Friendship is Shining: The Gala

by Hopeful_Ink_Hoof

First published

The night of The Grand Galloping Gala arrives at last. Unfortunately, things do not go as any pony was hoping.

The season one finale of the Friendship is Shining series. The day of the Grand Galloping Gala has arrived at last. Shining Armor and his friends are all very excited to be going. Unfortunately things end up not going the way any of them expected. How bad are things going to get, and how much of Canterlot is going to remain when all is said and done?

Meanwhile, back in Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle is sleeping over at the Cakes. How much trouble could two unicorn fillies and a pegasus colt cause at a bakery?

Final Preparations

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Mrs. Cake looked up from behind the counter as she heard the door to Sugarcube Corner open, and smiled at two ponies that came in.

"Good morning Shining," she called out, "Twilight."

"Morning Mrs. Cake, ma'am." Twilight said, smiling up at her.

"Good morning," Shining replied. "Thanks for agreeing to watch Twiley." He reached out a hoof and ruffled his sister's mane. "She's really excited to get to spend the night here."

"Yeah," Twilight agreed. "I even found a book called Slumber 101: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Slumber Parties But Were Afraid to Ask. It has all sorts of fun suggestions that I can try with Pumpkin and Pound." After lifting her doll and setting it aside, she pulled out the book to show Mrs. Cake.

"I'm sure Pumpkin will be glad to have the fun," the mare responded. Her glance then slid over to the doll. "And who's this?"

"This is Miss Smarty Pants," Twilight explained as she held the doll up. "One of the smartest donkey fillies in her class and my best friend before Ponyville... after Shiny that is."

"She even has a pad and pencil to do homework," Shining added. "Now Twilight, do your remember what we talked about?"

Twilight cleared her throat and took a deep breath.

"Respect the Cakes and do what I'm told," she stated. "Have fun, but no magic until you return, and no crusading after dark."

"I would really prefer if you didn't crusade until I got back," Shining said, mentally adding or at all. "So at least keep it..." he sighed and rubbed his forehead. "You know what? Just keep breaks to a minimum."

"I'll try," Twilight replied, 'but no promises."

"Pumpkin and Pound are upstairs," Mrs. Cake said. "Twilight, why don't you go up, let them know you're here, and put find a place to put your things."

"Okay," Twilight said before heading toward the stair. "Bye Shiny."

"Bye Twiley." Shining Armor waved at his little sister as she left.

"So, is Pinkie Pie ready?"

"I'm not sure," Mrs. Cake replied, rubbing her chin. "I haven't seen her all morning."

"I'm ready," Pinkie Pie said, her head popping out of Shining Armor's tail. "Hi Shiny-hiney."

"Don't...." he looked at her head poking out of her tail. "How.... When..." He sighed and rubbed his head. "Whatever. So are you ready to go?"

"Yep," Pinkie said as she popped out of Shining Armor's tail and straightened up. "All packed up and ready to go. Where's Spike?"

"He volunteered to go get Rarity," Shining answered. "They should be on their way to the train station already."

"Okie-dokie-lokie." With that she bounced toward the door. "Bye Mrs. Cake. See you tomorrow."

"Bye Pinkie," Mrs. Cake called out. She suddenly reached out and grabbed Shining Armor, stopping him from leaving.

"Shining," she said gently, "Pinkie Pie means a lot to us. She's been like a daughter to my husband and me as well as a big sister to Pumpkin and Pound. She has never been to a city as big as Canterlot before, and she has never been to anything like a gala."

"Don't worry Mrs. Cake," Shining replied, giving her a pat on the shoulder. "I'll do my best to keep an eye on her."

"I know you will," the mare stated. "It's just.... I don't know... I'm just worried about what's going to happen to her I suppose."

"I'm sure my mom would tell you that's a natural part of parenthood." He gave her one last pat before heading toward the door himself.

"One last thing," she called out. "If I find out that any stallions have hurt her, I will hunt them down and turn them into geldings."

Shining Armor froze at the statement, eyes going wide. and jaw dropping slightly. He would have never suspected such a thing to come out of a mare that seemed as sweet and gentle as Mrs. Cake. He imagined her more as one who would be there to comfort a distraught pony, not threaten the one who caused it. That would be like... like...

He could not even think of something to compare it to, it was that shocking.

"So if anything like that happens," she continued, "I would appreciate if you could get their names for me. That would make finding them so much easier."

"...Uh... Yeah," Shining finally responded. "Yeah.... I.... I guess I can try to do that."

"Thank you," Mrs. Cake said. "Have a safe trip and a wonderful night."

"Thanks," Shining said. He slowly walked out of Sugarcube Corner and into the streets of Ponyville. Despite the clear sky and bright sun on this late summer morning, he still felt a chill along his spine.

Mrs. Cake watched him go before heading into the kitchen. She caught her husband's eye as she came in, walking up toward him.

"Well," she said, "they're off. Pinkie and her friends are on their way to Canterlot."

"I hope Pinkie will be alright," Mr. Cake said as he returned to the cake he was frosting.

"Don't worry." She gave him a wide grin. "I made sure to ask Shining Armor to keep an eye on her for us."

Twiley: Cutie Mark Petsitters

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"Maybe we should get you a scooter," Twilight suggested. "Then we could hook it up to another wagon, and you could pull us all over town too."

