A Rare Apple

by Hopeful_Ink_Hoof

First published

During a harvest at Sweet Apple Acres where all are helping, Rarity contemplates a relationship with Big Macintosh. But can a hopeful fashionista unicorn be content with a simple living earth pony?

After the events of The Grand Galloping Gala, Rarity is re-thinking her relationship priorities. When all the ponies are helping out at Sweet Apple Acres, she contemplates attempting a relationship with Big Macintosh. There is a problem. Rarity is a creative unicorn with dreams of fame, celebrity, and life as part of the upper crust in pony society. Big Macintosh is a simple earth pony who is content with the quiet, peaceful, hard working life of the farm. Can the two find enough of a common ground to have a successful relationship? Or will their world views just be too different for it to work out?

Consider the Possibility

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(The following story is set during the second season, but not between any specific episodes)

Fall had arrived in Equestria, and harvest time at Sweet Apple Acres. The various types of the fruit which gave the name to the farm, and the family of ponies that lived there, were ripe and ready to be collected. It was too much of a job for four ponies to do alone, more so with one being very young and another being enfeebled with age.

Fortunately, they were able to get help from friends who were close enough to be thought of as family. With a total of ten ponies -- and one young dragon-- working, the apples would be harvested quickly. Not as quickly as when the extended apple family were all working together to help, but quicker than the small family alone could hope to accomplish.

One particular pony, a white unicorn with a purple mane and tail, sat beneath one of the trees with a mostly filled basket in front of her. A white glow emanated from the horn as she pulled the apples from the tree one at a time and set them down gently. It was taking her longer than most of the others, but it was still effective in its own way.

"Miss Rarity," a deep baritone said, "Ah can take that basket fer ya." The speaker, a large red stallion, moved closer with a small smile on his face.

"Thank you, Macintosh," Rarity responded. With the use of her horn, she lifted the filled basket of apples and set them on the earth pony's back. She could feel the weight of the bushel as she strained to lift it magically. Big Macintosh did not seem to even be bothered when she released the magic and let it all settle on his back. The muscles in his legs did not even seem to tense under the added weight. With it -- as well as his own basket -- in place, he continued walking toward the barn. Rarity watched him as he walked away.

Big Macintosh did not seem like a very popular pony in Ponyville. Everypony knew who he was as he was the biggest, strongest stallion in town, but he seemed to have very few friends. Perhaps some of it was due to others being intimidated by his side, or perhaps it was simply due to how busy he was working on the farm. But he was very kind, a gentle giant. Macintosh was also a very polite and well-mannered pony, in his own way. He may not know all the rules of proper social decorum, but he had the basics: he would say please, and thank you. He also seemed to know how to treat a lady as a lady, as opposed to that Prince Blueblood.


Just thinking of the name that so-called "prince" was enough to make her jaw clench. How could such a rude, uncouth, selfish boor be considered royalty? How could a pony so selfish and arrogant possibly be related to the sophisticated, kind, and gentle Princess (princesses she corrected herself, though she knew very little about Luna)?

Rarity stopped herself from getting further worked up. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and slowly let it out. No reason to get worked up over the events of The Grand Galloping Gala when it was in the past.

Still, the events of the night could never be completely forgotten. Since that night, Rarity had been finding herself reconsidering what she was looking for in a potential suitor. Perhaps she should consider prospects less based on social class and more on personal sophistication. Perhaps she should try someone more down to earth, and who was more down to earth than an earth pony?

The thought was interrupted by the a shout of "Cutie Mark Crusaders: Apple Pickers!" At least now Rarity knew where Sweetie Belle and her friends had gotten to.


As the harvesting finished and the day grew dark, the other ponies all started back toward the house for a meal. As they walked, Rarity moved to stand beside an orange pony with a blond mane and tail.

"Applejack?" Rarity asked, "May I speak with you a moment?" Turning at her name, Applejack slowed down as she looked at her friend.

"Why sure, sugar cube," she replied with a smile. Turning to the others she told them "Y'all go ahead. Rarity and I will be there in a minute." As the others continued, Applejack turned back to Rarity. "Now what can I do for you?"

Rarity felt her stomach flutter with nervousness. She took a moment to collect her nerve. Once she felt her more like her usual self, she asked:

"Do you know if your brother is in a relationship with anyone?"

If Applejack had still been walking, the question would have made her stop in her tracks. One eyebrow quirked up as she looked at her friend, letting the question sink in.

"Big Macintosh dating?" Applejack repeated as she thought. "Not that I know of. Why do you ask?"

"Would you mind if I dated him?"

"You want to date Big Mac?" Her eyes went wide in surprise. "I never thought him as the type of colt you would go for."

"Understandable," Rarity replied, "but after all that has happened, it has become obvious to me that the type of male that would normally pique my interest in not the type of stallion I should be with. It has become necessary to reconsider some of my values in regards to a relationship, and I believe Macintosh to be a promising prospect."

