“So, what do I do? Just spin it?”
“Well, yeah, egghead. Just twirl it around and see where it lands.”
Twilight put a hoof up to her face, trying to hide her redding cheeks, “Do I really have to do this, Rainbow? This feels so... Embarrasing.”
Pinkie Pie giggled. “That's part of the fun!” She smiled at the lavender pony, “Besides, it's your birthday, and everypony knows the birthday girl goes first.”
An orange hoof patted Twilight's shoulder. “Don'cha worry none, Twilight. Those two are just a lil' uppity after practicin' so much.” Applejack shot the pair a glare.
“Hey!” Rainbow Dash got up with a start, pointing her hoof menacingly. “That was one time!”
“Yeah, well...” Applejack grinned, “Ah have mah doubts.” A gasp of shock could be heard as Fluttershy cowered closer to the ground.
”Typical sleepover...” Rarity giggled to herself. ”We'll be here all night if nopony does something.
“Twilight,” The white unicorn spoke up, turning the mare's gaze to her. “Would you please be a dear and just spin the bottle?”
Twilight's cheeks reddened a bit more. “Oh... Right. Sure Rarity.” Her horn glowed as she quickly gave the glass bottle a spin along the library floor.
”Come on. Come onnn....” Rarity almost tapped her hoof with anticipation as the bottle rotated. It went around the circle twice before starting to slow down. Her eyes grew as the bottle slowly came teetering around towards her. ”Yes, yes! Now stop! Stay right there!
The bottle laid still along the floor, and everypony looked up to see who it pointed at.
“Aww shucks...” Applejack scratched the back of her neck, grinning nervously. “Ah always hate goin' first.”
Rarity's heart drooped as she looked over at the orange earth pony next to her. She dare not let it show, but she felt the green vines of jealousy wrap around her.
“Oh, well that's perfectly fine!” Twilight chattered nervously, “You don't have to! In fact, we can just skip this one and let-”
“No, Twilight, rules are rules!” Pinkie put a hoof over Twilight's mouth, before pushing her over towards Applejack.
Twilight sat in the middle of the room, her view darting from pony to pony, hoping for any sort of help. She gulped nervously, her forelegs wobbling slightly. Her eyes finally met Rarity's, pleading for a way out.
Despite all of her inner emotions, Rarity simply mouthed, “Go on,” and smiled encouragingly.
The other unicorn gave in with a sigh, and turned to Applejack, who had taken her hat off and scooted over towards Twilight. Neither one looked comfortable, but Twilight leaned in quickly and planted a brusque kiss on the earth pony's lips before sheepishly trotting back to her spot. Her face had turned to a new shade of crimson, ears folded back as she tried to avoid everypony's gaze.
”She's just too adorable like that...” Rarity mused as Applejack gave the bottle a spin. ”It's a downright shame she doesn't realize it.”
The bottle pointed towards Rainbow Dash. She and Applejack shared a kiss before the pegasus took her turn.
”I mean, everypony should know when they look good, and Twilight especially.” She continued pondering as the bottle twirled round and round. ”The poor girl could use the confidence boost, especially with her royal trip to Canterlot coming up.”
Twilight had been asked via letter by Princess Celesta herself to give a lecture on the psychological effects of friendship and companionship to the senior class of Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. Apparently the Princess wanted to see how much she had learned. The date was still months away, but she had already put herself through a fit.
”Maybe I could just lead her on... Yes! That'd work pretty nice-”
“Rarity!” Rainbow Dash's voice shook her out her thoughts. “Are you okay, or are you just going to stare at the wall all night and keep making weird faces?”
“Oh! I- I'm sorry, Rainbow, I was just thinking about something.” Her eyes scanned everypony's face, all of them giving her a perplexed look. Her coat began to burn up and itch annoyingly with embarrassment. “What's the matter?”
The rainbow-maned mare gave her a wretchedly bad attempt at a flirty gaze, winking. “See the bottle?”
Rarity looked down, cold waves of horror washing over her as she did. It was pointed right at her. Dead-on. Square in the chest.
“Oh...” The white unicorn glanced despairingly to Twilight, perhaps she could find a way to get her out of this, right? Twilight was a smart girl, she'd know what to do!
Instead, she simply motioned her hoof to for Rarity to continue. Rarity sighed. Any other pony and she'd be fine, even Pinkie Pie. But the few rather unfortunate times she'd been stuck with Rainbow, it had been less than stellar. Her breath was simply atrocious, and she had a habit of getting overly passionate with her kisses.
Still, Rarity kept her head high and walked over to her. “Alright, let's make this short.”
“No problem!” Rainbow said before leaning in and kissing her. Rarity slammed her eyes shut, trying to pretend she was with somepony else. The horrendous taste of old pizza and cheap apple cider skimmed her lips.
”I am not here right now, I am not not here ri-”
Not less than a second before she felt Rainbow's lips leaver her own, over as quickly as it began. When she opened her eyes, the pegasus shot her a smirk before hopping back to her seat.
Rarity sighed. It still felt like kissing a garbage can, but at least it was quick. It was worth it for a shot to spin the bottle herself.
Settling back down in her own spot, she used her horn to twirl the glass bottle. Round and round it went, Rarity's gaze unwavering as she followed its path. When it finally stopped, she looked right up to the quickly-reddening face of Fluttershy.
”Can't I just get a break?” She groaned.
”Well, that went swimmingly,” Rarity sighed as the five other ponies got up from the circle they had been in for the last fifteen minutes. She had to endure two more bouts with Rainbow Dash, plus everypony else as many times. Everypony, that is, except Twilight.
To herself, in secret, Rarity had admitted she had developed a crush on the studious mare. “Developed” is the key word, because it had grew over the course of months since meeting her. Sure, she had noticed that the lavender pony had a underlying attractiveness that she seldom brought out, but that wasn't any sort of deal-breaker nor any first step.
It wasn't until the fashionista had begun to spend time with her, that Twilight's adorably awkward personality had grown on the high-class mare. She was, when there were no “royal duties” on her shoulders, light-hearted and easy to talk to, with a subtle yet enjoyable sense of humor. In addition, whenever Rarity sought help on a topic that didn't exceed her social ineptitude, the mare offered sound advice and also listened well. She seemed to care about her problems and sometimes went above and beyond to help. Oh, and whenever she blushed, an involuntary urge to give her a hug rose in Rarity's heart.
In a single sentence, Twilight was a pony that Rarity had become comfortable around and could depend upon, a pony she could confidently be herself with and not worry about appearing “proper”; being cute was just a bonus.
Yet, she had been reluctant to confide in anypony about this. Not Fluttershy, her best friend, nor her father or mother. She had even been reluctant to admit it to herself. It wasn't until one wintery day, which could have easily been spent indoors enjoying a glass of cabernet sauvignon while creating plans for a new spring dress, that she found herself at Twilight's door, asking to borrow a book she already had. She really had no reason to be there, as it was snowing outdoors, she already owned the book she looked to rent, and a day indoors to relax and pretend to do work would have been a welcome sight after a month of stress from designing a winter fashion line.
At that point, it had become clear that she had gravitated towards the library solely to see the purple pony inside it. For herself, it was impossible to deny, even though she had been trying to for weeks. Rarity, an aspiring fashion designer, with her barn door swinging that way?! It would be a drab on her reputation and ponies would invariably talk behind her back when she walked by. Perhaps, even, she would be overlooked by the influential ponies in Canterlot (the nobility and aristocracy were hardly known for their liberal qualities) because of her attraction to the same gender! These thoughts had kept her up at night on more than one occasion, and yet as much as she tried, she couldn't get Twilight off her mind.
When she got down to the bottom of it, Rarity believed that Twilight had certain qualities that although were polar opposites from her own, in a sense made her feel more complete and secure. The lavender mare was not constantly worrying about how she appeared in public, and she didn't feel the need to uphold a standard of class and civility.
Although, truthfully, the white unicorn did not enjoy acting like a slob or letting her mane fall into a tangled mess, sometimes she would do anything to let the shackles of self-consciousness and insecurity fall to the ground. It would be a dream to be able to laugh from the bottom of her stomach, to speak straight from her heart, or to act on her impulses. Right now, it felt like all her emotions, all her thoughts, all her words and all her actions ran through a filter of superficial standards. It would be a dream to let it go. It would be a dream to just be herself.
And with Twilight, it seemed like it could be true.
“What's next, Twilight?” Pinkie asked as she stood up, “Is it cookie baking?! Ooh, or is it cake eating?!”
Twilight giggled. “Sorry Pinkie, I would get out the cake for us now, but you ate that all on the way over, remember?”
Pinkie Pie frowned.
“But, that's no big deal.” The magical unicorn smiled at her reassuringly. She took out a scroll and scanned down its contents. “Oh, here we are! Next up, makeovers!”
Rainbow Dash let out an annoyed groan as Rarity shot up off the floor. “Great idea, Twilight!” The unicorn exclaimed. “As a pony with a flare for fashion, I would be honored to give you the perfect slumber party makeover!”
Twilight was taken aback for a second, “A-an honor?” She looked nonplussed. “Rarity, this is just for fun-”
Rarity steered her over to a mirror by the hoof, toting a bag behind her. “Nonsense, my dear! It's your birthday, and you deserve to look your best!” She added in a lower tone, “And besides, would you rather have somepony like Rainbow Dash style your mane for you?”
Twilight's face eased up with a giggle. “Oh, I guess you're right, Rarity.” She sat down in front of the mirror. “Work your magic,” she added with a smile.
Meanwhile, Applejack walked over to Rainbow Dash, who was already watching the two. “Uhh, Rainbow, have ya noticed, uh... Anythin' strange about Rarity? She seemed ta be in a fit earlier, an' right now she got up quicker 'an a dog fer supper.”
“Nah, this is Rarity we're talking about here. Makeup and fashion are her thing, and I'm glad I don't have to do it.” Rainbow took a second to cast her eyes over Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy, who had paired up also. “I just don't get it, why do ponies even do this?”
“Aww, it ain't that bad.” Applejack spoke a bit quieter. “Heck, the first sleepover I had with Twilight and Rarity turned out ta be jus' fine.” She doubled back quickly, “Uhh, after a few bumps ah guess.”
The cyan pegasus gave her a gasp of disbelief. “You got a makeover and you enjoyed it?! I thought you were Applejack, queen of bucking apples and getting her hooves dirty, not Applejack, queen of frou-frou dresses and... Uh... Makeup-y stuff.”
Applejack recoiled back. “O' course ah'm not! All ah was sayin' is that it ain't horrible...”
Rainbow smirked. “Admit it, you liked it.”
The orange workpony gave her a leer, and remained quiet.
Elsewhere, Rarity ran a brush through Twilight's mane. “Dear, I really must ask what you put in your hair, it's so soft and plush.”
Twilight shrugged. “Oh, just that shampoo at Bon-Bon's general store. It's nothing really.”
Rarity's eyes widened as she echoed Twilight's words, “Just that shampoo at Bon-Bon's general store...” She laughed. “Oh Twilight, you could do so much better with shampoo and conditioner I buy from the spa! Just think how dazzling you'd look, what luster your mane would have!”
Twilight politely dismissed it with a wave of her hoof. “Oh, that's not really necessary Rarity, I don't think I need it. Besides, isn't that stuff pretty expensive?”
The other unicorn nearly dropped her brush as she applied touches of rouge to Twilight's face. “Not necessary?! Don't mind the cost, I go to the spa enough to get you a generous discount.” She smiled, “But honestly dearie, why should a pony as attractive as you skimp on keeping your hair looking it's best?”
Twilight blushed, looking away. “You- you really think I'm attractive?” The last word seemed foreign to her, scarcely said from her mouth. “Uhh... Well, umm, gee... Thanks Rarity, nopony has told me that before.”
“Nopony's told you what before, Twilight?” Pinkie Pie asked from across the room, as Fluttershy tried in vain to brush her mane. Applejack and Rainbow Dash both picked up their heads and turned to Twilight.
”No, no, no, no! This is not what I meant by 'leading her on'!” Rarity's mind scrambled. ”But what can I do?! If I just take it back, Twilight will feel just awful... But if I do nothing, maybe somepony will catch on!”
“Haha, nothing Pinkie!” Rarity interrupted awkwardly before Twilight could answer. She turned to the lavender pony and lowered her voice, “Well, uh, I mean... I d-" She took a second to gather her thoughts. "Err, rather, I've heard from somepony or two...”
Twilight beamed, even though her cheeks were still quite red. “Oh, uh, who was it then? I mean, not like I'd talk to them or anything but like I said nopony has told me this before and it would be so nice to find out what kind of pony likes me!” She spat out a jumble of nervous yet energetic words as if her mouth could not move quick enough. “Maybe that pony likes reading books on the magical theorems of Sol Firestar, or likes to attend seminars on the medicinal properties of the flora in the Everfree Forest, or even likes stargazing on the night of Gallerion's Dusk when Halcyon 441 is at its brightest!” She clapped her hooves together in delight at the prospect of it all.
Rarity frowned. ”I'm none of that. Scientific books bore me, I haven't been to a seminar since art school, and I have no clue what or who Halcyon 441 is.” But then her lips started to change to a smile, ”Although, maybe I could learn to be...”
“Well, what if the pony who I heard from wasn't quite like that?” The white unicorn queried. “What if she was more into making stuff with her hooves, paying attention to details, and thinking outside the box? Like, umm, an artist of sorts?” She shuffled anxiously, as she tried to finish up the makeup on Twilight's face.
Twilight tilted her head, tapping a hoof to her chin and pondering the question. “Well, I guess that's still nice. I mean, even I enjoy a piece of fine art or a string concerto...” She suddenly gave Rarity a look. “Did you say 'she'?”
Rarity froze in her tracks. Her brain racked her vocabulary for words yet turned up blank. All sense of reaction and thought of replying slammed to a halt.
“Umm... Uhhh... Well.. Yes,” She admitted. “Yes, she seemed like a sweet girl, dear. I think she just assumed you were... You know, like that.” She remained silent for a second, but continued after inhaling deeply. “However, if you're only into stallions I'll be sure to let her know.”
Twilight gave her a confused look. “What? Why?” She chuckled to herself. “So what if it's a mare or a stallion?”
“So what?!” Rarity mirrored her. “Well, I mean, Twilight... Everypony has their preferences, you know.”
Her crush simply smiled. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe I value the fact that somepony finds me attractive more than what gender they are?”
“Yes.” Twilight still looked embarrassed, her ears folded back as she avoided eye contact. Rarity's legs felt like they turned into jelly. “Like I said before, nopony really... Well, nopony noticed.” She gulped. “I- I didn't even notice.”
It took all of her honed and disciplined self-control to stop Rarity from wrapping up the adorable lavender pony and telling her that she had, in fact, noticed. Every nanometer of muscle in her heart was screaming for her to forgo the fact that other ponies were in the room and just confess to Twilight what she had kept hidden from both herself, and others, for months. For a fraction of a second, she felt like she could really do it.
And yet, at the last moment, something in the depths of her mind held her back, inches from the surface. A primal, instinctive fear that being different was wrong. That being truly herself was wrong.
Instead, Rarity simply smiled and took a step back from Twilight, hiding her inner turmoil through a perfect mask on her face. “There you go, dear. Your makeover is finished. Do you think it's okay?”
Twilight finally gave herself a full look-over and gasped. “Oh, wow... Rarity...” Her mouth hung agape. “This... I... I look great!”
And that she did. She didn't need much work, but what little was done highlighted her subtle beauty and brought out her charm. She looked both the same, and yet positively different. Her eyes shone like polished amethyst, and her mane glistened like it was a sunny day.
The unicorn turned around and gave Rarity a hug. “Thank you so much! Rarity, you're the best!”
“Oh, it's nothing, Twilight.” She sniffled. Her chin quivered. She wanted to break down and cry for being so weak. Too weak to even make her life instantly better at the price of being a little different.
“I'm glad you like it.”
However, no tears came and her eyes remained dry.
”The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint."
- Marianne Moore
Rarity's heart was racing. Her legs were working as fast they could, hair blowing behind her as the wind dried out her eyes. Her breathing came out in short bursts.
Charging down the main road of Ponyville, the white unicorn was weaving in and out of other pastel-colored equines. Her hooves begun to ache as she skidded out of the way of a cabbage cart, continuing her relentless pace onward. Oddly enough, it seemed like time had stopped, no other pony noticing her as she charged onwards to her goal. In fact, it was like none of them even cared that she was tearing through the busiest part of town.
Soon enough, the tree library came into view, and confidence began to fill her heart. ”I can do this! Yes, I can do this!” Dreams of the future began to fill her mind, happy times and loving evenings. Everything was coming together harmoniously.
Out of nowhere, something materialized right in her path, just as she was on top of it. No time to stop, Rarity slammed into it at full speed. The object stood firm, while the unicorn fell backwards, a headache screaming in her temples.
The world was fuzzy, her ears ringing from impact. She felt dizzy and frantic, struggling to make heads or tails of the situation. When she opened her eyes, she could hardly see, the impact impairing her vision and making everything blurry. It looked like a cloud... Or maybe a mound of snow.
She began to hear mumbled voices as a nagging pain formed in her shoulder.
“Ow!” Rarity yelped as she rubbed her shoulder weakly. Voices continued to whisper and hush around her. The world proceeded to get darker and darker as the voices got louder and louder. For a second, she felt like she was deep underwater, in a fluid environment with no direction at all.
Soon enough nothing was visible, the world swallowed in darkness.
“Hey, Rarity, are you awake?”
Rarity rose her head and yawned, feeling as weary and as beat up as she was in her dream. Her head pounded and her shoulder was killing her. Slowly, she looked around her.
Fluttershy was laying down next to her on a spa bed, her hoof reached out worriedly. “You were asleep for the entire massage,” she frowned worriedly, “and you started talking in your sleep and moving sporadically. Are you okay?”
“What?” Rarity froze, “Wait, Fluttershy, what did I say?!” Her voice sounded panicked as she tried to pull herself up, but a lance of pain emanated from her shoulder. With an unladylike gasp, she flopped back onto her stomach, rubbing her shoulder.
“Be careful!” Fluttershy exclaimed. “When Lotus was giving you your massage, you made one of those weird movements and she kinda tweaked your shoulder muscles wrong.” She frowned again. “She could tell by the way your muscles tightened up, and said you'd probably have to rest it for the remainder of the day.”
The fact her shoulder was hurt did not concern her as much. It would go away within a day or two. But the shame from revealing her deepest secret would be intolerable.
“Fine, whatever, just tell me what I said!” Rarity begged frantically. ”If she knew I had my eyes on Twilight...” She shivered.
Fluttershy shrugged. “I don't know, it came out as a jumbled mess.” She giggled, trying to lighten the mood, “Kinda a lot like a little foal.”
The unicorn faked a smile. It still did not alleviate the fact that she was now trying to talk in her sleep. Who knew what one could say, that would otherwise be locked up in their minds?
“Oh, well I guess no real harm was done,” Rarity said, while rotating her shoulder gingerly. Sparks of pain rippled up her neck, reminding her that putting any weight on her left foreleg would be unbearable. “I guess we should head off to the hot tub.” She fidgeted uncomfortably. “Fluttershy, could you be a dear and get a wheelchair for me? I-... I don't think I can walk easily.”
Fluttershy nodded understandably, her tone switching to one she had often used with her animals, “Oh, of course! Don't you worry, I'll be right back!” The pegasus got off her bed and trotted quickly out the door.
The unicorn sighed. ”Fluttershy is simply too nice... Sometimes it honestly feels like she's done too much for me and I've done too little for her.” She put a hoof to her chin, remembering back to all the times the quiet pegasus had helped her out.
”Would even she be put off by the fact I'm interested in Twil-”
Her thoughts were interrupted as the yellow mare entered the room pushing a wheelchair. “Here you go, Rarity!” She smiled and patted the seat assuringly. “I made sure it was extra-comfy.”
"Well, that was quick."
"Thank you, darling!" she responded.
Rarity got up and off the spa bed slowly, making sure not to put weight on her left forehoof as she made her way over and onto the wheelchair.
“Fluttershy, we've been friends for how long now, a few years?” Rarity asked as the pegasus pushed her out of the room and into the hallway towards the hot tub room. “Right?”
“Of course!” Fluttershy replied cheerily. “I can't thank you enough for how you've helped me out of my shell. Why, back when we first met, I could barely open my mouth to anypony! Now, I can walk around Ponyville and at least talk to regular ponies if I have to.” Then she added a bit more quietly, “That doesn't mean I won't be shy about it.”
Rarity opened the door with her magic as her friend pushed her into the room. It had tiled floors along the outside of an in-ground tub filled with bubbling, steaming, and all-too-inviting water. The air was humid and warm, enveloping around her body like a cozy blanket.
“Thanks, Fluttershy,” Rarity said, getting off the chair herself and limping over to the tub. “I've just been going through a lot lately and it feels good to know you're still my best friend.” She turned and smiled at her, before quickly getting in.
Rarity let out a deep sigh, letting the water run over her skin and muscles as she moved to position a jet on her strained and extremely sensitive shoulder. Although it hurt at first, slowly it began to feel better and better as it soothed her tightened muscles.
“I- is something wrong?” Fluttershy asked as she plopped opposite from her into the tub. A worried expression grew across her face.
“Yes,” Rarity admitted slowly, “But don't worry yourself, please. It'll probably just work itself out or something.” She laughed half-heartedly.
Fluttershy looked unconvinced, but didn't press. “Okay, well if you say so.”
For minutes, they sat there in an awkward silence. The only sounds that could be heard were the popping of bubbles and the machinery powering the jets in the tub. A soft white light glowed above the two.
”This isn't right,” Rarity debated internally. ”I'm not even telling my best friend how I feel. If I can't tell her, I can't tell anypony."
And still, they sat there in silence. Rarity shifted uncomfortably, giving her beleaguered shoulder a break from the jet. Fluttershy swirled her hoof in the water. A clock ticked on the wall as the hour hand shifted.
“So, what if... Umm, hypothetically speaking,” Rarity began slowly, her expression contorted with concentration. Fluttershy looked at her with a start, her eyes studying the unicorn's face for clues.
”Words are supposed to be easy!” Rarity thought as she tried to come up with what to say. ”Then why does it seem like rocket science to find the correct ones?”
“Well, uh...” She continued, her voice tinged with desparation. “I've been under some stress lately. And...” Once again her mind came up dry.
“Rarity, you know you can tell me, right?” Fluttershy asked. “I can help you.”
“But, this is... Well, different,” Rarity argued. “It's so much about me... I- I don't think anypony else even could help.”
Fluttershy rolled her eyes. “You don't know that until you try. Come on, please! Rarity, it makes me feel awful to see you like this. First, when I met you here, it looked you hadn't slept in days.”
Rarity blinked and rubbed her eyes. They were bloodshot and dried out; purple bags hung underneath them.
“Then, you start thrashing around in your sleep and hurt your shoulder.” Fluttershy's voice started turning a little frantic, and a frantic Fluttershy was, well, unpredictable. “And now, we can't even have a normal day at the spa like we used to!”
The pegasus made her way over to Rarity and put carefully her hooves on the white mare's shoulders. The rare, assertive, serious and use-in-case-of-an-emergency side of Fluttershy was beginning to show. “Rarity, I'm your friend and I know you. And this,” Fluttershy lifted a hoof and pointed it at her friend's face, “Is not Rarity.”
She sat down next to her and gave her a hug. “So please, tell me something. You don't have to say too much, but really, I can't stand seeing you so beat up for the past week.”
As the other mare let go, Rarity was at a loss for words. It was true. All of it was true. Her body was falling into disrepair since the sleepover, and she had done little to correct it.
“What... What if,” The words barely came out of the unicorn's mouth. “What if I changed something about me... Something so fundamental that it changed me as a whole?”
Somewhere, deep within, the words started to flow. “Like, for example, what if I just decided one day to stop designing clothing and went off to do something completely opposite.” She stayed silent for a second, before continuing, “Would you still look at me the same way?”
“No.” Fluttershy responded. Rarity's heart plummeted.
“But, that's because that was the old Rarity. And if the new Rarity wants to be somepony else, then I'd be happy and excited for her.” Fluttershy looked her in the eyes. “Even if you moved half way around the world you'd still be my best friend.”
“R-Really?” Waves of emotion poured over Rarity as she tried fighting back tears.
“Yes,” Fluttershy said warmly. She held her hooves out wide as she saw Rarity's chin tremble.
As the unicorn embraced her, the quiet pegasus reiterated again in a hushed voice, “Yes I would.”
Rarity shuffled into a more comfortable position as she lounged on a small couch in Fluttershy's cottage.
”I'm a mess,” Rarity lamented. ”How bad of a position do I have to be in, to have the most passive and reserved pony in Equestria literally drag me over to her own home because she's so concerned about me?”
It was true. Once she had stopped crying, Fluttershy insisted they both go back to her house so she could keep an eye on her shoulder. However, they both knew it was so she could keep an eye on Rarity herself.
”It's all because of these damn feelings inside of me! Why must I feel this way?! Why must I feel so conflicted?!" She seethed, her anger borne from confusion and frustration. ”It's all Twilight's fault!” She pounded her right hoof down on the couch. ”If she wasn't so...”
She fought for words to find to express her frustration. Her brain came up empty and her anger faltered. Instead, somewhere else she found the words to fill in the blanks:
”If she wasn't so carefree, acceptive, compassionate, smart and adorable...”
Her muscles began to relax, her mind began to clear the clouds of anger, yet her heart kept beating furiously. She still wanted to be angry, to blame somepony, but she just couldn't.
”If she wasn't so playful, funny, good-natured and absolutely beautiful...”
The last words barely crept out of her throat as she subconsciously finished her musings, “If she wasn't all those things, then I wouldn't feel this way about her.”
”But you do,” a voice said from deep within her.
Rarity whimpered and let her face fall into a throw pillow on the couch. It was all too much. The turmoil, the restless nights, the anxiety attacks... It was impossible to know how long she could go on. In a mere week, she had already turned into a wreck that had eaten little, slept less, and had her shoulder muscles wound tighter than a coltscout knot.
”Could I keep this up, for her?” She asked herself.
Before she could answer, the cottage door creaked open. Rarity turned to see Fluttershy enter with a bag in her mouth.
“Did you find somepony to look after the Carousel Boutique for me?” The unicorn asked as she entered. “Because if not, I couldn't possibly leave it alone! Do you know how many brilliant jewels and expensive fabrics I have in there?”
The pegasus set down the bag and smiled. “I got it all under control. I got somepony to go over right now and keep an eye on it.”
“Who?” Rarity asked, “It wasn't just anypony off the street, right?”
Fluttershy giggled. “Oh, of course not! I ran into Twilight by the market and asked if she could help-”
Rarity got up with a start, grimacing slightly as she remembered to take the weight off her left foreleg. “What?!”
Fluttershy recoiled, giving her friend a look. “Umm... Is that bad? Did I do something wrong?”
The white mare collected herself abashedly and settled back down, her cheeks blushing faintly. “Oh, ah- um, no... Continue on, dear.”
“Anyways... She said she'd be happy to. When she asked why you were gone, I told her you hurt your shoulder and that I was keeping an eye on you for the day.”
“Oh..." Rarity took a second to analyze this new turn of events. "Really? But doesn't she have to still work as the town librarian? Surely that's more important.”
Fluttershy shook her head. “Apparently, she decided that Spike could keep an eye on things for a bit so she could help you.”
“B-But Spike's just a baby dragon!” Rarity exclaimed. “She really didn't have to do all this...”
“Relax.,” Her friend said before smiling at her. “She thought you'd say that, and she just told me to tell you that it's really no big deal.”
Fluttershy looked down at the floor and picked up the bag in her mouth, gingerly setting it down next to Rarity. “Oh, and she wanted me to give you this too. Once she found out, she wanted to walk around the market and pick up some things for you.”
Rarity picked up the bag with her magic, giving it a look-over. “Oh wow... I wonder what it could be.”
Fluttershy walked off towards the kitchen. “Why don't you open it up while I make us some tea?”
Rarity simply nodded and opened up the bag. Inside, there was a card and a small package. She took out the card and opened it. It read:
I hope your shoulder gets better soon! I know this letter probably looks horrible and crudely thrown-together, but you can only do so much while walking around town with Fluttershy! Anyways, since I can tell you'll probably get bored while sitting around the house, I decided to get a few things to make you feel better!
P.S. When you get home tomorrow, maybe we could have a fun night in at your house! I think it'd be great to keep your mind off of that shoulder for a little longer!
P.P.S Besides, I still owe you a makeover for that brilliant one you gave me at my birthday party last week!
Rarity sat there and stared at the letter for a few seconds, before reading it over again. In all reality, she should have expected something like this from Twilight, but still... A warm, happy feeling overcame her, and she felt like crying again.
”No! I have cried too many times today! If Fluttershy comes in to me blubbering again, then she'll definitely make me tell her!” She turned her eyes towards the unopened package. ”Maybe opening this up will help distract me.”
Using her magic to tear the paper around it, revealing two box-like items. One was a book, good sized and binded with a dark green cover. “L'Amour de Charité” was printed in gold letters on the front.
“A cheesy yet addicting romance novel,” she chuckled, ”How am I not surprised.”
Putting the book aside, she glanced down at the next item. It was a bigger, wider white box.
”Could it be?” Rarity asked herself as she examined the box. She sniffed the edges, then slowly took the top off.
It was! Rarity slowly picked out one of the strawberries, the majority of it covered in beautiful, delicious, luxurious chocolate. Taking a bite, she savored the lighter, sugary-sweet juice from the strawberry alongside the rich and creamy taste of the chocolate. It was heaven.
”Twilight, why do you have to be so amazing?” Rarity took another bite before noticing something on her cheek.
”Really? I'm crying again?” Still, all Rarity could do was smile and giggle, as tears glistened on her face. ”I'm pathetic... Am I really such an emotional wreck that a simple chocolate-covered strawberry can bring me to tears?”
Half a minute later, Fluttershy entered the room to the sound of bubbly giggling. “Umm, Rarity is everything alrig-” She stopped short as she saw Rarity laughing with tears rolling down her face. “Hey, why are you crying again?”
Rarity looked up, and lifted the white box over to her friend with a smile. “Want a strawberry?”
Fluttershy sipped her tea politely while Rarity talked.
“...and anyways, I think this 'fun night in' will be great! Twilight and I will have such a good time, perhaps it will be just what I need.”
Rarity dug around the box, coming up with a last strawberry. “Would you like the last one?” She asked politely.
Fluttershy waved a hoof dismissively, her stomach aching slightly from eating four earlier. “No thanks.” She tapped her chin in thought for a second, then began again quickly, “Hey, do you mind if I ask you something?”
Rarity looked up from nibbling on the last strawberry, “Of course! Feel free to speak your mind, dear!”
Fluttershy scratched the back of her neck and blushed slightly. “Well... Umm, this may sound a bit weird, but does any of this whole... Uhh...” She tried to find the right word. “Does any of this whole 'changing yourself' problem have to do with Twilight?”
