• Published 3rd Feb 2012
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Dames of the Tea Table - Gabriel LaVedier



Luna: Princess, Goddess, Hostess

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The Moon and the Lily

Dames

Of The
Tea Table

By Gabriel LaVedier

The Moon And The Lily

Princess Luna was charged with hearing suits of all sorts. She was not only in the business of creatively and rather viciously rebuffing ill-conceived marriage suits (a skill for which she was becoming rather well-known) but also tasked with seeing that those that wished to gain the royal favor in some manner were served well and given at least passing consideration. Most were petty matters of petulance between two houses vying for the same sliver of land that mattered little in the size of their demesnes. Others were concerned with marriage suits that went wrong because of the ridiculously common habit of Canterlot nobles to flit about from bed to bed with shameless abandon, which most often left Luna an opportunity to use her best cornuto material on mares and stallions alike. They all wanted to argue and call down the decision of the royal seat like the wrath of the heavens. None had anything worthy of her attention, thus she had only venom.

During one long session of suits, she found herself faced down by a sad-eyed unicorn mare. She was a faded rose shade of white with a pinkish mane and a stripe the shade of her coat. On her flank, a trio of fleur-de-lis, uncovered by any overly fancy attire. She was unclothed, in fact, a rarity in the style-conscious Canterlot and more unknown in the notoriously showy court. Her smile was false but not affected. It was, in fact, the smile of one trying to spare others their heartache. She was, in all, unique, and promised to be much more than a mere complaining wretch come to make Luna like a haggard griffin.

“Welcome to our royal presence.” Luna’s words were soft, though still formal. She was caught off guard by a pony that, at last, seemed different. “Please state thy name and the nature of thy suit before this royal seat.”
The mare bowed deeply, formally, within the alabaster square in the receiving chamber. “My name is Fleur de Lis, your majesty. And I have come here because I… I have nowhere else to turn.”

“Explain thyself. What cause hath brought thee here to our seat?”

Fleur looked down nervously then looked back up again. “You know what the state of Canterlot society is. You’ve seen the vicious gossips and casual changing of beds… and when I wish to talk about my sorrow over a relationship, I already know that I will get advice about casual contact and loveless interaction. But I want love. From the one stallion I desire.”

Luna looked down incredulously, an eye-ridge up. She almost did not want to believe any mare in all of Canterlot’s rarified air could be filled with feeling like any other natural mare in the world. Any noble and privileged mare that could even make such a statement that spoke the truth so clearly… she deserved a response. “Thy words be true. All too true. How may we help thee with this matter? Thou hast said naught about what thou sleekest from our throne. We may not make this stallion love thee. We may not make the chattering nags and jades of Canterlot be silent.” And aside, to her green unicorn maid Lime Sherbert, “Much as we may have desired as much.”

“No, princess… I just want… I want somepony to talk to. One who might understand my troubles.” Fleur looked up with a sad shine in her eyes. "How much of your time can I take? I know you are very, very busy. I just need to talk.”

Luna thoughtfully stroked her chin, looking down on Fleur with even more incredulity. She couldn’t be entirely sure about this. But there was something in her earnestness. Just a small indicator that made her seem trustworthy. “Be thou needed in any pressing matters?” Before an answer came, she turned to Lime, “Please escort her to the private receiving room, with the low table and set it for tea, if thou wouldst be so kind.”

“As you wish, your majesty.” Lime bowed and moved out from beside the princess’ dais, sliding along to stand beside Fleur. “Please miss, come with me.” With a bow, she walked around behind the dais, to a rear door, with Fleur following along obediently.

Luna shook her head a bit. Perhaps it was a foolish thing. But she had so few distractions and so little to enjoy without… her accustomed distraction that she was willing to entertain this, even if it may have been little more than a jest on her. “Well then, come along then. Bring us our next suit! Let this tedium proceed as it must.”

