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Flighttime Bonding (ATTN: Dusty)


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It was always important to take time for family.

 

Queen Haven often had to remind herself of that fact, even as she would acknowledge that it was the most important lesson a pony could learn.  But the duties of rulership, and the trappings of celebrity, were all to eager to eat up all the waking time a mare could give, leaving one's daughters in the cold.  Worst case scenario, this made them fight over the scraps, and having seen her two precious princesses do that once, she was resolved not to ever give them reason to do so again.

 

Nonetheless, both often found themselves on their own, left to their own devices.  In one respect, this was good, since it let them develop autonomy, to the point where they were able to become, in their own way, heroes!  On the other hoof, it meant that Haven would sometimes feel herself increasingly distant from her daughters with each passing season...

 

But now they all had something new that they had in common, working wings!  And while Haven was by no means so speedy a flier as Zipp, nor so graceful a sky-dancer as Pipp, she found herself alight with joy every time she partook in the birthright of all pegasi, and this was something special she could share with them.

 

Today, she was sharing it with Pipp, on a flight home from Maretime Bay where she'd come to pick her up from a party.  "Did you have a good time with your friends?"  Haven asked, brightly, for now not a queen, just a mother.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Pipp was very thankful to have time alone with her mother. It's not that she hated Zipp, she’d never, but the two walked very different ways. And it seemed more than ever that was evident in more ways than before. It was conflicting yet things turned out ok. Good. Maybe. And that was the core of her troubles, what happened was good yet she felt worried about herself. Her family. The crown. Was that greedy? Was it wrong for her to fear losing power? Such things were not easy for her to express or even think about. Yet her mother knew what to think about such things. She did every time. And as the sun hung low she had that moment she wanted for what left like forever. A moment shared with the only pony she was an open book too.

 

It still took her a moment to speak. They hugged, greeted and took to the sky. Something so… New. So strange. They stuck low, sometimes so low Pipp felt her hooves passing over the tall wild grass of open fields. It's how she liked it. Some part of her was scared she’d fall. The magic yanked away and left her helpless with wings that can’t even glide. She was not Zipp. In body or soul. She was just the spare. Back up. Less- No, that was not true. She knew it was not. She was tired, that’s all. Tired and thankful to have her mom nuge her in to speaking and shake off the worries in her mind. 

 

“I think I did.” It was the honest truth. She felt like she had fun. Yet still it was full of worries and nerves twitching underneath her smiles and stories. She looked around, then up and fixed her eyes on the small group of guards flying overhead. She didn't really feel that safe. How can she when so many betrayed her? What of her personal guards? She used to sleep so easy as a filly knowing they were at her door. Most of all after that time one stayed on guard in front of her closest all night when she asked him to do that. It was so silly but she swore something was hiding in the darkness. Now? She didn't know. She was getting side tracked again. “They are nice to me, very much so. Maybe too nice at times. A rather glaring lack of understanding personal space as well. Not as bad as my… More extreme fans. But one too many ponies poked my wings without asking.” She looked over at her mother, she wanted to ask… Other things. Yet she was never very good at doing that. Speaking about herself. Yet her mother seemed to know every time she was having troubles.

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With a slowing flap of her wings, Haven drew even with Pipp.  Her two daughters both lived and flew at different paces, and it was important for their mother to match them where they were.  That was why one-on-one time was important, as much as time all together.  Low and slow, that was how Pipp liked it.  It suited her, not even just from a lack of confidence, but because she was more visible from the ground, an audience could see more than a speck against the blue. 

Not that such thoughts were in the front of her mind at the moment, Queen Haven noticed.  "You think you had a good time?"  She echoed, curious and somewhat concerned.  Uncertainty in such answers usually meant that some part of the visit was definitely not enjoyable.  Pipp, like most in the public eye, was jealous of what private space she could preserve, and took violations of it much less casually than the common pony.  But one had to be diplomatic, in matters of foreign cultures, and though they were all ponies, Queen Haven had noticed a rather more... egalitarian attitude among the earth ponies, at least when they acted among themselves.
"Well, for many no doubt you are the first pegasus they've ever seen, let alone with such wings as yours.  Don't be afraid to tell them they are sensitive, and only close friends may touch."  That was common etiquette among the pegasi, and it was a little much to expect that everypony else would know it already.  Still, if it wasn't as bad as the most rabid of the "Pippsqueaks", then there must me something more there.  Her maternal senses were tingling.  "Is that all, Pipp?"