Rarity instantly locked up, dropping her strawberry. "How does she...”
“W-well... H-h-how did you ever come up with that idea?” Rarity asked, trying her best to pass it off casually.
“Rarity, I may be quiet, but I'm not blind or deaf.” She shrugged. “I don't know, it just seemed to all start after her birthday party, and when I just mentioned her after coming back from town, you nearly jumped off the couch.”
Fluttershy pointed at the note. “And now, you're crying, laughing and getting really excited over a letter she sent you...” She put a hoof on Rarity's good shoulder, her injured one now wrapped gently with an ice pack underneath. “Is everything okay between you two?”
Rarity shrunk back at the question. Cold shocks of anxiety and nervousness ran through her.
”What do I do?” She asked herself in a panic. ”Can I really tell Fluttershy? I... I don't want to because...” The truth was, she couldn't find out exactly why, but she just couldn't! ”But, if I can't tell my best friend, then there is no possible way I can tell Twilight...”
Rarity closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“Alright Fluttershy, I'll tell you... But you can not tell anypony else, is that clear?”
The yellow pegasus nodded.
“I...” Rarity gulped. So few words, so hard to say them. But now, she had to be strong. She had to be able to take this first step to be able to take the many others she'd need to afterwards.
“I...Well, I think... Or rather I know..." She fumbled with her words, staring down at the ground.
"Yes?" Fluttershy asked softly.
Rarity looked up at her, trying in vain to keep her voice from shaking.
"I'm in love with Twilight.”
Fluttershy looked taken aback for a second, staring at her. Then she giggled and smiled warmly. “Oh, well that's great, Rarity!”
The white unicorn in question gave her a surprised look. “S-so you're not shocked? Or angry?”
Fluttershy chuckled. “Why would I?”
“Why would you? Think about it!” Rarity waved her forelegs around. “I've fallen for a mare. Worse yet, it's one of our friends... That usually makes things awkward, right?”
“Well, maybe, I don't know. I've never dated any of my friends before, or anypony in particular for that reason.” Fluttershy blushed slightly, before continuing on. “Anyways, so what if it's another mare? Rarity, I know this sounds corny, but as long as you're happy who cares?”
“Happy?” Rarity cast depressed looks at the floor. “Fluttershy, I've been nothing but a mess for the past week. I don't sleep, I don't eat, all I do is worry and think.”
The pegasus reached in and gave her a hug. “Well, then you just have to come out and tell her, Rarity. Twilight's a very nice girl, you know that. Just pretend you're one of those colts you used to talk about, y'know the ones who had asked you out on dates when you were younger.”
“Oh... Them.” Rarity chuckled pitifully. “Those stories weren't totally true.”
“What?” Fluttershy was taken aback for a second. “Are you saying those colts were just made up?”
“Oh no, they were real.” Rarity gulped. “And yes, they did ask me out on dates... Except I always turned them down.”
“Because... Because I was too afraid to take that step, to take the risk.” She looked away. “I hated the thought of ponies talking about me behind my back.”
“Oh...” Fluttershy muttered. “So, it's more about the fact Twilight's a mare, right?”
“Hmm...” Fluttershy thought for a second. “Well, can you tell me why you're in love with her?”
“Well, for one...” The list went on for minutes. “...and lastly, she just makes me feel comfortable with myself. Like I could do anything and not be ashamed.”
Fluttershy stared at her for a second. “Wow, you really have thought about this a lot, haven't you?”
Rarity nodded. “Perhaps a little too much.”
The yellow mare put a hoof on her shoulder. “Rarity, if she means this much to you, then why does it matter so much if she's a mare?”
“I- I don't know,” Rarity stammered. “I guess I've always just have this lifestyle pounded into my head since I was young. To grow up, marry a handsome stallion, and live a life of class and high-standing was a dream for me as a filly.” She sighed. “And now, trying to have myself accept that it's not going to happen... Even though I'd much rather have it this way, is very hard to admit.”
“But you've already admitted both to me and yourself that you love her, isn't that enough?” Fluttershy replied.
Rarity hung her head in despair. “I wish. But even still, something within me protests and fights, and it's driving me mad.”
Fluttershy patted her on the back. “Hey, don't worry, alright? I'm sure we can get you through this.”
“We?” Rarity picked her head up, looking her friend in the eyes.
“Umm, yes? I mean, I'd be happy to help you finally build up the courage to tell Twilight, but if you don't want to, that's okay too.” Fluttershy shrunk back a bit.
“Oh, uhhh...” Rarity stopped to think. “Sure, dear, I think that'd help a lot.” She smiled and gave her a hug. “Thanks.”
”Okay Rarity, just like Fluttershy told me, 'Just be yourself and it'll be fine.' “
Rarity had been repeating the same phrase in her head on the entire walk over to the Carousel Boutique. It didn't help that she had to go a bit slower due to her shoulder. Fluttershy made sure it had been iced and heated the entire night, and even gave her a painkiller before she left. Even still, it had been rough, her muscles aching in dull throbs.
”I can't be too abrupt though... I don't want to scare the girl. I got to play this smart.”
The white unicorn turned stiffly onto her own walkway towards the door.
”I need to be tactful and clever. I want her to know, but also kind of not know. I want her to... to...”
Rarity hung her head as she stepped up to the door. She sighed. “Oh, I don't know what I want.”
“Ahhhh!” Rarity jumped back, utterly frightened. Her face twisted as she landed on her left foreleg, her knee almost buckling. “Ow!”
“Oh my gosh, I am so sorry!”
Rarity looked up to see Twilight at the door frame. Suddenly, her shoulder didn't hurt as much as before. “Oh, h- hi Twilight...”
“Rarity, are you okay?” She stepped towards her, her eyes filled with worry.
“Oh this?” The fashionista glanced at her left shoulder then waved a hoof, chuckling. “Don't worry dear, it's fine.”
“Are you sure?” Twilight asked. “I know you hurt it yesterday.”
Rarity smiled and walked past her, overcoming her urge to grimace, “Yes, I'm sure. Fluttershy took good care of me last night and this morning.”
The lavender pony closed the door behind her. “Oh, alright. I just saw you in front of the door as I walked by, and I didn't know I'd surprise you.” She looked away. “Sorry.”
“Twilight, darling, you did nothing wrong.” Rarity walked into the largely unused living room in the back of the building. She sat down on a plush pillow on the far side of the room.
“Umm, if you say so.” Twilight muttered as she entered. “So,” she changed the subject, “did you like the stuff I got you?” She walked over and sat down next to Rarity.
“Oh, did I ever!” Rarity beamed. “Those strawberries were simply divine! Even Fluttershy had a few.”
Twilight Sparkle clapped her hooves together in delight. “Glad to hear it! How about the book?”
“Oh, I read a few pages into it, but I was up so late talking with Fluttershy, I was practically falling asleep on the pages,” Rarity lied. She never did get around to even opening the cover, her mind too frantic about the next day.
“It did look superb, I might add,” She included quickly, trying not to offend her friend.
“It did?” The purple unicorn tilted her head slightly in curiosity. “I mean, even you think most romance novels are tacky.”
“Yes, well... This one seemed, uh... Special.” Rarity gave a half-hearted smile.
“Really?” Twilight's interest seemed piqued. “Umm, Rarity?”
“Yes, Twilight?” Rarity looked into her eyes. Brief flickers of wild hope and far-fetched dreams flashed through her mind.
“I- I know this is kind of unlike me and all...”
The flickers became beams and rays.
“...but since you recommend it, could I borrow that book sometime to read it?” Twilight asked, scratching her head.
“Oh.” Rarity tried to hide her crestfallen feelings. “Well, I thought you didn't like romantic stories?”
“Yeah...” She fought to find the right words, “W- well maybe I just thought reading one couldn't hurt. I- I just think it'd be... Y'know, something new for me to, umm... Learn about. Since I learn through books.” Twilight blushed. Rarity wanted to melt into a puddle.
Suddenly, an idea tore into Rarity's mind. “Oh, of course!” She put a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. “I know that's how you learn dear, very book smart. How about we read it together tonight?” She suggested. “Because since we're both here, why not? I've read a few dozen already, so I could help if you don't understand something.”
Twilight's face was a mixture of pleasant surprise and shock. “Oh, really? You'd do that?”
Rarity smiled. “Absolutely, Twilight. It'd be a pleasure to introduce you to romance.”
”Good job, Rarity!” she told herself. ”That was actually pretty clever.”
The lavender mare reached in and gave her a hug. “Thank you!” She got up excitedly. “This will be so much better than having to do this on my own, it'll be just like learning from a teacher!” She turned to Rarity. “So where's the book?”
The white unicorn chuckled. “Oh, we'll get to it, don't worry. But first, I'm famished.” She lowered her voice, “Don't tell her, but Fluttershy isn't the best cook when it comes pony cuisine.”
“Oh, right.” Twilight looked at the clock perched high in the room. “Well, it's a bit after noon right now, so how about we head over to the café?” She smiled. “My treat.”
Rarity took a restrained bite out of her salad. “So, I really don't mean to pry, but why do you want to read a romance novel all of a sudden?”
Twilight looked around anxiously after taking a sip of her lemonade. “Well, It's just something I haven't done, and you know me, I like to learn new things.”
“But Twilight, there are so many other things you haven't done either. Why not learn to play the violin or take up painting?”
“Ahh, fine, I guess you got me.” She glanced around again. “It's just ever since you told me somepony found me attractive, I've just paid more attention to... Well,” the words seemed to stick in her throat, “relationships and stuff like that.”
“Oh?” Rarity raised an eyebrow, beating back an urge giggle with delight.
“Yeah, and for once the nonfiction books in the library aren't helping me.” Twilight sighed, taking a bite out of her daisy sandwich soon after.
Rarity finally succumbed to her giggling. “Dear, you do realize that books can't help you understand everything right? I'm not trying to dissuade you from reading and learning from text, but sometimes you need other ponies to help.”
“So, are you saying we shouldn't read the book?”
“Oh no, perish the thought!” Rarity exclaimed. “All I'm saying is, is that sometimes you need other perspectives to give you a full picture.”
“I think I get it now...” Twilight still sounded skeptical. “So, like, asking them questions and formulating a hypothesis based on the answers you receive?”
“Well, yes, I guess that's a creative way of looking at it,” she conceded.
“Oh, good!” Twilight looked relieved to be on empirical terms. “So, Rarity, what are your views on romance?”
“Huh-uh wha-?” The question caught the unicorn off guard. “Twilight, I- I'm not sure that's the right way to go about it.”
“Oh... Well, what is?”
Rarity took a second to think that over. ”What does somepony do to seriously talk to her friends about romance? Surely my conversation with Fluttershy last night was a freak incident, right?”
“Oh, well, I... I'm not sure.” Rarity admitted hesitantly.
“Not sure? But Rarity, you know everything about this stuff!” Twilight proclaimed.
Rarity chuckled sarcastically. “Oh please, I don't know much outside books myself.”
“Would you like a glass, Twilight?”
“A glass of what?” Twilight asked, watching Rarity get up and head out of the living room.
“Wine, of course. A rich Cabernet to go with some dark chocolate.” She answered, continuing outside of the room.
Twilight sounded nervous. “But, I've never had wine before.”
Rarity opened a bottle in her kitchen, just outside the living room doorway. “Oh, don't worry then! They compliment each other perfectly!” She uncorked the bottle. “Besides, in my personal experience, it helps set the mood for this next chapter coming up!”
The sky was darkening now, as the two mares had been reading an over-the-top, sappy love story for most of the afternoon. The book itself wasn't too long, but Rarity had stopped multiple times to explain to Twilight how certain things worked in the book. Of course she didn't know from real experience, but previous novels had quite a pattern to them.
She poured two glasses, and then magically toted them and rich pieces of chocolate over into the living room. Twilight was lying on her stomach in the middle of the room, studying the last few lines of the previous chapter before flicking her eyes up towards Rarity.
Her magic faltered slightly, almost dropping the glasses, unable to stop staring. Definitely unladylike, but she couldn't help it.
“What, is something wrong?” Twilight asked.
Rarity shook her head back into reality. “Haha, oh no, everything's fine.”
”Dammit, control yourself, Rarity!”
She settled down next to Twilight, floating over her glass and a few pieces of chocolate. “Go on, try it.” She took her own sip of wine, and by Celestia, she needed it.
Rarity glanced over to Twilight, who sniffed curiously at the burgundy drink. Carefully, the mare lifted the glass to her mouth and sipped cautiously. Her face grimaced as she swallowed.
“Augh! How do you drink that?”
“Oh, you get used to it,” Rarity assured her. “Try some chocolate with it though, I assure you it tastes much better.” She herself broke off a piece and savored it.
“Well, I do like chocolate...” Twilight slowly broke off a piece of her own, chewed it, and took another sip of the Cabernet to wash it down. This time, her expression was more critical, trying to determine whether she liked it or not.
“So?” Rarity asked.
“Hmm, not bad.” Twilight admitted. “I can tell how this 'helps set the scene', as you said. It's so... Rich and deep, with a touch of bitterness.”
“Exactly!” Rarity agreed. “So, are we ready to continue on?”
“One second, I know one more thing that would help.” Twilight looked across the room, and magically levitated a nearby blanket towards her. She draped it over the both of them, just allowing their heads to stick out. “I always like to read under a blanket. Now we're good.”
Rarity nodded. “Okay, good idea.” She opened up the first page and read out loud:
~”Charity stepped out onto the balcony. A warm breeze ruffled her amethyst mane, as she gazed out upon the myriad of buildings from her hilltop estate. Somewhere out there, somewhere out in front of her in the city of Toulhooves, her love Bayard was waiting for her. She knew it, she could feel it...”~
Suddenly, Twilight moved in closer to Rarity, yawned, and leaned against her as she took a sip of wine. If it wasn't for the fact that she was between reading paragraphs, it would have seemed as if the white unicorn forgot how to speak. Eyes widening alongside an sharp intake of air, it took her a few seconds to continue on.
~”Charity felt her heart skip a beat, just at the thought of reuniting with him. They had spent so long with words left unsaid, and now, more than ever, they had to be revealed. The fact that he was lesser born did not deter her, rather, they filled her with a sense of pride. To disregard aristocratic expectations and pursue who she truly loved sent shocks of excitement and adventure down her spine.”~
“Wow, this is really is cheesy,” Twilight quipped, still leaning on Rarity. She broke off another piece of chocolate and chewed it slowly.
“Well, yes, I guess so,” Rarity replied. “But still, can you feel her emotions for him?”
“Oh, of course,” Twilight chuckled, “the gushy prose made sure of that. Although, it's not necessarily bad.”
“So, you're saying you like the book?”
“Well, the story itself is alright, but I like the feelings in it more.” Twilight admitted. “They're so... Compassionate and overwhelming, I can almost feel it.”
“It is nice, isn't it?” Rarity asked, her voice dropping to a sensitive level. She finished her glass of wine.
“Yeah...” Twilight sighed, leaning a bit heaver against Rarity. Her coat was soft and warm, and Rarity was only too happy to support her.
”If only I could just hold her...”
“So, uhh...” Twilight began, “who was that pony that told you she found me attractive?”
“Oh!” The question caught Rarity off guard. “Ah- umm...” She couldn't find what to say, remaining silent.
“Oh, just as I thought.” Twilight deflated, looking down to floor, “It was just a story, right?”
“No!” Rarity exclaimed. She instinctively wrapped a foreleg around Twilight, unable to see her like this. “Trust me dear, somepony definitely did.”
Her crush managed a smile. “Thanks, Rarity. I've just been so skeptical for the past week because it's hard to believe.” She zoned off across the room.
Rarity pulled her in just a bit closer. “Well, start believing then.”
Twilight looked to Rarity, but before she could ask anything, Rarity let go of her and stood up, shrugging off the blanket.
“How about we take a break from the book for a bit? I believe somepony promised me a makeover.”
Rarity was in a mess.
In a good kind of way, however.
She had been turned into a living canvas, with Twilight attempting all sorts of “experimental fashion” on her. Normally she'd be horrified, but now she couldn't stop giggling as Twilight brushed her frayed mane.
”Tonight actually hasn't gone too bad... We both had a great time, and I think she's beginning to get the message,” Rarity hoped silently.
“So, mind if I ask a question?” Twilight asked.
“Sure, what's on your mind, darling?”
“Do... Do you think I'm attractive?” She looked at Rarity through the mirror.
“Well...” Rarity held herself. As much as she wanted to tell her “Yes, you're beautiful,” and kiss her, still the self-conscious leash reigned her in. However, she felt brave enough to give in a bit, partially thanks to the wine.
“Yes, I think you are.” She smiled. Twilight smiled. “Stop doubting yourself, Twilight. You're a very cute girl.”
“R- really?” Twilight looked flabbergasted.
“Wow...” Twilight put a hoof to her own chest. “Thanks Rarity.”
Rarity shivered slightly as she felt Twilight wrap her forelegs around her, giving her a gracious hug. The faint aroma of something akin to sandalwood entered her nose, sweet and warm.
“Anyways,” Twilight continued as she let go, “How about we finish up the book now?”
Twilight sobbed as she poured the last of bottle into her glass. “I... I just can't believe... I just won't!”
Rarity was tearing also as they turned the last page of the novel. “I know!” Her cheeks glistened. “Why did Bayard have to leave her? They could have run off together!”
Twilight downed the entirety of her glass, sniffling. “Exactly! They were in love and that's all that mattered! Who cares what anypony else thought?”
Déjà vu weighted down on Rarity like an anchor. “R-r-right! De-definitely!” she stammered. Suddenly feeling guilty, Rarity followed suit and drained the last of her wine. Admittedly, she was a little buzzed, but nothing like her lavender friend.
Honestly, bringing out the entire wine bottle during the most intense part of the story was probably not the best idea. Even worse, she let Twilight pour for herself. It was bad enough that this was probably Twilight's first time drinking, even worse that it was her first romance novel. With that deadly combination of high emotions and a low tolerance for alcohol, without a doubt the poor girl would have a terrible headache the next morning.
Twilight continued on her uncharacteristic, emotionally-charged rambling. “If I were her, I would have held on to him!” She giggled. “Although don't tell Bayard that I think I like mares more than stallions.”
“What?” Rarity couldn't help a chuckle, “But you kept saying the entire time how perfect Bayard seemed and wishing there was a stallion like him in the world.”
“Well yeah!” Twilight snorted, “But I think mares look soooo much better.” She pointed a hoof at Rarity. “Like... For example, you're hot!” she exclaimed.
Rarity blushed a lot harder than she had in years. “Oh, y- you're just saying that.”
“Nah, I'm serious.” She shuffled close to Rarity, rubbing up against her. “A-and you think I'm really cute, right?”
“Well, ye-” Rarity stopped. Even under a fog of intoxication, she could tell this was wrong. That same sense of restraint which had held her back for the wrong things was now holding her back for the right thing. As easy as it could be to just have Twilight now, this was not how it was supposed to happen. This was not how Rarity wanted it to be, not how she dreamed of it being. The world snapped into focus.
“Well what?” Twilight asked, leaning over against her.
“Uhhh... Well,Twilight, dear, I think we should get you tucked into bed.” Rarity said, offering a hoof to help her up.
“Why? Do you not like me?” She looked downtrodden, and it broke Rarity's heart.
“No no no! Twilight, you are simply magnificent and beautiful, but it's getting late, don't you think?” The clock on the wall read half-past one.
“W- well, yeah, I guess so.”
“Come on then, I'll help you get upstairs.” Rarity let Twilight lean on her as she wobbled to get onto her hooves. Slowly but surely, they reached the extra bed in her design room. “There you go dear, try to get some sleep.”
Twilight nodded and slipped underneath the covers as Rarity left the room and carefully closed the door behind her. The white unicorn walked into the bathroom, turning on the sink and soaking her face with cold water.
”I've done the right thing, right?” she pondered. ”Surely it's more meaningful to confess to Twilight when both of us are sober?”
Ultimately, she couldn't come up with a definite answer.
Minutes later, she walked back into the design room to check on Twilight. The adorable mare was snoring cutely as her chest rose and fell, wrapped underneath soft blankets.
“Sweet dreams, Twilight.”
Rarity leaned in and kissed her on the forehead.
Rarity set down a pair of tiny white pills and a large glass of water on the table. The pony across from her zoned out at the far wall of the kitchen, a dull glaze over her eyes and her mouth slightly ajar.
“There you go Twilight, two aspirin and a lot of water.” Rarity said. The lavender mare suddenly snapped to focus and looked up at her. “I know your head is killing you, but if you get enough water in your system, it'll begin to feel better. Once I've decided you've had enough, I'll pour you some coffee. But until then, I really do encourage you to get some fluids in you; I promise it will make you feel better.”
“Well, why are you drinking coffee now?” Twilight asked slowly. “You had a glass of wine last night too.” She then took the two pills and swallowed them with a gulp of water.
“My head isn't hurting, dear.” Rarity told her, taking a sip from her mug. It wasn't entirely true, her head was indeed aching slightly, but she had found caffeine to be an ample painkiller.
Twilight then downed the rest of her glass, setting it down on the table lightly. “I-is this seriously what happens from a single glass, Rarity?” She rubbed her temples with her hooves lethargically. “If so, I'm never drinking again, ever.”
She slammed her hoof down on the table, causing a loud noise to reverberate throughout the room. “Ow! ...Stupid hoof.”
Rarity couldn't help but giggle. “Twilight, how much do you remember last night?”
The other mare looked up with a start. “Umm, just up to when we finished your makeover, I think.” Panic formed on her face. “Why, did I do something after that?”
“Well, we finished the story,” Rarity started, and took another sip of her coffee. “However, you,” she pointed a hoof at Twilight, “got so wrapped up in the story you drank more than one glass.” She then walked over to the table, picking up Twilight's empty cup.
The purple unicorn's eyes widened. “H-how many glasses?”
Rarity filled the glass again with water. “Oh, only about four more.” She then set down the glass on the table.
Her crush put her head in her hooves. “Oh no...” She remained silent for a few seconds. “Did... Did I say anything else? Anything embarrassing?”
The other unicorn pushed the glass of water towards her. “Drink this and I'll tell you.” She smiled.
Twilight did as she was told, draining the glass once more. “So, what did I say?” She asked as she set the glass down.
“You just rambled about Bayard most of the time.” Rarity picked up the glass and set it down near her sink. Taking another mug out of a nearby cupboard, she filled it with fresh, steaming coffee.
“Oh, thank Celestia!” Twilight exclaimed, giving a relieved sigh.
Rarity sat down across from her at the kitchen table with both mugs of coffee, smirking. “However, you did make a comment somewhere along the lines of 'mares are soooo hot!' “
She slid the mug over to Twilight and winked. She was positive the naïve girl wouldn't get it, but it still felt like a step in the right direction, even if only for herself.
Twilight gave out an adorable “Eeep!” of shock, and then tried to hide her growing blush behind the mug as she drank from it. Rarity guessed her words last night were true, given her lack of a response. Inside her mind, she gave a small squeal of delight.
“Anyways, I put the book in your saddlebags since I guess you want to finish it on your own.” Rarity smiled. Twilight set down her mug, creases of a smile beginning to form on her still-red cheeks.
The purple-maned pony tapped her hooves together anxiously. “Perhaps once you finish, we could go over it at your house?”
The stitching machine hummed and clicked as fabric was fed through it. It was rhythmic, comforting and hypnotic.
”I actually think I'm starting to get in some headway with Twilight,” Rarity thought to herself. ”Despite the problem with the wine last night, we had a really good time... Even if she didn't remember half of it.”
”At least I will,” she murmured in her mind as the memories started to swirl in her head:
It was around midnight, and the two of them had gotten a good way towards the climax of the novel. By now, Twilight was on her third glass, the wine making her drowsy, leaning against Rarity as the fashionista read aloud.
~”Charity set down a tome in front of Bayard. 'I made a mistake, I know, and if you never forgive me, I'll understand.' She looked into his eyes. 'But here, take this to remember who will always love you.' “~
~”Bayard pored his eyes over the gift. He had seen it before, it was-”~ Rarity stopped. The pressure of something on her shoulder forced her to look over.
Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as she saw Twilight dozing, sleeping against her. She was so irresistibly cute, her soft breathing tickling the skin along Rarity's neck. It hurt slightly as she was on her bad shoulder, but Rarity hardly noticed. The lavender mare's mane was as soft as down, and once again the intoxicating smell of sandalwood entered her nostrils.
She could have stayed like this forever.
”Then why didn't I?” Rarity thought, back in the present. ”Couldn't I have just stayed there for a few moments?”
“Twilight, wake up,” Rarity had muttered softly to her last night.
“Hmm?” The mare in question answered. “Wh-what time is it?” She still rested on Rarity's shoulder with her eyes closed.
“It's time to finish the book. Come on, we're getting close to the end.”
Twilight got up with a start. “Oh right! The book!” Her voice was slightly slurred as she poured herself another glass. “Where were we?”
The newly-made dress sat perfectly on its mannequin, yet it looked wrong, all wrong. No matter how she tweaked it, it never looked quite right. Fuming with annoyance and anger, Rarity tore the piece of clothing off its stand and threw it across the room.
”Dammit!” She took a second to vent, stomping her hooves in frustration. ”Why must everything look atrocious?!”
The house was silent for a few seconds.
“Umm... Hello?” a small voice sounded from downstairs.
Rarity sighed. “I'm up here, Fluttershy!” As much as she tried to suppress it, anger still tinged her voice.
Small hoofsteps plodded up the stairs, and then a yellow mare popped out from behind her bedroom door. “Hi Rarity, how was your slumber party with Twilight?”
“Fine.” She seethed.
Fluttershy squeaked and cringed back. “O-oh... Did something go wrong? Sorry, please don't be mad.”
Rarity forced herself to take a deep breath. ”Fluttershy has done nothing wrong... She's just trying to help.”
“No, I'm sorry Fluttershy. I just can't get this dress to look right.” She tilted her head over towards the disregarded dress on the floor.
“Oh...” Fluttershy stood back up. “Well, whenever I feel frustrated, I like to sit back and take a break for a few minutes.”
“So, sit back and tell me what happened.” Fluttershy blushed slightly. “Sorry, I've just been dying to hear how it went. I wanted come over earlier, but I didn't know when Twilight was leaving, so I made myself wait.”
Rarity managed a chuckle, and her anger began to dissipate. “Well, it was actually a lot of fun. First, we had lunch at the café, and we pretty much just talked about what we wanted to do that night.”
“Oh, that's nice... What else did you do?”
“Well, we actually read that cheesy romance novel together.” Rarity tried her best not to grin like a little filly. She felt so proud of herself for some reason, yet couldn't quite pin it down.
“Aww, really?” Fluttershy was sporting her own grin, however.
“Yeah, and besides a quick little makeover during the night, that's pretty much what we did. We shared a bottle of wine and chocolate, got wrapped up in a blanket and read the book together in the living room.”
Fluttershy cooed, “That's so cu-” she stopped abruptly. “Wait, did you say you shared a bottle of wine?” She raised an eyebrow.
“Well, of course. It was a romantic story, it sets the perfect mood.” Rarity shrugged.
“B-but this is Twilight we're talking about!” The usually timid mare began to raise her voice. “You know she's never drank before, right?”
“Yes... But I figured she could handle it.”
“Well, no.” Rarity admitted, sighing. “But it wasn't all bad! She fell asleep on my shoulder and it was simply adorable!”
“But, what did go bad?” Fluttershy pried.
Rarity looked away, guilt descending upon her. “She kind-of-maybe-sorta did get drunk and rambled about how much she was into mares...” The unicorn paused for a second. “I think she was hitting on me a bit too.”
Fluttershy facehoofed. “How many glasses did she have?”
“I don't remember!” Rarity lied, her voice becoming defensive. “I let her pour for herself!”
“How many glasses?” The pegasus echoed. Her stare could bore holes into the strongest of steel, and the white unicorn target could not fare nearly as well.
Rarity drooped her head. “Five,” she admitted.
“Rarity!” Fluttershy exclaimed, taking a step forwards. Creases formed on her forehead as she frowned disapprovingly.
Rarity took a step back. “Hold on!” she interjected. “It didn't end as horribly as you'd think! I simply told her enough was enough and took her to bed.”
“R-Rarity!” Fluttershy cried once more, this time with more conviction in her voice and scarlet on her cheeks.
“N-n-not like that!” Rarity fired back, obviously flustered. Her cheeks burned and her skin began to itch embarrassingly. “I put her in the design room while I slept upstairs...” She managed to mutter weakly.
“I cant believe-! Oh... Really?” Fluttershy asked, her voice quieter.
Rarity exhaled deeply. “Yes. I know now that maybe the wine was a bad idea... But besides that, the night was really fun. It was just us, sitting around a book together.” She paused for a second. “I even got her to agree to go over it again, next week at her house.”
Fluttershy perked her head up. “Why?” she asked.
“Well,” Rarity laughed nervously, “She kind of doesn't remember half of it.”
“Right.” Fluttershy looked down, and noticed her legs were wobbling. “S-sorry Rarity, I have to sit down. I just got so worked up there I couldn't control myself, and now I feel exhausted...” She looked around the room and found a small pillow which she promptly occupied.
Rarity walked over to her and sat down on the floor. “It's fine, you were doing the right thing, looking out for your friends.” She tried her best to smile.
“Yeah.” Fluttershy smiled back. “Also... Sorry for implying that... Y'know... Between you two.” Another splash of crimson hit her face.
“That's quite alright.” Rarity grinned and gave her friend a grateful hug. “Thanks a lot, talking it over with you really helped.”
“There we go!” the dazzling white mare said cheerily. She smiled to herself as she lined up the two pieces of attire, their amber color schemes shining as sunlight dappled along them through the window. “Funny,” she thought, ”That I'd be creating part of my 'October' collection on a beautiful late-winter day.”
Two days had passed since she had talked to Fluttershy, and already her mind was clear and focused. Designing almost seemed too easy. In fact, the speedy work had allowed her some much needed time to herself, and today she had promised to stop by the Sugarcube Corner to see the same yellow pegasus and Pinkie Pie. It would be nice to see the pink party animal also, her silly antics a welcome antithesis to Rarity's own serious attitude.
“Sometimes you just need to learn to laugh, Rarity,” Pinkie had told her once.
”Perhaps if I could learn to laugh, maybe I could learn to do other things too?”
“Woo! Yay Poundcake!”
A jumble of excited foal-speak answered.
Rarity giggled. The adorable pegasus foal was sitting in a high chair with frosting smeared over his face. He had just finished eating a cupcake without using his hooves, something Pinkie Pie encouraged.
“Who's a good little boy? You are!” Poundcake laughed as the pink pony booped his nose. She picked him up out of the high chair. “Alright! Time to go wash your face up and put you in your crib for naptime!”
The foal squirmed at the mention of the word, whining in protest. As she set him down, he tried to scamper away.
Pinkie Pie blocked him with a well-placed hoof. “Not so fast, buster! Upstairs you go!”She cried enthusiastically, in typical Pinkie fashion. She turned back to her guests. “Just give me a minute girls, I'll be back in a jiffy!”
