When a terrible misunderstanding leaves Princess Rarity with the terrifying prospect of missing her bodyguard's birthday party, she decides that nothing or nopony will stop her from celebrating Twilight's special day.
Princess Rarity had everything planned for her beloved bodyguard's birthday. It would start with a lovely trip to Trottingham, continue into an entire day in Equestria's oldest library, and culminate into a wonderfully romantic moment in the Ethereal Gardens. It would be Twilight's best birthday yet!
...If only things actually went according to plan.
Part of the Bodyguard!AU Series, based on Earthsong9405's AU where Twilight is the bodyguard to a "Princess/Queen Rarity". Prior knowledge of the AU is not necessary to read the story.
Princess Rarity was planning the single most important birthday in all of the soon-to-be-hers kingdom of Equestria. No, it wasn’t her own birthday, for her own birthday would never ever ever be planned by her. It would be planned by the entire kingdom, would be attended by the entire kingdom, and would be the talk of the entire kingdom.
Twilight Sparkle’s birthday, however, could not be interrupted by the entire kingdom. It wasn’t that she didn’t feel every mare, stallion, colt, and filly should scream praises to the single most beautiful, most admirable, most valiant mare in all of Equestria, buuuut…
Princess Rarity, ever the generous mare, wanted to be the sole center of Twilight’s attention that day.
And yet, a voice said within her, I already am the center of her attention at all times. It’s explicitly stated in her job description, as a matter of fact.
Of course, Rarity didn’t mean it like that! She wanted to be the center of Twilight’s attention in the same way Twilight was the center of Rarity’s attention. She wanted to be the receiver of Twilight’s smitten stares, smitten giggles, smitten everythings.
“I have it all planned out.”
Rarity smiled softly, forcefully stroking her irate cat lying on her round desk, her best attempt at imitating those dastardly villains in her scandalously romantic thriller novels. Twilight had once said that stroking Opalescence in such a way was not advisable, but Twilight lacked her flair for showmareship anyway.
On the other side of the table, Lady Fluttershy giggled softly, trying quite hard to ignore her friend’s mistreatment of the cat.
Rarity looked around her room, immaculate in its decor, pristine in its state, and most of all, secluded from anypony. It was the Princess’s haven, where she could shed her royal regalia but not her royal disposition, and where only her closest of friends could come in. Truthfully speaking, at any other time Rarity would have noted that somepony vital was missing, but this time, their absence was a painful necessity.
Fluttershy waited for Rarity to continue, but when the unicorn did not, instead simply gazing at the pegasus with an air of secrecy, she decided on moving the conversation along.
“I got her a book,” she said, reaching beside her and placing a blue leather-bound tome on the table.
“Fluttershy! You were supposed to ask what I had planned!” Rarity exclaimed, rolling her eyes and taking her hoof away from Opalescence.
"It's a book I know she'll love," Fluttershy continued without missing a beat. "Or, at least, I hope she will."
Despite her outward annoyance, Rarity actually delighted in Fluttershy getting along with Twilight. She did not tolerate how elder nobles and aristocrats treated the bodyguard, and as such, she would only pleasantly associate with ponies who treated her bodyguard as they would any other decent pony.
Besides, how could ponies even treat Twilight as anything less than a delight when she was so breathtakingly enchanting? So much so that though Rarity had never been to her home, she was sure it was an enchanting house fit for an enchanting unicorn.
“Well, what is it, then?” Rarity asked.
Fluttershy straightened herself up and announced, “A first edition copy of 'The Art of Astrology' by Comet Gazer. I asked Applejack to find out if she had it already, and it seems she doesn't.”
“Ohhhh, darling! What an excellent choice! I’m sure she’ll be delighted,” Rarity said, taking the book in her hoof and leafing through it. After a moment or so, she put it back down and looked back to her friend, crossing her hooves and smiling.
An eternity seemed to pass before Rarity politely cleared her throat and Fluttershy giggled.
“What did you get her?” she asked in rehearsed curiosity, and Rarity all but gasped.
“Fluttershy! I’m so glad you asked!” she exclaimed, running a hoof through her mane and fluttering her eyelashes, as she tended to do when she’d been terribly smart. Not that she wasn’t always terribly smart, but this time she didn’t want to be so modest about it. “Well, as you know, Thursday morning I’m supposed to have a dreadfully dull breakfast with Father and his stuffy friends in Trottingham.”
She paused, waiting for Fluttershy to show a sign of recognition, but when she did not, Rarity continued.
“Poor Twilight has to go through the ordeal with me, but luckily for her, Trottingham has something much more interesting than dreadfully dull breakfasts with stuffy old cucumber sandwiches,” she finished, gesturing with her hoof for Fluttershy to finally put two and two together.
“Oh!” Fluttershy exclaimed, eyes widening. “The Mareford Sacrosanct Archives!”
The Mareford Sacrosanct Archives.
Built by King Sapphire Sceptre after the end of the Thestral Wars, the Mareford Archives were the single most exclusive trove of information in all of Equestria. Its three circular buildings contained within them a copy of every book and scroll known to ponykind, and only the royal family and the highest of scholars were allowed to enter the nearly-sacred grounds.
A garden lay hidden in the middle of the three buildings too, known as the Ethereal Garden. It was of an unearthly beauty, intensified by the light magic barrier it exuded which protected the Archives from any entity that would wish to harm it.
Rarity herself had only been there once as a young filly, and though she admittedly hadn’t been so taken by the archives’ knowledge, the garden itself had forever been imprinted in her mind as the most romantic spot she’d ever set sight on.
“Exactly!” Rarity said, leaning back with a giddy smile. “All I have to do is tell Father that I oh so terribly would like to go there, and once he agrees, which he will, Twilight and I will spend the entire day there. I’ve even planned in advance and sent the Head Librarian a formal letter of request to allow Twilight access to any book she wants. It’ll be like her own personal heaven!”
Heaven because Rarity would be there, obviously. The books were just an added plus.
Fluttershy couldn’t hide her grin. “Oh, Rarity, she’ll be so happy!”
Rarity nodded like an eager child. “Aaaand that’s not the end of it!” Her horn lit up with magic, and she levitated a light blue colored scroll towards Fluttershy. “This is a fine silk scroll I’ve been saving ever since my trip to Saddle Arabia last year. Once night has fallen, I’ll take Twilight to the Ethereal Garden and present her with a letter.”
“A letter?” Fluttershy asked, and immediately did her cheeks redden. “Wait, you don’t mean a… a love letter, do you? Rarity!” she gasped when the Princess nodded. “You can’t!”
“Why not?” Rarity asked, raising an eyebrow. “Because it’s forbidden? Because Twilight isn’t worthy of me? Because she’s not a duke, or prince, or of any blue blood everypony says I should marry? Well, tough! My heart chose her, and as future queen of Equestria, I’ll be able to get away with whatever I want!”
"I just don't want you or Twilight to get into trouble, Rarity," Fluttershy said. "I… I don't know what I'd do if something happened, but as long as you keep it secret until you're queen..."
Perhaps they’d have to keep it hush for now, their secret little torrid romance hidden from the constant gazes of the monarchy, but one day, Rarity would sit at the highest throne in Equestria, and… and there wouldn’t be a king besides her, but—
...A second queen?
What would Twilight’s title be in that case? Would she be a queen or a princess? Drat. Twilight would know the answer, but asking her now might be too risky. Maybe she’d ask her in the garden, and… and that’s how she’d set the mood for the letter!
Three knocks at the door brought her back to reality.
“Your Highness?” came the melodious voice of her favorite unicorn in the entire world. “May we come in? Lady Fluttershy will be late for her meeting!”
The countess in question eeped. “Oh dear, what time is it?”
“Come in, Twilight!” Rarity called, taking Fluttershy’s book in her magic and quickly burying it inside Fluttershy’s saddlebag. “We’re done!”
The door opened and in marched Applejack, her body armor clunking as she moved, and behind her stepped in the sight for the sorest of azure eyes. While Rarity stayed in place, smiling at the two guards, Fluttershy rose up at once.
“Oh dear, I’m sorry, Applejack; I didn’t realize it was late,” she offered, hurriedly putting on her saddlebag.
“No need to apologize, my Lady,” Applejack said, smiling at her charge. “Your meeting ain’t actually for another thirty minutes, but I know you like takin’ your sweet time in the gardens.”
Fluttershy’s blush deepened. “Oh, well, uhm…”
“It’s okay, Lady Fluttershy, it could be worse,” Twilight said, taking off her helmet and placing it on the table as she stood next to Rarity. “We have to leave for meetings at least an hour early because somepony needs to stop for five minutes in front of anything that works as a mirror.”
Rarity gasped. “Twilight! That was completely uncalled for!”
Twilight giggled, raising her eyebrow. “Your Highness, I can ask any other of your personal guards if you’d like.”
“I never said you weren’t right, just that it was uncalled for,” Rarity clarified, harrumphing and looking away. “And it’s three minutes, not five, by the way.”
Applejack laughed, taking Fluttershy’s bag and slinging it across her back. “Look at you two, actin’ like an old married couple,” she said, shaking her head and missing the flushed expression that shot through the Princess and her bodyguard.
“Well, in any case,” Rarity said, eager to move the conversation away from that topic, “I suppose I’ll see you later tonight at dinner, sweetheart?”
Fluttershy nodded. “Oh yes. My meeting shouldn’t be too long.” She followed her bodyguard out of the room, belatedly waving goodbye at her friends. “Goodbye!”
Rarity watched her go and waited until the door was closed to turn to Twilight. The unicorn was busy stretching out her muscles, and if Rarity were anything less than the model example of a lady, she might have stared and swooned.
Thank goodness she was a lady.
She tore her eyes away from Twilight and towards the grandfather clock at the end of the room, and with immense displeasure she asked, “Dear lord, it’s nearly eleven o’clock. Remind me again why I’m awake at such an ungodly hour?”
