She looked beautiful in her dress. Regal, a true princess. And no, I’m not just saying that because I design her formal wear.
My friends and I gleefully waltzed into the ballroom of the Grand Galloping Gala. We went as just friends. That’s what we were. All of us were single; we were there to have fun.
Yet I couldn’t keep my eyes off her.
As soon as we stepped inside, Pinkie Pie spotted Cheese Sandwich on the planning committee and pranced off to hijack the behind-the-scenes. Rainbow Dash darted off to the Wonderbolts group, dragging Applejack alongside; Fluttershy paired up with Discord. In other circumstances, I would have fled to socialize with the fashion elite.
Yet I stayed, alone, with Twilight Sparkle, my eyes dreamy and my ears up in a cloud. Twilight stared at me quizzically, gesturing to a stallion by the beverage stand. “I think Fancy Pants is over there.”
I fiddled with my mane. “What, and leave you stranded? Whom do you peg me for?”
With textbook confidence, Twilight recited, “Rarity Belle Flanks Crumbles, owner of the Carousel Boutique, bearer of the Element of Generosity, and–” She paused, eyeing my blush. “–my flustered friend.”
“Please, just Rarity is fine.” I laughed.
She tagged into the giggling. “Of course, Ms. Crumbles.”
We were enclosed on opposite sides of an awkward silent barrier, a bubble I only popped half a minute later after a tactile evaluation of the relative merits of braiding my mane in the future. “So, uh, any hopes for the night?”
Twilight shrugged, and then raised her eyebrows suggestively. “That depends. Is the French dignitary single?”
Was the dignitary… single? The question bounced around in my mind curiously. I know I’m known as quite la commère, but still. Was she flirting with me? I dismissed the thought. Twilight wouldn’t do something like that. Flirt, yes, but romantic Twilight has all the subtlety of an elephant. Or perhaps she’s been reading romance novels?
I ignored my inner tempest and snorted. “Well, word on the street is ‘yes’.”
She grinned. “Ah?”
I touched my heart with my hoof, attempting a somber expression, although as was quite the tragedy, I failed to conceal a giggle or two. “She’s also straight, Twilight.”
“Merde!” She giggled, shaking her head playfully, and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “What about the Prince of Alemane?”
“He and the Qu–” I stopped myself. She couldn’t be serious, could she? Not when I was hinting so subtly… oh, no. Out of all the things that could happen, this was the worst! possible! thing! I bailed awkwardly, “Now, now, Twilight, you know gossip is rude.”
She pretended to pout, inching towards my direction. “But you’re so good at it!”
“Yes, and Discord is ‘so good’ at making the Canterlot Castle look like a giant sesame seed bagel.”
We shared a comfortable silence, mutually lost in thoughts o–
“Rarity!” A deep husky voice shouted from behind me. My ears perked up, and I turned around to reveal a well-dressed stallion, a clear Manehattanite judging by the accent.
Fluttering my eyebrows, I sung, “Why, hello there!”
Twilight whispered to me. “Who’s that?”
Discreetly, I replied, “No idea.” In a much louder voice, directed towards the stallion of the moment, I asked, “To whom do I have the privilege of speaking?”
He smiled a little too widely, and I noticed myself holding my breath in anticipation. “Hmm. You can call me… Tailor,” he declared. Uneasy, I recoiled, stepping back. He stepped forward to compensate.
Ignoring the footwork, I plastered on a grin. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Tailor.”
In my peripheral vision, I noticed Twilight cocked her head, then smile and purse her lips into an O with her eyebrows shot up brightly. She mumbled something about the snack bar and disappeared into the sea of dancing ponies, leaving this “Tailor” alone with me. Heavens, Twilight, you misread the situation.
Tailor stepped forward towards me once again. Once again, I stepped back, feelings naked without friend by my side. Tailor remained silent, prompting me to ask as politely as possible in a situation like that, “How may I be of service, Tailor?”
Smug, he replied, “That’s up to you. I just figured a mare like you–” he gestured up and down with his hoof towards my body– “would simply love to be with a stallion as radiant as I!” He posed. I blinked, shielding myself from the implications of his statement.
I breathed deeply in an unsuccessful attempt at restraining myself. “I beg your pardon?”
Apparently oblivious to social cues – or perhaps intentionally so – he stepped forward once again. My patience snapped, and I flared my nostrils at him. “Mister Whoever-You-Are, I don’t know what game you’re playing at, but I would have to kindly ask you to leave me alone, unless you’d rather I get the princesses involved.”
