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Herd 18

By Hawkeye
Created: 18th December 2020 04:30:34 PM

  1. >Movement beside you stirs you to semi-consciousness.
  2. >One of the girls is trying to get up.
  3. >Not gonna happen.
  4. >Using your impressive human reach you get an arm around her again.
  5. >She squeaks in surprise as your impressive human strength rolls her onto your chest.
  6. >Perfectly positioning your hand for ear scritching.
  7. >It works...for a minute.
  8. >"I have to go open the spa." Aloe whispers "But we can pick this up again when I get home if you want~."
  9. "We'll see." you grumble before being shushed.
  10. >Lotus is a heavier sleeper than that, you're pretty sure.
  11. >"You could always make an appointment."
  12. "Any openings right now?"
  13. >"I'm afraid the spa isn't open yet." she answers, slipping from your grasp and rolling out of bed. "Try again later."
  14. "Maybe I will."
  15. >With a tiny yawn and a nod, she disappears into the bathroom.
  16. >Lamenting the loss of one of your marefriends to the cold, cruel real working world, you roll onto your side and pull Lotus into your arms.
  17. >She's deep asleep still, and offers no resistance.
  18. >Not that she would if she was awake, but still.
  19. >You're almost asleep again when something lands on the mattress behind you.
  20. >A pawing hoof convinces you to roll onto your back.
  21. >Said hoof (a very pink hoof) then plants itself on your chest as Aloe dives down for a quick peck on the lips.
  22. >"See you after work!" she chirps, deftly dodging the hand reaching out to her and hopping off the bed.
  23. >Rats, human strength foiled by pony agility!
  24. >Rolling back over, you return to spooning Lotus.
  25. >"You better take care of her, Anon."
  26. "Good morning."
  27. ...
  28. "Wait, what?"
  29. >"Aloe." Lotus yawns. "She already takes care of me. So you take care of her."
  30. "Deal."
  31. >"Don't you want to know who takes care of you?"
  32. "I've got a guess."
  33. >"Let's see if you're right." she says, rolling around to meet your gaze.
  34.  
  35.  
  36. >Some time later, sitting over coffee downstairs, you look aimlessly around the kitchen.
  37. >"Anon?"
  38. "Yeah?"
  39. >"I don't want to cook."
  40. "Yeah."
  41. >"Let's go to that baker in the market, I heard she sells bagels if you get there soon enough."
  42. "Yeah, let's go."
  43. >Outside is damp.
  44. >It clearly rained overnight.
  45. >"Anon?"
  46. "Hmmm?"
  47. >"I know that Aloe probably talked to you yesterday about it, but-" she pauses to yawn "-I do really think it was noble of you to stand up to Cloudchaser."
  48. "Well, at least one pony does."
  49. >"Aloe was just worried about you. And I'm sure Lyra agrees with me."
  50. >You adjust your arm in its sling.
  51. "Maybe."
  52. >She leans against you, looking up with those big blue eyes.
  53. >As you run one hand through her mane, she sighs, then suddenly snorts.
  54. >"I bet Rose yelled at you."
  55. "She didn't yell at me."
  56. >"But she's upset about the fight."
  57. "She's right, getting arrested isn't a great look."
  58. >"Anon! You were defending a mare, *your* mare!"
  59. "It's way too early to be having this conversation..."
  60. >"I-I may have had a lot of time to think about this."
  61. "Oh really?"
  62. >"We knew she was going to scold you. She's just so...responsible."
  63. "And that's a bad thing?"
  64. >"No! But sometimes...yes." she backtracks "She should support her stallion! That's what a Herd does!"
  65. "Oh? I thought they were just cute mares that offered to cuddle in exchange for sweets."
  66. >"Hey! I'd cuddle you even without sweets" Lotus shoots back "and you know it!"
  67. "Maybe."
  68. >Another dignified snort from the powder blue pony.
  69. >Before anything else is said, you turn the corner into the main square.
  70. >With the weather calling for rain on and off all day, everypony seems to be in a rush today.
  71. >None of the usual cheerful banter among throngs of ponies shopping.
  72. >Just those who really need something darting outside while it's dry to grab a few things, murmur a 'thank you' to the poor purveyors and then hurry home.
  73. >Quickly crossing the cobblestone square, you find yourself under the dripping awning of one of the local bakers.
  74. >Looking around as Lotus orders the bagels, you spot some chocolate croissants.
  75. >While Lotus is debating the various merits of the many options for cream cheese, you wave to the baker, catching her eye.
  76. >Silently placing some bits on the counter, you nab a croissant in a napkin and pocket it.
