• Published 28th Oct 2017
  • 5,608 Views, 188 Comments

The Last Train Home - Monochromatic

Life is like a train ride, don't you think, dearest? Destinations will change, trains will be caught and missed, but there will always be somepony willing to journey with you—so long as you let them.

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Author's Note:

Me to all of you: I'll be posting weekly!
Dark Me: Post now.
Me: But I told them-

VIII. Piercing Fire

I heard somewhere, sometime, that no two individuals can be together without breaking another’s heart.

He was invaluable, to you and to me. Even now, even today, it is hard to consider our life together without him being a part of it. Even if he was a child, regardless of whether it was a mere crush or more, you cared so much about him—even at the cost of us.

The train had been delayed, do you remember? Some unfortunate accident of the sort, a rockslide or engine malfunction, I don’t quite recall. We’d been delayed hours, and midnight dawned by the time we arrived to Ponyville’s station. It had been a particularly harrowing day, having had to redesign Duke Firestroke’s suit over and over and over and over and...

Well, you understand.

I’d fallen asleep halfway through that week’s novel, leaning against you, not that you would complain about it, would you?

The train’s whistle woke me, and I remember being annoyed by it. No, not because it woke me up, but because I’d learned in past days that you, princess, were unfairly comfortable to cuddle to. I believe you once told me unicorns had a higher body temperature because of our magic, but I politely reject your science and posit that it’s because I was next to you, and honestly who wouldn’t feel a bit hot when in my presence?

We eventually made our way out of the train, by which I mean you made your way while I…effusively expressed my distaste at the late hour and my exhaustion.

“Twiiiiiiiiliiiiiiiiiight,” I said, walking out into the frigid and unforgiving winter air that not even my scarf could defeat. I stood still and sighed theatrically. “Twilight, I simply can’t move another muscle! I can’t, I won’t!”

You fixed me with a stare. “Rarity.”

“You cannot move me!”

“Rarity, it’s midni—”

“Insist no further! You shan’t win!”

“Right.” You looked around, and then trotted over towards me. “So, what’s your plan, then?”

“My plan?” I purred, in that way that makes you do my bidding. “I am delighted you asked.”

“I’m sure you are.”

I looked to the sides in a conspiratorial fashion, intent on making sure nopony could hear.

“Come close, darling,” I whispered. “No, closer. Closer. Closer. Clos—”


I’m whispering for effect! And you’re not coming closer! Yes, you were supposed to come closer, too!

“Now what?” you asked, sounding ever so flustered. You were very close. Probably a bit too close; it was difficult to be mysterious with you smooshed against my cheek.

“Now, Twilight, it is of vital importance you do as I say. Do you understand?” I warned, narrowing my eyes at the select ponies still lingering about. “I need you to stand perfectly still. Actually, be a dear and sit down. No, not there! It’s filthy! There! Yes, good. But now you’re not close! No, don’t—! I’ll sit next to you. Good, now stay still.”

And you did. And so I leaned against you and sighed.

“I… I think I’m missing something here,” you confessed. Understandable, as my machinations can sometimes prove to be far too clever for even one such as you. “What’s your plan?”

“To have you sit there and keep me warm, of course,” I replied without missing a beat.

You giggled. “And how long are we going to stay here?”

“Oh, a few hours,” I said, gesturing noncommittally. “Or maybe until we have to take the train again.”

“That’s in two days,” you replied. “Are we going to sit here until then?”

“I have no qualms with that. I thoroughly enjoy your company,” I replied. And your body heat. And the texture of your coat. And many other things, but I digress. “Alone together, no, darling? And I wager you enjoy my company in return. Honestly, it’s a splendid plan.”

Even though you shook your head, you did not protest further, instead choosing to quietly sit with me. It was strange. Not the act in itself, but what surrounded it. We’d grown closer since our time in the library, which was why I felt daring enough to, well, be so… well, not physical per se, since our species as a whole thrives off hugs… but it was…


I remember opening my eyes and glancing around. The empty station, the breeze, the late hours of the night, and the train waiting. I am a romantic, as you know, and when I find myself in certain settings, I cannot stop myself from noticing. I remember thinking that if we were in a romance novel, that would be the moment where the beautiful dazzling protagonist realizes there might be more to her companion.

