The hospital’s white rooms and organized atmosphere only made it more difficult for me to focus on the once beautiful mare in front of me. Of course, in my eyes, she was still the most beautiful creature in Equestria, but others don’t share same the feelings for her that I do. Her normally snow white coat had begun to darken and shed in some areas. Her eyes, once a blue of the deepest seas, now expressed a light and sickly silver color. The energy that she proudly displayed while filling an order of dresses or adventuring with her friends had disappeared almost entirely. What ever energy was left was being used to keep the dying mare alive.
I gently ran my claws through her unkempt mane. Rarity had always paid special attention to it, and it paid off. Each of her luscious curls was its own piece of a puzzle in which the end result displayed a picture of delicate care and beauty. But now her mane remained flattened upon her head, sheltering her weak eyes from the intensity of her surroundings.
She had been asleep for a better part of the day, waking up twice to be fed small meals before resting again. We hadn’t had much time to talk, but I was okay with that. I didn’t need to talk; I just needed to be with her. No one in Equestria could have pulled me from her side. I snapped at Twilight at one point when she tried to convince me that I needed to go home and rest. “Glad to see you’re still as self centered as you’ve always been!” I yelled at her. “Here she is on her last leg and you just want me to pretend like everything’s alright? I wish it was you in her shoes, and that you were the one going through this! Leave! GO HOME!” I’ll be the first to admit that she didn’t deserve my outburst; she was only looking out for me. But she didn’t understand how little I cared for my own well being. My attention, my worry, my dedication to life; all of it belonged to Rarity.
I gave Twilight a second rate apology that I wouldn’t have accepted if my life depended on it, but Twilight found it in her to forgive me. I think she was aware of how Rarity’s sickness was affecting all of us, me in particular. She knew how much Rarity had grown to mean to me in these past few years, and how distraught I had become as she became increasingly sick. If I had to pick a reason for my outburst, I would have to say that it wasn’t the fact that she was sick, but rather, that I couldn’t do anything about it. I got to sit there and just watch as everything I had ever cared about slipped through my claws like sand.
The other ponies had reacted, more or less, in their own way. Applejack seemed like she was doing anything she could to keep her mind off of losing her friend. Her farm became her safe haven from reality as she tended to everything from minor faults in the barn, to the endless sea of apple trees. Fluttershy’s reaction was actually different than what I had expected it to be. Being as timid as she was, I expected her to stay locked up in her home, but instead she spent much of her time over at the boutique and caring for Sweetie Belle. Even though she was old enough to look out for herself now, Sweetie Belle needed someone at her side to help her through this. I would have been there myself, but I couldn’t find the willpower to leave Rarity alone. Rainbow Dash was similar to Applejack in her way of coping in that she did what she could to keep her mind off of what was happening. That isn’t to say that she ignored it or didn’t acknowledge it. More than once I’ve heard a faint sobbing coming from the clouds.
Pinkie Pie’s reaction was second only to my own. All sense of happiness seemed to have faded away entirely, and many ponies who tried to approach her room in Sugarcube Corner were met with a hostile, “Get lost!” At least she had the benefit of saying that she never wished a life threatening illness on her best friend.
The illness itself had been present for years but remained dormant. After a few days of evaluation, the doctors had concluded that it had come from the venom of a changeling. We had only encountered them once, the day of Shining Armor and Cadence’s wedding, but all it took was one day to doom her years later. I spent weeks buried in Twilight’s books looking for an antidote, but I couldn’t find anything solid. In a way, I can’t forgive myself for what I did during those weeks. Instead of making everyday count and being by her side, I chased a dead end. I only wish I could take that precious time back.
I honestly looked like I should have been in the hospital myself. I hadn’t slept in two days and hadn’t eaten in seven. I became malnourished, but I didn’t care. I wasn't what was important at the moment. "I’ll sleep and eat when I have time; I’ve wasted enough of it as it is." I told myself.
After several hours Rarity finally stirred awake. She looked at me with those beautiful weary eyes and gave me the best smile she could muster. I could tell that many of the motions she preformed required her to push through mountains of pain and agony. To watch her to struggle to do so much as lift her hoof to rub my check brought tears to my eyes. She didn’t deserve this, she didn’t deserve to die.
