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So Fancy Right Now (closed)


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"Looks like this is it," Rainbow smiled as the trained rolled in to the station. "Canterlot here we come! I'm sOOOOooooo hungry!" 


Rarity sniffed. "Really darling? That's not very ladylike. Complaining that one is hungry just ins't the done thing-" RRrruuuummmble. "Ehhumm, yes," The unicorn tried to cover up the very loud growl her own stomach made. "As I was saying, it's best to keep a quiet demeanor and take food only when the timing is right," She smiled as she trotted aboard.


The train would get the group to Canterlot just on time to make their reservation.


"So, anyway Rarity," Rainbow continued as they took their seats. " What place did you make the reservations at? I heard the Alfalfa Cube's got a killer deal on daisy shakes right now. And their hay fries are soooo good!" She licked her muzzle at the thought of the food. 


"Really darling!" Rarity appeared totally appalled. "The Alfalfa Cube? Dressed like this? On an occasion like this?" 


"Yep uh huh," Rainbow rolled her eyes. "Let me guess... not lady like?" 


"Nor appropriate no dear it's not."  She glanced at the others. "Oh Valen you can sit right here if you wish," She patted the seat next to her.


"I made us a fine reservation at... " She glanced around, knowing at least the more cultured among them would have heard of the hippest, fanciest, newest, couture cuisine establishment in Canterlot. "...The Sprig! Yes yes I know! A five hoof restaurant!"


Rarity clapped her hooves together in glee. Rainbow rolled her eyes. "Oh great couture food..."


"Darling you simply can't deny how fabulous this place will be!" She smiled. "I called in a special favor to get us a table!"

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Princess Bluebelle could not keep an amused and slightly aloof smile off of her face as she watched the conversation between the two mares across from her.  They were quite different from each other, of course, but both the excited Rarity and the indifferent Rainbow Dash held attitudes quite distinct from her own.  On the one hoof, very few of the nobility would ever mention such a place as the Alfalfa Cube, much less actually go there as a customer.  On the other hoof, neither would they be giddy over the thought of eating at a haute couture restaurant.  That was just... what they ate; the silver spoon was not a prize to aspire to, but simply their birthright.


As for reservations, well!  The Prince(ss) had never needed any of those; all the best restaurants in Canterlot always kept a table reserved in case of royal patronage.  But, since Rarity was insisting, Bluebelle was graciously allowing her the pleasure of showing largesse to her friends.  Element of Generosity and all that.  "Yes, the maitre'd of the Sprig is somewhat legendary among his kind.  Auntie Celestia's royal guards have less stringent requirements for entrance."  Which wasn't saying much, really.  The Princess belonged to the ponies, but the Sprig only to the upper classes.


At least they were all dressed for the part, Rarity had made sure of that.  Even her off the rack selection had fit Bluebelle's new (and stunning) figure like a glove, and as for her tailored work, well!  It's excellence was clearly demonstrated by the sharp-looking mare in a suit, and the glamorous colt to Blue's left in a dress.  Not to mention a farmpony dolled up all nice as well.


Which brought up to the Princess' mind the true reason for this event.  It wasn't just five mares (or four mares and a young stallion) going out to have a good time; there was something in the nature of an experiment here.  Did the clothes make the pony?  Or to put it more specifically, did wearing the clothes of one gender when one was another mean anything significant?  As a pony who was now living on both sides of that dividing line, Blueblood/belle felt that they could offer a unique perspective to the issue.  As well as support for young Valen, who otherwise stood in danger of being overwhelmed by the force of personalities arrayed before them.


"How are you holding up?"  The Princess asked the Orange scion.  "I noticed several of the porters and passengers giving appreciative looks.  Not as many as they gave me, of course."  She smiled, tossing back her golden locks, "But then, we are all in good company for looks, are we not?"

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Valen was far more comfortable with his clothing for the night than he was with the company of the evening, though it wasn't for lack of love or trying. Trying, especially regarding Applejack, whose untoward assuredness that she was correct was as endearing a trait of hers most of the time as it was an excruciatingly awful one at this time. While Valen knew better than to believe that he had any real essence of choice this evening, it was Applejack who made sure to put the kibosh on any illusions he had.