  77. "I'm fine with whatever, Lotus." you say, prompting her to settle on a 'healthy' veggie cream cheese.
  78. >Practically a salad, really.
  79.  
  80. >Weaving through the waterlogged marketplace, Lotus picks up where she left off.
  81. >"You know that Flitter agrees with us, don't you, Anon?"
  82. "Us?"
  83. >"Aloe and me."
  84. "Oh?"
  85. >"She really admires how you stood up for her."
  86. "Hmmm, I'd probably do it again."
  87. >"It would be the right thing to do...even if it upset Roseluck."
  88. >This again?
  89. >"I know that she means well, but the rest of us don't exactly agree with her."
  90. >Seriously?
  91. >"I think it was very wise of you not to choose an alpha yet." she continues "Eventually one of us will take the lead on our own."
  92. >She accentuates her point with a bump from her rump.
  93. >This...is new.
  94. "Oh, looking to seize the crown for yourself, alpha mare Lotus?" you tease, as you reach the townhouse.
  95. >She clambers up the steps and looks over her shoulder.
  96. >"Would that be so bad?" she asks, swishing her tail playfully.
  97. "You're trouble, you know that?" you laugh, stepping past her.
  98. >"I don't hear an objection!"
  99.  
  100. >Squeezing the bag with your magic, you plop little rounds of batter on the baking sheet.
  101. >You aren't oblivious!
  102. >Well, maybe sometimes.
  103. >But you know enough to know that you know very little about cooking.
  104. >And you know that you saw how much food brought the herd together the other night!
  105. >Not to mention every mare knows that the way to a stallions heart is through his stomach!
  106. >Well, maybe Lotus suggested another way too...
  107. >You can feel your face burning up just thinking about that though!
  108. >She's so confident...so forward!
  109. >And that one night when you ambushed Anon...
  110. >She might be onto something!
  111. >If your cheeks were burning before, they're positively on fire now!
  112. >Focus Lyra!
  113. >Whoops!
  114. >Okay that one is a little...deformed.
  115. >Dang it Lyra, focus!
  116. >Hazel had walked you through this recipe like a hundred times yesterday.
  117. >Okay, maybe it was only three times.
  118. >But it felt like forever, and you had insisted on something impressive instead of something easy.
  119. >Foal steps will take too long, and you'll lose your place in the herd!
  120. >As you pipe the last of the choux pastry onto the parchment paper, there's a knock on the door.
  121. "Coming!" you shout, tossing the bag onto the counter.
  122. >Pulling open the door...it's Tavi!
  123. "Tavi! You're back!"
  124. >"Lyra? What...what have you been doing today?"
  125. "Baking! Come in!"
  126. >"...cooking? Lyra, last time-"
  127. "I know, I lit Bonnie's stove on fire. But Hazel has been teaching me!"
  128. >Proudly leading the way into the kitchen, you whip the pan off the counter and brandish it at your friend.
  129. >"Erm, what exactly are they?"
  130. "Cream puffs!"
  131. >"What happened to this one...?"
  132. "I, errr, got a little distracted." you explain, embarrassed.
  133.  >"Distracted by what?"
  134. "Huh? Oh, uh.... I need to get these in the oven!" you say, quickly turning away before your blush can become too visible.
  135. >"Yes...do that." she says, surveying your kitchen as you slap the tray onto the first rack.
  136. >Taking a deep breath and closing the oven, you think it's safe to turn around again.
  137. >Standing back up, you follow Tavi's gaze back to the kitchen around you.
  138. "O-oh." you mutter, assessing a once underused kitchen now laid waste by your culinary efforts.
  139. >Tavi sighs, shrugging off her saddlebags next to the kitchen table and moving towards the pile of dishes stacked in the sink.
  140. >"You have magic, you wash."
  141. "We could do something else...it's my mess."
  142. >"It will be easier with both of us, don't you think?"
  143. "Thanks Tavi."
  144.  
  145. "So you really think it went well? That's awesome!"
  146. >"Yes, I think there is a very real chance I'll be moving to Canterlot...and thank you."
  147. "You're welcome! I'm always happy when good things happen to my friends!"
  148. >"No, I meant thank you for encouraging me to audition again." she explains "I really didn't plan to."
  149. "What? That's crazy, you've always wanted to play for the CSO." you exclaim, Octavia ducking to avoid your sponge as it careens past her head "/Everypony/ wants to play for the CSO!"
  150. >"Yes, well... well, I had been talking to Arpeggia about it and-"
  151. >You cut off your magic, unceremoniously dropping the sponge and mixing bowl into the sink with a splash, and turn to quickly wrap Octavia in the biggest hug you can muster.