She took her hoof and lifted my head from where it had been laying on the side of her bed. As I raised my head to look at her, she smiled gingerly and patted her side gently, indicating that I could rest my head against her. I happily obliged, but I was careful not to hurt her. She slowly rubbed her hoof up and down my back in an attempt to comfort me. I loved being so close to her, but even the comfort she gave me couldn’t mask the emptiness that I was feeling. With my head against her I could feel her chest slowly rise and fall. Her breaths were shallow and infrequent.
“Please. Please don’t leave me here. I can’t lose you.” I choked through sobs. I knew it wasn’t her choice, but I begged anyway. Maybe that was selfish of me, to want her to stay because I wanted her to, but at the time I didn’t know what else to say.
“My little Spikey Wikey,” she said quietly. It was the first time I had heard her speak all day. Just hearing her voice was magic in its own right.
“Have you been lying here all this time?”
I knew that she knew that I had been, but I nodded anyway. There was nowhere else I wanted to be. She could see how horrible I looked, and I could see the concern on her face. I put on the best smile I could. The last thing I wanted was for her to spend her last moments worrying about me. I lightly ran my claw against her soft coat. Despite how sick she looked I could still faintly pick up the scent of the perfume she had put on before she was admitted to the hospital shortly after.
“It’s not fair. You don’t deserve to suffer like this. You deserve to be happy and healthy. You deserve a full life!” I clutched the side of the bed in a death grip and turned my face into Rarity’s side and wept. As she continued to rub my back, she had begun to hum quietly. Her gentle voice had turned my weeping into quiet sniffles as I listened to her. I closed my eyes and let the sound of her humming overtake me. Deep down, I knew this was her way of tell me that everything was going to be alright, that I didn’t have to worry anymore.
I felt her chest fall for the last time as her humming quietly subsided. She closed her eyes and silently let herself slip away. Her hoof slowly slid down from its spot on my back until it hung lightly at her side.
She had passed.
I placed her hoof back on the bed and wrapped myself around her. I buried my head into her chest and cried as hard as I could. All of my feelings of anger, sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, and frustration were released. I had the only one I had ever truly loved torn from me in some sick game of fate. I spent what felt like an eternity at her side. I was waiting for her to wake up and tell me that everything was going to be okay, that I didn’t need to worry anymore.
“Please wake up, Rarity. Please wake up.” I cried.
After a few moments, Nurse Redheart entered the room with Twilight following closing behind. Twilight stood next to me while Nurse Redheart shut off Rarity’s electrocardiogram. I could tell Redheart was worried about my condition, but ignored it. She told us we were more than welcome to stay and say our goodbyes before the doctor would come and take her. She expressed her deepest sympathies and then left Twilight and I to be alone with Rarity.
My head was still resting on her chest, but I was faced away from Twilight. I could hear her rummaging through her saddlebag, but at the moment, I didn’t care enough to see what she was getting.
After a long pause I could feel a light tap on my shoulder. Reluctantly, I turned my head around to face Twilight to see that she was using her magic to hold up the red, heart shaped gem that I had given to Rarity years ago. Twilight must have picked it up from the boutique on the way over to the hospital. I plucked the gem from the air with my free hand and examined it. It was still in the same flawless condition that it had been from the day I first gave it to her. In fact, the gem almost looked better, as if it had been tended to several times since then.
I placed the gem on the center of Rarity’s chest, right where her heart was. Her no longer suffering form was now accented by a beautiful heart shaped gemstone that was only surpassed by the real thing. As I looked up at her face I noticed that her soft smile was seemingly still held across her lips. Despite all the pain she went through in her last few days, she died as happy as she had lived. I placed a light kiss on her forehead before finally letting go of her body.
Twilight wordlessly embraced me in a hug and I was more than quick in accepting it. Her willingness to be by my side through this only made me feel guiltier for my past insult. I held her as tightly as I could, bleakly hoping that she would say something along the lines of “I can fix this.” But instead she remained as silent as the beautiful mare that laid not three feet from me.
I finally released my hug on Twilight and wiped the fresh tears that had come to surface. I looked her in the eyes before giving a slight nod, signifying that I was ready to leave. For a moment, I stood there, reflecting on the memories and adventures that we shared together. It wasn't enough to ease the pain, but it was all I had now. As we turned to go I took one last look from the doorway almost expecting her to be gone entirely, but she still laid there peacefully, smile and all. I returned it with a smile of my own. Not a smile like I had given her before, one to mask my emotions and failing health, but a genuine one, knowing she was finally at peace.
“Sleep tight, my love.”