Rarity and Fluttershy nodded.
“So, Rarity, how's the new fashion line coming along? 'November,' was it?” The yellow pegasus asked.
“You mean 'October'?” Rarity chuckled. “Yes, darling, it's shaping up nicely. The past two nights I've been on a roll, completing a dress a day.” She exhaled as if she had just ran a race. “It's a little tiring, sure, but I feel much better now that I can focus.”
“So your nights aren't so... Sleepless?”
The designer frowned and sighed. “No, they still are, but now instead of just sitting around I'm able to work it off.”
“Oh... Well atleast some good is coming out of it.” Fluttershy pointed out optimistically. “Anyways, did you hear back from Twilight at all? I don't think reading a hundred pages would take very long for her.” She laughed.
Rarity smiled. “Oh yes, not long at all. She sent Spike over the very next day, telling me she had finished and asked if I could come over in two days to go over it with her.”
“So...” Fluttershy stopped for a second to think. “So... You're going over tomorrow?”
“Precisely, dear! Hopefully it'll be as fun as last time; Luna knows I could use some.”
“That's great!” She clapped her hooves together, grinning. “So are you just going to talk about the book?”
“Well, I'm not sure. It'll definitely be the main subject,” Rarity elaborated, “But I don't know, we could always do something else while I'm there.”
Fluttershy's smile disappeared. “Any wine? Rarity, as much as I trust you, I still didn't like it when you got Twilight drunk.”
A gasp sounded from across the room. “You got Twilight drunk?!” Pinkie Pie asked. She charged up to the table, “What happened! Tell me, tell me!”
Rarity facehoofed. “Nothing Pinkie. J-just forget you even heard that.”
“No can do!” She put her hoof down. “This is Twilight we're talking about, and it is Pinkie Pie Tradition that you tell what happens the first time somepony gets tipsy!”
“Umm, I really don't think that is necessary,” Fluttershy put in. “I mean, it was nothing, really.”
“You know what happened too?” Pinkie pried. “Tell me!” She began to crowd the timid mare. “What happened? Did she start yelling and being loud?”
“Well no...” The pegasus replied, averting her gaze.
“Oh, did she just pass out?”
“Not right away,” Rarity conceded.
“Hmm, well... Did she start flirting?” Pinkie shrugged, as if a last ditch suggestion.
“Umm...” Fluttershy mumbled something under her breath. Rarity stayed silent.
“She-... She did?!” The pink earth pony could not stop her jaw from hitting the floor. “Are you serious!?”
“Th-that's right...” Rarity chuckled anxiously and sighed.
“Oh. My. Gosh!” Pinkie Pie seemed to shoot off the ground with excitement. “I wasn't going to make you talk earlier but now since she started hitting on ponies now I really got to know and you have to tell me and if you don't I wont leave you alone ever!” She stuck her face in Rarity's. “Tell me! Tell me!”
“Fine!” The white unicorn caved. “Now will you please sit back down?!”
“Mhmm!” Pinkie Pie nodded obediently and settled on her chair obediently, gazing at her with wide eyes.
“Well, here goes nothing,” Rarity groaned. She continued on to regale the story of three nights past, the girls' night in with the lovely Twilight Sparkle.
“... Anyways, after that I decided she wasn't thinking right and let her sleep on the spare bed in my design room.” She concluded, mindful of her previous miswording with Fluttershy.
“What? Why would you do that?” Pinkie asked, tilting her head with confusion.
“Why? Well, it's the polite thing to do, dear.” Rarity explained. “She was obviously too intoxicated to know what she was saying-”
“Pshhh.” Pinkie Pie cut her off, dismissing the notion with a wave of her hoof. “She wasn't that hammered. Trust me, I've been to enough parties to know when ponies start saying anything and everything.” She then added with a giggle, “She probably just had enough to loosen her lips and say what she thought she'd never tell.”
”Oh no... She can't be possibly figuring out...” Rarity laughed embarrassedly. “Oh Pinkie Pie, you are so funny!”
“I am?” The party pony looked surprised. “What did I-”
“Howdy girls!” Applejack called from the entrance of the store. “Pinkie, ah brought over a wagon-full of apples from the winter store for ya, jus' like ya asked.”
“Woo!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed. “Great! But first, why don't you come sit down with us? You'll want to hear this!”
Applejack shrugged and smiled, pulling a chair over to the table and sitting down with the other three. “What's up?”
“Oh, it's nothing,” Rarity answered. “Try not to buy into it too much.”
“Nothing!?” Pinkie Pie shot up. She turned to Applejack. “You know how we ponies have a little too much to drink, they starting saying things they usually keep inside, right?”
“Uhhh, yeah, ah guess.” She scratched the back of her head, uncomfortable with the subject. “Why?” she asked cautiously.
“Well, Twilight got drunk at Rarity's house, and she started talking about how she thought Rarity was sooo-”
Pinkie Pie was abruptly cut off as Rarity placed her hoof over her mouth. “Pinkie!”
“Hold on!” Applejack interjected. “What's this about Twi' getting drunk?” Her tone told her displeasure.
Nopony answered. Pinkie Pie couldn't talk and Rarity wouldn't. Fluttershy looked away.
“Fluttershy, what happened?” The orange workpony asked. “Come on, ah need ta know what went down.” The timid mare shook her head. Applejack sighed. “Ah won't get mad or tell anypony.”
“Promise?” Fluttershy asked quietly.
“Ah promise,” Applejack told her, smiling slightly.
Despite the silent pleas and looks of horror from Rarity, Fluttershy began, “Well, Twilight and Rarity had spent a night together reading a book.”
“Readin' a book?” Applejack raised an eyebrow, “That doesn't seem like a reason ta drink.”
“Yes, well, this was a romance they were reading, and since Rarity drinks a bit of wine when she reads on her own, she offered Twilight some too.”
“Oh, ah see now.”
“Anyways, as the night went on, Twilight began to drink a little too much, and started acting very... Unlike Twilight.” Fluttershy lowered her voice, disliking being the center of attention. Three sets of eyes were set on her.
“Well, how much did she have? A pony like Twi' prolly never had a touch of alcohol before, and new drinkers tend ta go quick-like.” Applejack pointed out.
“Whew-wee!” Applejack exclaimed, chuckling, “Ah din't expect her to go on past two. Actually, ah didn't think she'd want to drink in the first place.” She cast a glance at the white unicorn.
Rarity took her hoof off of Pinkie Pie's mouth, raising it in objection. “I did not make her drink! I simply offered her some, and then before I knew it she was pouring her own glass after finishing her fourth.”
“Yes, but then afterwards Twilight went on about how sexy and attractive she found her!” Pinkie Pie put in, now that her mouth was free.
“Wha-!” Rarity sat, flabbergasted. ”She did not just tell Applejack that!” She thought, panicking. “Pinkie! W-Why would you ever make up such a thing?!” She lied. It was useless to hide her growing blush now.
Applejack whinnied and recoiled back, looking incredibly shocked. “Now hold on-”
“Oh no, you just told me that a few minutes ago!” Pinkie Pie shot back.
“You must have simply have misheard me,” Rarity defended herself, looking away with disdain.
Pinkie laughed, “Come on, admit it already!”
“I will not-”
“Enough!” Applejack slammed her hooves down on the table. Fluttershy eeped, and the two debating ponies went silent. The farmpony turned to Rarity. “Ah can tell when somepony is lyin'. Now, answer this question: Did Twilight say this?”
”What do I do? It's bad enough Pinkie Pie found out, but now Applejack...”
“Say what?” Rarity asked in faux-innocence. Applejack was not amused, frowning; her gaze seeming to burn through the unicorn's skin. “Fine! Yes, she did!” Rarity caved. “It's all true!”
Applejack sighed once more. “Now, was that really so hard?” The her face brightened up and she giggled. “Honestly, ah was just surprised that Twilight was inta mares. But now that ah had a bit of time to think about it, ah'd feel just fine knowin' that a girl like Twi' thought ah looked like that.”
“Oh... Really?” Rarity replied, her emotions taking a wild turn and her spirits starting to lift.
“O'course! Even if you don't feel the same way, it's still nice to hear things like that.” Applejack said, smiling.
“Yeah!” Pinkie Pie put in. “I mean, if I were you I totally would have gone after her!”
“W-what?!” Rarity asked.
“Pinkie Pie, we all know that Rarity likes her stallions, so don'cha put words in her mouth!” Applejack defended her. “She's just probably a lil' ashamed that another mare has taken a likin' to her.”
“Why would you be? I think mares are just as good as stallions!” Pinkie replied unabashedly.
“That might be what you think, but ah think Rarity has her own feelin's, right?” Applejack looked to Rarity.
“But isn't it also good to experiment?” Pinkie Pie asked hopefully.
“Pinkie, like ah said, stop puttin' words in her mouth!” Applejack stared her down across the table.
“What? I didn't tell her to do anything!”
“Oh? Well ya sure din't sound that way!”
“Girls, maybe we should calm down.” Fluttershy put in quietly.
“Just because you had that one weird moment last New Years' at Bon Bon's house doesn't mean you can tell mares not to like other mares!” Pinkie Pie proclaimed.
“What!” Applejack flared. “Ah told ya never to talk about that!”
Rarity groaned. ”Are my friends really going at it over whether or not I should be attracted to mares? This is pathetic...”
“Besides, if she wants ta be like that she can, but she's always been likin' stallions and ah don't see why ya have to attempt to change her!”
“Change her!” Pinkie Pie stood up. “I am not changing-”
“That's it!” Rarity yelled, get up from her chair and stomping out towards the exit. “I'm going home!” She slammed the door behind her.
Pinkie Pie slumped back down into her seat. Applejack's eyes lost their fire. Fluttershy sighed.
The room remained silent for a few seconds.
“Hey AJ, I'm really sorry I brought that up. I shouldn't have gotten so upset about that,” Pinkie apologized.
“Nah, it's mah fault. Ah shouldn't have pushed either of you that far.” Applejack frowned.
“Umm, I gotta go.” Fluttershy stated, before getting up quickly. “B-bye girls.” She hustled out of the room, not enjoying the awkward aftertaste.
The two earth ponies watched her go. “So, d'ya really think Rarity could be attracted ta mares?”
“I'm not sure...” Pinkie rubbed her chin. “But I think the pony we should talk to is Twilight. She's probably just as confused as Rarity.”
“Yeah... Good idea.” Applejack nodded in agreement. “Hey, how about after ah help ya take in these here apples ah brought, we go over and sort it out with Twi? Like ya said, she's probably the one who needs the most help.”
The brush seemed to almost flow through her mane as she made the final touches. An extra touch of perfume on the neck, and a tug on the scarf so it fit snugly around her.
“There we go.”
Stepping out the door, a cold breeze pricked against her skin. As much as Rarity hated the chills and the wind tussling her hair, she couldn't help but also feel how clear and clean it all felt. She could almost hear herself think, hear the bubbling stew of emotions in her gut. The conversation at the Sugarcube Corner was stressful to say the least.
”It was almost like they were arguing for me.”
It was like a chemistry solution gone wrong, all of her previous anxieties sitting precariously on the edge of reaction. Then come along two new ponies who add another element to the mix, and suddenly the whole solution froths and bubbles violently, its contents spilling over the edge. She had cried once she got home, wallowing in a pool of melancholy for hours.
”But today is a new day... A day that I can try to be better, start off on the right hoof.”
She smiled faintly as she walked down the street, her scarf waving at her side. Even with what happened yesterday, today is a day with Twilight. That made everything much more bright and interesting, even if she couldn't cope with her feelings. It was still worth it.
”How can this be? How can one other pony who drives me simply insane also make me so happy?”
Should this even be happening? No matter how many times she had gone over it in her head, she still couldn't figure out why she was drawn to another female. So much of her life she spent dreaming about that one stallion in her life, telling others about him, almost knowing him. Yet now it was as if fate had played a cruel joke and overdosed her on love with a mare.
”It isn't fair!” Rarity pouted as the library came within view.
Or was it? Maybe she had set herself up for it, wearing the ultimate disguise so well she couldn't even see her own emotions before being thrust into a time of turmoil? But if that was so, then why couldn't she just tell Twilight? She was certain Twilight found her good-looking, but some vestige of heterosexuality kept her inches away from revealing her feelings, just out of grasp.
Rarity shuddered as she thought of opening up to Twilight. Or maybe it was the bone-chilling wind; she couldn't tell. As she approached the door of the library, she forced herself to calm down.
”Whatever happens, happens.”
She knocked on the door, the sound echoing throughout the empty afternoon air. The sound of hoofsteps grew louder within seconds. The doorknob turned and creaked. The door swung open.
“Rarity! How are you?” Forelegs wrapped around her in a hug. A cute giggle erupted as the voice continued, “You didn't bring any wine, did you?”
Rarity giggled back and blushed. Where was she again? She muttered something amounting to a dismissal.
“Well, come on in! It's freezing out there!”
The world snapped to focus. Twilight was standing in the doorway, waiting for her. Abruptly, Rarity trotted past Twilight into the main room. “Right! I do so love my scarves, but it was simply not enough out there. I am absolutely frigid!”
Twilight shut the door and walked up to Rarity. “Here, let me get that for you.” She said as she magically helped her friend take off her scarf.
“Thanks, dear. By the way, I must say it is so quiet in here. Where's Spike?” Rarity asked, looking around for the young dragon.
“Oh, he's out in Canterlot for the day. I guess the School for Gifted Unicorns wanted to check up on him or something.”
“Ah, I see.”
“Well, why don't you go make yourself comfortable in the room over there while I get you something to warm up with?” Twilight nodded over towards a sideroom.
Rarity smiled and headed off towards the room. She had never been in here before. Curiously, she pushed the door open. It wasn't very large, with not much but a couch, coffee table and a small bookcase along the wall.
”Twilight has a couch? This is new.” She raised an eyebrow, yet walked over and sat down on it. It was a little old, but also worked in and incredibly comfortable. As she settled in along the nook of cushions, she glanced around the room. Why had she never been here before?
The room was much like the rest of the library, with wooden walls and floors, yet it also felt much more snug and homely. An ottoman rug was underneath the coffee table, and a small painting was perched on the wall above the bookcase. She was pleasantly surprised that Twilight had a small part of her house sectioned off to be comfortable, because this room definitely was.
The door creaked open, and Twilight's cute face popped out. “Do you like it in here?”
Rarity glanced around her, taking a second look at the room. “Why yes I do. Darling, I had no idea this room even existed.”
Twilight placed down two mugs on the table and sat down next to her friend. “Oh, well then welcome to my reading room!”
“Yeah,” Twilight smiled. “It used to be a supply room, but since nopony needed it, I changed it into a room where I can read, comfortably and undisturbed. I haven't shown it to anypony, because, well,” she looked to Rarity, “I usually don't read with another pony.”
The white unicorn smiled back. “What's in the mug?” she asked, changing the subject.
“Oh! I almost forgot!” Twilight magically grabbed both and handed one Rarity. “I don't know what you like, but I hope it warms you right up!”
Rarity looked into the cup. ”Oh, this is too cute,” she thought. The lavender mare had made them hot chocolate with whipped cream; admittedly, it was a nice change from the wine they had shared before.
“This is perfect, dear,” she remarked before taking a sip. It tasted alright, with Twilight not being known for her culinary skills, but it was warm, sweet and made specially for her. That was really all she needed or wanted.
“Really?” Twilight asked, not trying to hide her surprise. She took a sip of her own. “Well, I don't see what's so great about it,” she remarked as she shrugged, “But, I gu- Hey, what's so funny?”
Rarity was trying her best to suppress her laughter with a hoof, but it clearly wasn't working. She pointed with her other hoof at Twilight's face. “Oh, you just might have a little something on your nose.”
Twilight crossed her eyes as she looked down at her nose. Whipped cream coated it's tip before the mare quickly wiped it away with a napkin. “Oh, haha, would you look at that!” Twilight blushed. “Looks like I got careless and forgot my manners.” She didn't wait for Rarity to answer. “So, want to talk about the book?”
“Oh but of course! Do you have it?”
Twilight looked over to the bookcase and floated that same green book out of one of its shelves. “Yeah, I've kept it safe and sound since I've brought it home.” She scooted a bit closer to Rarity and opened it up to a page. “Ooh! There's one part I wanted to go over... Umm...” She skimmed the page. “Right, here it is!”
~”Charity trotted up the steps of the cathedral, entering the nave quietly. A few others were sitting in pews, but they all seemed to be lost in their own meditations. She slowly made her way up to the sanctuary when she saw him. The same stallion who had helped her in the market three days ago, was now kneeling a few feet away from her, praying silently near the altar.
'Should I thank him?' Charity asked herself. 'But... Even though he saved me, he's of lower class. Father would be livid if he knew I had been conversing with a simple urban dweller.'
Silently, Charity moved over to a nearby pew and began to pray. The handsome stallion would have to go unappreciated.”~
“This made me soooo mad!” Twilight exclaimed as she finished reading. She held a hoof to her heart. “I mean, so what if someone else thinks it's not right of your class or stature! It's the right thing to do!”
“Y-yeah, I hate that too!” Rarity put in meagerly.
“I know! Why bother keeping things up on the inside instead of just telling that certain pony what you need to say? It's just outright frustrating!”
”This is not happening! Do I really not give Twi' enough credit and she's just teasing me, or is this just pure coincidence? Rarity debated. This whole conversation seemed to much alike to her own problems, and now with Twilight's thoughts on the subject it only made them worse.
The rant continued for a few minutes, with the white mare simply nodding in agreement or mumbling about how Twilight was right.
“Well, is there anything else you want to talk about?” She asked, trying to get off subject as Twilight finally calmed down.
“Oh, yeah! There's this one part...” Twilight began eagerly flipping through the book once more.
Rarity heaved a sigh of relief, with her emotional torture alleviated.
Twilight put the book down and stood up stiffly, stretching luxuriously. As she did, her stomach gave a growl. “Oh, haha, look at that... I must be hungry.” She blushed and looked away.
“Hmm...” Rarity tapped a hoof to her chin. “Well, if you want, I think I could come up with something.” She looked to Twilight. “Would you mind if I made us dinner?”
“Oh, that sounds great right now!” Twilight's stomach gave another growl. “Y-yeah, right now as in right now.”
The fashion designer giggled and nodded. “Don't worry, it's actually quite simple and quick. If you could just help me find the ingredients around the kitchen that would make my task much easier, too.”
“Alright, sounds fair to me!”
Minutes later, Rarity had Twilight dashing around the kitchen. “I need three eggs, some basil and pepper, and half a cup of flour for the sauce, Twilight dear!”
“R-right...” Twilight huffed as she tore through cabinets. She quickly grabbed the eggs, basil and pepper as she trotted over to Rarity. Suddenly, an egg slipped from her grasp and splattered on the floor. “Oh darn! Hold on, let me clean this up.”
“No time!” Rarity proclaimed, watching a pot boil. “I need to start making the sauce as soon as I put the pasta in the pot! Just give me those two eggs and what else you have, then grab the last when you get the flour.”
Twilight sighed and nodded, floating the ingredients she had over to Rarity. Racing back to the cabinets, she roughly measured out half a cup of flour and fished another egg out with her magic. Dashing back over to Rarity, she exclaimed, “Here it is, the last egg and flou- whoa!”
Neglecting the broken egg on the floor, the lavender mare slipped and fell. The flour flew in the air and got all over her face, while the last egg landed with a crack on her horn.
“Twilight-” Rarity looked over. “Oh my gosh, are you okay darling?!” She trotted over to her, putting a hoof on the downed pony's shoulder.
“Ughh...” Twilight tore the egg shell off from her horn. Her mane was a mess, a mixture of egg and flour caking it along her coat. “I... I think I need a bath.”
“Yes... I think that'd help.”
Twilight slowly got up and walked slowly towards the stairwell, looking annoyed. Then she stopped and glanced over to Rarity. “What, are you just going to sit there?”
“Umm... Well, I thought I'd clean up the mess in here,” Rarity responded, slightly confused.
“Oh no,” Twilight almost giggled as she wagged a hoof at her. “You pretty much caused this mess,” she pointed at her mane, “So you have to help clean it up too.”
“Right... So why do I have to help again?” Rarity asked as Twilight stepped into a warm bath. “Not that I mind,” she put in.
“Because, first off, you did tell me to forget the egg I slipped on.” On that note, Rarity's stomach dove with guilt. “Second, because I've never been good at getting messes out of my mane, I think you'd do a much better job.” Twilight sank into the water, leaving her head to rest against the edge of the tub.
“Well, I guess you have a point... Making ponies look fabulous is indeed my specialty.” Rarity chuckled.
“Right! Exactly what I was thinking.” Twilight pointed over to a nearby counter. “The shampoo and conditioner are over there.”
Rarity picked the two bottles up and examined them. They looked familiar for some reason. In fact, very familiar... “Oh, Twilight, I never knew you used the same hair product as I do!” She squeezed a bit of the shampoo into her hooves and began to rub it into the other unicorn's mane.
“Well...” Twilight started abashedly, “When you told me at my birthday sleepover that my mane was really soft, and how you asked me to try out the stuff at the spa, I decided to get it.”
Rarity smiled as she finished working the shampoo into Twilight's hair and then started to rinse it out. “So, you got it because I said so?”
“Well... Yeah.” Twilight tried her best to pass it off casually. “I just value your opinion higher because... You know this kind of stuff, I guess.”
Rarity moved on to using the conditioner. “Thanks... But what about dinner? I am ever so sorry that I ruined it for you.”
“Oh, that's really nothing.” Twilight shrugged. “Besides,” she glanced at a nearby clock, “It's not too late, so I guess we could go out to eat. Truth be told, I'm not in the mood to cook anymore.”
Rarity herself looked to the clock. ”Nine o'clock? Hardly anywhere will be open by the time we get out...”
“I know, let's go to 'La Chianti', that new place that opened up a few weeks ago!” The mare in the tub suggested.
“Is it even still open?” The white unicorn asked. “Besides, that place is pretty expensive, I doubt it'd work... We'd have to put on something presentable and hope there's a spot open.”
“Oh, that's no problem!” Twilight looked up and smiled as Rarity finished with the conditioner. She obviously really liked this idea. “I welcomed the owner to the town a week back, and he told me if I ever wanted to pop in, he'd find me a table.” She shrugged. “I dunno, I guess he must have really liked the gift basket I gave him. “
”Or maybe it's just because you're really, really cute.” Rarity held her thoughts to herself as she answered, “Well, okay, but still I have to run back to my house and put on something to wear... You know I can't go out without looking in style.”
Twilight giggled. “Yes, I know. So, why don't you head back home now and I'll stop by and pick you up on my way over? And don't worry, I'll put on something nice too.”
Rarity smiled back, before stopping for a second. The seeds of an idea formed in her mind as an uncharacteristic, mischievous grin replaced her warm smile. “Well, this certainly does sound great, Twilight. But... Is it just me or does this sound a lot like a date?”
Twilight Sparkle shot up, sputtering and coughing. “Wait, what?!” she squeaked. “I-I didn't! W-why would I want to go on a date with you?”
Rarity feigned a pained expression as she put a hoof to her chest. “That hurts, dear... I was simply asking a question.”
“S-sorry!” She took a second as she stumbled with her next words. “I mean, yeah, maybe a date would be nice... But you just caught me off-guard!” Twilight exclaimed as she put up a hoof in defense.
“So...” Rarity made it seem like she had to think long and hard over the words. On the inside however, she had to do all she could to stop from giggling. “ So, you do want to go on a date with me?
Twilight squeaked once more and blushed. Then the other mare burst out laughing and the world snapped into focus for the purple unicorn. She had been beaten, and all she could do was hide her face and sink further under the water.
“Well, call it what you will, but I'll head home now and pick out something nice.” Rarity gave her a hug as she continued, “See you in a bit, Twilight.”
Rarity walked into the posh restaurant with Twilight leading her in. She glanced ahead, to notice the pretty mare dressed in a cute, deep blue dress. ”Since when did she own this?” Rarity had thought when Twilight came to her house earlier.
The white mare herself had donned a purple outfit, but her eyes were only focused on Twilight's. It was a little new to see her in such a way, her simplicity phased out for something dazzling and captivating. Blue was a bit of a stretch in terms of complimenting either her eyes or mane, but for some reason it worked. Not to mention it was a little tight around her...
”Eyes off, Rarity,” she scolded herself. ”This night has only gone too well for you to ruin it.”
“Hi there!” Twilight called out as a younger stallion approached the entrance. “Remember me? I'm Twilight.”
“Ah yes, but of course!” He replied in a slight accent. “How are you?” His eyes lit up as he noticed her stunning attire.
“Oh, I'm doing just fine!” She replied in her sweet, cheerful voice. “I was just wondering if you could still find a table open, like you told me before.”
He cleared his throat. “Oh definitely, miss! Is it just you tonight?” His eyes flickered over to Rarity for a brief moment.
“Oh, no.” Twilight shook her head, then turned around and smiled to Rarity. “I actually brought my friend out for dinner. Antonio, meet Rarity.”
Antonio's smile weakened slightly at those words. All the same, he nodded to her, “A pleasure, madam.”
Rarity grinned right back. “Quite so.”
“Anyways,” Twilight continued, “Thanks a lot, sorry for asking on such short notice.”
“Not a problem,” he replied, much of his excess charm gone. “Come on, your table should be ready by now.” He quickly grabbed two menus. Twilight gave Rarity an excited look as they both followed him.
“Alright, I simply have to ask,” Rarity began with a chuckle as Twilight finally sat down, after once again thanking Antonio before he left. She really wanted to change the topic. “How quickly did you read the rest of the book?”
“Oh... I finished it the morning I got home from your house.” Twilight said abashedly.
“So much for romantic novels being cheesy and fake, right Twilight?” Rarity pushed. The lavender mare gulped. “Admit it, you like them.”
Twilight hid her face behind her hooves. “Okay, fine! Yes, while the story doesn't have the best plot or characterization, it's like there's something else to it that I can't escape and I just find myself growing very attached to.” She looked up. “Is that bad?”
Rarity smiled and shook her head. “No, that's the point. A good character and a deep storyline aren't all that necessary when you snare the pony reading it with talk of love and emotions.”
“Oh.” Twilight said that as if she already knew it but didn't want to believe it. “Does that mean I'll start turning into some sappy reader that cries on every page?”
“Oh, heavens no.” Rarity giggled and dismissed the notion with a wave of her hoof. “That's my job. But still, it isn't wrong to admit you indulge in reading about love. It's perfectly normal; I know Fluttershy reads them, and honestly I wouldn't be surprised if some of our other friends did either.”
“Even somepony like Applejack?”
“Well, yes, I guess even she could.” Her heart tweaked slightly as the pain from her previous encounter with the orange workpony rushed back into consciousness.
“Wow!” Twilight nearly jumped off her chair. “Now it all makes sense!”
“Yeah, when Applejack and Pinkie Pie came over yesterday, AJ kept eying this book. She probably wanted to read it!”
“Pinkie Pie and Applejack went over to your house yesterday?” Rarity froze. What could they have possibly talked to her about?
“Yeah... They were kinda acting weird. They kept telling me to 'be myself' and that they'd 'accept me however I wanted to live my life'.” Twilight threw her hooves up in utter confusion. “Then they asked a few weird questions and left. Honestly it was so random and odd I had no clue what was happening. The left as soon as they came, like they were uncomfortable or something.”
“W-what kind of questions?” Rarity asked. “Did they seem mad at each other?”
“Oh, not at all!” Twilight replied. “They actually seemed to be on the same page, when I think back on it.”
“Oh...” ”Well this is an interesting turn of events,” Rarity thought. “So, what questions did they ask?”
Twilight waved a hoof in a flustered fashion. “Oh, it was nothing, you don't need to know.”
“Please?” Rarity pried. “I promise not to tell anypony.”
The royal pupil gulped. “Alright... Well, how do I put this...” She exhaled deeply, before unleashing a quick stream of words, “So they asked me if I was interested in mares and when I said yes then Pinkie Pie asked what mares I thought were hot and when I didn't answer she just started laughing and I was so confused!”
A nearby pony cleared his throat. Rarity looked over to see it was Antonio with a tray. He probably heard the entire stream of words from Twilight.
”Hah! See? This girl is mine.”
“Sorry if I was interrupting something... But here are your drinks.” He then added with a half-smile, “On the house of course.” He quickly set down a bottle and two glasses, before leaving them to their conversation.
“So, what mares do you think are attractive?” Rarity asked as he left. “Oh, and I won't be offended if you don't mention me... You already told me that before,” Gently teasing Twilight was so fun.
If the purple pony could have gotten any redder on the cheeks, she would have been a tomato. “Wh-what!?” She burst out. “Wh-... When did I ever say that?”
“Oh right...” Rarity smiled casually. “Yeah, I forgot to mention before... That you might have blurted that out when you were drunk.” Twilight groaned and placed her face on the table. Her admirer reached over and put a hoof on her shoulder. “Don't worry dear, it's quite alright. It's not like it's the first time I've been told that.”
Twilight looked up from the table slowly. “But from a mare?”
“Well, I guess you do have me there.”
“Right...” Twilight sighed. “Anyways, enough about me. How about you, Rarity?”
The mare in question tossed her hair and winked, still in a teasing mood. “What about me?”
Twilight chuckled embarrassedly. “No, I mean what stallion do you have your eye on now?”
“Oh.” Rarity looked away, a dangerous topic coming up. “None, really.” She gave off a disinterested tone.
“Nopony? Come on, it seems like you always have a dashing buck you are interested in.”
“Yeah well, not anymor- I mean, not now,” Rarity tried to correct herself.
Twilight looked up quickly at her, a glimmer in her eyes, before she returned back to her normal self. “Oh, well then I'm sure you'll get through it.”
Rarity tried her best to smile at her. “I hope so.”
“Oh no!” Twilight cried as they were walking home from the restaurant. Bellies full and just a bit tipsy, the night had been great. Except now it was starting to rain.
Drops splattered against their dresses and hair, their subtle pattering picking up speed. “Come on, quick!” Rarity said, thinking on a dime. Not the most ladylike plan formed in her head, but hopefully it'd get them out of the rain in a speedy fashion. “Your house is just up the road!”
Rarity took Twilight by the hoof and charged off down the street with her in tow. “Whoa, hold on! Not so fast!” The lavender mare giggled. Her laughing was infectious, and soon her friend found herself doing the same. The drops were becoming bigger and bigger, the nighttime sky dumping out onto the town.
“No time!” Rarity giggled back. Their hooves splashed in the growing puddles, the library getting closer and closer. Coats, dresses and manes completely soaked, and yet neither seemed to care in their fit of energetic, giggling ecstasy. The day had moved so fast, so quick, so perfectly that even the fashionista didn't mind that her well-styled hair was now plastered against her neck.
”Since when did this all happen?”
But the library was only yards away now, no time to think. Within seconds they had reached the sanctuary underneath the alcove near the door. Both panted, out of breath and out of control. The night had exploded and neither knew what to do with themselves.
