The sounds of hooves shuffling about and soft giggling drew me out of my stupor. It was bright out and my whole body was stiff. Where in Equestria was I?
At my side there was a soft squeak as Almond Mist woke up and nuzzled my shoulder. It was sweet for about a second until she completely froze and her head shot up.
“Oww!” She squealed as she crashed into the underside of her desk. There were a few giggles from the world above.
“Sunny, did we fall asleep here?” She hissed at me.
“Seems like,” I whispered back, as I looked at all the records department from hoof level.
“How can I possibly explain this! I’m doomed,” she breathed.
I nosed her cheek and whispered, “Leave it to me.” With all of the confidence in the kingdom I slinked out from under her desk and stood up. Everypony in the room looked my way with various expressions. Some had knowing grins. Others looked clueless. I smiled at them all and waved. “Good morning records!”
A few ponies giggled and offered greetings in return.
It was in that moment I realized I had no idea how to make this look like anything other than two ponies that had slept under a desk together. Two ponies with matted coats, wild manes, and guilty faces. It would probably take months for Almond Mist to live this down. “I’ve… uh… inspected under this desk and have determined there are no threats.”
While I contemplated what to say next, Almond stood up beside me, kissed my cheek and said calmly, “Thank you for the lovely evening, Sunny. Perhaps next time we should leave the palace instead of staying here to save bits. I’m off to breakfast.” Her tone was cool and confident. I hadn’t expected that at all.
That worked for me. “Yes, sorry about that. Next time I won’t spend all my bits on… stuff.” I trotted out after her while the others stared in confusion.
When we were down the hall and out of earshot Almond sat down and breathed out long and slowly. “Well, this is not my finest moment career wise.”
“If it makes you feel any better, this is not my lowest moment career wise,” I replied.
She looked me in the eyes, her nose scrunched up cutely, and then she started to laugh. I did too. Mostly because I wasn’t kidding. I’d been a calendar girl after all. I’d also been caught in similar situations once or thrice.
After some good giggles she sighed and stood up. “Alright, well thank you for a fun night. I’m going to get showered and start work. Let’s do this again someday, but not in the palace, alright?”
“Sounds good to me!” I chimed before giving her a light kiss. “Later toots!”
We went our separate ways after that. I hurried down to the showers and started to get cleaned up. I was going to be due on the wall very soon and as much as I was a goof off I wasn’t going to mess up my career by being late.
Being caught with a mare in a place we shouldn’t be was one thing. That was a slap on the hoof. Being negligent in my duty was a whole different situation!
Once I was cleaned up I went to my locker, put on my armor, and headed up to the wall. My section was already starting to show up to relieve the third shift. I trotted into the office and smiled at Lieutenant Snap.
He was sitting behind the desk, one eye open and the other half closed. His head tilted and muttered, “Morning, Day.”
“Good morning. Anything to report?”
Ginger Snap got up and limped around to me. “Not a thing. I’m going to bed,” he said grumpily on his way out.
He was always grumpy for some reason. That wasn’t something I’d looked into yet. We barely exchanged any words and when it came to stallions, he wasn’t my type. He was short, stocky, and always had that half-asleep look.
I could figure him out some other day. For now, it was time to do paperwork. That was one of the required portions of my job. It was my least favorite part too, but certainly better than being out in Baltimare taking comment cards.
After an hour or so of work my eyes started to glaze over. I leaned back in the chair and started to get settled right when the door opened and Ice Blossom poked her head in. “It is time, get up!”
“Ma’am! Get up, ma’am!” I said while getting up as fast as I could and hurrying to the door.
Both Ice Blossom and I trotted out onto the wall to look down into the yard. Right on time, Silent Knight came out of the service hall and was making his way towards the palace.
“He works out more than any pony I know. Does he ever miss a PT?” Ice Blossom asked.
“Not as far as I know but some days we’re off,” I replied as I watched the big stallion disappear into the place.
“Well, that was one. How as your evening?” Ice Blossom asked.
I lightly shooed her towards the wall. “Not now, you’ve got work to do and I need to get back to paperwork.”
“Aww, alright LT. I’ll get to it!” Ice Blossom said before trotting off down the parapet.
Getting too close with your subordinates could be a problem for an officer. I was way too close with Ice Blossom because instead of sending her off to do her job I really wanted to tell her about Almond Mist. Why was I like that?
Instead of indulging that impulse, I went and did what I was supposed to do: my job. There were reports to read and file, leaves to approve, schedules to write, and everything else that required my signature.
Just before midday there was a knock on the door and one of my guards stuck his head in. “LT, the giftshop has sent word that a Cheerful Sun and Fuzzy Yarn are there asking about you.”
