Mirta

Dapple's Day [RGRE] (OC, SoL, No Humans)

Aug 22nd, 2019 (edited)
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  1. >Dapple sat on his stool, surrounded by bolts of every kind and color of cloth he could get his hooves on.
  2. >The room was littered with ponyquins, most stallion models in various suits – the bread and butter of what he sold.
  3. >But the one he was looking at was a mare, and had the most exquisite dress on it.
  4. >His dream.
  5. >Not the dress, or the ponyquin, but what they meant.
  6. >That he'd be recognized as a proper designer – like Rarity, Sassy Saddles, or Coco Pommel.
  7.  
  8. >He sucked in a little air through the gap between his teeth as he tapped a hoof on the design on the drawing board.
  9. >Should he make the bell of the dress a little shorter or not?
  10. >Mares loves showing off, after all.
  11. >Not that they'd ever admit it.
  12. >Or wear his dresses.
  13. >'A dress by a colt? Hah!'
  14. >Nopony but Misty would.
  15. >His wife was incredibly supportive of his fruitless endeavors, as long as he 'didn't waste too much time on it'.
  16.  
  17. >Fwap.
  18. >His wings shot out to the sides.
  19. >The sketching paper rustled in the airflow as he fluttered off the stool.
  20. >He imagined his wife in the dress.
  21. >The shiny, dark green silk would accentuate her form.
  22. >The band of embroidery would encircle her waist and emphasize her toned behind just right.
  23. >Something was missing, though.
  24. >On the head.
  25. >Misty's horn would need something around it.
  26.  
  27. >A single powerful beat of his wings threw him backwards.
  28. >Th-thud!
  29. >His hooves thumped on the floor before he pushed a bolt of blue satin out of the way and pulled open a chest of accessories.
  30. >His jewelry had glass gems and were merely gilded or silvered.
  31. >No way he could afford real ones.
  32. >Not for putting on display along with his designs, at least.
  33. >Misty had bought him a few genuine pieces she liked to see him wear.
  34.  
  35. >A silver tiara with tiny diamonds?
  36. >Mmh, wrong color for Misty.
  37. >Her faint yellow mane begged for gold.
  38. >He set the glass-lidded box to the side and lifted out another.
  39. >Earrings, necklace, a tail wrap for stallions...
  40. >Ah, there.
  41. >A gold circlet with a lone emerald on the forehead.
  42. >Perfect match to Misty's moss green coat.
  43.  
  44. ***
  45.  
  46. >Knock, knock!
  47. >Dapple flinched at the heavy-hoofed pounding on his door.
  48. >”I'm coming in, hun!”
  49. >Oh no!
  50. >He'd completely lost track of time, and hadn't even heard Misty open the front door.
  51. “Hello dear!”
  52. >The black silk scarf he was wrapping around the ponyquin's neck lit up with Misty's green magic and floated out of his hooves.
  53. >Misty wrapped the scarf around her own neck.
  54. >It didn't fit her gilded royal guard armor in the slightest.
  55. >”Your dress looks great. Do you want me to try it?”
  56. >He spun around in spot, careful to not bump into the ponyquin, and trotted towards his wife.
  57. “When it's done. I still need to finish some of the seams and add a few details. But how was your day?”
  58. >A wide smile found its way on his face as Misty reared up and wrapped her front hooves around his neck.
  59. >Her armor was hard, but her coat was as warm as always where it peeked through the gaps.
  60. >”I'm so glad to be home. They had me guard some forgotten rear entrance all day. It was so boring!”
  61. >She squeezed him to her chest as he put a hoof on her withers.
  62. >”How's my little pumpkin? Did you work on your dress all day?”
  63. >The tingling of magic filled the air, and a second later she nuzzled his cheek without her helmet getting in the way.
  64. “I had two rowdy mares try and get me to model the 'Mare's Dream' for them, but I convinced them to buy one each without having to do that. Then there was that one stallion who needed a cheap suit, but otherwise yes.”
  65. >He completely forgot about dinner.
  66. >Misty would say she didn't care, but what kind of a stallion didn't have dinner ready when his wife came home?
  67.  
  68. “Here you go, dear. I'll get cooking right away.”
  69. >Dapple carried a plate with a thick sandwich on it as he fluttered in the air in the middle of the living room.
  70. >His wife lied on their couch in front of him, with a book floating over her face.
  71. >She'd shed her armor and taken a shower, but still looked totally beat with how she slouched with every single one of her muscles limp.
