• Published 3rd Mar 2017
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You and Her - fourths



You told me that a young designer from out of town would be coming to stay with us for a few days while she discussed business plans with you. I told you that would be fine, that I wouldn't mind. I lied.

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You and Her

The sheets were so soft with us swaddled between them, and yet everything changed when you pulled yourself away. I think you thought you had woken me, for you tossed off a hasty apology when you ran your hoof through my mane. And I think you thought I had gone back to sleep when you stood back up, when you sauntered your way over to the old oaken dresser and, looking in the mirror, slicked back your mane. But no—I stayed awake, and I watched. How could I fall back asleep when I never had slept to begin with? You would have been concerned, maybe, had you seen me lying there without my makeup to conceal the red, puffy lids around my eyes. Yet it had been more than a week since you had seen my bare face. More than a week of you coming to bed so late, and waking up so early.

You never used to be like this; you used to turn in with me sometimes even before the sun would set, and stay in bed long past daybreak. You used to hold me close in your firm grip—and, occasionally, I would hold you—and some days it would be after noon when we finally wrested ourselves from the nest of fabric sheets. Our business is an evening business, after all—not too late, unless there is some sort of party, but also never too early.

Until last week.

You had said there were preparations you had to make. We were going to have a special guest from Ponyville—an up-and-coming designer. A mare. She was going to stay with us, you assured me, so that you could go around Canterlot together and talk to your connections in the industry. You thought I wouldn’t notice, but I saw how you danced around her name. I knew what you really were preparing for; you wanted me to be used to you not being there.

It was a week before when you came up to me, as I was having a cup of tea in the kitchen. “Fleur, dear, could I ask you a question?

Of course, Fancy,” I had replied, setting the cup down on its saucer.

Would it be alright if I had a young designer come stay with us next week, for a few days? I’ve promised I would help her show her designs to some major suppliers in the city, and it would be very helpful if she could stay close by.

I had wanted to say no to you, I really did. I knew what you wanted, and I knew what would happen if I said yes. I could tell from your tone, from the nervous looks you kept giving me. But... what else was I to say? “Yes, of course,” I had replied. “I’ll go make up the bed in the guest room.

The guest room. Ha.

From between the sheets I poked my head out and I watched as you pulled down a smoky-grey suit jacket from a hanger, a dapper thing I commissioned for you from an acquaintance in Manehattan. No doubt you didn’t even remember where it came from as you slipped your forelegs through the sleeves; for somepony with such a vested interest in fashion, you’ve always been careless with those little details. Always a manager—telling ponies what to do and where to go, making sure they knew what they had to keep track of. I’m not sure why I ever liked that about you, honestly, but here we are.

Or at least here I am. Once you put on your monocle, you were out the door without another word. Of course, you didn’t know I was awake, so why would you say anything? The door squeaked as you shut it and while I normally would have been concerned about getting it oiled, at that moment I could not stop thinking of you. Of where you were going. Of whom you were meeting.

I must have lain there another half hour before I dragged myself out of bed and stood up, trotting over to the mirror. As I suspected, my eyes were bloodshot and my lids were half-closed, unwilling to let in even a little more of the dim sunlight that shone in through the curtains. And my mane... a frazzled mess, the pink curls were sprawled out all over the place.

Sighing, I reached for the hairbrush with my magic and set to work straightening out my mane. With any luck, I would be able to make myself at least look presentable by the time you came back with that mare.


“A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Ms. Fleur de Lis.”

Those were the first words she spoke to me, not a few moments after I saw her enter alongside you into the foyer. I suppose I greeted her, though it was simply with a practiced greeting.

“And you as well, Miss Rarity. I hope you enjoy your stay in our home.”

Miss Rarity. Of course it was her, the young fashion designer we met months ago while she stayed in Canterlot at the castle. She proudly wore that perfectly-styled indigo mane, and a coat as white and as pure as snow. Ponies used to say that about me, you know. I knew what it was like to be desired by older stallions. I knew how intoxicating that attention could be. Could I blame her?

Yes, I could.

