On the first day of Summer, Rarity takes the day off to go help Applejack tidy up her brand new cabin. As the two ponies finish up their work and share a laugh or two, they start to really examine their friendship and how they feel about each other.
On the first day of Summer, Rarity takes the day off to go help Applejack tidy up her brand new cabin. As the two ponies finish up their work and share a laugh or two, they start to really examine their friendship and how they feel about each other.
It was the first day of summer. A cloudless afternoon sky hung over a small, run-down train station just outside of Ponyville. The station was devoid of life, with the exception of a single pony sitting on a bench. Applejack stretched her legs, letting out a relaxed sigh. She had been working most of the day already and it felt good to be able to sit down and just soak up the scenery for a bit. She watched a pair of squirrels chase each other through the pine trees on the other side of the tracks, jumping from branch to branch. Applejack smiled and tipped her hat down over her eyes, succumbing to a quick nap in the summer warmth.
She raised her head back up as the sound of a train whistle and the chugging of an engine broke the silence of the lonely station, the squirrel duo retreating into the forest. Applejack stood up from her seat as the Ponyville train pulled into the station with a hiss of steam. The train doors slid open, letting out the sole passenger for this stop.
"Applejack, darling, when you said this place was in the middle of nowhere I thought you were at least exaggerating a bit! Is there even anypony working at this station?"
Rarity walked toward her friend, a satchel around her neck and a pair of fancy sunglasses adorning her face. Applejack had been expecting Fluttershy, but was happy to see Rarity regardless.
"It's nice to see you too, Rare," said Applejack, giving off a small laugh.
Rarity giggled and gently bopped her friend on the nose. "You know I'm always happy to see you, smart-apple," she teased.
Applejack smiled. "To answer yer question, I haven't seen no one around as I was waitin," she explained. "There is pretty much nopony living around these parts, at least up until the cabin. I actually had to flag down a passing mailpony to get my letter out to y'all."
Rarity's horn faintly glowed as she used her magic to withdraw a tattered piece of paper from her bag, levitating it in front of her and inspecting it. "Yes, I could tell you were writing this in quite a hurry," said Rarity. "As soon as we received your letter back home, I volunteered to come and help you. I called in one of my employees from my Canterlot location to cover the boutique for today so I could make the trip." Rarity smiled proudly. "Who knew that expanding your business could actually make getting vacation time EASIER?"
"Well it ain't no five-star resort, and I will need your help finishing up maintenance," Applejack said, "but I can promise you some s'mores over a nice campfire tonight once we're all set." Applejack gestured with her head toward the small dirt path leading away from the station.
"That's quite all right with me, darling," Rarity replied. "I am always happy to help out a dear friend, and a night off is a night off in my book!"
Applejack nodded in agreement. She began to trot down the dirt path, Rarity following slightly behind her. The path was flanked on both sides by miles of mighty pine and spruce trees, causing the sunlight to fall in small beams through their branches. A slight summer breeze gently rocked the treelines, breathing life into the two friends' surroundings. A pair of brightly colored birds flew overhead, Rarity smiling as she noted their presence. She moved her gaze downward, looking once again at Applejack.
AJ's mane was in a neat ponytail, looking far too perfect for all of the work she had been doing all day. Her golden hair glimmered in the rays of sunlight, giving her whole head an almost aura of the summer sun. Rarity considered complimenting her friend on this, but decided against it, instead simply admiring from a step behind.
As she walked through the last stretch of woods into a clearing, Applejack felt a soft warmth in her chest. She turned her head around to look at Rarity, who gave her a thoughtful smile. AJ returned the gesture, and turned her head back around as she took a final few steps.
"Well, here she is," Applejack proclaimed, "my brand new summer cabin, courtesy of my cousin Braeburn."
Applejack lifted a hoof to gesture toward her new summer abode. It was a small, cozy-looking old cabin. It had a front porch with a few rocking chairs and a barrel which looked like it was to be used as a table. The front of the cabin sported two dusty windows, allowing for a slight view of a main room inside. There was a small fire pit a short ways in front of the cabin, with a couple of stumps surrounding it for seating. The whole building, while old, screamed summer vacation. It was a beautiful old place with a rustic feel.
"Oh my stars," Rarity said gleefully, "what a quaint little cabin!" She followed Applejack toward the front porch. "Braeburn just gave this to you?" Rarity asked.
"Yup, he said he hadn't used it in years," Applejack explained, "so he decided to give it to the closest Apples to the cabin, which just so happens to be my family!"
Applejack walked onto the porch, stopping in front of a wooden door with a small wooden apple adorning the center. AJ removed her hat, and with her mouth removed a small key from inside of it. Rarity raised an eyebrow as Applejack unlocked the front door.
"Do you seriously keep the key in your hat? What other items have you got hidden in there?" asked Rarity.
Applejack chucked. "Well little missy," she said, "a quite dignified pony once told me–"
AJ did her best to imitate Rarity's accent.
"A true lady never reveals her secrets, darling," Applejack mimicked.