"Well if you want to date my big brother, I ain't going to stop you." She moved closer, putting a hoof on her friend's shoulder. "But be careful. I don't want to see either of you get hurt."

"Aww." Rarity smiled and moved to nuzzle her friend. "That's sweet of you. And I promise that no matter what happens with your brother, it won't change anything between us." Applejack smiled and let out a small chuckle. The pair turned back toward the house and went inside to join the others and enjoy supper.

Sweetie Interruptions

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Rarity gave the eyelash brush one last stroke before setting it down. She walked away from the vanity and to the full body mirror. A smile spread across her face as she turned back and forth, checking how she looked in her dress. It was a simpler design, and the purple was a redder tint than she usually wore. But it would work well for a simple first date, and the color would complement both herself and Macintosh wonderfully.

"What'ch doin'?" a young voice asked. Rarity's eyes went wide at the sound, recognizing it. Praying to herself that she was wrong and just imagining things, she quickly turned around. Standing at the door to her room was a much younger white unicorn, her mane and tail a curly mess of pastel colored pink and purple. The filly's green eyes shined brightly as she looked up at Rarity with a smile.

"Sweetie Belle?" Rarity asked "What are you doing here?"

"Mom and Dad went out for the weekend," Sweetie Belle shouted excitedly, "So they dropped me off to stay with the best big sister in the whole world!" The filly jumped in the air with excitement at the last part, grinning as wide as she could.

Of course, Rarity thought to herself, rolling her eyes.

"You look so pretty," the filly said as she moved closer to her sister. "What'cha doing?"

"Well I was-" Rarity was interrupted by a knock.

"I'll get it!" Sweetie Belle shouted as she turned and ran for the door. Rarity let out a sigh before following. As she reached the front room of her boutique, the door was already open. The sight made the unicorn stop, her breath catching in her throat. She stood there, staring as Big Macintosh stepped inside.

The stallion had not done much about his appearance before his arrival. His mane, which usually was slightly spiked and unkempt, had been cleaned and brushed to lay down properly. Macintosh also did not wear his yoke, his neck bare and free of the work equipment. It was quite a shock as Rarity had never seen him without it before. She doubted that anyone had other than his family. Slung across his back was a saddle bag, the large green apple cutie mark clasp holding it shut.

Macintosh had not noticed Rarity right away. He was looking down at Sweetie Belle, the young unicorn seeming to be just as stunned as her sister. Eventually his attention turned from the younger unicorn as he stepped further into Carousel Boutique. Macintosh looked at Rarity, and his smile grew wider.

The sense of intimidation fell away as soon as she saw the look on his face. The expression made him look more like some innocent young colt than a massive stallion. It was a reminder of why those that knew Big Macintosh thought of him as a gentle giant instead of just a powerfully built earth pony. It also made Rarity think if things had gone just a little different, then perhaps he would have been the element of honesty. She could not imagine someone who looked like that to be capable of lying.

Although it made her feel less intimidated, the look also made it harder for what she was about to have to do. Taking a deep breath, she moved closer.

"I'm sorry Macintosh," she said, "but I'm afraid we are going to have to re-schedule our date for another time. I have to take care of Sweetie Belle."

"What?!" Sweetie Belle shouted. "No! You got all dressed up and pretty. I don't want you to cancel because of me."

"It's all right," Rarity responded. "Macintosh understands, don't you?"

"More than," Macintosh said in his slow thick drawl.

"Besides," she continued, unaware of her accidentally interrupting him from speaking again, "you are too young to stay at home by yourself. So Macintosh and I will re-schedule our date, and you and I will stay here and find some way to entertain ourselves."

"Or she could come with us." The stallion's comment drew the attention of both the unicorns. Sweetie Belle reacted first. She took in a deep breath as a wide grin spread across her face.

"Can I?" she asked, hopping up and down. "Can I Rarity? Pleeeeaaaase?" She made her eyes as large as she could, looking up at her sister.

"Well if he has no problem with it," Rarity responded, "then I see no reason why not. Just give us one minute, and then we will get going." Sweetie Belle gave a nod and ran off. Rarity watched her go.

"Not quite the romantic evening I had been hoping for." She turned to Big Macintosh. "However, we will get to spend some time together and get a better understanding if there is any possible chemistry between us. There's just one minor adjustment I would like to make first." Her horn took on it white glow as she used her magic. A piece of dark blue fabric floated in the air and toward the two. Rarity wrapped it around Big Macintosh's neck, tying it into a bow tie.

"There we go," she said. "Not your normal color, I know, but it looks good. Besides it really brings out the green of your eyes and cutie mark." She looked down at the floor a moment. "Also... Thank you. Sweetie Belle seems very happy that I don't have to cancel."

"Eyup," Macintosh responded. "Ah know how it is to have a sister that needs to be looked after. Though yours don't seem as headstrong as AJ was at that age. Shall we?"