"I don't think I could," Pound Cake replied. "Besides, I would probably crash the thing."

"Are you tired of walking already?" Pumpkin asked, looking toward her friend.

"No," Twilight answered. "I just think it would be more fun. Besides, it would also be faster." She perked up. "Ooh, and we could also have Pound and Scootaloo race each other."

"Bet Scootaloo would win," Pumpkin said.

"Gee, thanks," Pound replied. "Nice to know my sister has so much faith in me."

"You know I love you," Pumpkin said with a grin as she bumped her shoulder into her brother, "but 'sporty' is not a term I would use to describe you."

"I could totally be sporty," Pound stated. "I mean, I bet I could be a really great hoofball player or something if I wanted."

"What about the last time I tossed a cupcake to you?"

"Threw!" Pound said, narrowing his eyes at his sister. "You threw a cupcake at me after yelling 'head's up.' It was like a frosting covered missile or something. Probably would have put my eye out."

"You still didn't catch it," Pumpkin said. "Way I remember it, you screamed 'Oh Celestia No!' and swung your hooves wildly."

Pound let out a huff and looked away.

"Hey," Twilight said, moving ahead of them. "We're here."

The three of them looked up, seeing Carousel Boutique up ahead of them. Twilight took off first, running toward the shop. The two started chasing after her. Soon they three of them reached the door, a closed sign hanging in the window. Twilight reached up and knocked.

"Sorry," a voice called out, "we're closed. Rarity is out of town."

"Sweetie Belle," Twilight shouted back. "It's us."

There was a moment of silence before the door opened. Twilight, Pumpkin Cake, and Pound Cake all let out a gasp.

Sweetie Belle, a white unicorn with a two-tone pastel pink and purple mane and tail, stood in the doorway. The filly's mane and tail were a mess, and she had several scratches on her.

"What happened?" Twilight asked.

"Opal?" Pumpkin asked.

"Yeah," Sweetie Belle said with a nod. "My sister asked me to watch her stupid cat while she was at the gala. I swear that thing hates me.... Actually, I'm pretty sure it hates everything."

"It can't be that bad," Twilight said. "I mean it's just a cat right? Hey! Maybe we can help. Come on."

"I...I don't think that's a good idea," Pound said, causing all three fillies to look at him.

"Why not?" Twilight asked.

"Well..." Pound shifted, looking at the ground. "I... I think Sweetie Belle is right. I don't think we can handle Opalescence."

"Aren't you supposed to be learning how to take care of animals from Fluttershy?" Pumpkin asked.

"Yes," he replied, "but I'm still just learning. I'm nowhere near as good as she is."

"Oh, come on," Twilight said, heading inside. "It's just one cat. How hard can it be?"

The filly froze as she heard a hissing noise. She turned just in time to see something white and fuzzy before whatever it was grabbed onto her face. Twilight let out a shriek of terror.

"It's got me!" she screamed, running around the boutique. "Getitoffgetitoffgetitoff!" She crashed into something, knocking it over with a loud thud. Twilight struggled to get back up and keep running, trying to get away from whatever was blinding her.

Pumpkin, Pound and Sweetie Belle chased after Twilight, trying to stop her so they could get the fluffy white cat known as Opalescence off of her face.

"It's trying to eat my brain!" Twilight screamed, stopping long enough to stomp her hooves in place.

Pumpkin Cake tackled Twilight, pinning her to the ground and knocking the air from her lungs. Pound moved around and took a hold of Opal, trying to work her loose from Twilight's face without causing the cat to scratch the filly more.

"I think I-"

Whatever Pound was going to say next was lost as Opal released Twilight and turned around to claw at him instead. Pound Cake let out a shriek of his own, wings fluttering as he jumped backwards to get away from the cat.

Opalescence stood and stared at the ponies. Her thick white tail was straight and puffed out as wide as it could go. Her back was arched as she let out a long, drawn out hiss. Pound and Twilight both stared at the cat in horror, fearing the possible onslaught that would occur. Pumpkin was moving to get in a position to attack the cat herself.

A ball of yarn flew past the cat, getting its attention. Forgetting all about the ponies, Opal lunged at the yarn, attacking it.

"Thank you for trying," Sweetie Belle said, "but I don't think you can help me on this. You better go before she loses interest in the yarn and starts attacking again."

The other three gave their assent before heading toward the door. Pumpkin stopped and turned around.

"When you're done," she said, "Twilight is sleeping over tonight at our house. You can come over and stay too if you want."

"Thanks," Sweetie Belle said with a smile. "I'll try."

Pumpkin gave a nod and joined the other two outside the boutique, door shutting behind her.

"So what now?"

Twilight let out a sigh and rubbed one of the spots Opal's claws had dug into her skin. Apple Bloom was busy helping her brother take care of the farm while Applejack was gone, Scootaloo had to do some things with her family, Sweetie Belle was dealing with Rarity's furry little demon, and they had just been brutally assaulted by the fluffy little ball of death.

"Let's forget about crusading," Twilight said. "Let's just go to the store so we can pick up things for the sleepover and go back to Sugarcube Corner.... and some disinfectant." She ran her hoof across one of the scratches. "Dumb cat."

Pumpkin and Pound looked at each other, shrugged, and followed after their friend once more.

