Princess Celestia looked up from the hedge maze. She looked through holes between the thick-leaved hedges, but remained silent. If she spoke, she would gather attention to herself —and the criticisms of taking another break from the proposals that piled her desk.
Sound like a guard. Sound like a guard on patrol. Princess Celestia thought. Her horn glowed yellow. A flash of bright light enveloped her throat for a moment, then disappeared along with the light from her horn.
Princess Celestia forced a grunt. It sounded deep and scratchy. From the cover of the leaves heavy with sunlight, she smiled.
“Who’s there?” Princess Celestia asked. Her voice was marginally different from her own. She had trouble adjusting to the stress the spell brought to her vocal chords.
The sounds of another pony shuffling underneath the layer of autumn leaves sounded nearby. Judging by the frantic cracking of the leaves, Princess Celestia had caught the pony by surprise. She tried not to laugh.
“I apologize, but I can’t see you.” the voice replied. The tone was soft and light, but strong.
“I apologize, but you must tell me your name,” Princess Celestia said, trying to mimic the temperament of a guard. “It’s customary.”
“I am Rarity, a friend of Twilight Sparkle. I was granted permission by some of the guards outside the maze to enter.” the pony said through the hedges.
Princess Celestia let out a sigh of relief. She mistook Rarity for a politician. She maintained her voice-alteration spell, in case another pony were to stumble upon her conversation.
“The leaves look beautiful during this time of year.” Rarity said.
“They are; it’s why I asked to patrol this section.” Princess Celestia replied, “the trees above the hedge maze shed their leaves only once a year.”
A wind blew through the maze, sending the leaves into the air and letting them curl playfully with one another as they drifted to the ground.
“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but could you tell me how to get out of this maze? My friends might be worried if I don’t leave soon.” Rarity said.
“Aren’t—” Princess Celestia bit her tongue. “I mean, can you fly? You’ll be out quickly if you can.”
“I’m afraid I’m a unicorn.” Rarity confessed.
“Can’t you cast a teleportation spell?”
“That ruffles up your hair, darling. I simply cannot afford to spend time rearranging my hair for a simple spell. Besides, what if my hair were to catch fire? I’ve seen Twilight, er, my friend unsuccessfully cast that spell to ghastly consequences to her mane and coat.”
Princess Celestia couldn’t help but laugh. Blood raced to Princess Celestia’s cheeks. She cursed herself for doing so.
“I’ll let you know that I am a unicorn of fashion! If it weren’t for this fool’s maze, you’d be begging for me to make you as pretty as myself!”
“Is that so?” Princess Celestia laughed. She became used to her deeper voice. “I’d like you to say that to a guard.”
“Fine. I’ll just follow the sound of your voice.”
Princess Celestia’s eyes widened. She turned and tried to find a path that obviously lead to a dead end. Princess Celestia briefly thought of flying, but that would expose her to other guards —and the politicians being escorted by them. A teleportation spell would work, but the light would give away the color of her cutie mark. Anypony can trace a magic spell from the color of their magic.
Princess Celestia rushed past a corridor that lead to a dead end. She hid behind the hedges, but spread some of the branches to create a small hole to see through the walls.
Rarity galloped into her vision. She expectantly awaited another pony to greet her. She frowned when there was no other pony in sight.
“I could’ve sworn you were here.” Rarity muttered to herself. She narrowed her eyes and tried to look between the gaps of the leaves.
“Oh dear knight!” Rarity called in a sing-song voice, “your guest is waiting! Won’t you be a gentilecolt and escort a helpless mare?”
Princess Celestia glanced at the Sun overhead. It was an hour since she had left for her walk, according to the movement of the Sun. If she was out any longer, her advisors would worry. She thought of teleporting again, but Rarity might see the light through the leaves.
“You really are a beautiful mare.” Princess Celestia said, “too beautiful for me.”
Rarity blushed and played with her mane. Princess Celestia found her cheeks flushed as well.
“Is that why you’re hiding? Allow me to see your face. There’s no pony alive who I can make beautiful.”
Princess Celestia laughed, causing Rarity to pout.
“I’m sorry, but I must return to my duties. My superior would have my head if I were to report back last.”
“Then just give me your name. Perhaps I can meet you some other time.” Rarity said as she searched for the source of Princess Celestia’s voice.
“I can’t. I have to leave.”
“But I told you mine! Surely you’re not that—”
“I’m sorry.” Princess Celestia said. Her spell began to fade, causing her voice to become softer and more breathy. She feigned a deeper voice without her magic, but her tone still sounded higher than her spell’s voice.
“You’ll know who I am when you hear my voice. I’m always around the castle.”
A flash of yellow shined in Rarity’s eyes, causing her to look away.
Hmm, I have to wonder how Rarity will react when she learns the true identity of the “guard” she was flirting with. Celestia’s elaborate scheme to avoid her royal duties is amusing, as is the assertion that Rarity knows how to teleport but avoids doing so to prevent the mussing of her mane; that latter bit is going straight into my headcanon. I find myself intrigued by where this story would go next.