He squinted at me. The nerve! Pausing for a moment, he finally smirked and said, “Well, won’t you just give me a little kiss to say goodbye?”
I gave up on my ladylike manners. “Get lost,” I spat, walking away towards the snack table in an effort to find Twilight. I looked back, and luckily, I wasn’t followed, as far as I could tell.
Pushing a few ponies past me as I trotted along, I eventually reunited with Twilight, blushing as I caught her with a face full of cupcakes catered from the finest bakery in Canterlot. I wagged my hoof around, a little annoyed, although… Ay. She did look so adorable with frosting smeared around her lips, like I caught her with her hoof in the cookie jar. Or, in this case, cupcake stand. Really, next Gala, they ought to include an actual jar of cookies for dramatic effect!
I was bubbling inside, still mulling over the interactions with Mr. Wrong, wondering if I should throw blame at Twilight for abandoning me when that creep was approaching me, but then I looked up at Twilight’s horn aglow quickly cleaning herself up to erase the evidence of her sugary incident before I arrived. It didn’t work, of course, but it was adorable nonetheless.
Most of the frosting disappeared, she exclaimed, “Hi, Rarity!”
I waved ambiguously, keeping my poker face. “Hello.”
She waggled her eyebrows at me, leaning over the cupcake table towards me. I held my breath, her eyes just barely in front of mine. A small voice inside me told me to dart her glance. The rest of me couldn’t keep my eyes off her. Barely suppressing a giggle, she asked, “How’d it go with Prince Charming?”
I cringed. “I’d rather not talk about my suitor right now.”
We each returned to our normal conversational distance. She frowned at me. “Oh. I had thought that… Oh. Sorry, I… oh.” Her voice trailed off, gifting me with the space to self-reflect. Of course, it was hard to self-reflect when I kept noticing her tiny face, all scrunched up in thought like it was being squeezed by the Hand of Knowledge.
Eventually, she opened her mouth, and some amount of time elapsed later, she asked, “Sorry if this is a silly question, but… what’s it like to have so many ponies pining after you? I’m not jealous of all the negative attention, from ‘suitors’. But you always seem to be the life of the party. What’s it like?”
I frowned. “What’s it like being chased by self-centered stallions?”
“It sounds dumb when you say it like that.”
I shrugged. “Maybe because it is dumb. I let them into my life – I never say enough to scare them off unless it gets too uncomfortable – since that’s the etiquette in the fashion world. And… Never mind.”
It was now or never. “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway; none of them– Never mind.”
Twilight frowned. “Is something wrong?”
I blushed and darted her gaze. “No, of course not. I’m just… My mind is wandering. I’m sorry for worrying you.”
Twilight’s stare pierced into me. I wondered if it was cruel to keep her in the dark. But I dismissed the thought; I simply could not put Twilight through the ordeal. I coughed. “Anyway, darling, did I mention you look fabulous in that dress?”
Suspicious, she replied, “About forty-three times.”
“Now, now, there’s no need to exaggerate.”
Twilight’s lips curled up, almost imperceptibly. “Alright. You told me I look ‘fabulous’ eleven times, not including just now. Twelve in total.”
I paged through my memories of the evening to fact check her. “Thank you, that seems about right.”
We rested in blissful silence, a silence she broke with the question I’ve been dreading. “Rarity, please answer honestly… Are you keeping any secrets from me I should know about?”
Twilight sat across from me, each of us on snack-filled blankets set lazily in the grass. My back legs were tucked behind me, freeing my front hooves for nibbling on a hayburger and gestures bubbling in dramatique effect. I threw my front hoof towards the sky, proclaiming, “And that is when that ruffian asked me if I wanted to kiss him! Think of the nerve of ponies these days, tsk tsk.”
Twilight giggled at me. I think I might have blushed. She swallowed her food and exclaimed, “He did?! He just met you! That doesn’t even make sense.” Dressing herself in a playfully disapproving frown, she chided, “Rarity, are you making this up as you go along?”
I outstretched my hooves to form a wide shrug, letting my eyes pop up out of my head at the accusation. “But of course not, darling. I swear, under penalty of purrjury, what I tell is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
Twilight snorted. “Purrjury?”
“What, have you ever seen a cat lie?”
“Well, no, but–”
“But nothing!” I shushed. “Purrjury it is.”
Twilight smiled. “Purrjury.” She bore that pure smile reserved for her best friends, never seen in front of the press. I can’t say that it’s special; it’s a staple of her wardrobe with Fluttershy or Applejack. Even now, whenever she looks at me with that warmth, it melts my heart, and I want nothing more than to hug her.
