The trials and tribulations of managing your own personal pony village.
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!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-02 06:30:58 No. 32739223

"No, thank you."
> You smile softly to the stallion.
> Looking back at your husband and daughter, now working through a series of stretches together after sitting still for so long.
"I don't want this to be about station or role. It would suggest nothing has changed, and that would be a lie. We've gone through much - everypony has."
> "Very well, Your Highness."
"If you could, make this... just about family. Us, together again, as one... that is what I am hoping for."
> A smile touches his lips as he nods.
> "I understand entirely. I'll get right on that, Your Highness."
"Thank you. For now, I have another matter to attend to."
> A kiss on your husband's forehead and you leave him to spend some time on his own with Flurry Heart; your objective is now Anonymous' manor.
> First to go see your owner himself; you find him stretched out languidly on a couch, a show playing on the television even as he scrolls absentmindedly on his phone.
"Anonymous, if now is not a bad time?"
> "Huh? Oh, of course Cadance. Please, go ahead."
> He sits up to face you more directly, resting his elbows on his knees.
"It is about Mocha Cream. Rumble mentioned to me that he thinks she is still not doing well. In particular, she seemed to be quiet and withdrawn while working on the camp's suggestions-box. I'm sure you know that was always one of the things that made her happiest."
> "Yes, since trying to bring ponies' spirits up was a big part of her talent."
> Grimacing, Anonymous scratches his hair.
> "I noticed she felt a little thin lately was well, but didn't think much of it - she's always been a somewhat slender mare, you know?"
"But in this case, it is not merely 'how it is'."
> You can't help but frown a touch yourself; had she not been eating right either?
> If so, that could account for her low spirits.
> It was a dark spiral you had seen before in depressed slaves:

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-02 06:32:00 No. 32739228

> Their malaise lead them to abandon meals, which in turn left them only feeling worse...
> "I could go talk to her again-"
"No. We are..."
> Looking away, you feel your cheeks flushing softly.
"...I believe she has someone in the camp who likes her very much, and-"
> "Rumble, you mean."
"You knew?"
> "I had an inkling. He came in to see her when she was attacked, and looked more than just... normally worried."
> Anonymous smiles, if perhaps a bit sadly.
> "It should be good for her. I think it's certainly been good for him."
> Well, that's pretty much permission from him - you aren't going to ask for more.
"That is my hope. I will nudge them as much as I dare, and it will brighten her days."
> "Good. But Cadance? Be careful with her heart; I don't want to see it even more broken."
> You incline your head, eyes half-closed in acknowledgement.
"It is my talent, Anonymous. I will not defy you."
> "Good."
> You turn to go, then look back.
> In a softer voice, you ask:
"Shining Armor's departure - is it still set for the day after tomorrow?"
> "Yes, I'm afraid."
> Reaching out, he places a hand on your shoulder.
> "I know it isn't that much longer-"
"I asked for a few more days together, and it was given. It was all I could have expected, Anonymous."
> "Still... I will see about arranging some time for you to see him again soon."
> Your head sinks a touch further, turning the gesture into something akin to a thankful bow.
> Perhaps that would make it easier on Shining when it was time to go...
> Before you leave the house, you have one final thing to do.
> Meghan is quite busy with her homework.
> But still looks up with a smile as you enter.
> "Hi, Cadance."
"Good afternoon, Megan."
> Dropping to your belly beside her, you offer a soft, tentative smile.
"I need to ask you for a very big favor."
> "Shining's going to have to go soon, isn't he?"
> Children and foals alike, it seems, liked to dive to the heart of the matter.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-02 06:33:02 No. 32739230

