• Published 28th Aug 2017
  • 9,296 Views, 93 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.

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The Gala REWRITE (now with 50% more story, 20% more friends, 15% more Pinkie, and 100% more sassy narration)

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 thought he looked quite good. It was certainly better then wearing armor for the thousandth time. Plus, the suit was far more comfortable. Thank you, Rarity, he thought. He hadn’t been sure what to expect after twelve appointments with her and her sewing box, but she had been right — the black looked GOOD.

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 to immediately face-hoof, go back in, grab the purple rose with no thorns that lay on top of his dresser, and leave again. Hopefully he wouldn't be that forgetful for the rest of the night.

As he walked down the hallway, he tried to imagine what would happen tonight. He had never been to Celestia’s Gala, and, based on the stories he’d heard around the town and castle, he didn’t think he would have ever wanted to. In fact, he STILL wasn’t sure if he really WANTED to go. It sounded just as boring as any other social event he was forced to attend during his guard duties, and extra stuffy with all the nobles crowding up the ball room.

But Twilight needed him to avoid the criticism showing up alone would bring, especially after what happened a month ago with Duke Bull Horn, and there was no way he was going to let her down.

He couldn’t help but growl slightly at the thought of that stuck-up jerk. If Twilight hadn’t taken care of him, Flash would have LOVED to personally toss him out of the castle. The things he said were just so…so…

Flash took a deep breath, held it for five counts, and let it go, hoping it would calm him down. It worked, a little. That was in the past, and tonight, Princess Celestia and tons of other guards would be there, which would hopefully dissuade the stallion from speaking about Twilight like that again.


He was jostled out of his thoughts as he arrived at Twilight’s room. Well, this is it. The big moment.


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. This night would be fine, and by Luna was he one lucky stallion!

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 done in a style similar to the one 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 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 Princess Celestia and Princess Luna!”

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

Oh yes, he did. Well, he WOULD, if there was anything TO embellish.

“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. They were beautiful, just like the rest of her. “Trust me, you. Are. Perfect…almost.”

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

She looked at him with wide eyes and bright cheeks, her mouth trying to form words but only succeeded in making her look like a fish out of water. It was priceless.

Twilight quickly recovered, 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 with a huge grin, trying not to laugh as he earned himself a deadpan stare from Twilight. However, 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 said 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. It was much easier than holding hooves, especially as a pegasus. Plus, it enabled him to hold Twilight all the closer to him, so bonus.

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 if I’ll like you more than just a friend?” Twilight asked, twitching nervously.

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

That earned him a silly smile from the purple princess. Victory.

“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, without any reasonable doubt, completely and utterly BORED!

Seriously, how long could one noble talk about a freaking HOUSE?! He had been going for so long that Flash had enough time to count the number of panes in each window in the entire thrown room. Twice. And that was STILL. MORE. ENTERTAINING! Could the sweet embrace of death free him from this eternal torture? Or at least the slightly less sweet embrace of a piano falling on his head and knocking him out?

Well, he couldn’t complain all that much. He wasn’t the only victim here - Princess Twilight was the one actually listening to this windbag, and he could tell she was not having fun. She was slumping in her throne, her wings were twitching, and her smile was ever so slightly strained. Spike was snoring in his own throne on the opposite side of where Flash stood. At least the little dragon was being spared this torture.

Think Flash, he thought. There has to be something, ANYTHING you can do to distract yourself.

Well, there was nothing IN the throne room. He would have even tried to memorize the crystal map (or was it the crystal table? He never asked) if it was actually activated, but nope. Oh, good Celestia, when he was this bored, sometimes he wondered how he even ended up in this situation.

When did all this start again?

Six…no, about five months ago, that was it.

Shining Armor had selected him and a group of crystal ponies to transfer to Ponyville in order to serve as the Twilight Guard. Cool name, and as the name implied, they would be protecting Princess Twilight. While she had originally refused to have guards, despite the many, MANY cases she could have used them, the aftermath of the Starlight Glimmer Village Incident had led to Celestia, Luna, and Cadance all overruling her on the issue. Despite the importance of their task, the group was small, far smaller than Flash would have expected. They were only about thirty strong, but Shining Armor had said that this was mainly to allow Princess Twilight to get used to them before he expanded it.

Smart idea, though what had come as a major shock to Flash was that he was put in charge as Princess Twilight’s guard captain. HIM! Was he REALLY the most qualified pony for this job? Thankfully, it actually didn't turn out too be too difficult. His primary job was setting up the schedule and positions of the guard, and ensuring that everypony was keeping up with their training.

However, given the fact that Twilight had received no guards up until this point, Flash’s 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. The only problem was that 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 massive castle she now called home.

Maybe the other princesses could have overridden her again, but they hadn’t. Maybe because they didn’t want to force too much on her at once? Flash didn't know. Unfortunately, because Twilight still didn’t think she even needed guards in the first place, no amount of reasoning, talking, or graphs could convince her to get more. Flash had tried for hours, but she had her own counter arguments AND her own graphs to combat his. Not even Spike could out-logic her on that front.

As a compromise, Flash himself volunteered to be Princess Twilight’s personal guard. This way, he could be sure she was protected when out of the castle, and with the communication crystals from the Crystal Empire, Flash could 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). Plus, chances were that Shining Armor would NOT be pleased if something happened to his sister, and Flash knew from other guards’ stories what would happen if Shining lost his temper.

As an unforeseen bonus, this arrangement also meant he had more time to talk with Princess Twilight outside of his scheduled duties. She was actually quite pleasant to listen to. Surprisingly for Flash, she had just as much interest in old legends and grand adventure tales as he did. The two had spent hours discussing them and sharing the ones they knew, and it really made Flash smile every time they just sat down to talk. Sure, when she switched the conversation, some of her more technical talk went so far over his head it might as well be making a trip to the moon, but it was still fun to listen and watch just how animated she was.

Also surprising was that Princess Twilight had, on their first day, 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. This had been the first time a princess had specifically asked not to be referred to by her title, so Flash was immediately intrigued. Very intrigued. So intrigued, in fact, that it made him pay more attention to her habits and behaviors than he did for the other princesses.

He had quickly concluded that she was actually pretty cute, and rather dorky.

Brilliant observations there, Sherlock Hooves.

Even MORE surprising (because apparently that was possible), Twilight was really taking the time to get know the guards on a personal level too. ALL of them. Celestia, Cadance, and Luna always accepted requests for time off for family events, but Twilight remembered when the guards’ family birthdays were coming, gave them pay bonuses, and scheduled vacations without needing to be asked. She even gave Flash an extra few days so he could travel to Canterlot and deliver his father’s birthday gift in person, an amazing gesture considering his father couldn’t walk due to a flight accident. AND SHE REMEMBERED THAT! It just served to make her even more awesome—

“Thank you, Duke Long Winded,” Twilight said, breaking Flash from his daydreams. “I’ll be sure to consider visiting your family’s estate.”

Did that mean…Could it be…?

“Excellent,” the short stallion with a lime green coat and a dark green mane said, bowing politely and tipping his top hat. “I certainly hope to see you soon,” he continued, nodding and turning to leave. The moment he was gone, both Flash and Twilight sagged dramatically.

Sweet Celestia, it was OVER!

“Thank goodness,” Twilight muttered. “If I had to hear one more thing about his collection of clocks…” She sighed, slumping even further. “Please tell me that’s all,” she begged, looking at Flash pleadingly. Flash just smiled.

“Yes, Twilight, he was the last meeting you had for the da-“


Flash reacted on his well-trained guard instincts, leaping on the table and blocking the princess from view before he even realized who was standing in the doorway.

Then, when his brain caught up with his body and he registered the pudgy brown unicorn with the red and orange mane, he had to redirect his mental facilities to try and not facehoof in exasperation.


“Princesss Twilight,” Duke Bull Horn thundered as he stormed forward, “I demand an audience with you this instant!”

