by JohnPerry

Chapter 1: Maybe

“But dad, why do I have to go to school with the commoners?”

“Because social skills are very important, son. Interacting with your fellow ponies is a crucial part of a prince’s job, and you must learn it.”

His father’s words drifted through his mind as Blueblood sat at his school desk, barely paying attention to what the teacher at the front of the room was saying. Most of the subjects the young Blueblood was learning were being taught by private tutors, but his father had insisted upon some time spent in a school, where the future prince could learn to socialize with other foals his age.

Of course, it would still be the most elite, prestigious private school in Canterlot. Here the class sizes were very small; no more than six foals to a class being taught by carefully scrutinized teachers to determine their fitness for aiding in the upbringing of the next generation of Equestrian leaders. Not exactly what most would consider “commoners,” but young Blueblood wasn’t aware of that.

It was only his third day in this strange new world of schoolhouses and classes shared with other ponies, but he was starting to feel like he was getting the hang of this new routine. The nerves of the first and second days were beginning to fade, and he was now finding it in himself to get annoyed at various aspects of the class.

Like, for instance, that strange filly who kept staring at him from a couple seats over. She had a dark copper coat and a mess of orange hair that blanketed her head. Her eyes were a piercing blue, making them particularly difficult for the young Blueblood to ignore.

He opened his mouth to ask the filly what she wanted when somepony cut him off. “Yes, Blueblood? Do you know the answer?”

Blueblood turned to see the teacher looking expectantly at him. His question to the filly went unasked as he fumbled over his words. “Wha... oh... uh...”

Enunciate your words, Blueblood,” the teacher said in a firm tone. “Very well, does somepony else want to answer?” He paused for a second before pointing at the copper-coated filly, who had her hoof raised. “Yes, Penny?”

“The ponies at the meeting fought, which made the storm worse because the windigoes fed on their angry feelings.”

The teacher confirmed that this was correct and turned back to the blackboard, scribbling down another note in chalk. Blueblood glared sideways at the filly, gritting his teeth. She set me up! he thought. She’s trying to distract me! He resolved that he wouldn’t allow it to happen again, and decided not to look at the filly, instead staring straight ahead at the teacher.

But as the lesson wore on, Blueblood felt temptation taking hold. His resoluteness was fading in the face of his boredom, and he decided he needed to look at the filly again. Only for a moment. Just to make sure she wasn’t looking at him, of course. His gaze shifted to the side and found the filly’s piercing stare once again. He started and went back to staring at the front of the class again.

After the bell rang and his classmates began shuffling out of their seats, Blueblood packed his bag quickly and marched over to the filly, who was still putting away her books. “Why do you keep looking at me?” he demanded, trying to look as intimidating as possible.

The filly stared back for a second before a goofy smile crept across her face. “Heh, you’re funny when you’re angry.”

Blueblood couldn’t think of a response to that, instead staring silently as the filly crept off her seat and smiled at him. “Your dad’s Prince Blueblood, right? You look alot like him. My name’s Bad Penny.” She held out a hoof for Blueblood to shake, but when he didn’t move she simply grabbed one of his forehooves and shook it herself. “Heh, like this, silly. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow!” With that, she walked out the door, leaving the dumbfounded colt behind.

Over the next few days, Blueblood kept finding himself distracted by Penny. It didn’t help that the material was capable of boring one to sleep. Every so often, he would glance over at her, finding that she wasn’t staring at him so intently as she had before. A few times, she had turned and looked at him as Blueblood was watching her, causing him to start and immediately turn back to the front of the class.

After one such occasion, he felt something nudging him. He glanced to his right to see a piece of paper hovering in mid-air, held aloft by a pale pinkish glow, poking into his side. He glanced across the room to see Penny staring at the teacher, a pale aura around her horn nearly hidden beneath her mane.

Blueblood discreetly took the note, folding it open. What was written on it nearly made him yelp loudly.

I saw you looking at me.

Do you like me?



Blueblood managed to avoid letting out an alarmed cry and turned to glare at Penny, but she was still staring ahead at the teacher, refusing to give him the satisfaction of answering through his expression alone. A question of this magnitude required a prompt response, so he looked up to make sure the teacher wasn’t looking before taking his quill and forcefully circling the word “No” before folding up the note and using his own magic to float it back behind the seats to Penny. It took a couple of tries, and he had to let the note drop en route so that the teacher wouldn’t notice his glowing horn, but finally he got it back.

Blueblood watched as Penny opened the note, expecting to see her get angry or start pouting. Maybe she’ll even cry, he thought, a smug grin coming across his face at the notion. But her expression didn’t change as she read the note. Indeed, she began looking intently at the note, her eyes narrowed as if scrutinizing it, while she nibbled on the end of her quill.