Illusions, something he was great at, something he was stripped of, and something he was being told he didn't need.

Illusions for others, illusions for himself, delusions of normalcy hidden behind lace. He had been stripped of them and forced to partake tonight by a trio of overbearing personalities, but he wouldn't call it entirely unwilling. Once you got over the hurdle of revelation and explanation he was lucky to know the ponies he knew for their love of him was indeed pure. Rainbow's affections were aggressive and positive while Rarity's was tinted with her love for his work.


Applejack's love was...different. She had her own identity crisis as a filly, fleeing to the city shortly after ma and pa passed away. Who was she? The farm didn't appeal to her. The pain was too fresh and the emotions too raw. She fled to a place of safety, a city with family, and tried to become the sort of pony that perhaps Rarity was destined to be. It wasn't to be though. She was a farm filly born and bred and she came back to the fold. She found herself and found happiness. Now in a twist of fate it was Applejack helping an Orange with an identity crisis.


Not that he would ever admit to having one, but she wasn't buying it.
There was no way anypony could do what he did and not have questions. Parading about for weeks as a filly supermodel? Going by a filly name, with a filly accent, claiming to be one and accepting what came with? Working as a maid for months? She wasn't born yesterday. That wasn't normal. There was too much going on his mind for there not to be something to it. She had decided she was going to help him, even if he wasn't fully appreciative of it.


She had even dressed all fancy like for him even though she wasn't a big fan of it. Contrary to popular opinion it wasn't like she wanted to tear it off and jump in mud, but she'd have preferred no dress at all. But if he was going to take a journey- well, being pushed along it- the least she could do was ensure that she showed she was willing to step out of her comfort zone. But really, this night was about him, it was about Rainbow, and it was about the Prince.


Princess, she meant. Or Prince. Or both or none or whatever. She seemed- Applejack was gonna go with she, based on what was and was not part of her makeup at the moment- to be far more pleasant than when Rarity had dealt with the Prince at the Gala. No doubt being a mare was a humbling experience. It could bring a whole set of new views on life to the fore, especially with the knowledge that every piece of your life was fit for the tabloid anyway. The ease with which she seemed to take it told Applejack that there was more strength behind those deep pair of eyes than she had given the Prince-Princess credit for.


Valen knew the truth- that, yes, Bluebelle had by and large taken to this with some grace, but with no less worry and trepidation than could be expected. It was her bearing that forbade her from display of worry or weakness that kept her strong and lent her an air of disconcern. It was also what had attracted the colt to her service in the first place, mutual questions needing dual confirmations, even if it had been for his benefit in plot.


But there was more in play here tonight. Rainbow Dash was having some sort of questions about herself. Maybe it was just the tumultuous emotions of the day, the confusion inherent in confrontation, but Applejack found her passions swirling around the pegasus tonight. Not in ways she knew or was comfortable with. Not yet at that moment, but her eyes lingered on her friend a moment or three too long as she sat behind Rarity and Rainbow. After Dash mentioned the Alfalfa Cube, Applejack had to quickly avert her eyes to avoid contact. And breathe. And wonder why she did that in the first place, all the while knowing the answer.


Valen sat in front of Bluebelle and was in the middle of trying to suss out what accent to use when she spoke to him, as did Rarity, just as Valen took the offered seat. "Thank you, Miss Rarity," Valen offered, deciding to put his vocal talent to work to produce a relatively thin Canterlot accent. Attention turned: Bluebelle. Valen sighed. "Well enough, Your Highness. No doubt a few of those looks intended for me were stolen by you," he smiled, "I'll let it pass this time of course, but don't make a habit of it now," he waved his hoof appreciatively at the gathering, "though I say we all share some of the finer visages this side of Prance, so let's not quibble. Especially if we're heading towards such a fine dining experience, which the Sprig most certainly counts as."


