• Published 26th Dec 2016
  • 5,988 Views, 163 Comments

The Secrets We Keep - BlazzingInferno



Spike and Rarity each have their secrets. Sharing them might be the best decision they've ever made.

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Throne Sitting

Spike tightened his grip on the bloodstone scepter, if only to give himself something to do. It wasn’t like he really needed to keep his claws on it at all times. Some sort of dragon usurper wasn’t going to barge through the ornate stone doors at end of the cavernous throne room if he set it down. Besides, two giant dragon guards were standing at attention on either side of the door, ready to take on anything that dared challenge the Lord of the Dragons or, in Spike’s case, the Steward of the Dragons. Or was it Steward of the Lord of the Dragons? He should’ve written it down.

Ember would be back tomorrow anyway. Her big mission to chart the dragon lands would be over soon, and so would Spike’s big favor to her. He glanced up at the jewel at the top of the scepter. Bloodstones were salty and bitter, but at least they were nice to look at. He rotated the scepter slowly, allowing the jewel’s polished facets to catch the throne room’s distant sources of light.

As far as palaces went, this place just didn’t compare to Canterlot, or even Ponyville. The slit-like windows high up on the unadorned walls made the place feel like a prison. The dragons hadn’t been at war for a thousand years, so why did their ruler have to live in a fortress?

The palace walls did far more than block sunlight, of course. Was there a raging storm outside, or peaceful sunshine? Short of walking all the way to the door and putting his ear to it, he’d never know. Sitting on this throne meant being cut off from everything and everyone, with one exception.

Rarity’s knitting needles made the softest clicking sound as she worked. A flowing robe spilled down the marble steps leading to the throne, a slow-moving river of multi-colored yarn with a stunning, white unicorn at its head. Forget the windows; Rarity could light up any room.

Spike stood and, with great care, leaned the scepter against the throne’s massive armrest. “Hey… Rarity?”

Rarity gave him a quick glance before returning her attention to her work. “Yes, Spikey?”

“Thanks for coming with me.”

“Think nothing of it. Twilight and the others were busy, and coming all this way on your own would be bad enough without having to sit in this frightful castle for days on end with nopony to talk to.”

Spike hopped off the throne and walked across the dais to Rarity’s side. The cushion she’d brought looked so comfortable, especially compared to his own lot. The throne of the dragon lord was just a big stone chair, and the scepter was just a big red crystal. He didn’t need either of them, although he wouldn’t have minded borrowing some of the mystique and majesty they were meant to convey.

“Rarity, could I… um… could I share your cushion for a little while?” he’d finally said it. There was no lordly way to ask, but he’d done it anyway.

Rarity’s knitting needles paused. She looked Spike’s way and smiled. “You’re more than welcome to borrow the entire cushion. I was wondering how long you could tolerate a throne made of solid granite.”

Spike’s hand shot up. “Wait, you don’t have to move off of it. I don’t want you to have to sit on the floor.”

“There’s hardly room enough for two. If I’d known the dragon palace was going to be so… uncomfortable, I would’ve packed more blankets and pillows. It’s as if dragons don’t believe in such things.”

Spike’s back hurt just thinking about the prospect of more luggage. At least he hadn’t been asked to lug her divan all this way. “I-I don’t need a lot of room. If you could scoot over just a little…”

Rarity rose, took a small step to the side, resettled herself, and resumed knitting. “I’m not sure this will be much of an improvement, but you’re welcome to try.”

Spike sat on the small corner she’d given him and leaned against her side. He’d never been more comfortable in his life. “Is this okay?”

“Quite. Are you comfortable?”

“Y-yeah! Thanks.”

She giggled, a sensation Spike never wanted to stop feeling. “One of these days you’re going to run out of things to thank me for. You’ve expressed your appreciation for my coming with you three times today at least.”

“I know, but… it’s a big deal to me, okay? You’ve got so many other things you could be doing. I know you’ve got lots of dress orders, and you didn’t even bring your sewing machine. All you brought is yarn for Ember’s gift from the Princesses.”

“Come now, Spikey. Friends should always come before business, and hauling a sewing machine out here would’ve been the very definition of overkill. It’s been far too long since I tore myself away from my usual routine and did a little knitting.”

Spike’s eyes followed the many feet of knitted yarn that stretched out before them. “That’s way more than a little.”

