• Published 25th Sep 2020
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Auntie Tia's Matchmaking Service - Shaslan



Princess Celestia has retired, but that doesn't mean her little ponies have stopped needing her. She puts her skills to good use in her new business, but her new clients are tough customers. Have Celestia's matchmaking abilities met their match?

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Chapter 2

The pale blue door swung shut behind the young unicorn Celestia liked to think of as her granddaughter — or grand-student, at least. She felt a gentle smile cross her muzzle as the last of Lustre Dawn’s orange tail-hairs passed the window and left finally left her field of vision.

She had never spent much time with Twilight’s beloved student — she thought maybe Twilight wanted to keep her to herself, to prove to her own mentor that she, too, could train and raise a powerful magic user and a good pony of her own. But Celestia had always watched Lustre Dawn’s development with keen interest and no little affection.

She had taken a sort of distant pride in every achievement of Lustre’s, both magical and personal, that had been reported to her. Perhaps, if she was being honest, it was more pride in Twilight than in Lustre. She was so very proud of the way her little student had grown into her immense magical power, matching it now with emotional intelligence, kindness and friendship. Twilight was truly the finest successor she could have chosen. Ponies across Equestria had grown to love her as much as they had the other princesses. Celestia felt truly able to relax and enjoy her retirement, knowing that her beloved kingdom rested securely in such capable hooves.

Her matchmaking business was booming and she had more time to socialise than ever before. Luna was able to devote herself fully to her twin passions of watching over the dreams of ponies, and forming beautiful constellations in the more obscure portions of the sky, ready to be discovered by keen-eyed astronomers yet to be born.

And most importantly of all, the Princesses had more time to spend with each other than they had in millennia.They had spent the first ten years of Twilight’s reign travelling Equestria, with the time they were not on the road spent rebuilding the Castle of the Two Sisters. Celestia could not have expected just how healing and cathartic it would be to repair the wounds their battle had caused to the land and their old home. And now that it was complete, Celestia spent half of every week in Canterlot with her friends there, while Luna returned to her ancient home with her batponies in Shady Hollow. Every weekend, they reunited at their palace in the Everfree, and enjoyed the weekends together. They would stroll under the trees, play chess, and occasionally wrestle with manticores when they wanted a little thrill. Celestia made cakes and pancakes every day for them to feast on together. And then, refreshed and rejuvenated by the time spent together, they would venture forth once more to spend time on their own unique interests. At long last, they had found the balance that made them both happy.

Twilight wasn’t immortal, of course. Like Cadence, she would live much longer than a purely mortal pony, but no more than perhaps three or four times what her natural lifespan would have been. But even that length of time — or whatever portion of that Twilight chose to serve Equestria for — was a unique blessing for Celestia and Luna, and she intended that they make the most of every day of it.

Yes, Celestia was immensely proud of Twilight, both the student she had been and the regal mare she had become. And her feelings towards Lustre were an extension of that. She truly wanted the best for the little pink pony, and she felt sure that with a little work and some good potential matches, she would be able to get it for her.

The door behind her creaked open and Raven Inkwell padded in from the back office. Raven was getting on in years now — nearly seventy, her ink-black mane now more of a faded grey, but still scraped back into the same harsh bun. Her stern visage hid a heart that Celestia knew full well was warmer than most ponies would suspect.

Celestia had suggested when she retired that Raven should also consider it, but Raven had stiffly refused. “I have been your assistant for forty years, and I shall remain your assistant for another forty,” she had said sternly, and Celestia had possessed the sense not to raise the subject again. But she made sure nowadays that Raven’s office was well-stocked with cosy chairs, warm blankets, and a constantly lit fireplace. And these days she fetched Raven a cup of tea more often than she allowed Raven to fetch her one.

“Did it go well?” Raven Inkwell asked, her eyes moving rapidly over the clipboard she held in one forehoof.

“Yes, thank you, Raven,” Celestia responded. “Lustre Dawn seemed sceptical, but willing to give it a try.”

“A lot of ponies start out that way,” Raven responded drily. She had thrown herself into assisting Auntie Tia the matchmaker with every bit as much gusto as she had assisted Princess Celestia, ruling Diarch and Solar Empress of Equestria. And she was just as efficient.

“Who is my next appointment with?” Celestia asked, turning her mind back to business.