The bell rang a few minutes later and the foals made their way out of the classroom. As he was walking down the hallway, he noticed a flash of dark red to his side and turned to see Penny trotting past him, using her magic to slip another note in his saddlebag before he could realize what was going on. She kept going without looking back at Blueblood while he stopped in the middle of the hallway to read the note.

I forgot to give you all the choices.

Do you like me?




“I don’t—” he began, but stopped when he realized that Penny had already made it to the end of the hallway and outside. Blueblood ran forward, but by the time he made it outside he saw Penny being greeted by her mother. Gritting his teeth, he pulled out his quill and circled the word “No” again, resolving to deliver it to her tomorrow. That was when he realized he wouldn’t have class tomorrow. The revolting message would have to remain in his school bag over the weekend.

“Dad!” Blueblood cried out the moment he passed through the front door.

“Hello, son!” His father, the prince, walked in the foyer and greeted the young Blueblood with a warm smile. “How was school?”

“Horrible! Dad, there’s this girl in my class who won’t stop bugging me! Look at what she wrote me!” He pulled the note out of his saddlebag and showed it to his father. He closed his eyes and lifted his head high, wearing a satisfied smile. Surely, he thought, his father would see to this terrible incident. He would fix everyth—

“I’m afraid you’re going to have to see this one through yourself, son.”

Blueblood’s mouth fell open. “But... but dad! Can’t you—”

“This is why I sent you to school in the first place. You have to learn to handle situations like this yourself. I’m not always going to be around to solve everything for you. A prince has to deal with stuff like this all the time.”

“They do?”

He folded up the note and returned it to his son. “I see you circled ‘No.’ So you don’t like this girl?”

“Yuck!” Blueblood yelled, sticking his tongue out. “I’m not gonna be friends with some commoner! Especially an icky girl one!”

His father smiled and shook his head. “Very well, it’s your choice. But you have to be ready to stand by your answer and accept the consequences of your decision. Do you understand?”

“Yes, dad,” Blueblood mumbled, reluctantly taking the note back. He turned to head upstairs to his room, but stopped at the sound of his father’s voice.

“And son? Be polite when you give that girl her note back. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be surprised.”

Blueblood couldn’t understand it. It had never failed him before.

Hmph!” he said loudly, turning up his nose as he did so. But once again, it failed to attract any attention to him from any of the foals playing in the schoolyard.

Hmph!” he said again. This time it did get a response.

“Are you sick?” a feminine voice spoke. Blueblood turned to see Penny sitting on a bench nearby, facing the schoolyard and holding a book in her forehooves.

Hmph!” he repeated, turning up his nose away from the filly and closing his eyes. “I don’t need to tell you.”

“Oh. Okay.” Blueblood opened one eye to see that Penny was reading her book again.

“Hmph!” he repeated. Penny idly turned a page. “I said ‘hmph!’”

“Uh-huh,” she answered, not looking up from her book.

Blueblood pouted and sat down on his haunches. “Why won’t anypony notice me?” he whined.

“If you want to talk, all you have to do is say so,” Penny said, patting the seat beside her. Blueblood hesitated, but after a moment he climbed up on the bench and sat next to her. Penny closed the book and turned to look at him. “So, what do you want to talk about?”

Blueblood paused, trying to remember what he had just been angry about, when he noticed movement on the side of the field and his eyes widened. “Who’s that?” he said in an awestruck tone, pointing at something behind Penny. She turned to see who he was pointing at.

“Oh, that’s Cadence,” she answered. “She’s a few years older than us. Sometimes she comes by to help us out in class.”

“She has horns and wings!”

“Yep. She has the power of love or something. She’s going to be a princess when she grows up.”

“I’m going to be a prince when I grow up!” Blueblood announced, placing a hoof on his chest and throwing his head back. “I bet Cadence and I would be great friends!”

“I don’t know,” she said, giggling. “Cadence only likes hanging out with nice ponies.”

“Very funny, Penny,” Blueblood muttered, levitating a folded note through the air and settling it on her desk. She opened it to find “No” circled.

Penny looked up at Blueblood with a wry smile on her face. “You know, even though I know what answer you’re going to give, I can’t help but look at the note. I guess I keep hoping that you’ll circle ‘yes,’ even just as a joke.”

Much had changed in the few years since Blueblood had first met Penny. The private school they attended was the same, though there had been two changes of classrooms on account of them graduating to higher grade levels. The foals were now well into their teenage years, with all the freckles, bodily changes, hormones, and anxiety that came with it. All of them now had their cutie marks; Blueblood's was a compass star adorning his flanks, while Penny’s mark was the image of a few copper bits.

“You know,” she continued, “you could just pick ‘maybe.’ You wouldn’t be committing to anything by doing that.”

