More than anything else in the world, Lily Blossom loved her flowers. As the pegasus proprietress of the Everfree Florist, she spent the days making sure that the blooms had their best presentation. And the busiest time of year was always the Winter Hearts Celebration, which was only a week away. It was a time for hearts to begin melting toward love as everypony prepared for the coming spring. Every stallion, and even some of the mares, were going to be requesting her services to give something beautiful to their special filly, so each bouquet had to be just right.
Lily herself never really cared for the festival. It just meant more work, though she was glad for the extra income; she always saved a bit to help fill in during some of the year's slower times. She'd be spending the next week receiving fresh flowers, putting together the bouquets, and still finding time to help her customers.
She had just opened for the day when her first customer came in, a blue pegasus with a rainbow mane. “Welcome to Everfree Florist,” she said with a smile, turning from where she was just displaying some fresh cut daffodils. “Oh, Rainbow Dash!”
“Hi, Lily,” Dash replied.
“Wow, you're early this year,” she stated.
“Yeah, I wanted to get my order in early, after what happened last year.”
Lily remembered how she had had to scrounge for whatever flowers were left to make a halfway decent bouquet. It was a random mishmash that nopony would appreciate. “That'll make it easier on me.”
Dash waved the comment away. “I need something pink, but I also want some red roses in there as well. Those colors won't clash, will they?”
“No, not at all, they'd look lovely together. I could do something that works pink roses in with a more vibrant array of red, orange, and yellow. Maybe a dozen pink and a dozen of the other colors?”
“That'd be perfect!” Dash said.
Lily walked over to where she had her note pad and wrote down the order. “When do you want these ready?”
“I'll be by to pick it up the night before the festival.”
“Perfect,” Lily said. “They'll be here waiting for you. And Pinkie Pie will love them.”
“You'd already thought about this?”
“After last year, Dash, I like to be prepared. Besides, I like to be ready with suggestions for every couple in town.”
Dash was smiling as she left the little shop. “Another satisfied customer,” Lily commented. From the door, she saw a yellow mare staring at her. When Lily caught her eye, the pony ran off.
A few days later, with the celebration approaching, Lily's normally elegant yellow mane was starting to look a bit frazzled. She'd spent the last few days only working, eating, or sleeping. She was about to close the store when a gray pegasus with bright yellow eyes trotted in. “Ditzy!” she said, addressing her friend.
“Hi, Lily! I know a secret, so I need some help picking something out,” Ditzy said, one of her eyes wandering to look somewhere other than where she was focused.
Lily looked down at where she was writing orders in an effort not to be distracted by the unnatural gaze. “Oh? And what's the secret?” she asked.
“Butterflies like flowers,” Ditzy confided, her eye snapping back to look straight ahead.
Lily looked up with an encouraging smile. She had noticed during the Iron Pony competition prior to the latest Running of the Leaves that Ditzy had connected with Fluttershy, though neither had said a word. She walked over to where she kept the red roses, already bundled. “A dozen red roses should do the trick,” she explained. “A simple classic; coming from you, she'll love them.” She picked out the best bouquet she had made for display, buds just on the cusp of blooming, and placed it in one of the pegasus pony's mail sacks. “Put these in a vase of water when you get home, and they'll be in full bloom just in time for the celebration.”
Ditzy reached into the other bag and pulled out the two bits listed as the price. “Thank you, Lily,” she said, handing over the money. “I hope you find someone this year as well,” she added before taking off into the dusk sky.
“That would be nice,” Lily sighed to no one as she finally flipped the sign. “But I still have so much work to do.” Somewhere, off to the side, a yellow pony sighed in relief.
The eve of the celebration, and Lily finally turned over the last special order to its customer. “Have fun at the celebration, Big Macintosh” she said.
“Eeeyup,” he replied, in his usual calm manner. “Thank you, Miss Lily,” he said before leaving. She really wasn't sure who the lucky filly was that got to be his date was this year, hadn't even heard rumors.
She waited a few more minutes to see if anyone would come in at the absolute last minute before flipping the sign and walking out of the shop herself, taking to the skies. She was dead tired, and, rather than going to the celebration early tomorrow, had plans to sleep in as long as possible. As she made it to her small home toward the town's outskirts, she cuddled into her bed, ready to embrace Princess Luna's night.