Off to the side, Flash saw that Spike (on the floor, oddly enough — Flash guessed that he fell off his throne when the duke came in) was frowning at the throne room’s doorway. A thick orange barrier was blocking the entrance. Two of Twilight’s guards were hammering away at it, but Flash saw a flick of a purple wing in the corner of his eye, and they stood down.

UGH. As if this day could get any worse, Flash thought, but there was nothing for him to do but jump down and resume his position next to Twilight. As Bull Horn hadn’t directly attacked Twilight or any guards, Flash couldn’t justify throwing him out before he delivered his speech. Eh. He was sure it wouldn’t take too long before the duke shoved his hoof in his mouth.

Bull Horn was, in Flash’s opinion, one of the worst nobles in Equestria. Some, like Prince Blueblood, were annoying, but at least they left you alone if you left them alone. This duke, on the other hoof, would constantly seek out and verbally attack anypony who didn’t give him what he wanted. Either that, or he would rant about his family crest - a lion head, which also happened to be his cutie mark.

In the duke’s mind, he was the only one that mattered, and he would stop at nothing to make sure he got everything he felt he deserved. This had led him into no less than three confrontations with Princess Twilight.

Make that FOUR.

Many of the nobles assumed that Twilight had the same authority as Princess Celestia, whereas in reality she could still be overruled by Celestia or Luna. And maybe Cadance (he needed to ask about that one). Despite this, and the fact that her inability to overrule Celestia and Luna had been made VERY WELL KNOW, many nobles had STILL tried at least once to convince Twilight to undo 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.

Seriously, who WOULD approve of cultivating poison joke for use in pranking powders!? That was insane! Then again, it was Bull Horn’s idea, but he digressed.

This had led to more than one…awkward conversation. Not to mention plenty of wailing nobles, but they were always wailing about something. Bunch of big babies. It was probably the ONLY downside to his new job, ESPECIALLY when this windbag showed up.

“Duke Bull Horn,” Twilight began, “please lower your barrier. I don’t know why you are here, but antagonizing my guards is not the way to push whatever your agenda may be.”

“I wouldn’t need it if your ‘guards’ understood how to treat a REAL noble,” Bull Horn huffed, but he did as she asked…for once.

Real noble, my flank, Flash thought, glaring at Bull Horn. If his pompous and self-absorbed attitude wasn't bad enough, he had a habit of talking down to Twilight, almost as if he believed that he was above her. Well, she would be miles above him even without a crown, in Flash’s opinion. However, before he or Twilight could reply to Bull Horn’s remark, a loud belch echoed through the chamber. Turning his head, Flash caught the end of the green fire escaping from Spike’s mouth as it condensed into a scroll with a small ‘pop.’

“One moment, Duke,” Twilight said, grabbing the scroll in her magic and unwrapping the red cord holding it shut. Two gold tickets immediately slid out and onto the crystal table (Crystal map? He would REALLY need to clarify that soon).

“Ah, perfect timing, for once,” Bull Horn huffed, prompting Flash and Twilight to both raise an eyebrow. Flash recognized those as tickets for the Grand Galloping Gala, but what did they have to do with why he was here? Flash optimistically hoped it was because he had lost his ticket, but he highly doubted it, not with the duke’s history of audiences with Twilight…

Please let it be that he just lost his ticket?

“Why is it perfect timing?” Twilight asked, her voice carefully neutral.

“Because it is exactly what I am here to discuss,” Bull Horn said, raising his nose into the air. “I don’t know nor care what a COMMONER like yourself used to do at the Gala, nor why you were even invited in the first place, but since Celestia deemed it fit to elevate someone as MUNDANE as yourself to the status of PRINCESS, you need an escort to the Gala. One that can make up for your lack of NOBLE blood.”

Why did the universe hate him? Why couldn’t it use all that energy to torture this diluted moron? Because if he was about to say what Flash thought he was about to say…

“And my son is the only noble capable of such a feat. As such, he is to be your escort for the Gala.”

Oh, BUCK him.

Bull Horn’s son, Money Bags, was just as bad as his father. The only difference was that he was far more likely to simply whine and throw a tantrum than to actually do anything of importance, which made him ever so slightly more bearable. Only slightly. Judging by the angry growl Spike was giving him, Flash knew he was thinking the same thing.

Seriously, that had to be the most ludicrous and blatantly offensive demand Bull Horn had made yet! They very idea that HE would try to dictate who Twilight was to take to the Gala was so nonsensical, even PINKIE couldn’t come up that kind of idea. And she was literally the least logical pony Flash had ever met, PERIOD!

Didn’t make her any less fun to be around, but STILL!

“Duke Bull Horn,” Twilight said, her voice cold and her expression tightly controlled. “Who I take to the Gala is my decision, and mine alone. And seeing as I hardly even know your son, I’m afraid he will not be my escort to the Gala.”

Well said, Princess. Tell him how it is.

The duke scoffed. “This is a matter you should leave to those who know best, ‘princess.’” He dragged out the last word like it left a bad taste in his mouth. “Not one to be made by someone who barely comprehends her new position.”

Flash knew that Duke Bull Horn was oblivious to a lot of things, but did he really think he knew what Twilight’s new role entailed? He was just a loud, whining noble. It seemed a bit odd, and very egocentric, for him to believe that he knew more about Twilight’s new position than she did. More so than usual, at least.

“I do know what’s best for myself, Duke,” Twilight said, her mask breaking slightly to let a bit of her anger show through. “And I think I know far more about being royalty than you do, so again, this decision is MINE.”

But Bull Horn didn’t appear to be moved. In fact, he just seemed to be frustrated now.

This dude needed to take a hint.

“As if your mere months in power could compare to a lifetime of experience. This is the best option, for ALL parties involved, and you should be grateful that I am willing to offer you my son, someone capable of distracting from your…BLAND background.”

Flash really hoped his face would freeze in that ridiculous expression. See how ‘noble’ he was then.

“Duke Horn, for the last time, I will not, under any circumstances, be taking your son to the Gala as my escort,” Twilight said. Her tone was as cold as ice now and she glaring at the duke hard enough to bore holes in his horn.

“And I’m telling you that there is no other option!” Bull Horn proclaimed, his nose still hoisted towards the heavens. “My son is the only one who can POSSIBLY be worthy to fulfill such an important role, and YOU. WILL. TAKE. HIM.”

“I WILL NOT!” Twilight commanded. “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.”

The duke’s face twisted in rage, but Twilight did not break her gaze or even blink. Flash, meanwhile, had to revamp his struggles not to facehoof. He had forgotten about THOSE stupid ideas. Good Celestia, this stallion was an idiot.

“You little b—”

Oh HELL no!

“Don’t. You. DARE. Finish. That. Sentence,” Flash snapped through gritted teeth, stepping forward. There was no way in hell he would let the duke use such language to describe Twilight, princess or not. “You may be a guest here, ‘Duke’, but that doesn't mean I can't kick your sorry flank out for insulting or harassing the princess.”

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

Oh, you done messed up now, dude. Flash couldn’t hide his smirk as he stepped back and let Twilight go to work.

“I DO NOT tolerate racial slurs in MY CASTLE!” Twilight thundered, the entire castle trembling. “Now you listen to me, and you listen well. I. WILL. NOT. Be taking your son to the Gala as my escort 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!


And with that, Bull Horn vanished in the flash of Twilight's teleportation spell, one that most likely left him upside down in the town’s fountain, if Flash read the little quirk of Twilight’s mouth correctly. Oh, how he wished he had a camera set up.

Twilight’s eyes stopped glowing and 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 between her head and the tabletop. He had made sure to keep at least one pillow under the table when 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 muttered into the pillow, releasing a long sigh.

“Of course, Twilight,” Flash said with a nod, giving her a slight pat on the back.

“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.’

Frankly, Flash wanted to facetable himself after what had just happened, but he thought Twilight had that covered.

“Then why did you say you did?”

“Because I lost my temper and I wanted him to drop this stupid idea of his. But 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 seemed to love her…in the form of citizens loving their princess, at least.

