• Published 7th Aug 2012
  • 5,033 Views, 164 Comments

Pride and Prejudice and Snails - Mudpony

A lost bet forces Diamond Tiara to ask Snails to a dance. But when Snails turns to Sweetie Belle for help with impressing his date, she develops feelings for him. And so what was to have been a simple victory for the CMC gets a bit more complicated.

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Chapter 4

Sweetie Belle strolled happily down the street, enjoying the sunny Saturday morning. She greeted ponies happily as she went and was greeted in return. She was on her way to have breakfast with her sister, Rarity, at the Carousel Boutique. And maybe Rarity would let her help with some designs. Though that would probably mean standing quietly in a corner and bringing her the occasional item.

She pushed upon the door to the boutique, the bell tinkling as she entered, alerting the store owner to the entrance of customers. Sometimes, if Rarity was hit with a burst of inspiration while helping a client, the store might have something out of place, but right now, the store was in its usual state. Everything had a place and was in it.

"Sweetie Belle, is that you?" Rarity called out from the kitchen. "Breakfast is almost ready."

"On my way." Sweetie Belle headed through a doorway that led to the living area and turned into the kitchen. The scent of cooking food was in the air and she inhaled it, savoring the aroma. Her sister was a good a cook. "Smells great, Rarity!" She sat down at her usual place at the table to wait for Rarity to finish cooking.

Rarity stood in front of the stove, her horn glowing as she lifted some spices and sprinkled them on to what she was cooking, paused for a second, and then added just a little bit more. "Perfect," she said, as she returned the spices to their place on the shelf. Her horn glowed again as she lifted up the pan, expertly flipped the contents, and set the pan down on the stove again. She hummed a little tune while waiting for the food to finish cooking. "And done!"

Sweetie Belle watched as Rarity cut the breakfast quiche and arranged the pieces in an aesthetically pleasing way on the plates, then added some parsley for garnish. Her stomach rumbled in anticipation. "Come on, sis! I want to eat already!"

"Anything worth doing is worth doing well, Sweetie," answered Rarity, as she floated the plates over to the table.

Sweetie Belle dug into hers with much gusto, taking a bit that was too large for her to chew properly with her mouth closed. Noticing Rarity's disapproval, she swallowed it as quickly as she could, looked up at her sister with an apologetic grin. She picked up her fork and waited impatiently until Rarity seated herself. The moment Rarity used her horn to lift her own fork, Sweetie plunged hers into her quiche, started to prepare a big bite, then thought better of it and took a smaller bite instead. More ladylike, as her sister would call it.

Breakfast continued with Rarity carrying on most of the conversation, talking about what orders she had to fill, the latest fashion trends, and some gossip from Canterlot, but she did make an effort to involve her sister in the conversation, as well as trying to get involved in some topics that were more to Sweetie's interests than her own. Sweetie Belle, having long since finished off her breakfast, took advantage of Rarity taking a bite to get in a question, "so, who you taking to the Hearts and Hooves Day Dance?"

"Who are you taking," Rarity corrected automatically. "And I'm not sure if I'll go. I'll be so busy with orders, with everyone else wanting to look their best, that I doubt I'll have the energy left. Still, sacrifices must be made for fashion. Although I think Caesar might be thinking of asking me. He's been into the store several times last week, claimed to be just browsing. Why do you ask?"

"Well, see there's this colt in my class," Sweetie Belle said as Rarity's ears perked up with interest, "and he's trying to impress a certain filly at the dance by being able to dance all fancy like they do in Canterlot and he sort of asked me if you could teach him. And you could teach me at the same time, it will be a fun thing to do as sisters." Sweetie Belle looked hopefully at her sister with a smile on her face.

"I don't know if I will have the time, dear. I've got the order to finish for Hoity Toity and there will be all those new orders coming."

The smile dropped off of Sweetie Belle's face, melting into a look of dejection. "Okay, I understand," she said softly.

Sweetie Belle's despondent face nearly breaking her heart, Rarity thought over her schedule for the next couple of weeks and looked at the calendar on the wall. "Well, if I move that fitting to Thursday and push back the Appaloosa order until after the dance, and if I take a few less orders, yes, I think that will work. That should leave me with about an hour each day," she said softly to herself. Turning back to Sweetie, she said, "Okay, I can teach you and your friend. At closing time, Monday through Friday, and don't be late."

