Quiet Sunsets 2 (AiE, Celestia)

Oct 22nd, 2013
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  1. Part 1 -
  3. >The next day is probably the longest rotation you ever had
  4. >Your mind is racing as you stand guard
  5. >On one hand, any unicorn who eyes you for more than a moment makes you wonder if they're the mystery mare
  6. >On the other, you have a meeting tonight after work
  7. >And you have no idea what to talk about
  8. >What do you talk to the goddess of the sun about?
  9. >Heck even 'how was your day?' is practically a loaded question
  10. >"Hey, beanstalk, shifts up"
  11. >You snap back to Ea...Equestria, whatever
  12. >Stonehoof is there to relieve you
  13. >"You daydreaming on watch?"
  14. "No, sir, just focused"
  15. >"You must be thinking about that ridiculous letter I had to bring you. Heard she stood you up. Why I married this job instead of a mare."
  16. >He scoffs and you and him exchange positions
  17. >You don't bother to argue with him, it never goes anywhere
  18. >And once he's in position he takes his work very seriously
  19. >You bid him good day and start for the west balcony
  20. >The sunset is more brilliant than yesterday
  21. >Red color leaps from the horizon and overhead the sky is a canvas of orange and gold
  22. >Celestia really out did herself tonight
  23. >Something nice must have happened to her
  24. >Maybe you can get her to talk about that?
  25. >You arrive at the balcony
  26. >The air is just as cool as last night
  27. >The sunset still bathing the world with color, now more blues and purple as the sun slips past the hilltops
  28. >It must have been a really nice day for her
  29. >You smile and make your way to the bench you sat on last time
  30. >Odd
  31. >The balcony is empty
  32. >It's a huge observation area, and even on a slow day there are usually a half dozen ponies out to watch the sunset
  33. >Not today though, you're the only one there
  34. >Maybe there was a speech or a festival you didn't hear about
  35. >You shrug and take a seat
  36. >Its not long after you hear the familiar sound of gold horseshoes on marble
  37. >When they approach you, you stand and turn around
  38. >Like last time, she stops you before you can do more than lower your head
  39. >Princess Celestia is before you, her expression bright as the sun she controls
  40. >Her regalia sparking in the light of her sunset, they look freshly polished
  41. >Her mane blowing calmly, her eyes meeting yours with their usual tenderness
  42. >You can feel event he cool night air warming in her presence
  43. >"Good Evening, Anon."
  44. >She smiles
  45. >You smile back
  46. "Good evening, Princess Celestia. You outdid yourself tonight, the sky looks gorgeous!"
  47. >She laughs gently, looking to the sky
  48. >Even her laughter is a soothing melody
  49. >"I may have placed slightly more effort into it tonight. I'm glad you appreciate it, Anon."
  50. >She says something else, but very quietly
  51. >Far too quiet for you to hear
  52. >Before you have a chance to ask her what she said
  53. >A small basket levitates from behind her and sets down on the bench
  54. >You look tot he basket questioningly
  55. >"I had a light lunch and felt we both could use something to eat. Care to join me, Anon?"
  56. >You nod and follow her to the bench, sitting down after she does
  57. >Her magic is as graceful as she is, the basket unpacks itself slowly, and a small plate is filled with a few pastries before it floats to your lap
  58. >She does the same for herself, taking an identical assortment of goodies from her picnic basket
  59. >Her plate floats to herself
  60. >You and her both seemed fixated on the other's dish
  61. >Neither of you are actually eating anything
  62. >Oh no, you're playing polite chicken...
  63. >"Try the dark chocolate one, it has coconut in the middle"
  64. >She wins
  65. >You smile and nod, taking the chocolate from the plate and having a bite
  66. >Its as good as she says
  67. >Like a mounds bar back home but all the ingredients taste fresh and delicious
  68. >You find yourself chewing slower than normal, just to enjoy every bit of the sweet
  69. >She smiles and takes the same candy, eating it in a similarly slow fashion
  70. "That is very good, do they make them here?"
  71. >She nods, not one to speak with her mouth full
  72. >You're still happy she didn't take the candy with a fork
  73. >Especially after you snatched it up with your hands
  74. >"So, Anon, how was your day?"
  75. >You think for a moment before you reply
  76. >It would be a little awkward if you complained about your job, considering its entire function is to serve her
  77. >And she had been the one to insist you were allowed to join
  78. >But how much can you really talk about standing at attention with a spear in your hand?
  79. "It was....OK. Normal day, nothing big happened"
  80. >You quickly grab another pastry and munch on it before she can ask for more specifics
  81. >"I'm glad to hear that, Anon."