“Anypony I ask would just say yes because I’m a princess, even if they don't actually want to get to know me better. Who would say no to the honor of escorting the Princess of Friendship to the biggest event of the year? So how would I know if somepony was actually going with me because they liked me? Plus, if the pony thinks they have to say yes, I would be putting them under all this stress just for me, stress that would just be compounded because the duke is probably going to confront me at least once at the Gala!

“And what if they say no because they don’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—”

Huh. Flash hadn't actually heard the story behind that one. He’d need to remember that for later.

“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.”


Dragon say WHAT NOW?!

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

“I mean, he’s always escorting you into town and stuff as part of his job, so you could easily just say you wanted to get to know the pony responsible for protecting you a little bit better. It would be enough to at least show the duke that you weren't lying.”

Flash opened his mouth the contradict him, but then stopped to consider Spike’s words 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 he was always mad. Heck, he was probably mad at the sun for waking him up in the morning.

Hehehehe, ‘Celestia, I demand you turn off the sun!’

Oh, that would be a fun audience to witness.

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.

But wait…

This was the GALA. Even IF he was just an escort, it was almost certain that the nobles, or anypony else for that matter, would see him as something more. They wouldn’t just see two friends having fun together; they would see a couple going on a date whether they liked it or not. Actually, given the dress requirements, the fancy food and music, the dancing…it WOULD be just like a date. A really fancy one surrounded by annoying nobles, but still a DATE!

Oh boy…

Flash had only ever had ONE date before, and while not a BAD date by any means, it was…subpar, to be sure. So much so that when he had joined the guard shortly after, he had never tried again. So he had NO experience with this kind of thing, and the idea of trying to be a good date for somepony as amazing as Twilight was…frankly, a bit terrifying.

But it was also a rather exciting idea as well. He actually liked spending time with Twilight, a lot now that he thought about it. She was smart, funny, talented, a bit dorky at times, but overall, just really fun to be around. In fact, now that Spike pointed it out, dating her would probably be really enjoyable, maybe even magical.

Yes, dating the element of magic could be magical. Your detective skills are unmatched, Flash.

He could actually picture what the date would be like at the Gala. He’d have a nice, fancy suit while Twilight would look stunning in whatever masterpiece Rarity could dream up. He would go through the playful motions of teasing and flirting with her, holding the door for her, pulling her chair out, complimenting her to no end, all the things a gentle-colt would do. They would laugh and have fun, so much so that even the nobles couldn’t ruin it. And when they danced, she wou—

“Spike!” Twilight cried, pulling Flash from his thoughts. Oops, he’d gotten distracted. What was she saying again? “I can’t just force him to go with me to the Gala! That would be abusing my powers as a princess, and—”

Nervous or not, Flash decided to take the chance.

Here goes nothing.

“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. Flash winced. At least she fell in the gap between the table between the map in the throne, rather than smacking her head on the table. So glad the universe was here to help him a little, rather than just curse him, as per usual.


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

Very, very hard.

Biting his lip to keep from laughing, Flash gently covered her mouth with a hoof, making her purple eyes meet his blue ones. Dang, they were pretty…


“Twilight, as your friend, I can’t let you be forced into going with somepony as horrible as Money Bags, or any other noble for that matter. Seeing you happy makes me happy, so I’m not asking you to go because you’re forcing me to. I’m asking you to go with me because I want to make sure you enjoy your time at the Gala, 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.

Ok, now she was just being cute.

“O-ok,” she stuttered. “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.”

Obviously. He was a GUARD, not a BUTLER.

“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 very excitedly. At least he wasn’t outright drooling the way he normally was when he talked about the mare of his dreams.

“Sure,” Twilight said, giggling at the little dragon as he leapt up to his normal position on her back. Flash didn’t mind the extra company. They could all use a walk after The Wild Bull Horn Storm, or whatever that storm of idiocy was.

The present…

As Flash and Twilight stepped out of the castle, they were saluted by the two guards stationed out front. Just a short ways away, Flash could see the rest of the Element Bearers and Spike waiting near the flying carriages that would be taking them to Canterlot.

The sun was just beginning its descent, bathing the land in a warm orange glow and making the crystal castle sparkle in a brilliant display. Too bad we can’t stay back and watch the view together, Flash thought. Maybe another night. Because right now, Rarity was waving at them so furiously that she was in danger of cutting herself on her dress…or at least, that’s how it looked. She somehow had designed it to look like it had been completely cut from crystal. It was so twinkly that it could have blended in with Twilight’s castle, and Flash had the distinct impression it was trying to blind him.

Flash examined the other dresses as they approached, if only to keep from seeing spots in his eyes for the rest of the night. Rarity must have made all of them, because while they were cut in the same style as Twilight’s, they were carefully designed to reflect the pony who wore it. That seemed to be a recurring theme in her designs.

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.

Spike was there too, dressed in a black tuxedo just like Flash, only he also wore a top hat and carried a small cane. Flash thought he looked rather dapper, and the glances Rarity was giving him implied she did too. He waved as the couple approached.

“There you two are. What took you so long?”

“Pre-date banter,” Flash replied, grinning as Twilight rolled her eyes. The others all giggled at his answer. Thank you ladies, I’m here all the time. No, seriously. I live here.

“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.”

“Indeed she does,” Flash agreed before the blushing Twilight could reply. “But what do you mean by modifications?”

“Enhancements, 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, so I added a bit more flare by redoing the cosmos patters to be more FABULOUS. So what do YOU think, darling? Hmmmmm?

Rarity’s gaze was suddenly as sharp-looking as her dress, and Flash was vividly reminded of her threatening him during his suit-fitting sessions with her very long, very pointy needles if he even THOUGHT about mistreating Twilight. Granted, there was no way Flash would ever do that, but he was nonetheless very pleased when Twilight had caught her in the act and stopped her.

At least, this time, he should be fine. He smiled.

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

“An excellent answer,” Rarity said with a nod, and Flash relaxed slightly despite himself. “I think you might have quite the catch here, Twilight.”

“Mmmm…” Twilight replied, still hiding. Flash hoped she wouldn't be this shy ALL night. As adorable as it was, he actually DID want to get to know her more.

“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’ 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 in line. “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. Flash shrugged. He had no experience with the Gala, so he decided to just go with the flow on this one. However, he was surprised when he and Twilight were ushered to the first chariot on their own. Judging by the look of shock and confusion on Twilight’s face, he guessed she was too. 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. That, or she just REALLY loved trying to play matchmaker.

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 rushing around them. Not that he minded. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Ever since Spike had brought up the idea of him and Twilight dating, Flash had been paying more attention to Twilight and her...well, her everything, really.

She was strong and determined, just like any guard, and she would work to accomplish her goals and to overcome any problem. Yet she was also kind and understanding, always willing to lend an ear to others or assist them with their problems over her own. Despite her status, she would still participate in community events, or perform community services like reading to the sick foals at Ponyville Hospital. Her joy and excitement was infectious, even if Flash didn’t know why she was so excited. And yet she was humble, never overstating or overblowing her actions. She was willing to show her flaws and fears, reaching out to others in times of need…

Oh dear Celestia, he was in love with her.

Or at least that’s what he thought those butterflies in his stomach meant, the ones that flared up every time she sat so regal on her throne, or read books so fast her eyes would blur over the page, or laughed with him over a plate of Hay Burgers, or stayed up until three in the morning reading with Spike draped over her back because he had given up trying to get her to sleep…But no, he couldn’t let these feelings overwhelm him. Not tonight. It was already a stressful night for her, and there was no way he was going to add to it. He would just be there for her, making her laugh and distracting her from whatever stupidity Bull Horn would throw at her.

But right now, he needed to distract himself from how good it felt to have her snuggled under his wing, because that was NOT HELPING.

