Generosity, My Dear Applejack

by Crystal Secret

Chapter 2 - Crystal Halls and Starry Nights

Generosity, My Dear Applejack

by Crystal Secret

Chapter 2 - Crystal Halls and Starry Nights

It was only a few minutes after 10 o’clock the next morning when Fancy Pants showed up outside Rarity’s boutique. Thankfully, Applejack was already waiting nervously, but not with her usual getup. Her mane was styled up as little curls unfurled around a jewelled centrepiece.

“Applejack, what a pleasure to see you! And don’t you look radiant as ever.”

“Thank you, Fancy Pants. I just thought since I was goin’ about the town I might put somethin’ a bit nicer on.”

“I appreciate the thought. Come now, let us not waste the day,” he said as she followed him, walking close by his side.

They strolled out onto the bustling streets of the Fashion District. It was by far one of Canterlot’s finest. Large hats adorned the high heads of passers-by as the sun shone brilliantly above them; the clear sky and cool air made way for a day full of new and exciting experiences.

“There is a quaint little cafe not far from here. I thought we might be able to sit and converse for a while in the shade of an umbrella,” Fancy suggested as they walked down the street.

“That sure does sound nice,” Applejack replied.

The head of each pony they passed turned as to get a glimpse of the odd couple that took the stage of the Fashion District. Up ahead, Applejack could see a large red and white overhead banner that read Cafe Diem. Even from a few feet away she could already smell the ground coffee beans, the delicious food on offer, and as she drew closer, she could hear the noisy chatter and roars of laughter coming from inside. Wooden tables were spread around the outside of the cafe as a waiter came out and served freshly brewed coffee and doughnuts to a couple seated near the entrance.

Ponies watched on as they took seats at a table outside the cafe. Fancy ordered them a steaming pot of green tea while Applejack stared out at the busy street. Every so often, a passerby would pause to shoot them a second glance before continuing on their way.

“The weather is indeed nice today. The pegasi have done a most excellent job on making the skies clear. A little sunshine does make the day just that bit more pleasant, don’t you think?” Fancy asked, taking a sip of tea.

“Uh, sure. If you say so,” she replied bluntly as she continued to look out onto the street.

“I daresay, Applejack, you don’t seem all that chipper this morning. Is something bothering you?” He looked up from his cup.

“No,” she sighed. “I was just...just thinkin’ about everythin’ that’s happened lately and how nice you’ve been, escortin’ me first to Rarity’s, then takin’ me out to tea like this. To be honest, it made me wonder at what ya true intentions were in the first place.”

Fancy lit up with a brilliant smile.

“Rarity is always talking about you: she even told me of your predicament and wished so dearly that she could do more to help. To be perfectly honest with you, my dear, I have always quite admired her generosity and all the goodness she puts into the world.”

He took a sip of tea.

“Which is why I decided it was about time I did something charitable for another, hence my reasoning for taking you out to tea on this fine morning. I do hope you understand, Applejack—it’s the least I can do. After all, it does trouble me that a mare as strong and hardworking as you has befallen such a tragedy.”

Applejack just stared at him with wide eyes. Perhaps Sapphire Shores had mistaken his generous offer for a sign that he held some kind of feelings for her? At least now she knew the truth and therefore wouldn’t have to wonder about it any longer.

Her eyes faltered back to their usual, tired state as she took a sip of her tea. It was clear to her what Fancy’s true intentions were, but there was something rather unsettling about his whole explanation. She was probably overthinking it.

“Well, I do really appreciate your generosity and all, Fancy. But I gotta admit that I have a feeling there’s more to your story than that—you’ve brought me here for a reason and I wanna know why.” She perked an eyebrow mischievously.

“All in good time, my dear, but if I may ask just one question?”

“Go on,” she said eagerly as a wide grin spread across her face.

“Since your brother is no longer in the picture and your little sister has moved away, who remains to assist you in managing the Apple Farm?” Fancy frowned slightly and took another sip of tea. “For such a large area of land, it seems beyond the capabilities of a single pony.”

“What do ya mean?” Applejack’s smile began to fade.

