Thirty Minutes of Fabulosity

by Esle Ynopemos

First published

A collection of short stories and vignettes featuring everyone's favorite fashionista.

A collection of short stories and vignettes written for Thirty Minute Ponies.

They aren't all in the same continuity, but they all feature everypony's favorite fashionista.

Part of the Thirty Minute Series. Find Rainbow Dash here, Pinkie Pie here, Fluttershy here, Applejack here and Twilight here.


1: Lead a Horse to Water [A.U.]

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((Prompt: I don’t think your cutie mark means what you think it means.))

Darling, you look positively exhausted! Come, sit down with me for a minute.

Just leave it, it won’t go anywhere. You’ve made a good start for now, now come rest for a moment.

There you go. Can I get you some water? I—

cough, cough!

—oh, excuse me.

Hm? Oh no, I am quite alright, don’t worry about it. There’s no need to fetch Nurse Tenderheart, it’s just a tickle in the throat. I’ve had it for years; it’s perfectly harmless. Now, about that water.

No, go on, drink up darling, you’ve been working yourself to the bone! You ought to take a break now and then, or you’ll end up old before your time like I am!

Aha, that’s very kind of you, dear.

No, I’m not thirsty. You go ahead and drink the rest of it.

Well yes, that is what the mark on my flank is about, so it stands to reason I would be good at it. Still, having a special talent is only a small part of the journey. You just keep at it, and you’ll be running this place before you know it!

Ah, I don’t believe I have told you the story of how I got my cutie mark, have I? Don’t worry, it’s not too long of a story.

See, back when I was a filly, I didn’t know what direction my life would take. I entertained all kinds of wild fantasies; marrying into royalty, running a dress shop—yes, I know, can you imagine, this grizzled old face selling dresses to ponies?

Anyway, I just imagined once I found my special talent, I would have it made. So I was terribly excited when one day my horn flared to life for no good reason. Clearly, it was destiny calling me. The magic all but dragged me out of my parents’ house and into the wilderness. For a day, and a night, and most of another day I was led by my fate deeper into the wilds. Finally, when I was beginning to wonder what I was going to do about food and water, my journey came to a stop.

I was right before a rather unimpressive lump of rock. Needless to say, I was upset. I sat there for hours, as though I was waiting for some kind of explanation to come thundering out of the sky. That never happened, of course. So in my frustration, I gave the rock a kick as hard as I could. Much to my surprise, it split open, revealing a trove of precious gems!

Can you imagine, a little filly kicking a rock apart with her bare hooves? Of course, now I know it was weakened by compound microfractures, but back then I thought I must have been the strongest filly alive!

Looking over the gemstones, I realized something about destiny. It might guide you to where you need to be, but if you expect it to hand you anything on a plate, you’ve got another thing coming. Fate is only part of the picture. The rest is putting the work in to make it happen. From then on, I knew that my destiny was—well, you’re looking at it.

It’s a good life, once you get used to it. Plenty of travel, and of course the pay is good. I’ve never much liked all the dirt, but that seems natural enough. My cutie mark isn’t three dirt clods, after all!

I suppose there are downsides. For one, I look like somepony ran a clean white rag across a chimney.

Oh, that’s very kind of you to say, but I’m quite aware of what I look like. Oh, I know it might sound vain, but sometimes I like to imagine that if I didn’t spend all my time down here chipping my hooves against rocks and ruining my mane with all the grime and humidity, I might be the sort of mare to really turn heads.

Ha ha ha, oh you are such a charmer! Your name should be Silver Tongue! I don’t even—

cough, KOFF-cough… cough.

Oh, dear, I am sorry about that.

No, I assure you, I am fine. But I suppose we have had enough time resting. You look much better.

Let’s get back to work, shall we? Those diamonds won’t mine themselves!

2: Five Minutes [Comedy] [Romance]

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((Prompt: The first three hundred))

Five minutes. Three hundred seconds. That was all it took. It had to be some kind of record or something. They hadn’t even made it out of Sugarcube Corner yet!

Pinkie’s eyes went wide. Her mouth hung open. “Omigosh, Rarity! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to—”

“Well, this feels familiar,” Rarity said as a glop of cake frosting dripped from the side of her face.

Four of those first five minutes had gone so well, too. Rarity had shown up, looking as ravishing as she always was. Her dress had been pristine—neatly pressed, perfectly in style for the season, and most importantly, free of cake.

Pinkie had come down the stairs as soon as the door opened. Sweet Celestia, she had brushed and braided her mane just for Rarity. It still poofed at the corners, but it was an incredible sight to behold nevertheless.

