by Titanium Dragon

First published

A discussion over whether crêpes count as real food results in Rarity and Applejack making a bet, with the loser having to spend a day helping the winner with their job. Do the pair have ulterior motives in wanting to spend more time together?

Rarity takes her friends to a Prench restaurant in Canterlot for breakfast and orders one of her favorite dishes, crêpes sucrées. Applejack is skeptical of the food - crêpes are just a thin layer of cooked sweet dough, nothing more than an excuse to eat whipped cream and sugar without consuming anything of substance. The debate over the nature of crêpes as food leads the pair to a bet, Applejack allowing the unicorn to give her a makeover and show her off, the unicorn going a day without her precious makeup and fake eyelashes.

But do the pair have ulterior motives for wanting to see each other in a new way?

There is now a Spanish translation of this story, courtesy of Spaniard Kiwi


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"Ain't this place a bit fancy for breakfast?" Applejack said, tilting her head back to look up at the impressive but out of place facade of the Prench restaurant in the heart of Canterlot.

"Not at all, darling," Rarity replied, the prim white pony smiling at her friend. "Fancy Pants himself told me this was a wonderful place to eat breakfast. It is usually too crowded by other ponies for lunch and dinner, but in the morning only a few ponies show up, so it gives you plenty of space and lets you soak in the class and ambiance."

"I've been here for breakfast before with the princess," Twilight chimed in, the skeptical cowpony turning her head back towards the rest of her friends as the alicorn princess added her opinion to the mix. "It was always very nice, even if the staff only speaks Prench."

"They don't understand Equestrian?"

"Oh no, they understand it perfectly, they just refuse to speak it in front of their customers. You can tell from the way they sneer at you if you try to address them in it."

"Oh hush now darling, they are perfectly hospitable as long as you order in Prench."

"That's not how I remember it..." grumbled Twilight, but her complaint was drowned out by a much louder pair of protests from Rainbow Dash and Applejack.

"But I don't speak Prench!"

"That's fine dear, I will be ordering for everyone. Now, shall we?"

With some grumbling from Rainbow Dash and Applejack, the six friends entered the restaurant, where they were greeted by a smartly dressed stallion, his black uniform contrasting sharply with his brilliantly white coat. After a few quiet words from Rarity, he bobbed his head and pulled six menus out from behind his podium and, holding them tightly beside him with his magic, walked down the aisle between the tables, all of them set immaculately, snow white tablecloths settled over the tables, napkins folded perfectly atop pearl white plates. The waiter led them past numerous empty tables before arriving at the rear of the restaurant, bobbing his head towards a table near the window with a view overlooking one of the many waterfall-fed parks of the city.

“Votre table, mesdames,” the waiter said. He waited there expectantly for several moments as the ponies settled into place before asking, “Que désirez-vous boire?”

"Un crème pour moi, monsieur," the yellow pegasus on the far side of the table said demurely in perfect Prench, making Rarity smile proudly while Twilight, standing beside her, shifted awkwardly.

"Uhm... une noisette pour moi, s’il vous plaît," the purple pony said slightly hesitantly, though her words only earned another smile from her pale-furred companion, who spoke up next.

"Une noisette pour moi aussi. Je crois que mon amie rose veut un café au lait, et un café pour les autres."

"Merci madame," the waiter said as he began to float the menus out to the ponies seated around the table, before Rarity shook her head once.

"Ce n'est pas nécessaire, monsieur. Nous voudrions des crêpes sucrées, avec des fruits, confiture, sucre, et crème fouettée."

"Bien, madame," the waiter said, before retrieving the menus and leaving the ponies in peace with another bob of his head.

"Wow," Twilight said a moment after he left, "you know you're getting used to something when you notice it is missing. He didn't even say anything about me being a princess."

Fluttershy smiled weakly at her friend. "I think it is because the Prench don't have a king anymore."

Twilight smiled wanly at that, making Applejack incline her head slightly, though it was Pinkie Pie who asked the question. "What happened to him?"

"Ah, well," Twilight said awkwardly, raising her hooves and tapping them together, "The Prench have a verb. Guillotiner."

"What does that mean?" the pink pony inquired curiously, before Rarity cleared her throat.

"That is hardly a suitable conversation to have at the breakfast table," the unicorn interjected, making Fluttershy relax, the pegasus having frozen at Pinkie Pie's question.

"Ah agree," Applejack said, waving her hoof slightly over the table, before Rainbow Dash chimed in.

"Yeah! The real conversation should be, what are we having for breakfast? What did you order?"

"Oh, just drinks and our main course. Crêpes sucrées!"

"And that is...?"

"Sweet crêpes."

"I think what Rainbow was askin' was what those are."

"Oh! Well, they're like pancakes, only very thin and sweet, and instead of putting toppings on them, they're wrapped up around them. They're very good, I'm certain you will all like them."

"All that to order pancakes?"

"It wasn't just crêpes, Applejack," Twilight cut in, "It was also drinks. Well, coffee. They'll bring some croissants and biscuits as well, it is traditional for breakfast."

"Coffee? That don't seem too fancy."

Rarity smiled indulgently at her earth pony friend. "The Prench need to wake up in the morning the same as anypony."

"Lemme guess, they gussy up their coffee the same way they gussy up everything else?"

Rarity's smile grew sly at that. "You'll see."

Indeed, it was not long before the waiter returned with a pair of platters hovering over his back, one holding six mugs, the other a dozen small baked goods. The biscuits and croissants were expertly lowered onto the plates around the table, each positioned exactly the same before the friends, before the mugs left their platter as well and found their places around the table, spoons positioned on the small plates each of the mugs was standing on, with a sugarcube in the base of the spoon and a couple more positioned expertly around the back of the mug.

“Désirez-vous autre chose?”

"Does anyone else need anything?"

The other five ponies around the table shook their heads, making Rarity turn back to face their waiter. "Non, merci."

The waiter politely nodded his head before turning away, the white unicorn turning her head to look at her friends. Twilight had already picked up her small, foam-covered mug and sipped at it, while Fluttershy was expertly dunking her sugar cube into the top of her own coffee, the small white cube slowly turning brown as it absorbed the coffee. Across the table, she could see Rainbow Dash and Applejack skeptically regarding their own small mugs of coffee.

"It looks like coffee, but it seems awful small," the farmer pony said, making Rarity smile anew, while Pinkie piped up from the other side of the table.

"Why did I get so much more than they did?"

"The Prench don't make their coffee the same way we do," Twilight said, her own cup set down on the table. Looking over at Fluttershy, she smiled at the pony. "Have you been to Prance? That is exactly how they take their sugar cubes."

The yellow pegasus did not respond for a few moments, before delicately eating her now-brown sugar cube and smiling at Twilight. "Oh no, I just learned about it from reading magazines. It seems nice, though."

Pinkie, for her part, had already taken all three of her sugar cubes and dumped them into her coffee, and looked around the table for more. "You can have mine," Rainbow Dash offered, and moments later, three more cubes found their way into Pinkie's mug.

"Try it," Rarity urged Applejack, who had continued to eye the small mug of black liquid dubiously. The farmer shrugged, then leaned down to take a sip, her eyes widening moments later as she pulled her head back.

"That's some strong coffee," she said, making Rarity laugh quietly.

"The Prench like their coffee straight and strong. There's more coffee in that little cup than there is in most mugs of Equestrian brew."

The farmer smiled. "Well, they may fancy a lot of things up, but this is mighty fine coffee."

The next few minutes were consumed by small talk and sips of coffee, as well as quiet appreciative noises at the taste and texture of the flaky croissants. By the time mugs and plates were empty, the unicorn waiter had returned with another tray. Bowing his head again, he then expertly slid the plates off of the platter onto the table, trading the dirtied plates for ones full of sugar-drizzled pastries, before bobbing his head and excusing himself.

"These ain't quite what I was expectin'," Applejack said as she bent down to take a bite of one of hers, mouth filling with the taste of whipped cream and blackberry jam.

"So what's in these anyway?" Rainbow Dash asked as she dug into her own plate.

Rarity smiled, one of the oblong food objects hovering in front of her snout as she spoke. "I asked for a variety of things for each of us."

"Seems to be mostly toppin's," Applejack observed as she ate her crepes straight off her plate, the gesture obviously slightly awkward for the farm mare, used to eating foods which were better designed for earth ponies to eat, the first one she had picked up resulting in a bit of a mess over on one side of her plate.

"They're good!" Pinkie said, the pony already having devoured over half of hers with considerable gusto.

"I agree."

"Yeah, they're alright I guess. Not very filling though."

"I have to agree with Rainbow Dash," the farmpony said. "They're tasty, but its just like eating toppings straight up, with how thin the crepes are."

"Crêpes," Rarity corrected, "and there should be one or two which are filled with fruit."

"Ah found one of those," Applejack replied, "But it is mostly just fruit, the crepe is so thin."


"Whatever. The point is, it ain't real food. It's an excuse to eat whipped cream and jam for breakfast."

"What is the difference between that and toast?" Twilight asked, inclining her head towards her friend.

"The difference is with toast, at least there's something solid there to bite into. Toast has a little topping and a lot of bread; this is the other way around."

"But that is what makes crêpes so wonderful!" Rarity interjected. "With most foods, the toppings are just a little something extra to enhance the food, but with crêpes, they are whatever you want them to be! Crêpes salées can be filled with cheese, eggs, artichoke, mushrooms... even some things griffins eat. Crêpes are all about what you put inside of them and on top of them, they can be anything you want!"

"But that's just it, Rarity. They ain't anything themselves. When I eat a food, I want it to have somethin' to it. It's not that they aren't good; they are. They just aren't real food. It's basically like stickin' your head in a jar of jam after puttin' some whipped cream and sugar on top and callin' it breakfast."

"Not all of them are filled with preserves and whipped cream you know."

"Some of mine are filled with pears!" Pinkie Pie said enthusiastically, the tip of her snout white with powdered sugar as she devoured the last crepe on her plate, Rarity grimacing slightly at the sight.

"That's the same thing. It ain't about the crepe, it's the fruit inside. Even with caramel apples, you've got the apple and the caramel, and neither are quite the same without the other. Apple pie, you've got a lot in the pie besides apples. These you're just wrapping up the fruit or what have you and callin' it somethin' else to sound fancy."

"Many things are about the presentation. Look at the dresses I made for you girls for the gala; if you showed up wearing Pinkie Pie's dress, you'd look silly. But Pinkie looks wonderful in it."

"But that's not the same. The dresses are like the toppings, but with these crepes, they are all topping. It would be like if Sweetie Belle tried to wear one of your dresses; you couldn't even find her in there. I don't even know what a crepe tastes like, with all the stuff with it. It's not that it's bad, it's that it ain't honest to call it crepes. I can't even say I like crepe, because I'm hardly havin' any."

"That is like eating the crust of an apple pie and complaining that it doesn't taste like apples."

"Maybe if we called apple pie 'crust' that would be a fair complaint, but it ain't called that."

"If you don't like it, I'll have yours!" Pinkie Pie put in, but Applejack just shook her head.

"T'ain't the point. It's not that I don't like it. It's just that it ain't honest callin it crepes when it is a bunch of other things which all just use a bit of dough. It would be like sayin' apple pie and lemon meringue are the same thing because they both have crust."

"But they are both pies, darling. Just like how my dresses are all dresses, but each one is unique."

Applejack sighed. "I guess you're right. It just seems kind of weird, havin' something that is all whipped cream and jam without anything to go with it. Not bad, just weird. Like I'm cheatin' on eatin' or somethin'. It's not honest food, like the coffee was. That was called coffee, and it was coffee. Seems superficial to call crepes crepes, when they're really fruit crepes, or whipped cream and jam crepes, or whatever. Kind of like how a lot of ponies look at you, Rarity."

"What do you mean by that?" the white unicorn said, her eyes widening. "Are you saying I'm superficial?"

"No, I'm sayin' folks see you as superficial. They see the makeup and the fake eyelashes and the fancy talk and think that's all there is to ya, when that's just the toppin's, and not what makes us like you."

Rarity frowned slightly at that. "It isn't my fault. I just like to look pretty. You can't make people think."

"No, but it kinda is your fault cause of the way you act, Rares. You pretend like you can't stand mud, or that a hair bein' out of place is a big deal, or that if you're less than perfect you're hideous. But I've seen more to ya than that. It'd just be nice to see it a bit more often, that's all I'm sayin'."

"Uh, weren't we just arguing about breakfast?" Twilight said, only to be ignored by the pair of ponies facing each other across the table.

