• Published 26th May 2012
  • 3,385 Views, 7 Comments

The Jewel of Reinsburg - DicePony



Applejack & Rarity find adventure and romance in the jeweled city of Reinsburg!

  • ...
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Chapter 1 - "A special day for just the two of us."

The Jewel of Reinsburg

"Ah' just ain't sure about this, Rarity. Are you sure you want to take me to this fancy new restaurant?" Applejack asked. "Ah'm sure Fluttershy would fit in a lot better than Ah would."

She dubiously observed the neatly trimmed hedge rows and white lattice fencing that surrounded the outside seating area of the glamorous new eating establishment.

Applejack nervously adjusted her hat, then sat down at an ornate table just outside one of the restaurants picturesque windows. A heavy white tablecloth was set out with a vase of pretty little flowers resting comfortably atop it, the blossoms swaying lightly in the gentle summer breeze. She glanced at the restaurant's freshly painted white walls, the high arched windows and gold trimmings, and felt even more out of place than before.

Several ponies were sat nearby enjoying the lovely weather and excitedly chatting over plates of elegant and delicious looking food. Applejack looked at their meticulously presented plates and saw a variety of dishes none of which she recognised, though the wafting smells of warm oats, honey, and fresh petunia's that floated through the restaurants doors were a welcome familiarity. Her stomach rumbled loudly, and she glanced up at Rarity to see if the prim unicorn had noticed.

"Oh darling, of course I wanted to bring you here," Rarity replied with a gracious wave of her hoof. She elegantly lowered herself to sit down at the table, and appeared perfectly comfortable in doing so. Applejack, however, was fidgeting and scooting around in her seat, completely unaccustomed to the unnatural position.

"I told you, today is a special day for just the two of us." Rarity finished, beaming. She was dressed in one of her latest creations, a white summer dress with blue patterns around the trim, adorned with a blazing blue sapphire necklace. "Besides, darling, you've been working so hard this week with Big Macintosh away, I felt you deserved a little treat upon his return."

Rarity winked at her friend, who had finally managed to find a decent sitting position. "So I want you to consider this little lunch date on me."

"Now, Rarity—"

A perfectly pedicured, white hoof rose up, cutting Applejack off.

"Not another word. I am treating you to this lunch, and that's final." As she spoke, Rarity lifted her nose into the air and frowned seriously. She peeked at Applejack under one half-lidded eye before letting a faint smile escape.

Applejack chuckled as she raised both forehooves in surrender. "Okay, but Ah'm buying next time, y'hear!"

Rarity opened her eyes fully and grinned back. "Deal," she replied, giggling lightly before lifting the restaurant's comically tall menu, completely hiding her face.

Applejack did the same, but felt a lump forming in her throat as she tried to read it. The menu's text was comprised of long, unreadable swirls and fancy, foreign-sounding words. She raised a hoof to her head as she silently tried to read several items out loud, squinting her eyes to try and make the words more legible.

"How in the hay is anypony s'posed to read this?" she whispered under her breath, peering hopelessly at the indecipherable options.

As the seconds turned into awkward minutes, Applejack let out a sigh and resigned herself to the fact that she couldn't make neither heads nor tails of the ridiculous menu. Finally, she gave up and set the menu down on the table, letting the warm sunshine fall on her face as she breathed deeply. The scent of summer winds mixed with various aromas from the nearby diners and teased her nose as she tried to put the thoughts of the elaborate menu out of her mind and relax until it became time for the inevitable revelation that she didn't belong here.

After a few minutes the doors of the restaurant opened and Applejack looked up as a unicorn stallion wearing a monocle and smart jacket emerged from the building and looked around at the clientèle sitting outside. The stallion, with neat blue hair parted in the centre, smiled broadly as he noticed her and Rarity, and eagerly made his way towards them. A younger male earth pony with a slicked back brown mane and short cut tail followed closely behind him. The younger male pony was dressed in a smart looking black apron with a notepad and pencil neatly tucked into the pocket.

"Miss Rarity!" the unicorn exclaimed joyfully as he approached their table.

Rarity put down the menu in front of her and smiled brightly. "Fancypants, darling, it's so utterly marvellous to see you again," she responded cheerfully with a flutter of her long lashes.

Applejack rolled her eyes at Rarity's lilting tones and fluttering eyelashes whilst discreetly trying to remove several bits of apple-tree that had gotten stuck in her mane during her morning work.

"Your new restaurant is simply divine, Fancy. It's so nice to have a place here in Ponyville to go for, ahem, special occasions..." Rarity's cheeks turned a little red as her brilliant-blue eyes briefly flickered to Applejack.