For Valen it was small talk, getting into 'character'. This was so he wouldn't be dismissed as a colt in a dress. Most strangers wouldn't care but Valen would, because Valen above all else didn't want to feel abnormal. When viewed by Applejack though it was simply just another notch in the belt of evidence that only ever grew and validated her suspicions. She was feeling increasingly justified regarding their decision before the trip to get Starlight's aid.
"Ah hear you RD. Ah'm not up ta peck at three leaves an’ a clover all night, but as y’all can see, we’re far too fancy for real food,” she joked, shaking her head. “Don’t worry Sugarcube. Ah’m sure if Rarity’s joint doesn’t fill us up, she won’t oppose some real grub. Ain’t that right, Rares?” Applejack offered. Mostly it was to be funny. But among the joking was enough cover for her to lean in, Valen focusing on Bluebelle, to ask the serious questions.


”Did you get everything we needed from Starlight?” Applejack whispered, having spent her free time getting Valen ready and distracting him while Rarity went off and got what was needed. Hopefully it was the right call.

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"Really!" Rarity looked aghast. "I'm sure the Sprig will "fill us up" as you so elegantly put it!" She softened her face into a smile. "However, if you are not feeling satisfied after sampling the taste of cotoure that's in store for you then you can feel free to acquire some of this...grub was it?"


Rainbow giggled. "I think you'd like our idea of food in Canterlot Rarity!" The pegasus rubbed her empty tummy. "They really do have the best street vendor food in any town I've visited!" She nudged Applejack. "You remember when we got those apple skewers and caramel dipping sauce last time we were in town?" She licked her muzzle. "Those were like the best thing I've ever eaten!"


Rarity leaned in to catch the whispered question AJ asked. "Yes darling, don't fret. The whole thing has been arranged." She nodded to her saddle bag. "Starlight made sure to give me the instructions for using what she gave me," The mare still felt a bit odd about what they were planning but well, Applejack was her friend and she wasn't going to let her down.


Rainbow noted the comment made by the Princess regarding looks. She tossed her many colored mane about and smiled devilishly. "I think some of those looks might have been meant for me!" After this she laughed heartily. "Not that I care! Looks aren't really a thing I worry about!"



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"Indeed, we shan't quibble over looks; we shall divide the spoils of affection evenly!"  Princess Bluebelle laughed in agreement with Valen, the golden bells of her voice ringing out through the carriage.  If this small talk made him feel more comfortable, she was willing to go along with it, easing the large questions with banter and laughter.  


Speaking of looks, though... Applejack and Rainbow Dash seemed to be giving each other a few.  A sign of something significant, perhaps?  Neither were acting as declared marefriends, so if any affection existed, it must be navigating the choppy waters of initial uncertainty.  Or, alternatively, it could all simply be a part of the conspiracy the three friends had cooked up together against Valen.  She could hear whispers of... something, between AJ and Rarity.  What did it all mean?


Well, perhaps some subtle subject-fishing could draw it out.  "Believe it or not, Rainbow, there's a good reason why portion sizes tend to be small in cotoure dining.  Most of it's clientele are neither athletes nor farmers, so it would be pretty devastating to our figures to eat like one!"  She smoothed a bit of her dress, subconsciously drawing attention to her own figure.  "I myself don't eat all that much even when I'm at home, quality over quantity, you know.  However, my marefriend is in a somewhat more vigorous calling, so I have to ensure that food accommodations are generous when we go out."


There, subject turned to thoughts of love and dating.  Now let's see if the fishes rise to the bait.  Bluebelle's own mind began to drift along those lines, and she looked outside, to the window.  "It's a pity that this train doesn't approach Canterlot from the north.  I could have shown you one of our favorite picnic spots."

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Applejack sure as hay remembered that vendor. She wasn't about to tell Rainbow Dash that her taste was awful or nothing but those apples weren't Apple family apples. They were some too fruity variety from the far East that wasn't part of that high-quality variety she had been given during the Gala. Beyond that she was right though. Canterlot had some mighty fine street vendors, though she wasn't about to call them the best as long as Seaddle or Manehattan were in play. "Yeah, Ah remember that vendor. His apples were too sweet and not that good, but Ah liked what he was doin'. Canterlot has loads of great vendors, though some haybacon vendors in Manehattan are mah favorite," Applejack noted, wondering if she could find some nice hay bacon at the Sprig. Probably not. She'd have to make sure to save space for the food AFTER the food.


