• Published 10th Jul 2014
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Generosity, My Dear Applejack - Crystal Secret



Tragedy strikes Sweet Apple Acres as two of Applejack's closest family members pass on. She receives some money in the mail and decides to visit Canterlot. Along the way encountering Fancy Pants, Sapphire Shores and other colorful characters.

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Chapter 1 - From Canterlot, With Love

Generosity, My Dear Applejack

by Crystal Secret

Chapter 1 - From Canterlot, With Love

Applejack sat alone at the kitchen table, resting her chin on her hoof while time ticked away at a snail’s pace. She could feel each second like it was a heartbeat, continuous, unceasing. Her eyes rested on the black fascinator she had worn earlier that day; it was still perfectly intact despite the blustery winds.

A feeling of unmistakable loneliness washed over her, something she knew she should have already gotten used to by now, yet still the wound felt as fresh as the day he’d died.

She shook her head back to reality. I can’t keep thinking about it like that. It’s no good if I keep letting myself go back there.

It was a day in her life that she didn’t think would come so soon. She never would have imagined she'd be burying her young, strong brother so soon after Granny had finally withered away. But it seemed that the world had other plans for Big Macintosh and it had even bigger plans for her too. She just didn’t realise it yet.

As the incessant sound of her old grandfather clock filled the dark and quiet room, Applejack let out a sigh. Her mind wandered off and she started to wonder if there was any point in her life where she had been so depressed but couldn’t recall.

Flashbacks of the funeral sprang to her mind as she remembered the look of utter terror on Apple Bloom’s face when she saw the corpse. It was a such a relief that she was able to make it; she had recently moved to Baltimare and started a family, so Applejack was thankful she’d been able to attend.

Perhaps I just need some fresh air to clear my mind...yeah...a good old walk outside could help me feel better. She rose to her hooves and walked over to the door. She stopped to grab a scarf and wrapped it around her before exiting the lonely house.

For the first time since the day of the storm, she was able to fully observe the damage and aftermath of the disaster. As her eyes scanned what was once a truly beautiful and prosperous orchard, an empty feeling grew inside of her.

The soil was no longer its rich brown color but rather a dirty, charcoal black. Several trees had been torn from their roots and the season’s harvest lay wasting rotting away on the ground. Not a single apple remained of what would have been a bountiful harvest that year—oh how those little gems had shone. Alas, she would have no produce to sell at the market, no food to feed the town and more importantly, no way of supporting herself during such a difficult time. The orchard was in ruins, there was nopony left to help her and she had no other jobs in town cut out for her.

One thing however had returned to its normal state: the sky. Applejack could have sworn that she had not seen the sky so blue in a very long time. Clear skies and sunny days would hopefully bring good fortune, a chance to turn things around.

Such a chance was no further than the mailbox. It had been a while since she had bothered to check the mail and since Apple Bloom wasn’t here anymore to collect it for her, she made the long and rather resentful trip on her own.

With each firm step she slowly walked through what remained of her orchard, she could feel a sinking feeling grow in her stomach. She came to the conclusion that her life—much like a phoenix—had gone up in flames. The unrelenting weight that pulled on her heart strings whenever she thought of that day seemed to drag her entire body down to the point of depression. However, deep inside her heart she knew that such a time would end and she would have to move on and begin anew.

When she opened the mailbox she was surprised to find an envelope with her name on it. The handwriting was impeccably neat, the cursive letters curled perfectly. Curious about the sender, she took the envelope and walked back up to the house.

She sat down at the kitchen table once again and opened the envelope. Inside, she found a letter and a cheque for a surprisingly substantial sum of money.

Dearest Applejack, it began,

I sincerely apologise for being unable to attend Big Macintosh’s funeral but after I heard about what had happened I immediately knew that I had to do something. I would come down to visit you personally, alas, I am too preoccupied with the shop at the moment to do so. You see I’ve had a lot of high-profile clients lately, I’m sure you understand.

