• Published 3rd Jun 2012
  • 4,674 Views, 109 Comments

An Orchard of Apples - DivineGlory

Rarity needs fashion advice for a new line of clothes but finds something else as well.

  • ...

The Date

Rarity looked at her own reflection, combing her mane and humming a tune from The Ponybook. An expansive smile graced her face from ear to ear, having been there since Applejack had asked her to dinner; not even a passing carriage splashing mud over her white coat could take it away. She was in her retreat, and had set aside fragrant lilies to be stitched into her dress, which she felt had a better design than Applejack’s. I can't believe I'm actually going to dinner with her! Rarity’s smile somehow grew a little bigger at that thought, her eyes glimmering in the mirror, the comb surrounded by a light blue aura continuing through her hair. She was going for a different style this time, trying to create an entirely rustic appeal instead of her usual bourgeoisie.

In coincidental synchrony with the ticking wall clock, she brought out a few vials of mascara and lipstick, finishing up her face with fake eyelashes to accent her eyes. After inspecting her reflection one last time, she glanced at the clock – the better parts of a day had passed by as mere minutes, and there was only a couple of hours left before her date at Sweet Apple Acres. Oh! I wonder if it's a picnic. Or maybe a fancy dinner, complete with apple blossom candles and hors d'oeuvres of daffodil petals and tulip leaves? She licked her lips, her stomach grumbling loudly.
No time to eat – was caught up in work.

Alright, one last check before I head over to the farm. Fabulous dress? Check. Makeup? Done. Mane? Braided and beautiful. Appetite? Her stomach grumbled again. Check. With glee, she twirled towards the door and hopped over to it. Oh, I'm as giddy as Pinkie Pie before a party. She giggled a bit to herself before moving slower. Calm down, don't act like you want this too much. Trying to recall all the rules for dating stallions, words leaked from her mouth: “don't turn down any offers for food or drink”, “only turn down other dates if you must”, the list went on. She pressed her lips together and thought of the other ones. Let him open the door, don't be too needy, don't show up early... Pausing, she shook her head. None of these will work for Applejack! These are for stallions who want me more than I care for them. Applejack is... different. Just go with the flow, Rarity. Happy with that rule, she closed the door from outside, a certain sentiment growing inside her.

Dust clouds were dispersing beneath Rarity, who found herself amongst an orchard of apples, but not amongst some ponies. Rays of sunlight caressed her face, and a light breeze brought the scent of apples to her. Applejack smells like that, and I’ll be sharing it for the next few weeks. She smiled. Weeks? It'll be years. Her smile grew larger. Nopony else can make me feel that way. As she continued through the orchard, the wind blew again, but something else made Rarity's ears perk up. Is that...conversation?

She stopped in her tracks and looked over to where the commotion seemed to be originating. Hm... the farm? Keeping her ears up, she cantered towards the barn. It sounds like a bunch of them. Realising that the multitudes of earth ponies were milling around, her posture sank. This isn't a date. The crowd was unfamiliar in all respects, but she didn't feel like an oddity in her fancy dress either, with everypony else sporting the high-end Manehatten style. What is going on here? Feeling enticed to socialise, her sorrow was diminished a bit.

"Hey Rarity!" Applejack's voice called from across the lot. Rarity swung her head, and was bittersweet upon noticing the dress from the talent show. This was supposed to be a date, she thought, lifting her right hoof to take the orange mare a metre in front of her. "Well, howdy! You look nice."

Rarity smiled awkwardly at her friend and nodded. "You look nice too, Applejack." Her voice cracked, destroying her facade of happiness.

"You okay Rarity? Any ponies bothering ya?"

Rarity peered at all the other ponies with twitchy eyes and shook her head. "No... no,” she stuttered. “It isn't that. It's just... no, nothing.”

Applejack held back her frown. "Well, are you ready to mingle?"