“What? Why?” I replied before it dawned on me that before my little tryst I’d agreed to take a tour with them. “Never mind, I remember. I’m going to take a long lunch. Sergeant Skittles is in command until I get back.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied before heading off. I followed along behind, marched down the stairs, and over into the gift shop.
The palace was a popular tourist attraction for ponies even during the week. I’d always imagined that at lunch time on a work day the shop would be quiet but it never was. Today it was busy as ponies from the morning tour were shopping for souvenirs.
Two of the staff ponies were doing their best to keep up with the crowd and help them with merchandise. They didn’t report to me but they all knew me as I kept the place secure.
It took me a moment to sift through the crowd before I saw a familiar face.
Fuzzy Yarn was looking at the various Princess Celestia plush dolls and the recently delivered Princess Luna ones. All of the Celestia ones were larger which wasn’t just because she was in reality. I think it had something to do with the perception that she wasn’t equal to her sister.
“Hi Sunny, look how fancy you look in that armor!” Fuzzy said as her attention shifted to me.
“Thank you, I see you wore your own armor today too.” She was wearing a sweater that was clearly hoof knit. It wasn’t the kind you bought in stores. It was the sort of thing a grandmother would make for you. If you had one.
Fuzzy waved a hoof. “Oh this? This was the first thing your sister ever made for me once I showed her how. I figured since today was special I’d wear it.”
Cheerful Sun knitting completely checked out. That is what I expected out of her. That and being on visible. She wasn’t currently. “Where is she anyway? My guard told me you both where here.”
“Fillies room. She said she didn’t want to get halfway into the tour and need to go.”
That checked out too. Cheerful had been out of the house before my tenth summer but we’d been together long enough for me to know she was a scheduled, perfectionist, inflexible, occasionally mean, and snar—
“Alright, I’m ready,” Cheerful said as she came out of the restrooms.
I sighed when I a saw her. She was in a conservative black dress that was more suited for the boardroom than a palace tour. “So, sis, is that what we’re wearing today?”
Cheerful set her hoof on her chest. “Of course, I’m in the palace. What else would I wear? I’m not a farmpony. Not that I have anything against farmponies. Their attire is just not appropriate for this occasion.”
Fuzzy grinned behind Cheerful and shrugged. “Okay, can we get started? I’m extremely excited!”
“Our tour doesn’t begin for another hour sweetie, I just wanted to make certain we weren’t late,” my sister replied.
“Oh, I see. I guess for we can catch up with Sunny while we wait,” Fuzzy said, clearly doing that thing I see ponies in relationships do. The thing where they’re clearly annoyed but they love their spouse, so they bury it deep inside. Then, eventually, at a more appropriate time something else sets it off and it explodes out. Not that I’ve seen that before.
I leaned against the cash wrap which led to a subtle but exasperated sigh from the cashier. She was a nice pony in general but now I was taking up space that customers might need. That was her problem though, not mine.
One oddity I noticed while I looked around was the fact a whole glass cabinet covered in a thick, black velvet cloth that had been hung from the ceiling. The last time I’d been in that had been the display case for fine palace china. That was one of the more popular items with the wealthy ponies.
“Yes, there is so much catching up with Sunny to do. For example, I have no idea what you two do for bits. Fuzzy, are you like a knitting superstar on the professional knitting circuit?” I said, trying to figure out the display. Had somepony broken it and not reported it to me? This was something I’d need to investigate later.
Fuzzy laughed, turning back to me and stuffing those feelings from before down. “No, I was injured last year in a freak knitting needle accident. It cut my career short. Thankfully, your sister is doing pretty well with her career.”
It was amazing that Cheerful had ended up with Fuzzy Yarn. She was actually funny instead of a stick in the mud. “And what is that career? Let me guess! She’s a professional wet blanket! She sits around the schools on Fridays and hoses down all of the fillies and colts with cold water when they head to home.”
“Ha, ha, ha.” Cheerful said without any mirth. “I’ll have you know that I am, in fact, the vice principal of our local arts school.”
My ear flicked. I could have made a hundred jokes about my sister and her job. Instead, I just smiled and shrugged. “I’m impressed. A vice principal at your age. Aren’t most ponies still teaching then?”
“Yes. Thank you for recognizing that. You’re doing quite well yourself. A Royal Guard lieutenant is impressive,” Cheerful said.
“And a palace guard too!” I put in.
Fuzzy smiled and leaned in closer to me. “Any chance you can move our tour up then, miss palace guard?”
I took my helmet off and set it on the counter. The mare working the cash register leaned back as if to say ‘good luck with that’ or perhaps it was ‘get this out of my way.’
“Unfortunately, right now I’m not really a guard. I’m just a tourist like you. Although, I did use my pull to do a little something for you two. Our tour is going to be a private one. Just the three of us.” I explained.
“That is a lovely gesture,” Cheerful said.
“Wow, that will be neat!” Fuzzy added in.