Do you remember how I said that I fell in love with you through the powers of suggestion? Well…

No sooner had the thought left my head, I felt my cheeks heat up as unbidden thoughts took hold of me. No longer was I imagining Detective Shadow Spade and her debonair love-interest, Silver Blade, but you and I. But it was silly, of course. We were just friends, and I was simply letting my imagination run wild. We were merely having an intimate moment as friends often do.


Except you sighed with contentment, and tenderly rested your head against mine, and then did I feel very hot.

I did not move. I couldn’t, for moving might break the spell and reveal the truth. I found that, in that moment, I enjoyed the idea of you and I, even as some part of my brain reminded me we were only friends.

“We should leave,” you said finally, and I relaxed at the realization that my thoughts had somehow not leaked through or made themselves known. “Spike is probably worried about me. I’m never home this late.”

“We should, yes,” I replied.

Neither of us moved initially until you looked around, I heard you take a sharp intake of breath, and then you jerked away from me.

I shivered from the sudden cold.

“I’ll see you tomorrow?” you said quickly, too quickly.

But I did not press. I was too caught up in my own feelings.

“Of course,” I replied, and before I could say much else, you rushed off with a hasty goodbye.

I watched you go, and it wasn’t until you’d left that I finally abandoned the station, trying to decipher what that had been all about. From your hasty goodbye to my own wild imaginings.

It had been a troubling night.

I had been theatric only to find myself confronted with unusual feelings.

You had indulged your desires and gone along with my silly games only to realize we’d not been alone.

And Spike had gone to the station to wait for us only to run away after being caught witnessing a very painful scenario.

IX. Together, Yet Alone

I missed you.

Granted, I couldn’t tell if I missed you because you were my friend, or because I’d spent the past days shamefully pondering romantic scenarios featuring you, but I missed you nevertheless.

How silly!’ you must be thinking, ‘How can you have missed me when I took the train with you?’
Well, aren’t you going to ask?

Twilight, I’m so delighted you’ve asked!

And the answer is simple. You didn’t take the train with me.

You know, I thought about you the day after our little ‘moment’ at the train station. I joined dear Fluttershy for our weekly spa, and as I lay there in the jacuzzi, looking very attractive with mud on my face and cucumber slices on my eyes, I thought of you. I thought of the library, of you reading to me, of our little lunches, and everything else that encompassed you.

I remember Fluttershy giggled.

“Somepony’s happy to be at the spa,” she said teasingly, in the way she does when only I am around. “That’s a very big smile.”

And indeed it was a big smile, as large as the one you’re sporting right now, dearest. It was a smile that I kept throughout the day. I found myself eager to see you again, but I did have dresses to make in Ponyville, so I quelled my desire with the knowledge that I’d see you bright and early the next day.

Except I didn’t, because you never came.

I arrived to the train station, feeling like death as always, but determined to not fall asleep on you for once. As I approached, I noticed a few ponies meandering about, but I very distinctly noticed the lack of you. You, who besides that first time, was always there waiting for me precisely at five forty-five on the dot.

“Ah, Miss,” the ticket-seller said as I arrived. “You’re Rarity, aren’t you?”

“Why, yes, I am!” I exclaimed, momentarily distracted from my concern for you. I flipped my mane and fluttered my eyelashes. “The one and only! Chic, unique, and magnifique!”

He didn’t much care for me. A shame we can’t all have good taste.

“Your friend came by,” he said. “A purple pony.”

A purple pony! I was horrified and offended on your behalf. Of all your remarkably distinct features, he went for ‘a purple pony’. Which isn’t even correct, as your coat is mauve. Purple, he said! If he’d said lavender, for instance, I might have forgiven him seeing as they’re somewhat similar.

“Did she?” I asked, concern awashing me. “Where is she?”

He shrugged. “Asked me to tell you that she was sorry, but she wasn’t coming with you today. Oh.” He reached under the counter and took out a coffee cup. “She left this for you.”

“Oh… Thank you,” I said, taking the coffee. “Did she say why, by any chance?”

He shrugged. “Nope,” he said, helpfully.

“Ah. I see.”

