• Published 3rd Jun 2019
  • 1,710 Views, 215 Comments

Where We Belong - BlazzingInferno



Eternal night shrouds Equestria, and an even worse fate awaits Rarity. Or so she’s been led to believe.

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A Cold War

Laugher echoed across the frozen ground and snowballs flew over it. Rarity trotted this way and that, gleefully trading fire with whomever happened to be closest. Every so often she’d pause to study the forest to confirm that the minor fires set off by the lightning storm were continuing to dwindle, to gape at the purple hot air balloon peeking over the trees, and to see where Spike was. Finding him and Twilight took anywhere from seconds to minutes, but the glimpse of them that she’d eventually catch would always be the same: Spike talking animatedly while Twilight meandered nearby with her horn aglow. Not once had they asked for help or even looked her way.

“Twilight doesn’t mind that we’re essentially playing while she works, does she?”

Applejack heaved a snowball toward Rainbow Dash and laughed. “Mind? Truth be told I’m surprised she hasn’t told your dragon to skedaddle and leave her be. When Twilight gets to using magic, or thinking hard about magic, or thinking hard on much of anything, it’s best to just stand back and let her do it. She’ll round us up when she’s in a talking mood again, or if we can help. Besides, you’re havin’ fun, right?”

Rarity tried and failed to dodge the next onslaught from Pinkie and Fluttershy. “Well yes, but—”

“Good. See, there’s another part to this whole Elements of Harmony bit that Twilight can’t ever seem to mention up front.”

“Which is?”

“We’ve all gotta—” what could best be described as a snow cannonball dropped onto Applejack’s head, knocking her flat.

Rainbow’s laughter rained down next. “Just try and top that one, AJ!”

Fluttershy joined her in the sky a moment later, her kind smile gone and her timid voice an authoritative rebuke. “Rainbow Dash! That wasn’t a very nice thing to do!”

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on. Applejack’s fine. Not every friendship is all tea parties and touchy-feely stuff, Flutter—”

A second snow cannonball plastered across Rainbow’s face, literally throwing her for a loop. Applejack zipped by Rarity with a snowball balanced on her hoof. “Come down here and I might go easy on ya!”

As the pair raced off, trading fire and retorts, Fluttershy floated down to Rarity’s side. “I worry about the two of them, sometimes. Aren’t friends supposed to be nice to each other?”

Rarity shrugged. “I would think so, but I suppose Rainbow might have a point as well, that some friendships are a bit more… combative than one might expect. Still, I for one would prefer a tea party and a trip the spa.”

“Oh, I’d love to go to a spa someday. There’s one in Ponyville and everything, but… but I’m too shy to go by myself.”

Rarity held back a groan. Another Ponyville resident, albeit one that she’d never met before. Perhaps Fluttershy moved there after she left for Canterlot. “You just need a friend to accompany you, dear. I certainly would, given the opportunity.”

Fluttershy smiled. “Really? That sounds wonderful.”

Pinkie burst out of a nearby snowdrift, grinning from ear to ear. “Did somepony say party? Because it’s been waaay too long since I've gotten to throw one since we’ve been traveling all over Equestria and I’ve got this biiiig list of parties that desperately need throwing as soon as Nightmare Meanie goes back to the moon.”

She produced a small pad of paper and quill from her curly mane and flipped through its pages. “The Welcome Back Celestia party stays at the top of the list, but then there’s New Friend parties for Twilight, Applejack, Fluttershy, and now Rarity and Spike too! And we need a big Friends Forever and Ever party because that’s what saved Equestria. Oh, and a Yay Our Two New Friends Make a Super-Cute Couple party!”

Pinkie cocked an eyebrow. “What kind of cake do you want? How about white chocolate and sapphire with grape jelly?”

Rarity somehow managed to feel embarrassed and hungry at the same time. “A party… or several… would lovely, Pinkie. Thank you.”

Pinkie fanned herself with the pad and sighed in relief. “Phew, good. Maybe after I get through my backlog, we can talk dresses and balls and other fancy stuff. I just know you’re gonna make amazing, knock-everypony’s-horseshoes-off clothes someday, and I wanna be there when it happens.”

“Yes, yes, I—” Rarity stared at Pinkie with new fascination, unsure when or how she’d transitioned from loud and hyperactive to calm and reasonable “—do you really think so?”

Pinkie circled Fluttershy with a strut worthy of a bridleway, turning her head from side to side to show off her stocking cap and shawl. “I know so! You made all this nifty stuff with your bare hooves in a cave.”

Fluttershy nodded, lifting a foreleg to examine her sweater sleeve. “Pinkie’s right. I know a little about sewing, and this stitching is amazing. I’m surprised you don’t have a sewing-related cutie mark.”