“I’m glad you two like the idea then. We’ll have a different guide than the rest of the group and will take a different path so we’re not stepping over the hooves of the other group,” I explained.
My sister and Fuzzy seemed happy enough with that idea so we made small talk for a bit before two tour guides showed up.
“Hello ponies, my name is Trail Blazer and I’ll be in charge of group Kiwi. If you have a Kiwi ticket please meet me right outside of the gift shop,” Trail Blazer said while waving a little green flag with a brown circle.
A second flag, one with a pink bird on it waved. “Group Flamingo, hi there! I’m Rockette Facts and I’ll be your leader. We can meet over here by Lieutenant Day, the gift shop security commander.” Her tone was a bit colder than I remembered.
Rockette trotted over to me and waved the pink and white flag right in my face. “Right here please!”
I snorted and swatted the flag. “Come on Roxy, you know it is just three of us.”
“Please save all questions for the end of the tour,” She said without looking at me.
Cheerful Sun and Fuzzy Yarn came over. My sister offered up two tickets. “Hello there Rockette, we’re you’re tour group.”
Roxy took their tickets and put them in her pocket. “My list said three ponies. Anypony else?”
“Right here,” I said as the flag hit me in the face again.
“Ticket, please!” Roxy said.
“You know I’m on this tour,” I replied, my eyes narrowing.
With a grumble I picked up my helmet and fished the ticket out of it. I offered it to her.
Roxy snatched it out of my magic and beamed. “Alright then, let’s get moving. If you three will follow me, we’ll get started!” She turned quick and slapped me in the face with the flag before trotting out of the back entrance.
Cheerful Sun smiled and followed behind her. “I like her already.”
Fuzzy waited a step behind before falling in beside me. “I’m sensing that you and Rockette have history?” She asked.
“A bit, yes,” I replied. The way I remembered it, it was a great history.
“She slept with my stallionfriend!” Roxy chimed before coming to a stop and pointing a hoof out to the left.
“Oh, and if you’ll all look to the left you can see the main foyer. Fun fact, this is not the original palace entrance. It was constructed five decades ago to accommodate the growth of the grand galloping gala and the traditional entry dance.” Roxy explained.
“You were there, Roxy. It was your idea,” I said matter-of-factly. She had invited me! I had no idea she was angry about that. Why would she be?
We trotted along the columns that supported the length of the foyer, made a left and went up the first line of stairs.
“And if you look to your right through the windows you can see the famous Equestrian Gardens. There you can see Princess Celestia’s award winning rose bushes. Fun fact, she tends them herself! Additional fact, Sunny is correct, but I invited her to sleep with me while my stallion watched. Not to sleep with him after I was asleep,” Roxy said, still using her touring voice.
Fuzzy giggled, her cheeks turning bright red.
“Why am I not surprised. I can see this tour is going to go about as well as expected with anything my sister puts together,” Cheerful muttered.
My nose scrunched at that. Cheerful was the least correctly named pony I’d ever met! We walked further down the hall.
Roxy trotted along the rich red carpet until we found ourselves in front of a large set of doors. She shoved them open, startling the royal guards on the other side. “Behold, the most well-known part of the palace. The hall of stained glass. This features great moments throughout Equestrian history. Yay.”
This tour was getting out of hoof and if I didn’t do something Cheerful would never let me live it down. I cleared my throat. “Roxy, I get it, I crossed a line, but please don’t act like you just went to sleep. You passed out because I rocked your world and, in my defense, I didn’t know the rules. That wasn’t set up front and he didn’t say anything.”
Roxy came to a complete stop and whipped around. I ducked the flag as it shot past my face. She lifted a hoof and wagged it in my face. “You know what? You know what!”
“Oh dear, do tell us what,” Fuzzy said, leaning in.
The hoof wagged in my face once more before it dropped. “You’re not wrong. I wasn’t clear about that but I’m still upset. You didn’t even apologize.”
“I didn’t realize you were mad!” I protested.
“How could you not!” Roxy squawked.
I set my hoof to my face. “I’m really sorry, Roxy. I hope you know I’d never do anything to upset you on purpose. You were asleep, we weren’t, so we just got frisky. I’ll never do it again.”
Roxy sighed and brushed her raven mane out of her eyes. “I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t be mad at you for rules you didn’t know about it. I know you wouldn’t do something mean on purpose. It’s just, I was so upset! It felt like you betrayed my trust on purpose.”
“I didn’t! I betrayed it out of ignorance and being awake,” I said. Then I did the only thing I could think of. I offered her a hug.
Roxy slipped into my hooves immediately and we hugged tightly.
“Unbelievable,” I heard Cheerful say.
“Aww, it is so sweet to see ponies working through their problems and making up,” came a flowery soft voice, followed by gentle hoof clapping. I knew that voice.