I watched as you took her coat and set it gently on the coat rack. I watched as you lifted her luggage and followed closely behind as she made her way up the stairs. You watched as she looked up at the vaulted ceiling, gasping at its magnificence—a symbol of our glamorous lives. I watched as you watched, and I said nothing. Once you and her had made it up to the second floor and out of sight, I carried on into the living room. The iris flowers in the vase on the coffee table had once been a brilliant purple, but they were already starting to dry up. Sighing, I pulled the dying flowers from the vase and trotted over to the kitchen to dispose of them. I decided I would replace them with a nice yellow hyacinth, to brighten up the room a little.


You had let me know that because Rarity was visiting, you would be taking the week off—so you could tour her around to our friends, convincing them to sell her designs. And, in addition, you had let me know that I should feel no obligation to work for the week either; I could just briefly shut my boutique down if I so wished. Honestly, there's no reason why I shouldn’t have; my boutique is small, anyway, and only a few of the richest ponies ever come in, and only ever occasionally. Closing it for a week would do us no harm; most of our money is made from what you do, licensing others’ designs to other boutiques and manufacturers.

Yes, my work isn’t very important. And that’s precisely why, after that comment, I found myself trotting over there on that next morning. The night before, you had come to bed earlier than you had in the last week, and you looked exhausted. I knew nothing had happened from your countenance, though; the way you snuggled into bed beside me was gentle and genuine. And I could feel your reluctance as you clambered out in the morning—yet you still left just as quickly as you had the day before.

“Places to be and ponies to see,” you muttered as you adjusted your bowtie in the mirror. I don’t even know if you were talking to me, or if it was just you talking to yourself; regardless, you were out of the room less than ten minutes after you woke up. It wasn’t but fifteen minutes later that I heard her voice, and then the slam of the front door behind you.

Eventually I dragged myself out of bed... dragged myself out to the hall and into the bathroom to freshen myself up. I’m not sure how long that took, but I did it mostly on autopilot. I didn’t even realise I had finished until I was already out the door, morning coffee levitating beside me, trotting briskly down the sidewalk towards the boutique next door.

And there I waited. I sat in the centre of the shop for the next few hours, sipping at my mug as it grew cold—not that I really minded. It gave me something to do, at least—something to be irritated with. The alternative was not pleasant.

Nopony came into the shop that day. This didn’t really surprise me, but it was at least... disappointing. I had only opened up the boutique to show you that I was, in fact, still here, and that what I did was of some worth. If you were trying to make me invisible, trying to push me away, I wouldn’t be having any of it.

Alas. When I finally rinsed out the mug and set it aside to dry in the back of the boutique, it was almost two. A few more hours passed. And then, finally giving up on my stubbornness, I closed the shop. I walked out into the hot sun with the door locked behind me, and I felt the heat from the sunbathed sidewalk tingle up through my hooves.

The front door was open when I returned, and I could hear your voice down in the study, talking with somepony. Of course—it was you and her, returned from whatever meetings you had gone to. I trotted up the stairs to... anywhere else, really. Anywhere I couldn't hear your voices.

You sounded so happy, and I just want you happy.


It was on that second night that you came to bed late, and I knew. You thought me asleep, twisted and curled up within the sheets as I was, but in truth I could not sleep and it was all because I knew. I heard each tick of the clock and I counted; I didn't even have to look to know how late it was. And yet, as they say is often true with carriage crashes and the like, I couldn’t look away.

That single look confirmed what I already knew. You stood by the mirror, stripping off your jacket, though it looked hastily thrown on to begin with; the bowtie was messily retied, and the buttons hadn’t even been buttoned. I doubt you would have even put the suit jacket back on—yes, back on—had I not been there in your bed, awaiting. You’re dumb, but not that dumb; you need to keep up appearances, just in case anypony’s watching. In case I’m watching.

Once you had tossed the suit jacket and the rest of your outfit onto a chair, you slowly closed the door with a creak and then stumbled over to the bed in the dark. The mattress shifted with your weight, jerking me back against the wall so hard I nearly hit my head. As you crawled forward into bed, in between the sheets, I couldn’t help but quietly groan and shift, just to watch you freeze. You waited there for a moment, making sure I still seemed asleep before you continued.

And you slept on the other side of the bed that night, as far as you could be from me. I don’t know if it was because you didn’t want to be near me or just because you didn’t want me to catch the odour but if it was the latter then you failed on that part. I could smell the sweat, I could smell your lies, and I could smell her. That mare’s scent was all over you, and it wafted all through the room; it was inescapable.