"Sweetie Belle," Rarity shouted, "Come on darling, it's time to get going." Sweetie Belle, with all the enthusiastic energy of youth, came running through the boutique and out the door. Big Macintosh moved aside to let her pass, then gave an "after you" motion to Rarity. This elicited a smile from the adult unicorn as she left, waiting for Macintosh to follow before shutting the door behind them.

A Date Different Than Expected

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The three of them walked through Ponyville, heading toward the park. Rarity and Macintosh walked casually side by side. She actually had to walk faster than originally expected. Macintosh seemed to walk at a slow pace, but his long legs allowed him to take great strides with ease. Sweetie Belle did not bother trying to stay with them too much. Instead, she would run ahead before coming back only to run off once more.

The walk had gone mostly in silence. It was making Rarity realize something that she had not thought about before: she was going to have to make most of the conversation. She had been aware that Macintosh was one who spoke very little of course, but had not thought about the fact it would he would not speak much during their evening together. As such, it would be on her to start, and probably proceed with, any conversations they were going to have.

"Your mane looks very nice like that," she said. "You know, you should brush it like that more often. It makes you look much more sophisticated." She smiled, batting her bright blue eyes at him. She saw a sheepish smile spread across his lips before Macintosh turned away, his ears flicking back and down in embarrassment. If it was not for the deep red coat, Rarity would have been able to see how he was blushing at the comment. Before he could respond, Sweetie Belle came running up to them once again.

"Hurry up hurry up!" the filly shouted. "We're almost there." With that, she ran ahead again, leaving the two alone once more. Rarity gave a small shake of her head at her sister's enthusiasm and continued walking to the park.

The sun shined in the sky of the late afternoon. It was quieter than usual since many of the ponies have gone home or to nearby eateries for supper. It was neither completely empty nor quiet however. There were still ponies of various ages running and playing, as well as the tweeting of birds.

As they walked to the pond, Rarity and Macintosh searched for a shady quiet spot to set down while Sweetie Belle ran toward the water. The sound of splashing and squeals of happiness could be heard easily. While the unicorn filly played, Macintosh took the saddle bags from his back and pulled it open. Shortly he started to pull out food: a jar of apple butter, several slices of fresh baked bread, dandelion and daisy sandwiches, alfalfa, a bottle of apple juice, and honey cookies.

Rarity looked at all the food in surprise. It was quite a generous spread. There seemed more than enough for three full grown ponies to eat. Or was it? Big Macintosh was a big stallion. She had never thought to pay attention to how much he ate when eating together. Would he actually have been able to eat most of this? Did he think she ate as much as Applejack? Or was a part of it just the natural hospitality of the Apple family to make sure everypony had enough to eat?

"Rarity! Rarity!" Sweetie Belle shouted, "Look what I caught!" At the sound, Rarity turned around and found herself staring at the wide eyed stare of a slimy, shiny, dark green bullfrog. The frog let out a croak, and Rarity let out a squeal of horror.

"Sweetie Belle!" she shouted, "Put that..." She stopped a moment, eyes turning toward Big Macintosh. The stallion was sitting down and watching them, his face not showing much of what he was thinking. Looking away, she closed her eyes. Rarity took a deep breath and slowly let it out, trying to control her irritation at the frog.

"Why don't you put that thing down Sweetie," she said in her more calm and controlled voice, "and come eat. Mister Macintosh has set up a scrumptious banquet for us to enjoy."

The frog let out a surprised croak as it flew through the air, already forgotten about by the unicorn filly. All of Sweetie Belle's attention was on the food that was set out for them. The filly started to grab different bits of food, ready to start shoving them into her mouth as quickly as she could.

"Ah-ah-ah," Rarity corrected, "Remember proper etiquette deary." Sweetie Belle rolled her eyes at her sister, but still slowed down. In according to her older sister's wishes, the younger sister sat down to "properly" pick up and eat one of the ready-made sandwiches.

Rarity smiled at her little sister, then sat down and started eating as well. After her third bite, she noticed that Big Macintosh was picking up a piece of bread and started to spread the apple butter on it. It sent a thrill to see such polite behavior. The stallion had waited for the ladies to begin eating before doing so himself. She never would have thought that such a simple living pony could be so well versed in proper manners. What else had she been missing out on? This question lead a thought about something she had never wondered about before.

"Have you ever wished to do anything other than work on the farm, Macintosh?" Rarity asked. Macintosh took a bite of his bread and chewed slowly. His gaze wandered off into the distance as he thought. The three of them ate quietly a moment.

"Eyup," he finally responded. "Can't seem to remember what it was though. Reckon it's been too many years. Been workin' the farm so long, don't think I could do anythin' else if I wanted." That was a surprise. It was hard for Rarity to imagine having to put her own dreams aside to help out with the family, to say nothing of doing it so long that her own wishes had become forgotten.

What should she say? Telling him that maybe he could pursue his own dream in the future seemed pointless since he could not even remember what it had been to begin with. It did not seem that he really ran the farm either. Although he did a lot of the physical labor, Macintosh seemed to defer to his sister when it came to making the decisions and handling the money.