In the back halls of the palace, Lime led Fleur along silently, trotting gently along the marble floors. She led the unicorn through the many twists and turns of the back rooms into a small, unassuming chamber. It was tastefully appointed, with hanging tapestries and polished parquet floors. There was nothing in the room save for a low cherry wood table, and a sideboard along one of the walls and a door located opposite from the entrance. “Please, miss, have a seat at the table. I will set it for you presently.” She went along to the sideboard and opened it up, taking out a tablecloth and quickly spreading it over the table.

“Th-thank you. Umm… what am I doing here?”

“I’m sure I don’t know, miss de Lis. But I obey her majesty with alacrity as she has been most generous with me and most kind to a simple chamber maid as me.” As she spoke, she laid out silverware before Fleur and at another spot at the table.

“Well, it looks like this will be very pleasant. I don’t want to be a bother. And I hope this isn’t just a polite way to tell me to deal with my problems on my own.”

“I’m sure it will not be so. Her majesty is a very generous and gracious soul, however it may seem to the average noble of Canterlot. They see her only when they vex her. And let me be frank, she is wonderful when she is vexatious to those that vex her.” Lime smiled brightly as she spoke, laying out small plates and a metal stand in the center of the table. “Her majesty does not normally invite those bringing suits to this place. So, you should feel privileged to have this opportunity.”

“Oh! I do! Believe me, I do. Any private audience with the princess is a great honor. I guess I’m just nervous about it. It’s a very big moment for me. I thought it was bad enough facing her with a suit.”

“Perhaps. I have been her majesty’s maid since she had returned to the palace. I have grown to be used to her presence. Her quirks are my normal experiences; her ways have become my ways through habit.” Lime went through the second door to reveal a small stone-walled area that looked very like a kitchen. She used her horn to light a fire on the metal stove. With a flash of her horn she filled a pot with water from the wall tap, and set it on the stove. “I hope you enjoy tea made of a particular blend her majesty has come to enjoy. Two parts pure Neighponese green tea, two parts white tea, one part apple-spice flavor concentrate. For this reason, no lemon or milk is allowed, only sugar.”

“That’s a strange choice of flavors. Oh, I know that Neighponese green tea is very popular in Canterlot, and white tea is growing in esteem. But apple? The upper crust frowns generally upon flavored teas. They leave those things to the lower classes. They considered it unrefined.”

“Her majesty does not hold that position; her tastes are her own. And her majesty’s personal tastes run towards apples. Oh!” Lime bobbled a ceramic teapot in the air, looking back with a rather worried expression. “M-meaning no improper implications on her majesty’s behalf, of course.”

“What?” Fleur looked over at Lime with a quizzical expression.

“I said nothing! Her majesty shall not be impugned on my watch!” Lime set to work with an almost manic will, measuring out portions of tea into a large tea strainer that fit into the teapot she almost dropped.

“I… well… I never implied anything…” Fleur looked just lost as she watched the scene unfold.

There was a long period of nothing following that exchange, with Fleur sitting at the table looking somewhat uncomfortable, and Lime carefully watching the water on the stove. The distracted focused caused both mares to look up in shock when the main doors opened to reveal Luna. “Our apologies for our unfortunate delay. We had many suits to dismiss with prejudice. Pah. Such trifles, such frivolities. Such ridiculous things to bring to our throne.”

“Your majesty! I-it wasn’t a long wait at all.” Fleur stood quickly and bowed to Luna.

“Your majesty has very excellent timing, as ever. The water is at the temperature you desire.” Lime snuffed the fire and levitated the pot of water, pouring it slowly into the teapot and over the tea strainer. The aroma of tea swiftly permeated the room. She levitated the pot to the table, placing it on the metal stand previously placed on the table. She also settled teacups upon the saucers and placed a cup of sugar cubes beside the teapot.

“It doth have a most sweet aroma, as ever. How I do miss the times when I may drink it daily with company lo-“ Luna looked aside and remembered that she was not only speaking with Lime. “That is to say we… do savor the fruits of thy brewing. Yes. Please, be seated, Madame gentlefilly, miss de Lis as we recall. Please elaborate upon the crisis, that we may bring thee such relief as may be within our power.”