> You bow your head in acknowledgement.
"The day after tomorrow, I am afraid. And, I was wondering - would it be acceptable if Flurry Heart stayed with us these last two nights? I know we are already taking so much of her time, and-"
> Cutting off with a grunt, you snap out your wings - first to steady yourself, then to encircle the girl who had suddenly lunged into a hug against your chest.
> "I could tell. You looked very sad. Take her for as long as you want, Miss Cadance."
> With a warm smile you lift a hoof to finish the embrace.
> Tucking her head beneath your chin, you nicker deeply - a heavy, throaty noise that she undoubtedly feels as much as hears.
"I cannot thank you enough, Megan. Before he goes, I am sure Shining Armor would love to give you another pony-back ride."
> "Yes!"
> Megan bounces in place, but then re-tightens her hug around you.
> "S'not just because of that, though. I... I know how much her dad being here means to Flurry. I can't say no; she's a good pony. A good friend."
> A good pony.
> From another mouth it could have been a statement of derision, or perhaps patronising affirmation.
> Not from this girl, however.
> Not from that innocent, thoughtful voice.
> You squeeze her so hard she squeaks; tears, too, are squeezed from your eyes.
> That night, you sit with Flurry Heart and Shining Armor atop the roof of the museum-and-rec-hall.
> While it was certainly not private, any late-flying pegasi visiting the rec hall below were giving you a wide berth.
> Recognizing, perhaps, the need for privacy in this moment.
> Tonight you had been lucky; a cool evening allowed you to huddle close together beneath the star-strewn sky.
> Shining Armor rested on his back, his head nestled into your flank.
> In turn Flurry Heart was nestled between his upturned hooves, her expansive wings draped to either side of him.
> This far into the evening, the camp's lights were dimming towards lights-out and curfew beginning.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-02 06:34:04 No. 32739231

> Off in the far east, this planet's moon was rising from the horizon.
> It hung there, fatly ovoid and white like a great egg, immobile yet subtly higher each time you looked back.
> Flurry Heart stirs:
> "Daddy? Can you ask your Master for just a little more time? I don't want you to go yet."
> "I know, Little Gem."
> Kissing her brow just below the horn, he resumes grooming her - nibbling about her mane and ears.
> "I don't want to go either."
> Slipping a hoof beneath her chin, he lifts his daughter's muzzle to face him.
> "You've been through so much. Things I should have been there to protect you from... or at least support you through them. Will you forgive me, Flurry Heart?"
> Responding with a muted whinny that devolves into a whimper, she buries her muzzle back into his chest:
> Nostrils flaring and sides heaving as she tries to drag in his scent.
> "Then don't go away again, Daddy!"
"I'm afraid that's not a choice he has to make, Little Gem."
> "Yeah. Even if I wasn't owned by him, there's a pony there who needs my help still."
> "Then - then we'll bring them here and they can live with us-"
> You flinch, but thankfully she doesn't seem to have noticed.

"That would... not work very well, I'm afraid."
> Going to cry out again, Flurry is instead caught by Shining's hoof.
> It guides her head over towards the east, where the moon still hangs like a spotlight beneath the clouds.
> "Look at that moon, Flurry Heart. I know it's not Auntie Luna's moon, but it's still the only one this planet has."
> "Y-Yeah?"
> "Yeah. And that means, if you ever feel like you miss me, that night you go and look at the moon. And I promise, I'll take a few minutes every night to look at it and think about you here too."
> That has to be the cheesiest, silliest thing you've ever heard.
> And yet it still rings a chord.
> Despite how plainly foalish it was, this was so much a part of why you'd fallen for this big goofball of a stallion:

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-02 06:35:06 No. 32739233

> The happy colt inside the tough guard exterior.
"And believe me, Little Gem - before you know it, we'll all be coming together to see each other again."
> Flurry clearly is not happy with this answer.
> But acceptance does not require happiness, and she does not protest further - only nuzzling down into her father's coat.
> Though lights-out is coming soon you can't help but wish to never move from this spot:
> Curled up with your family, the cool summer night warded off by your shared body heat.
> Actually...
> Why couldn't you?
> The roof was not the most comfortable place to sleep, of course, but you'd had far less pleasant beds in the past.
> With a few blankets and pillows spread out...
> "Mrrrrph?"
"Would you just like to stay up here tonight?"
> "That sounds lovely."
> A quick flight to your quarters, and you are soon returning back with several pillows and sheets floating in a field of magic behind you.
> Flurry is fast asleep by the time you return and Shining doesn't look like he'll be long to follow.
> But he still wakes up enough to sweep a spot clean on the roof and lay out the impromptu bedding.
"I'm sorry it isn't exactly a comfortable spot out under the stars."
> "Cady, any bed you are in is plenty good a bed for me."
> Giggling, you kiss him on the nose before settling down:
> Legs intertwined with each other, and Flurry Heart dozing contentedly between your bellies.
> "Do you remember, Cady, how we used to sit on one of the Crystal Palace's balconies and just watch the stars?"
"I do. I was always hopeless at spotting the constellations."
> Shining gives an amused snort.
> "Yes, you were."
> It was, you suspect, more that Shining had grown up with that bookworm of a sister lecturing him about anything and everything.
> Not even your foalsitting experiences with Twilight could rival that!
"They're so different here. The stars, I mean."
> "But they're still stars. And this is still watching them with you."
"I know."