Rarity had brought a gift, of course. A lovely light blue chapeau, which looked ever so adorable there atop those pink braids. Pinkie had hugged her fiercely in gratitude, which Rarity had returned in kind.

Next, Pinkie had shown her the fruits of her own labor. A cake, naturally. A great, heart-shaped confection painted in pink frosting and trimmed with red and purple. A gaudy affair, to be sure, but most definitely heartfelt, and the combination of color and shape was pleasing to Rarity’s keen eyes. Especially the decoration in the center, which contained a picture, rendered as accurately as a pony could make with a tube of frosting, of a pink mare and a white mare leaning against one another and smiling. Captioned in a red drizzle, it read, “Our first date!” Rarity particularly appreciated the aesthetic appeal of that part.

Alas, just as she had been about to suggest that they put the cake aside for the moment so they could get a start toward the restaurant, the fifth minute began. The cake twins, who could be held by no mortal crib, each had struck as one. Pound Cake passed by in a low aerial buzz while Pumpkin Cake launched one of her toys like a slobbery missile. While Pinkie twisted to keep Pound from landing in the cake, the damp plastic toy placed itself squarely beneath her hoof.

Her footing compromised, Pinkie had spun like a top. A wide-eyed, squealing top with a cake momentarily in her hooves. Only momentarily, because the force of the spin quickly took hold of the pastry, sending it flying through the air, directly at a very stunned, fabulously dressed unicorn.

It had taken Rarity all of five minutes to wind up covered in cake. It was becoming a pattern for her, it seemed.

Rarity closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. “No worries, Pinkie, I came prepared,” she said.

Her horn ignited. The dress came free of her body, levitating into the air. Squinting in concentration, Rarity gave the dress a vigorous shake. Dabs of cake frosting freed themselves from the dress and spattered onto the floor. With an illuminating flash, Rarity re-fastened her now once-again immaculate dress back on herself.

Pinkie gaped.

“Cake-proof fabric,” Rarity explained, smoothing out a wrinkle in the hem. “I imagined I would get a chance to test it tonight.”

Pinkie Pie squealed. “That is so awesome! How does it work? Omigosh, you could make aprons like that!”

Rarity laughed. “I’ll tell you all about it later. But for now, we should get this mess cleaned up and be on our way. Our reservations are at seven.”

Rarity had been prepared for the first three hundred seconds of her date with Pinkie. Now to see what the rest of it would bring.

3: The Rock Thief [Slice of Life]

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((Prompt: Two or more of the Mane Six meet as fillies.))

Pinkie couldn’t believe her eyes. It was gone. Just a pile of rubble where it had once been.

The Pie family’s prized lodestone was gone.

Panic crept up the back of the pink filly’s legs. This was not good. This was so not good. She had been supposed to be out in the north field yesterday, but instead she had been in the barn preparing the party. If Pa found out that the lodestone had gone missing because of her party, he would never allow another one to happen as long as she lived!

She hopped from one hoof to the next. How could this have happened? Theft was unthinkable; to anypony outside of her family, the lodestone had just looked like another rock. But yet, there on the ground was a set of hoofprints winding through the rubble and leading away from the farm. From the looks of it, the prints were made by somepony about Pinkie’s own age.

She bit her lip and cast a glance back at the farmhouse. She had a few hours before she would be missed. Maybe if she could track the thief down and bring back the lodestone, everything could still be okay. Her hooves paused in hesitation. She had never left the rock farm before. Out there was a complete unknown to her.

A look of determination set into her face. This was bigger than her. This was about parties. The future of all parties everywhere rested on her catching the rock thief and bringing them to justice. Her course decided, she set off in a gallop, chasing the hoofprints out into the hills.

The tracks led a winding path through the wilderness, stopping here or there at a stream. Eventually, thatched roofs and timbers rose on the horizon. “Welcome to… Ponyville?” she read as she passed the sign at the town’s edge.

She had never seen so many ponies in her life. All kinds, all colors. Ponies flew through the sky, and lifted things with glowing horns. Pinkie couldn’t help but to think how great a party would be if she could invite all of these ponies to it as well.

But she couldn’t think of parties just now. She had a thief to catch, or else there wouldn’t be any parties! She almost lost track of the hoofprints as they crossed the busy cobbles, but by some combination of luck and sheer determination, she eventually came to a modest two-story home. Pinkie stood on top of a barrel to peer into a window.

Inside, a white filly hummed happily as she worked in front of a sewing machine. Her horn glowed, and a sparkling gem floated in front of her. She took a needle and began fastening the jewel into what looked like some kind of cloth vegetable.

