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MudBug

Hiding in the wrong places...

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Sweet swirling grass knots...maybe this was not the best idea...

Entering the ballroom for a chance to escape the majority of pony company in the hopes not to embarass herself and keep her mudlust at a calm level, she was confronted by a wave of ponies instead. Some dancing to a soft melody that wafted over the huge, glamorous room like a hanging mist. Some mingling in their best finery, looking like pictures out of a fairy tale. And genuinely, a lot of social things going on and a lot of tittering toffs going on like they always did.

It made the mud pony feel very vulnerable.

But, as much as she wanted to run, her mother's words continued to resound within her head.

Have fun! Make friends and break some hearts, sweety!

Break some hearts? She still had no idea what her mother meant by that, but, it soon calmed her down and she tried to make her way around the dance floor to someplace near the ornate windows where she atleast wouldn't be seen. Though, in this pristine white gown, it was hard not to be seen, every tiny gem that was sewn at the hems glinted and sparkled with every fraction of light that hit them and she continued to try and remain silent...and out of the way.

However with no way AROUND the dance floor with that many ponies, she decided to try walking across it...hastily. With a deep breath she daintly stepped on the floor like one might step on glass, getting her footing before she continued on her way. The other side of the room wasn't THAT far away, she just needed to get over there and she'd be home free!

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Bramble Rose stepped onto the ballroom, his heart leaping in his chest and butterflies flitting about in his stomach. The delicate little purple unicorn with the long silver mane had promised himself two things, now that he was finally at the Grand Galloping Gala. One, that he would see the gardens up close, instead of always at a distance from the window of the tower room in the library ... and two, that he would ask a lovely filly to dance.

Oh boy.

He swallowed nervously, ran a front hoof over his suit coat, the tie that was always losing its place, and then lifted it to adjust his fedora. The clothes helped him settle down, feel more confident. Clothes did make the stallion, and these were *awesome*. Glitzen had chosen wonderfully. He had promised himself. At least one dance. Don't overthink it. You practiced. You won't trip. Just ask someone.

He looked around nervously. Exactly how did you pick who to ask to dance? How did you know who was available? Was there some sort of sign? What if he asked a filly to dance and her coltfriend came up and was angry? And he was huge!

He didn't even know anyone here. Look at that mare, with her nose in the air... and that mare, with the adorable saddle... and that one, with the gorgeous, sparkling white dress. Hey, she looked kinda like MudBug ...

...

"MudBug?" Bramble asked, stepping up to her, his eyes wide. "I... is that you?! You look *amazing*!" His jaw was dropped as he just took in the magnificent, sparkling outfit ... and the sleek, gorgeous filly that made it look even more beautiful.

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She couldn't believe it!

She was nearly home free!

She just had to pass a few ponies and then she'd be on the other side of this crowded ballroom, she'd be in like Flyn---

MudBug?

...

That didn't happen.

She ASSURED herself that hadn't happened, despite the fact she'd frozen in her hoofsteps like a deer caught in headlight and she forced herself to steady her breathing. Maybe it was just her imagination, her paranoia and fear, yeah, that was it...it was just someone calling out to someone else and her mind had mistaken it as-

I...is that you!? You look *amazing*!

Okay, that deffinately sounded close enough to be aimed at her. Gulping she turned and smiled a little nervously before noticing exactly who it was and getting a little bit of a shock herself. Was that...Bramble?

She'd only met with Bramble one or twice, he asked for very special soil for his garden so the flowers could grow properly...but she'd never really seen him done up. That momentary shock did make her calm down...for a moment before she spluttered and cleared her throat nervously.

"B-Bramble! It's great to see you, I never thought I'd see anypony from home here..."

First one, then another. Ugh. She missed her mudpit.

"You look great yourself, really dashing."

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White Feather artfully slipped through the crowd, evading his previous company, but in serious need of a way to stay out of their sight. As he moved, he adjusted his own appearance, flipping his mane a different way, slipping the masquerade mask into his coat pocket, and even snatching a boutonniere from an unawares stallion as he brushed past in the crowd. He hoped that the much more abundant lighting in the ballroom would provide him cover; the busyness of the area would allow him to hide in plain sight.