Rarity covered her mouth as a fit of laughter escaped her. Applejack smirked at her well-received teasing as both ponies walked into the cabin. Just as Rarity was getting a hold of herself, she heard a loud thump. She turned her attention back to her friend, who had suddenly jumped up onto the cabin's kitchen table and was now striking a pose.
"AND A TRUE LADY MUST ALWAYS WEAR FABULOUS DRESSES WHEREVER SHE GOES!" Applejack shouted, this time doing a much worse job of copying her friend's accent.
Rarity burst into laughter as her table-bound friend tried to contain her own giggles.
"Aha ha ha! Oh Apple- ahaha," Rarity struggled to speak, "darlin-ahaha! Aha–"
A loud snort rang through the cabin.
Rarity immediately fell silent, her eyes wide. Her mouth scrunched up as she blushed, realizing that she had been the source of that sound.
Applejack lost it, falling off the table and onto the wood floor, howling with laughter.
"No! No no no!" Rarity shouted as she pounced on top of the laughing pony. "We must never speak of this again!"
Rarity began angrily wrestling her friend, but her embarrassment gave way to more laughter and Applejack was a far better wrestler than her.
The two friends panted as they lay on the ground, the laughter finally subsiding. Particles of dust swirled around in the front window's sunbeams, having been kicked up by all the horseplay. Rarity nudged her friend as she finally caught her breath.
"I think the two of us are kind of similar, darling," Rarity said with an exhausted grin.
"How do you figure that, sugarcube?" Applejack asked.
"We both get so tightly wound from working so hard," Rarity explained, "that we both lose it at the drop of a hat!" Rarity gently knocked her friend's hat off her head with this statement, Applejack giving a satisfied chuckle.
"I reckon you may be on to something there," Applejack said, giving her friend a wink. AJ picked up her hat and reached over to put it on Rarity's head. "I don't think most other ponies would understand it," said Applejack as she placed the hat on her friend's head, "but I actually relate to you more than most of our other friends. Especially when it comes to work." Applejack looked thoughtfully up at the ceiling, watching the dust settle. Rarity tipped her newfound hat over her face, now taking her turn to imitate, and simultaneously hiding a sheepish grin from her friend.
"I think we both have a powerful work ethic," said Rarity. "And we both often slip into a 'it has to be done my way' sort of routine," she continued, giving an awkward giggle. Applejack gave a similar giggle, but then frowned.
"You know, Rare, I like your way sometimes," said AJ. "I hope I don't come across like I don't value your ideas over mine."
Rarity rose to her hooves with a smile. "Of course not," she said, offering a hoof to help her friend up, "you make me feel quite valued."
As AJ took her friend's hoof and stood up, Rarity could have sworn that Applejack blushed for a split second.
Applejack stretched her back, now a little tight from lying on the wooden floor. "Well, speaking of work, we should probably get going on what you came here for," said Applejack with a sigh.
Rarity had really just wanted to see her friend, and had forgotten all about the problem she had promised to help with. "Oh of course," she said, "it said in the letter you were having an animal problem?"
Applejack furrowed her brow. "Yea. I've got a goose problem," she said, putting a hoof to her face in embarrassment.
"A...goose problem?" asked Rarity, almost beginning to laugh again, but stopping herself at the sight of Applejack's unamused face.
"I know it sounds dumb," Applejack said exasperatedly, "but it's no joke. I've been trying for days. They will not leave."
Rarity put a hoof over her friend's shoulder. "Well let's go take care of your goose problem then."
"Good heavens, how long did you say they've been sitting there?"
Rarity's question pulled a frustrated sigh out of Applejack as the pair of ponies faced down their "goose problem". Applejack had led her friend down a short path behind the cabin to a lake. Various trees heavily lined most of the shore, but the path ended in a patch of grass and a small dock for fishing or just sunbathing. Well, that is what it could have been used for, if it were not being occupied by two rather large geese. They looked angry.
"They've been there since I got here a couple of days ago," Applejack explained. "When night falls, they sleep in shifts. If they get hungry, one of them goes out to get food. It's one of the darndest things I've ever seen." Applejack squinted her eyes. "It's almost as if... they know. Maybe somepony is tryin' to sabatoge my plans..."
Rarity rolled her eyes. "Sweetie I think if somepony wished you any ill will they would pick a more dastardly form of sabotage than geese."
"...Sweetie?" Applejack thought for a second, before shaking her head and addressing the problem at hand. "Yea, yea, that's just silly talk," she admitted. "It's still a big problem though. I have tried everything I could think of short of violence to move these dumb birds. And of course I can't just resort to violence, or a certain yellow friend of ours will give me a five-hour lecture on proper animal treatment."
Rarity gave AJ a disapproving look.
"Oh...and of course it's also, you know, wrong and whatnot," Applejack muttered, scrunching her mouth and looking at the ground. She closed her eyes and let out a sigh. "I didn't mean that Rare, I'm sorry," she said. "I have just been at this too long, I'm all flustered and fed up with these dumb birds."
One of the geese honked angrily at Applejack's comment, Applejack doing her best to hold her tongue before she said something that would net another glare of disapproval from Rarity.
Rarity looked curiously at the goose that had just spoken up. "I think a wise first step would be to stop referring to our guests here as "dumb birds", Rarity stated. As she said this, the outspoken goose, who had previously stood up in anger, sat back down next to their companion.
