• Published 22nd Jul 2015
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The Diamond in the Stars - Distaff Pope



After a devastating year, Rarity decides to get away from it all and spend some time with her friend Twilight. As their friendship deepens, the two turn to rely on each other with problems both internal and external.

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5. My Best Friend's Mare

I yawned and looked at the ceiling. It had been days since my talk with Twilight in the spa, but there was still this cool contentment sitting in my stomach. You are so fantastically important. I smiled as her words repeated in my head. It wasn’t just the words, though; it was the absolute sincerity she delivered them with. She didn’t just give me platitudes to make me feel better, she showed a part of her soul to me, a beautiful wonderful part I’d never forget.

Dinner with Pinkie and Fluttershy later that evening was fine. We talked, they asked how I was doing – my retreat from the Boutique was common knowledge now – I told them I was fine and asked how Fluttershy’s trip was, she said it was fine, Twilight made some delightful joke about something or another, and we enjoyed a perfectly nice meal together. Odd, I caught Pinkie and Fluttershy exchanging glances later in the evening when they thought I wasn’t looking. Why? What could have prompted that? Something I did with Twilight? I filed the thought away for future contemplation.

My smile only grew after I finished my morning ablutions and trotted to Twilight’s study. The room had certainly grown homier over the last week or so, and I couldn’t wait to see Twilight’s latest project. When I’d gone to bed last night, she was scouring her genealogies for information on Princess Platinum’s descendents. She really is a dear for looking into that for me, even though I’m almost positive it won’t amount to anything, I thought. At the very least, it allows me to fantasize about being royalty for a few days.

“Good morning, Twilight,” I said, trotting into her study and seeing a giant paper stuck against one wall. No tacks, was she using magical or regular adhesive? Knowing Twilight, it was almost certainly the former. “Did you sleep well?”

She smiled at me. “Great, you?”

“Very well,” I said, trotting over to look at the paper. It was a family lineage, and at the very top sat Princess Platinum. “You know, I keep thinking I’m going to get used to how comfortable your beds are; that one day, I’ll acclimate – but it hasn’t happened yet.”

“Yeah, it hasn’t happened for me either. I think the beds are enchanted somehow, but there are so many spells wrapped up in this place, I can’t really look at them individually. All I’ve figured out is that there’s a lot of magic tied up here, and that the castle is growing.”

“Now that you mention it, it does seem larger than when you first moved in here. I don’t recall there being a guest wing when we decorated,” I said, looking down the list of names. Platinum’s last descendent died out about six-hundred years ago. A name scratched out on the parchment caught my eyes.

“What happened here?” I asked, pointing to it.

“Oh!” Twilight said, smiling and trotting from her desk over to me. “That’s the really interesting thing. Everypony learns about Princess Platinum’s five daughters, but she actually had six. If you look at all the original records, you can see there’s a name scratched out or erased, and a few years later, there’s no mention of her – or him – at all. After the rest of her descendents died off, some unicorns took to telling stories about the lost scion of Princess Platinum. They said she left because she refused to accept Celestia’s rule, but considering that Princess Celestia didn’t come to Equestria until the time of Platinum’s great-granddaughter, that’s almost certainly not the case. If you’re descended from anyone, though, it’s probably her.” Twilight practically giggled with excitement. “Do you know how huge it would be if we discovered the name of Princess Platinum’s sixth daughter?”

I smiled at her. “Judging from your barely-bridled glee, I’d guess the answer is big.”

“Big? Big? That’s like saying the sun is warm. History books would be rewritten, Rarity. Our understanding of post-unification Equestrian society could change dramatically. I’ll need your help, though,” Twilight said, floating several notebooks to revolve around her.

“You need only ask,” I said, humming a few bars of one of Mocart’s symphonies to myself. If I thought about the idea of me being a princess too much, I’d be as manic as Twilight. I wonder, would I be able to imprison ponies? Issue decrees? Or would it simply be a symbolic title? It didn’t matter, either way, my wildest fantasy would be a reality. Ooh! Ponies would be lining up to court me.

“Does your family have a detailed genealogy?” Twilight asked, pulling me from my nascent fantasy.

“I don’t believe so,” I said, frowning. “I never really inquired too much. My mother’s side of the family, especially, is an enigma.”