“So, here we are...” Rarity began, looking to Twilight. The cute mare's mane was soaked, slicked back as droplets fell from the tip of her nose. Her fancy attire was drenched and probably ruined. But she was smiling radiantly, energy sparkling in her expression. Time seemed to sit still.
“This was all... Oh I don't know, this was some of the most fun I've had in a while.” Twilight panted. She wrapped up Rarity in a wet, tight hug. “Thanks,” she concluded as she let go.
Rarity looked to her. Twilight looked back. Tension hung in the air heavier than the humidity before a summer's storm. Even the rain seemed to stop and wait for something to happen. Where were they, even? ”She looks so pretty...”
Rarity thought she could feel herself moving forward. Closing in, getting nearer to her. But in the back of her mind, she knew she wasn't. She couldn't possibly kiss her. Could she?
“I-I should get inside and dry off,” Twilight broke off awkwardly. The tension snapped and the pattering of rain returned. Suddenly they reappeared in front of Twilight's door.
“Yeah, right.” Rarity smiled. She reached over and opened the door for her. Light poured out in front of them.
“Oh, thank you,” Twilight remarked as she walked inside. “Goodnight, Rarity,” She said, as she turned around and smiled at her.
“Goodnight,” Rarity responded, before closing to door carefully. Even without the romantic end, the night had gone better than her wildest dreams. Honestly, who would have expected it to be so?
The door caught just before it closed completely. Twilight popped her head out. “Hey, Rarity?”
The white unicorn was caught completely surprised, only managing to mumble, “Yeah?”
“I know I said it before, but thanks. A lot.” And with that, Twilight reached over and pecked her on the cheek.
Before Rarity could fully tell what had just happened, the other mare had managed to blush profusely and slammed the door shut.
Rarity fell straight on her rump, splashing right in the middle of a puddle. The gears churned in her head slowly, overloaded by sheer emotion and temporary incomprehension.
Suddenly the world around her exploded. The moon became brighter than the sun, the puddles looked like flowerbeds and the rain morphed into something magnificent and wonderful rather than depressing and sad. She touched a hoof to her cheek.
Rarity stepped out into the ongoing shower. With a grin on her face, she began to happily stroll through the downpour, relishing every minute of it. Walking home through the rain suddenly seemed like a great idea.
Rarity's heart was racing. Her legs were working as fast they could. Her hair was blowing behind her as the wind dried out her eyes. Breaths came out in short bursts.
Charging down the main road of Ponyville, the white unicorn was weaving in and out of other pastel-colored equines. Her hooves begun to ache as she skidded out of the way of a cabbage cart, continuing her relentless pace onward. Oddly enough, it seemed like time had stopped, no other pony noticing her as she charged onwards to her goal. In fact, it seems like none of them even cared that she was tearing after her objective.
Soon enough, the tree library came into view, and confidence began to fill her heart. ”I can do this! Yes, I can do this!” Dreams of the future began to fill her mind, happy times and loving evenings. Everything was coming together harmoniously.
Out of nowhere, something blocked her path, right as she was on top of it. No time to stop, Rarity slammed into it at full speed. The object stood firm, while the unicorn fell backwards, a headache screaming in her temples.
The world was fuzzy, her ears ringing from impact. She felt dizzy and frantic, struggling to make heads or tails of the situation. When she opened her eyes, she could hardly see, the impact impairing her vision and making everything blurry. It looked like a cloud... Or maybe a mound of snow.
She tried to stand back up, but quickly fell back down as dizziness overtook her. Looking back to what she had run into, the picture began to clear. ”No, no no no...”
Voices started to call out to her. “You don't belong here. This is not the right place for you,” They said. “Forget it, it's hopeless...”
Looming up in front of her, as Rarity began to see, was a giant wall. Like most walls it was very tall, hard to climb, surrounded the entire library, solid and strong. Exactly alike to any other wall that had ever been built before, with one exception.
This wall was covered in mirrors.
At one in the morning, Rarity nearly jumped out of bed as she awoke with a scream.
“Alright, let's see...” Rarity said to herself as she pulled a list out of her saddlebags. Quickly scanning it, she read aloud, “Twenty spools of string, five square feet of gold leaf and some of the best silk I can find.”
Rarity scanned around the market. Ponies rushed from stall to stall, buying and bartering for what they needed. Most of it was foodstuffs or raw crops, but some were also selling specialty goods. ”Hand-crafted chairs? No. Candles? No. Premier pet products? Well no, but that does remind me I need to buy Opalescence some food later this week.” She sighed and facehoofed. ” This is just great. How am I going to find what I need if it's not even here?”
The mare in question spun around. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash were walking over to her, with the latter struggling to carry a bulging pair of saddlebags.
“Fluttershy! Rainbow Dash!” she exclaimed, “How nice it is to see both of you here!” She eyed the immense load of goods Rainbow was carrying. “In fact, what are you doing here?”
“Tonight, the wonderbolts are coming to town!” Rainbow answered excitedly. “Right in the middle of the park, too!” She held her hooves up in the air for emphasis. “Imagine, watching some of the best fliers in the world performing under a full moon! It's going to be so awesome!”
“Yes, and Rainbow asked me if I could help her gather the necessary materials so she could watch tonight.” Fluttershy gave a sigh as she glanced at her friend's bags. “It's... Taken a while.”
“Why do you even need all of this?” Rarity asked. “Since it's in the park, can't you just walk right in and sit down on the grass?”
“What?!” Rainbow sounded as if she had just recommended jumping off a bridge. “No no no! This is the Wonderbolts. I need to set up the optimal position to watch, along with a custom chair perfectly rotated so I can see the entire space they're performing in!”
“Isn't that... A little excessive?” Rarity queried.
“No way! Not for their number one fan that is!” She looked at her bulging saddlebags. “... It'll just take some time and elbow grease. Which reminds me, I gotta get start like right now if I want to be set up in time!” She looked to the sky. “Gotta dash!”
The cyan pegasus jumped off into the air and just barely went airborne. Flying at a very low altitude, she couldn't have been traveling more than a few miles an hour. Her bags sagged at her side, clipping a nearby stand and knocking off its sign.
“Sorry!” she called out, before disappearing towards the park.
Fluttershy and Rarity giggled. “So,” the quiet mare began, “What are you up to?”
“Oh me? I'm just looking for materials I need for a new dress.” She began to frown. “Although I haven't had much luck finding anything yet.”
“Would you like help?” Fluttershy asked. “I've already been here for an hour or so, and a few more minutes wouldn't hurt.”
“Oh, really?” Rarity smiled. “Thanks!”
“No problem.” Fluttershy said as she began walking with Rarity through the market. “So, what are looking for? Like I said, I've been in here a bit so I think I have a good idea of what's selling today.”
“Oh, just some silver-laced string, a bit of gold leaf and some premium threaded silk.” The designer began looking around at the nearby stalls.
“R-really?” Fluttershy sounded surprised. “Wow Rarity, those items aren't something you'd find around here that often.”
“I know...” Rarity sighed. “But I really need them, and I don't have the time to order them from Canterlot. I just hope Ponyville has enough for one dress.”
“Oh dear, only one dress? This client must be pretty special.” The yellow mare gasped. “Is she some famous celebrity?”
“Heavens no, darling. It's for...” Rarity gulped. Even with her pegasus friend knowing about her feelings, it still felt weird telling her she was making a dress for Twilight. “Well, I'm designing one for Twilight.”
Fluttershy grinned knowingly. “Oh, now it all makes sense.” Rarity blushed. “I'm still wondering why you're doing this, though.”
“It's nothing, really.” Rarity looked down and traced circles in the ground with her hoof. “I just figured she could use a new one, with her dazzling one last night probably ending up ruined.”
“W-what?” Fluttershy squeaked in surprise. “Where did you see her in a dress last night?”
”Oops.” The unicorn instantly felt embarrassed as she gave up too much information.
“Oh, haha...” Rarity scratched the back of her neck. “Yeah, we went out for dinner last night.” She found herself smiling as she recalled the previous night's events: going over the book, the failed attempt at cooking, and teasing Twilight while washing her mane. Then there was the brilliant dinner, turning away the admittedly handsome restaurant owner, and finally the dash through the rain, all tied together with a kiss.
“Like a date?” Fluttershy asked quietly. The words seemed foreign to her.
“Not exactly,” Rarity conceded with a sigh. “I did tease her about that, but no.”
Fluttershy glanced around the market, before spotting the stall she was looking for. “Oh, there's the vendor I'm looking for, way back there.” She pointed it out to Rarity and then continued on with their conversation. “Well, where did you go then? I mean, I'm no expert on subjects like this, but I don't think you go out to just any restaurant with dresses on.”
“Yeah. We actually went out to “Le Chianti,” the new place that opened up a week ago.” She smirked. “Apparently Twilight caught the eye of the owner and he got us a table easily and paid for most of our meal.”
“Oh! Well, that's nice I guess...” Fluttershy pondered the subject for a second. “Wait, did Twilight seem to be interested in him too?”
Rarity grinned victoriously. “Oh no, he overheard Twilight talking about how she liked mares.” She followed it up with a giggle. “Soon after that, all of a sudden, we had to pay for our food and drinks.” She shrugged innocently. “I haven't the faintest clue why that happened.”
“Oh, well it's because he found out-”
“I know, dear. I was being facetious.” Rarity chuckled.
“Oh...” Fluttershy looked away. “Wait, you said her dress was ruined?” She asked, coming to a realization.
Rarity sighed. “A outright shame, too. It looked brilliant on her,” she explained, her mind flicking back to how it looked on Twilight the night before. “Deep blue and glittery, just somehow matching perfectly.”
“Yeah, I guess I can see that,” Fluttershy put in as they walked down the road.
“Let me tell you, that girl looks gorgeous in a slimming dress. I never noticed she had curves until then.”
The timid yellow mare put a hoof over her mouth to stifle a giggle. “You noticed she had curves?” Even she, usually shy and reserved, couldn't help but to poke fun at her friend. “Which ones did you notice?”
Rarity nearly stopped in her tracks, her face heating up like a furnace. “Oh, did I say that? Silly me, I meant to say 'I never noticed she could look so sophisticated'.”
“Wow, Rarity, I didn't think you'd be looking at her like that so soon.” Fluttershy grinned like a filly who just had their first taste of freedom, as she disregarded the unicorn's excuse. She clearly looked like she was having fun, and wasn't about to give up just yet.
”Damn, I guess this is karma for last night...”
“I wasn't!” Rarity huffed. “I am a lady, and ladies do not ogle. Lechery is not even in our vocabulary.”
“I think you just used it, which means it's in your vocabulary.” Fluttershy stuck her tongue out, riding on her wave of adventurousness.
“My my, Fluttershy, look at you!” Rarity raised an eyebrow at her, trying to turn the tables. “Suddenly very bold, are we? Well, since you obviously know what lechery means, can you explain it to me?”
Fluttershy began to blush. “Uh-I... Umm...”
“Right, I thought so.” Rarity looked away from her, “Although, I'll admit you had me going there for a bit... I'm happy that you took a step outside your comfort zone, dear, but please don't use me as your practice target.”
They remained quiet for a few moments, slowly making their way through the crowd towards the stall Fluttershy had pointed out.
“I still know you were looking at her flanks.”
Rarity groaned. “Alright, fine! Maybe for a bit, sure. But... But...” She tried to come up with the right words. “But it wasn't like I was staring the whole time, think of it in the sense of fine wine.”
“Y-you tasted it?”
“Celestia no!” Rarity flustered, dismissing the notion immediately with the shake of a hoof. “I took it in small doses, a little bit at a time,” she explained.
“Oh... That makes sense.” Fluttershy heaved a sigh of relief. “So anyways, where were we?” She tapped her chin with a hoof. “Oh right! How did her dress get ruined?”
“Well, remember that huge downpour last night?” Rarity asked.
“We were walking home right when that started coming down.” The unicorn smiled at the memory, despite her friend's gasp. “So we sort of had to run back to her house through it.”
“Oh no! That must have been horrible!” Fluttershy tried her best to sympathize with her.
“No, it was actually pretty fun...” Rarity admitted. “I know, hard to believe, me running through the rain and getting my mane ruined. But honestly, it was great, giggling and stomping through puddles in the middle of the night.”
“Really? I didn't expect that.”
“Well,” Rarity tried her best to hold in a smug grin, “that's not all that happened.”
“Oh no...” Fluttershy looked both very curious and slightly anxious. “What did you do?”
“Me?” The white mare put a hoof to her chest. “Nothing at all, dear. Why do you instantly blame me?” Before her friend could answer, she continued on, “No, it was Twilight... She kind of... Well, umm... Kissed me.”
Fluttershy broke out in a smile as her face warmed. “Aww...” She cooed. “That's so sweet! A romantic kiss after running home through the rain.” She quickly wrapped a hoof around Rarity. “I'm so proud of you!”
“Yeah, well...” Rarity shrugged her hoof off her shoulders, “It wasn't exactly like that. We almost ended it like that, but I got nervous. “ She looked away momentarily. “Then it got awkward and she went inside. Right before I left though, she opened the door again and kissed me on the cheek.” She put a hoof up the where Twilight had graced it the night before.
“Well, that still counts in my book!” Fluttershy proclaimed, as they approached their destination. “Anyways, we're here! I hope Azure has what you're looking for.”
“Right.” Rarity smiled to her friend before approaching the stand. A cute, blue mare came up to the counter. “Hi there,” she began. “What do you have in stock today?”
“What are you looking for?” The mare asked, giving the two ponies in front of her a smile.
“Oh, well let's see here...” Rarity pulled out the list from her saddlebags. “Some silver-laced string, gold leaf, and err... I don't suppose you have any silk?”
“Hmm, well let me check for a second.” She turned around, scanning through her stock. Picking up a few items with her mouth, the earth pony came back to the counter with a couple spools of silver-laced string and a roll of gold leaf. Rarity gave a half-smile, noticing not everything was there.
“Sorry, I seem to have run out of silk.” Azure shrugged. “I usually don't even have half this stuff, but with spring coming up, I needed to make some space.”
“Oh, darn...” Rarity sighed. “Are you sure? Could you double check?” She looked towards the back of the stall desperately. “Sorry, usually I'd just order straight from Canterlot, but this was all on really short notice. I kind of need it today.”
“Hmm...” The equally-blue maned pony began to ponder, tilting her head slightly as she thought. “Well, I do have some back at my house, but I'd hate to close down my stall to run back and get it.”
Rarity's eyes lit up. “Oh, please! I'll do whatever you want me to do to help. I'll even watch the store for you while you're out.” She put her hooves together pleadingly. “Don't worry, I run the Carousel Boutique here in town, I'll make sure you get a fair price for your goods.”
Azure chuckled. “Well, I guess you do, then. It's not often I have fashion designers buying from me.” She glanced past Rarity for a second, then looked back to her. “Alright, I'll make a deal with you. I'll go out and grab the silk from my house and you fill in here at the moment-” Rarity nodded eagerly.
“-if you tell me the name of that cute friend of yours.”
Rarity froze. Turning around slowly, she noticed that Fluttershy had lost interest and was browsing at nearby vendors. She erupted into laughter as she turned back to the salespony. “Oh, wow, haha, that's a good one!” Rarity wiped a tear away from her eye.
Azure looked nonplussed. “What? Is something wrong? Is she just into stallions?”
“Oh, well, I'm not quite sure about that.” Rarity began to calm down. “But she's just really quiet and timid. Granted, she is very sweet and pretty, but she's also terribly nervous and shy.”
“So? I was just like that before I started selling here in the market.” Azure smiled knowingly.
Rarity's humorous expression died. “Y-you're actually serious about this, aren't you?”
“Yeah, I am.”
Rarity groaned, not knowing what to do. Would Fluttershy be mad or scared? Or maybe she's not even into mares at all? But, she also really needed that silk. Besides, maybe, just maybe this cute mare would be good for Fluttershy... It was worth a shot.
“Alright, fine.” Rarity sighed, and then tried her best to smile. “Her name is Fluttershy, and once you get back with the silk, you can try your best to talk to her. Just...” She looked back to her friend, who was happily looking through a selection of duck and bunny slippers. “Just be careful with her.”
Azure beamed back at her. “Alright, I understand.” She opened a door out of the side of the stand and walked up to Rarity, “I'll be back in twenty minutes or so.”
“And there you go madam, twenty-seven balls of assorted colors of yarn.” Rarity smiled and handed her an overstuffed bag, accepting a small pouch of bits. She rolled her eyes as the mare left. ”Either she's knitting seven days a week, or she has a lot of cats.”
For the second time that day, she had her name called out from somepony she didn't see. It wasn't Fluttershy, as she had explained to her earlier what was happening (and the blush on her face was priceless). Rarity suspected she had wandered off around the market somewhere. The voice was very familiar, though.
“Hey, Rarity! Over here!”
She turned her head to see Twilight walking over to her stand, a bag in tow. Knees starting to go weak, Rarity felt butterflies in her stomach. “Oh, hi there, Twilight.”
“Gee, what are you doing in there?” Twilight remarked. “I never knew you ran a stand here in the market.”
“Oh this?” Rarity looked around her. “I just offered to help the owner out while she ran back home for a second.”
“Aww, that's nice of you.”
Rarity gave out an abashed grin. “No, it's nothing, honestly.”
“Well, anyways, I wanted to apologize for last night,” Twilight said.
“Huh?” Rarity couldn't believe what she was hearing. ”Is this just some kind of joke?” She shook her head. “Darling, what are you going on about? Yesterday evening was amazing.”
“Yeah, but I sent you home in the rain.” She sounded really guilty. “I'm so sorry, I should have asked you to come in and wait out the rain, or atleast given you an umbrella.”
Rarity leaned over the counter, propping herself up on her forearms. “Dear, stop worrying.” She said quietly, as she was close enough to the lavender mare. “I was already duly soaked by then, and besides... You gave me all I needed before you closed the door.”
Her skin prickled as she said that, goosebumps rippling up and down her body. The rush of excitement, the surge of adrenaline from admitting how she truly felt. It was wonderful, liberating and enlightening. The whole little game with Twilight for the past week felt really silly now.
Twilight blushed deeply and looked away. “I... I was so worried that I had creeped you out after that, so nervous that all I could do was shut the door... I just wanted to try it,” she mumbled. “D-do you really mean that?”
“I really mean it,” Rarity confirmed. “And I'm glad you did it, because I probably never would have done it.”
Twilight giggled sheepishly. “Yeah, my hooves were shaking for minutes after...” The two remained silent for a few moments. “Hey, I was thinking...” She began again.
“Could we do something like that again?” Twilight looked up at her, violet eyes searching for a clue.
Rarity smiled. “I'd be simply delighted,” she purred.
The adorable mare's face blossomed into a huge smile. “Tonight?” She asked hopefully.
”So eager, are we?” Rarity giggled. “Oh, I don't see why not. Let's say, seven-thirty?”
Twilight nodded quickly. “That works for me!” she exclaimed. “It's a date!” Suddenly, she blushed lightly around the cheeks, realizing what she just said. “I didn't mean it like that, you know, it's just a saying... Although if you want it like that, that's fine too! But either way, uh, yeah.”
”Oh dear Celestia, take a hint!” The white unicorn rolled her eyes. “A date, with Twilight?” She smiled, before lowering her voice and adding a wink, “Alright, I'd like that.”
“Oh, that's okay then, I didn't mean it eith- wait what?” Twilight looked utterly surprised. “Are you serious?”
Rarity giggled and nodded.
“Yes!” Twilight bounced off the ground. It took her a few seconds before she heard Rarity chuckling at her. “I mean, umm, great! See you around seven-thirty!”
“I'll meet you at your house, darling!” Rarity called out before she left.
“Okay!” Twilight said as she turned around to her. Unfortunately, she ran right into the side of a stall, nearly knocking down the tent perched above it. “Sorry!” she apologized to its owner, before spinning around and trotting off home.
”Seriously Twilight, how do you do it? Someday you have to show me how you manage to be so adorable.”
“What's up with her?”
Rarity looked over the see Azure, a bag placed on the counter of the stall. “Oh, don't mind her, she's just a little excited.” The unicorn smiled. “She has a big night today.”
”Is it really possible to have a skip in your step? If so, then I think I might have a hop and a jump somewhere in there too.”
”This can't be happening. Or at least, it shouldn't be... I've been so nervous, scared and afraid for the longest time, both of my feelings and myself, that this shouldn't be happening. I should be, well, where I am now I guess, but in a different light... Or lack of one.”
”I should be sighing and whimsically asking the air what could have been and who I should have become, escaping reality in whatever way I can – from anecdotes to alcohol – to let the emotions pass, I should be miserable. For awhile I guess I covered it up so well, even I forgot I was neck-deep in a giant hole.”
”But now, after being uprooted from such a place within a flash, it's easy to see the hole I had dug for myself. Not necessarily depression, no. But I think it was worse than that, because you can sometimes fix the origins of depression. This gaping cavity was more or less an aftermath of regret... Asking the past too many “what if's,” and never once getting an answer. And the bad part is that you can't fix it, it'll always be there, this hole. The best you can do is analyze and come up with why you did the things you regret; those who do it, though, often don't like what they find, and henceforth refuse to acknowledge it as the truth. Then you believe you can find another answer, and begin digging for something that's not there. And as you dig, the hole gets deeper.”
Click. Click. Click. The sound rang over the low hum of machinery.
”I think I saw something on the way out. Shiny and golden, just barely showing underneath all the dirt and soil I had kicked up. Like an old dream, you knew it existed, but of its contents you are still clueless. But now that I'm out, I think it's best to build over it, put something on top of it so I can never fall back in again. Another round of asking myself all these questions about Twilight, I really think it'd slowly crucify my soul. But now that I'm out...
She felt her cheeks tighten and her lips press together as she smiled to herself.
”Now I can enjoy myself. I can be me, not like before where I put on a very good disguise. And truth be told, I'm still really, really nervous. But, in a good way. I'm so giddy with this “happy anxiety,” I feel like I'm going to explode. I want to run around in circles and let loose in a drunk, happy fit of giggling. Is that the right way to do it, though? I don't know. Maybe I should just ease it out in short spurts, when it really matters. Or maybe I should just... Gosh, I really don't know what to do with myself right now. And dammit Twilight, it's all your fault!”
She giggled out loud as she slammed her hoof down. Click. Click. Click.
”And for that, I lov- Well, do I? I think I do... But I don't think I should rush it, but I shouldn't wait too long either. Dammit, it hurts so badly, trying not to fall when my heart's gravity pulls on me like this! I just want to run up to her house, barge through her door and kiss her! ...Yeah, she'd be a bit confused, but I don't think she'd mind. That blush on her face afterwards would be really cute too.”
She felt a light heat along her cheeks.
”...Really, really cute. Even though I adore her personality – honestly it's my favorite part about her – and her virtues, I think there's a time and place to take a step back and admire her looks.” Another giggle passed. ”I guess Fluttershy was right, maybe I did admire more than just her pretty face and dazzling eyes, but I'd only do that if it was worth looking at... And it was.”
“I'd love to see her in more dresses like that. She looked heart-stoppingly beautiful, even without any makeup on. I'm jealous. I just hope she wears this one a few times, because even if she looks half as good in it as I think she will, then I might just-”
Rarity was snapped out of her inner-monologue by the abrupt touch of something rubbing against her leg. She looked down, to see a resplendent feline gazing back up at her.
“Oh, why hello there Opal!” She cried in a high pitched voice. “What is wrong, my little baby?” Her only answer was a pair of green eyes staring back at her expectantly. “Oh, right, you must be hungry!”
The white mare turned off her sewing machine, and pulled a dazzling piece of clothing out from it. “Well, you can have some as soon as you give me your opinion on this.” She put on a stern look. “It's for Twilight, and she can only have the best!”
It might just have been that. It was beautiful and ornate, crafted from exceptional silk in an opulent, rich hue of violet. Small flecks of gold populated its entirety, glittering in even the artificial light of the room. Also, one could see bits of silver as the thread neatly and fittingly held it all together. It wasn't too showy, no grand train that would suffocate the ground for yards behind her, no frou-frou, frilly fabric sticking out anywhere. It was slimming and gorgeous, adhering to only the shape its wearer provided it with.
Opalescence mewed. Rarity chuckled. “Alright, I guess that's the best I'll get from you, my dear.” She started down the stairs, her fluffy companion following right behind. “Come on, let's get you something to eat. I won't be home for quite awhile.”
Knock knock knock.
Rarity fidgeted uncomfortably outside the door. It was seven-thirty exactly, and the sun had set an hour ago in the late winter evening. She felt the breeze nip at her sides, reminding her that maybe she should have put something nice on. But Twilight asked her out after all, and it was her job to decide what they did tonight. The thought of the lavender mare taking her out to some place fancy seemed far-fetched, and disqualified the idea of arriving in a dress.
But, just in case, she had one of her own stashed underneath the one she had made for Twilight.
The door creaked open, Twilight looking out to see Rarity before opening it fully for her. “Hi Rarity! Come on in for a second!”
Rarity smiled. “Thanks,” she replied, walking inside and setting her bag down. The cute unicorn closed the door behind her.
“So, yeah, do you have any ideas on where we could go tonight?” she asked.
Rarity grinned, shaking her head. “Oh no, you are the one that asked me out on a date. It's your job to pick where to go, dear.”
Twilight blushed slightly, scratching the back of her neck. “Oh yeah, I did.” She looked around the room, pondering her options. “Do you mind if we do more than one thing? Or if it's not so fancy as last night?”
“Why are you asking me? You get to choose.”
“But, what if you don't like it? What if-”
Rarity put a hoof over her mouth. “Stop over thinking it, darling. It'll be a lot of fun, I promise,” she finished with a wink, before putting her hoof down.
Twilight took a deep breath. “Alright, thanks. I-I think I have an idea.”
“Honestly, now I'm curious,” Rarity began. “Why are we ordering stuff to go from the cafe?”
Twilight giggled. “You'll see. You told me to choose and not tell you what we're doing.” She put a hoof on Rarity's shoulder. “You're just going to have to wait.”
“But making me stay outside, while you went in and ordered it all? Isn't that a little much?” The white unicorn tried looking inside the eatery.
Twilight got in her way. “Nuh-uh! No peeking!” The door opened and a serving pony walked out to the pair, handing Twilight a nondescript, brown paper bag. She thanked him before turning to Rarity. “Alright, we're good to go!”
The two mares set off down the road. “So, where are we going?” Rarity asked.
“I thought I told you it's a secret.” Twilight giggled.
“But... But we're probably walking there now, so can't you tell me?”
“Pleeeeease?” Rarity tried her best puppy dog face.
Twilight shook her head. “No.” She smiled at her date. “Come on, it's not that long of a walk, I'm sure you can wait.”
Rarity sighed. “I guess you're right.” They remained silent for a few moments, making their way down the streetlight-lit path. She found herself staring at Twilight as they walked.
“Hmm?” Twilight looked at her out of the corner of her eye. “Is something wrong?”
“Oh...” Rarity looked away for a moment. Nopony was around, just the two of them. “Well,” she glanced back up, “I just wanted to say you look really pretty tonight.”
Twilight blushed. “Oh, really?” A huge smile started to grow on her face. She looked at the ground and giggled to herself.
“What? Did I say something wrong?”
“No, no.” Twilight seemed like she couldn't stop herself from smiling. “It's just...”
“Oh, nothing.” Twilight waved a hoof. “You look great, too.” The smile remained as she stopped abruptly her tracks.
Rarity gave her a look. “Are we here?”
“Almost...” Twilight took a step off the path and onto the grass. She beckoned for her to follow. “Come on, let's go.”
Perplexed, Rarity shrugged and followed behind her. As they left the road, they also left the lights alongside it. For a few minutes, it felt like they were walking in complete darkness, but soon enough her eyes adjusted to see under the moonlight. Not like it helped much, because she still had no clue where they were going.
Coming up to the summit of a hill, Twilight slowed down so she could walk next to her. Slowly, something entered her ears. It sounded familiar, but she couldn't quite place it.
“Alright, here, hold this.” Twilight passed the paper bag to Rarity, who obediently held it in her telekinesis. Suddenly, two forehooves wrapped around her head, covering her eyes.
A voice sounded next to her. “So I'm going to walk you up and over the hill, and once you can answer my question, I'll take my hooves off, okay?”
Rarity giggled. ”Ooh, a game? I can't believe Twilight's doing this.” She grinned. “Alright, sure.”
She slowly walked up the hill, in step with Twilight. With each of those steps, the noises got louder and louder, but still too subtle to be distinguished separately.
The voice reappeared, “What do you hear, Rarity?” Twilight's breath tickled her ear, sending goosebumps down her body.
They kept moving, and now Rarity could feel her hooves going down a decline. She strained her ears to pick out any clues, curiosity nagging in her mind.
”I hear... Something soft, flowing... Rising and falling peacefully. Both warm, deep sounds and hair-thin high ones. All working together... Like uh, like a-”
“An orchestra?” Rarity guessed. Suddenly the hooves unraveled and a warm glow of light shone on the grass in front of them. Not the bright, white light like the ones along the street, but soft and yellow.
“Good job!” Twilight's cute, smiling face came into view. She sat down on the grass, patting the space next to her. “Come on, sit down.”
Rarity looked up, and farther down the hill the lights from an open stage glowed. She could barely make out the large section of seats around it, probably filled with ponies. But as for being outside, on the grass, they were the only ones. ”Oh right! The Trottingham Philharmonic is playing tonight at the Ponyville Arts Center.”
The white unicorn smiled, and taking the bag from the cafe with her, sat down next to Twilight. “Alright, I'll admit,” she began, “this is not what I expected at all.”
Twilight opened the bag, taking a few items out. She looked up to Rarity. “Well, what did you expect?”
Rarity chuckled. “I don't know, but not this... This is actually really, really nice.”
Twilight smiled. “Thanks! I actually spent the whole day thinking it over, so I'm glad you like it.” She used her magic to open two plastic containers, and a wonderful smell wafted up into the air.
Rarity tried not to notice, not to show how hungry she suddenly felt. “Wait, so then why were you asking me what to do earlier?”
“Oh, I was just nervous.”
Twilight looked up to Rarity as she put a hoof on her shoulder. “Twilight, don't be. This is great, much more creative than I could have ever thought of.”
The lavender pony smiled. “If you say so.” She looked down at the food. “Anyways, are you hungry?”
“Oh, a little bit.” Rarity lied. Her stomach growled in defiance.
“Rarity,” Twilight giggled, “is there something you're not telling me?”
She murmured in response, “Maybe.”
“Well, dig in! I got a daisy and poppyseed panini and a green bean casserole for us to share.” Twilight took out a pair of forks and knives for them.
“What about drinks?” Rarity asked, already scooping out a bit of the casserole.
Twilight, reached into the bag once more, pulling out a few items. “Well, I've never had it before, but I heard a bottle of champagne is a nice touch.” She inspected the bottle carefully.
Rarity nodded, her mouth full.
“Now, if only I could open this...” Twilight started undoing the wire cage, pointing it up towards her face.