"Well," she said, "It was very sweet of you to stay. I'm sure the farm never would have lasted without all you have done for it." That got a warm smile.

"Eyup," he said with a small nod.

"I can't wait until I get my cutie mark and figure out what my special talent is," Sweetie Belle added to the conversation. She then started to tell Big Macintosh all the adventures she had been having with the other Cutie Mark Crusaders. The young filly went on at length about each of their attempts at trying to get their cutie marks, and what ended up happening because of it. Rarity had to correct her sister's behavior several times for trying to talk while eating. Macintosh, for his part, listened to the tales intently. It would be hard to believe that he had more than likely heard these stories all before seeing as his youngest sister was one of the crusaders as well. Neither he nor Rarity tried to keep the young unicorn from talking. Rarity speculated that Macintosh was being polite.

As for her self... well, she still was not sure what to say to the stallion. Family was important to him, but it did not seem appropriate to speak about their parents and conversing about Applejack seemed like it would be uncomfortable. She had no interest in learning about farming, and he did not seem the fashion oriented type, so talking about work was not very appealing. Applejack was the one who worried about the finances in the family, so sharing business tips would be pointless. Rarity started to wonder: did she have anything in common with Macintosh that would be a foundation for a relationship? She continued to eat as she considered the question.

With most of the main food finished off, Rarity suggested they start on the cookies. The sweets were wonderfully prepared; the inside was soft without being raw, the edges crisp but not dried out, and the honey was just a slight hint without being too sweet. Rarity ate one, Macintosh ate two, and Sweetie Belle ate four. It made Rarity grateful that they were outside where the younger unicorn could burn off all the extra energy. Sweetie Belle seemed to have the same idea since she ran off to play some more as soon as she finished. Rarity watched her sister run off before turning back toward Macintosh

"So do you intend to work on Sweet Apple Acres the rest of your life?" she asked.

"Eyup." Macintosh gave a nod of his head. "'though when AJ starts a family her own, reckon' I'll get a place of my own nearby. Settle down and start a family of my own."

"Well it looks like you would be a great father." She turned to watch her sister trying to catch another frog. "You do seem to be good with foals."

"Eyup." He turned and looked up at the sky. "Sun's settin'." With that he turned to look up at the sky and watch the pale blue brighten into a rosy red color before darkening into the deep purple-black of night. Rarity moved to sit next him and watch as well. It was quite a lovely show.

"Well, I suppose we should begin returning home," Rarity said. "Sweetie Belle?" She turned to call her sister, and stopped. Sweetie Belle was curled up in the grass, asleep. Her body rose and fell with the gentle shallow breathing of her restful state.

Rarity stood up and moved toward her sister, smiling slightly. The young filly looked so innocent and adorable. Using her magic, Rarity carefully lifted up her little sister and set the sleeping unicorn across her back.

"You want I should carry her, Miss Rarity?" Macintosh asked. She looked at him, standing with the saddle bag already back in place.

"Thank you, darling," she replied, "but that won't be necessary. Sweetie is not as heavy as a basket of apples and I am accustomed to carrying her to bed." Shifting, she adjusted the weight of her sister and her own balance. Once comfortable, Rarity began to walk back toward town and her boutique. Macintosh quickly fell in step beside her, adjusting his stride to keep pace with her and not risk waking the sleeping filly.

The calm quiet of a small town evening fell over Ponyville. Many of the residents had gone inside, although a few were out to enjoy the night sky and the singing of the birds that were still awake. One or two turned to watch as Macintosh and Rarity walked past, somewhat fascinated to see the pair.

It was a quiet trip back to Carousel Boutique. Macintosh stopped at the doorway as Rarity opened the door and stepped inside. She turned to face the stallion and smiled at before speaking.

"Well it was not quite the date that I was expecting, but it was quite a lovely time. Perhaps we can go on another, although next time it will hopefully just you and I."

"Eyup," he responded with a small nod. Macintosh took a step back from the door and waited. Rarity blinked at him a moment before slowly closing the door. As soon as it was shut, she looked through the peephole. It seemed that he had waited until she had waited for the door to shut before leaving. He had been sweet enough not to try and get a kiss or come inside, but he had not simply turned to leave either. The stallion seemed to be making sure that she was inside safe and sound before actually heading home himself.

That's sweet she thought as she moved away from the door and through her home. She carried Sweetie Belle to the filly's bed room. With the help of magic, the young unicorn was carefully lifted and set in bed, the sheets pulled over the sleeping form. Leaning down, Rarity gave her sister a gentle peck on the cheek then went to work on some of her designs before bed.

A Festive Fall Date

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Holding the pins carefully in her mouth, Rarity looked through her glasses down at the outfit she was working on. Everything looked well and ready. No need for her to perform any additional final touch-ups. One final fitting to make sure it does so properly and, barring any unforeseen issues, it should be ready for today. She was not fond of working on an outfit up to the very last minute, but Carousel Boutique was a business and paying customers had to come before personal projects.