Fancypants bowed his head gracefully, standing straight and firm and a thin smile across his face..

"Oh, but you are too kind, Miss Rarity. I've grown particularly fond of Ponyville of late and wanted to bring a little bit of Canterlot class without the Canterlot prices to it!" the rich stallion admitted with an amused chuckle before turning to face Applejack. "And this is a friend of yours? I believe we met briefly at the garden party in Canterlot a few months ago."

As Fancypants looked over to her, Applejack tipped her hat gently and gave a welcoming smile. "Howdy, Mr Fancypants! We only exchanged a word or two at that party but mighty nice of you to remember me! It sure is a real nice place you got here!"

"Oh thank you my dear! Let's just hope the food is as lovely as the guests eh?" Fancypants replied with a wink, before chuckling once again. Applejack nervously laughed along with him, uncertain if the upper-class pony was talking about Rarity or simply hadn't seen her picking bits of twig and leaf out of her mane with her mouth.

"Now, what can we get you?" Fancypants asked with a clap of his hooves. The younger stallion behind him took the pencil and pad from his apron pocket firmly in his mouth, and poised to take their orders.

Applejack almost blurted out something rude in surprise, before quickly sealing her lips closed and staring down at the incomprehensible menu on the table. She ran a hoof down the thick, white card silently mouthing various words or phrases, her eyes dancing across the letters as her lips tripped and stumbled over the unknown language.

"I'll have the 'Salade d'avoine aux Legumes' with a glass of grape juice please," Rarity replied, lazily looking through the menu. The young waiter colt scribbled it down quickly before turning to Applejack.

"And for you, uhh, madam?" he asked.

"Oh uhh... Ah'll, uhh, have... ummm," Applejack stammered. Her eyes were firmly locked down at the tall menu laying on the table in front of her, nervously flicking from one bizarre tangle of words to the next. She lifted a hoof and was about to point at a particular mess of swirly lines that vaguely resembled the word sandwich when Rarity's crisp, accented voice cut through the air.

"Oh she'll have a daisy and petunia sandwich with seasoned hay fries and one of your nicer apple ciders please."

"Oh, an excellent choice! My own guilty pleasure I must admit," Fancypants added with another wink. The young waiter scratched the pencil across the notebook with his mouth before placing both back in his apron. Taking the menus from the table in his teeth he trotted back into the restaurant..

Applejack's face flushed and she shot Rarity a stormy look, but the other mare was busy examining her well manicured white hoof.

"Well I hope you both enjoy your meal, and lovely to see you again, Miss Rarity." Fancypants concluded, bowing politely before heading over to another set of diners. Applejack could hear him ask the couple about their meal, questioning if it was to their satisfaction or if there were any problems.

Applejack frowned firmly. "Sheesh, Rarity what did you go and do that for? Ah would have found something eventually. You made me look more stupid than a pegasus with their wings on backwards."

Rarity widened her eyes and turned her attention back to her grumbling friend. "Oh, Applejack, I'm so sorry my dear! I can barely read those silly menus and, well, I assumed you couldn't either," Rarity confessed.

She softly laid a hoof on Applejack's own, her face troubled with guilt. "And, well, I thought you loved petunias and hay fries?"

Applejack's frown quickly vanished and she looked away, hiding an embarrassed smile.

"Oh, well, Ah do, uhh, and Ah guess Ah was havin' a little trouble reading that dumb menu... But it's just, well, you know Ah don't rightly fit in with these sorts of places," she replied, her eyes flickered to Rarity's hoof that was still resting atop her own and she could feel a warmth spreading across her cheeks. "Ah just get a bit flustered."

Rarity mouth widened into a warming smile, her sparkling, sapphire blue eyes stared up at her.

"My dear, Applejack, whilst sometimes you can be a little... blunt, shall we say, you are far too hard on yourself darling. I know you don't like dresses and fancy manes, or anything like that; but you were honestly such a beautiful and elegant bridesmaid at Cadence's wedding. There is a warmth and honesty about you that is simply enchanting!" Rarity's cheeks blushed and she smiled wistfully before shooting the farmpony a mock-glare.

"Even if you did manage to sneak that hat of yours into the ceremony."

Applejack opened her mouth to reply but found the words caught in her throat. Rarity's mock-glare turned into a cheeky smile and Applejack managed to let out a nervous chuckle. "Ah thought you'd be as mad as a wildcat in a cider barrel when you found out," she finally replied, tugging on the front of her hat to readjust it averting her eyes.

