’ll never here the end of this now, all because me and my big mouth.” She lifted her head and smushed it back into the pillow with a ‘whack.’

“But then why did you say you did?”

“Because I lost my temper and I wanted him to drop this stupid idea of his. And by doing so, I just made things worse for myself.”

“Can’t you just ask somepony in town to go with you?” Flash asked. “You seem to be pretty popular.”

“Everypony in town is either afraid of my status as a princess, or they won’t want to go with somepony who they think is crazy.”

“Come on Twilight, no pony thinks you're crazy,” Spike said.

“Smarty Pants incident, parasprites, time-traveling-self-doomsday preparation—”

“Ok, so maybe you’ve had a few bad incidents,” Spike said, wincing, “but that doesn't mean somepony won’t say yes. And if that fails, you could always take Flash.”

“HUH?”

Both Twilight's and Flash’s heads whipped around to stare at the little dragon in shock.

“I mean, he’s always escorting you into town and such, so you could easily just say you wanted to get to know him better. It would be enough to at least show the Duke that you weren't lying.”

Flash considered that for a moment. Twilight had said she had a date, so as long as she showed up with SOMEPONY, she should be fine. The Duke would still be mad, but that was a given. And Spike was right. He was seen so often with Twilight that it would be perfectly believable for him to be her escort to the Gala, even as more than just a guard.

Flash had never actually though about going on a real date with her though. She was smart, funny, kind, and of course, very pretty, but those were a given for someone who had ascended to become an alicorn and a princess. He also found her to be rather adorkable, as Pinkie Pie put it, but he had always let his guard duty come before personal life. There was also the fact that she might not want to be in a relationship right now considering all the stress she was under. But then again, if Shining Armor and Princess Cadence could do it, why couldn’t he and Twilight? Maybe dating somepony would actually help get her mind off her duties for a while. Worst-case scenario, the date was a one-time thing and everything returned to normal after the Gala. Best-case scenario…

“Spike!” Twilight cried, pulling Flash from his thoughts. “I can’t just force him to go with me to the Gala! That would be abusing my powers as a princess, and—“

Flash decided to take a chance. “Hey Twilight, will you go the Gala with me?”

Twilight tried to spin to face him, but only succeeded in falling out of her throne in shock, thankfully falling in the gap between the table and the throne rather than hitting her head on the table. Flash winced.

“I…HUH???”

“Would you…” Flash repeated, helping her to her hooves before pointing at her. “Like to go…” He pointed to the door. “To the Gala…” He touched the golden ticket on the table. “With me?” Lastly, his hoof came to his chest.

It was very hard not to laugh as Twilight sputtered and tried to come up with a coherent answer, her face bright red.

“But-but-but I-I can’t ask you to, I mean you don’t…”

Flash gently covered her mouth with a hoof, forcing her purple eyes to meet his blue ones.

“Twilight, as your guard, it’s my job to protect you from danger and ensure that you can do you job with as few hurdles as possible. That includes making sure Annoying Noble Number 283 does't have more ammo to use against you.”

“But…”

“And as your friend, I can’t let you be forced into going with somepony as horrible as Money Bags. So I’m not asking you to go because you’re forcing me to. I’m asking you to go because I want to help you, and because worst comes to worst, everything goes right back to the way it was when the Gala is over. Ok?” Flash gave her a soft smile. Twilight blushed and looked away.

“O-ok,” she muttered. “I-I would be honored to have you accompany me to the Gala.”

“Cool,” Flash said, grinning. “Now I believe your friend Rarity makes suits right?” Twilight nodded. “Then I will head over there later today so I can get fitted, as I never thought of bringing a suit with me.”

“We can go now, actually,” Twilight said, still refusing to meet Flash’s eyes. “I need to pick up a book I lent her anyway, and it's been a while since I've seen her. We can catch up while she's taking your measurements.”

“Can I come?” Spike asked excitedly, always looking forward to seeing the mare of his dreams.

“Sure,” Twilight said, giggling at Spike's enthusiasm as he leapt up to his normal position on her back.


The present…


As Flash and Twilight stepped out of the castle, they were saluted by the two guards stationed out front. Both of them nodded in acknowledgement. Just a short ways away, the rest of the Element Bearers and Spike stood waiting near three flying carriages that would be taking them to Canterlot. The sun was just beginning its descent, bathing the land around the castle in an warm orange glow and causing the crystal castle to sparkle in a brilliant display.

Each of the girls was wearing a dress cut in a similar style to Twilight’s, but Rarity had carefully designed each gown to reflect the pony who wore it. Her own dress looked like it had been cut from crystal, so twinkly that it could blend in with Twilight’s castle. Applejack was draped in a gown all the colors of a fall forest, while Fluttershy shimmered like the wings of a butterfly. Rainbow’s dress was as light and flowing as the wind it was patterned after, and Pinkie…well, in true Pinkie fashion, she looked like a giant cupcake topper. They all looked amazing, but Flash thought Twilight looked the best.

Though since she was his date, he was probably biased.

Normally the girls would have gotten dressed together, but this time Twilight had wanted to get dressed alone so she could ask for Flash’s honest opinion without the girls pressuring him to say something nice. Especially Rarity. Twilight had even caught her threatening Flash not to mistreat her, though that was probably just to make sure her experience with Flash didn't end up like her and Blueblood’s. Spike was there too, dressed in a black tuxedo just like Flash, only he also wore a top hat and carried a small cane. He was the first to spot them and waved.

“There you two are,” the dragon called, alerting the others to their arrival. “What took you so long?”

“Pre-date banter,” Flash replied, grinning as Twilight rolled her eyes. The others however, all giggled at his answer.

“I must say, Twilight,” Rarity began. “You look simply stunning. I knew my modifications would help, but I didn’t expect them to have quite this effect.”

“Modifications?” Flash asked before the blushing Twilight could reply.

“Of course darling. This is not only her first Gala as a PRINCESS, but her first Gala with a DATE as well,” she smiled and winked at him. “I had to make her look her best. Speaking of, what do YOU think, darling? Hmm?”