Applejack blinked. "Did you just...did he just...hear you?" Applejack said, mouth agape at the spectacle of the situation.
Rarity didn't look as surprised, still looking carefully at the two dock-squatters. "I'm not sure. It certainly seemed that way though," she said bluntly, walking slowly toward the dock. The geese tensed up, fluffing their feathers slightly. "Hello dears. Can you understand me?" she asked the feathered couple.
The geese just stared through her, not making any noise or giving any signs of comprehension.
"If you can understand me," she said, "would you be so kind as to relocate your sitting spot? My friend here would like to spruce up the dock, she didn't mean any harm to you. You can come back to the dock later on if you like."
The leftmost goose laid its head down on the dock.
Applejack brought her hoof up to her face, letting out a groan of dismay. "You see," she said, "there is no reasoning with these fellers. They are gonna be sitting on that dock all summer!" Applejack gave Rarity a look of defeat.
Rarity met her friend's unhappy look with a gentle smile. "Oh come now darling, is that really all the ideas you thought I had?" she asked with a grin. "You promised me s'mores this evening, correct?"
Applejack gave Rarity's question a confused look, followed by a widening of her eyes, and finally a sigh. "If you are thinkin' about trying to bribe 'em with some graham crackers," Applejack said listlessly, "I already gave that a shot. No good."
Rarity was unfazed. "If it is alright, I would like to give it a shot as well," said Rarity, a ghost of a smirk visible on her face.
"Be my guest hun," Applejack replied with a shrug, "crackers are in the kitchen, highest shelf, toward the front. Can't miss 'em."
Rarity gave her friend a cheerful nod and began to walk back over to the cabin to retrieve her bait. As Rarity walked back, Applejack thought of something.
"Hey hun!" AJ shouted to her exiting friend, "how come they didn't send Fluttershy up here? Since it was an animal problem and whatnot?"
Rarity turned her head slightly to yell back her response as she walked. "She was taking Discord to some royal meeting, something about Celestia wanting to know Fluttershy's progress in reforming him," Rarity shouted back, "Twilight had to go too, so I volunteered. But no worries, I have got you covered!" Rarity flashed a reassuring hoof-wave back at her friend, Applejack nodding and looking back at the geese.
"Hun." Rarity smiled as she entered the cabin to retrieve the crackers. "I could get used to that."
Applejack lay down in the grass and began surveying her surroundings. The sun hung a little lower in the sky now, heading toward the far end of the lake to set for the night. The trees around the lake swayed softly in the breeze, reflecting their movement in the water below them. Applejack smiled as she admired the beauty of the day around her, closing her eyes and stretching out her hooves.
The image of Rarity laying next to her on the floor of the cabin centered itself in Applejack's mind. "I kind of liked it when she wore my hat," AJ thought to herself. Her mental slideshow flipped to a still image of Rarity smiling at her next to the lake, about to return to the cabin for the crackers. "I kind of like-"
Applejack plopped her forehead onto the ground. "Stop it brain," she muttered to herself.
Applejack lifted her head up and opened her eyes to look at the source of the noise. The goose that had berated her earlier was giving her a stern look. Applejack rolled her eyes, turning over to lay on her side.
Applejack groaned, turning back over to face the noisy bird. "I can't tell Rarity about that kind of stuff," she said hastily. "She wants to get hitched to a prince or whatever one day, someone royal and fancy-like."
The goose gave her a disappointing look.
"Besides," Applejack continued, "Rarity is like my best friend. I don't want to do anything that would screw that up." Applejack placed her hooves over her face, grumbling her troubles to her winged enemy-turned-therapist. The goose laid it's head down on the dock once more, seeming to sympathize with the pony's problems.
"I just wouldn't want to make things weird," Applejack explained, now having stood up and begun pacing around. She looked back at the goose, only to find that it had since fallen asleep with it's head still laying on the dock. It's partner was now watching her.
AJ smacked her forehead with her right hoof. "Good job AJ," she said, "not only are you a crazy pony that talks to geese, you are also so boring that you put them to sleep. Bang-up job."
"What were you talking to them about, darling?"
Applejack jumped as Rarity walked up beside her with a small bag on her back. She had been so focused on her counseling session with the goose that she failed to notice Rarity walking back up with the graham crackers.
"Uh, how much of that did you hear?" AJ asked, doing her best to hide an embarrassed smile.
"I just heard you say that you were talking to the geese," Rarity stated. "How come?" she said, squinting her eyes and forming a slight frown. "Were you talking about me?"
"Um, no," Applejack said weakly, trying to come up with something. "We were talking about..uh..we were talking about politics," Applejack concluded. "Yea, politics."
Rarity raised and eyebrow. "You were talking to geese about politics?" she asked.
"Yup, sure was. They are, uh...good listeners," AJ said, fumbling through her words.
Rarity stared her friend down for a moment before throwing a genuine smile back onto her face.
"Well isn't that darling," said Rarity, "you should have just told me! We should all talk about politics, you know I love to ta-"
"Uh uh," Applejack said, interrupting her, "we are not having a repeat of last time we talked politics." AJ shuddered at the thought of last time.