“My dear Penny, you should know that ‘maybe’ is not a word in my dictionary,” Blueblood said, throwing his head back in that manner common to the Canterlot elite and which he was on the verge of mastering himself. “Bluebloods always commit. And once we make our decision, we stand by it. After all, that’s why I have this compass as my cutie mark. We never stray from our course.”

“Is that what it is? I thought it was a big shiny star, symbolizing your need to draw attention to yourself.”

Blueblood frowned but didn’t stray off course in the conversation. “Father always says that once you choose something, you must live with your choice.”

“So does ‘Father’ know about your choice to blame the wrecked carriage on a burglar?” Penny asked in an innocent tone. Blueblood scowled in response, eliciting a giggle from the filly.

The relationship between the two never seemed to change. Blueblood and Penny would converse, and at some point when Penny was feeling particularly bored, she would poke fun at the colt, hoping to anger him into the furious reaction that amused her so. And Blueblood would oblige, allowing the insults to escalate until he stormed off in a huff, at which point Penny would leave the note on his desk. This had been repeated too many times for either of them to keep track of.

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell,” Penny said. “Of course, if you really want to make sure I don’t tell anypony...” She held up the note, raising her eyebrows expectantly.

He let out a loud gasp. “This is blackmail!” he cried dramatically. His classmates turned and glanced at Blueblood, but quickly lost interest. They had grown accustomed to his regular outbursts.

“Oh, I have much worse than that,” she said. “I happen to know that you’re a liar, Blueblood. I know your dark secret.”

“Wh... what secret?”

Penny leaned towards him, placing her lips near his ear. “When you got that paper cut,” she whispered, “Your blood was red. All this time, you’ve been telling us your blood was blue!”

Blueblood stared at her solemn expression for a moment, his mouth agape as he pondered how somepony could be so stupid, before a smile crossed Penny’s face and she burst out giggling. Blueblood groaned and put a hoof to his face while her laughter only grew louder.

“So, I suppose you’ve already heard the news,” Blueblood announced, sauntering over to where Penny was sitting.

She closed the book she had been reading and looked up at the schoolyard. Penny avoided looking at Blueblood, instead keeping her gaze on the younger students playing in front of her.

“Somepony told me you and Cadence went behind the bleachers,” she said, her voice going quiet as the significance of that statement settled around them.

“Indeed,” Blueblood said with obvious smugness.


He took a moment to respond. “And what?”

“And what did you do?”

“I kissed her, obviously,” he replied, grinning widely and tossing his head back.

“Kissed her?”

“Just like you said I wouldn’t have the courage to do!” Blueblood announced with a haughty laugh. “It only makes sense that we’d be together. After all, she’s a princess and I’m a future prince.”

There was a brief moment of silence. “Oh. So was that all?”

“Yea— Wait, what do you mean was that all?” he asked, looking back down at her. She was looking at him now, but now wore an expression of incredulousness.

“I mean, did you do anything besides kiss her?”

Blueblood faltered. “N-no...”

“Oh,” Penny replied, laughing. “Whew, you had me worried for a second there. The way you were acting, you’d think you lost your virginity or something.”

“But... but... but I kissed a girl! This is a big moment for me!”

“Uh-huh. Good for you,” she said, going back to her book. “Don’t worry, I’m sure when we get married, we’ll look back on this little transgression of yours and laugh.”

“I’m not going to get married to you!” Blueblood had intended for his statement to sound forceful and confident, but was annoyed at how it came across more like a high-pitched whine.

Hey!” somepony shouted across the field. Blueblood turned to see one of the senior year students, Shining Armor, approaching him. Behind him stood Cadence, watching on. “Did you hurt Cadence?!

Penny glanced between the two colts. “Blueblood,” she murmured, sounding amused, “when you say you kissed Cadence, she did kiss you back, right?” When he didn’t answer, she put a hoof to her chin as her eyes widened in realization. “So that’s what all that screaming was about.”

Blueblood was silent, gulping as he became suddenly aware of the rather significant height difference between him and Shining Armor. As the older colt drew closer, he also became uncomfortably aware of the fact that even though they were only separated by one year in age, the other was much more muscular.

“You know, you look kind of cute with that black eye,” Penny said, trotting beside Blueblood as they left the schoolhouse for the day.

“Shut up,” he said with a grimace, refusing to look her in the eye. Penny giggled in response.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be enough, though,” she went on. “That Shining Armor is really cute. It’s no wonder Cadence likes him.”

“Shut up.”

“Mmm, all those muscles, that athletic build, that handsome face, that friendliness... Oh, and don’t even get me started on that gorgeous mane!” she cooed.

“Shut up,” he gritted through his teeth.

“Oh, but yours looks good too!” she assured him. “Not as good as Shining Armor’s, of course, but still...”

Blueblood’s eye twitched. Penny laughed even harder. At last, they came to the Blueblood family carriage, which was sitting outside the school building.