Sweetie Belle threw herself out of her chair and rushed over to hug Rarity. "Thanks, you are my best big sister ever!"

With breakfast finished, the siblings gathered up the plates, brought them to the sink, washed them, as well as the pans and implements Rarity used to cook breakfast, and placed them on a dish rack to dry. With that out of the way, Rarity took the table cloth outside, shook off any crumbs on it, then carefully placed it on the table. "Okay, all done. Now, I'm going to need to get some work in on that order for Hoity before the pet play date later today. You going to be okay on your own?

"Oh, yeah, I need to find Snails so I can tell him about the dance lessons. And at noon, I am meeting Apple Boom and Scootaloo at the clubhouse. We are going to try to get our cutie marks in badmitten!"


Sweetie Belle was running late to make her noon meeting with the rest of the CMC at the clubhouse. It had taken a bit longer than she'd expected to track down Snails. She'd tried his home first, but his mom had explained that he was out with Snips. She'd tried Snips's mom next, but she didn't know where the two colts were at either. And so Sweetie had tried various places she thought they might be, Sugarcube Corner, the toy store, and the library, before finally finding them at one of the lakes.

Snails had been happy to hear the news and Snips had gone into a little jig before slipping on the slimy ground around the lake, sending both colts tumbling into the water. They rose up from the water laughing and started an impromptu mud and water fight. Sweetie Belle ducked as a chunk of mud flew past her head and figured that was her sign to get out of there. She'd yelled her goodbyes over her shoulder as she ran off to meet with her friends.

She'd done her best to make good time, but it was a decent distance away and it had already been near noon when she'd found the two colts. But now she was here at last. Time to earn her cutie mark. She bounded up the ramp and slammed into the shut and locked door with a loud thump. She shook her head to clear it, remembering that she was late and so her friends had probably started the meeting without her and locked the door so nopony else could barge in on their plans. From inside, she could hear papers being shuffled and some hushed whispers and she could imagine her two friends quickly stashing various cutie mark gaining plans out of sight, doing a quick glance to make sure nothing was missed, and then nodding to each that all was ready. And right on queue, Apple Bloom called out asking who was there, while Scootaloo demanded the password at the same time.

""It's me, who else do you think it'd be?" she called out.

The door opened and her friends exclaimed "you're here!"

"Of course I am here. Today's the day we get our cutie marks and become the Net Masters. There's no way I would miss that." She glanced suspiciously at both of her friends. "Hey, wait a minute, why did you guys sound surprised?"

Scootaloo looked away and then back. "Well, yesterday at school you were so angry at us and then you weren't here and it got later and later and we wasn't sure if you were still angry over us teasing Tiara like that."

"Yeah, we thought maybe you were so angry about how Snails got caught in our little trick that yah didn't want to be our friend no more, " added Apple Bloom.

Sweetie Belle looked back and forth at her two friends. "Now why would you think a silly thing like that? I'm just worried that we are taking it too far. Yes, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are not the nicest ponies. Especially not for the two of you."

It was something Sweetie had noticed, that Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon tended to focus their viciousness on her two friends over anyone else. She supposed that the Scootaloo bit came from Scootaloo being quick to rise to the bait or to the defense of her friends, as well as being an easy target due to her inability to fly and blank flank. With Apple Bloom she didn't know the exact specifics, but the start of their feud seemed to lie somewhere in their past, before the Crusaders had met each other. She'd asked Apple Bloom about it once and all Sweetie had gotten from the earth pony was that she and Diamond Tiara had once been best friends, when they were very young, but their friendship had ended after Tiara had started a fight with her. Apple Bloom had not been sure why the fight had started, but since then, Tiara had had it out for her.

"But I don't want this getting out of hand," Sweetie continued. "No hurting anypony, that's all I was saying. A bit of fun at Tiara's expense, okay. And as for thinking I would hide away from you, shame on you! Scootaloo, we've known each other how long now?"

Scootaloo mumbled something inaudible while looking properly chargrined.

"And you, Apple Bloom, do you think I'd abandon my best friends, my fellow Cutie Mark Crusaders, over something like a little prank at school?"

"Well, not when yah put it that way," admitted Apple Bloom.

"Now, we won't speak of this ever again," Sweetie said, doing a good impression of her sister, causing both of the other fillies to laugh. "Cutie Mark Crusader group hug!" declared Sweetie Belle. And the three came together in a pile of mutual affection and all was right again in the clubhouse.

