She looked beautiful in her dress. Regal, a true princess. And no, I’m not just saying that because I design her formal wear.
My friends and I gleefully waltzed into the ballroom of the Grand Galloping Gala. We went as just friends. That’s what we were. All of us were single; we were there to have fun.
Yet I couldn’t keep my eyes off her.
As soon as we stepped inside, Pinkie Pie spotted Cheese Sandwich on the planning committee and pranced off to hijack the behind-the-scenes. Rainbow Dash darted off to the Wonderbolts group, dragging Applejack alongside; Fluttershy paired up with Discord. In other circumstances, I would have fled to socialize with the fashion elite.
Yet I stayed, alone, with Twilight Sparkle, my eyes dreamy and my ears up in a cloud. Twilight stared at me quizzically, gesturing to a stallion by the beverage stand. “I think Fancy Pants is over there.”
I fiddled with my mane. “What, and leave you stranded? Whom do you peg me for?”
With textbook confidence, Twilight recited, “Rarity Belle Flanks Crumbles, owner of the Carousel Boutique, bearer of the Element of Generosity, and–” She paused, eyeing my blush. “–my flustered friend.”
“Please, just Rarity is fine.” I laughed.
She tagged into the giggling. “Of course, Ms. Crumbles.”
We were enclosed on opposite sides of an awkward silent barrier, a bubble I only popped half a minute later after a tactile evaluation of the relative merits of braiding my mane in the future. “So, uh, any hopes for the night?”
Twilight shrugged, and then raised her eyebrows suggestively. “That depends. Is the French dignitary single?”
Was the dignitary… single? The question bounced around in my mind curiously. I know I’m known as quite la commère, but still. Was she flirting with me? I dismissed the thought. Twilight wouldn’t do something like that. Flirt, yes, but romantic Twilight has all the subtlety of an elephant. Or perhaps she’s been reading romance novels?
I ignored my inner tempest and snorted. “Well, word on the street is ‘yes’.”
She grinned. “Ah?”
I touched my heart with my hoof, attempting a somber expression, although as was quite the tragedy, I failed to conceal a giggle or two. “She’s also straight, Twilight.”
“Merde!” She giggled, shaking her head playfully, and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “What about the Prince of Alemane?”
“He and the Qu–” I stopped myself. She couldn’t be serious, could she? Not when I was hinting so subtly… oh, no. Out of all the things that could happen, this was the worst! possible! thing! I bailed awkwardly, “Now, now, Twilight, you know gossip is rude.”
She pretended to pout, inching towards my direction. “But you’re so good at it!”
“Yes, and Discord is ‘so good’ at making the Canterlot Castle look like a giant sesame seed bagel.”
We shared a comfortable silence, mutually lost in thoughts o–
“Rarity!” A deep husky voice shouted from behind me. My ears perked up, and I turned around to reveal a well-dressed stallion, a clear Manehattanite judging by the accent.
Fluttering my eyebrows, I sung, “Why, hello there!”
Twilight whispered to me. “Who’s that?”
Discreetly, I replied, “No idea.” In a much louder voice, directed towards the stallion of the moment, I asked, “To whom do I have the privilege of speaking?”
He smiled a little too widely, and I noticed myself holding my breath in anticipation. “Hmm. You can call me… Tailor,” he declared. Uneasy, I recoiled, stepping back. He stepped forward to compensate.
Ignoring the footwork, I plastered on a grin. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Tailor.”
In my peripheral vision, I noticed Twilight cocked her head, then smile and purse her lips into an O with her eyebrows shot up brightly. She mumbled something about the snack bar and disappeared into the sea of dancing ponies, leaving this “Tailor” alone with me. Heavens, Twilight, you misread the situation.
Tailor stepped forward towards me once again. Once again, I stepped back, feelings naked without friend by my side. Tailor remained silent, prompting me to ask as politely as possible in a situation like that, “How may I be of service, Tailor?”
