It was well past midnight by the time they had finished milling all of the wheat. Each of the ponies was tired beyond belief, but there was a triumphant air about them. They had faced the job in front of them and had come out on top, victorious. Haystack told Pine Needle and Luna to take tomorrow off, and he profusely thanked everyone else. "It will be a week or so until I get some of the flour sold," he said, "but I'll deliver your pay personally." They left as a group, too tired for chatter, they peeled off as they arrived at their various homes. Sleep came quickly for them all, the peaceful rest of the honestly tired.

The next day found Dewdrop at work at her usual early start time. It had been harder than usual to get out of bed because of the busy night before, but her sense of responsibility had her up and about despite mutters from her roommate asking for five more minutes. The inn's manager looked at her weary face with concern, but she waved it off, explaining about the harvest that she had helped with last night.

"Ah," the manager reminisced, "I used to help with a few of those back in my youth too. Fun in its way, although I must admit I don't feel the urge to go out and help with them anymore. However, I do have some important news for you, Dewdrop!"

"Oh, what's that?" she asked, her interest piqued.

"I leave town tomorrow, and will be gone for the next few days," her manager said. "There is a convention of hoteliers in Canterlot coming up. Personally, I think it's more of an excuse to fill up some rooms somewhere, but then the contacts I make at these gatherings always seem to pay off in the long run. So, who knows? Anyway, while I'm gone, I would like for you to be the one in charge."

"Me?" Dewdrop was startled by the announcement.

"Most certainly! I have always been impressed by your work ethic. And I've talked with Lilypad and Hazelnut already, and they're fine with you being in charge. I can leave for the convention feeling secure about my inn with you in charge, especially with Hoity-Toity arriving the day after tomorrow."

Dewdrop had felt herself fill with pride until Hoity-Toity had been mentioned. 'I hope that I can do a good job!' she worried. 'If I mess this up, it might lead to bad press for the inn!' She spent the rest of the morning with half her mind occupied worrying about what might go wrong with her in charge.

On her break, Dewdrop went to the restaurant that Feather Down worked to have lunch. Her roommate got approval from her boss and joined Dewdrop for the meal. While they ate, Dewdrop shared her news and concerns with Feather Down. "Don't worry about it," Feather Down said. "It isn't like you'll have to do too much extra work, right? The other girls will do their part, and everything will go fine, just watch!"

Dewdrop nodded. "I think you're right. I'm just nervous, that's all. This is the first time he's ever left me in charge, so I guess I'm just worried about what could go wrong."

"That's understandable. Just don't obsess over it, okay? You have a tendency to do that at times, you know. I'm sure you'll do just fine." After some more small talk, the two friends finished their lunch and returned to their jobs.

It was around mid afternoon when the bell on the door of the inn rang, announcing a guest. From the back room where she was folding sheets, Dewdrop heard the manager talking to somepony else. Wondering who it might be, Dewdrop walked to the front of the inn. There, she saw Rarity talking with the manager.

"Dewdrop!" The manager waved her over to them. "This is the mare I was talking about, Rarity. Dewdrop will be the pony I leave in charge while I am gone, starting tomorrow. I am sure she will do everything in her power to make sure Hoity-Toity has an excellent stay."

Rarity smiled when she first saw Dewdrop, but after a few seconds began to frown. When Rarity started to circle her, shaking her head and making small sounds of disapproval, Dewdrop and her manager shared confused looks. Rarity finished her circuit around Dewdrop and shook her head. "No, no. Not like this." Rarity turned to the manager. "If you will excuse us?" Without waiting for an answer, Rarity herded Dewdrop towards the door. Dewdrop could only shrug at her confused manager, who stood and watched as they left.

"I'm sorry for the rudeness of our departure," Rarity told Dewdrop as they walked away from the inn, "but I don't think he would have understood my intentions."

"To be honest, I don't fully understand your intentions either," Dewdrop said, following Rarity more out of confusion than any other reason.

"Oh darling, you must forgive me. I'm in a terrible state right now. Hoity-Toity is coming to see my work on some dresses, and this could make or break my career going forward. So I'm doing everything that I can to make sure that he has a pleasant stay here in Ponyville. And seeing you there, and knowing that you'll be the face of the inn where Hoity-Toity will be staying, made me remember something I have packed away. We must simply see if it fits you."

Intrigued, Dewdrop followed Rarity into her shop. Dewdrop had never been inside Rarity's store, never having cared much about fancy dresses. She was amazed by what she saw. Close to a dozen dummies stood around the room, around half of them with dresses in various states of completion on them. Reams and bolts of cloth filled a closet, displaying an entire rainbow of colors. Rarity excused herself and left Dewdrop to gape while she went into the back room. A couple of minutes later, she returned with a dress box carried by her magic.

"Try this on, and let me know what you think!" Rarity opened the box to reveal a black and white outfit inside. Using her magic, Dewdrop put it on without too much trouble. The front part consisted of a white, lacy collar and apron with black stitching and pockets. The back part covered her flanks with a black dress that had more white lace on its edges. Rarity nodded in approval. "Just one moment, let me take it in really quick here and there…" A few more minutes passed, and Rarity smiled at Dewdrop. "Perfect! Of course, the important question is, do you like it?" she asked, levitating a mirror around to help Dewdrop take a good look at herself.