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Was that all? She wished it was. But it was not and the fears she held close to her chest were both real and worthless. She knew outsiders would not understand. But her mother will. “I felt. Normal? Yes, like a peasant. A pretty one, the most pretty in all the town even if a few of the earth pony mares are close on my tail. But a peasant. It was nice at first, to just be another pony. But now. No. I… I don’t want to be that. I can’t be that. I worked so hard to stand where I did!” Her words grew in power as bottled up feelings got uncorked. “We got magic back, we made peace… I think, with the other ponies. And what did it cost? Cost all of us? The cat is out of the bag.” She wanted to say another part. The crown. The Queendom. She wanted that as well. All her life she did! She may be the star of her home but she was forever in second place.  second place to what now? What power will be given away to keep some shadow of what was? She wanted to scream that. But she knew better. Every time she hinted at wanting the crown it just got mom worried she’d do something rash. She’d never, not to her own sister. Yes she may wish doom on Zipp sometimes but what filly never has done that on a sister?

 

“And… Them.” She nodded up, glancing at the small troop of guards in the sky. “I used to trust them with my life. Now… I can’t. I have nightmares now of them dragging us away. You. Me. Dragging us away as Zipp runs off and leaves us. No amount of being sorry is going too make them stop I think. The others don’t really understand… What happened. My own personnel guard dragged me away by the very wires I made my living on. So a few helped us too freedom. A dozen out of a worthless army that failed to keep us safe and betrayed us the moment it fit them. How can I enjoy some party with the common peasant when they can’t hope to understand why I’m upset over something? Not that I told them.” she huffed, taking in a gasp of air. Flying and ranting was tiring! How on earth did Zipp do it, then get in a run as well? She needed something yummy. Help the stress as well. The cooks better be ready to cook her dinner soon as her hooves hit the ground.

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Mothers sometimes pick up on things that their daughter's didn't necessarily intend to communicate.  'Working Hard', now that was a telling phrase, in a world where most ponies would say Pipp got to where she was by the luck of birth.  They wouldn't have seen the literal straight days of practice in her singing and dancing, the long climb she took to be a public figure in her own right.  Of course, whether that level of effort would have given that level of results had she been born to a different mother, or with a sister more envious that Zipp, well.  Probably not, in all honesty.  "You've done well with what fortune gave you."  Queen Haven replied, diplomatically, not wanting to denigrate her daughter, but if recent events taught anything, it was maybe a good idea to check up on their pride once in a while. 

 

But that wasn't the real issue.  Pipp had dealt with some degree of insecurity all her life, and the recent, hopefully temporary dethroning they'd all gone through had not helped in the least.  "Pipp..."  She sighed, not knowing how to say this delicately.  Weaker things than wings seemed to be keeping her spirits airborne.  "Just as we had to put on a show for our ponies... so did they.  Believe me, things would have turned out much uglier had all the pegasi in Zephyr Heights felt that everypony in the castle played a mean trick on them, if it looked as if no one cared about their feelings."  She slowed to hover right beside her daughter.  "The peasants felt betrayed too, you know."

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  • 1 month later...

“I wish this never happened, honestly.” she says after a few moments flying alongside her mother. She felt guilty for that, she’s seen first hoof the good going on. Heck, it gave her some friends that saw her as just Pipp, the pegasus. That’s it. Even if she’d never let go of her rank and titles it was good to have friends that saw past them and the pony underneath. Yet she felt shaken, her world kicked to the side and no amount of fixing may make it level again. But her mother did have a point, this event was two ways. Much as she forgets sometimes. Maybe why other nobles whisper that she’d not be all too fit for the crown even with Zipp seeming to not care about it at all. Zipp was just better like that.