“Indeed, but there’s little else one can do when preparing a gift for royalty of Ember’s stature.”

“She’ll love it.”

“I certainly hope so. I don’t know her well enough to judge her tastes in accessories.”

The conversation entered a lull, one that Spike didn’t mind. He could listen to the sound of her knitting needles all day, especially now that they’d been joined by the near-imperceptible movement of her breathing. While she knitted behind him, he was left staring at the massive throne and scepter that symbolized dragon royalty and thinking over how perfect this moment was. Here they were, miles away from chores, dressmaking, and any responsibility beyond keeping each other company. “What if Ember didn’t come back?”

“What a dreadful thought! Surely you don’t want to be stuck here as the dragon lord, do you?”

“No way! But… if I had to… would you stay with me?”

The clicking of knitting needles ceased. “Spike… What precisely are you asking? You yourself just mentioned my responsibilities to my business. There’s also my family to consider, our friends—”

“I know. I don’t mean… It was just a bad way to phrase it. Sorry.”

“Dare I ask what you meant?”

“If I was the dragon lord, I’d be a king, and I’d want you to be my… But I don’t really want to be the dragon lord. I just… ugh. You know already… you know, but I never say anything. How come we never talk about… how I feel about you?”

He slumped forward, and cool air filled the void between them. He’d felt so close to her a moment ago, close in every possible sense. Now he’d said too much, even if it felt like not enough.

Rarity sat very still. “Must we have this conversation, Spike?”

Spike kept staring at the scepter, a much safer thing to focus on than the strain in her voice that all but begged him to change the subject. If he could imagine being as big and tough as one of those dragons that he was technically ruling over, then he could do and say anything. “Well… why not?”

“Because I cherish our friendship and never want to jeopardize it by hurting you.”

“I know; I guess I just don't know why. Is it because I’m a dragon?”

Rarity flinched. “Heavens, no! Although I certainly don’t care for the brutish ways of the typical dragon, you couldn’t be more different.”

“Is it because you think I’m too young, or too short, or ugly?”

“Where are these ideas coming from, Spike? If you were ‘too young,’ you’d be attending school with Sweetie Belle, and certainly wouldn’t have been called on by the dragon lord as a possible successor. As for everything else: you are not too short, tall, unattractive, unintelligent, or any other self-depreciating thing you could possibly name.”

Spike furrowed his brow as he thought. “Oh… that's good… but then why—”

Rarity dropped her knitting needles. “Is having a reason really necessary? We both live and work alongside countless ponies every day without developing a bond stronger than friendship. Do I need a list of reasons why I’m not madly in love with all of them?”

His gaze remained locked on the scepter. As long as he did that, he could be as cool as the stone itself. “I guess not… but I’d still like to know.”

She pitched her head back. “Romance aside, I care about you, Spike. That should come as no surprise, and therefore you should understand why I don’t want to keep hurting you with this conversation.”

“But you’re not!”

“Oh, really?”

Spike gulped. “Okay. Maybe it hurts, but it’s important to me. I’d rather have it hurt a lot right now than hurt a little forever. I just want you to be happy. If I can’t ever do that for you… then I can figure out how to be happy on my own. If I’m not too dumb, or short, or any of that other stuff, then your real reason can’t be that bad.”

Rarity took a deep breath. “Very well. At the risk of trotting out the oldest, tiredest cliché in the book: it’s not you, it’s me.”

“What does that even mean? Didn’t I just say I want you to be happy?”

“Yes, but… happiness is a very complicated, very elusive thing. You’ve met my parents, haven’t you?”

“Yeah?”

She didn’t respond, or even move. Aside from Spike’s own breathing, the room fell silent.

He fought the urge to turn around. If he did, if he wound up staring into her beautiful eyes when she told him that they’d never be more than friends, he’d start crying. He had to be stronger than that. “What’s wrong?”

She spoke in a slow, level voice that bordered on emotionless. “Spike… I must demand that this conversation never leave this room. Never speak of it, not to Twilight, not to anypony else. In fact, I’d prefer that you never mention it to me, either.”

“Okay… Sure.”

“I’ve come to a certain understanding with my parents regarding my career, but only after years of bickering. As I grew up, they assumed that my life would follow a path similar to theirs. Even after my cutie mark appeared, they assumed I’d merely mend my own clothing or work as a salespony selling the ghastly apparel offered in the likes of Barnyard Bargains. They laughed when I said I wanted to open my own business.”