Twilight raised an eyebrow at her. “You’re awake at this ‘ungodly’ hour, Your Highness, so you won’t be late for your incredibly important five-hour spa session.”
Rarity sighed. “Ah, yes, wouldn’t want to miss that. Though, don’t think I didn’t notice you shortening it nearly two hours, and no, don’t roll your eyes at me!”
Twilight did so anyway. “I apologize, Your Highness! What was I thinking? Because two hours less from a seven hour spa session will ruin your entire appearance!”
“I know, darling! I’ll look simply dreadful!”
“Awful,” Twilight replied, and it wasn’t until Rarity giggled that she did so as well. She sighed, in that adorable way she did when Rarity was having her way, and continued, “Your Highness, you don’t need seven hours. You don’t even need five! This is why we’re always late to everything!"
Rarity fluttered her eyelashes. “I thought that was because of my pointless vanity forcing me to stare into anything resembling a mirror,” she said, before noticing the scroll for her scandalous love letter on the table. With carefully calculated nonchalance, she said, “You know, darling, I’ve been thinking about next Thursday.”
Immediately did Twilight’s expression change, her ears perking up and her attention fully set on the Princess. “Next Thursday? What about it…?”
Rarity sighed, placing her chin on her hoof and lazily brushing the rim of her teacup with the other. “Something important is happening on Thursday, isn’t it? Perhaps the most important event of my entire month, I can feel it. What was it?” she asked, turning to look at her bodyguard and biting down on her lip, their gazes fixed on each other as Twilight said absolutely nothing, waiting on bated breath for…
“Ah-hah! That breakfast in Trottingham with Father and Duke Victory Founds!” the Princess exclaimed triumphantly. She rolled up the scroll and placed it on a nearby desk, not missing Twilight’s expectant expression. “Mustn't be late for that.”
“That’s it…?” Twilight asked, and oh, the disappointment in her voice seared the Princess, but any pain Twilight had now would be soothed, kissed away tenfold on Thursday when Rarity gave her the surprise of a lifetime.
Patience, my darling. Patience.
“I believe so, yes.”
Twilight forced a smile. “Princess, isn’t something else happening that day?”
Rarity hummed. “Mm, you know, you’re right! There wasn’t but now there is! Be a darling, and squeeze in another spa session in my schedule Thursday, won’t you?”
Twilight didn’t say anything, and instead took her helmet and put it back on. “We should get going, Your Highness. We wouldn’t want to forget your current seven hour long spa session.”
Rarity bit down on her lip, swallowing the urge to tell Twilight she’d been lying. This was going to result in a distraught bodyguard for the rest of the day, but as long as she thought of the payoff and how thrilled Twilight would be, it would all be worth it.
Rarity got up, in time for Twilight to trot towards the closed door, open it and come face to face with her older brother.
“Shining Armor?” she asked, stepping back as he stepped in. “What are you doing here?”
“Hey, Twily!” he greeted, playfully patting her helmet, later trotting past her and towards the Princess, bowing down. “Your Highness.”
“Ah, General Armor,” Rarity greeted, feeling just as confused as Twilight looked. “Is something amiss…?”
Shining Armor frowned, taking his helmet off. “For the kingdom, yes, Your Highness.”
Rarity held her breath, but before she could come up with at least ten different catastrophic scenarios, she noticed Twilight immediately stepping over towards her, magic brushing the hilt of her sword, and it touched Rarity that even subconsciously she was Twilight’s top priority.
“O-Oh?” Rarity asked, placing a hoof on Twilight’s armor, seeking some support for what augured to be terrible news.
He cracked a smile and announced, “It’s my week off! But don’t worry, I’m pretty sure the kingdom isn’t going to go to war in the next week. I asked permission from the King himself, and now I’m here to get your permission!”
Rarity laughed nervously, taking her hoof back. “Oh! Oh, goodness, General, I don’t have any objections, of course. I wasn’t even aware that you needed my permission, but now you have it,” she said.
Shining shook his head. “Oh, no, no! I didn’t come here for me!” he clarified, gesturing towards his little sister. “I came to ask permission for Twilight to have the week off, too!”
“What?” the two mares asked in perfect horrified unison.
“This week?” Twilight asked.
“As in ‘this week’ this week?” Rarity asked to clarify, her hoof shooting back to its place on Twilight’s armor.
“Yep! This week,” Shining confirmed. “I thought it might be nice for my parents if the two of us went home for a while! I already asked the King permission for Twilight, and he said that as long as you were okay with it, then we’re clear to go!”
“But—! But, I can’t!” Twilight protested, stepping forwards. “I have my duties, and no one can fill in for me, and it would take me at least five days to find somepony who can replace me, and then another five to make sure he learns the Princess’s schedule and her habits and every defense plan and—”
Shining Armor lifted his hoof, silencing his sister’s protests. “You can come in!”
Soon after, two burly guards trotted into the room, taking out their swords and bowing down to the Princess.
“Your Highness! It would be our honor to protect you!”
No pony could deny they didn’t look fit for the job, what with the hideous scars and hard expressions, but the more she looked at them, the more she realized just how lucky she was to have Twilight. These guards certainly looked like they could guard, but she doubted they could act as her personal advisor slash assistant slash alarm clock slash bodyguard slash everything.
Rarity smiled awkwardly. “Oh, goodness, you seem quite, er, fit for the job, indeed!”
“But, Your Highness!” Twilight protested, looking both appalled and offended.
“They’re the best guards I’ve got!” Shining insisted, slamming his hoof down on one of the guards’ armor. “Silver Sword and Frozen Shield will get the Princess anywhere she needs to be without a scratch on her coat!” His smile faded and he took a step towards Rarity. “Please, Princess. My parents would really love to spend the week with her. It’s her birthday on Thursday, you know?”
Before Rarity could reply, Twilight whispered in a hurt voice, stepping away from the Princess and forcing her hoof away, “No, she didn’t.”
Rarity stepped back, blinking in disbelief at Twilight’s remark. Did… Did Twilight honestly think she would have forgotten her birthday? Did she honestly think she mattered that little to her? Really?
“Come on, Princess! When was the last time you gave Twily some vacations?” Shining insisted, drowning out Rarity’s attempt to say she hadn’t forgotten, thank you very much. “Wouldn’t you like this, Twilight?”
All eyes were set on the unicorn, and Rarity didn’t need to ask to know the answer. Twilight’s entire disposition, from the furrowed brow to the lowered ears clearly expressed that she did not want to take this silly vacati—
“I would, actually,” she said, drawing herself up.
“What? Twilight!” Rarity blurted out, stamping her hoof on the floor at seeing her plans crumbling before her very eyes. “Of course you don’t! Don’t be sill—”
“My brother is right. I haven’t been home since I began working for you, and if he’s already gotten the approval of King Belle, then I would like to take his offer to go home,” she said, even though Rarity knew that they both knew that was the last thing Twilight wanted.
Ah. So that’s how it’s going to be, is it?
Rarity had half a mind to point out that being petty and throwing temper tantrums was quite unbecoming for somepony who wasn’t her, but if Twilight wanted to bite her nose off to spite her own face, then Rarity would gladly play her petty game.
“I see,” she icily said, stepping away and raising an eyebrow. Without wasting time, she unfurled the fine silk scroll and used her best calligraphy to write not the love letter she’d planned, but a curt formal permission form for Twilight to go off for a week and sulk or whatever she wants, not that I even care!
Once it was done and her signature decorated the bottom, she rolled it up and presented it to Shining Armor with the loveliest of smiles.
“Great!” Shining said, taking the scroll and turning to Twilight. “Why don’t you go pack, then? Silver and Frozen are ready to take over, and that way we can surprise Mom and Dad tonight!” He bowed down to Rarity before trotting off, leaving disaster in his wake. “See you by the gates at five!”
Silence followed his departure, and Rarity found herself torn between being pleased and being horribly upset at seeing Twilight share her disillusion with the turn of events. If she regretted this nearly as much as Rarity did, and if her pride was half as large as Rarity’s, their chances at changing their situation had gone up in smoke.
“Your Highness!” Silver Sword, or Frozen Shield for all she knew or cared, spoke up, sheathing his sword. “We’ll be outside if you need us! You are in no safer hooves than ours!”
I’d beg to differ, Rarity thought, smiling politely when he bowed at her and made his exit out the open door. The other guard similarly bowed down, but when he turned and reached the door, rather than posting himself outside like his companion, he threw Twilight a pointed look, reminding the Princess that Twilight constantly being inside her personal chambers was the exception, not the norm.
Twilight looked similarly taken aback. “Oh, uh…” She turned to the Princess and bowed down to her for the first time in quite some time. “Farewell, Your Highness…”
Once she stood up, she made her way towards the door without a glance back, and despite herself, Rarity forced herself to speak up.
“Wait, Twilight!” she called, and when Twilight turned, she forced out a smile. “Happy early birthday, and have a nice vacation…”
Twilight’s ears lowered. “Thank you, Your Highness. Have a nice time in Trottingham,” she replied, bowing her head before exiting and closing the door behind her, leaving the dismayed Princess to wonder if she could extend her spa session until the end of the next week.
Princess Rarity missed her bodyguard terribly.
She missed her to lengths she wasn’t aware she could miss somepony, and she didn’t doubt it was because Twilight’s absence had been a stark reminder of just how intrinsic she’d become to the Princess’s daily life.
Rarity stalked into her room that Thursday afternoon with the heaviest of hearts, barely acknowledging her bodyguards save for a muttered “thank you” and a half-hearted gesture of her hoof. Once they left, she made her way to her bed and fell upon it with uninspired grace, burying her face in her pillow.
What was Twilight doing, she wondered. Was she having fun without her? Getting ready to enjoy a lovely soiree with her family while Rarity herself had been roped into another unbearable dinner with her father and his dull friends? Was Twilight relieved she no longer had to pick up after the silly Princess of Equestria who was so utterly lost without her? Or was she also lost, miserable without Rarity there beside her?