 

She looked over at her mother, just tired. She wanted normalcy. To have her hooves gilded, fur washed in the spa and having the servants sneak her some treats when the Health and Fitness instructor wasn't looking. Hopefully that evil mare never worked for the family again… “I know it can be worse.” she waved a hoof past her neck. “But it still hurts, still haunting me.” she huffed, not knowing where to take this rant or how to even aim her anger, worries and just. Everything. Times like this she wished for some magic power to just make things go her way. “What are you going to do? What are we going too do?” She asked, looking on ahead and gazing at the mountain range she called home. “We can’t just trot in and act like nothing happened… and what if they try to just toss us back in jail? Real jail this time, the old dungen. Then what?” She added, already thinking of herself stuck in some small cell deep in the lower city.

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Queen Haven had known both her children long enough to know when they were being serious, and when they were making an outburst from just being overwhelmed.  And right now, Pipp was both overstimulated from novelty and insecure from things she once counted on.  It was her job as a mother right now to be with her through this.  "I promise you Pipp, whatever happens, I will not let anypony lock you up in the old cells."  It was cruel to keep a pegasus so far from the sky; that was the main feeling which had motivate the royal's efforts at prison reform.  The thought of her daughters being subject to the old punishments...

Well.  Pity the fool who would face that fury.  "I don't think it will come to that, though.  I have made arrangements to lay out our case more publicly, hopefully in a way that allows for a full and calm explanation.  And I'm not without friends of my own.  But there's no going back to the old normal; only forward to the new one.  And you have a special responsibility now."  She matched her pace with Pipp, looking her in the eye.  "More even than your sister right now, you have the ability to be the face of that new normal, with your reach.  It's not going to be easy, especially with what all just happened... but many ponies still look to you as living the life they always dreamed of, and can in some ways aspire to.  You have to be proactive, just in doing what you're doing; sharing your life with your new friends.  Zipp may be my successor to the throne, but Zephyr Heights will need all the leadership we can provide."

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  • 4 months later...

Some deep part of her wanted to toss a fit and ask why she can’t be the successor. But honestly with everything that happened she found herself less focused on that. It hardly seemed that big of a deal. At least for now. After her mom's words she just felt even more tired. Mom had a way of doing that, blowing all the hot air out from underneath her wings. “This is making my back hurt.” She says after a moment. “From now on I will be using airships to get to that town, I’m not flying it like a dozen times a week.” She added, changing the topic off the grim worries she had and onto more gentle topics. But she knew she couldn't dance around them forever. Mom was not wrong in what she was saying… Why she was such a good queen. Why can’t others see that? Why hate her at all? She was good and led them well. That was the order of things, how the world worked. The queen told them what to do because she knew best and was the queen… And here she goes again, worrying about what may be… 

 

After a moment she knew mom was holding on for her to in fact, respond to what was told. “Thank you mom.” She huffed, not in anger, just stress. “Will it be a bit much if I post guards outside my bedroom for a few weeks? Just to make me feel safer. I know no one will get in but I want too hoof pick a few to be my shadow for at least a few weeks. I know I can trust a few of them to not betray me. Or us… But we may want too fire off a few dozen others that didn't stand up for us. We clearly had a gap in some loyalty.” And once again she was now off on some other tangent, she can’t help it. She had to speak her mind and vent all of this out. It was now or never with it just being her and mom.

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The Queen couldn't help but chuckle, taking what levity she could from her daughter.  Grave matters weighed down the wings, after all.  "I may end up doing the same for long trips; count yourself lucky that you're young."  Ah, the 'joys' of aging.  Persistent aches, increasing amounts of one's morning spent shoring up the levies of good looks before they all finally caved and one became... old.  *Mph, so much for light thoughts...*  Seeing the world and its joys go off and leave her behind was a worry she'd never confessed, not even to her daughters, though she suspected she wasn't quite as good at hiding her inner thoughts from them.

"Oh, an honor guard?  No trouble at all, though our *trusted* guards are a bit of a tight resource.  I'll confess I'll sleep better at night myself with you watched over."  She knew this whole situation had left her little Pipp feeling rather insecure, like a sheltered mare suddenly thrown onto a scarred and open waste.  There was no way out but up and over, but it had been a long time since any of their kind had truly stretched their wings.