He stared out over the countryside as they flew towards Canterlot, which, whaddaya know, was a pretty good distraction. He enjoyed the sight of the vast open lands shining in the waning sunset, and the look of serenity on Twilight’s face told him she loved it too. Maybe he could take her on a flying date to Cloudsdale on another perfect evening like this. The sun reflecting of her mane and eyes…
Bad brain, bad. Focus…

Before long, they were flying over the streets of Canterlot, which was 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. Flash had attended some of the less formal ones before joining the guard, and boy, were they chaotic. Not quite Pinkie-chaotic, but surprisingly close. It truly was a citywide event, possibly even an Equestria wide event, though Flash thought the small parties might be more fun than the actual Gala.

Actually, if the Gala was open to everypony, would anypony new actually come? Or would they just stay with their friends at the smaller parties? Ehh, that wasn’t important right now.

The castle itself looked far more impressive than it normally did. There were banners stretched between all of the towers and wrapped around as much of the building as was possible without blocking any windows or balconies. There were balloons tied to much of the outer walls and elegant flower displays lined 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. Just like Twilight’s mane…


When they landed outside the large golden doors at the main entrance, Flash hopped out first and offered a hoof to Twilight like a true gentle-colt. His heart fluttered as she accepted his assistance, although she blushed again likely because the early-arriving nobles were watching the two of them. Nearby, some ponies were also whispering, while others openly glared at Flash, but he really didn't care. However, he could tell that Twilight did care by how much she was fidgeting, so he didn't hesitate to wrap his wing around her again as a makeshift shield. The nobles sniffed, as though they thought 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. He could get used to holding her like this…

The other Element Bearers soon arrived and immediately gathered around them, buffering the couple from the rest of the nobles. Rainbow Dash in particular was giving them some pretty nasty looks. Flash was torn between trying not to appear too pleased as the other ponies squirmed and praying to the Solar Sisters that he never was on the receiving end of one of those glares.

They couldn’t go inside right away because Rarity would. Not. Stop. Fawning over the castle, but once Applejack and Rainbow gave her elbows to the forelegs, everypony (and dragon) moved towards the front doors and the Gala.

But then the universe decided it was time to spice things up… AGAIN!

“What is the meaning of this?” a familiar loud and very annoying voice sounded. Flash couldn’t help it this time. He facehoofed and turned to the left, catching sight of Duke Bull Horn angrily stomping towards the group. Can’t we at least get INSIDE first!? he thought. Then at least the guards could THROW HIM OUT!

Ok, maybe they could banish him from the grounds for causing a ruckus, but it would be FAR more entertaining to see him get thrown out. Especially if he ended up in another fountain.

However, before Flash could move, he saw the rest of the girls interposing themselves between the duke and Twilight, and, by extension, him. He blinked, for a moment unsure of what to do. He settled for squeezing Twilight with his wing. If he needed to intervene with the others, he could.

Bull Horn, however, snorted at the barrier in front of him. “Get out of my way. This is between me and that sorry excuse for a princess.”

Flash bristled, rage making it’s way to the forefront of his mind as he made ready to storm closer and speak up in defense of Twilight. He was NOT going to let him talk about her like that, ESPECIALLY TONIGHT! But to his immense surprise, FLUTTERSHY beat him to it.

“How dare you!” Fluttershy said, her usual quiet voice as hard as rock. “That’s no way to talk to Princess Twilight. She’s a kind, smart, and wonderful pony who earned her title in every way. So don’t you try and insult her like that, mister!”

The duke actually took a few stamps back at that, and Flash smiled a little, thoroughly impressed. Nice one, Fluttershy. Hopefully, that—

“Be quiet, you peasant!” Bull Horn thundered, puffing out his broad chest in her face. FLuttershy ‘eeped’ and backed away, shaking.

Never mind.

However, as Flash once again prepared to move forward and assist, this time Rainbow and Applejack took point.

“Don’t you yell at her!” Rainbow yelled, flying right up to the duke and poking him in the chest. “She’s way better than some stuck-up jerk like you. And just because it’s a fancy party doesn’t mean I can’t kick you’re flank!”

Can you do that anyway? Seriously, what’s stopping you? Twilight can probably pardon you for Luna’s sake!

The duke returned the pegasus’s glare as Applejack moved up next to Fluttershy and draped a comforting hoof over her back.

“What’s so great about bein’ a noble anyway?” Applejack asked. Bull Horn wheeled his head around to face her, but when he opened his mouth, all that came out were unintelligible stammers. The orange mare smirked. “If it meant Ah gotta act like you do, I’d much rather just stay the way Ah am, thank you very much.”

“Oh don’t let him fool you, dear,” Rarity said, also stepping forward. “He’s no more of a noble then Prince Blueblood. Sure, he may have a title, but his personality is that of a raging Diamond Dog compared to that of a true noble pony.”

Bull Horn’s right eye was starting to twitch now. Luna, it was getting really hard not to laugh at him now.

“And at least Diamond Dogs have better breath,” Spike added, prompting a chuckle from most of the group.

Ok, now Flash was really impressed, and he could guess Twilight was rather amused based on the amount of muffled snickering he could hear from his side. The girls and Spike had managed to turn a big shot like Duke Bull Horn into a stuttering mess who couldn’t even respond. He’d would have never believed it if he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, and it made him smile.

Also, rule one for dating Twilight: Don’t piss off her friends. Luna help him if he ever did that. But…wait…where was Pinkie? She wasn't with the rest of the girls, so where did she—



The duke was so focused on the four mares in front of him, he never saw Pinkie sneak up behind him and pull out something…fun. She then tapped Bull Horn on the shoulder.

“Pardon me, my good sir,” she said, giggling at her own funny accent. The duke spun around, most likely to start shouting, only to squeak as he came face to face with a large cannon pointed directly at him. Pinkie was lying on top of it, her pose turning quite a few heads.

“You wanted to insult my friends?” Pinkie said, her voice as sweet as sugar. “I think you will find your world to be a little more…pink, if you do.” Her smile was slowly turning more maniacal.

Ok, rule two: DON’T MESS WITH THE PINK PARTY PONY! He would make sure to highlight, bold, and circle that one when he made his list.

And yes, he WAS going to write a list. Twilight loved list…


“I…that…you…” Bull Horn stammered, looking around in a panic. “GUARDS! Arrest that maniac for bringing a loaded cannon to the Gala.”

Like that would work. This was PINKIE! Certainly she had a way out of this.

As a nearby guard approached, Pinkie pulled out a set of papers from her mane and handed it to the mare in armor, all without taking her eyes off the duke. “I am a certified party pony, and this is my license to carry and use my party cannon to defend myself and my friends from sadness and frowns, which this stallion was attempting to force onto my friends.”

The mare looked over the papers, nodded, and handed them back to Pinkie.

“Everything checks out. Enjoy the party, miss,” the guard said before returning to her post.

Huh. Of all the things Pinkie could have done, Flash wasn’t expecting it to be something so…tame…and legal. But whatever. The look of sure confusion and terror on the duke’s face was well worth it.

“Y-You’re nuts,” Bull Horn stammered, pointing a hoof at the pink mare. Pinkie leapt up to her hooves and dramatically pointing back at the duke.

“No, I’m CONDIMENTS! I’ve been promoted!” she exclaimed, prompting Flash and Twilight to both burst out in laughter. Oh, dear Celestia, she read WAY too many old comic books! It still didn’t make it any less funny though. What’s better, Bull Horn seemed to finally realize that this wasn't a fight he was going to win as he backed away from the posing mare before running away in full retreat.

Flash took it back. If the rest of the night was like this, then BY CELESTIA was it going to be a fun night. Finally getting his laughter back under control, he watched Pinkie slip the party cannon back into her mane, because where else would she put it? Shaking he head, he turned to look at Twilight, who was smiling comfortably.

“Thanks for that, everyone,” Flash said. “I think you just made this night all the better for us, right, Twilight?”

“Well, it’s certainly better than having to wait half an hour for him to leave us alone,” Twilight said jokingly. “But seriously, thank you, girls. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

“Think nothing of it, dear,” Rarity said, smiling proudly. “We couldn’t just let that buffoon ruin your night, now, could we?”

