4w, 5dNaNoWriMo: Week One 8 comments · 65 views
11w, 5hApplePie Ship Group Prompt Collab 0 comments · 92 views
14w, 1dName Change to "Drought" and Other Sundries 12 comments · 169 views
17w, 2dShip Group Prompt Stories 4 comments · 200 views
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23w, 2dI return from an unexpected hiatus and bring you crappy presents no one asked for! 5 comments · 173 views
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43w, 6dMY DARK POWERS HAVE REACHED THEIR ZENITH 21 comments · 387 views
44w, 19hNew Co-Written Story: "The Eulogy of Mr. Acorn, by the Coward Twilight Sparkle" 3 comments · 267 views
“ … and this is the tube assembly, that’s the mount, and here’s the eyepiece … ooh, and this little piece is called the finderscope, and it helps you locate …”
Rarity was seriously questioning the wisdom of having asked Twilight Sparkle to allow her the use of one of her many telescopes. Biting her lip, she ventured, “Perhaps, darling, you could just let me know when everything is prepared and we can see the stars?”
Twilight frowned for a second, seeming puzzled, before she gave a cheerful little nod. “Sure! Shouldn’t take long. It’s just about ready to go.”
Rarity took a step back as Twilight continued to fiddle with the telescope’s settings. Both unicorns were standing on a quiet hill just outside Ponyville. Above them was laid out an immense expanse of perfect black sky, dotted with a million twinkling lights. Not a single cloud marred the beautiful sight of the starry night sky, and Rarity gave silent thanks to the pegasi for clearing away all the clouds.
A little distance away sat the rest of their little group, lolling on picnic blankets. Fluttershy was chatting with Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, while Applejack lay nestled against Dash’s side, peacefully snoring away. Rarity couldn’t help a small giggle--it was getting rather late, and the earth pony had likely been up and working since before sunrise. The farmer looked rather adorable in her sleeping state, truth be told, even vulnerable almost.
Then there was Spike. Twilight had managed to convince him to join the rest of them for this star-gazing outing, but he sat on the other side of the hill from the others, with his knees tucked up tight against his chest. Rarity felt a pang just from looking at the sad, faraway expression in his eyes.
“Twilight? Would you mind if I went to go have a word with Spike as you finish setting up the telescope?”
“That … that might not be a bad idea, actually.” The other unicorn glanced up from her equipment and laid a hoof on Rarity’s shoulder. “Just don’t take it too personally if he’s a bit, uh, temperamental, okay? The news was a bit of a blow for him.”
Rarity offered up one of her most winning smiles. “I shall be the very model of patience, understanding, and tact.”
With that, she left Twilight to her telescope adjustments and trotted off toward where Spike was sitting. She stood waiting for a moment once she’d reached him, but the young dragon neither spoke nor looked up. Finally, with a soft sigh, she sat down beside him and tried not to think too hard about how the dewy grass might stain her white coat.
“I’m quite glad you were able to come out with us,” she began softly. “It wouldn’t be a proper visit to Ponyville if I wasn’t able to see my Spikey-Wikey.”
Still, Spike said nothing.
Rarity briefly thought about reaching out, to pet him or cuddle him, before deciding against it. “I wish I could … I’m sorry that you are hurting, darling. I never wanted that.”
“I know,” muttered Spike, sounding as miserable as he looked.
“Oh, Spike … I do love you, as a friend and as family, and I always have. I always shall.” She glanced toward her other friends and caught Pinkie staring in their direction. The pink pony’s eyes were anxious and troubled. “Though I know I have no right to do so, I would like to ask a favor of you, Spike. Please don’t hold this against Pinkie. She’ll never say so out loud, but she’s terribly worried that you’re angry with her and that she’ll lose your friendship.”
Spike sighed gustily. “I’m not mad at her. Not really. Just … I dunno. It’s hard.”
