• Published 5th May 2018
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Alternate Beginnings: Year One - Doug Graves



Seven years before the events of MLP:FiM, a human appears in Equestria, meeting Applejack and other ponies of Ponyville.

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18 Dinner With Rarity

April 14th, 993

Rarity looks outside the window of the Carousel Boutique, sighing at another slow day. She is barely able to make it in the black sometimes. Most of the ponies here in Ponyville prefer to do their own repairs of the little clothing they wear. Though she does get a good number of custom dresses from them, but their tastes range a little more pedestrian than she likes. Her inspiration often leads her to make the attire stand out from the crowd, which unfortunately not a lot of the earth pony customers appreciate.

Her recent venture with Donny has helped considerably, as far as keeping her sanity. Sure, it helps keep her business afloat as well, but she loves having the opportunity to design, create, and then have her work show the true beauty that lies underneath. She loves taking the more modest gems and fabrics and creating something that really shines and helps others shine through it.

Rarity pages through the various fabrics she has stored in one of the closets. Everything is in order, as it has been for the last several weeks. It has been quite a while since she has not had the time to keep her shop in order; having Doug over twice a week certainly helps with that. She could give the human a task with minimal instruction, and he would dutifully work at it until he finished or something more pressing came up. Something like her pressing into him, for instance.

Rarity smiles, reminiscing at how a couple of their more personal encounters had started. She looks at the clock as a knock echoes from the side door. He would be a little early, probably to start dinner. That, or he hustled here to try to avoid some of the more obnoxious ponies.

A few of them, after hearing the news of Rarity and Rainbow joining with Applejack, had taken it upon themselves to try to ‘fortify’ the town. So far they seem content to give him dirty looks when he walks through the town or starting petty rumors. While some of the rumors about him are foalish and trivial, the ones about his scent are the most pernicious. Rarity shudders as she moves to open the door; she finds the rumors that he eats ponies particularly hilarious, after a few of their nights together, but the ones that expand that to include any moving, breathing animal hit a little too close for comfort.

Fortunately, the fallout from her joining the herd hasn’t been too bad. Many of the ponies that don’t care for him don’t shop at her store anyway. A hooffull of the others even came to the store asking about him and what it was like. She deflected the more intimate questions, as it is none of their business, but many of the ponies she talks to seem more apprehensive than fearful. There might be hope, if more of the ponies get to know him, but she isn’t sure the best way to convince the other ponies there is nothing to fear.

As she guessed, Doug is standing close to the door, holding a package in his hands. Rarity smiles at him as she lifts the package with her magic, the two moving towards the kitchen. The paper wrapping quickly comes off, revealing a pot full of some sort of liquid.

“The soup is already cooked, just need to warm it. I made, or, well, I embroidered the pot holders for you; I thought you might like the design.”

Rarity places the pot on the stove, turning on one of the burners before inspecting the pot holders. While, as a unicorn, she does not really need any extra padding while lifting something hot, she will be able to place the hot pot on top of them after she is done moving it.

“Well, thank you, darling, they look lovely.” The adequately stitched design first looks to be lines roughly scattered around, but Rarity gasps upon closer inspection. He has taken her cutie mark and expanded each diamond, breaking the solid lines to hide the pattern. He then layered the three diamonds almost over each other, as if he took the same starting position as her mark for the center of each expanded diamond. While chaotic, it certainly fit him, and she finds herself staring at it for long enough for Doug to finish setting the table.

Doug walks up behind Rarity, putting a hand on her withers and startling her out of her reverie. “So, I take it you like it?”

“No, I don’t like it,” Rarity says with a smirk.

“You love it, I get it, I might have made that joke before.” Doug’s smirk gets bigger as Rarity pouts at him, moving down to kiss her.

As they break apart Rarity remarks, “Well, be that as it may, yes, I do love it. I may have to use this pattern, or at least a similar one for one of my upcoming lines. It is such an intriguing concept. You don’t mind if I sketch some during dinner, do you?”

“Oh, not at all. Speaking of, it’s just a hearty stew. Extra vegetables of AJ’s latest crop, so I just took a lot of the leftover shavings and whatnot and threw it all in. Figured you would know what kind of spices you want, so it’s a little plain right now.”

Rarity levitates several spices and places them in front of the pot before going to her workstation and grabbing several pieces of paper and some pencils. She begins doodling as Doug takes the spices and starts adding them, tasting occasionally. Satisfied, he ladles out enough for both of them and turns the stove off.

Doug remarks, “Still fascinated by that design, huh?”

Rarity looks at her drawings, “Well, it is similar to the designs of a certain noble in Canterlot, a Prince Blueblood. He does a remarkable job with just lines, very minimalist.”

“Sounds like somepony has a bit of a crush to me,” Doug says, giving Rarity a wink.

Rarity moves over, giving Doug a quick peck on the cheek. “Well, I would be lying if I said I don’t have some feelings for him. I would like to meet him, but he is so very busy, what with his work and noble duties. Maybe I can catch his interest with this design? Though, he might wonder where I got the inspiration for it.” Rarity trails off, one hoof on her chin as she looks at the ceiling.

“Think he will want to meet me?” Doug looks at Rarity; he knows how the ponies in Ponyville saw him and figures the Canterlot nobles would like to see even less of him.

Rarity tries to suppress her laugh, “Oh, heavens no. I’ve heard he is a bit of a fop, scared of his own shadow, which is part of the reason it is so hard to meet him. Besides, you are the only ‘Prince’ for me.” Rarity smiles at Doug, giving him another peck on the cheek before going back to her drawings.