Inwardly wincing, Rarity glanced at the three diamonds adorning her flanks. “Yes, well… I suppose a cutie mark can have… many interpretations, don’t you think? As a filly I often dreamed of going into fashion, but it wasn’t until I found myself here that… well that’s a rather long story. I don't suppose you know what Applejack was about to tell me? She mentioned there was some other condition to saving Equestria besides finding the Elements of Harmony.”

Fluttershy looked down and ground her hoof into the snow. “Oh, right. It's not anything scary or bad or anything, b-but asking new ponies about it makes me nerv—”

Pinkie threw one foreleg across Fluttershy’s shoulders and grinned. “We've all gotta be friends!”

In a very small, nerve-wracked voice, Fluttershy added “will you please be my friend, Rarity?”

Rarity blinked, sure she'd missed something. “That's all?”

Pinkie nodded with a big grin, Fluttershy with a pitiful whimper.

“Well, to be perfectly honest, ladies, you’re the first ponies I’ve carried on a pleasant conversation with—”

“And a snowball fight!” Pinkie added.

“Yes, yes, and a snowball fight. What I mean to say—”

Spike’s voice carried across the snow. “And that’s why everything in the School for Gifted Unicorns is fireproof.”

“That can’t be true, Spike,” Twilight deadpanned. “I’m sure the library has some hefty protection spells, but all the classrooms? What about the tapestries, and the table cloths, and the towels in the bathrooms?”

“Heh, don’t get me started on the bathroom towels.”

Rarity glanced past Fluttershy and spied Spike and Twilight skirting the forest’s edge, the closest they’d been to her in hours. One of the compass needles orbiting Twilight’s horn was still pointed directly at her while the other drifted in lazy circles. “Spikey?”

Spike’s face lit up as he met her gaze. “Hey, Rarity! How’s everything going?”

Rarity trotted through the snow to meet him, and pulled him into a hug once she did. “Splendidly. I’ve just been—” she glanced back at the others and raised her voice so it would carry “—spending time with my new friends.”

Twilight walked past them both, staring fixedly at her horn. “This spell keeps going haywire. Spike and I have been all over the valley, but it’s like the Element of Generosity doesn’t want to be found!”

Spike tugged on Rarity’s mane and whispered in her ear. “She’s not kidding. We’ve checked just about everywhere, and you want to know the worst part? She didn’t smile once! She barely says anything that isn’t related to saving Equestria. I got her to open up a little once we started talking about Canterlot, since she’s from there too, but she’s… I dunno…”

“Like I used to be?” Rarity replied.

“What? No, no… Maybe? It’s kind of different: Twilight just doesn't seem interested in anything. She’s too… focused.”

Rarity watched Twilight march on through the snow, following her seemingly faulty compass with the same lock-step certainty that she herself once gave to every new fashion trend and artistic fad. “I might have an idea of how to help. Just a moment.”

She turned to Fluttershy and Pinkie, both of whom where watching Twilight with sullen expressions. “Am I correct to presume Twilight doesn’t take much enjoyment from everyday life?”

Pinkie’s own grin vanished. “Twilight’s kind of… prickly sometimes. She gets super excited when we find a new element or pony, but…”

“Other times,” Fluttershy murmured, “it’s easier if we just give her lots and lots of space. She really wants to fix everything, no matter what. Sometimes… Sometimes it feels like she barely notices we’re here at all.”

Rarity nodded. “I see. Spike, would you be a dear and throw a snowball at Twilight?”

A collective gasp shook the ground. Fluttershy looked on the verge of hyperventilating. “S-snowball… at… Twilight? While she’s doing magic? Are you crazy, Rarity?”

By then Rarity had already crafted a snowball of her own. “Only about Spike and fashion, darling.”

Twilight yelped as a pair of snowballs smacked against her side. Her locating spell vanished, and she shot a heart-stopping glare at the apparent perpetrators. “Who did that?”

Rarity stepped forward, deftly combining a stern gaze and a smile. “Twilight, darling, Applejack tells me there’s another prerequisite to our saving Equestria. Would you care to enlighten me?”

Twilight’s glare lessened for the barest fraction of a second. “We all have to be friends to use the elements, but that can wait! We’re so close to—”

A third snowball landed in Twilight’s mane.

“PINKIE PIE!”

Rarity stepped between Twilight and the others, keenly aware that Spike had hidden behind her too. She couldn’t blame him in the slightest. If anything she was amazed that these five ponies had traveled together for so long and so far with their leader in such a state. “Twilight Sparkle, I promise you that friendship can’t wait a moment longer.”

Twilight turned to face Rarity head on, her horn emitting angry red sparks. “We’re trying to save Equestria, Rarity! We’re trying to rescue Princess Celestia! If you think that just being friends is going to—”

Rarity met Twilight’s glare with all the authoritative will she could muster, her years of service in the palace coming to bear with surprising ease. “Stop right there! If you think you can come here and make demands of Spike and myself without so much as smiling, then think again! You can either submit to genuinely befriending the ponies you’ve dragged to the back of beyond, or leave our home and take your hopes of righting the world’s wrongs with you!”

