“Come in, Sweetie Belle.”
The Unicorn filly pushed the door open and entered the boutique’s main room. Her older sister was just putting what looked like a stack of papers into a large envelope. “You wanted to see me?”
Rarity’s magic perfectly folded her glasses and placed them on a nearby desk. She magicked the envelope into the air and let it settle between Sweetie Belle’s hooves.
“It’s a letter. I wrote it for you.” Rarity did her best to keep her voice calm. Knowing what Sweetie Belle was about to read, this was not the easiest thing to do. “I’d like you to read it.”
“Yes.” She sighed. “Sweetie Belle, I know this hasn’t been easy for you. Mother and Father’s accident, you moving in with me... it’s all happened so fast and I know that it’s been rough for you. It’s been rough for me too. I just hope that this letter will help you cope with their… passing.” She turned and headed out of the room. “I’ll be upstairs when you… if you want to talk about it. Okay?”
“Talk about what? Rarity, what’s this about?”
“Please…” Rarity looked back with pleading eyes. “Please, just read it.”
Confused, but wanting to please her big sister, Sweetie Belle just smiled and nodded.
Rarity smiled back, took a deep breath, and headed upstairs. It was out of her hooves now.
Sweetie Belle waited until she heard the shutting of a door before she magicked the envelope open. Inside was a sheaf of papers, neatly stacked, covered in Rarity’s distinctive cursive. Not knowing what to expect, she began to read.
Dear Sweetie Belle,
I suppose that this day was going to come, sooner or later. I had hoped that Mother and Father would still be here to help me tell you, but that’s not the way things worked out, I guess. There’s an old saying that the truth will out in the end, no matter what. I suppose that doesn’t change even if the ones you needed to help tell the truth are gone.
The truth can do a lot of things. From personal experience, I can tell you that it can hurt just as much as it can help. I just hope you know that once I’ve told you everything, nothing will change… unless you want it to, that is.
A large part of me hopes that you will want it to, but that’s neither here nor there.
I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a bit long, so I hope you’re comfortable. This story starts just after I graduated school in Ponyville. I was accepted into a prestigious fashion academy in Fillydelphia. It was my first time away from home, and I confess that I came ready for the education, but I was woefully unprepared for the school’s night life…
“Rarity! Come on, we’re gonna be late!”
“Shining Star… I, uh, changed my mind. You go on without me. I, uh, have far too much studying to do.”
Shining Star snorted. “Studying, huh? In the bathroom?” She pushed the door open to find her roommate smiling back sheepishly, trying to hide behind the shower curtain. The silver unicorn rolled her eyes and pulled her out of her poorly-planned hiding place with her magic. “Honestly, Rarity; what are you so worried about? You look great.”
The teenage seamstress-in-training flipped her mane back and tried to act haughty. “I am most certainly not worried, Shining Star. I just have…” the mask slipped. Her eyes darted about the room. “…a lot of studying to do.”
“Rarity, our first test isn’t for another week.”
“Starting early never hurt anypony…”
Rarity’s mouth snapped shut and she averted her roommate’s eyes. “I’m just nervous, okay?”
“What in Equestria about?” Shining Star pondered for a moment, then stomped her hoof in mock realization. “Rarity, have you never been to a party?” She asked, her voice dripping with false shock.
“Of course I have, Star. Just… not a party like this.”
“A party like what?”
“You know.” She looked around the room as though checking for prying ears and whispered. “With boys.”
“Really?” Shining Star dead-panned. “You’ve never been to a party with boys?”
“Is that unusual?” Rarity asked, honestly. As a filly, sure there had been boys at birthday parties and school functions. But for the life of her, she could not recall a single party since she’d reached mare-hood that had also welcomed boys.
It just wasn’t proper for a young lady.
“I guess it’s not unusual for someone from a backwoods Earth Pony town…” Shining Star started, but stopped when she saw the hurt in her roomie’s eyes. “Hey.” She placed a hoof on her friend’s shoulder and drew her close. “Don’t worry kiddo. I’ll keep an eye on you. You poor, little, sheltered thing you.”
Rarity cast her blue eyes up in an expression of pleading. “You promise?”
“You have my word. Now, let’s get your make-up finished.”