“I believe Rarity and her daughter are scheduled to come in for a meeting with you this afternoon,” Raven Inkwell replied. She glanced up at Celestia. “You recall Princess Twilight Sparkle’s friend Rarity.”

Celestia raised her eyebrows in mock affront. “Raven Inkwell! Why do you assume I have no memory of my own? Of course I remember the Element of Generosity.” Raven Inkwell stifled a smile behind her clipboard, but Celestia’s own face quickly became more somber. “But I remember her daughter even more clearly.”

Raven’s brow wrinkled in sympathy, and she reached out a hoof to rest it on Celestia’s shoulder. “Remember, Princess. You always say that you can find a match for anypony — it just takes some a little longer than others. I think even this one will not be beyond your capabilities.”

Celestia rested her own hoof atop Raven’s only briefly before the elderly mare withdrew it. Even now, she still liked to keep their professional barriers firmly in place. In hundreds of thousands of years of life, Celestia wasn’t sure she had ever encountered anypony as dedicated to their job as Raven Inkwell was.

“Thank you, Raven.” She said. “I think I’ll wait here until they arrive and do a little background reading. Could you fetch me the file we prepared last week?”

Raven Inkwell nodded. “Yes, of course, Princess.”

Celestia immersed herself in her reading for an hour or so. Rarity’s daughter had a troubled past; that much was undeniable. Her abusive birth parents, her many psychiatric conditions, the…unfortunate incident when she was twelve and its messy aftermath. All culminating in Rarity’s adoption of her, and a prolonged period of mental health treatments. Under Rarity’s care and with the support of her generous spirit, the filly had healed and thrived, and had gone on to a brilliant career at Canterlot’s best law school, and was now a hugely successful barrister. But Rarity reported that something was missing in her daughter’s life, and while she showed no interest in making friends beyond a superficial level, she had shown some interest in finding a romantic relationship.

Unlike her meeting with Lustre Dawn, Celestia knew that this one would require no cajoling or explaining of the concept of arranged marriages. Rarity had done all of that groundwork already; Rarity’s daughter was coming into this with her eyes wide open, ready to engage with the prospect of meeting somepony special.

A jingle at the door from the little bell caught Celestia’s attention, and she looked up, taking care to school her face into the same welcoming smile she had employed for centuries to greet visiting dignitaries.

Rarity entered first, her legendary beauty now changed by age, but still undeniably present. Her frame was a little more gaunt than it had been once, her cheekbones a little more visible beneath her finely wrinkled skin, but her eyes were timeless; as blue and crystal-clear as they had been when Twilight had first introduced Rarity and her other friends to Celestia, all those years ago.

“Rarity!” Celestia sang, her smile widening. “How lovely to see you, after all this time.” She stood and walked around the corner of her desk, raising one hoof to embrace the unicorn mare.

“Princess Celestia, darling!” Rarity carolled back, her voice rising several octaves above its usual range. “It’s been an absolute age! How have you been? And dear Princess Luna?”

They embraced briefly, Celestia’s cheek brushing against Rarity’s perfectly coiffed forelock before she drew back. “We are both doing splendidly, thank you.”

The pastel-coloured door thudded shut behind the pale pink form of Rarity’s daughter, who now strode forward, her blue ringlets bouncing. “Auntie Tia!” she cried, a wide smile splitting her muzzle, and a peculiar glint in her red eyes. “How wonderful to be here with you.”

Celestia, who had spent many, many indeterminably long Privy Council meetings perfecting her unfaltering expression of polite interest and mild pleasure, was surprised to feel her lower left eyelid twitch slightly. Even after all this time, it seemed the filly was still able to bring those…unsavoury memories bubbling back to the surface. Moving quickly to cover her lapse, Celestia hastily brightened her own expression in response and stooped to embrace Rarity’s daughter just as she had the mother. “Cozy Glow, it has truly been too long.”

Celestia ushered the mother and daughter into two armchairs that she drew forward for them with her magic. She seated herself on the larger armchair that had been built specially for her. She had tried to create an aura of authenticity and respectability for Lustre Dawn, who had come in doubting the legitimacy of everything Celestia’s matchmaking service stood for, but for these next clients, it seemed wise to try for an informal atmosphere, which might invite confidences and lowered defences. Call her a sceptic, but to Celestia it seemed like Cozy Glow was a pony likely to have a great many defences in place.