“What I mean is you will obviously require a few extra ponies to lend a hoof. Now, I just so happen to have entire factories of labourers, whom I am more than happy to send down to Sweet Apple Acres. Of course, you need not worry about paying them—I will take care of that. I assure you that they can do just about anything you ask them to, all I need is your approval and I can have them by tomorrow morning.” He took a final sip of tea, draining his cup.

A few extra pairs of hooves? I could sure use the help. After all, the apple orchard is in ruins, the barn has collapsed and the soil is no longer fertile. Perhaps I should accept his offer. What’s the worst that could happen?

“I s’pose I could accept your offer. I mean, I could really use the help.”

“It is an agreement then,” he said, extending a hoof out to her. “I shall send twenty of my finest labourers to Sweet Apple Acres in the morning.”

Applejack took Fancy’s hoof and shook it firmly. At least now she could be a little more at ease about what was going to happen to her apple farm. It was almost as though a heavy weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Such a relief it was to finally be able to relax a little for the first time in days.

“There is, however, one more thing I would like to ask of you.” he began, unsure of how to say the next part.

“Go on,” she said with a nod of encouragement.

“Applejack, would you do me the honour of attending the Grand Charity Ball with me this evening?” he asked. A smile lit up his face.

“Shoot, I don’t know, Fancy. You’ve done so much for me already, I couldn’t possibly—”

“Please, I would love the pleasure of your company this evening. You are a delight to be around and I am positive you would have a wonderful time. After all that has happened to you, Applejack, I believe that such an activity could perhaps take your mind off of things for a while?”

Applejack hesitated for a moment. “Oh, all right. If ya insist on me coming.” She could find no real reason to refuse the gesture, especially since she'd already accepted his help.

“Excellent. Does seven o’clock suit you?” Fancy asked as they stood up from the table.

“Oh, sure. I mean, that sounds fine.”

“Well, I’d best be off—I have some business to attend to. Once again, Applejack, it has been a pleasure.”

With those final words Fancy wandered off down the street, while Applejack remained standing outside the cafe.

~ * ~

“How did it go, darling?” asked Rarity, not even looking up from her sewing machine as her doorbell chimed.

“It was...uh, pretty good if I do say so myself.” Applejack let out a chuckle.

“Please, go on, my dear. I insist you spare no details.” Rarity waved Applejack over as she walked through the front of the boutique.

“Well, he sorta asked me to the Grand Charity Ball tonight.” Her cheeks burned a bright, crimson red.

“The Grand Charity Ball! Why, next to the Grand Galloping Gala, that is the biggest event in Canterlot!” Rarity’s eyes lit up as she squealed with excitement. “And Fancy Pants asked you to attend as his guest! Do you know what that means?”

“Uh...that I’m going to a ball with Fancy?”

Rarity rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue. “Yes, but you’re also going to need the perfect dress for the occasion! Come—we must prepare you for tonight.” She lit her horn and trotted off toward the change room, with Applejack attempting to splutter out a protest.

A moment later, Applejack was handed a pile of dresses and shoved into the change room. “Try them on, darling—I need to find just the right style for you. There’s only a few hours until the ball and there is so much to do!”

After an hour of trying on dozens of different dresses and Rarity critiquing them concisely before sending Applejack back into the change room, they finally found the perfect dress. She stepped up onto the platform and in front of the three-way mirror. The fabric shimmered as she ever so slightly turned on the spot.

The front of the dress was a soft purple, collared half-cape with a mauve bow and on her back was a yellow saddle with purple imprinting, while a heavy purple skirt with a wide golden border and a large mauve bow attached to the saddle rested on the skirt.

“Hmm…idea!” Rarity suddenly pulled Applejack’s hair into a ponytail at the back of her head, leaving out her bangs to frame her face. Applejack turned to admire her friend’s handiwork. She now had a little purple bow that completed the outfit nicely.

“Now don’t you look simply fabulous, darling?” asked Rarity, as she stood by her in the mirror.

“Gee, Rarity, I can’t say how thankful I am for all you’ve done for me. This dress really is somethin’,” Applejack said as she turned in the mirror.