Fuzzy, Cheerful, Roxy and, I turned around slowly to find Princess Celestia, Radiant Orchid, and two House Guards behind us.
My sister and her wife gasped and immediately threw themselves down in a low bow.
“Oh, hi princess!” I said, letting Roxy go so she could bow too.
Cheerful sputtered, “Hi, princess? Are you daft, Sunny? Princess Celestia, I am terribly sorry for my sister’s casual manners, inappropriate familiarity, and rudeness. She’s young and foolish. Please don’t punish her too harshly.”
The princess softly laughed. Orchid smirked. The house guards rolled their eyes, subtly.
“Your sister’s casual manner is quite common and, as far as rudeness goes, this is respectful for Sunny. Just yesterday she was accusing me of not knowing she is a royal guard,” Princess Celestia tittered.
Cheerful’s jaw dropped and she gasped, “Wait, you actually know Sunny, Princess?”
The alicorn tilted her head. “Yes, of course. We have tea once or twice a week. We share stories. She’s the only pony I’ve met in over five hundred years that casually says things to me like ‘Princess, I had the best three-way last weekend.’”
That was it! I’d tried to be an adult but my sister was getting on my nerves. My eyes narrowed. “Cheerful, I told you I spend time with the princess in the few letters I’d sent.”
“I thought you were exaggerating! You exaggerated a lot when you were a foal,” she said.
“I was a foal! I’m an adult now. I don’t make up things like being friends with the princess. She’s a really great pony and we get along,” I said, trying to hide the anger I was feeling. It was lucky I was in armor because the hairs of my coat were bristling.
“Girls,” Radiant Orchid said in a very motherly tone.
“If you would spend more time with the family perhaps I’d get to know you better,” Cheerful said.
“Well I’m sorry if I don’t have the luxury of traveling now that I have a new job. I’m responsible! In fact, I need to get back to work. Roxy, why don’t you finish the tour with these two, I’m just going to stay here with the princess and make sure she gets wherever she is going safely.”
Cheerful tipped her nose up in the air. “Yes, that sounds like a good idea Rockette. This tour will be better without her.”
Roxy looked from me to her and back. She finally shrugged. “If that is the way you feel… it is your bits. If you two will follow me I’ll take you to the guest wing and show you the lovely suites available for palace visitors.
As Roxy and Cheerful trotted off, Fuzzy stopped. She looked over her shoulder and gave me a weak wave before following after the other two.
Princess Celestia set her hoof on my shoulder. “Family is complicated,” she said softly.
“We’re barely family,” I replied.
“Perhaps that is the issue your sister is trying to solve?” She asked.
“She has a weird way of going about it,” I snarked.
Radiant Orchid idly poked me. “As much as I see this is an important moment, the Princess is late for a meeting. Perhaps you two could discuss this later at a more appropriate time in a less inappropriate place?”
Princess Celestia smiled and replied, “I suppose so. Oh, but give me a second to tell Sunny about her ticket! Let’s brighten her mood a bit.”
“My ticket? For what?” I asked, my train of thought derailing from smooshing my sister.
“To the Wonderbolts show in Canterlot this Friday. I felt guilty after forcing you to meet with Twilight about studies without your consent. Let me make it up to you,” the princess said.
That was an extremely sweet gesture. Completely dull since I didn’t care about watching pegasi fly around in circles, but it was the thought that counted. “That is nice of you, princess. You didn’t have to do that though, I’m just going to take my frustration out on Twilight later.”
Princess Celestia laughed and waved a hoof. “Oh you and your jokes.”
Right, jokes. I was still going to seduce her brother and his marefriend and then throw it in Twilights face.
“I’d rather you go to the show though. I happen to know that a certain pony who used to be in the D squadron is now in the B squadron and this will be his first official performance. Perhaps he’d like to see a familiar face in the VIP box?” The princess asked.
“By a certain pony do you mean Soarin?” I asked.
And suddenly this went from a lame gift to an amazing one. I grinned brightly, completely forgetting about why I was upset. Soarin was a super stud and we had history. Sweaty, roll in the sheets, history. “Then I accept your apology and ticket!”
“Princess, we really do have to go,” Radiant Orchid reminded.
“Yes, of course. See my staff for your ticket Sunny. Let’s have tea tomorrow,” the princess said as she and her guards trotted off.
I clapped my hooves together and contemplated how awesome my weekend was going to be. Soarin didn’t even know what he was getting into. As soon as I was off shift I was going to run out and get a skirt, some leggings, and a new blouse. All the more to enhance my image.
I turned and started to trot towards my post. Why had I been in here again? Oh right! My sister! I’d have to deal with that too. Later though, after work, when she stopped being snippy. For now I was going to go back to work and fantasize for the next hour or two. That was a good use of time!