She lit her horn one last time to tug the discreet bell-pull on the wall beside her chair. It connected to Raven Inkwell’s office, and Raven would know to bring a freshly brewed pot of tea.

“Welcome to my office,” Celestia said again, once they were all seated and settled. “I was hoping that we could use this first meeting to discuss what your family needs, and what you personally need, Cozy, from any potential mates.”

Cozy Glow leaned forward, her red eyes flashing once more, ready to launch into some preprepared monologue — she had been good at those, as Celestia recalled — but Rarity placed a gentle hoof atop her daughter’s and Cozy closed her mouth once more.

“Cozy Glow needs somepony sensitive and understanding,” Rarity said, her expression earnest. “She needs somepony who will be willing not to judge her or hold any preconceived notions against her. Somepony who will be generous enough to accept her as she is, and love her for who she has become.”

“Just as you have done,” Celestia noted, neutralising any sting her words might have held for the little family with a small smile.

“Yes,” Rarity nodded. “Exactly.” She tightened her hoof on Cozy’s. “All too often, Cozy Glow is faced with…prejudice, or assumptions about what her character must be. She is a good pony. And she deserves another good pony to love her.”

Celestia turned now to the younger mare. “And you, Cozy Glow? What do you feel that you need?”

Cozy shot a look from under her heavy blue curls and leaned forward. “I want…somepony that can keep up with me.”

“In what way?” Celestia asked politely.

“I’m a very ambitious pony,” Cozy Glow said frankly. “And a very successful one. I want somepony who can match my drive and my ambition; and my salary. I enjoy a certain lifestyle, and I want a companion — not a dead weight.”

Celestia nodded. This was more forthrightness than she had expected from her first few minutes with Cozy Glow. She drew open one of her desk drawers with her magic and pulled out a small notebook, along with a quill and inkwell. Keeping all three suspended in the air before her, she dipped her pen and began to make a few notes.

“But bits aren’t Cozy’s driving force, obviously,” Rarity hastily put in. “Are they, darling?”

Cozy smirked, but at Rarity’s raised eyebrows the smile became more genuine and she shook her head. “No, Mama, of course not. But as Aunt Applejack would say, you might as well be honest.” She turned back to Celestia. “Money is important to me. I want somepony who can keep up with my pace of life, both in work and out of it. And I’d be lying if I said money wasn’t a part of that. I find salary a useful indicator for how ambitious a pony is.”

Rarity fondly stroked her daughter’s hoof. “Cozy is a real go-getter, Princess. I’m certain she’ll be made a judge when she retires from working as a lawyer.”

Cozy giggled, a childish, familiar sound that sent chills racing up and down Celestia’s spine, even now. She remembered that laugh — she remembered the horror of Grogar’s Bell tolling as it sucked her magic, the very essence of her soul, out of her. And Luna, screaming and thrashing beside her, tormented as Celestia was, while Celestia was powerless to help herself or her beloved little sister, and the alicorn foal holding the bell just kept laughing

“And I’d prefer someone from a good family,” Rarity said hastily, looking apprehensively up at Celestia’s expression.

Celestia hastily smoothed her face back to neutrality and busied herself with taking notes. “How so?”

“Well, I would like the whole family to embrace Cozy. Its always been just the two of us, and I want something more for her — loving parents-in-law who are willing to treat her as one of their own, maybe even siblings-in-law.”

Celestia nodded and wrote down: Welcoming family. Perhaps one that didn’t read any newspapers twenty years ago.

“A Canterlot family would be my preference,” Rarity went on. “We’ve lived here for most of Cozy’s life, Cozy’s work is here, and the largest of my Boutiques. I would hate for Cozy to have to relocate, or for her new partner to have to relocate here. It doesn’t feel like it would be a good start to a relationship.”

Celestia nodded again.

A small noise at the inner door, and then Raven Inkwell appeared, pushing a small tea trolley. Celestia felt a wave of relief. A good cup of tea was just what she needed.

Raven quietly mixed Celestia’s own tea, knowing exactly how to prepare it — three sugars, lots of milk — and unobtrusively asked Rarity and Cozy Glow how they took theirs. Both favoured black tea with little added. Celestia winced inwardly as she watched them both take their first mouthfuls. How could anypony stand to drink anything so bitter?

Once Raven Inkwell retreated back through the door to her office, tea trolley in tow, Celestia took a delicate sip from her own cup. “Have you anything else to add, Cozy Glow?”