Rarity leaned over and shook her head, making alarmed noises through a mouthful of food. Twilight stopped and gave her a look. She took a second to swallow, before explaining, “I wouldn't do that, dear. Let me see it.”
“What? It doesn't seem that hard.”
Rarity shuffled closer. “No, I'm serious, it's tricky.”
Twilight pulled the bottle away. “How tough can it be? It's just a cork.”
Rarity leaned almost across Twilight, reaching for the bottle. “It's more than that, and I don't think you know how to open it.”
“Come on, let me do it!”
“Now now, this is only for your own good.”
“Please? Rarity, it's really not hard, see?”
Rarity pushed Twilight to the side as the cork shot off into the night. A little bit of the drink fizzed over the top as it levitated in the air, away from the two ponies.
“There... Disaster averted.” Rarity sighed in relief. The poor girl almost popped the bottle right in her face.
“Hey, do you want to get off me?” Twilight said.
Rarity looked down, noticing she was now on top of her. Blushing, she quickly got up and occupied the spot she had before. “Oh, yeah... Sorry.”
Twilight laughed and sat back up. “No problem, it was my fault I didn't know that was going to happen.” She took the bottle and poured the champagne into two slim glasses. "Thanks."
Passing one to Rarity, she leaned against her. “You're warm,” she muttered as she got comfortable.
This did not help the blush on Rarity's face. Soon, her whole body itched as she felt the heat intensify on her cheeks. But the other mare didn't notice, resting casually against her.
“So, do you like the music?” Twilight asked, before taking a bite of the panini. For the first time since they had sat down, Rarity remembered there was even a show going on.
“Yeah, it's really nice,” she replied softly, before taking a sip of the champagne. For coming from the cafe, it actually wasn't too bad.
“Good. I hoped you'd like it.” Twilight said, almost seeming to forget the awkward moment barely minutes ago. She seemed really quiet all of a sudden, not that Rarity minded. That ever-persistent smell of sandalwood filled the air and the soft touch of her mane was comforting. Besides, she was warm as well, beating back the small chills of the night air.
For a few minutes they sat there, eating and drinking in quiet, listening to the music together. ”This is actually quite enjoyable. I could do this for the rest of the night if I had to.”
Unfortunately, Twilight had other plans. “Hey, do you know how to dance?” she asked as they finished eating. She took her head off of Rarity's shoulder, looking up at her.
“Well, it's been a long time since I last danced... But yes, I suppose I do.” Rarity felt a bit unnerved, suddenly realizing exactly how long ago it had been. She quickly tried to remember all the moves she had been taught years ago.
“Do you think you could teach me? I really like this piece, and besides... I've always wanted to learn,” Twilight said sheepishly.
“Oh, I don't know darling... I haven't danced since I was a filly.” Rarity gulped.
Twilight sat up a bit, nuzzling Rarity on the cheek. “Please?”
That did it. Whatever this music was doing to Twilight, making her shed her socially-awkward side for a more personal, affectionate one, was brilliant. “Okay.”
Stiffly, the both of them got up. Rarity felt a little disappointed, the source of heat against her side now gone. But then, Twilight grabbed by the hoof and pulled her away from where they had been. “So, how do we start?”
“Well, just stand like this...” Rarity began. Twilight mimicked her posture, standing directly across from her. “Now, when you find the beat,” The impromptu-instructor stood still for a second and focused her ears on the music before continuing, “just move like this, in counter-clockwise fashion.”
Twilight watched every step she took, before finally nodding slowly. “Alright... I think I get it.”
“Great! Want to try?”
“Umm, sure.” Twilight slowly took to the music, moving her hooves as Rarity had shown her. The white mare followed her pace, until she finally ventured out to go a bit faster.
“There we go, you're doing fine.” Rarity smiled at Twilight, who was too busy looking at her own hoofsteps. Suddenly, she stumbled.
“Darn!” Twilight exclaimed, scrambling to get back to where she was, before stumbling again. “Ugh! I'll never get this right.”
Rarity chuckled. “What are you talking about? For your first time, you're doing great!” She smiled. “Come on, you said you wanted to learn, so I'm going to make sure you do.”
“Fine...” Twilight couldn't stop a small smile forming through her guise. She started again, this time being able to get up to the speed of the beat, before stumbling again.
She sighed. “We'll be here all night.”
Rarity touched her shoulder reassuringly. “No you won't. Come on, I have one last idea.” Reluctantly, Twilight lined up once more, across from her teacher. “Sometimes, it's easier to dance if you don't watch your hooves. So, instead of looking down where you step, look up at me.”
Finding the beat, the two started. Instead of locking her eyes on the ground, Twilight began looking at Rarity, who smiled as they progressed. Within minutes, they had reached full speed, going around and around over the grassy hill.
Soon, Twilight broke out into a giggle. “I'm doing it!” she cried.
“Wonderfully too, dear!” Rarity proclaimed. It wasn't for awhile until they stopped, the piece finally slowing to an end. Clapping could be heard from inside the Ponyville Arts Center, obviously for the orchestra on stage. But for a brief moment, it felt like it was for them both.
Winded and tired, Rarity stumbled back to where they had been sitting down earlier. Twilight joined her, sitting up and grabbing both glasses of champagne. Refilling them both, she handed one to Rarity.
“To a brilliant performance,” she toasted, raising a glass.
“To who, us or the orchestra?” Rarity asked, before clinking her own to Twilight's. The other unicorn simply chuckled and drained her glass. Smirking, Rarity followed suit.
Seconds later, a cacophony of fireworks could be heard in the night. “What was that?” Twilight asked.
“Oh, I know,” Rarity replied, coming to a realization. “The Wonderbolts are in town. Rainbow Dash was going head over hooves about it this morning.”
Twilight giggled. “That's Rainbow for you.”
“Quite,” Rarity laughed in response. After a few seconds, she asked, “Would you like to go over and see them? I personally love it here, but if you want to go check them out I wouldn't mind.” She looked to the lavender mare.
“No, that's fine,” She replied, leaning against Rarity once again. She closed her eyes. “I like just where I am.”
Rarity laughed, her giggles echoing in the empty night sky. “So, you're telling me he got sick because he thought those fake foal's toys were actual rubies?”
“Yeah, silly I know. That sure taught him a lesson.” Twilight chuckled to herself as the walked down the lamp-lit road.
“Aww, I could just see him chomping on plastic in the middle of the store,” Rarity said. “Besides, where is the little guy?”
“Spike's out in Canterlot still, taking a class on how to better control his letter sending abilities...” She added sheepishly, “Let's just say he's sent some stuff to the Princess on accident, and not really the kind of stuff I want her to see either.”
“Oh, good.” Rarity heaved a sigh of relief. “Because I was fearing that we'd have an awkward moment coming up.”
“Yeah, well you know we're going to have to talk to him sometime.” Twilight replied pragmatically. “He's smarter than most ponies credit him for, he'd figure it out on his own.”
“Oh, of course I know I'd have to talk to him sometime, darling.” Rarity shrugged. “But tonight was so great, I didn't want to end it with a talk with him about how I'm dating,” the word felt surreal on her tongue, “his lifelong friend.”
Twilight blushed slightly. Apparently she wasn't quite used to the term either. “Yeah, well there's that whole crush thing too.”
“Right, that as well...” Rarity conceded, as they rounded a corner, the library just yards away. They were silent as they approached the door.
“So, I just wanted to tell you,” Rarity began as they stopped in front of the entrance, trying to remember the words. She looked up to Twilight, her expression suddenly curious.
“When I said you looked really pretty earlier tonight... I might have lied.”
Twilight face turned to one of utter confusion. “What?”
“...You actually looked absolutely beautiful.” Rarity shuffled her hooves and looked at the ground, her courage failing her to look Twilight in the eyes, her usually confident demeanor not strong enough even for this.
“Rarity...” Twilight remained silent for a moment. With her eyes down, she couldn't see what the purple pony was thinking or doing. It seemed like hours, waiting for a response.
”Finish the sentence! Anything! Just say anything!”
Then she giggled. Giggled.
“Alright, how long have you been interested in me?”
Rarity looked up. Twilight's face was mixture of raw emotion and laughter, a sparkle in her eyes. “Huh? Wh-what does that have to do with anything?”
“Rarity, when you were staring at me before, before you called me pretty, I recognized that look.” She grinned. “I've been seeing it, oh, for maybe only a month now. Finally, now I think I know what it means.” She took a step closer.
Rarity blushed. Profusely. She had been caught red-hoofed. Or was it red-faced? She couldn't tell, with her mind spinning a million miles an hour. “I- uh...”
“Well? Is it?” The other mare took another step forward.
Twilight moved so close, Rarity could almost feel the warmth radiating off her. “I didn't hear you.” She insisted with another one of her cute giggles.
The dam broke. Rarity closed her eyes, her knees shaking.
“Yes... And you're right, for weeks now I-”
All of Rarity's speech became a jumbled mess as somepony else's lips stopped her. ”Oh okay,” was all her mind could register.
Leaning forward a bit, she kissed Twilight back, dropping the paper bag she had been carrying from the date.
It only lasted a few seconds, but once they finally broke apart, all Rarity could mutter was, “Wow...”
She had dreamed about this moment for countless nights, and now it felt even better than any dream she ever conjured. Opening her eyes, she saw Twilight with a smug, satisfied smile on her face.
“I've always wanted to do that.”
”You can do that anytime you like,” Her mind translated what her mouth could not even voice.
Twilight picked up the bag with her magic, opening her door and setting it inside. “So, are you going to say anything, Rarity?” She giggled.
“Ah-umm...” She gulped. “Yeah.” She lowered her voice, “Thanks, tonight was great.”
Twilight beamed. “Just great?”
Rarity managed to chuckle. “You know what I mean. Besides, I just remembered, I have something for you.”
Twilight's ears perked up. “What?”
Rarity poked her head inside the house. “Here...” She magically grabbed the bag she had left by the door when she first arrived. Pulling out the custom-made dress, she gave it to Twilight. “Since I assume your previous dress got ruined in the rain, I made you a new one.”
Twilight's face illuminated as she looked it over. The gold leaf flecks still sparkled in the night. “Wow, this is... I don't even know.” She smiled, looking back up to Rarity. “Do you want me to put it on?”
As much as she'd like for that to happen, Rarity shook her head. “No, it's late. I'm sure I'll see you with it on sometime soon.”
Twilight chuckled. “Oh, I'm positive you will.” She placed the dress back in the bag, putting it all back inside. “I guess you'll have to do with this for now, then.”
For the second time that night, Twilight leaned in and kissed her. None of the magic had been lost, the goosebumps still shooting down her body, perhaps more so because she saw it coming.
When they broke apart again, Rarity fixed her with a stare. “Wh-where did you learn to kiss so well?”
Twilight grinned sheepishly. “Oh... You'd be surprised what I can learn from books.” And with that, she went inside and closed the door.
Far above, flying home from a particular aerial event, one pegasus nearly fell out of the sky as she watched it all.
A knock echoed throughout the Carousel Boutique as somepony banged on the door. “Coming!” Rarity called, making the final touches of rouge on her face. ”Perfect,” she thought, tussling her mane in front of the mirror.
In one smooth movement, she got up from the stool she was sitting on, and walked gracefully over to the door.
“Hiya there, Rarity!” Pinkie Pie answered as she opened the door. “Ooh, you look pretty, are you going to a party?”
Rarity chuckled. “Oh, something like that, I guess you could say... Anyways, how are you, dear?”
“Fantastic! I just wanted to come over and ask you if you've seen Fluttershy lately.” Pinkie Pie looked around. “I wanted to ask her to check on Gummy for me, but I haven't seen her anywhere. Since, like, you two are really good friends, I thought you'd know.”
Rarity tapped a hoof to her chin. “Huh... Come to think of, I don't believe I've seen the girl either in the past week. That's odd.”
“I know.” Pinkie Pie almost poked her head through the doorway. “That's why I want to find her! And you're going to help me!”
Rarity shook her head. “I'm sorry dear, I can't. I already have plans for the night.” She instantly felt guilty from the dejected look on Pinkie's face. “But, can't you just rely on your special twitches or whatnot?”
“Oh, well yeah, usually!” Pinkie Pie nodded. “But it's not working.”
Rarity feigned a gasp. “Your Pinkie Sense? Failing?”
“No way! It still works for most ponies, but for some reason, it's like Fluttershy has found a way to block me!” The party pony nodded, looking very confident in the notion.
“Are you sure?”
“Why of course I'm sure! When have I not-” Suddenly, the pink mare's legs gave out from under her. Before Rarity could do anything, she appeared to be having some sort of violent seizure, writhing on the ground sporadically. And yet, as soon as it began, it ended, with Pinkie Pie staring up at the fashionista with her tongue lolling out.
“Pinkie, are you okay?!” Rarity picked her up with her magic, setting her on her hooves.
“Never better!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed. “See, that just showed you my Pinkie Sense is working!”
“S-so...” Rarity tried to process this new bit of information. “You know where Fluttershy is?”
“I wish! No, that one was for you.”
“What was it about?”
Pinkie Pie giggled and snorted. “Oh, just about acquiring fortune. Anyways, I'd love to stay and chat, but I gotta go!”
Rarity's eyes opened. “Really? F-fortune?!”
“Something like that!” Pinkie called as she departed from the store.
Rarity closed the door, her heart fluttering. ”Fortune? Wealth, riches, and money? The things I would do! The stuff I'd buy!” She let her mind wander over the limitless potential now in front of her. ”All thanks to Pinkie... Pie.
Something seemed wrong. She frowned.
”This seems really out of place, now that I think of it. After I just turned down the mare, she suddenly has a 'feeling' that I'm going to come across a lot of fortune. I... I don't think I believe her. She's probably just playing one of her little pranks with Rainbow Dash. Typical Pinkie.”
Rarity shrugged as she walked over to the mirror. She had bigger things to worry about today. Her and Twilight had been dating for a week now, and tonight was the first time Rarity would be taking her out somewhere nice. In the days past, they had been spending time together, whether meeting for lunch or helping Twilight with library with Spike still in Canterlot.
Twilight had been growing worried, wondering what her baby dragon assistant was up to. He was well looked after, assigned a room in the royal castle and escorted by a palace guard to and from his destinations within the city, but it still had been much longer than it should have, and that was enough reason to worry for the lavender mare.
She sent a letter to him a few days ago, but without a dragon to send it instantly, it had to run through the Equestrian Mail Service, not known for its expedite qualities. Canterlot was geographically very close to Ponyville, but even still it would have taken two days to get there.
With her marefriend a little upset, Rarity offered to take her out for a nice evening to get her mind off it. In fact, she had set up reservations for an old favorite of hers, perhaps the one trendy place within Ponyville. “Progressive Pedigree,” the small town's little slice of Canterlot, sported some of the latest fashions and newest cuisine that could be found. Not as cutting-edge as the capital, but as close as any other place could get.
Looking in the mirror, she gave herself one last look-over. Twilight was due to be here at any moment, and she wanted to look her best.
”Is my mane okay? What about my eyelashes? Oh eww, I put too much mascara on. What about this dress? Do I look fat in it? Does it hug my stomach too much? No, I don't think so. Thank Celestia for all those yoga sessions finally paying off when I need it... Does it make my flanks look big?”
She was about to turn around when another knock came from the door. “One second!” She called. Quickly, she turned around and stole a peek before trotting over to the door.
“My my, you look simply gorgeous.” Rarity complimented Twilight as she opened the door. The lavender mare giggled abashedly, looking down at her attire.
“Thanks...” She looked up and pecked Rarity on the cheek. “Anyways, where are we going tonight? I put on a dress just like you asked.”
“My favorite restaurant in all of Ponyville, dear.” Rarity magically grabbed her purse and walked out next to Twilight, closing the door behind them. “Just a fair warning though, you might get a lot of questions about what you're wearing.”
“Because that dress looks simply divine on you! Even better than I thought when I was making it.”
Twilight grinned sheepishly. “Oh, you're just saying that.” She shifted slightly. “Besides, it's kinda tight.”
Rarity nodded. “That's the point! A slimming dress can make a pretty pony sexy.”
Twilight blushed. “R-right... Well, should we get going?”
“That's a fine idea. I know it's only six, but the place gets crowded early, and I want to grab something before we get seated.”
Already, ponies were working their way into the “Progressive Pedigree,” underneath the waning rays of the winter dawn. Wrapping a hoof around her, Rarity led Twilight inside. They were instantly greeted by a large, aero blue wall fountain, as organic designs seemed to lurch straight from the ground. An usher was waiting for them, a smile on his face.
“How can I help you ladies tonight?” He asked in an effeminate voice.
“Belvedere, it's me!” Rarity replied, smiling back. “Don't tell me you forget your favorite lady now too!”
“Oh, of course not!” He exclaimed, laughing. “Rarity, darling, how are you?” He reached in and gave her a hug.
Out of her eye, Rarity could see Twilight with a perplexed look on her face. “Bel, I am simply wonderful lately. My clients simply will not leave me alone, always asking for something new and fresh. For once, finally, I've managed to get out for the night.”
“You must simply come over earlier sometime and give me all the juicy details.” The stallion glanced to her date. “However, I see you've brought company.”
“Oh, how rude of me!” Rarity cried, turning to look at Twilight. The mare's expression hadn't changed, still utterly confused. “Bel, meet Twilight. We're going out for a fun night, and I decided here would be the best place!”
Belvedere smiled at the lavender mare. “It is so nice to meet you! A friend of Rarity is a friend of mine, so please, enjoy yourself tonight!”
“T-thanks.” Twilight muttered.
“Anyways, sorry to ask this, but I wanted to stop at the bar for a minute.” Rarity continued. “Problem is, we have a reservation set for six-thirty, which is any minute now. Is there simply any way you could come over and let me know when our table is ready?”
“Oh, but of course! Don't you worry, I'll let you know as soon I hear it open. Go on in, girls!” He smiled again, pointing to the side of the enormous wall fountain.
“I do not know what I'd do without you, dear!” Rarity thanked him, before leading Twilight around the aquatic fixture. Twilight gasped slightly as they got to the other side, causing Rarity to smirk.
“Progressive Pedigree” was just that, progressive. Bright lights shone down on the onyx floor as it gave way to wide, open staircase, leading up to an eating area with queer, fluid, modern furniture and tables. The entire place was filled with buzzing waiters, waitresses and busboys, dashing from table to table like worker bees.
But across from the staircase was Rarity's destination, a long, boomerang-shaped bar that had at least four different ponies working behind it. Seemingly scores of customers seemed to be waiting around it, calling out for drinks or sitting on tall, black stools. Taking her by the hoof, Rarity led Twilight up to it.
Amazingly, they arrived just as a mare and stallion had left, taking their spots. A bartender glanced at Rarity and came over to her, obviously acquainted with the fashion designer.
“What would you like tonight, Rarity?”
“The same as always, darling. An appletini, please.”
Twilight turned to Rarity. “Hey, did you notice anything different about the stallion at the entrance?”
Rarity smiled knowingly. “What do you ever so mean?” She asked, toying with her.
“Well, he just seemed a little, umm...” Twilight waved her hoof, trying to come up with the most politically correct phrase. “You know, uhh...”
“Yeah, I guess that's it.”
Rarity giggled. “Yes, he is. I've known Belvedere for a few years now, and he's one of the the funniest ponies I've ever met. He works his nights here part-time,” She explained, “but he often spends most of his days up in Canterlot as a journalist. It's from him I hear about much of the city's newest fashions.”
“But if he pretty much lives in Canterlot, then why does he come down here to work in a restaurant?” Twilight asked. The gold dazzled off her dress as she turned to face the white mare.
“I honestly don't know. I think it's because he needs the bits, but I can't ever be sure.” She shrugged to Twilight, before a martini glass appeared before her. “Oh, thank you dear!” She said to the bartender. Taking a sip, she threw her head back slightly and sighed. “Finally! You can't tell how long I've been waiting to have one of these!”
Twilight raised an eyebrow. “Are appletinis really that good?”
“Usually, I hate them.” Rarity laughed. “But there's something in the ones here that makes it unbelievably good.”
“Well, what's even in one?”
“Mostly vermouth, vodka and apple cider. Why?”
“You know, coming from Ponyville, they probably use Sweet Apple Acres' cider.” Twilight pointed out. After a second, she asked, “Do you mind if I taste it?”
Rarity passed it over to her. “Not at all! You're probably right, by the way, seeing how good the cider is that the Apple family is known for.”
Twilight lifted the glass to her mouth and tried it. Instantly her face contorted, before finally managing to swallow it. “Oh Celestia, that is awful!” She passed the glass back.
“I had a feeling it wouldn't fit your tastes.” Rarity giggled, looking over. “Oh, here comes Bel now! Come on Twilight, let's get up and follow him to our table.”
“Here you are! This one opened up the same time yours did, and I figured you girls would like it more. Enjoy!”
“Thank you!” the two replied in unison, being left by Belvedere at a corner booth.
Rarity slid in, moving aside to leave room for Twilight. As her date sat next to her, she sighed and shuffled uncomfortably.
“What's wrong?” Twilight asked, looking over to her.
Rarity looked down at the booth cushion. “Oh, it's just this annoying fabric. When I slide across it, my dress keeps riding up my flanks.”
“Oh.” Twilight made a considerable effort to keep her eyes leveled at Rarity's face.
“Anyways,” Rarity transitioned, “I think our waiter should be showing up soon...” She looked around the room.
With a grin, Rarity glanced back to Twilight, who had her eyes gazing over her rump. “Gotcha.”
Twilight's eyes flashed back up to hers, and she recoiled back with a blush on her face. “I- umm... It's not what it looks like!”
Rarity rolled her eyes. “Darling, I take it as a compliment. If you like looking at my butt, that means I probably did something right.” Twilight put up a hoof in protest, but she cut her off. “Besides, since you got to embarrass me a bit on the last date we went on, I think I have a turn now.”
Twilight couldn't help but sigh in defeat. “Oh, fine. I guess that's fair.” Then she giggled, realizing that Rarity really was right.
“Anyways, I've always wanted to ask... How do you do it?” Rarity began. “How do you manage to be so cute all the time?”
“Me?” Twilight put a hoof to her chest, visibly surprised. “Wh-what do you mean?”
“Oh, come on.” Rarity grinned. “Those adorable giggles, the clumsiness and the blushes. All of that.”
“Well...” Twilight had a tough time coming up with a reason. “I guess I just do that naturally. I honestly never thought of myself as cute.” She blushed slightly at the notion.
“Start, then.” Rarity pecked her on the cheek. “A little birdie told me you thought I was hot, am I right?”
“Wh-who told you that?” Twilight asked, flustered.
“You did, remember?” The white unicorn suddenly laughed. “Oh wait, never mind, you were too drunk to do that.”
Twilight rubbed her foreleg. “Yeah, can we forget about that incident, please?”
Rarity shrugged. “I guess, provided you be a little more confident in your good looks. Deal?”
Twilight threw up her hooves and chuckled. “Sure, why not?”
Soon, a waiterpony came up to their tables and took their orders. It wasn't long before both of them were served their meals, placed on odd rectangle plates and decorated with equally odd arrangements of flora.
“So,” Twilight began, “I'll admit, this place is actually pretty neat.”
“Thanks!” Rarity replied. “Like I said before, this place has been my favorite for years, although usually I'm at the bar instead of eating here.”
Twilight took a bite out of her dish, chewing it carefully. “But why? I think the food here is really good.”
“Oh, without a doubt. But unfortunately, it's rather expensive.” Rarity sighed.
Twilight looked up. “Well, how much is a usual bill here?”
“Two hundred bits.”
“Two hundred?!” Twilight nearly dropped her glass. “Why didn't you tell me? I could have brought my own purse and helped pay.”
Rarity smiled and shook her head. “That's not how it works, dear. I'm taking you out on a date, so it's on me.”
“But still! That's a lot of money!” Twilight could not wrap her head around the price.
“Well, I don't like to brag, but hiring a fashion designer isn't cheap.” Rarity put her hoof on Twilight's. “Calm down... It's perfectly fine. All I want is for us to have a good time, and fussing over the bill is not how we're going to do it.”
“A-alright.” Twilight conceded.
“What was that? I'm sorry darling, I didn't quite hear you.” Rarity moved a little closer.
“Alright. Fine, I promise to have fun tonight and not worry about anything else.” Twilight chucked as her marefriend brushed up alongside her.
“Good girl.” Rarity concluded softly, nuzzling her.
“How was your dinner, ladies?” Belvedere asked as the pair went to leave the restaurant. It was well past eight now, yet neither was tired.
“Oh, excellent!” Rarity exclaimed. “Please, do tell Chef Varenne that I give him my thanks!”
“Yeah, I agree, it was fantastic.” Twilight put in skittishly.
The gray stallion smiled. “I'll gladly pass the message along.” He focused his eyes on the latter mare exclusively. “It's Twilight, right?”
“Well, I just wanted to say your dress looks fabulous on you. I don't where you got it from, but it's so vibrant and slim, showing off your cute butt so well, it's almost like somepony made it that way!” He waved a hoof and laughed.
Twilight stopped in her tracks, akin to a deer in the headlights. “Oh... Um, thanks...”
Rarity suddenly moved her date along, hustling her out towards the doors. “Thank you, Bel, but we really must be going! Bye bye now!” She faked a laugh as they left.
The two waited in silence for a moment outside the restaurant. The cool air wisped along their ears, the stars covered by clouds.
“Since your house isn't too far away from here, I'll walk you over.” Rarity suggested.
Twilight nodded, and soon the two started down the street. “You did make it like that, didn't you?”
Rarity laughed abruptly. “Me? Do that? Oh no, I never do that unless the client asks for it.”
“Rarity, do you know how long it took me to put this on?” Twilight giggled, looking down at her dress.
”Oh no... I remember those giggles.
“Come on, admit it. Your gay friend was right.”
“He was only partially right.” Rarity huffed. “Sure, it's tight for a reason, but not what you think. I only made it so it would bring out your curves and therefore you'd notice.”
Rarity sighed. “Have you been talking to Fluttershy recently?”
They remained silent for a moment, walking quietly towards the now-visible library.
“Hey, Rarity.” Twilight brushed up against her.
“You never answered my question.”
Rarity rolled her eyes, trying her best to hide her growing blush. She did not want to answer it. “Seriously, it seems like you become this playful, joking and unabashed pony whenever we are walking together.”
“Yeah? I don't notice anything different. Maybe it's just the exercise?”
“Maybe.” Rarity threw up a hoof in disbelief.
A few more awkward seconds passed in silence.
“You never answered my question.”
“Umm, look! We're here!” Rarity pointed out. It was true, the two arriving at the library's doorstep.
“Oh, I guess so.” Twilight opened the door. “Come on in for a moment, will you?” Rarity nodded, following her inside. “Hmm, that's odd.” The lavender mare looked to the floor, picking up a neatly sealed letter. “I usually never get letters, unless...”
Twilight went into her reading room, envelope levitating beside her. Rarity tailed her, sitting on the couch as the other mare took an envelope opener from the bookshelf and opened her mail.
Settling down on the couch, she rested against Rarity as she scanned over the letter. The white unicorn tried to crane her neck and read it, but Twilight's head was blocking her view.
“Oh no,” she gasped.
“What?” Rarity asked. “What is it?”
“No, this can't be!” Twilight's voice sounded anguished. “This is horrible!”
“What?!” Rarity repeated. She shuffled, trying to see the letter. But the other unicorn let it fall to the ground.
“This is bad. I'm going to have start all over. I-I... I don't think I can do this.”
“Twilight, what is it?!” Rarity asked, frantic.
She barely seemed to hear her. “I don't think I'll go. They can't possibly expect me...”
”She's got to stop freaking out.”
She turned to Rarity on the couch, her brain finally processing what she had just been asked. “Oh, I don't think you'd understand. It's a lot of-”
Rarity grabbed the mare and kissed her, cutting her off. At first, Twilight tried to keep talking, but within a second even she had closed her eyes and kissed her back.
When they finally broke apart, Twilight still in her arms, Rarity asked softly, “What did it say?”
The purple pony sighed painfully. “It was a letter from Spike. He wrote to tell me that he had been working with 'The School for Gifted Unicorns.' They...” She looked away.
“They moved my seminar to their senior class to next month.”
Rarity almost fell off the couch, breaking out into uncontrollable laughter. She put a hoof to her chest, trying to stop in vain. “Hey!” Twilight cried, not finding any humor in the situation. “This isn't funny! This is serious!”
Rarity finally managed to calm down seconds later. Sitting back up, she took a few deep breaths. “Dear, you made it seem like the Princess had just asked you to serve in her stead.” She smiled. “Honestly, I don't see why you're worrying so badly. So what if it's a month away.”
“So what?” Twilight shook her head. “It being only month away is the whole reason why I have to restructure my entire speech! I have to compensate for the audience's earlier curriculum and their lack of studying for their finals!”
Rarity sighed. “Twilight, stop. You're an incredibly smart girl, I'm sure you'll figure it out. You just need to calm down.” She gave her a hug, rubbing her back. “Just relax...”
She could feel her breathing start to slow, and the mare's own hooves wrap around her body.
“But what if I can't?” Twilight asked slowly. “I mean, you're helping a lot, but it won't work for the entire night, even.”
“I think I know how.”
“'Soma Tavern?'” Twilight read questioningly. “Umm, this isn't exactly what I had in mind.”
“Yes, well, drastic times call for drastic measures.” Rarity sighed. It wasn't quite what she wanted either, but the other mare had been fidgeting the entire time on the walk over. She really needed to get out of the house and forget her troubles for awhile.
“But... You know me, I'm not very good with alcohol.” Twilight put in sheepishly. Apparently, thoughts of their “fun night in” had not eluded her either.
“Well, luckily for you, I am.” Rarity winked. “I'll make sure you stay on your hooves. And besides, it'll be fun. Chances are, we'll see somepony we know.” Taking her by the hoof, she led Twilight inside.
Immediately, the musty, rustic smell the tavern was known for hit their senses. It was a nice little place, with a simple, wooden bar that sat no more than a dozen and a few tables off to the side. But there were always friendly faces there you knew, not like the myriad of unknown ponies before at the “Progressive Pedigree.”
Rarity and Twilight found an empty spot at the counter, the bar almost full. It was run by a jolly, middle-aged pony by the name of Keg Stand. Rumor had it that he was a distant relative of the Apple Family, but Applejack denied it at every turn.
“So, do you know what you're going to get, Twilight?” Rarity asked curiously.
“I don't think so...” She looked at the rows upon rows of liquor on the shelves, the tap handles jutting up in front of them.
“Well, want me to order for you? You like sweet things, right?”
“Yeah, I guess you could say that.” Twilight shrugged. “Go for it, since I have no clue what to get.”
Rarity raised her hoof until the barkeep made his way over to them. “Good evening, can I have a margarita, and can I also get a mojito for my friend here?”
“Of course! Anything for a pair of pretty faces.” He laughed gaily.