“Yes, your majesty.” Fleur nodded slowly, taking a seat at the table where one of the cups was placed. “Well, I have a great desire for a stallion.”

“Such is the state of things. Stallions and mares make everypony mad sooner or later.” Lime snidely muttered to herself as she gingerly lifted the teapot and poured out a portion of tea for Luna and then one for Fleur. “Sugar?”

“We do not require sugar. The flavor suffices.”

“Oh, umm… one lump.” A single lump floated into the teacup, Fleur taking up her spoon with her telekinesis and stirring slowly.

“Thou hast great will to follow not fashion as all the others might.” Luna nodded solemnly, lifting the teacup to her lips and taking a ginger sip. “Ahhh, such savor. Such delight. ‘Tis the subtle savor of apple behind all the rest that maketh this truly worthy. Such pleasure in this… ah, but we… we speak too freely.”

“I said nothing, your majesty!” Lime looked about shiftily, quickly ducking into the other room to bring out a tray of cookies. “Tea cookie?”

“We are sufficed with our tea, but we thank thee.”

“Yes please. I’d enjoy one.” Fleur levitated along one of the cookies and took a light nibble.

“Do continue thy tale. Thou hast a great desire for one stallion, in defiance of the ways of thy fellows who care not for whichever flesh they seek.”

“I have… what I can only call a friend, named Fancy Pants. He looks at me as his plus-one…”

“How now? What be this new phrase thou sayest? We comprehend this not.”

“Well… when invitations come out for large parties, the invitation will often say the pony for which it is given plus one other. I am his continual plus-one. He never takes anypony but me. Yet… that is all. Never anything more.”

“We comprehend. Thou hast great affection for this stallion. Yet he doth not return the depth of the feelings. But we question why thou dost not follow the advice of thy fellows of Canterlot. ‘Tis the fashion of the aristocracy to dally in rotating beds such that we marvel they do not expel their bile regularly, for purposes besides weight management.” After a short consideration, Luna levitated several cookies from the tray and into a ring around her teacup. “We… require great intake to retain a figure most pleasing to our c- to our opinion.”

“I don’t want to. I never understood how they could… I just don’t want to. I want Fancy Pants! I know he’s the most eligible and popular stallion in Canterlot, the very picture of a gentlecolt and the cream of the crop in this town. He’s probably bedded more mares than he’s said hello to, and I’m being foolish. But I can’t help my feeling.”

Luna listened silently, gingerly nibbling on a cooking and taking small sips of her tea. As the telling went on she sipped less and less, nodding her head slowly. “We comprehend thy distress. Do not inquire as to the source of our comprehension; we may not discuss secrets of state. But know only that we feel thy hurts, though not as sharply. Tell us, young de Lis, hast thou had this Fancy Pants be thy bed-presser?”

Fleur looked quizzically at Luna. “Excuse me?”

“Hast thou participated in belly sports, intentioned or not?”

“I’m sorry your majesty…”

“Hast he taken his leap there? Tilted at thee and tupped thee? Run at the ring? Has he entered thy coney court? Does he serve thy necessary turns?”

Lime leaned in unobtrusively, whispering to Fleur, “Have you had sex with him?”

“Oh! Oh… well...” Fleur looked down a little bit.

“The modern day. No need to be ashamed of thy ways. Thou hast only to be honest. And we see by thy actions thou hast. Only once, or each time thou art his, as thou sayst, plus-one?”

“It’s not all the time. It’s when we go out and we’ve had an especially good night. I never refuse, though I suppose I should if I’m only going to be his plus-one.”

“He’s the sort of man that… HE is not. I suppose that’s the easiest way to think of it…” Lime whispered aside to Luna, just out of hearing level of Fleur.

