• Published 1st May 2018
  • 6,421 Views, 285 Comments

Rock the Carousel - ChibiRenamon



Rarity is dragged to a rock concert to help her get over her creative burnout. Things spin out of control when she sees the band's vocalist, Twilight Sparkle.

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Welcome to the Villian Court

Rarity was severely overdressed.

People of course often accused her of just that, and she usually dismissed their opinions as poorly informed. This time, however, she was the one who had arrived at this conclusion. Fortunately, she at least knew who was to blame. “You told me you had tickets for a concert, Rainbow Dash,” she complained, even though it was far too late by now.

Her friend was grinning ear to ear, and Rarity wasn’t sure if it was because of the obvious lie or the way everypony was staring at her. Unlike Rarity, the pegasus had gone with a thin leather vest on top of a loose-fitting tee. And she had somehow managed to make things even worse by wearing neon-purple shorts. “And I indeed have them!” she said and held up two paper slips.

“You said it was going to be a cello concert,” Rarity hissed even as they walked past other people with similar color-blindness issues. In a sea of multi-colored fashion atrocities, her dark blue evening gown couldn’t have looked more out of place if she had set it on fire.

“I told you that I’d take you on a concert and that there’d be a cellist,” Rainbow corrected her patiently.

“You probably don’t even know what a cello looks like.”

“Hey, some of my best friends are cellos!”

I can’t even tell if she’s joking anymore... Rarity massaged her forehead right below her horn. “Why do I hang out with you again?”

Her friend feigned shock at this. “How could you forget the moment I pulled you to your hooves during your darkest hour? You promised me your eternal gratitude!”

“We had been five,” Rarity snapped and playfully shoved her.

“Eternal gratitude!” Rainbow taunted her and pointed at the concert hall. Somehow, it actually was a concert hall, albeit not exactly the Royal Canterlot Music Hall in terms of size, budget or - she assumed - cleanliness. “C’mon, you’re not going to bail on your bestest friend after you’ve come so far, are you?”

Yes, I am, Rarity thought. There is no way I’m going to go in there dressed like this. People are already giving me looks, and I don’t want them to laugh at me once we’re all in there and they realize that I’m actually just attending the concert because my friend had misrepresented the nature of it in order to make me look foolish and- She blinked when Rainbow Dash snapped her fingers in front of her face. Goodness, Rarity, you are a mess! She took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, darling,” she whispered and took a half-step backwards, “but I just can’t do this. Not today. Not in my current mood. Not in-”

“Shhhhhh...” Rainbow placed a finger on Rarity’s lips after closing the distance. Personal space had never meant much to the pegasus, but this was pushing it. “I’m not doing this despite your mood, I’m doing it because of it.” When Rarity just gave her a skeptical look, she sighed. “I’ve known you practically my entire life, okay? I can tell when you’re burnt out and when your creative batteries need to be recharged.” She held up the tickets again. “These are Supreme Deluxe tickets. They will get you as close to my idol as physically possible. I don’t know if her music will exactly be your style, but I do know that it’s impossible to stay moody and down during her concerts.”

She has a point, Rarity conceded. I haven’t designed a single piece of clothing in the last month, and nothing seems to click, so maybe some new stimulus will do... something? Besides, ‘Supreme Deluxe’ sounds like it cost her a hefty sum, so... “Fine... let’s see what your miracle worker can do.”

Her cautious optimism lasted less than five minutes. This time, though, it was not the crowd of ponies with even less fashion sense than Rainbow Dash that rattled her, but rather the decorations. More specifically, the giant banner that had been placed over the main entrance. “Um.”

“WELCOME TO THE VILLIAN COURT,” the banner read in large letters, accompanied by multicolored stars and swirls.

“Is... there actually a typo on the banner? And how would a villain court even work? Is there a villain judge presiding over it?”

Much to her credit, Rainbow Dash didn’t go on a rant to defend her favorite band’s honor or literacy skills. “It’s not a reference to a court of law, but to a royal court, silly! And they’re not villains. The band’s founding members first met in Ponyville, so they called themselves villians.” She waved her hand when she saw Rarity’s face. “Look, it’s a band name, sometimes you gotta go with what sound cool, even if it’s not the right word. I mean, would you go to a concert of the band Villager Court?”

I didn’t even want to go to a concert of the band Villian Court, much less of the Village Ponies or whatever, Rarity thought, but wisely kept these thoughts to herself. Besides, there is something to be said about embracing style and bucking conventions. “Right, then I suppose we shouldn’t let Your Majesty waiting.”

“Your Highness,” Rainbow Dash corrected her way too quickly. “The band’s lead is performing as Princess, not Queen, so it’s Your Highness and not Your Majesty,” she elaborated when she saw Rarity’s confused look.

“Since when do you know how to address a royal?”

“Since being Villian Court’s number one fan, duh! Now come on; if we chat much longer, they’ll start without us!”

The concert hall was full. Very. Very. Full. All the chairs had been removed to apparently make space for the highest number of ponies possible, and Rarity realized that she had sentenced herself to being surrounded by sweaty ponies while wearing a gala dress for at least an hour, probably longer. After Rainbow showed the guy at the entrance their tickets and started to lead the way inside, Rarity realized that there were in fact several zones in the hall, marked with glow-in-the-dark tape on the floor. Between the zones were narrow paths, allowing ponies to slip in and out without having to wrestle their way through hundreds of enthusiasts. Finally, they reached a small section right in front of the stage that was actually cordoned off by a physical barrier. Another stallion - unlike the gentlecolt at the entrance, this guy was most definitely a bouncer - checked their tickets before waving them in.

Rainbow greeted some of the other guests with high-fives and various other, potentially rude, gestures. Meanwhile, the pony next to Rarity gave her an open stare. “Hot damn,” she muttered and brushed her multicolored - neon red, neon yellow, neon blue and somehow, she had even managed to dye a couple of strands neon black - mane out of her face, revealing a dizzying array of piercings. “You with a label or something?”