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She was a little shocked mom rolled over on that so fast, in fact she seemed very much happy Pipp wanted too do that. Maybe even mom was more shaken up by this than she let on. “Ya. I will sleep better as well with some guards looking over me. Just to be safe… And keep my worries down.” She says back, shaking her head gently as she looks back ahead at the wall of stone ahead of them. Up in its peaks was the best city in the world… And for a long time, far as she knew, the only city. It was odd opening that door and learning other places were out there. She ‘knew’ there was. But in her head they were wild lands and small remote towns of savages. Not… Well, just a town with TV, running water and so on. Even if it all was way out of date and old. “Well, we can get on that. Why don’t you pick out an honor guard as well? Just to be safe.” she asked, wondering if mom will. She hoped she did. Maybe she was blowing this way out of the water but she can’t help it… Her life feels like some flipped her upside down and mugged her. 

 

And then with a soft buzzing sound she vibrated. “OH!” In one fluid movement she reached a hoof to her side and pulled her phone out of its straps. She flicked her eyes over the screen, made a thinking face, then rolled her eyes. “Well we are back in range for a good signal… So the RSG (royal security guard) that was on wire duty just texted me. He’s very, very sorry and is wondering if he needs to hoof over his hat to the captain. I’d fire him and string him up with some ropes. But you are the queen, not me.” she says rolling her eyes and looking back over at her mother as her phone shakes even more. “Oh here we go… Yikes, that is a lot of missed calls and texts... Nope. Not talkin to you... Nope... He's fine, need to text him back... The captain? Oh wow, he's mad. Not at us, others gaurds. I hope he chews them up good before I get my hooves on them too. Hrmp.” 

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"I think I will, actually...."  A nice, handsome chap, built rugged, yes.  That was exactly what Queen Haven needed by her side right now.  Would Zipp and Pipp handle her taking a late-life consort well, she mused?  It was tough enough at the top without being lonely besides...  Coming into the city, she couldn't help but muse on her feelings.  Seeing Pipp's new group of friends had driven home to her how... few she had.  Really had.  Maybe she should carve some time to make some; she was sorely lacking in reliable ponies right now...

 

Speaking of which!  "Oh?  Strange that he would call you about this..."  Haven gave her daughter a sideways look, before blinking with the realization that she herself did not carry a phone with her.  So, it made sense that Pipp would take calls.  Right?  There wasn't any untoward things going on, surely...  "Well, discipline may well be called for, but it would be wise to at least give some chance of getting them back in our good graces.  If you don't give your ponies anything, they have no reason to not join a rebellion.  Which, need I remind you, is the last thing we need right now.  The contrite we will give a chance to repent, albeit with lower ranks and harsher duties until sincerity is proved.  The rest.... well, we will need a new recruitment drive, I fear.  I wonder... where would we find reliable ponies for it?"

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Pipp looked over at her mom with lok that very clearly said ‘why did you even ask that?’ when asked why the captain texted her. “Maybe if you remembered to keep that phone on you they’d text you, not me, to give up-dates.” She says with a sweet tone and smile, she had this talk oh so many times with mom. You’d be shocked how often other nobles called her first just to pass on messages for mother. She honestly needed to tax them for it. But moving on she nodded her head to the rest of what mom was saying. “Ya, ya… That’s a good point…” Some part of her whispered ‘this is why they don’t want you as a queen’ but she shakes it off with a flick of her head to look back at the phone in her hooves. 

 

“Reliable ponies?” She repeated, then became aware of that. Where can they? Can she trust the common masses? Not after this. They needed ponies with… No ties to this. Ohh… “I think I have an idea for that! Maybe we can hire some earth ponies? Unicorns? They’d have no no tie to the drama that happened and probably will not care. Never there problem to begin with. Most of all the unicorns, you saw how they lived. Like savages. Not even one TV! We offer them good pay and good room and board and they’d be on our side in a heartbeat I think. Just keep the pegues guards we trust as sargents and up to overlook the others as a fail safe until they prove some loyalty.” She felt this was a rather smart plan honestly, like some real idea even her mom may have. She pulled her eyes away from her phone to smile at her mother, hoping to see she was in fact offering up something smart.

