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[Ponyville - Tea Cozy's House] Sleepover in Sequins {ended}

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Continued from Gatecrashing!

Apple Bloom had just been plotting and planning with her cohorts in the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and another pony-a unicorn named Sunrise Beach. The yellow filly with the giant bow and her friends (some old, some new) had been sneaking around Tea Cozy's cottage, none too subtly, in an attempt to sneak off the the Grand Galloping Gala in Canterlot. All the foals, fillies and colts in town were staying with the mare as parents, and older siblings attended the Gala. The CMCs and a few of the other youngsters thought that with Tea Cozy's hooves SO full of foals to take care of, that she wouldn't evne notice that they were gone.

When Apple Bloom looked around to make sure nobody was listening in, she looked up to discover that maybe Tea Cozy was a little more on the ball than the fillies suspected that she was. Caught in the act!

"Busted.", thought the filly sadly, resignedly she turned to her unicorn friend. "Sweetiebelle, can you please pass a pair of those cardboard wings?"

Apple Bloom sighed a deep sigh. Those were the breaks. But with a quick change of plans, and some time with her best friends, and this night could be salvaged and turned into something fun. "We might as well hold our own Gala HERE. I'm pretty sure that's what Sweetiebelle would want anyway", she added, nuzzling Sweetiebelle "Is that Ok with you, Sunrise?"

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Sweetie Belle gave a tender little smile. "Well ... I'm sure I'd have fun at the real Gala, but I don't know about you fillies. You seem to like things a lot more exciting than I do. But I do have some ideas on how to have a lot of fun here at Tea Cozy's!"

She smiled brightly and went to go get Apple Bloom a pair of cardboard wings and a little cardboard horn, painted up very close to Apple Bloom's own yellow coat. She, herself, was wearing white little cardboard wings, bouncing on her back with every happy step, and she had set up the room for her tea party - borrowing Tea Cozy's tea set for the purposes, but also having brought ribbons, and makeshift banners, out of cloth 'borrowed' from Rarity's shop. And on one wall, there was another cardboard decoration - the royal seal of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, except that the foal in the seal had wings and a horn.

She smiled brightly. "And now that Apple Bloom is here, we can stop drinking pretend tea, and we can break out the juice and cookie! Don't worry, I didn't make the cookies myself! And we can play games!"

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Sunrise Beach just looked up at her patron, Tea Cozy, as she looked back; the watchfull, matronly pony being clear that there was to be no mischief in her own silent way. Sunrise returned the look with a very large, wide, awkward smile of faux innocence that no doubt looked a little less then sincere. Sunrise really did want to sneak off - not because she disliked Sweetie Belle or her tea party, but just because the lure of adventure, which had been sadly missing from her life since she came to Ponyville for schooling. Still, she really didn't want to disappoint Ms. Cozy, who had become almost a second mother to her.

Looking over at Applebloom, Sunrise gave a small sigh of disappointment, "sure, like, I guess that'll be alright." There would be other opportunities for outdoor adventure, especially with the two she'd met recently, first Scootaloo and now Applebloom, both adventurous and mischievous foals. Sunrise was nonetheless determined to make the best of the situation. She winked playfully at her neighbor, the little Starlight, "I guess we're totally staying, but, like, it may be fun too!" Sunrise was not quite sure about the truthfulness of that statement, she didn't exactly revel in the idea of pretending to be a servant maid for a tea party, but she really did want to make some more friends and the little white unicorn had sounded so excited for her, about the opportunity to serve tea! And she was just so ... sweet!

Putting on her rather silly paper maid cap, Sunrise looked up at the symbol of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. She'd never seen it before whenever she had moved around Equestria. "Hey, Sweetie Belle, uhh, I mean, umm ... Your. Majesty. Princess Sweetie Belle ... Like, what is that symbol from? What does it mean?"

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Slightly disappointed, Apple Bloom donned her cardboard wings and crown. They wings WERE quite lovely... and Sweetiebelle had taken the advice about washing her paintbrush, there was no muddiness to the colors at all and it matched her pelt perfectly. Each paper feather was outlined in gold glitter. There was hope for that little filly yet, she smiled to herself.

