The main problem wasn’t that Applejack lacked the status of nobility, or that she was the least etiquette-aware pony Rarity had ever met, or even that they were both mares. The main problem, as far as Rarity was concerned, was that it was all so unforgivably corny.
The aloof, disdainful beauty … the strong, handsome farmhand ...
She had an entire bookshelf filled with this particular story, or stories near enough to it, and while they were all a torridly delightful good time, they were also all quite cliche. That her own heart would deign to follow suit and delve into such common, mass-market feelings?
Unexpected. Unfathomable. Unacceptable.
Applejack’s voice suddenly intruded on her thoughts: “You all right there, Rarity? Yer lookin’ kinda pale. I mean, paler than usual for a unicorn who’s white.”
In response, Rarity glared her very best glare. There that apple-bucking pony went again, acting so concerned and charmingly solicitous, all but begging Rarity to adore her. It was unfair, that’s what it was. Terribly, terribly unfair.
“I am fine,” the unicorn replied, her tone the slightest bit frosty. “And it is the height of rudeness to comment negatively on a lady’s appearance, might I add.”
Applejack just rolled her eyes. “Well, ‘scuse me for carin’ about how yer doin’. My mistake, I reckon.”
And with that, the farmer shrugged, turned away, and ambled off in the general direction of the snack table. Rarity refused to watch the other pony leave, on principle. She wasn’t clear on just what that principle might be, exactly, but she was fairly certain there was some important principle or another at play here. Instead of looking at that troublesome orange pony, she took the opportunity to glance around the festively-decorated confines of Sugar Cube Corner.
If she was being honest--which she didn’t generally like to do, as honesty was a quality that belonged to ponies whose names she was stubbornly refusing to recollect--Rarity would have to admit that she hadn’t bothered to remember the occasion for this particular party. Although, really, the specific purpose behind any given party never seemed to matter much anyways. Pinkie’s parties were all more or less the same … which wasn’t a bad thing, as they were all equally lovely affairs.
And indeed this was a lovely party. Over by the phonograph, Fluttershy and Twilight were talking quietly but cheerfully with one another, while Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie were dominating the area that had been set aside as a dance floor, engaging in a series of energetic, jerky movements that Rarity could only guess were meant to be dance steps. All in all, it was a very convivial atmosphere, and if it wasn’t for the distracting presence of a certain apple-loving earth pony, Rarity would be enjoying herself immensely.
A soft cough brought the unicorn out of her reverie.
She blinked and noticed that Applejack had returned at some point and was now standing directly in front of her, with a glass of punch held in her mouth. The farm pony’s gaze kept shifting from the cup to Rarity and back again and, after a few confused seconds, Rarity finally realized what Applejack wanted. With a delicate tendril of magic, the unicorn took the punch from her friend’s grasp.
Applejack snorted as soon as she was free of the glass. “Sure took ya long enough to cotton on,” she complained, but there was no heat behind her words, no real anger. A touch of amused annoyance, if anything. Maybe a hint of affection.
Rarity decided to ignore all that. Instead, she asked, “What is this for, pray tell?”
“Figured ya could use somethin’ to wet yer whistle.” Applejack’s honest green eyes held nothing but friendliness and caring. It was awful. “Ya might be a bit dehydrated, and that’s why yer lookin’ under the weather.”
Lifting the glass up to her lips, Rarity took a sip. Doing so bought her time to think, time in which she didn’t have to say anything, time she rather desperately needed. Because once again her heart was racing, her face was flushing, her stomach was doing flip-flops, and all of it was unladylike in the extreme.
Rarity took a second sip of punch and then a third. When she finally lowered the glass, she quietly said, “Thank you, Applejack.”
The earth pony grinned and looked smugly, infuriatingly pleased with herself.
And it was then, of course--of course it was then--that she suddenly wanted to kiss Applejack. But although she very badly wanted to do so, she didn’t. She couldn’t. Because doing so would have been unforgivably corny.