Dewdrop was amazed by what she was wearing. She regularly wore aprons as part of her job, but had never worn one so fancy, or even had a reason to dress up before. "It's amazing! I barely recognize myself!" Dewdrop exclaimed, her voice filled with honest wonder and delight.

"Then I insist that you wear it while Hoity-Toity is at the inn. No, even better, if you promise to wear it for him, you can have it. I can't think of a better use, or a more perfect pony, for it to be seen on!" Rarity declared.

Dewdrop was stunned by the sudden generosity. "I—I can't accept this!" she feebly protested. "I really don't know how much these things cost, but I can't believe that this is inexpensive in the least!"

"No, no!" Rarity said. "If anything, think of it as an investment. The better time that Hoity-Toity has before the show, the more likely he will be to view my work in a favorable light. And I've had that thing just sitting around in back gathering dust for months. This way, it gets a home that will appreciate it too!"

"Well then," Dewdrop said, "I don't know what to say, except for thank you very much! I'll make sure to wear it while Hoity-Toity is at the inn, and I'll do my best to make sure he has a pleasant stay."

Rarity smiled at Dewdrop. "Oh, I know you would have regardless, I could tell from first sight you value hard work as much as I do. Here, let me get that back in its box for you." Soon the dress was neatly folded and placed back inside of its container. Dewdrop thanked Rarity profusely, and returned back to the inn, the box balanced on her back with her magic. The rest of the day, Dewdrop was in a happy mood, humming to herself as she went about her tasks. She decided to leave the box at the inn for the night, so she wouldn't risk forgetting it at home or getting it dirty carrying it around.

The next day, Dewdrop was up early and at the inn full of energy. She waved goodbye to the night shift pony, a dark orange mare named Sunset, and cheerily served breakfast to the two sets of guests that had spent the night. The other two mares who worked days with her, Lilypad and Hazelnut, showed up shortly afterwards, and they focused their attentions to cleaning up the rooms. Looking around, the girls decided that the inn could use some new flowers in the rooms, and so Dewdrop had the two of them go out to try to find some while she watched the place.

'I hope they can find some, with it being so late in the year.' Dewdrop thought as she dusted off the furniture in the lobby. 'I know I saw some growing in a couple of flower beds on my way to work though, so there might still be a chance for them to locate some.' It was a quiet time of day, and Dewdrop stared out the window for a bit in a daydream. 'I remember the last time I went out looking for flowers. That was when I found Moonbeam. I would never have guessed when I left the inn that I would find such a great friend.' Dewdrop was brought back to the present when the clock in the lobby chimed four.

'Is it really that late? Lilypad and Hazelnut have been gone for hours! I hope nothing happened to them!' Dewdrop looked about in worry. 'And I can't leave to go find them either. If I do, there will be nobody to watch the inn.' Time continued to pass slowly, and Dewdrop swore that the seconds were growing longer and longer. She paced about, and finally got out the broom and swept the outside area, just to be able to look around outside to see the other two returning sooner.

It was getting close to when Dewdrop would normally take a short break, when a grey stallion came trotting up to her. "Excuse me, miss, but do you know where I can find the pony named Dewdrop?"

"That would be me. How can I help you?"

"Hello, my name is Doctor Fetlock. I just got done helping take care of two young mares who work here, and…"

"Oh no! Lilypad and Hazelnut? What happened? Did they hurt themselves? Are they okay?"

"Oh, yes, yes." Dr. Fetlock reassured Dewdrop. "They just had the misfortune of running into a giant patch of poison ivy earlier today while in the woods. I'm here to let you know that they will be unable to work for the next week. I have prescribed bed rest and lots of lotion to help with the rash and itching they are currently experiencing."

"A whole week? Oh no! To be forced to itch for that long, I would go crazy!" Dewdrop exclaimed.

"True, it isn't fun at all, but it is important to remember that it will pass in time. Anyway, they asked me to pass the news to you so you wouldn't worry any longer, and they both wanted to apologize very much for not being able to help in the coming days." The doctor said farewell and then walked off.

'Oh no!' Dewdrop thought as the realization settled in. 'I'm the only day shift pony left now!' She trotted back inside. 'Well, it shouldn't be too difficult. We only have twelve rooms, I can get them all cleaned up by myself in a few hours by myself, nothing I can't handle.'

Dewdrop looked at the reservation list. She was astonished to see that every single room was full, all from Hoity-Toity and apparently his entourage. 'And I promised Rarity that I would do my very best to make sure he has a pleasant stay! I won't be at my best all by myself and that many guests staying here!' Then she also saw a note saying that the inn was serving the guests dinner on the first night of their stay.

'What do I do? There's no way I can handle all of this by myself! But where can I find help on such short notice?'


Luna was cleaning up from her dinner when she heard a knock at her door. "Coming!" she hollered, wondering who was paying her a visit. Opening the door, she saw Dewdrop, who looked stressed and ragged. "Dewdrop! What's wrong? Come in!"