"And what is that supposed to mean? That I should hide my beauty like you do so ponies don't notice me?"

"I ain't hidin' nothin'."

"Oh really? Then why do you always keep your mane and tail tied back the same way, even when we're in Canterlot and you don't need to keep it back for your farmwork?"

"It don't get in the way this way."

"Really? Because none of the rest of us tie our hair back, and somehow we manage. I think you're just worried that if other ponies think you're pretty, they'll forget you're a farmer."

"That's not it and you know it Rares. Why are you bein' this way anyway?"

"Well you were the one who brought it up."

"I was sayin' that you look pretty even when you're not all gussied up, and you look more like a real pony when you're like that. I like that. Fact, I'd say you look better when you're not tryin' to pretend to be somethin' you're not."

"I'm not!"

"But you are, Rarity! You're more of a noble pony than anyone out in Canterlot when you're covered in mud. You ACT like mud is the worst thing in the world, but you aren't afraid of getting dirty. When the changelings attacked the city, they all ran away while YOU helped us get to the elements."

"We lost that fight, darling."

"But we tried. More than any of the nobleponies I saw."

Rarity hmphed and turned her head, though a smile was showing on her lips. "Still, that doesn't change the fact that I looked fabulous while I was doing it."

Applejack laughed at that as the other ponies around the table visibly relaxed, the argument apparently over. "That you did. Almost as pretty as you look when you're workin'."

"Why Applejack, I didn't know you cared." Rarity practically purred at the words, batting her eyelashes at Applejack across the table, the farm pony coloring a bit.

"That's not 'xactly what I meant."

"Aww," the unicorn said, feigning disappointment as Applejack relaxed slightly, a coy smile still dancing on Rarity's lips. "Well, I still say you should wear your mane and tail free more than you do."

"Only if you go a day without your makeup and fake eyelashes."

Rarity considered it for a moment, making Applejack blink, before she nodded her head. "Very well. How about we make it a little bet? If everyone says that I look better without my usual preparation, I will spend a day working on your farm, doing whatever terrible labor you demand of me. But if they say you look better with ten minutes of -my- preparation, you get to model dresses for me all day. Deal?" The unicorn was wearing a sickly sweet smile, making Applejack smile one of her own, a rather competitive grin last seen during the Iron Pony competition.

"It's a deal," the cowpony said, "But only after we get a few days to settle in when we get back. I need to catch up on some of my work around the farm, and I can't afford to spend all day modellin' dresses when there's work to be done."

"Fine!" the unicorn pronounced. "Next Tuesday it is then."

Pretty Either Way

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An hour after dawn, there was a sharp rap on Rarity's front door, the ponies having returned to Ponyville the previous week. As Applejack had expected, there had been a lot of work around the farm waiting for her return, and the last several days had been especially hectic, trying to get the farm back in order after the problems they had after Pinkie Pie had briefly taken over her duties. But enough had been done that Applejack could take a day off if need be; even so, she had risen early to complete her morning chores before heading over to the Carousel Boutique.

It took a minute for the white unicorn to answer the door, though she smiled when she saw Applejack outside. "Good morning! You're here early."

"Thought I'd get an early start on things. Glad I did too; you've already prettied yourself up."

"Whatever do you mean, darling?"

"The makeup, the eyelashes... c'mon, you didn't think I'd notice?"

Rarity blinked, then shook her head. "I forgot."

Applejack grinned. "Well that's why I showed up early. Mind if I come in?"

"Not at all!" The unicorn stepped away from the door, allowing her friend to enter the boutique, her magic grasping the door and swinging it shut behind her. "Ooh, it has been a while since I've gotten to give you a makeover!"

The rustic pony rolled her eyes. "I reckon there's a reason for that. But remember, we had a deal. Ten minutes of prettifyin' me, then I'm gonna de-gussify ya."

"Ten minutes? But that's so little. We have an hour!"

"But ten minutes was the deal."

Rarity pouted. "Fine. I hope you at least brushed out your mane before you came over."

"Just because I live on a farm don't mean I was raised in a barn, Rares."

"Good. Now let me get these off you." The unicorn barely had to concentrate as her horn glowed faintly, the bands holding Applejack's mane and tail together slipping away and resting on an empty shelf nearby, the farmer shaking her head and tail to let her mane flow down around her shoulders and hindquarters. Moments later, a brush floated over and began sliding through her blonde mane, Applejack tilting her head slightly as her hat was taken from her and set aside temporarily.

"You do look marvelous like this even without much work," Rarity said as she looked over the mare, a second brush floating over to start working on Applejack's tail, the farmpony shifting slightly on her feet as the white unicorn examined her closely, then smiled brightly.

"Really dear, you should wear your hair loose like this more often." The unicorn's magic reached over to open one of her drawers, a small makeup kit floating out, then flicking open before a small brush slipped out and started pressing into some orange powder. The magic guided the brush to Applejack's cheek, the sturdily built earth pony closing her eyes as it lightly dusted her fur for a few moments. With her eyes closed, Applejack could feel her hair being gently tugged on by Rarity's magic, but less than a minute later, she could feel the brushes float away from her and heard the quiet click of the kit closing. A few seconds later Rarity's hooves gently brushed against her mane, then she felt her hat being redeposited on top of her head.

"Done!" the unicorn declared, standing in front of Applejack and smiling brightly as the earth pony blinked a few times, then smiled back at her friend, meeting the unicorn's gaze.

"How do I look?"

"Why don't you see for yourself?" the unicorn said, putting a hoof on the farmpony's back and leading her over to one of her mirrors, where Applejack tossed her head back and forth a few times, flickering her tail before smiling.

"I reckon you're right Rares, I do look better like this."

"See? Now if you only spent a bit of time every day doing this..."

"Now, I didn't say I'd do this every day. But maybe every once in a while, I'll get a little fancy when I don't need to do work."

"I suppose I can't ask anything more. Though you do realize this means that I've already won our little bet?"

"Half of it," the farmpony said with a smile. "But I never thought I would win this bit."

Rarity blinked. "What? Then whyever did you make it?"

Applejack grinned. "Because I'd have never gotten you to agree to your half of it without it." She looked away, then back to Rarity. "Besides, I figured I could stand to spend a bit more time around you. I like your company, Rares, and I know this stuff is a big part of what you do. I figured it might be interestin' to spend a day with you and see what y'all are doing all day without gettin' in the way just to spectate."

Rarity smiled at her friend. "Oooh, you didn't have to do that. You could have just asked."

"Ah, but this way I get a shot at spendin' two days with you. Plus I get to get you out of that makeup for once. Come on."

"You still intend to prove that I am more beautiful without my daily routine?"

Applejack sighed. "That ain't exactly what I meant. The point ain't that y'all aren't beautiful now; the point is that you're pretty with or without being gussied up. You seem to think that all the stuff you put on is what makes ya pretty, but I know it ain't that. Y'all aren't a crepe; you're like one of those fancy cakes Pinkie makes. They're pretty on the outside, but without the fillin' it would just be sugar and nothin' else. There's more to you than frosting, Rarity." The earth pony lifted a foot to rest it against the unicorn's chest, the seamstress's cheeks flushing slightly with the words, speechless for a few seconds afterwards.

"That's very sweet of you to say, Applejack," Rarity finally managed. "Thank you." She leaned in to nuzzle at her friend, Applejack smiling and returning the gesture before taking a step back.

"Come on. Let's get y'all cleaned up for this." The two ponies started towards the back of the boutique, stepping into the washroom, Applejack grabbing a clean washcloth off one of the racks, then took it over to the sink, gently soaking it in water before picking it up in her mouth and approaching Rarity, who stood there watching her friend quietly, tilting her head to the side when Applejack leaned forward to start rubbing the washcloth against her face.

The farmpony's muzzle brushed against Rarity's as she worked, wearing a sincere, encouraging smile on her face as she gently rubbed the cloth over Rarity's face, moving no more than a couple steps from side to side as she worked, Rarity's fur not so much changing color as regaining its natural texture. "Tilt yer head down," the farmer said when she had finally gotten as much as she could easily reach, slowly swiping the cloth over the top of the unicorn's head, and finally rubbing it along Rarity's horn before tossing it over the side of the sink.

"Now, I don't rightly know how to get those eyelashes off," the cowpony began, only for Rarity to laugh quietly and shake her head.

"Let me get those darling, they're rather delicate," the unicorn said, before using her magic to pull a small bottle and a cue tip out of her cabinet, wetting the cotton swab on the end of the stick before bringing it up to her face and slowly stroking it along her eyelashes, the false strip of hair coming away and floating over by the sink before she repeated the process with her other eye. The unicorn blinked a few times as she looked at herself in the mirror before sighing.

"I have to say I look exactly the way I usually do when I wake up in the morning," the unicorn said, only to find the farmer reaching over with a hoof to tug her around to look the farmer in the eyes.

"I think you're too hard on yourself. You look plenty pretty to me." Applejack could feel Rarity's warm breath on her muzzle, and a look of disappointment entered her eyes as Rarity pulled her face away from her hoof.

"Well, of course I look alright," she said, "but why look alright when you could look fabulous?"

Applejack laughed quietly. "But you DO look fabulous. You just don't see it in yourself. When you're all dressed up and ready to go out, y'all look real pretty, but it isn't the same as you look right now. When you're like that, you look like you'd fit right into Canterlot. Heck, you fit in better with those nobleponies than they do, and that's sayin' something. But when you're like this, you don't look like someone else - you look like YOU, Rarity. You're a real pony, and you're real pretty when you're being you, too, and not trying to look like something you're not."

Rarity frowned, making Applejack wave a hoof. "And don't think that means I don't think you're noble. That's just the problem; you're the ONLY noble. Y'all are better than any of the nobleponies at the grand galloping gala. They all only pretend to be as noble as y'all are every day without even tryin' or puttin' on airs."

Rarity smiled weakly at that, bowing her head slightly. "Thank you Applejack. But I think you're wrong; I look a lot better when I'm 'all gussied up'."

Applejack sighed. "Well, I can't really change your mind about it. But you promised that you'd let others be the judge of that, so we'll wait for the others to show up for that bit. Now, you wanted me to model for y'all today?"

Rarity lit up. "Actually, if you're really wanting to help out, I can show you how to do a few things. I know your last experience in here wasn't very good, and you don't have much of an eye for such things, but I bet you could sew just fine with a little bit of tutoring and practice."

The farmer blinked, then smiled slightly. "I think I'd like that."

By the time the pair heard a knock on the front door of the boutique, Applejack was already feeding precut fabric slowly through the sewing machine with her hooves, the earth pony having considerably greater success than she had had previously, when her cutie mark had been swapped for Rarity's. The farmer continued to concentrate on the piece she was working on, and it was only half a minute later, when she had finished and set it aside, that she realized that Rarity had not answered the door for herself. Rising from where she was, she noticed that Rarity was studiously ignoring the door, seeming to concentrate on her patterns. Shaking her head, the farmer answered the door herself, smiling at the sight of Twilight outside, then blinking at the small crowd of a dozen ponies assembled outside.

"I thought it was just going to be the six of us," the farmpony said, which only made Twilight smile brightly.

"I thought we would do a proper experimental study of it. Just the four of us judging would hardly be fair, so all of us brought along some extra judges." Applejack glanced over at Fluttershy, who was smiling at her, but didn't seem to have anypony extra standing by her. "Well, almost all of us."

Applejack laughed at that as she gazed out at the assembled group of ponies. She recognized several stallions from the weather patrol standing near Rainbow Dash, Time Turner standing next to Pinkie Pie looking slightly confused, as if he didn't know how he got there, and...

"Lyra and Bonbon?"

The mint green pony was bouncing up and down enthusiastically next to her marefriend, who gave her an exasperated look before turning back to Applejack. "Yeah, Twilight invited us along. She said we would lend an 'important female perspective' to things, or something." The mare shrugged. "I would have thought Rainbow Dash would have been enough for that kind of perspective, but who am I to pass up a fashion show?"

"T'ain't gonna be much of a fashion show unless Rarity puts me in somethin' afterwards to please y'all. It's more of an unfashion show. She gussied me up a bit, and I degussied her."

"Well you look great today Applejack!" Lyra said with a bright smile on her face. "I don't think I've ever seen your mane and tail loose like that, but it looks really good!"

"Why thankee kindly," the earth pony said in response, taking a few rather haughty steps around in front of the green unicorn before turning around, tossing her mane and swishing her tail in the process, the conversation between the members of the weather team dying as they all watched her move. Out of the corner of her eye, Applejack could see Rainbow Dash lightly bop one of them on the head with one of her hooves, the pegasus in question voicing his pain, making Applejack laugh.