“Aha! I’ve found you!” Pinkie shouted and climbed into the window. She neglected to anticipate the drop to the ground and thus tumbled face-first into a pile of gem-studded costumes.

The unicorn filly squeaked in surprise. “Who’s there? I warn you, I just earned my cutie mark in—um—karate, and I’m not afraid to use it!”

Undeterred, Pinkie rose from the pile of cloth. She now was dressed in a sparkling costume of a slice of cake, the top portion of which hung askew across her face, blocking her vision. “More like a cutie mark in rock-napping! Give them back!”

The unicorn filly blinked, confusion scrawled across her features. “Rock-napping?”

“Yeah!” Pinkie said, poking her head out of one of the leg-holes in the costume. “You got those gems from the lodestone on my family’s rock farm!”

The filly stared at the jewels for a minute, then looked back at Pinkie. Back to the jewels. Back to Pinkie. “Oh, no!” she moaned. “I’m a thief!”

“That’s what I said,” said Pinkie, squirming to free a hoof from the costume.

Tears bristled in the corner of the unicorn’s eyes. “I—I thought I found something that made me special, but it turns out I’m nothing more than a… a common jewel thief!” she wailed, burying her face in her hooves.

Now Pinkie felt bad for making the filly feel guilty. She hopped over next to her on three bound legs, and reached out with the fourth to pat her gently on the back. “Hey… hey, it’s okay. You didn’t know. I just need you to give them back, or else there won’t be any parties anymore.”

“But I can’t,” sobbed the filly, pointing her hoof at the cake Pinkie was wearing. “I’ve already sewn them all into these costumes!”

Pinkie frowned. She had to admit, all the sparkles made the costumes look really neat. “Well… there has to be something we can do.”

The unicorn sniffled, and looked at the pink filly dressed all in gems. A small light sparked in the corner of her eye. “I think… maybe I have an idea,” she said.

-Years Later-

“Clyde Mutton Pie, you’ve really stepped in it this time,” muttered the tawny stallion to himself as he dug frantically through his dresser. There was his black tie, his other black tie, his charcoal tie, his very dark gray tie… where was it?

“Clyde, dear,” his wife said. He turned to see her standing in the doorway. She was wearing a dress that sparkled like the night sky, studded in countless jewels. She held a similarly bejeweled necktie in her hoof. They were, by several orders of magnitude, the fanciest articles of clothing they owned. “Looking for something?”

He gave her a weak grin. “Susan, darling! Oh look, you found it, aheh.”

“You didn’t forget again, did you?” She peered at him over the rim of her spectacles.

“Of course not, dear,” replied Clyde as he grabbed his necktie from her. “That’s why I was in here looking for it. We always wear these things on our anniversary!”

4: No Princesses Here [Comedy]

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((Prompt: Princess? What Princess?))

Rarity’s eyes flickered between the two stallions. Her eyes were sharper than anypony’s that she knew of; she could tell the difference between eggshell and tinted porcelain from two hundred paces away. Yet she could not spot a single thing that marked one of the ponies before her as anything other than an exact mirror image of the pony next to him. She had heard the rumor that the Guard used enchantments on their armor to make each of them look identical, but she never realized just how effective it was until just now. Why, if she hadn’t seen the left one’s lips moving, she would not have known which was speaking to her.

“So, any help you could provide would be… uh, helpful.” The guard somehow managed to retain a stoic posture even as he stumbled on his words.

Rarity brought a hoof to her chin. “I’m sorry boys, I’m afraid I haven’t seen her since Tuesday. Missing from Canterlot, you say?”

The rightmost guard, which Rarity mentally decided to name Tweedle Dum to keep them straight, nodded. “The staff found her room empty this morning. The window was left open.”

“Oh my,” Rarity said, “I hope she’s alright!”

“So far, there’s been no sign of any kind of struggle. But we are of course concerned for the Princess’s safety,” said his twin, Tweedle Dee.

Something fell off of a counter in the back of her shop. Rarity’s ears flickered momentarily before she met the guardsponies with her most disarming smile. “Well, I am afraid your princess must be in another castle, so to speak. I’m fresh out of princesses here.”

Tweedle Dee raised an eyebrow as he peered into the Boutique. “Is somepony back there?” he asked.

“Just my cat, darling,” Rarity responded quickly. “Opalescence, dear, please be careful with those, you know they’re expensive!”

The stallions glanced at each other. “Okay, have a good day, Miss Rarity. If you hear anything about Princess Twilight—”

“—You’ll be the first to know, darlings. Good luck on your search!” Rarity waved goodbye to the Guard and slowly shut her door.