I thanked him for his time and made my way to the edge of the platform. I was admittedly disheartened. All that buildup to see you, and you didn’t grace my morning with your presence. For a second, I wondered if I had somehow upset you, but the notion was ridiculous! Surely something else had happened.

But what?

I won’t lie. I felt hurt you made no attempt to tell me what was wrong. I thought we’d grown close in the past weeks, after all. It hurt to think I had been wrong.

She simply forgot to tell me, I told myself. A slip of the mind, nothing more.

When the train arrived, I stepped in and made my way to our cabin. Usually, it felt small and cozy. Now, it felt large and uninviting. I remember sitting down, and as I waited for the train to depart, your empty seat kept drawing my attention. By the time the train set off, my bags now filled in the space you’d left.

I told myself that it was good you hadn’t come along, as it meant I could sleep without a single remorse, but my mind is cruel. That morning, neither you nor the sandpony kept me company.

Time went agonizingly slow that day.

Even though I had no shortage of work, it felt like every stitch took a minute, and they probably did considering I kept stopping to glance at the wall clock every three seconds. I wanted—no, I needed—lunchtime to arrive so I could go and find you, if you’d even come to Canterlot at all.

It’s true what they say. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, even if I kept telling myself I was concerned out of the goodness of my heart, not some brewing crush. And maybe I was. Maybe I wasn’t. I think it was both.

If I remember correctly, I’d been working on Tinsel River’s dress.

“Rarity! This will be perfect!” she’d said, holding her packaged dress to her chest. She was intending on using it for her seventh-anniversary dinner with her husband. “Thank you so much!”

I smiled, bowing my head. “Not at all. Thank you for entrusting me with such a gown. You looked ravishing.”

She giggled. “Oh, stop, you flatterer,” she said, waving me off. She then bit her lip. “I did look pretty in it, didn’t I? And to think I almost commissioned Fabric Sky!”

“Fabric Sky is an exceptional designer, but he lacks…” I waved my hoof in a forwards circle, trying to find the right words. “He lacks flair. He’s rather old-fashioned, I fear.” I shook my head. “Alas! We can’t all be avant-garde.”

“True enough,” she replied. She furrowed her brow and hummed. “You know, I have a friend that I think you should meet. Are you free for lunch?”

The words ‘I am’ hung in my mouth. I technically didn’t have plans with you, after all, so there was no reason why I couldn’t go with Tinsel River, but…

“I’m afraid I’m not, River,” I said, bowing my head apologetically. River was a dear friend, so I hoped she wouldn’t take it badly that you were a dearer one. “I would love to, but I already made plans with somepony else, and it would be bad form to cancel on them last minute, after all. Perhaps we can reschedule if your friend would be so kind?”

“Of course! I’ll talk with him,” she said to my great relief. “By the way, do you have some sort of portfolio I could take?”

I offered her my severely lacking one, as I would later find out, and she went on her way with promises of coffee time and a potential...something? In retrospect, I should have inquired more on her mystery friend, but lunchtime had arrived, and I was hungry for you. To find you! Hungry to find you! That's what I said!

Well, you must be hearing things, then!

In any case, the castle was known for its many paths, many nooks and crannies and rooms, so finding you in such a maze would be difficult. Thankfully, you are so painfully predictable, and unless you were with Celestia herself, there was only one other place you’d ever be: the private library.

Pout all you want, we both know it’s true.

I arrived at the library posthaste, hoping you would indeed be there. If you were with your mentor, the rest of the world did not exist, but if you were alone, then I might have a chance yet. The closed library doors towered before me, but I refused to be deterred. I gently pushed them open, wishing they would not creak so loud, and then peeked inside to find you.

And find you I did.

I don’t think you heard me come in and if you did, then you did a good job at hiding it. You were sitting at a distant table, your brow furrowed in concentration as you glared at whatever book was placed in front of you. A cursory inspection revealed there seemed to be nothing wrong with you. No illness or visible malaise that explained why you’d purposefully missed the train.

But, if it wasn’t that, then what?

Suddenly, without prompting, you groaned and placed your face on top of the book. You were clearly distressed, and yet I must confess it was an endearing sight. I remember trying to stifle a giggle, and ignorantly assumed you were simply struggling with a task Celestia had given you.

Funny, the one time something truly was all about me, and the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind.