“It’s fine,” Twilight said. “I can look up your official birth records when I visit the Canterlot archives.”

“No, no, you don’t need to do that,” I said, a tension springing into my chest. “I’m quite sure of my immediate family, no point wasting your time on things we already know.” I needed to check my safety deposit box soon, make sure everything was in its proper place.

“Well, I like to have complete records,” Twilight said, frowning and looking from me to the paper on her wall. “It never hurts to look through the stuff you think you know, because there’s always something you could’ve missed.”

“Twilight, I know who gave birth to me, believe me. I spent a year trying to see if there was any way my mother wasn’t. I know what the records say, and I can assure you there’s nothing important on those ones,” I said with far more confidence than I felt.

“Fine, if you really don’t want me to look through your records, I’ll just start with your grandparents if you know who they are,” Twilight said, sighing. I hated squashing her natural curiosity, but she really didn’t need to see those records.

“I do,” I said, trotting over to my collection of mannequines. “My father’s parents were Royal Flush and Red Cent. My mother’s were High Class, he was a teacher, and Golden Chimes.”

“Golden Chimes?” Twilight asked, mouth working silently for a second. “I think I can– Your mom’s name is…”

Mother’s name is Cookie Crumble,” I said, sighing. “At least, that’s what she says. The one time I met my grandmother, she refused to acknowledge her by that name and stuck to calling her Silver Sound the whole time. Mother was quite incensed by the whole thing, and the next time I saw Golden Chimes was when we were lowering her into the ground.”

“Interesting, ponies have been known to change their names to better reflect their cutie marks, but rarely to the point of completely rejecting their old name. Do you have any idea why?” Twilight said, trotting over to her desk.

“Probably spite,” I said, shrugging as I stabbed a needle through the piece I was working on. “It seems to be a uniting trend amongst the mares of my family.” I ignored the look I saw from the corner of my eyes. “Yes, I did something, and no, I don’t want to talk about it at the moment. We will, just… later.”

“Fiiiiine,” Twilight said, stretching the word out as long as possible and making no effort to hide her exasperation. She made a clicking noise as her mind turned back to the problem at hoof. “Sweetie Belle, Golden Chimes, Silver Sound. You’re the only one whose name doesn’t play on metals or sound in some way. Traditionally, dynastic naming is indicative of a shared family trade or nobility. Is there any reason they broke convention with you?”

We were going to have to get into this, weren’t we? “They didn’t. My full name is Rarity Bell. No ‘e’ at the end. I dropped the last name partly to spite them and partly because I thought the mononym sounded better for a fashion designer.”

“Oh,” Twilight said. “Well, I think both your names sound great.” She made a note in her book. “It seems your maternal line has a strong history of dynastic naming, which is great. It will make my research a lot easier, and I’m liking the fact that precious metals figure heavily into the naming scheme.”

I nodded. Yes, that was– So far, it was just a coincidence. Just a coincidence. Don’t get your hopes up too high, Rarity, the last time that happened, you almost got charged with assaulting royalty. Not a mistake we’ll be making twice.

“Anyways, we can talk about this more once I’ve investigated the archives. Are you ready for tonight?” Twilight asked, putting her notebook away and taking a seat on the couch next to Opal.

“As I’ll ever be, I suppose,” I said. Actually, the idea of seeing Applejack and Rainbow Dash together… It didn’t strike me as that distressing right now. That could very easily change, but I was taking it as a good sign. Certainly, I was doing better now than I was a scant few days ago. “It’ll be nice to be with the rest of the girls again, It’s been so long since we were all together.”

“Well,” Twilight said as I took a seat next to her on the couch. “You did kind of shut yourself up in the Boutique for a while. That didn’t help.”

“Yes, thank you for reminding me of that lovely time in my life, Twilight,” I said. She was right, of course; I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to tweak her nose a little.

“Sorry,” Twilight mumbled, looking down at her chest.

“Twilight, dear, it’s fine,” I said, smiling at her and patting her on the back. “I was merely teasing. Yes, I made a proper mess of things, and that’s entirely my fault, but I’ve accepted it. Didn’t somepony say that progress is merely learning from our failures?”

“Probably,” she said, lifting her head up. “So you’re not mad at me?”

I shook my head. “Never.”

She laughed. “I’m sure you’ve been mad at me sometimes. I think everypony has.”