The next day, as the sun started to flood through her windows, she heard a knock at the door. She hid her head under her pillow with a growl, but the knocking came again. She slid out of bed and threw on a dressing gown to protect against the chill outside. “I'm coming!” she announced.
She opened the door to find the brightest pair of green eyes staring at her behind a big bouquet she recognized from the night before, when she gave them to the pony's cousin. “Apple Fritter? What's going on?” she asked, her mind struggling to catch up from its dreamy haze. She remembered seeing Fritter about a week ago, staring from across the street.
Apple Fritter dropped the bouquet from her mouth and inhaled sharply before asking, “Miss Lily Blossom, you are the prettiest pony I know, and I wanted to ask you if you would you do me the honor of accompanying me to the Winter Hearts Celebration?” She finally exhaled, then picked the bouquet back up to offer it again.
Lily had never been offered her own flowers before. She meant to say something, but no words would come out. Her heart may have skipped a few beats. Fritter's face started to droop as Lily continued to stare. Slowly, the yellow mare started to turn away. She dropped the flowers again.
“Wait!” Lily finally called. She was ready to take the chance. The pony turned back to her. “Yes, Apple Fritter, I will.” The smile in response lit up her room far more than the sun coming through the open door. She picked up the flowers herself and moved them inside the door. “Just, let me get ready, and I'll meet you... where do you want to meet?”
“Since you haven't had breakfast yet, let's meet at the cafe.”
“It's a date then. I'll see you at the cafe in half an hour.” Lily smiled as she closed the door on Apple Fritter, who started cantering away, chest puffed out and head held high.
“Have you been waiting long?” Lily Blossom asked as she came to the table. She was wearing a gown the same color as the fuchsia lilies of her cutie mark.
“No, not at all,” Apple Fritter answered. “You look gorgeous!” she added.
“Thank you,” Lily replied. She noticed that Fritter was wearing a green dress now, matching her eyes and mane. “You look great as well.”
Fritter's cheeks reddened at the compliment.
“What can I get you ladies?” the waiter said, coming up to the table, placing down two glasses of water.
“I'll have the apple and honey waffles,” Fritter said.
“That sounds good; I'll have the same,” Lily added.
“Very good.” The waiter left to give the order to the kitchen.
“Don't you get sick of apples, having to work around them every day?” Lily asked.
Fritter took a sip of her water before answering. “Like most of my family, apples are what I love. Did you hate the bouquet I brought just because you're around flowers every day?” Lily shook her head, remembering how she always had flowers decorating her home. “When you truly love someo-, er, something, there's no way it's a chore to find true joy in it. Besides, can I let you in on a little secret?”
“We don't eat apples every day. Don't let cousin Applejack know I told you that. She'd be worried it'd hurt business.”
Lily chuckled. “Cross my heart,” she promised.
The waiter arrived again, placing down the two orders. “Is there anything else you I can get you?”
“No, thank you,” Lily replied. The waiter nodded and again walked away.
Lily took a bite before speaking again. “I saw you staring from across the street a week ago,” she said.
Again, Apple Fritter's cheeks reddened. “I've noticed you for a long time but was never really brave enough to even talk to you. I mean, you're so beautiful, and I'm just a country filly with a crush.”
“It's not a crush if it's mutual,” Lily encouraged. She was rewarded with another room brightening smile.
“Big Mac was the one who finally encouraged me to make a move. I still don't know if you're just humoring me, or if you even like other fillies this way. But, now that I've made it over the first hurdle, I'll warn you that I have every bit of the stubborn Apple streak.”
Lily Blossom smiled, reaching across to take Fritter's hooves in her own. “I'd never do that to someone. And your instincts weren't off. So, I look forward to being the subject of your attentions.”
Lily and Fritter finished their meal, then left to enjoy the celebration. There was music with decidedly romantic lyrics, vendors selling their wares, a plenty of games and activities for the towns foals. The two ponies leaned back and forth into each other as they took in the sights.
They spent hours just walking and talking, and before they knew it, the sun was setting, meaning the fireworks would soon start. They found a nice place in the meadow among the crowd and laid down in the grass. Lily nuzzled into Fritter's neck. “I had a really nice time today,” she whispered.
Fritter nuzzled back, running her head against Lily's. “Does that mean I get a second date?”
As the first fireworks exploded behind them, Lily Blossom embraced her in a deep kiss. She smiled when they broke away. Apple Fritter's eyes were still wide in surprise. “Yes,” Lily said. “And many, many more.”