Flash smiled. “While I always think she looks amazing, you’ve outdone yourself this time, Rarity,” he said, smirking as Twilight tried to hide behind his wing to block her blushing face.

“An excellent answer,” Rarity said with a nod. “I think you might have quite the catch here, Twilight.”

“Mmmm…” Twilight replied, still hiding.

“Enough chit chat,” Rainbow said, flapping her wings impatiently. “Let’s just go already! I wanna talk to the Wonderbolts before they get surrounded by ‘nobles,’” she said, making air quotes, “again like they did last year. I couldn’t even get a single word in.”

“There’s also the rush we gotta worry about,” Applejack said, moving towards the second chariot. “Everypony’s gonna get there at once, so unless we wanna get bogged down in the mad dash inside, I suggest we get moving.”

“Fair point,” Rarity conceded, nodding. The group moved to the chariots, but both Flash and Twilight were surprised when they were ushered to the first chariot on their own. When they looked questioningly at Rarity, she said, “A princess should enter first, and who better to escort her off the chariot than her date?” Flash thought she was enjoying teasing poor Twilight almost as much as he was.

Once they were all secure, the chariots lifted off the ground and made straight for Canterlot.

Overall, the ride was only about half an hour and while still early fall, Twilight spent most of that time under Flash’s wing to avoid the cold wind. Not that he minded. Both enjoyed the sight of the vast open country shining in the waining sunset before they were flying over the streets of Canterlot, all decorated for the Gala. Even if most ponies couldn’t get into the palace, there were still plenty of smaller parties held by individual ponies as well. It truly was a city-wide event, though Flash thought the small parties might be more fun than the actual Gala.

The castle itself looked far more impressive than it normally did. There where banners stretching between all of the towers and wrapping around much of the building without blocking any windows or balconies. There were balloons tied to much of the outer wall and elegant flower displays lining the walkway leading up to the main doors. Lights also covered much of the outer castle, making the entire structure appear to sparkle in the last rays of sunlight. Though chances are that the large lights just turning on and pointed directly at the castle would allow this effect to be seen all throughout the night.

When they landed outside the large golden doors leading up to the front of the marble castle, Flash hopped out first and offered a hoof to Twilight. She accepted his assistance, although she couldn't help blushing again as everypony watched the two of them. Nearby, some of the nobles were whispering, others openly glaring at Flash, but he really didn't care. However, he could tell that Twilight did care simply by how much she was fidgeting, so he didn't hesitate to wrap his wing around her again as a makeshift shield from the nobles. The unicorn nobles might think he was being too forward, but oh well, too bad for them. Twilight certainly didn't mind as she relaxed in his grip once again.

The rest of the group soon had gathered and helped buffer the couple from the rest of the nobles, Rainbow Dash giving the nobles some especially dirty looks. Once Rarity had stopped fawning over the castle, everypony and dragon moved towards the front doors and the Gala. After showing their tickets, they all were announced by a well-dressed pony at the front door.

“Princess Twilight Sparkle and her escort, Sir Flash Sentry, Captain of the Twilight Guard.”

Flash blinked as he realized that he had actually gotten a title, rather than just being called Princess Twilight’s ‘plus one’.

“Twilight?” Flash asked with a smirk as they waited for Twilight’s friends to be announced.

“Yes?” Twilight replied in a cheeky manner.

“Did you write Celestia to get me a title for the entrance?”

“Maaaaaaayyyyyybe,” she said, giggling. “I couldn’t just let them ignore you, now, could I? Plus, I thought with a title you might get some of the respect you deserve, being the captain of my guard and all.”

“True, so thank you,” he said with a bow. “Plus, maybe it will dissuade a few of the nobles from bugging me, which means I‘ll have more time to spend with my angelic date.” He smiled, which made Twilight giggle.

“If you keep complimenting me, you’re eventually gonna run out of things to say.”

“Not if I start quoting plays.”

“You better not…”

“‘Methinks the lady doth protest too much,’” Flash drawled in a horrible, horrible impression of… it was so bad, it appeared as if Twilight couldn’t even figure out what accent he was trying to imitate just based on the face she was making. She cuffed him in the back of the head with her wing, but she couldn’t keep from smiling.

“You’re right, that was an impression of the nobles. My bad. Let me try again. ‘Doth Mother know… you wearth her drapes?’” That earned him another light smack.

“Having trouble with your stallion, darling?” Rarity said, giggling at their antics.

“I’m the one having trouble,” Flash joked, rubbing the back of his head.

“Well, then, behave, and maybe I’ll give you a reward if you’re good for the rest of the night,” Twilight said, turning away with a grin.

“Flirting, check,” Flash said, pulling out an invisible checklist and invisible quill in an imitation of Twilight. The alicorn shot him a deadpan stare, but the other girls laughed. “So what do we do now that we’re actually here?”

“I’m gonna go find the Wonderbolts!” Rainbow said, taking to the air. “I’ll catch up with you gals later.”

And with that, she was gone.

“Ah better make sure she doesn't break somethin' this year,” Applejack said, trotting after the rainbow-maned pegasus into the main ballroom. “Ah’ll be around.”

“I’m… gonna try the garden again,” Fluttershy said, glancing towards one of the side hallways. “I just hope the animals will be more understanding this year.”

“I think I’ll join you,” Rarity said. “I hear Princess Luna has recently planted a spectacular variety of nighttime plants, and I simply must see them to get inspiration for my next spring line!”

“I’ll come too!” Spike said, “I still need to show you two Princess Celestia’s golden apple tree.”

Nodding in agreement, the three of them made their way towards the garden.

“I’ll go disappear until the plot demands me,” Pinkie said, bouncing off into the ballroom.

“Uhhhh…” Flash muttered, staring after her.

“Don’t think about it too much,” Twilight said, shaking her head. “It’s Pinkie.”