Even though her wounded pride wanted the latter, her love for Twilight hoped for the former.
Three knocks at the door.
“Your Highness?” said a burly voice that certainly did not belong to her favorite pony in the world. “You have visitors! Countess Fluttershy of Ponyville says she has business with you!”
Rarity furrowed her brow. Fluttershy had ‘business’ with her? What a way to put it.
“Let her in, please!” she called out, lifting her face long enough from the pillow to make sure she’d been heard. She waited until the doors creaked open before burying herself back in her fluffy escape. “Before you ask, my day’s been dreadful,” she said once the doors closed.
“Oh… I’m sorry to hear that,” Fluttershy’s voice came, and to Rarity’s surprise, it sounded much more subdued than usual.
Rarity sat up, and when she turned to her friend, she was surprised to find the pegasus all by her lonesome. Twilight and Applejack were good friends, so at any other time Rarity wouldn’t have questioned the bodyguard’s absence, but she hardly believed Applejack was friends with Burly #1 and Burly #2.
“Darling, where’s Applejack?”
Fluttershy’s ears dropped. “Oh, uhm… your guards…”
Rarity sighed. Oh, how I miss Twilight, she thought, getting off her bed, making her way towards the door and opening it to find a rather miffed bodyguard in the hallway.
“I’m tellin’ ya, the Princess don’t min—” Immediately Applejack quieted down, throwing Rarity a pained look. “Ah, Your Highness…”
Rarity smiled politely at the guards. “Would be you be so kind as to let her in?” she asked, though it was merely for the sake of appearances and not because she actually sought their approval. She waited until the guards allowed Applejack entry before closing the door with a, “That will be all, thank you.”
The second the door was closed, her polite smile vanished and she stalked past her friends and back to her bed.
“Hoo-wee, those two sure are somethin’ else,” Applejack said.
“It’s terrible!” Rarity shrieked theatrically, rolling on her back and letting out a piteous whine. “They’re so…! So…! So not Twilight! I didn’t even realize how many things she did for me until now!” She sat up and pressed her hoof against her chest. “I have to keep track of my own schedule now! I have to tell myself to go to bed early, and I can’t leave the window open anymore because they won’t come in and close it for me! And you think they keep me updated on all the happenings in the castle?! Or discuss books with me, or know how I like my tea, or anything?! No! They just sit there and… guard!”
“So, they’re plain ol' bodyguards and not all your staff in one pony?” Applejack asked with a raised eyebrow, eliciting a giggle from her ward.
“No, of course not! The difference between her and them is that Twilight isn’t simply my bodyguard, she’s my friend!” Rarity protested, indignant.
But even that wasn’t quite true, because Twilight wasn’t just her friend, she was so much more than that! She was her confidant; she was the sole pony save for Fluttershy that she trusted wholly and completely, and she was beautiful, and smart and… and…
Rarity let out a long sigh.
“Well, Your Highness, with all due respect, I reckon it might do you better not to forget her birthday next time,” Applejack replied.
“Applejack!” Fluttershy scolded, frowning at her bodyguard. “That’s not a nice thing to say. You know Rarity just wanted to keep it a surprise!”
“But she’s right!” Rarity wailed, throwing herself back on her bed and clutching her pillow. “I had it all planned! I was going to make all her dreams come true, and she was going to be beyond herself with delight, and then I ruined it with my theatrics, and now poor Twilight will be spending the day without me! The poor thing must be just miserable!”
“Isn’t that a mighty bit of a stretch, Your Highness?”
“JUST MISERABLE, I TELL YOU!”
“Oh, Rarity…” Fluttershy murmured, showing Rarity that at least somepony sympathized with her plight.
Rarity heard hoofsteps coming towards her, and soon afterward a large hoof patted her down.
“Now listen here, Your Highness, beatin’ yourself up about it ain’t helping, and I’m sure Twilight wouldn’t want you to be like this on her birthday. Why don’t you just calm down and come with me and Lady Fluttershy to the gard—”
“You’re absolutely right, Applejack!” Rarity exclaimed, jumping up on her bed. Applejack’s words had breathed new life into her, invigorated her into pursuing her true heart’s desire. She was a princess! She was royalty! She would get what she wanted, and nopony would stop her! “Twilight wouldn’t want me to sit and mope about! She’d want me to take action! If she won’t come to me, then I’ll have to go to her!”
Applejack blinked. “What? No!”
“Yes!” Rarity shrieked, jumping off to the bed. “Fluttershy, you’re coming with me!”
“Heck no!” Applejack exclaimed, jumping next to the pegasus and stamping her hoof on the floor. “Lady Fluttershy ain’t going nowhere, and you’ve plumb lost it if you believe for a second you’re leavin’ too! What, you think Silver and Frozen are gonna let you out walk out of the castle and into town all willy-nilly? And don’t you have that fancy dinner with His Majesty and them dukes? You can’t just not show up!”
“Yes, I can! Twilight Sparkle is vastly more important than those dim-witted nobles that are only interested in getting into Father’s good graces either through lies or through courting me! So, you shall tell me what’s better! Celebrating my friend’s birthday, or having my flank stared at by greedy snobs!”
Now did Applejack falter. “I… I, well, those guards ain’t gonna let you leave, Your Highness, and I sure as heck hope you don’t think I’m gonna let you climb out the window like the mares in your stories!”
Rarity scoffed, positively outraged. Her?! Jump out the window?! What did Applejack even take her for? A barbarian? She’d never been so insulted! The gall!
“Of course not!” she said, rolling her eyes at the mare’s total ignorance. “If you must know, every single royal bedroom has a hidden passageway out in case of emergencies.”
Applejack deadpanned. “Emergencies.”
“Like this one.”
“Yes, like this one! And before you say anything else, that’s my final decision!”
She turned to Fluttershy, affecting an enthused smile before trotting off towards a large wooden bookcase on the northern wall of the room. The shelves were all filled with romance novels she’d gathered throughout her lifetime, as well as books on politics and other such things she’d need to know for the future. The two bottom shelves, however, belonged to Twilight and all her own books.
“It’s behind this bookcase,” Rarity announced with a smile.
The room fell into silence. Applejack and Fluttershy stared at the Princess expectantly, and it wasn’t until Rarity pointedly glanced back and forth between Applejack and the bookcase that the bodyguard finally understood.
With a sigh Rarity thought entirely unnecessary, Applejack trotted towards the side of the bookcase and pushed it, revealing a small tunnel. It was clear that it hadn’t been used in quite some time, if the cobwebs, dirt and dust littering the entrance were anything to go by.
Rarity stepped back, repulsed. “Goodness, doesn’t anypony ever clean these things? I don’t even want to think about the diseases one could catch by being even a minute in there!”
Applejack smiled. “Guess I better close this off, then, Your High—”
“No!” Rarity exclaimed, stepping in between Applejack and the bookcase. “We’re going in there, and that’s that!”
She turned back to the obscure tunnel, expression hardening as the tip of her horn began to glow brightly. True, nopony had traveled the tunnel in decades, and though she wouldn’t be surprised to find dead… things in there, Rarity was not one to be defeated easily! She would gladly face cobwebs, dirt, dust and all manner of abhorrent things for her Twilight!
Applejack, still clearly unconvinced by it all, turned to her ward. “Lady Fluttershy, surely you can’t think this is a good idea!”
Rarity turned around to her friend, finding the pegasus stepping back, ears lowering. Fluttershy knew how important this was to Rarity, didn’t she? She knew more than anypony else just how deeply the Princess cared for her bodyguard, didn’t she?
Taking a deep breath, Fluttershy drew herself up and trotted towards a nearby desk, taking a candelabra in her hoof. “I… I think we should go with her to see Twilight.”
Applejack knew when she’d lost the battle. “Fine, fine. If y’all want to get in trouble, then I ain’t stoppin’ ya,” she relented, taking the candelabra from Fluttershy and waiting for Rarity to light it with a spell.
Applejack went in first at Rarity’s insistence, followed by Fluttershy and then the crown princess herself. The dark tunnel seemed to go on forever, their hoofsteps echoing as they walked, and they had yet to find anything dead and rotting, which was honestly quite the achievement in Rarity's opinion. It was clear by the smell that it hadn't been cleaned in ages, and Rarity didn't want to think too much about the black goop staining the walls.
Instead, she talked to keep herself distracted, and it wasn't until she was halfway through her detailing on the castle's latest gossip that Applejack finally stopped in front of a dead end.
"Everypony stay back!" she warned, giving Fluttershy the candelabra and waiting until the two mares had stepped back to finally inspect the wall.
It took a minute, but she exclaimed victoriously, pressing on a rock button and quickly joining the others as the wall shook and then moved, revealing what seemed to be a dimly lit hallway. Rarity immediately recognized it as one of the paths leading to the dungeons, and privately she felt that a tunnel leading to the castle's underground wasn't a smart choice as far as escape routes went.
Applejack stepped out first, and then when she followed, Rarity was surprised to hear snoring. She looked around and blinked at the source of the sound: Rainbow Dash slumped against the wall, sleeping her worries away while cuddling the large rolled-up scroll in between her hooves.
"Rainbow Dash? What's she doin' here?" Applejack asked, looking around. "Ain't like her to hang around the dungeons."
"Nevermind that! The real question here is why in Equestria is she sleeping on the floor?" Rarity asked, unimpressed by the pegasus's lack of finesse. She supposed much more couldn't be expected of one of the Wonderbolt mercenaries, but wasn't it uncomfortable? "You keep the oddest of friends, Fluttershy..."
Fluttershy furrowed her brow. "Rainbow Dash?" she called, stepping up to her friend and delicately rubbing her shoulder. "Rainbow Dash, please wake up."