Her words caused several heads to turn. Within seconds, about a dozen ponies were trying to get a look, and Rarity laughed nervously. “Well, I do in fact operate a label called Ra-”

“Rarity,” Rainbow interrupted her and slapped her shoulder, “she meant a record label!”

“Oh.” She looked down at herself and realized what she probably was looking like without context. “Oh! I’m awfully sorry for startling you, darling, but I just got the wrong memo regarding the dress code.”

“You’re with her?” The mare pointed at Rainbow. “Damn, Dash, I didn’t know you knew ponies with actual standards!”

“She’s an old friend,” Rainbow replied; Rarity wasn’t sure if it was meant as an explanation or an excuse.

Before Rarity had a chance to resume the conversation, the lights in the hall went out and the crowd cheered as one. Well, let’s see just how badly I’m going to regret this, she thought and took a deep breath.

They stood in silence (ignoring the occasional whoops and hollers from the audience) for almost half a minute before a spotlight illuminated a lone figure on the right side of the stage. A young mare holding a cello almost as tall as herself played a slow solo, and Rarity almost forgot that this was not a classical concert. After a few seconds, a second spotlight was turned on, and another mare on the left side of the stage started to play an electric guitar that seemed to have far too many buttons and dials on it.

Rarity cringed. It was not that the music was terrible - it was actually decent so far, with the guitarist merely backing up the cellist with a few quiet notes - but her wardrobe made Rarity want to hurt somepony. The cellist had a decent taste in fashion, wearing a formal-looking black dress that nicely complemented her light grey coat and dark grey mane. The guitarist on the other hand had chosen to direct attention away from her blue fur by wearing a red-and-yellow jacket and matching (short) skirt. It reminded Rarity a little bit of the dazzle camouflage used on old warships: a complex, extremely disorienting pattern of clashing shapes designed to make it harder for enemies to approximate distance and direction. Also, what’s with the stupidly huge wizard hat? And do I give it points for matching the rest of her outfit, or do I subtract them for matching an outfit that’s so bright and garish that it might blind the pilots of passing planes? By the time she was done staring at the multi-colored abomination, a drummer had appeared in the background. It was hard to make out details from her position, but he appeared to be a muscular stallion with a reddish coat.

The three ponies played a relatively quiet song, and Rarity was starting to realize that something was missing. Or rather, that somepony was missing. There is still an empty spot in the center, and nopony is singing. She was starting to feel uneasy somehow - less so by the lack of vocals and more because the music was not happy or boastful, but rather... building up a sense of dread.

Rarity suddenly felt reminded of the day she had befriended Rainbow Dash. For some reason, she had gotten the idea to go to the forest near her home all by herself. It had been getting dark, and the forest had looked... creepy. Intimidating. She had imagined that there had been a monster waiting for her in the shadows, daring her to enter its realm. The longer she had stared into the forest, the larger it had seemed to get, until there had been forest everywhere around her and there had been no escape and-

A fourth spotlight came to life, its beam focusing on the stage right in front of Rarity. Flashback and present collided in Rarity’s mind, and she looked up at the creature that had been lurking in the shadows all this time.

She took half a step back, only to walk into a wall of ponies. The presence of the other audience members made her snap out of her daydream, and she shook her head to take another look. The creature on stage was - of course - a pony. A unicorn mare, to be exact. “Blind to the world, alone, alone,” the vocalist began to sing, “the girl who thought she was so clever.” The guitarist and drummer were slowly increasing the intensity. “Wake up! Bow and kneel before my throne!” Finally, the vocalist stood straight, revealing a tall, muscular build not found in many unicorns, along with a horn that seemed almost unnaturally long. “FOR THE NIGHT-”

“-WILL LAST FOREVER!” the crowd shouted in perfect unison.

As if having been woken up by the crowd, the cellist went insane, the fingers of one hand dancing along the neck of her instrument while the other hand was working the bow at a rapid pace. She was banging her head, causing her mane to become untangled, shattering any illusion that she was the odd one out in this band. The guitarist and the drummer were also going all-out, determined to match their fellow band member’s ferocity.

And then everything... fell away. The audience was first to go, screams and stomping of hooves fading into nothingness. The drummer was next, becoming little more than a blur. Then the guitarist was brushed aside, followed quickly by the cellist.

And once again Rarity found herself standing at the edge of the forest. All alone with the creature she had been afraid of.

The creature who had been waiting for her.

The creature I had been waiting for, a quiet voice corrected her, and she suddenly remembered why she had gone to the forest in the first place: she had been looking for something. Searching, all her life.

The vocalist was still singing, but all sounds were far in the background, lost cries between the trees.

Rarity slowly lifted her hand and opened her mouth to beg this magnificent creature to notice her.

“PRAISE THE GODDESS!” Her newfound idol shouted.

“THE NIGHT WILL LAST NO MORE!” the crowd responded in kind, drowning out whatever sappy declaration of undying loyalty Rarity wanted to deliver.

Several lights came back on, illuminating the stage fully and plunging the audience in twilight. The crowd was applauding wildly, giving Rarity a moment to gather herself as she fully returned to the here and now. What just happened? There was the... no, wait. There was no forest. Of course there was no forest. Because that’s not how the day at the forest had ended. It had ended with Rainbow Dash assuring you that she’d kick any monster’s flank, and that had been that. You most certainly hadn’t waited for any monster because that would have been stupid. And even if you had, it wouldn’t have been some rock star who would laugh at all this talk about a little lost filly looking for her destiny. So snap out of it and just pretend to mildly enjoy the concert. She took a deep breath and fanned herself with one hand. Am I really this burnt out that I’ll cling to the first slightly edgy artist I find in the hope of inspiration? Pah!

“Thank you, Canterlot!” the vocalist greeted her fans and wiped a bit of sweat off her forehead.

Rarity finally gave her a closer look and realized that, thanks to that little hallucination, she hadn’t even checked out her wardrobe.