  152. "I know, she wanted you to settle in and stay with her in Filly forever."
  153. >"She said I wasn't being realistic."
  154. "If there was ever a pony who belonged in the CSO, it's you Tavi!"
  155. >"She wanted to know how many times I was going to audition before...before I realized it was never going to happen..."
  156. "But it sounds like it really is happening! Right?"
  157. >"Mhm." she sniffles. "I-I think it finally is."
  158. "Then forget about her! Vinyl always said she was an anchor holding you back!"
  159. >"Yes, but-"
  160. "No buts! You're an amazing musician and an even more amazing friend!"
  161. >She doesn't say anything, but she offers a tiny smile and wipes the tears out of her eyes.
  162. >Good.
  163. >Tavi is an amazing mare, and deserves better than that old stick in the mud!
  164. >Before you can resume your uplifting speech, the egg timer goes off.
  165. >...Why though?
  166. >Oh!
  167. >The oven!
  168.  
  169.  
  170. "It's just...frustrating." you sigh, blowing an errant strand of maroon mane from your face.
  171. >Looking across the table, Redheart smiles back sympathetically.
  172. >"I agree, he is being logical but it does leave you in the lurch." she says, placing a hoof on yours. "But you've got a plan?"
  173. "Not really. I want to show him that I've got what it takes-"
  174. >"But it sounds like he already knows that, Rose."
  175. "But he isn't convinced! He's such good friends with Rarity and Twilight...what if one of them joins the herd?"
  176. >"I think you can take on both of them." Redheart says confidently. "Even if one of them has a royal title."
  177. "Easy for you to say..."
  178. >"Can royalty even join herds?"
  179. "I don't know. But we might find out."
  180. >"I'm sure you'll think of something." your friend reassures you "You always do."
  181. "I guess."
  182. >"Come on, let's go downstairs. Don't you have a big order for Lyra's friend to finish?"
  183. "Oh, right. I guess I can work and talk at the same time."
  184. >Getting to your hooves, you follow Redheart as she starts towards the stairs.
  185. >"Maybe having something to focus on will clear your mind and help you come up with a plan."
  186. "Well..."
  187. >Redheart pauses and looks back at you.
  188. "I do have an idea..." you offer. "Fill the Herd. Fast."
  189. >"Now that's an idea." she smiles "Let's talk about that downstairs."
  190.  
  191. >Hoofing some wicker bases down to your friend and -for now- assistant, you elaborate on your plan.
  192. "Anon said he won't choose until the Herd is full, so if I can fill the Herd with some of my excellent single mare friends..."
  193. >Redheart gives you a look, and the two of you share a giggle.
  194. >"I see where you're going though." she says, tossing the baskets onto the table as you assemble an assortment of autumnal pieces.
  195. "He picked the four of us so quickly too...I worry about how cautious he has suddenly become."
  196. >"I don't understand." Red says, taking a seat across the table from you.
  197. >Picking up a gourd, you absently look it over as you consider your next words.
  198. "It's almost as if...he feels he rushed in with us."
  199. >"What!?"
  200. "He hasn't said anything." you quickly interject, fumbling the squash. "But that's just the feeling I get. Like maybe he thinks he moved too quickly and could have been -should have been- pickier."
  201. >"Roseluck, you stop that!" your friend snorts "I don't believe that for one moment!"
  202. "But the way it's all slowed down so suddenly..."
  203. >"That's because ya are low drama mares!" she exclaims "Y'know darn well he'd have scooped up that Flitter if it weren't for her sister!"
  204. >You've got her so upset that a little bit of backwoods slipped out.
  205. "Maybe I am just over thinking things." you say, placing the dropped gourd in the center of the arrangement.
  206. >"You sure are." she huffs. "Now who do you have in mind for this little plot of yours?"
  207. "Maybe Lyra's friend Bonbon, she's steady and already friends with Lyra."
  208. >"An easy fit. What about Flitter?"
  209. "I like Flitter. She's a good mare." you consider slowly, sliding a branch of preserved leaves into the arrangement as you mull the thought. "I'm not sure if she's worth the drama though."
  210. >"Anon seems to like her."
  211. "Her sister hates him though."
  212. >"I getcha. Who else?"
  213. "Maybe that musician friend of Lyra's, Octavia?"
  214. >"She seemed nice at the party. And quiet."
  215. "Exactly."
  216. >"Is that all?"
  217. "Well..." you say, slowly pushing a branch into the base before looking Redheart in the eye. "You're still single."
  218.  
  219.  
  220. >"Hey Anon, I was doing laundry so I grabbed some of your stuff too. Just a heads up."