I am so terribly sorry for your loss. No words can adequately convey my sorrow at your terrible situation. Ergo, I thought it prudent to send you some small recompense.

I know it’s not much but at least you’ll have some money while you get back on your hooves again. I know you can—of all the ponies I know, you will get through this. You can even visit me here in Canterlot if you like. I’m always open and I would love to have tea and catch up; I must admit that it does get lonely in the shop all day.

Once again I apologise for your loss and you have my most sincere sympathies. Please, take this money and use it well.
I hope to see you soon.

Love,

Rarity

As Applejack’s eyes drifted slowly off the page and onto the fascinator resting beside her, a thought grew in her mind. Perhaps she could take up Rarity’s offer and go to visit her in Canterlot. After all, she had not been to see anypony in quite a while and this was certainly a good opportunity to get out and about.

For what seemed like the longest time, she just sat there and stared longingly out the window. In her heart, she yearned for adventure. She needed a little excitement in her life, something to occupy her mind while she figured out what to do next. With one thoughtful show of generosity, her friend had brought back a chance to recover some of the colour missing from her life.

She rose to her hooves and dashed up the staircase into her room. In a few moments she had opened up a saddlebag and piled a heap of supplies in it before closing it and heading back downstairs. She shoved the letter into her bag and—pausing only to grab her scarf again off the nearby rack—rushed out the door.

For a moment, Applejack stood and inhaled a deep breath; the crisp, cool air filled her lungs and exhilarated her soul. She exhaled and turned to give a glance at the dilapidated farmhouse before she began her long and weary journey that would take her beyond the borders of Ponyville.

A fierce determination filled her up inside as she galloped down the path that wove through the orchard and all the way to the mailbox, leaving her home and all of its despairing memories behind.

She had not run like that in a long time.

~*~

When Applejack finally arrived at Ponyville station, the sun had risen to its highest peak in the clear blue sky. The cool, light breeze continued to blow as she waited on the platform for the next train to arrive. Her heart raced with excitement and for the first time in days, a smile lit up the mare’s face. She was not known as the sort of pony that would make drastic, irrational decisions, but today was not an ordinary day.

“Why, hello, Applejack! May I ask where you might be headed on such a fine afternoon?” asked a curiously familiar voice.

Applejack’s attention quickly turned to the well dressed and equally well spoken stallion beside her on the platform. She
immediately recognized the pony as one of Rarity’s high-profile contacts, Fancy Pants, although what he was doing in Ponyville escaped her completely.

“Ah, I’m just headin’ up to Canterlot to meet a friend of mine,” she said cheerfully.

Fancy peered at her from the corner of his eye while he pulled his pocket watch from within his sleek overcoat pocket. “This friend of yours wouldn't so happen to be Miss Rarity, by chance?” he inquired.

“Why, she sure is! How’d ya know?”

Fancy put away the pocket watch and faced the confused mare next to him. “Well, she has quite the tendency to talk about you. It is obvious that she cares for you a great deal. I would keep that in mind when you see her.”

“I will. Don’t ya worry about a thing.”

“Good to see you again, Applejack,” Fancy replied before a loud whistling sound filled their ears, followed by large puffs of steam and the whirring sounds of the stopping train. “Shall we?” he said extending a hoof to the newly opened door.

“All aboard!” exclaimed the conductor as they approached the door.

Applejack quickly took a seat next to the window and—to her utmost surprise—was soon accompanied by Fancy, who took the seat facing her. He seemed like a charming fellow and therefore, she didn’t mind having his company on the long and enduring train ride ahead of her.

As the train departed the station, a question lingered in her mind. If anything she could at least make small talk on the long ride ahead of her.

“So, what are you doing in Ponyville anyway?” she asked.