“Huh, why? What did they have against you making dresses for a living?”

Rarity sighed. “My mother used to work alongside the Cakes in Sugarcube Corner; her cookies were just as famous then as cupcakes are now. She quit the day she got married and never looked back. Her job as a baker was just that: a job. I certainly don’t begrudge her decision or priorities, but neither she nor my father could understand that that just wasn’t the life for me. I wanted a career, not a job. I wanted a career more than a family, and time only deepened my conviction. I saved up every bit I needed to purchase what is now the Carousel Boutique, and I didn’t speak to them for months after I signed the deed and moved in.”

“Wow… I’m so sorry… but—”

“My friends come before my business, but that’s it. I swore I’d never fall for the stallion next door like my mother did, and I’d never let such things compromise my dreams. Aside from my… lapses, shall we say, in pursuit of fairytale romances with unsavory princes or traveling writers, I’ve shut my heart off from love. Each of those painful exceptions reminded me that I was chasing fantasies, not ponies. Reaching for the heights of fashion demand that I stay focused… and lest you forget, I am a lady. If there’s one aspect of love that I wholeheartedly agree with my parents on, it’s that romance is in pursuit of lifelong marriage and nothing less.”

Spike held up his claws to count. “So let’s see: I’d get in the way of your career, I’m the dragon next door, and you just don’t want to get married ever? That’s it?”

She nodded. “I suppose it is. As I said, I didn’t want to hurt you, Spikey, but—”

“Rarity, that’s silly.”

He could feel her tense up. Her level, emotionless tone became an eyebrows-raised gasp. “Excuse me? Spike, if this is how you react to me baring my soul to you—”

“Sorry, I’m not trying to be mean! I get what you’re saying, but… look.”

He ran down the steps and lifted the robe. “Remember when all of this was just balls of yarn? I carried it all the way from Ponyville, and I help you out with dressmaking all the time. I do stuff like that because you’re my friend, and because I like you. Why would I stop if you liked me too?”

“Yes, but be that as it may…”

Spike ran back up the stairs and, with some difficulty, climbed onto the throne. He grabbed the scepter and pointed the bloodstone at the distant roof. “And I’m not some random guy from Ponyville. Right now, I’m Lord of the Dragons! I’m the assistant to the Princess of Friendship, I was raised by Princess Celestia herself, I’ve saved the Crystal Empire twice, and I live in a giant castle.”

Rarity stifled a giggle with her hoof. “I suppose that’s also true. That doesn’t help the final difficulty, of course.”

He scratched his head. “Yeah, but I just don’t get that. Why does love have to come between you and your dreams? What’s wrong with getting married?”

“Consider the hypothetical situation where I simply jumped into your arms this instant. Surely our relationship would demand some of my time for romantic meals and long walks down main street? I for one would expect nothing less. How long would it be before I’d ruin us with my frequent business trips to the far corners of Equestria, or my extremely long working days when I am home? I’m forced to compromise my friendship time with you and the others often enough. Doing that to a… a special somepony would be more than I could bear. It would be heartbreaking for both of us.”

Spike stared at the scepter still in his grasp. He didn’t remember precisely when he’d first torn his eyes away from it, and he didn’t care. He didn’t need to worry about crying anymore.

Rarity sighed. “I lost you when I mentioned jumping into your arms, didn’t I?”

“Huh? Haha, no. I heard it all, but I just… Let’s say we were more than friends; we’d still be friends, wouldn’t we?”

“What are you implying?”

“You love Twilight and the rest of the gang, don’t you? How much of a difference would there really be between the two of us being ‘just friends’ and… ‘also friends?’ ”

She raised an eyebrow. “The meaning of a hug, for one.”

He fought off a blush. “A-and what if we did get married? Who says I don’t want to travel around Equestria with you? Who says I won’t stay up late helping you finish those dress orders? I’d never want you to give up on your dreams, not for me, not for anyone.”

“I do believe you, but what of your dreams? What would you be missing out on if you were to follow me to the ends of the fashion world and back?”

“My dreams? Rarity, not everyone dreams as big as you.”

Rarity frowned. “That can be a problem in and of itself. What do you see yourself doing in five years, or ten? Have you given that any thought?”