Scootaloo, on the other hand, seemed less resigned to her fate of staying in. She sat across the table and just grumped. Laughing at her friend's crankiness, Apple Bloom placed Scoot's crown on her magenta hair, and got crossed eyes in response.

"Well, if you're gonna be cranky, ah suppose ah get your cookies then, huh" Apple grinned and began to ever-so-slowly move the orange pegasus' plate away from her. Scootaloo sighed , moved the plate back to its rightful place and started eating her cookies, but did not join in on the conversation much.

"Sweetiebelle, do you have any Apple Zinger tea over there", She asked through a mouthful of cookie "Hmmm these are great! Did Pinkie help you with these?"

She looked at Sunrise, who was reluctantly putting on a paper maid's cap and Starlight, smiling. "We, the royal princessees are sure glad you could join us at this Gala."

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Needless to say, Starlight was just a little relieved to have miss Tea Cozy come out of nowhere and have them stay inside where they were supposed to - not because it ruined the others fun - but it meaned they wouldn't get in trouble with their families later and besides, they could have a lot of fun here instead!

Watching as Sweetie Belle dished out the fake horns and wings for some of them, he couldn't help but giggle ever so slightly in the faintest amusement before he managed to make himself a little paper tabard befitting a little fake-page. Well, it may have been a -little- big. But it did the job none the less and he snickered slightly at Apple Bloom before dipping into a bow on one hoof.

"It's a great honor! Most noble and majestic Princessess...ses..." That was right wasn't it? He'd stumbled a bit over his last word but it was moreso right. He was sure of it....possibly.

Tea Cozy had grown with a sixth sense on foals so when she saw several of them slowly starting to go missing from the table Sunrise and her friends had been, it'd been natural for her to go investigate and, ofcourse, put a dent in their plans. But she felt a little guilty for ruining their ideas so prepared some tulip and sugar cane tea with some miniature rasberry and banana battenburg.

Perfect for a tiny tea party. All of this after taking care of all the other foals ofcourse.

All the smaller ones were all asleep in their cribs and the others were preoccupying themselves with their own games and play time. It was enough to cause the less than prepared ponies stress over how many foals there were in one sitting.

Tea Cozy however, was often or not always prepared.

Moving over, swollen as ever she rested the tea tray down on their table and chuckled softly at their playful banter.

"I hope these treats and drinks are good enough for our royal Princesses for the evening." She said with a soft smile.

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Sweetie Belle swelled with pride as everyone got into the feel of the make-believe. In her mind, they *were* princesses, in their royal castle, beautiful and marked with amazing cutie marks, wearing gorgeous gowns and jewelry!

She winked at Apple Bloom with a small grin. "Oh, no, I didn't make the cookies myself. The .. ah ... Royal Corner of the Cubed Sugar were kind enough to make Royal Treats for our royal selves!" She smiled

But when real tea came, with even more sweet treats, she was overjoyed! "Miss Sugar Cube, you have our royal thanks for so generous a gift. Know that you may ask a favor of the Royal house of the Crusaders at any time, and we shall answer it!"

She responded, then, to Sunrise's question. "This symbol, it is the symbol of the Crusaders! The insignia symbolizing... ah ... the quest for ... for meaning! And knowledge! And, ah ... true purpose! That all young foals will know their cutie marks! Forsooth! And verily!"

"And now, we shall sip our lovely tea, and perhaps our good young page will do as good young pages should, and favor us with a lovely song to ... um... soothe our ... uh... our mel... melon ... melon colory?"

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[ Hope you don't mind that I bring my foal caretaker Stork in everypony :P ]

The young stallion was sure that Ponyville was nothing like his old tow, Manehattan. It was way quieter, with no rush hour of ponies passing by, and evrypony seemed to be kind to everypony. Even visitors! He had been galloping all morning, in order to arrive in the ville in time to get the supplies he needed. The foals back in Manehattan were under the care of his part-time assistant, so he knew he didn't have to worry about that little detail. They preferred to be under his own care, of course, but he was hoping not to take long on his trip. The years he had taken trying to show his dad he wouldn't be like his brothers, a stud full of muscles, had left a few marks. Good ones, however. He could run longer than an average stallion, and he had the strength to kick a Gryffin's beak if needed. He'd do everything to protect his young foals, that even that they didn't belong to him, he felt like he had that responsibility.