Taking a second to look around, Rarity did notice a few ponies from around town. Big Macintosh and Ace were sharing a pitcher of beer at the corner of the bar, and Colgate was drinking with some other ponies she didn't recognize. Unfortunately, nopony she was really interested in chatting with.
“Here you two go.” Keg Stand said, passing them their drinks. Rarity thanked him and smiled, before raising her margarita.
“To an amazing night.” Rarity toasted, remembering their dinner from before.
“To an amazing night.” Twilight replied, touched her glass to her marefriend's. Cautiously taking a sip, it seemed from her face that she could take the taste. “Hmm... This actually pretty good,” she remarked, before trying it again.
“Good.” Rarity smiled. “It's usually a summer drink, but I figured you'd enjoy it.” She drank some of her own margarita. “Every pony has at least a few drinks they like.”
“Really?” Twilight asked, ears perked up. Half of her mojito was already gone.
“Oh, but of course!” She grinned. “Take Fluttershy for example. I haven't been out with her much – it usually takes a lot to get her to go out to a bar – but I know she has at least three or four drinks she relies on from time to time.”
“You're kidding me.” Twilight was flabbergasted. “Fluttershy drinks?”
“And thank Celestia she doesn't often.” Rarity chuckled. “That little mouth of hers opens right up when she does.”
Twilight snorted and giggled. “I somehow have a hard time seeing that.”
“Oh, trust me darling, you don't want to,” Rarity replied.
Twilight looked at her with a sense of raw curiosity and wonder. “So... Since you've been out so much, what kind of drinks do you think I'd like?”
“And that... That is why you never stay up for three nights straight studying for a test!” Twilight blurted out. “No lie, I just, wham!” she motioned with her hoof for dramatic effect, “I was out cold, right in the middle of the test!”
Rarity laughed. Giggles, snorting, haw-haw'ing and he-he'ing. In fact, she was laughing way more than she should have, because the story was hardly funny at all.
But that didn't matter now. Oh no, it didn't matter in the slightest! She was absolutely, irrefutably, definitely hammered. Somewhere between, “What kind of drinks do you think I like,” and “Hey, girls, I think you should go home,” it all went downhill ...Or was it uphill? Hell, she couldn't tell. All she knew was that Twilight was telling the funniest story in existence.
“Hey,” Twilight said as they got close to the library, where Rarity was going to drop her off.
“You never answered my question.”
“Huh?” It took probably a minute for Rarity's delayed brain to decipher quite what “the question” was. “Oh! Haha... You mean why I made the dress so tight around your butt?”
“Yeah, th-that one.”
“Oh, because I wanted to. Y'know, because it matches you so perfectly... Cute, and-”
”Oh hey, look, she's kissing me. Maybe I should kiss her back.
Rarity was in the process of ineptly kissing her marefriend when the door clicked.
”Whaaaaat? Since when were my hooves moving?”
Birds chirping. Headache. Sunlight. Headache. Sandalwood. Headache. Warmth. Headache. Fuzzy Lavender. Headache.
With her eyes barely open, Rarity exhaled deeply.
“Good morning, Twilight.” She muttered drowsily.
Rarity shot up. Or at least tried to, before her hoof got caught. Looking down, she noticed what she had feared.
One particular mare was snoring cutely under the sheets. With Rarity's right foreleg trapped beneath her.
Breathing quickening, adrenaline rushing, and god dammit her head pounding, Rarity tried to make heads or tails of the situation.
”This isn't good... This is definitely not- Well, I guess it isn't bad either, but still not good. This isn't... This isn't...”
”This isn't what I wanted. Everything was rolling along just perfectly, and then I had the brilliant idea of taking her out to a bar. What was I thinking! This is moving way too fast.”
She didn't even dare venture to recall the memories leading up to now. Sometime in the future, sure, but right now she really wasn't in the mood to find out just how her and Twilight-
She squeaked. Twilight's breathing stopped for a second, the weight on her hoof lightening. Time seemed to stop as the pony rolled onto her back and looked up at her.
“Morning, Rarity...” She yawned. “What are you doing here? Did you come over early to wake me up? Ow... Why does my head hurt so much?”
“N-now, Twilight,” Rarity's voice shook, “I don't want you to get scared or anything, but I think... I think I've been here the entire night.”
Twilight yawned again. “Oh, that's nice- WHAT?!” She nearly hopped off the bed. Wrapping the sheets around her, she stared at Rarity as crimson flooded her face.
“Yeah...” Rarity went to scratch the back of her head, and then found out her mane was a mess. She groaned, not needing any more evidence against her.
“I... You're joking, right?”
“I wish I was.” Rarity sighed. “It's all my fault, I shouldn't have taken you out drinking last night...”
Twilight remained still, forcing herself to breathe for awhile. She flopped back, resting against the headboard.
After a few moments, Rarity joined her, both of them zoning out at the far wall.
“Oh, just about acquiring fortune.” Those prophetical words from Pinkie Pie really made sense now, even if just synonymously.
“No... I don't think it was anypony's fault.” Twilight admitted. She rubbed her temples with her hooves. “Even through this headache, I... I can remember pulling you inside... But I can't believe it.”
Rarity chuckled. “If it makes you feel any better, I refuse to acknowledge it even happened,” she remarked, still staring across the room.
Twilight giggled. “Thanks.” This was good. She turned to Rarity, “Hey, do you think we can just pretend this all just didn't happen, or at least just not tell anypony about it?”
“Oh my, I don't know what I'd do if Rainbow Dash or Applejack found out.” Rarity turned to her and laughed.
Just as her blush was winding down, it flared up again. “Yeah...”
They remained silent for a few seconds.
“Hey, I just wanted to say thanks, for last night,” Twilight resumed.
“Wait, wha-” Rarity started, perplexed.
“Not like that.” Twilight giggled once more. “I meant for the date and all the support you gave me. It was really nice.”
“Oh...” Rarity let it sink in. Maybe things weren't as bad as she thought. Sure, they both had a big slip-up, but already, they were recovering easily. It wasn't nearly as awkward as she had feared. This was really good.
Twilight got up with a start. “So, do you want coffee?” she asked.
Rarity shrugged. “I guess it'll help with the hangover.”
Twilight nodded. “Alright, well I'll be back up in a bit. You just stay put, alright?” She almost walked out of the room, before stopping. She turned around, with that cute, innocent smile on her face. She giggled.
“Or, from what I can remember, somewhere along the lines of what I said last night... Keep still.”
Rarity sat up on the bed, glancing around the room. Breathing slowed, heart rate dropping, a welcome sense of calm washed over her. ”This just feels so surreal.”
It seemed as if the physical world had been subtly altered, her eyes and mind seeing it all in a new definition. The rays of light coming in through the window dappled across the floor, almost radiating with emotion as it naturally lit the room. Nearby smells flooded her nostrils: old book pages, newly-washed sheets, and the lingering of sandalwood and sweat. Even the tiny dust particles in the air seemed to dance before her eyes.
”The wake after the storm,” Rarity realized, coming to an epiphany. ”Except, this storm was both good and bad. Sure, I ended up accidentally sleeping with Twilight, and for the first few moments this morning we were both terribly confused and shocked out of our minds... But now that we've settled down a bit, it's easy to see all that's good; I slept with Twilight, and she's more or less back to her same old self, even after all that's happened. And I think... I think that means she's comfortable with me.”
She sighed in relief, the emotional weight finally lifted off her shoulders by her own thoughts. Finally reaching a valid conclusion for the whole affair, her mind no longer racked with regret nor her heart suffocating under guilt, she felt like she could breathe again. And that she did, as she rested against the headrest once more, staring off into space.
”This is... Nice. I'm in Twilight's house, sitting on her bed at nine in the morning after a night of drunken pleasure, and I'm okay with it.” A warm, cheery feeling elevated throughout her body. ”I'm okay with it... Even days ago I would have expected myself to run home, frayed mane and all, out of shame. But, I'm not.” She smiled to herself. ”I'm here, waiting for a lovely mare to bring back some coffee. I probably look like a disaster, my coat feels oily and stale, and this pounding headache still won't go away... And I'm okay with it.
Speaking of that pretty girl, where is Twilight? She left at least fifteen minutes ago, and I haven't even heard her moving downstairs... Well, I guess I wouldn't know if I could hear anypony from up here too well, since this is my first time in her bed.” Rarity blushed lightly and smiled, ”And while I admit only to myself that I wouldn't mind waking up here soon again, I don't think we should rush it. Last night was simply anomalous and-”
The sudden sounds of hoofsteps sounded as somepony started up the stairs. With a smirk, Rarity broke from her musings and focused her attention on the doorway. As hoped, Twilight poked her head into the room, carrying two white mugs along with her.
The unicorn walked over to the bed, settling down next to Rarity. “Here you go,” she said, giving the white mare one of the mugs. “You look better,” she remarked.
“I do?” Rarity was surprised. She felt it on the inside, but definitely not on the outside. “That's odd, I haven't moved since you left, just sitting here and thinking.”
Twilight grinned. “Are you sure you weren't remembering?”
Rarity sighed, rolling her eyes. She set down her mug on a nearby nightstand, before crying, “Oh, come here, you!” Wrapping up Twilight, who was now giggling, she pulled her close to her body and kissed her on the cheek. “You're too adorable to talk like that.”
Twilight stuck out her tongue at her. “I just call it payback for all the times you've teased me.”
“Fine...” Rarity chuckled. “So, away from me, how are you this morning, darling?” She kept her forelegs wrapped around Twilight's stomach, holding her up to her chest.
“Wonderful,” she purred. “For once, I'm not rushing to get something done. Even with the seminar coming up, I feel perfectly relaxed.”
“That's great!” Rarity nuzzled her. “So, I'm just wondering... Are you doing anything today?”
Twilight turned her head around to look at Rarity. “No, why?”
“I'm supposed to meet Fluttershy at the spa. If you'd like, you can certainly tag along.”
“Sure!” Twilight smiled.
Rarity held the door open for Twilight as they exited the library. Both of them had taken a quick bath, getting off all the sweat, oils and whatever else they had acquired on their skin, and giving Rarity a chance to repair her ruined mane. And while it was by no means perfect, it was enough to get her out to the spa where it'd be returned to its former glory.
The pair had donned scarves, the late-morning still sporting a chilly temperature. They had taken no more than a dozen steps out the door before Twilight pressed up against Rarity, their coats brushing together.
“Have I ever told you how warm you are?” Twilight asked.
“Oh, you might have told me something to that effect before.” Thoughts of the picnic on the grass passed into Rarity's mind.
“Yeah, well, you are. Hmm... I wonder if it's because you have really good circulation, or just because you have a naturally high body temperature.” Twilight mulled over the idea for a few seconds.
“How about we just accept the fact that I'm warm and leave it at that?” Rarity looked over to her marefriend and smiled. “I'd rather not have any pony delve into my physiology, it makes me self-conscious.”
“Why? You didn't seem to mind last night.” Twilight's toying smile was cut short by Rarity's glare. “Fine, I know I shouldn't have said that, but...” She sighed, trying to come up with the right words, “... I don't know, I'm just too excited to keep my mouth shut.”
Rarity quickly checked to make sure nopony was in earshot, and then lowered her voice as well for good measure. “That's perfectly understandable darling, but if you want to talk about it, then let's do that when we're alone. I'd rather not have the fact that I had sex with Twilight Sparkle be the town's latest gossip.”
Twilight blushed, nodding understandably. “Alright.”
They neared the spa. “Now, let's just act normal and hopefully Fluttershy won't notice anything,” Rarity whispered in Twilight's ear, before opening the door and stepping inside. The yellow mare was indeed waiting, her face brightening when Rarity entered, then tinged with surprise as the lavender mare followed her inside.
“Twilight? What are you doing here?” Fluttershy asked delightfully, eyes widening.
“Oh, umm, Rarity asked me if I wanted to go...” She shrugged. “I decided we all need to be pampered now and then, right?”
“Exactly!” Fluttershy agreed, before walking up to a nearby counter and informing one of the spa ponies that she would have another pony with her. The spa pony simply smiled and handed her three robes. “Here, take one,” she said to her friends, handing them out. “I already got the key for our room.”
Minutes later, the three entered a room with a trio of massage tables.
“Fluttershy, darling, I must ask where have you been recently? Ponies have been looking for you, you know.” Rarity hoisted herself up onto one of the tables, followed by the other two mares nearby.
“Oh, you know, just out of the house,” Fluttershy replied, looking away. She didn't seem like she was about to give a clearer answer.
“Hmph... Well anyways, Pinkie Pie wanted to know if you could look at Gummy for her.” Rarity said, passing along the message she had received yesterday.
“Alright, thanks for letting me know.” Fluttershy smiled. She turned to the other pony in the room. “So, Twilight, how are you doing?”
The mare in question grinned. “Great, actually.”
“Rarity isn't bossing you around, is she?” Fluttershy giggled. Rarity glared.
“She?” Twilight asked, pointing a hoof at her marefriend. “Oh no,” she laughed, “if anything it's the other way around.”
“That's not true!” Rarity cried.
“Isn't it?” Twilight raised an eyebrow. “When I made you dance with me last week on the grass, did you really try to put up a fight?”
Rarity downcast her eyes and mumbled, “Well, no...” Twilight shot her a victorious look.
“You two are cute together,” Fluttershy broke in. Immediately after she shrunk back, realizing she had been more forward than she wanted to be. “I mean, umm... You two are a nice... couple.”
“Thanks,” Rarity replied, smiling at her. As she said it, three masseuses came in through the door. “Now, I do believe it's time to get this recent ache in my back worked out.” She laid down on the massage table, sighing deeply.
Twilight slid into the hot tub, sitting down with a relieved sigh. “Wow... I have to hand it to you girls, you sure pick a great place to meet each week.” She closed her eyes and rested her head against the crest of the tub. “For once, my neck doesn't feel stiff... Probably from all the reading I do.”
“What have you been reading about lately, Twilight?” Fluttershy asked.
She peeked one eye open. “Not much, actually,” she replied matter-of-factly, shrugging.
“No reading? Twilight?” Fluttershy seemed shocked. “W-why?”
“I've been out with Rarity a lot lately, when I'm not working as a librarian.” Twilight replied, blushing slightly. She looked to her marefriend, who was listening with a grin on her face. Rarity shot her back a smile.
“You two really are close, huh?” Fluttershy asked, partially in awe, giving each of them a glance.
“Well, I guess you could say that.” Twilight said sheepishly.
“This,” Rarity broke in with a chuckle, “is coming from the queen of snuggling over here.” Twilight's blush only intensified as she tried to sink into the water, as the white mare continued, “But anyways, enough about us. Have you talked to Azure at all?”
Fluttershy squeaked. Twilight popped back up from the water, tilting her head in curiosity. “Azure?”
Rarity rolled her eyes. “Oh, it's just a pony who has seemed to have taken a liking to our pegasus friend over her.” She motioned a hoof towards Fluttershy.
“Rrreally?” Twilight looked pleasantly surprised. She turned to the mare in question. “So, have you?”
“Well, umm...” Fluttershy shrunk back. The other two ponies watched her with expectant eyes. “...Maybe?”
“Maybe?” The other two said simultaneously. “What does 'maybe' mean?” Twilight asked.
“Well... She might have...” She gulped. “She might have approached me in town.”
Rarity clapped her hooves together, leaning forward in excitement. “And?”
“... And she asked if I would mind if she walked with me for awhile,” Fluttershy revealed, flustered. “I didn't really understand, s-so I said okay. We talked for awhile- well, she did most of the talking.”
“I wouldn't have expected that,” Rarity commented sarcastically. Fluttershy blinked.
“A-anyways, she asked if I was hungry... And I kinda guess I was, so we stopped in by Sugarcube Corner for a bit. We both talked a little more, and then she said she had to get going... That was about it.”
“Good job Fluttershy!” Twilight smiled at her. “So, what do you think about her? I mean, if you don't mind me asking.”
“Oh...” Fluttershy blushed, her voice level dropping to just above whisper. “I guess she's... Cute.”
Rarity put a hoof up to her ear, cutting off Twilight before she could say anything. “What was that, dear? I can't hear you.”
“I said...” Fluttershy began to hide behind her mane, “I guess she's cute.”
“Say again? Your hair got in the way.”
“I said I guess she's cute.”
Rarity winked to Twilight, who got the message. “You guess she's cute?” The lavender mare asked.
“Y-yeah... Isn't that what I just said?”
“Dear, you cannot simply guess somepony is attractive. Either they are or they aren't.”
Fluttershy sighed. “Alright, fine... Yes... I-I find her cute.” It only took Rarity a second to reach the yellow mare, giving her a tight hug. As if on cue, Twilight followed suit soon after.
“That's wonderful, dear!” Rarity exclaimed as she let go a moment later. “You should feel great, having such a cute and nice pony interested in you.” Twilight shot her an uneasy glance, her eyes almost flashing with a flicker of green. “I mean, uh, I should know. I have one right here.” Rarity grabbed Twilight by the waist, pulling her in and giving her a kiss on the cheek. The other unicorn giggled as her tempered expression dissolved.
“Yeah, well... It's not.” Fluttershy stated. “I'm actually really, really, really, really, really anxious. It feels like my entire stomach is hopping like a bunny rabbit.”
“That's entirely normal, dear. You saw me and what a mess I looked like before Twilight and I started dating.” Twilight gave Rarity a surprised look. “Oh yes, I was... All because I didn't think I could tell you. But once we started going out, it eventually went away.”
“Really?” Twilight asked with a grin. “I disagree, you seemed pretty shaken up earlier.”
“What? I was fine with you on the way over here-” She noticed Twilight was still grinning. “Oh.” Rarity pursed her lips and pouted. ”Sneaky, Twilight, quite sneaky. I'll make sure to get you back sometime, just you wait.”
“Wh-what happened?” Fluttershy asked cautiously. She seemed worried if there was a falling out between her two friends.
“N-nothing.” Twilight shook her head with a giggle, “It's just a joke.” Rarity still had her lips sealed shut, staring down her marefriend. “Anyways, if you want, I think we can help.”
“Help? With what?”
“You know, Azure. And all your anxiety problems. Stuff like that.”
“Oh! ...I couldn't possibly ask you to... Get involved.”
“Aww...” Twilight frowned slightly. “I had read about this thing in a book once-”
“Where have I heard this before?” Rarity broke in, chuckling, finally breaking her silence.
Twilight rolled her eyes. “- called a double date. You know, where two couples go out together. I thought that since you'd be with us too, you wouldn't feel as nervous.”
”Well, I have to hand it to her, that's actually a pretty good idea. I'm surprised I didn't think of it earlier,” Rarity mused. “Yes, I think that'd work nicely.” She looked over to Fluttershy. “Now now, dear, I know you might want to say no, but... I really think you should. As your best friend, I think it'd be nice for you to go out every once in awhile. Even if you, for some reason, decide you don't like Azure later on, it'll still be a lot of fun.”
“A-are you sure?” She asked, looking skeptical.
“...Okay. Only because you say so, Rarity.” Fluttershy gulped, quite unsure what she just got herself into.
Twilight rubbed up against Rarity, as they walked back to the library. It was going to be their last few minutes together after a hectic twenty-four hours, so they decided to take the scenic route through the market.
“Were you really a mess before we started... All of this?” Twilight asked.
“Well, umm... Yes. Yes I was dear, because I had a lot going through my mind at the time,” Rarity admitted, even if generally.
“Why?” Twilight looked up, her eyes filled with both curiosity and worry.
“Because...” Rarity sighed. “I couldn't decide how to handle my feelings. First, I tried to deny it. Then, I couldn't tell you. And after that, I tried to, but something kept holding me back, and that's what drove me simply insane.” Her voice slipped away as she finished, not comfortable with the subject.
“Rarity...” Twilight's eyes softened as her voice did. “You know you can tell me anything, right?”
“Yes.” She looked over to her. “But back then, I didn't. It felt like my mind was playing against me, not letting the right words come out.” Rarity looked at the ground, away from her marefriend's pitying gaze.
“Hey,” Twilight stopped her with a hoof, wrapping up Rarity with an embrace, “it's all over now. You can talk to me whenever you need to, okay?” She giggled lightly, trying to lighten her mood. “Also, you said I was the 'queen of cuddles,' so if you ever want somepony to hold, just let me know.”
Rarity gave an abrupt chuckle. “I... Alright. Thanks.”
Still hugging Twilight, she looked over her shoulder across the market. For a brief moment, somepony stared straight back at her, and then whispered to another pony nearby. They whispered...
Rarity felt a shudder of self-consciousness ride down her spine. ”...About us?”
She tried her best to shake it off, and yet it remained, regaining its throne in the back of her mind.
Rarity ran the brush softly through Twilight's silky mane. It flowed with ease, the strands shining with a bright luster.
“See, dear, this is why the shampoo from the spa is worth it,” Rarity whispered in her ear from behind. “You look absolutely gorgeous with your mane like this.”
“Oh?” Twilight blushed slightly, putting a hoof to her chest as she looked herself over. Once again, she had asked Rarity to help out, and the results reflected on her marefriend's talent. She hardly resembled the studious, pale introvert she was, yet rather somepony destined to walk amongst the streets of Manehattan. “I'll admit this does look very nice.”
“Yes, well...” Rarity bit her lip, “I think you'd look even better if you put your dress on.” She looked up at the clock. “Because we have maybe half an hour at best.”
“Really?” Twilight shot up and confirmed the time with her own eyes. “Oh, you're right!” She scampered off and up the stairs, searching for the perfect attire for their night out.
The fashionista smiled and turned around, looking for a comfortable spot to sit down and wait for Twilight to return. ”This should be interesting...” she thought to herself, ”Twilight is going to have to watch her tongue tonight. Unless she wants for a suddenly very uncomfortable and awkward evening, her usual gimmicks and teasings will have to be suppressed; with two other ponies there with us, I don't think she can be as... 'open' as usual.”
Tonight was to be their double date with Fluttershy and Azure. Sure, it was to be rather benign for Rarity and Twilight, but nevertheless it'd be interesting to see how the butter-colored pegasus would act. Apparently, she “ran into” Azure and asked her out on the double date – Rarity didn't buy it, however, with the shy mare more than likely watching her crush from afar before garnering the courage to speak with her.
”But, at least she did it,” Rarity thought, sitting down on a pillow and inspecting her hoof. ”Besides, it's just a dinner at the cafe... On that note, maybe we did overdress..” she glanced down anxiously at herself, donning boots and luxurious wool coat. ”Okay, so we did. I hope we don't make Azure and Fluttershy feel bad.”
The cafe, did in fact, have a rather classy atmosphere to it, should you be seated inside and near the fireplace. Something about it just left a pony feeling as if they were likely to find themselves seated beside Charlie Cloplin, champagne in hoof and smoke in the air. The cafe, admittedly, was not as mature, with fillies and colts occasionally coming in with their parents. But, at this time of night, the place would be hard-pressed to find any families coming in through their doors.
“Alright!” Twilight called out as she came down the stairs. Rarity looked up, noticing she had adorned nothing but a – albeit adorable on her – white scarf. The white mare shot her a quizzical look. “Sorry, but on second thought, I felt like that dress you made for me was too much,” Twilight said, shrugging as she came around to Rarity. “Ready to go?”
“I am.” Rarity smiled, getting up and nuzzling Twilight quickly, before moving to the door and opening it for her. The two exited without a word, the stars twinkling as the crescent moon hung in the sky. ”There's something to be said for the serenity of Ponyville, once the night washes away all of its hustle and bustle... It's truly an entirely different town,” she reflected as she gazed out amongst the thatched-roof houses and cobbled roads.
“Rarity,” Twilight suddenly began, glancing over with a smile, “Do you ever sometimes just take a second to sit back and wonder how this even happened?” Before her marefriend could respond, she continued, “I mean, it's like who would have thought? We were friends for the longest time, and now it's almost surreal to think to myself, 'Hmm, I wonder what my marefriend Rarity is up to right now.' ”
“That's not bad thing, right?” Rarity asked. Anxiety began to prick at her coat like a thousand needles, annoying her and refusing to cease.
“Oh, of course not.” Twilight gave a light giggle, returning a nuzzle. “It's just like, who would have predicted you and I to be together? Nopony would've guessed you were into mares, and of all of them, me.” She smiled to herself. “I don't know, I'm just the simple town librarian, and you're this... This paragon of haute couture.”
Rarity blushed, fumbling with a reply. ”Paragon of haute couture?” was all her mind could come up with. “Oh... I, ah, don't know. I'm far from perfect, dear,” still, she returned Twilight's smile, “but thank you nonetheless, that was very sweet of you.”
However, something else Twilight said also rang in her mind. “Nopony would've guessed you were into mares...” those words echoing inside her brain. And yet, the thing was, Rarity wanted nopony to guess, nopony to ever know if she could. Something of seeing those two ponies whispering the other day had revived silly, powerful fears. She knew she shouldn't mind, instead be happy with Twilight, but her conscience had since been powerless against the fear of social strife and rumors.
“Rarity?” Twilight asked, her voice slicing through the brooding. “Are you okay? You've been awfully quiet for the past few moments.” Her face bore signs of worry, a slight frown forming on the edges of her lips, eyes desperately searching for an answer.
The sight of her marefriend in distress quickly banished her cynicism to the dark recesses of her consciousness. It still remained and gnawed at her, but at least now she could think clearly. “Oh, sorry darling, I was just thinking about something.” She flashed a reassuring grin, “Don't worry about it.”
Twilight looked unfazed. “Are you sure?” she asked, care still lingering in her expression. “You were pulling some troubled faces.” To top it off, the bookish unicorn moved closer to her as they walked, rubbing up against her coat.
Rarity gulped. She felt like relenting, throwing away the veil and pouring out her well of fears and nightmares for Twilight to see. Shouldn't she? Twilight was the pony she trusted the most, and couldn't the smart and sensible mare be able to help? But, the irrational dread that perhaps the lavender mare would be disgusted, repulsed by the mess she was still in, still held onto her like a leash.
“I'm sure... It- It was just some personal groaning over the new set of orders that just came in.” Rarity lied.
“Oh, okay.” Twilight held her gaze for a second. She didn't seem to believe her, but didn't push the topic either. Leaning in quickly, she pecked Rarity on the cheek. ”It'll all be okay,” her face seemed to say.
Rarity took off her coat and settled on a pillow, beside the warm glow of a fireplace. Fluttershy was sitting down directly across the table from her, trying to suppress her eager smile as she busied herself with the menu. Twilight was to her left, already engaged in a conversation with Azure to her right. To her surprise, the cute blue mare had worn a white scarf. It was a delicious coincidence, as Twilight was wearing the exact same thing.
“...Exactly what I thought!” Twilight exclaimed. “I never thought those kind of books would be good either, but for some reason they just snare you and don't let go.”
Azure nodded. “I remember the first time I read one...” she smiled and chuckled to herself, “it was while I was attending the University of Canterlot, my roommate lent me a book to read. I had no clue what I was getting into.”
Twilight gasped. “You attended University of Canterlot? For what?”
“Economics, actually.” Azure shrugged sheepishly, “I know, I went to the foremost center of learning on the scientific applications of magic, and instead I learn how to crunch numbers and read market trends...” She chuckled. “I then tried working in Manehattan for a few years, but it was too stressful for me. Before I knew it, I ended up here in Ponyville, working as the town's treasurer in the week and running a market stall in my free time.”
“Why run a market stall though? Isn't that a lot of work?” Twilight asked curiously, eyes widening.
“Yeah,” Azure agreed, her blue mane falling over her face as she nodded, using a hoof to brush it away, “but, being the treasurer of Ponyville doesn't pay the best for how much work that comes in. Being so close to the capital, a lot of trade and merchants come through here, probably the reason why this little town is so prosperous. After a while, seeing how many bits the local vendors could make, I decided to join in.”
As she finished, a waiter approached the table. “Any drinks for you tonight, ladies?” he asked politely.
“Oh, yes, can I have lemonade, please?” Azure continued, not skipping a beat as she looked up to him. “Fluttershy?” she asked, looking over to her date.
“Right...” The pegasus looked up from her menu for what seemed like the first time, mulling over her options. “Can I have a glass of apple juice, please?” In the corner of her eye, Rarity watched as Azure did her best to suppress a smile.
“And we'll both have iced tea,” Rarity piped up, casting a glance at Twilight, who wore a dismayed face. ”No, dear, unfortunately the mood has been set by Miss Azure. As much as I appreciate your new found taste for good wine, sometimes you must be able to hold it in... Restraint,” she explained silently to her. The studious mare would have to be filled in after they left.
“Apple juice?” Azure asked after the waiter left, raising an eyebrow to Fluttershy.
“What about it?” Fluttershy replied, blushing slightly. “I-Is something wrong?”
“Oh, nothing,” Azure suppressed a giggle with her hoof, “it's just cute.”
Twilight flashed an amused grin at Rarity, obviously enjoying the chemistry flashing before their eyes. Rarity herself was beaming, the blue unicorn obviously fitting the niches of Fluttershy's character. They were, even from such a preview, getting along wonderfully. And with that, the white mare couldn't help herself but look at her own marefriend.
Twilight seemed to truly fit with her like two adjacent pieces of a puzzle, right?
...Or, perhaps, had she held in too many truths, too many fears? And once they were uncovered, would they repulse the beautiful mare?
Twilight caught her gaze and smiled. Rarity returned it, yet her own a facade for the thoughts that were now breeding beneath, multiplying amongst grime and darkness like disease. Where did they even come from? Moments ago she was feeling great, and now, out of the blue, skepticism and ambiguity was snaking its grasp around her. Suddenly feeling nauseous, she looked away.
By now, her anti-conscience, her irrational bringer of fear and paranoia, was resurfacing. It was growing, building and expanding, and she felt as powerless as autumn leaves before the wind. And now, not just poising her psyche with doubt and phobia, it was now also extremely risky to heal. There was truly only one pony who could cure her, but the consequences were immense.
If Twilight found out how she felt, thought, worried, and struggled between the oscillating waves of happiness and distraught, would she fight for her, Rarity, or run away from the monster? If she ran, was there anything left for that decrepit, broken shadow of a once-proud designer? If she ran, would she run straight into the hooves of somepony else to hold her? If she ran...
Rarity felt utterly sick and miserable. She cursed her own mind, who sprung upon her like a lion to a gazelle. She felt like she could not run anywhere safe, for the threat was inside her head; it squeezed her brain like a vise, the screw rusted so it would not move.
“If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'll be right back,” Rarity announced, putting on a mask as she smiled, her tone flowing with grace. Fluttershy and Azure looked up, acknowledging her with a shrug as they continued on with a conversation that she hadn't even noticed started. She dare not look at Twilight.
Getting up from her pillow, she turned around and headed for the restroom, keeping her eyes straight ahead. A few parties of ponies had been seated since they arrived, and now the cafe was operating at full capacity under its evening crowd.
Hoofsteps sounded from behind her, quicker than her own.
A cold shiver shocked down from horn to tail, and her hooves became like lead. Each step was strenuous, her muscles instantly pleading to stop. But now, she was acting all on willpower, or at least its corrupted variant. The will not to be confronted, to be left alone to soak in her dismal attitude.