  221. "Oh, thanks man." you say putting down your pencil. "Hey, while you're here, have you given any more thought to that scribe idea?"
  222. >"Not really, Twilight keeps me pretty busy. Do you really think I'd be good at it?"
  223. "You're already doing half the job, assisting Twilight." you shrug, "If you were really interested, I'm sure it'd be a good fit. A lot less chores that way, too."
  224. >Now that gets his attention.
  225. >You can't help but laugh a little, internally of course.
  226. >"That does sound pretty good!"
  227. "Mhm" you nod as you Irish up a fresh cup of coffee. "It's a serious profession."
  228. >"I'll think about it." he says before heading back to the door "Oh, and Twilight wanted me to remind you that you've got physical therapy today."
  229. "I do?"
  230. >"I think she scheduled it herself."
  231. >You look over at the young dragon.
  232. >"Hey, I just work for the lady. You know how she is."
  233. "She means well." you chuckle, before taking a sip of your coffee. "Thanks Spike."
  234. >As he toddles off to do whatever it is he does all day, you turn your attention back to your drawings.
  235. >The new size of the conservatory structures means larger supports...much larger.
  236. >Which is reasonable and perfectly doable.
  237. >So you've been recalculating the weight of the structure...and doodling some new decorative ideas in the margins.
  238. >The old supports were just going to get some small decorations, but these new buttresses would be large enough that they could be cast in decorative forms themselves.
  239. >More expensive? Maybe.
  240. >But you had a reputation to uphold.
  241. >You weren't going to just slap up some structural steel and call it a day.
  242. >Fueled by an entire pot of coffee, this mix of mathematics and internal rambling keeps you occupied through the morning.
  243. >It's after eleven o'clock when a knocking on your door breaks your concentration.
  244. >"Anon?" a soft and sophisticated voice calls "Ah, I see you're hard at work, as always."
  245. "Rarity! I can take a break."
  246. >"Just for moi? Why I'm flattered."
  247. "Har har." you say, rolling your eyes. "Let me wash the ink and pencil dust off my hands."
  248.  
  249. >"So I heard you went on a little trip."
  250. "Word travels fast it seems."
  251. >"Anon" Rarity says, setting her coffee down and leaning forward "I want you to know that what you did hurt Twilight."
  252. "What?" you ask, surprised. "Why? How?"
  253. >"Come now, Anonymous." she scoffs "You traveled all the way to Canterlot in order to apologize to one of the deific sisters rather than talk to a pony who's supposed to be your friend!"
  254. "For the record, Celestia and Luna are also among my friends."
  255. >"That is not a common thing, Anon. She thinks you were trying to avoid her." Rarity presses "And I think so too."
  256. "And you're not wrong."
  257. >"Of course I- what!?"
  258. >Placing your hands on your knees, you look down and then up to meet her gaze.
  259. "You are correct." you reply calmly, "I was avoiding her."
  260. >"But...in Celestia's name, why?"
  261. "Rarity, one of the things I love about you is that you rarely go off the rails the way say, Pinkie or Dash does." you explain "However that also means it has likely been quite a while since you were last lectured by Twilight Sparkle."
  262. >"I suppose it has been some time, but could it really be-"
  263. "Well intentioned perhaps, but lengthy, tedious and borderline condescending." you interrupt. "She is my friend, not my mother, Rarity."
  264. >"She is only trying to help."
  265. "I know that. But trying and succeeding are very different things."
  266. >"That is rather harsh, don't you think?"
  267. "Ask Roseluck, or Aloe and Lotus, about 'Sparkle lectures' sometime." you say, throwing your hands up."It's an inside joke that the whole town is in on."
  268. >"Hmm, maybe not the whole town, but I see your point." she agrees with a frown. "Nonetheless, you really should talk to her."
  269. "She also thinks it's a brilliant idea for me to talk to Cloudchaser, so I'm gonna hold off until after that lovely conversation."
  270. >"You cannot be serious."
  271. "I am."
  272. >"I shall talk to Roseluck, and then I will talk some sense into Twilight."
  273. "Good luck."
  274. >"Yes, I may need it." she grimaces "Putting that aside, how is work? When is the house going to be done? How is your Herd coming along?"
  275. "Work is steady." you shrug, leaning back into your chair. "The project is growing in size, of course."
  276. >"Don't they all?" she smiles.
  277. >You laugh, and with only a little encouragement launch into the laundry list of new tasks ahead of you.
  278. >Rarity revels in the little stylistic quirks that are characteristic of your work, and even offers a few suggestions that you may just incorporate.
