It was a very slow day at the Carousel Boutique. Only a few ponies had entered Rarity's store for the past six hours and even then they only wanted to browse. Not that Rarity didn't take pride in the fact that others would wish to spend their day examining her hard work and magnificent dresses, but earning bits as well didn't hurt either. Deciding to use her free time to tidy up a bit, Rarity was caught pleasantly off guard when the front door chimed to announce a visitor.
Looking from the dust pan and broom held in her magic, she bore witness to a unicorn stallion with a coat the shade of crimson that could only be described as handsome. A brown and black mane somewhat detracted from their appearance, but this was offset by the icy blue eyes that radiated cool confidence. This stallion was also well versed in modern fashion, as his three piece suit acclaimed. She could tell from even at this distance that it was a blend of cashmere and silk, dyed to a charcoal grey. His suit shirt was a modest cream color, and his coat was complimented by the red tie adorning the center, held in place by a golden clip decorated with an engraved star.
These observations took but a moment, and Rarity chimed in with her own practiced greeting. "Welcome to Carousel Boutique; where everything is chique, unique and magnifique! How can I help you, dear?" she cooed, setting aside the cleaning tools with a wave of her magic to an unseen corner in a back room.
A pleasant smile that reminded her of a well mannered prince greeted her approach as the stallion took a small bow. "Rarity, I presume?"
His voice was like a smooth wave of chocolate on her ears, "The one and only!" she replied, reaching the stallion as he stood once more. "My, what a lovely suit you're wearing! Is that a Silk and cashmere blend?" she chatted, hoping to break the ice of meeting a stranger and to woo him into a sense of security so that he might shop more easily.
"That it is, my dear." He nodded. "Your store is quite impressive, though it holds nothing to your own charm."
Rarity chuckled politely, both hoping the comment was sincere and also not one made to simply flatter her either. "What brings a pony like you to a shop like mine if I might ask, mister...?"
"I am Mister Fur; Loose Fur, at your service." He smiled pleasantly again. "I must admit I am here for business, Miss Rarity, though meeting your acquaintance has been a splendid bonus to my evening."
"Business?" Rarity inquired, showing her interest. "Are you looking to place an order, Mister Fur?"
Loose Fur moved past Rarity to travel further into her shop, glancing at the various apparel with an approving grin. "Actually, I am here to make a trade with you." He then stopped suddenly, turning in place to look towards the door with his horn lighting up in the same icy blue as his eyes. Rarity followed Loose's gaze to the front door and saw a very large box floating its way inside. With a heavy thud and rattling of clothing stands and mannequins it was placed indoors.
"A trade? Whatever do you mean, dear?" She looked curiously at the large box, the tops of it unfolding and revealing spools of fabric poking from the top.
"All the fabric and materials within this box, for a moment of your time." He explained simply, lifting spool after spool and box after box from the large one dominating the store's floor.
"My time?" Rarity asked, confused. "That can't possibly be a fair trade! You simply must accept at least a few... well, a few hundred bits for the cost of these supplies!" She was shocked. Most of these materials were very difficult to find, let alone purchase.
"It's a very simple request. I assure you that to me, a moment of your time is more precious than any gold or coin."
Rarity was caught between her need for materials and the feeling that simply accepting Loose's offer would be simply wrong. How could spending time with her possibly equate to all of this!?
"You're certain, Mister Fur? This is quite expensive for simply spending time with me." She asked nervously, raising a single hoof out of habit and shying away from the materials that were neatly arranging themselves on the nearby tables and countertops with the assistance of Loose's magic.
"I may not look it, Miss Rarity, but I am old," The stallion explained with a tired sigh, "When you arrive at my age, wealth and fame are the least of your concerns. All I ask is that you share a happy memory of your life. Something that warms your heart to recall. I am a very shrewd business pony with no family of my own, and I know that the very best of artists come from troubled backgrounds. They also have the most interesting stories to tell as well!" He finished in a good-natured grin.
"Well," Rarity hesitated, "If you're absolutely certain that you find this a fair trade..."