All of this was good to help mask the real discussion. Good. Everything was in place. Rarity may be getting a bit of cold hoof, but she had been the first one to idly suggest it. Starlight seemed mightily excited by the prospect likely on account of her being able to test out some of her magic skills for the greater good of others. Probably. Maybe. If not they could reverse it but everything she had seen seemed to indicate she was on the right track. This would make Valen so much happier and make apparent just where in the world Valen belonged. She had done her research, made up her mind, paid the money, and was gonna be the most helpful pony in trying to make Valen super comfortable with life.


For his part, Valen wasn't thinking about any of that. He was mostly focused on just making sure the night went smoothly, and with Bluebelle around that was certain to be an easier thing to do. She was very easy going and polite, kind and able to joke around easily. With Rainbow caught up in her own questions, Rarity plain excited, and Applejack loving but caught in the middle of a swirling sea of decisions, it was simply nice to have somepony who existed on more solid ground.And then Rainbow seemed a bit more excited about her looks- yes, perhaps some of those looks were for her. "Most assuredly, Princess. Why, I say that between us five, poor Canterlot never did stand much of a chance," he said with an air of jovial-tinted 'sadness'. Poor Canterlot, RIP.


Food. "Well, I am more than okay with a light diet. It has been a very...trying day thus far, and I don't know if I could handle anything too heavy," he said, throwing his weight behind the Sprig decision. "Besides, you can eat just about anything. You go to the Sprig and other establishments of its ilk for the experience and grandeur as much, if not more so, than the food," Valen offered, tossing his mane back in accordance. Yes, the experience. He did enjoy a nice fine dining experience, though a suite of home cooked meals prepped just for him held certain charms he couldn't deny. And tastes, you couldn't replicate love with any known spices. Still, for a nice night out this would do very well.


Applejack's ears burned with something else, though. The Princess had a marefriend, eh? "Y'all have a marefriend, Yer Highness? What does she do? Sounds like an athletic sort. They make tha best ones Ah think- y'all don't have ta worry 'bout them lasting in a hike or some such."

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"Yuuummm! Haybacon sounds SO good!" Everything they were talking about sounded good. She was becoming more hungry by the second. "I think you may be right about Manehatten AJ, Canterlot does have some great vendors but Manehatten is right up there too!" The mare smiled at her friend, her hunger forgotten for a couple moments. 


Rainbow shook her head softly. She had to stop thinking aobut AJ. It was going to drive her crazy! It was just that...had Applejack really given her a couple looks tonight. A prolonged gaze perhaps. Was it just her or did something seem different about her farmmare friend tonight? Well whatever it was, it was going to drive her crazy if she didn't focus on something aside from AJ and the rumbling in her tummy. 


"Well then I guess I'm into quantity and quantity with some quality thrown in there along the way!" Rainbow jested back at the comment made by Bluebelle. Maybe if she focused on the Prince turned Princess for a while instead? 


"I guess you are right about portion sizes. Us athletes do have to keep our physic in check!" She flicked her wings out in an all too obvious sign of show boating. 


"Darling all that 'chowing down' as you call it is going to catch up with you someday. A moment on the muzzle, forever on the bustle..." Rarity threw the old adage towards her friend. Rainbow had a lot to learn about the finer side of life. There was no way tonight would suffice in teaching her what she needed to know, but it was a start. 


Both mares cocked their heads in interest as Bluebelle brought up her marefriend.


"Cool!" Rainbow exclaimed, waiting to hear the answers to the questions AJ had brought forth.


"That's wonderful darling! Oh I think I know the exact spot you're speaking of! That lovely little park outside of Canterlot. The one with the views of the mountain range? I've been to some photo shoots there before!" Rarity was all ears.


The comment AJ had made about being athlete hadn't missed Rainbow's attention. She rubbed behind her ear for a moment, keeping a blush from coming over her face. Darn! Back to what she had been trying so hard not to think about.


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Like most mares in love, Princess Bluebelle was only too happy to wax poetic upon the subject of her beloved.  "Oh, yes!"  She replied to Applejack, eyes shining with all the stars of the Southern Cross.  "She's actually the captain of my Honor Guard!  Her name is Star Crusader; Valen's met her from the time you spent in the house, yes?  I don't think you would have forgotten!"  Indeed he probably had not.  The Prince(ss) had often described her as 'an amazonian goddess.'  However that may have been, there could be no doubt that Star was built on a much larger scale than your average pony, with solid muscle making a good portion of that sculpted mass.