“Don’t you like it? I think you look absolutely gorgeous in one of my finest ball gowns.”

“Of course I like it—I’ve never looked so beautiful in my whole life.” Applejack turned to face her friend as she began to tear up.

“Applejack, are you all right? Is something the matter?” asked Rarity, her own tears hidden behind her red frames.

“I’m fine, Rares..., I just wish Big Macintosh and Granny Smith coulda’ been here to see this. I always used to tell Granny she’d live to see the day I got all dressed up for a big night on the town. It’s a darn shame it is—she'da loved to see me in this dress,” she said calmly, sniffling in the mirror.

“Oh, Applejack. I’m so sorry to hear that.” Rarity embraced her friend. “I only hope that tonight you will enjoy yourself and not worry about anything else. It is your night to shine after all.”

“I guess you’re right, Rarity. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about that tonight, just enjoy myself and let go.”

“Absolutely. Now, we must make the final preparations!” Rarity giggled and clapped her hooves together.

“Uh, what might that be, exactly?”

“Oh, you’ll see.” Another giggle.

~ * ~

At precisely seven o’clock that evening, a lavish, open-topped pony-drawn carriage pulled up outside Rarity’s boutique. Shortly afterward, the doorbell chimed as Fancy Pants entered.

“Ah, Rarity, a pleasure to see you. Is Applejack ready for her grand night out?” Fancy took two steps inside.

“Of course, she should be down here in a moment,” she replied, not even looking up from her sewing machine.

“Sorry I’m late. I was just touchin’ up my make-up before I went out,” spoke a familiar voice.

Fancy turned to the voice, to be pleasantly surprised by Applejack’s presence as she came down the stairs. “Applejack, you look simply marvelous! The fine ponies of Canterlot will be in awe of your fashion sense. And of course, we must credit the designer who made it possible!”

He tipped his top hat to Rarity, who briefly paused in her sewing to beam up at him. “Now, shall we depart? After all, your chariot awaits!”

He swept his hoof out before himself with a step back. Together, he and Applejack—who mouthed a final thank you to Rarity behind her—walked out of the boutique and into the cool, summer night air.

Outside the boutique stood a beautifully decorated open carriage with two stallions at the front. Fancy opened the door and lent his date a hoof as she proceeded to gracefully step up and into the carriage. After she closed the door, the carriage began to slowly move forward.

“I hope you are ready for a splendid night on the town,” Fancy began as she looked up at the colossal amount of stars that hung brilliantly like a chandelier above them. The moon was full and bright as the carriage bumped slightly along the cobblestone street.
“First of all, I have prestige seating for Sapphire Shores’ concert at the Crystal Magnum Theatre before we dance the night away at the Grand Charity Ball, which is being held inside the Crystal Glass Hall.”

Applejack trained her growing eyes upon the stallion. “You’re taking me to two of the biggest shows in Canterlot tonight? Fancy, I don’t know what to say.”

“No need to thank me, my dear—you make for wonderful company and I’m sure you’ll make a fine dancing partner tonight at the ball. I also thought—since you have had such a difficult time recently—that you deserved a night just to let loose and have fun. Wouldn’t you agree? After all, you’re one of the few ponies who would fully appreciate my generosity.”

He took her hoof in his.

The warmth of his hooves set off a warm, fuzzy feeling inside Applejack; her cheeks burned a soft, buttercup pink. “Fancy, y’all are truly one of the nicest stallions I’ve ever met.”

“The pleasure is all mine, Applejack. I just hope you have a wonderful time tonight,” he replied as she rested her head on his shoulder.

A peaceful silence hung over them while the carriage rolled on through the quiet, sleepy streets of Canterlot. For the first time in a while, Applejack was entirely at ease. She could never have imagined—even hours earlier—that tonight she would be in the company of a wealthy and charitable business pony such as Fancy Pants, much less enjoying it.

The humble streetlights lit up the roads before them as they slowly approached the spectacular Crystal Magnum Theatre. It was a large, domed building with the roof made completely of glass. Two large doors marked the entrance as crystal pillars extended out, creating an area for valet parking. A queue stretched out the door and ran right down the street.

“There sure are a lot of pony folk here tonight,” Applejack observed as the carriage parked just outside the theatre.

“Yes, but most of them are not permitted to enter as they were either not invited or simply possessed insufficient bits to purchase a ticket,” Fancy explained as the carriage came to a stop. “I, on the other hoof, have a high enough status in society to enter regardless of whether I was invited or not. I also have a seat reserved—asked if I may reserve another for my special lady friend.”

He trotted down the three retractable steps and held out a hoof for Applejack, who stepped down from the carriage with his aid. As they walked up to the two grand doors that led inside, a young stallion dressed in a black tie suit ushered over to the door before opening them, bowing as he did so.

“My most sincere apologies, sir—I did not at all recognize the fabulous young mare standing at your side and therefore did not recognize you. It will not happen again.”

“That is quite all right. To be fair, I am not usually in the company of such a beautiful mare and therefore my identity may have been quite easily mistaken.” Fancy flashed a smile at the young usher while Applejack blushed and hid her face.

“Of course, thank you, sir. Please, do enjoy your night,” he replied before they entered the theatre.

Chandeliers hung from the ceiling as they walked through the entrance of the theatre. A reception desk was at one side of the room and a long hallway descended straight ahead, lined with portraits of famous singers and musicians. There was a set of large doors at the end of the hallway and two ponies who stood outside it, their only job being to open and close the doors all evening.

“So, there’s only one stage in this whole theatre?” asked Applejack as they approached the doors.

“Actually, there are many stages for all the different shows that are playing tonight.” Fancy pointed up at the ceiling. “There are six in total—it just so happens that Sapphire Shores’ show is being held in the Crystal Dome theatre upstairs.”

“If that’s so, then where does this here door go?”

“It leads to all the elevators that each ascend to their own different theatres.” Fancy ended his explanation as the stallions opened up the doors, leading them to a small, rectangular room.

Six gold elevators with the names of different theatres lined the room. Just above the large one in the middle was a gold plaque that read Crystal Dome. Fancy pressed the button for the elevator to come down. “We are quite fortunate to be in the Crystal Dome tonight. It is rare that ponies hire it for their shows, but Sapphire Shores is the ‘Pony of Pop’ after all.”

When Fancy and Applejack entered the Crystal Dome theatre, almost every seat was filled. Her eyes turned to the ceiling; the roof was made of clear glass, allowing them to enjoy the spectacular view of the night sky as they waited patiently for the show to begin.
They were led to their seats, reserved for V.I.P.s only. They had the best seats in the house as they sat high up on a balcony that overlooked the stage, giving them an advantageous view.

As Applejack sat down, she could feel the plush, soft seating beneath her. She looked around the theatre, casting her eyes upon the silk drapes that lined the open balconies, and a rosy red carpet that ran the length of the room. It was just like any other theatre except for the glass dome roof.

Suddenly, the curtain that was draped over the stage was lifted to reveal a brilliant flash of light that filled the room. Within an instant Sapphire Shores appeared before them, wearing one of the many different garments that Rarity had designed for her. The sequins shone and reflected off the glass and all around the room.

Applejack watched in awe as a colourful array of lights shone. It was then that Sapphire Shores began to sing. Her voice was amplified to the back of the theatre. She had such an upbeat tone and she could hit and hold the highest notes that Applejack had ever heard.

As the sixth song ended, a roar of approval filled the room and Sapphire Shores disappeared behind the curtain to change during the interlude.

“That was quite the impressive performance. I admire Sapphire’s extraordinary range—she is quite the young star,” commented Fancy as they waited for the next song.

“I haven’t heard such an amazin’ singin’ voice since Ponyville’s own Ponytones. They also knew how to put on a good show, but nothin’ like this,” Applejack replied.

“Yes, the use of the Magnum Theatre is ingenious! Ah, would you look at that: the stars are quite beautiful tonight.” Fancy gazed up at the night sky that arched over them. He took her hoof in his. “Yet they are no comparison to the beautiful young nova before me.”
He gazed into Applejack’s deep, emerald eyes before planting a soft kiss on the mare’s hoof, causing her cheeks to turn pink.

A few moments later, Sapphire Shores returned to the stage, greeted with resounding applause. While Sapphire continued to sing, Applejack felt a warm, comfortable feeling growing inside of her. Throughout the remainder of the set, she could feel her heart beat faster. When Fancy covered her hoof with his again, a tingling sensation shot up her leg.

The audience applauded as Sapphire took a final bow and roses were thrown onto the stage. Moments later, ponies began to shuffle out of the theatre.

“I hope you enjoyed that, Applejack,” Fancy said. They stood up from their seats, albeit reluctant to relinquish the plush feel of the expensive cushions. “I thought the entire show was absolutely spectacular. I’m rather glad you were able to join me.”

“It was truly amazing, Fancy. Thank you,” Applejack replied as they walked out of the theatre. “I sure am mighty lucky to have been able to see it. I guess it wasn’t somethin’ I’d imagine myself doing,’ ’specially with a stallion as…er…kind as you.”

The cool summer air met the pair with their retreat to the entrance. On cue, their carriage immediately arrived to meet them. Fancy helped Applejack into the carriage once again before they took off down the street, heading for the Crystal Glass Hall in the heart of the entertainment district.

~ * ~

After ten minutes of star-gazing and spotting constellations, they finally arrived outside the Crystal Glass Hall: its walls and roof were made of pure glass and held together with metal frames melded into the glass. A stone sculpture of a mare and stallion dancing stood proudly in the centre of a flowing fountain, situated just outside the hall.

“Wow,” Applejack breathed as the carriage drew nearer to the entrance.

“Quite a sight, is it not? The architect that designed it was commissioned all the way from the Crystal Empire, which explains the unique design. It was built shortly after the return of the Crystal Empire, you see: the princesses thought it might be nice if Canterlot had its own monument to symbolise their appreciation and diplomatic friendship.”

Fancy beamed at Applejack. “A building made entirely of glass in the truly is a glorious work of art.” With those words, their carriage stopped outside the entrance.

“It sure is. You said the architect was from the Crystal Empire?” Applejack asked as Fancy helped her step down from the carriage once more.

“Yes, he was quite a peculiar young fellow. I had the pleasure of meeting him on one occasion for tea. He shared a most curious story with me that day: he had decided one morning after watching a crystal chalice crumble before him that he wanted to become an architect.”

“You sure do get around,” Applejack said while the glass doors were opened and they walked inside.

“Of course, my dear. Still, it is purely a perk—and at the same time a requirement—that I meet and greet important ponies such as architects and musicians. Having the pleasure of making their acquaintance allows me to make important business decisions based on the needs and wants of the majority.”

When Fancy finished his spiel, Applejack nodded and took a glance around the room; she noticed how the crystal chandeliers burned brilliantly, filling the room with light as ponies danced in time to the classical music that was been played by the symphonic band that stood up at the back of the room. Moonlight reflected off the marble flooring as they made their way across the floor.

When they approached the centre of the room, other ponies turned to catch a glimpse of the unusual couple that had suddenly made their appearance with such refined elegance. Ignoring the peering eyes of the ponies around them, Fancy bowed before Applejack before extending a hoof out toward her. She hesitated a brief moment, looking around at the lingering glances, though finally she took it graciously.With a somewhat cheeky grin, Fancy gave her a little twirl, causing her skirt to spin.

Placing her head on his shoulder, they began their slow, heartfelt dance as the crowd whispered quietly. The harmony of the music and the beauty of the night made the moment truly special, yet Applejack could still feel dozens of judgemental eyes watching her as she danced with one of Canterlot’s most eligible bachelors.

“Ah, Fancy...there are ponies starin’ at us,” Applejack noted as they finished dancing.

“Release your worries, my dear,” Fancy whispered softly in her ear. “They are simply so in awe of your rustic beauty that they just had to turn around and know for sure that there really is an exquisite young mare dancing with me tonight.”

“I guess you’re right. There really is nothin’ to worry about,” she replied as they walked through the crowd and onto the middle of the dance floor.

The music picked up and a faster, more upbeat tempo filled the air. The crowd of ponies surrounding them began dancing once more as the room filled with life. Fancy grabbed a hold of Applejack’s waist and began to lead her in a circular pattern around the room. Every so often he would release her into the air and bring her back down on his other side.

Applejack had never attempted ballroom dancing before, though as the night wore on and Fancy quickly taught her the steps, she found herself wishing that the night would never end. The music was a barrier that prevented her from hearing some outraged shouts coming from across the room. Her only thoughts were on where to put her hoof next as she locked eyes with Fancy
As the final note played, Fancy lowered Applejack nearer to the ground—keeping a firm grip around her waist—and planted a deep kiss on the mare’s rosy lips.

Surprised by the stallion’s bold move and unsure of what to do next, Applejack hesitated momentarily before wrapping her forelegs around the stallion’s neck. A crowd of nearby ponies applauded.

To Applejack, the kiss felt like magic, like floating on cloud nine. A flurry of emotions erupted inside of her as she slowly opened her eyes, only to find Fancy already staring back into her own. She had never experienced such a wonderful feeling grow inside her as the stallion opened his mouth to speak. However, he was rudely interrupted by an approaching pair of stomping hooves.

“Fancy! What in Equestria are you doing with this ground-dweller over here?” shouted an obnoxious and annoyed tone.

All heads turned to the voice: Fleur Dis Lee stood barely a metre away from the pair. Not only that, she was accompanied by hot-shot fashion designer, Hoity Toity, and Photo Finish, who had already captured the romantic moment the couple had just shared.

“Who’re y’all callin’ ground-dweller?” Applejack exclaimed angrily at the mare. “And who do y’all think you are anyway? Y’all can’t just waltz in here like that and start callin’ ponies names, ya know!”

Fleur scoffed. “You don’t know who I am, do you? I’m Fleur Dis Lee, the very marefriend of the stallion of whom you are now getting your disgusting, barbaric hooves all over!”

“Marefriend? You ain’t nopony’s marefriend! Fancy told me you two broke up!”

“Broke up?” Fleur brought a hoof to her mouth. “Fancy and I did not break up! We simply had a lover’s quarrel. I couldn’t possibly stay mad at my darling Fancy now, could I?”

“Fleur, my dear, if we had a ‘lover’s quarrel’ then what was with you calling me an ‘egotistical bastard’ and stomping off at that last party?” Fancy said, standing in front of Applejack. “We can discuss this later, but right now you are ruining the first truly enjoyable night that my date has had in years.”

“Oh, you mean this pathetic commoner?” Fleur scoffed and pointed at the piece of orange still visible behind Fancy; Hoity Toity made quite a show of attempting to straighten his neck tie. “I’m surprised you even consider her worthy of being among superiors such as us. Why, even in that outfit, she’s as plain as the forehead over her face.”

“All right, that’s it!”

Applejack leapt from behind Fancy Pants and threw herself in Fleur’s direction. Cameras flashed rapidly as the fight broke out: Photo Finish and her entourage were eating it right up.

“Applejack, wait!”

Fancy tried to intervene but was too late: Applejack had already bucked Fleur hard in the chest, sending the mare flying backwards. Fleur landed on top of the buffet table and tipped the punch ball on top of her, staining her pure white coat. As all of this occurred, gasps escaped the audience and cameras continued to flash.

“You’re just a good for nothing, barbarian farm pony that has no place in high society!” screamed Fleur as she rose to her hooves and ran towards Applejack.

Applejack could feel her blood boil with rage. “Well you’re just a stuck-up, no good, upper class bit-digger!” she shouted back, holding her ground on the dance floor.

“We’ll see about that once I’m done with you,” Fleur snarled. A light pink aura surrounded Applejack and in an instant, she was sent flying across the room. Fancy stepped in quickly and cast his own magic, catching his date in his arms before dropping her gently. Applejack shakily rose to her hooves.

“Fine! I’ll leave you two superiors in peace!” she cried out before running out of the glass hall. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she fled from the flashy venue.

“Applejack, wait!” Fancy called out after her but his cries went unheeded as the distraught mare quickly got into the carriage, ordered her destination to the coach ponies and took off down the street.