Rarity giggled behind a hoof. She looked down to adjust her dress, diverting her eyes off Applejack for a moment. "Well I was a little upset yet," she admitted with an overly-dramatic sigh. "Though I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. That hat is practically a part of you, and it does look rather fetching I must say. I guess I can forgive you for such a social taboo, this time!"

The two friends let out a warm laugh and instead began chatting happily about their everyday lives as they would any other day. It wasn't long before their food arrived and Applejack merrily ploughed her way through the delicious sandwich and seasoned hay-fries at a hungry, yet not-rude, speed. Rarity gracefully lifted a silver-fork with her magic, casually bringing a medley of mixed leaves, vegetables and crushed oats, to her mouth. It wasn't long before both plates were empty.

"Now that," Applejack said with a happy sigh and pat of her belly, "was a mighty nice meal, Rarity. Thank you kindly."

Rarity wiped a napkin across her muzzle delicately and smiled. "I can certainly see why they're doing so well here. As a wise-mare I know once said, 'them's good eating'."

Rarity's quote of Applejack's country slang prompted another bout of warm laughter from the pair as they settled down to simply enjoy the sunshine and watch the residents of Ponyville go about their business. They watched as the various colts, stallions, mares and fillies of Ponyville went about their business in the beautiful sunshine.

After some time quietly observing the various townsfolk, Rarity turned to Applejack with a serious look on her face. Her eyes flickered between Applejack's own and her pristine front hooves that were tucked neatly in her lap. Applejack glanced down and was certain she had seen them briefly tremble.

"Actually, Applejack darling, there was another reason I wanted to spend today together. There's something I've been meaning to talk to you about." Rarity bit her bottom lip, casting her eyes down at her hooves once again.

Applejack turned to the bashful designer and grinned. "A'course sugarcube, you know you can always talk to me about anything."

"Oh, darling, I know. You're such a good listener and I truly feel I could tell you anything, it's just I want to, that is to say I..." Rarity looked away, staring across the main square of Ponyville, her face turning a deep shade of red. She was breathing faster and pursed her lips tightly, as though trying to force the words out of them.

Applejack raised an eyebrow as she watched Rarity uncharacteristically stumble over her words and try to compose herself.

Rarity azure blue eyes peered off into the distance, her voice becoming a soft whisper.

"You see, Applejack ever since our sleep-over at Twilight's library I've felt that I... " Rarity turned and looked at Applejack with such an intensity she could almost feel it pressing against her body. Rarity closed her eyes to take a moment before opening them again and taking a deep breath.

Applejack listened intently, her own heart beginning to beat a little faster as the glamorous pony beside her stared at her deeply.

"I--"

A tremendously loud fanfare echoed through the streets of Ponyville. Something rumbled against the cobblestone streets of Ponyville and the braying of stallions quickly followed somewhere off in the distance. The various glasses and plates on their table, and all the others began to shake and clatter from the vibrations.

"What the hay?" Applejack remarked as her half-empty glass of cider went tumbling across the table.

The rumble grew louder and louder as eight athletic-looking stallions, all dressed in jewel-studded armour, pulled an ornate white and blue carriage, covered in gemstones of all shapes and colours through the streets. The eight guard ponies came to a sudden stop, kicking up dust from the worn streets. The stunning carriage came to stop just outside the restaurant, and Rarity's jaw dropped at the mere sight of it.

Fancypants came rushing out of his bistro's door followed by, what must have been, the entire staff. They crowded together as a flurry of excited whispers and gossip spread through them like wildfire.

As the gathered crowd stared in amazement, the carriage door opened and a unicorn stallion with an immaculate silver coat and a long, sweeping, dark brown mane stepped out. He stood tall and broad, his hind-quarters tight and muscular, and his face was complemented by a strong, powerful jaw-line. He was dressed in a royal, white, military jacket covered in blue gemstones that matched his hard, regal-looking eyes. Emblazoned on his flank was the emblem of a beautiful sword with a large blue gemstone encrusted into the handle.

The gem-wearing stallion beamed at the gathered crowd, his smile glistening like the jewels on his clothes and a single silver hoof waved gracefully. Fancypants gasped, his monocle popping out of his eye in astonishment.

"Prince Lazuli?" Fancypants exclaimed, bowing his head down low and raising a single hoof across his chest. "What an honour!"

Prince Lazuli stepped towards the bowing restaurateur and chuckled lightly.

"Please, please, no need to stand on such formalities." The prince said with a charismatic, well-spoken voice. "Tell me, are you the owner of this fine-looking establishment?"

As he spoke, Prince Lazuli's smooth voice and glistening smile sent several mares, and even a few colts, swooning.

Fancypants nodded, standing up uncertainly.