The others voiced their agreement before Twilight swept them, and Flash, into a big hug with her wings. Flash would never admit it, but being squeezed up against his date like that actually made HIM blush. Not that he was complaining...

After Twilight let go, thankfully without noticing his blush, everyone continued to the doors, laughing amongst themselves at putting the duke in his place. Flash wasn’t sure that they had seen the last of him, but what could he POSSIBLY do once they were in the Gala? Bull Horn may be a moron, but even HE wouldn't be willing to risk losing his status by messing up the Gala. At least, Flash hoped he wouldn’t be.

Glancing at Twilight again, Flash decided to put Duke Bull Horn out of his mind. Making sure she had fun was all that mattered, and no amount of crazy nobles was going to stop him from doing just that.

After arriving at the doors and showing the guards their tickets, they all took turns walking into the main entrance hall with him and Twilight going first. Said entrance hall had a large set of marble stairs directly facing the doors where Princess Celestia would usually stand and greet those who entered. Normally, she was the first one at the Gala and spent her evening at the top of said stairs, but her absence seemed to imply that she had yet to arrive. The ballroom was off to the right through another set of doors, but Flash was distracted from looking inside by the fact that Celestia wasn’t in her normal place on the grand staircase.

Was she actually running late? Flash never though he’d see the day. However, before he could ponder it further, he was distracted again as he and Twilight were announced by a well-dressed pony by 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’. Though he had a pretty good idea who arranged it.

“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. That just made him smile more as his heart fluttered.

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

Hmmm, she had a point. Unless…

“Not if I start quoting plays,” he said, grinning devilishly.

“You better not…” Twilight warned, but her smile made it impossible for him to take her seriously.

“‘Methinks the lady doth protest too much,’” Flash drawled in a horrible, horrible impression of…it was so bad, he didn’t even know what accent he was trying to impersonate. It appeared as though Twilight couldn’t figure it out either 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.

So, success? Better try again, just to be sure.

“You’re right, that was an impression of the nobles. My bad. Let me try again.” He cleared his throat dramatically. “‘Doth Mother know… you wearth her drapes?’”

Twilight lightly smacked him again.

Yep, definitely a success.

“Having trouble with your stallion, darling?” Rarity said, giggling at their antics as she approached. He had actually forgotten about them for a minute there and hadn’t noticed them gathering around him and Twilight.

“I’m the one having trouble,” Flash joked, rubbing the back of his head. Well, not really, but he was still the one being hit. Although her wing was really soft…

“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.

OH HO! So she DOES have a playful side, rather than just a shy side. This momentous discovery made his wings twitch in excitement and his heart beat even faster inside his chest. But he would not be outdone.

“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. He couldn’t help but wink at Twilight. “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. At least she was consistent in her love of all things Wonderbolt.

“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.” And off she went too.

“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.”

Ah yes, Flash had heard about that little…incident. Though a stampede of animals would certainly be interesting. And maybe a little fun if they ran over Duke Bull Horn in the process.

“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!”

See the sights, get inspired.’ That should be the castle’s new logo, Flash thought as he watched Rarity’s eyes start to sparkle with images of dresses. That or ‘Warning: gets overrun by magical entities once every six months. Magical panic rooms are here, here, and here.’

The second one was probably more accurate.

Flash wasn’t sure what to make of that.

“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. So all that left was Pinkie.

“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.

To be fair, Pinkie HAD already pulled a party cannon out of her mane and produced legal documents saying she was allowed to carry it. His limit of ‘Pinkie shenanigans’ was probably reached for the night.

The two of them followed Pinkie, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash into 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.

As they began walking around, he could see that 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. He pointed it out to Twilight, who had a similar reaction, and the two ponies unanimously decided to head straight there.

As he began to move towards the buffet, Flash was surprised to see that Princess Celestia wasn't in fact not there yet. However, he could just make out Princess Luna near the stage talking to…was that Fancy Pants? He wasn't quite sure from this distance and while moving, but Luna’s dress hit his eye almost like a punch. 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.

Also, focus…less staring at your date, more making sure you don’t walk into a random table like an idiot. The nobles have the stupidity covered for the night.

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, stopping and pointing so Twilight could look. 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 Flash had never seen the pegasus, she seemed to be on friendly terms with the master of chaos as she waved goodbye. Judging by the look on Twilight’s face, she probably had never seen her either.

“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. He HATED when creatures did that. It was bad enough when Twilight just decided to randomly teleport into a room, but at least her spell made a ‘POP’ when it went off.

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

“Oh, you needn’t worry about me,” Discord said in a surprisingly 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 evening. Or Fluttershy.” He shivered. “Cotton candy have mercy on me if those two came for me.”

Wow. Discord is actually AFRAID of Fluttershy and Rarity’s tempers? Flash could hardly believe it. I’ll have to keep that in mind for the next time he annoys me. But which one is scarier? Both could be terrifying if made angry. But, wait…

“So, you’re NOT going to make this night chaotic for us?” Flash asked in suspicion. “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. So, 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 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, so long as I have somepony to talk to. Have you seen them?”

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

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

“Oh, she did, did she?” he said, pausing briefly to look above and behind their heads and wink. Flash thought he might be winking to Celestia and Luna, given his height, but upon turning around he found nothing but a wall.

“Who are you winking at?” Flash asked, looking back at Discord in confusion.

“The reader.”

“The what?"

“Oh, never you mind. Well then, I best go find our 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.

Ok, Flash was officially over his limit for crazy unexplainable nonsense now. He looked back at the wall again, just to make sure it wasn't broken from illogic or anything, but eventually just shrugged.

It was Discord. Better off not trying to figure him out.

“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. Flash followed closely behind.

“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?” That was a surprise. Surely there must be someone else here that she wanted to talk to. Or at least plenty of ponies that wanted to talk to someone as amazing as her…

Ok, seriously, FOCUS!

“They're not here yet.”

Ah, there we go.

“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,” Understatement of the millennium right there, “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, and Twilight apparently thought so too as she grabbed ten Hay Burgers before moving on. Considering how often they went out for some, that was not at all surprising. They must have gone their at least three times a week for the past six months. And the—
No, no daydreaming. Focus.

“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.

Ah, there was the blushing he was familiar with.

“I’m not that special,” she mumbled as they reached the desserts “I mean, there are some days I wake up with a scroll stuck to my face because I fell asleep studying. It’s just like how ponies think I’m perfect just because I became a princess when…I’m really not. I still make mistakes, I still need help sometime, and I’m certainly not as special as somepony like Celestia. I’m just…a regular pony.”

A regular pony, huh? Allow me present you with a counter argument.

“Yeah, you only fought an Ursa Minor, Nightmare Moon, Tirek, the changelings, Discord, King Sombra, and you also 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, in your accomplishments or your looks.”

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


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. He thought the Hay Burgers would make up most of her meal, but instead she had apparently kept grabbing more and more food while he was distracted with listing her accomplishments. She now had almost three times as much as 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.”

Hoo boy, what a long day that had been. It took forever for his eyebrows to grow back.

“I’m fine,” 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?” Would she need to eat MORE later? Did she have some form of alicorn puberty to go through?…

On second thought, he didn’t want to know.

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 one and a half 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?”
Wait, that didn’t make sense. How would she time that?

“I just teleport the food to my mouth. Or my stomach if I’m in the middle of meetings or something.”

“Is that safe?”

“Umm…it should be?”

Well, THAT’S not a good answer.

“Twilight,” Flash said, frowning at her. It might be time for a lecture. Another thing Twilight loved…

No, very bad brain. Go sit in the corner until AFTER the lecture…

“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 or during meetings because you have a fast metabolism. Doing something dangerous like teleporting food directly 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.”

Insert Z-snaps here.

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 make you worry.”

Well, lecture over. Back to harmless teasing in hopes of seeing her laugh or blush…or both.

“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.

Oh, this was gonna be fun.

“Really. Apparently, a diplomat sent her an expensive pineapple cake in the mail, but it got lost for a good month. But when it finally arrived, she refused to throw it out and instead ate the entire thing in one sitting. She was sick for a week. In fact, that was actually 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. Trying to keep a puking Celestia in bed while telling her not to worry about the smoke visible from her window was not something he ever thought he’d be doing in a million years.