“I thought you might ask. The answer is quite simple really: I was actually here visiting your friend, Princess Twilight Sparkle. We’ve been discussing remodeling plans for Ponyville.” He nodded and smiled, his teeth white as ever. “It would seem that this charmingly rustic town needs a facelift, and we agree that it needs to start developing an exportation of some form of natural resource in order to grow. ”

“I see. So what’s Miss Fleur Dis Lee up to nowadays? Is she still on the covers of every magazine? ”

“Yes, of course. She is still as...graceful as ever, to be sure.” He lowered his voice and leaned in closer to Applejack. “Just quietly, there is much speculation that we broke up which, while true, was not something I wanted released to the media. Such is the life of an upper class citizen I’m afraid.”

Those were the last words that came from the high society pony’s well spoken lips. For the remainder of the trip, they sat in comfortable silence as Applejack looked out the window and watched the countryside go past. The empty fields and rolling hills in the distance seemed to stretch on for miles as the sun marched ever-westward.

She stifled a yawn—the day had been long and exhausting. When she woke up that morning she had no idea that by the early afternoon, she would be on a train to Canterlot. But such a predicament had left her with only one direction in which to go.

Forward.

~ * ~

As the train finally arrived in Canterlot station, the sun was barely visible as it hid behind the peaking, mountainous landscape that surrounded the capital. For a Saturday afternoon, the station was packed.

Applejack’s brightly colored coat was unmistakably clear in a crowd of softly colored unicorns, who stood around the platform waiting for their ticket out of the bustling city.

“I daresay, Applejack, how would you like to join me for some tea?” asked Fancy as they got off the train.

“I can’t,” she replied bluntly. “I’ve already decided to meet Rarity right about now, that’s the whole reason I came.” She continued walking away.

“I see. Well, perhaps we could arrange a time that suits you then?” He lit his horn and a miniature notebook floated out of his other coat pocket, along with a short, sharp quill. “Would tomorrow morning be more preferable?”

“Fancy, I appreciate your offer and everythin’ but I’m just not interested. I set out to meet up with Rarity and that’s exactly what I ought to do.”

“I beg your pardon, I understand completely. I do hope you reconsider, Applejack—I would consider it a pleasure to further make your acquaintance.”

She turned to face Fancy as she perceived the eagerness in his voice; he genuinely wanted to see her again. “Look, if I ever change my mind, I’ll send Rarity your way with a message.”

She navigated her way through the crowd and out onto the busy and sleepless streets of the capital. It only took a moment of looking up and down the street for Applejack to find herself in yet another predicament: she was lost. It suddenly occurred to her that she had no idea where Rarity’s boutique was and in a city as large as this it could take hours to find it.

As luck would have it, Fancy was once again by her side. It would seem that she wasn’t about to lose him anytime soon.

“Perhaps I could be of assistance,” he proposed loudly as to make himself heard against the noises of the street.

She sighed and brought a hoof between her eyes. “All right, Fancy. I s’pose I could use some directions to Rarity’s place.”

“Why, of course, my dear. Now, shall we?” he asked once more, before stepping out onto the street.

Applejack obediently followed the stallion as he escorted her through the many winding and whimsical streets of Canterlot. It had been quite a while since she had visited the mountain city and for a good reason. The streets were much too crowded for her liking and most of the high society folk seemed a little too uptight.

Tastefully decorative shops and commutes lined the streets as vendors awaited an eager customer to purchase their wares. While they walked through the crowded street, Applejack noticed how the further they walked, the more up-market the shops became. Perhaps Rarity worked in a posh, high-end boutique at the upper end of Canterlot?

Every so often a dual-horsed carriage would rush past them and leave them slightly disoriented, while everypony was too busy snubbing their noses in the air to even notice that a brightly coloured earth pony was in their midst. Looking toward the sky, she noticed that sunset had befallen them; a spectacular display of orange and yellow hues filled the sky, reminding Applejack of home.

Home, she thought. Where the kitchen truly did tend to smell like cinnamon and apple in the evenings, where they all worked from dawn until dusk and in the fall there was always that warm, comfortable and yet reminiscent feeling of what home really was. Most of all, home was where she belonged and despite its destruction and unfortunate state, it was the very place she looked forward to going after a long day out in the fields.