Shining: Warning Rarity

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"I think you should tell her," Spike said.

"Tell who what?" Shining asked, turning to look at the young dragon.

"Rarity. You need to warn her about Prince Blueblood. You know what kind of stallion he is."

"Spike," Shining sighed, giving a shake of his head. "We went over this during the whole ticket disaster. We never met the prince."

"But we heard-"

"Gossip," Shining interrupted, "among the guards that were complaining about work over a couple of drinks. And I'm pretty sure that we recently had a lesson on why making decisions on gossip and rumors is bad, didn't we?"

"But this is different," Spike pleaded. "I'm not saying you should try to keep Rarity away from Prince Blueblood."

"Though I bet you wouldn't mind."

"I'm just saying that maybe you should warn her, just in case they are true."

"Why can't you tell her?" Shining asked, raising an eyebrow.

Spike shifted, grabbing a hold of his tail and twisting it.

"I tried," the young dragon finally said, "but every time I looked at Rarity, I completely forgot what it was that I wanted to talk to her about."

"Are the caterpillars you swallowed all grown up now?" Shining asked, grinning.

Spike looked at the stallion and scrunched his face. One eyebrow raised up.


"Butterflies in your stomach," Shining said. Spike let out a painful groan and rolled his eyes.

"That was terrible. Look, could you please just tell her? If I'm wrong, the worst that could happen is that she'll think you worry about her too much. If I'm right, then at least she'll be ready for whatever happens."

Shining Armor rubbed his chin as he considered it. Rarity did have a very specific way she imagined the whole event, and she could get kind of sensitive when things were not exactly as she expected them to be. It was something that drove her to work quite hard on her outfits and designs most of the time. On the other hoof, that combined with her sensitivity could sometimes make her seem overly dramatic. Usually about small things, granted, but how would she react if the prince not only failed to live up to her expectations, but even half of what they had overheard was true?

"Okay," Shining said. "You may be right. I guess I can give her a heads up, just in case."

"Thanks," Spike said.

"Don't mention it. Especially if this turns out to be for nothing."

Shining went over to where the the mares were all getting ready. He could hear the sound of excited chattering from the other side of the door. It seemed that they were all very excited about the upcoming Gala tonight. He could even hear Fluttershy as well as the others, even if Pinkie Pie was still the easiest to understand. It made him feel a little guilty about having to interrupt.

Taking a deep slow breath, he knocked.

"Rarity," he called out. "It's Shining Armor. I need to speak with you."

There was a moment of silence as the mares all stopped talking. Hooves approached the door before it opened. Rarity stuck her head through the gap. Her mane was hanging down and seemed to still have drops of water rolling down along the length.

"Yes, darling?" she said. "What is it?"

"Uh... can we talk in private?"

"I'm sorry," Rarity replied, "but I'm afraid this is the best I can do. We are getting ready for the Gala after all, and I am quite naked."

"Uh, Rarity?" Applejack's voice called from somewhere in side the room. "Aren't we normally naked?"

"That is quite a different matter," Rarity called back.

Naked, Shining Armor thought. There were five mares that were mostly naked in the room. Some of them were probably freshly showered. With dripping wet mane glistening as it hung down. Smelling of a fresh mix of their clean aroma, their soap, and shampoos. Five mares glistening with wet coats and showing off their shapely forms.

"Shining?" Rarity asked. "Are you alright? You look a little pink in the face."

"Fine," Shining blurted out. "Fine fine. I'm fine."

Rarity tilted her head and quirked one of her eyebrows. Shining Armor shifted under her curious gaze, feeling his cheeks burn hotter as embarrassment mixed with the blush from his inappropriate fantasies.

"Anyway," Shining said as he composed himself, "Spike and I were talking, and.... Well..." He shifted his hooves. "We thought it would be a good idea to give you a heads up."

"'A heads up?'" Rarity repeated, the term sounding foreign to her when she said it. "What exactly is it you are trying to give me a... 'heads up' about?"

"Well..." He moved and leaned in. "It's...Uhm..." He chewed on his lip a moment.

"Shining, sweetie," Rarity said, getting his attention. "I am rather busy preparing at the moment. Please do hurry up and explain already."

"Okay, okay. I know you're excited to meet Prince Blueblood-" He stopped as he heard Rarity gasp.

"Do you mean to tell me that you know him?"

"No," Shining Armor replied. "Not really. But...We've heard some of the guards talking about him and-"

"Oh, Shining, really?' Rarity said, giving a shake of her head. "After all we've been through with Zecora, and you were the one who was trying to keep us rational through the whole matter."

"I know, I know." Shining sighed and rubbed at his head. "This is tough for me, and I really hope I'm wrong. It's just... According to the guards, Blueblood is rude, pompous, and condescending. If that's the case.... You're my friend Rarity, and I don't want to see you get hurt if things don't go the way you imagine."

"Aww," Rarity said with a smile. "That's sweet of you, and I appreciate it, but I'm certain that your worry is unnecessary. I'm sure a prince among all nobles would know how to behave properly and treat a lady. More than likely what you heard was either exaggeration or petty jealousy."

"I hope so," Shining said.

"Now if there is nothing out, I really must finish preparing for The Gala."

"No. That's it." Shining gave a small smile as the door closed before heading back.

"Everything okay?" Spike asked as Shining Armor came back.