As though you’d sensed me watching, you suddenly looked towards the door just as I hastily retreated into the hallway. I remember berating myself for it moments later. Why did I hide? I couldn’t be the source of your anguish, after all! I’d done nothing wrong that you or I knew of!

While I was lost in thought, ruminating on life's mysteries but more importantly you, you had managed to sneak up on me. I heard hoofsteps approaching in the distance. Horrors! But before I could hope to compose a cunning excuse, the door swung open and you stepped out, looking around and finding me.

“Rarity?” you said, sounding very much like a confused child caught with her hoof in the cookie jar.

I wasn't exactly prepared to face you just so soon, so my reaction was not exactly befitting a lady of my stature. Yes. I know. Shocking.

“Twilight!” I almost—okay, practically—yelled. “Hello! Fancy meeting you here!”

“...Hi.” You didn’t look upset, at least. Just awkward. “Uhm. What are you doing here?”

I panicked, caught. “What am I doing here? What are you doing here?!”

You fixed me a very concerned stare. “...I do my work here?”

“O-Oh, do you? Why didn’t I think of that! Of course you would!” I said, laughing perhaps a bit too loudly.

You looked at me as though I’d gone mad. And I had! Because of you!


“We-WelI, in any case, if you must know, I was just taking a...uh...a stroll! Seeking to see the wonders Canterlot Castle had to offer, and since it’s such a nice day, I came here to fetch you.”

You analyzed me.

“You came here to fetch me,” you repeated.

“I did!”

“You came here to fetch me” you repeated, raising an eyebrow, “and yet you didn’t know I would be here. Hm.” You tilted your head ever so slightly, and so did a smirk curve your lips. “I can’t imagine how you didn’t see me when you looked inside the library, either.”

I inspected my hoof. “Neither can I! Life works in truly mysterious ways, does it not?”

And then you giggled, and everything about it was perfect.

“Right,” you said. “What can I do for you?”

You had such a way with words!

“You can start with addressing me like a friend and not an acquaintance, for starters,” I teased, and you blushed. It was most becoming. “And maybe you might put my inner Detective Shadow Spade at ease and tell me why you were so dramatically unable to take the train with me this morning? I was quite concerned.”

As if I had struck you, you recoiled, your ears lowering as well as your eyes. “Oh…” You looked away. “Sorry. Things came up in the library,” you said non-committally.

“...Things?” I pressed, hoping to garner something with more substance.

“Things,” you repeated. “It doesn’t really matter.”

And it did, but I didn’t know what to say, or how to press the issue any further. Do you know what it’s like to feel helpless to help a dear friend? But that was it, wasn’t it? The root of it all. You were just a friend, and a relatively new one still, and the boundaries between us were not yet clear. They’d been shaken in the past weeks, yes, but the fear of overstepping was still there.

So I relented.

“If you say so, Twilight,” I said, defeated. But I still wanted to be with you, so perhaps not all was lost. “Moving on, then! How about lunch, hm? I passed by the loveliest outdoor restaurant this morning, and I’m sure you’ll love it!”

You looked back at me for a second before again looking away. It was rather dramatic, if I say so myself.

“I have work to do,” you said, subdued. “Sorry.”

“But Twiliiiii—”

“I can’t, Rarity,” you cut me off, finally turning to me, expression severe. “I’m sorry, but I…” Your tone softened, and a strange sort of sadness washed over you. You clamped your ears against your head and so did your voice fall to a whisper. “I can’t.”

I wanted to huff at you, to whine and stomp my hooves, but I resisted. Something was wrong, and for once, even I could admit my theatrics might be out of place.

“I… Are you certain?” I insisted one last time.

“I am,” you said with finality. You then looked towards the open library door and made it clear that the discussion was over. “I should get back to my work.”

I didn’t know what else to say.

“All right,” I eventually offered, finding myself too dejected by your rejection to even kick myself for earlier refusing River’s offer. “Will I see you later tonight, at the very least?”

You hesitated, and for a moment, I resigned myself to another lonely train ride.

“Yes,” you said, however, and joy swept over me. “I’ll be there.”