He wove back and forth through the crowd, looking for his target. The note said the case would be at a table in the corner of the ballroom, but he would have to work his way through an entire mess of ponies to get there. White Feather cocked his head as he assessed his options. What he needed was an excuse to move quickly without drawing attention to himself… an opportunity which came in the form of a white-coated, blue-gowned filly making a beeline for the far side of the ballroom. Perfect.

White Feather momentarily slipped back into his feline-like gait, slinking through the largely unawares crowd until he finally was able to approach Mud Bug. Without hesitation, he sidled up to her and hooked his own front leg in the crook of Mud Bug's front leg, whirling around in front of her, in complete disregard for Bramble Rose. It wasn't that he didn't notice the purple colt; he just didn't think he was relevant at the moment. Besides, if he dallied too long with pleasantries, he'd miss his window.

'Dance with me,' he said, twirling Mud Bug around with a flourish. His movements seemed practiced and fluid; no hint of hesitation or nervousness at all. White Feather put on his charm, smoothing out his voice and plastering a sly, goofy grin on his face. A look and a voice for any occasion.

'Name's Quill. Ordinarily I'm a little more polite about things like this, but I seem to have attracted some unwanted attention from a certain mare. I do hope you don't mind my borrowing you for a moment. I promise you that I'm not as terrible a dancer as I look, Miss…'

'Quill' trailed off with the intent of earning her name and perhaps her trust. Having both would make his job a lot easier... he thought as he slowly guided her across the ballroom.

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Bramble Rose took a deep breath, then another, assaying a grin. MudBug was a wonderful filly - always so energetic, and she loved working in the garden... he'd admired her several times, and thought she was cute, but ... wow. She had seemed to like it when he'd grown a flower in the mud in her mane... not that there was a trace of mud on her today. Last time he'd seen her clean, she'd looked a lot more miserable about the fact. Although admittedly she had a slightly wild look in her eyes just now...

He grinned at the compliment, and modestly dropped his head with a little bit of a blush. "Well, thank you, Mudbug," he said, "That's kind of you to say so. I'm surprised myself." He took another deep breath, rubbed at the back of his neck with one forehoof, then lifted his head. Not quite looking at her as he said, "So, well, while we're both, y'know. Here. Perhaps I could have the pleasure of this -" as he was speaking the words, he looked up to her again, and blinked... she was already turned away from him, dancing with some other stallion.

And he sounded soooo suave and self-assured... He couldn't tell exactly what was being said, but he heard the low, classic tone of the words.

Bramble's heart dropped into his stomach, which rejected the offering by churning fiercely. His throat showed solidarity with the stomach by closing up tightly. He stood a moment in shock as he tried to figure out what just happened.

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Smiling at the purple unicorn, the filly couldn't help but feel slightly calmer talking with someone she knew, heh...and she thought she'd be embarassed! Settling into the conversation, she heard him about to offer...something...before a figure had sidled up beside her and the room began to spin.

Wait.

What?

Blinking her eyes behind the mask, she felt herself being lead more than partaking in this one sided dance as she looked at the stallion. Who in Equestria was this? Why was he dancing with her? So many questions went through her mind and when they were answered she didn't feel any more confident about her situation.

To his question she could only give out a slightly questioning -

"W-Wha? I-...Wha!?" All this far too much to take in for the moment.

It was only on one well placed spin that she glanced back at Bramble and saw that confused and slightly dejected look on his face, a small feeling of misplaced guilt pinching at her throat before it was quickly replaced by a stronger and much more feverant feeling.

Once her hooves stuck to the ground, she hastily put her weight and strength into each one, causing them to drag slightly and causing her to come to a complete stop. Unaware and uncaring of how the forward momentum would affect the elegant moving stallion as she glared at him through her mask.

"Look, buddy." She started, with no hint of lady-like etiquette in her voice, but the down to earth tone most people knew her for. "I don't really give two horseapple's about your mare problems, but I was talkin' to somebody, unless you didn't see."

Continuing to glare for a moment she raised a hoof to poke at the stallion' chest.

"Try to atleast be somewhat considerate next time...or atleast use your eyes."

That said, the filly turned on her hooves and made a casual beeline back for Bramble Rose, a slightly proud smile on her face. She never thought she'd be able to do THAT tonight!

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The white pony gritted her teeth and dug her hooves in, causing the waltz to grind to a halt. Sensing the change in momentum just in time, White Feather spun away, righting himself to face Mud Bug's baleful glare. White Feather smiled.