Rarity nodded sympathetically. “It is--but you are one of the strongest individuals I have ever known, and I have no doubts that you will not just persevere but triumph.” She gave a wink to the still-watching Pinkie Pie and, after a moment, Pinkie turned back around. “Time heals all wounds, or so they say. And I imagine any wounds not healed by time might be helped along with a few sapphire cupcakes.”
Finally, Spike lifted his head, with a thoughtful look on his face. “You really think Pinkie would make me a sapphire cupcake? Those were pretty good.”
“My dear Spike ... Pinkie would make you a mountain of sapphire cupcakes if you but asked.”
“Okay, everyone!” Twilight’s voice rang out across the entire hillside. “Telescope’s ready, and I’ve got it pointed right at the Starswirl Nebula!”
Immediately, Pinkie Pie bounded over to take a look, while Fluttershy followed at a slower pace and Rainbow Dash began trying to prod Applejack awake. For her own part, Rarity looked over to her young dragon companion and lifted an eyebrow. “Well, darling? Shall we go listen to Professor Sparkle’s no doubt fascinating lecture on the more esoteric aspects of astronomy?”
Spike laughed at that, a real laugh, deep from the belly. It was as beautiful to Rarity’s ears as the finest concerto she’d heard in Canterlot’s famed music halls.
Waving good-night to Twilight and Spike, Rarity and Pinkie Pie walked away from the library in the general direction of Sugarcube Corner. Pinkie was bouncing along, as always, but somehow managed to time her bounces so that she stayed right by Rarity’s side as the unicorn trotted along in a more dignified manner. It was rather uncanny, Pinkie’s ability to do so. Rarity decided it was best to not question it.
“So, um.” Pinkie was looking straight ahead and seemed a bit uncomfortable. “How’s Spike doing?”
Rarity felt her face ease into a smile. “He’s still adjusting to things, but I believe in time he’ll be right as rain again. A batch of sapphire cupcakes should help matters along rather nicely, though, I should think.”
Pinkie nodded with all the seriousness of an ancient pegasus lieutenant taking orders from her army general. “Sapphire cupcakes! Got it!”
“Thank you, dear--I do appreciate it. And how was your little chat with Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash?”
“Oh, it was good! Dashie talked about the Wonderbolts a lot, like she always does, and Fluttershy was sharing about the garden experiments she and Twi have been working on. I didn’t even know you could experiment on tomatoes, but I guess you can!”
Rarity perked up a bit. “Very interesting, indeed. Our dear Fluttershy does appear to be spending quite a bit of time with the dazzling Miss Twilight Sparkle, does she not? I do wonder about the two of them …”
Pinkie snorted in mirth. “Dashie already asked about that, and Fluttershy turned almost as red as the tomatoes she’s been experimenting on! She said she and Twilight are just friends, but Dashie said she wouldn’t blush that much if she wasn’t hiding something, and then Fluttershy said there was somepony else she liked.” Pinkie began hopping backwards, so that she was face to face with Rarity. “But she wouldn’t say who it is that she likes, even though Rainbow Dash tried really, really hard to find out and I offered to Pinkie promise to not tell anypony.”
“Oh, my!” Rarity was delighted and scandalized, both at once. Immediately she began racking her brains, trying to remember if Fluttershy had mentioned any ponies particularly often in her most recent letters, but she couldn’t recall any.
“Uh-huh!” Pinkie grinned. “I don’t think Twilight likes anypony, though. Well, that’s not really true--I mean, Twilight likes lots of ponies--but I don’t think she romantically likes any ponies.”
Rarity sadly shook her head. “Ah, the costs of being married to one’s work. A life in academia is a lonely one. I’d had such high hopes, too, back when she and Princess Luna …” The rest of what she’d been about to say trailed off into nothing, as something suddenly caught her interest.
It was no longer a clothing boutique, of course, as she’d sold the building before she’d left town--but the exterior of the former boutique had been left exactly the same. It was odd, seeing it look as it had all those years ago, back when it had been her pride and joy. She stood and stared at the building, trying to figure out how she ought to feel. How she wanted to feel.