“Well, I’ll see you tomorrow!” she said in a singsong voice. Blueblood just barely caught a glimpse of a slip of paper, encased in a pink aura, being stuffed into his saddlebag. He sighed and clambered inside the empty carriage. The chauffeur closed the door behind him as he pulled out the note.

Don’t worry, I still love you!

Do you love me?




Blueblood grabbed a quill and circled “No” so furiously that he tore a hole through the parchment.

“Need a ‘Penny’ for your thoughts?” Penny said, not looking from her book as Blueblood took a seat next to her while they waited for class to start. “What am I saying, of course you do.”

“Do you remember what we were talking about earlier?” Blueblood asked in an undertone.

“Vaguely,” she replied, still not looking up from her book.

He looked around, as if making sure nopony was listening in, before whispering, “What if I told you I was with a girl, and we did more than kiss?”

“I’d say ‘that’s nice, dear.’” Penny idly turned a page.

Blueblood seemed to deflate a little. “You wouldn’t even be a little interested?”

She glanced up from her book, raising an eyebrow at Blueblood. “I guess the question would be whether you were doing it for yourself, or if you were just doing it to prove to me that you could.”

“I... for... wait, what?”

“Never mind,” she muttered, returning to her book. “So, what happened?”

“So you are interested,” Blueblood replied, sneering at her.

“I just want to know if you were thinking of me while you were doing it.”

What?!” he cried.

“Ooh, were you crying out my name too? I bet you were!”

Blueblood blushed furiously and let out a loud ‘harrumph’, throwing his head back. He moved a couple of tables over while Penny allowed a smirk to creep across her face.

“I’ve decided that I am never going to marry,” Blueblood said firmly.

“And this decision has nothing to do with Fleur-de-Lis turning you down, I’m sure,” Penny replied with a smirk. The two were walking side-by-side down a street through one of Canterlot’s most expensive neighborhoods.

He scowled at her before continuing. “Relationships are too complicated and there are too many compromises you have to make. I’m not going to bother with all of that. I’m just going to live in the palace with my money and my servants.”

“So you’re going to be all rich and lonely in a giant house? Haven’t you seen all the warnings that money isn’t happiness? ‘All you need is love’ and all that?”

Blueblood scoffed at her. “Please. That’s just something we tell the commoners to make them feel better about themselves.”

“You’re fun,” Penny said, rolling her eyes. “For your sake, you’d better hope you never fall in love.”

He stared back at her, tilting his head. “I thought you’d be more concerned than this.”

She snorted in response. “You silly snob. I learned not to take anything you say seriously when we were still in school.”

“Hmph. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother telling you anything.”

“Because I’m the only pony who has ever listened to you. And if there’s one thing you’re dependent on, it’s having an audience.”

Blueblood couldn’t think of a response to that, so he changed the subject. “Look at them, Penny,” he grumbled, sweeping a forehoof to indicate the ponies in the street, in particular the couples sitting outside a popular cafe. “Fools, all of them. They’re all so desperate for something they don’t even understand. Let them struggle through their relationships. I know better.”

“You’re nineteen, Blueblood,” Penny said, grinning. “Could you at least wait until you’re fifty before you start acting like a crotchety old stallion?”

Hmph!” Blueblood turned up his nose and closed his eyes. The solemness of his gesture was spoiled when Penny giggled and flicked the tip of her tail at the stallion’s snout. His cheeks reddened and he tried to duck away from her tail.

“You’re funny when you’re angry,” she laughed. “Don’t worry, you’ll always have me.”

The passing of Prince Blueblood the Elder came as a shock to the nation, but nopony was more stunned than his son, the younger Blueblood. The prince wasn’t the healthiest stallion in the world, but he never gave off an impression of sickliness. Blueblood had always looked to his father as a model of stability and unshakable fortitude. Then one day, he simply collapsed and couldn’t be revived.

The funeral procession was attended by thousands of ponies, who packed the main boulevard of Canterlot to catch a glimpse of the casket as it made its way to the cemetery beyond the walls of the city. And while the mass grieving went on in the streets outside, the younger Blueblood knelt before Princess Celestia and took the oath of his new title.

Once it was over, he entered his new palace quarters and locked himself in for a week.

“Your majesty, there is a Miss Bad Penny here to see you.”

“Penny?” Blueblood looked up from his desk at the back of his office within the royal palace. It was a cavernous space, decorated with portraits of previous princes, giant framed mirrors, tables topped with ming vases and potted plants, and a huge, arched stained glass window in the wall behind the desk. “Send her in, message colt!”

“I’m your secretary,” he grumbled before turning around and leaving the room.