"Now y'all had better reel your tongues back into yer mouths, y'all ain't even seen Rarity yet. Can't say we were expectin' so many folks though."

"Well, unless Rarity really pulled off something special, you've already got my vote," Lyra said, grinning. "Though I guess I've always been partial to earth ponies." Bonbon only rolled her eyes at her partner's enthusiasm.

"So how is this supposed to work anyway? Twilight never actually really explained it to us."

"Well, I've actually already conceded my half of the bet," the farmer said, shaking her head a little. "Not like I wasn't expectin' to. It's not like she can't make anypony look better, and I don't really put in much effort most days."

Twilight blinked at that. "You conceded already?"

"How could you do that?" Rainbow Dash shouted, spreading her wings and springing into the air. "I was expecting a show!"

"Now hold yer horses," Applejack said with a grin. "It was only my half of the bet. You'll get to see Rarity come out without her makeup and fake eyelashes on and get to tell her she's still pretty soon enough. And I'm sure she's gonna want to make me parade around in a few dresses given I've already lost that much."

Rainbow Dash continued to hover a short distance off the ground, front hooves crossed over her chest, making Applejack blink suddenly, then grin. "You were lookin' forward to two hot mares struttin' their stuff for ya, huh, Rainbow?"

The prismatic mare's cheeks flushed a bit at that as she glowered at Applejack. "Hey, you know I would never leave my friends hangin'."

"Uh huh. 'Spect it has nothing to do with the fact that y'all want an excuse to watch us."

"And what is that supposed to mean?" She glowered further. "Are you calling me a fillyfooler again?"

"I didn't say anything of the sort, Dash. That was all you." The farmer grinned as she strutted away, swishing her tail behind her as she strutted back in through the open door to the boutique.

"You look hot!"

Lyra's compliment made Applejack's cheeks flush as she walked over towards where Rarity was working inside, the white unicorn studiously ignoring the door as she cut fabric according to her pattern rapidly with her magic.

"Rarity, everyone's outside waitin' for you."

The unicorn didn't glance away from her work as she continued to snip out patches of fabric precisely according to her patterns, remaining silent, her back still turned to Applejack as she worked.


"I concede," the unicorn said primly. "You trusted me, I should trust you as well about my appearance."

The farmpony signed. "Rarity, that's not the point."

"Oh? What is the point then? Because I think this bet was ridiculous."

"It ain't ridiculous Rarity. It's about you realizin' that you're plenty pretty even when you're not at your best and had forever to primp up. I'm not tryin' to get ya to be like this every day."

The unicorn frowned, turning her head slightly towards Applejack. "I don't want to go out and parade myself in front of such ruffians. Such vulgar language from those stallions Rainbow Dash brought!"

"They were perfect gentlecolts when I went out there Rarity. And the only one who said anything loud enough for y'all to hear in here was Lyra."

"Well I don't need to be leered at by her either."

"You don't seem to mind too much when you're all gussied up."

"That's -different-, Applejack. Sometimes a lady LIKES to be looked at."

"But not today?"

"Not like this! It would be positively scandalous for me to be seen outside without my proper regimen."

"Rarity, the ponies out there are your friends, or at least know ya. They ain't gonna stop comin' by your shop just because they saw you without your makeup one time."

The fashionista sighed and set down the fabric she had been working with, letting the pattern rest on top of it. "You're not going to let this go, are you?"


"Fine then. Just..." Rarity cast about, as if looking for something, before sighing. "Very well." Lifting her snout into the air, she walked towards the door, hesitantly at first before perking up her tail and squaring her shoulders and walking far more confidently, the farmpony following her with a smile on her lips as she watched the unicorn's gait. Rarity paused outside, blinking. "There are more of you than I thought there would be," she said, before putting on her most winning smile and stepping outside. To those who didn't know the pony, she would seem confident, but Applejack's smile faltered slightly - she could tell her friend was nervous as the farmer walked up to the door to watch her.

"Good morning," Rarity said in a sing-song voice as she walked in front of them, and while most of them were wearing smiles, a few of them looked rather confused.

"That's it?" Bonbon asked, Rarity's perfect gait a bit less so after her next step, the unicorn keeping her head held high.

"Well I like it," Rainbow Dash said. "You look like a real pony today." The pegasus was smiling at Rarity, an encouraging smile that Applejack had seen a few times before, though the farmer wasn't sure if it would be enough.

"Honestly I can hardly tell the difference," Twilight added after a few seconds. "Really the only big difference I see is your eyelashes are a bit shorter."

Fluttershy, too, wore a warm smile to match Dash's. "You look nice, Rarity."

The weather ponies spoke quietly to each other while Lyra started bouncing again before a look from her girlfriend brought her back to earth. "Well, I still think you've got one of the five best flanks in Ponyville!" This drew several snickers from the weather pony stallions, before Thunderlane finally spoke up.

"I think we agree with Lyra," the dark-furred pony said with a smile as one of his lighter-furred friends elbowed him, Applejack shaking her head at their antics, though another one of the ponies did pipe up.

"You do look very pretty, Miss Rarity, but you look even better normally."

"You might look more like a normal pony," Bonbon put in, "But you don't really look like YOU." She waved a hoof. "You're kind of recognizable normally, as the pony who got lost from Canterlot and ended up here. It's kind of your thing, I wouldn't change it."

"You know my opinion already Rares, I think you look mighty fine any way you are."

"Applejack's right! You're always pretty Rarity!" Pinkie Pie's cheerful voice was accompanied with a bounce from the pink pony, drawing a warm smile from Rarity, replacing the one she had put on for show when she had stepped out the front door.

"Thank you," the mare said, looking over the ponies assembled outside before grinning. "Now, who wants to see Applejack wearing my fall line?"

The ponies outside cheered, making Applejack laugh mirthlessly, though her smile returned as her eyes met Rarity's as the unicorn looked back at the earth pony. "Alright, where are they?"


An hour later, the ponies outside finally dispersed, Applejack still wearing the final dress of the line, a green-and-brown affair which had drawn the most applause from those assembled, Applejack smiling at Rarity as the door finally swung shut behind them. "Ya know, this kinda reminds me of my gala outfit."

Rarity laughed. "That's why I had you wear it. You look marvelous, darling." The white pony pranced back towards the bare mannequin the dress had been resting on prior to being put on the farmer, Rarity's magic wrapping around her friend, the blue magic flowing over Applejack's coat as it unbuckled straps and loosened laces. "If you'd like it, it's yours."

"I couldn't, Rarity. I don't really have anything to wear it for, unless you're plannin' on draggin' me to the Grand Galloping Gala again."

Rarity laughed. "I'm sure it would be better than our last one, though I suspect we are no longer welcome really."

"Speak for yourself. I wasn't the one who threw cake all over royalty."

"Oh, he had it coming," Rarity said, a vicious smile on her lips. "After all he put me through, he had it coming."

"I know Rares. I saw the way he was treatin' you. Heck, he wanted to make ya'll pay for my food."

Rarity shook her head. "You were the only good thing that happened at that blasted affair. Though in truth, I think I would have liked it had I had better company."

"Yeah, it's too bad we didn't all listen to Spike and stick together. Though it all worked out in the end."

"True. I did not know the princess enjoyed doughnuts so."

Applejack grinned. "Cake too."

"Oh, I still want to know how they got that picture of the princess!"

"You and me both, Rares. But Applebloom says they didn't take the picture, and I guess the pony who did ain't about to squeal about it."

The outfit slid off of the earth pony, Rarity's magic wrapped around it as the unicorn carefully set it back on the clotheshorse, the farmer watching the fashionista work with a smile on her face. When the unicorn turned back to face Applejack she smiled a bit uncertainly. "You seem happy. I was expecting you to be complaining about having to wear all the dresses."

"I agreed to it, didn't I? Besides, it ain't all that bad. Not like farm work, but I know it's important to ya. I don't mind helpin' out a friend."

"Thank you," the unicorn said, bowing her head slightly. "I hope I'm not being an imposition, dear. I know you have a lot of work to do on the farm. We've only been back for a week."

"I made sure we'd be okay for the day, and it's not like I didn't help out before I came over here. Probably will do some work when you're done with me too. But 'til then I'm your mare."

"Well that's very kind of you," Rarity said, laughing quietly. "Just don't let me take advantage of your generosity."

"You're the last person I'd think would take advantage of it, Rarity."

The unicorn sighed at that. "Oh, but I have. Not yours, of course, but I was absolutely terrible to Twilight at her last birthday."

"You were tryin' to sell your dresses. Succeeded too, if I recall correctly."

"I did, but... did you know that dress I gave Twilight wasn't finished?"

"It wasn't?" The farmer was curious now, stepping towards the unicorn. "It looked just fine to me. Fancy Pants liked it."

"Fancy Pants likes a lot of things. He is a very nice pony, a better friend than I deserve for the way I take advantage sometimes." The unicorn shook her head. "But no, it wasn't done, and yet I still had to make fifty just like it because he said he liked it."

"I kinda noticed that. I was wonderin' about that actually."

"What about?"

"Well..." The farmer shifted uncomfortably on her feet. "Why do y'all even stick around those nobleponies? You don't seem to really like their company."

"Why, of course I do! Whatever makes you think I do not?"

"Well, frankly, you never seem comfortable around them. You're always out-noblin' them or being nervous like you were at the party, never just talkin' to them like normal ponies."

"Well, they're nobility. They don't -talk- like normal ponies."

"That's just it Rares. I've seen you and Fancy Pants talkin', but when I see y'all talkin' to other nobleponies, it's just them noddin' their heads at y'all. 'Specially at Fancy Pants, or the Princess. It's like there ain't nothin' to them. That's why I said y'all are more of a noble than they are. They're like those crepes you like - all toppin's, 'cept they ain't even sweet."

"You said that before. It is very flattering, you know. Like saying I look pretty even when I'm hideous."

Applejack laughed. "Y'all don't even know how to look hideous unless you jump into some poison joke or somethin'. You were pretty even after you crawled out of that mud pit to run with Sweetie Belle at the social."

"Oh, you're just saying that."

"It's true! You're real cute when you're determined to do somethin'."

Rarity giggled at that, before walking past the earth pony to return to her earlier workstation, taking a seat next to her table as the fabric she had laid aside before their little show came floating back in front of her along with a pair of silvery scissors. "Ready to get back to work?" The unicorn asked her companion, Applejack having been standing in the middle of the room watching her until Rarity broke her out of her reverie.

"Course I'm ready to work. You need more of those bits sewn together?"

Rarity nodded her head. "Let me know when you're finished with what you have so I can have you do something else."

Applejack had been expecting to be used as a clotheshorse all day, but after the fashion show she spent barely half an hour being dressed up. The rest of the day had been spent working, and while the earth pony lacked the unicorn's more delicate touch, Applejack was able to use the sewing machine almost as well as Rarity could, at least for the tasks that the unicorn assigned to her. For the last hour, Rarity had been teaching Applejack how to hoofstitch, and while none of her pieces were presentable, the farmpony was beginning to get the hang of it by the time Rarity looked out the window and noticed how low the sun was in the sky.

"I think I've kept you long enough," the unicorn said, setting down the needle and thread she had been working with. "You said you were planning on getting some work done this evening, I couldn't keep you any longer."

Applejack smiled to Rarity. "I should be the one thankin' you really. This ain't really my thing, but it is better than I thought it would be. But I didn't get anything done here with the hoofstitchin'. I don't really get why you even tried to get me to do it, sugarcube; the sewin' machine is much faster, and I can actually do that."

Rarity shook her head. "The sewing machine is good for some things, darling, but if you need to repair something, needle and thread is much faster. And you can't use the machine to put on buttons or other things; those things must be hoof-stitched."

"I suppose. Still, doesn't seem like there's much use to teachin' me how to do it if I can't get a thing done with it. Or are y'all plannin' on askin' me for help again?"

Rarity smiled thinly. "While I do appreciate the help, I'm sure you have other things to do." The unicorn looked away. "Actually, I knew it would take longer than we had for you to learn how to hoofstitch properly. I just know you like to be self-sufficient, and I thought it might make you happy to learn how to fix your own things."

"Fixin' to get rid of me, huh? I didn't think I did that bad today."

Rarity looked back to Applejack, but blinked as the farmpony smiled at her. "It isn't nice to tease me like that, Applejack."

"I know. Can't blame me for havin' a bit of fun with ya though."