"Ah ha ha, yes..." said Rarity, "maybe that isn't such a great idea actually." She gave her friend a confident look. "I think it's time we move these geese," she said triumphantly. Applejack opened her mouth to say something further, but Rarity placed her hoof over her friend's mouth before she could say anything.
"No questions until this is over dear," Rarity instructed, "I have a plan that will definitely take care of our problem."
Rarity positioned herself a few yards away from the dock, laying down to the right of the path and facing away from the dock and it's guardians. Applejack lay on the opposite side of the path, observing her friend at work. Rarity opened a bag of crackers, laying a few down next to her. She then pulled a lone cracker out of the bag and lifted it to her mouth.
Rarity crunched down on the cracker, doing her best to fight her civilized instincts and chew loud enough for the geese to overhear. "Oh my heavens!" Rarity exclaimed as over-dramatically as possible.
The geese lifted their heads, looking over to try to see what had caused Rarity's outburst.
"Mmmm, these are simply divine," Rarity continued, "these must be the best crackers I have EVER had in my ENTIRE life!" She munched away at another cracker, giving off as many satisfied moans as possible. Rarity was so caught up in acting that she failed to see Applejack was now once again laying in the grass, covering her face with her hooves and blushing at Rarity's sounds.
In a flurry of feathers and honking, both geese rushed over to join Rarity. They immediately began pecking at the various crackers on the ground, Rarity now with a huge smile on her face.
"The plan worked!" Rarity screamed, "GET ON THAT DOCK!"
"YEEEEHAW!" Applejack roared, zooming over to a nearby tree and grabbing a bucket from behind it. She had been waiting for this moment for days, and she was ready. In one swift motion Applejack jumped onto the dock, quickly inspected all of the nails on the top and pounded the few that were sticking up back down with her hoof, tested each corner to make sure it was sturdy, pulled out a sponge from the bucket and cleaned all of the gunk and goose residue off the dock, and zoomed back over next to Rarity and the geese.
Rarity beamed, staring at Applejack with her mouth agape in awe. The geese followed suit, some cracker bits falling out of their beaks.
"Heh heh," said AJ, now panting, "I have been waiting to do that for days now."
"Darling, that was amazing!" Rarity said with a squeak, "you must be taking lessons from Rainbow, that was so fast!"
Applejack smiled proudly. "Nothin' but good old fashioned Apple family precision right there, sugarcube," she bragged. Rarity smiled and applauded her friend as Applejack looked down at the two geese.
"That was all I wanted, you two," Applejack said politely, "Y'all can go back now if you really want to."
The geese looked at each other, then up at Rarity. Applejack thought she saw Rarity give a slight nod before the geese turned around and took off into the summer sky. They flew over the lake and out of view.
Rarity gazed into the campfire as she thought over her day. It was now evening, the sun finally setting over the lake behind the cabin. She sat alone on one of the fireside stumps, Applejack having since gone inside to grab her s'more cooking gear. They had spent the rest of the day tidying up around the cabin, mostly doing small things that AJ hadn't finished up yet. They were doing some dusting earlier and Rarity had let out a sneeze that Applejack dubbed "cute". That made her happy, although AJ seemed a bit shy about it. At one point while cleaning spiderwebs off of some outside walls, Rarity had expressed her concerns about getting spiderwebs in her hair and got to wear Applejack's hat again to protect herself. All-in-all Rarity had enjoyed a wonderful day, and her heart felt full. Everything seemed to be going her way, at least as far as she was concerned.
She heard a soft thump and turned around to see Applejack heading back to the campfire carrying various bags and cookware, having dropped one of the s'more roasting utensils on the ground. Rarity let out a chuckle before standing up and walking over to help her friend.
The campfire crackled with energy, sending tiny glowing embers floating up toward the starry summer sky. The orange glow from the fire threw itself onto the cabin and the treeline surrounding the two ponies. Owls could be heard who-ing in the distance, other animals making occasional noises to add to the evening atmosphere. Rarity sat on a fireside stump beside her friend, listening to Applejack tell her all about her previous days spent fixing up the cabin. They shared laughs, toasted apple cider, and made and ate a good amount of s'mores.
As the fire began to die down, Applejack gave her best friend an earnest smile.
"I can't thank you enough for coming out here and helping me," Applejack said happily, "I don't know what I would have done if it wasn't for you. I was going a little crazy out here by myself!"
"Oh, darling, there's no need to thank me," Rarity replied, "I had a fabulous day with a good friend." Rarity leaned over and threw her hooves around her friend. "Thank you very much for having me, dear!"
Applejack hugged her friend back lightly, allowing herself to blush slightly with a big grin on her face. As the two pulled away from their embrace, AJ threw a calm look back on her face before her friend could notice the joy that hug brought her.
Applejack let out a big yawn, Rarity looking on with a slightly smaller smile. "It was a very nice day, Rare," Applejack said, "but I think it's high time we both hit the hay. It's pretty late and I'm tuckered out from all the work today."
