Quarterback's Valentine's Day
written by Tabby and Sugarberry

"Oh, Quarterback, don't look so glum," Merry Moments chided her boyfriend as they took their seats in the stadium. "This is going to be fun!"

"Yeah, watching a bunch of little kids trying to play hockey is going to be real fun," Quarterback retorted.

"Come on, don't say that about them! I've seen them in action before and I know for a fact that they're really good."

"You're only saying that because one of them is your niece."

"And she's really talented! See them play before you pass judgement, okay?"

"Yeah... well, I'm still not a patron of little foals' sporting events," Quarterback said sulkily. "They're not even allowed to do body-slamming! I can think of better ways to be spending Valentine's Day."

Merry Moments rolled her eyes. "We have a nice evening ahead of us at the Estate Manor, so don't complain. You did remember to make reservations, didn't you?"

Quarterback muttered something unintelligible but stopped his complaining. Merry Moments kept up a steady stream of conversation, though, and Quarterback soon forgot his aversion. "...so that's when I decided I'd become a photographer," Merry Moments said laughingly, finishing the retelling of an anecdote from her youth. "Why did you become an engineer instead of going into sports, like your brothers?"

"Less physical exersion needed," Quarterback said. "And I can play solitaire if things are slow."

Merry Moments was not able to form a reply, though, for she had caught sight of the Friendship Gardens' team entering the arena. "Look, there's Dusty Rose!" she squealed, jumping up from her seat and waving her forelegs. "Wave to her, Quarterback! She was so excited when I told her you'd be here!"

Quarterback lifted his hoof halfheartedly; Merry Moments frowned and took it in her own, forcibly making him wave. "Yay, Dusty Rose!" she shouted.

"The game hasn't even started; you don't have to start cheering and making a scene yet," Quarterback said irritably.

"Oh, loosen up! You're so obstinate," Merry Moments said cheerfully. "Besides, I think they're getting ready to begin now!"

Clever Clover, the coach of the home team (named the Dragonflies in honor of the royal lady of the same name), came out with his troupe of young ponies, all of whom were obviously ready for a winning game-- if their exuberance had anything to do with it. Dusty Rose, a petite dusty rose-colored foal, skated ahead of her coach looking rather chunky in her guards, pads, and helmet. In waving at her aunt in the stands, however, (her coordination not being quite what it should be) she accidentally got her hockey stick entangled with Clever Clover's legs, causing the purple stallion to do a wild dance before regaining his own stability.

The opposing team from Dream Valley came resolutely onto the ice, looking rather more capable than Clever Clover's rag-tag crew. Their coach, Gusty, smiled confidently.

From the time of the face-off, the little ponies were carried away in the spirit of the game, moving the puck if not with dexterity, at least with gusto. Quarterback watched with guarded disinterest until Dusty Rose, exhibiting a spark of temper, purposefully tripped one of the Dream Valley foals. She proudly marched to the penalty box with Clever Clover frowning down upon her.

"Your niece has spunk!" Quarterback beamed.

No one had scored by the start of the second period, and Quarterback was once more becoming bored, but came out of his lethargy when Greyhound got loose on a breakaway, leading to the first score of the game by the Dragonflies.

This score upset the Woollies, however, and Baby Falling Leaves intercepted a clearing pass from Baby Paws just outside the crease and sent the puck past the goaltender, Sentinel. The Dragonflies fought hard, but Falling Leaves was able to repeat her performance in the final seconds of the second period, leaving the score two to one.

After the face-off for the third period, both teams were determined to score and the penalty box became the focus of the game. Neither team had been successful in scoring, but neither were they giving any ground. When Viper took a pass from Dusty Rose, skated in on a breakaway, and tucked a backhander between Baby Leaper's pads for a goal, the Friendship Gardens' crowd cheered dynamically.

With the score tied, tempers got ugly; Rookie and Paws got into a down and out fight, leading to the penalty box for five minutes. The time was marching down when Dusty Rose picked up the puck from Greyhound behind the net, and Clever Clover saw his long hours of coaching come to fruition. The filly skated in front and waited for Leaper to commit before lifting a shot over the netminder's glove and under the crossbar.

The crowd went wild! The stadium erupted with wild cheers and screams; the Dragonflies were the winners! Even Quarterback had become engrossed in the game by this point, and shouted and waved quite as energetically as Merry Moments at his side.

"Hey, Merry Moments, we oughtta get married!" Quarterback, caught up in the excitement of the moment, shouted over the din.

"What?" Merry Moments shouted back.

"I said we oughtta get married!" Quarterback yelled louder.

"Oooh!" Merry Moments abruptly quieted down. "Get-- married? You're serious? You're asking me to marry you?"

"Uh... sure," Quarterback shrugged, beginning to wonder what had possessed him to speak so boldly. Well, why not? It was about time. "I mean, you were right, this game turned out to be great! It made me realize how smart you really are, and I'll never doubt your judgement again! We'd be great together, don't you think? And, well, it's about time we got married anyway."

"Oh, Quarterback! This is so unexpected!" Merry Moments breathed. "Of course I'll marry you!"

"Great!" said Quarterback, smiling broadly.

"Come on, let's try to go down and see Dusty Rose," Merry Moments urged, pulling him along behind her. "I can't wait to share the news! She's going to be so excited to know that you'll be her new uncle!"

So, the impromptu proposal taken care of successfully, the engaged couple flew off to spread the word.

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