Dewdrop stepped in, worry plain on her face. "Oh Moonbeam, I'm sorry to intrude on you like this, but I need to ask a giant favor of you!"

"Well, I can't guarantee that I can help you, but at least tell me what the problem is." Luna looked around at her still-empty house, wishing she could offer her friend a place to sit down besides the floor. 'Pillows! I need to get some pillows!' she thought.

"Well, my manager at the inn has left town, and the other girls who I work with have fallen ill, so I'm the only pony left working the day shift." Dewdrop explained. "Which normally wouldn't be that big of a problem. It would be extra work for me, but nothing too onerous. However, we have an important guest showing up tomorrow! There's simply too much work for me to handle by myself. Please, Moonbeam, could you please lend me a hoof at the inn for a couple of days? It will be easy work."

Luna couldn't bear to see her friend in such distress. "Of course I'll help! I'll need to talk to Haystack, but we spent all of today cleaning up the barn and getting the flour ready to be transported. There isn't all that much to do now, to be honest, so I don't think he'll have a problem with me helping you out."

"Oh, thank you, thank you! Let me come with you, please. I need to know as soon as I can, just so I have an idea of what tomorrow will be like." Dewdrop pleaded.

"Uh, sure. Let's go now then?" Luna was starting to feel a little pressed by her friend, but she passed it off as stress.

'Yes, let's!" The two ponies headed out and a short walk later, arrived at Haystack's farm. Dewdrop had been silent on the way out, but as they approached the front door to Haystack's house, Dewdrop said, "Do you want to ask him, or do you want me to?"

Luna considered for a moment, and then replied, "I think I will. It would sound better if I asked, don't you think?"

Dewdrop nodded. "You're right, of course. I can't believe how out of shape this is making me. Please do, hun, you work with him most days anyways, so you know how to approach him better. I'll just stand back and try not to get in your way." Dewdrop gave Luna an embarrassed smile.

A ring of the bell later, and Haystack opened the door. "Well, this is a surprise! Moonbeam, Dewdrop, how are you two? Please, come in." Haystack held the door open for them, and soon they were gathered around a table. "What brings you two out here at this time?"

"Well," Luna said, "Dewdrop is in a bit of a bind at the inn where she works. She's the only available pony left for the next few days, and she asked if I could come fill in, give her a helping hoof. I told her I'd be glad to help her out, but that I needed to check with you if it was okay. I've only been doing this for a short time, after all, but it looks like to me we're at a point where I wouldn't be missed for a few days while Dewdrop's coworkers recover?"

Haystack pursed his lips in thought, and was silent for a minute. "You're right, Moonbeam. We have everything done for the most part. I'm just wondering..." Haystack turned to Dewdrop. "What kind of work are we talking about here? Having to move furniture around, serving meals, what?"

Dewdrop blinked at the unexpected question. "Um, nothing too hard at all. Carrying baggage to rooms, cleaning up the rooms during the day while the guests are out, and answering the occasional room service request. Breakfast has to be served, but that's an informal thing, mainly handing out a simple meal whenever the guests are finally awake. Oh, the first night the group is in town, we're serving them dinner, but the cooking is all being handled by another group, all we'll have to do is serve it to the guests."

"Sounds easy enough. All right then. Moonbeam, you may have the time off." He turned to Dewdrop. "How much help do you need? If it is only for a day or two, I would be willing to help too, and I could probably get Pine Needle to help also. After all, if Moonbeam and I aren't here, he'd be all by himself."

"Oh, Haystack, that's so nice of you, but I don't want you to think I'm forcing this on you."

"Nonsense! You came out to help me with the harvest, it would be downright rude of me to not return the favor and help you out in return!" Haystack insisted.

Relief filled Dewdrop's face. "Oh, thank you so much then, both of you! You know where the inn is, correct?" Seeing them both nod, Dewdrop continued, "Show up in the morning then. I'll be there early since the manager is out of town, but I won't be needing your help until after breakfast." Dewdrop shook both Luna's and Haystack's hooves vigorously. After a small amount of chatter, the mares left Haystack's house.

As they arrived at Luna's house, Dewdrop thanked her one last time before returning to her own home. She found Feather Down waiting for her. "Where have you been?" she asked. "I came home late, and there was no sign of you!"

Dewdrop sighed and apologized. "I'm sorry, Feather Down. This afternoon just went all to pieces!" Dewdrop explained all that had happened since she had last seen her roommate at lunch. By the time Dewdrop was done with her story, Feather Down had a thoughtful look on her face.

"You know," Feather Down said in a sly voice, "I've always wondered just how comfortable those beds at the inn were. I've got tomorrow off, I may just have to stop by and find out. I'll help you keep the others in line too." She gave Dewdrop a wink.

Dewdrop felt tears start to well up in her eyes. "Oh, I have the best friends in the world!" she said as she hugged Feather Down tightly. "With all of you guys helping me, I know things are just going to go fine!"