The pegasus didn’t stir, clutching the scroll tighter and mumbling under her breath. “Mmm… I don’t… want to take care… of your dumb princess… no, you do it…”
Rarity wasn’t impressed, and her expression must have shown as much judging by Fluttershy’s panicked ‘eep’.
“Rainbow Dash! Wake up!” Fluttershy continued, tugging on her friend a bit more forcefully, and finally rousing the pegasus.
Rainbow’s eyes fluttered open. “Fluttershy…? What’re… OH!” She all but shot up into a standing position, wings splaying open as her gaze went back and forth between Rarity and the open tunnel. “Wait a sec, what’re you doing?”
“What are we doing? What are you doing?” Rarity asked.
Rainbow Dash stepped back. “Me? Twilight bribed me with—I mean, she asked me”—she quickly amended at the sight of Rarity’s raised eyebrow—”to watch over this exit. That’s it!”
“By hittin’ the hay?” Applejack asked. “I’m sure Twi’s mighty proud of your hard work.”
“Hey! It isn’t my fault, okay?!” Rainbow Dash protested, waving around the scroll. “You’d fall asleep too if you had to read her bazillion instructions!”
Rarity cleared her throat, garnering the attention of all present. “Miss Dash, just because you are good friends with Fluttershy does not mean it’s wise for you to so boldly display just how little interest you have in my safety.” She waited until Rainbow’s bravado lowered in unison with her ears, and before the pegasus could defend herself, she cleared her throat and politely extended her hoof.
Cheeks tinted red, Rainbow Dash hoofed the scroll over to the Princess.
Rarity intended on unfurling just to further prove the pegasus’s excessive claims wrong. However, it seemed she was the one proven wrong when the scroll turned out to be at least seven feet long.
“See?! Look at this!” Rainbow exclaimed, moving so as not to step on the scroll. “It’s insane!”
“It is a bit… exaggerated, though I’d hardly call this insane, Miss Dash,” Rarity said, eager to defend her bodyguard’s action. “It’s unnecessary, is what it is! Why would Twilight… ah… ‘hire’ you to protect me when I have two replacement bodyguards that her own brother personally picked?”
Rainbow Dash’s anger faded away, replaced by skepticism. “Really? You’re really asking that? Wow, okay, no offence, Your Highness, but you really don’t know Twilight at all then. Like, you could have fifty bodyguards and she’d still be hiring me to stand guard—and look, she doesn’t even really trust me!” she added, gesturing to the scroll.
“She’s got a point, Your Highness,” Applejack said. “You’re the only thing that matters to that mare. I reckon she’d only feel better if she’d left you with copies of herself.”
Rarity looked back to the scroll, her eyes scanning over Twilight’s elegant calligraphy, heart thumping in her chest. It was true, wasn’t it? She was Twilight’s topmost priority, not just because of her job, but because she too was hopelessly smitten with Rarity—really, who wouldn’t be?—and only she knew how to best protect her precious princess.
“Why’d you bail through here, anyways? Where are you going?” Rainbow asked, poking her head inside the tunnel. “Did you find any dead stuff?”
“If you must know,” Rarity said, flipping her mane, “we’re going to the outskirts of the castle town to see Twilight for her birthday.”
And at this, Rainbow guffawed.
“See Twilight? Hah! That’s rich!” she exclaimed, turning to the Princess with a condescending expression. “Your Royal Highness didn’t even remember her birthday was coming up.”
Even though every fibre of her wanted to snap at the pegasus, the Princess did as expected of somepony of her stature and offered the pegasus a curt smile. “If that’s what you’d like to believe, I will not stop you from doing so.”
“What I’d ‘like’ to believe?” Dash asked, raising an eyebrow. “I’d like to believe you cared enough not to forget it, but your bodyguard herself told me you remembered to schedule a spa instead of her birthday.”
I see, Rarity thought, realizing her patience had run out. I see indeed.
“Of course I remembered her birthday! Who do you take me for?!” she barked, stepping forwards and forcing the pegasus back several paces. “I had everything planned for today! I was going to make sure her birthday would be extraordinary! I was going to take her to Mareford Archives and—”
“Oh! That library in Trottingham. Yeah, she was real excited about that!” Dash rebutted. “Funny you didn’t say anything about it when Shining came for her, then!”
“I couldn’t! Her family wanted to be with her, and she expressed the desire to go there!” Rarity replied, finding it difficult to keep her temper in check. “What, should I have taken away her liberty of making her own choices? A choice she made because of a terrible misunderstanding that yes, fine, I had a part in, but even so, I still have every intention of being with her today! And if you continue with your outrageously insolent accusations, I will personally escort you down to the dungeons! Have I made myself clear?!”
Rainbow raised her hoof defensively. “Woah, woah! Chill, Your Highness! I didn’t mean it!”
“No, I will not ‘chill’! I’ve been nearly a week without her, and I can barely stand how much I miss her, and I want to see her already!” she said, only belatedly processing her own words until it was far too late and the three other mares were already staring at her in stunned silence.
“In any case!” she continued, stomping off to hide the heated blush crawling up her cheeks, “I’m leaving, and you are all free to come with me or stay here! Come on, Fluttershy!”
“Wait, wait, Princess Rarity!” Dash called, flying to stop the Princess in her tracks. “Look, I’m sorry! I’ll go with you, but you can’t just, like, leave! Haven’t you ever left a castle in secret before? Geez!”
“Well, since you seem to know so much about the subject, how do you propose we do it, then?” Rarity asked, sitting down and crossing her forelegs. “Come on! Don’t hold your breath!”
Rainbow Dash landed in front of her, rubbing her hooves together. “Okay, right! Twilight and I mapped out every secret tunnel here years ago, and there’s one in the West Hall we can use. The guards there are my pals, and I can get them to leave the hall long enough for us to open it and ditch this joint. We’re also gonna have to—” She cut herself off, narrowing her eyes at Rarity. “You need to dump your fancy stuff, too. Get rid of the crown, and you definitely gotta wear one of the cloaks the night guards use.”
Rarity was aghast. “What?! Have you completely lost your mind?! I’m not wearing one of those… overgrown rags! Not only are they entirely unseemly, but the last time I came near one... the smell nearly made me gag!”
Just thinking about it made every hair on her coat stand on end! She’d been meaning to suggest they were all destroyed, especially when she was certain that they weren’t originally brown. She was also certain she didn’t want to know what had turned them brown in the first place.
“Well, you gotta wear something, Princess! You’re the Princess! If you go around town with nothing hiding you, everypony and their brother is gonna see you and we won’t even make it halfway across town before your guards are dragging you back.”
Rarity whined. “But…”
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. “Princess, you want to see Twilight or not?”
Of course she did! But…
“Very well,” she relented, getting up and letting out a long-suffering sigh. “If that’s what it takes, then I suppose I have no choice but to… ‘blend in’ with the commoners, as it were.”
“The what now?” Applejack asked with a grunt.
“But I refuse to wear the night guard’s outfit! There must be something else in my closet that… Well, no, not in my closet, of course; I’d never have anything even remotely hideous, but…” She furrowed her brow, rubbing a hoof against her mouth. “Twilight did leave that cloak she uses during our nightly outings in my room.”
“Great! That works, I guess,” Dash said, flying back up into the air.
“Oh, but, wait!” Fluttershy chimed in. “Rarity, your dinner… won’t the guards know you’re gone when they come get you? And they still think Applejack and I are in there?”
Rarity bit down on her lip. “I…”
That was indeed a problem. Well, Fluttershy and Applejack not so much, they could simply leave the room, but Rarity herself… Unless… She remembered that time a few months ago when she’d been allowed to sit out a dinner on account of being terribly ill.
“Rainbow Dash!” she said, looking up to the mercenary. “Would you happen to know a passageway leading to the East Tower? I think it might be useful to pay Sweetie a short visit.”
Standing inside the empty West Wing, Rarity chose to ignore the pegasus’s comment. Personally, she found nothing wrong with Twilight’s beautiful black silk cloak, a present Rarity had gotten her during their last trip to Saddle Arabia. The garment was simply divine, boasting several hoof-stitched white patterns depicting several constellations, and the bottom of the cloak itself was decorated with several small sapphires.
Twilight, ungrateful as she was, never used it since she claimed it was too bulky and would be a hindrance if she ever needed to ‘act fast’. Hah! Rarity knew it was an excuse, however, and that she just didn’t even remotely care about her appearance. No matter, sooner or later, she would get through to her beautiful yet thick skull.
“It is perfectly acceptable!”
Rainbow Dash sighed. “Okay, whatever. We’ll figure it out later.” She looked past Rarity and waved her hoof at somepony. “Hey, move it, guys! Wing Free’s going to be back any second now!”
Rarity looked around and was pleased to see Fluttershy and Applejack finally arriving. At Applejack’s suggestion, Fluttershy too had donned a cloak, since it was common knowledge that the Princess and the Countess were often together.
“Are you all set, darling?” Rarity asked when the group reunited, and smiled when Fluttershy nodded.
“Oh, yes. I have her present in my bag.”
Rarity, too, had her present in the saddlebag slung around her back. Of course, it really wasn’t the present she’d prepared, but she’d brought along the letter of request she’d sent to the Mareford Archives. Her Twilight was a mare of facts and evidence, and what more evidence of Rarity’s real intentions was there than the request letter postmarked almost an entire week before their fight.
And! Just to prove how wonderful she was, after the misunderstanding was cleared up, Rarity would reveal that she could easily organize another visit to the Archives in the upcoming weeks.
“Excellent! And Sweetie Belle is already in my room, so I believe we’re all clear,” Rarity said.
The guards had been explicitly told by Fluttershy and Applejack that Rarity felt simply dreadful, and to not disturb her under any circumstance whatsoever. On top of that, Sweetie Belle had been instructed to hide under the covers and cough every so often so as not to arouse suspicion. Then again, her baby sister’s voice sounded nothing like hers, but alas, not every plan could be perfect.