Checking the time, she found that there was more than enough to prepare. The pins were returned to their cushion, glasses to their case, and measuring tape to the work table. Rarity retreated to her bathroom, turning on the tub. Once the water was warm and filling, she slipped in, enjoying the feel of the hot water soaking into her form. It felt divine.

Not too long ago, the mayor had decided to have a carnival to celebrate the completion of an autumn harvest. A lot of ponies were quite excited, and a generous portion were working hard to make certain that things went well. Twilight had been asked to organize the event, to her delight and Spikes chagrin. At least it would be thoroughly planned out. Rainbow Dash was permitted to perform a sky show. It was something she would have done anyway, but at least this way the pegasus was going to be watched for safety instead of simply causing mischief. After quite a bit of coercing, Fluttershy was going to bring some animals for a little petting zoo. Hopefully it would not just be a large number of rabbits. Pinkie Pie was helping the Cakes prepare as many sweets as they could (though she was probably sampling a generous portion of them as well). Applejack was also planning to run a food booth, selling apples as well as baked treats that included said fruit.

It was also going to be the second date between herself and Big Macintosh. He had to help deliver food to the booth with his sister first, but would be by to pick her up after. They would get to go to the carnival and have a nice fun date. Plus, she would get to see all the ponies that were wearing her outfits. With a new event to celebrate, some of the ponies wanted new outfits to wear. As such, Rarity was able to get quite a bit of business. Nearly too much for one unicorn to handle. She almost did not have the time to create a new outfit for Big Macintosh and herself.

Feeling freshly washed and clean, Rarity drained the tub and got out. She wrapped her body in a nice fluffy bathrobe and put her mane up in a towel. It would have been nice to sit and soak a little longer, but she had to get ready. Moving to the vanity, she began to work on her make-up.

Just as she was about to take off the robe, there was a knock at the door.

"Just a moment please," Rarity shouted. Tightening the sash around her waist she trotted to the door and pulled it open enough to take a peak through.

"Oh," she let out in surprise. "You're early. Please come in." She stepped back and opened the door wider, letting Macintosh through. As he came in, Rarity moved away from the door and walked over to one of her mannequins. With a glow of her horn, she levitated the outfit off of the mannequin and toward the stallion.

"Here you go," she said, "There is a dressing room you can change into over there. I have to get dressed as well. Once finished, we can have one last check on how it fits before departing." With that, she left him to dress while returning to her room to do the same.

The robe and towel were removed and hung up to dry. Grabbing a brush, she gave it a quick run through her mane and tail to make it passable. She would have to give it a more thorough grooming when she returned. At the moment, she had to get dressed for her date.

The outfit was a lovely shade of dark lavender with a royal blue trim with gleaming gold thread. It was not a very elaborate outfit since she did not have much time to work on the outfit. A few gems, some additional buttons, perhaps a bit of white, and it would be perfect. Although it would probably be better to fully re-make the outfit from the beginning instead of trying to modify the current one. Regardless, it does not take her long to dress, and the garment looked just gorgeous on her. Satisfied she went to check on Big Macintosh.

The stallion's outfit was made with the same color palette as hers, although in differing proportions. The jacket of the outfit was a royal blue, with gold thread on the cuffs. Tied around the thick neck was a dark lavender tie with a small gold pin to hold it in place. She had wanted to do something a little ornate with the tie, but it would have required to know the exact location of where the knot would be tied in the length to fit around the stallion's throat.

"You look very handsome," Rarity said as she moved closer to study him. "Hm... the jacket looks a little tighter than I intended... or you put on more muscle since the last fitting." The statement was one that seemed impossible to be true, but she found that it would not surprise her if he actually had. "Well, it should hold up. Just to be certain though, you should be careful not to strain the fabric too much. That should be manageable. Now then, shall we?"

"Eyup," Macintosh responded. He moved toward Rarity and stood by her side. Together they left Carousel Boutique and headed toward center of town.


The blue skies above Ponyville were clear and cloudless, as guaranteed by the weather ponies currently on duty. There was a slight breeze, keeping everyone cool as they spent the time outside beneath the sun. The wind carried the sounds of joy and the smells of fresh food from Ponyville's first annual Fall Festival carnival.

It seemed as though every pony in town was at the carnival, either employed as a portion of it or enjoying it as a customer. There were several small stages with performers on them, spaced out far enough that the sound from one would not interfere with the other. Not all of the performers were actually on stages. Several were wondering around, performing for small crowds. There were booths for food, beverages, and games. If they wanted to, a pony could watch one show, go play a game, get something to eat, and reach another stage for a different performance.

Reaching the carnival, Rarity and Macintosh went and caught one of the shows. One the stage, a mint green pony was standing on her hind legs. One of her fore-hooves held a small stringed instrument, the mentioned strings of which glowed with a golden light that matched the energy surrounding her horn. The gentle notes from the strumming filled the air, creating a calming melody.