"As well as can be expected," Shining Armor answered. "I need to get ready myself. Are you sure you don't want to come to the gala with us?"

"No way. I told you I don't go for that gunk. I'll be waiting for you at Pony Joe's."

"Alright," Shining said with a chuckle. "Just don't eat all the strawberry and sprinkles."

"I make no promises," the dragon called after him.

Twiley: Daring Confession

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"I can't believe I agreed to this," Pound Cake groaned as he held his wings straight out from his sides.

"You chose dare," Twilight said, "and I get to pick the dare." She picked up the egg and tried to set it on the wing.

On the opposite side of Pound Cake, Pumpkin was trying to do the same thing.

"I know, I know." Pound shifted. "Still, balancing eggs on my wings."

"Hold still," Pumpkin growled.

"Besides," Twilight added, "it's only just one egg per wing." Her eyes narrowed as she looked at him, grinning. "Unless you want to got get the entire cart to see if you could six each."

"NO!" Pumpkin and Pound both shouted.

"I don't want to have to clean up that big a mess," Pound said.

"And neither of us want to tell mom what happened to a dozen eggs," Pumpkin added.

"That's what I thought," Twilight said with a giggle as she set the egg onto the wing. "Ready Pumpkin?"

"I think so."

"Okay. So on the count of three we both let go. Then," she looked at Pound, "you try to keep the eggs from falling for a slow five count. One... Two... Three!"

Pumpkin and Twilight let the eggs go and pulled away. Pound shifted and tensed, trying to adjust his wings to keep the eggs from falling.

"One," Twilight counted off.





Twilight and Pumpkin both took a hold of the eggs and lifted them up. Pound let out a sigh of relief. He gave a shake of his wings before tucking them back in.

"Where did you come up with an idea for a dare like that?" Pound asked.

"A book on The Wonderbolts," Twilight answered. "According to the book, they would sometimes do wing exercises by balancing objects on their wings. Sometimes it would be something heavy to build up strength and endurance. Other times it would be something small or delicate for fine control."

"A book," Pumpkin said, rolling her eyes. "Of course. Well it's my turn anyways. Twiley, truth or dare?"

Twilight rubbed her chin, considering a moment. Did she want to go with truth? Not like she had anything to keep hidden from her friends, right? Then again, what if there was? What if she had a secret she wanted to keep even from herself? Alternatively, what kind of dare could Pumpkin come up with? From what Twilight had seen, her friend could be quite creative, but would never actually hurt a pony.

"Truth," Twilight finally said.

"Alright then. Pound, why don't you take the eggs back to the kitchen while I ask Twiley her question."

"Okay." Pound took the two eggs and headed out the room.

Pumpkin watched him go, ears perked until the clopping of his hooves could barely be heard. She then turned back to Twilight.

"Okay, truth," Pumpkin repeated. "That means that you have to honestly answer any question that I ask you. Do you like my brother?"

"Well yeah," Twilight replied. "I mean we are friends. Why wouldn't I like him if-"

"No," Pumpkin interrupted. "I mean like like. As in you want him to be your coltfriend."

"What?" Twilight squeaked out. Her ears dropped as her face turned a bright red in color. She took a step back. Suddenly everything in the room except Pumpkin Cake had become very fascinating.

"I asked if you liked my brother," Pumpkin repeated, "and remember: you picked truth. So you have to answer, and it has to be the truth."

"Well... Uhm..." Twilight shifted. "That's kind of a complicated question isn't it? I mean, how do we know if we like any pony as a friend or more. Especially at our age when... Uhm... what I mean is..."

Pumpkin stared at Twilight, saying nothing. Twilight sighed and looked down at the floor.



"Well..." Twilight thought a moment. "He's cute..."

"Ew..." Pumpkin groaned, scrunching her face.

"He is!" Twilight huffed. "He was also nice enough to put up with me when we first met."

"You mean when I found you pulling his wings out to look at them and pressing up against him?" Pumpkin asked."

Twilight let out a nervous giggle.

"Yeah. He was just going to put up with it and answer my questions, which shows how nice he can be."

Pumpkin rolled her eyes. Her brother never was one to stand up for himself. That was kind of why she started to. She could not even remember how long it had been since she had started trying to protect him.

"Plus he's learning to take care of animals from Fluttershy," Twilight continued. "So-"

"Okay, okay," Pumpkin interrupted. "I get it." She sighed. "So, why don't you ask him?"

"Ask him what?"

"To be your coltfriend."

"What?" Twilight squeaked. "No! I can't do that. What if he says no? What if things become awkward and we can't be friends anymore? I'll never get to see you. I'll never be able to return to Sugarcube corner. The Cutie Mark Crusaders will fall apart and we'll never get our cutie marks. I'd have to leave Ponyville and hide somewhere in the thickest regions of the furthest woods where ponies will think I'm some weird witch that will eat their foals in the middle of the night."

The filly fell backwards, panting as she tried to catch her breath.

"Where do you come up with this stuff?" Pumpkin asked, looking down at her. "Okay, first, calm down and breath before you pass out."

Twilight nodded and closed her eyes. She tried to remember the breathing exercises she had read about. Slowly in and slowly out. It was a lot easier to read about doing something than actually doing it. After half a minute she opened her eyes.