“Really?!” I said with much more enthusiasm than I would have wanted. You stepped back a little, and I cleared my throat, composing myself. “That’s wonderful, Twilight, because if I may be honest, I—”

The words ‘I missed you’ caught in my throat, and a blush stained my cheeks. I remember blinking at you, smiling hesitantly as I inwardly chastised myself. Why in Equestria was I embarrassed?! There was nothing wrong with the statement! It’s not as though I were saying something I wouldn’t say to Fluttershy or Sweetie or any of my friends.

Well, of course you would think it was cute! You weren’t the one stammering before me like a smitten schoolfilly trying to say hello to her crush.

“If I may be honest...” I repeated, determined to finish my point, come rain or shine or infatuation. I smiled an earnest smile just like yours. “I missed you terribly this morning.”

Oh my dearest, what a smile you offered in return.

It did not last long. It was, if anything, the ghost of a smile, but darling, if one could fall in love with ghosts, then I fell in love with your smile. Yes, I know that metaphor doesn’t make much sense, but I’m trying to be poetic for you.

You pushed the smile away, however, and cleared your throat. “Well. I better go back,” you said. You wished me well and then retreated back into your impenetrable fortress while I was left to sit there, sigh theatrically and make my way towards the castle kitchens, hoping I might find some company to eat with.

X. Missing You

Despite what I’d hoped for, things did not improve after our brief meeting.

You did, in fact, arrive at the train station later that night, but talking to you was akin to talking to a stranger while on a daily commute. You engaged me in short, unimportant small talk as we waited for the train, and the only thing that struck me as odd was a distinct impression that you didn’t want to go home.

You sighed when the train arrived, and when the doors slid open and the conductor trotted out, you seemed reluctant to board. There was a chance you’d always been this way, true, but we were usually so enraptured in each other that I hardly ever cared or noticed for anything else.

When we finally boarded the train, you suddenly took charge, quickly moving through the crowd of tired ponies, and disappeared inside one of the private cabins. When I entered moments later, you were already seated by the window, your bags firmly placed right next to you—on the very same seat I had grown used to sleeping on.

It hurt, but I got the hint.

Now, now, sweetheart. It’s in the past, and more than that, it means you cared. It was an obvious plea for attention, no matter how much you thought it wasn’t, and I would know for I excel in attracting attention to myself.

It was the first of a few silent train rides we would take together. Curiously, I missed you even more than when you were gone. And it hurt to know that I, for some reason beyond me, was the problem.

The next morning fared no better. You arrived with coffee, threw small talk at me, senseless words that masked what you really felt, and again you placed your bags on the seat next to you. Before I even asked, you told me you’d be working all day and would not be able to have lunch with me or anything else.

I don’t think I’d describe your actions as biting your nose off to spite your own face. You weren’t trying to spite anyone, were you? You only aim to solve problems, to better everypony’s life. That’s what you had been tasked to do. Solve friendship problems.

Well, this one was a romance problem; one that involved your best friend in the entire world, and the object of your affections. And so you did as you’d learned and solved the problem by removing the source of conflict.


It’s true what they say. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Without you, the castle suddenly felt empty and cold. I was a socialité through and through, but as much as I could talk to whoever I wanted, it all felt so… so insincere.

They wouldn’t come and fetch me at my workshop. They wouldn’t plan out lunch dates to restaurants I’d never been to, or restaurants where I could try something new. They didn’t fill the air with fun facts about the city, about history, about life and everything else.

I racked my brain, trying to figure out what I’d done wrong. I knew I could be, well, over-dramatic, but surely I hadn’t done anything that warranted you to avoid me! It was maddening, upsetting, aggravating, and well, you’re practically a thesaurus, you can imagine the rest of the list.

I didn’t even care for romantic feelings anymore. My friendship to you was seemingly crumbling before me.

The next day was our day off. As I lay in my chaise longue in Carousel Boutique, I debated what to do, but just like before, I found myself faced with a problem: I was still just a new friend.

I didn’t know you like the back of my hoof, like I knew Fluttershy or Pinkie or the others. In fact, nopony in Ponyville could say differently, so there was nopony that could advise me on how to approach you or how to solve whatever issue you were having.

Nopony could, but…

But somedragon might.

Yes, I talked to Spike, and no, of course you didn’t know. He would never tell you. What do you mean why not?

This is the thing you fail to understand, Twilight.