He already had some items on his saddlebag, such as new blankets, new toys and even some snacks. The little ones loved the ones with animal shapes, and so he always brought those everytime he saw them in stock. Now he was taking a short rest, sightseeing a place he had never visited before. But a little house caught his attention. It seemed to be cozy, just like the one he had and where he hosted the little foals he had under his care.

Stork headed to the door, where she could read "Tea Cozy's House". Maybe she could provide him some rest, since he didn't know anypony from that place. He would expect it would be a nursery, just like his own...

And with reluctance, he knocked on the door.

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Apple Bloom giggled at SweetieBelle's grandiose and overblown manner of speaking, "Sweetiebelle, you shore sound funny. Are you shore how Princess Celestia sounds?" The little yellow filly then remembered her manners, "Thank you for the tea, Ms. Cosy! An' th' cakes, they look mighty tasty!"

?Maybe Ah should try a hoof at this fancy-talk.", she cleared her delicately, for Apple Bloom, " Mah Dearest Princess Scoot to the Loo*, can ye please passeth one of them bananer cakes over yonder, so ah can eateth it? Verily? Posthastedly?" ForSCOOTth?

The orange pegasus just continued to automatically crunch cookies with a scowl on her face. When Apple Bloom was finished with her attempt at an Ye Olde Canerlotian accent, the only acknowledgement that Scoot had even heard her bad joke was a deepening of the scowl.

"Ah, yer no fun. ", she waved a hoof at the grumpy filly, turning to where Sunrise Beach was sitting, giving up the accent, "Yeah, like what Sweetiebelle jus' told ya, but in plain simple talk, we've banded together to try to find out what our special talents are, so we get our cutie marks. 'Cept we've tried EVERYTHING, and nothin'" She waved to her blank flank."It jus' ain't fair!"

Eye-ing up the turquoise unicorn's beach ball cutie mark, and realizing that the filly was around her age, Apple blurted out in one long nearly unintelligible steam of consciousness: "Ah Know! Maybe we've been askin' the wrong ponies. All we've asked are mah sister and her friends, and they were all connected by Rainbowdash's Sonic Rainboom, which definitely wasn't aroun' when you got your cutie mark, unless you got it at the young Flier's competition, an' ah don't see how seein' as though you're a unicorn, an' unicorns can't go to Cloudsdale, 'cept when Twilight uses her magic on them...and since you just moved here there ain't no way you were in Ponyville when that happened onna ground, so anyways", She breathed, "You're about the same age as we are, how did YOU get YOUR cutie mark?"

*yep. Abby doesn't know any better

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Sunrise took to her role pretty well. Sure, it seemed ridiculous to her, but she was making friends, and that was the most important thing. Seeing her patron, Tea Cozy, come into the room to put down the tea tray full of goodies, Sunrise was glad the older pony didn't seem at all mad. The little turquoise unicorn sighed with relief; the last thing her mom needed to hear was that she was causing mischief ... again.

Listening to Sweetie Belle and Applebloom talk as she took each tea cup with her mouth and placed them on the table in front of each "princess" she couldn't help but notice the stange speech they were using. "Like, is that how all ponies in Canterlot talk?" Sunrise Beach had never been there - even with all the cities around Equestria that her mom had moved to, the famed capitial had always been outside their reach. Still, Sunrise was determined to play along, so she had to give the accent thing her best go... "Like, four sooths, I'll ... like ... ye? Me? Four Sooths, I shall-ith get the tea over yonder here!" That somehow didn't sound quite right to her, but she had to pour the tea! She took the tea pot handle carefully with her mouth and placed it down in front of Sweetie Belle, then decided to give the weird accent another go. "Like, I have totally brought uhh, brought-eth forth thou thee verily gnarly tea, uhh Princess Sweetie! There is plenty here for you and Princess Apple of the Bloom and Princess Scoot of the Love." That last title sounded a little off, but she swore that was how Applebloom pronounced it. "Mayeth it, liketh, sootheth you-eth to be-eth most excellent-eth to one another-eth!"

She listened carefully to the explanation of the Cutie Mark Crusader symbol, lighting up a little. Sure, she already had her cutie mark, but the idea of adventuring with friends was the real appeal. She turned to Apple Bloom excitedly. "Like, maybe Strarlight here and I can totally hang out and go on totally gnarly adventures with you girls sometime! Star here still needs his and well, I'd just like to come along for the fun, like, if that's cool?"