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Non-pegasus guards?  That was an idea that would never have occurred to Queen Haven, and on that account she was half tempted to gently dismiss it.  On second thought, however, she had to admit, it would certainly show the Crown's commitment to a new way.  Political complications were... honestly unavoidable under the circumstances, so it benefitted her overall to swell the numbers on her side. "That... is a very interesting idea.  I wonder how many volunteers we would get; it is by no means an easy ask to leave one's old life behind for a new one."  One thing she hoped Pipp could empathize with, considering how little she wanted to leave her own.  "Certainly, though, I don't see any harm in extending the invitation, however many come."  Not to mention, now that she thought about it, unicorn magic could be a rather powerful asset.  And Earth Pony strength.  Mmm, big strong earth ponies...

She blinked.  Goodness, all this flight must be making her giddy, she was daydreaming like a lovestruck teen!  Best get home as soon as possible.  "Nonetheless, a sudden influx of them is bound to cause friction.  Friction which, of all of us, you are perhaps best equipped to navigate, with your experience and charisma.  Can I count on you to take responsibility of ensuring a smooth integration?"

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“Even if it's just a few, it's a few more to fill some ranks that will badly need some filling. We can’t keep all of our old guards and we can’t risk having even less than before. Even a dozen at best is still better than nothing.” She says, glad to see mom sided with her on this, the plan had some snags with it. But nothing she can’t deal with. “Friction will be easy. Just shove some ponies we trust fully in some new postings, do some promoting and rearranging… I can keep the media off that easy, paper work shuffling is oh so boring compared some hot new Pipp streams from outside of the city. Maybe steam on a boat? Hrm, well I will think about that. But we keep pegasus guards close to us on top, that will keep them happy. By the time outsiders have earned some new ranks the worst of the friction will be long past, hopefully, and we pass out a few sargents to make them feel like we are fair and open. Win win.” She glanced back at her phone as some new texts came in, rolled her eyes, than looked back at mom. 

 

“I will take on responsibility for integration and smoothing it over with the masses and troops. I can deal with that no problem. But let's start with picking out some stallions from the RSG to shadow us first. We need that A S A P, then we can work on restructuring… Then sending out letters to the unicorns and earth ponies to see if we can get some takers. Have to offer them some good pay and benefits to come out this way… It is a big thing. And can’t say the takers on it may be the best of the best. But we have to start somewhere.” She found herself a little taken back by how much she’s latched onto this. Yet she felt some pride in it, like she was stepping up and trying to take control back from this wild ride she was stuck on. And to be honest, she just loved taking the lead and all eyes on her. She can do this, she can be safe again and FIX this mess and get everything back to the way it's supposed to be.

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Haven was pleased at her daughter's enthusiasm, though she had her own personal doubts as to whether things would go as smoothly as Pipp was confident that they would.  But... experience would be a better teacher than a mother's words on a headstrong daughter.  And maybe she was right after all.  Only one way to find out, and it was quite true that some kind of shakeup was needed in the Palace.  "Well, consider this your Official Royal Duty, then.  I look forward to seeing how you do."   She shot a look of acknowledgment and pride over to her younger daughter, knowing full well that Pipp really had not had enough of that, all things considered.  Being not in line, therefore a perpetual princess, had its perks, but that also meant that any royal duties, and thus quality time with the Queen, fell unevenly between her and Zipp.

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Pipp did in fact crave acknowledgment. A fact most may call obvious but few know she truly wanted her mothers acknowledgment far more than her horde of fans. They were the faceless mass, nothing more than screaming fanatics most of the time. That was fine and dandy buy nothing close to seeing her mother smiling and praising her. It was one one of the few things that can truly make her get up and do things with only a mild amount of complaining. Well, most things. She would fuss a lot whenever mom forced her to ‘work out’ and ‘eat less sweets’, why her mom sided with that fitness instructor she’d never understand. She was a princess! Not some solder. Whatever. Praise! And duty! Mom was tusting her with something very important! “Awesome, that’s what I'm going too do. If I can get my chat to behave how hard will this be? Speaking of… Oh that is going to be a hot mess when I boot it up tomorrow.” 