At this, Rainbow Dash trotted behind an empty suit of armor, and after brushing her hoof over the wall for a minute, the walls shook and a secret passage revealed itself. One day, Rarity thought, she'd have to get Twilight to show her all these secret places.
The four mares stepped into the dark tunnel and once the entrance closed off again, they went on their way with nothing but two candelabras and one hornlight to light their path. It was a long trek, much longer than Rarity expected, and by the time they stepped into a back alley on the east side of the castle, nighttime was nearly there.
Rarity and Fluttershy donned the hoods of their cloaks, and followed Rainbow and Applejack out of the castle and out through an entrance reserved for castle staff. Truth be told, Rarity felt excited by the entire affair. She almost never travelled to the surrounding city, and the little she'd seen of it was from inside her carriage when she had to leave the castle for some reason.
The east side of the city was the shopping district, Applejack said. While the Royal Family had always eaten food grown solely for them, the residents of the castle city would buy their food from the market, where farmers from the outskirts of the city would bring their fresh merchandise every morning at six.
"Ain't nothing tastier," Applejack assured, as they stepped into the Food Market. "Just as mouth-lickin' delicious as anythin' from the castle."
While Rarity didn't particularly find herself attracted to the food, she found herself intrigued by, well, the ponies. The market was bustling with them despite the late hour, and it was certainly unlike any conception she had of commoners.
As they trotted by, she watched them laughing about daily occurrences, haggling for better prices, proudly bellowing the quality of their wares, and all in all going about their daily lives and being content doing so.
All her life, the ponies from below had been represented to her as impoverished miserable souls who needed guidance from the wiser royals, and yet… and yet with shame she realized how readily she'd believed this misconception. The worst part was that she found herself wanting to discuss this with Twilight, but…
"Oh, look!" Fluttershy whispered as they reached a small plaza, and so did the four mares come to a halt.
Three fillies in ragged dresses paraded themselves along the plaza, and it was clear they were trying to imitate the nobles Rarity frequented in her daily life. More than that, however, a smile forced its way onto her lips when she noticed their leader wearing a vastly less expensive yet still endearing version of her own crown.
"Ohh, Princess Rarity!" one of the fillies swooned. "You're the most beautifulest princess in all of the land!"
Rarity, the real one, glowed with as much delight as the fake one.
"Pft, that's kinda stretching it a little bit," Rainbow Dash whispered, playfully grinning when Rarity threw a glare her way.
Once she'd demonstrated her displeasure, Rarity turned her sight back to her adorable doppelganger, and to her horror, three caped colts rushed over, brandishing wooden swords and frightening the poor fillies.
"Princess Rarity!" one of them yelled, the apparent fearsome leader, "We finally found you!"
The little princess stepped back with an admittedly overly-exaggerated gasp. "Oh no! What do you want with me?! I'm too pretty to die!" she claimed, and honestly Rarity was more and more delighted by her every second. What a tremendous actor!
"Give us your crown!" one of the colts demanded, brandishing his sword. "And you three are coming with us, too!"
"Or else!" the third added, but just as he stepped towards the cowering fillies, a fourth filly jumped into action, standing between the fillies and the colts.
"I won't let you hurt Princess Rarity!" she exclaimed, her makeshift armor coming apart with her hasty movements. "I have my sword and my ma—oh, uhm, wait." She paused for a second, quickly adjusting the paper horn on her head before brandishing her own wooden sword and glaring at the colts. "My sword and my magic!"
Rarity immediately gasped. "Fluttershy! Fluttershy, look, look!" she said in hushed excitement, gesturing with her hoof. "It's Twilight! Look at her! Oh goodness, she's so cute!"
"Twilight! Please be careful!" the little princess exclaimed, and this seemed to have invigorated the little bodyguard, who nodded and strengthened her defensive stance in reply.
Rarity was absolutely riveted by the display, completely delighted by the astounding accuracy of it all. She watched with barely contained excitement as the little filly dueled with the colts, and when 'Twilight' gently poked one of them with the tip of her sword, the three bandits fell to the floor, defeated!
"Oh, Twilight!" the little princess exclaimed, rushing over to hug the little bodyguard. "I was so scared! I didn't want them to take me away!"
Immediately did the filly drop her sword and return the hug. "I won't let them hurt you! I'm invisible!" she proclaimed. "I mean, invincible!"
Just looking at the little fillies hugging made Rarity long for the real Twilight all the more. She wanted to hug her bodyguard too!
"Next time, I wanna be Twilight," one of the colts said, getting up from the floor and retrieving his sword.
'Twilight' giggled in reply. "You can't be Twilight, silly. She's a girl."
"Yes, I can! She's a girl, but she's the best, and I'm the best!" he shot back.
And thus Rarity watched with surprise as the foals all began to argue over who got to be Twilight during their next adorable play. Just like with the market, Rarity found herself surprised. These foals didn't care to be royalty, as she would have expected, but instead wanted to be… a soldier.
And not just any soldier, but Twilight, and Rarity could hardly blame them! She knew first-hand that the unicorn was not any normal mare, and the more they argued about the subject, the prouder she felt of her bodyguard.
Eventually, to her great sorrow, they had to move along, lest they miss Twilight's birthday entirely.
"That was cute," Fluttershy said, displaying her excellent taste in plays.
"I'm rather surprised by the fact that they know of Twilight," Rarity said as they walked further into the shopping district and towards the housing district. It was certainly new for her to see somepony other than her close friends acknowledge the bodyguard's existence.
Applejack chuckled. "You might not know it, Your Highness, but Twi's somethin' of a big celebrity 'round these parts. Ain't a foal who doesn't know who she is."
Rarity blinked. "What? Really? She's never told me that!"
"She wouldn't. That's not important for her," Applejack replied. "But it sure is mighty important for folks down here. Somepony like us guardin' the life of our future queen? And stoppin' three attacks already and never boastin' about it? Just 'cause y'all fancy ponies don't see her doesn't mean us 'commoners' don't too."
Rarity fell silent, her perceptions on her subjects once again altered. It was true. Nobles in the castle barely ever acknowledged Twilight, acting as if she were a statue or something to be ignored. How many of them treated lesser ponies than them in such a terrible way? And yet, to these ponies, Twilight was a hero, somepony to look up to and strive to be like.
It warmed Rarity's heart, and she was ashamed to never have gone down to the city to mingle with her future subjects before now. She'd only been there for less than an hour, and already she found she generally liked them more than the stuffy aristocrats residing in the castle.
Besides, it didn't matter if Twilight was invisible to them, because Rarity would gladly shower her with all the attention she didn't receive from those cucumber sandwiches.
Eventually, they reached another bustling area of the district, this time dedicated to the sale of all kinds of custom-made items. Armors, swords and shields for soldiers; artisan crafts for decorating houses; assorted tools for farmers and blacksmiths; modestly priced hoof-stitched clothes for all kinds of occasions.
Rarity found herself wishing she could do just a little bit of sightseeing. Sure, those clothes weren't even remotely the quality of her own royal wardrobe, but there was a quaint charm to them. Maybe she could even buy a nice present for Twilight! Fluttershy was giving her a book, Applejack was…
What is Applejack giving Twilight? And Rainbow Dash, too, for that matter? Surely they weren't planning on attending the party without a present!
"Applejack, Rainbow Dash," she said, coming to a stop. "Where are your presents?"
Applejack rubbed the back of her head. "Er…"
Rainbow snorted. "Present? What present? Lookin' after you is present enough!"
"You mean to tell me you don't have presents for her?! Heavens, were you raised in a barn?" Rarity asked, appalled. "Weren't you ever taught it's terribly rude to be invited to a birthday party and not bring a present?"
"Technically, Princess, we're not even invited to the birthday party," Rainbow Dash pointed out.
Rarity rubbed a hoof against her forehead. The company she kept, sometimes! No wonder Father sometimes questioned it. She reached into her saddlebag and took out two golden coins, one for each mare. "Here! Take this, and for the love of Celestia go buy Twilight a nice present!"
Applejack and Rainbow both stared at their respective coins with wide eyes.
"Princess, I could buy out an entire stand with this!" Applejack exclaimed, looking at the mare as if she'd gone insane. "Heck, I could buy the whole darn place!"
"Oh, uh, hey, Princess," Dash said, looking up to the mare with a bright smile, "Y'know, my birthday is in like, three months, but if you to want to buy me a present in advance, I'd be like, toooootally cool with that."
Rarity rolled her eyes. "I will take a look at the stands here while you two go buy something for Twilight.” She turned to Fluttershy, and furrowed her brow. "Please make sure they buy something Twilight will like, not something Rainbow Dash will like. I'll stay here and look at the stands."
"I don't know, Princess," Applejack said, furrowing her brow. "Leaving you here alone ain't such a good idea, and I'm sure Twilight would be redder than an apple if she found out."
Rarity snorted. "Applejack, darling, please, I'll be fine! Look, I'll stay around this area and look at the trinkets!" She gestured to the plaza, filled with dozens of shoppers. "Look at how many ponies there are! Twilight always says that the most secure places are the ones where there's too many witnesses, and this is just the spot."
Rainbow Dash frowned. "Well… Well, okay, but don't move from here, got it? And if somepony comes over, scream like you just got told your mane was ruined!"
Rarity rolled her eyes. "Yes, yes, I will. I'll shriek loudly enough I'll probably summon Twilight."
Goddesses, she wished she could summon Twilight.
"Fine," Applejack relented, trotting away with Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. "We won't take long."
Looking around, the Princess adjusted the hood of her cloak, covering her face as much as she could, before trotting towards the nearby stands. One in particular caught her attention, if only for two large stone worship statues placed on either side of it.
