New Year, New Start
Tabby and Sugarberry
Tiffany fluttered her wings in agitation as she finally reached the high-class hotel where she was expected. She had been in such a rush to make it on time that she had flown part of the way. Of course, she would not have been so pressed for time had she not run across that sad little baby pony on the street.
But she truly didn’t want to be late for this occasion, a celebrity auction of which she had been invited to be co-host. The proceeds would go to Helping Hoof, Tiffany’s favorite charity that benefitted needy baby ponies. Tiffany was determined to urge the bidding as high as she could to ensure the foundation received a sizable sum.
Tiffany rushed past all the glamorous ponies gathered in the hotel to make her way to the staging area. In the past, she would have been sure to stop and take careful note of all the styles being displayed and determine how to incorporate the newest fads into her own look. But since last Christmas, her life of frivolities had changed to a life of service, aiding those less fortunate than herself, particularly baby ponies. Now she lived solely for the purpose of raising more and more funds to donate to charitable organizations. There was no end to Tiffany’s abundant desire to make life pleasant for all baby ponies the world over.
Backstage of the huge auditorium in which the auction would be held, Tiffany impatiently waited for the stagehands to finish powdering her face. Looking good on camera simply had no appeal to her any longer, not when there were baby ponies in need.
Before she knew it, the signal for Tiffany to go on stage came. She looked around for Clare, who was co-hosting the event, but she didn’t notice the Italian mare anywhere. There was no time to worry about that, though, as it was time for the show to begin. Tiffany stepped out from behind the curtain, blinking in the intense lights focused on her. Then she looked towards the spot where Clare was supposed to be. She hastily suppressed a gasp as she saw who was there instead. Why, what was he doing here? It was none other than her alienated ex-fiancé, Guido Casale!
If Guido was a little taken aback himself, he didn’t let it show for long. He proceeded to stroll forward and take Tiffany’s hoof in his as the opening strains of music began.
Tiffany smiled tentatively at him before turning her attention back to prospective bidders. “Welcome to the first ever celebrity auction, sponsored by Clare’s Creations in Vulcanopolis,” she started off a bit tremulously as the presence of Guido still had her unnerved. “We have a lot of lovely items here tonight from the households of famous stars. And all proceeds will benefit Helping Hoof. And now Guido... Mr. Casale... will explain to you in detail the bidding process.” Tiffany flashed a dazzling smile at the glamorous ponies before stepping aside to give Guido center stage. She tried to control the rapid beating of her heart while Guido went on to elaborate on how to bid, forms of payment, and the like.
Then the auction began. An attendant rolled out a cart with the first item on it. Guido pulled back the sheet that covered it and announced the treasure: “Up first we have this lovely shawl worn by Golden Sundrop for her starring role in Grangewood. The beaded fringe is composed of genuine amethysts and garnets. Bidding starts at five hundred jangles!”
Tiffany was a little disappointed that the shawl went for only one thousand two hundred jangles. Why, she could have given the foundation more out of her weekly allowance! Well, there were still many more items...
For the second item, Tiffany was given the honor of showcasing it. Agitated by Guido’s presence at her side, the princess wasn’t quite as detailed in her description as she would have been otherwise. “This is the thing... from that movie... with the guy...” she stammered nervously. “You know the one I’m talking about...”
But jewels spoke louder than words anyway, so the diamond ring brought five thousand jangles. Tiffany was more pleased with that amount.
More often than not, Guido had to help Tiffany out with the announcements; the white pegasus made an admirable but flustered assistant, describing items with lines like “The hoof... I mean the nail... the hoofnail... no, the hoofnail clipper, of Havershaw!” and “The horseshoe, from the guy, with the hooves!”
After many long hours Tiffany felt like her big smile had been permanently plastered on her face. But finally the last treasure was unveiled for bidding. It was a stylin’ cart that had been featured extensively in the popular film, Helter-Skelter.
“Wow! What an amazing machine!” Guido marveled for the benefit of the audience. “This is the chance of a lifetime, ladies and gentlemen, to own a cart driven by Whirl Wind! Bidding starts at ten thousand!!”
Tension was in the air as bidders fought over the piece de resistence. The price soared from one hundred thousand, to eight hundred thousand, to one million.
Guido banged down the decorative gavel at his disposal. “SOLD! For five million jangles!”
Groans broke out from the audience as their chance of owning the incomparable cart was extinguished, but almost everyone remained for Tiffany’s next announcement: “Thank you so much for taking part!!! Because of you, the Helping Hoof Foundation will be given nearly three billion jangles. This will be a tremendous aid to countless baby ponies all over the world!! What a truly special Christmas present this will be!! Thank you from the bottom of my... our... hearts!”
Clapping and cheers broke out for ths incredible accomplishment. Guido then went on to invite all participants to attend a formal ball being held in the adjoining room, and everyone gravitated there to join in the festivities.
Due to the nature of the auction, Tiffany and Guido had not had the time to say anything personal to each other. But, as host and hostess of the event, they were obliged to start the first dance.
Tiffany was nervous; Guido seemed very personable and charming towards her, but was that just a facade for the benefit of the participants? She knew he didn’t think very highly of her because of her former frivolous lifestyle. Tiffany sighed wistfully as he led her out onto the dance floor. This was so much like the old days, when she was his guest in Vulcanopolis. They had attended countless parties and balls together; and he had always held her so close, and looked at her so adoringly...