And the worst part? It was sweet, yet subdued. A hint of something tangy, of something else. A hint of sophistication, of something more than I had expected. The scent floated up all around me in the dark and as I closed my eyes it seemed to consume me.

And I couldn’t get enough.


I awoke Wednesday to the soft grey churnings and whirlings of the nebustrata laid out before my eyes, and it took me a moment to realise I had nearly fallen from the bed. I took the opportunity to slip down onto the floor and paw forward on my hooves toward the bay windows, whose curtains it appeared you had opened. You weren’t there, of course—a cursory glance at the bed revealed an obvious depression in the mattress where you had been—but at least you had made an effort at brightening the place up. You even had taken your dirty clothes away, off for washing. Though, as I lay there staring at the sky, I realised that may have been more so I wouldn’t notice her scent.

That’s when I noticed that the room no longer smelled of Rarity. Confused, I stood up and trotted over to the dresser. Atop it was a candle—still lit, still burning—whose vague apple cinnamon scent, joined with the opened windows, seemed to have blown all of Rarity’s scent away. It would have been a perfect plan on your part, had I not been awake the night before.

I stood there for a moment, watching the flame flicker both atop the wick and reflected in the mirror; then, I blew it out. My face looked gaunt and weary in the mirror, and my eyes looked like they were set deep into my head. I coughed and shut my eyes tight before taking hold of the hairbrush again.

Another day, another run through the routine. Another day where you're off in the city in Goddess-knows-where with Rarity.

Rarity.

I set down the hairbrush back onto the dresser and then, curiously, pulled open and reached into the top drawer. What I found inside was what I had been looking for—the curler—and as I pulled it out I shoved the drawer closed and made my way out of the room, over to the bathroom.

If Rarity was so enticing (and yes, she really was), then I supposed I might just have to be a bit more like her.


I considered going to the boutique that Wednesday afternoon, but decided against it. You had been right; there really was no reason to. Instead, I tended to the home.

Most Canterlot ponies of our social stature have at least one servant—if not two or three—but we never felt like we needed that. We have no children and never intended to have any, so it just didn’t seem worth the money and effort, especially when we’re capable ponies who can take care of things ourselves.

And, as I trotted around the living room with a damp rag, wiping away the dust that caked unused surfaces, I felt calmed. The mid-morning sky outside was still that tumultuous grey, and yet I couldn’t fault it; while dreary, it was a pleasant dreary. A soft, fuzzy dreariness that hung over the whole world much like a thick downy blanket, putting a comforting damper on everything. I whistled to myself as I rearranged the books on the bookshelf in the back, putting back the few that had somehow become out of order.

Then, I trotted around with a watering can in tow to all of the plants. Really, although I enjoy them, I was never much for having too many plants around the household; it was you who always, upon seeing rooms without some sort of greenery, would go out and buy a few. Just to liven up the room, you said.

And while I couldn’t help but agree, as I made my way through the many rooms upstairs just to levitate the watering can into corners just to reach some succulent, I wondered whether any of these plants were truly necessary. Though, on the other hoof... when I reached the balcony by our bedroom, I had to spend a few extra minutes there just standing and looking at the brilliant blue of the hydrangea flowers. I thought of how we’d have to soon move them to the yard, for they had grown quite large, but I tried to push that away and just enjoy the moment.

With that, I trotted back inside and went downstairs to finish off watering in the sitting room, the library, and the kitchen. I even nearly made a foray out into the garden, before deciding that I’d rather not go out and muddy my hooves. Turning away and back towards the kitchen, I considered starting a dinner for you and Rarity to come back to. Something simple, but something that you and her would both appreciate.

But as I moved towards the cabinets, about to open them and look inside... I remembered your study. I remembered the potted daffodils on either side of the shelf overlooking your desk. While you may have watered them... it wouldn’t hurt to make sure.

With an unladylike grunt, I refilled the watering can and cantered through the living room, into the front room, and then off to the descending stairs that led to the study. It wasn’t that far down, or at least not as far as the cellar, but it was an odd little room, situated slightly below the earth so that the large window along the back wall showed mainly the tufts of grass right against the glass. There was an overhead light in the room, but you never used it; instead you had installed small candleholders in the wall on either side of the desk.