"Alright, let's go play some badmitten," Scootaloo said, picking up a racquet in her mouth.

"Badminton," corrected Sweetie Belle.

Snails looked idly around the library, feeling a bit bored. He didn't come here that often, just when some assignment from Cheerilee required some research. It wasn't that he didn't like books, but rather that he read rather slowly and preferred doing other things rather than reading. Things like playing pirate by the lake with Snips. This meant that he usually wouldn't finish a book in the maximum time one was allowed to check books out from the library. During the winter, he'd get a few books in, but during the rest of the year, when the weather was better, he didn't bother.

Snips though had insisted they come here, after they'd swam around a bit to wash off the mud and were sufficiently dried off to insure that Miss Sparkle wouldn't kick them out of the library to protect her precious books. They were here to get a book on manners. All part of Snips's plan to make sure Snails impressed Diamond Tiara on the night of the dance. Snails wasn't sure what good it would do, but Snips seemed to think it was a good idea, so he went along.

And so they were waiting for Miss Sparkle, the town librarian, to finish dictating a letter to her assistant. Snails had listened for a bit, it was something about the extra room and special training, starting next week or something, with some complaints in between about having to shift work and experiments around. The complaints were worded carefully, as if Miss Sparkle was being careful not to offend the receiving party, but he knew complaints when he heard them.

Then he'd gotten bored and had decided to try and find the appropriate book he wanted. There wasn't a single section for all the books about subjects that started with "M" though, so he'd quickly given up and decided to just wait it out. How the library was organized just didn't make much sense to him and it seemed like every time it was in here, everything changed.

He'd watched for a bit as Snips checked the lower level books, but had grown bored of that and let his mind start wandering. He was glad that Snips had thought of that. By himself, he was pretty sure it would not have occurred to him until after the dance, by which time it was far too late. Although two weeks wasn't a long time. He'd have to work hard, really apply himself. But he could do that when he had a good reason to. He let himself lapse into a daydream of himself sweeping across the dance floor with Diamond Tiara held close and smiled blissfully. A daydream that was interrupted as Snips tapped him on the shoulder.

He looked around at Snips, who direct his attention to Miss Sparkle, who was clearly done with her letter and waiting for him to explain to her just what he was looking for. "Manners, I need to learn about manners," he said.

"Manors? I think we have a book or two about that in the things things live in section," replied the librarian, her horn starting to glow as she prepared to take down some books.

Before she could fully pull down the volumes, Snips spoke up. "Not manors, Miss Sparkle, but manners, etiquette, how to act all proper like."

"Ah, well, are you sure you don't want either of these two as well? Housing Styles of the Last Century is quite the fascinating read. No? Okay, well, then, let's see, The Sophisticate's Guide to Tea Parties? Decorum for a Dragon's Den? Proper Protocols for Weaseltopia? Or maybe The Polished Gentlepony's Guide to All Things? And then there's--"

"Yeah, that one. Polished Gentlepony for sure," said Snails, interrupting the purple unicorn before she could spout off another half dozen book titles or more.

"There you are. We've been looking all over for you," Diamond Tiara called out as she at last found Snails. She and Silver Spoon had been looking for him for the last hour, checking spots she figured he might be and, after her knowledge of him was exhausted with the first few places visited, by finding and asking other ponies she thought might know. That had led her to other places, but without any success. Silver Spoon had been getting crankier as time had passed and, to be honest with herself, so had Tiara. She had been just about to suggest giving up to Silver Spoon when who should round the corner ahead of them but their quarry and his ever present companion.

"Well, here we are, you've found us," said Snips happily.

"Yeah, you found us," echoed Snails.

Diamond Tiara waited, awaiting an apology by the duo for being hard to find, an apology that didn't come quickly, and so she moved on to her reason for having gone looking for Snails in the first place. "Silver Spoon and I are going to get dresses ordered for the dance."

"Oh, both of you, huh?" Snips asked, then turned to Silver Spoon and wiggled his eyebrows. "Who are you going with, Silver Spoon?"

"Someone else," replied Silver Spoon. Looking at Snails, she continued, "look, our point is we're going to order some dresses and we figured you wouldn't have anything appropriate to wear."

Seeing Snails start to get offended by the assertion that he didn't have any clothing worthy of the dance, Diamond Tiara quickly stepped in to soften the blow. "And by that, we mean something that will match my dress, of course, not that you don't have anything nice to wear. Couldn't have us clashing or anything, could we?" she said.

