• Published 25th Aug 2013
  • 11,943 Views, 243 Comments

An Apple A Day - Esle Ynopemos



A collection of thirthy-minute short stories about the rootinest, tootinest farm-filly this side of the Everfree. There'll be a chapter a day for thirty days. I ain't no fancy arithmeticker, but that adds up to a whole month of good, health

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15: Rarity Came Home [Romance]

((Prompt: Rarity in the Royal Guard.))

She stood there straight and tall. She always stood up straight and tall, even before, but it's different, somehow. Before, it was like she'd had something to prove. The way she'd stood had been a challenge to anypony, daring them to tell her she didn't deserve what she had. I guess whatever she had to prove, she proved it out there, because it wasn't an open challenge keeping her legs straight and her eyes forward anymore. It was just natural to her now, and a part of me just felt like slouching as I looked at her, because there was no way I'd ever match her posture.

I cleared my throat. “You... you look good, Rarity.” It wasn't a lie. The gold plates of her armor caught the afternoon sun and sent it shimmering across my doorway. Her barding was spotless, perfectly fit, with no folds or creases of any kind. I could just picture her spending hours getting that uniform just so, and for a moment the idea of a pony like her in a place like that almost made sense to me.

I expected her to take the compliment with her usual haughty tone, 'Well of course I look good, it is me after all,' or something like that. Either that or disagree with that exasperated huff she always used to use. 'No I do not! This wretched uniform has a terrible cut for my figure, and the color of the tabard is all wrong!

Instead, she gave me a small, measured smile. “Thank you, Applejack” she said, and let it be.

I started to feel mighty awkward standing in my doorway, peering out at her like she was some kind of stranger. I cleared my throat. “Why don't ya come on in? I can crack open some cider.” My eyes flickered to the uniform, and I winced. “I mean, uh... we got juice, too.”

Her smile grew a tiny bit warmer and she stepped inside. “I am off-duty, dear. Cider would be lovely.”

I sat her down at the table and filled a couple of mugs with the Acres' finest. She nodded as she took hers in an aura of magic. I couldn't help but notice she had more strength with it now. More control.

“So,” she said, taking a small sip. “How has Ponyville been in my absence?”

“Well, there's been an awful shortage of good-lookin' white unicorns 'round here; not sure how we managed,” I told her, cracking a grin. The flirt got a little chuckle out of her. “Your sis is doin' her best to fill those horseshoes, of course. Without you to pester, she spends enough time hangin' around Apple Bloom to make me feel like I'm raisin' two fillies.”

Rarity nodded. “She can be a bit clingy sometimes. I do hope she isn't too much trouble.”

“Nah.” I shook my head. “No trouble at all.”

It got quiet again. Used to be, there was never silence between me and Rarity. We always had something to talk about, or something to argue about, more like, and we could talk all night until the rooster crowed in the morning. But that was back then. Now, she was a lot quieter, and I... well, I had something eating away at me that I kept looking for any excuse not to ask about.

I've never been very good at finding those excuses, though. I took a swallow of cider, swishing it around in my mouth a few times before finally speaking up. “Why... why did you need to take it this far, Rarity?”

For the first time since she arrived, Rarity gave me a genuine show of emotion. She blinked her eyes and cocked her head to the side. “Whatever do you mean, dear?”

“I ain't angry,” I told her. “Believe me when I tell you that. But I just don't understand... We were close, hon. I know you felt it too. We had somethin', you and me. And then you left.”

Rarity let a long breath out of her nose. She took a drink of cider, and said nothing.

“Was it... I mean, it wasn't long after I started talkin' about the future, and what we might do. Did I spook ya, or something?”

“Applejack...”

“Because I'd have understood if you just told me you thought we were movin' too fast,” I said. “There weren't no need to go out an' fight giant crabs or Celestia knows what. I... I...” I stopped as I felt her hoof on mine. I looked up and saw tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

“Is that what you thought, darling?” she asked. “That I joined the Guard to get away from you?”

I'd have been a liar if I told her no, so I kept my mouth shut.

She smiled at me, and her armor clinked softly as she moved closer to wrap her forelegs around me. “My dearest, nothing could be further from the truth! When you started talking about a future together, I realized there was nothing that could make me happier than spending my life with you.”

I leaned into her hug. Celestia, I'd forgotten just how much I missed her. Even through the armor, and the new muscle, I still felt that warmth that had always been in her.

“But I also realized,” she said, speaking into my shoulder, “that future was never going to happen unless somepony was there to protect it.” She drew back to look me in the eyes. She pressed my hoof against the sun-shaped sigil on her chest. “I am doing this because I love you.”

I nodded. I guess I understood now. I straightened my back and raised a hoof to my brow in a salute. “I love you too.”