So her true colors finally shone through. Far from a fidgety, nervous rich girl at her first gala, this one was a regular firecracker of a farm girl. The stallion merely met her glare of disapproval with a bemused grin. As she jabbed him in the chest, he gently pushed her hoof to the ground with his own.

'I was mistaken,' White Feather said with a twinkle in his eye, purposely dropping his high class smoothness for a moment in favor of his natural lower Manehattan accent. He quickly went back to 'high class mode' after the tease. 'Forgive me for being presumptuous. I was merely trying to show you a good time.'

He allowed the mare to turn around fully before continuing. In spite of her remark about his eyesight, he had been paying ample attention to his surroundings, which he leveraged now. 'I suppose there's more to you than meets the eye, Miss Mud Bug.'

With that, White Feather stepped backwards and vanished into the crowd once again.

[ White Feather exits ]

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Bramble Rose looked up in surprise as Mud Bug stepped back up to him, and his jaw dropped. He had thought she looked amazing when she was making her hesitant way across the dance floor in that perfect dress... but that look of confidence on her face, that sure strut to her walk, made her so much more gorgeous that his jaw just dropped.

He already had forgotten the stranger.

He could breath again, his heart back in place in his chest, but now swelling so much it almost hurt... he took a few quick breaths, and then finally managed to finish the sentence he'd started half a minute ago. "D-dance?" he softly says.

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Positively beaming with herself, she couldn't help but smile impishly at the expression Bramble had on his face and raised a hoof to gently lift his jaw so his mouth didn't hang open, taking it away when he finally blurted out what he was going to ask her earlier.

Dance?

Briefly she chewed on her bottom lip...

Dance..

It's not like she couldn't dance, she'd practised on her dad's hooves when she was an itty bitty foal, but now...? Glancing at the other dancing ponies, she arched a brow at it all...didn't look that hard. Why not?

Turning back to the unicorn, she offered a small, partially confident smile that split her muzzle.

"Sure...looks fun!"

If she doesn't end up breaking his hoof...

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Bramble Rose felt Mud Bug's hoof lightly on his chin, and a goofy expression spread over his face as she closed his jaw, little hearts floating up from him and then *popping* quietly. He didn't even notice that she was taking such a *long* time to decide. He walked out onto the dance floor with her, grinning ear-to-ear, so amazed and excited that it wasn't till he was actually about to start that he realized...

He was about to dance. In public.

The extent of his dancing previously was sitting in the corner at the high school formals, and glaring down colts that came to ask him to dance, or just in his bedroom... or in gardens, for the plants. Sure, he danced every day, but not in front of anypony. And the plants were a LOT more forgiving than ponies... They bloomed when he danced. Mudbug didn't have any mud in her hair for him to grow a flower in, this time.

He took a deep breath, listened to the music a moment ... and then started off, sinking into the music, striding confidently forward, the smaller unicorn pony taking the lead and counting on Mud Bug to follow his lead and step forward alongside him, his hooves hitting the floor in a slow trot in time with the music.

Step, step, step, pause

...

SeveralRapidStepsForward

two slow ... steps back ...

Step, step, step, pause

...

SeveralRapidStepsForward

two slow ... steps back ...

Bramble grinned over at Mud Bug, heart racing for so *many* reasons, not caring that none of the other ponies around were dancing like he was.

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For a moment, MudBug had to wonder if Bramble might've been sick or nauseous or something, because he had a really peculiar look on his face and it rose her concern levels just a little bit until he lead her out onto the dance floor.

Oh this floor was bigger than she'd thought. So many ponies. So many ponies dancing.

Gulping a little, she decided to keep her attention on Bramble Rose for now, since he seemed much more confident than she did right now and soon enough it began and she watched his hooves for a moment or two. Before she soon joined in with the rythm, keeping up with his hooves.

Huh. She didn't know he could dance.

Granted, she just did work in his garden, offered a small word every now and then, a small conversation. Maybe partook of some lemonade. She'd never really asked him what he was capable of though and she had to say, she was impressed.

Taking her eyes off his hooves, she offered him a small, pleasently surprised smile and kept up with his dance.

"You're pretty light on your feet."

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Bramble Rose flushed a little, a broad grin on his face. "Well, you know. Not much of me to weigh on them," he tried to joke about his size. He ducked his head, letting his hat fall off and onto his foreleg, rolling it down to his hoof where he caught it, twirled it, and rolled it back up his forehoof. It was a very flashy, very impressive sort of a trick. Right up till he started losing it, and fumbled briefly with it, bobbling it on one hoof till he grabbed it with his horn and jammed it back on his head. He grinned at MudBug, hoping the fumble wasn't *too* obvious.