"Feeling better?" Pumpkin asked.

"I think so."

"Good. Now second, I can assure you that what you just said would never happen like that."

"You mean you know Pound will be my coltfriend?" Twilight asked. She smiled as she thought about that.

"No," Pumpkin answered. "I mean... I think he likes you, but I haven't actually asked him. He would probably say yes? What I meant was that even if he says no, we would still be friends and you wouldn't end up being Twilight the Witch of the Woods or whatever."

"Oh," Twilight said. "Well if you-" she stopped as Pumpkin put a hoof over her mouth.

"He's coming," Pumpkin said, hearing the sound of hoof steps. "We'll talk about this more later. Get up."

Twilight quickly scrambled to get back up on her hooves.

"Alright," Pound said as he came in. "So is it my turn now?"

"Actually," Pumpkin said, a mischievous grin spreading across her face, "I was thinking that we might move on to doing something else."

"And what would that be?"

"Twilight?" Pumpkin turned to her friend. "You're book mentions doing make-overs, right?"

"Yeah," Twilight responded. "Why?"

"Don't you think Pound would be the perfect pony to do a make-over on?"

"Oh!" Twilight said before grinning as well. "Yeah. That's a great idea."

Pound Cake's eyes went wide and his ears drooped as he looked at the two grinning unicorn fillies that were moving toward him. His legs felt like stone and his wings just would not respond. Even if he could get away, it would do no good. He knew Pumpkin. There was no where he could hide that his sister would not find him.

"Oh no!"

Shining: Anti-climatic

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Once upon a time, in the magical land of Equestria, there was a little colt by the name of Shining Armor. Shining Armor was a unicorn who lived in the capital known as Canterlot with his mother and father.

One day, Shining Armor's mother -- Twilight Velvet -- took him to the park to play. Things had been going well at first, until Shining Armor got mad at one colt and bit him. Twilight Velvet saw what her son did, scolded him and forced him to apologize. Afterward, she did not let him continue to play, nor did she take him home.

Instead, Shining Armor's mother made the young colt sit next to her while she continued to read. He had nothing to play with, nothing to do. All he could do was sit, wait, and watch other foals play and have fun. Shining had no idea how long it had actually been, but it felt like it had been for-ev-er! Once it was over, he never bit another pony. That last thing Shining Armor ever wanted was to have to go through something like that ever again.

Yet here it was, years later, and he found himself kind of feeling the same way.

After arriving at The Grand Galloping Gala together, the six of them had each gone their own ways. Fluttershy had immediately headed for the gardens to try and see the animals. Applejack set up her booth on the grounds and almost immediately sold a pie. Turned out it was to a Wonderbolt, which let Rainbow Dash meet and hang out with the group. Shining Armor came in with Pinkie Pie and Rarity, but neither came with him to see Princess Celestia. Pinkie Pie wanted to check the refreshments right away (Shining got the feeling that something about her seemed... less poofy?) and Rarity wished to find a fine stallion -- hopefully a prince -- to begin a romantic evening with.

Shining Armor had managed to see Princess Celestia, who then asked him to stand beside her. At first he was excited. He would get to spend some time with his mentor. Although they had written back and forth to each other, the two had not talked face to face since the event with Sunset Shimmer.

Unfortunately, talking was not something the two of them had gotten much of an opportunity to do. Instead, Shining Armor was stuck standing beside the princess. As they and several others stood there, various guests walked up to meet and be greeted by Princess Celestia. Shining did not know the name of any of them. He did recognize a few of them -- including one or two that were more interested in sounding and seeming important than actually doing anything of value -- but most of them were ponies he had never seen before. To be fair, none really seemed to care who he was either. They stood long enough to accept his greeting, but it seemed like most were more interested in keep their nose in the air than making eye contact.

It kind of made him feel like he was stuck sitting beside his mother while watching the other foals play all over again. He had hoped to see the princess and talk to her a while, but he had also wanted to spend time with his friends. He was also hoping to get to dance a few times. Instead, he was stuck here, greeting ponies he did not know and who did not care about him. Was this what many of the less affluent ponies had to put up with? Was this what it was like to be a guard?

Maybe Princess Celestia would give him an opportunity to leave. Or maybe he could excuse himself, saying he required refreshment. Actually, maybe there was no need to do that. Maybe instead he could get one of his friends to come to him and save him from this. Pinkie Pie did do all sort of weird things, so it was possible that if he tried, she would show up with a snack or something.

Although he was busy saying hello to each pony that came up to him, Shining Armor tried his best to concentrate. He focused on Pinkie Pie and his appetite. If it worked, Pinkie Pie would get the feeling that there was a friend who was hungry and miraculously show up with something to eat or drink.

After a full minute of trying with no Pinkie Pie, he gave up. It would have been nice but-

Was the orchestra playing the Pony Pokey? That's not the type of music normally-

"That is it!" Rarity bellowed. She must have been furious if her yelling was reaching them all the way up here.

"Excuse me," Shining said as he slipped out of the line. He moved run toward the stairs. Numerous heavy thuds reached his ears. He had never heard anything like this before.

Reaching the main hall, Shining stopped, jaw hanging loose and eyes wide. Tables were overturned, food was everywhere, the main sculpture was shattered, pylons were toppled, and ponies everywhere were panicking.