On the right side, the Goddess Celestia sat, a soft smile on her lips. Celestia, often associated with guidance, power, warmth, and strength was the deity rumored to raise the sun every morning. Though Twilight Sparkle had never been the religious type, and in fact often contested the existence of gods, even she could not deny the beauty of the goddess of the sun, who supposedly lived in a temple above Caelum, Equestria's highest mountain.
On the left side, the Goddess Luna sat, and her stoic expression reminded Rarity of Twilight. The younger sister, she was associated with influence, balance, wonder, and magic. She was, admittedly, Rarity’s favorite goddess, as the Princess loved the night sky and the thousands of stars it held. Rarity herself would never scale Caelum, but she often visited the little temple at the castle, and she’d practically lived there during the terrible week Twilight had been injured during an assassination attempt.
On top of the worship stones, the stand boasted a wide array of relics, figurines and items all to do with the goddesses. Maybe Twilight would benefit from one of these? A little Celestia pendant might be enough, as not only would it work as a protection charm, but it would also add some charm to the unicorn’s appearance.
“What can I get you for, Miss?” the shopkeeper asked, rubbing her hooves together. She reached behind the stand and procured a large leather bound book, which she shoved Rarity’s way. “Got any foals? Our illustration book is a real big hit with ‘em!”
Rarity blushed. “Er, I should hope not,” she quickly said, and honestly she wasn’t interested in having any yet—not that she even could have foals with her love interest, but that was something she had a very long time to dwell on.
Nevertheless, books were Twilight’s favorite things, so she accepted the object and looked it over.
Leafing through the pages, she understood why foals might be entranced by it. Every page had a beautiful hoof-drawn illustration of the Goddesses and the history of Equestria.
“‘The Book of Prophecies’. That’s what it’s called,” the shopkeeper explained. “It’s said that long ago, an earth pony artist climbed up to the temple high above Caelum to seek audience with the goddesses. When she came back down weeks later, she locked herself in her home for weeks on end to illustrate their prophecies”
Rarity snorted. “I don’t quite believe in prophecies.”
“But I do! Look at this one, kind stranger,” the shopkeeper said, and with her magic she turned the pages of the book. She stopped at an illustration of two heavily clothed mares going up a mountain in the middle of a snowstorm. “‘The weary travelers of Caelum’, it’s called. Look at the mare on the left! You can see a bit of the armor under the clothes, and the sheath of her sword.” She then pointed to the other mare. “And look at this one! Those clothes don’t look like what us townfolks wear in harsh winter, kind stranger. That’s royal clothing if I ever saw it! And the tail slipping under the clothes! A beautiful purple, just like our dear elder princess!”
Rarity looked up, raising an eyebrow. “You think this is… Princess Rarity?” She scoffed loudly, nearly forgetting her need to keep up appearances. “Don’t be ridiculous! Why in Equestria would she go up Caelum? She’s not insane! And what makes you think Twilight Sparkle would even allow it? Or the king and queen, for that matter?”
The shopkeeper smiled. “Ah, well, I don’t know about the King or Queen, but we could ask Twilight Sparkle herself!” She lifted her hoof, waving at somepony beyond Rarity. “Twilight! Happy Birthday! I have a present for you!”
Rarity froze in spot, drawing in a breath. Moments later, she saw a bright pink pony appear next to her, whom she recognized as the court’s jester.
“Hiiiiiii, Inky!” Pinkie greeted. “How come you’re not coming to the party?! I made Twilight the best cake in all of Equestria!”
Inky smiled. “Oh, I wouldn’t miss it, but I need to finish up here first! And besides, what’s the point of going if the birthday mare isn’t there?”
“We got delayed,” a wonderful yet terrifyingly familiar voice replied, and a panicked Rarity quickly lowered her hood even more, turning her face away from the mare now standing opposite Pinkie. “Shining Armor didn’t want me to be there while they prepared the…” She cut herself off and took a deep breath of air. “I recognize this perfume.”
Pinkie immediately sniffed the air. “Oh! Oh, me too! It smells just like Princess Rarity’s room!” Her gaze fell on the hooded unicorn who was suddenly very, very fascinated by a relic on the table. “Oh, it’s you, stranger! You smell super nice!”
“I was just telling this kind stranger of the Book of Prophecies!” Inky said, taking the book and handing it over to Twilight, still open on the illustration of the two travelers. “Look! They look just like you and our crown princess! Any plans on going to Caelum soon, Twilight?”
Twilight laughed, and Rarity would have noted what a wonderful laugh it was were she not terrified out of her wits.
“Don’t be silly. Why would she even want to go up to the Goddesses’ temple? The only way she’d ever go there is if she was told the temple doubled as the best spa in Equestria.”
Rarity took a deep breath of air. Rise above it, Rarity, she’s just upset at you.
Inky laughed, closing the book and putting it away. “Well, we can discuss it more at your party.”
“What about you?” Pinkie asked Rarity, moving her head to try and get a look of the princess’s face. “Are you coming to Twi-Twi’s birthday party?! Everypony’s invited, even strangers with spooky capes!”
“That’s not a cape, Pinkie,” Twilight said, and Rarity could feel the unicorn’s stare on her. “It’s a silk cloak depicting some of the constellations from the Celestial Equator, such as Monoceros, Gemini, and Aquila. It’s actually a very expensive cloak, made in the southern district of Saddle Arabia’s capital.” She paused for a moment and then, in that tone of voice she used when she’d caught on to one of Rarity’s many mischiefs, she said, “It’s not something a common townpony would be wearing.”
“I apologize,” Rarity said, pitching down her voice as much as she could. “I have other things to attend to. Happy birthday.”
That said, she turned around, making sure to keep her head lowered, and nonchalantly trotted off. As long as she went slow and steady, Twilight wouldn’t suspect a thing. Surely other ponies in the city visited Saddle Arabia! It could have been another noble, for all Twilight knew! Duke Fancy came down to the city plenty of times!
Rarity had made it ten steps when she allowed herself to relax. There, now she just needed to find the others and—
“Wait!” Twilight’s voice called out. “I’d like to talk to you, please!”
Now, Rarity considered herself a tremendously brilliant pony. She was well-read, had received the finest education in all of the kingdom, and her bodyguard was nearly a living encyclopedia to boot. As such, most everything she did displayed her vast intelligence.
Except, sadly, for this one time.
Sometimes, but not often, the princess made choices that would not be considered bright. It was Twilight’s fault, honestly. Love made ponies do silly things, and Rarity’s infatuation with the bodyguard clouded her otherwise brilliant mind.
Had Twilight not clouded Rarity’s judgement with her detestable perfection, Rarity would have calmly glanced back towards the bodyguard and dealt with whatever consequences awaited her. Instead, at the sound of Twilight’s voice, the princess did the worst possible thing one could do in the presence of a suspicious bodyguard.
She ran for her dear life.
She heard Twilight call out again, just as she rushed into the labyrinth of ponies and stands. There was no going back anymore; if Twilight would have been angry before, now she’d be furious. Rarity avoided one, two, three ponies, turned left, and when she glanced back, she was horrified to see Twilight still behind her.
It certainly didn’t help that the cloak was too bulky to appropriately run away, and begrudgingly she was forced to admit that Twilight was always right! Well, of course she was—she was perfect in almost every single way—but in that moment, as Rarity nearly tripped on the accursed-yet-fashionable garment, she hated the fact that Twilight was always so damnably right.
She took another right, diving right into a swarm of ponies and hopefully losing Twilight in the process. Besides, as long as there was the risk of accidentally hitting somepony else, Rarity knew Twilight would never dare use her magic. When she managed to exit the plethora of shoppers, she rushed into another aisle of stands, and saw Rainbow Dash in the distance.
“I SAID STOP!” Twilight called out in the distance, struggling to move inside the crowd of ponies.
Rarity eep’d, rushing towards Rainbow Dash. If Twilight saw the pegasus, it would be just as bad as getting caught herself. It wasn’t until she was nearly next to her that Rainbow noticed Rarity, putting back the item she’d been looking at.
“Princess? What’s wro—”
“Twilight is behind me!” Rarity shrieked, rushing past the mercenary and only just hearing the outrageous expletive Rainbow replied with before she sped off in another direction.
Glancing back, it seemed like she’d finally shaken Twilight off. In the back of her mind, Rarity decided she ought to see if Twilight could get a raise now that she’d seen first-hand how absurdly dedicated the bodyguard was to her job.
Rarity looked forwards, horrified to find Pinkie waiting for her at the end of the aisle. There was no way to avoid her or go around her, and Rarity’s body was giving out on her, so she reluctantly screeched to a halt right in front of the jester.
It was all over.
Pinkie furrowed her brow, taking a step towards the Princess just as she took one back. “Princess Rarity,” she whispered, furtively glancing at the passerbys and shopkeepers. When her eyes went back to the Princess, her ears dropped and her mane deflated somewhat. “You… You didn’t really forget Twilight’s birthday, did you?”
Rarity, at a loss for words, simply shook her head.
“I knew it!” Pinkie exclaimed, her ears shooting back up and her mane regaining its usual puff. She hopped up and down, a grin decorating her face. “I knew it! See, because Twilight thought you did, and she was so super sad, Princess, but I knew she’s your super favoritest pony ever so you’d never ever forget her birthday! I knew it was just because you dummies don’t know how to talk to each other!” She jumped back, seizing Rarity up and nodding with excitement. “You want to surprise her, right?! That’s why you’re dressed up like that! Ohhhh, now I wish I could surprise Twilight, too, but I can’t because she knows I’m here, and I dunno how to make her unremember me, but—”
Rarity froze at the sound of Twilight’s voice, and her wide eyes bore themselves into Pinkie, tacitly begging the jester to please keep her identity a secret.
“Oh, wait, Twilight!” Pinkie blurted out, frowning and looking behind Rarity. “Don’t come closer! You scared poor Cloakey when you chased her around! She felt like you thought she was a bad pony!”