This is why Spike ran away rather than outright confronting you for attempting to pursue me. Because regardless of the intensity of his infatuation for me, whether it was a mere crush or something more, whatever love he had and will ever have for me or anypony will always pale in comparison to the one he has for you.

So, I waited until you’d gone to do errands, and with a heavy heart, I knocked three times on the door of Golden Oak Library.

The door opened moments later, and a dear baby dragon peered out, his eyes illuminating at the sight of me.

“Oh! Rarity!” he exclaimed, quickly subduing his foalish grin, clearing his throat and combing back his scales. He was adorable. “Oh. Uh. Hey, Rarity.”

“Well, well, well! If it isn’t my darling dragon! Fancy meeting you here!” I said with a dazzling smile, and then giggled when he looked thoroughly confused.

“Uh. This is where I live.” He frowned, much like you do. The apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree. “I thought you knew that…”

“Sweetheart, I was teasing,” I said. “I actually came here to ask for your very important advice.”

“Really?!” he exclaimed. “Well, you came to the right place. I give the best advice.”

He ushered me in, hastily clearing the room, and all throughout I could see traces of you. Books half-read, reports half-written, and that unmistakable scent of old books, fresh ink, and oak wood. With a side of embers, of course.

I settled down in the reading room, not feeling up to perusing the library and its books. Is it strange to say I felt oddly unwelcome? If you didn’t seem to want me in a train, how would you feel of my presence in your home? I sighed theatrically, though I cannot rightly tell if it was because I truly felt desolate or because I felt my situation called for a bit of drama. Maybe both. Maybe neither.

“Here you go!”

Spike stepped into the room, balancing a tray with two cups of tea. I remember thinking how you’d once remarked he disliked tea. I remember smiling. I thought it to be an endearing trait of him, to do things he disliked simply for my sake.

A trait that I would later find out he learned from you.

“Thank you, Spike,” I said, taking the tea in my magic, watching as trace amounts of steam rose into the air and vanished.

He nodded and ambled off towards an opposite couch, crawling up onto it and sitting down. He was remarkably bad at hiding how much he hated the scent of the beverage, but I graciously elected to look past it. It was amusing to see his face scrunch up in distaste.

“So, what’s up?” he asked unceremoniously. “What advice do you need?”

I sat up, carefully selecting my words. “Well, I…” I leaned back and looked away with a grand sigh. “It’s Twilight.”

He blinked. “Twilight?” he asked, concern etched on his face. “What do you mean?”

I huffed, taking a sip of tea as I thought.

“She’s been acting strangely as of late,” I said finally, vaguely, not really wanting to outright state what I knew to be true. To state it would make it real. “She seems upset. Do you know why? Has something happened?”

And he looked genuinely confused. He swallowed, gripping his teacup and frowning at the floor. “I…” He looked up at me. “She hasn’t told me anything.”

And I knew that was not a lie. Now, in this moment, it seems obvious to me why you never addressed the issue with him, why you took matters into your own hoof rather than talking it out, but back then… Well, back then, the idea that not even Spike knew what was wrong was troubling indeed.

I couldn’t help but think I must have done something truly catastrophic!

“Why? Why do you think something’s wrong with her?” he asked, straightening up.

“I…” I faltered. I didn’t want to say it! And especially less so because I didn’t know why! So I whined piteously and made a show of jutting my lower lip out in an absolutely adorable pout. Like this, see. Anyway… “I think she’s cross with me.”

“With you?” he asked, his eyes wide.

“Yes!” I exclaimed, putting my cup down on a nearby table and letting out a charming whine. Yes, my whines are charming. “And I haven’t the faintest idea why! I simply cannot for the life of me think of anything I could have done to upset her, but here we are!”

“But, how do you know she’s upset with you? How could anypony ever be upset with you?” he intelligently asked, and it was true!

“I don’t know! But the impossible has happened. Ever since Monday night, she’s acted as though she’s wanted nothing to do with me! Avoiding me in the castle, avoiding me in the train, and I don’t—”

“Wait,” he cut me off, looking far more serious than an adorable baby dragon had the right to be. He faltered, swallowing, and suddenly he was the one who seemed to not want to speak. “She’s been acting that way since Monday night?”