Too bad she didn’t put that in her letter to Twilight. ‘Dear Twilight, I ate rotten cake, and now have food poisoning. Please go get rid of this dragon covering our land in smoke while I am busy throwing up. Signed, Princess Cakelestia.’

“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. Her expression was priceless.

“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.”

“Her greatest weakness, CAKE!” Flash said dramatically. Twilight struggled to swallow her mouthful of ice cream before she burst out laughing. Her laugh was infectious, just like always, and soon he couldn’t help but join in. They were attracting a few sidelong glances and grumbles from nearby nobles, but Flash didn’t really care, and Twilight was too distracted to notice.

By now, Flash saw that the ballroom was beginning to fill up, and a lot more nobles had joined the party. The dull muttering in the room had also risen to a moderate level of constant background noise. Not too bad just yet, though, so that was nice.

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.

But then the universe appeared in an evil villain costume and produced a random antagonist! Flash was gonna PUNCH the universe one of these days. He didn’t know how, but hey, maybe Discord could help him.

“Princess Twilight!” a deep and irritating voice called out. “I demand to speak with you this instant!”

Turning, Flash just managed to swallow his groan as they came face to face with Money Bags, Bull Horn’s son. 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 his audiences in court) and he was clearly annoyed (not that this was anything new).

Or, at least, Flash THOUGHT he 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 calmly. “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.

Oh great, they were starting where they left off with Bull Horn outside. Someone PLEASE throw him out! Flash thought. They were inside now. It would be easy. Just find a unicorn, a window, and POOF, problem solved.

“The two of us have gotten to know each other so well that when he asked me to the Gala as a date, I accepted. 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!”

Flash growled. He had MUCH more culture than this uppity nincompoop. At least HE knew how NOT to make a scene…

No, laughing at the table DID NOT count as a scene.

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. Celestia-damned idiots. Go find something better to do than watch me and my date. Seriously, this isn’t a freaking Hoofball game!

“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.” Flash would take that as a compliment and testament to his skills in dating. Even if said skills were practically nonexistent.

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

Oh dear.

Flash was not liking this. While Twilight still appeared calm, she had pressed up to him during the conversation and he could feel her shaking. Out of anger or stress, Flash didn't know, but he HATED the idea of just standing by while she suffered. It made him feel both helpless and enraged. He saw that Luna was frowning and making her way towards them, and while ponies were bowing and moving out of her way, Flash didn't think she would make it over to them before things got even more out of hoof. He DID know he needed to do something to end this nonsense.

Huh, nonsense…

That might just work.

Money Bags puffed up his chest. “How dare you claim that this—”

“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 did, and Princess Luna had stopped dead and was looking at him questioningly.


Flash winked at Twilight, silently signaling to her that the fun was about to begin.

Money Bags composed himself and growled, “Be silent, you—”

“Bolemb omble bo”

“What are you—”

“Bobole bom.”

“Be quiet and let me—”

“Obole bombele bob.”

“Would you—”

“Bobele bo.”





Money Bags paused after that, staring at Flash with his eyebrows raised as though waiting to see if he would keep going. Flash smiled dumbly and pressed his lips together.

That seemed to be good enough for the unicorn. “Now—”

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

Oh Luna, his expression was even better than Twilight’s, and that was saying something. This was FAR too much fun.

Money Bags’ left eye was twitching. Many of the surrounding nobles looked shocked that Flash had out-witted (or maybe out-annoyed) 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. Suffice to say, Flash thought he had won this round.

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

“There you are, Twilight.”

Oh, thank Celestia.

Seriously, she was right behind them now.

All three ponies turned to see Princess Celestia made her way towards the group. All the guests bowed as she passed, and Flash bowed as she drew closer, party out of duty, and partly out of reverence. She WAS still a princess, after all. 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.”

Well, that was pretty surreal. Maybe she was more like Twilight than he thought.

“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.” But at least he wasn’t standing there trying to impersonate a statue like he usually was when he was with one of the most powerful ponies in Equestria.

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

Better question, why are YOU still here? Seriously, you can’t be THAT stupid.

“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 smiled at the young alicorn. “You finally reached the next part of your lessons and began looking for love. I’m certain Cadance will be bouncing off the walls.”

Oh boy. Flash hadn’t considered how her siblings would react to the date. Please let Shining Armor be gentle.

“It’s only our first date,” Twilight said, embarrassed. “Even if we do go out again, you might still be jumping ahead a little bit.” Hopefully she was right though…

Focus…Plan future dates later.

“Maybe, but a mare can dream, can’t she?” Celestia asked teasingly. Apparently Celestia like to make Twilight blush too.

Money Bags’ eye was twitching again. Go home, dude, you not—

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

Yep, he is that stupid. Flash facehoofed. Good job proving the ‘commoner’ wrong, bud. Give yourself a cookie.

“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 gentle-colt then you.”

Exactly. Thank you, Celestia.

Flash was happy to hear the princess defending him, but he still wanted to mess with Money Bags. Since he was out of Celestia’s sight, he leaned into the unicorn’s view, stuck his tongue out, and pointed his eyes in different directions. Twilight nearly lost her composure again over his ridiculousness and Money Bags looked like he couldn’t decide what was worse: Flash’s taunting, or the fact that he was being taunted right under the nose of Princess Celestia without her noticing. And here Flash thought his face couldn’t be any more priceless.

“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 puffed out his cheeks and spun his eyes in opposite directions. Twilight snorted, her legs getting shaky from concealed mirth. Maybe Princess Celestia was wrong on that last point, a little bit, but eh, she was right overall. At least he wasn't throwing a temper tantrum.

“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, seeing as you are one of the nobles who STILL refuses to cast aside your class prejudice despite me and my sister constantly saying it is despicable, 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. Seriously, who ever convinced him that the Gala was boring? This was awesome!


“No buts. This is my party, so I may invite — and disinvite — whomever 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, but Flash thought he saw her eyes twinkle. “If you will follow me, Twilight, I would love to speak with you and your date in private.”

Twilight managed to nod, following after the princess as she turned to leave. Flash assisted her, but unable to help himself, turned back one last time and waved to Money Bags, 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, Princess Celestia spoke.

“Go ahead, Twilight.”

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

Yay, he made her laugh. This night just keeps getting better.

“Silence spell,” Celestia said, gesturing to the shimmering walls. “Rather handy, in my opinion, especially when dealing with nobles. Was taunting Money Bags while I wasn’t looking really necessary?”

Celestia raised her eyebrow at Flash, making him grin sheepishly. Guess he wasn’t as sneaky as he thought. That or she really DID have eyes in the back of her head, just like his own mother.

“S-Sorry, Princess. After everything he and his father have put Twilight through, I…I just couldn’t resist.” That, and hearing Twilight laugh so much made it SO worth any scolding he would get.

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 standing since you’re dating Twilight.”

Oh dear Luna, she WAS like his mom!

“It’ll be up to her if we date more than just this once,” he said quickly, feeling his face heat up. It’s just warm in here, that’s it. Yeah. Right. “Though I will admit, I wouldn't mind having more less formal dates in the future.” ESPECIALLY if it meant less nobles. Sure, they were entertaining to tease, but he would much rather have a date without them constantly bugging him and Twilight.

“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 breathe normally. “You doing ok, Twilight?”

“I, hehehe, could kiss you right now, hehehe, if I could stand up,” she said, still giggling.


Flash thought he felt lightheaded for the few seconds after she said that. But he recovered very quickly as he realized the chance he had just been given.

Well, since she offered…

Flash 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 as she looked away from him. An appropriate reaction…

“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-colt, and so I think I struck the right balance between forward and what is expected for this date.”

Please buy it, please buy it…

“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.”

Rule three: Don’t upset the princesses, especially Twilight. Probably a ‘NO DUH, MORON’ rule, but still best to write it down.

“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!”