  72. >”Mmh. Thanks.”
  73. >Her voice was low and quiet.
  74. >All he got out of her was a weak nod and a smile as he set the sandwich down next to her.
  75. “It won't be but a minute. How's scrambled eggs sound, by the way? With some fried carrots and cucumber, tomato and lettuce for a bit of green?”
  76. >That wouldn't be as good as he wanted, but it was fast.
  77. >Misty lifted the book a little and glanced at him.
  78. >”How about we eat out today, hun? It's been a while.”
  79. >A few wing beats brought Dapple around.
  80. “Aren't you too tired? You can just rest there and I'll take care of this, don't worry.”
  81. >She blew a little air out of her nose, making a 'hmph' sound, as the corners of her mouth curled to a smile.
  82. >”I'm never too tired to take your cute butt out.”
  83. >The couch shuffled and squeaked as she hopped off it.
  84. >She stretched her rear hooves by kicking back in slow motion, then shook her head.
  85. >”See? Good to go.”
  86. >Thump.
  87. >Dapple let himself fall to the floor.
  88. “If you say so, dear.”
  89. >He didn't let it show, but he was very happy with her decision.
  90. >Now she wouldn't have to eat his rushed and boring cooking.
  91.  
  92. ***
  93.  
  94. >”I'm feeling like pasta today. How about you?”
  95. >Misty gave Dapple's wing a little tug with her magic as she pressed her side to his.
  96. >He fanned out the wing and draped it over her back.
  97. >They trotted down one of Canterlot's busy streets, with ponies passing them on both sides.
  98. >The street was lined by shops of all kinds, with the contents of their display windows ranging from fancy teas to jewelry.
  99. “Are you thinking about Pomo's? Sounds perfect to me.”
  100. >Pomo really knew her way around tomatoes and made the best lasagna he'd ever tasted.
  101. >There was something about the way she used garlic he just couldn't replicate.
  102. >”Yes.”
  103. >She nuzzled his cheek, though she had her gaze fixed on a mare on the other side of the street.
  104. >Said mare looked very interested in him and just plain stared at them.
  105. >”That does sound good.”
  106. >Dapple knew what Misty meant.
  107. >'Buzz off. He's mine.'
  108. >He placed a quick peck of a kiss on his wife's cheek.
  109. >She often did that when they were out together.
  110. >Not that he minded.
  111. >Many mares were... a little too forward with him.
  112. >Apparently his dappled coat was something they just couldn't get their eyes off of.
  113.  
  114. >”If it isn't Dapple and Misty Slate! Welcome, welcome!”
  115. >The slender stallion waiter of Pomo's, Soft Spoken, waved at them as soon as they walked in.
  116. >”Come right in. We still have some free tables.”
  117. >Some of the customers, mostly couples like Dapple and Misty, glanced at them as they passed by.
  118. >A few of the mares had their gaze stick to the dapple on his flank – not the spool of thread he had for a cutie mark, but the off-color spot a little below it – for just long enough to earn angry glares from their companions.
  119. >He nuzzled his wife's cheek once again.
  120. >”What's that for?”
  121. >There was no way he could ever come to a place like this without her.
  122. >He'd get to sit alone for about a minute before some mare would sit at his table and try to hit on him.
  123. “Do I need a reason?”
  124. >Misty's lips curled into a mellow smile as she planted a quick kiss on his cheek.
  125. >”Of course not, dear.”
  126. >She'd never get it.
  127. >No mare ever would.
  128. >Well, maybe apart some supermodels and top sportsmares.
  129.  
  130. >”Here you go. A table for two.”
  131. >Soft bowed his head and did a sweeping motion at a small table in front of him.
  132. >Dapple hopped on one of the two chairs, then watched his wife sit on the other.
  133. >”I will bring the menus in a second.”
  134. “No need. We know what we're having.”
  135. >The waiter blinked twice in rapid succession with his lips cracked open.
  136. >”Ah. Well, I can take your order right now of course. What would you like?”
  137. >He reached into the pocket on the chest of his uniform and dug out a pad and a pen.
  138. >”We'll both have the house lasagna, with a bottle of red wine to drink.”
  139. >Dapple glanced at Misty.
  140. >She hadn't mentioned drinking, but it was Friday and a bottle between the two of them wouldn't be too much.
  141. >Especially if they stayed for dessert.