It was a mess, but not as horrifying as the atrocity to the left. A black tank top with a silver stylized “VC” logo barely hid the unicorn’s athletic build and showed off a large, tribal-style tattoo on her left shoulder and upper arm. The top’s color didn’t look too bad on her light purple coat. What axed any hope of salvaging the look were her light beige pants, which presumably had been selected to go for a more... radical-slash-edgy-slash-tactical look, perhaps. Well, either that, or she just got dressed in the dark. Rarity smirked, or at least she tried to - something was holding her back. It wasn’t the way the singer’s dark blue mane with purple streaks fell over her shoulders, and it probably also wasn’t the way her almost unnaturally scarlet eyes scanned the crowd to get a feeling for the exact mood in the room. It also wasn’t the way she smiled, flashing canines that looked just as sharp as her long horn. It also wasn’t the sum of her piercings which tended to catch the light no matter how she held her head.

It was... everything.

The look. Her look. Her everything. Everything that was her. She wasn’t what Rarity would call “pretty.” She wouldn’t look right on a runway or in a fashion photoshoot, modeling some haute couture that some elitist designer had pulled straight out of their creatively bankrupt posterior. No, no, of course not. She’d probably tear it apart and then flip the designer the bird while giving them her magnificent grin. No, she’s too... too... beautiful for that. Rarity bit her lower lip when she tried the word again: Beautiful. Wild, untamed and definitely... beautiful. She’d scorn a fancy ensemble, and she’d be absolutely right! No, she deserves something as... feral as she is. She started to grin as a familiar sense of mania woke up in the back of her head. I think I can work with that...

“Thank you, it’s great to be here,” the singer continued to address the crowd, and Rarity realized that her entire enlightenment had happened in the span of just a second or two.

Time flies when you’re having fun, she thought, but then froze when she realized that time had in fact been standing still. But I definitely had-... eh, never mind. Let spacetime do whatever spacetime does, right?

Somepony shouted something unintelligible in the background, and the singer shot him a grin. “Yeah, I know; you came all the way here for some music and not to listen to me being sappy. So I’ll keep it short for now. Just lemme introduce my folks, okay? They get cranky otherwise.” She snapped her fingers, and several spotlights focused on the guitarist unicorn with the horrifying fashion sense. “First up!” The singer raised her voice slightly to sound more like an announcer in a boxing ring. “She has taken her solo act to a grand total of eight hundred thirty-four countries, she has ended four armed uprisings with her amazing guitar skills, she handles the light and effect show on top of playing in our band, AND she made me choose between introducing her first and not being allowed to disclose that two of those first three items were blatant lies! Let’s hear it for THE GREAT! AND POWERFUL! TRIXIE!”

Trixie adjusted a dial on her guitar, causing the spotlights to move all around her. “THANK YOU, THANK YOU ALL!” she shouted, her voice amplified by a headset Rarity hadn’t noticed so far. “IT’S A PLEAS-”

“NEXT UP,” the singer quickly cut in, earning herself a raised middle finger from Trixie. The two unicorns stuck out their tongues at each other before smirking. “Next up! She graduated with honors from the Royal Canterlot Musical Academy! She played for ponies who make more per month than all of us combined in a year! She pushed the art of the cello far beyond its limits! Her peers thought she was mad! Maaad! But she will show them, she will show them all! Raise your hands... for OCTAVIA MELODY!”

The Earth pony waved her hand at the cheering crowd and gave it a friendly smile. No spotlight-stealing, no fancy tricks, just a quick hello. The polite act wasn’t quite as believable now that Rarity had seen her go nuts with her instrument, but it probably wasn’t a lie to say that she was the quiet voice of reason in this band.

“Our third member,” the singer announced and pointed behind her. “He’s not a stallion of many words, but his drums do the talking for-...” She looked over her shoulder and sighed dramatically. “Cripes, would it kill you to stand up for thirty seconds? I swear, you drummers got it easy - you get to sit throughout the entire gig...” The drummer was not wearing a headset, but his sigh was loud enough to reach the crowd anyway. Then he stood up. And stood up. And stood up.

Goodness, his biceps must be as thick as my thigh! Rarity inhaled sharply, and going by the sounds coming from the audience, she was not the only one who was impressed by this mountain of a stallion. Her fashionista sense let out an exasperated groan when she saw that his wardrobe was terribly generic, though at least not actively offending her taste. The logo on his shirt puzzled her at first - it was a picture of an apple that had been cut in half - but then it dawned on her what his background probably was. He must be a member of the Apple clan from the Ponyville area; they own enough land to build their own town if they felt like it! What’s a rich boy like him doing in a band like this?

“He left the simple farm life behind in favor of following his muse,” the singer somehow answered her silent question and gave the crowd a grin, “but if you ask nicely, he will rotate your crops!” The grin widened when the crowd let out overjoyed and lewd screams. The drummer just played a quick rimshot, but Rarity could tell that he was enjoying the attention, at least in small doses. “BIG MACINTOSH!”

“And finally,” Trixie took over the announcer duties while the singer smiled happily and stretched out her arms, “our founding member, main vocalist, supporting guitarist and one of the few ponies to put up with the Great and Powerful Trixie’s antics...” The tension in the room was almost tangible. “ALL HAIL-”

“-PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE!” the crowd finished for her with enough volume to make Rarity idly worry about noise complaints.

“WE ARE VILLIAN COURT,” Princess Twilight Sparkle roared, “AND THIS IS ’THE POWER OF THE SIX!’ ONE TWO THREE FOUR!”

There was no time to brace herself, no time to think. The band launched straight into peak craziness, and this time, Rarity was part of the screaming and cheering crowd.

The first sign that this concert still had a few surprises left for her came in the middle of the fourth song. Twilight Sparkle had been one hundred percent into the concert from the first moment, and she had known exactly when to let the audience sing, when to do little back-and-forth games and when to let the other band members improvise solos. The current song was heavy on the instruments and lighter on the vocals, so Twilight decided to do a quick, crouched run along the edge of the stage, high-fiving the entire front row. Rarity stretched out her hand, desperate for even the briefest of touches from her newfound muse and goddess.

The moment came and went way too quickly, but Rarity squealed loudly when it happened, anyway. Twilight was grinning like a maniac as she was running past her... and then her eyes flicked back to Rarity. The grin turned into a highly confused smile, and she turned slightly to get a better look. Unfortunately, she did so before stopping her run along the edge of the stage.