Prince Blueblood inhaled deeply, smoothing his mane back before he trotted over to a cabinet and opened it to reveal dozens of bottles of liquor. He scrutinized the labels for a moment before levitating out a half-empty bottle of bourbon. Blueblood filled two glasses, checking his reflection in the mirror before he heard the creak of the door opening.

He turned to see Penny walk inside, looking around the huge office before her eyes settled on the stallion. “Blueblood,” she murmured.

“That’s Prince Blueblood to you now,” he replied, giving her a smug grin as he levitated one of the glasses of bourbon towards her. “Prince Blueblood the Fourth of Equestria, Duke of Whinneyton.”

Penny took the glass being offered to her and sniffed at its contents. “I’ve never seen you drink.”

“Thought I’d catch up on lost time,” he said, downing his own glass of bourbon in two unceremonious gulps. “Bourbon is my favorite so far, though I must admit that it’s not the taste I crave so much as the aftereffect.”

He poured himself another glass as he looked up at a portrait on the wall. “Heh, do you think if I have enough, he’ll start talking to me? I keep trying but I never quite get there.”

Penny looked up to see the image of Blueblood’s father gazing sternly upon the office. She placed her glass on the nearest table. “Err... listen, Blueblood, I was getting a little worried about you. I haven’t spoken to you since the... err, rather, in a while.”

Blueblood remained silent, downing another glass of liquor as she continued. “I mean, you kind of vanished off the face of Equestria for a while there.”

“Oh, dear Penny, haven’t you been reading the tabloids?” he cried, using his magic to yank open one of his desk drawers and pull out several glossy magazines. “Look, I made the cover of Harmony!”

“You know I don’t read that junk.”

“Ooh, and Pony named me ‘Equestria’s Most Eligible Bachelor!’ And I’ve only been prince for... what, two months? That has to be a record! Do you think father would be proud?”

Penny bit her lip. “Listen, Blueblood, I can’t claim that I’m familiar with the pain of loss...”

“Then why are you telling me?” he muttered, unsteadily pouring himself a third glass.

“...but I do know that the pain will fade in time. It’s okay to feel sad now—”

“Sad? Who’s sad?” Blueblood cheered, trotting around his desk with his glass and rapidly emptying bottle in tow. “I’m certainly not sad! And neither should you! You’re sharing a drink with Equestria’s most eligible bachelor! Let’s toast to that!” With that, he threw back his third glass and made to pour himself another, only to find the bottle strangely unresponsive.

“I think you’ve had enough,” Penny said firmly. Blueblood looked to see a pale pink aura encasing his bottle, pulling it out of his own blue aura.

“Give me back my bourbon!” he cried, using his magic to try to wrestle it out of her grasp. But the more he struggled, the more Penny resisted.

“You’ve had enough!”

“Give it back!”

The tug-of-war over the bottle finally ended when Blueblood lost focus. Penny, caught off-guard, pulled too firmly, sending the bottle sailing towards her. It smashed on the floor in front of her, spraying bourbon over her front.

A heavy silence fell over the office as liquor dripped from Penny’s fur, filling her nostrils with the smell of alcohol. Blueblood glared at her before huffing and marching over to the liquor cabinet to pull out another bottle.

“No matter,” he said. “You can have that bottle, there’s plenty left.”

“Blueblood, you need help. Let me help you. I’m your oldest friend, after all!”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” he muttered in an undertone.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to. What you’ve been up to since we first met!” Blueblood declared, pointing a hoof at Penny. “You knew what I was the moment you laid eyes on me! And now you’re thinking you’ll use your connection to become a princess!”

He poured himself another drink. “Well, you can’t pull the wool over this stallion’s eyes. I’m not stupid, you know.”

“Could have fooled me.” Penny was returning Blueblood’s glare in earnest now.

“I don’t need your help. I don’t even want your help. Now why don’t you run off? Maybe if you’re lucky, Auntie Celestia will give a wittle pair of wings and you can prance around with a crown and declare yourself Princess Penny, ruler of the—”

The rest of his statement was forgotten when Penny grabbed her still full glass and thrust it in Blueblood’s direction, throwing the rest of the bourbon into his face. He stumbled back, falling onto his haunches with a cry of alarm. Before he could shake any of the liquid from his face, he heard loud stomps and the door creak open before slamming shut. The prince squinted through his dripping mane to find himself alone once more.

“The Royal Council will now hear any comments regarding the recommendation of Shining Armor to the position of Captain of the Royal Guard. Would anypony like to begin?”

The chairpony looked back and forth along the long, semicircular table where the other members of the council were seated. She noticed one particular pony with his forehoof raised in the air and let out a heavy sigh. “The council recognizes Prince Blueblood.”

“Well, I for one will not stand for this simple commoner taking on such an essential role!” Blueblood declared, turning his nose upward. “He is an uncouth simpleton who has an ill temper and the military experience of a fondue dish.”