"Then perhaps you could assist me, I'm looking for Carousel Boutique. I wish to speak to Lady Rarity of Ponyville as soon as possible."

Applejack's eyes went wide and she quickly turned to see Rarity's reaction. The star-struck mare swayed in her chair for a moment before letting out a strange cooing noise and fainting. Applejack leapt from her seat and caught Rarity in her front hooves before she fell onto the floor. Rarity went limp, faintly mumbling to herself in shock.

Fancypants cleared his throat and turned to where Applejack and Rarity were sitting, gesturing towards them. "Well, uh, Miss Rarity is sat right there, Your Majesty."

Prince Lazuli looked over to the table and saw somepony, or rather something, with a rather unkempt mane of straw-coloured hair under a worn and grubby looking brown hat. A freckled, rough looking earth pony with stern, green eyes turned to face him.

The prince let out a small gasp of horror. "That is Lady Rarity?" he croaked.

Applejack overheard the prince's response and frowned.

"Oh gee, thanks, your Royal Tactlessness," Applejack muttered under her breath.

At the realisation of hearing her name for a second time, Rarity groggily came to her senses and jumped out of Applejack's hooves.

"I'M LADY RARITY!" she yelled a little too loudly before desperately trying to regain a composed and dignified pose..

Prince Lazuli let out a relieved sigh, his expression softening and the croak in his throat banished with a subtle cough. He trotted over to the pair and turned towards Rarity, subtlety pushing Applejack out of the way, and brought one of Rarity's front hooves to his lips for a delicate kiss.

Applejack glared at the prince and quietly ground a hoof into the floor, forcing her lips closed as a slew of unpleasant words formed behind them.

"Lady Rarity, I am Prince Lapis Lazuli of Saltlicktenstein. I have heard of your incredible skill from afar and would like to commission you to create a special collection of beautiful designs using my kingdom's finest jewels,” the prince announced. His voice melted from his mouth like fresh caramel over a sweet, crisp apple and several of the onlookers swooned again. "I would like to formally invite you to return with me to the capital so you can start work immediately."

Applejack and Rarity stood stunned for a moment.

"What?!"

“Beg yer pardon?!”

- - -

Applejack's hooves pounded the dirt track leading to Sweet Apple Acres as though she was a one-pony stampede. She bolted past the family orchard, the setting sun lighting the sky above the apple trees ablaze with streaks of red, orange and yellow blending together in a beautiful sunset.

She stormed through the family farmhouse, throwing the front door open violently and stomping her way into the kitchen, barely noticing her two siblings sat at the worn, family table. Big Macintosh leant over Applebloom as she sat at the table, hunched over a brightly coloured map of the area around Ponyville. Applebloom deftly coloured in a large section of forest with a dark green crayon in her mouth whilst her big brother held the map down with his two enormous hooves.

"If that shallow, flighty, prissy princess thinks Ah'm wasting any more of my time on a day out with her again, she can think again!" Applejack fumed as she violently bucked the kitchen door shut, shaking the entire farmhouse and sending several of Applebloom's crayons rolling off the table on to the floor.

Big Macintosh and Applebloom looked at one-another and, in practised synchronisation, silently mouthed 'Rarity' to each other.

"Ah can't believe she went and ruined a mighty fine day by walking off with that smarmy prince and practically forgettin’ Ah was even there!" Applejack slammed a hoof onto the kitchen counter with a thunderous wallop, sending a few more of her sister's crayons tumbling off the end of the table.

"A prince?" Applebloom asked excitedly, the big red bow atop her crimson mane bobbing as she tilted her head "Not that nephew of Princess Celestia again?"

Applejack let out a hot, bitter laugh, remembering Rarity's disastrous evening with Prince Blueblood at the Grand Galloping Gala.

"Nah, some fancy-schmancy prince from another country. Salt Lickedysplit or something," she answered.

"Wait... not Prince Lapis Lazuli of Saltlickenstein?" Applebloom gasped.

Applejack looked at her little sister and raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Yeah, that’s the one. How'd you know that?"

Applebloom trotted over and bounced around her big sister. "We learned about Saltlickenstein in our Geography class last week! Miss Cheerilee said it's the richest country in Equestria because there's so many of them gemstones under it. It's famous for having the biggest and bestest jewels ever!"

The little filly beamed up at her big sister and her wide smile eased Applejack furious mood a little, she could feel her jaw relax and the fire in her chest cool a little. With a grin she ruffled a hoof through her little sister's hair, much to Applebloom's chagrin.

"Well ain't you a smartypants! Maybe Ah should ask Twilight if she needs another fancy assistant in her library?" Applejack joked, laughing at her little sister's pouting response.