“Yes,” I replied, and I was foolish, blind to what was clearly going on behind Golden Oak’s bark. “We were at the train station talking, and she suddenly left in a hurry for no reason, and ever since it’s like I’ve been demoted to a mere acquaintance in her life.”

And he went silent.

He went silent for the longest time, staring down at his untouched tea, but before I could prompt an answer, he spoke up.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course, my darling,” I replied, thrown off. “Anything.”

His gaze met mine, and I wished I could inch back in my seat. Analyzing others, it seemed, ran in the Sparkle family.

“Do you like Twilight?”

And there it was. The million bit question; the one that had been brushing my mind for the past week, always in the background and now brought to the forefront.

Did I like you.

It was true that such a question had many interpretations. It was true that it could have meant something innocent, pure and platonic, nothing outside the range of friendship and simple affection. But we both know what he meant, don’t we, dearest?

We both know, and I think that even back then, I knew too. And I remembered your words from that Monday night, the vague mention of Spike worrying himself into coming to find us, and so did the puzzle pieces click, so did the blindfold finally fall.

You liked me.

And now, sitting there on judgment day, the question was whether I liked you.

“Of course I like her,” I said, out of cowardice or fear to wound. “She’s my friend.”

What else could I say! It wasn’t as though I had lied! I had simply chosen to reply to something else. Do you even realize what kind of a position I was in?! It’s not an easy one, let me tell you!

And yet, you are clever, Twilight. You are clever and sharp when you have to be, and in that, you have taught Spike well, for he too realized what I had done.

His gaze never left me. Piercing like fire.

So he changed his approach.

“Rarity?” he asked. “Does she make you happy?”

The answer left my mouth unbidden.

“Yes,” I said, knowing but not fully grasping what I was saying.

I remember exhaling after that. Like a pressure had left my chest, like a burden had been lifted. Yes, you made me happy. It was as undeniable as the sun rises and the moon sets.

You had weaved yourself into my life, and it made me happy. Our silly tea and coffee routine; falling asleep next to you as you read; the beating of my heart whenever you knocked at the door to come fetch me for lunch; the silly smiles we shared when crossing paths in the castle’s hallways, you following Celestia and me, one of my clients; and how lonely the world felt when you were not there to be alone with me.

You made me as happy then as you make me now; you and that silly grin on your lips right now.

And so I told him the truth because even if it would hurt him, I couldn’t bring myself to lie to him. He deserved better.

“Yes, she does.”

He nodded. “Right,” he said, and it was painful how much he reminded me of you in that moment.

I felt like I had to say something, anything to relieve a tension I might have caused, but before I could do so, he took the tea and drank it all in one fell swig. He grimaced when it was done, sticking out his tongue, but he did it. I was proud.

And then, he jumped from his seat and onto the floor.

“Spike?” I asked, again thrown off.

He grinned at me. “Don’t worry about Twilight, Rarity,” he said, puffing out his chest. “I’ll take care of it, promise.”

He was brave. He was kind. And I remember thinking that if I was the element of Generosity, I had much to learn yet.

“Thank you, Spike,” I said, for everything that there was to be grateful for. “That would make me very happy.”

“Yeah,” he said, and I could see pain flash through his eyes. But before it stayed for long, he crossed his arms and frowned at me. “You have to make her happy too, huh!”

I laughed, tilting my head and fluttering my eyelashes. “But of course, darling! Not that it’ll be difficult, as I am ridiculously charming, you know?”

He laughed, and though he opened his mouth to speak, his stomach interrupted. It always has wonderful timing, that appetite of his.

The most becoming blush brushed his cheeks. “Er.” He looked up at me. “Do you want to go get cupcakes with me?”

“If you’ll have me, I’d like nothing more,” I replied. “It’ll be my treat, hmm? How does the twelve-pack sound?”

“Oooooooooooooh! Yes!” he clapped his claws together. He then grinned and teased, “now I wish Twilight got upset at you more!”

You were already at the station when I arrived the next morning.

The station was empty, as expected, and the three lone ponies waiting were all curiously watching as you mumbled to yourself, pacing around in circles with two cups of coffee floating behind you. If I remember correctly, you were wearing your striped black-and-blue scarf that day. I wish you wore it more often.