Shining Star abandoned me about thirty seconds after we’d arrived.
The party was taking place on the third floor of the student dorms. These days, co-ed dormitories are a dime a dozen, but in those days it was new and exciting for young colts and mares to be sharing the same living space.
After Shining Star disappeared, I reluctantly moved deeper into the crowd. My plan was to have a few drinks, maybe dance a little, then bow out and head back to my room. I really did have a large amount of studying to do. Anyway, I had absolutely no intention of meeting any boys.
That all changed when I saw… him.
Another drunk, this one a Pegasus, bumped into her. “Excuse me!” She cried, but the indignation in her voice was swallowed by the pounding music and ambient crowd noise. She’d never seen so many Ponies crammed into one place before. It was a miracle she could move about at all.
After what seemed like an eternity of inching through the tightly packed bodies, she finally reached the make-shift bar. The bar-mare, a shapely senior with flowing pink hair, appraised her. “What’s it gonna be, honey?”
This gave Rarity pause; alcohol was new to her. She racked her brain, trying to come up with something to say. “Um… whatever’s on tap?” Was that the correct phrase?
The mare laughed and passed over a cup full of foaming liquid. “Just stick with the cider… light-weight.”
“I beg your pardon…?”
“Coming, boss.” The mare trotted away without a second glance.
Rarity fumed over her drink and nursed it, not really tasting it. The nerve of that twiggy little… How could she be a lightweight? She’d never even drank before. For all this ‘Fleur’ Pony knew, she could be the heaviest drinker in the whole place. In all of Equestria, even.
The thought calmed her temper slightly and she sipped more of the cider. It was quite good, though not as good as the Apple Family’s back home. The noise around her faded as she imagined the peaceful serenity of home in Ponyville…
The male voice that had interrupted her train of thought came from her left, and she did her best to ignore it. This was inevitable, of course. Some drunken young stud was trying to pick up on her. She took some satisfaction out of the knowledge that he wasn’t going to have any luck with her. Especially not tonight.
“What you doing in a place like this, sweetness?”
Sweetness? Of all the impertinent… “Just having a little drink. Alone.” She muttered icily, stretching out the last word. ‘Take the hint, my friend.’
“You should never drink alone. That’s how impressionable young mares like you get into trouble.”
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She’d had quite enough of her fellow students talking down to her like she was some ditzy backwoods Pony. She turned angrily to shut him down completely… and froze.
He was simply the most handsome unicorn she had ever set her eyes on. His coat was white, though a bit of a darker shade than her own. It made his subdued pink mane stick out more than it should have. His eyes… his eyes were green. Green and deep. So deep, she could feel herself falling into them…
“What’s your name, sweetness?” Now that she was listening intently, his voice seemed melodious and soothing.
“That’s a pretty name. I’m…”
To my everlasting shame, I don’t even remember his name. What I do remember is this; he was a student, but not at the fashion school. He was simply attending the party. He was head of his class at the Fillydelphia Music Academy, and I do remember that he sang for me. His voice was amazing, Sweetie Belle. He sang and I sang with him and we drank cider and other, stronger things and… and the night went on.
That’s all I can remember.
Maybe I couldn’t handle my alcohol after all; maybe he slipped me something… I’ll never know. I woke up the next morning in my bed with a massive headache. I could hear Shining Star snoring in the bunk below mine (I made a mental note to chastise her when she awoke for abandoning me like she did). The covers were a mess, as was the rest of the room.
He was gone, and I never saw him again.
About a month later, I knew something was wrong.
“Doctor? Is this going to take very long? I have a class in fifteen minutes.”
“The test results should be back any minute, Miss Rarity.”
Rarity exhaled dramatically and reclined on the plastic-covered examination table, regretting that she’d even come to see the campus doctor. True she’d been nauseous a lot, but it was probably just nerves. There was that first major design exam next Thursday...
There was a loud thump on the office’s window. The old grey doctor lifted it open with his head and allowed a messenger bird to fly in. “Ah, here’s the results now.” He pulled a roll of papers from the bird’s leg and rolled it open on his desk.
“Finally.” She sat up and went to collect her saddle-bag. “If there’s nothing else, I’ll just be on my way.”