She could almost taste Granny Smith’s unmistakable, trademark apple pie—in fact, she could smell it too. The smell of a warm, delicious apple pie wafted in and left her unable to ignore it. Applejack followed the scent and accidentally bumped right into a very annoyed looking vendor.

“Hey! Are you going to buy that or what?”

Applejack could just see the frustration in his face: beads of sweat ran down his forehead as he stood there, staring Applejack down.

“Ah no,” she quickly replied but still didn’t wander away from the stall. “Although, they sure do look delicious,” she continued as she savoured the smell. “I best be goin’ now.” She quickly rushed to catch up with Fancy Pants, who was quite a bit ahead by the time she turned around to see where he was.

“Is everything all right, my dear?” he asked as he caught sight of her returning to his side.

“Yeah, I was just catchin’ my breath.”

“That is indeed good to hear, because you will be relieved to know that we have almost arrived at our destination.” Fancy pointed a hoof slightly off to the side where a bricked upper level arched over their route. “Rarity’s boutique is just another few streets away but first, we must pass through that archway and into the upper avenues of Canterlot.”

Applejack looked where he was pointing and noticed a narrow path that would lead them where they needed to go. They walked on through the archway and for a brief moment, they were in darkness. But as they strolled out on the other side, the beautiful crimson sunset lit up the fashion district that was laid out before them. The entire street was a gorgeous array of fine boutiques and decorative hat shops. There was a cafe on the corner and just to the left of it was none other than Rarity’s boutique.

It was a chic little shop indeed. Fabulous designs were displayed in the window and there was a modest, subtle feeling of sophistication about the place that only grew stronger as they approached the boutique.

“Here we are: Rarity’s boutique. Now, I hope you have thought about my offer. Are you sure I cannot interest you in a cup of tea or two? Say, tomorrow morning perhaps?”

“Sure, why not? Thanks for bringing me here and everythin’.”

“No trouble at all, Applejack. Excellent. I shall meet you here at 10 o’clock. Now, I’d best be off. I’m sure you and Miss Rarity have an awful lot of catching up to do.” With those last words, Fancy wandered off into the afternoon sunset that made the street gleam in its lovely crimson light.

Applejack waited a few minutes before opening the boutique door, eliciting the chime of a ringing bell from somewhere inside. Almost immediately a voice called out: “Coming!”

A familiar white unicorn came rushing down the staircase, red glasses resting over her eyes as a distressed mane framed her face. A tape measure hung loosely around her neck. The mare’s eyes widened in surprise as she took in her friend’s sudden and unexpected appearance in her boutique.

“Applejack! It’s so good to see you! How have you been, darling?” She ushered her friend over excitedly. “Please, do come in and sit down. You look terribly exhausted,” she continued, an air of concern surrounding her.

“Well, I’ve been better, that’s for sure. Glad to see you again, Rares.”

As they walked through the boutique, Applejack took in the shop’s even more lavish interior. A chandelier hung overhead and plush curtains adorned the windows. Expensive looking furnishings were tastefully placed about the boutique and clothing filled numerous racks about the walls. There was a large three-way mirror on top of a platform to the right side and a changing room just to the left of it. The walls were covered in elegant wallpaper that matched the tone of the room.

Applejack followed Rarity to the back of the boutique where they emerged in a small kitchen. While the unicorn brewed some tea, Applejack took a seat at the table and let out a contented sigh at being able to rest.

There was a warm, cosy feeling about the place; the boutique wasn’t all that different from the one back in Ponyville, except for the fact that it was in a far more suitable location for her entrepreneurial friend. Now ponies from all over Canterlot could come and admire Rarity’s designs. The only downfall was that she wouldn’t see her friends as much. She wondered if Rarity missed her friends now that she was here. Then again, with how much work she had been receiving...perhaps her work kept it off her mind.

“So how are things up here in Canterlot?” Applejack said, looking up to find Rarity bringing a boiling pot of tea over to her.

