• Published 3rd Jun 2019
  • 1,783 Views, 217 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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Special Gifts

The snow crunching under Rarity’s hooves didn’t bother her in the slightest. Her new jacket might as well have been a suit of armor, deflecting the twin onslaughts of falling snow and freezing temperatures with aplomb. Leaving the path carved by Spike’s enormous tail still presented a challenge, of course. The valley’s snow cover ranged from mere inches to twice her height at seemingly random intervals. Worse still, no hoofstep or tail track they left survived the night; the path she was trodding right now would be an unblemished snowdrift by morning, despite how little snow actually seemed to fall in the course of a day.

She pushed through a relatively shallow patch on her way to a nearby tree, muttering to herself. “A snow shovel. A snow shovel and wool-lined rubber boots.”

Spike’s reply floated down from his perch in the trees above. “Some yellow topaz, and a bubble bath.”

“A weekend at the spa, all expenses paid.”

“An hour Celestia’s private study with a couple mugs of hot chocolate.”

“A hundred more of these!” Rarity held up Spike’s latest discovery: a bulbous flower whose name she couldn’t recall, but whose raison d’être couldn’t be clearer. Its petals enclosed a white, fluffy substance that might as well have been called seedless cotton. Finding a steady supply of these plants meant spinning new thread, and new thread meant giving the fabulous ideas in her head physical form. “I’ll have a warm hat within a week, so help m—oof!”

Once again she’d found a deep spot in the snow, this time sinking well past her hind legs. She groaned with annoyance rather than panic; being buried three times in as many hours wore away the sense of danger, but not the stinging indignity. Sighing, she waved the tip of her tail, the only part of her still exposed, and waited for the inevitable.

Spike landed nearby with a distinct thump. “Now where did Rarity go? Hmm.”

Rolling her eyes, she extended her foreleg towards the sky. “Just kindly pull me out again, thank you.”

His hand sank through the snow, gripped her around the middle, and lifted her clear of the snow as well as the ground. A moment later she was eye to eye with his insufferably smug smile. “There’s my little pony.”

She blew a strand of her mane out of her face and scowled. “Unhand me this instant, impudent dragon, and do so gently!”

Still smiling, he set her next to the tree she’d been headed for and lumbered away. “Sorry, and you’re welcome.”

“I’m perfectly capable of digging myself out, you know.”

“And risk hurting your precious jacket? No way.”

She turned in a circle as she checked her jacket from all angles. “It’s no worse for wear, despite your rough handling. I’ll expect you to treat your own jacket with more respect, once I’ve finished it.”

He glanced back at her and saluted. “Understood. I’m sorry I didn’t grab a bunch more of those cotton flowers this morning when I found them. Just keep checking around the trees and you’ll spot a big patch. It's right around here somewhere.”

“You've been saying that for an hour,” she muttered as she pushed snow away from the tree trunk.

Her latest dig site proved to be just as empty as all the others. How had Spike stumbled across the object of her utmost desire by accident, while all her efforts yielded nothing but tree roots and dirt? She gave the barren ground a scowl before staking out her next target: another tree a few dozen hoofsteps away.

“I’m taking the firewood back to the cave,” Spike called, “are you okay out here?”

“Perfectly, Spike. I’ll dig out every tree in the valley if I must.”

“Hey.” His voice lost its friendly mirth and instead grew somber. “I’m serious. Are you sure you can dig yourself out if you get caught in another snowdrift? I can stay here and help if you want.”

Rarity nodded without sparing him a glance. “During my foalhood years, my well-meaning, inattentive parents were known to… misplace me on our winter outings, what with my pure white coat blending in to the snowdrifts that I tended to fall into. I could dig myself out then, and I can do so now should the need arise.”

Spike chuckled. “Okay, okay. I’ll see you back at home.”

Her voice dropped to a whisper as he continued on his way. “How sweet of you to worry. You truly are a kind and generous soul, despite your occasionally boorish manners.”

Falling snowflakes were the only reply, which was the best she could hope for. “Curse your fussiness about accepting compliments, Spike.”

Undeterred, Rarity trudged over to the next tree without a single mishap and began to dig. It wasn’t a glamorous activity, but almost immediately her frustrations seemed to melt away, along with her mental list of Spike’s faults. Imperfect as they both were, her debt to him couldn’t be repaid with a single article of clothing, she feared. “What can I possibly do to make you happy, Spike? It’s high time that I make a selfless discovery or two, like finding some of those elusive little mushrooms that you and you alone love so very much. Surely that would bring a smile to your—”

Her hoof touched something soft, but not soft enough to be the cotton-like plant she desired. Instead, ten grey mushrooms lay at the bottom of the hole, growing along the tree trunk and defying Spike’s insistence that these little delicacies never grew in clusters. She prodded the curious bounty, half-expecting it to vanish in a poof of smoke and peal of evil laughter. “What in Equestria…”

Pragmatism took over. Her magic plucked the mushrooms with ease and dropped them into her pockets. Spike would be overjoyed, his happiness would enrich her own, and little else mattered. She could live with that.

---

“Where’d you find them, again?” Spike asked in between mouthfuls of leaves and fresh mushrooms.