The next morning, Dewdrop got up early and headed to the inn. The night shift pony smiled as she came in. "It was an easy night, there's only one family currently staying, although the next few nights sure look packed. Good luck in getting them all checked in."

"Thank you, Sunset! Do you work tomorrow, or is that one of your days off?"

"I'll be in tomorrow, but I have the next two nights after that off."

"Okay then, see you later!" Dewdrop watched her leave, and then focused her attention on breakfast preparations. She made sure that the bowls of fruit were filled, and then checked on the pitchers of water and juice. 'Okay, everything is ready to go.' Helping herself to an orange, she kept watch at the front desk until the guests, a family of four, came down. Greeting them with a cheery welcome, she served them their morning meal. They returned to their room to depart again a short while later, luggage in tow.

Wishing them a safe trip home, Dewdrop waited for them to be down the street before heading up to their room to clean up after them. She was pleasantly surprised to see that, even with two colts in their family, the room hadn't been messed up beyond belief. She was about to get to work cleaning it up when she realized that she should leave it for when her friends were here. 'This will be the perfect chance for me to show them what I want from them!' As she left the room, she heard the bell attached to the front door ring. Trotting downstairs, she saw Feather Down in the lobby.

"Hello, Dewdrop!" Feather Down looked around her. "So, what's the plan?"

"Well, I'm hoping the rest show up soon. Then I can show you guys the basics of cleaning up the rooms. After that..." Dewdrop was interrupted as the opening door once again rang the bell, and in walked Haystack, Moonbeam, and Pine Needle. "Perfect timing! Again, thank you all so much for helping me out!"

"It is our pleasure, Dewdrop!" Pine Needle said. "I may not have done this before, bu I like to think that I keep mine own house in good order, so hopefully this won't be too hard."

"Well, we're in luck for starting out. There was only one family that stayed last night, since Hoity-Toity has the entire place booked for the next few days. So, I'll give you guys a quick demonstration of what I expect you to do to help me out." Dewdrop led them upstairs. "Now, I'm not expecting you to get things looking perfect like this," she opened up the door to another room to reveal a tidily made bed with wrinkle free sheets and pillows placed perfectly. "I'll be able to go around and finish up all the little details with no problems if you guys can take care of the easy grunt work." She gave her friends a chance to look at and admire the room before leading them to the dirty one.

"Now, this is about average for what a room will look like after guests have spent a day in it." The room she led them into had its beds unmade and a couple of pillows on the floor. The bathroom looked used, with some small puddles of water on the floor and damp towels hung from hooks on the wall. "It's all pretty simple. First, we gather up all the dirty bedding and towels, and take them downstairs to the basement. We have a big industrial-sized washer and dryer set up there. During the warmer months, we would hang up things to dry outside, but that won't work in this milder weather. After that, we clean up the bathroom, and then the bedroom. I'll show you where the rags and stuff are shortly. After that, the last step is to put fresh sheets on the bed. Just try your best, and I'll go around afterwards with my magic to give it that final touch."

Dewdrop looked around at her friends. "This is the only room that needs to be cleaned today, but tomorrow and the day after that they'll all have been used, so this is pretty much our one chance at a test run before it gets busy." For the next half an hour, Dewdrop walked them through the process, pointing out things and making corrections when needed. Her friends got the room looking clean without any major hassles. "Good job! Okay, let's head downstairs, and I'll go over some of the stuff we'll have to do later today."

After they were all assembled in the lobby, Dewdrop explained the checking-in process. "I'll be handling the paperwork and taking their money. I'll need you to help them get their bags up to their rooms. Now, I know this will sound obvious, but please do your best to always smile when in the presence of a guest." She grinned at Haystack. "You too, Haystack. You blew your cover during the harvest. I know you're capable of smiling now, so I expect even you to do so." Haystack only rolled his eyes a little at the gentle barb. "And later tonight, we'll be serving them dinner. Feather Down, is there anything you want to share with the others on what will be needed from them? I'll be right back."

"Serving food isn't too difficult," Feather Down said as her roommate walked into the room behind the front desk. "Just take things slow, the last thing you want to do is spill food on the table or, even worse, on the guest themselves. If we have the chance, I'll show you a few specifics on how to do it easily, but it's the same as what Dewdrop said about greeting the customers when they arrive. Always be smiling."

Dewdrop returned with a box and placed it on the ground. "Here are our uniforms. If you'll stand still for a minute, I'll put them on you with my magic." White aprons with lace were given to Luna and Feather Down, and white collars with black bow ties were wrapped around the necks of Pine Needle and Haystack. Dewdrop then put on Rarity's outfit, and her friends were all in awe of how good it looked.

"Look at you!" Feather Down exclaimed. "You wear that to the next party we go to, you won't be able to keep the stallions away!"

Dewdrop blushed. "Rarity gave it to me to help us impress Hoity-Toity," she explained. "Anyway, let me show you the dining area." She led them down a hall from the lobby, to a set of double doors that opened to reveal a long table in a well lit room. Off to one side were a couple of other doors. "Those doors lead to the kitchen. Since we have caterers bringing in the meal all ready to go, our job will be to help them get it set up, serve it, bring them back the dishes and help them clean up after the meal."