“Twilight, I honestly can’t think of a single instance where I was upset with you. Not to that extent, anyway. Yes, your monomaniacal zeal can be irritating at times, but you’ve never actually done anything which made me angry with you… Except, possibly, for when I made you your first Gala dress. That… Yes, I was rather upset about that one, but I think I was well within my rights to be, considering you almost ruined my career,” I said, laughing at the memory. Time the sanitizer, disinfecting even the ugliest memories and making them palatable. At least, it did with some of them. Others could still be knots of raw pain years later.

She smiled and scooted an inch closer to me. “I am sorry about that. I guess I should leave the dress designing to the actual dress designer in the future, shouldn’t I?”

“Well, I don’t generally tell you how to cast spells, do I?” I asked. She rubbed the back of her head and her cheeks tinged rose at that.

“No,” Twilight said, moving a hoof to stroke Opal. “So… anything you want to do before our dinner?”

“Honestly, I’ll be just fine working on today’s dresses while you…” I trailed off, not sure what she had planned for today.

“Research,” Twilight said. “I still want to find out everything I can about Princess Platinum’s daughters before I go to the archives. You sure you won’t be bored?”

“With you? Never.”

♦♦♦

Twilight and I trotted into The Princess’s Pick together. (Princess as in Princess Celestia, not Twilight. It was one of the old Ponyville restaurants.) “Good evening, girls,” I said, smiling at the other four. As expected, Applejack and Rainbow Dash were sitting together, and they were bookended by Fluttershy and Pinkie, leaving two spots for Twilight and me at the circular table. “I apologize for being late, we got carried away working in Twilight’s study and lost track of time. If Spike hadn’t been an absolute dear and reminded us about our appointment, I’m afraid we might still be there.”

Rainbow Dash laughed. “It’s fine, Rares. Kind of cool I wasn’t the last pony here for once. Can’t believe the two most on-time ponies in our group get late when they’re put together.”

I gave her a smile without eyes as I sat down. “And just why were you on time? I thought you’d be tired after getting back from… where did you go to?”

“Las Pegasus,” Rainbow Dash said, rolling her eyes. “Had to go to the big annual weather conference.”

“Silly me for forgetting,” I said, laughing to myself and looking to Applejack. Tightness gripped my chest. Keep it together. I took one of Twilight’s calming breaths. Air goes in; tension goes out. “Applejack, how have you been? It’s been so long since we…”

“Yeah,” Applejack said, looking down at the ground. “Sorry, Ah’ve been real busy down at the farm, and Ah know you’ve had a lot of work at the Boutique, and Ah guess we ain’t spent a lot of time together lately.” I followed her glance leading straight to Rainbow Dash. The farm isn’t the only thing you’ve been busy with, is it? Remember, Rarity, we’re happy for the two of them.

“It’s fine. Like you said, I’ve been busy too.” I looked at my four other friends. “I should apologize to you all, really. I’ve been so distant these last few months, and that’s… I have some issues I need to deal with, and I thought it was for the best if I didn’t disturb you all while I tried and failed to handle them. Can you ever forgive my foolishness?”

There was a chorus of ‘of courses’, and I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. Of course, they’d forgive me. They were my friends. And yet there’s only one pony in the room you’d even consider divulging your deepest secret to.

I shook my head, chasing off the strange thought. Maybe no wine tonight. “Rarity, you shouldn’t try to keep things from us,” Pinkie said, bouncing over the table and tackling me in a hug. “We’re your friends, we’ll do everything we can to help you. Ooh! I should throw a party. What do you think of a let’s-carry-Rarity’s-psychological-baggage party?”

“Perhaps a bit on the nose,” I said when she finally stopped squeezing the life out of me. “Besides, I think you might have more pressing parties to plan in the near future.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, finally ending the hug and letting me get back to my hooves.

I looked to Applejack and smiled at her. “If there are any secrets you’re keeping from the group on my account, don’t worry. I’m absolutely fine.”

“Really?” she asked, raising an eyebrow at me.

Strangely enough, I was. I’d expected the words to be a lie, something to make her feel better, but… when I looked between the two of them, saw the little glances they kept stealing, I was nothing but happy. Mostly. “Really,” I said, looking directly from her to Rainbow Dash to drive home the fact that I knew.