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-02 06:36:08 No. 32739235

> Shining gives a low, content whicker which you eagerly return - turning your head aside and pressing your cheek to his.
> Even Flurry Heart joins in, making a sleepy and higher, foalish nicker from her spot between the two of you.
"What you said before, about looking up at the sky and thinking about you looking at it too?"
> "Yeah?"
> Only the slightest twist of your head is needed to kiss his cheek.
"I think I needed to hear that too."
> "So did I, Cady. So did I."
> ...
> "Giddyap! Go, go, giddyap!"
> Heeding Megan's urging, Shining Armor puts himself in an all-out sprint down the street.
> At its end they strike loose earth; dirt and pebbles go flying.
> With a tug from the reins she signals him to dig his hooves in hard - leaning into the hard turn.
> For a second it seems that he could take it, but then Shining Armor overcompensates.
> Rolling into a tumble, he goes sprawling into the dirt with a wild neigh; Megan cartwheels from his back only to hang mid-air in a cloud of magic.
> From your spot perhaps only ten paces behind you are close enough to gasp in horror, then give a little cheer when his magic sets her back to the ground unharmed.
> "OhmyGod! Shining, are you okay?"
> Groaning softly, he rises and shakes himself off.
> "I'm... I'm 'onna be fine. 'ventually. Ow."
> Flurry Heart darts between her father and mistress with concern etched on her face.
> Marching up to Shining with folded arms, Megan pouts furiously.
> "Well, you didn't have to catch me! I'm wearing a helmet, just like Daddy tells me to."
"Which doesn't mean he didn't do the right thing. That looked very risky to my eyes; please be more careful, Megan."
> "But he got hurt!"
> Grabbing Shining's bridle earns another groan from the bruised stallion.
> "I'm sorry! Where does it hurt?"
> "M'mouth. Th'bit. Pulled hard when y'went 'own."
> "Let me see!"
> He rolls his eyes as she pries up his lip to examine the bare gum the bit rested on.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-02 06:39:40 No. 32739238

> But he doesn't protest, and even draws it back a bit more to help her.
> "I... don't see any blood?"
> "No. S'not blee'ing. I'd tashte it."
> Ducking under his head to check the other side, Megan then rubs his nose - tears beading in her eyes.
> "M'sorry... didn't mean to hurt you. Just wanted to try doing a fast turn."
> Pushing his head down into her arms and allowing a rub of his mane, Shining puffs out a soft, wordless breath of acceptance.
> You can't blame Megan either:
> After posing for a few more hours to let the painter finish his outlines, Shining had seemed a bound-up ball of energy:
> Ready to take off like a rocket.
> Little surprise she'd been able to goad him into doing something risky then.
> Meanwhile, you look aside at Anonymous.
> Finally having caught up on one of the little motorized carts, he was now snapping pictures as he had been all day:
> More candid - and lively - portrayals of your family than a painting.
> You were relieved to have both.
"I'm honestly amazed they've bonded so well, so quickly."
> "It's like you said: Shining Armor has a weakness for children, and Megan has a good heart."
> Up ahead Megan had - after some coaxing - clambered back onto Shining's back.
> Rather than take the reins again, however, she leans over to whisper something into his ear before waving to you.
> "Shining and I are going to back to get him unsaddled, okay?"
"Of course, dear."
> "Sure, sweetheart! Care to follow, Cadance?"
"Right behind you."

And there we go. I would have dropped this last night, but the thread sat at nearly-dead for a while; on account of the late rollout, there is no question as I have already begun work on the next segment to avoid further delay on it.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-03 11:15:01 No. 32748842