I slowed my pace as I approached you, not wanting to startle you out of your trance. You were mumbling too quietly for me to make out what you were saying, but whatever it was, it was clear you felt very passionate about. I wondered how long I could stay there, unnoticed and silent as I listened to the soft whisper of your voice.

"Care to share your concerns with the class, darling?"

You turned to me, startled by my sudden announcement of my presence. "Ra-Rarity!" you exclaimed, backpedaling a few paces until you hit a bench and then offered a yelp and an embarrassed smile. "I… Uh… What're you doing here?" you blurted out, wincing when you realized what a silly question that was.

"Well, as I thought you knew, my shift at the castle starts quite early," I pointed out, biting down at smile at your thoroughly vexed expression. I lifted my hoof, adjusted your scarf, and then asked, "Are you feeling all right?"

"Yes! Yes, I am!" you reassured me quickly. You then paused and took a breath. "I'm doing better."

"Excellent! You were acting rather strangely the past few days. I was concerned."

You turned away, ears lowering. "I know… I'm sorry, I just..." You shook your head. "It doesn't matter. I'm fine now."

You gave me my coffee, and we both waited in comfortable silence for the train to arrive. I think you were nervous about talking with me. Were you? I admittedly did not feel in a rush to talk—not because I didn't want to, mind—but because I had faith all was well.

We boarded the train when it arrived, and I noticed you made sure I led the way. A shame! I love it when you take command. You do it so well. That is why you've always been our leader, after all.

Once again, I sat down next to the window, and I noticed your face fall slightly at the sight. But you did not complain. Looking ever so dejected, you sat down on the opposite side, and made a show out of putting your bag several seats away, leaving a pony-sized empty spot next to you.

I ignored it.

I yawned instead.

"Going to sleep?" you asked with a smile that seemed forced.

I hummed, looking out through the window towards the sleeping town. "I'm not sure yet. I think I might read a book."

"O-Oh?" you asked, perking up. "What book?"

"'’The Ethereal Empire by Single Shade," I announced, taking the book out of my bag. “You were reading the first one some time ago, weren’t you? I must admit that one wasn’t entirely my sort of reading, but I liked it enough to purchase the sequel. I rather related to the main character.”

You hummed. “Ethereal Archives is different from the sequel. It focuses a lot more on the mystery of the universe than anything else, while the sequel delves into the aftermath and how it affected the characters.”

“Well, I can only hope that Single Shade actually does something with the romance in Empire. Going by the first book, romance really isn’t her forté. But, in any case...”

I cleared my throat, opening the book to the first page.

“Shall I begin to read? I had somewhat of a sore throat yesterday night, but it should be fine now.”

I said this as nonchalantly as I could, even if all my words were measured. Your reaction was immediate, ears going up and down alongside an indistinguishable look of cautious excitement.

“Wait,” you said, carefully, “you’re going to read out loud?”

I blinked innocently. “Oh, I had hoped to. Since you always read to me, I thought it might be nice to have a chance of pace. Buuuut…” I sighed with exaggeration, closing the book. “If you prefer I don’t, I can always read in silence, I suppose.”

“Nononono! You can read!” you exclaimed immediately, horrified by my suggestion. It was adorable, and I remember having a hard time suppressing a laugh. You gestured with your hoof. “Please!”

I didn’t open the book.

“Well. I would love to, but you know, I feel my throat itching ever so slightly. I don't want to strain it...” I tilted my head and patted the seat next to me. “Would you mind…?”

You didn’t hesitate.

Well, all right, you hesitated a little, but courage won over fear and you rushed over, sitting down next to me. I noticed you left a small empty space between us, which would simply not do. No, it would not do at all.

I cleared my throat, inching closer and eliminating the space between us. I took a second to bathe in the little noise you made as you held your breath, and after I was done, I opened the book and began to read.

“On the northwestern-border of Equestria and The Undiscovered West, at the edge of Luna Bay,” I read, smiling when you leaned against me, “rested a small forgotten village by the name of Moon Shine.”

Dawn turns to day
As stars are dispersed;
Wherever I lay,
I think of you first.

The sun as arisen,
The sky, a sad blue.
I quietly listen,
The wind sings of you.

The thoughts we each keep,
That are closest to heart,
We think as we sleep,
And you’re always my last.

~ Lang Leav, Love & Misadventures