  279. >Few mares have her eye for detail, after all.
  280. >Let alone the ability to visualize a concept.
  281. >It's kind of nice to be able to /really/ discuss your work with someone.
  282. "Enough about my work, what have you been up to? Don't think I didn't notice some trial dresses at that concert the other night."
  283. >"Unfortunately that is about all I have been up to." the seamstress laments "The Hearthswarming parties and New Year's galas are all a bit too far off still."
  284. "A well deserved rest isn't a bad thing, though, is it?"
  285. >"I suppose not, but it feels so strange to be so...idle."
  286. "Ah, I know the feeling. Like something is wrong, or missing."
  287. >"Precisely! I can't put my hoof on it, and that is probably because there is nothing actually wrong, but it still feels like something is amiss."
  288. "Because your work is what you do, and who you are, Rares." you chuckle "Why don't you go on an inspiration trip? Take a week to visit Manehattan or Canterlot."
  289. >"That is a fabulous idea!" she gasps "It's the perfect idea, Anonymous!"
  290. "Glad to help."
  291. >"I am going to have to start planning it right away!" she says, jumping up to wrap you in a hug before heading towards the door.
  292. >She pauses after wrapping a scarf around her neck.
  293. >"Don't forget what I said though. I will talk to Twilight, but you really ought to as well."
  294. "Go plan your trip." you say, waving her out the door with a nod.
  295. >You can't help but notice the lovely bounce in her step as she walks out the door.
  296.  
  297.  
  298. "So when will you hear back from the CSO?"
  299. >"It probably won't be for a few weeks."
  300. "Aw, so you're going to head back to Fillydelphia then, aren't you?"
  301. >"Of course I am, Lyra. Even if I knew today, I would still have to pack my things, end my lease..."
  302. "Tell your parents."
  303. >"Right, that too."
  304. "You weren't going to tell them, were you?"
  305. >"Of course I was."
  306. "Taaaaviiii-"
  307. >"Eventually."
  308. >Wait wait wait, you've practiced this...
  309. >You give your friend your best "Doubtful Bonbon" look.
  310. >"After I had already found a place to stay and moved, of course."
  311. "That's kind of what I figured." you muse. "So do they know about your breakup?"
  312. >"Of course. There was no way to hide that kind of secret from them." she groans "And they are quite upset."
  313. "I'm sorry." you say, pulling her into another hug.
  314. >Hugs fix everything.
  315. >"I just need to make my escape to Canterlot before they can interfere."
  316. "You can always crash with us!"
  317. >"That would be an awfully long commute, don't you think?"
  318. "Oh, right." you scrunch as you try to think. "Aha! I'll ask Anon about borrowing his apartment! It won't be permanent, and he mostly lives here in Ponyville now!"
  319. >"...mostly?"
  320. "Wellllll...he does go to Canterlot for work sometimes, but he can just crash on the couch, right?"
  321. >Octavia doesn't seem convinced.
  322. "You don't have to. But if you can't find anything in time, I'm sure Anon will help!"
  323. >"But he hardly knows me!"
  324. "But he knows me!" you exclaim before whispering to yourself "really well~"
  325. >"What was that?"
  326. "Just that he knows me, and I know you, so I'm sure he'll help me help you!" you shout.
  327. >"Okay, okay. I get it."
  328. >Before the conversation gets out of hand, the front door opens.
  329. >"Lyra, I'm home!"
  330. "Bonnie!"
  331. >"Hello, Bonbon."
  332. >"Well hello, Octavia. What brings you back to Ponyville?"
  333. >You're about to tell her about how well Tavi's audition went when another timer goes off.
  334. "They're cooled! Yay!"
  335.  
  336. >"Lyra? Hazel warned me that- oh, well those turned out pretty well!" Bonbon says, eyeing the confections as you fill them with pre-mixed custard.
  337. >Hazel said that was another lesson for another time.
  338. >"I see you only burned four of them, not bad." Bonnie says, looking into the bin.
  339. >Everypony's a critic.
  340. >"I don't think you ever said why you were making these, Lyra." Octavia says, following Bonnie to the table.
  341. >"Hazel told me." Bonnie says, rolling her eyes as you nearly fumble the piping bag. "She's trying to prove how domestic she is. To impress Anon."
  342. "W-well, yeah. I mean, every mare knows that's a surefire way to a stallion's heart! And why were you even hanging out with Hazel anyways?"
  343. >Now it's Bonnie's turn to blush.
  344. >Ha! You've gained the advantage!
  345. >"I can't visit a friend?"
  346. "Well duh. Why didn't I think of that? But stop snooping on me and Anon, we can just get you your own date with him!"