"No, I can't," Rarity replied, smiling.

"Well, I guess I'd better take my leave then." The farmpony stretched her legs slightly after divesting herself of her needles and thread, walking stiffly towards the door.

"What time did you want me to show up tommorrow morning?"

Applejack stopped, looking back over her shoulder in surprise. "I lost both halves of the bet, Rarity. Not everyone was so impressed with you as I was. Not that I think much of their opinions, but I lost fair and square."

Rarity shook her head. "Still, the opinions of everyone who mattered agreed that I looked quite beautiful without my makeup and false eyelashes."

Applejack grinned, "I 'spect they did, they ain't blind. Still, y'all don't have to."

"Oh, but I do. Besides, what better way to thank you for all the work you did for me today?"

Applejack smiled at her friend. "Well, I'm sure we'll be plumb grateful for your help. As for when..." the farmpony thought for a few moments, "Well, come over when y'all wake up. It's not like we're gonna run out of work if you don't get there early enough."

"How will I find you?"

The farmpony shrugged. "How about you just come meet me at the barn at eight. The big one we just rebuilt at the reunion."

Rarity nodded her head hesitantly. "I think I know which one you mean. Alright. Eight o'clock then. Should I bring anything?"

"Nah. We'll feed ya and everything. Just bring yourself. And Rarity?"


"Thanks. I liked spendin' the day with ya."

The unicorn smiled. "You're always welcome here, Applejack."

The earth pony bobbed her head before walking out the front door, Rarity's telekinesis swinging it shut behind her. Outside, the apple farmer sighed and let her head fall back, looking up at the reddening sky, a smile on her lips. She stood there for several minutes before a passing pony gave her an odd look, shaking her out of her reverie.

"I'd better get back to the farm and help Big Mac before he decides I'm not comin' and tries to do it all himself."

Like a Princess

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Applejack was waiting by the barn when Rarity showed up the next morning, the cowpony wearing her mane loose again today and smiling a warm smile as her unicorn friend trotted up the road. "Howdy there Rarity. Ready for a day out in the sun?"

"I am," she said, tossing her mane and smiling before blinking and leaning forward. "Applejack. Are you wearing your mane loose?"

The farmpony grinned and tossed her head. "You noticed huh? Well, I figured if I was hopin' to see you all natural-like again, I'd better start takin' your advice as well. You like it?"

"You look wonderful! I just hope it isn't a bother."

"Nah. If it was, I'd tie it back. But for a bit I can wear it loose."

"Well that's good to hear. So what am I going to be helping out with today?"

Applejack smiled. "Winterizin' the trees."

"Winterizing them? As in, getting them ready for the winter?"


"But Applejack... it's summer!"

"It sure is."

"Isn't it a bit... early?"

"Nope. Think about it. We gotta get this done by winter, right?"


"Well, when it gets to the end of the year, we've got too much to do. There's applebuck season, and prunin', and the Fall Festival... we gotta lot to do at the end of the year. If we wait until after the fall festival to start, we might not get it all done. So we start winterizin' in the summer, so when it is finally winter, we don't have to rush to get the rest of it done before it starts snowin'."

"That does make sense. I am working on my fall line after all. It does do to plan ahead."

"It sure does," the farmer said, before pushing open the barn door, revealing a rather large cart filled with several digging tools, cans of paint, and chicken wire.

"Will I be pulling this?" Rarity asked with some trepidation, drawing a laugh from the farmer.

"Naw. I'll be haulin' the cart around mostly, though you're welcome to take a turn at it if you'd like. I was gonna have you carry some of the other things."

"Other things?"

Applejack trotted over to a set of weathered looking saddlebags, picking them up in her mouth and carrying them over towards Rarity, the bags obviously heavy from the way she bent her neck before tossing them over Rarity's back, the unicorn's legs bowing slightly under the added weight. Rarity looked back at Applejack for a moment before straightening up.

"Ya think ya'll can manage that?"

"I'm fine," the unicorn said tightly. "I was simply not expecting it to be filled with bricks."

Applejack laughed. " It's mostly extra stuff for helpin' put up the barriers, so it don't get lost on the cart." The apple farmer leaned down against Rarity, her snout brushing against Rarity's stomach as she pulled the strap around underneath to fix it around her friend properly so that it didn't fall off. When she straightened back up, she was smiling slyly. "Did you put on perfume this morning?"

Rarity nodded her head. "Just a few puffs here and there. Do you like it?"

"You smell real nice," the farmer said, leaning against the saddlebag on Rarity's side, leaning over to give the tailor's neck a light nuzzle, making the unicorn shift slightly, her cheeks flushing a little.

"It probably won't last very long."

Applejack laughed. "Probably not, but it's a nice thought. Come on, let's get goin'. Mind hookin' me up to the cart?"

A minute later the pair of ponies emerged from the barn, Rarity walking alongside the farmer as the latter pulled the cart along the dirt road which cut through the farm. "We're going to the younger trees. Those are the ones that the varmints cause the most damage to."

"So what -are- we doing exactly?"

"Well, the chicken wire's to keep the varmints out of the wood, 'specially during the winter," the farmer said the cart rolled along the road steadily, the farmer apparently able to haul the heavy load with relative ease. "The paint is to reflect sunlight from the wood."

"And why is that a good thing?"

"I don't rightly know, truth be told. But it keeps the trees healthier for some reason. Think it might be that the sun don't get along well with their complexion. Or maybe its just cause it means more light hits the leaves. Either way, we've been doin' it for quite some time, and it seems to work well enough."

"I see. Do you do many things you don't really understand?"

"All the time. Can't know everything, but you gotta do the best you can anyway. We don't even know why half the stuff works with the zap apples, but it sure makes the jam better."

Rarity giggled. "I heard a little bit about that from Sweetie Belle. Is it true you have to paint polka dots all over the place?"

"Eyup. And sing."

"Does it really have to be the alphabet song?"

"I don't really know. I 'spect its not like it needs to be 'xactly that, but it works, so we do it."

Rarity laughed. "It is just a bit undignified."

"Farm work ain't too dignified in the first place. If we were worried 'bout getting our hooves dirty and our manes messy, we'd move to the city."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that it is wholly undignified. Why, you pulling the cart like that, your mane flowing in the breeze, I daresay there are plenty of ponies who would love to capture that and put it into the streets of Canterlot."

"It is a mite bit windy today. Keeps it nice and cool."

"Applejack! I was trying to give you a compliment."

"I know. It's just fun to play with ya." The farmpony tossed her head. "Still, I have to admit I'm not much of one for compliments, but its nice knowin' that you think I look pretty." She smiled over at her friend. "Means a lot more comin' from you than it would from some random pony."

"And why's that?"

"I don't really care if they think I look pretty."

Rarity smirked. "Well, I do like to think I have some taste."

"I'm sure you do, but I 'spect it's impolite to find out for sure without askin' first."

"Ooh, you're terrible!" The unicorn picked a nearby weed out of the ground alongside the road and tossed it lightly at the earth pony, making applejack duck, then laugh.

"Spect you'd know all about being terrible. Speakin' of which, where'd you put your couch anyway?"

"Oh, the couch is only for special occasions."

"Workin' on the farm ain't special enough huh?"

"I'm sure I'll manage without it."

"Well if ya get grass in yer mane after floppin' over onto the ground, you can't say I didn't warn ya."

"Hmph. And here I was thinking you would offer to catch me."

"Only if you fall off a ladder. And that ain't an invitation, you hear? It hurts to have another pony fall on you."

"Are you implying that I would be so desperate as to cast myself from a ladder just so I could find myself in your hooves?"

"I reckon the thought might have crossed my mind."

"Ooh, I'll bet it has."

"And what is that tone supposed to mean?"

The unicorn was smirking at the farmer, laughing quietly. "Nothing."

"Don't sound like nothin'."

"Oh, I was just thinking it seemed more like the sort of thing that Fluttershy would read about in some of her romance novels. I never thought you read them too."

"I don't know what you're talkin' about."

"But if you were trying to be REALLY romantic, you would have had me climb the ladder back in the barn. Unless you're saving that for the end of the day."

Applejack's cheeks were a bit flushed as the unicorn laughed triumphantly.

"I reckon I've got better sense than that. Besides, I know exactly what you would say, lyin' there in the hay."


"I reckon you'd be there smilin', lookin' me straight in the eyes as I held you close after ya nearly cracked your horn off on the floor. I'd lean in real close, my lips gettin' real close, and you'd say..."

The unicorn was leaning towards the farmer with a slight blush on her cheeks, and Applejack let her wait expectantly for several seconds before she spoke again, in a Manehattan accent and a petulant tone of voice: "Applejack, I have hay in my mane. Do you have a brush?"

"I would not!"

"Oh? And what would you say then?"

"I would explain to you that kicking out ladders from underneath a lady in order to catch her is NOT a properly heroic rescue."

The farmer snorted at that, making Rarity prance ahead several steps, head and tail perked high before Applejack called to her, "And just where are you goin'?" Rarity turned her head back to find Applejack unhitching herself from the wagon, stretching her back slightly before nodding towards the saplings in the field. "This is where we were headed."

"Ah, I see." The unicorn primly trotted off the road, heading up the short rise. "So what are we doing here, exactly?"

"Well Rarity, the mice and deer and other critters love to chew on the little apple trees, eat the bark right off 'em and burrow into the wood. We use that," she nodded towards the chicken wire bundled up on the back of the cart, "to keep 'em out."

"And how do we do that, exactly?"

"Drive stakes into the ground and wrap the wire around the trees."

"I see. Well then, let's get to it, shall we?"


Hours later, Rarity was visibly grateful when Applejack said it was time to take a break for lunch. The farmer walked back to the cart and pulled out a small blanket, tossing it down on the hillside before nodding her head to Rarity. "You can rest there while I go back to the house and get some food for us."

The unicorn smiled gratefully before lying down on the blanket, watching Applejack trot off quickly down the road, her gaze lingering on that flowing mane and tail. Her gaze lingered for as long as the farmer was in view, and even for a few moments after that blonde hair had vanished from her sight. The tailor's gaze fell to her hooves as she reprimanded herself. "Rarity, what are you doing? She was like that all day yesterday, what is different about today?"

The unicorn flopped onto her back on the blanket, looking up at the sky. A few clouds drifted here and there, enough to reduce the glare of the sun and give those working outside some shade, but still allowing a great deal of sunlight through to shine down and feed the trees and grass, as a light breeze flowed over the rolling hills, making the grass ripple. "It is that wind! That breeze flowing through her mane - why, she practically looked like a princess."

The unicorn rolled over back to her feet to look out over the apple farm, watching the trees sway slightly in the slowly-moving air, letting it wash over herself as she simply watched the serene landscape. After a few minutes the tailor closed her eyes, letting the sun simply warm her body as she rested there, so when another warm body pressed itself in alongside her on the blanket she started a bit, opening her eyes and whipping her head around to find that the apple farmer had returned and laid down on the blanket alongside her.

"Takin' a nap?" Applejack teased Rarity, though rather than the expected repartee, all she got was a slight shake of the head.

"I was just admiring the landscape."

"Well, you've been doin' enough of that today. Can't say I really blame ya, and it's not like ya haven't been working hard. So what'cha hungry for?"

The unicorn blinked, seeing for the first time the picnic basket in front of her and opening the top of it to look at the contents. "Who made this?"

"Granny Smith. She likes cookin', and it helps her feel useful durin' the day when the rest of us are workin'."

The unicorn floated out several cooked apple goods, some of them still carrying the heat of the oven. "It is very kind of you to share with me."

"Nah. You're workin' with us, so for today, you're family."

"Still, it is awfully nice for lunch. Do you always eat this well?"

"Not always. But we tend to find when we have extra help it's nice to spruce things up a bit, encourages them to come back again next time."

Rarity laughed at that before shaking her head and levitating a few baked goods in front of her, taking a bite out of a fritter. "This is good."

"Well, I sure wouldn't mind if ya were around to taste our cookin' more often."

Rarity smirked at that, turning her head away for a moment to take another bite of her fritter before she felt Applejack nuzzling at her neck, her eyes widening slightly at the affectionate gesture as the farmer nestled her warm body up closer to her side, her mane still slightly damp from... "Applejack, did you take a bath while you went back to the farm?"

"Nah, I just dumped a bucket of water over my head. Figured y'all'd be happier if ya didn't have to smell me."

Rarity turned her head back to the repast before her, and frowned. "Applejack, is this a date?"