Come to think of it, why was that the first punishment she thought of anyway?

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 Solar Sisters 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?” Wasn't that literally what Shining Armor’s cutie mark was? Protection?

“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?”

Okaaaaaay, so Celestia had eyes in the back of her head, and Luna could read his mind. Flash was really going to have to call his mother after this.

“I…didn’t tell him yet,” Twilight admitted, looking sheepish. “I didn't want him and Cadance 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.”

Twilight bit her lip.

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

“Not convinced?” Flash asked, pouting exaggeratedly. His poor pride… Actually, no, forget his pride. That DID hurt a bit considering how he was feeling about her. But he had time. The Gala had just begun, so he could still prove himself to her before the night was out.

“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, one that Flash couldn’t quite understand. “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—”

OHHHH! She’s afraid of dancing in front of all the NOBLES!

Well, he could fix that.

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


“Come on, Twilight, how bad could it be?” Flash said, somehow managing not to stutter like Twilight. Dang she was pretty...


“But-but I CAN’T DANCE.”


“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.

And you are, Miss Teasing Motherly Figure? Flash shook his head.

“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 finished. “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.”

Plus, if your dancing is really that bad, then you can just say your starting a new trend. Heh, that was a good one. He would have to save that joke for when she wasn’t so tense.


“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 out there, and the band was well into a groove by now. Twilight hesitated when she saw the crowd, but a gentle brush of Flash’s wing prompted her to continue. He was right there, and would be with her the whole time. No nobles were going to stop him, and no distracting thoughts were going to mess this up.

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 a light, bouncing melody that made Flash of wind. Twilight closed her eyes and bopped her head to the music, learning the rhythm. A quietly amused smile spread across her face, accompanied by a long-suffering shake of the head that Flash knew she did whenever she saw Rainbow Dash showing off. Perhaps the breezy music reminded her of her friend?

Regardless of what it was, it seemed like it was calming her down a bit.


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

Feeling braver, Flash sent Twilight out for a small twirl, 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…some 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 them. Twilight blushed, but smiled, which Flash returned as he pulled her back up. To his surprise, her own wings spread out, and the message was clear. It was time to mix it up.

Increasing their tempo, 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 partner’s as if they were another set of hooves. Other times they would move independently of their partner's. 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, and boy did it make his own heart flutter far more than it had all night.

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 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 he hadn’t even noticed, and it looked like Twilight was in the same boat. Thankfully, almost everypony who had watched them was clapping, and Celestia and Luna were giving them approving smiles.

And all of her friends, save Pinkie Pie (guess the plot hadn’t demanded her yet, whatever that meant), were just outside their dance circle, leading the cheer.

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. Plus, they were probably just jealous.

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 room 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. Romance over, back to playful teasing.

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

“Never tried it before,” Flash admitted. “I was just imitating other ponies. Well, except for the wing thing, but that was still relatively simple. Being a guard means you help guard 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 there are in each window in the Hall of History 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 than an empty hallway.” Especially considering how many fun and interesting adventures you get into on a weekly basis. Well, except for the monster attacks and disasters. Those were just annoying.

“I would certainly hope so,” she said, elbowing him lightly. Flash stuck his tongue out, and was rewarded with a small laugh that made him smile.

The two lapsed into a comfortable 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 still looked as beautiful as she did 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.

Okay, he was totally biased.

But he really didn't care. He loved her, and seeing her like this just made him feel…well, he actually couldn’t put it into words.

Turning back to the dance floor, Flash watched Twilight’s friends to try and distract himself. Rarity had apparently decided to humor poor Spike and share a dance with him, though, it was more like she was hugging him and moving in time to the music, given how much taller she was than him, but Spike looked utterly blissful all the same. Rainbow had actually been pulled into a dance with the Wonderbolt Soarin and looked even more excited than Twilight did when new books came in from the royal library. Though he had to admit he never actually thought he’d see Rainbow BLUSH. Well, first time for everything.

Fluttershy was lingering at the edge of the crowd, looking too nervous to join in and dance, but as Flash watched, Applejack found her and pulled her out onto the floor. They stayed near the edge, where there weren’t as many ponies, so Flash had a clear view of Fluttershy smiling and giggling as the orange mare led her in some simple yet rather outrageous-looking steps.

All in all, the girls looked like they were having just as much fun as he was.

As the song ended, he turned to look at his date, who was watching her friends and grinning. “Hey, Twilight?”

“Yes, Flash?” she said, looking him in the eye. Flash nearly lost his train of thought as those wondrous amethyst orbs met his own. The way they sparked in the light, the way they no longer held any hesitation, it made his stomach do flips that would impress Pinkie Pie.

“W-W-Would you…like to go for a walk in the garden?” he stuttered, trying not to blush himself.

“Sure. That…That sounds lovely,” she said, a faint pink rising in her cheeks. Why must she be so cute?

They made their way across the ballroom, doing their best to avoid the nobles before leaving through 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. Quite the shift, but still rather welcoming. 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 in Twilight’s hair, 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. Not the first time she had left him behind since he had met her, but it was nice that it wasn't because she was reading and wandering this time. 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 she 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. Twilight had stopped talking along the way to listen to some of the songs the garden creatures produced, including that of a cricket that had decided to jump on Flash’s nose. After a couple of minutes, her head settled on Flash as she continued to listen to the garden’s music.

Not that he minded. Her mane was reaaaaallllllllly soft…

FOCU—oh forget it…

However, as the two neared the gazebo in the very center of the gardens, Flash heard something, a sound that most certainly did NOT blend in with the rest of the garden’s noises. It was a high-pitched sound, almost like—

“EEP!” Twilight squealed.

Flash’s instincts from guard academy kicked into high gear as he grabbed Twilight and forced her to the ground, less than three seconds before a hoof-sized rock flew over them at a ferocious speed. It crashed into a nearby tree with a sickening crunching of bark that made Flash wince. He turned his head enough to take a look and saw that the rock hadn’t broken through the tree trunk completely, but was embedded in the wood deep enough that he could just see the edge.

Well BUCK, that was close, he thought as he scrambled to his hooves, hiding Twilight behind him. At that speed, the rock wouldn’t have killed Twilight, but it would have knocked her out. At best.

The universe cackled evilly. Flash would have lamented the universe again, but he had bigger problems now. First of which…

Just as he started scanning the plants near where the rock had come from, the enraged face of Duke Bull Horn entered the clearing.

Boy, did Flash need to restrain himself so he wouldn’t knock the unicorn out with his own hooves.

Seriously, what was WRONG with this family!?

“You really ARE an idiot if you think attacking a princess is a good idea,” Flash said, his face hard. Understatement of the century right there.

“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!”


How much more of this did he have to listen to tonight?

“Right, because my status is REALLY at the top of my priorities,” Flash said with an eye roll. Maybe he could convince Celestia to lock this guy in a mental facility? Somepony like him needed to be locked in a padded cell for a few years to calm down.

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.”


But then Twilight spoke up.

“You leave him alone,” she snapped, 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. If he wasn’t so focused on trying to keep Twilight safe, he would have decked this jackass three times already. “Not only are you 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 and ushering Twilight behind him again with his wing. “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 with you!” He thrusted a hoof at Twilight, his face getting more and more twisted by the second.

Dang it, weren’t there supposed to be guards in the garden after the time Fluttershy drove the animals into the ballroom? WHERE THE HECK WERE THEY?

Flash made himself take a deep breath. Not the time to freak out. Ol’ Bull’s doing that enough for the both of us.

Looking at the duke more closely, Flash saw that his eyes were shrunken and bloodshot, his mane was a mess, and he was actually foaming ever so slightly at the mouth. Clearly, he was more deranged than normal, possibly in the middle of having a mental breakdown. He had only been joking about the mental asylum. Was that actually necessary now?

Whats worse, it meant he REALLY needed to stay between the Duke and Twilight. If he was unstable, there’s no telling how his magic might reach should Flash try and fight him.