“Thy words be true, my maid…” Luna replied, sotto voce. Slightly louder, she said, “So… the stallion of thy heart hath been placed out of thy reach by circumstance and the actions of his own will. Such be the heart of the creature, male. Such flighty and flitting creatures be they. Ay, ‘twas true when ‘twas spoken, caprice, thy name is stallion. Traipse they across the face of our land. No matter the goodness they may bring, we have needs of natural mare, and need not the solutions of mocked aubergines as our sister…” Luna continued to mutter to herself as she ate a cookie and drank her tea.

“Your majesty…” Lime leaned in gingerly attempted to bring attention to Fleur.

“Ah me, why must it be so delicious and make us seek this savor so often in futile longings that inflame the hot moist sanguine nature in our breast? This spring wind, sweet wind, doth move our liver as none other may.” Two more cookies went down Luna’s throat, along with the last of her tea.

“Your majesty…”

“We desire more tea, my maid. We require more comfort from this flavor.” Luna gobbled down several more cookies as the teapot was lifted by Lime and poured out.

“Your majesty! I think you have forgotten your guest and spoken quite a bit more broadly than you intended. Not… to speak out of my turn, of course, your majesty.”

Luna shook her head and looked across the table at the mare staring at her strangely. She took a short sip of tea and cleared her throat. “We… do not wish to make light of thy position. We have great feeling for thy position. We wish to state again we understand thy melancholy.”

“Thank you, your highness. I am not quite sure exactly what to think of any of this. I just need some advice. What can I do about Fancy Pants? It hurts me to be held so far away.”

“We have no words for thee, we fear. Our life hath not prepared us for thy question. But thou may vent thy spleen to us. We understand thy anger. Thou lovest but thou also desire more of thy stallion. He be faithful, in thy estimation?”

“Oh he’s remarkably asexual when we’re not out on the town. He’s charming, witty, well-liked and so very respected by the highest of the high in Canterlot’s social elite, those that are not in the rigid nobility. He was the one that elevated that charming Element Bearer to the upper echelons of society, as I’m sure you saw.”

“Yes, we were aware. He be a good stallion in such respects. And his faithfulness be to his eternal credit. Faithful stallions be the greatest bauble powerful mares may claim. Yes, their baubles be of a great value to we mares.” She laughed softly and took a sip of tea while Lime laughed politely behind her hoof and Fleur looked on with something like amused befuddlement, simply because she could see how much the other mares enjoyed it.

“Your majesty is very bawdy today, if I may speak out of my turn once more.”

“Thou mayest, my maid. Indeed, we do feel a certain wantonness this day. Perhaps our memories of tilting be too fresh.” Luna shook her head and looked to Fleur. “What may we do to help thee? Thou art the last honest mare that remain in all of Canterlot, in love with the last honest stallion that think but little of thee.”

Fleur nibbled softly at her cookie, and sipped at the tea. It was still very odd. But there was something nice about it. Relaxing. Comforting. Familiar. “I don’t know. I want to talk to somepony about it. But none of the glamour ponies understand. They just keep telling me to sleep with a servant or a waiter or a pool pony or something similar.”

Luna gobbled another cookie, shaking her head and sipping her tea once more. “Fie. Has our land changed not these many centuries? We expected a grand new world when we returned from our exile, and what find we? These same bawds and panders as we left behind. Foolish age, that thinks thy knaves and rapscallions be merely tales locked in dusty tomes. Nay, they be all about thee, though locked primarily in Canterlot, incapable of harming the innocent, by and large. Phewt.”

Lime gingerly poured more tea and provided more cookies to Luna. “Your majesty should not let such things bother you. The state of our world is as it is. We may only comment and move on with our lives. I know I am well pleased with my life.”

“Well! Thou art well pleased with thy life because thou art joined in matrimony to a fine stallion. As we have known well.” She spoke to Fleur with a small nod. “He is a member of my guard crops, moved up from general palace guardianship. There be no shame in merit AND politic.” She laughed musically and looked to Lime again. “And thou hast confided that his bauble be of great proportions. And how wanton of thee, to take the produce of a Pegasus garden into thy well-tended unicorn field.”

“Ah! P-princess!”