“Still not enough of a justification in my book, but to prevent myself from getting a migraine, I’ll take your advice,” Flash said, receiving an eye roll and a giggle from Twilight. Not having anywhere else to go, the two of them followed Pinkie, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash and entered the ballroom. It was still somewhat early in the evening, but the chamber was already full of ponies in fancy evening wear, mingling and admiring the decorations, which were quite spectacular. Banners hung from the walls, streamers wound around all the marble columns, and there were dozens of flowerpots filled with plants in every color. Flash was pretty sure that the silvery-blue blooms releasing gentle puffs of white mist were Princess Luna’s specialty.

The center of the ballroom had been cleared for dancing and a stage for the band set up right next to it, but there were a number of small tables off to one side. And, along the far wall, was a BUFFET! Flash’s mouth watered. Free food was the best food, and it didn’t seem to be that weird ‘fancy’ food he found in Canterlot’s restaurants.

Surprisingly, Princesses Celestia, who was usually the first one at the Gala, had yet to arrive, but Princess Luna was near the stage talking to Fancy Pants. She wore a gown that looked like it was taken from the view of a telescope, and Flash swore that he saw some of the constellations actually moving. He glanced at Twilight’s dress and grinned. She still looked better.

Bias, yay.

However, his train of thought was interrupted as he saw someone he would have never believed would attend such an event. Or, at least, not attended it without the pure purpose of messing everything up.

“Is that…Discord?” Flash asked, causing Twilight to turn and look for herself. Sure enough, the draconequus was standing nearby, dressed very similarly to Spike and having a surprisingly normal conversation with a light tan pegasus with a two-tone brown mane. Despite the fact that neither Flash or Twilight had ever seen the pegasus, she seemed to be on friendly terms with the master of chaos as she waved goodbye.

“It is,” Twilight groaned. “Maybe he won’t notice us.”

“Who won’t notice you?” a loud voice drawled in their ears.

Discord was now right behind them. Even with his years of guard training, Flash couldn't help but jump.

“Ugh, please Discord, not tonight, anything but tonight,” Twilight half groaned, half begged.

“Oh you needn’t worry about me,” Discord said in a rather serious voice. “I was informed by Celestia about your little date, and, suffice to say, I would rather not have Rarity tear me to pieces for interfering with your date. Or Fluttershy.” He shivered. “Cotton candy have mercy on me if those two came for me.”

“So, you’re NOT going to make this night chaotic for us?” Flash asked in surprise. “Not that I’m complaining, but you ARE the lord of chaos, right?”

“Right,” Discord said, smirking. “But every time I’ve seen little Princess Sparkle here, I’ve been chaotic and crazy. But you see, that means it’s PREDICTABLE now for me to be chaotic. So what better way for me to change it up than to be…well, normal.”

“That seems almost too logical.”

Discord just shrugged. “Maybe, but what do I know about logic? Now, the reason I’m really here is because I am looking for Fluttershy. Or Pinkie Pie. Either one will do, really. Have you seen them?”

“Fluttershy is in the garden,” Twilight began. “ And Pinkie…”

“Said she had to go until the plot demanded her,” Flash said, causing Discord’s ears to perk up.

“Oh she did, did she?” he said, pausing briefly to look at the reader and wink.

“Who are you winking at?” Flash asked, looking over to where Discord was looking and seeing nothing but a wall.

“Oh, no pony. Well then, I best go find out little pink ball of sugar and sweets. Toodles.”

He snapped his fingers and vanished in a puff of smoke. The smoke then pulled out a top hat and proceeded to fly out the door they just entered, much to the bafflement of the nobles currently trying to enter the ballroom.

“Well, that could have been worse,” Flash said as Twilight breathed a sigh of relief.

“Let’s just go get some food and hope he doesn't come back,” Twilight said, making a beeline for the buffet.

“No mingling before eating?” Flash asked. Twilight shook her head.

“The only ponies I see that I want to talk to right now are Luna and Fancy Pants, and they’re still busy. Well, them and you, but you get the point.”

“Nopony else?”

“They're not here yet. It’s still early. And I actually had to skip lunch today to get ready, so I’m STARVING!”

“You skipped lunch?” Flash asked, surprised. “I mean, you look wonderful, but it really took that long?”

“Yes. It was the mane, mostly. I usually ask Rarity to do it. In all my studies, I never really learned a spell for how to make myself more presentable. It was just… never really high on my priorities.”

As she spoke, she grabbed a plate and began to load it with food. The buffet was massive, and all of it looked delicious, but Flash raised an eyebrow as Twilight grabbed ten Hay Burgers. He knew she liked to order at least five whenever they went to the fast food place in Ponyville, but this seemed to be a bit much, even for her.

“No need to bother learning a spell to make yourself more beautiful if you look amazing normally,” Flash said, smiling as Twilight blushed and looked away.

“I’m not that special,” she mumbled as they reached the desserts.

“Yeah, you only fought an Ursa Minor, Nightmare Moon, Tirek, the changelings, Discord, King Sombra, and happen to be the most skilled magic user in multiple generations that was able to solve an unsolvable spell and become a princess,” Flash said jokingly, before gently brushing up against her and speaking in a much more caring tone. “You don’t give yourself enough credit.”

Twilight was now the color of a tomato, but Flash could see a faint smile working its way onto her lips.

Progress.

With food in hoof, the two set off for the nearest table to enjoy their meals, though as they sat down Flash noticed with concern that Twilight had far more food than he did. “Twilight, are you ok? I know you skipped lunch and I don’t want to pry, but I’ve never seen you eat this much before, even when we had to skip lunch that one day to reorganize the library.”

“It’s ok,” Twilight said, eating a Hay Burger in just two bites. “My magic now needs to keep up with unicorn, pegasus, and earth pony abilities all at once. Combine that with the fact that I am still growing, and I need to eat about double what a normal pony does. At least for now.”

“For now?”

Twilight nodded. She ate another burger, wiped the ketchup off her mouth with her fries, and ate those too. “Celestia and Luna need to eat about 1.5 times as much food as a normal pony, so once I get as big as them, I should be able to reduce my calorie intake without feeling like I’m always starving.”

“Even if that’s the case, how come I haven’t seen you eat this much previously?”

“Well, I usually snack throughout the day so my main meals are…a decent size.”