“OH SHI-”

Much to her credit, she hadn’t managed to run straight off the stage. She had, however, tripped over one of the lights that were protruding from it, causing her to stumble badly before crash-landing a few steps away from Trixie. There was a collective gasp, but Twilight quickly jumped back to her hooves, giving the crowd a cocky smirk, as if asking if they seriously believed that this sort of thing would injure her. Everypony laughed it off, but Rarity saw Twilight’s eyes briefly flicking back to her. She... noticed me. She... actually noticed me. It took her a lot of effort, but she managed not to glee at the realization. Granted, I also nearly gave her a concussion from the looks of it, so maybe that wasn’t the best first impression.

The rest of the concert went over smoothly and by the time the band was wrapping up their encore, that incident had just become one of many moments of bliss and ecstasy. Rarity couldn’t recall the last time she had felt so exhausted, but at the same time so alive.

The music rose to a final crescendo before abruptly stopping as the stage lighting dimmed almost completely. Rarity was screaming and cheering with the rest of the audience; a final declaration of loyalty and adoration.

“THANK YOU!” Twilight shouted over the cheers as four spotlights came on again, and the band members bowed and waved. Then she held up her hand, making most ponies in the audience quiet down. “Thank you all for coming here tonight and for being such an amazing audience! We know you’re all probably as exhausted as we are, but at the same time, you don’t want this night to end, right?”

“MAKE IT LAST FOREVER!” somepony shouted, and the audience chuckled.

“Well, we only get paid at the end of the night, sooo...” Twilight shrugged apologetically. “BUT! Some of you might have noticed the other posters at the entrance. You know, the ones advertising the gig after ours? The one they had to cancel?” She motioned at Octavia, “Well, Tavers here negotiated a little deal with the owner...” The crowd was starting to catch on, and some ponies whooped and screamed. “Turns out, we can extend our gig a little bit!” The audience went nuts, and Rarity grinned wildly, even though she was sore and exhausted already. “BUT!” Twilight shouted over the cheers. “BUUUT! We’re done with our regular program, and we’re all a bit tuckered out, so we’ll shift down a gear or two. Some covers, some calmer stuff, some Q&A...” She glanced over at Trixie, who was waving her arms like a lunatic. “Aaand we’ll let Trixie handle most of the singing, yes. Suits me fine, ‘cause then I’ll actually be able to speak tomorrow. And since this is going to be more free-form, we’ll keep the doors to the entrance hall open, where you’ll find some refreshments.”

“I take it you’re up for it?” somepony next to her asked, making Rarity turn.

“Rainbow Dash!? Hey!” Rarity giggled sheepishly. “Sorry, darling, I almost forgot you’re here!” Okay, that sounded awful. Care to try again? “I mean, um, you see...”

The pegasus laughed. “Just as I thought - you were totally spaced out during the entire concert!” She gently punched Rarity’s shoulder. “This is the point where you thank me for finally exposing you to some amazing music.”

“I’ll admit I had doubted your musical tastes,” Rarity admitted. “And you could have told me sooner about the dress code! But... thank you for taking me here. This has been a truly eye-opening experience.”

“Well, your eyes have surely been open,” Rainbow Dash added and gave Rarity a knowing smirk. When Rarity just gave her a confused look, she sighed. “Come on, you’ve been staring at Twilight practically non-stop.”

“I-... I mean-... Whatever are you-...” Rarity gestured vaguely, unsure whether or not to deny what she was feeling... and whether or not her feelings were more than just a vague crush that had been born in the heat of the moment.

“Hey, relax!” Rainbow gave her a warm smile. “Tons of ponies feel this way about her.” She blinked when she saw Rarity tensing up. “...ohhh, she got you bad, didn’t she?”

Rarity decided that this was a good moment to give the floor a good look. It was a very solid, well-made floor. Beautiful work. The carpenters surely deserved the highest commendation for their-

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

Her effort to incinerate Rainbow Dash with her glare was largely unsuccessful. It usually was, but Rarity was convinced that one day, the universe would indulge her. She huffed, and not just at the lack of spontaneous combustion. “This means nothing. It’s... just the thrill of a new experience. An adrenaline high. Besides, you said it yourself: there are... several ponies who... are... fans... of her. And I can see why... certain ponies... might... find her... attractive.”

“Aaand you’re one of them.” Rainbow Dash was grinning ear to ear.

Yes. “I’m not.” Liar.

“You so are,” the pegasus teased her.

“Am not!” Rarity crossed her arms.

“Are too.”

“Stop acting like you’re five!”

Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow at that. “Without looking, what is Trixie’s mane color?”

“Wh-what?” Rarity struggled not to reflexively glance up at guitarist. “She... she’s wearing a hat, so...”

“Plenty of hair visible. Also, same as her tail color. Come on, you got an eye for this, Miss Fancy Designer.”

“I... I mean...” Rarity frowned. “Look, I’m not at work, so it’s not like I memorized every last detail of-”

“Twilight’s belt?”

She blinked. “Maroon leather, probably fake, with a silver, star-shaped buckle, why?” When Rainbow Dash gave her the biggest smirk ever, Rarity groaned. “Okay, fine, you got me,” she admitted and fiddled with one of her curls. “She’s... I don’t even know what draws me to her, but... she is... just... gah!”

“Hot?”

Yes! “Charismatic.” She shot another, longing glance at the stage, where the band members were still high-fiving each other. Look at those arms! That chest! She can probably bench press me! The mental image immediately occupied the center stage of her mind. Ohhh, I can practically feel her strong hands on my-... She gasped and quickly looked down again. In the mood lighting, Rainbow Dash probably couldn’t see her blush.

“Only charismatic?” Rainbow’s grin was far too wide.

“Only charismatic,” Rarity whispered.

“Ah, okay then.”

They stood in silence for several seconds. “Wait, that’s it?” Rarity broke the silence, trying not to sound too surprised at the sudden lack of teasing.

“Well,” her friend said, making no effort to hide that she was readying something big, “if you had thought that she’s hot, I might have... ah... it’s not important, really.”