Her life, Rarity realized, had been so much simpler before she’d invited Pinkie Pie up to Canterlot. Not necessarily happier … but simpler.
Very quietly, Pinkie stepped up beside the unicorn and leaned against her. “I bet you could buy it back. If you wanted to, y’know.”
Rarity swallowed over the lump in her throat. “I imagine I could, yes.”
“I mean, you don’t have to, but I just … I--I know that Applejack says Dashie might be moving back to--”
“I’m not Rainbow Dash.”
“Well, of course not! Dashie’s a pegasus, and you’re a unicorn. Plus, I bet you brush your mane a whole lot more than Rainbow Dash does.”
“It’s not as easy as all of you are making it out to be.” Rarity felt suddenly and irrationally angry, almost frightened, like an animal who’d been backed into a corner. “I’ve built a career in Canterlot--I’ve built an entire life! I can’t just abandon it on a whim!”
“Um, I don’t think anypony said you should, Rarity.”
“Well, what if I should decide to stay in Canterlot? What then?”
She hated asking the question, and yet it was a question that had to be asked. But when she received nothing except silence in reply, she shut her eyes and regretted that she’d done so. It had been such a nice night before now, before she’d gone and ruined everything. And really, the question could have waited until later, couldn’t it?
She could still feel Pinkie Pie leaning against her, could still feel Pinkie’s warmth through her skin. It felt lovely on an evening as chilly as this one.
“If you decide to stay in Canterlot,” Pinkie said at length, slowly, thoughtfully, “then I guess I’ll be taking the train to Canterlot a whole bunch more.”
Rarity opened her eyes. Pinkie was looking at her with those big, blue eyes of hers, and the unicorn wondered how those eyes seemed always to contain a hint of knowing, of secret knowledge. It was vaguely unsettling.
“I didn’t mean it how it sounded,” Rarity murmured in reply. “When I said that I … you aren’t a whim, Pinkie Pie. We aren’t a whim.”
Pinkie smiled, a smile just as complex and mysterious as the expression in her eyes. “I already knew that, you silly filly. But thanks for saying so, anyways.”
She couldn’t sleep.
So instead of tossing and turning in a strange bed, in a strange room, Rarity had gone to the roof of Sugarcube Corner. She stood with her head tilted back and her eyes trained on the night sky above. The stars truly were dazzling. As she stood under Luna’s sky, she found herself contrasting tonight’s sky with the one that had greeted her outside that dirty nightclub back in Canterlot--which seemed like such a long time ago, now, though of course it really wasn’t. She found herself reflecting upon that surprising and lovely answer Pinkie had given to the question of why she liked Rarity.
And she found herself closing her eyes and remembering what it had felt like to actually kiss the unpredictable pony who slumbered within the bakery.
She still didn’t know what she should do. Whether she should stay in Canterlot or move back to Ponyville.
Her musings were cut by the sound of quiet laughter drifting up from below. Opening her eyes, she glanced down and spotted Snips approaching the bakery with a small group of ponies by his side. Three of the ponies she recognized instantly--Sweetie Belle’s good friends Scootaloo and Apple Bloom were there, as was Pinkie’s young baking apprentice, Twist--but the last pony took her a moment to identify. He was a tall stallion, lanky, awkward, and he looked naggingly familiar.
The five young ponies stood in front of Sugarcube Corner for a few minutes, talking and laughing, before the mares in the group headed off in separate directions while waving good-bye. The entire time, Rarity stood atop the bakery, unseen and unnoticed, while she tried to remember the name of the second stallion.
By this point, Snips was fidgeting, even more than the nervous unicorn usually did. The other stallion appeared a bit nervous too but was smiling regardless. He took a step forward and, as he did, Snips stopped fidgeted and stood deathly still. A few words were exchanged--too soft for Rarity to hear--and then the other stallion dipped his head and placed a light kiss on Snips’ muzzle. The kiss was over almost as soon as it had begun, and then the taller unicorn was bounding off. Snips stood outside the bakery and watched him go with a dreamy expression on his face.