For the rest of the morning, Feather Down showed them how she wanted them to serve the meal ("Always serve the pony from their left"), and Dewdrop showed them where everything else was. They enjoyed a simple lunch, and then waited for the guests to arrive. The clock in the lobby had just chimed a quarter past three in the afternoon, when Pine Needle, who had been outside examining the landscaping, came inside in a hurry.

"There is a large group headed this way, with a cart full of luggage. I am certain that they are the ponies we are waiting for!" he said in an excited voice.

"Okay, places everypony!" Dewdrop yelled, checking over the others one last time. "Haystack, Pine Needle, get ready to carry luggage. Moonbeam, Feather Down, you two will escort them to their rooms after I hand out the keys. Any questions?"

There were none. Just a few seconds later, a crowd of ponies entered the lobby, filling it almost to bursting. At the front of the queue was a dark grey stallion with an elaborately-coiffed white mane, wearing a fancy collar. "That must be Hoity-Toity,' Dewdrop thought. She resisted the urge to straighten out her apron one last time. "Hello, sir! Welcome to the Ponyville Inn! My name is Dewdrop, and I'll be more than happy to assist you in any way possible."

"Thank you, miss. I need to go check out the site of the showing. If you could please help my assistant handle all the details, I would be ever so grateful." Hoity-Toity made a small gesture, and a pale green earth pony mare wearing wire-rimmed glasses zipped up to the front. "Checklist, this is Dewdrop, the manager of the inn."

"How do you do?" Checklist greeted Dewdrop, and then turned back to Hoity Toity. "I'm sure we'll have everything taken care of by the time you return, sir. Please feel free to leave things in my hooves."

"You always have done so admirably before, Checklist. It's why I keep you around despite those awful looking glasses you wear!" Hoity-Toity turned to leave, followed by a small group of assistants.

Working together, Dewdrop and Checklist got the various groups of ponies to their rooms. After ten minutes, Feather Down led the final group upstairs, and Pine Needle and Haystack brought in the last load of suitcases.

"And here are the keys for you to pass on to Hoity-Toity's group when they return," Dewdrop said while floating them to Checklist. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

Checklist looked over her list briefly. "Nope, looks like we're good until dinner. That starts at six o'clock?" When Dewdrop nodded, Checklist said, "Thank you so much then. We just had an awful time at the place we stayed in when we visited Manehattan last month. I'm glad to see that everything is so well organized here, despite this being such a smaller town." Checklist left to go to her room and get settled in. As she exited the lobby, Feather Down came stomping in, an angry look on her face.

"Dewdrop!" Feather Down hissed as she came up to her friend at the front desk. "I need your help! Keep me away from the second floor for a bit, would you?"

"What's wrong?" Dewdrop asked.

Feather Down shot a glare towards the stairs. "One of those idiots thought he could try smooth talking me into spending some time with him, walk him around the village."

"Well, you certainly don't have to do that if you don't want to," Dewdrop said. "I don't see why you have to keep away from half of the inn though just to avoid him?"

"Well, the problem is, he has the first room by the stairs, so every time I walk past, he calls out another pick up line to me. 'Hey babe, I must be in the Fillydelphia Derby, because you make my heart race!' 'I love your hair, it's your mane attraction!' 'After work, want me to give you a personal showing of my own?' And the way he says those awful things too, it just makes my skin feel slimy! Ugh!" Feather Down shuddered again at the thought.

"Not a problem, Feather Down. I'll have the guys handle any room service call to the second floor then. Oh, even better, the caterers should be showing up soon, why don't you go check in the kitchen, make sure everything is looking good? Maybe help them set up if they need it?"

Feather Down gave her roommate a brief hug. "Thank you, Dewdrop! I'll go and do that right now!" As Feather Down trotted off, a buzzer on Dewdrop's desk started to go off.

"A room service call already? Oh dear, I hope we didn't miss something when we were checking everything over earlier today!" Glad that it was on the bottom floor, she waved Luna over to her. "Moonbeam, could you please go and see what the ponies in room twelve need?"

"Will do!" Luna replied cheerfully. She trotted down the hallway and knocked on the first door to the left. "Room service!" she called through the closed door. "How can I help you?"

"We need some more towels, please!" a voice replied from inside the room. "Could you just leave them by the door, I can grab them from there."

"Certainly! I'll be back real quick!" Luna ran to the linen closet that Dewdrop had pointed out earlier in the day, grabbed a couple of fresh towels, and placed them on the floor in front of the door. She then knocked on the door and called in, "Here they are sir! Have a good day!" She heard the occupant call out thanks as she headed back to the lobby. She trotted back up to Dewdrop and reported, "All taken care of, just somebody needing a couple more towels."

Dewdrop blinked. "Towels? Already? They've barely been here for twenty minutes! Oh well, if that's the worst..." Another buzzer went off. "Hmm, room twenty one, I bet that's the one with the idiot who was annoying Feather Down, could you go get Haystack to..." Another buzzer went off, and then another two. Luna and Dewdrop stared at each other, eyes growing large in unison.