  82. >She gently wipes her mouth with a silk napkin before returning her attention to you
  83. >Her eyes are radiating kindness, with a slight hint of expectation, waiting for you to continue
  84. >You feel bad you gave such a lackluster answer and decide to make up for it
  85. >You tell much more detailed version of the day's events
  86. >From the relief of the night watch when you arrived
  87. >To the conversation you had with Stonehoof before you arrived
  88. >And every little detail in between
  89. >Not once did she have a bad thing to say
  90. >Or anything but a kind word or suggestion sometimes
  91. >But what really struck you was how much she enjoyed listening
  92. >As if you were reciting poetry or telling an amazing tale and she wanted to hear every word
  93. >The pastries went untouched till you finally said
  94. "...and then I came here and met you"
  95. >She chuckled and suggested another one of the treats for you to try
  96. >You nod and take what turns out to be a miniature apple turnover
  97. >It takes every bit of manners you were ever taught not to gobble it it
  98. >She seems to notice your plight and giggles
  99. >Her pastry floats to her mouth and she pops the entire thing in her mouth
  100. >You follow suit, joining in her laughter
  101. >She's just full of surprises tonight
  102. >"So....Anon? Do you agree with Stonehoof?"
  103. >Not all of them good
  104. >You swallow, thinking hard about how to answer that
  105. >She waits patiently, not once giving you the impression she wanted to know right now
  106. >Her eyes were so gentle, her smile so calming
  107. >You feel like the worst thing you could do now is disappoint her
  108. >But the only way you could do that is not to answer her truthfully, you feel
  109. "I don't think so. That's why I came here last night. If I didn't want a special someone in my life, I wouldn't have"
  110. >Her smile brightens so subtlety, had you not been paying such close attention you would have missed it
  111. "I think Stonehoof hasn't had any luck in that department. So he was just annoyed. It was Hearts and Hooves day yesterday, he's probably still a little mad about it"
  112. >And just like that, her smile faded
  113. >"That note might not have helped matters. To have to deliver good news to someone else while you remained alone must have been...difficult"
  114. >She turned to the city, looking away from you
  115. >"I should...send him something. A reward for all his years of service. Something to brighten his spirits a little"
  116. >You set your plate down and lean closer
  117. >Her expression, her tone of voice
  118. >Like last night, it was hard to pick up when her demeanor changed but
  119. >Did she feel...guilty?
  120. >Why would she feel guilty about this?
  121. "Princess...are you ok?"
  122. >She closed her eyes and sighed very gently
  123. >And in an instant, she was back to normal
  124. >Her features returning to the warm, motherly figure you've known since your very first night
  125. >"Yes, I am sorry, I was lost in an old memory. I apologize, Anon. It happens from time to time."
  126. >She turned to you with her usual smile
  127. >But, for the very first time in the months you've known her
  128. >You didn't buy it
  129. >She notices your look of doubt and turns back to the city
  130. >Her own plate levitates back to the basket, the rest of the food following
  131. >"My sister has done a wonderful job tonight, wouldn't you agree, Anon?"
  132. >You don't answer
  133. >In fact you don't even turn to look to the city
  134. >You keep your gaze on her
  135. >She's still smiling, still maintaining her normal composure
  136. >But her eyes give it away
  137. >There is a sadness there
  138. >As if something went wrong but she didn't want to address it
  139. "Princess?"
  140. >She closes her eyes and you hear the basket clasps lock
  141. >She begins to gather herself from the bench, standing with a shaky sigh
  142. >One by one her hooves land on the marble
  143. >"I'm sorry to end this abruptly, Anon, but there is something I need to attend to"
  144. >She's standing, beginning to make her way to the exit
  145. >Moving slightly quicker than usual
  146. >You only had a few more seconds before she left
  147. "Who...sent that note to me?"
  148. >She freezes
  149. >Her wings tighten against her body
  150. >Her head lowers for a second before she makes eye contact again
  151. >Her features tremble slightly
  152. >You feel terrible, worried you might be responsible for her sudden change in mood
  153. >But throughout it all, she keeps that warm, quiet smile
  154. >"I...I...really need to take my leave, Anon."
  155. >Her eyes are pleading with you to let her go
  156. >It was your turn to give a warm, reassuring smile
  157. >Little by little, the events from last night and tonight connect
  158. >And you understand exactly what she was talking about the night before
  159. "Would you like to meet here tomorrow? After my watch has ended?"
  160. >Her smile changes, from the shaky veil of happiness before to one of relief
  161. >"I' that very much, Anon."
  162. >She bows her head to you, and you return the gesture
  163. >Without another word, she takes her leave, returning to the castle, her basket of sweets floating gently behind her
  164. >You watch her go, admiring her grace and beauty as she re-entered the hall
  165. >The guards on the other side of the door see you and you look away, back toward the city
  166. >That explains why the place was deserted, she wanted privacy
  167. >Just the stars, the view, and you
  168. >Clever Princess
  169. >You hear the doors close behind you
  170. >The wind from the west blows a gust of cool night air across your body
  171. >You shiver, suddenly aware of how cold it was outside without Celestia's warmth around you
  172. >You stay for a few more minutes though
  173. >Admiring the view from the balcony
  174. >Watching the ponies go about their nights
  175. >Seeing happy couples go to and from restaurants on the main streets
  176. >Another breeze encourages you to head back inside
  177. >But before you leave
  178. >You whisper quietly to the city below
  179. "It's a date, then..."
  181. Part 3 -
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