There was a long silence as Rainbow Dash and Applejack had a conversation using only facial expressions.

She knows, Applejack’s face said.

You sure? Rainbow Dash asked using only an eyebrow.

A nod from Applejack.

We should tell ‘em, Applejack’s glance to the rest of us said.

But then everypony’s gonna be all huggy and celebratey and it’s gonna be totally lame, Rainbow Dash said with a mix of sighs and glances to the ground.

Rainbow… Applejack said with a glare.

Fine, but you’re totally going to have to make it up to me tonight by– No, I definitely didn’t need to know the two of them were doing that. Maybe they could’ve had a slightly less expressive conversation.

Applejack turned to look at the rest of us girls and opened her mouth. “Alright, well, since Ah guess Rarity already knows, there’s no point in hidin’ it from the rest of you girls, anymore. Rainbow Dash and Ah’ve been seein’ each other for the last couple of months.” Hmm, that long? I replayed the scant few interactions of theirs I’d witnessed over the last few months. The way they suddenly started sitting next to each other all the time and their teasing remarks. It all seemed so obvious – but then, that was hindsight, I suppose.

Pinkie and Fluttershy both gasped, although Pinkie’s pantomime made me suspect she’d already figured out the truth. Beneath all her excitability and strangeness, the mare has a keen eye for relationships. Of course, I suppose the Bearer of Laughter would have to be good at reading a pony’s mood.

“Twilight knew too?” Rainbow Dash asked, smacking her hoof on the table. “Come on, I thought we were at least a little clever. I’ve read all those Daring Do books, I should at least be a little good at sneaking around now.” Dear, pardon me for saying so, but Daring Do sets off every trap in every temple she goes into. If she’s stealthy, then I’m Princess Celestia.

“Rarity told me,” Twilight said. “The first night she came to the castle. It was actually one of the reasons–”

I cleared my throat. Privacy, Twilight, my eye roll said.

Right, sorry, her eyes said as they glanced to the ground.

“Rarity told me when she came to the castle,” Twilight repeated to the girls. They were all staring at us now, and Pinkie was glancing rapidly between Twilight and me.

“What?” I asked.

“Should we tell them?” Rainbow Dash asked. The other three shook their heads.

“Tell us what?” Twilight asked for me, leaning forward to the table as the waiter filled our drinks. We’d been here enough, they didn’t even need to ask for our orders anymore. Sometimes, I think about requesting something different just to see how the staff reacts.

“Noooo-thiiiing,” Pinkie said in her sing-song voice before falling into a fit of giggles. They couldn’t think that– No, of course not, Twilight was just a dear friend. Maybe I understood her a bit better than I did the other girls, but only because we had similar interests. Well, not really, but we did appreciate each other’s interests. You appreciate the other girls’ interests too.

“Applejack,” I said, smiling at her, and chasing that thought away. “I’m very happy the two of you are together. I wish you both all the good things in Equestria.”

“Thank ya, Rarity,” Applejack said, returning my smile and allowing herself to lean into Rainbow Dash. Oh my, the two of them together were positively adorable.

“Yeah, it’s totally cool of you not being all crazy and jealous,” Rainbow Dash said with her usual tact, earning an elbow in the side from Applejack. Maybe the farmpony would rub off on Dash. Well, in more ways than just the most base one. A touch of tact and slightly more work ethic… It would be nice not to have a thunderstorm every other week.

I laughed and smiled at the two of them before taking a sip of my water. “Well, I do try, Rainbow Dash. Histrionics are all well and good when you misplace a hairbrush, but have no place when it comes to celebrating the happiness of friends.” I glanced at the nearest waiter. “Could we have a bottle of your finest champagne?” I asked. He nodded and trotted away. For a second, I’d considered ordering wine, but after the bottle from Gustaf’s… No, it’d ruined me for wine.

“Well, thanks for being so cool, Rarity,” Rainbow Dash said. “I totally thought things would go a lot worse and then there’d be a big fight between the two of us for Applejack’s love. I’d win, of course, but still, I thought things would be bigger and awesome-er…” She trailed off and glanced at Applejack. “Although not fighting a friend is pretty awesome too.”