Every single alarm and siren in Rarity’s head went off, considering she was the anomaly among a crowd of around fifty ponies, a rustic outfit among some classy ones. Her efforts to stay happy failed, with her shoulders soon slumping and her face warping. Should I just make an excuse to leave? I'm sure Applejack would understand. All the signs were there! Did she not want a date?

"And this here is my pal, Rarity." Applejack's voice drilled through Rarity's ears. Pal. Pal! That's all I am, a pal? She stuck out her hoof, which randomly met another distant relative of Applejack's. The only reason she wanted me here... was to impress these Oranges? Another sigh escaped Rarity's mouth, which evaded detection.
The sentence was repeated, and by this time Rarity’s ears were stone-cold. Pal, pal, pal... I can’t get it out of my head. This isn’t the real Applejack, wanting to impress ponies... The new thought sent her brain into a paradox, something wrong that didn’t look like it was.

"Rarity!" Applejack shouted out, trying to push herself towards another pony.

"Applejack, why..." she started, “why am I here?"

The farmer turned her hat around, like she always did when in deep thought. "Well, I needed you to impress the fancy pony-folk."

Rarity’s mouth half-opened. That's a lie. Applejack wouldn't do that. She moved a step closer. "I mean, what's the real reason I'm here, darling?" She tried to keep her words soft, but they were poisoned from her crumbled expectations.

"Rarity, I ain't been too hones-" Applejack started, before another relative with three orange slices on her flank came up.

"Why, Applejack, who is this gorgeous looking pony?"

"This is my friend, Rarity." Before the sentence finished, Rarity had already shook the Manehattenite’s hoof.

"Rarity, huh?" Aunt Orange chuckled. "I think I've heard of you before."

"I couldn't possibly think of where..." Rarity paused. I need to hear Applejack's answer: why is this pony talking to me?

"Hm, Rarity. Do you act?"

"No, you must've heard my name from earlier around here."

"I'm sure I've heard it elsewhere." Aunt Orange shifted her eyes left while Rarity kept her mouth shut in eagerness. "Of course! You're Rarity the designer!"

Rarity got dragged back into the conversation again. "You know of me?"

"Of course, darling. One of the dress shops sells your gorgeous hats. I had been meaning to pick one up forever, but I find my hairstyle is much nicer. No offense to your hat of course." Applejack stared at her aunt and imitated Rarity’s actions from a moment ago, with little resemblance.

Rarity’s grin returned bigger, surprised that Carousel Boutique’s apparel had reached out beyond Canterlot and Cloudsdale. I think I have a few phone calls to make. "Oh, that's so great. You should really check out my new design that’s coming out this autumn." She pointed a hoof at the frowning Applejack and ruffled her dress a bit. "This one, actually. There will be different designs once I get them, however. It'll be big in Canterlot." She pumped herself up and down. One minute I'm sad, I'm here, and the next I'm trying to sell a dress! The thought almost made her laugh but she kept her face straight.

"Oh, it is absolutely lovely. I was admiring our dear Applejack here earlier but had no idea it was one of yours."

Applejack’s light trance was broken. "Yes, Aunt Orange. Simply marvelous," she said, trying to fake her aunt’s accent. "But I really do need to speak to Rarity a bit."

"By all means, do so," she replied before turning around. The lovers looked at each other, then to Aunt Orange, then back at each other.

"Um, in private?" Applejack inquired. Aunt Orange gave a look back and laughed for a few seconds before moving over to her husband. The friends looked at each other again, their nervousness creeping in with Applejack moving her hat and Rarity almost popping her eyes out by staring. External commotion aside, a few moments of doubt popped up in Rarity's brain in the silence. Do I really want to know the answer to this question?

"You were just about to tell me the real reason you asked me here."

"Yes," Applejack started, before scrunching her nose up. "I just needed somepony to socialize with without my immediate family."

"Applejack, your nose. Don't lie to me." Rarity's eyes glared at Applejack. How can I force the truth out of her? Sometimes Pinkie Pie is enough.