Rarity opened and closed her mouth a few times. “You... might have what?” she finally asked, knowing full well that she was walking into whatever trap the pegasus was preparing.

“Like I said, it’s not impor-”

“Okay fine she’s so hot I can barely think straight when I look at her are you happy now you monster?

A less refined pony would have wiped Rainbow Dash’s smug grin off her face with a roundhouse kick. A more refined pony would not have savored the mental image of said roundhouse kick as long as Rarity had done. “What would you say if I could give you a chance to... hmmm...” Rainbow leaned forwards, bringing her mouth close to Rarity’s ear. “...kiss her?”

“K-k-...” Rarity’s mouth went dry, and the rest of her question only came out as a series of high-pitched squeaks. “You’re bluffing,” she finally wheezed. When Rainbow merely cocked an eyebrow, she took a deep breath. She’s bluffing. Got to be. But... what if she’s not? This would be a once-in-a-lifetime chance! But... there has got to be a price... “What do you want?”

Rainbow’s smile almost made her groan. “Nothing much, actually. I just figured that I need something new to lord over you for the next couple of decades. That forest story is getting a bit stale...”

“...that’s it? Just an ego boost? For this? This?”

“I’m a simple mare with simple needs,” Rainbow replied. “Besides, what else would I want from you? A lifetime supply of dresses? Pah. Your renewed eternal gratitude will have to do.” She flashed her a grin again. “So, you up for this? Because I’ll have to call in a few favors to make this work, and I don’t want to do that if it’ll go to waste.”

“Just tell me what I have to do...”

“Trust me and raise your hand when the time is right.”

What’s that supposed to mean? “Darling, could you be any more-” She blinked when she realized that Rainbow was already running off to talk to the audience members around her. “-cryptic?” What events did I just set into motion? She watched her friend gesturing wildly while talking to yet more audience members. Is it too late to stop whatever she is setting up? I mean... assuming that she can actually give me a chance to... get close to Twilight... I mean... would I... could I... Her gaze wandered back to the stage, and she shuddered when she saw Twilight shaking her head wildly before drying her mane with a towel. Oh heaven help me... I want this...

And then both Rarity and Twilight Sparkle blinked in surprise when some ponies in the crowd started to slowly chant three words, making each syllable sound like a battle cry. Rarity was slightly less surprised to hear Rainbow Dash leading the chant, which was now spreading like a wildfire.

“KISS THE PRINCESS! KISS THE PRINCESS! KISS THE PRINCESS!”

Twilight exchanged puzzled looks with Trixie, who only shrugged helplessly, as if indicating that this hadn’t been her idea. Then Twilight gave the crowd a bemused look and tossed the towel aside before stepping up to the microphone stand and motioning them to calm down. “Well, this isn’t how I imagined this segment to start...” She looked up at the ceiling for a moment, pretending to contemplate something. “Buuut...” The crowd dutifully went wild at this. “YES, YES, CALM DOWN, FOLKS! Calm down, sheesh...” Twilight shook her head in mock disapproval. “Okay, fine... fine. To those who don’t religiously come to all of our concerts: (a) shame on you and (b) we sometimes, SOMETIMES do a little segment where we reward a fan for... you know... loyalty, enthusiasm, all that jazz. Sooo... who will be the lucky stallion or the lucky mare to join me here on stage for a quick kiss from your beloved Princess?”

Every member of the audience screamed their lungs out and waved frantically, but somehow, the noise seemed to grow distant. It took Rarity a moment to realize why she couldn’t hear the ponies next to her screaming like lunatics: there were no other ponies next to her. WHAT? She frantically looked around and saw that Rainbow Dash and all the ponies she had talked to had moved aside, forming a wide circle around her. The pegasus caught her eye and waved her hand, as if asking her to-

Rarity’s hand shot up before her consciousness was even done parsing the information. Please work... oh please work... please notice me... please, against all odds... Rarity looked up at the stage.

Twilight Sparkle was looking straight at her, eyes wide with surprise and... something else. Something Rarity didn’t dare to think about. Twilight made a very subtle gesture towards Trixie and a moment later, Rarity squinted as a spotlight shone straight onto her.

Heaven help me...

“Well now... what have we here...?” For a moment, Rarity wondered if Twilight’s voice had cracked just a little bit, but she dismissed this thought almost immediately. “Why don’t you come up here?” Twilight’s horn lit up, and Rarity gasped when a magical aura gently picked her up and let her float onto the stage. Somehow, she had not expected such precise magical control from a pony who had made a career out of being loud and beautiful and having terrible fashion sense.

It was the most bizarre moment in Rarity’s life, having her newfound idol within arm’s reach and being watched by hundreds of ponies who were hoarse from having screamed like maniacs for more than an hour. She was sweaty, her mane probably looked terrible, and she had absolutely no idea what to do from here on. So just like the aftermath of our post-graduation party. She allowed herself a quick smile. Just with less police.

“Would you look at that, folks! I mean, damn!” Twilight tilted her head and gave Rarity’s dress a long look. “That... can’t have been cheap. Just... wow. Tavers, what’s your opinion?”

It was hard to see out of the cone of light, but Rarity could make out Octavia rubbing her chin. “Definitely not off the shelf,” the cellist replied quietly, her voice not amplified by a microphone. “Custom job, definitely cost several hundred bits. Maybe even more than a thousand.”

Twilight whistled quietly, then her eyes narrowed. “You’re not with a label, are you? Because I swear, if you weaseled your way onto this stage just to-”

“No, no, no!” Fortunately, Rarity had had to answer this question before. Unfortunately, being glared at by her idol made her knees weak. “I’m... I just... this isn’t...” She took a deep, wheezing breath. Oh no! No, no! I can’t let my nervousness get the better of me! This is my chance! My one chance! No pressure! It’s just several hundred ponies waiting for you to screw up! NO PRESSURE! HA! Think, Rarity! Think! What would a cool pony like Rainbow Dash say in a situation like this?

“I TOLD HER THIS’D BE A CELLO BALLROOM CONCERT! ...KINDA.”