  142. >”Right away ma'am. May I suggest Crystal Empire Red for the wine? It is a most excellent kind, fruity and light.”
  143. >Misty shrugged and nodded.
  144. >The waiter headed off to the wine cabinet.
  145. >One of the single mares sitting nearby stared at him for more than just a second as he passed by her.
  146. >She would've whistled at him, no doubt, had the restaurant not been of the fancier kind.
  147.  
  148. ***
  149.  
  150. >”...so then Princess Celestia swatted him on the butt with her tail. You should've seen him! He nearly jumped up to the ceiling, he was so shocked!”
  151. >Misty babbled on about what she'd seen at work.
  152. >Drinking made her chatty – another stroke of luck for Dapple.
  153. >He'd heard more than one story of the most charming mares turning into devils when they had a drink.
  154. “Oh? Does she always do that to the new recruits?”
  155. >He took his glass between his hooves and had a sip of his wine.
  156. >It was fruity and light – just like Soft said.
  157. >It also wasn't very strong, which was yet another boon.
  158. >Dapple wasn't much of a drinker.
  159. >”Oh, no. Just the ones she likes. There's more than a few rumors of her giving some of the cute stallions a night to remember.”
  160. >She leaned closer and dropped her voice to a whisper.
  161. >”We also have instructions to not listen too closely when patrolling near her and Princess Luna's rooms.”
  162. >She brought a hoof to her lips to stifle a giggle as she leaned back.
  163. >A slight bit of red rose to Dapple's cheeks.
  164. >It wasn't like he'd never fantasized about the princesses.
  165.  
  166. ***
  167.  
  168. >Misty patted her stomach and licked her lips.
  169. >”Mm. As delicious as always.”
  170. >Her horn lit up with her signature glow, as did her wine glass.
  171. “I really want to know what they do with the gar-”
  172. >Dapple flinched as something touched his scrotum.
  173. >Not again!
  174. >His gaze bolted to the left, but there were no unicorns there.
  175. >His gaze bolted to the right, but there were no-
  176. “Misty!”
  177. >There was, of course, one unicorn right in front him.
  178. >He kept his voice quiet.
  179. “Not here.”
  180. >His wife stared at him with half-lidded eyes and licked her lips.
  181. >Her magic caressed his sheath and everything around it.
  182. >”Hmm? How about we don't get anything else and I have you for dessert. How's that sound?”
  183. >He glanced to the left and to the right, then down at where the tablecloth hid what was going on.
  184. >His glass clinked as he set it down.
  185. >Misty wiggled her brows at him as he bit his lip.
  186. >It was a tempting offer.
  187. “I'll wear nothing but 'Mare's Dream' tonight if you get us some cheesecake.”
  188. >Her eyes opened wide as her magic dissipated from around his member.
  189. >She sucked in some air through the gap between her teeth.
  190. >”That's an offer I can't refuse.”
  191. >A very mild scent of something earthy reached his nostrils as she shifted on her seat.
  192.  
  193. ***
  194.  
  195. >Dapple was very confused.
  196. >He fluttered mid-air in a narrow passage between two cloudhomes in Cloudsdale, but a soft underhoof rubbed the spot on his back between his wings.
  197. >He spun around, but there was nopony behind him.
  198. >And nopony above or below him either.
  199. >Then how-
  200.  
  201. >”Dapple, hun.”
  202. “Bweh?”
  203. >Dapple rolled onto his back and rubbed his eyes with a fetlock.
  204. >The concerned face of Misty Slate, the unicorn mare he was married with, hovered over him.
  205. >Their bedroom was dark with the only light coming from a streetlight filtering through their curtains.
  206. >”You shifted around and muttered in your sleep. It was that one dream again, wasn't it?”
  207. >It was still fresh in his mind.
  208. >How somepony flew behind him, just waiting until he was alone so she could-
  209. >No.
  210. >He pushed it out of his mind, wrapped his wings around Misty's neck and pulled her down for a kiss.
  211. >The unicorn drew a sharp, sudden breath as her eyes opened wide in surprise.
  212. >”Mm-”
  213. >She pulled back just enough that their lips parted.
  214. >”-I'd love to, hun, but I got the early shift at the castle today. Can't risk being late.”
  215. >Dapple heaved his head off the pillow and pressed his cheek on hers.
  216. >She'd drooled in her sleep again and her coat was sticky.
  217. “Don't work too hard. I'll be waiting.”