 

She frowned for a moment, thinking. “Maybe uploading a free vid of my hooves being re-gilded will help…” She left unspoken her plan to toss in a bonus vid for all her subs of the much needed preening she’s going to do back home. That stuff always made them happy. And creepy. Oh so creepy. But she’d have to go all in on damage control… Did she need to do an apology? No, no that was bad. That was not in. Apology vids got meme’d into the ground. Stand her ground and keep her head up tall, that's what she needed to do. Her fans will respect that and think it's based. “So, you had plans to help smooth this over? What were they? We can work together to put out this fire before it gets too big. We need to get hold of this before they start asking about things like, voting or electing their own leaders.”

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Queen Haven clucked with sympathy, like a mother hen.  It was not exactly slander to say that Pegasi could exhibit birdlike characteristics when their guard was down, though the displays when they happened were rarely dignified, and thus Haven was usually careful to keep them private.  "Oh, yes... I have often wondered if it was a good idea to open such a direct channel for instant feedback from the populace... I imagine there are a lot of them who are going to vent at you.  I do hope you won't take them too seriously, unless they actually bother to send a physical letter or something else requiring effort and forethought.  Then we'll have to keep a list of names..."  It was hard, in these modern times, to balance concerns for the safety and sanity for one's offspring.  "Also, hoof-gilding?  I had no idea that made for such interesting viewing."

 

Out of touch as she may be with the younger folks, Haven did have a savvy sense of the established media landscape, and how unlikely it was to meet her on her own terms for the next week or two.  But there had to be some opportunity- aha!  "That famous tennis player, Flick Ray?  He's been making a lot of noise about his new show, First Serve.  I think a long, unrestricted, and non-adversarial interview with a large audience is just what we need.  Just to have some place to refer any further questioners if they want our side of the story.  Besides that... a blitz of public relations work.  Hm, I don't suppose you could call your friends back up to Zephyr Heights to help out with that?"

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“I’d say no on full open instant feedback. Take it from me, it's hard to keep them in line even with guidelines and banned topics.” Pipp says with a scrunch of her nose. Mom had no clue the madness she had to put up with. Chat was… Something. Make it open for all feedback too the government? Oh no, no no. Just no. “Ya that’d be a disaster. Be nothing but memes, hate speech and jokes about some royal flanks.” She added, clearly seeing that firestorm play out in her head and mom asking her what ‘up dog’ was about. 

 

She looked back at mom and stuck out her tongue for a moment. “Hoof-gilding is populer, in my top five most watched content. Wild I know. Only out watched by me chowing down on food.” she says, shaking her head and laughing gently. “And before you fuss mother, yes I am still watching what I eat. Not like the cooks will even make me extra cake… Speaking of, Flick Ray? A podcast with him? A sports pod-cast?” She blinked a few times, eyeing Haven up than looking down at herself. “Hrm, nope. Don’t think that’s a good match for my talents…” She blinked again and snapped her head up to look at her mother with a grin.

 

“I know! Been wanting to do something like this. Royal Game Night! Me, you and sis play games together online and I stream it. And I will… Even set up some board game nights. Only fair I let you have the edge sometimes. Be fun and let the outside see us some more. Too be fair, few ever see much of… Us. How we live. I was the only window in for most. So maybe letting them see all three of us just living, joking and playing together will open some eyes.” She really wanted this to happen. First of it will mean she and mom had more things to do together! And Zipp… But more time with mom!

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The Queen nodded, as Pipp confirmed her suspicion of open forums.  "You would know better than any of us about such matters."  Celebrity culture, and fans, did not exactly endear one to the idea of democracy, royal or no.  The entertainment tastes of the populace often being as idiosyncratic as their political demands, Haven had to wonder if it was healthy to indulge them even to the limited extent that she knew Pipp had.  If she ever got in on one of her paid streams...