"Eeeyuuup!" Big Macintosh added enthusiastically, to Applebloom's dismay.

Applebloom pouted a little longer before gently nuzzling her big sister's leg. "So did you and Rarity have a big fight?"

Applejack sighed and knelt down wrapped her front hooves around the little filly. "Nah, don't worry. Ah'm just mad at her for forgettin' about me when that fancy prince fella turned up," Applejack said softly, lettingg the warm hug from her sister help put her at ease. "Ah just left ‘em to talk their fancy talk and came back here."

Big Macintosh frowned at her, the rusty red stallion was chewing on a piece of hay like he always did. "But you know that's just how she can be, Buckeroo. She's your friend, and judgin' from your mood, I bet ten-applebuckings you stormed off in a mighty rude way."

Applejack looked away from her big brother, her cheeks red. The nickname bringing back memories of Big Mac making fun of her when she would cry over something silly. Letting go of Applebloom she stood up and huffed loudly.

"So?! It were s'posed to be just the two of us today and she forgot all about me soon as that fancy prince showed up! Ah reckon' Ah’m allowed to be a little angry and storm off!"

"Nnnnnoope," was all Big Macintosh would say, continuing to frown at Applejack intently.

Applebloom looked up the softly spoken and stoic stallion and copied his frown, pouting her lips for added effect. As they assaulted her with their disapproving looks Applejack felt her stomach release from a tension she hadn't known was there and a sudden pang of guilt creep up from below all the anger she had bottled up. She let out a heavy sigh and hung her head loose.

"Okay, okay, so maybe Ah was a bit of a mule to Rarity when Ah left. You can stop giving me that look now!” As she spoke, the feeling of guilt grew and regret settling in. “Ah mean, well, she did try and offer to spend more time with me later on, but Ah went and galloped off and pretty much told her not to bother."

Big Macintosh smiled and moved over to put his huge front hoof around her neck.

"One of these days, Buckeroo, you’re gonna hafta' own up to why that friend of yours gets under your skin so badly,” he remarked with a light chuckle and brotherly kiss on her forehead.

Applejack shrugged him off violently. She felt her cheeks burning once again, though not due to the brotherly teasing.

"What d'ya mean, Mac? Why does Rarity annoy Applejack so much?" Applebloom asked innocently. "Is it like when Sweetie Belle annoys me by usin' stupid made-up words like 'Jennysaykwah'?"

The stallion just smiled and let go of Applejack, bending his strong, thick neck to scoop Applebloom up on to his head. "Bath time for you Ah reckon, then Ah'll help you finish yer homework before bed."

Macintosh paused to look back at Applejack, nodding his head seriously before taking Applebloom out of the kitchen and upstairs.

With a long sigh and the flush of heat in her cheeks fading, Applejack began to pick up the loose crayons that had fallen to the kitchen floor. Grabbing each one in her mouth, she placed it back on the old, worn, family table next to her little sister's half-coloured map. She could faintly hear Applebloom continuing her questions about Applejack and Rarity upstairs.

"Why does Applejack invite Rarity over so much if she annoys her all the time Big Mac?"

Applejack listened intently for her brothers response, but the silence suggested he was being his usual stoic, patient self.

"And why does AJ sometimes go red when Rarity's here, or when you or Granny talk about her?"

Applejack winced and felt herself blushing once again, she desperately fought the urge to yell up the stairs knowing it would only fuel the little fillies curiosity.

"Ah reckon neither of those things are any of yer business little Appleblossom." Big Macintosh answered gently. "Besides, you'll understand when you'll older,"

Applejack let out a relieved sigh and looked around the well-used kitchen for something to keep her distracted. Moving over to the table, she neatly placed Appleblooms school books into her school saddlebag and turned her attention to various pots and pans which bore the fresh remnants of baked pie crust, apple filling and Granny Smith's special sugar dusting.

The bubbles from the hot, soapy water of the kitchen sink popped against her nose and exploded in a sweet, lemony scent. As she vigorously scrubbed the last remaining pan in the water, the comments from her usually-quiet older brother played over and over in her head like a broken record on Granny Smith's old gramophone.

"One of these days, Buckeroo, you’re gonna hafta' own up to why that friend of yours gets under your skin so badly,”

As she placed the final clean pan on the sideboard, she could smell apples, ploughed earth, and perfume mingled in her memory as well as feel the golden sun of summer lightly kissing her coat, spreading a gentle warmth across her body.