Snails. That was the name of the other stallion. A foalhood friend of her assistant, if Rarity remembered correctly.
Eventually, after Snails had disappeared from view, Snips turned around and finally entered Sugarcube Corner. Even before he’d shut the door behind him, the gears in Rarity’s mind were whirring away. It seemed that she’d been incorrect in her assumptions about Snips and Twist--but, then, there were a lot of things, and a lot of ponies, about which she’d been incorrect, weren’t there? She’d been wrong about Fluttershy and Twilight, she’d been wrong about the Duchess of Hoofington, and she’d been wrong about Pinkie.
Oh, how very wrong she’d been about Pinkie, in so very many ways.
“Because you’re always trying to make ponies happy. Because you look at the world and see all kinds of ways of making it really, really beautiful …”
And just like that, Rarity had her answer. She knew exactly what to do.
“Are you sure you can’t stay in town for a few more days?”
Fluttershy’s eyes were huge, colossal, and as dewy as a meadow on a crisp spring morning. Rarity could feel her resolve crumbling by the second.
Looking towards the stationary train, instead, the unicorn replied, “I’m afraid so, darling. The boutique won’t run itself. But I promise I’ll arrange another visit soon.” She grinned wickedly. “And perhaps then you’ll finally tell me just what lucky mare or stallion you have your eye set upon.”
“R-Rarity!” Fluttershy sounded aghast.
Meanwhile, Twilight was glancing around and frowning. “You know, I would have thought Pinkie would be here to say good-bye. Rainbow Dash, too. Odd.”
“Oh, yeah, about that.” Applejack rolled her eyes. “Pinkie swung by the farm and nabbed RD this mornin’. Said she had a super big surprise or somethin’ and she needed Rainbow’s help to pull it off.”
Twilight’s eyebrows knit together. “That can’t mean anything good.”
“Certainly not,” agreed Rarity, with a concerned look of her own. Although she felt no small measure of dismay at the very thought of the trouble Pinkie and Dash could cause together, she also felt a sudden rush of relief flood through her as the realization that Pinkie hadn’t forgotten to come to the train station this morning. Pinkie hadn’t forgotten her. It was a ridiculous thing to worry over, of course, and yet, worry she had.
Things were still so new, so tentative ...
Her thoughts halted when she suddenly felt Fluttershy’s hooves wrap around her neck and Fluttershy’s cheek press up against her own. “I’m really, really happy for you, Rarity,” the pegasus whispered, very softly, low enough that only Rarity could hear. “I always knew you’d find your prince or princess.”
Tenderly Rarity returned her friend’s hug as she whispered in reply, “Thank you, darling.”
As Fluttershy stepped back, Twilight came forward to give Rarity a hug, as well. “Good luck with the situation with the duchess, Rarity. If there’s anything we can do to help …”
“I shan’t hesitate to call upon you.”
“Good.” Twilight pulled back and smiled. “And, well, you know we all love hearing from you, but … if you could write some letters to Spike specifically, I think he’d really appreciate it.”
“Say no more, Twilight Sparkle. I’ll have Snips pencil in a reminder on my calendar to write a weekly letter to our dear little Spike.”
Applejack was next, and the earth pony’s strong embrace was nearly rib-crushing. “You take care of yerself, y’hear?” the earth pony said firmly, in a tone reminiscent of the one she once used with a young Apple Bloom. “Don’t let none o’ them Canterlotians give you any guff.”
Rarity chuckled. “I appreciate the sentiment, Applejack, and I will make sure that I do not … take any ‘guff,’ as you so colorfully put it.”
Applejack gave a small nod of satisfaction.
“Oh, my goodness!”