"Ah' needed a fancier pony to help out with the family business. Ah' don't understand all this ruckus about small oranges, about eco-nawmics."

At that mispronunciation, Rarity had to exert all her facial muscles just to keep straight. "Applejack, may I remind you that you're not really the element of honesty now?" She pointed her white hoof at the nose, scrunched up for the umpteenth time.
"Fine. Ah' wanted to spend time with you, and this was a perfect excuse that didn't seem so awkward." Applejack's face was red, a brighter red than the best apples her entire orchard produced. She moved her hat to cover her forehead in embarrassment, while Rarity stood frozen.

Is this a date? Is this a date? Her mind screamed at her to inquire about it, and she was losing control. "Oh..." she uttered. She was sure her own face was as red as Applejack's, yet was pleading to Celestia it wasn't. She blinked a few times, trying to compile her thoughts into meaningful speech. "So..." she started, biting her tongue afterwards. But she obviously likes me! That's why this is awkward.

Applejack pushed her hat upright, the orange hue filling her face. "Well ah'm glad that's out in the open. I think it's almost time fer supper." She stared at Rarity before jostling her with one of her hooves. "Uh, Rarity? Are you still there?"

Rarity blinked several times in a short burst and nodded. "Yes... yes, supper. That will be delightful." She trotted off to the farm. If it wasn't a confession of love, she wouldn't have blushed. Then again, we've never been that great of friends. Maybe it's just a confession... of friendship? The wooden boards of Applejack’s farmhouse clicked under her hooves.

Sending herself back to reality, Rarity took note of the large changes that had happened. The normal decorations had vanished, replaced with a circle of small sitting chairs that were more prevalent in Canterlot shops, and a few paintings from the palace halls. In the center of the chairs stood an orthodox Manehatten table. Twilight must've helped – no way Applejack could know all this. She continued to look around at the new decorations as she sat down beside Applejack. Why didn't she ask me for help? Sighing, she turned her head to Applejack, who was in turn staring at a few waiters who were handing out food. “Where did you get the money for all this?” she whispered into her ear.

"Ah' had some help from the princesses." Applejack gave a small smile to Rarity before turning back to the food. The waiters were putting the normal small portions in front of the Oranges, but gave to Applejack a very large daisy sandwich with hay fries and – what was it – zap apple jam? Rarity’s stomach rumbled as she looked at that apparent cornucopia and then her own smaller portion. Shrugging, she dug in.

Ponies were milling around again, this time entirely inside. Aunt Orange was sitting in one of the chairs beside ‘The Pony with a Pearl Earring’, chatting to yet another Applejack relative that Rarity had met only a few hours ago. The fashion designer, the oddball in the crowd, sat across the room in apathy; the night had turned out exactly like how the Grand Galloping Gala had turned out with her friends, just that the uneasiness was localised to herself. It only added to the confusion that was her love for Applejack. I should go for it. She isn't a stallion, so she'll never ask first. Her thoughts clashed. Normally, she had stallions lined up to ask her on dates, without her having to instigate one. After all, for all her charisma she wasn't exactly sure how to. She heard approaching hooves and looked up to see her crush standing in front of her.

"Can ah' speak to you in ma' room?"

"O-of course!" Rarity hopped out of her chair and followed Applejack. Is this it? When both were comfortably inside, Applejack closed the door and turned to Rarity.

"Rarity," she started, her gaze piercing the other’s eyes. "I want to thank ya fer coming along. The family really likes ya, and I think they're gunna come down here more often and maybe sell some oranges in Ponyville." Applejack smiled widely. Rarity did the same physically, but the opposite mentally. No! Ask me on a date you fool! Hug me! Kiss me! Tell me that you'll never leave me! Please do something!

"It's not a problem," Rarity replied. They stood there for a few seconds before Applejack turned to leave. "Wait! I... Do you want to have dinner tomorrow?"

Applejack closed the door and turned back to Rarity. "Ah' thought you'd never ask."

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