That, for example.

Rarity and Twilight turned their heads towards the audience in perfect unison. Twilight’s confused squint quickly gave way to an eye-roll. “Rainbow Dash.” The words sounded like an indictment. “Shoulda known you’re behind this. Although I am surprised that it wasn’t you in that circle. Last time, you nearly started a fight with eight other fans over getting up here.”

“She...” There was a pause, and Rarity realized that for once in her life, Rainbow Dash was at a loss for words. “She deserves this more than I do.”

The crowd let out a heartfelt, “Awwwww!” and although it was impossible to make out details, Rarity could see a few audience members hugging the pegasus.

“Wow...” Twilight was clearly impressed by this. She gave Rarity a sincere look. “You must be blessed to have a friend like that.”

Rarity was caught between a nervous giggle and half-hearted protest against that assertion. The result sounded a bit like hiccuping into an oboe.

“SO!” Twilight suddenly ramped up the volume again, likely to avoid making this moment too sappy for her public image. “THIS HERE IS-...” She froze, then leaned over and slightly down to Rarity, her loud act leaving as quickly as it came. It only hit Rarity now that Twilight was several inches taller than she was. “What’s your name again?” she asked, keeping the microphone away for a moment.

“R-... Rrrraaaa-...” For a moment, Rarity thought she might pass out, rant like a fool, or do both. Twilight Sparkle, singer, idol, princess, was seriously asking for her name! She felt that incoherent, high-pitched screaming would be a good response to that, but a single thought held her back: Rainbow Dash is never going to let me live this down if I botch it. She took a deep breath. “Rarity,” she finally managed.

“That’s a beautiful name,” Twilight whispered and smiled warmly before remembering where she was. She coughed sheepishly before grabbing the microphone again. “RIGHT, THIS HERE IS RARITY, AND SHE IS TONIGHT’S LUCKY MARE!” She waited a few seconds for the applause to die down. “Buuut... isn’t this all terribly unfair for her?” When the audience reacted with confusion, she smiled. “I mean, look at her, folks! She traveled hundreds of miles-”

“Actually,” Rarity objected, even though her doing so clearly pushed the acceptable limits of interacting with this Goddess Incarnate, “I live here in Canterlot, so-”

“She traveled THOUSANDS of miles,” Twilight doubled down on her fairytale, “for a ballroom dance that never took place!” She gave Rarity a daring look before pointing one finger at the audience. “WHAT IS THAT?”

“UNFAIR!” the audience immediately picked up on its prompt.

“AND WHAT DO WE SAY WHEN STUFF IS UNFAIR AND PROBLEMS NEED TO BE SOLVED?”

“TWILIGHT WILL HANDLE IT!” the audience replied in perfect unison, probably acting out some running gag or meme that Rarity was not aware of.

“I believe it is clear what needs to be done!” Twilight half-turned to Rarity and flashed her a grin. “But first we’ll need some proper music to set the mood.” She snapped her fingers. “Miss Melody, I believe you know one or two waltzes?”

There was a long pause, and Twilight’s grin started to turn into a nervous smile. Finally, Octavia sighed audibly. “Yes, the subject of waltzes has indeed come up during my time at the RCMA,” she confirmed flatly. “I said as much when I met you, followed by the statement that-”

“Yes, yes, yes, you wanted to play something else and express your true feelings, and you know I love you and I’ll let you go crazy with your cello all night, every night, but now, just this once, I really, REALLY need something classical from you.” She looked over her shoulder. “Please!”

Another pause, as Octavia seemed to be extremely busy rolling her eyes. “I also feel the need to point out that you once referred to classical music as the bane of-”

“Yes, yes, could we KINDLY stop dwelling on the past?”

“You also told me that you’d rather eat a-...” She shut up when Twilight fully turned around to face her. Much like Rainbow Dash before, Octavia refused to spontaneously combust, but she did look mildly disturbed. “I suppose I can make an exception...”

“Thank you.” Twilight let out a quiet sigh. “Trixie, lights?” Almost immediately, the lights in the hall went out, leaving only two spotlights, one for Octavia and one for them.

Rarity’s brain only now processed what was happening. She. Wants. To. Dance. With. Me? She briefly considered running, Rainbow Dash’s opinion of her be damned. I can do many things with Twilight. For Twilight. To Twilight. B-but dancing? Slow dancing? With touching? N-no way, that’s crazy-talk. I’m surely not worthy of this kind of fortune or attention. This is a joke! She’s a goddess, and I’m just... me. Fashion designer with a small shop and big creative burnout. What would she even see in me?

Octavia started to play, making Rarity jump slightly.

Twilight held out her hand, palm facing up. “May I have this dance?”

Realizing that this wasn’t the ideal time to wallow in self-doubt, her brain finally decided to cut the knot in her thoughts: You may have no idea what she might see in you, but for the moment, let’s just pretend that she does see something. Let’s pretend that it actually meant something when she stumbled after seeing you for the first time. And let’s pretend that she is fascinated by the mysterious beauty in the sleeveless blue dress. In this surreal land of make-believe where Twilight Sparkle is so fascinated by you that she drops the rock-princess act on stage... what would you do? She lowered her head slightly and at the same time looked up into those scarlet eyes as she placed her hand in Twilight’s. “You may,” she whispered. OH DEAR GOD, ARE WE REALLY DOING THIS? Twilight smiled like a little filly on Hearth’s Warming Eve and gently placed her other hand on Rarity’s hip. OH YES WE ARE!

It wasn’t the perfect ballroom dance, of course. Rarity was a bit rusty, and Twilight even more so. Still, it was obvious that this rockstar had taken lessons at some point. Aside from these mechanical aspects, however, it was the perfect moment. Twilight had assumed the role of the Lead as if it was the most natural thing in the world, and within seconds, the pair was slowly drifting across the stage. Countless cellphone flashlights (as well as several lighters held up by the more old-fashioned crowd) formed a half-circle of ambient light, and as Rarity allowed herself to become lost in the arms of her partner, a single question crossed her mind: ...is this the ballroom song from “Beauty and the Beast?”