"I know I need my beauty sleep as much as anypony," said Rarity, "but I was really hoping we could stay up just a bit later." Rarity looked expectantly at her friend, hoping she would agree to her proposition. Applejack looked at Rarity with intrigue as Rarity stood up from her stump. "We could talk some more by the campfire," Rarity suggested, "or we could go and catch fireflies." Rarity lifted her hoof and motioned toward the sky, "or we could just sit and stargaze for a while."
Applejack's eyes widened, but then her eyelids sagged back down as her fatigue returned. "I'm awfully sorry Rare," she said with a sigh, "that all sounds really fun, but I think I'm just too tired for that tonight."
Rarity frowned, lowering her head in defeat. Applejack stepped over to her quickly, putting her hoof on Rarity's chin and lifting it up gently. Rarity gave her friend her best puppy dog eyes, but Applejack just offered a gentle smile in return.
"I promise you we will do all of that and more next time," said AJ, "we can have another camping trip real soon. I promise."
Rarity's frown turned back into a small smile, Applejack's statement making her feel a little better. She took a moment to just look into AJ's deep green eyes before nodding her head in agreement. She turned around slightly to look at the fire, now only a pit full of glowing red coals.
"You go ahead and make your way to bed, darling," Rarity said softly, "I will put out the fire and be there in just a moment." She walked over to the other side of the fire pit and leaned her head down to pick up a small metal bucket with her mouth. Applejack had filled it with water from the lake.
"Alright sugarcube," Applejack said, nodding her head, "be sure to slosh the ashes around a bit after you douse it. You can use that branch right there." She pointed with her hoof at a medium sized branch leaned up against the side of the cabin. "Wouldn't wanna burn down my new cabin the first night she's finally ready!" Applejack said as she walked up the cabin steps.
Rarity poured the bucket's contents onto the fire, a loud hiss emerging from the coals as they gave off a small billow of steam. She placed the bucket back on the ground and smiled. "Not on my watch, darling," she said while walking toward the sloshing branch.
Applejack laid down in one of two adjacent cots in the cabin's bedroom, placing her hat on the nightstand. The room was dark, the only light coming from a small window in the middle of the room. Applejack glanced at the four diamonds of moonlight that said window cast onto the floor, mentally erasing the lowest one so that it resembled Rarity's cutie mark. She let out a quiet giggle at this, pleased with her thoughtfulness. Applejack let a final yawn escape her as she began to drift to sleep.
She awoke at the faint sound of hoofsteps entering the room. She glanced over and watched as Rarity looked out the window for a moment before turning around and walking toward the beds. AJ closed her eyes and did her best to breathe as if she was sleeping, not wanting her friend to think she wasn't tired. She listened as Rarity began to lift up her sheets and climb into bed, but then stopped suddenly and put her hooves back onto the cabin floor. For a good while, Rarity made no sound. "Why is she just standing there?" Applejack wondered, trying to maintain her facade.
A few short hoofsteps broke the silence, positioning Rarity at the side of Applejack's bed. AJ heard the familiar spark of Rarity's horn as she felt her covers rise up to just below her chin. Applejack listened carefully as she heard the faint hum of Rarity's horn dissipate, but then resume once again as Applejack felt her blanket being tucked into the bed on the bottom and sides.
Applejack accidentally let out a small chuckle, amused at her friend's need to make her bed. Rarity's magic hum stopped suddenly, and Applejack heard her take a few steps back. Panicking, AJ let out a large fake snore. She could hear Rarity covering her mouth while giggling, trying not to wake her sleeping friend. Applejack felt an air of relief as Rarity once again approached her bedside. Applejack felt Rarity's breath on her cheek as she leaned over her. "What is she doing?" Applejack wondered. "I can feel her breath, she must be ri-"
"Goodnight my dear."
Rarity whispered somberly into Applejack's ear, and then reached her head in a little more and gave her a light kiss on the cheek.
Applejack's heart was racing as she kept her eyes tightly shut, listening as Rarity climbed into the other cot and pulled the covers over her. Butterflies welled up inside Applejack's stomach, her mind aflame with questions. "What was that? Does she feel something for me? What should I do?" She wanted nothing more than to talk to Rarity, but as quickly as this rush of questions had hit her she felt her fatigue engulfing her mind. "Goodnight Rare," she thought as she drifted off to sleep.
Applejack awoke suddenly, sitting up in her bed. She rubbed her eyes, glancing over at Rarity's bed. To her surprise, the covers were strewn about. As her eyes adjusted to the dark, she could now see that there was in fact no Rarity present in the bed at all. Applejack wore a confused look as she scanned the room. Everything else was in place. The patch of moonlight from the window had moved a bit to the left, but that was the only difference. Applejack got out of her bed, yawning and stretching her back. She grabbed her hat off the nightstand, placing it back onto her head.
Applejack walked carefully into the main room of the cabin, gently waving her hoof in front of her to make sure not to run into anything in the dark. She made her way over to the kitchen table, reaching down and lighting a small glass lantern she had left on the table. The lantern threw an orange hue all over the room as Applejack glanced around, still not finding her friend. Frowning, she walked over and glanced out one of the front windows at the fire pit.