The tone in his voice made her stop cold. She turned to face him. His eyes were grave. “What’s wrong?” It came out a weak whisper.
“Is it some rare disease?” She gasped. “Something worse? Doctor, please tell me…”
“Miss Rarity!” He snapped, shutting her up. “Please calm down. You aren’t sick.”
Rarity felt an enormous pressure lifting. “Oh, thank Celestia…”
“You are, however, pregnant.”
I fainted dead away onto the floor. The first thing I did when I came to was ask the doctor to repeat his tests. He did as I asked, but the results were the same.
I was indeed pregnant.
I had a good cry with the nurse and listened to the doctor as he rattled on about responsibilities and risks and what have you. I didn’t even hear him. I knew that the mysterious Music Academy student was the father, but I had no way of tracking him down. For all I knew, he had graduated already. I could already see the condemnation in my parent’s eyes, the silent judgment to be laid upon me by the rest of Ponyville…
I was pregnant, and I didn’t even know my child’s father’s name.
When the doctor dismissed me, I headed back to my room. Shining Star was home, getting ready for another party. She asked me why I had been crying.
She asked if I wanted to go out again.
Poor girl. I never thought I had it in me to do what I did to her.
The dean was quite understanding in light of my situation. In place of expulsion, I was granted an extended leave of absence until my… situation was resolved. I visited Shining Star in the hospital to see if she could recall anything from that night. The poor girl wouldn’t stop screaming and trying to get away from me, so I just left her some flowers and returned to the dorms to pack my things. I sent two letters off to Ponyville ahead of me.
The first was to my parents. I told them nothing of my situation only that I was taking a break from the stresses of school and would be staying at my best friend’s house for a while.
The second letter was to my best friend. I knew that she was the only pony I could trust with the truth.
She was the only pony who would understand.
“There, there. You poor thing.” Fluttershy cooed softly, holding her sobbing friend.
“I just don’t know what to do.” Rarity sniffled. It hadn’t hit her until that morning how severe her situation was. She’d convinced herself that she could hide the pregnancy for at least a little while longer. However, after using Fluttershy’s bathroom, she’d looked in the mirror. She was farther along than she’d realized, and starting to show it. “What will my parents think?”
“I’m sure they’ll understand.”
‘’How do you know?” Rarity pulled away from her handkerchief and glared at it. “They’ll probably say that I brought shame on the family. They might even disown me! Fluttershy, what would I do then? How could I survive without my parents?”
Fluttershy said nothing. The baby bunny she had just adopted hopped up and patted the distraught Unicorn on the forehead.
Rarity sniffed again and smiled down at him. “Oh my stars, Fluttershy! He’s adorable.”
“He is, isn’t he?” The butter-colored Pegasus reached down and scratched the ball of fur on his head. “I forgot you missed the Winter Wrap-Up debacle. Old Feather-Duster moved the clouds too fast, so all the snow melted too soon and all the bunny holes got flooded. This little angel was the only one who got away in his whole family.”
“That’s awful! That Feather-Duster should have retired years ago.”
“We won’t have to worry about that anymore. Mayor Mare fired him and appointed a new Weather Team Captain; Rainbow Dash.”
Rarity snorted into her handkerchief. “Rainbow Dash? That blow-hard from school?”
“Yes, but that’s beside the point. What I’m getting at is that you’re so much luckier than Angel and I.”
“You still have a family that can help you.”
Rarity sat, stunned. How could she have been so selfish? Here she’d been lamenting that she might lose her parents over this… and here was Fluttershy, who had already lost hers. She leaned forward and hugged Fluttershy as tightly as she could. “I’m sorry, Fluttershy. You’re right. You’re absolutely right.”
She was right. I had a family, and I knew that no matter what, they would be there for me.
It was time to go home.
I’ll never forget when I stepped into the kitchen. They saw me, and instantly they knew. I saw tears in my mother’s eyes, but what I saw in my father’s was worse.
Sweetie Belle, I swear I saw his heart breaking through his eyes. His baby girl…
I told them the whole story, from beginning to end, then braced myself for the yelling to come.
It never came.
While they were disappointed in my actions, they recognized that it was not entirely my fault. I was scolded, and lectured, and made to promise that nothing like this would ever happen again. Then they embraced me and we cried together. I knew that with them by my side, I could make it through anything.