  218. >He let his wings and his head fall onto the sheets, then squeezed his eyelids shut.
  219. >Comforting sleepiness wrapped itself around him like a blanket.
  220. >”Sleep tight, dear. I'll be back before you know it.”
  221. >Misty's voice was like a whisper in the wind.
  222. >He probably grunted something in response to the peck on his cheek before drifting back to sleep.
  223.  
  224. ***
  225.  
  226. >Thump, thump, thump.
  227. >Dapple let out a long, deep yawn as he plodded down the stairs.
  228. >He shook his head to clear away the last vestiges of sleep as he reached the bottom.
  229. >It really wasn't like him to get up as late as he had.
  230. >It also wasn't like him to make a mess in the sheets.
  231. >He had to admit that dream Princess Celestia knew all the spots Misty knew, and more.
  232. >His nethers tingled as he recalled what the Princess did in his dream.
  233. >Maybe Misty could do that too...?
  234.  
  235. >He shambled into the kitchen and glanced out of the window.
  236. >The sundial on their back yard said he had just enough time to change the sheets, take quick shower and eat something.
  237. >Then it'd be time to open shop.
  238. >Maybe it was finally the day when he'd get the order of his dreams: a dress for the Grand Galloping Gala.
  239. >Not that it would ever happen.
  240. >No self-conscious mare would ever wear a dress designed by a colt.
  241. >His only chance was if Misty somehow got invited.
  242.  
  243. ***
  244.  
  245. >Why had he trusted himself?
  246. >It was supposed to be just a quick shower.
  247. >He fluttered around the kitchen with a piece of bread in his mouth, his gaze shooting to the sundial every few seconds.
  248. >But how could he sell anything if he didn't take the time to properly use conditioner!
  249. >Some of his customers were mares!
  250. >What would they think of a stallion with a messy mane trying to sell them dresses, or suits for their companions?
  251. >It'd ruin his reputation!
  252.  
  253. >Okay, you got this.
  254. >At least he told himself so.
  255. >He pulled the fridge open with his hoof and fished out the cheese and butter.
  256. >...and noticed a moss green box with a swirl of mist imprinted on it on one shelf.
  257. >Misty's lunchbox, in her colors and with her cutie mark on it.
  258. >She forgot it.
  259. >Again.
  260. >Dapple shook his head.
  261. >That mare would starve without him.
  262. >He'd have to go to the castle and give it to her.
  263. >It'd hurt his business but his duty as a husband came first.
  264. >He let out a sigh set the sandwich ingredients on the kitchen table.
  265. >At least they'd get to have lunch together.
  266. >Well, lunch or breakfast.
  267. >Former for her, latter for him.
  268.  
  269. ***
  270.  
  271. >Dapple pulled on the strap of his saddlebacks and nudged the buckle into place with his rear hoof.
  272. >He shook himself a little to make sure it sat well.
  273. >It jiggled a little but didn't feel too loose.
  274. >He dropped Misty's lunchbox on one side and his breakfast box on the other, then trotted into his shop.
  275. >The shop was actually just their living room that he'd put racks, shelves, and a counter in.
  276. >It worked well enough since, as a married mare, Misty got one of the Royal Guard housing program's family apartments.
  277. >The program was founded seven hundred years ago and compound interest meant it was now the richest non-profit entity in Equestria.
  278. >As a result, the apartments were large and lavish.
  279. >He'd refurbished one of their two spare bedrooms to be their real living room.
  280.  
  281. >He stuck his muzzle under the counter and pulled out the sign he was looking for.
  282. >The one that said 'I'll be right back! My wife forgot her lunch again!'
  283. >A few trotting steps brought him to the door.
  284. >He pushed it open with his wing.
  285. >The sign swung back and forth a few times before settling after he hung it off the handle.
  286. >Done with that, he turned around, spread his wings, and leaped into the air.
  287.  
  288. >The neighbor's mare, who dabbled in woodworking in her free time, made the sign after her husband invited Dapple over for some coffee.
  289. >The stallion in question, Granite Grain, was quite the chatterbox and didn't quite get that some things were not made to be gossiped about.
  290. >A fun pony to be around nevertheless.
  291. >Dapple would have to call him over for tea at some point soon, or maybe even one of their modeling sessions.
  292. >Some of the clothes he sold were a more than a little on the... friskier side.
  293. >And he couldn't see every part of himself from quite the same angle as a mare would, so some help was in order every now and then.