“But I never see you snack. Do you just eat when I’m not looking?”

“I just teleport the food to my mouth. Or my stomach if I’m in a hurry.”

“Is that safe?”

“Umm…it should be?”

“Twilight,” Flash said, frowning at her.

“Really, it’s ok. I don't do it often, and it’s only mild discomfort if I—“

“Twilight,” Flash said firmly, causing her to stop and look at him. “I won’t mind, and I highly doubt anypony else will if you need to eat more at dinner or lunch because you have a fast metabolism. Doing something dangerous like teleporting food to your stomach is unnecessary. The only ponies that may possibly care are the nobles, and if they complain, you can just say ‘I’m a princess, I eat what I want,’ and they can’t do anything about it.” He smiled gently. “Please don't do that anymore, ok? Or I might just need to tell Celestia.”

Twilight nodded. “I…I won’t. Sorry to bring it up.”

“No problem,” Flash said, now grinning. “Though I was serious about the Celestia threat.”

Twilight pouted. “I’m not a little filly, Flash. I can take care of myself.”

“Pretty sure we’re all foals compared to Celestia. I mean, she IS over a thousand years old. And just because you’re an adult doesn't mean you’re perfect or know everything. For example, did you know Celestia once got herself food poisoning?”

“Wait, really!?” Twilight asked, her eyes widening and her mouth falling open.

“Really. Apparently a diplomat sent her an expensive pineapple cake in the mail, but it got lost for a good month. But despite this, she refused to throw it out and instead ate the entire thing in one sitting. She was sick for a week. In fact, that might have actually been the week you girls had to go and talk to that dragon that was covering Equestria in smoke,” Flash chuckled as he remembered his second week on the job.

“You mean to tell me that my friends and I were sent to go talk to the dragon not because of our skills, but because Celestia had FOOD POISONING and couldn’t do it herself!?” Twilight asked, trying not to let her jaw hit the floor in shock.

“Crazy right?”

“Oh, I am SO gonna have words with her about this,” Twilight grumbled as she moved to the desserts on her plate. “Princess Celestia or not, that is just ridiculous.”

“He greatest weakness, CAKE!” Flash said dramatically. Twilight struggled to swallow her mouthful of ice cream before she burst out laughing. They were attracting a few sidelong glances and grumbles from nearby nobles, but neither really cared. By now, the ballroom was beginning to fill up, and a lot more nobles were beginning to enter. The dull muttering in the room had also risen to a moderate level of constant background noise. Not too bad just yet though.

When they finished eating, the two ponies got up and deposited their plates in the nearby container. It seemed that Princess Luna had finished talking to Fancy Pants, so Twilight immediately began leading them over.

“Princess Twilight!” a low yet annoying voice called out. “I demand to speak with you this instant!”

Turning, Flash internally groaned as they came face to face with Bull Horn’s son, Money Bags. He was a unicorn with a golden coat and a slightly darker golden mane. His cutie mark was a bag of bits, or at least that’s what Flash remembered it being from all the time he appeared in Celestia’s court, and he was clearly annoyed (not that this was anything new).

Or at least Flash thought he always looked annoyed. It was hard to tell since most nobles looked like they were annoyed about eighty-two percent of the time.

“There’s no need to shout,” Twilight said, maintaining a calm outer mask. “Anypony is allowed to speak with me if they simply ask. Now what can I help you with?”

“You can ‘help me’ by explaining why this…this PEGASUS is escorting you to the Gala!” Money Bags spat.

“He’s my personal guard and I wanted to get to know him better. Simple.”

“Simple!? You chose an uncultured commoner over a worthy noble suitor! He should not even be allowed to look at you, let alone escort you to the most important social event of the year!”

By now Money Bags' shouting was attracting attention, and Flash frowned at some of the nobles’ smirks. Clearly, they liked seeing somepony try and chew out the newest princess that had been unyielding to their demands.

“That is MY decision, not yours or anypony else’s,” Twilight said, now glaring at Money Bags. “And I certainly won't be taking a stallion who throws a fit just because I chose somepony better than him.”

Money Bags stuttered for a few seconds as his face contorted in rage even more.

Flash was not liking this. While Twilight still appeared calm, she had pressed up to him during the conversation and she was shaking. Out of anger or stress, Flash didn't know. He saw that Luna was frowning and making her way towards them, and while ponies were bowing and moving out of the way, Flash didn't know if she would make it over to them before things got out of hoof. But he did know he needed to do something to end this nonsense.

Nonsense… that might just work.

“How dare you claim that this—“ Money Bags began.

“Ombole bombole bo,” Flash interrupted.

Both Money Bags and Twilight blinked in confusion as they turned to Flash, who smirked. Even the nobles watching didn't know what to make of what he just said, and Princess Luna had also stopped and was looking at him questioningly. Flash winked at Twilight.

Money Bags composed himself before growling at Flash, “Be silent you—“

“Bolemb omble bo”

“What are you—“

“Bobole bom.”

“Be quiet and let me—“

“Obole bombele bob.”

“Would you—“

“Bobele bo.”

“Shut—“

“Ombole.”

“UP!”

“Bolo.”

Money Bags paused, waiting to see if Flash continued. “Now—“

“Ombole bobble obla bomba boop,” Flash said in a rushed voice, ending with a quick boop on Money Bags’ nose.

Money Bags’ right eye was twitching, while many of the nobles looked shocked that Flash was outwitting (or maybe out annoying) him by just spouting nonsense. Twilight was biting her lip, struggling desperately to not laugh. Even Princess Luna was covering her mouth to try and stifle her own giggle.

Thankfully, before Money Bags could gather up his wits to try and speak again, a new, motherly voice called out.

“There you are, Twilight.”

All three ponies turned to see Princess Celestia herself made her way towards the group, everypony else bowing as she passed. Flash himself also bowed, partly out of duty, and partly out of reverence. She was dressed in a gown that made her look like a phoenix, reds, oranges, and yellows wrapping around her in a stunning display that sparkled like her mane.

