"Um, Pinkie?" Fluttershy landed in the town square, approaching the party pony cautiously. "Are we... doing the right thing?"
"Well... Rainbow, you know, kind of wants her family life and her social life to be... separate..." The pegasus rubbed the back of her head. "I... just think this might kind of... you know, be violating her boundaries or something."
Pinkie Pie smiled and wrapped a foreleg around her shy friend. "Fluttershy, let me tell you a story. Once, there was a girl and she had a friend. Now this friend was totally happy. Popular enough, good friends of her own, you know, average girl with an average life. But you see, she never spoke about her dad. It was a given that topic was off limits. So this girl, the one that was her friend, got curious. One day the average girl came to school bruised and bleeding, but she said it was just because she tripped. Her friend didn't buy that for a second; she was smart, connected the dots, and went to confront her friend's father about beating her up."
"Oh my." Fluttershy shuddered, she'd heard about such things before. "What... what happened?"
"Well, he knocked her into a coma and she woke up three months later with magical powers that she used to fight monsters. But that's not the point. The point is, there was a boundary there, she violated it, and her friend got moved out of a horrible situation." Pinkie gave Fluttershy a friendly pat on the head. "So you see, it's not always a bad thing to poke your nose where it doesn't belong! All things in balance, that's what Auntie Pinkie is telling you."
"Well, yes, but that was abuse. This is just Rainbow being embarrassed." The pegasus sighed. "I mean, I was okay with Mare Do Well but this is kinda extreme."
"Said the pot to the kettle."
"Which one of us stuck a turtle in her face?"
Fluttershy started. "Um, well, technically that was a tortoise, but--"
"Don't worry, darling," Rarity interjected, walking up to her friends. "What's at stake here is Rainbow's self image. I'd assume that since Applejack knows about her so-called secret she feels she's lost everything about herself that matters. This is to remind her that no matter what happens, we'll still see the real her."
"Oh... I... guess that makes sense..." The pegasus whimpered. "I just don't... want her to be angry with us..."
The unicorn sighed, giving her friend a comforting hug. "I know, I know... I'm a bit scared she'll overreact too. But even if she does, it's unlikely that she'll stop being our friend."
"That's right!" Pinkie bounced up and down. "She forgave us for the Mare Do Well thing so she'll be okay with this too! Now get back up there and keep a firm lookout, I want to time everything perfectly!"
Fluttershy sighed, keeping her eyes to the ground. "...Alright." She flew back to her perch on the clouds, keeping her gaze away from the massive machine Pinkie Pie had wheeled out. It... things would work out. Yes. She had to keep thinking that.
Rainbow Dash took a long, deep breath and steeled herself. This was it. This was the moment.
Every eye was upon her, every member of her bloodline staring at the stage as they awaited this no doubt long prepared speech. In the back, she could see Applejack waiting patiently for her to begin...
Her eyes flickered around the room.
"....Okay. I would... like to... I would like to thank you all for coming and joining me in celebrating the ninety seventh year of the life of the current Duchess of Cloudsdale. Ninety seven years of, I'm sure, difficult legislative decisions," choosing which quill to sign with most likely, "and noble leadership. I myself have..."
"...long looked up to her example, as one of the most... most... quick-witted ponies I have ever met." That makes sense, right? "And I know that she had been more then devoted to the nation of Equestria as a whole. In fact, I might go so far as to say her nobility should be an example to all of us who hold such high office." What would Rarity say here... "So, it is a dazzling honor to host this party, for, Dazzler Prism."
She hadn't even meant to use that pun...
"Ahem. Would you all join me in wishing a long, happy life to her?" Dash took a glass. "Not that she hasn't already had one, but... To Dazzler Prism Silverhoof, Duchess of Cloudsdale, may Celestia's light grant you long life. Oh, and Luna's moon guard you."
It was all she could do not to contort her face as she sipped her drink. She hated wine. It was an unholy combination of sweet juice and hard cider, in her opinion, two things great on their own but that should never be mixed. Her duty fulfilled, Dashiel Silverhoof politely but quickly abandoned the stage, walking to the side of the gathering.
No cheers, no real applause... not that she deserved any. Not that she wanted any from this crowd, not for that.. nonsense.
Applejack sidled up to her. "My word, that seemed rather strained. Are you faring well?"
"Please. Don't talk like that...."
The farmer rolled her eyes. "Fine. If that's what ya wanted ya should have said."
The pegasus sighed. "You know the worst part? Even though they all live these high class lives, even though this isn't what I am at all... I still love them. Can't help it. It'd be nice if I could say they were horrible, but... they're just..." She waved a hoof vaguely.
"Something like that."
"Hey, wanna blow this joint?"
Dash started. "What? I can't abandon these ponies, I'm their host! I mean, yeah, this is a little.... fancy..." She watched her aunt go by in a dress she was certain she'd seen hanging in Rarity's store this morning. "....But I can't leave them. It's my duty. Heck, it's pretty much my only duty."
"Ya royals are purty big on duty, aincha?"
"Nobles," Rainbow Dash corrected absentmindedly. "We're supposed to be the great bridge between commoners and royalty. I know," she added, holding up a hoof, "if we're a bridge then why don't I just tell everypony?"
"Cause ya hate dresses?"
"Because that actually gives them legal reason to ask me for favors. I want to help because of my own skills, not because I was born into... this." Dash gestured widely. "So... yeah."
"....tha offer ta blow tha joint is still open."
"....I'll think about it."