Lyra stumbled through the door, Bon Bon wobbling in afterwords. Twilight's organization had sped up the winter wrap-up incredibly, but neither mare had ever worked quite that hard before. There were going to be a lot of sore legs and wings tomorrow morning all across Ponyville.
"I think...we need a bath..." Lyra opined wearily.
"You are probably right...My legs are killing me." Bon Bon said as she sank to the floor next to the cupboard.
"You want me to go run it for, you, don't you?"
Bon Bon was making soulful foal eyes at her partner.
"Fine, you lazy mare," Lyra said with a tired chuckle, trotting towards the bathroom.
"I'll bring apple cider," came the call from the kitchen. That did sound good. Leave it to Bon Bon to know what to serve two wiped out ponies...
Lyra pulled the faucet to its hottest setting, since the water always ran cold to start, and held her hock under the stream of water. The chill felt good over her battered leg. Why had she volunteered for field duty? She couldn't have done animal care with Bon Bon, like last year...Lyra sighed happily at the memory...but the ice skating seemed like a much better idea in hindsight; and now the water was almost scalding. Lyra shook her head and adjusted the temperature. Bon Bon would tease her endlessly if she found Lyra asleep with one hoof in the tub.
Sighing, she scooped a shallow bucket of water from the filling tub and began washing her hooves off.
Meanwhile, Bon Bon got to her hooves and pulled out two tankards and a serving tray. They were almost done with this barrel of cider, but they had another two still. /Enough to last until the first apple crop comes in,/ Bon Bon thought to herself with satisfaction. It always pleased her when something she planned went well, and Lyra always seemed appreciative. Bon Bon filled the tankards, and added a small strip of cherry bark to each, a home remedy for muscle aches her father taught her. Laying down again, Bon Bon listened to the water running and the slosh that signified Lyra was using more energy than sense in cleaning her hooves.
A smile crept across Bon Bon's face as she contemplated the image. She hadn't had too many reasons to smile like that in a long time. She had more than made up for it this year, though.
Several minutes passed before Bon Bon stirred herself. /Well, the cherry bark has steeped enough, and if I sit here too much longer I won't be able to stand, so.../ Bon Bon carefully removed the bark, set the tankards on the tray, placed the whole thing on her back, and carefully set out for the bathroom.
The bucket water was a deep brown by the time Lyra was finished and Bon Bon came in, the tray swaying a little precariously on her back.
While Lyra took the tray and set it down, Bon Bon dumped the bucket full of wash water out, filled the bucket again, and turned the water off. The tub must be full. Lyra mentally kicked herself for not noticing.
Lyra slowly downed the chilled cider as Bon Bon worked on her own hooves. /She really is adorable,/ Lyra thought to herself, /as cute as the day I saw her helping the mother bird with her chicks last year./
Lyra had been nearly useless that Wrap-up, spending more time staring after that filly or daydreaming about her instead of working. It had gotten so bad that Fluttershy of all ponies had taken her aside to find out what was the matter. Lyra blushed from the remembered guilt - Fluttershy hadn't been harsh, in fact she had been more concerned than anything, but that had just made it worse...
"Lyra?" Lyra's head snapped up.
"Are you okay? You look a little flush?" Bon Bon was looking at her while absent-mindedly working on her back hoof. Lyra felt the blush deepen.
"Just thinking...about things..."
For a moment, Bon Bon's eyes closed a little, and blushed herself, and then picked up her tankard for a very quick swallow. A short silence descended as Bon Bon finished washing her hooves. "Fluttershy asked after you..." said Bon Bon as she turned away and stepped into the tub, slowly inching her way into the hot water.
"Ahh, that's better...she seemed to think that she had somehow run you off...something about last year?" Lyra's blush was back in full force. Lyra climbed in quickly and dunked her head. "I'm glad we got a tub big enough for two."
Bon Bon cocked her head a little...Lyra gave up on having the blush go away anytime tonight.
"Well...last year, I wasn't really focused on the Wrap-up, and Fluttershy took me aside and we...talked."
"Yeah. No! I mean, talk talked. She wanted to make sure that something wasn't wrong."
"Oh. So, what was wrong?"
Lyra gave Bon Bon a long look.
/At least now we're both blushing like foals./
They sat amicably in the warm water for a bit, each lost in their own thoughts.
Bon Bon broke the silence first. "Let me scrub your back. The traces always leave your coat a mess and you never get quite clean without help..." Lyra smothered a childish impulse to object, and turned her back to let Bon Bon work on her withers. Lyra had never liked being fussed over, but with Bon Bon...and the firm pressure of her hooves did feel wonderful.
Lyra looked over her shoulder. "So, anything interesting happen while you were taking care of wildlife?"
"Well, we have 4 new robins now, and a sparrow has moved in..."
/More birds...I'll have to go see Fluttershy to see if she needs help training new singers...and to assure her that everything is okay.../
Bon Bon continued to talk and clean, and Lyra felt her stress ebb away. /...This really was a wonderful way...to.../ Lyra slowly leaned further and further forward.
Suddenly, Lyra noticed that Bon Bon was hugging her. When had that happened?
"I asked if you were okay? You were about to fall over."
"Oh...I guess...I'm just a little sleepy...and the massage was so nice..." Lyra realized that she was rambling, closed her mouth, and instead concentrated on keeping her eyes open.
The yellow mare's look of concern faded a bit. "Well then, it would be best if we got you into bed and..-" then Bon Bon yawned. Loudly. "Ahem. If we both retired for the evening." The mare tried to sound prim, but smiled sheepishly.
Lyra found that she was smiling, too. Nodded tiredly, she pulled the plug on the drain. Both of them stumbled out of the bath, somehow managing to avoid the forgotten bucket. They did not walk so much as stumble down the hall, each supporting the other as they made their way to the bedroom, and more fell into bed than anything else.
Lyra was almost flat on her back, in that awkward way that she seemed to favor, a quirk that Bon Bon had grown to adore. She snuggled closer to that beautiful turquoise hide and eyed her partner. Quietly she murmured, "Fluttershy had to talk to me that day, too." Lyra didn't respond, having already fallen asleep. Seconds later, Bon Bon joined her.