Suitably humbled, he got back to the dancing, spinning around backwards so that he was facing MudBug, keeping up the same pace, but retreating before MudBug's advance, and stepping towards her when she stepped backwards, a small grin on his face.

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This dance was interesting, not that she'd ever really danced before, but there was a certain passion to it that made her smile border on a light hearted chuckle whenever she advanced on him and then slowly retreated. It was like a game of chasing the waves at the beach, just, not.

His attempt at a joke made her snicker before playfully nudging his cheek whilst they danced and kept up the rythm whilst she continued her innocent banter.

"So how'd you get a ticket for the Gala? If you mind me asking?" Looking genuinely curious about him as at one point, she twirled and then faced him yet again eagerly awaiting his answer.

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Bramble had no idea who'd requested the Tango, but he wasn't looking around to see who else was so dancing, his eyes fastened upon MudBug's, and shining with excitement. As she finished her spin, her skirts flaring marvelously, he leaned forward, the little unicorn trying to lean 'over her' so that she would dip back. He brought up one forehoof behind her lean, but not actually touching her. That was the trick to this dance, at least for the first part - not actually touching.

"My mom's a professor of note at the Academy," he murmured, and then the music brought him away from her. Without thinking about it, he ducked his head, his hat rolling down his foreleg. He caught it, tossed it back up, so it landed on his head, and it worked right this time. He ducked his head, pulled the silver rose from his lapel, and held it in his teeth for her, as he stalked after her across the dance floor, his whole being alight with the joy of dancing. Sure, his special talent involved flowers... but there was a reason that the flower on his cutie mark was a rose. For the first time in a crowd, he actually felt like he knew what he was doing, and had no reason to prove himself. If he hadn't already had his cutie mark, he was sure, he'd be getting it now!

"She felt I was finally old enough to come to de Gala wit'out embarrassing her," he said, around the rose, as their faces were once again inches apart.

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Letting out a soft giggle as she was 'dipped' she listened to him as he spoke and looked so confident and proud of himself as he cut a rug and, even if it embarassed her, dashing in the way he did so. Catching herself before she stared at him too long before he pulled away and did his hat trick and she playfully tried to look aloof and uncaring, despite the smile that plucked at the corner of her mouth before the dance continued on its merry way.

Rolling her eyes playfully she met his steps with hers and smiled.

"My mom got a ticket but she couldn't come with her being pregnant, so naturally she gave it to me."

The music wad drawing to a slow close with the tempo, to her slight disapointment as she looked to him and smirked amusedly at the rose in his mouth.

"Although I'm kinda glad now that I came."

Once the music stopped, the band was given a round of applause. MudBug glancing to them eagerly to see which music would come on next, but she had to freeze in her hooves as the tune this time was...much slower and much softer than the previous.

Uhm...

Okay. How did you dance to this one? Glancing at the other ponies that had began to dance, her face went slightly red. That was awful close. Awfully really close. Looking to Bramble, she went even -rosier- and cleared her throat.

"Uhhhm...do you happen to know the moves to this dance?" She was really hoping he didn't.

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Bramble grinned reassuringly. How could MudBug be nervous? If he could dance, surely anyone could dance. "Sure thing," he said warmly, around the rose. "It starts with you taking the rose from me, and holding it in your mouth, and then we just have a little shuffle-step: towards me, and back, towards you, and back, to the side, and back, then repeat."

He started to demonstrate the step, contentedly, stepping much closer to her. Very close. Why wasn't he nervous anymore? He was always nervous, and then screwing things up. This was so cool!

"I'm glad you were here," he said softly to MudBug, as they danced so very closely, his soft whisper warm and tender. "when I saw you in that dress, I got really, really nervous ... you look so gorgeous! But now it's just so easy to dance with you ... I think it's cause I don't think of you as a filly, you're just a fellow gardener, working the soil!"

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Smiling somewhat thankfully for him atleast having confidence in this, she leant forward and gently took the rose from his mouth and held it delicately in hers as the dance began. Okay. Okay she could do this.