The dance was over far too soon, but Rarity knew that it would have been selfish to make it last any longer. Also, the crowd had started to catch on to the song, and few things in life were weirder than a crowd of rock fans earnestly trying to sing along to a Disney song, especially when only five or so knew more than the line that matched the movie title.

As the final notes of the song played, Twilight removed her hand from Rarity’s hip and let both of them face the audience for a quick bow (or in Rarity’s case, a curtsey). The fans cheered loudly, and Rarity couldn’t hold back a slightly insane giggle - the entire situation felt less like reality and more like a very vivid dream to her. If I wake up in my bed now, I’m going to set my room on fire and cry myself back to sleep. Her grip on Twilight’s hand tightened. A moment later, Twilight lightly squeezed back, making Rarity smile. No. This is real. This is all too real. If this was a dream, we wouldn’t have to part ways now. Or ever.

“Everypony,” Trixie spoke up, “let’s hear it for Octavia Melody and our two enchanting dancers!”

The audience applauded, and Rarity gave the ponies in front of her a quick wave. Stay strong; you can bawl your eyes out later. Rainbow Dash will understand the existential pain of being separated from this deity. She forced herself to smile and looked for the fastest way off the stage and out of the concert hall. Okay, you can probably make it out of here without too much drama. Just-

“Yes, let’s especially hear it for Rarity here!” Twilight held up Rarity’s hand, and the applause grew louder. “I’d say she certainly earned her kiss!”

Rarity’s smile locked up at a strange angle. I earned my what? Her brain obediently went through her short term memory, digging up the chant that had led to her being her: KISS THE PRINCESS! KISS! THE! PRINCESS! “Ghhhheeeee?” she asked, but her absolutely valid question was sadly drowned out by the roaring cheers of the audience.

Twilight swiftly pulled her closer, as if trying to resume their dance. A hand settled on Rarity’s hip, making the shorter mare gasp.

The next thing she knew was the feeling of Twilight’s lips on hers. She blinked; the laws of time and causality implied that Twilight must have leaned down to close the distance, but her memory was drawing blanks. Not that she was mad - it was impossible to be mad while kissing a gorgeous mare such as Twilight. The thought made her eyes widen slightly: she... liked this. No, she loved this. Twilight’s lips were soft and warm, but at the same time, she could feel raw power and ferocity lurking right under the surface, daring her to make a move.

It was a strange turn of events for her. All of her life, she had been waiting for a perfect stallion to sweep her off her hooves. Proper courtship, roses, candlelight dinners, maybe a chaste kiss as build-up to a perfect marriage... But now, as she was held firmly by another mare, her old fantasies were discarded with barely a second thought. This was what she wanted. This was what she needed. She was still being swept off her hooves, but not by a picture perfect Prince Charming. No, this is the kind of princess who charges into battle with a broadsword. The kind of princess who knows what she wants and will claim what is rightfully hers. Twilight pulled back from the kiss, looking as elated as Rarity was feeling. Somewhere in the distance, the audience was cheering, but Rarity paid no attention to it. With one hand, she reached up and, ignoring Twilight’s puzzled expression, pulled her closer again. And I can work with that.

The second kiss was fiercer than the first, with Rarity fighting for the upper hand and ultimately not minding when she lost. Time had lost all meaning while the two unicorns were running hands over each other’s backs and through their manes, savoring each moment as if it was their last on this planet. Finally, Twilight broke the kiss again, but not without adding a finishing touch by gently nipping Rarity’s bottom lip. “Wow,” the singer whispered, sounding slightly out of breath. “I... wow...” She laughed softly. Her next words were drowned out by the audience completely losing its mind, but Rarity had an idea what she probably had said, and she just smiled knowingly. Still smiling, she let go of Twilight’s hand and went back towards the audience, not even flinching when she walked straight off the edge of the stage.

The next minutes had been a pleasant blur. At some point after having been caught by several ponies from the audience and being hugged and cheered on by - Rarity did a quick count - everypony, Rainbow Dash had gently led her out. Now, as she was sitting in Rainbow’s car, her brain finally decided to join the party again. “Uhhhhh...”

“That’s the most dignified sound you made during the last two hours!” Rainbow Dash cheered. “Progress!”

Rarity slowly turned her head to give her a look. “Well, I presume that-” She blinked. “During the last two hours?”

Rainbow shot her a grin. “You have no memories of what happened between you making half the audience jealous and now, do you?”

“What-... I mean... mostly? It’s just...” She gestured vaguely when she realized that she indeed couldn’t recall any specific event after the kiss.

“Right.” The pegasus was looking far too amused - Rarity was certain that she’d be hearing about this for the next decade. “Then you prolly also don’t recall the entire rest of the after-concert show or how you got that sweet swag bag.”

“Swag bag?” Rarity was excited at the prospect of receiving some sort of gift, but the name sounded horribly pedestrian. “Please, there are a million better names than-...” She glanced down and froze. On her lap was a gift bag. A large, glittery gift bag. A large, glittery gift bag with the word “SWAG” written on it in neon-colored, extra-glittery letters. “...ah, never mind.”

“You giggled like an idiot when AJ gave it to you. It was adorable.” Rainbow Dash paused. “Right, you prolly also don’t remember AJ, then. ...man, this post-party memory loss thing is somehow even weirder when you’re the one who has to fill in all the gaps.”

“Trust me, this is weird for me, too...” Rarity peeked into the bag. There were four CDs, a poster, something that looked like a shirt - probably a fashion nightmare, but she was definitely going to try it on - and a thin book of sorts. She took out the book and flipped through it.

Rainbow glanced over after crossing an intersection. “Ohhh, they printed more of those photo books? Neat! Shoulda picked one up at the merchandise table, dang. Remind me to order one through their website later.” She smirked. “Or, actually, I’ll try to remember it myself while you’re still recovering.”

“Are you ever going to let me live that one down?”