> Once they reach what had been designated as the 'saddling spot', Megan slips back off his back again and clambers down.
> First to go is the hated bridle:
> Shining is all too happy to spit the taste of it from his mouth when the bit is pulled from it.
> The saddle falls to the ground next.
> It is soon followed by the blanket beneath it.
> Megan steps back with a squeak-turned-giggle as Shining shakes himself out, mane fanning out in a wild spray.
> "Ohhh, that feels good!"
> "C'mere. I'll give you a wash-down too!"
> A hose is adjusted and directed at Shining; the sweat-soaked stallion luxuriates in the spray.
> Actually scrubbing him down forces him to crouch so Megan can reach all of him.
> She is all too happy to wield the soap-laden sponge with gusto, however, and Shining absolutely willing to enjoy.
> There's something almost ironic about it as well:
> A reversal of her earlier total command of him.
> Now it is the girl who serves the slave, scrubbing out the aches and strains her ride had caused him as well.
> Indeed, he almost looks disappointed when she drops it and goes for the hose again.
"Dear, try not to enjoy yourself too much. You're practically purring over there."
> Too late you catch the fiendish gleam in Megan's eyes.
> By the time your shield forms, it is far too late:
> The hose's frigid spray has thoroughly drenched you!
> "Mistress Megan!"
"That is - augh! My mane is soaked!"
> Your indignity is only further exacerbated by not only Megan, but Shining and Anonymous cracking up as well!
> Even Flurry is giggling, the little traitor!
> "Careful, Megan."
> Shining nudges her side.
> "She turns into a terrible monster when her mane is ruined. Trust me."
> "Eeeek!"
> Tossing up the hose, Megan flees.
> The nozzle lands at Flurry Heart's hooves.
> Scooping it in her magic, the filly looks between yourself and Anonymous.
> A subtle nod from both of you seals Megan's fate:
> Counter-betrayal!

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-03 11:16:05 No. 32748849

> "Fluuurrry, you're supposed to be on my side!"
> "Not anymore!"
> Her soaking duty done, Flurry Leaps up to roost on a nearby rooftop and stick out her tongue in defiance.
> Unfortunately, she had forgotten that both mother and father have horns too:
> Twin balls of water are scooped up to burst over her and render the filly a whinnying, dripping mess.
> Everyone bursts out another round of laughter.
> Anonymous, the only one remaining un-drenched, raises his hands in mock pleading.
> "I surrender."
> ...
> Your final night together is spent in private - away from the rest of the camp and its ponies.
> This was not a night for community, but for family.
> Stories are shared, swapped, retold.
> Many of Flurry, when she was yet too young to remember.
> Others of ponies yourself or Shining had known.
> He relates a few of Gracie, the girl who had helped mend his scarred heart, too.
> You tell a few of more tender moments in the camp.
> When the camp's lights go out, moonlight illuminates the tellings instead.
> Sleep is a foe long staved off.
> Eventually it comes nonetheless, claiming you in a tumbled pile, and soon after the unwanted dawn.
> Somepony had thoughtfully left breakfast at your door.
> You take it in even though you know nopony will feel like eating.
> Eventually Shining sighs and pushes his plate away.
> "Maybe it's better. I'll be traveling for a long time without any breaks."
> Wordlessly you embrace him.
> Even that seems insufficient, and when the knock comes on your door it feels all too soon.
> Nonetheless you answer it.
> Anonymous himself stands there, a somber expression on his face.
> "It's time. They'll be here to pick him up any minute now."
> The trip back to the manor is made in a morose silence.
> Once there Anonymous retreats to the his study for a moment before emerging with a packet he hands to Shining.
> "What is this?"

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-03 11:17:08 No. 32748851

> "Corona's documents of ownership. I said I would send it with you, and I'm damn well going to keep my promise. There's also a letter there for her..."
> "I don't know if she'll want to read it."
> "Neither do I. But it's worth a try, at least. Oh, there's also some pictures of you, your family, and Megan there. She insisted. Wanted you to always have something to remember by."
> A touch of a smile, however wan, develops on Shining's face.
> "I'll keep her in mind. The horn ring has to go back on, I guess?"
> Anonymous grimaces.
> "Worse than that. For a runaway, you're supposed to be bridled and hobbled."
"Anonymous! There's no reason to put him in chains; he wants to go!"
> "Not my choice, Cadance. That's how runaways are transported."
> "Cady..."
> Shining leans over, nuzzling your chin.
> "I'll be fine, Cady. I've survived so much already, I can live through a few hours of this."
"I don't like it. They shouldn't do this to you. You're not some mindless brute!"
> Lips brushing your cheeks, Shining nods.
> "But this is what slavery is. Anonymous, do it."
> The shackles come first - closing around his fetlocks, a short length of hobbling chain linking each of them.
> A bridle is next:
> Not a lightly-resting thing like he had used with Megan or you had worn for him.
> This is heavy and thick, with a strong steel bit and muzzling straps to keep him from lunging or biting.
> Loosening the straps so they do not bite so cruelly into him is all Anonymous can do.
> As if this were not enough, an equally strict collar is locked around his throat - chain leads running from it and the bridle alike.
> At one point you turn to tell Flurry Heart to go back to Megan's room.
> She should not have to see her father like this.
> But one look at her expression tells you just how little chance of her fleeing would be.
> Lastly, the horn ring.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-03 11:18:10 No. 32748857