"Oh, dear," Dewdrop finally said in a small voice.

The next hour was one of confusion and bedlam for Dewdrop and her friends. Haystack had to disappoint Feather Down's 'fan' several times. Room twelve needed more towels. A young mare wanted a quick snack, and Pine Needle had to run across the street to the market to get her one. A bee in room twenty five caused one of the biggest stallions Dewdrop could ever recall meeting to hide under his bed until it had been removed. Room twelve needed more towels again. Haystack returned to Dewdrop, telling him he was afraid that the one pony was now starting to make passes at him since Feather Down refused to show up. Room twelve called again, needing even more towels.

Finally, five thirty came around. Hoity-Toity returned to the inn, and as if by magic the abundance of calls to the front desk stopped. Breathing a sigh of relief, Dewdrop and her friends went to check on things in the kitchen area. Feather Down met them at the door to the dining room, and motioned for them to stop. "Dewdrop, we need to talk," she said as she pulled her roommate to the side.

When they were a few steps away from the others, Feather Down leaned close to Dewdrop and whispered to her, "We have a problem."

Dewdrop resisted the urge to bang her head repeatedly against the wall next to her. Taking a deep breath, she whispered back, "What is it?"

"The caterers," Feather Down replied. "They're, well..." With a sigh, she motioned at the door. "It would be easier for you to just see for yourself."

Steeling herself for the worst, Dewdrop strode past her friends and entered the dining room. She saw that the table was already made up, with the place settings all lined up neatly. A couple of candles strategically placed gave the room a comfortable ambiance. Dewdrop looked around again, not understanding what she was looking for. Feather Down and the rest of her friends walked in behind her. "Oh, they must have gone back into the kitchen, you should stick your head in there." Feather Down said.

Dewdrop walked over to the kitchen door and did as Feather Down suggested. Peering inside, she saw dozens of dishes laid out and being kept warm, ready to be served at a moment's notice. There were two ponies moving about, keeping an eye on things. One of them was the biggest pony Dewdrop could ever recall seeing. He was a red earth pony with an orange mane and was wearing what looked to be a heavy harness without it slowing him down in any manner. The other pony was one that Dewdrop recognized right away. "Oh, hello Applejack! I should have known from the name of the catering group that you would be here. Is everything going good for the two of you?" Dewdrop hoped there wasn't any panic showing in her voice.

The red pony answered with an enthusiastic "E-yup!"

"Howdy, Dewdrop!" Applejack replied in her country twang. "Things are going as smoothly as can be. We just need to be here to hand over the dishes to your ponies, right? At least that's what I told Rarity when she found out I was serving the food, and she started freaking out about how me and Big Macintosh wouldn't be properly dressed for this thing."

"That's right!" Dewdrop said, inspiration coming over her in a flash. "I'll send people in as we need to, no need for you to even stick your nose out the door if you don't want to. Besides, after all the work you have done getting the food ready, no need for you to do anything extra, right?"

Applejack smiled and nodded her head. "That's mighty nice of you to say so. How long have we got until the meal starts?"

Dewdrop glanced around and was glad to see a clock on the wall in the kitchen. "Six o'clock is when we're supposed to begin, so very soon now. I'll have somepony poke their head in to give you a heads up when the guests arrive."

"Much obliged, sugar!"

Dewdrop returned to her friends. "Pine Needle, could you please go check and make sure that there haven't been any more room service calls while we were away from the lobby? I don't think there will have been any, but I sure would feel better having some confirmation about that."

"Will do, Dewdrop!" Pine Needle said and trotted out of the dining room towards the lobby.

After Dewdrop thought he was out of hearing range, she drew the rest close to her. "Okay, nobody panic. It shouldn't be too big of a deal, but Applejack is in the kitchen." The others slowly digested that information with varying degrees of disbelief. "We're not sunk though. Applejack will be staying in the kitchen, so we just have to keep Pine Needle out of there, and things should run smoothly. What can we have him do though?"

"Have him serve drinks," Feather Down answered. "I'll show him how when he gets back."

"Thank you very much," Dewdrop replied.

About that time, Pine Needle returned from the lobby. "Just as you thought, there were no buzzers going off at the front desk. We are in the clear."

"Good to hear. Feather Down is going to show you how to pour drinks for the guests, okay?" Dewdrop asked.

"Sounds good to me!" Pine Needle walked over to a side table where Feather Down had a pitcher of water and a couple of empty glasses to demonstrate to him what she expected of him.

Finally, the clock chimed six times, and they heard their guests start coming towards the dining room. "Okay guys, this is it! We get through this, our work is done. We'll get to hand things over to Sunset and the night crew, and we'll get to take home some leftovers for an easy and tasty dinner. Are we good to go?" Hearing her friends enthusiastically respond in the affirmative, Dewdrop smiled. "All right then, let's do this!"