But her own cutie mark? And something about a sparkle of twilight, Cloudsdale, and a rainbloom, none of which she understood. "Well, like, I dunno about rainblooms or anything, nothing special like that happened when I got my mark. I guess it was, like, after I discovered that I like sports, once mom enrolled me in some to keep me outta trouble. It all happened during this totally sweet volleyball game I was in while we lived in Hoofington. It was, like, totally intense, and I remember struggling to keep up! I was all, like, oh my gosh! We were tied to the last point! I hit the ball extra hard with my head and that goofy colt pegasus tried to hit it back with his wing and instead it bounced off him! And just like that, we totally won the game! Like, I guess right there I totally wanted to be a sports star, and that's when one of my teammates pointed at my flank, and said I got this!" Sunrise shook her flank rather proudly. "Mom always said it'll happen when you're not expecting it or thinking about it, and I guess that was true for me."

She was about to say more, as she didn't want to discourage their adventures, when she heard the door knock. Figuring it be good for her to get it as poor Mrs. Cozy had a much harder time walking around now, Sunrise trotted towards the door. "Oh Starlight, like, foorsoothly sing as the princess, like, asked and junk, I'm totally sure you'd be good at it!" She really didn't know if he was, she just wanted to tease her friend a little. She opened up the door and looked out. "Umm... Like, can-eth I help-eth ... um ... I mean, like, can I help you?"

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For a normal pony, one would have looked around in search for the pony that had opened the door. However, that was certainly not Stork's case. He was quite used to that kind of tender voice, like the one that had answered the door. It couldn't avoid but to let out a soft chuckle, and then he lowered his head to the young sea-blue filly that awaited the answer. "Hello there young lady. My name is Stork, and I don't know quite well what is my purpose in this cozy little house. Is there anyway I can come in and talk to the house owner?", he said.

He knew that that young filly had something different from the average foals. She seemed to be a little bit more active, and her style made her sound like somepony who didn't leave around that beautiful ville. That house had just attracted him, that was the truth. But now that the door had been answered by a baby, he couldn't leave it. He could swear he had heard some other younger voices coming from the inside, but he wasn't quite sure.

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Apple Bloom craned her neck around SweetieBelle to get a look at the door. Was it Applejack, coming to take her home, or another filly to come in and join on the fun?

No, it was an orange stallion. An orange stallion who didn't quite look like he knew why he was there.

"Oh great, another adult" moaned Scootaloo.

"Ah wonder what he's doin' here. He doesn't look like the dad of any of these here foals", Apple Bloom mused, and continued crunching her cookies, occasionally pausing to dunk them in tea.

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The pegasi mare listened on partially to the conversations the young filly's were having amongst themselves and couldn't help but be reminded of her own youth with her little friends, plus they were all just so adorable crowded around the small table and playing 'princesses'. Just like little fillies did.

However there was no rest for her and soon she had to deal with a younger foal who'd managed to knock himself off of his building block podium and soon began to bawl his little heart out. Nothing a little kiss on the forehead and a bit of rock-a-bye from the swollen lady and soon he was babbling away happily and ready to play.

It was these moments in which she was very thankful to have Sunrise around, because she had her hooves full tonight and having an extra set - even a small set - was always extremely helpful and she couldn't help but smile as she heard the front door being answered.

Soon enough she found her way to the front just as the stallion was introducing himself and blinked quietly at him, wings flicked to her sides in faint surprise before that feeling was overwhelmed with a warm and welcoming smile.

"Hello, Welcome to the Cozy Kettle Daycare and Nursery...may I help you?" Watching him quietly her smile never tried once to be extinguished.

Meanwhile Starlight had been overcome by a sudden case of the nerves.

He was already overwhelmed by the amazing story of Sunrise's cutie mark and now she was trying to egg him into singing for the others...for a moment the white and multicolored little colt just sat there at the table before letting out a squeak like a balloon letting out air.

Ears folded back he shuffled his hooves around on the table surface and he murmured.

"I...I can't sing!..I mean...I don't know-eth any good songs for the princesses..." Fluffing up his fringe in some hope that it would hide his eyes he tried to just focus on his hooves and not look the others in the eye. Because he knew if he did he'd just get even more nervous and never have a CHANCE of getting one thing out of his muzzle.