  347. >You're so focused on finishing the final few puffs that you completely miss Bonbon's scowl and Octavia shaking her head.
  348. >You pop the final puff into your mouth as you finish.
  349. >Delicious!
  350.  
  351. "Hrnnngh"
  352. >"Come on, just a little further-"
  353. "Argh!"
  354. >"You're doing just fine!"
  355. "How much more...?"
  356. "There. Perfect."
  357. >Redheart let's go of your outstretched arm and you drop it immediately.
  358. >You'd think you would be used to the soreness in that arm by now.
  359. >"You know, you'd be a lot less sore if you just wore your sling, Anon."
  360. "Yes, ma'am."
  361. >"Don't ma'am me. I'm friends with some of your mares, I know you haven't been wearing it, and I know they've been after you about that."
  362. "What do you want me to say?"
  363. >"Don't say anything. Just wear your sling."
  364. "Yes, dear." you sigh. "At least it wasn't stiff."     
  365. >"Your mares might have preferred that."
  366. >Ha!
  367. >Wait.
  368. >Did she just-
  369. >Before you can form a reply, she takes hold of your arm again and stretches it out.
  370. >Gently, but firmly.
  371. >And quickly!
  372. >Too quickly!
  373. "Ow ow ow!"
  374. >She holds it there while smiling innocently.
  375. >"If only you'd worn your sling, this would be easier, Anon." she coos "But ya didn't, so this is just how it has to be."
  376. "Alright, I get it!"
  377. >"I know you do, but I wasn't just picking on ya, we really do have to do all this." she says, patting your leg. "So show me that tough hoofball player Roseluck tells me about while we do these, eh?"
  378. >Uhhhh
  379.  
  380.  
  381. "Flitter! How are ya?" you call out as the pegasus nears your apple stand.
  382. >"I'm fine, thank you! How's the farm?"
  383. "Doin' great, as always. Apples are big business this time of year." you chuckle "But say, you got a minute for me to ask ya somethin'?"
  384. >She leans in and nods.
  385. >You put up the "Back in 5" sign and motion back behind the apple cart.
  386. "What the hay happened with Anon and Cloudy th' other night?"
  387. >"Oh, that..." she says, visibly deflating. "Well, what do you want to know?"
  388. "The whole story."     
  389. >"Well, okay..." she starts.
  390. >It takes her a while to get going, but once she does she tells you /everything/ she knows.
  391. >"And I heard he had to go all the way to Canterlot to apologize to Princess Celestia herself! All because of me..."
  392. "Well shucks, Flitter, don't blame yourself for what your sister did! And I think that's a good sign if Anon went through all of that for you!"
  393. >"I hope so..." she gasps "Did I say that aloud!?"
  394. >"Say what aloud?"  Rainbow Dash asks, dropping in beside you.
  395. "We were just talkin' about the fight the other night."
  396. >"Aw yes! I heard Anon held his own even though he was already hurt! Now that's tough!"
  397. "And it sounds like he went all the way to Canterlot just to dodge a Sparkle Lecture."
  398. >"Ha! Yeah, I bet he did! I know I would!" Rainbow laughs. "So when are you going to tell your bitch of a sister to buzz off?"
  399. "Rainbow!"
  400. >"What?"
  401. >"I, um, I..." Flitter's wings drop as her shoulders sag "I just don't know how."
  402. "Now there, this ain't as easy to do as some ponies might think." you reassure her, throwing a look at Dash. "Family ties are strong, after all."
  403. >"I know she wants what's best for the family, but she's...she's wrong! She's wrong and won't admit it!"
  404. >Sitting down beside her as she starts to cry, you put an arm around her as Rainbow walks over.
  405. >Wrapping a wing around each of you, she does her best to help.
  406. "Now don't you worry, Flitter, it'll all work out."
  407. >"She-she made her nest! She should have to lie in it!" she sniffles "I hate being the good daughter! I hate it!"
  408. "Shhhhshshshsh. I know, being responsible ain't easy. It ain't easy at all."
  409. >"When do I get my turn?" she asks no one in particular. "When do I get to just do whatever makes me happy?"
  410. >"Hey now, you have every right to be happy!" Dash objects "Nopony can stop you from doing that!"
  411. >"B-but what about Cloud-"
  412. >"Forget about her!" Rainbow interrupts. "How about this: AJ and I will distract your sister so you hang with Anon in peace. Does that sound like a plan?"
  413. "Rainbow..."
  414. >"You'd...you would do that...for me?"
  415. >With a sigh, you squeeze Flitter.