Her words echoed off the cliffs and in everpony’s ears. Twilight’s legs wobbled and then gave out. She sat there, ears back and mouth agape, while Rarity continued on in a much gentler tone.

“You’ve surrounded yourself with wonderful ponies, Twilight; their willingness to come along on this perilous mission for Equestria’s sake is proof of that. Take an hour and join in their snowball fight while Spike and I carry on your search. I happen to know a gem finding spell, which at least has a chance of working on magical artifacts.”

A tear trickled down Twilight’s cheek. “I-I… I just wanted—” she looked away “—I’m not any good at that kind of stuff. I know magic, and I know books, but… friends?”

Fluttershy inched past Rarity and extended a hoof. “I’m not either. But… maybe we can try together? Please?”

Pinkie bounced around them, nodding. “Betchya can’t get a snowball in my mane, Twilight! I’ll triple-diamond-dog dare ya!”

Twilight looked to each of them in turn, her wide-eyed distress fading as she studied each hopeful smile. “Well… I don't know…”

Rainbow glided through the skies above, her mane glittering with snowflakes. “What the hay is going on over here?”

Applejack wasn’t far behind, or any less snow-covered. “What happened, everypony? What’s wrong?”

Rarity flashed them a smile. “Nothing at all. Actually, I believe Twilight was about to show you all a thing or two about the art of snowball fi—”

The first barrage came with no warning. Huge tracts of snow glowed magenta and formed into grids of snowballs, all of which quickly lobbed themselves at one unsuspecting pony or another.

“Flank left, AJ, I’ll take the right!” Rainbow Dash shouted.

“Whee, you can’t get all of us at once, Twilight!!” Pinkie screamed.

A smile spread across Twilight’s face. “We’ll see about that.”

Rarity tapped Spike on the shoulder and tilted her head towards the forest. “Let’s go.”

---

“Do you really know a gem finding spell?”

Rarity ducked behind a tree, smiling as five pony’s combined laughter echoed across the valley. “Pardon, Spikey?”

Spike took once last glance at the snow massacre they’d just escaped and pointed to her horn. “You told Twilight you know a gem finding spell.”

“Indeed, and I do. I’ve tried it out here countless times, with no luck.”

Spike sighed. “Figures. I still wish you’d told me, though. You having magic like that is kind of…” he arched an eyebrow and blushed.

Rarity giggled. “I’ll keep that in mind for later. For now we need to stick to the matter at hoof: saving Equestria.”

“How are we supposed to do that? Do you really think the two of us can do better than Twilight’s spell?”

“Yes, considering how adept the two of us are at finding the things we need most around here.”

Spike’s eyebrows shot up. “You mean… but it can’t be that easy. You’re saying we can just sit here and wish the Element of Generosity into our hands?”

“Why not? I imagine obtaining something this rarified will take the combined efforts of all seven of us, but… well there’s something else, too. Doesn’t it strike you as suspicious that a magical artifact called the Element of Generosity is somewhere in a valley that grants wishes one selflessly makes for others?”

“Well yeah, it’s almost like—” the realization froze him in place. “You don’t mean—”

Rarity nodded, the unspoken thought burning inside her: what if the Element of Generosity was the source of The Pit’s wishing magic? What would happen if it was removed?

Spike drew in a sharp breath, and then another. His facial expression remained strangely neutral to Rarity’s eyes, as if this notion of sacrificing their home to save the world hadn't fully registered.

She studied him, from head fins to tail, for what felt like minutes on end. How would she convince him abandon the first place he’d felt happy and safe since leaving Princess Celestia’s care? Would she need to beg and plead, assuming she could bring herself to do anything of the sort under such circumstances? Perhaps they’d just sit here and cry together, mourning the loss of their private kingdom until the others tracked them down.

“Okay.” Spike said.

Rarity blinked, certain she’d misheard him. “Pardon?”

He stood and clasped her foreleg in his hands, his grip strong and his gaze solemn. “We’ve got to give up The Pit. Celestia needs us. Equestria needs us too. I know it hurts and it’s scary, but… do you think you can handle it?”

Flushing red, Rarity nodded. “Perhaps it would help if you led me by the hoof just as you’re doing now, Lord Spike, the gentledragon?”

“My pleasure, Lady Rarity.”

They walked forward, foreleg in arm, to meet their destiny. This time there was no desperate need to run for their lives, and the future didn’t look nearly so bleak. For the moment there was only Rarity and her dragon, who despite his short stature seemed to her to be ten feet tall.

Thank goodness he wasn’t, of course. Prancing around Equestria next to a dragon would draw enough stares as it was. Would his brave face survive the outside world? Would hers?

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