Clearing his throat he clamped his eyes shut and tried to sing something simple and...it mostly sounded like his voice was trying not to break from all the nervy stuttering.

"T-Twinkle..twiii-iiiinkle..l-little staa-aaar..."

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Sweetie Belle squirmed with excitement as everyone got into the spirit of things, and even surpassed her own imagination! She had forgotten all about the -eths! "Ummm... I don't ... uh ... I know nay exactly how Princess Celestia talkeths ... but .... tis how the princesses talketh in all ye olde stories with knights rescuing princesses and stuff!" She sipped happily at the tea, so delighted that she could have actual tea at her tea party!

She listened with rapt attention to Sunrise's story of her cutie mark, holding her breath as the unicorn filly talked about being tied, and being up against the pegasus... she smiled so happily at the story, and looked back at the ball on Sunrise's flank. She didn't even *hear* the stranger at the door.

And then Starlight was getting ready to sing! She *loved* music, so much, and she settled in with an eager lil' wriggle to listen to his song! But then he was looking so scared, and so nervous,and ... oh no! He didn't like singing in front of other ponies, either! She felt a little cold pit in her stomach. She hated it when everypony assumed *she* would sing in front of other ponies, she didn't understand why everypony always assumed she'd be singing ... and here she was doing it to someone else!

"Oh, I love that song!" she said to Starlight, making her voice bright and cheerful! "Would you mind if I sang it with you?"

She hopped up to her hooves, standing on her little chair, and tapped her front hoof against her chest as she cleared her throat. "ah-hem ... ah-ah-ah-hem ... lala..."

She started off singing softly, and sweetly...

o/~ Twinkle, twinkle, little staaaaaar, how I wonder where you are... o/~

Then, suddenly, she belted out a strong and fierce cry.

o/~ TWINKLE TWINKLE! TWINKLE TWINKLE! TWINKLE LITTLE STAR! o/~

She jumped down off the chair and struck a 'real rock powah' pose.

o/~

TWINKLE TWINKLE WHEREVER YOU ARE!

ROLLIN' THROUGH THE SKY SO HIGH!

LIKE SOME GLITTER IN THE SKY!

o/~

One could practically hear the electric guitars wailing in the background as she rocked out on the song.

o/~

TWINKLE TWINKLE WHERE YOU AT!

IN THE SKY WITH YER SHININ' HAT!

LOOK DOWN GRANT MY FIRST STAR'S WISH

WAY BETTER THAN THAT WISHIN' FISH!

WHEN THE BLAZIN' SUN IS GONE

WHEN HE NOTHIN' SHINES UPON!

THEN YOU GET OUT ALL YER RIGHT!

TWINKLE, TWINKLE, ALL TH' NIGHT!

THEN TH' ROLLER IN TH' DARK!

THANKS YOU FOR YER FIREY SPARK!

COULDN'T SCOPE WHICH WAY TO ROLL!

IF YOU DIDN'T TWINKLE SO!

o/~

And, as if she hadn't just shook the pictures off the walls, she suddenly struck a sweet and innocent pose as she softly crooned,

o/~ Up above the sky so hiiiigh... like a diamond in the skyyyyy... o/~

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The young stallion just couldn't believe his ears the moment he heard the words Daycare and Nursery. So he wasn't knocking on that door randomly. It had called for him ever since he had arrived to Ponyville. His ears perked up and his head raised, his black, white and blue mane flowing back to his neck. His smile grew even wider and he took a step forward.

"Oh, hello there!", he cleared his throat almost as surprised as she was, "My name is Stork, and I'm an owner of a daycare back at Manehattan. I was just passing by to buy some new supplies for the center. You know, new toys, some brand new foal food..."

And it was right in that moment that Stork caught one of his saddlebags moving around as if something was inside. When it finally stopped, a tiny head with a dark pink and yellow mane popped out, a pair of wide and curious blue eyes looking around. Stork was even more surprised now.

"And this is... my younger brother, Lemon Mix. He seems to have found my saddlebags again and hid inside to come and have a walk with his big bro again.", he said, chuckling a bit, still surprised. Lemon Mix was a bundle of surprises indeed. He hadn't even felt him moving inside his saddlebag, and now there he was, staring at the owner of the daycare.