  416. "We can tell Anon likes ya, and you seem to like him. We're all friends, so of course we'll help y'all out."
  417. >"Just tell us when and we'll take care of Cloudchaser!"
  418. >"Th-thanks. I mean it." Flitter says, standing up. "A chance to have a real date with Anon...wow! I have to come up with a plan!"
  419. "Now that's the spirit!"
  420. >"Go get 'im, girl!"
  421. >"Thanks! I'll let you know as soon as I know what I'm going to do!" with that, she takes off into the sky.
  422. >The two of you watch her disappear before you turn to Rainbow.
  423. "Hey Rainbow?"
  424. >"Yeah?"
  425. "How the hay are we s'pposed to distract Cloudy?"
  426.  
  427.  
  428. >Sitting in your office after your first therapy session you pour yourself a glass of bourbon.
  429. "That went pretty well."
  430. >Taking a sip of firewater you turn your attention to the latest set of calculations from the Foundry.
  431. >The custom beams are doable, albeit more expensive than expected.
  432. >The ornamentation is now just barely within budget.
  433. >Of course, these ones here in the center will be behind trees and stuff.
  434. >You could save a few bits by just using plain beams there...
  435. >Yeah, give yourself some breathing room in the budget.
  436. >You'd hate to have to go back to Canterlot and fundraise.
  437. >Ugh, charity galas are the worst.
  438. >Well, maybe you could take one of the girls.
  439. >You promised Lyra she could go next time, but would she even want to go for a charity ball?
  440. >Taking a red pencil you begin to scribble in changes as you swig a bit more whiskey.
  441. >Lyra would be fun though.
  442. >Rose is the obvious choice, of course.
  443. >Composed and dignified, she would be the idea companion for such a thing.
  444. >Plus she knows a lot about flowers and gardens which would help.
  445. >Both Aloe and Lotus would probably weather the boring niceties of a charity gala better than Lyra (and both would make sure the trip was a good time) but in the end...Roseluck.
  446. >Yeah, she'll have to tag along if you have to go.
  447. >Maybe by then you'll have another mare?
  448. >Or three?
  449. >That could change things tremendously.
  450. >Flitter...Flitter is the best lead you have -sister problems aside- though you can't imagine her being terribly helpful with this sort of thing.
  451. >She's a smart mare -and cute to boot-  but she is neither an architect, landscaper nor a skilled socialite.
  452. >So probably not helpful.
  453. >What other mares?
  454. >Roseluck seems to think that Twilight is interested.
  455. >Ha!
  456. >Oh Twilight, you're so adorkable.
  457. >You refill your glass as you turn to the next page of drawings to continue editing.
  458. >Twily'd either be really helpful or really not...she either impresses people with her knowledge or bores them with it.
  459. >There is no middle ground.
  460. >Either way, they're going to have to listen to her.
  461. >Apparently it's impolite to ignore a princess, and poor Twiggles doesn't have the grace to notice when she starts to monologue.
  462. >Ah, but as Rarity recently reminded you- she means well!
  463. >Turning the page and taking another sip, you continue your mental multitasking.
  464. >...Let's just move this path a little bit out...there we go...
  465. >Anyways.
  466. >Where were we?
  467. >Oh right, Rarity and Twilight.
  468. >There *is* always Rarity.
  469. >Any stallion in Ponyville would kill to put a ring on that.
  470. >And she really gets you, more than most ponies.
  471. >She'd know how to win over the rich ponies at a gala too!
  472. >Yeah, she's a complete class act.
  473. >You should go see her, maybe pick up Sweetie from school one day or something.
  474. >Ugh, the engineers at the foundry changed those joints back to rivets again.
  475. >You told them twice they had to be welded!
  476. >Twice!
  477. >There will be no compromises on the main supports!
  478. >Unbelievable.
  479. >If Rarity were here, she would understand.
  480. >You know...
  481. >...
  482. >...you kind of think Octavia would too.
  483. >The way she carried herself the other night at the party, and the way she talks to Lyra...
  484. >She's kind of somewhere between Roseluck 'n Rarity.
  485. >Prim and Proper and all of that.
  486. >But also graceful.
  487. >And serious!
  488. >But refined.
  489. >And then that dinner in Canterlot...she's just a normal pony too.
  490. >She might get you.
  491. >Of course she would!
  492. >She's a musician and a composer!
  493. >Artsy types all get having 'a vision'.
  494. >She'd get it.
  495. >Next time she's in town, you should introduce her to Rarity.
  496. >They'd get along.
  497. >Hmmm, time to focus for a bit.
  498. >Gonna have to do math.
  499.  
  500.  