  294. >It was strictly professional, of course, and nothing improper.
  295. >Misty would obviously assist him with it if asked and while the result would be very fun and satisfying, it didn't help him finish the designs.
  296. >There were some things a mare just couldn't be trusted with.
  297. >Even the most disciplined couldn't keep themselves in check when that close to a stallion's bits.
  298.  
  299. ***
  300.  
  301. >Cla-cla-cla-clop!
  302. >Dapple's hooves clopped on the cobbles as he landed.
  303. >The street he was on led to the staff entrance.
  304. >Canterlot Castle and its towers dominated both the skyline and the sky ahead.
  305. >While not illegal, the pegasi of Canterlot had a gentlemare's agreement to not fly too close to the Castle.
  306. >Dapple didn't want to cause any trouble for Misty.
  307. >And besides, there was a most excellent confectionery right outside the gate.
  308. >Princess Celestia herself visited it.
  309.  
  310. >A small bell rung above the door as Dapple pushed it open and trotted into the shop.
  311. >Donut Joe waved at him from behind the counter.
  312. >”Hey there! Did Misty forget her lunch again or do I owe the pleasure to something else this time?”
  313. “She sure did.”
  314. >Joe shook his head and pulled open a drawer behind him, then took out a piece of white cardboard.
  315. >”She does it on purpose, that mare. You know what's the most popular flavor along the guard mares?”
  316. >He folded the cardboard into a box and placed it on the counter.
  317. >Dapple glanced at him, then looked back at the donuts on display.
  318. “Let me guess: the dappled split? One with my colors?”
  319. >The earth pony gave him an approving nod.
  320. >”You got it. One of those for the missus, I take it? What would you like today?”
  321. “Mmh, I'm feeling fancy today. Give me one of those that have a creamy vanilla filling.”
  322. >He tapped the glass in front of him with a hoof, pointing at the desired delicacy.
  323. >Joe scooped one up and slid it into the box, along with one of the aforementioned dappled splits.
  324. >”Now don't get too careless while in there, you hear me? I've overheard what some of the mares there said they'd do with you.”
  325. >He shook his head again and made a tut-tut noise.
  326. >”Those aren't things for a proper stallion's ears, let me tell you.”
  327. >His hooves danced on the register for a second until the machine made a quiet ding.
  328. >”That'll be five bits.”
  329.  
  330. ***
  331.  
  332. >One of the two mares standing guard at the staff entrance gave Dapple a long look and an approving nod as he came close.
  333. >”Well, hello there. What brings somepony as good looking as you here?”
  334. >The stallion opened the flap of his saddlebag and showed his wife's lunchbox.
  335. “Hi. I got something to deliver to Misty Slate. Could you let me in and tell me where she is?”
  336. >The guard, a gray earth pony, bit her lip and let her gaze lick the male's body.
  337. >”For you? Sure. But you got to tell me where to find you once you're done.”
  338. >Dapple found himself taking half a step back and glancing behind himself.
  339. >”Hey!”
  340. >Clang!
  341. >The other guardsmare, a faint yellow unicorn, whacked the earth pony on the helmet with the butt of her spear.
  342. >”You want to get your clit nailed to the break room's bulletin board? 'cause that's what Slate will do to you if she finds out you've been hitting on her husband.”
  343. >The earth pony shuddered while her tail tucked itself between her hind legs as the unicorn shook her head.
  344. >”Sorry. She's new here. Go right in, Slate's guarding Princess Luna's room today. You know your way there?”
  345. >Dapple let out the breath he hadn't noticed he was holding and put a smile on his face.
  346. “Thank you. Yes, I know my way around the castle. This isn't the first time I've had to do this.”
  347. >He got a friendly smile from the unicorn and a meek one from the earth pony as he trotted past.
  348.  
  349. >The castle's deserted corridors echoed with Dapple's hoofsteps as he trotted towards Luna's chambers.
  350. >The route he took wasn't the shortest, but he didn't want to run into another guard like the earth pony at the gate.
  351. >He thought he left that sort of mares behind when he moved to Canterlot.
  352. >Sure, there was the occasional stare and even whistle or call from a drunken mare, but it was nothing like Cloudsdale.
  353. >It was fine as a young colt, but once he got through puberty?
  354. >He shuddered.
  355. >He wasn't form the best of neighborhoods and the mares around there just didn't quit.
  356. >And then there was that one time when-
  357. >”Dapple of Cloudsdale.”