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Sunrise Beach raised one eyebrow and cocked her head to the left as the stallion introduced himself.  She would have liked to have said "Why should I let you in?" but this was her patron's home, and she was trying to be on her best behavior.  Mostly.  Yet, she also wasn't supposed to let strangers in, and he was definitely a stranger.

Her dilemma was solved when Tea Cozy herself made her placid way to the door to greet the stranger, and he told who he was ... but not why he stopped here.  She was about to blurt out the question when his saddle bag started bouncing about.   Sunrise's eyes widened, and the turquoise foal took a step back, "Whoa! Like, what's with the bag!?"  Her surprise only increased when a little foal's head popped out - he kept his brother in his saddlebags?  That was enough weirdness for her!  She decided to let Tea Cozy handle this strange fella.  As she trotted back to the party though, she wondered if she was going to be saddled with another baby foal.  Tea Cozy could handle only so much these days.

Sunrise's thoughts were interrupted by the singing.  She know she had set Starlight up when she asked him to "sing for the princesses," and was curious to hear his voice.  His wavering, nervous voice made her feel guilty.  Maybe it had been a little mischievous of her to do that to her best friend, but she didn't intend to be mean.  She couldn't explain it, but she really liked Starlight, he was ... just so cute!

But before she could say anything, it wasn't Starlight who was singing.  The white unicorn "princess," Sweetie Belle, wasn't just singing, she was SINGING.  Her normally timid voice rang out powerfully, and the song rocked!  Her voice was so beautiful!  She looked like a pony who was all about stage presence - how did Sweetie not have a cutie mark of musical notes?  The otherwise meek filly was so confident while attending her musical muse!  "Like, whoa ... that was MOST EXCELLENT, Sweetie Belle!  Umm ... I mean, like, that was, um, like, most-eth divine-eth Princesses Sweetie, of um ... the Belle!"  Talking like this was hard! But Sunrise really wanted to make new friends here. "Like, umm ... your radical highness, you must really love-eth singing for ponies!  I bet, like, that is-eth your special talent!  You, like, should be perform-eth-ing on a stage for everypony!"

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At the sight of the tiny colt shyly singing the familiar nursery rhyme, Apple Bloom just wanted to grab SweetieBelle and snuggle her while sharing in the cuteness; an action that never failed to garner massive eyerolls from the other member of the trio, Scootaloo. But when her talented unicorn friend belted out her own bombastic rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" like some renegade jazz singer from the golden days of Manehattan, and followed it up by singing the last line sweetly and innocently, the little yellow filly fell off her little stool laughing.

"Gee Sweetiebelle, that sure was great!" she beamed, "Even better than that time over at Fluttershy's when you sang us a lullaby! And you, Starlight, you were great too," she added kindly to the nervous foal, "If you keep that up, when you are all grown up you'll be a famous crooner! More famous than the Stone Pony, even!"

Apple Bloom took another sip of tea, and looked back over to where Sunrise Beach was still dividing her attention between the visitor at the door, and Sweetiebelle's antics. It was a shame that the unicorn missed the FULL impact of the performance, which shook you to the very hooves if you were nearer to the singer. When the older filly returned, still speaking in Ye Olde Caterlotonian, Apple Bloom was ready to get more details on what it was like to be a filly with her cutie mark out of her.

But out of the corner of her eye, she saw Stork, and had to do a doubletake when she saw the foal's head pop out of the saddlebag. "That shore is funny, mister", she called out "What's that foal doin' in yore satchel?"

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Sweetie Belle let out a squeak as Apple Bloom started laughing at her, shrinking down and tucking her head down, her face burning with embarassment. Oh, no, even her best friends laughed at her singing. She was nice enough to say it was nice, but ... ooohhh, why did she do that? She squirmed with shame.

And Sunrise - she was so nice, but even she was teasing her. Up on a stage, singing in front of lots of ponies? Oh, nonono. That'd be horrible. Everyone looking at her? Just the thought made her stomach queasy. Why would Sunrise say such a thing?

"Oh, I ... ah ... th-thank thee," she stammered out, trying to pretend that she didn't notice they were making fun of her singing... "tis um ... kind of thee to ... say-eth such things of my simple little twiddles."