“He has extensive guard training and has shown supreme loyalty to his post,” one of the other council members spoke up.

“I also find it suspicious that we’re considering a pony who just happens to be the older brother to Princess Celestia’s personal student.”

“I’m not sure if you are really in a position to—”

“And what’s more, where does that atrocious accent of his come from? Nopony in Canterlot speaks like that! He sounds more like some sort of Los Pegasus delinquent! Where has he been and what has he been doing that would lead to such an ill-suited manner of speech?”

A few unsure looks were exchanged between the councilors. “I don’t think a pony’s accent is sufficient grounds for disqualification,” one responded.

“But where did he get that accent?” another murmured.

“Prince Blueblood,” the chairpony began, “I do want to point out that Shining Armor was personally recommended by Princess Cadence for the position.”

“So it’s my word against hers!” Blueblood declared, a smug grin on his face. “Very well, then, I rest my case.” He sat back in his seat as the other members of the council gave each other confused looks.

“Er... alright, then, are we ready to take a vote? All those in favor?”

Eight hooves rose into the air.

“All those opposed?”

Blueblood’s forehoof was the only one that moved.

“But Auntie Celestia, what do you mean you’re demoting me from the Royal Council?”

Prince Blueblood and Princess Celestia were trotting side-by-side through a corridor of the royal palace. The Equestrian ruler looked down at her nephew with a kindly smile. “I’m just not sure you’re ready for the responsibilities of the Royal Council yet.”

“But my family has always held a place on the council!” he whined. “My father did, and his mother before him, and—”

“Your father and grandmother also didn’t become prince and princess until they were almost twice your age,” Celestia pointed out. “Besides, I thought you were complaining last week about how boring the council meetings were?”

Blueblood faltered. “I wasn’t complaining, I was... merely trying to enlighten you to a situation I thought you might be unaware of.”

Celestia rolled her eyes but continued smiling. “I appreciate your concern. Just give it time, dear Blueblood. I’m sure you’ll be ready for more responsibility sooner than you think.”

They turned a corner to find Shining Armor and Princess Cadence walking the other way, engaged in a conversation. Once they saw Celestia approaching, the Captain of the Royal Guard promptly saluted while the princess bowed graciously before Celestia. She smiled and nodded in response as she walked past. Blueblood forced a wide smile on his face, hanging back as Celestia continued down the hallway. The moment she vanished around another corner, Blueblood’s smile vanished and he glared at the couple.

“I know you two had something to do with this,” he growled, pointing a hoof at the pair. “Don’t you think you can fool me.”

Shining Armor blinked in confusion. “Huh? What are—”

“Consider yourself lucky I’m such a forgiving pony,” Blueblood went on. “I may overlook this misdeed.” He closed his eyes and turned up his nose, letting out a loud “hmph!” before he followed Celestia down the hallway.

As he rounded the corner, he could just make out Princess Cadence’s whisper. “Honestly, that pony never changes...”

The Grand Galloping Gala had just begun. As usual, the servants, caterers, decorators, and anypony else involved had outdone themselves. Not that Prince Blueblood would have honestly expected anything less. He looked around the garden, finding it to be just as beautiful as ever.

He pulled out a bottle of breath spray and squirted two quick sprays into his mouth. The prince had been recently named “Equestria’s Most Eligible Bachelor” for the third year running, and he intended to be on his best for the scores of mares that would surely seek him out.

“Blueblood?” a voice behind him called out. The prince grinned smugly as he turned around.

“That’s Prince Blueblood, my dear—” The words died in his throat when he saw who was standing before him. It was a copper-coated mare with an orange mane, pulled back in a stylish bow, and wearing a formal white dress. “Bad Penny!” He stared at her in silence before frowning. “It seems I can never be rid of you. You keep coming back like a... err... you turn up like a... like a... oh dear, how does that saying go again?” He considered it for a moment before shaking his head. “No matter. What are you doing here?”

She took him in for a moment. “I came here in the hopes of making a connection. But while I’m here, I thought I would take this opportunity to apologize to you.”

Blueblood blinked, but soon his normal smug expression came over him. He closed his eyes and placed a forehoof on his chest. “Well, I graciously accept your apology, dear Penny.” He opened an eye. “Err... just to be clear, what is it you’re apologizing for?”

She gave him a wry smile. “For taking you seriously when we argued in your office. I know you meant every word, but I should have known better than to think anything of what you said. You’ve always been my silly snob.”

Blueblood let out a disgruntled “hmph” and frowned at Penny, but otherwise didn’t pursue the matter. “So, is that all you wished to tell me?”

“No, actually. I’m leaving Canterlot. An opportunity in Manehattan has come up for me, and I might not be coming back. I just thought I’d let you know.”