Spike set the scepter down and spread out his arms. “I want to be right here! Well, okay, not ‘here’ here. I’m living my dream already: I’ve got a ton of friends, I’ve got a great place to live, I get to read and cook as much as I want—”

“Do comic books truly count as reading?”

“Hey, I read other stuff, too. Comics are just awesome because… You won’t tell anyone this, right?”

She smiled. “Of course, darling.”

“Comics are awesome because they’re filled with superheroes… ponies that do amazing stuff all the time, and that everybody likes… Back when I was a really really little dragon, I wanted to be just like them. I wanted friends besides Princess Celestia and Twilight, and I wanted superpowers so I could help them out whenever bad stuff happened. Back then, the best I could do was carrying books around for Twilight, or taking notes for her.”

“I suppose you did at least gain a fine collection of friends.”

Spike hopped down from the throne and smiled. “It’s even better than that. I have superpowers, too!”

“I’m not sure breathing fire counts when one is a dragon.”

“I meant cooking and cleaning. I know it’s not big or fancy, but that’s stuff that I’m super-good at. Back in Canterlot, I watched the castle ponies until I learned it all. I can do dishes, I can sweep, I can cook three meals a day for me and Twilight… I know that doesn’t sound like a superpower, but… I like being Twilight’s assistant because it lets her focus on her magic and studying, and that helped her become a Princess. If we were… If we got married, my dream would be doing that for you: helping you make amazing stuff like this.”

He pointed to the robe once again. “There’s got to be thousands of ponies that have clothes-making or fashion cutie marks, but you’re the one making a gift for a dragon lord. You’re the one opening shops all over Equestria. You’re the one that Princess Cadence chose to make her wedding dress. Plus, you’ve saved all of Equestria a bunch of times, and you're the element of generosity. You’re a superhero to me, Rarity.”

Rarity blushed. “That’s… That’s actually very touching. Thank you.”

Spike stepped closer and held out his arms. “So… What do you say?”

She got to her hooves, her smile diminishing. “I say that this deserves far more consideration than a mere five minute discussion. If I were to… If we were to… It puts the very foundations of our friendship at risk!”

His arms drooped, and his head followed. “I guess you’re right… But I’m not giving up if there’s still a chance. I can be patient.”

“You sound suspiciously like a young me staring at an empty building, dreaming of the day when…”

He stared at her for a minute and finally resorted to waving his hand in front of her eyes. “Rarity?”

She took in a deep breath and stared at him. “Spike… perhaps I’ve been thinking about this the wrong way. When I bought my boutique… When I bought my first roll of fabric for that matter… Business is all about risks, as is life in general. I’ve taken a great many of them to get where I am today, and I do my very best to make sure that each risk isn’t too great. If you and I were to pursue courtship for even a moment, the risk would be tremendous. We could hurt each other gravely. We could hurt other ponies we care about. I already know you’re willing to take that risk, and… if you truly are willing to wait for me to arrive at a decision…”

Spike dropped to his knees and nodded. “Yes! I’d wait for the rest of—”

Rarity held up her hoof. “Stop right there. I absolutely forbid you to spend the rest of your life waiting for me. I am far from the only eligible mare in the world. If I can’t make up my mind in a reasonable time, then I don’t deserve to have you, and you certainly don’t deserve to be stuck with a second-guessing pony. Is that understood?”

“And I forbid… order… well, no. I’m going to politely suggest that you join me up on the throne instead of staying down here.”

She glanced at the massive throne and then to Spike with lowered eyebrows. “And why might you even suggest such a thing to a good friend, which is currently all that we are?”

He pointed at the floor beneath them. “Because it’s a whole lot colder down here. I didn’t even realize it until we started talking, but the throne’s the warmest spot in this whole palace. We were doing just fine sharing the cushion before, weren’t we? That throne is big enough for five of us.”

“Well…”

Spike grinned. “Do you want to be Lord of the Dragons for a while?”

Rarity’s frown softened ever so slightly. “Well…”

Spike knelt and held up the scepter. “Maybe Queen of the Dragons?”

Her frown gave way to a small smile, followed by a very convincing look of regal disinterest. She swept her foreleg through the air and stuck up her nose. “I must away to my throne, post haste!”

He ran to the foot of the throne and bowed. “At once, your majesty!”

She placed a hoof under his chin and raised him back up. “Come now, Sir Spike. Even if I’m not in need of a king, I do need a trusted friend and confidant. Won’t you join me?”

“With pleasure, my queen.”