"Far from worrying about her keeping up on hoof; I trust her enough for her to actually carry me in flight."  The unicorn mare shot an appraising, but ultimately unimpressed, look at Rainbow's showboating.  "Her wings are actually much larger than yours; the span reaches from one side of this train car to the other!"  She spread her hooves as wide as they could go in demonstration, and really, if that was an exaggeration, it wasn't much of one.  "And the power you feel when they beat the air, it's almost as impressive as the dexterity she has with the individual feathers... ahem!"  Bluebelle brought herself up short with a cough, face reddening a bit.  "Well, I think I let myself go a little bit there with my gushing.  I've... rather recently found out that I have a rather strong, hm, affinity for those of the winged persuasion."


Calming down a bit, she addressed Rarity.  "It's more of a meadow than a park; just outside Canterbridge University, my old alma mater.  I found the spot back in my student days when I took one of the punting boats up the river.  You probably wouldn't know it unless you attended the place, but it's wonderful just at the time when Spring turns to Summer; the most ravishing colors come out, and the scents just blend so well."


During the conversation, the Princess had kept a clear eye out for signs between the farmer and the flyer.  If she was any judge (her cousin Cadence would probably say she wasn't), something was there.  Either worth encouraging, or just staying out of the way to let it happen.  In any case, the conversation had rattled along with the train, bringing them close to the station.  The talk of mares was broken by the sound of the whistle.


"Oh, I do think we're arriving.  Is everypony ready to dazzle the crowds?"  She asked the assembled company with a grin.

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Well, the Princess was certainly proud of her marefriend! Must've been a fresh relationship since all she could was gush about her, hehehe. That first stage in the relationship was the best- the other was flawless and perfect for you, no real problems could arise to distract from the fierce pounding of your heart that seemed to summon up all the attention you could afford to take away from the other. It was a real nice stage in any relationship where everything was great, nothing was bad, and  you couldn't possibly find yourself imagining a life without them. You would even start to think about how much you were shocked to discover you had lived without them beforehoof!


Still, Applejack found maybe she had gone too far. "Well, Ah'm sure Rainbow Dash is plenty strong enough with'r wings," Applejack blurted out quickly in defense of her feathered friend, not fully aware of why she said it. As if Rainbow needed protection, pssh. No doubt she was about to launch into a long and detailed defense of her wingpower and all that, and it would be well deserved. Rainbow had the best wingpower in town and she'd bet that Rainbow had one of the highest wingpower numbers in all of Equestria! "Hehe, Ah mean- of course she is, right?" Applejack offered up to Rainbow so she could awkwardly move the whole thing forward. And out of the lime light, because she was only now starting to become aware of how silly she was sounding.


Valen, for his part, was pleased enough with the trip to relax as it came to an end. The train slowed as they entered the environs of the capital. In comparison to Ponyville it was an endless sea of light even at night, and the sounds of ponies talking created a cacophony. It was different from Manehattan, where it felt very close at all times and oddly cut off from anything on another block. So much more open and spread out, probably on account of it being an old city that wasn't trying to stuff seemingly infinite ponies in small spaces. Finally, it came to a complete stop. "I do believe the night begins now, fillies," Valen said as he got up.

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Rainbow could barely wait to get a word in edgewise on all this gushing. Up until now she had let Bluebelle speak freely. Something about the mare had been rubbing her wrong since their first encounter however, she had learned a great deal of restraint over the past couple of years. A great deal of restraint wasn't all that much compared to what an average pony might posses. The pegasus had been about to open her mouth when... Applejack stepped in for her!


She felt her heart flutter for a moment. Applejack was defending the honor of her friend. That was all! There wasn't any more to it...or was there? Rainbow couldn't be sure but she knew something had definitely shifted between herself and the lovely farmmare. AJ even went so far as to leave Rainbow some room to put in a few words. 