She let out a huff as she spun around, heading over to the back window. AJ peered out the back window toward the clearing that housed the lake. She could see a faint glow of light seeming to come from the dock's direction. Applejack raised an eyebrow in honest confusion, wondering what Rarity was doing at the dock in the wee hours of the morning. She walked back over to the table and grabbed the lantern with her teeth. She opened the front door with her hoof and ventured out into the night.
Applejack walked down the steps and looked around her campsite. Everything was dark, the trees now standing completely still without a breeze in the air. AJ glanced over at the fire pit, the coals looking as dark as the night sky above her. She grinned, mentally thanking Rarity for following her directions. As she was sending her mental thank you, a pair of fireflies hovered past her. Applejack watched as they floated gently, flying behind the cabin. AJ trotted around the cabin, following the fireflies as they headed toward the lake.
As Applejack approached the lake's clearing, she observed Rarity sitting alone on the dock. She had set the other lantern from the cabin beside her, and was looking up at the sky. The lantern illuminated her and the dock, creating a piercing spot of light in the middle of the dark forest. The light from the lantern cast out over the water, highlighting small ripples as they moved across the lake. The pair of fireflies had joined a multitude of them hovering gently around the grass just before the dock. Applejack traced Rarity's gaze up to the sky as she approached the dock. AJ held in a gasp as she looked up at the sky, marveling at a perfectly clear sky full of stars. She was able to pick out the summer triangle and a few constellations as she stepped onto the dock.
Rarity squeaked as Applejack sat down next to her, having been totally engrossed in stargazing. She put a hoof to her chest, catching her breath.
"You scared the daylight out of me Applejack!" she said, her mouth scrunched up in frustration.
Applejack looked down at the water, an embarrassed look covering her face. "I'm sorry Rare," said AJ. "I didn't mean to startle you, I just noticed you left the cabin and I went looking for you."
Rarity let out a deep sigh, then gently bopped her friend on the shoulder. "That's okay darling," Rarity said with a nervous smile, "I just couldn't seem to sleep, and it's just such a lovely night out..."
Applejack nodded. "I agree hun," she said with a smile, "these stars sure are somethin', aren't they?" Applejack looked up at the sky, the lantern casting a glow on her smile. Rarity smiled back, turning her head skyward as well.
For a moment, neither of the two friends spoke. The summer sky shone bright with stars, and the lake below them reflected their shimmering glow. It seemed as if the stars went on forever, a beautiful portrait of unknown places.
Applejack pointed up at a group of stars. "That there is called "Aquila the Eagle"," she stated proudly, "see, there is the wings, and that is the tail..." Applejack did her best to point to the separate parts of the constellation with her hoof, Rarity watching with an enormous grin on her face. Applejack lowered her hoof, laughing at how difficult it is to point to stars in such a small constellation.
"I see it!" Rarity said, reassuring her friend that she was doing a good job as star-spotter. Applejack closed her eyes and smiled as Rarity looked longingly back at the stars. Applejack opened her eyes as Rarity tapped her shoulder, Rarity looking up at the sky in amazement. Applejack turned her head skyward once more, opening her mouth in awe.
A shooting star shot across the sky, glimmering as if it were made of pure magic.
Applejack beamed with joy, turning to look back at Rarity. Rarity's eyes were shut, her head looking down and her hooves together as if in prayer.
"What did you wish for?" Applejack asked curiously. "I wished for a good harvest this year at the farm."
Rarity opened her eyes quickly, turning to face her friend. "Oh, well I can't tell you the wish," Rarity explained, "or it won't come true! That's how wishes work darling." Rarity smiled as she glanced back up at the stars.
"Heh, I bet you wished for your next fashion line to go over well," Applejack said with a chuckle. Rarity frowned, then gave out a small chuckle of her own.
"Yes, that was it," she admitted, a small grin present on her face, "I suppose we both just set ourselves up for some tough times." Rarity looked down at the lake, observing the star's reflections dance as ripples moved through the water. "Oh well," she said before letting out a sigh.
Applejack suddenly felt the butterflies return to her stomach. She looked at Rarity, looking somewhat distant as she gazed into the lake. Applejack felt a warmth inside her chest, as if her heart was trying to leap out of her body. She felt as if her body was trying to move on it's own, without her consent. She felt as if she needed to do something.
"It's now or never," she thought.
Applejack leaned over and gently kissed Rarity's cheek.
Rarity sat up straight, her eyes wide and mouth agape. Applejack leaned back to where she was sitting, waiting for a response. The two sat there, not making a sound. Applejack's heart felt like it was about to pound clear out of her chest as she kept her gaze locked to Rarity, waiting for what would happen next.
After what seemed like an eternity, Rarity gave out a small squeak. Tears began to run down her face.
Applejack's heart plunged into her stomach, regret immediately consuming her mind. "Aw, shucks Rare...I-I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to-"
Applejack's apology was cut short as her friend wrapped her hooves around her, Rarity now sobbing softly into Applejack's shoulder. Applejack was shocked by the sudden change of pace, but followed suit and wrapped her hooves around her crying friend. The two shared this embrace for a moment as Rarity's sobs began to slow.
"Feeling better hun?" Applejack asked gently, nuzzling her cheek against Rarity's hair.