  358.  
  359. >Dapple froze in spot.
  360. >That authoritative voice could only belong to one mare.
  361. >He wasn't exactly allowed in the castle, and now...
  362. >He turned to face the dark mare.
  363. >And immediately bent his front hooves and bowed his head.
  364. “Princess Luna.”
  365. >Clip. Clop. Clip. Clop.
  366. >Dark blue hooves in silver shoes stopped right in front of his muzzle.
  367. >”I saw your dreams tonight.”
  368. >Dapple's face was flush with heat all of a sudden.
  369. >”My sister would be most flattered if she knew how you think of her, I assure you.”
  370. >One of the two hooves reached over and cupped his chin.
  371. >Luna pushed his chin up so he had to look up at her, paying no attention to his trembling lower lip.
  372. >”But that is not why I arranged your presence. Your wife woke you up before I could banish your nightmare.”
  373. “You-”
  374. >Words escaped him as he stared at the ethereal beauty of the princess.
  375. >”I had Slate's lunch box delivered back into your refrigerator, yes. But I believe your mare is getting quite hungry without it; let me invite you for lunch so we may share the plan we devised to rid you of your nightmares.”
  376.  
  377. >Clip. Clop. Clip. Clop.
  378. >Luna's shod hooves beat a slow rhythm on the marble floor.
  379. >Dapple took care to not look at the Princess, choosing to keep his gaze nailed to the works of art lining the hallway.
  380. >The floor was polished to a mirror sheen and he'd caught a fleeting glimpse of what hid beneath the Princess' tail from the reflection.
  381. >He did not want to think of the Princess that way.
  382. >But she was the picture of grace and beauty!
  383. >Dark, tall, sleek, magical, mysterious and possibly dangerous.
  384. >Everything one could want in a mare.
  385.  
  386. >... No, he was married.
  387. >And about to meet his wife.
  388. >He couldn't think of other mares like that.
  389. >”You seem concerned. Do you wish to share what bothers you?”
  390. >His ears pressed flat against his head as Luna glanced his way.
  391. “Ah, it is- It's you, Princess. I'm not used to being with somepony like you.”
  392. >He wasn't brave enough to face her.
  393. >All he knew was that the pace of her hoofsteps quickened and the sound came closer.
  394. >”You may treat me like you would any other mare. I arranged your presence so I may help you; you need not stress about formalities.”
  395. >The clip-clop of her shod hooves slowed to match the rhythm of his.
  396. >”I could have sent a formal invite if I desired. I did not, for all the ceremony would've got in the way of actually helping you.”
  397. >Her touch was very light as she reached out to stroke Dapple's mane.
  398. >The stallion finally found the courage to look at her.
  399. >She had a smile on her face, but something in her eyes made her look full of sorrow.
  400. >... Had she seen?
  401. “Thank you, Princess. I appreciate any help I can get.”
  402. >Was she finally that one pony who'd believe him?
  403. >He resisted an urge to rear up and throw his hooves around her neck.
  404.  
  405. ***
  406.  
  407. “Oh, you won't believe it. I got lost soon after I moved here from Cloudsdale, and Misty was the first of those I stopped who didn't try to get my address or suggest we go for a coffee.”
  408. >Luna nodded at his words as they scaled the stairs that led to the Princess' room.
  409. “She just told me how to find my way back home. I asked for her name and then came to say thank you the next day. That's when she offered to take me for coffee.”
  410. >Dapple drew shapes in the air with a wing.
  411. >Not that anypony saw them – Luna had her eyes set on the stairs ahead.
  412. >”So you gave her a chance because she didn't jump at you as soon as she could?”
  413. >He nodded.
  414. >”There are few mares who can say they understand your decision. Many dream of getting as much attention as you do.”
  415. >The Princess gave him a short, hard look as they reached the top of the stairs.
  416. >”Me and my sister are one of the few who need not dream of it. It is something we have to live with. Young colts throwing themselves at us and stallions thinking they can deceive us with sweet words and half-lidded eyes.”
  417. >The pace of her words quickened and a hint of anger seeped into her voice as she went on.
  418. >”They believe us foolish enough to fall for their charms and provide them with an easy life.”
  419. >She stopped in front of a door that bore the same moon insignia she wore on her chest.
  420. >”Now, are you prepared to confront your dreams?”
  421. >She placed a hoof on the door, but turned to look back at Dapple before pushing it open.