Lost in her thoughts, Tiffany missed a step and almost trampled Guido’s hoof. Oh dear, that was no way to make a good impression on him! But blushing, she met his gaze, and he only smiled at her discomfiture.
Soon enough the dance ended, and Tiffany was half-grateful, half-disappointed, when Guido released his hold on her. The rest of the night was spent primarily at his side, chatting with various guests; but there was no time for private conversation, so Tiffany could only guess what Guido was thinking. It probably disgusted him to be in her company like this, Tiffany thought despondently. He was a very good actor, though...
In the small hours of the morning, the party finally began to break up and the ballroom became sparsely populated. Inevitably, Guido shook hooves with- and Tiffany smiled at- the last guest. And then the two were alone with each other.
“It was a lovely night,” Tiffany said a little breathlessly, articulating the first inane comment that came into her head. “It was such a- such a surprise to see you here.”
“And was it a pleasant surprise?” Guido prodded.
“Oh, yes, of course!” Tiffany burst out without thinking. “I mean... naturally. You were an excellent host. But, just out of curiosity, why was there a change of plans? The last I had heard Clare would be co-hosting with me.”
“Calla came down with a bad cold, so she didn’t want to leave Vulcanopolis,” Guido explained. “She came to me for help and of course I offered to take her place.”
“That was very kind of you,” Tiffany stated.
“Not at all... actually, it was pure selfishness on my part.”
Tiffany looked at him inquiringly. “Selfishness? I don’t understand.”
“Why, I wanted to chance to see you again. Not your photo in the newspaper or on television, but in person.”
Guido chuckled and took her hoof in his. “Do you think your company is that undesirable, Tiffany?”
“I thought you wouldn’t even want to see me again, after...” Tiffany looked down at the floor and trailed off into silence. It didn’t need to be said what occasion Tiffany was referring to. They both knew it was the night before their intended wedding, two years ago, when they had had their big falling out. Tiffany had told Guido that she was only marrying him for his money, and Guido had suddenly realized that fame and wealth weren’t everything. The next day, neither of them had shown up at church for the wedding.
“You’ve changed a lot since then, Tiffany. We both have.” Guido lapsed into contemplative silence. “When I first started hearing about all the volunteer work you were undertaking, I couldn’t believe it. I’m really impressed by your ambition.”
Tiffany blushed. “It’s nothing, really... it’s the least I could do for all the years I spent concentrating on myself. I was surprised by your contributions to charity, too. Though at first I thought you were quite mad to be giving all that money away.” She smiled a bit regretfully. “But I understand now. There’s more to life than parties and looking beautiful... much more. I’ve finally found my true purpose in life... and I have you to thank for it, though it took me awhile to change. There are so many ponies that need help, and I mean to help as many as I can. Tomorrow I’m speaking to the board of Master Mark Corporation to convince them to supply funding to the new Health Works charity, and on Saturday I’m helping with a fund-raiser for Food for Foals.” She smiled wryly. “Would you believe I passed up an invitation to a ball at Golden City so I could give some of my time at the orphanage?”
“Those are all very honorable causes, indeed,” Guido said gravely. “But sometimes I wonder if you miss the kind of life you had before.”
A tiny bit of regret flashed across Tiffany’s face, but she quickly suppressed it. “Oh no of course not! I’m so much happier helping others,” she declared bravely. Guido actually respected her now! Of course she wouldn’t admit that she wouldn’t mind attending a party once in awhile... and keeping on top of the latest styles... and spending the nights gossiping with her friends. If she let on to any of this he’d surely hate her again for being so shallow!
“I see,” said Guido. “I must say I’m a bit sorry, though, to see that the old Tiffany is so completely gone. Your fun-loving spirit was one of your most endearing qualities. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt your standing as a ponitarian if you took a little bit of time for yourself.”
“You... you think so?” Tiffany said incredulously.
“Of course I think it’s wonderful what you’re doing, but you still have your own life to live,” Guido went on. “Maybe you took all this work to an extreme... I’d hate to think I had inadvertently caused such an engaging personality to lose herself so entirely to the world.”
“Oh,” said Tiffany, still not really believing her ears. “But- does this mean- oh, what are you trying to say!”
“I’m saying, Tiffany, that the love of my life doesn’t have to be so perfect... and though she’s a devoted helper of ponykind, she can still indulge in her own whims once in awhile... and yes, even allow herself to have fun!”
Sappy music keyed-up in the background as the two estranged lovers embraced and kissed.
“What! I thought all the musicians had gone!” Tiffany exclaimed, breaking away from Guido momentarily. “Do leave us in peace!” The lone musician skulked out of the ballroom and went on his way.
“But you musn’t make me wait through another tedious two-year engagement, darling,” Guido said, quickly slipping back into the familiarity they had previously enjoyed.
“Oh, no,” said Tiffany dreamily. “Another two years is much too long to wait. At the earliest possible convenience, naturally. But then there’s the old question, Dream Valley or Vulcanopolis?”
“How does an elopement sound?”
“Exceedingly convenient! But I’m afraid it will have to wait until next week. Previous engagements, you know.”
“My dear Tiffany, the point of an elopement is the spontaneity! When is your appointment tomorrow? Afternoon? Then that’s fine! We’ll leave for Vulcanopolis immediately, get married by special licence, and be back just in time. I’d even be willing to take a raincheck on the honeymoon for the sake of your work. What do you say?”
“I have always so admired your efficiency,” Tiffany sighed dreamily. “Very well, let’s do it!”
The End - or rather, The Beginning!
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