Rarity said something lightly, but her voice was muffled by Applejack's shoulder. Applejack pulled her friend away from her shoulder, now looking at her face to face. Her eyes were still wet with tears, but she now wore a heartwarming smile on her face.
"What were you trying to say, sugarcube?" Applejack asked, wiping away her friend's tears.
Rarity placed her hoof over AJ's, looking at her with stars in her eyes.
Applejack and Rarity walked back from the dock together, a lantern in each of their mouths and a warm feeling in each of their chests. About halfway to the cabin, Rarity wrapped her tail around her partner's. Applejack smiled and nuzzled her head against Rarity's cheek, being careful not to touch her with the lantern. In that moment, as they trotted in unison, they were one. Two halves of a whole.
The duo entered the cabin, setting their respective lanterns back onto the table and extinguishing them. The cabin returned to it's dark, moonlit state. The two ponies fumbled about in the dark for a moment, giggling softly as they bumped into each other while heading back to the bedroom. They both slipped into their covers in their adjacent cots, Rarity once again using her magic to quickly tuck her friend in.
"You know I have hooves," Applejack whispered, "you don't have to do that every time I get in bed."
Rarity chuckled quietly as AJ smiled at her. "I know darling, I just like it," Rarity explained, "it reminds me of when I first saw you how I do now."
Applejack turned on her side, looking over at her friend. "What do you mean by that?" she inquired.
"You know," Rarity whispered, "when I...when I fell for you darling. Or more accurately, when I started falling." Rarity closed her eyes and pondered. "My feelings for you sort of grew over time."
Applejack blushed, reaching out her hoof toward Rarity. Rarity reached hers out as well, managing to barely touch AJ's from her bed.
"When did that start?" Applejack asked quietly. She was pretty sure now that it would be the same answer she herself would give, but she was curious and wanted to hear Rarity say it.
"Ever since that sleepover at Twilight's," Rarity began, "I began to see you in a different light. I always thought you lived in a totally different world than me. You weren't somepony I would consider when making plans, but then again I really didn't know you at all. I actually sort of despised you before that sleepover came to it's conclusion." Rarity gave an awkward laugh, rubbing her hoof against AJ's in reassurance.
"Heh heh, that's about how I was feeling about you too," Applejack teased, "I thought you were a bigger pain in the rear than gettin' up on Sunday." The two ponies eyes began to adjust to the dark, as AJ shot Rarity a snarky wink.
"I suppose I can be at times," Rarity admitted with a laugh, "but anyway, it was after that sleepover that I began to see how similar we are. I saw how wonderful of a team we make." Rarity fought back a tear. "I saw how much you cared about me."
Applejack rose from her bed, moving over to Rarity's bedside and brushing aside her friend's hair to kiss her gently on the forehead next to her horn. "I care about you more than you will ever know," Applejack whispered to her friend somberly. "I started having feelings for you after the slumber party too," she admitted, "since then you've never failed to make me smile." Rarity placed her hoof on top of AJ's, a tear finally freeing itself from her eye.
Applejack returned to her bed as the two of them continued to talk about their feelings. They both wished with all of their hearts that the night could last forever, but before either of them knew it sleep would overtake them.
"So are you like, my marefriend now?"
Applejack's question pierced the gentle sizzle of the frying pan she was attending to. Birds could also be heard chirping just outside, perched on tree branches visible from the cabin's windows. The warm morning sunlight poured into the building, casting beams of especially bright light in random spots throughout the cabin. One of these spots happened to land directly on Rarity's face, causing her to have to switch seats at the kitchen table. She looked down, a plate with a hefty stack of flapjacks placed close to her on the table.
"I really do appreciate you making me breakfast," Rarity said, raising her eyebrow, "but I think it would be physically impossible for me to actually eat all of these pancakes."
Applejack looked away from her stove and shot Rarity a look of slight annoyance.
"Sorry, sorry," Rarity said shaking her head, "still waking up, I do apologize." Rarity looked up and put a hoof to her chin, thinking about where she stood in their relationship. "I don't think so right now, not yet," Rarity professed. This drew an unhappy look out of Applejack, but Rarity waved her hoof in reassurance. "I said not NOW, mind you," she pointed out, "I didn't say I don't want to. I do want to, very much." Applejack regained her smile, feeling more confident after that.
"Alright, well what do you have in mind hun?" she asked Rarity, carefully flipping another pancake.
Rarity thought for another moment and then grew a huge smile. She then stood up from her chair and threw on a serious face. Applejack blinked, looking at her in awe. Rarity raised her hoof, giving off an air of importance. "We should take this slow and let this relationship evolve naturally," she proclaimed. "We are now in the "courting" phase. We can attend events together, go on dates, and enjoy each other's company as we wish." She lowered her hoof, opening her eyes and giving her friend a joyous look. "And then, when we are totally ready," she mused, "one of us can ask the other to be their marefriend." Rarity walked up to Applejack, using her magic to move AJ's hat onto her own head. "Sound good, partner?"