"A date? Nah, this is lunch." The unicorn relaxed visibly, though the farmer seemed to take no note of it. "A date would be snugglin' up at sunset, and I'd probably have to give you the chance to fancy yourself up a bit, and we'd have some pie for dessert."

Rarity laughed quietly. "I see."

"Speakin' of dinner, what are your plans for it?"

The seamstress shrugged. "I didn't have any, truly. I was just going to go home and make myself something."

"Well, if y'all don't have any better plans, how about I give ya a chance to fancy yourself up a bit, I'll bring a blanket and some pie, and we can snuggle up and watch the sun set."

Rarity laughed, smiling at that until she felt the farmer's warm body nestling up a bit closer to her own, the laughter dying on her lips. "You're serious aren't you."

"One hundred percent." Rarity looked at Applejack, her friend wearing an earnest look on her face, ears falling slightly at the expression the tailor was wearing. "Something wrong, sugar cube?"

"I'm... not sure," the unicorn lied, turning her face from her friend's gaze, resulting in a nudge from the farmer's muzzle. Silence stretched out between the pair, the only sound being the slow rustle of leaf on branch as the wind continued to sweep around the ponies.

"Do y'all not like me?"

Rarity turned back to the farmer, eyes wide. "No!"

"What's the problem then?"

The unicorn looked down as Applejack tried to meet her gaze, one of her hooves turning over slowly in front of her, as if it was hiding the answer beneath. "I don't know."

"Is it because I'm uncivil?"

Rarity sighed. "No, Applejack. There's nothing wrong with you." She bit her lip. "I didn't even know you were interested in me like that."

The farmer raised an eyebrow. "Didn't know? Rarity, I've spent the last two days flirtin' with ya. Heck, you've spent the last two days flirtin' with me. What did ya think we were doin'?"

"I knew you were flirting, I just... thought you were being playful, like I was."

Applejack's face took on a hurt expression, her ears drooping further. "Ya mean y'all didn't mean all that stuff ya said about me?"

"I meant every word!" The unicorn said, straightening up. "Don't ever think that. You are a very beautiful, intelligent, hardworking mare, and I respect you for it."

"Then what is the problem? I know it ain't that y'all don't like mares."

Rarity's mouth hung open. "What do you mean?"

"How many apples do I have on my flank?"

"Three," the unicorn answered without looking.

"Right. And I'm sure y'all know that cause I caught ya countin' 'em at least ten times today."

Rarity's face took on a look of confusion. "Whatever do you mean?"

"I mean I caught ya lookin' at my butt."

Rarity squeaked. "I was not looking at your butt!"

"Oh really?" Applejack replied playfully, her voice lilting. "Then what were y'all lookin' at?"

Rarity's cheeks reddened as her mouth worked for a few seconds, no sound coming out.

"I thought so," the farmer chuckled.

"I wasn't looking at your flank! I was looking at your tail!"

That only made Applejack laugh all the more, the unicorn's blush intensifying as she realized what she'd just said. "I knew it was that general region, but that's a bit forward to say before even the first date, ain't it?"

The tailor shook her head. "That's not what I meant!"

Applejack smiled. "Then what did y'all mean?"

Rarity sighed. "I was just thinking about how nice your mane and tail were, and how you looked rather like a princess with it rippling in the breeze like that."

Applejack's gaze softened. "And y'all said ya weren't tryin' to flirt."

Rarity laughed quietly. "Oh, I know."

The farmer nudged her friend's shoulder with her own, leaning against the seamstress gently. "So what is the problem, then?"

The unicorn frowned slightly. "It is that, actually."

The orange pony blinked. "Y'all think I'm too pretty?"

Rarity shook her head. "No. It is..." She looked pensive for a moment. "I appreciate the aesthetic qualities of your appearance."

"Well I 'preciate your 'aesthetics' too, ya know. Not like I'm blind. And I meant it, I think you're beautiful no matter how y'all are fancied up."

The seamstress ducked her head. "But that's just it Applejack. I do appreciate your beauty. I'm just not certain if I appreciate it in quite that way."

"So I'm pretty, just not the right kind of pretty for you?"

Rarity sighed. "No, it isn't that. I'm just not sure if I like mares at all that way."

"Ya ain't sure? How can you not know?"

The unicorn closed her eyes. "I never even thought about it, truth be told."

Applejack smiled, leaning forward to touch her nose to her friend's. "That's a bit hard to believe, you know."

Rarity shifted her weight slightly, but didn't pull away from the contact, opening her eyes to meet Applejack's gaze. "What do you mean?"

"Well, y'all used to talk about your perfect stallion all the time, but ya also seemed to give a lot of attention to how we all looked all the time. I never caught you peekin' back then, but y'all seemed to really like prettin' us up just for the sake of lookin' at us."

"It wasn't like that!"

"I know it wasn't, but it got me thinkin'. And then I noticed that y'all weren't just the prissy pony y'all pretended to be all the time, but somethin' else entirely. You love to talk about how terrible mud is, and how uncouth all my social meetin's are, but I've seen you wallow in mud and punch out a changeling when push comes to shove. Y'all ain't what you pretend to be all the time, and while I don't appreciate everything you do, I appreciate that pony inside." The apple farmer rested her hoof on Rarity's chest, making the tailor glance down at it before looking back up into Applejack's green eyes. "I realized y'all are more than what ya seem, and that you're loyal to what matters when it comes right down to it, same as everyone else is."

"Applejack, that's very sweet. But what does that have to do with me liking mares?"

The farmer sighed. "Maybe its just wishful thinkin', but y'all seemed to really care about all of us, and I thought maybe there was something more between us. I was pretty casual about it at first, but I've actually been kind of flirtin' with you for a while now. I thought y'all liked it."

Rarity licked her lips, her eyes turning to the side in thought before she sighed. "You're right. You have been. I just... assumed it was playful."

"It was playful, but it also meant somethin'. And I thought it meant somethin' to y'all too. 'Specially after yesterday."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you spent all day with me. I was kinda seein' if I thought I could see what it is you did all day. I know I spent some time workin' there when our cutie marks were messed up, but that was just a disaster. I wanted to see what it was really like bein' there with you, just for a normal day. But it wasn't a normal day. Y'all did a lot to help teach me instead of doing normal work."

"You were a big help with the sewing machine! I was happy to teach you hoofstitching."

"And I'm grateful for it. I was just kind of thinkin', maybe y'all saw something else in me, 'specially the way you kept complimenting me for my mane, and how you volunteered to help me out today even though y'all didn't have to. Was I wrong?"

"Applejack, I did all of those things as a friend."

"I understand," the earth pony said, sighing and rising, her eyes squeezing shut before she lifted a hoof to rub at her eyes with the back of it. "I'm sorry for makin' things awkward between us. I didn't mean to. Though y'all are still welcome for dinner if you want it." Her voice was obviously strained, head turned away from her friend to hide any tears from her. "Without the awkward attempt at romance, I mean."

"Applejack..." the tailor said as she rose, her voice soft.

"It's alright, y'all don't have to say nothin'. I just misunderstood your intentions, that's all."

"And you're doing it again." The tailor stepped up hesitantly, letting her shoulder touch her friend's. "I didn't say no."

Applejack turned her head, doing her best to blink away the tears glistening in her eyes. "Come again?"

"I didn't say no. I just... didn't say yes either. I really don't know."

"Y'all aren't just sayin' that to make me feel better, right?"

Rarity shook her head. "I'm telling the truth. I'm going to need some time alone to think about it."

Despite the situation, Applejack couldn't help but laugh. "Already tired of workin' on the farm, huh?"

The unicorn's eyes opened wide. "No! I'm happy to keep working! I just need some time to think, that's all." The earth pony turned her head to lightly nuzzle at Rarity's cheek, making the unicorn lean away a little, but a smile touched the farmer's face again.

"I was just kiddin'. I'll get Big Mac out here to help out; it's how we usually do it anyway. Y'all can go on home and do all the thinkin' you want."

Rarity smiled gratefully to her friend. "Thank you," she said, turning her head to rub her muzzle against Applejack's jaw before she opened her eyes and took a step back. "Sorry."

The farmer laughed at the apology. "Nothin' you need to be sorry for. Y'all never had to come out here to help me in the first place."

"That..." the unicorn shook her head. "Nevermind." She turned away to trot off down the road, though after a few moments she turned her head to look back over her shoulder and flash a smile back at the earth pony farmer who was watching her go, Applejack's ears lifting up as she smiled back gratefully at the seamstress. The farmer looked after Rarity until the lay of the land hid her from view.

Talking to Herself

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"Oh Opalescence, what am I going to do?" Rarity fretted as she trotted around the inside of her boutique, but as usual, the feline in question gave no response to her drama-prone owner's rhetorical question.

"I haven't even thought about this since Blueblood turned out to be that... monster at the gala." The unicorn paced back and forth in front of her cat, periodically glancing out the windows of her store as if looking for someone, before returning to her pacing.

"But if I say no, Applejack's heart will be broken forever! She will become a spinster, and never allow herself to fall in love again!" The unicorn swooned dramatically down onto the floor, flopping on her back and covering her face with her hoof for a few moments.

"No, I must think this through. Applejack would not want me to go on a date out of mere pity." Rarity sighed, letting her hoof fall to the ground as she looked up at one of her mannequins. "The real question is, can I love her as more than just a friend?"

The unicorn rested there on the floor for a few moments, as if expecting an answer, before shaking her head and rolling back to her hooves to return to her pacing. "Perhaps I should think about this differently. What is wrong with dating Applejack?"

She bit her lip. "It might cause a bit of a scandal in Canterlot, showing up with a mare at my side. Then again, I have read that it is nowhere near as bad as it was ten years ago." The tailor shook her head. "And besides, I resolved after that garden party that I would never be ashamed of my friends again! That includes this."

"I can't think she would LIKE Canterlot high society. That is more of an issue. I don't care if they dislike HER, but if she goes to the parties and finds them BORING, then I'm just being an anchor around her, forcing her to obey my whims while her farm is left to wither. And I can't imagine she would ever tolerate an art gallery opening or eating hors d'ovres."

The unicorn trotted across the front of her store. "But is that really so important? She doesn't go to those parties NOW, and I don't have to take her to every single one of them. If she wanted to come, she would be welcome, but she could remain in Ponyville if she so desired."

That thought made the unicorn stop in her tracks. "Now that's the real question. If I do want to move to Canterlot, I cannot be with Applejack." The unicorn strode over to her front window, looking out into the street. "Still... if I wanted to move to Canterlot, there's nothing stopping me from doing that today. Canterlot has the glamour and culture, but it doesn't have my friends." The unicorn nodded her head.

"Still, it would be excluding Applejack from a large part of my life... well, I suppose in any case there would be things I wouldn't be sharing with any partner who wasn't in fashion, and I don't think that's necessary." The unicorn bit her lip.

"No, I think the real question is whether I am attracted to her in that way. I have never even thought about another mare like that. Is that because I don't like them, or because I haven't tried? Would it really be so different?" Rarity closed her eyes, sitting down on her rump, her tail twitching slightly behind her. Her cheeks reddened slightly as she concentrated, before sighing. "I don't know. It would certainly end rather differently."

The seamstress rose back to her feet as she returned to pacing slowly. "Perhaps I should ask her to kiss me? But we haven't even been out on a date. I don't want to lead her on all evening, but I can hardly ask Applejack just to... lay one on me, and then tell her I'm not interested. That wouldn't be fair to her. And what of my first kiss?"

"You want Applejack to kiss you?"

The unicorn's eyes widened as she whirled around towards the source of the voice, mouth gaping as she spied Sweetie Belle on the far side of the shop, peeking in through the door. "Sweetie Belle! What are you doing here?"

"I came here after school with Applebloom. We were going to go crusading with Scootaloo, but she's doing something with her parents."

"I see... wait, we? Is Applebloom here as well?"

"Yup!" The filly jumped out from behind the doorway as well, red ribbon and all, making Rarity's cheeks flush.

"And just how much of that did you girls hear?"

"Uh..." The fillies shifted awkwardly, Applebloom lifting a hoof to rub behind her ear.

"Oh dear. Now, you mustn't go repeating any of that... I really shouldn't be speaking of such things in front of young fillies."

"Hey! We're old enough to understand!"

Applebloom piped up as well, "It's not like Applejack doesn't talk about that stuff."

"She does, does she?" the unicorn said, her tail swishing a bit uncertainly behind her as she laughed nervously.

"Yup! She talks about you a lot. I bet she'd kiss you if you asked her."

"Now Applebloom, kissing another pony like that is a serious thing! It isn't something to be done casually."