As I leaned against the desk and let a steady stream of water drip into the flowerpots, I glanced about the room. Something was off. Although there would often be papers or folders strewn about your desk, you would generally keep the rest of the room quite tidy, everything in order. Yet at that moment... your desk chair had been pulled away and thrown against the side wall, the closet door was wide open with a pile of clothes to the side, and a box of cereal in the far corner had been tipped on its side, small flakes littering that corner of the room. Once I had finished watering the plants, I set the watering can on your desk to walk over there and pick them up; however, when I got a closer look I noticed that the cereal had become inundated with a layer of pencil shavings, fallen from the sharpener on the wall. Upon closer inspection, the body of the sharpener seemed to have cracked.

Something had happened here. And, although for a moment I was briefly able to fool myself that I didn’t know what had transpired... I knew. I could see the hoofprints in the carpet, highlighted by the dust of crushed cereal. I could see where they began—by the door—and where they ended—by the closet.

Now, I don’t consider myself a pony with an active imagination; I have enough to create some designs for the boutique and to evaluate those of others, but I’m not usually able to visualise scenes in my head. This moment was different, however; I could very nearly see you as you danced about the room with that delicate unicorn in your forelegs, swaying from side to side and holding your foreleg up as she did a little pirouette and then as she came down you pressed her up against the wall and—

There was a squeak, and a scrape of wood on wood. From upstairs. For a moment, my heart stopped, and all I could do was listen to the hoofsteps upstairs.

Then I heard your voice, and Rarity’s voice, and I knew it was you who had arrived. In that panicked moment I couldn’t quite tell what you were saying, but I felt a tightening in my chest, a sort of impending doom, and I knew I had to run, had to hide—I had to do anything to get away from you. Briefly I entertained the thought of rushing upstairs, somehow, but I knew you were in the foyer and I would be seen. And then I considered running down to the cellar, but you could easily see and hear me on the stairs; you’d know I was there.

No, there was no other option. As quietly as I could, I slid into the small closet and quickly pulled the wooden shutters over the entrance, closing them as I put them in place. For a moment, all I could hear was my own heavy breathing there in the darkness, and I could feel its warmth reflected back at me in the small space. I chastised myself for believing that hiding here was even necessary; neither of you would come down to see me and besides, there was no real reason I should need to hide in my home.

But then—of course—I heard the distinctive creak of hooves on the steps, and I nearly jumped back, hugging my side against the wall. As I sat there, trying to hold my breath so I could hear what was going on, I noticed that the hoofsteps on the stairs were daintier than yours; they were more careful, and their owner was walking with much more precision and finesse than you ever would.

Once the hoofsteps neared, I could hear Rarity whistling a little tune, continuing as she entered the room. Her familiar aroma entered with her, and as I breathed it in I could feel my heart rate slow. She had the same tangy sweetness as before, and immediately I wish I could see her, could talk to her; however, the shutters prevented me from seeing her silky white coat.

A moment later, I could hear the distinctive shimmering hum of her magic and then the rustling of papers on the desk. She interrupted her own whistling to let out a breathy “a-ha!” and then her hooves shuffled on the carpet as if to leave. But then, before her hooves made it out to clack-clack on the wooden stairs outside the room, her hoofsteps stopped.

“Fancy?” she called out, her voice loudly reverberating through the room and up the stairwell.

“Yes?” you called back from above, distant yet clearly audible. “Is something the matter?”

“There’s a watering can down here on the table, and I don’t remember seeing it yesterday? Did you?”

“Oh, it was probably there and we just didn’t notice,” came your reply, though you didn’t sound particularly interested in the topic. “Please, hurry up—I don’t think we have much time until Fleur will be coming back from the boutique.”

“Right, right. Deepest apologies, Fancy.” Rarity took a deep breath and then I could hear her trot from the room, albeit slower than before. It wasn’t until I heard her reach the top of the stairs and start conversing with you that I was finally able to exhale, finally able to pull away from the back wall of the closet. Not that what you were about to do made me feel any better, but at least I didn’t have to worry about being found. I’m honestly not sure what I would have done if Rarity had found me there in the closet; it’s my house, and obviously I have a right to be there, but then you and her would know I knew. If you didn’t know already.