The hoofsteps became louder, closer.
Oh Celestia, the moment was at hand. Something dark and deep within Rarity began to rise to the surface, her paranoid, insecure side spewing venom, ”Damn you, Twilight Sparkle! Why must you be so observant and caring? Can't you tell she wants nothing more than to be left alone?”
And yet, something far within Rarity resonated with the echo of those hoofsteps. Something began to glow, if ever faintly.
In a rare act of defiance, her legs locked up, refusing to go anywhere. She wanted to run, to hide and seek the grueling solitude of her own self pity, but her heart desired to stay put and let her love get to her first. And where the mind won in reasoning and creativity, the heart dominated in power and emotion.
A soft hoof touched her shoulder. Rarity sighed, letting her posture slump. Suddenly, she felt very tired and weak.
“Hey, are you okay?” A concerned, familiar voice asked softly.
Rarity turned around, quickly putting her mask back on. She smiled, yet this time it wasn't all fake. Something about just seeing Twilight made her smile, even if her expression bore tinges of worry.
“Yes dear, I'm just feeling a little off-kilter right now,” Rarity replied.
“Alright,” Twilight said, holding her gaze for a moment. Judging by the look in her eyes, she clearly wasn't convinced, but didn't feel like confronting her on this in such a public location. It was the second time today she had caught Rarity like this. Breathing a small sigh, she gave a sad, comforting smile and then leaned in, pecking her on the cheek as she had done before. With a final glance, she turned around and headed back for the table.
Rarity stood there for a moment, watching her go. ”How much does she know? Or rather, how much does she suspect?” she asked herself. ”What if she's suspecting the wrong things? Or what if-” She stopped as she noticed a few ponies around a nearby table look up at her. Their leers felt as if they were setting her coat on fire, threatening to reduce her to nothing but ash. As soon as she made eye contact, they all turned back around awkwardly, starting a conversation in hushed voices.
Rarity threw up.
There was no way to put it daintily or gracefully, because it was not. She was panicked and scared, the glowering embers of hope stomped out by the trio of ponies who had stared her down. She felt pathetic, exhausted, and above all, incredibly weak. Her trembling legs barely carried her to the restroom, and once inside, she locked the door and dashed for the toilet.
She still tasted bile as she took a look into the mirror. From the outside, she looked as she always had – if, you ignored the slightly-frayed mane – and thankfully none of her makeup had been damaged to an extent where she couldn't easily fix it on the fly.
But, on the inside, she could feel the civil war threatening to pull her apart. Her heart hung on valiantly for Twilight, for the mare she loved. Meanwhile, her corrupted conscience fought for old traditions and insecurities, to stop herself from becoming socially ostricized, despite how much she tried to reason with the fact that Ponyville (being so close to Canterlot) was a liberal and accepting town. At the same time, in the crossfire of all this, huddled Rarity... Because of the conflict raging solely on the interior, she became acutely aware of the fact that Twilight Sparkle knew her. Twilight knew something was wrong with her, and probably wouldn't stop until she found out just what was wrong.
And at that, her mind cringed as her heart swelled. And in the middle of it all, Rarity eked out a hopeful grin.
However, on the outside, she bore a frown. She realized that sooner of later she'd have to go back out there, probably acting as tired as she felt, and sit down for another hour with Fluttershy, Azure, and Twilight. ...That would probably bring up some unwanted emotions.
”Why now, of all times?” she groaned. ”Why so suddenly? Why so abruptly? I never asked for this, and yet here I am in a state of mental breakdown. Why can't I just be like any other pony and be happy for once, now that I think I've found 'the one'? Why can't I just be normal!?”
Normal. The word left a funny aftertaste as she tried to deal with the irrational torrent of emotions flooding her system. ”How hypocritical. Wanting to be normal,” she sneered at herself, ”when you're being anything but, by believing you've seriously fallen for a mare. If only your parents could see you now-”
Rarity stomped her hoof on the ground. She could see her own contorted expression in the mirror as she fought herself. Forcing down a few, labored breaths, at last she felt her heartbeat begin to calm. For the moment, her paranoia was suppressed, temporarily exiled to the deep recesses of her subconscious.
With that, the white unicorn gave an experimental smile. Deciding it was good enough, she slipped back on her mask, unlocking the door and heading outside.
The four mares were relaxing around the table, now rearranged to sit in pairs across from one another. Fluttershy was sipping a mug of hot chocolate as, much to Rarity and Twilight's amusement, Azure had a hoof wrapped around her shoulder. Meanwhile, the blue unicorn was happily chatting away with Twilight, who was resting against her marefriend.
The lavender mare asked no questions when Rarity had returned to the table, only mentioning that she had ordered for her in her absence. Occasionally she would give the white unicorn curious looks, probably due to the fact she was uncharacteristically quiet and reserved for the rest of the night, mostly speaking when spoken to.
Now, the cafe had quieted down, and few patrons were left besides the four of them. Because of that, Rarity felt much more at ease, no longer under the scrutiny of dozens of eyes. With each pony that left, it felt as if another twenty pounds was lifted off her back. Now, acting on a whim, she craned her head downward and kissed Twilight on the forehead.
The bookish mare suddenly stopped in the middle of her conversation. Within a second, Rarity began to blush, noticing she had feigned to notice that Twilight was talking to Azure and Fluttershy. Now, she felt cumbersome and awkward.
“Hi, you,” Twilight said, giggling as she looked up towards Rarity. “I had been wondering where my usually chatty and sweet pony had been all night.” She grinned. “Where did you find her?”
Rarity gulped. “Oh, you know, around...” She replied softly, trying to avoid the cumulative gazes from the mares across from her. Thankfully, fate offered an escape plan.
“Ladies, here is your check,” the waiter announced, coming over to the table, setting down a slip of paper. With a curt nod and a smile, he left them to pay.
Twilight picked up the bill. “Huh,” she raised an eyebrow, “well it looks like we wont be eating off the dinner menu here anymore.” She looked up to Rarity and pointed out the numbers on the bottom. “I mean, fifteen bits for an alfalfa panini? And it's a la carte!” she continued.
“Oh my...” Fluttershy broke in from across the table.
“How much is it?” Azure asked. The blue unicorn picked up her purse, fishing around a hoof inside it.
“A hundred and eight bits,” Rarity muttered.
Azure grimaced. “Ouch. Yeah, you might be right Twilight.” She pulled out her checkbook. “Well, how about I write a check to make it all neat and tidy, and you and Rarity pay me back what you owe?” The two mares in question nodded in agreement. Then, the blue unicorn looked to Fluttershy before the she could say anything. “And don't worry about paying, Fluttershy, it's the least I could do.” The timid mare blushed.
Within moments, the bill had been sorted out, the tip calculated through the computer known as Twilight's brain, and the four mares were out the door. Thankfully, as it was soon approaching spring, the evening air wasn't as harsh as it had been in previous months.
“Well, I should get going home...” Fluttershy began. “Thanks everypony, it was really nice and all-”
“Hold on!” Azure bounded over to her, putting a foreleg around her. “How about I walk you home?” Fluttershy sheepishly grinned, first looking at the ground, then up to Rarity for support.
”Go on,” Rarity mouthed to her silently, motioning with her hoof for effect.
“O-okay,” Fluttershy replied, smiling up at her. “Bye girls!” She called as she walked off with the blue-maned pony.
“Bye Fluttershy, bye Azure! It was nice meeting you!” Twilight called out after them, her scarf coming undone and falling on the ground as she waved.
“It was nice meeting you too, Twilight!” Azure called back, “And you, Rarity! Nice to see you again!”
“Bye, Azure!” Rarity said, the two rapidly vanishing from sight in the darkness. Looking to the ground, she noticed Twilight's scarf on the grass. Picking it up, she showed it to Twilight. “Are you cold?”
“Oh,” Twilight responded, placing a hoof to her neck where the scarf should have been. “Very.”
Rarity smiled, and used her magic to tie it around the lavender mare. “There you go! Now you should be warmer, darling.”
But, instead, Twilight stared at her hooves. “Nope!” She said, looking up at Rarity. “I'm still cold.” As if to serve as further proof, her teeth started to chatter. “Can I have a hug?”
“Of course.” Rarity giggled, wrapping her forelegs around Twilight, pulling her in closer. She could feel the woolen scarf touch her neck and chest. Her marefriend soon had her own forelegs around the white unicorn, sighing in relief. “Better now?” Rarity asked.
“Much,” Twilight purred. Rarity could only assume her eyes were closed, and she could hear the soft breathing by her ear. “But are you better?”
Rarity froze. Every single artery, vein, and blood cell evaded the laws of physics and did not budge a picometer. For the slightest of seconds, she enjoyed being asked such a question. Part of her felt liberated, set free to run wild from it's cage. But all within an instant, it was reigned in to fear.
The world seemed to hang on a precipice, but exactly of what, she did not know. It was so tempting to just let her heart cry over Twilight's shoulder, to finally break her own goddamn mask. But, once again, the corrupted conscientious leash held her back.
But this time, Rarity decided to not go down without a fight. She would pull on that leash, gain a few extra inches, get even closer to what she really wanted.
”And what I want is who's right around me.”
Rarity shuffled uncomfortably, small splinters of the worn bench beneath her pricking her skin. The air was on the border between neutral and annoyingly chilly. Spring was officially a few days away, but the pegasi weather patrol seemed to have other plans.
She was waiting for a certain lavender unicorn to show up. That is, if she even remembered.
Twilight's presentation was in a lineup of other ponies all set to speak to “The School for Gifted Unicorns” for their Vernal Equinox Fair; except the Princess' protégé was the keynote speaker. Because of that, she had poured much of her time over the past week into study and practice.
But, there was also the possibility that maybe Twilight just didn't want to meet her.
“No,” Rarity muttered weakly.
“No?” Twilight pulled her head back from their embrace, staring her marefriend in the eyes. “What... What's wrong?” Her smile soured into a frown, her pupils widening slightly as she searched for a clue, a hint, anything.
“I...” Rarity faltered. The words seemed to form a lump in her throat, threatening to choke her. “I...” She closed her eyes, her chin starting to tremble.
“Oh...” Twilight brought a hoof up to Rarity's face gingerly, brushing a few strands of hair out of her eyes. “Hey honey, it's okay...” She placed a light peck on her forehead. “Just let it out.”
As the bookish unicorn began rubbing her back tenderly, the first few droplets fell from Rarity's eyes. They eeked out from her eyelids, lazily rolling down her cheeks. Trailblazers, they were the first true tears she had cried in a while. She wasn't crying for who she thought she was, she was crying for who she felt she couldn't be: herself.
A flash of white, and they were both in Twilight's house. Beside her bed in fact. With a whisper in her ear, the librarian led the fashionista over to her bed. Both sitting atop it, one cradled by the other, the tears began to fall with increasing speed.
Soon enough, the purple pony shed a few tears of her own. Perhaps it was that she did not know why her love was in pain, and the frustration of being unable to help finally getting to her. Or maybe it was that she felt some empathy, deep down. Either way, even twenty minutes later, they remained in the same position.
Sometime in the rising night, Twilight lifted her head. The dim glow of a candle nearby reflected off her damp cheeks. Sniffling, she asked weakly, “Do you want to talk about it?”
Rarity sniffed, blinking her eyes a few times to rid them of their glaze, and looked up slowly. She must've looked like a mess, mascara running down her cheeks and mane in tatters. She was exhausted, spent, and felt burdened just lifting her chin.
Her mind wasn't faring much better. A pounding headache had overtaken her, whether it be a side effect of teleportation or set on by the massive outpour of emotion, she did not know. Thinking coherently also took quite some effort; the drastic highs and lows of the night had taken their toll.
But slowly, her tongue and jaw obeyed her commands. “I... Not now.” She managed to sigh, yet it was still broken and choppy. “I'm exhausted... I just want to sleep.”
Twilight nodded understandingly, laying her down and wrapping a blanket over them both. Rarity did not even notice her marefriend settle down next to her, who stared at her for a moment before slowly shaking her head. The white unicorn was asleep.
And even then, she did not sleep well. Nightmares tormented her throughout, whispers of abandonment and ostracization muttered by smoky figures with amber eyes, hidden under a shroud of darkness. To the often-awoken eye of Twilight, the unicorn shuddered and whimpered in her slumber.
The lavender mare looked as if she wanted to help, but could not. It seemed as if she didn't know why, as if she couldn't comprehend what had turned her mare into a conglomerate of shaky nerves, wary eyes and lukewarm smiles.
Wrapping her hooves tighter around the white unicorn, she sighed to herself, closing her eyes and tried to sleep.
The next morning, Rarity rubbed her eyes with her hooves. Somepony was calling her, but she was too drowsy to distinguish who. Fearing another dream, she simply grunted and pulled the blanket tighter around herself, burying her face into the pillow.
Twilight rolled her eyes. “Rarity, wake up!” Using her magic, she pulled the blanket away from its occupant. “I got you some coffee and an alfalfa bagel, I figured you'd be hungry since you didn't really touch your food last night.”
Slowly, Rarity rolled around to face Twilight. Blinking, she had trouble adjusting her eyes to the light, and her troubled night still left her feeling drained. But even then, she propped herself and managed a smile. “Thank you, dear. That was very thoughtful and nice of you.”
Twilight returned the smile, sitting down next to her on the bed and levitating the tray just over the blankets. “So... How are you feeling?” she asked carefully. She rubbed a hoof along the mare's back.
“Alright...” Rarity sipped at her coffee momentarily. “I'm still tired, but not nearly as bad as last night.”
“Oh? Well that's good, I guess.” Twilight pecked her on the cheek. “Anyways, once you're done, there's someponies downstairs that you might want to say hi to.”
Rarity perked up slightly at that. But, before she could ask any questions, Twilight promptly got up and left the room, leaving the tray to rest on the bed. Shrugging, the unicorn set down her coffee and nibbled her bagel anxiously. She really didn't feel like seeing anypony in her current state of... distress.
”But, I probably should freshen up and go down to say hello,” she mused. ”As uncomfortable and weary as I am now, it would be the right thing to do. I still care for Twilight, no matter how torn up I am on the inside.
“Last night was... different,” she reflected, getting up from the bed and making her way over to the bathroom. ”I let my dark, paranoid side get a hold of me, and next thing I know, I'm puking over a couple of prejudiced stares. But I should be better than that! I am Rarity, a talented fashion designer and an embodiment of generosity: an element of harmony!
“And yet I cannot bring myself to bear some stupid, ignorant ponies' judgments.” She sunk in front of the mirror. ”A cocktail of natural melodrama, accrued sense of faux-correctness, and deep insecurity, all shaken up by love. And now... I sip from it and smile, because I do not know how to stop myself.
“Ironically, stopping myself seems all I have done.”
Rarity stepped down the stairs, hearing the soft murmurs of numerous ponies nearby. She cringed as she looked down, noticing it was none other than a few of her friends: Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie.
“Oh, and there she is now!” Twilight pointed out as she entered the main room from another entrance, presumably the kitchen on accord from the pitcher of lemonade she was carrying. “I told you she'd be down soon.”
The mare in question managed a small smile as the others turned towards her. Applejack waved hello. Pinkie Pie smiled at her. Rainbow Dash put a hoof up to her mouth to suppress a giggle. Rarity twitched at that.
“What is the matter, Rainbow dear?” Rarity asked, walking over beside her friends. “Did you notice something wrong with my mane?” Oddly enough, her eyes remained locked with the cyan pegasus'.
“Nope!” she shook her head, making a herculean effort to smother her laughter. “It's just that I can't believe you and egghead are dating.”
“Why is that so hard to believe?” Twilight asked, joining their little circle.
“Well, I mean I did see you two kiss once, after coming home from the wonderbolts display.” Rarity felt her stomach plummet. “But, I just shrugged it off after seeing Rarity around town.” She looked over to the mare in question. “I mean, no offense, but you do like to show off. And even though we didn't say much the few times we ran into eachother, I was sure you'd have said something about it.” Rainbow shrugged. “So, when you said nothing, I just assumed it was a fluke incident.”
“Why didn't you say anything?” Rarity asked, feeling challenged. “You like to tease and joke, so now I'm surprised you didn't harass me the first chance you got.”
“Because I know what it's like?” Rainbow cast a sidelong glance at Pinkie Pie. “Sure, I know I can act impulsively and laugh and speak when I shouldn't... But I get it, sometimes you're just in the moment, y'know? And maybe you just didn't want everypony to know...”
“Yeah!” Pinkie Pie piped up. “And why didn't you tell me sooner, Rarity?! My two bestest friends dating is a perfect reason for a party!”
“Well, I haven't seen you all that much since we last chatted at the Sugarcube Corner, dear,” Rarity replied, biting down the frustration rising in her chest. ”What goes around, comes around,” she scolded herself. ”You're the one always having to be nosy, and now that your friends are doing it right back to you, you can't handle it...”
“Well...” Pinkie tapped a hoof to her chin. “I did see you that one time, when you asked me if I had seen Fluttershy, and oooh you looked so pretty, and -” She stopped short. She eyeballed Rarity slowly, then suspiciously rolled her gaze over to Twilight.
Pinkie Pie made a hiccup-like sound, and her face began to scrunch up.
Twilight took a tentative step forward. “Pinkie, are you going to be sick-”
Instead, the pink party pony let out another hiccup. Then a few more, and even more, until her lips suddenly formed a smile. Her chest began to shake as she hiccuped more and more.
Then it hit Rarity. She wasn't going to be sick or having the hiccups. No, she was laughing.
And at that exact moment, the giggles rushed out of Pinkie Pie like a gushing waterfall, as she simply gave up on her hooves and plopped on the floor. “Oh!...” She tried to catch her breath in between guffaws. “Oh, oh my gosh! This... This is too great! I definitely have to throw you two a party now!”
“What?” Rarity asked, completely lost and confused.
“I just remembered,” Pinkie explained, finally calming down a bit, “about how we had a discussion on my Pinkie Sense in front of your door. And then I had a twitch, and I knew exactly what it was about, but I didn't know exactly who... But now I do!”
Rarity's eye twitched. Her blood ran cold, and all the pieces began to fit into place. ”Curse Pinkie and her damn prophetic seizures!”
”You don't want anypony to know what you've done behind closed doors with Twilight, huh?” she sneered at herself. ”Why not? It's just Pinkie Pie, she of all ponies would understand if you slept with another mare...”
“What are you talking about?” Twilight asked curiously.
Rarity wanted to tackle Pinkie Pie to the ground and prevent her from breathing another word. But the cold fear of the truth getting out had frozen her joints solid.
Pinkie Pie reeled the words off in one short blast, declaring it all in less than a second, “My Pinkie Sense told me that Rarity was going to get lucky with Twilight!”
Rarity turned just in time to see Twilight's jaw slack, and her magic as well, the pitcher of lemonade shattering on the floor. Legs trembling slightly, the librarian otherwise remained still in horror.
Applejack pulled her hat down over her face, hiding a blush. “Pinkie, ah don't think it's the best idea to be announcin' that in front of all of us. That's privat-”
“Oh, geez, this is great!” Rainbow collapsed into a heap of laughter next to the pink proclaimer. “I never expected this!” Holding a hoof over her stomach, she didn't even try to stem the tears starting to trickle from her eyes.
Rarity felt like her insides were mutinying and tying themselves in a knot. While her sweat glands were bursting like pipes, her heart was threatening to pound her ribcage into dust. Rationality and sanity quickly spiraling down the drain, the once-proud mare snapped like a twig under a mountain.
“OUT!” she screeched, so high it could break windows. “Everypony, get OUT!” She pointed her hoof towards the door, whipping it open with her magic.
Time froze. Rainbow Dash stopped mid-guffaw. Pinkie Pie frowned. Applejack picked her hat up. Twilight turned her head slightly and gave her a glance. Rarity panted, her breathing raspy and weak as hot, angry tears rolled from her eyes. A few quickly dropped to the floor.
And then, slowly, the world picked itself back up. Rainbow Dash got herself up off the floor. Pinkie Pie's eyes widened and her frown deepened. Applejack headed for the door. Within seconds, nopony was left in the main room save for Twilight and Rarity.
The white unicorn seethed. She stared straightforward at the door, waiting a few moments to make sure nopony was coming back. With a slam, she turned to Twilight, sniffles breaking their silence.
“Rarity...” Twilight started, giving her a confused look. However, the words failed to form in her mouth. Jaw slackened, she simply stared at her.
Still exasperated, still sniffling, nevertheless Rarity replied, “I'm sorry...”
Twilight moved closer to her, slowly giving her a hug. “I just don't understand,” she whispered.
Rarity eventually pulled away, shuffling her hooves while the last tears squeezed out and rolled along her cheeks. But she remained silent.
“Please, talk to me. Rarity, I care about you.” Twilight looked at her pleadingly, eyes searching for a clue. “You trust me, right?”
The fashionista swallowed. ”You trust her, right? Come on then, Rarity, tell her. Tell her you're afraid of being judged for simply being with her. She'll definitely understand.” Closing her eyes, Rarity just wished for her fears to leave her alone.
“Rarity, what is it?” Twilight asked, putting a hoof on her marefriend's shoulder. But, garnering nothing but silence, she tried again. “Rarity, please, talk to me.” The lavender mare began to sniffle and her chin trembled, feeling lost and helpless.
”Oh no, please don't cry..." Rarity felt like she was dying on the inside. Her soul threatened to rip itself apart, over whether to give in to her fears and remain silent, or to give in to Twilight and tell her everything.
“Please... I can tell something isn't right with you, and I want to help.” Twilight was blinking, tears forming along her eyelids. “Please...” she begged.
“Don't you trust me?”
Rarity felt the last fiber in her soul snap, the hot tears eking out once more. It seemed so easy. ”Just open your damn mouth and say it. It can't be more than two sentences, Rarity, say it!” She mentally slapped herself. Yet, a cold paralysis overtook her, irrationality wreaking havoc on her mind. ”For all the love you have for this mare, just say it!”
But she could not. Succumbed to the paralysis of fear, the fear of her feelings, herself, her justifications, how Twilight would act, and among the millions of other things to be afraid of, she feared the truth would only make things worse.
"Is that a no?" Twilight whispered, her tears dropping to the floor with greater frequency.
They lingered in silence for minutes, except for sniffling and quiet sobs from Twilight. Eventually, though, she wiped her eyes and looked straight at her.
“Rarity...” Twilight took in a shaky, deep breath. Her whole body was quivering. “I think you should take some time for yourself.” She pointed towards the door, which was now opened, a purple glow around it.
“Once you decide you can tell me, you can come back.” Twilight then added in a whisper, “Once you can trust me.”
”No, no no no...”
“But until then, I think we should spend some time apart.”
Hoofsteps sounded nearby her, as Rarity sat on the bench. She didn't turn around, her whole body feeling numb.
“Hello, Rarity.” The voice seemed almost too formal, as if they were merely acquaintances. .
Slowly, however, Rarity turned her head over, to see Twilight standing to her left. She looked utterly disheveled and worn-out, although whether from studying or... her, she did not know.
“I don't know what's the matter with you. I waited a week for you. I thought that'd be enough for you to calm down and see me.” Twilight said quietly. “I don't know where my Rarity is.”
The white unicorn closed her eyes at hearing that, bittersweet memories of happy, bygone days fluttering through her mind. Each flashback scorched and branded her broken soul, each one was agony.
Opening her eyes, she noticed an envelope hovering before her.
“It's a ticket to the Vernal Equinox Fair,” Twilight informed her. “Take it. If you manage to find Rarity, let her know that I still care for her... More than anypony I know. And if she still cares for me, if she still lo-..." She faltered. "I- I'll be expecting to see her in Canterlot.” She placed the envelope down on the bench beside Rarity.
"If not..." Twilight blinked rapidly a few times, looking down sadly at her, before shaking her head and turning around, leaving her.
Rarity hunched over the bar, propping herself up on her forelegs. There was nopony else around. “I don't know, give me the best you've got, Gold Tab.”
“Are you sure?” the golden stallion behind the bar asked. “You've already had a few drinks, Rarity, maybe you should calm down for a bit. I don't want you getting sick all over the counter.” As if to punctuate his fear, he wiped a cloth along it.
It was late. She hardly knew what time it was, her only baseline coming from waking up in the dying rays of sunlight. What she did know, was that Twilight's speech was tomorrow. Rarity had headed out to the Progressive Pedigree to ease her troubled, swirling mind. She still had no clue how to feel or what to do.
“Here,” said Golden Tab, sliding over a glass. “Cranberry Juice, it's on me.”
Rarity smiled, before taking a sip. ”So this is how you decide to go down? Drinking at the bar and letting alcohol cover up the wounds you can't fix?” She frowned. Magically passing the drink back to the bartender, she replied, “Sorry, but I do think I need another appletini.”
“I don't think-”
“For fucking Celestia's sake,” she hissed, “just do it.”
“Jeez, okay, fine.” Golden Tab held his forehooves up in the air, before working on her cocktail. “But if you start throwing up-”
“Please, shut up. I know my limits.” Rarity fumed. She just wanted him to do his job, to keep handing over the drinks while she wallowed in her despair for a while.
The bartender glared at her, before setting down the cocktail shaker and pouring out its contents into a glass. Setting it before Rarity, he quickly scurried off and left the bar.
Rarity lifted up her drink, sipping it and leaning back onto her seat with a sigh. ”There you go, Rarity. Who needs her? She's practically given up on you, and you know it. It's time to move on.”
“Rarity, darling, it's so nice to see you here!”
The white unicorn turned around, noticing a familiar face sitting down beside her. “Belvedere! What are you up to these days!” She threw on a quick, fake smile and a laugh.
“Oh, you know, same old jazz.” He laughed too. “I just finished up, and there's really nopony left around here. Well, that is, except for this adorable couple in the back of the restaurant. Both mares, too.”
“You don't say?” Her voice turned sour.
“Hey, what about you and that cute little thing you brought in a few weeks back? “
”There it is...” Rarity threw her head back and downed the rest of her appletini. “What about it?”
Belvedere eyed the empty martini for a moment, before looking back up to her. “I thought you two were dating. Really dear, the way you looked at her and she looked at you was worse than a hoofmark movie.”
“No, we don't have a thing going on,” she answered brusquely.
“But I was sure you two were on a date.”
“Yes, that was then.” Rarity gulped. “Right now though...”
“Oh no, I'm so sorry. What happened?” Belvedere leaned closer, putting a hoof on Rarity's.
“It's a long story, I doubt you'd want to hear me ramble on for so long.”
“I'm your friend. You can talk to me for as long as you like.” Belvedere lowered his eyes. “I've been in some bad relationships myself, and I know that talking it out is the best way to ease the pain. So, what's wrong?”
Rarity inhaled for a moment, trying to muster the courage to let her words and feelings run free. She knew they wouldn't though, they never did. But as she opened her mouth, for once, she felt nothing holding her back. Was it the alcohol? Perhaps it was the growing pit of despair in her stomach? Or maybe it was the fact her esteem had been reduced to nothing but ash and rubble.
“It was all my fault...” she muttered, and from there the words tumbled from her mouth like a overflowing sink.
“...And she said if I didn't show up at Canterlot, that we'd be through.” Rarity's cheeks were damp with the trails of her tears, despite how much Belvedere offered a box of tissues. “Since then, I don't know what to do. I feel like she's abandoned me, even though I know she hasn't...yet. I just want to give up. She deserves somepony better anyways,” she sniffled, “one who isn't afraid of being judged by other ponies for being a fillyfooler. I'm so afraid, Bel. I've seen ponies whisper about us, and I can just imagine all the things they think about me and her. I-...I don't sleep sometimes because of that, where I just see ponies laughing and mocking me.”
She laid her head on the bar, her back heaving with sobs. “I'm such a coward.”
“Oh, no, don't say that!” Belvedere rubbed her back. “Rarity, many gay ponies have a period, no matter how large or small, where they have the same fears as you do. You're not alone.”
“R-really?” Rarity slowly picked her head up, looking at him.
“Yes,” he answered softly with a smile. “Even I did, as hard to believe as that is. You don't even realize how lucky you are, either.”
“You have the opportunity to get through all the stress, all the anxiety with another pony you love, right beside you. Somepony to lean on when you think you might crumble. And slowly, it'll get better, as long as you love her. Do you?”
Rarity quivered. She cared for her more than anypony she knew. She wanted to make her happy, to hear her giggle in delight, to see her smile whenever she could, to wake up each morning and get lost in watching her sleep. ”Is that love? If it is, then I've never told her...” Guilt washed over her like a blastwave.
“Yes...” she admitted.
“Then, as long as you love her, and she loves you, you can get through it just fine as long as you talk it out and let her know when you need help.” Noticing Rarity's sudden change of expression, he continued, “I suppose that didn't always happen, did it?”
“No...” Rarity said with a sigh. “I wish I had, though. It's too late to fix that now.”
Belvedere shook his head. “Is it? If you take the train out now, I'm positive you could make it out to Canterlot by sunrise.”
“No, you weren't there. You should've seen here face at the park, it made me feel dreadful. So disappointed, so sad... I can't bear going back to get her, only to hurt her again in the future.”
“If you just talk about it with her, I'm sure she'll understand. She seems like a nice pony. In fact, I think she'll be relieved to know exactly what's been wrong with you.”
“Perhaps... But, I feel like she'll just see me for how weak and stupid I am. She might just think I've been ashamed of her.”
“Dear, if she loves you too, I doubt she'd think any of those things. She'd most likely do all she can to help, to make you comfortable so she can have her Rarity back.”
“You really think so?” Rarity asked with a sniffle.
“Yes.” Belvedere leaned over further and pulled his friend into a warm hug. It last for a few quiet moments, before they broke apart slowly.
“Th-thank you, darling.” Rarity slowly got off her chair at the bar, throwing a few bits on the counter. “I'll give it some thought, but for now... I think I need some air to clear my head.”
He smiled. “Go ahead. Just do what makes you happy, Rarity.” She smiled back at him, before turning around and heading for the door.
”I can't just go running back for her, can I? She's probably so hurt and lost, I doubt we could pick it up from where we used to be.” She pushed the front door open violently, it's handle smacking the wall outside. She stomped her hooves as she walked away from the restaurant. ”Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why must I be so wrapped in what other ponies think, instead of what I think? Why must I be so... so... so egotistical, self-conscious, and selfish?! Why can't I be a better pony? Why can't I be-”
The unicorn groaned, turning back around towards the door. Two mares were looking out at her, Fluttershy and Azure.
“Oh, hi...” she replied.
“Hi!” Fluttershy trotted, trotted, over to her. “I nearly thought I missed you as we saw you leave! Thank Celestia we found you!”
“Oh. Well, umm, here I am.” Rarity shrugged.
“I know! I just wanted to thank you for pointing this place out to me.” Fluttershy hugged her quickly, as Azure slowly walked up to the two.
“You're... quite welcome, darling.” She threw on another fake smile. “Anything for a friend.”
“And more than just that.” Fluttershy glanced at Azure. “You pretty much set this whole thing up with Azure and I. You gave her my name, and convinced us to go on a double date, and you've been supportive the entire time. I just-... Thank you.” She gave her friend another hug, this time tighter and longer.