  422. >Her face was as neutral as could be for somepony who'd had decades to perfect such a thing.
  423. >Dapple gulped down a bit of saliva and nodded.
  424.  
  425. >Clink!
  426. >Misty snapped to attention as the Princess pushed the door open.
  427. >The room was extremely simple for what it was.
  428. >The bed was luxurious and large, but apart that the circular room had nothing but a desk, chair and a door to a balcony in it.
  429. >”Your lunch is here, Slate. That means you're on lunch break until further notice.”
  430. >Dapple trotted in behind the alicorn just as his wife's spear set itself against a wall.
  431. >Misty leaped at him and nearly tackled him to the floor as she threw her hooves around him.
  432. “Oof! Easy, you got your armor on and I don't have any.”
  433. >He fluttered his wings and set a hoof on her chest to push her away, but couldn't break her grip.
  434. >”I had no idea what you have to go through at night! I'll request permanent day shift so you won't ever have to sleep alone again.”
  435. >The hard metal on his chest and cheek wasn't the most comfortable, so Misty pulling back a little to smooch his cheek was a relief.
  436. “Ah, I don't think you'll have to do that. I'm sure Princess Luna can solve the problem.”
  437. >The alicorn's horn lit up in blue as she levitated a book full of neat and curly writing, likely her own, off the desk.
  438. >”That depends entirely on you, Dapple of Cloudsdale. I can banish the nightmare whenever I enter it, but only you can cut out the source.”
  439. >She shot him a sharp glare before leafing through a few pages.
  440. >”But I recall offering lunch and it would not do for one such as I to not deliver on such promises. I request you wait here for a moment.”
  441. >The book set itself down on the desk.
  442. >Luna hopped over to the balcony door, pushed it open, and leaped off with her wings spread.
  443.  
  444. >”Well. I cannot say I have seen her like that before.”
  445. >Misty finally let go of her husband, much to his relief.
  446. >”She's probably busy, as usual. Let's try to get this done quick. I'd rather not bother her any longer than we have to.”
  447. >She glanced around the room, then lit up her horn to pull back the chair.
  448. >Her lips curled to a smile as she pointed a hoof at it and nodded at Dapple.
  449. “Sit if you're tired, hun. I'll see how the view is. Probably won't ever get another chance.”
  450. >Misty's brows furrowed as he trotted past her.
  451. >”Eh? Can't you just go for a flight when you feel like it? How's this view any better?”
  452. >He flicked his tail at her, brushing her armor with it.
  453. “I've never seen this particular view. Perhaps the Princess chose this room because it has the very best view of them all?”
  454. >Misty rolled her eyes, but followed him to the balcony.
  455. >”You colts and your views. One's as good as the other.”
  456.  
  457. >Dapple made a sweeping motion at the city beneath them.
  458. >Tiled roofs bathed in sunlight, cobbled streets snaking between homes, and ant-sized ponies scurrying about their business.
  459. >Princess Luna had a most excellent view of the city and its circular base design.
  460. “Well?”
  461. >Misty said nothing for quite a while.
  462. >Her gaze shot from one thing to another, from busy shopping street, to a green patch of a park, to the quiet and orderly district they lived in.
  463. >”I wonder if we could get a painting of this.”
  464. >Her voice had a tinge of softness to it.
  465. >Dapple leaned in and plucked a kiss on the side of her muzzle – the only part not covered by her helmet.
  466. “We can get a painting of a view, but not one of this view.”
  467.  
  468. >The shuffle of feathers from below broke their moment.
  469. >Princess Luna shot up to the balcony, then spread her wings and came to a halt mid-air.
  470. >She set herself down beside Misty and Dapple.
  471. >”Lunch will be delivered shortly. I thought it best to keep this matter private and eat here.”
  472. >Her tail brushed on Dapple's flank as she slipped past him and into her room.
  473. >”Come. We best not tarry.”
  474. >A wave of her hoof invited the two to follow.
  475.  
  476. >Luna's chair, wreathed in her blue magic, slid to Dapple.
  477. >The princess nodded at it and flashed a smile.
  478. >”I have most of your dream written down, but could you please recount it the best you can to ascertain that I did not miss any important details?”
  479. >The drawer beneath her desk lit up with magic and the journal floated to her.
  480. >Its pages flapped as she leafed through it to the last one that had something on it.
  481. >Dapple blinked twice and shook his head to clear it.
  482. >He hopped on the chair and glanced at Misty, standing right next to him, for encouragement.