The pegasus flicked her wings out. So powerful were they that a gust of wind blasted forth. "Yeah, I think they're strong enough to match any random Honor Guard," She eyed Bluebelle, making an obvious challenge. Let this Star Crusader put her bits where her mare friend's muzzle was.


Rarity was...irritated.


Rainbow had just messed up her perfectly coiffed mane with that blast of air. "Darling! Really! My mane!" She fussed about her do, fretting as a mare like Rarity was prone to do.


Then there was Bluebelle. She had tried thus far to stay aloof. Of course this was the same pony, even with the gender swapped, that had behaved so awfully to her all those seasons ago. There was only so much she would be able to manage in a ladylike fashion. 


"Darling, do you really think I wouldn't know of that particularly lovely spot? The headmaster of Canterbridge happens to be an old client of mine actually." She flipped her mane to the side having fixed it from the passing gust. "I have connections everywhere Princess," She eyed the unicorn, willing a response. 


Valen's announcment was a welcome break from what was brewing, both ponies took leave of their seats and filed out onto the platform.


"Ah Canterlot!"


"Lead me to the food!"

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Bingo!  The big, southern-accented fish took a great big bite of the bait Bluebelle was dangling in front of her.  If Applejack was getting words in edgewise before even the reigning champion of pegasus braggadocio, that was definitely strong evidence of strong feelings.  Not that Rainbow Dash was silent upon such matters, oh no!  She had just laid down the expected challenge, which did put the Princess into a bit of an awkward position.  She wasn't sure how well Star would take being drafted into a contest of wingpower.  Which she would totally win, of course, though Dash certainly had the edge in power-to-weight ratio.  Bluebelle's honor guard was more of a tank than a trick flyer.


"Well, she's not just a random honor guard to me."  The alabaster mare pointed out.  "But next time you're in town, I'll be sure to introduce you."  No promises of a contest, but at least then she could make her challenge in person.


Meanwhile, Bluebelle shot a look over at Rarity, gesturing subtly between Rainbow Dash and Applejack, giving a wink.  If the Princess could tell anything about the fashionista, she knew that the other was a convinced romantic.  Surely she'd be delighted at the budding relationship on display?  Well, she would, if she wasn't being irritated about her mane and the finer points of local geography.  "The Old Buffer, really?"  She sounded surprised, and well she might be.  If it was the same pony from Blueblood's undergraduate days... "We never saw him wearing anything but his academic robes and mortarboard hat.  Huh, fancy him going all high fashion on us..."  A thought occurred to her, and for an instant, her face was transformed, bearing the look of a rather feckless undergraduate that had been responsible for much of the antacid consumption among her old professors.  "Or was the dress hanging in his study- oh, and we thought that was for his marefriend.  Hm."


On this note, Valen broke in to announce their arrival, and the five eye-catching ponies departed onto the platform, step one in taking the city by storm.

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It was no mistake that when the train finally left them that there was still something of a crowd. They were an eye catching lot and were all famous to boot. Three Elements of Harmony, a Princess(and one beloved by tabloid journalists), and one of the most famous models of the time walking around without pomp and circumstance. It was enough to cause rumors to swirl and for now it was enough to cause a crowd to form and follow for a while. Just a while because it was Canterlot after all, and such sights weren't entirely foreign to the high-society folk which tended to cling to this city like barnacles on a ship. Within a few minutes and a few autographs and pictures the crowd dispersed, and they were left to bask in the grandeur that was Canterlot.

Very practiced and artificial grandeur, if Valen had to say it. That wasn't to downplay the wonderment one felt during their first few trips to the city but once you were a member of te upper crust, you would come to know the difference between true opulence and simply the appearance of it. Some parts of the city were truly and wonderfully opulent, especially the closer one got to the castles and halls of nobility. But outside of that, Canterlot was simply...upper middle class. And that was fine, except every part of it still tried to exude wealth and influence. Even the chain stores had fancier lettering and spiffier stocks- as well as higher prices than other locations in the chain.