“Are you crazy?” Rainbow’s grin was wide enough to briefly make Rarity worry that the top of her head would fall off. “You, little Miss Perfect, Madam Flawless, Mistress of the Refinery-”

“Actually, the noun of ‘refined’ is ‘refined’ and not-”

“-got so swoony and smitten that you barely even remember your own name! Heck nah am I going to let you live that one down!” She paused before adding quietly, “Besides, I’m jealous, so at least give me that.”

“Awww, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for things to go so badly off the rails...”

“Eh, I’ll get over it.” The pegasus gave her a slightly embarrassed smile. “...was it as amazing as it looked?”

“She’s...” She blushed crimson, making Rainbow Dash gasp and giggle. “She’s amazing. Full of passion. It...” Rarity fidgeted with her mane as she came to terms with what had happened and what was and was not going to happen. “It was the most amazing moment I ever experienced and I... and I will most likely stay single for the rest of my life because my goodness, there is no way any other pony will ever match her in terms of... well... anything.”

“Stay single?” Rainbow tilted her head. “You make that sound like-...” She paused; it was one of the few times Rarity had seen the pegasus hold perfectly still. “You really fell for her, didn’t you? Like... romance? Love at first sight? Flowers, candy and candlelight dinners?”

Rarity’s blush somehow intensified. If there had been any heatseeking missiles within a hundred mile radius, they surely would have homed in on her cheeks. “Go ahead, tell me how ridiculous I’m being,” she whispered. Don’t cry. Just don’t cry. Your crush may be hopeless, but that’s no reason to make Rainbow Dash feel bad or question her decision to bring you to this concert.

“Ridiculous? That’s not ridiculous, that is awesome!” Rainbow Dash playfully punched her shoulder again, and Rarity idly wondered of she’d get a bruise at this rate. “You and Princess Freaking Twilight? With that kiss being the start of your relationship? Heck yeah!”

Her words felt like a dagger piercing her heart. “Relationship?” She looked out through her side window and wiped away a quick tear. “What relationship, darling? It’s midnight, the spell is over, my chariot turned back into a pumpkin, I fled the ball, and the Princess has forgotten about me...”

“Okay, first of all, if you’re dissing my car, you’re free to walk.” Rainbow Dash once again punched her shoulder, and by now Rarity was convinced that they’d have to stop at a hospital. “Secondly, I don’t think Cinderella involved memory wipes. And thirdly, I have never seen her kiss anypony the way she kissed you tonight. Also, she often enough said that she hated slow dancing and classical music, so for her to invite you to this kind of... highly... intimate... dance...” She blinked, obviously getting distracted by her memories. “Anyway, what I’m saying is... this was special. And if you want to make this work, I’m confident you can.”

“Y-you’re just saying that...” Rarity bit her lip. “Right...?”

“Would I lie to you?”

“You-”

“Aside from the cello concert thing, which I must stress was not technically a lie. Also, it was for a good cause.”

“Fine, I’m willing to give you this.” Rarity laughed quietly and wiped away her few remaining tears. “So you’re saying I should try to meet her again and... grovel? Conquer? Challenge her to a duel? Is this how you court royalty?” She paused. “Also, how would I even meet her again to begin with?”

“Well-”

“Of course! A concert!” Rarity snapped her fingers. “When is the next one, darling?”

“Technically, the next one is in a couple of weeks-”

“Weeks!?”

“-but it’s been sold out for months.”

Rarity gawked at that. “I didn’t know they were that popular.”

“It’s not a regular concert,” her friend explained patiently, “but rather a band battle setup.”

“Okay, I suppose that might sort of explain why the concert is sold out, depending on the size of-”

“And they’re going to go up against Fluttershy.”

They drove in silence for several seconds.

“This little indie band is going to compete against... Fluttershy?” Rarity finally asked, unsure if she had heard that last word correctly.

“Yep.”

The Fluttershy?” Rarity gestured vaguely. “The pegasus with the violin? The pegasus with the violin whose last three singles went platinum?”

Rainbow Dash was staring at something a million miles away.

“Wow. And here I thought the band just made poor choices in the fashion department...“

“Yeah, that’s probably going to suck fairly hard. However, it’s not like either side is going to lose fans, so it’s more of a friendly competition.” She paused. “A friendly competition they’re probably going to lose.” Another pause. “Badly.”

“Also a friendly competition we won’t be able to get into. Hm. Well, we’ll see what happens after that, I suppose...” Rarity bit her lip and stared out of the window, lost in thought.

The rest of the drive was mostly uneventful, and Rarity thanked Rainbow Dash for everything when she got out. It was late, and she knew that the sane thing to do was to shower and then crawl to bed. So of course she went to her atelier and carefully put one of the CDs from the bag into the old stereo in it.

“Blind to the world, alone, alone,” Twilight’s voice filled the room after the ominous instrumental build-up, “the girl who thought she was so clever.”

Rarity smiled widely and picked up her sketchbook.

“Wake up! Bow and kneel before my throne!”

My muse. My Princess. Perfect, savage, strong. She let herself fall into her favorite comfortable chair. Yes, I can work with that.

“FOR THE NIGHT-”

“-WILL LAST FOREVER!” Rarity roared and began to sketch her first dress in a month.

Author's Note:

Notes, inspiration, credits:

  • As mentioned, the AU itself is of course directly inspired by (and inspiring) Earthsong's RnR!AU
  • Twilight was somewhat inspired by Sandra Nasić of the band Guano Apes, especially her vocals for Apocalyptica's song "Path Vol. 2". Speaking of Apocalyptica, guess why I chose to include Octavia in Twilight's band! :raritywink:
  • "Twilight will handle it" comes from "Out of Coffee?" by NCMares.
  • While writing this fic, I realized that coming up with song lyrics is HAAAAAAAARD, MY GOD
  • I also realized that the song lyrics generators I found produce hilarious, terrible results. More on that in a later chapter.
  • In this setting, most of the show canon's crises are basically folklore/mythology, so Twilight is basically singing about old fairy tales because she is still a huge egghead in this AU.
  • Twilight's eye color is an artistic choice by Earthsong. I included it in the fic because I love the look, but I'm currently undecided whether this is going to be this AU's Twi's natural eye color or if she's wearing contacts.