> A fierce shivering racks Shining's body as it is fitted into place, his pupils dropping to pinpricks as the ring severs his connection to magic.
> When he is done, Anonymous drops to one knee and holds a hand out to Shining Armor.
> "I'm sorry about this, Shining. I honestly am. You've proven to be a good husband and father, and I'm glad I got to see that side of you."
> Unable to speak, he just nods and lifts a hoof as far as the chains allow in return.
> Flurry goes next.
> Embracing him fiercely, she lifts herself up to whisper in her father's ear.
> Whatever is said makes Shining Armor begin to tear up at last, embracing her in return.
> Your turn is last.
> By now you have no words; you simply step forward and kiss him head-on.
> It is awkward due to the bridle, yes.
> But no less passionate.
> Nor does Shining hesitate for a moment to return it just as deeply.
> Then takes the package in his lips, lifts his head, and nods to Anonymous.
> Time to go.
> Your owner looks at the chain lead in his hand, then hands it to you.
> "I think you should walk with him, Cadance."
> Once you would have been enraged to hear him force you to carry out such a painful task.
> Now, you understand what he is giving you - a chance to spare Shining the humiliation of being walked out alone.
> On stepping out the door a new problem presents itself:
> Far from being alone, while you had been inside ponies had gathered around the manor.
> Shining's ears pin back at the sight of so many staring faces - and yet more arriving by the minute!
> He rallies, though:
> Lifting his head proudly, and marching forth as cleanly as the chains allow.
> You try to do the same and keep at his side.
> It is not easy; each step is another one closer to his departing again.
> Another hole ripped in your heart.
> Still you force your hooves to carry you on.
> Even as he crosses the open square with you to the front gate the crowd continues to swell.
> They watch in utter silence.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-03 11:19:12 No. 32748862

> Among the faces there you can see respect, anger, horror, and so much more.
> Thunderlane stands next to Granite Cleave - one hoof raised in stiff salute.
> Bon Bon's eyes are cold and hard, while Nurse Mellowheart's calm face seems to be actually genuine rather than a practiced mask.
> Sunburst, trying to keep himself under control.
> The colt who'd approached him that one night in the rec hall, who seems only to be able to stand for the support of the two ponies on either side.
> His face a portrait of utter horror and despair at seeing Shining shackled and lead.
> Just as Shining reaches the gate, a voice begins to carry from somewhere behind.
> “Equestria, the land I love. A land of harmony…”
> “Our flag does wave from high above,”
> “For ponykind to see…”
> Despite himself, Shining Armor begins to tear up.
> You're fairly close to completely breaking down yourself, as even more voices join the chorus.
> The crowd has swelled to tremendous size; nearly the entire camp must be here!
> “Equestria, a land of friends,”
> “Where ponykind do roam.”
> “They say true friendship never ends,”
> “Equestria, my home!”
> Every line seems louder, a swelling and roaring chorus of pony voices.
> The attendants waiting by the truck are gesturing and yelling, but they cannot be hear over so many voices singing in unison.
> Anonymous watches from his door with an unhappy look.
> He still makes no move to stop the display.
> The last lines are sung again; this time as the song comes to an end ponies begin dropping into bows:
> A few at first, then all more, until a visible wave is moving through the crowd as sheer herd instinct takes over.
> Shining has failed to keep his composure entirely; tears easily run down his cheeks.
> Arriving at the truck, he looks back at the camp one last time.
> Dropping the package on the ground, he - despite the chains - settles back on his haunches.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-03 11:22:25 No. 32748874

> It takes a few tries to avoid unbalancing himself.
> But eventually Shining Armor manages to hunch himself over enough to raise one hoof in a returned salute.
> Flurry Heart is embraced one last time against his side, and he delivers one final heartfelt kiss to you.
> And then he is gone:
> Taking the package again and hobbling up the ramp into the truck.
> You and Flurry remain there watching until it disappears down the road.

