• Published 9th Mar 2013
  • 2,867 Views, 170 Comments

Hearth's Warming Eve: A Princess Promenade - Cloud Wander



Ponyville Playhouse presents a bold, new interpretation of Hearth's Warming Eve. Music! Adventure! Intrigue! And a few surprises!

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The Opening

"Apple fritters! Apple cider! Um, boy, they's good on a chilly night!"

Standing at her stall near Ponyville Town Hall, Granny Smith hugged her shawl around her and grinned at the happy theater crowd.

"Warm fritters... they's good eatin' in winter! An' hot cider... wull, it just ain't a good evenin' without hot cider! Come git some!"

"Mrs. Smith, I am appalled!" declared Rarity the unicorn, before Granny Smith's cart.

"Yer whut, now? An apple?" asked Granny Smith.

Rarity trotted around Granny Smith's cart, drew off her long, warm cape and tossed it over the older pony.

"There now," said Rarity, tugging the edges of her cloak around Granny Smith. "Isn't that better?"

"Aw, Ah wuz okay a'fore. Long as th' timberwolves ain't bitin', Ah gots no complaints," said Granny Smith, as she pulled the cloak more tightly around her. She squinted up at Rarity. "Say! Ain't you that fancy lady that's good friends with muh grandotter? Oh, she dotes on you! You should come up t' the house some time! We'd love t' entertain yuh! Winter's kind of a quiet time fer us.

"You might never guess it, but Big Macintosh sings. Thass right. Him an' Apple Bloom, they're quite a pair. Applejack is good on harpsichord an' banjo, but not like her Ma an' Pa, rest 'em. Ah do m'best t' keep up, but these tired ol' hooves, wull, they ain't too cooperative. Ah still miss muh Mister. Oh, he wuz a stallion t' consider! So big an' fine! Ah miss him 'specially, this time o' year.

"Whut can Ah get ya, dearie?" Granny Smith asked. "These are cellar apples, Ah'm afraid, since th' trees are a'sleepin'. Oh, but th' cider an' fritters are first rate!"

Rarity glanced down at her hooves, dressed in splendid shoes of silver, then looked at Granny Smith.

"Oh, Mrs. Smith, I am so glad that you are here!" Rarity said. "I have been so, so stupid. Oh, the shame! I have completely neglected the needs of the play's cast and crew! I forgot about catering! How ridiculous of me! Would you, I beg you, bring your cart inside the Hall? The children, the cast and crew, will be so thirsty and hungry during and after the show! Please, won't you come with me? I only have a little to offer."

Rarity levitated three gold solars from her purse and deposited them before Granny Smith.

Granny Smith's eyes lit up.

"And it would mean so much, to the company, to the children, if you would," pleaded Rarity.

"Wull, all right," said Granny Smith.

Rarity helped Granny Smith maneuver her little cart to the stage door. Once inside, the two of them set up a little concession area for the company. It only took a moment for members of the cast and crew to show up and help themselves.

"Thank you so much for your help, Mrs. Smith," said Rarity. "I can't imagine what I would have done without you."

"Wull, Ah wuz kinda hoping t' see th' show," said Granny Smith. "Both of muh grandotters are in it! Thass right! And Big Macintosh, wull, he's busy, movin' th' heavy sets around. Ah hope Ah can still find a seat!"

Rarity smiled. "I know of one empty seat. Come with me, dear! Let's see if you like it!"

And so Rarity the unicorn gently escorted Granny Smith to her proper place: a seat at the front of the Princess's Booth.

***

The night of the play, as the theater slowly filled with eager ponies, Octavia's quartet focused on soothing variations of Patchy Belle's Canon in D, warming up her strings for the musical challenges to come.

Despite the tranquil music, there was, understandably, some commotion when the Lord of Chaos entered the theater.

Discord, clad in a purple top hat and tails, waded through the crowd, grinning toothily. Fluttershy held his arm, trying to reassure everypony.

As the pair approached their seats in the front row, Director Dash flew out of the wings to confront them. "What are you up to, Discord?" challenged Rainbow Dash.

"Why, I'm only here to enjoy the play," said Discord. He consulted his program. "'Hot Swarming Evil.' It sounds delightful."

"The title is 'Hearth's Warming Eve,'" shouted Rainbow Dash.

Discord blinked. He looked down at his program and turned it right-side up. "Why, you are correct," he said, squinting at the program.

Discord turned to Fluttershy sadly. "Not even one little zombie?"

"No, I'm afraid not," said Fluttershy, placing one hoof upon his lion paw. "Maybe next time."

"You better not try anything," warned Rainbow Dash. "I've got my eye on you, Discord!"

Discord haughtily adjusted the monocle in his right eye. Then the second monocle in his left eye. He put on his pince-nez, to assist his third and fourth eyes. Then he settled his glasses over his fifth and sixth eyes.

"I don't know," Discord said. "Sometimes, I just want to make a spectacle of myself."

His head snapped back to its usual binocular form. He grinned wolfishly and winked at Rainbow Dash.

Rainbow Dash nodded. "Remember I'm counting on your good behavior. You better watch him, Fluttershy," she said, then fled away backstage.

"Oh, my," said Fluttershy. "Don't worry, Discord. I think she's just a little nervous right now about her play. Oh, here are our seats! Right down front, like you wanted."

Discord and Fluttershy took their seats, front row center. Discord used the opportunity to stretch his legs. Stretching them until they rested on top of the stage.

"Ah! That's nice," he said, wiggling his odd number of toes. "You know, until you've been encased in stone for a thousand years, you don't really appreciate flexibility."

"Um, Discord?" said Fluttershy. "If you could shrink down just a teensy bit, it would help everypony behind you to see the stage."

Discord twisted around. The seats immediately around the Lord of Chaos were strangely empty. Still, there were a few ponies behind him courageous enough to look annoyed.

"Oh, how thoughtless of me," said Discord. "Thank you, dear Fluttershy, for your advice."

Discord shrank down to the size of a young colt. Unfortunately, as he became smaller, his top hat grew taller, so that he still blocked the view of the ponies behind him.

"Perhaps you could take off your hat?" suggested Fluttershy.

Discord said, in a squeaky, childish voice, "Moi? A gentlecreature, bereft of chapeau? You wound me, Fluttershy. Still, as your friend, I will accommodate you."

Discord removed his top hat, which instantly telescoped down to normal size. Perched atop Discord's head was a very confused-looking rabbit.

"Angel?" asked Fluttershy, concerned.

Discord glanced up. "Ah, there you are, my little friend. I wondered where you had got to. Oh, you seem lost! Here, let me help."

Discord grabbed Angel Bunny with his eagle claw and threw him into the top hat. Discord then tossed the top hat into the air, where it disappeared. "Voilà!" announced Discord, with satisfaction. "Home again, home again, jiggity-jig."

Fluttershy patted Discord's lion paw. "Thank you, Discord. You are a good friend."

Discord gave Fluttershy a sideways glance. "I'm trying, Fluttershy. For your sake, I'm trying."

Fluttershy beamed.

Discord slouched down in his seat. "Hmmph. Bored now. Let's get on with this," he said. From the air, he produced a lollipop as large as his head and licked at it, sulking.

Director Dash signaled to Octavia. Octavia nodded and relayed the message to Vinyl up in the booth and to the other members of her quartet. The strings fell silent for a moment, then struck up the traditional opening to Hearth's Warming Eve.

The lights in the theater dimmed. The ponies quickly scrambled to their seats. (A brave few even sat close to Discord.) The crowd settled. And the play began.

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