Blueblood snorted. “So? Why should I care if you’re leaving? I’m a prince! I don’t need to concern myself with the likes of you!”

Penny gave the prince a small smile and shook her head. “You never change, Blueblood. You’re still that snobby little school kid who nopony else wanted to talk to, much less have to listen to. Unfortunately for you, the rest of the world isn’t going to wait for you to grow up.”

“But I’m a prince!” he whined. “Everypony who’s anypony wants to meet me!”

“Good for you. I wish you a pleasant evening, Blueblood.” She levitated an envelope out of a fold in her dress and gently tucked it in one of his suit pockets. “Here. When you get lonely, think of me.” With that, she turned around and started walking back towards the palace.

“Lonely? I’m not going to get lonely! You’ll see!” he called out. “I don’t need you! I can have any mare I want!” Penny vanished through the shrubbery, leaving an indignant Blueblood behind.

I just need to look my best, he thought as he scanned the garden. Something to accentuate my coat... Ah! That mare has a rose! Perfect! He started walking towards a white-coated, curly-maned mare who was eyeing him as he approached.

Blueblood pressed a towel to his face, trying to wipe off the last remnants of cake frosting from his coat. He grimaced as memories of the disastrous evening flashed through his mind; the gala had ended in shambles and the prince had quickly retreated to the safety of his office.

He pulled off his cake-stained suit, but felt an odd protrusion in his pocket. Blueblood reached in and pulled out a sealed envelope, and suddenly the memory of Penny, forgotten in the chaos of the evening, came back to him in an instant. He began to open the envelope when there was a knock at the door.

Blueblood tossed the envelope on the desk as the door opened to reveal the figure of Princess Celestia standing in the doorway. Her expression was impassive as the prince promptly trotted up to her.

“Oh, Auntie Celestia, it was horrible!” he cried, placing a hoof over his eyes as he threw his head back. “I was just minding my own business when I was attacked by that beastly mare! She had the—”

“If you'll forgive my interruption,” Celestia said, holding up a hoof to indicate she wanted silence, “I'd prefer you didn't insult my invited guests. Especially when I know you well enough to deduce what drove her to yell at you.”

Blueblood felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, frozen in the princess’ gaze. “Wait... you invited her? I... oh...”

Celestia closed her eyes and sighed. “I told you I would be inviting my faithful student and her friends from Ponyville. And I asked you to treat them with respect, but it would seem that you failed." She paused, then added, "Perhaps it is for the best. Sometimes experience is the best teacher, especially when it comes to the Grand Galloping Gala.”

“Oh,” he mumbled, then put on an awkward grin. “So everything is fine, then?”

The princess’ eyes opened and a frown crossed her face, causing him to back away hurriedly. “No, Blueblood. It is not fine. You embarrassed me tonight. You embarrassed your title. And I wish I could say that it was the first time, but it isn’t. I’ve been content to look the other way and hope that you would mature into your responsibilities, but you’ve shown no sign of doing so.”

She leaned her head towards him, giving him a pitying expression. “What do you think it means to be a prince? Do you think it means putting on nice suits, styling your mane, and occupying your days with those adult magazines in your drawer?”

“How do you know about those?” Blueblood cried, moving instinctively towards his desk.

“I bid you reexamine your life, Prince Blueblood,” Celestia said, turning around to face the door. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to enjoy the rest of the evening with my guests.” On her way out, she paused in front of the portrait of Prince Blueblood the Third. An unspoken plea lingered in Celestia’s eyes as she gazed upon his face before she turned away, leaving Blueblood alone in his office.

There was a knock at Princess Cadence’s door. She trotted across her quarters, cheerfully humming to herself. “At the gala, at the gala, this was the best night ever...” she sang softly before pulling the door open.

“Yes? Can I— Oh, Prince Blueblood! I wasn’t expecting to see you.”

Blueblood took a step forward, wobbling unsteadily on his hooves. His face was flushed and he was wearing a wide smile. “Ah, Cadence! Such a beautiful name. You’re just the mare I wanted to see!”

Cadence’s smile faltered. “Blueblood, are you alright?”

“Never better, my dear!” he cried, taking another step before stumbling over his hooves. He wobbled into the room, collapsing ungracefully on a set of plush cushions. He chuckled, laying on his back and hanging off the edge of the cushions in an upside-down position. “I’ve just been reexamining my life, per Auntie Celestia’s wishes!”

“Blueblood, are you... drunk?”

“Drunk on love, Cadence!” he crowed, lifting his hooves in the air. “I’ve seen the light! I’ve found the mare of my life!”

“Oh... well, that’s wonderful!” she replied, her smile returning in spite of her surprise. “It sounds like we both had a wonderful night. So who’s the lucky mare?”

He let out a hearty chuckle. “Why, you, of course!”