Just as Dewdrop finished her declaration, Hoity-Toity and his ensemble entered the dining room. The mares showed them to their seats, while Pine Needle started to pour drinks. Haystack stuck his head inside the kitchen. "They're here!" he called in, and watched as Applejack and Big Macintosh started to uncover plates, revealing a set of delicious looking salads for the first course. As Haystack left the kitchen though, he let the door swing open too widely, just as Pine Needle was looking in that direction. Catching sight of Applejack, he froze up until the door swung close again, but managed to break free of his distraction on his own. He gave Dewdrop an apologetic look, and returned to serving drinks.

'Please don't let that happen while he's pouring a drink!' Dewdrop prayed. Haystack walked up to her.

"Sorry about that, Dewdrop. Also, over there is that stallion who won't stop trying to make a move on Feather Down." He pointed to a dark yellow unicorn with a light orange mane and tail.

Sure enough, he had specifically chosen a seat where Feather Down would be the one to help seat him, and as she pushed in his chair, he commented, "They must be serving dessert early, because something here sure looks delicious!" Feather Down shot him a look that promised violence, and several of the other diners also gave the unicorn disapproving glances, but he was either oblivious to them or, more likely, just didn't care.

Dewdrop sighed again. "Let's get those salads served now, get them eating. The sooner they get done, the sooner we're free from all of this." Haystack nodded and went into the kitchen, returning shortly with a large platter of salads balanced carefully on his back. Luna helped Feather Down serve them, and then watched anxiously for ponies who finished so she could clear the dirty dishes away. The first few were easy, but then several ponies were finishing up at the same time, and Luna started to worry she wouldn't get them all taken care of fast enough. Dewdrop came over to her. "Don't worry hun, that's what I'm here for, to help out when things get too busy for one pony to do alone." With a reassuring smile that she didn't feel that comfortable giving with how worried she felt, Dewdrop helped carry away empty salad bowls to the kitchen area.

Soon they started handing out the main courses. The yellow unicorn kept on making advances on Feather Down. "Hey, I would like to share a meal with you. What are you doing after dinner?" Feather Down looked about ready to yell at him, but Dewdrop intervened, giving Feather Down a begging look to walk away. "Ah, come on! Don't be so stubborn!" the unicorn called out with a chuckle.

Soon, all the ponies seated at the table were working on various apple dishes with gusto. Pine Needle did his best not to think about who was in the kitchen, but he still froze for a second whenever he saw the door to the kitchen open. Luna continued to show signs of panic over every task, and Haystack was having to field one whole half of the table just to keep Feather Down away from the flirtatious unicorn. 'We're hanging on somehow,' Dewdrop thought to herself, 'but it feels like we're just barely keeping our heads above water.' She could feel sweat starting to run down her neck, and did her best to ignore it.

They finally got to the dessert course. Feather Down was taking some some dirty dishes back to the kitchen when she saw the yellow unicorn wink at her. She shuddered, and after dropping off her dirty plates she brought out some apple pie. Dewdrop and Haystack helped pass it out. Sensing that his time to try to impress Feather Down was running out, the yellow unicorn kept on trying line after cheesy and terrible line. It was enough to make several other diners, including Hoity-Toity, excuse themselves and leave early. Finally, Feather Down had had enough.

"Pine Needle!" She called to her friend. The green earth pony walked over to her. "Could you do me a favor? It seems our guest needs a refill on his drink." Pine Needle nodded and went to go fill the unicorn's empty glass as Feather Down wandered away. Just as Pine Needle started to fill up his glass, she opened the door to the kitchen, then turned to watch the fun. Pine Needle froze, and since the yellow unicorn had his eyes on the mare he was trying to woo, didn't notice the overfilling cup until it was spilling into his lap.

Dewdrop was escorting several other ponies back to the hallway, and before she realized what was happening, she was too late to stop it. She ran toward the growing disaster as fast as she could to try to limit the damage.

Applejack stared blankly from the kitchen. "Um, is something wrong with that one pony? Every time I see him, he's just staring over here. Is he all right in the head?"

The yellow unicorn stood up in anger and shoved Pine Needle roughly aside. The water in Pine Needle's pitcher sloshed onto several other diners, causing cries of alarm. This also knocked Luna aside and caused her to spill her empty dishes into the laps of even more diners… and onto Dewdrop's fancy dress, giving it a giant stain across the front. Haystack looked at her for directions, anger at the yellow unicorn plainly showing on his face.

"I am thoroughly insulted!" the unicorn announced. "I demand that in repayment that I be given a date with that stubborn pony! Tonight! And I…"

Finally, Dewdrop snapped. "No! You, sir, have been purposefully rude and antagonistic to my staff. I did my best to let it slide, but I can abide by it no more! Not only are you being a distraction to me and my friends, you have ruined the meals of others around you! I am asking you to leave to your room now, and stay there!"

The yellow unicorn sniffed in disdain. "Very well, but the owner shall hear of this! I will make sure you are all fired!" With that, he stomped out.

Dewdrop could feel tears starting to well up. "I worked so hard at this," she whispered quietly as an uncomfortable silence filled the room. The remaining diners, hastily excused themselves, appetites lost from the scene they had witnessed. "And despite all my best efforts, things are still going bad. Oh, Rarity will be so disappointed, and the owner will be too."