 

"Oh!"  This stream, however, seemed like a good idea.  More time she could legitimately carve out with her daughters.  "I would love to, darling.  As long as you don't ask me to play anything too intense or violent.  My reaction time is not what it once was."  She would make no promises in return about what board games she would bring to the table, though!  Sure, she'd probably start with Settlers of Maretonia when it was her first turn to pick, but one day she would sit both of them down for a full game of Railways and Robber Barons!  But that one should probably be a, what did she call it, charity stream.

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Pipp felt over the moon about this! First off, mom was trusting her with some rather important matters. And was going to try too take part in her new stream idea? Maybe this… Uprising had some good sides after all. Well other than the obvious parts. Even if she still felt uneasy about them… Everypony was so… Easy going about this. Stuff. But she still felt uneasy around the other tribes. Most of all the horn heads. They had magic back! You know, the magic that almost doomed all of ponykind? Took the sky away from the pegasi? It was obviously their fault after all. But everypony seemed to be moving on ahead with all of this, all was good. But if the horn heads pulled something again she’d be the first one to step and go ‘See! Told you so.’ and then run for her life or something. 

 

But that was a worry for other places and time. This was all too much good news for her to be held down by her worries and very healthy and not problematic paranoia! That was most definitely not made worse by the past week's events! She was very sound of mind and perfectly fit to be a queen. If that happened. It may happen. You never know. Zipp didn't like the crown all that much after all. And she was spacing out thinking about things again… So she shook it off and smiled at mom. “Yes yes, no Call of Duty or Battlefield for you. Even if I’d love to see you trash talk some colts.” She giggled at that and looked down at her phone and siped her hoof over it. “Magic Kings may be something you enjoy, didn't you see me play that a few times? It's set way, way back. Pre-uniteing age. Plotting, curt intrigue and all that good stuff. And endless jokes about us Royals having a family wreath, not a tree.” She chuckled some more and gave her mother an unspoken look. "And you have fine reaction time. Like that time a crazy fan rushed me to get a feather. Remember that? I do, and clearly remember you reacting faster than my own guards about that. And giving them a truly end of the world dressing down as you held the creep pinned to the walkway. Your wits and reaction time is fine.”

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Once you had.... a certain undisclosed number of years under your belt, you learned that situations that seemed like pure negatives often had blessings in disguise.  The recent uprising was a master of disguise, granted, but if they navigated this all well as a family... there may well be a brighter future than ever ahead of them.

"Magic Kings... is that the game with all those portraits to the side of the map?  I remember that, yes."  She had to roll her eyes at the 'family wreath' joke, though.  Really, how tiresome.  Just because the necessity for selectivity rather restricted the pool of potential mates did not mean there was any strong degree of inbreeding!  She had two genetically healthy daughters, thank you very much!  That line of thinking did lead her mind down to another question that she wanted to ask her daughter once she got some private time.
"Speaking of intrigue and matches... have you had any suitors lately to whom you're giving any serious consideration?  Or any who you'd wish would work up the courage?"  She gave a little smile, it was about at Pipp's age... maybe even a little younger, if she thought of it, that their father had first come to her attention.

 

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“Yep, that one!” Pipp says with a nod of her head, tucking her phone away after being done with it. For now. It often found its way back onto her hoof as soon as she put it away. But in the moment her focus did want to stay on mom flying alongside her. At least it was until mom dragged up a topic Pipp didn't really want to focus on. “Suitors? Oh, plenty. A full screaming mass of them in fact. Now if you are asking about suitable suitors? No.” She says, rolling her eyes. Zipp was the prize for the noble families of the city, Pipp was the runner up. Yes they did send flattery her way and gifts. But that was all part of meet and greets between the powerful, nothing really to do with romancing her. The only real ‘suitors’ she had trying to win her over were a few guards from low-nobility families. But honestly she didn't mind being overlooked in this one specific way. Most of the colts being shoved Zipps way were… Well. how can she put it? She didn't even fully know herself. She was just thankful they were not on her tail. 

 

“Go ask Zipp that, she needs a consort more than I will after all.” She says after a moment, huffing and wanting to talk about other things. “So what board games will you want to play with us? I think the last time I even did one with you was….” A long time ago it felt like. When she was much younger. “A long time ago. Back when my nickname was ‘puff ball’.” She added, giggling at some old memories and what happened when a young pipp was blow-dried after a bath. She can still become a puff ball even now, if she wanted. Sometimes she did treat mom and Zipp to a rare puffy Pipp. Only in closed doors of course. Last thing she needed was her fans to see how fuzzy she can really get with some work.