Loose took the liberty of floating over some chairs from the kitchen to sit in, motioning for Rarity to take a seat. "More than fair, I assure you."
Rarity hopped onto the chair, with Loose soon sitting opposite her. "Tell me, Miss Rarity. What is it that makes you happy in this world? Seeing ponies wear your dresses that you worked so very hard to make perfect? Being able to provide for your family? I know that what used to bring me joy has faded long ago. I hope to find something else to fill the void by listening to stories from ponies that still have that spark in their eye."
"Honestly, what makes me happy is seeing my sister, Sweetie Belle, becoming a mare of her own. I just wish I had been there when she got her cutie mark! All of her friends received a similar one at the same time; spectacular thing to witness, I'm told." Rarity gushed, feeling a bit of joy at the recent event.
"Miss Rarity, perhaps you misunderstand..." Loose intoned, "I ask for what makes you happy, specifically. What sends your heart a flutter? What gives you pep in your step; what forces you to press on in life despite the setbacks thrown your way?"
Rarity was suspicious about the interest, but with the small fortune of supplies she was receiving the thought of objecting didn't last long in her mind. "Hmm..." Rarity hummed, thinking further back to a more special moment. "Aha, I know! The Sisterhooves Special!"
Loose raised an eyebrow. "Go on..."
"Sweetie Belle and I had hit... well, let's call it a 'rough patch' in our sisterly relationship with another. She didn't feel that I was spending enough time with her, (And she was right about that) And I had become so absorbed in my work that I didn't pay her the attention that I should have..." Loose seemed to be becoming irritated, but Rarity continued. "She told me that she didn't want me as a sister any longer and it devastated me. I later learned from my friend Applejack that Sweetie had decided to call her her new big sister as well. I was mortified, but Applejack came up with the idea to swap places during the Sisterhooves Social during the hoof-race. I had to get covered in mud and wait for a few hours before the events of the day reached that point, but it was well worth it. Applejack pretended to trip into the mud and placed her hat on my head in the same moment, giving me her semblance."
Loose nodded, "Very clever."
Rarity continued her story, becoming excited in the retelling. "I raced along with Sweetie Belle, balanced an egg with her into a basket, leapt over mud pits, squashed grapes, ran through obstacles and very nearly finished the race in first place as well!"
"You didn't win?" Loose asked with slight grump.
"No, we were beaten by a just a smidge of hoof by another competing pair of sisters... But!" Rarity suddenly declared, "That wasn't the point! After the race, I took off Applejack's hat and removed my muddy disguise to Sweetie. She was shocked for a moment, but when Applejack and I explained everything to her and my own undying love for her as my sister, we soon got back on track to repairing our relationship with another." She smiled, finishing her story. All of a sudden, her head felt very light and she held it in her hooves. "Ooh, my." She giggled, "Bit of a head rush!"
"Are you alright, Miss Rarity?" Loose asked, leaning closer. "I could get you some water, if you wish."
"No-no, it's alright Mister Fur. It should go away soon." Rarity tutted, sitting upright once more as her balance returned. Something still felt strange though...
Loose got up from his chair, speaking in a bow. "It has been a pleasure, Miss Rarity. Sadly, my time is at its end for the evening."
"That's it? I had thought you'd want more than just... um... What were we talking about again?" Rarity stumbled, suddenly losing her train of thought mid sentence.
"The time you and your sister went to the Spa and shared a massage together as part of sisterly bonding?" Loose offered.
For some reason that seemed right. "Oh! Well, now that you mention it I do remember that." She shook her head, the feeling of something wrong being unable to go away. "You're certain it was that?"
Loose Fur grinned and nodded. "Very sure, Miss Rarity. It was a pleasure meeting you."
The stallion soon turned from the confused and dazed Rarity, leaving the Boutique littered with useless junk and disguised rolls of toilet paper strewn about; the spell that he had used to disguise the heap of useless trash in the box faded as he left the store. A blue flash of light from his eyes and a dark chuckle went unheard by Rarity as the door closed shut behind him.
"Just a moment is all I need, and it works every time. One more stolen memory of love, another day to live for me."