  501. "So how about next week sometime?
  502. >"Lyra..."
  503. "Please Bonnie? Don't you want to be in the Herd with me?"
  504. >"It isn't about you, Lyra, I just-"
  505. "You don't like Anon!?"
  506. >"I never said that either."
  507. "Whyyyyyy?"
  508. >"I haven't even said no." Bonnie growls, a surefire warning that she's moving from grumpy to angry. "But you're not listening to me."
  509. >You promptly plop your plot on the couch and await her next move.
  510. >"I just don't know what I want. And I'm not sure I'm ready to jump into a Herd after... I'm just not ready."
  511. "You have to start looking again eventually though, riiiight?"
  512. >"Who says I'm not?"
  513. "But you just said-"
  514. >"I said I'm looking, not that I'm really doing anything... yet. Kind of. It's complicated."
  515. "Is it thoooooough?"
  516. >"Yes."
  517. "Is it-"
  518. >"Lyra..."
  519. "I know, you want to take it slow after last time... but I just don't want you to miss your chance!"
  520. >"Is is really so much of a rush?"
  521. "Nnnngh...maybe? I don't know. Probably."
  522. >"You don't sound very sure of that." she says, walking into the kitchen "I'm willing to take my chances."
  523. "But you will give him a chance, right?"
  524. >"You really won't drop this?"
  525. >You shake your head vigorously.
  526. >"Alright. One date. I don't promise anything else."
  527. "Yes!" you shout, jumping on the couch. "You promised! Don't think I'm going to forget that!"
  528. >"Just like you didn't forget about this chocolate coating for the cream puffs?" she says, indicating a bowl on the counter.
  529. >Dang it!
  530.  
  531.  
  532. >Hooooo-kay
  533. >That's enough of that for today.
  534. >You've been working so long that you've sobered up and your arm stopped hurting!
  535. >Man, Redheart really put you through your paces today.
  536. >And got a little hoovsey with you!
  537. >Maybe that's just how PT works though.
  538. >She was thorough, you won't deny that.
  539. >And gently lecturing and shaming you the /entire/ time about wearing your sling.
  540. >Oh, right.
  541. >Where the hell did you put that...?
  542. >There it is!
  543. >Her accent is pretty cute when she slips up.
  544. >Just little bits of backwoods peaking through here and there.
  545. >Maybe physical therapy won't be so bad after all?
  546. >Heh.
  547. >Looking out the window you guesstimate that you have about two hours of daylight left.
  548. >Pulling your sling on and then a coat, you resolve to head out to see how the house it coming along.
  549. >Opening the door, you nearly walk straight into Aloe's outstretched hoof.
  550. >Good thing you didn't, because there probably isn't physical therapy for that.
  551. >"Anon!" she chirps, leaping forward to hug you. "How are you?"
  552. >Leaning down, you wrap your arms around her and plant a kiss on her forehead.
  553. "Doing great now that you're here."
  554. >"Where are you going?" she says, falling back on her hooves and eyeing you up and down.
  555. "To check on the house. You want to come with?"
  556. >"Sure!"
  557.  
  558. >It's a chilly but uneventful walk to the House.
  559. >Aloe talks about work and balancing the books and how Lotus handled the schedules for this week and they are just terrible.
  560. >It's fun to let her vent a little, you get the impression that she doesn't have a lot of outlets she feels she can talk about her sister to.
  561. >Not that there are problems there.
  562. >Just little annoyances.
  563. >That occur on a daily basis.
  564. >And have been occurring for years.
  565. "So why do you even let her near the schedule at this point?"
  566. >"I can't do /everything/ Anon."
  567. "Just book her for more appointments than you, and make up the time balance with extra administrative work."
  568. >"Anon, I'd love to. I've even suggested it. Lotus thinks I'm overreacting."
  569. "Hmmm."
  570. >"Yes, hmmm."
  571. >As you contemplate how to convince Lotus to hand over the back of house duties, you reach the gate.
  572. >Holding it open, you follow Aloe through and into the yard.
  573. >Aloe giggles as you make your way inside.
  574. "What did I do?"
  575. >"No no, not you." she says, still grinning. "It's just that, Lotus can't manage our simple schedule, and thinks she can challenge Roseluck for the Alpha spot!"
  576. >You nod, half-listening as you look around.
  577. >...hold on a second.
  578. >Back that up.
  579. "She thinks what!?"
Herd Herding Hawkeye

Auction Pony Scenes

by Hawkeye

Herd 18

by Hawkeye

Herd 17

by Hawkeye

Herd 16

by Hawkeye

Herd 15

by Hawkeye