  483. “The dream always starts the same way, with me heading home from my first job in the Cloudsdale Weather Factory. It's early afternoon and...”
  484.  
  485. ***
  486.  
  487. >Dapple's hooves thudded on the cloud street, leaving behind tiny puffs of fluffy white mist.
  488. >His eyes had some trouble focusing and his front hooves felt heavy.
  489. >Making snowflakes wasn't a fun job, but it paid the bills.
  490. >Like the one he was just about to receive.
  491. >A quick flap of his wings brought him to the other side of the hole in the middle of the cloud street and in front of the store he was looking for.
  492.  
  493. >The scent of dust, dye and cloth hit his snout as soon as he pushed the door open.
  494. >The mare at the counter, Spring Wind, noticed him immediately.
  495. >”Oh, hi Dapple! What can I get for you today?”
  496. >Dapple waved at her and trotted closer.
  497. “I'll need some more of that black silk. I think the new line is a hit.”
  498. >Her wings shuffled as she fluttered over the counter and thumped on the cloud.
  499. >”Told ya. Just make it skimpy and it sells. The less a stallion wears, the more the mares like it. Especially if it's shiny black silk like that.”
  500. >She trotted behind a shelf full of bolts of cloth while muttering something to herself.
  501.  
  502. >Dapple hopped and fluttered over to the counter and the good cloth for sale near it.
  503. >He stroked a bolt of emerald shimmersilk with the frog of his hoof.
  504. >Oh, the wonders he could create with such cloth.
  505. >A dress that shimmered in all shades of green at the same time and flowed around the wearer like the Princesses' manes...
  506. >He just knew he could make it.
  507. >His cutie mark wasn't for nothing.
  508. >But the cloth was far out of his reach.
  509. >He'd have to save up for a month to get even a tiny snippet.
  510.  
  511. >”Here we go.”
  512. >He twitched as Spring spoke up right behind him.
  513. >”Still dreaming of that, huh?”
  514. >She let out a short chuckle as she set a bolt of black silk down on the counter.
  515. >”Make enough lingerie and maybe you'll get to try it one day.”
  516. >Her wings beat the air as she flew over to her register.
  517. >Dapple stuck his muzzle into the inner pocket of his factory uniform and took out a pouch of bits.
  518. “You know what they say. Dream big. I don't intend to make snowflakes and skimpy lingerie all my life.”
  519. >The mare tapped the register for a bit.
  520. >”That'll be thirty two bits for the bolt. You need anything else?”
  521. >He shook his head as he dropped the pouch.
  522. >It made a heavy jingle as it thumped on the wood counter.
  523. >”Well. I hope to see you again soon, and remember that the offer for coffee still stands if you change your mind.”
  524.  
  525. ***
  526.  
  527. >Thud, thud, thud!
  528. >”Princess? The lunches you ordered.”
  529. >A female voice called from behind the door.
  530. >It flew open as Luna's horn flashed blue.
  531. >An old unicorn mare, dark green with streaks of gray in her black mane, with tree covered trays floating beside her trotted in.
  532. >”Thank you, Silken. You may leave.”
  533. >Luna's blue aura overtook the mare's gray one around the trays.
  534. >The unicorn bowed her head and reversed out of the room.
  535. >Dapple's mouth watered as the scent of eggplant parmesan reached his snout.
  536.  
  537. >The clinking of Misty's and Luna's cutleries filled the room.
  538. >Dapple sat at the desk, barely able to hold himself back from wolfing down his meal.
  539. >It was the best thing he'd ever tasted.
  540. >Just the right blend of cheese, eggplant, tomato sauce, and spices.
  541. >And it wasn't too salty.
  542. >”I believe I have the early parts of your dream written down right. Are there any peculiar details in this phase? Like ponies who shouldn't be there? Weird noises? A feeling that something's just about to touch you?”
  543. >He shook his head and took another bite.
  544. >Luna scribbled something in her book.
  545. >Or rather, she wrote in extremely tidy and curly writing.
  546. >”Mm-hm.”
  547. >She nodded at herself.
  548. >”I believe we may skip on to the part where your dream turns into a nightmare. I'm quite certain I have everything I need already, but let us not be hasty. Better take care of this properly than risk being wrong.”
  549. >She slipped her quill between the book and slammed it shut.
  550. >”But let us eat first. I hope you enjoy the food; I instructed them to bring whatever they had ready.”
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