Well, Shining Armor thought as he studied the disaster before him, at least it can't get any worse.

A loud banging echoed through the previously silent halls. Many of the ponies, Shining Armor included, looked around for the source.

The doors to the gardens burst open as numerous animals -- squirrels, rabbits, birds, and who knew what else -- came stampeding into the main hall. Behind them stood a deranged looking yellow pegasus with a pink mane and tail. If Shining Armor had not seen it himself, he would never have believed that Fluttershy of all ponies could like that.

"Get back here!" the normally mare bellowed. "You ARE GOING TO LOVE ME!"

Shining Armor continued to stare on as he tried to process all that he was seeing. What had happened? How did it happen? What would Princess Celestia have to say about The Grand Galloping Gala ending up like this?

He tensed as he suddenly felt a hoof touching his shoulder through his suit. Turning, he found himself eye to eye with Princess Celestia. What should he say? What should he do? What... was she smiling?

"Run," the princess said in her usual calm and gentle voice, as if this was something that was perfectly normal and she was not surprised in the slightest.

With a quick nod, Shining Armor turned and started running for the door. His horn lit up as he used his magic. Soon each of his five friends were surrounded by an orb of magic as they were levitated and quickly pulled after the rapidly fleeing unicorn.

Twiley: Sleeping Over

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Cup Cake -- most often known as just Mrs. Cake -- let out a sigh of relief as she finished filling out the order forms. It was one of the parts of the job she liked the least. She enjoyed baking, and loved to see the excitement and happiness of the ponies as they tasted the wonderful confections that she, her husband, or Pinkie had made. Unfortunately, to do that, there were bills to be paid, stock to be inventoried, and supplies to order.

Her eyes glanced up at the clock, checking the time. It was a later than she expected. It was the strange thing about paperwork: somehow it seemed to take forever to do, but at the same time it managed to use up extensive amounts of time.

Another thought occurred to her as she saw the time, one born from the experience of being a mother.

The children had been too quiet for too long.

The last time she had seen them had been several hours ago. Pound Cake had come running in, yelling at her to save him from the two unicorn fillies. The young pegasus colt had several light purple ribbons in his mane and tail, and was being chased by the two with the intent of adding make-up (turned out Twilight bought it for the sleepover after reading about make-overs in her book). As cute as Pound looked with the ribbons, and as funny as it would have to see him with eye shadow and blush -- not that she would admit it aloud -- Mrs. Cake had vetoed the idea of letting Twilight and Pumpkin doing so. And no amount of puppy dog eyes from the fillies would change her mind.

Twilight and Pumpkin tried to convince, mostly by looking sad and saying please, but the pair eventually accepted the mother's decision. With that decided, the three of them tried to figure what to do next.

Last Mrs. Cake had heard, the foals had decided to tell each other scary stories. Pound had a flashlight they could use for effect, and Twilight had a book of scary stories she brought with her (did she have a book for everything?). Pumpkin teased her brother about being scared easily, but the three of them had gone back to the room they were using.

That had been a over an hour ago, nearly two in fact. Mrs. Cake had not realized it since she was busy, but it was an unusually long time for them to be quiet.

Mrs. Cake headed up to the bedroom. Her ears were perked to listen for even the slightest sound, but she did not hear a thing. Not even the sound of one them talking or reading from a book aloud.

Reaching the doorway, she stepped inside.

"Is everything.... Awww..."

Much to Mrs. Cake's relief and delight, there was no reason for her to worry. Twilight, Pumpkin, and Pound were not plotting anything.

A book laid on the floor, wide open. A flashlight laid next to it, the beam shining across the pages. On the other side of it were the three young ponies. Pound Cake was in the middle, lying on his stomach with his head on his hooves and his wings spread wide. Under one was Pumpkin, sprawled out on her back with bits of drool running down the edge of her mouth and over her cheek. Under the other was Twilight, curled up on her side with her tail on top of Pound's and the nose of her snout buried in against the fur of his muzzle.

It was so adorable seeing the three of them sleeping together like that. So much so it gave her an idea. She just had to hope that she could do it without waking any of them.

Grabbing a photo camera she came back and checked. Satisfied that they were pretty much in the same position that she had left them in. After a quick check to make sure the flash was on, Mrs. Cake shifted to try and get what looked like the best angle to show all three of them together. Satisfied, she took a picture.

The flash filled the room with light, turning everything bright for a split second. Mrs. Cake stopped watching them for a few seconds.

None of them moved.

Satisfied, Mrs. Cake put the camera way before coming back. Moving closer, she shut off the flashlight and shut the book. Grabbing a blanket, she tossed it over the trio, adjusting it so none were completely hidden. Mrs. Cake reached down to push Twilight Sparkle's mane aside. She then proceeded to give her son a kiss on the forehead, and her daughter one on the chin.

"Good night," she whispered as she headed for the door again. "Sweet dreams."

Shining: Doughnuts

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After three of Joe's choco-luxe doughnuts (a chocolate doughnut with chocolate chips, a chocolate glaze and chocolate sprinkles), Shining Armor was feeling a little better. Judging from the way the others were, he was not the only one as well.