Maybe if he mentioned Celestia, he could get through to him? After all, she did have the power to revoke his status, so maybe the threat of losing his ‘noble’ status would shock him out of…whatever the heck this was.

It was worth a shot.


“Regardless of what you think,” Flash began, trying to keep his voice level, “How do you think Princess Celestia will act when she finds out you attacked a fellow princess?”

Flash would have continued, but apparently, he had chosen the wrong thing to say as Bull Horn literally caught ablaze in rage. His fur became white and his mane became literal red fire as his magic ran amok. It was so powerful Flash could practically FEEL the crazy flying off the duke’s horn.


Flash immediately backed off, pushing Twilight back from the raging maelstrom of magic in front of him. Not that she protested.

“What the heck are you talking about?” Flash asked, now greatly worried for Twilight and himself. Trying to run or fly away might make the duke attack, and he wasn’t sure they could get out of the danger radius quickly enough. Maybe if he kept the duke ranting, the guards would SHOW UP ALREADY!

“You really think we didn’t know there was going to be new royalty!?” Bull Horn bellowed. “We knew SIX MONTHS beforehoof that Celestia was going to be adding a new addition to the royal family. WE SAW THE SIGNS! THE PREPARATIONS! And when us nobles confronted her, she ADMITTED that she was looking of someone to promote to the status of PRINCE OR PRINCESS! THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME!”

Ok, one, you’re nuts, Flash thought, shaking his head in disbelief. But keep talking. The duke kept his eyes fixed on Flash, but the more he talked, the more he started to pace. If he would just turn away…




The moment Bull Horn turned away, Flash closed the distance and sucker-punched the raving lunatic across the face. The rage shift ended, and the now much-less-on-fire duke tumbled across the ground like a rag doll.

Who knew I’d actually need to use the Rage Shift Training I learned in guard academy? he thought as he shook out his foreleg, trying not to grin as Bull Horn’s eyes rolled in different directions. Now that he had knocked the duke out of it, the unicorn’s magic would be so scattered for a while that he wouldn’t be able to levitate a fly.


“You’re delusional,” Flash growled. “Celestia was never looking among the nobles for a candidate. It was only ever going to be Twilight. She just told you that she was looking for a candidate so you wouldn’t bug her about it, and because she knew that your obsession with it would lead to you keeping it a secret. That way, the news would never leave Canterlot, and Twilight would never find out.”

Ok, most of that was just guesswork, but he had more important things to say anyway.

“And even IF Celestia was looking for a noble to ascend, she would have NEVER picked somepony like YOU. Twilight 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!”

Bull Horn recoiled as if he was slapped, stumbling away from the pegasus as he tried to get to his hooves, 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 felt her move to his side again, so he draped his wing over her, trying not to grin as she leaned into the touch. Forget not telling her how he felt. This idiot needed to know how amazing she was, and he wasn't going to hold back. “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. THAT’S why she was chosen. Not power, not ego, but because she knows what it’s like to love others and to be loved. 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 as he stumbled back to his hooves that Flash wasn't sure if he could even move his face anymore. Though that might just be because he was slowly getting a big ugly bruise from where he was punched.


And Twilight…

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

Also good.

Growling, the duke’s horn sputtered as he tried to overcome the feedback from his rage shift. Flash ducked in front of Twilight, ready to put the duke in his place again. No matter how good the duke was at magic, he was practically helpless after such a big rage shift. Something Flash was all too happy to capitalize on.

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

“THE PLOT DEMANDS ME!” the pink mare 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 Bull Horn, shoving him so deep into the barrel that only his rear and back hooves were sticking out. As he flailed about, Pinkie turned to the still shocked Twilight and Flash, gave a sailor salute, and fired.

Bull Horn flew backwards halfway across the garden, screaming like a little filly before hitting a floating backboard, falling through a basketball hoop, and landing in 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 appeared. All of them cheered excitedly. A couple even held up cards with the number ten on them in flashing neon colors. Now completely flabbergasted, neither Twilight or Flash could respond as Discord floated over and hoof-bumped Pinkie while Bull Horn 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.

Flash was pretty sure he heard his brain breaking in the silence that followed.

“…I literally have no idea how to respond to that,” he said. “With Bull Horn, and the fact that DISCORD just saved our night…seriously, how do I react?”

Ok, he was officially over his limit for ALL kinds of nonsense tonight, so much so that he was half tempted to just bang his head into the nearest hard object to try and forget it all.

“I’ll…get back to you on that,” Twilight said, shaking her head. “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 he wanted very much to forget about Bull Horn, the unicorn remained stubbornly at the forefront of Flash’s thoughts.

He knew the duke wasn’t exactly smart, but seriously? He TRULY thought some high and mighty jackass like himself would actually gain the title of PRINCE? He wasn't even fit to run a donut shop, let alone try and RULE A BUCKING CONTRY!

But what pissed him off the most was how he viewed Twilight.

She was so much more than just some ‘common unicorn’ before she ascended. She was Celestia’s personal student, a talented mage in her own right, and, oh yeah, SHE HELPED SAVE EQUESTRIA A GOOD THREE TIMES! MAYBE MORE! She was the obvious pick for a new princess, and if not her, then one of her friends would have certainly still fit the bill better than Bull Horn. Especially Pinkie. She might bury everyone in a nonstop supply of cake, but she would still make sure everypony had a good time, and she would DEFINITELY be better that the duke.
Oh, what was he saying? ANYPONY would be better than the duke.

Flash took a deep breath and let it out as a sigh, trying to let go of the rage that filled him. He had been mad before, sure, but his anger had never quite 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. The only thing that mattered was that she was ok, and that the raving lunatic was going to get what was coming to him. He hoped Twilight wouldn’t let Bull Horn’s words get to her. But if they did, he would make sure to comfort her as best he could.

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

Ah, speak of the devil.

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. “Everypony gets help from others. It just so happens that yours helped you farther then you could have ever dreamed. But that doesn’t mean your accomplishments are any less important.”


“No buts,” Flash said, spinning himself and his date so they were facing each other. Wow, she looked even more beautiful in the moonlight…

Focus, Flash…Comfort now, admire later.

“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 that wasn’t all Flash had to convince her.

“And your friends. And your parents. And most of Equestria. And Celestia and Luna. You’re not saying the thousand-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.

She had him there, but the fact that he got her to laugh was a major victory in itself after what had just happened. Dear Celestia did he love Twilight’s laugh.

As they calmed down, Twilight looked up at Flash again. “Thank you Flash. That…means a lot to me. Also, I think we can add at least one more test to the schedule. I mean, if that’s ok with you?” She ducked her head again and blushed.

How could he say no to that face?

He couldn’t, simple as that.

Flash smiled. “How about that pizza place near the Ponyville town hall this Friday?”

“It’s a date,” Twilight said, beaming.

Before Flash could say anything else, a new noise reached their ears. Though a bit distant, they could clearly hear the sound of a song from 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.

Was she… eh, it doesn’t matter.

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 giggled, but didn't look away. In fact, her smile seemed to grow.

Another success.

The two stood on their forehooves as the song began in earnest. It was a far slower song than their first dance, but Twilight didn’t seem to mind.

Slowly swaying and twirling under the stars, the guard and the princess danced. The world just seemed to melt away for Flash. The only thing he could see was the eyes of his partner and the sparkle of moonlight on her clothing.

She truly was perfect.

They danced even as the song ended and another began, shifting perfectly to match the 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. As they broke away, both of them whispered what had been on their minds all that night.

“I love you…”

In the end, it would be the second best kiss she ever gave him.

Author's Note:

At long last, it is done. I love my original story, I really do, but this? THIS is the result of me working my hands off to improve every little thing I can. This, is without a doubt, the best story I have. Maybe I can write one better later on, but for now, THIS. IS. IT.

Enjoy, and a super special ultra thank you to my Editor/Girlfriend for all her hard work in helping me make this happen 💖💖💖💖💖💛💚💙💜💝

Also, subtle reference to Freedom Shall Ring is totally, 100%, subtle (said no one who has read the story)