After the concert, the couple went to one of the concessions and ended up at the one that was actually being ran by Mister Cake. It was quite a surprise to see him at a stand since he and his wife ran Sugarcube Corner. Rarity could not help but wonder, learning that they were expecting, and wanted to try and get some extra bits before the foal was born. Each of them got a many fruit pocket pie (it has a yummy filling made from as many fruit as possible and made to be carried easier than a slice) before continuing on.

"You there!" a voice shouted, "you look like a strong young colt. Care to try your luck?" The source was a gray earth pony with black mane. Next to him stood a twenty foot tall piece of wood with a bell at the top. He gave a smile as he motioned toward the game.

"Two bits get you one buck," he continued, "ring the bell and win a prize. What do you say?" He continued to grin as Big Macintosh considered the game a moment. Rarity studied it as well.

Last time she had seen such a game, had been approximately around this time last year. Her friends Rainbow Dash
and Applejack had gotten hyper-competitive for some reason or other and ended up with an Iron Mare competition. A game such as this one had been one of the challenges included. Both the competitors had easily rung the bell, but Applejack had bucked hard enough to knock it from the top of the board.

At the thought of that, her gaze drifted from the game to Macintosh. He was larger than his sister by quite a bit, and had likely been bucking longer since he was the eldest sibling. If Applejack could knock the bell free, what could Macintosh do? Would the bell go flying so far that it would end up in one of the neighboring towns (a question which made her wonder what did end up happening to the previous one)? Would the kick shatter the wood? It did was unlikely to be as strong and sturdy as a full tree.

"Eyup," Macintosh said as he started walking toward the game. He paid his two bits and moved to stand in front of it. He looked at it a moment before lifting one of his forelegs.

"Sir," the barker said, "You're supposed to-" he stopped as talking as Macintosh gave a quick tap of the target plate with his hoof. The weight shot up from the plate, striking the bell with a strongly audible clang. Several of the ponies were staring at the game, some were staring at Macintosh, and some did not really seem to be surprised by the event.

Macintosh selected the prize, a stuffed white cat, and presented it to Rarity. She took it with a smile and looked at the thing. The material looked to be of a low quality as was the thread that made the sub-standard stitching. It would most likely come apart in less than a week.

"Thank you," she said politely as she set it safely to carry without worry of losing it. The barker had recovered from his shock and had resumed trying to coax other ponies into playing his game. A group of stallions were lining up to attempt, feeling the need to prove their strength to the mares they were with after feeling intimidated by the ease with which Macintosh had won.

The two continued to walk around the carnival. They listened to some of the music or watched a portion of the plays. They observed some of the games as other ponies attempted to play them. Having eaten, neither were hungry enough to purchase more food, but the aromas did make it quite tempting.

There were no rides to enjoy. No one who lived in Ponyville had the equipment for such a thing at the ready, nor the materials to build one in time. It turned out that requesting rides from elsewhere would require as much as a full year of advance notification. If the carnival did well enough this year, then plans for such request would be considered. None of the ponies in attendance seemed to be disappointed by the lack, however.

The pair went by to check on Applejack and the stand. The orange earth pony was doing a steady amount of business, which she seemed to be well in control of. She was able to get the customers what they wanted, bu was too busy to have a casual conversation. After making certain that Applejack required neither assistance nor additional supplies, Macintosh and Rarity decided to check on Fluttershy. As they went, something caught Rarity's attention.

Walking not far from them was a green mare with a blond mane and tail. Following her was a white stallion in a fedora on top of his red maned head. There was also a patch of a similar color up on his chin.

"Come on," the stallion said, "You're a cute filly. I bet you're even cuter when you smile. Well at least tell me your name." He speed up, moving in front to try and cut off her path. "Now don't be rude. I'm trying to be a nice colt here. The least you could do is talk to me."

Rarity stopped and watched for a moment, taking notice of the mare. The unicorn recognized the look on the other pony's face. It was the face of irritation and annoyance. She had seen it on several occasions when a colt -- either do to over-enthusiasm or insensitivity -- would not accept the indications that a filly was not interested in his advances. Rarity had also seen some males who took such an act personally, and once or twice even turned violent.

"Macintosh," she said, "Perhaps you should intervene on that lady's behalf. I get the impression that the fellow is not going to relent unless somepony encourages him to do so."

Macintosh looked at Rarity a moment then over at the other mare and stallion. His lips pursed out as his jaws tensed, watching a moment. Taking a deep breath, he straightened up to his full height (she had no idea he had been slouching), stuck out his chest and walked over. The green mare took a few steps away from the white stallion. Before the male could move closer, Macintosh moved between the two and looked at the other stallion.

"Sir," the large red pony said in a soft, but firm, tone, "I believe that the lady is not interested. It would probably be better fer the both of ya if you were to go speak with somepony else." Macintosh shifted to plant his legs firmly in the ground, looking down at the white stallion before him. The other stallion stared at Macintosh a moment before his eyes narrowed and lips turned into a scowl.