Forgive me, Sweetie Belle. I just miss them so much…
It was a difficult transition, but we survived. I lived at home in a sort of quarantine, with Mommy, Daddy, and Fluttershy my only connections to the outside world. They even managed to convince everypony in town that I was suffering from a rare disease, so I was rarely bothered.
It was a group decision to hide me. Not because of a possible scandal, but because… well, I suppose that it was simply a matter of privacy. Some things are just better left amongst family.
Everypony was so worried about me, Sweetie Belle! I’ve always been a bit on the thin side, and by the time my delivery date drew near I had swollen fit to burst. At Fluttershy’s urging, we brought Nurse Redheart into our little conspiracy. She put me on bed-rest and set up a room at the hospital to be ready when the moment came.
Months passed, and the day arrived at last. Oh, Sweetie Belle, the pain! It was unbelievable. I felt as though I was being torn apart from the inside out. I endured as best I could until night fell, and Fluttershy herself carried me to the hospital under cover of darkness. I swear sometimes that Pegasus is stronger than any other Pony in Equestria. She got me to the hospital in record time. Not too long after that...
…I held my foal for the very first time.
“Oh, Rarity, she’s beautiful.” Fluttershy gushed, happy tears leaking from the corners of her eyes.
Her parents beaming with pride beside her, Rarity lay stomach-first on the hospital bed and cradled the newborn filly between her hooves. Her mane was in tatters and she was bathed in sweat, yet she had never felt so... happy. So fulfilled.
“A Unicorn. I knew it.” Her father muttered, trying and failing to hide his own tears. “Unbroken for four generations now.”
Rarity appraised the little bundle that she had created. Her coat was white, though maybe a shade darker than her own. Her mane was a perfect blend of her own purple and the filly’s father’s pink. Her eyes darted around the room, a vibrant green; her father’s green. She seemed to trying to memorize this world she was now in. She yawned, as though bored already, and drifted off to sleep for the very first time.
Rarity nuzzled her newborn and sang softly to her a lullaby she remembered her own mother singing to her as a filly. She sang until she was asleep herself.
My baby and I slept for a full day. When we awoke, Nurse Redheart fetched Fluttershy and my parents. We had a decision to make.
A decision that would end up haunting me for the rest of my life.
It was her mother that spoke first. “Rarity, have you decided?”
Rarity was totally entranced by every move the baby made. Every wave of a tiny hoof. Every nose twitch. “Hmmm?”
“Have you decided what you’re going to do with her? Who you’re going to give her to?”
Rarity tore her attention away from the foal. In all the excitement she hadn’t even considered it. The idea seemed insane. Give up her baby? There was nothing in Equestria that could separate her from the filly now. Except… where would they live? Move back in with her parents? And what about school? For the first time since the birth, the consequences of her situation came crashing down around her. “I suppose the sensible thing to do would be to find somepony to adopt her.” The words tasted bitter on her tongue and she hated herself for coming to such a conclusion. “I love her so much… but I just can’t provide for her right now, can I?”
The filly looked up at her and made a pleasing baby sound.
“But I so wish I would be able to see her sometimes.”
“Then why not put her somewhere nearby?”
The tone in her mother’s voice caught Rarity’s attention. “Mother?”
Her mother backed away, and her father stepped forward. “Rarity… we weren’t going to tell you this, but… your mother was going to have another baby. She… she lost it, just before you got home.”
Rarity’s eyes widened in shock. “Oh, Mother!”
Her mother shook her head and waved for her father to continue.
“We have a singular opportunity here, but only if you want it.” He took a deep breath and pressed on. “Give her to us, Rarity. You can watch over her, protect her, and love her for all her life. You’ll just have to…”
“…pretend she’s my sister.” Rarity muttered, again watching the filly as she began to doze. Such a thing seemed unimaginable, but it also made the most sense. She would be able to keep close to the foal, help in raising her right, and even providing for her in some aspects.
It was the best thing for her, all things considered.
“Can she never know then? Can she never know who I really am?”
“That’s up to you.”
Rarity though about it, then smiled and brushed a curl from the baby’s brow. “One day, I want her to know. But I want to do it. When she’s ready.”