Manehattan was different because it willingly embraced many identities. You could be rich or poor and live in areas that suited you just fine without embellishment or the need to put on airs. Canterlot was far more driven by its need to appear elite even if you weren't or the area simply wasn't. Perhaps that explained Valen's greater comfort in the somewhat more chaotic southern metropolis. You could be yourself and be assured that the ponies were genuine. Ponies in Canterlot were so afraid of sppearing to disrupt Canterlot's valuable status quo that they confirmed to a singular mono-identity. Manehattan, like Valen, embraced different sides of itself. And tonight, he was going to become a bit more like Canterlot even if he didn't know it.

The walk wasn't all that long, at least until they got an open air carriage. Applejack took a seat and allowed her trap to remain shut as she looked past the moving rows of storefronts that didn't speak to her at all. They spoke to Rarity and the Princess perhaps, but she was here for the ponies involved. It was strange to think how she got here and a little off-putting to know why she was being quiet- blurting out in defense of Rainbow wasn't her idea of a fine time, especially when it rustled up a hornet's nest of old and dying questions in her head. She allowed the carriage to roll on, thinking deeply to herself as Valen sat across from her, wondering just how much he'd have to pack in before he was allowed to declare the night a success and move on.

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  • 3 weeks later...




Rainbow allowed the open air ride to refresh her slightly. That ride on the train had gotten her pretty pent up and she needed a way to release some frustration. Sadly, there was no escape to be found and so she had to satiate herself with nothing more than a few breaths of Manehatten city air. The pegasus had noticed that Applejack had gone fairly quiet. In fact, she had some kind of far away look in her eyes and Rainbow wondered what AJ might have her mind on. 


Well, she looked good with the breeze blowing about her. In fact AJ looked so good Rainbow found herself wishing she was in this carriage ride with just her earth mare friend. There was just so much she wanted to say! But, that would have to wait... hopefully not too much longer... but it did have to wait. 


"Oh! Can you believe those ponies crowding us when we got off the train?" Rarity flicked her curls to the side. "What is this city coming to? A lady can't even walk off a train platform without being mobbed."


Eventually they neared the restaurant and Rarity began to disembark. "Come now darlings! A lovely evening awaits!" 


As they walked towards the entrance Rarity addressed Bluebelle. "Oh, you know darling, even professors have to have their fun now don't they?" She raised an eyebrow at the mare before walking through the entry of The Sprig.


"Welcome to the Sprig Miss Rarity. Come right this way." A demure stallion gestured thr group towards their table. 

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When the crowd arrived, Bluebelle was in her element.  Royalty was best seen against the backdrop of the masses, even if the masses were of higher class than most.  In fact, she had privately observed that for all the aristocracy's dread of "the mob," when the nobility was together, it tended to behave with a mob mentality.  Following the fashion like a herd followed it's migration patterns, never questioning the consensus regardless of it's origin, and just as susceptible to certain demagogic leaders, though only on the condition that they don't make a scene.


Blue felt herself exempt from the stipulation against making scenes, though currently she was restraining herself to charming smiles, subtle poses, and anything else that would raise her stock in this short window into the public opinion.  It wasn't vanity- well, not entirely vanity.  Good diplomatic and political work required a certain amount of esteem to pull off, so it would be wise to take advantage of every opportunity to get some, after all!


Soon, however, with the crowds dispersed, the conversations continued.  "Oh, I'll grant you that."  She replied to Rarity's eyebrow breezily.  "We just all believed he got his fun by torturing his students with 25-page essay assignments.  I don't believe he ever actually read them; he'd never have time for anything else if he did."  The most convincing bit of proof for this assertion was the fact that Blueblood had actually managed to pass Buffety's classes, which was less likely if the prof had discovered how much padding was in the paper.


Nodding at the stallion who was to guide them to their table, the Princess felt utterly at ease.  This was her home town.  For all it's quirks, this was her city, and she could take them all like a fish to water.

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"Well Rarity, Ah thought you liked tha attention of a crowd," Applejack chided all friendly like. She was still generally quiet as they traveled, stealing some glances over at Rainbow but otherwise not much to talk about for her. The path had been set for her cousin and that stole not a small part of her attention. Was it the right thing to do? And even if it was, were they going about it the right way? And Rainbow was also stealing glances. Sometimes they just looked at one another and it was simply awkward. They'd have to talk. There was no way she was going to be able to go to bed with these thoughts about her friend seeping into every breath.