"No, I guess that makes sense," said Snails.

"Good, then it is settled, we're going to the best place in town, the Carousel Boutique. And don't worry about the cost, I got daddy to spring for it. Come on, let's go... or do you have something more important to do?"

Upon seeing they didn't, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon turned and started to head toward the clothing shop, though with a quick glance over their shoulder to see if the colts were following behind. Once Tiara was sure they were, she mouthed to Silver Spoon, "Close one."

Snails beamed happily as he waited outside of the Boutique. Everything seemed to be going well for a change. There had been a scary moment inside when Miss Rarity had almost mentioned the upcoming dance lessons, but luckily she'd caught the warning head shakes he and Snips had given and changed what she had been about to say without either of the fillies catching on. He'd been measured for a new suit and Rarity, Diamond Tiara, and Silver Spoon had handled all the color and fabric choices while he just agreed with whatever they said.

Now, he didn't much like the idea that Diamond Tiara or rather, her father, was paying for his suit. No, that didn't sit well with him at all. But the new suit would be more expensive than any set of clothing he'd ever owned. He doubted his parents would be willing to pay that much for a set of clothing and he knew he could not. From a practical standpoint, there really wasn't much need for clothing in an ordinary pony's life, after all. He wondered for a minute what had led to ponies first wearing clothing, but abandoned that line of thinking as Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon exited the shop.

"Well, that wasn't so bad, was it?" asked Diamond Tiara. "And I think the cloths should look fabulous when completed. Miss Rarity really does make the best designs in town." Snails nodded as if he knew this to be the absolute truth, although really, he didn't have the slightest clue. But if that's what Diamond Tiara thought, it didn't cost him anything to agree and so he did.

"I'm looking forward to seeing mine, for sure. I think it'll make me look gorgeous," said Silver Spoon. Snails noted that her mood seemed to have improved a lot. Once she'd had entered the store and gotten to the business of picking styles and fabrics, the sourness and irritability she had been displaying had faded away. He noted that for future use, since there would no doubt be times when Tiara was irritable and having a list of ways to snap her out of it would be handy.

Maybe he could pay for some future trip. That would be one way to pay her back. He would have to save his allowance, no more spending it on candy and toys. Still, it would be worth it. For now though, the best he could do would be to express what he felt. Normally, he found time in a clothing store pretty boring. Doubly so if he was there waiting while others were picking out things and he himself left on his own, like when he went shopping with his mother. But today hadn't been that boring. He himself had done very little. He had stood where and how he was told to stand while Rarity measured him. He'd agreed from time to time when someone asked him a question they wanted an agreeable answer to. And that should have left him very bored. Must like Snips had been, who had yawned for the first and not last time within five minutes of entering the store. But, no, for some reason, just seeing the pleasure Diamond Tiara got from picking things out made the experience almost enjoyable to him.

But now, with the shopping done, it was time for parting. The fillies would go their way and he and Snips would go theirs. So now was his chance to put those feelings into words, to expose his heart and perhaps reach hers, that with her, even the most mundane and boring activities became interesting. He paused, trying to formulate the words, the sentences, that would bring across the depths of what he was feeling. The proper words though failed to come, even as the two fillies started to leave. And so he blurted out the best he could come up with to their retreating backs. "Hey, Diamond Tiara," he called out, and once she looked back towards him, it was his moment, to turn his brain loose and let it do its best. "Thanks."

She nodded, then turned and continued on her way with Silver Spoon. He silently cursed his inability to think quickly like others, to formulate what he felt into sentences.

"Oh, and Snails?" Diamond Tiara called back over her shoulder, "If, on Monday, you were to meet me on the way to school the walk the last couple of blocks, I'll allow it." He felt his face break into a wide grin, as she started walking away again, only to stop and call over her shoulder once more. "Just the last couple though."

Snips nudged him and grinned and he grinned back, feeling elated. It was starting to work. Now to head his home and start reading the book. Between that and the dance lessons, he was going to make this work.

As Diamond Tiara rounded the corner, she let out a sigh. "Well, that wasn't as bad as it could have been. The hard part comes on Monday though, making those blank flanks believe that I'm actually looking forward to this." She walked silently for a bit, feeling a bit morose, before making a conscious decision to not worry about that for now. "Let's talk about happier things," she said. "Got your eye on anyone for the dance?"