“Understood.” Her mother said reaching over to pick the foal up. Rarity stopped her with a hoof.
“Can I… can I just hold her a bit longer, Mother?”
Her mother nodded and wiped a tear from her eye. “Of course. And you still have to name the little sweet-heart.”
Rarity pondered for a moment, then looked over at Fluttershy. The Pegasus was cuddling with Angel, who seemed embarrassed by the attention. “Fluttershy, do you still speak all those different languages you taught yourself during school?”
“What’s another word for beauty?”
Fluttershy smiled and whispered the first word that came to mind. “Belle.”
Rarity nodded and stroked the little creature’s mane. She cooed in response and snuggled closer to her mother. Rarity smiled and nuzzled her.
“Your mommy loves you… Sweetie Belle. Always.”
So that’s what we did. Mommy and Daddy revealed you to the world as their second-born daughter, and I returned to school. Those four years were excruciating for me. I remember rushing home every break, every holiday, just to be there for you and watch you grow. It was so difficult adhering to the lie. I almost slipped once or twice, but somehow we made it through. I remember the closest call was getting your cake for your second birthday party. I accidently told the Cake’s new apprentice baker that the cake was for my daughter, not my sister. She promised not to tell anypony, and even sealed it with something she called a ‘Pinkie Promise.’
I was there for your first steps. I was even there the first time you used your magic. You don’t even remember, but the first thing you lifted was an apple from Daddy’s plate. You should’ve seen the look in his eyes…
I was not there, however, for your first word. I’m kind of glad, actually. I probably would have died hearing you say ‘Mama’ to my own mother.
I was there to hear you the first time you sang. You inherited your father’s voice, which is the greatest gift the lout could’ve given you.
Whenever I visited, I would sneak into your room late at night and hold you. I’d sing lullabies to you and tell you of all the great things you would see and do when you grew up…
I graduated and returned home to Ponyville. Daddy surprised me by buying the old Carousel Boutique for me as a graduation present. I settled into life as best I could… but it would never be complete without you.
You know, Fluttershy and I were discussing it one day at the spa, and we came to a rather startling conclusion; maybe I was chosen as the Bearer of the Element of Generosity because I gave my parents the greatest gift imaginable.
I gave them you.
I decided to write this letter after the accident. I know Mommy and Daddy would understand that things would change once you started living with me full time. The pain of raising you and still having you not know the truth would be unbearable.
But now you know the truth. I know that part of you hates us for keeping all this from you. That’s understandable, and you have every right to be mad at us. I can only hope that it passes in time.
The next call is yours.
You know the truth, but you must decide what to do with it. If you want, everything can go back to the way it was before. We’ll never speak of it again, and I will spend the rest of my days being the best big sister I can be.
There’s another choice though. And you know what that is.
I know you’ll be coming soon, so I’ll finish this up.
Sweetie Belle, you have always been my secret treasure. I have always loved you with all of my heart. What we… what I did, it was done out of love.
Nothing in this world is stronger than a mother’s love for her child.
You’ll learn that one day. I can only hope that you learn it in a better way than I did.
The last page was covered in dried tears. New tears soon joined them.
Rarity gave up on trying to read and tossed the book back onto the shelf. Sweetie Belle had to be done reading by now, surely? Had she done the right thing? Would it have been better to just hide the truth forever? There was still time to race to the library, convince Twilight Sparkle to find her a memory-erasing spell…
The doorknob turned, and Rarity turned to face the young filly. Her eyes were downcast and she seemed to be deep in thought. “Hey.” She muttered.
“Hey.” Rarity returned, mimicking Sweetie Belle’s posture.
“I read the letter.”
Awkward seconds passed in silence, until at last Sweetie Belle spoke. “So…” she looked up. “What do I call you now?”
Rarity shook her head and started to turn away. “You can still call me Rarity, or sister, or whatever you like.” Her lip quivered and she felt the sting of tears. “I know that you must hate me right now. I understand and I…”
Rarity shot back around to find Sweetie Belle’s face flooded by tears. She bolted across the room and buried her face in Rarity’s coat, bawling without shame.
“I don’t hate you! I could never hate you! NEVER NEVER NEVER!”