Valen had much less of a concern on his mind. When they were mobbed he simply played his part of the model. Usually that would see him be the center of attention but in this situation he was little more than a second-actor. Famous designers, famous heroines, and royalty all stood around him and it was a bit of a relief that there was less attention paid. By the time he crawled into their transport he was a smiling little colt, half because of the events of the day and the other half because of how comfortable he found himself with these collection of mares. Dinner would no doubt be divine. They arrived in style to the Sprig and were quickly taken in.

The decor was fancy enough to suit Valen and make Applejack feel right out of home. "Huh...what was tha name of that burger place y'all mentioned earlier, Rainbow?" She asked with a pregnant pause of frivolity, allowing everypony to reach their own conclusions. Valen was perhaps too young to catch the humor and rolled his eyes. "Just give it a chance, Applejack. I am most sure that our delightful designer wouldn't have led us here unless it was of the most exquisite character and taste."

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  • 2 weeks later...



"We are totally going to that place later!" Rainbow winked at AJ as they followed the more hoity toity of the group to their table. 


The rainbow maned mare couldn't get over how stuffy this place felt. Everypony was dressed up in what looked like super uncomfortable outfits and they were eating...well they were eating food that she would have had to borrow Twilight's microscope to even see!


"What kind of place did she bring us to?" Rainbow's voice cracked as they got to the table.


"Alright then darlings," Rarity graciously sat in the chair that the stallion waiter pulled out for her. "Thank you dear."


"My pleasure madam," He twitched his mustache an assisted a few others in being seated.


"Please do let us know if there is anything you require. We are most pleased to be serving your esteemed group here at the Sprig."


Rarity had pre-ordered a five course service tho there would be options within these courses. The first course however, would be the same for all.


"So, where's the food?" Rainbow glanced around.


"Darling, really!" Rarity sniffed. "This is an experience for all your senses, you act like you would rather have a feed bag strapped to your muzzle!"


After a while the waiter returned. "The amuse bouche," He spoke as he set a small silver dish in front of each of them. "A fine ground oat and silver flower pollen compote, served atop a pannacotta of Prance imported Parmesan and basil reduction. Topped with petals from the fire flower." He nodded once the one bite dish had been served to all. "Enjoy."


Rainbow's mouth dropped open. "So tiny..."


"This looks delightful!" Rarity spoke in general to the table. This establishment had been of her choosing so the success of the courses had her reputation resting on them.  

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Entertaining the 'country cousin' at fine dining establishments was one of the most well-worn cliches of the Canterlot Comedy stage, and yet that old bit kept making the rounds, year after year.  And there was a reason for that.  Stage productions are only as powerful as they are true.  Exaggerations they may be, must be, but they only work if they are exaggerations of truth, and not lies.


And the plain truth of the matter was that you were just not going to get ponies like Applejack and Rainbow Dash to appreciate the idea of Quality over Quantity.  Meals for them were nourishment, not entertainment.  Bluebelle, listening in on the conversation, decided to pick her battles wisely.  "There is no shame in planning a midnight snack afterward."  She confided in a whisper to Rainbow Dash.  "Many of us tend to take six smaller meals per day rather than three larger ones."  Breakfast, Elevensies, Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, Midnight Snack; the hexarchy of aristocratic eating.  The custom had developed out of the fact that the social life for the nobility was the working life, so having more meals in the day gave more opportunities to talk and deal-make in inviting environments.  The size shrunk in response to keep the great and the good from developing ovoid figures.


Not that the Princess expected to give this information out, of course.  It wasn't the point of this dinner, after all.  Taking a tiny bite of the compote, just enough to spread the flavor of it across her whole tongue, she sighed in happiness.  "Mmm, just enough bite to counteract the creaminess of the cheese.  I think a little tomato, though, would have given it just that savory push over the edge."  Ever since taking on Dunder Blust as a house cook, Blue had started to develop a taste for the flavorful above the bland, making her that much more appreciative of Rarity's good work in Restaurant Row.


Again, though, this was a distraction from the main purpose, which was Valen.  Bluebelle kept an eye on him, or her, as the earth pony saw fit.  And just what would they see fit?  That was the question.

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