"I know. Applejack always said don't go chasin' off after somepony and kiss them unless you're sure you like 'em first. And she likes you."

"Does anyone else know?"

"Only my entire family."

The unicorn's cheek's flushed. "Applebloom, you don't mean all of your family do you?"

"Oh, no. Just me an' Big Mac an' Granny Smith an' a few of the cousins."

Rarity's ears drooped. "I... see."

"So are you going to kiss her?" Sweetie Belle piped up.

"I... don't know," the unicorn said hesitantly. "I'm surprised you aren't surprised."

"Oh, well..." the younger unicorn poked at the floor with her hoof, "Miss Cheerilee always says that you shouldn't judge a pony by their outside, but by their heart."

Rarity sighed. "That is something she would say. But it doesn't really help me."

"So what happened?"

"Oh Sweetie Belle, it's a grown-up thing."

"Well you sounded like you were having trouble deciding something..."

"Yeah!" Applebloom piped up, the yellow filling smiling, "Maybe we can help!"

"I don't think you can," Rarity began, before sighing. "Very well, if you must know: Applejack asked me out on a date."

The two fillies exchanged puzzled glances. "And?"

Rarity stared at them. "What? That isn't dramatic enough?"

"We've seen lots of ponies go out on dates Rarity."

"Why don't you want to be my sister's very special somepony? What's wrong with her?"

"Nothing is wrong with her," the unicorn said, shaking her head. "I merely don't know if I am interested in mares like that."

"Applejack says there's nothin' wrong with that."

"And she's right, there isn't! But that doesn't mean everypony LIKES mares. You'll understand when you're older."

The pair of fillies looked at the unicorn dubiously. "You do know I've lived on a farm my whole life, don't you? I know all about the birds and the bees."

Rarity's mouth worked, but no sound came out. "Yes, but that doesn't mean that young fillies need to spend time thinking about such things."

The two shrugged. "Why can't you ask her to kiss you?"

"Oh Sweetie Belle, it isn't that simple."

"Why not?"

"Because..." the unicorn paused, then sighed. "Because I want my first kiss to be special."

"You've kissed me!"

"That's different, dear. Kissing another pony like your special somepony is special. It isn't something to be shared with just anyone."

The pair of fillies looked at each other again. "I guess," they agreed reluctantly.

"Look, I have a lot to think about, and I'm not sure I'm in the mood to supervise you two. I'm sorry, but the boutique is not a good place for you to stay this afternoon."


"I'm sorry Sweetie Belle, but I have a lot of things on my mind."

"If we help you with Applejack, can we stay?"

"Sweetie Belle! I told you, it isn't something you can help with."

"I don't know, maybe we'll think of something you haven't!"

"Yeah! And I know my sister way better than you do!"

"Really?" Rarity arched an eyebrow at her, then looked curious. "What was the last time she did something with her mane down?"

"Mane down?" The filly tilted her head curiously.

"You know, farm work without her mane tied back."

"Uh, never. That's a good way to get your hair caught in somethin'."

"Never? As in, ever?"

"Not that I can recall."

Rarity blinked, then looked away, a frown on her face. "Does that happen often?"

"Oh, sometimes. I did it once a few years ago. Lost half my mane."

"That's horrible! I hope she's alright."

"What do you mean?"

"She was wearing her hair down today because I said it looked pretty."

Applebloom blinked. "Y'all sure you didn't slip her some love poison?"

Rarity laughed. "A lady would never do such a thing." The fillies both shifted awkwardly at that as Rarity smirked at them, before she paused. "YOU didn't give her anything like that, I hope?"

They both looked up at that. "No! We learned our lesson."

"And had to do all of Big Mac's chores. They're hard!"

The unicorn laughed musically. "Oh, they aren't too bad. They are a bit boring though, I'll admit."

"Wait, when have YOU done my brother's chores?"

"I have helped out a few times on the farm, you know. I was there earlier today, in fact."

"Wait, YOU went to the farm? Like, to work?" Sweetie Belle wore an incredulous expression on her face.

"Yes," the unicorn said primly. "She was such a bit help here yesterday that it was only fair for me to help her with her chores today."

Sweetie Belle's mouth gaped. "But you HATE getting dirty!"

"I don't like getting dirty unnecessarily, but you know very well that there are more important things than keeping my coat clean."

Sweetie Belle looked at her older sister dubiously. "Are you SURE you don't like her? You barely even get dirty for me."

"Of course I like her."

"No, I mean like, like like."

"That's what I'm trying to figure out," she said, stomping her hoof on the floor.

"But isn't that the answer?"

The unicorn looked pensive for a moment, before shaking her head. "I don't know. And I have to figure it out by sunset."

"Why? What happens at sunset?"

"That's when our date is supposed to be. If I want to go on it, I mean."

"Why don't you just do it?"

Rarity blinked. "Because I don't want to hurt Applejack's feelings. It would be terrible for me to lead her on."

"You don't seem to have any trouble doing it at the market."

"That's different, Sweetie," she said. "They know I'm just using my charms on them. It's different with Applejack."

Applebloom bit her lip before speaking. "Ya know, if we were always afraid of causin' trouble, we'd never find our cutie marks. But we go crusadin' and end up covered in tree sap anyway, because it's important."

"If it makes you happy, you should try," the unicorn filly added to her friend's words, looking up at her sister sympathetically.

Rarity's laughter was empty. "Am I really taking dating advice from my little sister?" The words made Sweetie Belle frown, but moments later the filly found herself being hugged by the older unicorn.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Sweetie," she said, sitting back and smiling slightly.

"So are you gonna go on a date with my sister?" Applebloom piped up.

"I still don't know."

"Even after all that?"

Rarity smiled. "You were helpful, don't worry." The unicorn shook her head. "I have some work to do. Why don't you two run along and play elsewhere?"

"Ya sure we can't help?"

"Yeah! We could be-"

"I'm quite certain I can handle it on my own. How about I give you a few bits so you can go buy milkshakes?"


"Mmm-hmm. Here." The unicorn's telekinesis pulled at one of her drawers, and a few coins floated out towards her sister's saddlebags before settling inside. "There you go."

"Thanks Rarity!"

"Yeah, thanks!"

Rarity smiled as the fillies took their leave, swinging the door shut behind them with her magic before sighing. She started pacing again, before pausing in front of her desk. "I am being silly. I should just ask her tonight." The unicorn shook her head, before pulling several pieces of paper out of one of her drawers and setting them out on the table, grasping several of her markers with her magic. "Now, I should throw together a little something for tonight..."


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Applejack started to her feet at the sound of a knock at her door as the sky began to turn red outside the window of the farmhouse. The farmer trotted over to the door only to smile at the sight brightly of the unicorn she was hoping to see standing just outside.

"Rarity! I wasn't sure if you'd be comin'."

"I wasn't sure either, until late this afternoon. I didn't have much time to throw something together."

"Well, ya look real nice," the farmer said, her eyes roving over the unicorn. "I'm half surprised y'all didn't end up wearin' a big fancy dress."

Rarity laughed. "I actually made something to wear for this just this afternoon, but I thought better of it."

"I'm glad. I like lookin' at ya,"

The unicorn cooed in response, though there was a certain stiffness to her movement as she stepped forward which her earth pony friend was all too wise to.

"You still nervous?"

"Very," the unicorn confessed.

"Ya don't gotta be. You've eaten with me before."

"Yes, but never quite like this," she said, looking away for a moment before looking back to Applejack as the farmer laid a hoof on her shoulder.

"Relax. I'm not gonna bite you. Not on the first date anyway."

Rarity's cheeks flushed slightly but she smiled gamely. "Oh? And what if I asked?"

"Well, maybe if ya said please." The farmer leaned in closer, her snout mere inches from her friend's before the tailor pulled her face away, taking a step back, making Applejack shift backwards slightly as well. "Too fast?"

The unicorn bobbed her head slightly. "I'm still not sure about this."

"It's not like I'm askin' you to marry me. It's just a date. Promise."

"Just a date is exactly what I'm afraid of," the unicorn said nervously, before straightening up. "Is everything ready? Is there anything I can help you with?"

"Well, the pie's just about ready, just gotta put everything in a basket and we'll be all set."

"Can I help?"

The farmer tilted her head slightly, then nodded. "Sure, come on in," she said, before leading the way to the kitchen, the room already containing a pair of ponies, one of whom greeted Rarity very cheerfully.

"Hi Rarity! Ya decided to go out with my sister after all?"

"Yes I did," she affirmed, nodding her head, making the filly giggle.

"Ya ask her to kiss you yet?"

"Applebloom! Mind yer manners!" the older farmpony said, her own cheeks reddening at the filly's straightforward demeanor, but Applebloom only laughed.

"You should have heard her swoonin' this afternoon."

"Oh really? And what was she swoonin' over, 'xactly?"

"I think that's quite enough," the unicorn said haughtily, only making Applejack smirk.

"Somethin' embarassin' huh?"

"Something like that, yes."

The farmer rolled her eyes, but smiled at her little sister. "Ya check on the pie yet?" The filly shook her head, only for Granny Smith to interject herself into the conversation.

"The pie'll be ready when y'all pull it out of the oven, so ya might as well get to it, specially if you two are fixin' to get cozy out there before sunset."

Applejack stepped up to her grandmother to give her a nuzzle after her words. "Thanks, Granny," she said, before grabbing the insulating cloth with her mouth and walking over to the oven, only to find it already swinging open, blue magic surrounding it as the steaming pie was pulled out and set on the countertop, the appliance swinging shut moments later.

"There are some advantages to using magic," Rarity said with a smile on her lips, making Applejack laugh.

"Well, it sure would be nice to have a unicorn here to help out sometimes," Granny Smith said from her position by the basket she was pushing food into, "so you'd better be nice to her, ya hear?"

Applejack blushed at her grandmother's words. "Granny! I don't just like her because she can do magic."

"I know that," the old pony said as she moved to put a few more food items into the basket, pulling out a piece of cloth to cover them, "You've spent the last three months talkin' about her nonstop. I know you like her, now all ya have to do is make her like you." Rarity giggled quietly at her date's discomfort, smirking as she pawed at the kitchen floor with her hoof.

"Are you trying to embarrass me in front of her?"

"It's a proud family tradition. Yer ma ain't here to do it, so it falls to me to embarass ya and to yer brother to threaten her if she breaks yer heart."

Applejack laughed good-naturedly at her grandmother's words, stepping up to nuzzle at her. "Good to know. Guess this way at least I have practice for doing it when Applebloom starts bringin' colts home."

"I reckon so."

The old mare looked over at the pie, only for it to float off the counter and find its way into the basket, the cloth folding over the top neatly before the whole thing swung away from it and floated over towards Rarity. "Show off," she said with a smile.

"A lady never shows off, she merely shows her best side," Rarity said primly, posing with one foreleg lifted off the ground, making Applejack snicker.

"Y'all are facin' the wrong direction for that," the earth pony said as she stepped up to nuzzle at her date, the unicorn laughing and lifting her hoof higher to give her a light bap on the snout.

"Are you ready to go?" The unicorn's tone was arch, though the smile on her lips showed that the light flush of her cheeks wasn't all bad.

"Ready as I'll ever be."

"You two be good now."

"Not goin' to tell me to be back by ten?"

"Naw, that's Big Mac's job."

"Where is he anyhow?"

"I think he's off makin' sure the barn's properly locked up so no fillies can accidentally wander in there at night."


"So as he's missin' his chance to give y'all a curfew you can feel free to stay out as late as you'd like. If we don't see ya by mid-mornin', we'll send out a search party."

The farmer coughed, clearing her throat as she stepped towards the door. "Come on, before she starts orderin' us weddin' dresses." Rarity laughed gaily as she followed her friend out the front door, followed by Granny Smith, who stopped just outside.

"Y'all have fun!"

"Wait, Applejack!"

The farmer paused at her sister's reedy voice coming from inside the house. "What is it Applebloom?"

"M'll mrgnt nnrr nghgnd."

"Come again?"

The filly emerged from the inside of the house with a checkered red and white blanket in her mouth, Applejack briefly putting her hoof over her face before trotting over to her sister and grabbing the blanket from her and tossing it over her back. "Thanks sugar cube."

Applebloom smiled appreciatively at her older sister before nuzzling up against her chest and foreleg. "You're welcome."

The elder mare smiled and leaned down to nuzzle at the filly, before straightening up and turning back to Rarity. "Alright, now we're ready to go."

Rarity smiled and took a few steps before pausing. "Where exactly are we going?"