Fleur smiled a bit and took a slow sip of tea. This was very pleasant. She could finally feel calm and relaxed, forgetting her troubles with Fancy Pants. “You know… I find this quite pleasant. I’m no closer to knowing what to do about my problem, but… right now I don’t really care.”

“Indeed… we have not felt the ire and wrath we feel from other times of tending to our necessary suits. Our spleen be not heated with choler as in other times. It takes our maid many more hours and pots of tea. No offence to thy efforts, miss Sherbert, but discussing troubles be the best manner of reducing them. Shared troubles be lightly carried.”

“I understand, your majesty. My life is… very different from yours. I have a husband. I can see him freely.” She looked sadly down and started cleaning up the small kitchen area.

Luna stroked her chin with her hoof, watching Lime work. “Miss Sherbert… please bring a third cup and saucer for thyself. We desire the speech of a married mare. We mares without steady coupling have need of the words of a mare who hath finished the game of courtship and may rest upon her laurels while we envy.”

“Oh your majesty! It would be a great pleasure!” Lime levitated a cup and saucer to the table, pouring a full cup for herself and setting down a few cookies.

“Should I go now and leave you to this?” Fleur slowly stood up and began walking away from the table.

“Stay thy hooves. We have need of thy camaraderie. That is to say… I have need of thy camaraderie. My necessary duties be tedious and peevish. At close of day I need someone with whom I may commiserate. And together with my maid, we may make many cheery jests about those stallions we may see, whose looks we like going in both directions.” Luna laughed softly and sipped at her tea.

“Oh your majesty, how very bawdy. What about..?”

“Tush! This wantonness be innocent. I know the matters of the heart well enough and know that w… miss de Lis is an innocent heart that seeks a single goal, as a sagitus drawing on a ring. But what harm be there in being so free? So long as we look and speak and do not touch. Besides, perhaps in all our speech at this table we may find a solution to this trouble. Even if we do not, we will ALL be entertained. What sayest thou, faithful maid? Wilt thou be party to our frivolity?”

Lime took a sip of tea and sighed slowly, nodding a bit. “But of course your majesty! I would be delighted to be party to this kind of silliness. I have so few chances during the day. And all my other friends want to out clubbing and such.”

“How now? They would go out to strike objects with clubs? What strange new pastimes have come of the servant class in these modern days. ‘Tis not what one would expect of gentlefillies and gentlecolts whose role nears courtly refinement.”

“Oh no, your highness! “Clubbing” means to dress up nicely, or at least fashionably, and go out to nightclubs to dance, drink, meet ponies and occasionally find partners for meaningless encounters in the bedroom. Or restroom if they don’t want to wait.”

“Urgh! The pestilence spreads from the head downward, the excesses and carnality of the upper classes infecting those below. Such a terrible thing. I presume you do not hold with such as they.”

“I’ve been out to some of the clubs. Heard some nice tunes and such in there. DJ P0n-3 is pretty good. She makes some good music and has done some excellent duets with an electronic-cello-playing Octavia from the Royal Canterlot Quartet. But, all I do there is nurse a drink at the bar and watch my friends dancing like idiots and occasionally talking to total strangers and trying to score a partner.” Lime sipped at her tea and took up a slightly relaxed position.

“I know the Royal Canterlot Orchestra! They get hired a lot by the upper crust. So I’ve heard Octavia playing while nursing drinks at a bar, with Fancy Pants, while watching the other glamor ponies seeking new partners for the night.” Fleur was looking very comfortable leaning on the table and giving a small raise of her teacup to Lime.

Luna nodded slowly, taking a long, slow sip of her tea as her eyes passed between Fleur and Lime. “Wonderful. I see this be a most able organization which has been assembled. I declare this order to be most wonderful. And formally do create and designate this august assembly with all rights and titles.” Luna lifted the teapot with her telekinesis and lightly tapped Fleur and Lime on the horn with the teapot’s spout. “Thus I do dub this notable assembly Dames of the Tea Table.”

To be continued…