I tried not to roll my eyes at her ludicrous fantasy. Honestly, between her and Pinkie, I didn’t know who was more likely to go off into madness. Well, okay, it was almost certainly Pinkie, but some days, it was close. “Yes, I prefer it this way too,” I said.

“Anyways, sugarcube,” Applejack said, taking the topic of conversation away from Rainbow Dash’s absurdity. “Why’d ya hole yerself up in the castle? Ya alright?”

“Just fine,” I said, smiling her. “I just needed some time away from the Boutique to refresh myself, and I thought Twilight could use some company in her massive castle.” It wasn’t completely a lie; there were certainly strong elements of truth in it.

“It’s been great having somepony to talk with the last few days,” Twilight said, backing up my almost-lie. “Of course, there’s always Spike, but he’s hit that age where he likes being in his room most of the time.” A wistful smile danced across her face. “He’s forming his own life and while it’s really great to see, it’s also… the castle’s going to be a lot bigger without my number-one assistant around.”

I smiled at her and resisted the urge to pat her on the back. While it would obviously just be a friendly gesture, it wouldn’t help whatever delusion the rest of the girls were laboring under. “Twilight, he’s not going to leave you. Yes, he might spend more time on his own, but I don’t think he’ll be striking off on his own anytime soon. Besides, if he does and you get lonely, you can just call on me or one of the other girls to keep you company for the night.” Applejack raised an eyebrow as I realized the possible… connotations of that last sentence. “I mean for a sleepover or a party. We’ll… I understand how daunting an empty house can be when you’re not used to it.” Damn them for making me stumble over every word looking for hidden meaning.

“Thanks,” Twilight said, smiling at me and either missing any other connotation my words might have held, or not finding them important enough to comment on. Either way, I could’ve hugged her – in a friendly, platonic sort of way, of course. I hugged all my friends, Pinkie was hugging me just a minute ago, and there certainly wasn’t anything romantic between us. “Like I said, it’s great having somepony over I can talk with while I work, so… any time you want to come over, my door’s always open to you.”

There was a short pause as I tried to ignore the glances the other girls were giving each other. Honestly, what in Equestria could compel them to think that Twilight and I... They weren’t right, were they?

“So, Rarity, how’d you know, anyways? Ah thought Dash and Ah did a pretty good job of keepin’ things secret,” Applejack said, breaking the lull and taking the focus away from me and Twilight and sleepovers.

I took a drink of my mineral water and gave a cracked little smile. “You walked past my front window the last time we had a thunderstorm, and Rainbow Dash had her wing draped over you. You don’t exactly have to be Sherlock Pones to make the connection.”

She laughed and elbowed her marefriend. “Ah told you Rarity’d see us. Her workroom has a perfect view of that street.”

“Well, how was I supposed to know that, AJ? It’s not like I buy dresses and stuff, and Rarity and I don’t really hang out on our own much. No offense, Rares.”

“Utterly fine, dear. You know you’re always welcome at the Boutique, and I’d have thought that you’d crashed in there often enough to know the general layout of my store,” I said. To her credit, Rainbow Dash didn’t blanch at all.

“Well, you know, my sense of direction’s kind of messed up whenever I crash through a wall. Besides, it’s been years since I made an uncontrolled landing,” she said, sitting up straighter and causing Applejack’s resting head to slip lower. Much lower and things would be obscene. Neither of them seemed concerned.

“Very true,” I said, smiling and tossing her a compliment. “Your flying has improved immensely since you came to town. And if you ever feel like apologizing for all those times you broke my walls, you could model some of my more avant-garde designs. They could really make your mane and coat color pop for those special occasions.” To drive my point home, I glanced at the mare leaning against her.

Rainbow Dash laughed. “I’d love to, but you’d have to move out of Twilight’s castle first. Or did you bring all your clothes with you?”

Not all of them. Mostly, I just brought my unfinished designs… and Opal. Technically, I didn’t bring anything; Twilight fetched them for me like an absolute dear. It was a perfectly friendly thing to do. Stop trying to find any romantic subtext between you and your best friend. I looked to Applejack. We know how that story ends.

“No, my clothes are still at the Boutique,” I said.

“Then I guess I can’t help you model them. Too bad, what a shame. Hey, whenever you do get back to the Boutique, just come to my house and let me know,” she said, knowing full well it was impossible for me to get to her house without wings and pegasus magic.