Applejack smiled as she moved to walk alongside the unicorn, following the dirt road. "I was thinkin' we'd sit overlookin' the west orchard."

The unicorn bobbed her head, still smiling as the picnic basket hovered beside her. "That sounds nice."

Applejack tilted her head slightly towards her friend. "So what changed your mind?"

"I didn't."


Rarity shrugged. "I just realized it wouldn't make me any happier to say no."

"So uh, what is this exactly?"

"A date."

The farmer looked confused. "I don't get it."

"Oh Applejack. Would not being around my dear friend really make me any happier?"

"I suppose not, but..."

The unicorn shook her head imperiously. "No. I won't hear another word of it. I am going to have a good time with you tonight, and that's final."

Applejack blinked. "You know that if you just said you wanted to be friends, I'd be okay with that, right? I'm not going to be angry with you."

The unicorn glanced over at her friend. "That's not what I meant. I'm not turning you down."

"You sure ain't saying you're good with this, either."

"Oh, but I am."

"Don't sound that way." The farmer looked away to hide her disappointed frown, drawing a sigh from the unicorn.

"I'm not very good at this."

"I noticed."

Rarity winced at that. "Applejack..."

"Constarn it, you don't have to pretend for me."

"I'm not!"

Applejack looked back at her friend, only to see that Rarity had stopped in the middle of the road, the fashionable creature's lip trembling, her head hanging low. The earth pony's gaze softened as she turned to walk back to her friend, ducking her head to look into her eyes.

"Do you really mean that?"

Rarity sniffed and nodded.

"I'm sorry then." The farmer leaned forward to touch her snout lightly to her friend's, the unicorn lifting her head to nuzzle back gently, a smile coming to both pony's lips as they looked into each other's eyes. The silence held for some time before the farmer finally broke it. "So, if this is a date, I guess I'm doin' a pretty poor job of it so far. Haven't even gotten through dinner and already I've already got the lady cryin'."

Rarity laughed at that, lifting her head, her smile broadening even as Applejack took a step forward to give her a nuzzle on the cheek. "I really do appreciate you sayin' yes."

"Well, it is just a date. You aren't asking me to marry you after all."

"Who ever said anything about marryin'? I was just thinkin' we'd have a good time."

"Oh, is that all you were thinking about? I am not that kind of lady." The unicorn turned her nose up, but a smirk was tugging at her lips.

"You know us farm folk. It's all about the uncouth with us."

"Ah yes, that would explain why I have never heard of you dating anyone else in all of Ponyville."

The farmer grinned and lifted one of her hooves to nudge her date in the shoulder. "Come on you, let's get a move on, or else we're gonna miss the sunset."

Rarity nodded her head and strode forward purposefully, the farmer whirling around to keep up as the picnic basket bobbed up and down slowly on Rarity's far side, allowing the pair to walk closer together, side-by-side.

"You know, there is one thing I have never really understood."

"What's that?"

"Well, it is a bit awkward to talk about."

"Hey, that's fine. It's not like it's goin' to be any more awkward than me sewin', or the time y'all thought that boulder was a genuine diamond."

"I thought we were never going to speak of that again."

"Oh Rarity, I'm pretty sure the only one who agreed to that was you. It's just too funny to let go."

"Ha ha." Silence reigned between the pair for several seconds.

"So what's the question?"

"Oh, well, it's just that your sister said you'd been pining after me for months, and I was wondering why you didn't say anything before now."

"I kinda did, Rarity. If y'all didn't notice, I've been flirtin' with you ever since we got back from the Crystal Empire."

"But why didn't you say anything? Why wait so long?"

"Because I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of you. I wasn't sure if you were interested at all. So I tried to play it subtle-like and see how you reacted."

"I have to admit I didn't realize why you were being so forward."

"I kind of figured that out this afternoon." The earth pony laughed ruefully. "I'd say I shoulda been a bit more obvious, but short of that I don't rightly see how short of kissin' you."

"Oh no, the fault is all mine. I'm afraid it was I who failed to see your love and respond appropriately." The unicorn paused, as if in thought. "Though, you might have tried flowers."

Applejack shook her head and cleared her throat a bit awkwardly. "Actually, I wasn't exactly intendin' to ask you out today. That kind of slipped out in the flirtin'."

Rarity pursed her lips. "Well, that explains a few things."

"I'm sorry Rares. I know y'all put a lot of weight on proper courtin'." These words drew a laugh out of the tailor, Applejack tilting her head. "What's so funny?"

"The flowers. I didn't even think of them until now."

"To be real honest Rarity, I'm not even sure what the proper protocol for datin' a mare is. I've just been kind of guessin' here. It's not like I have a whole lot of experience with this."

"That makes two of us," the unicorn replied primly, though she lowered her snout slightly and smiled.

"So what kind of flowers do y'all like anyway?"

"Mmm, well... if you want to really do it properly, you have to use the proper language for them, to show how you feel."

"Really? I just thought it was, you like some mare, you're supposed to give her a bunch of roses."

"Most ponies do. But that isn't how it is supposed to be done! Why, there's a whole language of flowers, each flower telling your special somepony how you feel about them."

"I see. And what do roses mean?"

"That depends on what color they are."

"Wait, what? What color they are? Ain't a rose just a rose?"

"Oh no! It is far more complicated than that. Red roses mean true love. A pink rose means gratitude, or grace, or passion."

"That seems awful complicated. And why does a red rose mean true love? Are there other flowers that say, 'I'm just sayin' I love you because I want somethin'?"

Rarity laughed. "Not exactly. Though you could send them wolf's bane."

"Wolf's bane? Ain't that poisonous? What's that mean? Go die?"

"Pretty much."

Applejack grinned. "Maybe the language ain't so complicated after all."

"Oh, not all of it is so straightforward."

"Y'all still didn't answer my question. If I had gone and got flowers, what should I have gotten?"

"That depends entirely on how you feel for me. The flowers are meant to represent your emotions."

"How about, 'I like you and I want to go out with you'?"

"Purple lilacs."

"Huh." The pair plodded along next to each other. "That was kinda sneaky you know."

The unicorn giggled. "I know."

"Alright, so you gotta fess up. What flowers should y'all have brought me today?"

Rarity tilted her head for a few moments in thought before speaking. "Daffodils and purple heather, I think."

"And what does that mean?"

"The heather represents admiration."

"And the daffodils?"


"I see. That's kinda nice, actually." Applejack turned her head to regard her date. "So what should I have hoped y'all showed up with?"


"Does that mean yes?"

"If I came with ambrosia, it would mean I had accepted your love and returned it."

Applejack blinked. "All that from a flower? I can see why most stallions stick to roses." That drew a titter from the seamstress.

"Yes, but it isn't very romantic. If everyone is just bringing roses, it hardly means anything at all."

"Well, just so y'all know, I don't know much about flowers, so if I ever say I hate you with 'em, I'm probably just tryin' to say that they look pretty like you."

"Mmm, you might want to ask Daisy before you give me any, just to make sure."


The unicorn looked around. "Are we almost there?" she asked plaintively.

"Just over the next hill, then up the next one. Not too much further. Your hooves gettin' tired?"

"Oh, I've walked farther than this. I just was wondering." The farmer nodded her heads at the words, but seemed to have no response. As the silence stretched on, the unicorn opened her mouth a few times, her eyes sliding away from the earth pony to the side of the road as she thought of something to say. "Applejack, you left your hair down for me all day, but I still put on my face this morning before I came out to the farm. Does that bother you?"

Applejack glanced over at Rarity for a moment before laughing. "I expected you to show up without your face on about as much as I expected you to show up with flowers, which is to say, it was a nice thought, but I never expected it."

"You don't think I'm ugly with my makeup on, do you?"

"Nah. You're pretty either way. I just like the natural look." The earth pony shrugged. "But I don't mind the makeup; you look pretty no matter what."

"Thank you." The unicorn let the silence seep in for a few moments, before speaking up again. "You know, you never did really explain what it was you see in me. I mean, I know why every eligible bachelor in Canterlot would send me flowers, but I don't know what it is you see."

Applejack smirked. " I 'spect most of them would send you flowers cause they think you're a crêpe. I would cause I know you're not."

The seamstress blinked, then smiled. "You've been practicing I see."

"A few words. Just don't start talkin' to me in fancy, I don't understand a word of it." That drew a laugh from Rarity.

"It's called Prench."

"That's what I said, fancy." The farmer grinned playfully, before shaking her head. "But that's about it, though. I know you, Rares. You ain't some hussy who gets gussied up just so she can pretend she's not rotten on the inside. Sometimes I think you forget that you ain't like that, but when you forget you're supposed to be some highfalutin lady, you're downright fun to be around."

Rarity frowned at that. "I think I should be insulted. I really am a lady, Applejack."

"I know you're a lady, but you ain't one of those ladies from Canterlot. I've seen the type a few times now, and I don't like it one bit. You ain't like them at all. Sure, y'all can fit in just fine and dandy, but when push comes to shove, you're the one kickin' changelings in the face and divin' in mud to help your little sister. Y'all don't like gettin' your hooves dirty, but that don't mean y'all ain't willin' to do so."

"Any of us would do that, though. What is it about me that makes me special?"

"You're kind. You're generous with your time and bits to those in need. You go out of your way to help people, even though anypony else who acted like you would turn your nose up at those ponies. You're brave, you're willin' to sacrifice and take risks for things that are important to you. You're a good big sister, even though you need a few pointers now and again. And you're a lot like me in a lot of ways."

"You really think so?"

"I know so. You've got a good head on your shoulders when you remember to use it. You run your own business just like I do, and even do all the accountin' and other things. I know how much work that can be, makin' and sellin' things, 'specially when the town relies on you for 'em. Yeah, no one is gonna die if they don't get their dress, but the way some of 'em carry on they sure don't seem to know that."

Rarity grinned. "Of course. Especially the ones who don't seem to realize they need formal wear until three days before an event. Or three hours, sometimes."

"Three hours? You can throw together an outfit that fast?"

"You act as if that is hard. Don't you remember when Hoity Toity came to town, and I made five new outfits for you in a day?"

"I 'spect it was more like ten, the way we were fussin' about it."

"Oh I wasn't counting." The unicorn lifted her head proudly.

The farmer began to veer to the right, stepping off the road, leading the way up the grassy hillside towards the top of a small knoll on the west end of the farm, the sun shining over the treetops as she looked out over the farm before turning her head back to her date. "Here we are. Best view this side of Ponyville."

Rarity smiled gratefully as she stepped up next to the farmer, giving her a nuzzle the earth pony returned before turning her head back to grab the blanket slung over her back, tossing it out over the grass before grinning. "Wouldn't want y'all to get grass in your mane," she teased.

"I"m sure you'd like that, wouldn't you?" the unicorn said primly before lying down on the blanket, setting the picnic basket down in front of her, the earth pony following suit, her side resting against the unicorn's own, sharing her warmth with her date, making Rarity tense slightly.

"Y'all alright? Should I move over?"

"I'm fine," she replied. "If we are going to do this properly I would like to be cozy. It is not as if we are sharing a bed."

The earth pony laughed. "You're right. We did that long before our first date. Better not let that one get back to Granny."

"You're horrible," Rarity pouted, before giving the farmer a nudge with her shoulder. "But you'd better show me your hooves just in case. I'd hate for you to get mud all over me."

"Oh? Already plannin' on me wrappin' my hooves around you?"

The unicorn blushed and laughed louder in embarrassment as her words were turned back around on her, giving Applejack another playful shove. "Not if you keep talking like that you won't."

"Aw, you're no fun."

"None at all I'm afraid. A proper lady never has fun."

Rarity's tone of voice made the earth pony snicker again, giving Rarity a nudge of her own. "That's another thing I like about you. That mouth of yours."

"Oh, you shouldn't say something like that to a lady on the first date. She might get the wrong idea." The unicorn turned her head, her horn lightning up as she started to pull some of the assorted baked goods out of the picnic basket, smiling at a familiar looking apple fritter. "I had one of these on my last date."

It took several moments for Applejack to snort. "I'd practically forgot about that. Seems you're always gettin' free food from me on your dates."

"Well had I gone to the gala with you and not that ghastly Prince Blueblood I think I might have had a much more enjoyable time."

"And y'all say you aren't sure about mares." The apple farmer leaned over to give her friend a nuzzle on the side of her neck. "Ya know, I was pretty nervous after you left to be honest. I wasn't sure if you were gonna come back, even after Applebloom said y'all wanted to kiss me."