“There’s no need for you to bow, Flash Sentry,” Celestia said as she arrived, giving Twilight a quick embrace and smiling down at him. “Princess Twilight decided that you would accompany her, so please rise and speak with me.”

“Of course, Princess,” Flash said, rising. “It’s a pleasure to meet with you, at least in a less formal setting than normal.”

“This is less formal?” Celestia asked in a curious voice. “I thought it was supposed to be very formal. It is the Gala after all.”

“Fair point.”

“Princess,” Money Bags began, bowing as well, “Clearly you must see the problem here.”

“I see no problem whatsoever,” Celestia said. “Twilight has brought a date to the Gala, and I must say I am so proud of you for doing so,” she added, smiling at the young alicorn. “You finally reached the next part of your lessons and began looking for love. I’m certain Cadence will be bouncing off the walls.”

“We’re just getting to know each other,” Twilight said, embarrassed. “You might be jumping ahead a little bit.”

“Maybe, but a mare can dream, can’t she?” Celestia asked teasingly. Meanwhile, Money Bags’ eye was twitching again.

“But he’s just a COMMONER! He’s not even of minor noble blood!”

“And what difference would that make?” Celestia asked, her voice growing a bit hard as she turned to face Money Bags, placing Flash and Twilight behind the folds of her wings. “Princess Twilight has judged him to be worthy of her time, and he certainly appears to be more of a gentlecolt then you.”

Flash was happy to hear the princess defending him, but he still felt the desire to mess with Money Bags. Since he was out of Celestia’s sight, he waited until she finished her sentence, before leaning into the unicorn’s view, sticking his tongue out, and making his eyes go in different directions. Twilight nearly lost her composure again over his ridiculousness and Money Bags looked like he couldn’t decide which was worse: Flash’s taunting, or the fact that he was being taunted right under the nose of Princess Celestia.

“He also appears to be better mannered than you, as you come here to harass Princess Twilight like a foal being told he can’t have a toy, rather then a mature adult.”

Flash shifted his face so he now had his cheeks puffed out and his eyes were spinning in opposite directions. Twilight snorted, her legs getting shaky from concealed mirth.

“And furthermore, nobility has no standing on who she is allowed to be with, and trying to shame and harass her into being with someone of ‘equal standing’ is highly unacceptable. In fact, I don’t think I will be inviting you back to the Gala next year, as you clearly can’t be trusted to act with dignity.”

Money Bags gasped in shock, while Flash pretended to dramatically faint, causing Twilight to begin to tear up.

“But-but—“

“No buts. This is my party, so I may invite who I choose. Now then,” Celestia said, turning back to Flash and Twilight just as Flash straightened himself up. She didn't react to the fact that Twilight’s face was now red from suppressed laughter. “If you will follow me, Twilight, I would love to speak with you and your date in privacy.”

Twilight managed to nod, following after the princess as she turned to leave. Flash, unable to help himself, turned back one last time and waved to Money Bags while mouthing the words ‘bye bye.’

Somehow, Money Bags’ face got even redder as he tried to melt Flash with his glare. He was cut off when the three ponies waking away entered into a small side room reserved for the princesses. With a flash of her horn, Celestia coated the room in a soft golden glow. Before Flash could ask what she was doing, she spoke.

“Go ahead, Twilight.”

“BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!” Twilight cried, falling to the side as her legs gave out, only stopped from hitting the floor by Celestia teleporting over a large pillow for her to collapse onto. “I…That…You…BAHAHAHAHAHA!”

“Silence spell,” Celestia said, gesturing to the golden glow still covering the room. “Rather handy in my opinion, especially when dealing with nobles. Was taunting Money Bags while I wasn’t looking really necessary?” Celestia asked, smirking and raising her eyebrow, causing Flash to grin sheepishly.

“S-Sorry, Princess. After everything he and his father have put Twilight through, I…I just couldn’t resist.”

Flash was surprised when Celestia giggled.

“It’s all right, Flash. I think your frustrations are justified, and judging by Twilight’s reaction, I don't think she minded. Also, call me Celestia. I’d like to think we’re on more even hoofing since you’re dating Twilight.”

“It’ll be up to her if we date more than just this once, though I will admit I wouldn't mind having more less formal dates in the future.”

“We’ll just have to wait and see then, but my point still stands.”

“Very well then, Celestia,” Flash said with a grin as Twilight finally began to calm down enough to speak. “You doing ok, Twilight?”

“I, hehehe, could kiss you right now, hehehe, if I could stand up,” she said, still giggling. Flash smirked and leaned down to give her a slight peck on the cheek as he helped her back to her hooves.

“We’ll just have to take a rain check on that then,” he said as Twilight stopped laughing and blushed like mad.

“Wasn’t that a bit forward, Sir Flash Sentry?” came Luna’s voice. She was standing in the doorway to the chamber.

“Not at all. Nobles do that all the time, and I hear kissing somepony’s cheek is part of the greeting in Prance. Kissing her on the lips, now THAT is forward. But I am a gentle-stallion, and so I think I struck the right balance between forward and what is expected for this date.”

“You make a fair argument, and thus I dare say I approve of you and Twilight being together.” Luna said. “Just be sure you don't do anything you regret, or else—“

“Luna,” Celestia playfully chided. “Don’t threaten the poor stallion. I’m sure he’s gotten enough of that from Twilight’s friends.”

“I really have,” Flash said. “Especially Rarity.”

“She wasn't that bad,” Twilight said, regaining a bit of her composure, though still not looking at Flash.

“She threatened to tie me up and throw me to the Diamond Dogs until I learned my lesson!”

Luna laughed. “Be thankful she said Dimond Dogs and not dragons.”

“I think she expected Spike to handle the dragon part,” Flash deadpanned, prompting the Celestia and Luna to giggle and Twilight to nudge him with her elbow. “What? He is like a little brother to you, and aren't brothers supposed to protect their sisters?”

“In that case, you may want to worry more about Shining Armor,” Luna said with a teasing grin. “Or have you not told him yet?”