Once I heard the both of you turn away and step up the stairs to the upper floor, I finally pushed the closet door open and spilled out onto the floor, gulping for fresh air as I lay there on the carpet. I felt ridiculous lying there on my side, drinking in her intoxicating scent as I stared up at the ceiling, but there was little else I could do. You had gone upstairs to fuck Rarity, and I wasn’t supposed to be there; I wasn’t supposed to know.

Actually, there was something else I could do—another intoxicating thing I could drink in. With a sigh, I rolled over and pulled myself up to a standing position; then, I trotted out of the study and down the stairs. With each step, the entire staircase quietly groaned, but it did not matter; you weren’t there to hear it. When I reached the foot of the steps, I quickly used my magic to flick on the light above, and after a click and a buzz the room filled with a yellow light.

The cellar was not particularly small, yet I would never want to spend very much time there in what effectively amounts to an earthen tomb beneath the house. Although its walls were earthen and unfinished, there were no windows or exits to the outside world save for the door I had just walked through; as a result, the room always stayed cool, and quite dry. On the large wooden shelves that lined the walls, there was row after row of bottles, continuing along the three walls before me with only a few bottles missing here and there.

And once I reached the far wall, I grabbed a bottle within my magic. I didn’t even look to see which one it was as I pulled out the cork and unceremoniously took a swig. Then another. Before I knew it, I had downed nearly the entire bottle and set it on the floor beside the shelf. But I was fine. Everything was fine. Everything was fine.

Everything was not fine, and I knew it.

I closed my eyes and felt a warmth in my chest as I stumbled forward, making my way out of the room and up the stairs. I hardly remember it, really—just a blur before I reached the top floor, my hooves sliding and sinking into the carpet as I stood there. I wasn’t that drunk, not really; I just had a little bit of difficulty as I pawed my way down the hall, towards our bedroom.

Yet as I reached our bedroom, I didn’t stop. I hardly gave the open door a look. Why go to our bedroom if you wouldn’t be there? No, I kept walking past our bedroom. Past the bathroom, too, and the linen closet. There were empty rooms—more empty rooms than I could imagine us having, really. Their doors all blurred together on the wall and it wasn’t until I heard voices that I stopped dead in my tracks. Once I had taken a moment to make sure I wouldn’t teeter over, I pressed my ear to the door on my right and I listened. At first, there was silence but for the rustling of fabric; then, I heard your voice.

“How much longer do I need to stay in this corner for?”

“I should be only but a moment. You wanted me to dress up, did you not?”

“Well, yes, but...”

“No buts!” Rarity paused. “Not besides mine on this bed in... about thirty seconds, I’d estimate.”

The line was cheesy, but I silently laughed anyway. There was just something about the way sweet yet silly way Rarity said it, how even though it was cliché I knew it was just for me, and—

“Maybe less,” you replied, and my thoughts came crashing down around me. Of course she hadn’t been speaking to me; it was you who was in the room there with her, you who was about to turn around and bask in her beauty, and it was you who...

You were about to fuck her. It wouldn’t do me any use to deny that any longer, so I didn’t. It was the fact of the matter and—as I stood there just a hoof’s distance from the door—I tried with all my might to take that in. It just seemed so bizarre, so impossible, so surreal...

And that’s when I heard your hoofsteps on the wooden floor, and the obvious squeak of the bed as you lowered your body over the sheets. Over her, that is. As much as I could in my... state, I focused my eyes on the twisting and turning curves of the brown vine patterns that snaked their way up the yellow hallway wallpaper, and I tried not to think about the rhythmic squeaking that had begun behind that door. I thought of perhaps growing grapevines on the back wall of the building in our garden, so that maybe we could make our own wine. Rarity let out an excited gasp. I buried my face in my hooves. You grunted and whispered words soft and sweet, just loud enough so that I could hear them but not make out what you were saying. My head felt heavy and I could barely keep it upright. Rarity’s affectionate coos burbled from behind me, and I could nearly feel the door exude the sticky, disgusting lust it contained.

Before I could really think about what I was doing, I turned around and glanced towards the handle. And yet sorely tempted as I was, I couldn’t bring myself to reach up my hoof and open it. What I did instead was almost worse: I leaned in, and I peered through the keyhole.