When the six of them had arrived, all of them seemed to be relatively depressed over the night. The whole night, Applejack had only sold one product all night, an apple pie near the start. Rarity felt utterly humiliated over what had occurred with Prince Blueblood (although Rarity had a few other choice names for him), and disappointed at how horribly behaved he had been. Pinkie Pie was just disappointed in general because the party was not very exciting or fun. Rainbow Dash had been thrilled when she was able to hang with The Wonderbolts, but it was kind of disappointing because they were all so busy mingling that she never really got to do anything with them. Fluttershy was so excited to get the opportunity to see all the animals in the garden, but was very confused when they kept running away from her before she had the chance to get to see them.

Now everyone seemed to be in a much better mood. Pinkie Pie and Applejack were comparing recipes with Joe, which would mean new doughnuts at Sugarcube Corner and possibly tastier apple fritters here in Canterlot. Rainbow Dash was having a doughnut eating contest with Spike to see who could pack away the most the fastest (Shining probably should have tried to prevent that since it would most likely end with Spike having a massive stomach ache). Rarity and Fluttershy were not exactly in the best of moods, but the pair seemed to be enjoying their tea and snacks.

The bell tinkled as the door was opened, announcing a new arrival. Everything suddenly turned quiet at the new arrival. Pinkie Pie, Applejack and Joe all stopped and watched. Even Spike and Rainbow Dash stopped their eating contest and stared toward the doorway. Before he could ask anything, Shining Armor felt a tingle along his spine as the arrival moved to stand behind him.

Slowly, Shining Armor turned to see who it was.

There, standing behind him, was Princess Celestia. Her ethereal rainbow mane and tail shifted and danced with its magic. Her sunrise colored eyes looked down on her student and his friends. A small smile twisted the edge of her lips.

"That," the princess said in her soft tone, "was one of the best Grand Galloping Galas ever."

"What?!" six ponies and a young dragon all called out together.

"With all due respect," Shining Armor said, "the gala was.... well... awful." The other five all nodded in agreement.

"Shining Armor," Celestia said, "did you ever wonder why had never invited you to The Grand Galloping Gala before?"

That made Shining pause and think. He had never been invited to the Gala before, had he? Even if he had, would he have noticed? Would he have gone? Probably not unless he was practically ordered by Celestia.

"...Because I probably would have been reading the whole time?" he finally answered, getting a giggle from pony and a snort from another.

"While I am aware that such was a possibility," Celestia responded, "that is not the primary reason. Every year, The Grand Galloping Gala tends to be bad." She looked around the table. "When I invited you and your friends, I was hoping that they would be able to make everything far more entertaining. Now, while the night may not have gone as intended, you have to admit that things did not turn out so bad for you and your friends."

Shining looked around at the others and felt himself start to smile. The gala had been pretty bad, but everypony seemed to be feeling better now that they were hanging out together. Things seemed to be pretty good now.

An idea suddenly came to him as he caught sight of a jukebox. Smiling, he moved over toward Spike and leaned in close.

"Hey, Spike," Shining whispered, "there's a jukebox over there, and I think we both know a certain white unicorn who would enjoy a dance." He then pointed at Rarity.

Spike stared at the white unicorn mare a moment before turning back toward Shining Armor.

"Do you really think so?"

Shining pulled out a bit and held it out to the young dragon.

"Doesn't hurt to ask."

Spike grinned and grabbed the coin. Excitedly he hopped off his seat and ran for the jukebox. After looking through the options, he finally made a selection and ran back toward the table.

A slow song began to play as Spike walked up to Rarity. He cleared his throat and took a deep breath.

"Rarity," he said, "would you care to dance?" He held a claw out to the mare.

"Aww," Rarity cooed at the adorable scene. "I would love to Spikey-wikey." She reached a hoof out and let him take a hold of it. The pair of them then moved to an open space on the floor.

"You know," Celestia said from beside Shining Armor, getting his attention, "I think I see another mare who wishes to dance." She then pointed.

"Her?" Shining asked. "You really think so?"

"Trust me," Celestia replied as she put a hoof on his shoulder and give a small wink.

Shining looked between the princess and the mare. Closing his eyes and took a deep breath. He got up and walked toward the mare. The stallion's throat and lips suddenly felt dry. What was wrong with him?

"Wou-" he started before his voice cracked. Clearing his throat, he tried again.

"Would you care to dance?"

"Eh," Rainbow Dash responded with a shrug, "why not?"

Shining Armor smiled as he walked out toward the open portion of the floor. He was not sure, but he could almost swear that Rainbow Dash was smiling as well.

Back in Ponyville

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Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Shining Armor walked through Ponyville as they headed toward Sugarcube Corner, with Shining Armor carrying a sleeping Spike on his back as he went.. As the gingerbread style building came into view, Pinkie Pie grinned as she started bouncing again. Soon the pink pony was ahead of the other as she got excited about seeing her home once again.

"Pinkie Pie, darling," Rarity suddenly said, "why don't you go on ahead? I'm sure the Cakes would be glad to see you. Besides, I would like to say something to Shining Armor quickly."

"Okey-dokey-lokey," Pinkie Pie said before bouncing away and heading into Sugarcube Corner. Shining Armor watched her go before turning to look at Rarity curiously.

Rarity took a step toward Shining Armor, then moved to his side. Reaching out a hoof, she stroked the sleeping young dragon's scaly head gently.