“I…didn’t tell him yet,” Twilight admitted, still avoiding eye contact. “I didn't want him and Cadence coming to either threaten him or to try and ‘assist’ me with the date.”

“Downside of being related to the Princess of Love?” Flash asked, chuckling.

“Yes, definite downside.”

“Look at it this way; if this works out, you don't need to worry about her setting you up on blind dates.”

“She wouldn’t—”

“Princess. Of. Love.”

“…Ok, good point. But that is still an ‘if.’”

“Not convinced?”

“I like to have all the data collected before coming to any conclusions.”

“Just like any good scientist should.”

“As much as I love hearing you two banter,” Celestia joked, a sly smile crossing her face, “We really must get back to the party. Although, if you’re looking for data, Twilight, might I suggest seeing how good of a dancer Flash is?”

Twilight’s ears perked up and she gave a nervous laugh. “Oh no no no no, I think we can skip that part of the data. I mean, there’s plenty of other points we can explore and—”

“Hey Twilight, will you share the next dance with me?” Flash asked. Twilight spun to face him, which was a mistake as it put their muzzles only a few inches apart.

“But-but-but…”

“Come on Twilight, how bad could it be?”

“But-but I CAN’T DANCE.”

Flash blinked in surprise.

“Really?”

“Her dancing is…interesting to say the least,” Luna said, smirking slightly.

“I don’t think you’re helping, sister,” Celestia said, elbowing her sister playfully.

“Well, good thing I can’t dance either,” Flash said, taking Twilight’s hoof and leading her towards the door.

“Huh!? But then why—”

“Are we going to dance?” Flash asked. “Because you’re a princess, so nopony can complain if you can’t dance. Plus, even if we mess up, the only thing the audience will see is dancing.”

“But—”

“Twilight,” Flash said gently, turning to face her as they reached the door. “Trust me. Please?”

Twilight looked like she was having a monumental internal struggle, but she eventually gave a slight nod. Flash gave her a reassuring smile before pushing open the door to the ballroom.

There were significantly more ponies now, and the band had begun playing a while ago. Twilight hesitated when she saw the crowd, but a gentle brush of Flash’s wing prompted her to continue.

They moved through the crowd with ease and within a minute, they were on the dance floor. Once they were near the center, he turned to look at his date, who looked like she was about to have a panic attack at any moment.

“Twilight,” he said, causing her eyes to shoot to his. “Don’t look at, or even think about, anypony else. Just focus on me, on us, and we’ll be fine. Ok?”

Twilight took a ragged breath, but nodded, just in time for the next song to begin. It had a moderate tempo and seemed to remind Flash of the wind, something that seemed to calm Twilight down slightly. Maybe it reminded her of Rainbow Dash or Fluttershy? He didn't know, and choose not to worry about that right now. His only concern was his date.

Given Twilight’s anxiety, Flash took the lead for the dance as they moved to stand on their hind hooves. He started slow, helping Twilight establish her balance before moving into simple moves, swaying and stepping in time. All the while, he never let his eyes leave Twilight’s. Slowly but surely, they improved and began to speed up to match the rhythm of the music. Flash could feel Twilight’s vice-like grip relax, and with it, her breathing and posture followed suit.

Feeling brave, Flash stepped it up a little by sending Twilight out for a small twirl, before bringing her back to his chest. He could see her dress spin and sparkle in a vibrant display as it swished around her legs, but his focus was still mainly on her eyes. The deep purple orbs stared back into his blue ones. There was still fear and anxiety in them, but it was being drowned out by a sense of excitement, and possibly other emotions. Flash really couldn't tell the specifics, but he did know that she was starting to have fun.

Suddenly, Twilight slipped and began to fall backwards. Flash reacted without thinking as he spread his wings, using one to catch her and the other to stabilize the two of them. Twilight blushed, but smiled. Flash returned the smile as he pulled her back up, releasing her. To his surprise, her own wings spread out, and to Flash the message was clear.

Breaking from what the other ponies nearby were doing, Flash and Twilight began to use their wings as a part of their dance, moving them in time to the rhythm. Sometime they would brush up against their partners as if they were another set of hooves. Flash even used his once or twice to send Twilight out for longer spins.

The fear was gone now. The only thing he could see in her eyes was joy and warmth.

Flash had no idea how long that song was. To him, it felt like hours. But it eventually came to an end as Flash pulled Twilight in from the final spin, prompting both of them to drop back to four hooves and bow to each other other in a finishing display. When Flash looked up, he was met with the smiling face of his date. But it wasn't a normal smile, it was the smile of somepony who, if even for a brief moment, had absolutely no troubles in the world. She looked even more beautiful this way.

Both of them were startled out of their gazing, however, when cheers erupted around them. Finally breaking eye contact and looking around, Flash realized that the nearby dancers had broken off to give them some room, and they’d acquired a rather large audience. They had been so busy dancing neither one of them had even noticed. Thankfully, almost everypony that was watching them was cheering at their display, and Celestia and Luna were giving them approving smiles.

There may have been some nobles on the outer edges that looked grumpy, but Flash didn’t let that bother him. They always looked like that.

Alas, poor Twilight was now very nervous again, blushing and staring at the floor as the crowd cheered. Flash closed the distance once again and nudged her gently with his body. Twilight looked up, smiled weakly and took his outstretched hoof. With their little performance over, they made way for the other dancers returning to the floor as they moved towards the punch bowl.

“And here I thought you couldn’t dance,” Flash said, smiling.

“I usually don't such a good partner,” Twilight said, returning the smile. “Where did you learn how to do that? I thought YOU said you couldn’t dance.”

“Never tried it before,” Flash said. “I was just imitating other ponies. Well, except for the wing thing, but that was still relatively simple. Being a guard means you stand at a lot of events, just watching everything unfold. Some involve dancing, others don’t.”

“So you’re able to dance just by watching other ponies?”

“It’s not like there’s a lot of things to do when you’re standing guard. I can probably tell you how many jewels are in the throne room door and how many panes of glass their are in each window in the glass window hall just because I’ve spent so much time there while being bored out of my mind.”

“I certainly hope guarding ME isn't boring.”