There wasn’t much to see, really. I could sort of make out patches of white fur and flesh moving beyond the bed frame, but honestly I had to look away after just a few seconds as I felt my stomach turn. My thoughts swam around in my head and my vision blurred, and in my dizzy stupor I nearly fell; luckily, I was able to reach out my hooves and steady myself before I fell over or gave myself away with the resulting thump. For a few moments I sat there on my haunches, barely able to tell where my heavy breathing ended and the heavy breathing from beyond the door began.

And then I tore myself away.

Hoofsteps through the carpet and down the hall, and I could barely register what I was doing or where I was going as I moved; I just knew that I was trotting away. I stopped at my bedroom door for a moment—just a moment—before carrying on. I couldn’t go in there; then you would see me in the bed after you were done, and know I was there the whole time. No, I had to get further away. My hooves clattered, I’m sure, as I made my way down the stairs, but what did it truly matter? You and her were caught deep in each other’s embrace in the guest room, and I doubted that anything could wrest you from your lusty stupor.

By the time I reached the sitting room, I had slowed, and heavy breaths overtook me. I floated gracelessly through the kitchen and out the back door, leading out into the small garden in the backyard. Only then, as I stumbled onto the brick path, did I stop. A garden bed lay on either side of me, though both were nearly empty; the summer harvest times for most of the plants had passed, so it was mostly withering brown plants among the dry, lifeless dirt that greeted me.

I shivered, though it was not particularly cold; in fact, despite the thick layer of clouds above, the air was positively muggy. I had a brief moment of panic that I could be seen, and I whisked my head around suddenly, looking at the windows on the house. That’s when I realised that no, the guest room’s only window overlooked the side yard instead. I let out a breath of relief, though my heart was still pounding in my chest. Just as I’m sure you were still pounding her up there.

Biting my lip, I lowered my body down to the brick and curled my legs beneath myself. And, closing my eyes, I lay in wait.


I’m not sure for how long I lay there, and it’s quite possible I could have fallen asleep. But by the time I opened my eyes, the sky above had dimmed; it was not quite the nighttime, but the coolness of the evening had settled over the yard. I stood up, and I felt my legs ache with a dull pain as I stepped forward on the brick. I almost wanted to let myself collapse there and then, but I couldn’t stay out there forever. No matter how little you seemed to care about me, you would still grow concerned and go looking for me eventually.

As I looked up, I noticed that the light was on in the kitchen, visible through the tacky floral curtains that covered the door window. A confrontation. And yet... I continued trotting forward, step by step. I took hold of the handle with my magic and I twisted it open, wondering... would I be faced with you? You I could easily explain myself to, weaving some story about an order at the boutique, and then coming in through the back to tend to the garden. You were easy enough to lie to—easy to manipulate like that. But if it were her...

It looked like I had nothing to worry about, however. As the door creaked open, revealing an empty room on the other side, I let out a breath of relief. I stepped in and looked to the counters on the left, but they were devoid of any food or dishes. Maybe I had just turned on the light before going outside, and simply forgotten? I turned towards the doorway that led to the living room. Perhaps I could make it upstairs and into bed before running into anypony...?

But as I turned, I caught a flash of white in the corner of my eye, off on the other side of the kitchen. And, gulping, I looked that way.

And there she was. Rarity was leaning against the counter, giving me an odd look. I’m not sure if she could tell I was surprised to see her, but if she knew, she didn’t say anything. She merely gazed at me with those ocean-blue eyes—oh, those beautiful eyes—and waited.

“Erm... hello,” I managed to get out after an uncomfortable moment of silence.

“Good evening,” she said, in a calm yet lilting tone. There was a far-away look in her eyes, and in that moment I wondered if she’d even noticed I’d been there before then.

“It... is a nice evening, isn’t it?” I replied. “Cool, but not raining. Perfect for something like a garden soirée.”

“Fleur,” she said.

“Yes?”

“I’ve been sleeping with your husband.” She let the words rings out in the empty room, bouncing around off the walls and filling the space with an uncomfortable ugliness. I presume my expression was at the least slightly bemused, but I didn’t really feel it.

“I know,” I said.