I took a bite out of the burger, letting my mouth occupy itself with something other than words. I didn’t trust myself not to say something dumb in that instant.
She filled the silence. “Well, while all the stallions seem to be in love with you, I didn’t have so much luck myself.”
“Hmm?” I hummed keeping my mouth closed to maintain proper chewing etiquette.
“Yes, well, a certain purple-maned mare was distracting all the stallions, and apparently the ladies of the Canterlot elite are straight.”
“Hmm,” I frowned sympathetically, keeping my mouth shut, both literally as well as metaphorically. If only she knew how distracting a certain purple mare could be while courting stallions.
“I don’t know. I don’t even know if I want a girlfriend or a boyfriend or anything or what. I’m fascinated by friendship – all kinds of friendship – and my sister-in-law tells me that romantic love is like platonic, only stronger. Academically, it would seem I have a scientific obligation to… experiment.”
“Hmm!” No, Rarity, don’t you dare say anything. I couldn’t dare risk our friendship over something so silly. I stuffed my mouth with a hoofful of French fries to buy myself another few moments.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I’m just dying to know what it’s like to have every eye in the party on you.”
I swallowed. “It’s not worth it, dear.”
“It’s not?” She gazed vaguely in my direction, though her eyes were cloudy, her gaze passing through me into the horizon to my posterior.
“Love, are you telling me you want to have strangers fawning over you because of your shallow exterior, without a thought extended to who you really are or to how their lustful actions affect your inner self?”
She cocked her head. “Maybe?”
I shook my head, letting my ears flap about, and advised, “Flirting is fun, but it’s not a lifestyle. Long-term, committed relationships are worth it; gala flings, not so much.” I sunk my view into the ground, the dirt absorbing my vision. “At least, I’ve assumed that much from romance novels.”
Twilight opened her mouth as if to speak, but no words came out. Oh, how adorable she was when flustered! If only I had a camera in that moment. I suppose I have to settle for treasuring her countenance in my memories. Eventually, she softly asked, “You’ve never dated?”
I shook my head longingly. It was the truth, wasn’t it? Fillyhood crushes hardly count. “No, I suppose I never have.” I bit my tongue and in barely more than a whisper revealed, “I’ve never managed to get close enough to a pony – in that way – to pursue that kind of relationship.”
I don’t need to tell her that I have always wished to get close enough to some ponies, some ponies who have always terrified me to approach in that way. Some ponies like her. What could I even do? If I said anything more about my fantasies, she might defriend me on the spot. I have to be strong for friendship. I have to be strong for us; I have to be strong for her, for Twilight Sparkle. I don’t like that I have to be this kind of strong. I would rather be a little stupid about it. How romantic it would be, to get a little inebriated and gift her my feelings for Hearth’s Warming Eve. It’s certainly a type of generosity.
Twilight stared at me contemplatively. I wish I knew what was going through her head. I wish I could cast a spell and enter her mind, see what it’s like to be her. Instead, I’m stuck on the other side of a never ending emotional wall, barring any true empathy. To me, her mannerisms were adorkable; to her, they must have been profound. I could ask, but I don’t think any amount of verbal explanation could let me truly understanding that profound. But what is a girl to do, anyway? I have to remind myself, I am the Bearer of the Element of Generosity; I cannot let myself selfishly crave a romantic relationship I can never have.
Twilight eventually responded, her eyes bordering glassy. “I’m sorry, Rarity. I shouldn’t have assumed.”
Her innocent display of sincere vulnerability charmed me, oddly enough. I smiled, concern lingering in my face. Spending my hubris, I reached out my hoof to touch hers reassuringly. “It’s alright. You didn’t know.” Clearing my throat, I retracted my hoof and announced, “At least I have an endless supply of romance stories penned by Greyscale Quill to fill my Friday evenings.”
She smiled at me. “I love Greyscale’s works. Although she’s no A.K. Yearling…”
I shook my head teasingly, content. Sometimes I think she is too adorable for her own good. Too adorable for Equestria, perhaps? No, I suppose that can’t be right; there is no level of adorable too much for Equestria, given Sweetie Belle’s in here. Not to mention moi!
Ahem, was I rambling there? Never mind.
She was certainly too adorable for me.
I suppressed my torrent of thoughts and commented, “A.K. Yearling can’t write romance to save her life.”