“Oh well, you know. Business is good. I get a lot of high-profile clients and more customers than I ever would in Ponyville.” Rarity poured two cups of tea. “But I have missed you and the others so dearly. I was even considering coming home for a few days, but then I got the opportunity of a lifetime!”

She squealed with excitement, almost spilling the tea everywhere. She took a few deep breaths before continuing. “I was asked to design gala dresses for...the princesses! Apparently my style was so well suited for their needs that they just couldn’t resist asking me! Can you believe it, Applejack? First Manehattan, then Canterlot, and then Equestria!” she proclaimed loudly as though she were opening the Equestria Games.

“Gee, Rarity, that’s uh, pretty amazing I guess. I mean, I never woulda thought ya’d become so successful now that you’re here in Canterlot. Makes sense now that I think on it, though. I sure am happy for ya,” Applejack replied nervously, unsure of how to feel about her friend becoming a world famous fashion icon.

“Why thank you, Applejack, but right now I’m more concerned about you. I really am sorry that I couldn’t attend the funeral today. That said, I just want you to know that if you ever need somepony to talk to, I’m only a train ride away.”

Rarity took a seat at the table, and finally made eye to eye contact with her friend. “Is everything all right?”

Despite having been asked a question, Applejack still found herself hesitating before answering. “Yes, everything's fine, Rarity,” she replied coyly.

The pair sat in silence for a while as they drank their tea. She didn’t remember the last time she had shared a cup of tea with a friend but for once she was actually enjoying it.

“However did you find your way to my boutique, darling?”

Applejack’s thoughts suddenly turned to the long and tiring journey that she had just endured whilst in the company of none other than Fancy Pants. It was then that everything he had said and done left her wondering if Fancy had more than a simple tea party on his mind.

“Well, to be honest with ya, Rarity, I had a chance meetin’ with Fancy Pants and he was kind enough to bring me here.”

“Oh, did he now? That was most generous of him,” Rarity said, resting her chin upon her hoof.

“There’s somethin’ else I should probably mention to ya,” Applejack added, her eyes downcast as she played with her hooves.

“Please, do go on, my dear. Tell me all about this chance encounter with such a well established figure in high society.” Rarity leaned in as to better hear every excruciating detail.

“He was, uh—how do I put it?—he kind of asked me to join him for tea right after we got off the train,” Applejack confessed as a wide, excited smile grew on her friend’s face. “I wasn’t really sure what to think of his offer, so I waited ’til the end of the trip to give him my answer.”

“And what did you say? You did accept his offer, didn’t you?” Rarity asked eagerly.

“I said, ‘Sure, why not?’ It might be fun. After all, I wasn’t entirely sure what to say—I’ve never been asked to tea by a stallion before,” Applejack concluded, her eyes surveying the ceiling in thought.

“Well, Fancy Pants isn’t just any ordinary stallion.” Rarity’s eyes lit up. “And you know what that means now, don’t you?”

“No, what does having tea with Fancy mean?”

Rarity squealed once again and clapped her hooves. “It means you’re going to need a nice outfit for such a rare and momentous occasion! And I have just the right dress for you.” She led Applejack out of the kitchen and back into the front of the shop where she began searching through racks of clothes.

After a few minutes of busily searching, Rarity finally found the dress she was after. She held it out before Applejack; it had a blue and white diamond overlay with a pink, see-through silk underlay and a pink and blue bodor.

“Uh, Rarity, ain’t that the dress I wore when Trenderhoof came to Ponyville like, years ago?”

“Yes, which is exactly why you should wear it when you go out to tea with Fancy Pants. You should probably try it on first though, just to make sure it still fits.”

Applejack hesitated momentarily before she slowly took the dress off Rarity; the material was still in good condition and the silk underlayer hadn’t frayed. Despite having not been worn in a few years, the dress was as beautiful as she remembered. It made her wonder: What’s Rarity up to? And why’s she chosen this dress in particular? An uncertain feeling grew inside of her as she took the garment.

