Twilight sat across from me, each of us on snack-filled blankets set lazily in the grass. My back legs were tucked behind me, freeing my front hooves for nibbling on a hayburger and gestures bubbling in dramatique effect. I threw my front hoof towards the sky, proclaiming, “And that is when that ruffian asked me if I wanted to kiss him! Think of the nerve of ponies these days, tsk tsk.”
Twilight giggled at me. I think I might have blushed. She swallowed her food and exclaimed, “He did?! He just met you! That doesn’t even make sense.” Dressing herself in a playfully disapproving frown, she chided, “Rarity, are you making this up as you go along?”
I outstretched my hooves to form a wide shrug, letting my eyes pop up out of my head at the accusation. “But of course not, darling. I swear, under penalty of purrjury, what I tell is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
Twilight snorted. “Purrjury?”
“What, have you ever seen a cat lie?”
“Well, no, but–”
“But nothing!” I shushed. “Purrjury it is.”
Twilight smiled. “Purrjury.” She bore that pure smile reserved for her best friends, never seen in front of the press. I can’t say that it’s special; it’s a staple of her wardrobe with Fluttershy or Applejack. Even now, whenever she looks at me with that warmth, it melts my heart, and I want nothing more than to hug her.
I took a bite out of the burger, letting my mouth occupy itself with something other than words. I didn’t trust myself not to say something dumb in that instant.
She filled the silence. “Well, while all the stallions seem to be in love with you, I didn’t have so much luck myself.”
“Hmm?” I hummed keeping my mouth closed to maintain proper chewing etiquette.
“Yes, well, a certain purple-maned mare was distracting all the stallions, and apparently the ladies of the Canterlot elite are straight.”
“Hmm,” I frowned sympathetically, keeping my mouth shut, both literally as well as metaphorically. If only she knew how distracting a certain purple mare could be while courting stallions.
“I don’t know. I don’t even know if I want a girlfriend or a boyfriend or anything or what. I’m fascinated by friendship – all kinds of friendship – and my sister-in-law tells me that romantic love is like platonic, only stronger. Academically, it would seem I have a scientific obligation to… experiment.”
“Hmm!” No, Rarity, don’t you dare say anything. I couldn’t dare risk our friendship over something so silly. I stuffed my mouth with a hoofful of French fries to buy myself another few moments.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just dying to know what it’s like to have every eye in the party on you.”
I swallowed. “It’s not worth it, dear.”
“It’s not?” She gazed vaguely in my direction, though her eyes were cloudy, her gaze passing through me into the horizon to my posterior.
“Love, are you telling me you want to have strangers fawning over you because of your shallow exterior, without a thought extended to who you really are or to how their lustful actions affect your inner self?”
She cocked her head. “Maybe?”
I shook my head, letting my ears flap about, and advised, “Flirting is fun, but it’s not a lifestyle. Long-term, committed relationships are worth it; gala flings, not so much.” I sunk my view into the ground, the dirt absorbing my vision. “At least, I’ve assumed that much from romance novels.”
Twilight opened her mouth as if to speak, but no words came out. Oh, how adorable she was when flustered! If only I had a camera in that moment. I suppose I have to settle for treasuring her countenance in my memories. Eventually, she softly asked, “You’ve never dated?”
I shook my head longingly. It was the truth, wasn’t it? Fillyhood crushes hardly count. “No, I suppose I never have.” I bit my tongue and in barely more than a whisper revealed, “I’ve never managed to get close enough to a pony – in that way – to pursue that kind of relationship.”
I don’t need to tell her that I have always wished to get close enough to some ponies, some ponies who have always terrified me to approach in that way. Some ponies like her. What could I even do? If I said anything more about my fantasies, she might defriend me on the spot. I have to be strong for friendship. I have to be strong for us; I have to be strong for her, for Twilight Sparkle. I don’t like that I have to be this kind of strong. I would rather be a little stupid about it. How romantic it would be, to get a little inebriated and gift her my feelings for Hearth’s Warming Eve. It’s certainly a type of generosity.
Twilight stared at me contemplatively. I wish I knew what was going through her head. I wish I could cast a spell and enter her mind, see what it’s like to be her. Instead, I’m stuck on the other side of a never ending emotional wall, barring any true empathy. To me, her mannerisms were adorkable; to her, they must have been profound. I could ask, but I don’t think any amount of verbal explanation could let me truly understanding that profound. But what is a girl to do, anyway? I have to remind myself, I am the Bearer of the Element of Generosity; I cannot let myself selfishly crave a romantic relationship I can never have.
Twilight eventually responded, her eyes bordering glassy. “I’m sorry, Rarity. I shouldn’t have assumed.”
Her innocent display of sincere vulnerability charmed me, oddly enough. I smiled, concern lingering in my face. Spending my hubris, I reached out my hoof to touch hers reassuringly. “It’s alright. You didn’t know.” Clearing my throat, I retracted my hoof and announced, “At least I have an endless supply of romance stories penned by Greyscale Quill to fill my Friday evenings.”