She sobbed uncontrollably, and soon Rarity was crying right along with her. “Shhhh. Don’t cry, Sweetie Belle. Please don’t cry.”
“I love you. I love you so much.”
“I love you too, little one. I love you too.”
Even muffled in her coat, Rarity heard what Sweetie Belle said next as clear as day.
“I love you, mommy.”
After waiting so many years to hear it, Rarity felt her heart burst in her chest. The floodgates opened, and soon she was crying even harder than Sweetie Belle. She slumped to the floor and curled her body instinctively around her foal, trying to protect her from everything and nothing at the same time. She sang to her the lullabies she’d sung to her as a foal.
Revealed to each other at last, mother and daughter wept together in joy and sadness; Joy at what they had found, and sadness at what the cost had been.
Applejack shook her head and pushed the letter away. “That’s quite a story.” The orange Earth Pony turned from the desk and faced Rarity, currently reclining on her couch. “So Sweetie Belle took it well?”
“Exceptionally well, if you’d believe it. The first few days were the most awkward, really just because she wasn’t sure what to call me. We’ve settled on her still calling me ‘Rarity’ for the most part. We’ll work ‘Mom’ in there somewhere.”
“She’s not mad?”
“I wouldn’t call it mad. If anything, I’d say she’s relieved. She sees it as getting a second mother after losing our parents.”
“I could see that.”
“Personally, I’ve never been happier. It’s more than just having her know. If feels as though a tremendous weight has been lifted off my chest.”
“That good, huh?”
Applejack scratched the back of her head thoughtfully. “So, what are ya’ll gonna tell the others? The town?”
Rarity laughed. “We actually discussed that for a while. It would be a bit presumptuous to hold a press conference or something wouldn’t it?”
This time, Applejack laughed. “S’pose you’re right on that one.”
“Yes. So I decided that Fluttershy and I should just come clean to you and the others. I’m sure Pinkie will be relieved to finally spill the beans. Where the information goes from there, that’s beyond me.”
“And Sweetie Belle?”
“Has probably already told the Crusaders.”
They both laughed heartily. Rarity cast her eyes at the clock. “Gracious! I have to finish packing. We’re taking our first mother-daughter trip together this weekend, you know.”
“Canterlot. We’re going to stay in the castle, tour the royal gardens, and see the museums…”
“…and visit Hoity Toity’s boutique?” Applejack finished, smiling knowingly.
Rarity raised her nose in the air. “Well, of course. I do have a reputation to uphold.”
They laughed again, and Applejack headed for the door. She paused just before going out and looked back. “Hey Rarity?”
“It really feels that much better? Getting it all out in the open?”
“It’s the best feeling in the world.”
Applejack smiled. “Okay. Thanks.”
“Thanks? For what?” Rarity asked, but Applejack was already gone.
Rarity shrugged and got back to work. She busied herself packing for the next half hour until she heard the sound of hooves approaching outside. She bolted into the next room and waited.
The door opened and shut with a snap, followed by the tell-tale sound of a saddlebag hitting the floor. The minute clop of little hooves. “Rarity? I’m home.” A pause. “Rarity?” A slightly longer pause. Tiny. Tentative. “…Mom?”
Rarity entered the main room and smiled at her daughter. “Hello, Sweetie Belle? How was school?”
Sweetie Belle, grinning, trotted over and nuzzled her. “It was fine, but I’m glad I’m home.”
Rarity nuzzled her back. She had to agree.
It was nice to finally be home.
“Granny Smith! Applejack! Big Macintosh! I’m home!” Applebloom yelled, pushing the door open and entering the farm-house’s kitchen. “Ya’ll won’t believe what Sweetie Belle told me and Scootaloo today!”
No response. The kitchen was empty.
She shrugged and slid her saddlebag off onto the table. Granny Smith was probably with her bridge club, and her siblings were probably off working on the farm somewhere. She’d just have to tell them about Sweetie Belle’s new plan to find their Cutie Marks while parasailing later. She was just heading for the pantry to grab a snack when something on the counter caught her eye.
Her interest piqued, Applebloom sat in front of the table and inspected it closer. It was definitely Applejack’s scrawl. She looked around to make sure she was alone, and then began to read.