Cozy Glow shrugged. “Only what I said before. I require someone with the brains to keep up with me intellectually, and the ambition to keep up with me professionally.”

Celestia dipped her head in assent and underlined the relevant parts of her notes for emphasis. “There is one more thing.”

“Oh?”

“It’s something your mother mentioned in our initial discussion.” Celestia searched for a delicate way to phrase it.

Cozy Glow stiffened in her chair and tossed her blue mane, a gesture surprisingly reminiscent of Rarity. “And what is that?”

“Rarity mentioned that you, ah, struggle, with making friends. That you have few close relationships besides her, and little contact with ponies outside of a professional context.”

Cozy Glow’s eyes narrowed, and Celestia felt a chill run down her spine as all of that terrifying intellect was focused on her. “And what is the relevance of that preference of mine to this conversation?”

“Cozy!” Rarity scolded. “Don’t speak to Auntie Tia that way.”

Cozy Glow set her jaw, but then took a breath through her nostrils and visibly relaxed. “Of course, Mama. I was only asking.”

Celestia had her answer ready now. “Everything I can learn about you and your life helps me to select suitable matches for you. I’m trying to get to know you a little.”

Cozy tossed her curls again. “I simply prefer not to associate excessively with other ponies, in the context of friendship. I understand why that might shock you, given my mother’s background, but its just a…personal choice of mine.”

Celestia took another sip of her tea. “Of course, and everypony’s personal choices and circumstances are valid and unique. But understanding why you feel that way will help me find a match for you.”

Cozy sighed audibly, a noise of clear frustration. "I had friends when I was younger — I had friends that would do anything for me. But Mama has always been clear that I shouldn’t make friends unless its…genuine. For me as well as them. And so I keep myself to myself. My work and my family have been enough for me for a long time.”

“Don’t forget your hobbies, darling,” Rarity interjected, ever eager to soften the impression Cozy Glow’s words made. “Cozy is a kick-boxing champion,” she told Celestia proudly. “And of course she’s been a chess grand master since she was seventeen. One of Equestria’s youngest ever!”

Celestia feigned a polite smile at these revelations.

“The record-holder was fourteen at the time of their ultimate victory,” Cozy added, with a small smirk. “I probably could have done it younger than that, but at that point in my life I had a lot of other irons in the fire.”

Celestia’s hoof tightened imperceptibly on the arm of her chair.

“I play with the Canterlot Champion’s Club four or five times a week,” Cozy said, looking studiously at one of her hooves. “But its terribly dull. Nopony there is really up to my level.”

“But something has changed for you now, with regards to seeking out other ponies for companionship?” Celestia prompted. It seemed wise to steer the conversation back to safer waters. Away from any discussion regarding Cozy Glow’s early teenage years. “You’re finding you feel differently about your life?”

“Now, I find myself thinking about the future,” Cozy Glow answered, looking up from her hooves and past Celestia into the distance. “I can’t always be reliant on my mother. I need some other form of companionship. I know that friendship isn’t right for me, at the moment. Family is what I value. So I’m searching for a way to find another family member.”

“A partner,” Celestia suggested.

“A wife, a husband, somepony special,” Cozy shrugged. “I don’t care much about the specifics. Just as long as they meet my requirements.”

“Intelligent, and ambitious,” Celestia supplied.

Cozy Glow confirmed it with a small jerk of her head.

“And kind, loving, welcoming, and with a large family,” Rarity chimed in.

Celestia assented quietly. “I have it all on my list.” She set her empty teacup on the side table and put her hooves together. “Well, thank you both for coming in. It has been…most pleasant, to catch up with you. I will think carefully about everything we discussed, and I’ll bring you an initial set of choices within the next couple of weeks.”

“That’s it?” Cozy Glow sounded relieved. She was already getting to her hooves.

“Yes, that’s it,” Celestia found one last smile for the little family as she ushered them out of the door, and then sank back into her chair with a sigh. Those piercing red eyes, that uncannily quick wit…maybe she wasn’t as over Cozy Glow’s past misdemeanours as she had thought. She took another deep breath and passed a hoof across her eyes. Maybe she would cancel tomorrow’s appointments and return to the Castle of the Two Sisters early this week. Even if Luna wouldn’t be back until Thursday, Celestia felt like she needed a little extra relaxation after all this.