“How could it be? You’re far more interesting that an empty hallway.”

“I would certainly hope so,” she said, elbowing him lightly. Flash stuck his tongue out, and was rewarded with a small laugh. The two lapsed into silence as they got their punch and sat down at another unoccupied table. As they listened to the next song the band played, Flash couldn’t help but glance at Twilight.

While she now longer seemed as stressed as when the night began, there was something else that was different about her now. It was as if a weight had been lifted off her mind, and she was letting more of herself shine through a mask she wore. It was subtle, and maybe he was just imagining things. But to him, she had somehow become even more beautiful as the night progressed. It was like at the end of the dance, but there was just something…more.

Okay, he was totally biased. But he really didn't care.

As the next song ended, her turned to look at his date. “Hey, Twilight?”

“Yes, Flash?” she said, looking him in the eye.

“Would you…like to go for a walk in the garden?”

“Sure. That…That sounds lovely,” she said, a faint pink rising in her cheeks. They made their away across the ballroom, doing their best to avoid the nobles before leaving the side door that let to the gardens.

Both ponies took a deep breath as the door closed behind them. The night was clear, the air was fresh, and the loud chatter and music of the ballroom was now just a dull murmur. The moon shone brightly on the garden, illuminating the path and the variety of plants growing around them. There were far more then Flash remembered from his last visit, but that was probably because of Princess Luna. Rarity had said she had planted some new flowers, but he didn't realize just how many there would be.

He wondered if that glowing purple one would look nice on Twilight, before realizing that he really needed to start focusing on things other than his stunning—

And there his mind went again. Bad mind.

Shaking his head to clear it, he began walking down the cobblestone path to catch up to Twilight — she was so mesmerized by the plants that she had taken off to investigate, not noticing that she was short one date. He caught up, but chose to stay quiet as she randomly spouted facts about the new plants around her, many of which she must have found in books because it was Twilight.

Pinkie was right, she was adorkable. Especially at times like this.

As they reached the central clearing of the garden about ten minutes later, the noise of the ballroom had faded entirely, leaving them to enjoy the soft sounds of the crickets and other nocturnal creatures that called the garden home. At some point, Twilight had stopped talking and had settled for leaning her head on Flash, not that he minded. Her mane was too soft for him to complain.

However, as the two neared the gazebo in the very center of the gardens, Flash heard something. A sound that did not fit in with the rest of the sounds currently occurring in the garden. It was a high-pitched sound, almost like—

“EEP!” Twilight squealed, and Flash reacted on instincts drilled into his head at the guard academy. He grabbed Twilight and forced her to the ground, less than three seconds before a hoof-sized rock flew over where their heads had just been at a ferocious speed and crashed into a nearby tree, remaining stuck in the trunk.

Flash was immediately on his hooves, standing between Twilight and the attacker. And boy did he need to restrain himself as the enraged face of Duke Bull Horn rounded entered the clearing.

“You really ARE an idiot if you think attacking a princess is a good idea,” Flash said, his face hard.

“This wouldn't have even been a problem if you had just stayed out of it, you feather-brained nincompoop,” the duke spat. “Your job is to serve your betters, not to go off rubbing noses with royalty for political gain!”

“Right, because my status is REALLY at the top of my priorities,” Flash said with an eye roll. He helped Twilight back to her hooves without taking his eyes off the duke. His horn wasn’t glowing, yet, but Flash wasn't going to take any chances. He had no idea what the duke’s skill level was, so it was better to be cautious.

“Status is all that matters, not that a moronic commoner could possibly understand.”

“You leave him alone,” Twilight defended, moving next to Flash despite his attempts to keep her behind him. “He’s far smarter and nobler than any of the ‘real’ nobles I’ve had to deal with, especially the ones like you.”

“You be quiet, you spoiled brat!” Bull Horn yelled, causing Twilight to flinch and for Flash to growl in her defense. “Not only are you clearly unqualified to make even the simplest of decisions, but because of your stubbornness, my son had been permanently banned form the Gala!”
 “As he should be,” Flash said, lowering himself into a combat stance. “You and him give the word noble a bad taste in ponies’ mouth.”

“I am the blood of royalty!” the duke roared. “My blood and the blood of all nobles gives us a standing you can’t possibly understand! WE are the backbone of Equestria, far more than you or that commoner standing beside you!” He thrusted a hoof at Twilight. “She doesn’t deserve her title, and tonight just acts as proof!”

“You’re delusional,” Flash growled. “She deserves her wings more than any pony I’ve ever met. Especially the nobles. You think you deserve wings over her? You don't even deserve your title.” The duke recoiled as if he was slapped, but Flash didn't stop. “You’re just a bully who throws a tantrum whenever he doesn't get what he wants. You attack and yell because you know deep down that you’re nothing.

“Twilight…” He draped his wing over her, trying not to grin as she jumped a little and then leaned into the touch. “Twilight is everything you wish you could be. That’s why you hate her. She’s smart, talented, funny, kind, and most of all, loved. Loved by her friends, loved by her family, and loved by almost everypony in Equestria. You WISH you had the talent and gifts she did. But you never will, because she’s spectacular, and you’re just a nobody with an old family name.”

The duke looked so mad Flash wasn't sure if he could even move his face anymore.

And Twilight…Twilight was looking at him in a mix of shock, admiration, bashfulness, and joy.

Growling, the Duke opened his mouth and lit his horn, causing Flash to prepare to defend himself.

But before Duke Bull Horn could continue, the plot demanded Pinkie.

“THE PLOT DEMANDS ME!” Pinkie yelled, jumping off the nearby gazebo and throwing a pie, which hit the duke squarely in the face. As he stumbled back in shock, Pinkie pulled her party cannon out of her mane and slammed it down on the duke, shoving him in the barrel so deep that only his rear and back hooves were sticking out. As he flailed about, Pinkie turned to the still shocked Twilight and Flash and gave a sailor salute before firing.

The duke flew backwards halfway across the garden, screaming like a little filly before he hit a floating backboard, fell through a basketball hoop, and into a large glowing trash can face first. A lid then slammed down on it and spun like a top until a satisfying click sounded through the garden.