She smiled at me. “I love Greyscale’s works. Although she’s no A.K. Yearling…”
I shook my head teasingly, content. Sometimes I think she is too adorable for her own good. Too adorable for Equestria, perhaps? No, I suppose that can’t be right; there is no level of adorable too much for Equestria, given Sweetie Belle’s in here. Not to mention moi!
Ahem, was I rambling there? Never mind.
She was certainly too adorable for me.
I suppressed my torrent of thoughts and commented, “A.K. Yearling can’t write romance to save her life.”
Twilight scoffed. “In book 47, Daring Do literally had to write a romance short story to save her life!” She narrowed her eyes. “And you know if A.K. says it, it has to be true.”
“Uh-huh,” I giggled. “That was with a stallion. Totally different story.”
She raised an eyebrow at me in contemplation, evidently blushing. “Different story?”
I shrugged. “It just isn’t the same, is it?”
“Aren’t you the one who the stallions are always fawning after?” She poked at fun again. In hindsight, it was amusing, but in the moment… Ouch, and I let slip something I never thought I could have.
“I’m not even into stallions, Twilight!”
She tilted her head, her perceptions of me shattering in real-time. “You’re not?” Fear ran through me instinctively. Good never came from sharing my biggest secret. Rationally, Twilight was essentially guaranteed to be accepting, negating any worries of mine, but in that moment, I was running on instinct and unsettling childhood memories.
I shook my head. I took a deep breath and calmly said, “I’m gay, Twilight.”
She blinked at me. Was she waiting for the punchline? After I refused to elaborate, after a moment to process the implications of my impromptu coming out, she realised my declaration was truthful. “Huh. I had no idea.”
I smiled serenely at her. “As much as I am a hopeless romantic, I’m not exactly forthcoming about my preferences.”
She re-scrunched her face. “But… I’m one of your best friends! I’m bi! How could you not tell me?”
I pondered the thought. What was I afraid of, anyway? Twilight came out to us years ago, during a late night Truth or Dare confession at one of our sleepovers. I didn’t say anything at the time, beyond the typical “I’ll accept you no matter what!” response. I had known full well I was into mares since I was a teenager; Applejack had helped me sort out my feelings when we barely more than fillies. But I swore AJ to secrecy, and I never felt the need to share that part of myself with anyone since. I could still live out the sapphic relationships of my dreams, only vicariously via Greyscale and the like.
Eventually, I replied simply, “You never asked.”
“But… Hmm. I suppose I never did. Still, why don’t you talk about it more?”
I frowned. “Besides me and the girls, how many ponies know about you, dear?”
“Plenty of ponies!” she immediately retorted, defensive in each syllable.
“My parents. Oh, and all three of the other Princesses and the Mayor. Uh, I told Lyra Heartstrings and Bon Bon, since I was asked to officiate their marriage, and it seemed like they had a right to know.”
My point made, I prodded, “Is that all?”
“I don’t know. I’d have to think about it. Ooo, Minuette and Moon Dancer.”
I sighed. “Does the media know?”
“Of course not. I’m an Equestrian public figure; I don’t want to mix my personal life with my public image,” she explained. I paused, smirking at her. “…Oh. Right. The fashion industry isn’t quite Ponyville.”
I snorted. “That’s an understatement.”
She nodded in understanding and after some internal deliberation, un-scrunched her face, satisfied with my response. But then the colour drained from her face, and I gulped. “I’m sorry about earlier. I shouldn’t’ve teased you so much about stallions, especially at the gala. I… hadn’t considered how uncomfortable that probably would’ve made you given, well, the above.”
I blinked, unsure of the implications of her apology. “It’s okay. You didn’t know.”
She bit her lip. “I still shouldn’t have assumed.” She paused. “Can I hug you?”
Could she… hug me? Did she… did she know? Was I that obvious? But did that mean she… also…? But if she didn’t…? Oh dear.
I wasn’t sure which possibility terrified me more: the thought that she knew and liked me back… or the thought that she didn’t.
I silenced my monologue. “Of course,” I replied, and she embraced me.
After a moment that felt like an eternity, she released me. Or did I release her? It was so recent, yet the memory is blurred.
She stared skyward and declared, “I need to be heading back to the castle. I have some library maintenance to complete. You’re welcome to tag along if you’d like – just picture it! Spike, you, and I, together amidst thousands of books scanning for accidentally mis-shelved entries, with the only mission to correct an unknowable literary faux pas…”
I darted her gaze. I wasn’t sure I could handle going through my usual stream of Twilight emotions in front of Spike of all ponies. Poor thing, having to deal with Twilight’s drama as well as my own. Just kidding about the second part – me? Dramatic? Impossible, I say! Impossible!
“I unfortunately have a dress order to attend to back in the Boutique. It sounds like this is adieu for now, then.”
Twilight approached me, outstretching her foreleg and wrapping her hooves around me in a warm hug. I did my best to suppress my tumultuous whirlwind of emotions. Evidently I wasn’t too successful, though I managed to hug back. “See you soon, Twilight,” I muttered somewhere next to her ear.
“Bye, Rarity.” She gathered her bags, folded the blanket, and trotted off into the distance towards downtown Ponyville.
What would I give for her to see inside my head, the way I love to pretend to see inside hers?
What would I give?
Be strong, Rarity, for Twilight’s sake.