“B-But she ran away—!” Twilight protested. “And that cloak is just like—”
“That’s no reason to chase somepony, silly!” Pinkie replied. She then cleared her throat and narrowed her eyes at Rarity. “Lessee…” Very slowly, she leaned her face in until her nose was nearly touching Rarity’s. “Hmmmm… Nope!” she exclaimed, jumping back with a big smile. “You’re not Princess Rarity! I’d know Princess Rarity anywhere, and you’re definitely not her.”
Without another word, Pinkie hopped past the Princess. “Come on, Twi-Twi! We’re going to be late to your own birthday party, silly! For all you know, maybe the Princess is waiting for you there!”
“Right. Like she’d give up on her spa time for me. Maybe it's better that way,” Twilight muttered, loud enough for Rarity’s ears to hear and her heart to sink. “I apologize for the trouble, ma’am…”
With that, Rarity heard the two mares trot away, and it wasn’t until half a minute had passed that she allowed her body to relax, falling to her haunches and exhaling the breath she’d been holding. Twilight’s hurt remark resonated in her head, and she buried her face in her hooves with a groan.
Did Twilight really think Rarity cared so little about her?
After a minute, she stood up, took in a deep breath and made her way back to her meeting point with Fluttershy and the others. They were probably already waiting for her, and the last thing she wanted was to upset them and have their names follow Twilight’s on the list of ponies who seemingly wanted nothing to do with her anymore.
Twilight's house was much more modest than Rarity would have imagined for a high-standing military family. It was two stories high, and the dark blue façade had been decorated with white stars and constellations wherever there was space. Light filtered out from inside the star-shaped windows, and a small dome could be seen on the roof, which Rarity assumed was for stargazing.
Though it might not have been the home she expected for Twilight Sparkle the bodyguard, it suited Twilight Sparkle the pony just fine.
Music and voices could be heard coming from inside, the party apparently already in full-swing. It seemed that Applejack’s words rang true, and Twilight was a well-beloved pony in her… original community. Though the Princess had spent the last few hours as a fish out of water, she’d never felt uncomfortable by it. On the contrary, she’d been thrilled by this new if lower class world, and she’d only wanted to know more of it.
Now she wasn’t certain she felt so comfortable anymore. It wasn’t that she couldn’t fit in—she was a social butterfly through and through, no matter the situation—but what point was there in fitting in and having a nice time if her presence was unwanted by her sweethea—bodyguard?
“What’s wrong, Rarity?” Fluttershy asked, waking Rarity from her apparent reverie.
“Yeah, come on! I’m starvin’ here, and there’s Pinkie Pie cake in there!” Rainbow Dash said, trotting past the Princess and towards the front door.
“Now wait just a minute, Dash,” Applejack called before turning to the forlorn Princess. “What’s wrong, sugarcube?”
Rarity let out a frustrated whine. “I can’t go in there!”
Rainbow stepped away from the door. “What? Why not?”
“Didn’t you hear what I told you she said?” Rarity exclaimed, gesturing helplessly. “She doesn’t want me there! I’ll probably ruin it for her if I trot in! She thinks I don’t care about her, and honestly what’s the point of attending if I’ll be the center of her attention in such a terrible way?”
Applejack frowned. “Your Highness, I’m sure Twilight is able to focus on other things that ain’t you.”
“It’s too late!” Rarity theatrically shrieked, looking towards the horizon. “We’ll just have to go back to the castle, and Twilight will be happy without me, and—”
“No!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, flying up and landing in front of the Princess, wings spread out. “Sweet Celestia, Princess Rarity! What’d you mean we’re going back?! I—We didn’t come all the way here so you’d bail out now! Come on!”
Rarity stepped back, too startled by the outburst to snap back. “But, I—”
“You’re Princess Rarity! You’re practically a legend in getting your way! You could probably get King Belle to build you a tower just to have some shade in your room past noon!”
Rarity’s face flushed. “That is completely ridiculous!”
“No, it’s not! And you are not backing out! What are you?! A wimpy mare, or the future ruler of Equestria?!” Rainbow Dash demanded, taking a step towards the Princess. “You had your dumb plans for her! You’re gonna walk away letting her think you don’t care?! Huh?!”
“Of course not!” Rarity snapped back, incensed and yet invigorated by Rainbow’s claims. She was Rarity Belle of Equestria! She was the mare nobles travelled from all over the lands to gaze at! She was the future queen of Equestria, and she’d be damned to let things end that way! “I’m going to march in there, and tell her what’s what!”
Without allowing herself time to think things through, Rarity promptly stomped her way towards the door, slammed it open and stepped inside.
“TWILIGHT SPARKLE!” she shrieked. “I DID NOT FORGET YOUR BIRTHDAY!”
Unlike her many romance novels, the music didn’t immediately stop at her dramatic declaration. It went on and on, loud enough to have muffled her scream so only about half a dozen ponies heard. They all turned to stare at this crazed but fashionable cloaked intruder, and the Princess would have lost all her nerve if Twilight Sparkle hadn’t heard.
But she did.
All the way from across the room, the rim of a glass on her lips, Twilight Sparkle stared at Rarity with eyes the size of saucers. She’d already changed into her party attire, and for a glorious moment, Rarity all but forgot her purpose and instead admired the incredibly rare sight of her bodyguard wearing a dress and makeup.
How graceful she was, lowering the cup and placing it on the table. Her eyes were set on Rarity, as they should, and an expression of delighted surprise painted her face… Well, perhaps it wasn’t delighted surprise so much as it was general surprise, her lips whispering Rarity’s name, and the Princess just knew her ever stoic Twilight was rejoicing on the inside.
And then Twilight’s expression shifted.
Her brows furrowed, her teeth gritted, and oh, Rarity suddenly fully understood what it meant to see fire in somepony’s eyes. Just as she made a move to get up, Rarity immediately stepped back outside and slammed the door shut, heart racing in her chest.
Twilight Sparkle was going to murder her.
“So!” she said, stepping away from the door and smiling brilliantly at the three disconcerted mares. “That went well, I think.”
Fluttershy frowned. “It… did?”
Before Rarity could reply, she heard the door creak open, and when all three of her friends blanched at the sight behind her, Rarity didn’t need to turn to know who’d opened the door.
“Girls, I’d like you all to know that I’m truly grateful of what you did for me tonight. I realized I asked much of you, but you delivered splendidly, and now I can only humbly hope you will bring flowers to my funeral, which will be hel—”
Rarity’s eloquent speech dissolved into a terrified squeal. Oh goodness, she was done for. Dead at the hooves of Equestria’s most stunning murderess. Alas, there could have been far worse ways to leave this cruel world, and Rarity was very lucky all things considered. She took a deep breath, put on an award winning smile, and turned around to face her doom.
To say Twilight Sparkle looked furious would be an inaccurate statement. Her face bore no expression, no furrowed brow, no gritted teeth, no flaming eyes, and it was this same lack of expression that told Rarity that fury would be a tame word to describe what Twilight was probably feeling.
Twilight’s eyes flicked beyond Rarity, to the three equally petrified mares, before returning to the crown princess. “Where are your bodyguards?” she calmly asked, and my, did the temperature drop to negative levels? It certainly felt like it did.
Drawing herself up, figuring she might as well go down tall and proud, the Princess calmly replied, “At the castle.”
“And what are they doing there?”
Rarity cleared her throat, running a hoof through her mane. “Well, if you must know, they’re taking care of Sweetie Belle.”
“And why are they taking care of Princess Sweetie Belle and not you?” Twilight asked, and Rarity wished she could run away again.
“Because…” she replied, admiring her hooficure, “she’s in my room pretending to be me. She's quite the actress, just like some fillies we saw earlier near the market.”
"I'm sure she is," Twilight said, stepping to the side and leaving the path clear into the house. She smiled at Fluttershy and Applejack. "Why don't you three go inside? Everypony is very nice, and the food Pinkie made is great."
Fluttershy threw the Princess a worried glance before nodding and quickly stepping past Twilight. Applejack did the same, stopping only to whisper something to Twilight, and then following Fluttershy into the building.
Rainbow Dash, however, did not budge.
"Wait, you're not gonna chew me out?" she asked, disconcerted.
Twilight smiled. "I will once I'm done with the Princess."
"Oh." Rainbow Dash took a deep breath, trotting past Twilight and into the house, and then turning back to the Princess. "I'll bring flowers to your funeral, Your Highness."
Rarity smiled. "Thank you, Miss Dash. I'll see to it that flowers are brought to yours, as well."
Rainbow Dash grinned at that, finally disappearing inside the building and closing the door behind her.
When she was gone, Rarity stepped back, her smile fading off. Twilight Sparkle stared at her in irritated silence, no doubt trying to piece together what exactly she was going to tell the Princess. Rarity, for her part, did not regret her actions. Yes, perhaps running away from home hadn't been the best solution, but she had two excellent bodyguards with her, and nothing even remotely dangerous had happened.
"Well? Come on, just get it over with, Twilight," Rarity said, staring her bodyguard down. The faster Twilight vented, the sooner Rarity could prove to her how wrong she'd been.
"I'm trying to think of a word that adequately describes the stupidity of what you've done today, Your Highness, but I'm having a very hard time finding it," Twilight calmly replied.
Rarity winced. "Look, Twilight! Nothing happened! I'm perfectly fine. Applejack and Rainbow Dash were with me, and frankly they're just as efficient as any other guard!"
"Oh? What if they weren't there?" Twilight shot back, stepping towards the Princess. "What if Lady Fluttershy had been somewhere else today?! What if I hadn't asked Rainbow Dash to guard you?! Then what, Your Highness?! Do you even realize what would have happened to me?!"
Rarity rolled her eyes. "Oh, relax. If anything had even happened, nopony would have blamed you for it."
Twilight stepped back, eyes wide. "What? You think…" She lifted a hoof to her head, seemingly at a loss for words. "Rarity, I... That's not the point, Rarity! I don't care about that! But how many assassination attempts have I stopped in the past years?! Don't you realize how easy it would be for me to lose you?! You're lucky most of the castle city loves you, but even then—!" She drifted off, burying her face in her hooves.