- - -

“It's not just about making things pretty you know,” Rarity stated firmly. Her voice delicately echoing across the empty and peaceful apple orchard as the sound of birds singing became a gentle backdrop to the peaceful scene. She sat across the old red and white bench outside the Apple family farmhouse, her hooves tucked beneath her body and an empty glass of lemonade resting atop a weary-looking sidetable. The sun was dipping, sending pink, orange and yellow hues across the sky as a vibrant finale to a beautiful summer's day. “Everypony assumes that's all I care about, but it's simply not true. I want to share what I love with everypony. I want to create things that make them happy, make them feel beautiful and special."

Rarity had arrived at the Apple Family home for what had become their weekly catch-up, something they had both agreed to after the eventful sleepover at Twilight's library. As Applejack looked at her, she could see dark circles beneath her usually flawless eye-makeup and several strands of her purple mane were out of place. Rarity continued to stare out across the orchard quietly, before letting out a small sigh.

Applejack sat beside her on the old bench, the worn wood beneath the chipped paint a familiar sensation beneath her hooves. She watched as the corners of Rarity's eyes began to glisten.

“I just wish everypony could understand how hard it is. If I'm not trying to find time to see my friends, or giving Sweetie-Belle a few hours of my day, I'm working. Running the boutique, doing stock checks, designing commissions, chasing orders, and not to mention all the sewing! It's exhausting.”

Rarity wiped a hoof across her eyes to dry them and let out another weary sigh. “Oh dear," she muttered, choking back a small sob. "I'm so sorry for ranting at you like this, dear. I bet this must seem so silly to you, a life on the farm must be twice as hard as anything I do."

Applejack could feel her stomach tighten and a lump rise up into her throat, guilt and regret swarmed through her body as Rarity spoke. She placed a trembling hoof on Rarity's shoulder supportively.

“No, Ah don't think it's silly sugarcube,” Applejack said seriously. “Running a business is hard work, no matter what business it is. Ah don't think a lot of our friends appreciate that sometimes.”

Rarity looked at her in surprise.

“That's something we both have in common ain't it? We both know the meaning of hard work, whether it's bucking apples or making dresses," Applejack offered with a sincere smile. Rarity nodded in agreement and they both looked back out across the horizon, watching the amber sun dip lower into the Apple trees in the furthest orchards.

Applejack could hear the words she wanted to say next, they had been taunting her for several months now. Each time she saw her friend working hard, or trying to find time for her friends or siblings she felt the same tightness in her stomach and the same guilt rise up through her body as she felt now. After exhaling a long breath, she bit her lip and let her heart speak honestly.

“Rarity... Ah, Ah gotta apologise to you. Ah'm just so sorry that Ah never appreciated how hard you work. Ah judged you wrongly before and that weren't fair of me," she offered sincerely. Applejack couldn't bring herself to look at the other mare as she spoke, though from the corner of her eye she saw Rarity turn towards her in astonishment, her eyes wide and her mouth slightly agape.

Letting out a nervous chuckle, Applejack took her hoof back and placed it back on the old bench, "You might be a little too fussy sometimes, but you put your all into what you do and still try to do right by your friends and your family."

"Ah really respect you for that Rarity. Ah just want you to know that. Ah'm mighty proud to call you my friend." Applejack added after a long pause.

Rarity's eyes shimmered for a moment, they sparkled with tears as she brought up a hoof to cover her mouth.

“Oh, Applejack. You'll--" Rarity sniffed loudly, wiping her hoof across her eyes. "--have me crying again in a moment if you're not careful."

Applejack blushed and glanced back to her friend. Rarity looked at her, smiling brightly. "Everything has just been so stressful lately that I... Well what you said was just what I needed to hear. It's probably the nicest thing anypony has ever said to me.”

Rarity leaned across the old bench and wrapped her forehooves around Applejack's neck in a hug. Applejack returned the gesture tightly and the smell of lavender perfume washed over her as Rarity's mane engulfed her muzzle. She could feel Rarity's soft coat beneath her hooves and her heart beating in time with her own as they embraced. They held the hug for a moment longer, then just as Applejack let go she felt a pair of lips press against her cheek and the delicate, soft touch of a kiss. Applejack's heart raced, she felt goosebumps tingle down her back and her hooves tremble.

Rarity whispered sweetly in Applejack's ear, “Thank you.”

- - -

Applejack shook her head violently, escaping the memory she had lost herself in. Her face felt hot and something fluttered in her stomach.She raised a hoof to touch her cheek as it tingled as she remembered the warm sensation of the kiss.

A few minutes passed and the butterflies in her stomach calmed themselves and her face felt cool once more. Instead, in place of the anxious butterflies the slow creep of guilt began to worm it's way through her body. Tightening her stomach and niggling at her mind.