The conversation having come to a pause, Doug picks up one of Rarity’s fashion magazines and begins flipping through the pages. Doug finishes his dinner before Rarity, an uncommon occurrence, and begins cleaning up around the kitchen.

“Did you have a lot of ‘crushes’ before me?” Doug asks, sitting back down at the table.

Rarity looks away from her drawings, hiding her face for a moment. “Well, I hope you aren’t mad at me.”

At the pause, Doug replies, “Rarity, why would I be mad at you for that?”

“Well… Understand that early in my career I was desperate to get ahead. I may have feigned interest in a stallion or two in order to seal the deal.” Rarity looks sadly at Doug, who eyes her with a neutral expression. He motions with a hand for her to continue.

Rarity looks at him with a puzzled expression, “You aren’t mad at that? Or disappointed?”

Doug shrugs, “Well, it doesn’t make me happy, but it’s no worse than what anyone back home would do. Guys included. Is it different here?”

“Well, no proper mare would go around sleeping with anypony who asks, and I wouldn’t and didn’t stoop to that even if it would close the sale. Though I was… oh, how shall I say, in a couple cases I would have been sorely tempted to go that far, but fortunately it wasn’t necessary. How about you? You have any crushes back home?”

“Well, I suppose I had my share. Three or four girls in high school, managed to ask one out, didn’t go very far. In college I had one crush, but after that fizzled out after two dates I kind of gave up, spent a lot of time alone in my dorm room. ‘Focusing on my studies’ I would say, not that anyone asked, but really spending a lot of time gaming.”

“When you say ‘not very far’, what does that mean? Here, I would say it implies the stallion declined the date, or after a first date does not want a second one.”

“That’s about right. Got to kissing with the high school crush, didn’t get that far in college. After college I had one girl, thought she would be the one, but after three months of dating she got spooked about going past kissing and ended the relationship. After that, I wound up here.”

“If that is all your, ahem, ‘experience’, then how did you wind up with Applejack so quickly?”

“You know, I have been wondering that myself for a long time. Does the phrase ‘a warm bed’ mean something special to you?”

Rarity looks at him, raising an eyebrow, “Well, besides being the title of a popular romance novel by John Preane? I may or may not have loaned that book to Applejack months ago. But, how else would you warm up a bed?”

Doug merely puts his head in his hands and drops his head to the table.

Rarity looks up in thought, “Though, in the story it is the mare who uses the line on the stallion. They have been going back and forth for a while now, neither able to express their love for the other. Finally, on a stormy winter night, the stallion is debating where he wants to sleep. Will it be the cold floor? Or the equally cold and lumpy couch? The mare asks if he wouldn’t prefer a warm bed, and the realization of what she is proposing finally gets the two to confess their love for each other, and they end up happily together.”

Doug murmurs something unintelligible, head still on the table.

Rarity laughs, “You didn’t know?” Doug merely shakes his head. “Oh dear, that is precious. At least everything worked out despite that misunderstanding.”

Doug smiles at that, getting up from the table. “Yes, I suppose it did.” He moves over, giving Rarity a kiss before gathering the dishes from the table. Rarity has just about finished her meal, so he leaves Rarity and her bowl of soup and moves to the main store area where he does some tidying up.

The dining room is vacant when he returns, so he heads upstairs to find Rarity lounging on her bed, the magazine he was reading on the pillow next to her. She is still engrossed in her sketching, so he merely lays down next to her and continues where he left off.

Thirty minutes later, Rarity puts the finishing touches on her latest design and looks around the room. Doug has fallen asleep next to her, the finished magazine folded on the other side. His arm, which had been lightly petting her, is still draped over her. She snuggles next to him, sighing lightly; it would seem today she has been the one to avoid anything happening in the bedroom.

Rarity looks down to her belly, which is starting to look full, and not just from the soup. She sighs, wondering how Pinkie manages to stay so trim despite eating nothing but sweets. It probably helps to not have a foal growing inside. Rarity grimaces a little at the thought of Pinkie joining their little troupe. The mare had expressed some interest in courting Doug before, but had held off. Some of the other Ponyvillians did not want any more earth ponies getting drawn into Doug’s web, and Pinkie was afraid of the fallout for her boss Ms. Swirl.

Rarity can’t help but smile at how some of the earth ponies think; apparently it is too late for Applejack, and they want to protect the other earth ponies from Doug, but they couldn’t care less if another unicorn or pegasus happen to be ensnared. Maybe Rainbow’s friend Fluttershy would be interested, or another pony on the weather patrol. Or, just to spite the town, she could convince Pinkie Pie to give it a shot.

Although… Pinkie Pie is liked by the whole town. Well, so is Applejack, but Pinkie makes the effort to know just about everypony in town, and might be able to turn their opinion of him like she turns frowns upside down. Rarity smiles as she imagines their date:

Pinkie Pie, busy pronking: “Hey Doug! I have a question for you!”

Doug, looking exasperated: “If I say yes, will you leave me alone?”

Pinkie Pie, smile growing larger: “Yup! Well, I won’t leave you alone, because you’ll be with me, but I guess I could leave you alone after I don’t leave you alone, and then later when we are done being alone separately we can be alone together!”

Doug, scratching head: “Yes?”

Pinkie Pie: “Okay!” *kisses*

Rarity laughs to herself as she snuggles next to Doug, quickly falling asleep.