Smug, he replied, “That’s up to you. I just figured a mare like you–” he gestured up and down with his hoof towards my body– “would simply love to be with a stallion as radiant as I!” He posed. I blinked, shielding myself from the implications of his statement.
I breathed deeply in an unsuccessful attempt at restraining myself. “I beg your pardon?”
Apparently oblivious to social cues – or perhaps intentionally so – he stepped forward once again. My patience snapped, and I flared my nostrils at him. “Mister Whoever-You-Are, I don’t know what game you’re playing at, but I would have to kindly ask you to leave me alone, unless you’d rather I get the princesses involved.”
He squinted at me. The nerve! Pausing for a moment, he finally smirked and said, “Well, won’t you just give me a little kiss to say goodbye?”
I gave up on my ladylike manners. “Get lost,” I spat, walking away towards the snack table in an effort to find Twilight. I looked back, and luckily, I wasn’t followed, as far as I could tell.
Pushing a few ponies past me as I trotted along, I eventually reunited with Twilight, blushing as I caught her with a face full of cupcakes catered from the finest bakery in Canterlot. I wagged my hoof around, a little annoyed, although… Ay. She did look so adorable with frosting smeared around her lips, like I caught her with her hoof in the cookie jar. Or, in this case, cupcake stand. Really, next Gala, they ought to include an actual jar of cookies for dramatic effect!
I was bubbling inside, still mulling over the interactions with Mr. Wrong, wondering if I should throw blame at Twilight for abandoning me when that creep was approaching me, but then I looked up at Twilight’s horn aglow quickly cleaning herself up to erase the evidence of her sugary incident before I arrived. It didn’t work, of course, but it was adorable nonetheless.
Most of the frosting disappeared, she exclaimed, “Hi, Rarity!”
I waved ambiguously, keeping my poker face. “Hello.”
She waggled her eyebrows at me, leaning over the cupcake table towards me. I held my breath, her eyes just barely in front of mine. A small voice inside me told me to dart her glance. The rest of me couldn’t keep my eyes off her. Barely suppressing a giggle, she asked, “How’d it go with Prince Charming?”
I cringed. “I’d rather not talk about my suitor right now.”
We each returned to our normal conversational distance. She frowned at me. “Oh. I had thought that… Oh. Sorry, I… oh.” Her voice trailed off, gifting me with the space to self-reflect. Of course, it was hard to self-reflect when I kept noticing her tiny face, all scrunched up in thought like it was being squeezed by the Hand of Knowledge.
Eventually, she opened her mouth, and some amount of time elapsed later, she asked, “Sorry if this is a silly question, but… what’s it like to have so many ponies pining after you? I’m not jealous of all the negative attention, from ‘suitors’. But you always seem to be the life of the party. What’s it like?”
I frowned. “What’s it like being chased by self-centered stallions?”
“It sounds dumb when you say it like that.”
I shrugged. “Maybe because it is dumb. I let them into my life – I never say enough to scare them off unless it gets too uncomfortable – since that’s the etiquette in the fashion world. And… Never mind.”
It was now or never. “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway; none of them– Never mind.”
Twilight frowned. “Is something wrong?”
I blushed and darted her gaze. “No, of course not. I’m just… My mind is wandering. I’m sorry for worrying you.”
Twilight’s stare pierced into me. I wondered if it was cruel to keep her in the dark. But I dismissed the thought; I simply could not put Twilight through the ordeal. I coughed. “Anyway, darling, did I mention you look fabulous in that dress?”
Suspicious, she replied, “About forty-three times.”
“Now, now, there’s no need to exaggerate.”
Twilight’s lips curled up, almost imperceptibly. “Alright. You told me I look ‘fabulous’ eleven times, not including just now. Twelve in total.”
I paged through my memories of the evening to fact check her. “Thank you, that seems about right.”
We rested in blissful silence, a silence she broke with the question I’ve been dreading. “Rarity, please answer honestly… Are you keeping any secrets from me I should know about?”
I noticed her blush.
“Of course not,” I lied.