Rarity turned in time to see Fluttershy looking upwards with a startled expression on her face. Following the pegasus’ gaze, she spotted a familiar dot of blue streaking through the sky. Also familiar was the pink dot which seemed to be riding atop the blue dot. Together, the two dots weaved in and out of the clouds above, shaping them, sculpting them. Finally, after a few minutes, the clouds had been turned into full words:
Have a super great trip back! Will miss you lots and lots! --PDP
Rarity smiled despite herself. “Very gallant,” she murmured under her breath. She felt quite certain she was blushing, but for once, she couldn’t bring herself to care.
But then the blue and pink dots continued zig-zagging across the sky, and Rarity watched with renewed interest to see what might be spelled out next. It took significantly less time than the first message, as the second message was considerably shorter:
p.s. AJ is best pony! --RD
Still smiling, Rarity glanced over to Applejack. The farmer’s eyes were locked onto the clouds above their heads, a tiny grin on her lips. “Crazy, fool-headed pegasus,” she muttered, her voice just a touch watery. “Don’t know what I’m gonna do with her.”
Rarity walked over and leaned companionably against Applejack. In a bright tone of voice, she offered, “I suppose you’ll just have to do what I do with Pinkie Pie.”
“Oh? And what’s that?”
“As soon as I figure that out, darling, you’ll be the first to know.”
Surreptitiously she watched Snips as the stallion stared out the train window at the passing scenery with boyish glee. He was different than the colt she’d known all those years ago, the one who’d lured an Ursa Minor into town, but in many ways, he was much the same as ever. Perhaps that’s why she liked him so much. Perhaps that’s why she had invited him to come to Canterlot with her when she’d started up the new boutique.
Perhaps it didn’t really matter. She suspected that’s what Pinkie Pie would tell her, anyway, if Pinkie were there.
He turned around to face her, a dreamy little smile on his face. “Yes, Lady Rarity?”
“I was just thinking …” The truth was, she wasn’t sure exactly what he was going to say to her idea. But she’d never know if she never asked. “You’ve been with me a good many years, now. I was wondering if you haven’t ever thought of setting out independently.”
His smile was gone in an instant. “Are you firing me? Did I do something wrong?”
“No! Oh, no, no, no. That’s not what I meant at all.” Rarity shook her head. “If anything, it would be akin to a promotion.”
“A … promotion?”
“Yes, Snips. A promotion.” She smiled gently at her assistant as his face eased from panic into mild confusion. “I had the funny little notion of starting up the old Carousel Boutique again while keeping the shop in Canterlot--expand the business, you know--and, well, if I did so, I would need someone reliable and knowledgeable to run the Ponyville store, would I not?”
“Oh! Well, sure.” He tilted his head, looking puzzled. “So who’s going to run the Ponyville shop?”
Rarity resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Well, darling, I was hoping it would be you.”
His jaw dropped open. “R-really?”
“Really and truly.”
The young stallion’s entire face lit up like the palace during the Grand Galloping Gala. “Oh, thank you, Lady Rarity! Thank you, thank you, thank you--”
As the incessant show of gratitude continued, Rarity mentally tuned out her assistant and began ruminating over what would be needed to reopen her Ponyville boutique. She’d have to see if she could buy back the original building, of course, though there were others she could purchase and remodel if need be. She’d have to order fabrics, sewing machines, mannequins, and so forth. The next few weeks were going to be very busy, indeed.
But it would be worth it. It was about time that Snips learned to stand on his own four feet, and with any luck, she’d soon be presented with the delightful opportunity to design not just one but two wedding tuxedos. Besides that, she’d also have the chance to begin making more affordable fashions again, like she had in the old days, as the Ponyville clothing market was considerably more downscale than the one in Canterlot. She had to admit that she rather liked the idea of a greater number of ponies being able to buy and wear her clothes. After all, her entire life’s purpose was creating and sharing beauty--and the more ponies she could enhance and beautify with her clothing, the better.
And that all of this would mean she’d have to come to Ponyville much more frequently than before … well, that wasn’t such a terrible fate, now, was it?
Author's Notes: Hold on to your hooves ... there's an epilogue to go!