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Suitable suitors.  That was ticket, wasn't it?  Besides the standards that royalty imposed, there was also the normal mother's desire for her daughter to be happy.  Pipp seemed happy enough alone, but Haven worried that her experience with fame, as well as watching everypony go for Zipp had probably warped her sense of taste.  Either way, it seemed this was not a desirable topic of conversation.  "Oh, well, just know you can come to talk to me about any stallions that catch your eye... or mares I suppose."  It wasn't likely that she would make that last concession if Pipp wasn't the younger daughter, in all fairness.

 

But, back to the subject of games!  "Hm, I suppose it would depend on what sort of things would be interesting to watch as well as to play, wouldn't it?"  Haven mused, thinking.  "Settlers of Maretonia is a classic, and most of the audience would be able to follow along, I think."  The mention of 'puff ball' did bring an amused smile to the Queens face, but also a ping of nostalgic melancholy to her heart.  Pipp wasn't a little filly anymore, and there were fewer and fewer moments of truly unselfconscious joy from her that she got to witness these days.

 

 

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‘or mares’ was not something Pipp was honestly prepared to hear from her mom. She didn't react to it but it did stick in her head for a moment. Will a mare be better for her? She did wonder that some times. In some odd dreamy way but never let it play out too far. Was that strange? How can you not think like that when watching some of the guard mares working out? Or stallions. Fit, strong. Heck, she’d be pulling her own tail if she didn't admit she eyed up Sunny's BFF. For an earth pony he is very nice on the eyes. She’d not fuss at all seeing some earth pony guards trotting about the palace if they all looked that beefy and big. … What were they talking about again?

 

Yes! Games. “Settlers of Maretonia?” She says as if tasting the words. She felt like she had seen Maretonia somewhere. Was it an old queendom? Sounds like it. “Well, it can't be that hard to play a board game. It is a game on a table with pieces of paper and whatnot. But it will be easy to set up some good angles… Sky-cam, some side views.” She nodded her head, planning the layout for how too go about it. Good thing she was not new to this song and dance. She’s had to set up streams in odd places! Like the time she did that waterfall… Well, it was tricky. She then yawned big and wide, looking up at the guards flying overwatch then ahead at the glow of the city coming closer and closer. “So I know we are going too have ice cream when we get home, but how does a nap sound?” she asked, looking back over at her mom with a soft smile, her funr legs rubbing together. She wanted to ask something but it was so silly! 

 

But this week has been so… Well, awful. “Can you… Uh, you know. With the wings. Like when I was young. I know I'm not a foal, I don’t need you doing that but it's not like you can’t. I’m not that much bigger than a filly.” She felt embarrassed even asking but she did love when mom did it. She wondered if the other tribes had something like it? Did their mothers feel some need to lay on top of her foals and shelter them? It was very cozy and warm and unlike most Pipp can still pull it off! Well, more like she was so small her mom can still do it. What was rare, but sometimes she can talk Haven into it. And you know what she earned. Ice-cream and napping with that warm, safe feeling of a mother nesting on you. She pitied the other tribes if they didn't know of such things.

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"I'll let you handle the set-up then."  Haven nodded, passing off a bit more responsibility to Pipp.  One had to learn to delegate as a Queen, after all... and Pipp would probably throw a fit after seeing the state of her equipment after the likely results of her trying to use it. 

More salient to her right now, as they slowed their pace as they approached the city, was how tired Pipp was looking.  "A nap sounds good after a long flight, for sure."  The Queen agreed, glad to see at least one of her daughters understood how to rest and pace herself.  It was her next request, though, that warmed her heart.  It was a bittersweet day for pegasus mothers when their foals grew too large to nest them, but Pipp had not yet passed that point, unlike her sister.  And today, after everything that had happened... Haven knew she needed that time with her as much as her daughter did right now.  "I would be happy to, little Petal."

 

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