“No problem, dear.” Rarity swallowed. She felt like she wanted to be alone. She felt like something was welling up within her. She felt jealous. She wanted to have what she had... A pony to rely on, to cry on, to love.
“Well,” Fluttershy kicked her hoof on the ground awkwardly, “we should get back inside. We're not even done with dinner yet, and I know we're holding everypony up from closing. Once again, thank you.” Azure nodded in agreement, putting a hoof around the yellow pegasus.
“Oh, don't let me stop you, you two!” Rarity gave out a faux laugh. “Go on back in, enjoy yourselves!” The other mares laughed in return, nodding and muttering their goodbyes before turning around and heading back in the restaurant.
Waiting a minute before they were fully out of sight, Rarity sighed, a tear rolling down her cheek.
Trudging down the road, Rarity looked up ahead. Her boutique was waiting for her, as it always did. With a sigh and a sniffle, she kept her legs moving. It was a strain, not from physical but emotional exertion, to put one hoof in front of the other. Her head sagged like a lopsided sack of flour.
”So, this is it? This is where it comes to a close?” Rarity inched closer and closer to her house. ”I guess it's for the better... Huh, what's this?” Looking over to her mailbox, she noticed a thin package barely sticking out. Pulling it out with her magic, she noticed it wasn't a package at all. Rather, it seemed to be some sort of hard object, wrapped in brown paper.
Shrugging, Rarity brought it inside with her. Closing the door, the boutique was dimly lit by a sole light coming all the way from her bedroom. Her past few days had been a blurry wreck, and the state of her house and store reflected that.
Climbing the stairs, Rarity toted her curious “package” with her, the soft glow of her horn illuminating the area around her. She didn't know what it held, but she supposed it could wait until she reached the sanctuary of her bed. She felt too depressed, too defeated to do anything about it in the meantime, her mattress had become her greatest source of comfort and escape for the past two days. Often she slept for hours at a time, only staying up for short periods of time to quell whatever bodily need annoyed her, before crying herself back to sleep again.
The room was a mess, as was usual. Supplies, drafts and designs littered the room, untouched in days. A pillow laid lonely in the middle of the floor. A bottle of wine sat emptily on her nightstand, a small white envelope next to it. Climbing wearily above her thick comforter, Rarity laid down and yawned. “Better see what this is about,” she muttered to herself. Tearing the paper off with her magic, Rarity gasped. Bound in green, gold letters flitted over the cover.
“L'Amour de Charité,” Rarity uttered, staring in disbelief at the novel in front of her. For old time's sake, she started flipping through the pages, scanning their words as bits and fragments of bygone memories flashed in her mind. ”The forbidden romance of the noblemare Charity and the city-dweller Bayard,” she thought to herself nostalgically.
As she turned over the last page, a note fell out, lying face down on the bed. “Huh?” Rarity said to herself aloud, picking it up with a glow of her horn.
The last few days have been tough, to say the least. I've been worrying about you so much that I can't even focus on writing my speech; I felt like I had to get this out before I could do anything else. More than anything, I want to know where my Rarity has gone. The one who is sociable, fun, compassionate and intelligent. I want to see you smile again while we run in the rain, eat dinner on the grass, listening to the orchestra, or simply walk through the streets of Ponyville as we have so many times. I want to see you laugh, to see that glimmer in your eyes when you tease me, to hold or be held by you. I want that all, I want that Rarity, back.
However, I'm not sure if I can. You've grown silent and moody and it kills me to see you like this. Your usually outgoing, extroverted nature has collapsed into something I don't recognize. You won't even tell me what's wrong. I wanted – and I still want – to help you so badly, but you won't tell me what's bothering you. Nothing. Not even a sentence. And that's what hurts the most. The silence. Most nights, I've been kept awake wondering what's hidden in there. And – (the ink has bled and been distorted beyond legibility due to water damage) – 'm scared - . . . - iss y - . . . - can't do th -. . . - ut I think that if you can't trust me with what's bothering you, then maybe I just don't matter that much to you.
So, here's this book back. It's funny how I gave this to you when I first, truly realized you meant something to me, and now I'm giving it to you again when it could possibly be the end. Unless, of course, you decide to show up in Canterlot, but that's entirely up to you.
There's nopony else I want to be with right now more than you, Rarity, but I'm not going to force you to want me.
Defying her previous assumptions, Rarity still had tears left. They flowed freely down her cheeks, dampening her comforter until she utterly disintegrated, her face falling into her hooves as her whole body shook. Loud, gasping sobs filled the room, mixed in with sniffling and groaning of a mare who finally felt the full weight of her choices.
“I... I did this. To myself. To Twilight. In the process, I probably did other things I shouldn't have to other ponies. I gave up the one mare, the one pony, who made me feel whole. I threw it all away...” her hooves began to shake once more, not with grief, but with anger, “for what?! So some stuck-up, ignorant ponies will accept me? So they'll invite me into their little circle of other prejudiced friends? So I won't be mocked for being with the one mare I love?”
Rarity screamed. Slamming her hoof on the bed, she picked up the book in her magic, and hurled it at the wall. It crashed with a flutter of pages, before landing face down and open on the floor. ”Why must I torture myself in such a way? Am I just some sadistic little bitch who can't be happy with what she has?”
”Well, you are quite the perfectionist. Perhaps that poor, little mare isn't perfect enough for you?”
”No...” Rarity thought defiantly. ”No, I think it's because she's too perfect for me.” A bright, encouraging glow grew in her chest, beating her heart faster. ”She's kind, courageous and sweet. She knows who she is and she doesn't let others ponies tell her otherwise, and accepts them for how they are as well. She's naïve, and I think she knows that, and yet she doesn't go out of her way to change that. She's comfortable with who she truly is, and on top of that, she has all these other admirable and adorable qualities that I adore.”
”Meanwhile, I'm just some prissy, melodramatic pony that can't get over herself and what she thinks other ponies say. She deserves better.”
”And you are not. Don't bother your time with her, you'd just be wasting it. She'll move on.”
”Possibly. Or-” the radiant glow shined brighter. ”I could just be better. I still have a chance, don't I? I can still make it to Canterlot and be there for her. I can show up, and tell her everything. All my fears, why I've been silent, everything. Just like Bel said, she'd understand.”
Rarity got up and off her bed, checking herself in the mirror. Her makeup was a mess, running down her face in streaks. Levitating over a bottle of makeup removed, she wiped them from her face.
”Would she?” a darker, cynical side of her asked, as she walked out of her room and down the stairs. ”There's always a chance that she might be even more upset with you. Do you really want to make her feel that way, all because you think you can be better?”
”I have to try, and hope that she'll see more for who I am.” Rarity picked up her purse and walked out the door, closing it behind her.
And who's saying she'll want to see who you truly are?
Rarity's heart was racing. Her legs where working as fast they could. Her hair was blowing behind her as the wind dried out her eyes. Breaths came out in short bursts.
Charging down the main road of Ponyville, the white unicorn was weaving in and out of other pastel-colored equines. Her hoofs begun to ache as she skidded out of the way of a cabbage cart, continuing her relentless pace onward. Oddly enough, it seemed like time had stopped, no other pony noticing her as she charged onwards to her goal. In fact, it seems like none of them even cared that she was tearing after her objective.
Soon enough, the tree library came into view, and confidence began to fill her heart. ”I can do this! Yes, I can do this!” Dreams of the future began to fill her mind, happy times and loving evenings. Everything was coming together harmoniously.
Out of nowhere, something blocked her path, right as she was on top of it. No time to stop, Rarity slammed into it at full speed. The object stood firm, while the unicorn fell backwards, a headache screaming in her temples.
The world was fuzzy, her ears ringing from impact. She felt dizzy and frantic, struggling to make heads or tails of the situation. When she opened her eyes, she could hardly see, the impact impairing her vision and making everything blurry. It looked like a cloud... Or maybe a mound of snow.
She tried to stand back up, but quickly fell back down as dizziness overtook her. Looking back to what she had run into, the picture began to clear. ”No, no no no...”
Voices started to call out to her. “You don't belong here. This is not the right place for you,” they said. “Forget it, it's hopeless...”
Looming up in front of her, as Rarity began to see, was a giant wall. Like most walls it was very tall, hard to climb, surrounded the entire library, solid and strong. Exactly alike to any other wall that had ever been build before, with one exception.
This wall was covered in mirrors.
The white unicorn backed away, eyes widening with comprehension. In front of her, backing away, was herself. She looked scared, hurt, and confused. Tentatively, Rarity took a step forward. So did her image. She walked so closed to the wall that she was snout to snout with herself. Placing a hoof on the glass siding, she pressed down as if to force her way through. The wall – and in addition, her mirrored self – stood firm, refusing to let her pass.
Spinning around, Rarity tried to buck the wall. Her back hooves slammed against the mirrors, who refused to even crack. Sparks of pain shot up her rear legs. Whimpering, the mare laid down as she let the pain recede. ”I can't just force my way through it.”
Just then, an idea struck her. Gritting her teeth as she stood back up, her hooves still sore, Rarity took off, running around the wall. Minutes later, however, she seemed to get tired. She noticed she had passed the same mailbox a dozen times. ”And there's no getting around it, either.”
”No, you cannot. Don't you see, you lonely, little pony, you will always be there to get in your own way. Don't waste your time,” a dark, snarling voice rang out from nowhere.
”Anything I do for Twilight will never be a waste.”
”Are you so sure? Do you really think she'll accept this vile, paranoid side you harbor?”
”I... I hope she will.”
”Oh my, what faith you have in her. Yes, of course, she'll surely come back to you after you spat on her feelings with silence and let her cry over their broken remains.
Rarity flattened her ears against her head”She will! Twilight's a great pony, and I believe she can see how I'm hurting just like she is, that I love her.”
”Love!” The dark voice laughed. ”Right, you love her. So much so, that you don't tell her how you feel, and you don't even try to respond when she asks if you trust her. Ah, so that's what love is! Thank you, my dear, for informing me of what it truly is.”
”That's not true!”
”Isn't it?...” The walls and her surroundings started to bleed their colors, turning gray, and then tinging into black. The last words of the dark voice began to echo and reverberate in her ears, softly whittling away until it, and the world around her, faded into nothingness.
“Miss, would you like some coffee?” A hoof touched her shoulder.
Face pressed against the window, mouth slightly agape and eyes closed, Rarity snapped awake. Eyes blinked open, and her forelegs flailed. “Huh? What?” She blinked her eyes, looking around.
“I was just wondering if you would like some coffee.”
Rarity looked over, and noticed the attendant at her side in the aisle. A yellow-coated, pink-maned unicorn mare, she wore a blue uniform and cap. She gazed down at the awoken pony curiously.
“Oh, yes, coffee would be wonderful, thank you.” Rarity tried her best to smile, as the attendant nodded and walked down the car. ”Ugh... What a nightmare,” she thought to herself. ”It was probably just due to the stress and the lack of comfort, the two AM train into Canterlot is a dreadful experience.”
The car was lit, on account for the fact that she didn't have enough bits in her purse to purchase a spot in one of the sleeping cars. She cursed herself for not thinking of grabbing any extra money on the way out. Now, she was stuck on coach.
Looking up to the clock, Rarity noted it was four-thirty. ”Four more hours to go,” she grumbled to herself.
Within moments, the attended returned, a mug of black coffee and tray in tow. Rarity thanked her for it, watched her leave, and then took a sip. ”Eww, this is dreadful!” She placed the mug on the tray beside her. Instead, she stared out the window.
For the most part, the world was dark. Hardly anything was visible, and what was, was only a passing blur. Sighing, she resorted to letting her mind wander.
”Twilight's out there somewhere. Far, far away, but somewhere. I hope I can reach her in time, as her speech starts at nine-thirty.” She frowned. ”How stupid I was! I should've left days earlier, where I could've apologized to her and taken her out to dinner the night before her speech. I could've been there to help her. I could've been better. I could've been...” she trailed off, not wanting to go down this path again.
Closing her eyes, she placed her face against the window. It felt cool and refreshing, a relief from the hot and stuffy train car. Rarity yawned.
Sitting herself back up straight, Rarity shook her head to banish her weariness. Looking to her right, she found her coffee once more and brought it to her lips, drinking deeply. The harsh, bitter flavor shredded down her throat, leaving aftershocks of aftertaste. She grimaced, and swallowing one more time to help erase its taste, sipped from the coffee again. The night ride to Canterlot was going to be a long one.
The train finally came to a stop with a heave and a sigh as it arrived in Canterlot station. The car's clock read eight forty-five. Putting her stuff away in her purse, Rarity got up from her seat and waited anxiously by the door. She had spent the last half hour trying to mitigate the effects of her long night with what cosmetics she had on her, but she still looked depleted. Small wrinkles still lingered under her eyes, of which were bloodshot.
At last, the door opened, a conductor's face sticking out. “Welcome, ma'am, to Canterl-”
“Yes, yes, thank you, but I'm in a bit of a rush.” Rarity stepped out, pushing past him, trotting up the platform and towards the station building. It was rush-hour Canterlot, and as such every pony commuting to the capital to work was convening in the same building as she. Opening the door, Rarity found the main room to be packed, ponies crowded everywhere.
She looked up at the grandiose clock adorning the wall to her right. ”Eight fourty-seven.” Glancing around, Rarity made her way into the middle of the room. She needed to find somepony to talk to, anypony who looked even the slightest bit official. Yards away, she noticed an information kiosk, attended by one lone pony.
Approaching the stand, she rapped her hoof on the desk. “Hello? Yes, excuse me, do you know how to get to 'The School for Gifted Unicorns?'”
The stallion smiled and nodded. “Yes, but while you're here, why don't I tell you about all the sights and attractions Canterlot has to offer?”
“No. All I need is to get the quickest directions possible to 'The School for Gifted Unicorns.'” Rarity tried her best to polite and smiled at him.
“But, can't I at least tell how steeped in history-”
Her smile turned sour. “Listen, I wouldn't care if this city is so old it was first a treehouse for Princess Celestia. Where is 'The School for Gifted Unicorns?'” She leered at him, watching his confidence crumble.
“Take a right from the main entrance, then a left, then another left. You can't miss it.” He shrunk back behind his counter.
“Thank you.” Rarity whipped around and trotted for the door.
The streets of Canterlot were a mess. Dozens upon dozens of colorful equines moved at a lethargic pace, creeping down the street like a discomforting, slouching rainbow that forgot what colors went where. Rarity could hardly move faster than at a walking pace. Stuck in the swarm, she couldn't do more than yell and scream, and she knew it was pointless to do so. Ponies were packed so tightly together that they couldn't be forced aside, not to mention the two in front of her were giant and intimidating. Looking to her left and right, Rarity saw no opening, just more and more bodies slowly making their way through the city.
Scanning the nearby area for a clock, she found one on a corner, held up by a post. ”Eight-fifty.”
”You're running out of time.
Rarity did her best to quash her fearful thoughts, sending them back to the recesses of her conscious. ”The school didn't seem that far away, according to what the stallion at the kiosk said. Even with moving at such a dreadful pace, I can hardly see me getting there later than eight fifty-eight. Enough time to find the auditorium and get a seat. ...I hope.”
The steps leading to “The School for Gifted Unicorns” were cut from white marble, going for quite a distance before reaching the large, oaken doors. Rarity, however, cleared them in seconds. She ran up them double-step, breathing heavily as she reached the top. Pulling open the doors with her magic, she stepped inside.
A long row of tables awaited her as she entered, staffed by elderly mares who all had lockboxes and bins of discarded tickets in front of them. Rarity trotted up to the nearest pony.
“Hello, hi, my name's Rarity and my friend Twilight Sparkle is speaking today.” She flashed a smile.
“Great.” The nag grunted. “Gotta ticket?”
“Huh? Oh, yes, why I do.” Rarity slipped her purse off from around her shoulder, digging through it. “Hold on, it's in here somewhere.” The old mare rolled her eyes.
”That's odd,” Rarity thought. ”I swore I put it in- Oh no.” Mentally, her mind backtracked all the way to her house, up the stairs, into her room, and on her far nightstand where the envelope lay. It was probably still where she placed it after returning home from the park only days before.
“Well?” The old ticketpony asked.
“I seem to have forgotten it...” Rarity said quietly, before continuing in a louder voice, “Don't you have any lists of reserved ticket holders? I'm sure my name is on there.”
“We don't. No ticket, no entrance.”
“Please?” Rarity opened her eyes wide, beseeching her with a sad frown. “My friend is in there right now and I promised I'd come to see the fair. It's very important to me that I get to hear the keynote speech.”
“Huh, is this your coltfriend or sumthin'? Now move along, lady, you need a ticket to get inside.”
Rarity's brow furrowed as she quickly changed gears. She wouldn't let some cranky crone get in her way of Twilight. “Now listen here, you stubborn mule! I am going to hear the keynote speech one way or another. Either you can be helpful, and let me go inside for five minutes, or I can run past you anyways and cause a huge scene that nopony will enjoy. Now, let me in!”
“Mule? Why you little, pampered filly! I'll teach you to disrespect ya elders!” She stood up from her seat, shaking a hoof at her. “You brat, get out of her this instant!”
“No!” Rarity shouted, putting a hoof down on the table. All the other ticketponies' eyes bore on her. “I am going inside to watch my friend speak, and that's that!” She was about to gallop around the table when another voice floated from nearby.
“Ladies, please, what are you bickering about?”
Rarity looked up, and nearly collapsed as she saw the regal form of Princess Celestia step out from around the corner.
“Ah, ya majesty, forgive me.” The nag turned and bowed to her.
“Oh, it's quite alright, my little pony. I just heard the sound of arguing on my way to the auditorium, and decided to see if I could help.” Celestia smiled, before her eyes darted and locked onto Rarity's. “Rarity, this is a surprise. I'm a little disappointed to see you acting like this.” Her words felt like a buck to the stomach. “What is this conflict all about?”
Rarity quickly and crudely curtsied, before facing the diarch once again. “Ah, umm, hello there, Princess. Yes, well, see I-I wanted to attend the Vernal Equinox Fair, but when I realized I forgot my ticket at home, I guess I got a little heated and upset.”
Celestia nodded. “I assumed as much. However, I find it intriguing that you're so adamant about attending in the first place. I can only reason that you came here to see Twilight, but where are all of your friends?”
“They're back at Ponyville.”
“Why just you, then? You seemed awfully irritable a moment ago, too.” Princess Celestia tilted her head to the side, lowering the volume of her voice, “Is something wrong?”
“Between Twilight and I, yes,” Rarity admitted with a sigh. This conversation was going down a path she really didn't want it to, considering the nature of her and Twilight's relationship, and the fact that Princess Celestia was, well, Princess Celestia. Not quite the pony she wanted to reveal her pitfalls to. But, the issue that rose above all the others, was her anxiety of being open with any pony about her preference for mares. When multiplied by the fact that she'd be telling this to a pony as respected, powerful, and regal as Celestia, and that she was interested in said princess' protégé, it made her legs feel weak and her mental backbone brittle.
“She was upset that I didn't talk to her about my problems.” The scene at the park replayed itself through her head. “She thought I didn't trust her.”
Princess Celestia remained mute for a moment, before answering, “Hmm, did you tell your other friends about your issues? Did Twilight feel left out?”
“No... That isn't it. If I had to, I could – and I have – talked to my friends about it.” Rarity gulped. She really didn't feel comfortable talking about this with Celestia, but something egged her on, from deep inside. “It's different though, with Twilight.”
Celestia's head pulled back slightly, her eyebrows raised. “And why is that?”
Rarity felt her chest tighten, the air squeezed out of her lungs like a vacuum. She wanted to turn around, tail between her legs, and run. This was not what she envisioned her trip to Canterlot being like. It was all too much, after being ran over and over with stress and worry, her nerves frayed and mangled.
Exposing and elaborating on her relationship with Twilight would be hard enough with anypony. But here was Princess Celestia, asking her to do the same exact thing. Princess Celestia! She was royalty, unknowingly asking Rarity to come out of multiple closets. As if her insecurity was bad enough, now it had increased ten fold. As much as she tried otherwise, irrational fears began to bubble to the surface.
Yet, as much as her mind doubted and demurred, her heart glowed and reasoned in equal intensity.
”Go on, tell her. Tell the all-powerful ruler of Equestria that you have a thing going on with her student. Right, like she wouldn't judge you for that.”
”Go on, tell her. Tell the loving, compassionate mentor of Twilight that you want to make it up to her pupil. Tell her how you love her and want to do all you can for her. She'd never be angry or prejudiced against you for wanting to be that pony for Twilight.“
”If you can't even be seen with Twilight in public, what makes you think you can do this?”
”If you ever want to be with Twilight again, you need to get inside. If you love her as much as you say, then you can do this.”
”Just give it up. You've always been a scared, frightened pony at heart and you know it.”
”You're almost there, and you know it. You love Twilight too much to quit on her now, and you know it.”
And she did know it. She wanted that kind, sweet, smart and adorkable mare so badly it hurt. Some integral thread of her soul tightened at the thought of having her back in her hooves. Her spirit yearned for, desired, required Twilight. There was no real explanation for it, but she felt it so strongly that she didn't even need one. She needed her.
“Go on, tell her. You can do this, and you know it.”
Her troublesome, over-analytical side shut down, overcome by sheer emotion and willpower. She felt her shackles fall to the floor.
“Well, you see, Princess... We were in a- umm, a relationship.” Rarity barely eeked the statement out of her mouth, and the tension hung in the air like an anvil.
“Hmm? Aren't you two already- oh.” Celestia stopped. The world stood still.
”Is she mad? Please, don't let her be mad. Maybe she's just disappointed? What if she doesn't approve? What if she thinks I'm not good enough-
A smile surged across the sovereign's face, and Rarity noticed that this one definitely wasn't the same as the smiles she wore at parades and meetings. It was warm, genuine, heartfelt. She... approved?
“Well, that certainly puts the pieces together. Twilight seemed awfully quiet this morning.” Princess Celestia smile dissipated as soon as it appeared. “I wish I could say I'm happy for you both, but it seems you two have reached a conflict in your relationship, correct?”
“Yes.” Rarity nodded, her voice louder now that she had gained Celestia's support. “She thinks I don't trust her and that I can't tell her what I'm feeling. And- and it's not that. I was just scared and I didn't know how to cope with it. But now, after realizing how close I am to losing her, I'm trying to do all I can to make it up.”
“Oh no, Twilight...” Celestia's eyes softened, and she stepped a few paces closer. A warm, motherly tone pervaded her speech as she asked, “What can I do to help?”
“Twilight told me that if I still wanted to be with her, that she would see me here in Canterlot to watch her speak. She gave me a ticket to enter, but I seemed to have left it at my house.” Rarity looked away momentarily. “I don't know how it slipped my mind, but now I feel like I'm going to let her slip through my hooves too. I can't get in, and she might be finished already.”
Princess Celestia shook her head. “Say no more.” Stepping to the side, a twitch of a grin donned her lips. “Go. Find her, and tell her how you feel. She only started a few minutes ago, so you still have time. As long as you're honest with her, I'm certain she'll understand. But for now, go! You only have to keep your ears open, and you'll find her.”
Rarity felt like bursting with joy. She wanted to wrap as much of the alicorn as she could in a hug, praising and thanking her for being so considerate and generous. However, that would have to wait. Her mare was waiting for her.
“Thank you!” Rarity cried, before taking off down the hallway.
“My days at “The School for Gifted Unicorns” were ones I will never forget...” Twilight's voice rang throughout the halls. Whether it was her voice magnification spell, or just brilliant acoustics, Rarity couldn't tell. Regardless, it was maddening.
She had searched every door, every window she could to find where the lavender mare was. ”Why does this school have no damn signs in it?” she thought. Turning a corner, Rarity thought for a second that Twilight's voice had gotten louder. She stood still for a moment.
“They've taught me so much, and helped me grow in countless ways, even after I graduated.”
It was louder. Scrambling into action, Rarity noted the dozens of doors lining the long walls ahead of her. Without wasting a second, she began flinging them open with her magic. ”Is she here? No, just a closet. Here? No, classroom.
“And, sharing in the same aspiration as your professors, I hope that you all will too.”
Rarity moved onward. ”Classroom. Classroom. Another hallway. Classroom. Classroom. Classroom.” And yet, the further she went, the closer she felt to Twilight. Her voice grew ever so slightly with each step, and her intuition told her she was headed in the right direction.
“That's why we've spent the past few months planning to bring you all a wonderful show today.”
Twilight was closing in on the end of her speech. Rarity grew frantic, galloping from door to door. ”Classroom, hallway, classroom, lecture hall, laboratory room, classroom, classroom, classroom, classroom, closet, classroom.”
“I'd like to thank Princess Celestia for sponsoring this event, and Headmaster Quadrivium for putting in the time to make it happen.”
”Classroom classroom storage classroom lecture hall closet classroom classroom classroom.” Doors were left open in her wake.
“Nevertheless, without further ado-”
”classroomclassroomclosethallwayclassroomcloset.” Her rapid breathing could be heard echoing through the hall.
“-I'd like to welcome you all to “The School for Gifted Unicorn's” twelfth annual-”
A lone door stood at the end of the hall. It was like any of the others, but now Rarity could hear Twilight's voice being projected just from behind it. She was in there. Mustering all the strength she had left, the unicorn dashed for the door, hauling it open with all her might.
The purple mare was alone on the stage, as a spotlight shone on her. She wore no fancy attire, her mane looking exactly the same as when she first arrived in Ponyville. And yet, to Rarity, she was the most beautiful thing she had laid her eyes on.
Rarity had opened to the door leading to the side of the stage. The curtains were not fully drawn, so any view of the audience was blocked by a crimson wall. Twilight's voice amplification spell had drowned out the fashionista's cry to the crowd, but not to its target.
The bookish unicorn looked over briefly, her jaw slackened. Her eyes widened and sparkled, and her train of thought ground to a halt. “Ahhh...”
Rarity, panting with exertion, tried her best to smile.
The cogs started to churn in Twilight's head, and it only took a second before she smiled in return. It was a goofy, overwhelmed grin that spoke more than a thousand words.
“Right, umm,” Twilight turned back to the audience, trying to catch wisps of what she planned to say next. “Welcome to- to the twelfth autumnal equinox fair, and... umm, yes. Enjoy!” She scarcely looked to the crowd before turning and charging off the stage.
The lavender mare hit Rarity with such force that she stumbled back out into the hallway. The unicorn was everywhere, chest to chest, hooves in hair, lips on lips. She kept pushing with her hindlegs as they kissed, driving them both backwards. Rarity felt her rump hit a doorway, but couldn't respond as Twilight kept pushing, moving them inside. At last, she tripped over a broom handle and tumbled to the floor.
Twilight landed on top of her. “I knew you'd come!” she exclaimed, before planting a trio of pecks on Rarity's face. “I knew it!”
“Yes, dear, and I did!” Rarity cried, tears starting to run down her cheeks. She lifted her head up and kissed her mare back, keeping her in place as she wrapped her hooves around her. “I did.”
“I was so worried,” Twilight admitted, “I couldn't find you in the audience anywhere. I almost felt like giving up halfway through.”
Rarity nuzzled her and and hugged her close. The words bubbled out from her mouth, slowly gaining volume, “I'm so sorry. For everything. I'm such a stupid, stupid pony. I should've been able to talk, I should've been able to tell you how I felt. But I was so scared. I was scared that ponies were judging me constantly for being with another mare. I was scared that they would just shun me, and I know it was all rather silly, but I couldn't help it! What I was most afraid of, however, was making you mad and upset if I told you. I thought you'd get angry at me and think of me as some horrible pony-”
Twilight placed a hoof over her lips. “Shhh, it's okay. We can talk about this some other time if you'd like.”
Rarity shook her head, breaking free from her clasp. “No, I have to say this now.” She inhaled a shaky, deep breath. “...When I realized how close I was to losing you, after you left for Canterlot, when I found that cheesy novel we first read together, and that note you wrote,” Twilight smiled, “I... I discovered how much you meant to me. How much I care for you.” The words felt stuck in her throat, but at the same time lifted a monumental weight off her shoulders. “I- I love you, Twilight.”
Twilight smiled the widest she'd ever seen, eyes glimmering as a few of her own tears escaped to roll down her cheeks. “I love you too, Rarity.”
Leaning in, Twilight planted her lips on Rarity's, letting their tongues swirl and mix as if they were one. They moved in harmony, chests rising and falling together, as their kiss dragged on for what could've been eons. An exhale draining out through her nose, Rarity melted under the embrace of the mare she loved. The closet door closed shut.
Stretching her forelegs and yawning loudly, Rarity shuffled her body under the blankets and snuggled closer the warmth pressed up against her chest. Small, short bursts of air tickled her nose. Opening her eyes slightly, she saw the golden rays of the afternoon sun as it filled the room. An adorable, lavender mare was lying next to her, her mane cutely in disarray and her mouth open in a small “o” as she breathed on her face.
“Oh my, is this a bad time?” a voice asked.
Startled, Rarity flailed awake, and in the process, woke up the pony next to her. Looking up, squinting from the sunlight, she noticed Princess Celestia standing just inside their room, their balcony doors open.
“Hmm?” Twilight mumbled, rubbing her eyes with her hooves. “Oh, good morning, Princess. What were you asking?”
“It''s the afternoon,” Celestia pointed out quietly. “Right, I should've let you two sleep. This probably is a bad time.”
Still not fully in control of her faculties, Twilight giggled and remarked, “Well, it could've been much worse a few hours ago.” Rarity blushed profusely. Even Princess Celestia had the sense to allow her white cheeks tinge pink.
Rarity coughed. “Umm, Twilight, I don't think that's something you should say to the Princess.”
“Huh?” Twilight yawned. “Why shouldn't I- Oh!” She squeaked, turning darker than the other two combined. “OhmygoshIamsosorry!”
Princess Celestia sighed and nodded, a chuckle escaping her mouth. “Just forget it even happened. I'll meet you two in a few hours for dinner.” She added in a quieter tone, “In the meantime, if anything... more, should occur, please try to keep it down. My dear sister is trying to sleep on the floor above, and I would hate to have her woken up by your,” she waved a hoof awkwardly, “passion.”
With a cough and another flush, the goddess of the sun turned around, and closing the balcony doors behind her, took off into the sky.
Rarity giggled. Twilight, turning to her, at first remained silent. But soon they infected her as well, and both mares fell back onto the bed in a fit of laughter.
As they finally calmed down, Twilight snuggled herself against Rarity's shoulder. “How are you feeling?”
“Whole,” Rarity answered with a smile, pecking her marefriend's forehead.
“Oh?” Twilight peeped an eye open at her. “Do you still need me, then?”
Rarity nodded. “Of course I do.” She pulled the other pony closer to her. “Always.”
“I can get used to that,” Twilight mumbled, closing her eyes again and snuggling against Rarity.
Rarity used a hoof to stroke Twilight's mane, trying to lull her back to sleep. “Me too, Twilight, me too.”