Twilight scoffed. “In book 47, Daring Do literally had to write a romance short story to save her life!” She narrowed her eyes. “And you know if A.K. says it, it has to be true.”
“Uh-huh,” I giggled. “That was with a stallion. Totally different story.”
She raised an eyebrow at me in contemplation, evidently blushing. “Different story?”
I shrugged. “It just isn’t the same, is it?”
“Aren’t you the one who the stallions are always fawning after?” She poked at fun again. In hindsight, it was amusing, but in the moment… Ouch, and I let slip something I never thought I could have.
“I’m not even into stallions, Twilight!”
She tilted her head, her perceptions of me shattering in real-time. “You’re not?” Fear ran through me instinctively. Good never came from sharing my biggest secret. Rationally, Twilight was essentially guaranteed to be accepting, negating any worries of mine, but in that moment, I was running on instinct and unsettling childhood memories.
I shook my head. I took a deep breath and calmly said, “I’m gay, Twilight.”
She blinked at me. Was she waiting for the punchline? After I refused to elaborate, after a moment to process the implications of my impromptu coming out, she realised my declaration was truthful. “Huh. I had no idea.”
I smiled serenely at her. “As much as I am a hopeless romantic, I’m not exactly forthcoming about my preferences.”
She re-scrunched her face. “But… I’m one of your best friends! I’m bi! How could you not tell me?”
I pondered the thought. What was I afraid of, anyway? Twilight came out to us years ago, during a late night Truth or Dare confession at one of our sleepovers. I didn’t say anything at the time, beyond the typical “I’ll accept you no matter what!” response. I had known full well I was into mares since I was a teenager; Applejack had helped me sort out my feelings when we barely more than fillies. But I swore AJ to secrecy, and I never felt the need to share that part of myself with anyone since. I could still live out the sapphic relationships of my dreams, only vicariously via Greyscale and the like.
Eventually, I replied simply, “You never asked.”
“But… Hmm. I suppose I never did. Still, why don’t you talk about it more?”
I frowned. “Besides me and the girls, how many ponies know about you, dear?”
“Plenty of ponies!” she immediately retorted, defensive in each syllable.
“My parents. Oh, and all three of the other Princesses and the Mayor. Uh, I told Lyra Heartstrings and Bon Bon, since I was asked to officiate their marriage, and it seemed like they had a right to know.”
My point made, I prodded, “Is that all?”
“I don’t know. I’d have to think about it. Ooo, Minuette and Moon Dancer.”
I sighed. “Does the media know?”
“Of course not. I’m an Equestrian public figure; I don’t want to mix my personal life with my public image,” she explained. I paused, smirking at her. “…Oh. Right. The fashion industry isn’t quite Ponyville.”
I snorted. “That’s an understatement.”
She nodded in understanding and after some internal deliberation, un-scrunched her face, satisfied with my response. But then the colour drained from her face, and I gulped. “I’m sorry about earlier. I shouldn’t’ve teased you so much about stallions, especially at the gala. I… hadn’t considered how uncomfortable that probably would’ve made you given, well, the above.”
I blinked, unsure of the implications of her apology. “It’s okay. You didn’t know.”
She bit her lip. “I still shouldn’t have assumed.” She paused. “Can I hug you?”
Could she… hug me? Did she… did she know? Was I that obvious? But did that mean she… also…? But if she didn’t…? Oh dear.
I wasn’t sure which possibility terrified me more: the thought that she knew and liked me back… or the thought that she didn’t.
I silenced my monologue. “Of course,” I replied, and she embraced me.
After a moment that felt like an eternity, she released me. Or did I release her? It was so recent, yet the memory is blurred.
She stared skyward and declared, “I need to be heading back to the castle. I have some library maintenance to complete. You’re welcome to tag along if you’d like – just picture it! Spike, you, and I, together amidst thousands of books scanning for accidentally mis-shelved entries, with the only mission to correct an unknowable literary faux pas…”
I darted her gaze. I wasn’t sure I could handle going through my usual stream of Twilight emotions in front of Spike of all ponies. Poor thing, having to deal with Twilight’s drama as well as my own. Just kidding about the second part – me? Dramatic? Impossible, I say! Impossible!
“I unfortunately have a dress order to attend to back in the Boutique. It sounds like this is adieu for now, then.”
Twilight approached me, outstretching her foreleg and wrapping her hooves around me in a warm hug. I did my best to suppress my tumultuous whirlwind of emotions. Evidently I wasn’t too successful, though I managed to hug back. “See you soon, Twilight,” I muttered somewhere next to her ear.