Rarity rolled her eyes, but kept her focus on the fabric suspended in her magic rather than her own untouched dinner. “How many times must I say ‘beneath the snow,’ hmm? I found the mushrooms almost immediately after you left with the firewood, end of story.”

This time Spike didn’t bother swallowing before speaking. “I find maybe one of these a week!”

She fanned away his earthy breath, smiling all the same. “My pleasure. I don’t suppose you’ve found any more cotton flowers, have you?”

Spike shrugged. “Not yet, but that’s my first priority tomorrow, I swear. Maybe we should start our own garden right outside the cave.”

“With a sizable portion of it reserved for mushrooms, I presume?”

“Yeah!”

A sharpened rock, Rarity’s substitute for scissors, severed the last of the stray threads. She ran her hooves across the expanse of fabric, basking in the special happiness that accompanied finishing a big project. Knowing that her latest feat was destined for Spike’s shoulders and not her own made the happiness richer, somehow. If this feeling could be bottled and sold, all of Canterlot would’ve been hers to command.

Spike cleared his throat. “Is it ready?”

Beaming, Rarity rose to her hooves and motioned for Spike to do the same. “Would you like to try it on?”

Spike stood, and a moment later his finished jacket rose to meet him. The odd pattern of purples, blues, and reds hardly belonged in a Canterlot shop window, but practical items rarely did. She’d make him something fancy later, provided they could find enough cotton.

“Wow,” Spike murmured. He’d slipped one arm in and stopped to stare at the length of sleeve obscuring his hand.

“You are familiar with how jackets work, aren’t you?”

Matching her wry smile, he slipped in his other arm and tugged at the collar, his fingers barely peeking out of the cuff. “This feels great! How do I look?”

Rarity’s eyebrows shot up. Why was the sleeve so long? “Do that again.”

“What, this?” He tugged at his collar again, grinning.

She grasped his elbow with her magic and moved his arm to a neutral pose, groaning loudly. “Of all the… I suppose I’m even more out of practice than I thought. Clearly I need to take in the sleeves.”

Spike scratched at his ear, prompting her to reposition his arm again. “I kind of like them long. I’ll be warmer that way.”

“It’s the principal of the thing, Spike! I can hardly call myself a seamstress, much less a fashionista, if I can’t size a garment properly in the first—” she looked down and screamed “—it’s not just the sleeves!”

Calling her creation bathrobe would’ve been more appropriate. Her carefully measured and fitted stitches hung from his shoulders with all the form and fit of a limp towel draped over a tree branch. Her trembling hoof reached for the bottom hem, which dragged on the ground, and ended up wiping away a tear instead. “Am I really that awful at this, that I… that I—”

“Rarity—”

“Don’t move! Don’t move an inch until I can figure out where everything went wrong!”

Rarity circled him like a shark, counting stitches, estimating lengths, and crosschecking every bit of needlework against the perfect design she’d sketched in her mind. The grand epiphany brought on by rediscovering sewing, her total reevaluation of her special talent and reason for being, depended on resolving this glaring discontinuity between design and product. “No. No. No! This isn’t possible! I measured you just the other day, and—”

She froze and, after a moment to collect her frenzied thoughts into a coherent series of words, looked up to stare into his perplexed expression with stern and unshakable conviction. “You were bigger yesterday.”

Spike gasped. “What? No way. I’m exactly the—”

“Given a proper measuring tape I could prove it, I assure you.”

He shook his head, frowning. “No.”

She nodded, her horrific self doubt and frustration morphing into relief-tinged joy. “Didn’t you say greed is what causes dragons to grow to such enormous sizes? Clearly you’re on your way to becoming normal again, thanks to your repeated acts of generosity. Isn’t that wonderful?”

Spike peeled off the jacket, his arms shaking as he did so. “I’m already normal! And don’t ever say that about me!”

In an instant her frustration came roaring back, this time directed at a far less intimidating target than her own ego. She stood on her hind legs and thrust a hoof at his distant nose, wishing she could stand tall enough to glower at him properly. “Generosity! Kindness! You’re both of these things, and I’m through pretending you aren’t! If you weren’t so busy pretending to be a hopelessly greedy dragon, then perhaps I could actually pay you a decent compliment!”

For Rarity, the cave vanished under a tidal wave of fabric amidst thunderous roar. She found herself half-buried under his discarded jacket while his mighty footsteps shook the stone under her.

“Take it!” Spike shouted, dropping a pile of gold in front of her. “Take it all! Take the treasure, and the curtains, and the cave, and everything!”

Whole seconds of silence passed before Rarity found her voice, now quiet and contrite. “Spike… Spike I’m—”

Only then did she realize how total the silence was, broken only by the crackling fire and her own breathing. “Spike?”

Finding her way out of the blanket pile took several seconds more, her wayward hooves scattering piles of gold and gems as she did so. Standing at last, she found the curtain to his sleeping nook torn down and depression where he’d kept his treasure empty. Snow and frigid night air drifted in through the cave entrance, and the curtain that normally kept both out lay on the floor.

Rarity stood in the midst of the now vacant, treasure-filled cave, surrounded by material wealth and yet feeling poorer that she’d ever imagined possible. “What have I done?”

She ran out of the cave before her heart could answer.

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