“IT’S GOOD FOR THE WIN!” Discord announced in a sportscaster voice as a small set of bleachers filled with Discords all cheered excitedly, some even holding up cards with the number ten on them. Now completely flabbergasted, neither Twilight or Flash could respond as Discord floated over and hoof-bumped Pinkie while the Duke raged in his metal prison.

“Don’t you two worry about old Bull here,” Discord said with a smirk, patting the trash can affectionately. “I’ll let Celestia know what he said. And maybe the media. So go and enjoy your night, and maybe fall in love. Everyone knows there’s nothing quite as chaotic as love.” He winked before he, Pinkie, and the trash can all disappeared in a bright flash of light.

“…I literally have no idea how to respond to that,” Flash said. “Both at what just happened, and the fact that DISCORD just saved our night. Seriously, how do I react?”

“I’ll…get back to you on that,” Twilight said, shaking her head in complete confusion. “I think we should just pretend that never happened.”

“Agreed. So, that walk?”

“I'd love to.”

And with that, the couple set off again. With the gazebo now tainted by the interruption by the duke, the two ponies moved on further into the garden until they came to another clearing. There was a small hill, which served as the perfect spot for them to sit down and enjoy the night air. They sat in silence, and while both of them had agreed to put the incident with the duke behind them, it remained stubbornly at the forefront of their thoughts.

Flash was still very pissed off at the duke for spouting such nonsense, and even the knowledge that Celestia was about to find out didn't seem to calm him in the slightest. He still had this flaming ball of rage deep within his chest, and in all his life it had never felt so…intense. It was like a raging fire, and not even seeing the Duke humiliated in front of him could quench the blaze. However, feeling Twilight lean up against him again worked about as well as a pouring rainstorm on the heat.

It seems they both had calming effects on each other. Who knew?

“Flash,” Twilight asked finally. “What you said to the duke… About me… Did you mean it?”

Flash smiled softly and wrapped her in his wing. “Every word.”

“But what about all my mistakes? All my mishaps? I wouldn't even be a princess if it weren't for my friends…”

“And I wouldn't be a guard, and almost nopony would be where they are now,” Flash said, squeezing her reassuringly. “We all get to our destinations with help from others. Whether it’s parents, teachers, friends, or even just a random pony offering you an act of kindness; they all helped us get to where we are now. It just so happens that yours helped you farther then you could have ever dreamed.”

“But…”

“No buts,” Flash said, spinning himself and his date so they were facing each other. “Everypony is always their own worst critic. Mistakes and mishaps are how we learn, and they don't make you any less special then you already are.”

“Says you,” Twilight said, looking down, but Flash could see her smiling and could feel her relaxing as he spoke.

“And your friends. And your parents. And most of Equestria. And Celestia and Luna. You’re not saying 1000 year old sun goddess of wisdom is wrong, are you?”

“You mean the same sun goddess of wisdom that got food poisoning because of her sweet tooth?” Twilight asked slyly, prompting both of them to burst into laughter. As they calmed down, Twilight looked up at Flash again. “Also, I think we can add one more test to the schedule. I mean, if that’s ok with you,” she asked, ducking once again as she blushed.

Flash scratched his chin in fake contemplation. “How about that pizza place near the Ponyville town hall this Friday?”

“It’s a date,” Twilight said, beaming. Before Flash could respond, both stopped and raised their ears. Though a bit distant, they could clearly hear the sound of a new song beginning in the ballroom. Looking over, Flash realized that somehow one of the windows next to the stage had been opened, letting the music flow smoothly out to the garden. He also swore he saw Pinkie for a second, but he blinked and she was gone. Shaking his head, Flash stood up and offered his hoof to the lovely princess before him.

“Another dance?” she asked playfully, raising an eyebrow as she accepted his hoof.

“What can I say? I love getting lost in your eyes.” Flash said. Twilight blushed, but didn't look away. In fact, her smile seemed to grow. The two stood on their fore hooves as the song began in earnest. It was a far slower song than the previous one, but neither of them minded.

Slowly swaying and twirling under the moon light, the guard and the princess danced. To them, the world just seemed to melt away. The only thing they could see were the eyes of their partner and the sparkle of moonlight on their clothing. They danced even as the song ended and another began, shifting perfectly to match the new, faster tempo, then again as another slow song played. But this last song was special.

This song sung of stress, of struggle, of triumph, and of love. Flash didn't even realize how close Twilight was until she closed her eyes and planted her lips on his. Both of their wings shot out, Flash’s in surprise, Twilight’s in joy. But Flash quickly got over his surprise and returned the kiss, savoring the taste and feel of her lips. In the end, it would be the second best kiss she ever gave him.

Author's Note:

Dating a princess checklist...
Compliment her? Check.
Engage in playful banter? Check.
Have friends tease her? Check.
Walk into event with her by your side? Check.
Get food? Check.
Tell her a funny story about her mentor? Check.
Imitate Yondu from 'Guardians of the Galaxy' while defending her from annoying noble who always looks annoyed? Check.
Get approval from her mentor/ motherly figure? Check.
Dance? Check.
Walk in the garden? Check.
Protect and defend her honor? Check.
Have the plot demand Pinkie? Check???
Get asked on another date? Check.
Dance in the moonlight and kiss? Double check.

Behold, a story so sappy you could make ten gallons of syrup from it. Or twenty orders of nachos if you think it's cheesy.

This all started with me imagining Flash imitating Yondu, and then just sort of snowballed from there until you have the masterpiece before you. I will say though that this was actually really fun to write. As I said before, this also turned out to be a prequel to "Gone, But Not Forgotten" and I only realized it could be about 4000 words through it. That ever happen to anyone else.

Also, BEHOLD! AN UPDATE AND A NEW STORY ALL IN ONE NIGHT! SURELY THIS MUST BE THE END DAYS! That or my editor is awesome and got them both back to me in the same night. Either or :rainbowwild:

So enjoy, comment, give me advice, and let me know what you think :twilightsmile: