Rarity pushed open the door to the dining hall, stepping aside to let in Fluttershy, who gave her the kindest of smiles in return for the simple gesture. She quickly followed the pegasus in, exchanging the slight chill of the street for the warmth and music of the hall.
She eyed the pegasus’s look of wonder at the lavish decorations in her honor, from yellow and pink balloons to a banner that decisively said ‘Happy Birthday Fluttershy!” in big, bouncy letters.
She stepped up and grabbed Fluttershy’s hoof in hers. She led her to the back table, where punch sat, begging to be served. Fluttershy was confused, yet compliant to the dragging.
Rarity swiveled her head, searching for any friends in the crowd. She had decidedly only invited her closest six, and almost all were preoccupied with the troubling life of a Wonderbolt, or a head baker, or even the head of a family. Only one had returned the invitation- the one she had most dearly wished hadn’t, as the conflict of emotions could prove to be... problematic.
She had specifically warned the others, her friends in Canterlot who knew of her relationship with Fluttershy, to keep it zipped on the subject. No need getting any details out when there needn’t be a problem. They had come, but only under that condition. But if she couldn’t trust Canterlot ponies, of all ponies, to be able to keep a secret- who could she trust?
As she finished her swivel, she found herself in the immediate safety of the corner and the mare she’d been with for some weeks now. She shortened the distance between them, snout to snout with her marefriend.
“How do you like the party, my dear?”
“Oh Rarity, it’s simply wonderful. I just wish some of our friends from Ponyville could’ve shown, too...” she said, the disappointment clear in her voice.
“I know, I know, but they are all ponies with busy lives. At least Twilight could make it, though I believe she’s running a bit late-”
“Is this when we tell her? Tell them?”
Fluttershy’s sudden interruption broke Rarity’s normal orderly demeanor.
“I... don’t think so, my dear. I don’t know if this is really the best time for it-”
“Well when will it be the best time, then? If we keep it so secret for so long, when it finally comes out we’ll have kept it so long our friends won’t trust us anymore!”
Fluttershy seemed to be very concerned about this.
“I know this seems wrong, but I... just wish we could have everypony here to tell them, that’s all.”
“You weren’t saying that two weeks ago when we all finally managed to get together for Rainbow’s acceptance.”
“Our relationship was still new then... I didn’t know how they would take it, or if we were really meant to be together. Of course, now I know- they won’t care if we’re fillyfoolers or not, and I really want us to be together. Forever. I love you, Fluttershy.”
Fluttershy’s cheeks heated the most delightful shade of crimson before she ducked in and kissed Rarity, a passionate kiss that Rarity wished could have gone on longer.
Unfortunately, the door broke open from the back of the room, and both ponies who were previously sharing an intimate moment broke off and looked up, shifty glances in place.
The mare standing in the doorway, shivering against the cold, rekindled old memories of Rarity’s. Nights by the lake, moonlit walks by the park, that single, wonderful kiss under the cherry tree-
No, she reminded herself. That was a different time. We were different ponies.
The memories still lurked, though, at the edge of her mind, their wispy echoes taunting her mental blockade.
She went to greet her guest with some speed, hoping Fluttershy could catch up to greet alongside her. Being alone, again, with Twilight...
She redoubled the redoubt, banishing the forbidden images to the very recesses of her mind. But only exile, she thought. She couldn’t destroy them, as she had with other, unkind memories. They still held value to her.
“Rarity! So good to see you!”
Twilight moved in for the embrace.
Rarity hesitated for a split second before returning the gesture, giving her friend a somewhat looser hug than usual.
“The same goes for you, my good friend! Have you seen Fluttershy yet?”
A silly question- Rarity had seen Twilight come into the party from the start, and knew Fluttershy wasn’t anywhere close to the doors.
“No, but I think I see her over there. C’mon!” she exclaimed, grabbing a hold of Rarity’s hoof and dragging her to Fluttershy’s location.
Rarity, now the subject of the dragging, was nowhere near as comfortable with it as with her. But she made it to Fluttershy with no problems, and the three enjoyed a small chat. Rarity’s paranoia aside, seeing her friend again was good for her. They hadn’t spoken since Rainbow’s induction, and even then only little- Rarity, in her new position with Fluttershy as her marefriend, was still uncomfortable with being so close to her previous one.