"This is none of your business, hayseed. I'm just trying to be a nice colt and get to know a filly. Besides, she doesn't need you to speak for her. If she wants me to leave her alone, she can just say so herself. Now butt out or I'm going to have to do something about it." A red glow encompassed the hat, lifting it to reveal that that white pony was a unicorn. He kept his eyes narrow and snarled at Macintosh.

Macintosh did not move. Instead he spread his legs wider apart for greater stability, relaxing slightly to lower his center of gravity and make it more difficult to move him. The tilt of his head changed as he adjust his stance, using his chin to protect his neck. Macintosh did not squint, nor snarl. He just continued to calmly look at the unicorn.

The white stallion did not take this well. Leaning his head forward, his jaw clenched as he focused. The glow around the horn grew brighter with arcane energy. The same energy moved toward Macintosh, collecting around the hooves and moving up his body to encompass him fully. The unicorn let out a grunt of effort, teeth bared and eyes shutting. Energy started to spark with an audible pop from the strain.

Macintosh's eyes went wide as he looked down. Slowly, he was being lifted off the ground. It was not noticeable for others, but he could no longer feel the support of the ground beneath his hooves. Trying to keep calm, he began to shift his weight, trying to break the spell and return to the ground.

It was at that point that the strain became too much for the unicorn. Instead of simply having the magic fade, it surged, causing a magical explosion. There was a cloud of dirt as the energy was suddenly released. The ponies nearby went silent at the sound, watching out of curiosity.

As the dust settled and the last of the energy dissipated, both stallions became visible. Macintosh sat in the same spot he had previously been, looking a little worse for wear, but overall unharmed. The unicorn, however, was not so fortunate. There were no signs of physical injury, and he was breathing, but he was sprawled out in the dirt, seemingly unconscious. Several ponies ran to check on each of them, with Rarity taking the lead in regards to Macintosh.

"Are you all right?" she asked as she reached the large stallion.

"Eyup," Macintosh replied, slowly standing up. Rarity looked at him as he did. His mane was no longer well groomed, the concussion from the explosion returning it to its normally slightly mussy appearance. The bright red fur of his coat was coated in a layer of dust.

"Oh dear," Rarity said as she moved closer. She leaned down, taking a closer look at the jacket. Like the rest of him, it was covered in a layer of dirt. There were tears along the seams as well as in the fabric.

"Well your outfit is ruined," she proclaimed, "How unfortunate. It looked quite lovely on you. Perhaps someday it could have been part of a regular wardrobe. I suppose I could re-make it." She gave a smile. "And next time, it will be a perfect fit. Perhaps we should return early so you can go home and clean up." With that, she turned and started heading back to the boutique. Macintosh watched her a moment before getting up and following.

This time the two did not walk side by side, a fact which did not escape Rarity't notice. Slowing down, she turned her head to glance back Macintosh. The large stallion was walking slowly, even with his longer stride. His head was low, looking more at the ground then anything else. Macintosh was chewing on his lower lip, seeming to be distracted.

If Rarity were to venture a guess, it would be that the stallion was lost in thought. Although it had not been much of a fight, he had just been in a confrontation. Perhaps he felt guilt over the unicorn being knocked unconscious. It was not Macintosh's fault. He had simply stood there.

The thought sent a small pang of guilt as she resumed walking. It was not Macintosh's fault since he had basically just stood there, but in a way it was hers. It was her suggestion that he intervene after all. How was she to know that the other pony was a unicorn? Or that said unicorn would suffer an explosive power surge due to strain of trying to lift the large stallion? The unicorn would probably be fine. Worse case scenario, he would simply wake up in the hospital feeling sore and exhausted.

The two continued on quietly until they reached Carousel Boutique. Macintosh walked Rarity up to the door and stopped at the step. He watched her as she opened the door and stepped inside.

"Thank you for a wonderful time," she said, "and it was very brave of you to stand up for that mare. I hope we'll have another date soon."


"What do you mean 'no?'" Rarity asked. Her eyes were as wide as they could get and ears pulled back. She was genuinely shocked by the statement.

"Ah'm sorry Rarity," Macintosh replied, "It just don't seem like you're gonna be happy wi'me." He took a deep breath and sat down before continuing.

"Now y're nice enough and ah know it's not on purpose, but when we get together, you try'n change me. It's been little things, like how my mane or my clothes, but it happens whenever we get together. Ya' seem to want me to be more like them Canterlot types you look up to so much.

"Ah like who ah am, and I like my life. And as such, I want a mare who will be happy with me as I am. I don't wanna change for anypony. Fairly certain you feel the same way. Wouldn't want a stallion to try 'n change you." He moved closer and gave her a kiss on the forehead.

"You shouldn't settle," he continued. "You should find somepony who is exactly what you want, and I plan on doing the same. Good night Miss Rarity." With that, he turned and walked off. Rarity watched him for a while before slowly shutting the door.

Aftermath of a Break-up

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"Rarity?" Applejack asked as she opened the door to Carousel Boutique. The orange earth pony moved further in, looking around as she went. The main shop of the boutique was well lit by the morning sun coming in through the windows, but quiet. Applejack shut the door, the sound seeming to echo, and continued further into the shop. Soon the sound of scraping on parchment got her attention, the noise growing louder as she moved closer to the office where Rarity did her sketching.