While Applejack tried the dress on in the changing room, the boutique’s bell chimed once more and an unexpected customer followed. “Good afternoon, Rarity,” spoke the voice.“I’m here to pick up those fabulous garments I ordered. I presume you have them ready?”

“Yes, just a moment please—I’m currently working with another customer. She’s just trying on some clothes and won’t be a minute,” Rarity replied, leaving her customer to wait at the front of the boutique. “Applejack, my dear, is everything all right? Once you’ve got it on can you come out and show me?”

After a few minutes, Applejack stepped out of the change room and in front of the large, three-way mirror that stood on a round platform. She gracefully twirled in front of the room, taking in her appearance fully.

“Oh, Applejack, don’t you look simply divine! Doesn’t she just look marvelous, Sapphire?”

“She looks like a real show stopper,” the Pony of Pop agreed. “I have to say, Rarity, you’ve done it again.”

“Why thank you, Sapphire. This was one of many dresses I made for the Ponyville Days Festival in years past. I’m just hoping it will be enough to impress the public eye tomorrow when she goes out to tea with Fancy Pants.”

“So that’s the occasion? Well, I wouldn’t worry about that. He has been saying that he’s been looking for a nice, simple young pony to settle down with. And I think she makes a perfect candidate.” Sapphire let out a chuckle, before standing next to Applejack in the mirror.

“The only thing left to figure out is her hair, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something,’ Rarity said as she pushed the messy, untamed hair into a loose bun on top of Applejack’s head. “Now, Sapphire, I shall return momentarily with your outfits. Please wait here.” In a second, she disappeared up the staircase.

“Hang on a minute.” Applejack turned to face Sapphire. “Do ya mean to tell me that some upper class pony like Fancy Pants is actually interested in a simple earth pony like me?”

“Why of course, darling! You are quite the catch if I do say so myself. I mean just look at you! You’re a strong, independent—and might I add gorgeous—earth pony who also just so happens to be available.”

“Well uh, I guess ya could put it that way. But there’s no way I could fall for a big shot like him! I mean, he doesn’t seem like the type of pony who would know how to run a farm.”

Sapphire walked up to Applejack in the mirror, inspecting every inch of the outfit as though she were critiquing a painting. “My my my, don’t you look divine! You’re gonna wow the Canterlot press with that dazzling gem of an outfit!” she exclaimed excitedly.

“Are you sure? I mean, it is just a simple outfit Rarity made for a small town show.”

“True, my lovely, but such a simple yet sophisticated look is so rare in high society fashion that you’ll steal the show wherever you go, moreso when in the company of Fancy Pants! I sure hope you’re ready for the limelight, because you’re rockin’ that hot little piece! Wow!”

While Applejack blushed from those words of encouragement, Rarity brought out the garments that Sapphire had custom ordered for her next big show. Each dress was an imitation of a different, brightly colored bird with a trail of feathers and a crowning jewel headpiece.

“They’re fantastic, Rarity! I can’t thank you enough for making them all so perfectly on such short notice. Now, I’d better go—there are still a lot of preparations in order before my big show at the Crystal Magnum Theatre tomorrow night! Oh, and would you mind if I left them here? I’ll have somepony swing by and collect them just before the show.”

“Of course, dear Sapphire,” Rarity said. The mare grinned and stepped out the front door, a tinkling chime filling the room again.

“What is this ‘Crystal Magnum Theatre’ she was going on about anyway?” asked Applejack in the wake of Sapphire Shore’s abrupt departure.

“Why, the Crystal Magnum Theatre is only the most prestigious and largest theatre in all of Canterlot! I hear that Sapphire’s show has been sold out for months! It’s where the highest Canterlot elites and royals are entertained, but at a price.”

Rarity sighed. “Attending a show there is shockingly expensive, which is why I’ve never been able to go. But now is not the time to worry about such things—we need to make you picture perfect for tomorrow!”

“Uh, picture perfect?” Applejack questioned. Rarity didn’t hear her.