> To your considerable surprise, Cadance does not take the rest of the day off.
> You'd barely begun to ask the question when she dismissed it with a firm shake of her head.
> "I don't need to be dwelling on it right now. I need to think."
> That this had been said by a face framed by a sorrowful expression and deeply-bagged eyes obviously showing a lack of good sleep kind of diminished her point.
> Nonetheless you allow her to do as she wishes.
> Her waiting punishment is not brought up either; that too could be handled once her pain was a little less raw.
> Initially Flurry Heart had departed with her mother, but soon you caught her peeking around the corner of your study door.
"Lonely, little one?"
> "Yes, Master."
> Her downcast voice is accompanied by overtones of nervousness.
> As if she half expected you to jump on her.
> "Momma said I could stay with her, but she's working too hard trying to pretend."
> Always the workaholic when she was in a sour mood...
> As if she could somehow redeem whatever misdeed had brought this one her.
> Especially foolish now - this was no punishment.
> Shining Armor was simply owned by another person.
"And Sunburst too?"
> "I'unno where he is."
"Well, c'mere then Flurry."
> Your beckons summons an eager blur of pink and purple, the filly happily clambering up into your lap.
> The chair groans as she settles down - inadvertently giving you a face-full of feathery wing - and you grunt as her weight comes to rest across your thighs.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-03 11:23:27 No. 32748883

"You're getting pretty big now, girl. I think you might be in line to get as big as your mother."
> If not larger, on account of those grossly oversized wings.
> "You and Mistress Megan have been treating me very kindly, Master."
"And you've been keeping fit, too. Especially now that you can fly."
> Leaning over, you place a soft kiss on the top of her forehead.
> Flurry lifts her head to nuzzle your cheek.
> Soft little breaths puff against your skin.
> This close, however, you can also tell she is also just barely keeping it together.
"Don't worry, sweetheart. I'll make sure you see him again."
> "I-I'd like that a lot, Master."
> A tremble enters her voice, and you again set down the mouse to lift Flurry Heart into a hug.
> She takes it with gusto:
> Burying her head into your shirt and trembling against your chest.
> Just as she had done all those months ago when you had first wiped away her fears on arriving.
"Shhh. It's okay. You're allowed to be sad."
> "M-Mistress Megan will be sad too. I think she liked him."
"She will. But Megan will be a strong girl. So will you - be a strong filly."
> "Yes, Master."
> You need to change the topic now.
"Say, Flurry, as long as you're here... maybe you can give me some advice. But, you have to promise me that you won't tell anyone without asking first."
> With a little gasp she tears her face from your chest and stares up at you with eager eyes.
> "I promise, Master!"
"What would you do if you knew that two ponies kind of liked each other, and you thought it would be really nice if they ended up together. But, you didn't want to push them too hard?"
> "I, um..."
> Chuckling, you scratch the filly between her wings and earn a delighted coo.
> "-m-might not be able to answer if you keep doing that, Master."
"Sorry. Go on? I know it's a very big question and you haven't even found your talent yet, but you are your mother's daughter. Maybe you will have some of her talent.

!F9CBa509ak 2018-08-03 11:24:59 No. 32748894

> Drying her eyes with a wing, Flurry puts a pondering face.
> "So, like, they're in love but not sure they want to be?"
"Well, I don't know if I would say they're that far. Let's say they're friends, but might be more."
> "Weeeell. Maybe, what if you got one pony to say they loved the other, but they didnt know other pony was listening?"
> You can't help but chuckle softly.
"Sounds like it came out of a book or something."
> Flurry squirms around onto her back and tucks her forelegs up against her chest.
> Worried eyes look up at you.
> "It was a story I heard. Is that a bad idea?"
> God, you're helpless against that look!
"No, not at all."
> Your hand descends to rub absentmindedly over her belly, palm running over the velveteen coat covering it.
"In fact, it might just be worthwhile trying... since you and Megan aren't back in your room yet, I imagine you've seen Mocha Cream downstairs?"
> "Yeah. Why? She seems sad-"
> A little foalish gasp and she cranes her neck to look up at you.
> "Master! Does Mocha love somepony?"
"Actually, Flurry, Mocha... well, she thinks she loves me."
> "But..."
> Big eyes screw up in confusion, muzzle wrinkling in a scrunch.
> "'re her master, and she's your pony."
"Yes, I know."
> Though that hardly seemed to matter for some people...
"But, there's someone else I think she might care for. Someone who might make her happy again."
> Cadance had urged you to leave it to her...
> But it wasn't really interfering just to give a chance for things to be set in motion, was it?
> Do a little more 'direct management' of your herd.
> Not like you would be really pushing them to date or locking them in a room together.
> ...or maybe the Princess of Love herself would be better off handling this.

Which course do we take? Do we follow Cadance's advice, or give our own little assist to the situation as well, following Flurry's suggestion?
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