“I think I’ll just tell your marefriend,” I said, smiling at her at her as the waiter came back with six flutes of champagne and an extra bottle. The perks of being a loyal customer. “I’m sure if there’s anypony in Equestria stubborn enough to get you to model dresses for me, it’s her.” I grabbed all six flutes with my magic and brought them to the girls while Twilight grabbed the bottle.

“A toast,” I said as everypony grabbed their glass. “To Applejack and Rainbow Dash, may their relationship be as long as it is joyful. I wish you two nothing but the best for all the rest of your days.”

There was a chorus of “hear-hear’s” as glasses clinked, and we all drank deep.

♦♦♦

I nestled my head deeper into my pillows, luxuriating in the feeling of silk against fur. Tonight went better than expected. There was some tension, and Rainbow Dash seemed determined to butt heads with me whenever she could – which, really, wasn’t too different from normal. Maybe just slightly more obnoxious, but I could at least understand her drive. She probably saw me as a potential rival for Applejack’s affection, even though… Was I a rival? I thought for a minute. Thought of how they looked together. Thought of the good and bad times with Applejack. No, I suppose not. If they were happy, I was fine. And if they weren’t happy? If they broke up and Applejack came begging for us to get back together? Would I?

No answer came. Yes, our relationship was wonderful for… large periods of time, and our non-fighting evenings together were filled with passion; but if the two of them could have a stable, loving relationship, then wasn’t there hope for me too? The cynic in me wanted to say no, that I’d spent enough time looking for a fairy-tale romance and that it’d gotten me nowhere... but still, if other ponies could be in happy relationships, relationships not based on volatile and fickle passions…

Tonight had been far easier than expected, hadn’t it? The sight of the two of them together hadn’t provoked any stress at all. Why? An image of purple filled my mind. Yes, I suppose I’d felt somehow safer, knowing Twilight was there to offer me assurance if I needed it. Her presence tonight anchored me. That was it, right? Yes, I remembered feeling the heat of her sitting next to me, secure in the knowledge she wouldn’t abandon me in my hour of need.

And Applejack’s look? That one hinting that… Did I have feelings for Twilight? Certainly, she was a dear friend. I had feelings for all my friends. Fine. Romantic feelings, then? No, of course – wait, let’s not be hasty, Rarity. I remembered walking home with her – walking to the castle with her, after our dinner had concluded. The way the two of us staggered and bumped into each other as we walked. Tiny sparks of electricity racing up at me from each point of contact. Certainly, that had never happened with the rest of my friends.

“Thank you so much for coming out with me tonight,” I said, as we reached the castle door. “It meant a lot to me.”

“Well, thanks, but we were going together anyways. They’re my friends, too,” she said, pushing the door open with her magic. “Still, I’m glad things went well with you and Applejack.” She laughed, and I laughed with her. “For a minute there, I thought you and Rainbow Dash were going to get into a fight.”

“Then it’s a good thing I had you with me,” I said, leaning forward for half a second. No, I didn’t do that because… Oh dear. I was tipsy of course, but still, I don’t generally lean forward expecting a kiss with the rest of my friends.

I floated back to my bed. So, we were giving Twilight special treatment. Treatment that could generally be described as romantic. Did that necessarily mean I had some infatuation with her? I couldn’t, obviously. I’d dated a friend before, and our relationship was still strained because of it. Not only that, it had affected my relationship with Rainbow Dash, once the two of them got together. If the pattern held with Twilight, I’d only have one friend left… Well, not really, I still had Octavia and Fancypants, but out of all the Element Bearers, I’d only have one friend left. Best-case scenario, I’d have three ponies whom I didn’t have strained relations with. If things got too bad, we might not be able to properly channel the Elements, and it’d be my fault. Equestria would be doomed because I fell in love with Twilight Sparkle.

Did I mean that? Had I fallen in love with Twilight Sparkle or was I still falling? I imagined every inch of her: her smile that melted my heart, her eyes that held all the kindness in the world, her wonderfully curvy and aesthetically-pleasing backside, her insatiable desire to learn, her woefully-simple manecut that would seem abhorrent on any other mare, but just felt… right on her. Like a vital piece of what made her her. Then there was the cute upturn of her muzzle, and those lips that seemed so soft, inviting, and yielding.