"He's a sweet little thing," she said. "I believe he will grow up to be a true gentlecolt when he grows up and will treat whomever he is with as a proper lady." She smiled at Shining Armor. "Just like his big brother."

Rarity moved closer and gave the stallion a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"Thank you for trying to look out for me." She gave him a smile and turned around. "Perhaps next time, we'll get the opportunity to enjoy a dance together." The mare gave a wink to the stallion from over her shoulder. With a flick of her head, she turned away and walked off, heading toward Carousel Boutique.

Shining Armor stood there, watching her go. One hoof reached up, rubbing the cheek she had kissed. It felt warm. The hint of her scent still lingered in his nose. Had that really happened? He shifted to look back and make sure Spike was still asleep. Shining Armor had no interest in dealing with a jealous dragon.

After Rarity was out of sight, Shining Armor gave a shake of his head and continued toward Sugarcube Corner.

"Welcome to Sugarcube Corner!"

"Pinkie," Shining said, "you just saw me outside less than a minute ago. We walked up from the train station together."

"I know, Shiny-hiney," Pinkie Pie replied with a grin.

"SHINY!" a voice shouted from upstairs. Shining tensed his body as his horn lit up with magic.

A purple streak came rocketing down the stairways before slamming into the stallion. The impact knocked him off his hooves, falling backwards. Where the Shining Armor had been standing, a purple dragon now floated in mid-air, surrounded by a rose colored magical aura.

"How was the gala?" Twilight asked, tail wagging excitedly. "Do you get to spend time with the princess? Did Fluttershy get to meet the animals? Did Rarity get to meet her prince? I bet it was a night you'll never forget, wasn't it."

"Well..." Shining Armor grinned, "you got the last part right." He hugged his sister and tousled her mane. "It was a night we will never forget. I'll tell you about the rest of it when we get home."

"Okay." the young filly then noticed Spike. "Hey, what happened to him?"

"Spike didn't get any sleep last night." Shining answered.

Twilight moved off her brother and over toward the dragon.

"Why not?"

"Too many doughnuts." Shining stood up and brushed himself off. "First he was hyperactive from the sugar rush. Then he ended up suffering a stomach ache because of it. I don't think he fell asleep until we were on the train back for Ponyville."

"Aww," Twilight said sympathetically.

"What about you?" Shining asked. "Did you have a good time?"

"Oh, yeah." She turned back to her brother, grinning widely. "It was great. We had a lot of fun. It was the best night ever!" She paused. "Well.... so far." Her grin grew wider. "I bet it will be even better if we can get all The Cutie Mark Crusaders to have one big sleepover."

Shining contemplated the possibility. If all six of the Crusaders were going to have a sleepover together, it would probably be a good idea to have some assistance for whichever pony had the misfortune of hosting and chaperoning the whole thing.

Putting the thought aside for the time being, Shining Armor turned his attention to Mrs. Cake, who was coming down the stairs. Following behind her were the Cake twins.

"Thank you for letting Twiley stay over," he called out. "Hope that she wasn't too much trouble."

"No more than your average filly," Mrs. Cake replied. "The worst that happened was she and Pumpkin tried to give Pound a make-over." She looked at her daughter from the corner of her eye. "Although I'm not too sure the idea was Twilight's."

"Pinkie!" Pumpkin shouted as if she happened to suddenly notice the pink pony was back and in no way caught her mother's implication. The filly darted past her mother and over to the counter. "So glad to see you're home. Did you have fun at the party?"

"No," Pinkie said. "The Gala was bor-ring!" She then perked up. "Buuuut, we went to this really super-awesome doughnut shop after. So how would you like to help me try some of the ideas for new ideas I got from Pony Joe?"

"It's..." Pumpkin shifted, looking at the pink pony nervously. "It's not going to be like when you tried to make those brussels sprout and caramel muffins you tried to make, is it?"

"Nah, nothing like that."

"Okay then," the filly agreed with a nod.

"Come on, Twiley," Shining said, settling Spike onto his back once again.

Twilight nodded and followed after her brother. The two of them headed for the door. Shining stepped through when Twilight suddenly stopped.

"Oh," she called out. "I almost forgot something. One second."

Before Shining could even ask what she was talking about, Twilight turned and ran back inside. She charged up to Pound Cake, kissed him on the cheek, then ran back toward the door and outside to rejoin her brother.

"Okay," she said as she kept going, trying to keep her brother from seeing the bright red on her face.

Having not seen what happened inside, Shining Armor watched his sister curiously for a moment before continuing his way on with her toward the library.

Inside, Mrs. Cake was watching her son curiously after seeing Twilight kiss him. The young colt's ears were dropped back and eyes were wide. His mouth hung slightly open, and his cream colored face was burning a bright red.

"Wha-" Pound croaked out. "Wha... wha..."

Mrs. Cake brought a hoof to her mouth, stifling the giggle. It seemed that a certain filly had a little crush on her son. And if his reaction was indication, he might have had one on her as well.

"Pounds got a filly-friend!" Pumpkin called out with a laugh.

"What?!" Pound squeaked out, turning toward his sister as his face grew a deeper shade of crimson. "No I don't. I... she...we.. Mind your own business!"

Pumpkin continued to laugh, getting a grin from Pinkie Pie. Mrs. Cake reached down to give her son a gentle pat on the shoulder, fighting the urge to let out a giggle of her own.