"...Lose me?" Rarity whispered, her heart pounding in her chest.
She'd always known—or at least strongly suspected—that her infatuation with Twilight was reciprocated, but to hear it put like that...
"Why would you even do this?!" Twilight asked, apparently too angry to even realize her own confession. "I don't care that you forgot my birthda—"
"Yes, you do!" Rarity shot back, stepping towards Twilight. "Yes you do, and even if you didn't, I care! You're my best friend, Twilight, and I can't believe you'd honestly believe I'd prefer a spa day over spending the day with you! And, by the way—!" She took the Mareford Archives letter from inside her saddlebag and presented it to the unicorn. "Here! Look at the date! An entire week before our stupid argument!"
Twilight took the letter, eyebrows still furrowed, and began to read. "I, Princess Rarity Belle, the First, will be visiting the fair city of Trottingham… intend on visiting the Sacrosanct Archives… will be accompanied by my personal guard, Twilight Sparkle… would like to make a…" Twilight's anger all but faded, replaced instead with a shamed flush. "…formal request for Miss Sparkle to be given permission to read any book she desires… visiting the archives has been a dream she's had for quite some time… Regards, Princess Rarity Belle."
"See?! I'd been planning it for weeks, and I foolishly thought it would be a good idea to pretend I didn't know so I'd surprise you, and it all blew up in my face! And, yes, Twilight, you can be furious at me for what I've done, but I will not tolerate you thinking I forgot something as important as your birthday, because you mean the wo—" Rarity cut herself off, cheeks turning bright red, and instead made a rather odd gesture with her hoof. "Because I wouldn't, alright?!"
Twilight fell silent, falling onto her haunches and looking at the floor. "I'm trying to think of a word that describes how silly this all is, but I'm having a very hard time finding it."
"Goodness, that seems to be happening a lot with you. Maybe I ought to have gotten you a dictionary for your birthday instead?" she suggested, unable to stop herself from giggling when a smile pushed its way onto Twilight's face.
"You have to go back to the castle, Princess," Twilight pointed out, getting up. "I'll ask Rainbow Dash to please escort you back."
"But… I want to be with you," Rarity whined piteously, and if they hadn’t been at risk of being seen, she'd have trotted a few steps further and finally satiated her desire to nuzzle her crush. She sighed instead, her ears falling as she pawed at the floor. "I'm sorry, Twilight. I didn't mean to ruin this day for you."
"But who says the day is ruined, Your Highness?"
Rarity turned around, surprised to find one of the very few nobles whose presence she actually tremendously enjoyed.
"Lord Fancy!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing here? I thought you were attending Father's… dinner… party…"
She knew the duke was fond of Twilight, but she'd never expected him to actually attend or even know of her birthday party. Unless Twilight invited him and not Rarity, in which case maybe she didn't feel so guilty anymore.
"If I may, I'd like to wish this lovely mare a happy birthday first," he said, stepping towards Twilight and bowing his head.
"Oh! Er, I… th-thank you, My Lord!" Twilight blurted out, herself bowing down to the earl.
"Now, as for you, Princess," he continued, clearing his throat and turning to the increasingly uncomfortable royal. "I did in fact attend your father's dinner! Fleur and I were disappointed to hear you felt too sick to attend, and when Duke Wineberry insisted a doctor go see you, you can hardly imagine the panic when he found Princess Sweetie Belle fast asleep inside your bed."
"Some actress," Twilight said, smiling at Rarity's glare.
"She's quite loyal to you, I must say!" he continued. "The poor filly was so terrified of you being punished, she was adamant in her refusal of divulging your location. Luckily, Fleur is quite the expert with children, and once she found out it was our dear Twilight's birthday… so, here I am! To fetch you, and inform you that your parents have decided to punish you from any social event until the masquerade ball."
"The masquerade ball?!" Rarity gasped, horrified. "But—! But, Lord Fancy, that's in two months! My entire social life will crumble! Twilight! Twilight, do something! Tell him!"
Twilight was impassive. "Actually, considering you ran away from home, told nopony about it but your baby sister, lied to your bodyguards, and ran away from your personal bodyguard earlier today, I think they're going too easy on you, Your Highness."
Rarity was never more offended in her entire life.
"What?! You—! You traitor!" she accused, jumping away from her backstabber and signaling her with an accusing hoof. "This is your fault! I did this for you, and this is your response?! You know what, I didn't even want to attend your birthday party in the first place!"
Twilight smiled. "Of course you didn't, Your Highness."
Oooooh, she thought she was so smug with her smug little adorable smile, but the joke was on her because Rarity didn't care for her anym—
"Ah! About that! I have a message for your from the king, Twilight," Fancy continued, losing all his previous playfulness.
"O-Oh?" Twilight asked, the complete disappearance of her smug smile drawing deep satisfaction from the betrayed princess.
"Indeed. Both he and the Queen were very surprised to find out they had not been informed of your birthday, and after all you've done to protect their daughters, they wanted me to personally invite you and all your guests to a birthday celebration tomorrow night at the castle!"
Fancy waved her off. "Don't be ridiculous. They insist, and frankly, so do Fleur and I. In fact, they asked me to apologize in their stead for not holding the party today, but it was a bit short notice and they'd like to prepare it properly."
Twilight's mouth hung open, her cheeks flushed. It was clear that she'd never expected to receive such a recognition from Rarity's parents, and even despite Twilight's grievous backstabbing, Rarity was more than pleased by the news.
"Well, I, for one, think it's a wonderful idea," she said. "That way I can get your present and—"
"Oh, my dear girl," Fancy interrupted, expression softening. "I am terribly sorry to say this, but I fear your punishment includes Twilight's birthday party."
Rarity's heart fell. "Wh-What?! But—! But..."
Twilight took a step towards the earl. "But, I mean, isn't there— Can't they—That's not really fair..."
Fancy sighed. "Believe me, my dears, I tried swaying them, but they were adamant. I truly am sorry, Your Highness."
Twilight Sparkle's birthday party was an event to be remembered.
It had only started an hour ago, and already it was one of the best events held that year. The best musicians available had been brought to play all night, every noble that could attend was invited, and for the very first time in a long time, the gates of the castle had been opened so the townsfolk could attend the celebration. It was truly set to be the party of a lifetime.
And Princess Rarity was going to miss it.
From inside her room, atop her tower—prison, more like it—the eldest Princess of Equestria looked down from her open window, glaring at the dozens of ponies having fun in the gardens. How dare they be happy at Twilight's party when the only pony who mattered was barred from going? She wanted them all to be miserable, but…
But that wouldn't be nice for Twilight, and despite it all, Rarity wanted her beloved to have a wonderful birthday party. She wanted Twilight to feel loved and celebrated for how wonderful, brave, and heroic she was.
Throwing one last glance out the window, the Princess sulked away towards her bed, landing on it with an uninspired thud. How could her parents do this to her? She understood—well, no, she didn't—but she could accept being punished from other social events, but from Twilight's party? That was completely unfair! Cruel, even!
It was cruel, and it made her miserable because she wanted to be with Twilight, and see her happy, and see her smile, and sing silly birthday songs, and…
Three knocks at the door.
Ah yes, that was another thing her beloved parents had implemented. Guards coming up every hour to make sure she hadn't run away again.
"Go away!" Rarity yelled, levitating a pillow and throwing it at the door. "I haven't run away, if that's what you're here for!"
To her immense irritation, she heard the doorknob turn, and in reply she rolled around in her bed and buried her face in her pillow.
"I said that I want to be alone!" she growled, having half a mind to go down and yell at her father for hiring guards who clearly had no respect whatsoever for her privacy.
"You always say that," Twilight's voice came, "and then you get mad at me for staying outside your room."
Rarity looked up from her pillow, taking a moment to admire her bodyguard. This was two days in a row that she'd seen her all dressed up and out of that gaudy armor, and she begrudgingly thanked her parents for being responsible.
"Why are you here? You should be downstairs enjoying your party," she pointed out. "Even though I can scarcely imagine how one could even enjoy a party without me, but you should at least try. Fluttershy visited me earlier and the list of nobles she gave me..."
Twilight frowned. "Honestly, I'm pretty sure that not even ninety percent of the noble ponies downstairs even know or care for who I am."
Rarity frowned, burying her face back inside her pillow. "...throw them all into the dungeon the second I take the throne," she mumbled, and Twilight's laugh nearly drew a smile out of her.
"And what are you going to do about the ensuing revolution, Your Highness?"
Rarity looked at Twilight again. "I don't know. I'll have you figure it out for me."
Twilight smiled. "Right. Anyway, you better start getting ready, Your Highness," she said, stepping away and going to close the open window. "You're still on time to be 'fashionably late'."
Rarity sat up, confused. "Whatever do you mean? I'm not allowed to go down. You know that."
Twilight went back to the Princess, sitting down on the floor besides her. "I know, but King Belle asked me what I'd like for my birthday present, and I told him that even though he'd already done enough, I'd be very grateful if a certain princess was allowed to attend the party."
Rarity didn't know what to say at first. She didn't know how to properly express the butterflies in her stomach, or the giddiness in her chest, and she certainly didn't know how to stop the smitten smile from forming on her lips.
Instead, in the privacy of her room, where she was allowed to get away with whatever she wanted, she extended her foreleg and oh, how heavenly it was when Twilight leaned in, buried herself in her princess's hug, both of them sighing in contentment.
"I'm trying to think of a word to describe how happy I am that you're back, but I'm having a hard time finding it," Rarity said.
"Maybe we both need that dictionary," Twilight said in between giggles. "But I'm glad you're here, too."
At that, Rarity closed her eyes and relished the nuzzle she was being treated to. "Happy birthday, Twilight."