“Bye, Rarity.” She gathered her bags, folded the blanket, and trotted off into the distance towards downtown Ponyville.
What would I give for her to see inside my head, the way I love to pretend to see inside hers?
I can’t be strong! I simply cannot take it anymore! There is no hope for my strength and dignity! Out of all the things that could happen, this is the wors— okay, you get the idea.
I swallowed my pride and trotted to the front of the Castle of Friendship. I eyed its familiar grandeur, its crystalline structure, almost foreign in that moment, expending all my effort keeping my mind off the Princess who lives inside. “I’m doing it. I’m really doing it,” I muttered to myself, eyeing the door with disdain.
Inhale for four seconds, hold it, release for four seconds… Even now remembering the story, I’m tensing up inside.
I rapped at the door with a wisp of my magic aura. I bit my lip at the silence, until I heard Spike shout out, “Just a minute!” I exhaled a breath I hadn’t realised I had been holding, faced with the opportunity of delaying the inevitable a minute longer.
Spike opened the door, declaring as it swung out, “Spike the Dragon at Your Service. How may I– Oh.” He cut off his words when he noticed it was my presence, rather than that of a stranger. Brightly, he asked, “What’s up, Rarity?”
I observed the crevices of the ground outside her castle. Were those magnolias? I made a mental note to ask Twi– well, you know who – about the flower collection at a nebulous future time. Blushing, I mumbled, “I need to – er, I would rather like to talk to Twilight, love.”
He raised his eyebrow at me. “‘Love?’ Don’t you usually go around calling ponies ‘darling’?”
I frowned, my eyes still blurred by a mixture of fantasy and anxiety looping inside my head. “I, well… You know what ponies say, variety is the spice of life?”
“Name one pony who has ever said that.” He laughed.
I tapped my hoof for a few seconds until lighting up. “Granny Smith!”
“But of course, darling!”
He chuckled to himself, more at me than anything. I suppose I was making a fool of myself. “Twilight’s in the library… as usual. Come right in.”
I entered. “Thank you, dear”
The Castle of Friendship was as beautiful as ever. But it was not the beautiful I sought.
I found her in the library, curled up with a book leaning against the stacks, a blissful grin plastered on her mouth. I don’t think she realised I entered, despite my making no attempt to mask my hoof steps. I coughed. “Twilight, darling, do you have a moment?”
I repeated a bit louder. “Twilight?”
She shook, startled and perhaps a bit scared, until she looked up, saw me, and calmed. “Oh! Rarity! When’d you arrive?”
“A moment ago.”
She smiled, apparently in relief that my answer wasn’t “10 minutes” instead. “Come, sit.” She gestured me to a spot adjacent hers against the fiction, Ma-Me section."
I took my place, ensuring to respect the gap between the two of us, our bodies are touching indirectly via a Starswirl the Bearded legend written by “Maylight”.
She looked over at me earnestly. “What did you want to talk about?”
I inhaled and said, “Well… you know how we talk a lot about friendship and romance?”
“Well… I’ve been wondering for your advice as the Princess of Friendship, dear.”
Twilight grinned. “Sure, what’s up?”
“Hmm, if one were to be interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with one’s close platonic friend – and if one were confident that one’s friend, ahem, swung their way – how would one make sure that their friendship would not be harmed if one’s friend were not interested in romance, with one?”
Twilight stared off pensively, finally saying, “Well, one” – she giggled – “would have to trust their friend enough to know that something so silly like unreciprocated romantic feelings wouldn’t break a friendship, and that one should talk to one’s friend about her – err, their – feelings.” A beat. “Would you happen to be one and would I happen to be one’s friend?” She smirked.
My eyes shot open. “No! …Maybe.”
Twilight raised an eyebrow, prompting me to sigh. “Yes, darling.” I smiled. “I mean, would you be interested in such a relationship?”
She blushed. “I’m flattered, Rarity. But–” I bit my lip and cussed under my breath– “I… guess I’m not really ready for the dating scene.”
“Even with a close friend?”
She smiled sympathetically. “Even with a friend. Don’t take this the wrong way. I love you, Rarity – but platonically, that’s all.” She paused. “Are you disappointed?”
I hesitated, my eyebrows scrunched up tighter than when Twilight challenged me to a vector calculus exam. Finally, I relented. “No. No, I’m not. I’m just glad I didn’t mess everything up, like that time with Rai–”
“Don’t even mention it,” Twilight laughed.
“Oops,” and I joined in the giggle fit. “I love you, Twilight.”