A pregnant silence followed his words. The smile hadn’t quite vanished from Cadence’s face, but her expression was certainly not one of happiness. “Uh... what?”

“I’ve been so blind! All my life I’ve watched you from afar, never admitting to myself my true feelings! But now I see the truth! I’m in love with you, Cadence!”

The princess blinked, her mouth hanging open as she tried to process what she had just heard. “Um... Blueblood, I’m flattered and everything, but—”

“Of course you’re flattered! I’m Prince Blueblood, after all!”

“Blueblood, I’m not—”

“Ooh, we should get married! A royal wedding for the ages! Ponies will be talking about it for years!”


“We’ll have to start the preparations immediately! We can get married in the spring, and—”

Blueblood!” Cadence cried. “I’m getting married to Shining Armor!”

The prince’s train of thought was derailed by this statement. He stopped, staring at her with his head still hanging upside-down off the cushion. “Huh?”

“He proposed to me tonight. At the gala, out in the garden. We’re going to get married next year.”

A long silence followed as Blueblood stumbled to his hooves, staring at Cadence in stunned disbelief. “But... but what about me?! I’m in love with you!”

Cadence’s expression darkened. “Blueblood, I know a thing or two about love. And what you’re experiencing right now definitely isn’t it.”

“But... but... Shining Armor?” Blueblood’s already flushed face reddened further as his eyes narrowed and he gritted his teeth. “That... that... lowly, uncouth, barbaric... commoner! What can you possibly see in him? He’s a simpleton! A louse! He’s... he’s...”

“Polite, kind, caring, compassionate,” Cadence continued. “In short, everything you’ve never been.”

“How could you honestly choose a commoner over me?!

Cadence’s horn began to glow and Blueblood felt himself being lifted into the air. “Maybe someday you’ll learn that the world isn’t divided between those who are royalty and those who aren’t. But I’m not holding my breath.” She levitated him out of her room, depositing him unceremoniously on the floor in front of her door. “Good night, Prince Blueblood.” The door slammed shut, and Blueblood once again found himself alone.

Blueblood’s eyes flew open, an action he immediately regretted when the bright sunlight filled his sight. He groaned, throwing a hoof over his face. A sharp throb of pain raced through his forehead, causing him to moan pitifully and roll onto his side, pressing his head against his couch cushions.

He slowly lifted his head, squinting at his office around him. The glint of sunlight reflected off several empty glass bottles sitting on his desk. He felt something hard pressing against his leg and looked down to see another bottle wedged between the couch cushions. He licked his parched lips, his mouth dry and reeking of alcohol.

The prince sat upright, holding his head in his hooves and groaning. The throbbing pounded his head to the point that he felt like his skull would crack open. A wave of nausea washed over him and he took a few deep breaths, trying to calm his nerves and hold in the contents of his stomach.

A drink of water and a little medicine later, Blueblood was shuffling towards his desk, wrinkling his nose at the smell emanating from the now empty liquor bottles. Fearing he would be sick if he even looked at another drop of alcohol, he began using his magic to push the bottles into a trash bin, where they landed with a clatter.

Something flopped onto the floor and Blueblood looked down to see an envelope lying under the desk. He levitated it into the air and opened it, pulling out a couple of folded sheets of paper. The prince sat in his chair as he unfolded the note and read.

Dear Blueblood

Though I may be leaving Canterlot, know that I will always make time to listen to you. I know my silly snob needs somepony to talk to, and I want to be that somepony again. Promise you’ll write to me.

This was followed by a mailing address for an apartment in Manehattan. Blueblood put it aside and read the second sheet of paper.

For old time’s sake.

Do you love me?




Blueblood frowned and set the note down on the desk. He levitated a quill out of its holder and dipped it in ink, allowing force of habit to guide it to “No.”

But just as the tip nearly touched the page, he stopped. The quill hovered over the note as he sat, unmoving, staring at the note. A long moment passed in silence as Blueblood gazed upon the paper, memories of days past appearing in his mind. He let the quill drop to the desk, sitting back in his chair and looking up at his office. Perhaps it was simply the hangover, but he couldn’t remember the room being so... big. So outsized.

So empty.

He glanced down at the note, then levitated the quill again, drawing a circle around the word “Maybe.”

Author's Notes:

My thanks to RTStephens for proofreading this story. Additionally, thanks to LadyMoondancer for giving me permission to use her drawing for the cover image, which is from her wonderful story, Canterlot Follies.

The inspiration for this story, for those who are interested, came mainly from the ending scene of The Social Network, when Mark Zuckerberg reaches out to an old girlfriend. There was something strangely compelling to me about the idea of telling the story of a jerk who has just one other who can not only stand him, but deny him his abuse. I basically set out to make a character that readers would want to strangle by the end of the fic, but still leave the possibility for redemption in the end.

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