Rarity blinked. “Y-you know?” she asked feebly.

I sighed. “I’m smarter than you think, Miss Rarity. I know Fancy, and I certainly know what goes on in my own home.”

Rarity looked down to the floor, to her hooves. The white of her coat stood out against the black of the tile. “He told me you were getting a div—”

“I don’t want to know,” I said, whether that was true or not. “Whatever he said, it evidently was enough.”

Rarity looked back up at me, and I could see that she was trembling. After a moment’s pause, she spoke again. “I just... I just want you to know that I’m not a bad pony. I just want... to help ponies. And he really made it seem like that’s what I would be doing.”

“I’m sure,” I said, and I nearly shuddered at the coldness of my tone. “Where is he?”

“You wish to talk to him?” she inquired.

“No. I just want to know where he is.”

Rarity sighed. “I don’t know. He said he was going out, and then he left. He was... upset, so I didn’t want to pry.”

“Probably went out drinking with friends,” I muttered. “The old crowd.”

“Oh?”

“Friends from college, I don’t know,” I replied. My eyes wandered, studying the wood grain of the cabinetry. “Ponies he’s known longer than me.”

“Ah, I see...” She fidgeted, eyes nervously looking from side to side. “I’m sorry.”

My vision snapped back towards the mare. “Sorry? For what?”

She was evidently taken aback by this. “Why... for all of this, darling. For coming into your home and... and...”

“Fucking my husband?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

Gulping, she nodded. She opened her mouth as if to say something, but apparently thought better of it and just stood there in silence.

“Why did you tell me?” I asked.

“Beg pardon?”

“About you and my husband,” I said resolutely. “Why did you decide to tell me? You could have just kept it a secret.”

Rarity didn’t respond right away; she took a moment, looking off to the side, presumably collecting her thoughts. “You have a right to know, and if I were in your position, I’d certainly like to know.”

I frowned. “Rarity...”

“He...” Her voice faltered. “He came clean to me. He told me that he lied.”

I nodded. Of course you did; you’re a terrible liar, especially when you get close to somepony. I was sure you had already told the whole story to whomever you were drinking with. I wondered when you might come back.

“Fleur? Are you alright?” Rarity looked concerned.

I tilted my head, giving her an odd look. “Should I be? Do you really think I should?”

She shrunk back. “I’m... I’m sorry.”

Weakly, I nodded. I just didn’t know what more to say to her; she’d said her bit, and I’d said mine. So instead, I stared at her. My eyes traced the side of her gentle cheek before sliding down her neck and the curved shape of her side. The contours of her form as she stood there, gently rocking back and forth as she leaned against the counter. And that sweet, fragrant scent—of some flower, I have no doubt, although I couldn’t quite place which one. I couldn’t even smell you on her, even though I knew you had just... you had...

“I’m going home tomorrow,” she said, interrupting my thoughts. “I told him that I didn’t want to stay any longer, that I’d be taking the train away tomorrow morning.”

“Oh.”

Rarity was looking at me with a cautious sort of confusion. “I thought you would want that, would you not?”

I wanted to say yes, and I wanted to spit feathers so fiercely she would run away there and then. But there was no way I could do anything like that, not to her. She... she just...

Before I quite knew what I was doing, I leaned in towards her. I could see her eyes light up in surprise as my hot breath brushed against her muzzle, but she didn’t move a muscle. And so my lips were allowed to brush up against hers, and as I kissed her I could feel a warmth in my chest. Something I hadn’t felt in... a long time. And as I pulled away, I could see a softness in her eyes.

“M-Ms. Fleur,” Rarity stammered. Her cheeks were flush red. “I don’t know what to say...”

I sighed. “I don’t, either.”

So I didn’t say anything. I merely took another long breath before I turned tail and I left. I could hear a few of her hoofsteps frantically clip-clopping behind me as I floated through the living room and up the stairs, but after a few moments they stopped. I spun down the hall until I reached my bedroom, and I flung the door open as I stumbled in. Lazily, I pushed it closed until it clicked and then pushed my way through the carpet and onto the bed, not stopping until I was nestled in between the sheets and their softness hugged my coat, protecting me from the piercing cold of the room.

I closed my eyes and I lay there, very still. I did not sleep for quite some time.

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