Doing as he said, she slowly got into the rythm and smile, she was -actually- doing this, never in her entire life would she have thought she'd actually be able to do this and she was. Well how did you like that? She didn't even mind how close he was now and was all too content to dance with him and not make a total horse apple of herself.

When he leant forward however, she had to hold her breath. Wow...heh, she never noticed how nice this felt. Actually being near someone...made her feel funny, like there were bubbles in her stomache. Probably indigestion and yet...his whispers made her blush just a bit as she listened to that soft voice of his...

Ofcourse his words threw it out of the window by the end.

But it was still nice.

Pulling back her head briefly to offer him a slightly unsure smirk and an arched brow, she rolled her eyes playfuly and brushed her cheek against his as she whispered back. Ignoring most of what was going on around them.

"I think being a filly, part of me should've technically been offended by that," She teased playfully before unconciously resting her chin on his shoulder with a soft, contented sigh. "But I'm too happy right now to mess up your hair."

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Bramble blinked at MudBug's words, and the way she snuggled into him lightly... Suddenly he realized. They weren't just dancing! They were having a romantic moment! He was having a romantic moment with a cute filly! She was being romantic with him! On the dance floor! And not just any filly! It was *MUDBUG*! A big, wobbly, goofy grin spread across his face, as he lightly nosed at her ear ... and promptly fumbled over his next several steps, though thankfully he managed to stay upright.

"Oh," he said, softly. "Oh, thank you. My mouth sometimes runs away with me and says stupid things. I just meant... I feel comfortable with you. That's a good thing!" Though now his stomach was filled with butterflies... oh, ponyfeathers, this was a romantic moment! What do you do in romantic moments? Compliments never hurt!

"Your eyes are gorgeous," he softly said. "Like petals of a phlox... and the diamonds on your mask gleam like dew drops on those petals..." Was that corny? He couldn't tell if that was too corny...

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Having her ear nosed made it wiggle slightly, giggling ever so faintly at the ticklish feeling that now pestered it before she looked back to him. Noticing that goofy smile yet again....was he okay? Blinking with faint concern as she watched him slightly falter in his steps before returning the motions of the dance, something niggled at the back of MudBug's head, like something wasn't right.

Or paticularly even.

But that went away when he said that he felt comfortable with her and that, in itself, made her smile just a little as she snuggled him once more and listened to possibly the corniest thing she'd ever heard in her entire life.

It made her...well...it made her blink a little.

Peering at him through her mask and smiling impishly to stop herself from giggling before she finally did and playfully nudged his cheek with her nose.

"That was a little cheesy." She replied good naturedly and rested her chin on his shoulder yet again. "But I gotta say, you look really handsome tonight...really dark and myserious."

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Bramble blushed, himself, at Muddy's own compliment. She had no idea what she was talking about, but it was certainly nice to hear it. Him, handsome? Well... it must be the clothes. Glitzen did know what he was about, after all. And he'd taken care of Bramble's hair, too. He laughed, softly, and just pressed close, in the dance, feeling a swelling in his chest, trying not to let the fierce blush in his cheeks show too much, his head resting atop her neck in a gentle affection. "You take my breath away," he said, softly. "And you've made my Gala."

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Blinking as he pulled himself closer and rested his chin atop her head, there was a soft smile on her face, she felt rather giddy for no reason at all and yet...it made sense in her head to feel giddy as a soft chuckle escaped her and she looked up at him. The music slowly dieing as the crowd clopped in appreciation, along with MudBug and then the filly's attention was brought back to her dance partner.

"Great song." She said with a small smile and a blush on her cheeks, unsure what to do now with the music dwindled and nothing else to go on as the band took a well earned break and the dancing couples took to the sidelines for refreshments and a rest themselves.

An opportunity.

Smiling brightly to herself she looked back to Bramble and tilted her head slightly.

"Wanna head out and see the garden? I need my hooves set on some nice soft dirt."

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Bramble Rose felt a little awkward, stretching out his neck like to that to get his chin over her neck, and a faint chill rose in his heart when she chuckled at him... but then the music was ending, too, at the same time, and she was smiling so tenderly. He breathed again.

He nodded, a big grin on his face. "Oh, yes. Very lovely music... and I'd love to head back out to the garden. Much more my style, as you well know." He hesitated a moment, then started walking that way, leading once again. As he briefly got ahead of her, he took a deep breath, then let it out slowly, soothingly. Wow! Oh, wow! This was the best night ever!

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