“Ah suppose Ah do owe her an apology for storming off like that,” she finally admitted, a bashful smile spreading across her face.

Applejack made a quick patrol through the rest of the tired but homely farmhouse, tidying away several of the Cutie Mark Crusaders latest attempts to discover their destinies. She put a blanket over Granny Smith, who had fallen asleep in her rocking chair, and then made her way upstairs to say goodnight to Applebloom and Big Macintosh before setting off back into Ponyville.

- - -

As Applejack reached Ponyville the sun had finally set and the night sky twinkled into existence above her. It wasn't long before the unusual shape of the Carousel Boutique came into view, the windows aglow and the sound of laughing and cheering coming from inside.

"What in tarnation?" Applejack whispered as she made her way towards the ornate and beautifully painted door of the boutique. The golden handle sparkled in the amber glow of the boutiques lights and soft white ambience of the moonlit night.

Applejack knocked against the decorated wood and heard a plethora of voices mumble behind it.

“Who is it?” Rarity asked in her usual lilting tone. Applejack could hear a giddy joyfulness behind the practised, well-spoken accent.

“It's just me, Rarity.” Applejack replied awkwardly. The butterflies in her stomach returned, and she began to wonder if they really were butterflies given how active they had been lately. The idea that Rarity might not want to see her after storming off rudely hadn't quite come to mind until now.

She let out a subconsciously held breath when the lilac door opened in a haze of purple magic.

"Oh, Applejack! Come in." Rarity responded in surprise, though quickly turning her attention back inside the boutique itself.

Light spilled out from the boutique-come-studio's doorway, sending a wide arc of light across the cobblestone streets and elongating Applejack's shadow behind her. Before stepping inside, Applejack thoroughly wiped her hooves on the purple mat outside, having learned her lesson after several visits to the boutique straight from the farm.

Inside Applejack could see the usual mannequins, bolts of cloth, sewing machines, and the vast array of dress racks holding all of Rarity's incredible creations. Glancing around the pristine and eloquent store, Applejack noticed spotted a pair of heavy looking, gem laden, chests, along with a trio of familiar-looking ponies.

Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie all smiled widely at Applejack and she beamed a smile back at them in return.

“Howdy ya'll," she remarked cheerfully. "What's going on?”

“Oh, Applejack, isn't it wonderful! Are you looking forward to it?” Fluttershy exclaimed excitedly, or as excitedly as her soft, quiet voice would allow.

"Uhh Ah not sur--" Applejack began.

“Are you excited, Applejack? Because I'm way too excited! What should I take? What are you taking? Do you think I need to bring Gummy or get him a Gatorsitter?” Pinkie Pie energetically asked in a rapid assualt. She bounced around Applejack with each question, grinning madly.

"A gatorwhat? Hang on Pinkie, Ah don't kno--" Applejack tried to interject between one of Pinkie's rare breaths..

“Oh man, this is going to be so awesome right, AJ? Shame, Twilight's gonna miss out though, that egghead would love a trip like this!” Rainbow Dash added, pumping her hoof in the air as she zipped passed Applejack.

"Ahem!" Applejack coughed loudly, finally catching the attention of the more boisterous ponies and giving herself a moment to speak. "What in Equestria are ya'll babbling about?"

An awkward silence spread throughout the cheerful boutique like a unpleasant smell. The three previously excited ponies looked at each other cautiously, their eyes averted. Rainbow Dash bashfully scratched the back of her head as she floated to the ground, whilst Pinkie Pie made an uneasy grin and slowly shifted off to the side.

“Oh, umm, you don't know?” Fluttershy eventually asked, glancing in Rarity's direction with an apologetic look.

Applejack felt as though something very heavy had just landed on top of her chest.

"Know what?" she asked cautiously, looking over at Rarity who simply stared at her calmly. Applejack felt her body shiver and was sure the room had just dropped in temperature, she felt the strange tingle of goosebumps and swallowed hard.

Without warning Rarity laughed.

It was a happy, sweet and amused laugh that banished the venomous silence that had dominated the room.

“Oh don't worry darlings! I was hardly going to leave our dear, Applejack out of our adventure was I?” she finally declared with an amused smirk. “I was just about to suggest we visit Sweet Apple Acres to tell her when she arrived herself!”

Applejack's chest relaxed, the chill in the air vanished and she wiped her forehead with a relieved sigh. After catching her breath she let out a light, confused, laugh.

“Tell me what!?” she asked impatiently. “Ah still ain't got a clue what's got you all bouncing around like schoolfillies on a Saturday!”

The two pegasi and Pinkie Pie grinned to each other as Rarity moved over towards Applejack, giving her an incredulous look.