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Sunrise Beach looked a little confused at Sweetie Belle's sudden shyness at their praise of her singing ability. She was so confident just a moment ago, taking the lead for Starlight, who was obviously shy about being put on the spot. The white unicorn had seemed to revel in performing for everyone, at least among the little group they had there.

Well, Sunrise didn't want her to feel bad! After all, she was there to make some new friends! Perhaps she just needed more encouragement, or a bolder idea to inspire her! "Like, don't be shy about it and junk! You were radical!" *Ahem* "I mean you werrr-ith radicallll..ith Princess Sweetie of the Bells! Maybeth that, uhh ... wherein lies your mark oh cutie..ish..ith? In thou ... singing voice!" Sunrise sure was having a hard time of this weird dialect that she was sure royal ponies used in Canterlot, at least that is how all those story books went about it. Still, she thought it would be more disarming to play along. "It would be most excellent to pretend to sing ... eth in front of your subjects of the town! Maybe ... umm ... eth we can have one of the others hear designeth a dress for your magesty! Is one of you gals a gnarly fashionista!? I mean par-don are thous princesses a gnarlyeth fashionesta?"

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Apple Bloom wrapped her hooves around her obviously embarrassed unicorn friend's withers, in a show of Cutie Mark Crusader solidarity. While she FULLY AGREED with Sunrise beach that Sweetiebelle's special talent would probably involve singing (although she secretly hoped that somehow their cutie marks would be thematically linked, because how neat would that be!), it was clear that Sweetiebelle, while full of potential, wasn't ready to take the spotlight just yet. "It's OK, we don't make ya sing anymore, infronna the foals. But it sure was fun!"

The yellow filly wondered if the white unicorn's older sister, who was a little bit of a show-off (not, of course, as much as her own sister, Apple Jack) and loved the spotlight, had been shy as a filly too. Speaking of Rarity...as Sunrise Beach continued in her butchered mock, "ye olde Canterlotian", bringing up the subject of fashion, Apple Bloom had an idea. "Well, Ah don't know if any o' us will get into makin' fancy-dancy high-falutin' frocks like Sweetiebelle's sister Rarity, but Ah CAN be handy with a sewing machine. If Tea Cozy'll let us borrow hers, and we run over to the boutique an' get some o' that sparkly fabric from that pile Rarity keeps sayin' is "Simply OUT of season, my dear", we can make this a real Gala! And we can put on a fashion show when mine an' Sweetiebelle's big sisters come back to get us! They'll be so surprised that they might take us next year! Jus' think o' it. Rarity'd be impressed that we've designed such great gowns, a little less frilly than hers, of course, more practical. Pinkie Pie'd be impressed that we can throw a party just as good as hers. Twilight Sparkle'll be impressed that we can be so organized, an AppleJack will finally admit that I AM a big pony and can do things on my own. We can't do much about impressin' Fluttershy an' Rainbowdash...but we can figure that out later. If we try all the things that got those mares THEIR cutiemarks, we're SURE to get ours. Ah mean, it worked for them!

We can call it the "Apple Gala"! What do you think?" She finally breathed and beamed at her slightly puzzled friends, and the newcomers.

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Sweetie Belle squirmed in absolute embarassment as Sunrise tried to encourage her to sing in front of others. Ooohhhh, it was so nice of her to pretend that the little twiddle of a song had been decent, but to suggest singing in front of others?! Oh, no, no. Oh no. That was just too much! She perked up, though, at the question of a fashionista, about to declare herself as a fashionista.

But with Apple Bloom's plan, Sweetie Belle jumped up all eager, her cardboard crown falling off, half-knocking one wing off as well, in the excitement of such a magnificent plan. "Oh, that's a GREAT idea!" She cried, happily. "OOoo, that's just what I need for my cutie mark! Not capes or stage costumes, but a really awesome, beautiful, ball gown! Just like big sister Rarity makes! Oh, we'll each have our own special dress, and we can have a great big fashion show! And ... and ... and then I'll have my cutie mark at last!"

Sweetie Belle jumped up and down excitedly, a great big beaming grin on her face, and immediately started heading for the door, getting rid of her cardboard wings. "I know just where the fabric is! Let's go, let's go!"

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