"Knock that off." Dewdrop turned around to see Haystack staring at her angrily. "You have nothing to be upset about! That unicorn got what he deserved. No, in fact, he's still owed some. Nobody is going to fault you for this!"

"I will," Dewdrop replied quietly.

"Stop it!" Haystack loudly yelled at her, as their friends and the few remaining diners looked at them. "Stop blaming yourself for everything that happened tonight!" He stepped in front of her. "So many things happened that were beyond your control! It's not your fault the manager is in Canterlot for a convention! You're not the one who was dumb enough to walk into a giant patch of poison ivy! You fully understand that when someone says they aren't interested, they mean it!" Haystack was now mere inches away from Dewdrop, trying to make sure she couldn't hide her eyes from him. "You did every possible thing you could think of! Most other ponies would have failed to do even half as good a job at recovering from all these obstacles as you did. Stop beating yourself up, Dewdrop, you are better than this!"

Suddenly, Dewdrop realized just how close the two of them were to each other, and blushed. Caught off guard, Haystack froze in shock, which gave Dewdrop time to smile and softly say, "Thank you." She planted a quick kiss on his cheek and then she leaned into him, neck against neck. "Please, just stand here for a few moments, okay?"

Feather Down, Luna, and Pine Needle all stood in shock as a group by the door. Finally, their attention was caught by a throat clearing behind them. Checklist motioned for them to follow her out through the door, and on the other side told them, "Don't worry. I'll make sure that nothing bad gets back to the management. For now though, let's give those two some alone time, she looks like she really needs it." With that, the mare turned and headed back to her room.

The three friends peeked back inside one last time to see Dewdrop still leaning against Haystack, tears running down from closed eyes but with a smile on her face. As one, they turned and walked back towards the lobby.

"Well, it's about time," Feather Down commented as they walked.

Luna looked at Feather Down in disbelief. "What are you saying? Those two have always been lukewarm to each other at best! When I first came here, you said you didn't know why they acted that way! When did you figure this out?"

Feather Down chuckled. "Well, just now, I guess. But looking back, it seems obvious. I mean, if they really disliked each other as much as they said they did, why did they keep on hanging out together?"

Pine Needle nodded slowly. "That makes sense. I always did wonder why they kept meeting up despite how they acted. They were together when they watched us finish the Running of the Leaves, after all. She came to help him with the harvest when she didn't have to, and Haystack volunteered to help out tonight. I guess, no matter how much they thought otherwise, the truth still came through in the end."

"Yeah." Feather Down agreed. "Who knows where things might end up now that they're being open with each other? Amazing how hard the truth can be in some cases, huh?"

Luna not only heard the comments of her friends, but felt them rip into her in pain. '…truth came through in the end…' '… how hard the truth can be…' She felt her legs wobble, and then she fell against the wall with a loud thud and then slid to the floor.

"Moonbeam!" Feather Down cried out. "Are you okay?" Luna looked up to see her two friends look at her with worry in their eyes. Luna tried to stand up, but the effort made her head swim. She soon found herself sinking into darkness, the voices of her friends crying out in barely-heard panic.

Luna woke up with a start, not entirely sure where she was but noticing it seemed a lot darker outside. "She's awake!" she heard Feather Down call out, and soon all her friends were around her.

"Are you all right, Moonbeam?" Dewdrop asked.

Luna still felt a little fuzzy in her thoughts, but she could feel them slowly but surely clearing up. "I, I'm not sure what happened. Maybe it was the excitement of the whole thing?" she feebly asked.

"Well, we talked to the doctor, and all he can think is that you may have been simply stressed out by the situation, so maybe you're right. Anyway, you rest here at the inn tonight, okay? Hoity-Toity heard about what happened, and was scandalized. He's made that unicorn head back to Canterlot, and is giving you that unicorn's room to sleep in to recover." Dewdrop grinned at her. "Seems like that fashion big wig has a soft spot in his heart after all."

Luna blinked at this news. She supposed it was just another reminder that you couldn't always judge others by appearances. There seemed to be a lot of that going around tonight.

Dewdrop motioned to a covered plate on the table next to the bed. "There's some dinner for you. You must be starving, and I'm sure some food in you will help. Just get better and rest, okay? I don't want to think I talked you into helping only to have you work yourself to collapse!"

Luna smiled at Dewdrop. "I don't blame you for one bit of this, Dewdrop. I'd do it all over again if I had the choice." She smiled at her friends. "I probably just overstressed myself is all. Just give me time to rest, and I'm sure I'll be okay to help tomorrow," she reassured them. She took some playful teasing from Feather Down about how she was supposed to be the one to test out the beds at the inn, and then watched as they left.

Later, Luna sat up, and slowly ate her supper. A glance out the window told her that the moon was close to full again.

'I need to tell them,' she thought. 'This can't go on any longer.' She stared out at the night sky for a while, wondering how to do so. Finally, she smiled.

"Of course," she whispered to herself. "A moon party. It will be full in just three more days. I'll invite them over, break the ice by letting them see the moon with the telescope, and then…" she paused. Even the mere act of saying it was hard to do for her, even now.

"And then I show them the truth, and hope for the best."