“Oh come now, Applejack. Surely you can guess? You heard what Prince Lazuli said when he arrived at the restaurant!” Rarity replied teasingly, smirking slightly with a twinkle of excitement in her eyes.

Applejack's mouth warped into a twisted combination of annoyance and concentration. Her nose scrunched and she thought back to the day's earlier events and the arrival of the rude prince.

”I have seen your dazzling work and heard of your incredible skill from afar. I would like to invite you to my country, and commission you to create a special collection of beautiful designs with my kingdom’s finest jewels.” The prince's charming voice echoed in Applejack's head and suddenly things clicked into place.

“Are you saying that you agreed to go to that Saltlickedysplit place?” Applejack asked incredulously.

“Yes!” Rarity squealed. “I'm going to Saltlicktenstein as the prince's honoured guest tomorrow, and I get to create a range of designs using his kingdoms most precious jewels!"

The heavy object that had previous fell on Applejack's chest returned, with several of it's heavier friends. The air was almost knocked out of her and she felt her heart sink.

"Oh," she replied, the word falling out of her mouth like a heavy stone tossed into a well. Applejack forced a smile and took a sudden interested in one of her front hooves. "That's... That's great, Rarity. Ah'm sure you'll have a wonderful time there."

Applejack turned her focused attention from her front hoof to the immaculate floor of the boutique, she pursed her lips desperate to not let her disappointment show. A white hoof caught her under the chin and gently lifted her head back up to look into a pair of gentle blue eyes.

"Of course I will, darling. After all, I'm going to have you and the others there to enjoy it with me." Rarity said smiling.

Applejack's eyes went wide and she quickly looked across to the other three ponies who were cheering and smiling along with Rarity. "You mean, you want me to come with you to this Saltlickedysplit place with you?" she asked. "But how did you convince the prince to let us all come with you? What about your boutique? And you're leaving tomorrow!?"

Rarity rolled her eyes as an amused smirk spread across her face. "You underestimate my charms, darling. Prince Lazuli clearly wanted me to come at any cost so he could hardly say no when I told him I wouldn't travel without my friends."

Rarity took her hoof back from under Applejack's chin and grinned, her hooves trembled slightly and she let out a gleeful laugh, "And as for the boutique, I've already spoken to Bon Bon and she's going to watch the store whilst I'm away. It's perfect!"

"Rarity reckons it won't take more than a few days so we'll be back in a week," Rainbow Dash added in cheerfully, floating through the air with her hooves behind her head. " I thought I was going to get stuck with boring dewdrop duty this week but instead we're going on a free trip to the richest country in Equestria! So. Awesome!"

Applejack pulled off her hat and rubbed her temple with her spare hoof. She looked at Rarity nervously, ”But we're leaving tomorrow? Ah just, Ah dunno, Rarity... Ah can't just leave the farm on such short notice like that."

Rarity took a step towards her and raised a pedicured white hoof to rest softly on her shoulder.

She didn't pout, or flutter her eyelashes. There were no puppy-dog eyes, or wobbling lips. Rarity simply looked at Applejack, her expression caught between a sincere plea and fearful hope.

"Please say you'll come Applejack. I know it's very last minute but I really want you to come with me," Rarity asked with a soft voice and blushing cheeks. "Please?"

Applejack physically squirmed, a hundred questions rattled around her brain and it felt like her body was being pulled in two different directions. She nervously bit her lip and glanced to the side, trying to weigh up the situation. But as soon as she caught another glimpse of Rarity's genuine look, the words had already started to form on her lips.

"S-sure, Rarity. Ah'm sure Ah can work something out with Big Macintosh for a few days."

Applejack had enough time to note the relieved and joyful expression on Rarity's face before Pinkie Pie scooped her and the others into one giant hug.

"You know what this means?!” Pinkie bellowed as she squished her four friends together tightly.

“ROAAD TRIIIIPPP!"

Comments ( 7 )

One down, seven to go! This has to be the best story I've read in awhile. There were a few grammatical errors, but that's just the proofreading in me speaking. They're easy to dismiss, especially because you just want to continue reading more. :heart:

OH DEAR GOD DRUNK PINKY!!!!!:derpyderp2:

Looks at specially featured cover-art.

INSTA-LIKE!

Reads first chapter.

INSTA-FAVE!

oh you changed the end of the chapter !!
well the new one is nice:raritywink:

but i miss the drunk departure party and most importantly the drunken kiss :ajsmug:

Moar!:a:raritywink:pplejack:heart:unsure:

So sad this was never continued.... :(

Edit: I found the original on Deviantart....FANTASTIC!

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