Definitely physical attraction, but more than that, I loved how much she cared for everypony around her. She welcomed me into her castle with open arms. This last week, she’d been my constant support, bolstering me when I faltered. She was pure and radiant and beautiful. No other mare in Equestria like her. What would I give to sit by her for the rest of my life? To spend our days together in quiet conversation? To listen to her lecture about obscure magical theory? What would I give for just the pleasure of being with her for even an hour?

I couldn’t have a crush on Twilight. Nothing good could come from it – but there it was. All this time we’d spent together, it had been growing, feeding on our every interaction, and now it was birthed, fully formed and strong enough to–

Damn it, Rarity. You aren’t some fawning schoolfilly, you’re a grown mare running her very successful fashion line. So you have feelings for somepony. So what? You aren’t going to let it ruin you. You aren’t going to ruin your friendship with the most wonderful mare in Equestria– you aren’t going to ruin your friendship with Twilight, just because of some half-formed infatuation. Just spend some days away from her, and you’ll be fine.

I sighed, and got to my hooves. It was time for this dream to come to an end, and go back to the Boutique.

♦♦♦

I’d neatly packed up all my dresses and my mannequines were… well, they were as portable as they were going to get, which translated to ‘not very’. I grabbed a fleeing Opal with my magic and tried to force her into her carrier, while she twisted and contorted into every possible position to stay out.

“Rarity?” Twilight asked, trotting into the study and rubbing her eyes. “What are you doing?” Apparently, forgetting that you only need three hours of sleep each night, I thought sourly. Well, there went my plans for a quiet escape into the night. I was planning on leaving a note behind, of course; something about needing to finish a dress off at the Boutique, and properly conveying my thanks for all she’d done these last few days. Instead, it looked like we were going to have a confrontation.

I smiled at her, Opal and her carrier floating in the air between us. “I’m so glad I caught you,” I said through my teeth. “I have a dress at the Boutique that urgently needs to be completed, and I thought I’d head off and take care of it tonight. Thank you so much for letting me stay here as long as you have.”

“You can stay longer,” Twilight said, taking a step towards me. “I can go and get your stuff from the Boutique. Just tell me what you need.”

I twisted Opal and finally got her into her carrier. Before she could leap back out, I slammed the gate shut and locked it. “Thank you for your kindness, Twilight, but I’m afraid I must decline. I’m feeling like my old self right now, and I really must get back to the Boutique before business suffers any more.” I grabbed my things with my magic and trotted to the door.

“Wait!” Twilight said, teleporting between me and the exit. “You… you can’t leave, I… I need your help with court. Celestia just wrote and says she wants my court to be opened to the public by the end of the season, and you haven’t finished my torque yet, and I have to decorate the castle for guests, hire guards, and... there’s so much I have to do to be ready, and you know this stuff way better than me. What’s your average daily income?”

“On average… Between eight thousand and twelve thousand bits,” I said, frowning at her. Where was she going with this?

“I’ll pay you thirty-six thousand bits a day until my court starts if you stay here and help me get ready,” she said, desperation burning in her eyes. “I’m sure your customers will understand if you tell them you’re doing official business for a princess. Please? I need you.”

My heart thrilled at her words. I couldn’t stay; if I did, I’d almost certainly do something I’d regret. Flights of fancy would fill my head, and at the very least, my feelings would get worse. For the good of our friendship, I needed to get out of here.

But then I’d be turning down a friend in their time of need. How easy would it have been for Twilight to shut the door in my face that first night here? It’s the easiest thing in the world to be generous when it’s convenient. Yes, maybe it would be better for our friendship if I left now, but not better for Twilight. She needed me now like I’d needed her over a week ago, and who was I to turn down a friend in need?

I smiled and put down my things. Of course, I wasn’t about to take her money, so… I ran the numbers in my head. Yes, the Boutique could afford to be closed for a few more weeks. “Just tell me what you need, darling.”

Author's Note:

So! The penny finally drops, and Rarity realizes she has a crush on Twilight. It only took her about 30,000 words to put it all together. Now to figure out just what she's going to do about it.

Also, this will probably be the last chapter until after BronyCon. Hopefully, I'll see some of you there, and I hope to see the rest of you in the comments.

Edit: Fixed Rarity's Mom's name to better reflect actual canon while still keeping the plot point intact.

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