Rarity set down her fritter, rolling her eyes. "That's not what I said."

"So you don't want a kiss? Well, shoot, there goes all my plans for the evenin'."

The unicorn cleared her throat, trying to make her voice sound deeper. "Kiss you? After those lips touched common carnival fare?"

"Ya know, that loses some of its touch when y'all have crumbs on your chin."

Rarity pouted as her Prince Blueblood impression went unappreciated. "It is awfully good," she said, another small pastry floating out of the basket before the cloth inside flipped back over the food within. Applejack could not eat nearly so daintily as the unicorn could with her magic, but was doing her best to be polite... though judging by the snickers of the unicorn, it was not much of a success.

"Ya know, it's a lot harder to eat properly when you don't have magic. I swear you unicorns invented manners just so you'd have an excuse not to eat with us earth ponies."

"Applejack, darling. We did invent table manners for exactly that reason."

"Wait, really?"

The unicorn laughed musically. "No. It is simply that having a face covered with food is unappealing."

"That's true I guess." The apple farmer sighed, looking down at her half eaten fritter. "You know, you dodged the question."

"What question?"

"Why y'all said you wanted to kiss me." Rarity shifted uncomfortably against Applejack.

"Must we speak of this?"

"Given that half the point of datin' is figurin' out if you do wanna kiss the other pony, yeah, I'd say so."

Rarity's chuckle was half-hearted. "I was just being silly."

"Now that I can believe. Bit disappointin' though; was kinda hopin' you'd want to."

"You're incorrigible."

"I do my best."

"You aren't supposed to try."

"Y'all can complain all you want, I know you like it." The farmer leaned in to nuzzle at her friend's white neck, making the unicorn shiver slightly as Applejack's warm breath flowed against her mane, the unicorn leaning back into the earth pony's side. "You know, for not bein' sure if y'all like mares, you sure don't seem to mind cuddlin' up with one."

"It is rather nice." Rarity replied, shifting her weight slightly.

"So what's the matter then?"

"It's just so... normal." The apple farmer arched an eyebrow at her.

"What were y'all expectin'?"

"I was expecting it to be dramatic. Pounding hearts, smoldering gazes. You know, something romantic."

Applejack's ears drooped. "I thought watchin' the sun set together would be good."

"And it is," Rarity said, leaning over to nudge up under her friend's dropping chin, keeping her head up. "But it is just... comfortable."

"I get what you're sayin', but I think you might be setting your sights a mite high."

"What do you mean?"

"We're friends, Rarity, and good ones at that. I'd 'spect us to be comfortable with each other. If y'all couldn't sit by me, I'd be real worried. Just because we're datin' don't mean that we don't mean anything else to each other."

"I suppose that's true," the unicorn said slowly, inclining her head.

"Far as I'm concerned, it was a good date if we both have fun, spend some time together, and want to have another one. That's it. Expecting 'splodin' passions or whatever just ain't reasonable. I like you, I just gotta figure out if I love you. You don't even know that much. That's what datin' is."

Rarity laughed hollowly. "Applejack, why is it that you must always be so reasonable?"

"Just the way I was raised I guess." The farmer said with a smile, rising up on her forelegs to put one over her date's back, resting her face alongside the other pony's. "Just relax. Stop thinkin' like everything's gotta be perfect. It ain't gonna be, and never is. But that don't mean it can't be good in it's own way. There's a lotta ways tonight could be better than it is, but all the same, there ain't nowhere I'd rather be." The earth pony squeezed around her friend's shoulders with her forelegs, the pony beneath shifting slightly to make herself more comfortable as Applejack leaned over her back.

Silence reigned between the pair as the sky slowly turned red and gold as the sun sank over the hills, Applejack slowly nuzzling at the back of Rarity's neck, the tension slowly leaving her body as she watched the sky change colors. After some time the nuzzling stopped, making the unicorn slowly turn her head to look back at her friend, who was, rather than watching the sunset, instead looking at her date with a fond smile on her lips.


The unicorn laughed. "Yes. Have you just been watching me this whole time? The sunset is gorgeous tonight; Celestia is really outdoing herself."

"Eh, I wouldn't know. I found somethin' prettier to look at."

"Oooh!" Rarity's cheeks flushed at the compliment, before lifting her head and shifting back so she could press her muzzle against the underside of the farmer's jaw, rubbing the bridge of her snout slowly across the fur, the earth pony giving the seamstress a squeeze in response as they rested against each other. The wind blew in from the west, making Applejack's golden-blonde mane rippling behind her as Rarity looked up at her. "You really do look like a princess with your mane down like that; it is positively gorgeous."

Applejack laughed quietly. "So I guess I'm up to your high standards then? Or am I gonna have to steal Twilight's crown?" She winked mischievously.

"Mmm, that can wait."

"Ah, third date stuff then," the farmer replied glibly.

"So presumptuous! I haven't even agreed to the second one yet."

"I dunno, y'all seem awful cozy like this. I thought it was a shoo-in."

"Applejack! One never assumes such things of a lady, one asks!"

"Alright then. You think y'all be good for another few dates?"

The unicorn looked away then. "I don't know, I haven't decided."

"It's alright. Y'all ain't even touched my pie yet."

Rarity squealed. "Applejack!"

"What?" The earth pony blinked, confused.

The unicorn's blush returned as she wiggled underneath the earth pony, getting her hooves underneath her. "Yes, apple pie sounds very nice about now."

Disappointment showed on the farmer's face as Rarity started to stand up, the earth pony sliding off her back to put her hooves down on the blanket again. "Was it somethin' I said?"

Rarity shook her head as she reached out with her magic to pull the picnic basket towards her, using her magic to uncover the pie, the golden-crusted pastry floating out in front of her before she blinked. "Applejack, there is no knife in the basket."

Applejack frowned. "I thought I put one in there," the farmer said, before leaning over to peer inside the basket, lifting the cloth with her mouth before shaking it out over the blanket, then sighing as she let it drop. "I'm sorry Rarity."

"It's alright," the unicorn said distantly as she set the pie down on the blanket regretfully. "And it smells so nice too."

"Nothin' says we can't eat it without cuttin' it up first. I've done it before." Rarity wrinkled her nose at the suggestion, drawing a slow shake of the head from the farmer. "Come on, I know y'all did it at the Sisterhooves Social, and without magic to boot."

"That was different."

"Cause no one knew who you were? Rarity, I don't care if y'all get pie on your face. Heck, I'd help clean it up."

"That isn't the point."

"Come on, can't y'all just be a little uncouth? For me?"

The unicorn averted her face, but after a few moments later the pie floated up between the pair, Rarity turning her head back towards Applejack to look at her across the pie. "Alright. It does look delicious."

"It should. The Apple family makes the best pies in all of Equestria."

"Oh, I know." The unicorn held the pie in place as her magic tugged the pie pan out from underneath it, neatly depositing the metal tin into the basket before she leaned forward to take a delicate bite out of the far side of the pie, blue magic flowing in to keep the pie filling inside. Applejack smiled across the pie as she leaned forward to take a bite from her own side, then smirked slightly to herself.

"Heh, thanks Granny."

"What was that?"

"Nevermind. Y'all like it?"

"Like it? No." The unicorn paused for dramatic effect, the farmer giving her a flat look. "I love it."

"Y'all know that only works the first time you do it, right?"

Rarity pouted, but Applejack only snickered in response. "I get that look often enough from my sister. Y'all are gonna have to do better than that."

"Oh you're no fun," the unicorn huffed before leaning forward to take another dainty bite out of her side of the pie, the farmer starting to slow down to match her pace.

"Ya know, its different when you're usin' magic to hold it together. Every bite is always perfect, ya get the crust and the fillin' every time."

The unicorn smiled. "It does take a certain touch."

"Ah, but a proper lady never gets crumbs on her dresses, huh?"

Rarity laughed. "Indeed."

The pair slowly consumed the pie, their snouts slowly getting closer together, before the unicorn sat back on her haunches. "I think I have had quite enough. It is very good, but I would prefer to be able to keep fitting in all of my dresses."

Disappointment showed on Applejack's face at the comment, the farmer eyeing the pie. "Guess I should have eaten faster."

"What do you mean? Don't let me stop you."

"Heh, not quite the point Rarity."

The unicorn looked at Applejack for a moment, then back to the pie, then to Applejack again before laughing quietly, a light blush coming to her cheeks again. "Ohh Applejack. You left the knife out on purpose, didn't you?"

"Nope. That was Granny. She had the right idea though. Wish I had thought of it first."

"Hmph. And I thought you said earlier you didn't want to kiss me."

"Now, I didn't say that. I just said I'd be happy with tonight if y'all had a good time. Can't say I'd object to bumpin' noses with ya." Rarity smiled coyly, tucking her chin down against her chest, making the earth pony chuckle fondly. "Come on, let's get this cleaned up."

Rarity nodded her head, the remnants of the apple pie floated over into the open basket, the fastidious unicorn's magic flipping the cloth back over it to cover it. Intent on her work, she didn't notice the earth pony move until she felt hooves on her back, the tailor giving voice to a quiet squeak, tensing momentarily.

"It's only me," Applejack said as her hooves started to knead into her date's back, the tension leaving Rarity's shoulders as she relaxed back into her friend's impromptu massage.

"Mmm... Applejack, have you ever done this before?"

"This? Naw, not really."

"I can tell," the unicorn giggled, tipping he chin up, drawing a snort from the apple farmer behind her.

"Picky picky picky."

"I may be a bit spoiled by the spa. I might have to see if I can convince Aloe to give you some lessons."

"Might have to? That almost sounds like you want me to get my muddy hooves on you again."

The unicorn smiled. "I'm still considering it."

"Uh huh. Come here, you!" The sun was nothing more than a red sliver above the hills when the earth pony tackled her companion, laughing as she pinned the white unicorn on the blanket beneath her, the tailor presenting little resistance as the orange pony leaned over her, loose mane cascading around her shoulders as she grinned down at Rarity.

"Why Applejack, I might almost think you knocked me down on purpose," the tailor said as she turned her head to look up at the farmer, smiling, before the earth pony leaned forward, her chest pressing against the unicorn's shoulder.

"I reckon I did. Might have got a bit tired of you playin' hard to get, so I kind of skipped ahead to the part where I win."

"I thought you learned your lesson about cheating at the Running of the Leaves," Rarity said, turning her head to the side, only to have an orange hoof slide under her face, lifting her head to meet Applejack's gaze.

"All's fair in love and war, darlin'," the apple farmer replied, three of her legs wrapping around Rarity as the fourth slid off of the tailor's cheek and down to stroke slowly along the side of her neck, nestling in close against her friend. Both ponies' cheeks flushed as Applejack lowered her head, their snouts mere inches apart. Green eyes stared into blue as the unicorn licked her lips nervously, the unicorn's gaze uncertain, the earth pony's warm.

"Applejack, I-"

"Shhh. It's alright."

Applejack continued to slowly caress the unicorn's neck as she lowered her head, warm breath touching the unicorn's snout as her embraced tightened. Rarity started to lift her head for a moment before hesitating, only for her partner to close the gap herself, soft, firm lips meeting at last. As their breathes mingled inside each other's mouths, Rarity closed her eyes and gave into the kiss, the unicorn's hesitation melting away as she let herself become lost in the moment, the earth pony's embrace drawing her date's body in close to the warmth of her smooth-furred chest. Applejack let her own eyes drift closed after a moment, and time stopped on the hilltop for the newfound lovers.

The sky was dark when the pair opened their eyes, meeting each other's gaze once more, green eyes reflecting tenderness to the blue ones' uncertainty. The unicorn shifted slowly underneath the farmer, sliding onto her back and letting her hooves slide around Applejack's shoulders, her tail sliding across the fabric as she lay there, refusing to break eye contact. It was Applejack who spoke first as she lifted her other hoof to slowly stroke the unicorn's purple mane as she felt her partner's chest rise and fall against her.

"That enough 'splodin' passion for you?"

Rarity tittered, the words washing away the worry in her eyes as she smiled up at her newfound lover. "Yes."

"So, ya think kissin' a mare can do it for ya?"

Rarity smiled up at the farmer, her hooves squeezing around the earth pony's back.

"I think so, but..." the unicorn's smile grew coy as her eyes narrowed, "Maybe you should give me another one, just to make sure."

Applejack laughed before lowering her head again, their mouths meeting once more as the mares lay together against each other on the hilltop, a cool breeze rippling the grass around them as they lay in each others' hooves, enjoying their first night alone together out on the edge of Sweet Apple Acres.