A pony from the back of the room, a stallion of considerable girth and a wonderful monocle, called over Twilight, recognizing her. She gave a shout of joy, calling the stallion not by the name Rarity knew him as- Reginald- but as Professor Argentbaum.
Rarity gave a small sigh of relief at being away from her ex again, but immediately felt guilty about it. This was her friend, and here she was, happy that Twilight was gone.
“Rarity, I think we should tell her.”
Oh, Rarity did not have time for this.
“Please, Fluttershy, you know that we used to be-”
“Together, I know. And I know that makes this awkward, but you have to say something now, or when we all do ‘get together’ like you hope, she’ll feel betrayed that we didn’t tell her now.”
She did make a convincing argument, sometimes.
“I don’t know, Fluttershy. I just... don’t know.”
“You have to. Please. For me.”
They locked eyes, Fluttershy’s pleading, Rarity’s uncertain.
“Ok, my dear. I will tell her.”
“Oh, thank you!” she shouted, grabbing Rarity in another hug, this time uncaring if their purple friend saw. Rarity returned the hug, somewhat less enthusiastically. She was the one who had to tell Twilight, after all.
She broke off from the embrace and trotted from one end of the party to the other, passing old friends and business associates, all here to celebrate another year of life, love, and plenty of alcohol. She struggled through two particularly tipsy mares who wanted to ‘make some deals’ in the bathroom stalls, and averted her eyes from the sight of another pair of kissing, drunk ponies, wishing them privacy.
She finally reached Twilight, who had just finished her conversation with her old professor. At that moment, slow music came on over the speakers.
“Care for a dance, Rarity?”
She proffered a hoof.
Rarity accepted it.
They walked onto the dance floor, quickly catching the tempo of the song, the beat to which the other ponies swayed.
It was not a close dance, as some couples would do, but one for friends. Rarity was glad Twilight understood where their boundaries were.
In fact, she was enjoying it up until she remembered the news she would have to deliver.
Both ponies had tried to speak at the same time.
“Please, Twilight, you first.”
“Ok,” she said, giving a slight ahem. “I just think that, well, um, I think that I still like you.”
Rarity stalled in her dance as another couple bumped into them.
“And I was wondering if you felt the same.”
She regained her senses and started moving again, if only to avoid hitting more ponies.
“I, well, Twilight, I... I’m not sure.”
“Well, here’s to hope then.”
But any exclamation Rarity was going to make was cut off by Twilight’s lips against hers. Rarity’s mind was flooded with all those memories she had shunted and turned away- a candlelit dinner, nights in the library, all with this mare, this mare who could make her break with a single kiss.
And, to her shock, Rarity didn’t immediately break away.
She... liked it. She pushed against Twilight, deepening it, cementing it.
Somewhere, her rational mind shouted at her, told her she was wrong, was breaking Fluttershy’s trust... but it was overtaken by her eyes, upon viewing Twilight, beautiful as the day they were together; by her lips, feeling the warm embrace of her former love; and by her heart, which beat as fast as a schoolfilly’s on its first date.
Even when she broke the kiss, she still seemed to be almost in a dream. Twilight's eyes were matching hers, and their mouths curled up into little smiles. It was like before, only... better.
She felt she could stay in this comforting little bubble forever, just her, Twilight, and a million more kisses as light as the sun and as beautiful as the moon.
But her ears brought her back to reality, back to the party, back to the warmth which seemed so cold now.
She turned, her eyes flicking from Twilight's to Fluttershy's.
She was there, eyes wide, tears streaming down her face.
"No... no, Fl- Fluttershy, I-"
"I thought that was all in your past," she whimpered, her head bowing to the floor. "I thought you cared about me, now."
"Fluttershy, I really do... please, you must understand-"
“I’ve seen enough to understand!” to spat, head raising to showcase her red eyes. She charged past them, kicking the door down and vanishing into the night.
The party was silent, save for the music that still played through the speakers. The other ponies were in a state of collective shock, unsure of what to do, or even what had happened.
Rarity collapsed to the ground, eyes open and vacant of tears.
“What have I done?” she whispered, splayed out on the floor of the hall.
She shut her eyes.
“What have I done?”