There, the white and purple unicorn sat at her desk. Her hooves rested on the surface and the faint glow of her horn could be seen.

"Rarity?" Applejack asked again. The sound of her voice made the unicorn jump in her seat. Turning around, she looked at her friend, blinking a rapidly as she stared through her glasses. A look of recognition was followed by a friendly, but tired, smile.

"Hello Applejack," Rarity said, "I didn't hear you come in. Just give me a moment please." With that, she turned around and continued to work. Applejack stared at the back of her friend a moment before moving closer.

"Big Mac told me what happened yesterday." She stepped up beside her friend, looking at her. "You alright, Sugar cube? You look tired." Rarity stopped working, but did not respond for a moment. With a sigh, she took her glasses off and rubbed at her face with a hoof. She turned to her friend.

"I am tired," Rarity said, "I was incredibly shocked by what happened. In honesty, I did not expect him to be the one that initiated a break up. I ended up lying in bed nearly the entire night thinking about what he said. Do you know want to know what I realized?" She looked at her friend a moment longer then turned toward the desk and looked up at the ceiling.

"He was right. I was not even aware of it, but I was trying to change your brother. Nothing major mind you, at least not yet. I was starting with trying to get him to keep his hair neat and combed. After that, I was trying to get him to have a wardrobe. Some outfits to wear when we go out together, maybe one or two for working around the farm.

"Only, as I was thinking about it I realized I was not going to simply stop there. Without even knowing it, I was planning to do so much more. I was going to try to get him some sort of speech training so he would lose the country accent. I was going to encourage him to seek something more than a simple life in Ponyville of having his own home while still working at the farm. Eventually I imagined him and I married and moving to Canterlot where we would become the newest part of the aristocratic class

"That's when I realized that he was right, Applejack. I was trying to change him, to make him the type of stallion I wanted instead of liking him for the type he was. I was not wanting to be with him for who he was, but for who I could possibly make him.

"He was also correct in my not wishing to change myself for a stallion. I want somepony who will accept me for who I am. A stallion who will love me for me and willing to accept my flaws. I don't want to have to change who I am or what I want to be loved. I want someone to feel for me the way I want to feel for them." With that she turned and smiled at her friend once more.

Applejack looked at her friend a moment. The earth mare moved to sit down.

"That's quite a lot for me to take in," she said, "I'm sorry things didn't work out with mah brother, but I'm glad you're handling it so well. So, what are you going to do now?"

Rarity turned back to her desk. Grabbing her glasses, she placed them back onto her snout. Her horn gave off the white glow as she used her magic to grab the quill once more, dipping it into the ink.

"First, I'm going to finish this letter to Princess Celestia. After that, I may just take a nap to catch up on the beauty sleep I missed out on last night, or go to the spa instead. Although it's possible I will fall asleep during the facial or massage. In the greater sense, I suppose I'll resume working on some garments and reconsider what it is I want out of a romantic relationship. Perhaps the time with Macintosh has given me a slightly better understanding of my own desires."

Applejack looked at her friend, and slowly smiled. Standing up, the orange mare moved toward the white unicorn and hugged, giving a gentle nuzzle.

"Well if ya ever need to talk, I'll be there sugar cube."

"I know. Thank you."


Big Macintosh sat at the edge of Sweet Apple Acres, looking up at the sky to watch the setting sun. It had been a long and busy day, and he had worked extra hard. He felt bad about breaking up with Rarity the way he did, but it had been necessary. According to what Applejack had told him after getting home, Rarity was taking things pretty well.

"Hello Macintosh," the sophisticated feminine voice said, drawing his attention from the sunset. He could not help but look surprised as Rarity moved closer, sitting down next to him.

"Miss Rarity," he said slowly as he collected himself, "Didn't think I'd be seein' ya again so soon."

"I wasn't really planning to come by originally. I assume your sister told you she visited and we spoke."


"Well," she looked down at the ground, "I sent the letter to Princess Celestia about what you taught me; accept somepony for who they are and don't try to change them if they are happy. I took a nap and then did some work while I thought about some things. After much consideration, I've come to a conclusion." She turned and looked at Macintosh, giving him a smile.

"I want to be your friend, Macintosh. Things may not have worked out between us, but you are still a very kind and caring stallion, and I would like to get to know you. We could even come to each other for advice regarding relationships." She held out a hoof to the stallion. "So, friends?"

Big Macintosh looked at the unicorn then down at her hoof. A slow smile spread across his mouth as he shifted to face her. He lifted his own hoof, pressing it against hers and shaking.


"Wonderful." Rarity pulled her hoof away and moved to stand up. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to break the news to Sweetie Belle. It possible she might end up developing a little crush on you." She grinned and trotted off. Macintosh watched her go for a while, unable to help himself. Once she was out of sight, he turned back to the sunset.