Applejack chuckled and threw a hoof over Rarity's shoulder. "That sounds wonderful, Rare," she said, beaming with happiness. "This is so exciting!" Applejack snuggled her head against her partner's, netting a happy squeak out of Rarity. "I can't wait to tell everpony back home, do you think they will be happy for us? Do you think they will expect it? Oh, I bet Fluttershy will think we are adorable. And Pinkie will be so happy! Oh geez, we better get ready for a 'courting' related party of some sort." Applejack looked at her partner, noticing a hint of nervousness on her face. "You okay hun?" Applejack asked, speaking in a gentle tone.
Rarity smiled sheepishly. "Well, I can tell you that Fluttershy does indeed find us precious," Rarity said nervously.
Applejack put on her best sarcastic "oh, of course" face. "Alright Rare, who else knows," she said with a sigh.
"Only Fluttershy and Twilight know darling," Rarity admitted, "I'm very sorry dear. I was just looking for advice, and Fluttershy has such great love for her animals, and Twilight is the 'Princess of Friendship', so I figured maybe her expertise would extend to relationship advice..."
Applejack kissed Rarity lightly on the cheek, stopping her rant. "It's alright sugarcube, I just wanted to know," she stated with a grin. Rarity scrunched up her mouth as she blushed, looking down at the floor. Applejack began to turn around to attend to her flapjackery, but was quickly spun back around by Rarity.
"Wait, wait," she said, looking embarrassed, "I need to tell you something." Applejack raised an eyebrow. "I need to...I need to confess something to you," Rarity squeaked, looking sick to her stomach. "The thing is, well...the reason Fluttershy and Twilight know that...um, well you see dear-"
Applejack jumped up onto the table, knocking the plate of pancakes onto the floor. Rarity scrunched her mouth up, looking up at her once again table-bound friend. Applejack had fire in her eyes.
"YOU SENT THE GEESE!" she yelled at full volume, pointing a hoof down at Rarity as if she was some kind of overly-energetic lawyer.
"I...uh..." Rarity stumbled over her words, having not been at all prepared for such over dramatic confrontations. Applejack jumped down from the table, closing her eyes and pacing slow circles around her guilty friend.
"You see, darling," Applejack began, once again imitating Rarity's accent, "you needed me alone so you could confess your love to me." Rarity gasped, playing along with her partner's theatrics. "You asked Fluttershy to tell her geese to squat on my dock, and to not move for me no matter what," Applejack continued. "But that wasn't enough, you also had to impress me and make your stay absolutely vital to finishing the cabin's renovations. You needed to make the best impression possible before you shared your feelings with me." Applejack opened her eyes, shooting her friend a confident look. "So you got Twilight to put a spell on the birds!" she proclaimed. "A spell that would let other ponies communicate with them, just like Fluttershy can!" Rarity's mouth fell open, astonished at her friend's accuracy. "And you told them your plan, and told them not to move until you ate those crackers!" Applejack again threw out a hoof at Rarity, panting from the mouthful that was her accusation.
Rarity slowly began to grin, stars in her eyes. "Yes!" she squeaked. "I mean, yes, and I'm really, REALLY sorry," Rarity said sheepishly, "but that was amazing, darling!" Applejack winked at her, a proud look present on her face. "How did you figure it out?" Rarity asked. "Have you been reading my Shadow Spade books?"
Applejack looked around her. "Can you keep a secret?" she whispered. Rarity moved closer, nodding her head and holding her breath in anticipation. "Are you totally, absolutely, positively sure?" Applejack asked even quieter than before. Rarity nodded again, leaning her head as Applejack moved over to whisper in her friend's ear.
"You talk in your sleep, you goof."
Rarity and Applejack stepped out onto the front porch. The sun was shimmering down through a few clouds in the summer sky, the trees once again swaying gently in the breeze. Rarity carried her bag she had brought with her on the train, Applejack toting a significantly larger one. Rarity had asked if Applejack was okay to carry such a heavy bag, but AJ had insisted it was fine. Applejack locked up the cabin's front door, Rarity providing her hat back so she could stow the key in it and place it back on it's owner's head. The two ponies descended the front steps and began heading back toward the train station.
"So this is us now," said Rarity, wrapping her tail around her partner's, "this is like a whole new chapter in my life. Does it feel like that to you?"
"It sure does," Applejack replied with a friendly smile, accepting the tail-holding, "I reckon we are going to be happier than two peas in a pod."
Rarity beamed with joy, nuzzling her friend as they walked down the path. As they made it out of the woods and to the train station, a drop of water hit the ground in front of them. The duo looked up as a small drizzle of rain began to fall.
"Aw shucks, hang on I have an umbrella in here hun," said Applejack, quickly rummaging through her bag. Rarity placed a hoof over Applejack's, stopping her search. Applejack looked up to see Rarity with her chin up, smiling and looking up toward the sky.
"Thank you for your consideration," said Rarity, "normally I would be upset about getting my mane wet." She closed her eyes, walking a few steps forward with a glowing smile on her face. "Normally I would be racing for an umbrella. But you know what? This feels good. I kind of like these light summer showers." Applejack walked up next to her, taking her hat off and allowing her mane to catch a few raindrops. She leaned on her newfound partner, happier than she had ever been before.
"Me too, Rare," she said as she closed her eyes, "me too."