She waited until she heard wings unfold and carry the stallions away before she let out her breath. She took one last wary glance out the window before trotting quickly to the back of her inspiration room. She opened up the door to her closet.

Out fell Twilight Sparkle in a tangle of thread and feathers. “I’m sorry,” Twilight said as she attempted to disengage herself from a ball of yarn. “There’s not much room in there, and I’m still not used to having wings.”

Rarity waved away her dismissal. “So, now that I have committed perjury, hindering an official investigation, and quite possibly, depending on how a judge would see it, abduction of royalty, would you mind telling me what this is about, darling?”

Twilight began respooling some thread she had knocked over in hiding. “Oh, it was awful, Rarity, just awful! I didn’t realize it at first, but I’ve been shanghaied into this whole thing!”

Rarity tilted her head. “What were they doing to you in Canterlot, darling?”

A shudder of revulsion shook Twilight’s body. “Tax code, Rarity. They had me writing tax code!

5: Seeing Things [Romance]

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((Prompt: Your mind makes it real.))

Did she just…

No, don’t be silly, Fluttershy. This is your friend Rarity. She’s not the sort of pony who’s into that. I don’t even think she likes mares like that. You’re just seeing—

Princesses, she did it again! She winked at me! Right at me!

It was at me, wasn’t it? Is there anypony behind me? No, just this fern. She couldn’t have been winking at the fern, could she? I suppose it is a nice fern, who am I to try and stop her from winking at it?

"Oh, I’m sorry, what did you say, Rarity?"

Oh, pay attention, Fluttershy! She was talking to you, and you were too busy staring at that fern to notice!

…Lunch? That sounds nice. But wait… does she mean to ask if I want to go with her to get lunch, or with her to get lunch? That… would also be nice, but if I don’t know which it is, I don’t know how anxious I should or shouldn’t be! And not knowing will make me even more anxious, and I’ll start breathing too much and I’ll pass out and spill my soup all over the front of her dress!

Pay attention, Fluttershy! She’s waiting for an answer!

"I… um…"

Not working. It’s all squeaks. C’mon, Fluttershy, you can do this. If you can’t use your voice, then nod your head.

Too much nodding. Ow, my neck.

Oh, look, she’s smiling. That’s good, right? Of course it’s good. Rarity smiling is always good!

But is it a ‘my friend is coming with me to get lunch’ kind of smile, or is it a ‘my new fillyfriend is coming with me to get lunch’ smile? Oh my gosh, am I a fillyfriend now? I don’t know if I’m ready to be anypony’s fillyfriend! I’d make a terrible fillyfriend! Why did I nod my head? Now Rarity is stuck going out with somepony who can’t even tell if she’s a fillyfriend or not!

What’s that, Rarity?

I mean, "What’s that, Rarity?"

"No, nothing’s the matter. It’s very nice of you to ask, though. You’re so nice, Rarity."

Good going, Fluttershy. Now you have Rarity worried about you! She was just smiling, and now she isn’t, because you’re over here frowning over whether or not you’re her fillyfriend now.

Pony up, Fluttershy. A good fillyfriend doesn’t sit there making Rarity all worried about you because you look worried. A good fillyfriend figures things out herself, so she doesn’t look worried anymore. A good fillyfriend isn’t afraid to find out if she’s a fillyfriend or not.

"Actually, Rarity… I think I need to ask you one question."

Ah, she’s looking at me! Words! Where did the words go?

Focus. Breathe.

Too much breathing. Head fuzzy. Slower breaths.

"I just would like to know… just to be sure… if by out to lunch you mean…"

Back up, Rarity. What did she just say?

Was that, indeed, the precise words she used? Those words exactly, in that order? With that inflection?

Is she… is she blushing?

Celestia, that’s cute.

Well, I don’t think that was what I meant to say, but looking at her now…

"As a matter of fact, darling, yes. Yes, that was exactly what I meant."

6: What Needs to be Done [Comedy]

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((Prompt: Doing the right thing.))

Rarity crouched on the doorstep of the cloud-house. She did not have versatile magic like Twilight, nor did she have a flying contraption like Pinkie Pie. But she had her means. Moonlight shone silver on her hair as she slowly, carefully pushed the front door open. It wasn't locked, of course. Rainbow Dash had very little reason to ever lock her home.

Stealth was easy in a cloud-house. Her hooves made no sound as the puffy whiteness squashed beneath her. There were plenty of windows to let the starlight in from above. A faint breeze drifted through the openings, bearing the coolness of a summer night.

Rarity slowly made her way through the house, up the stairs to Rainbow's bedroom. This is for the greater good, she reminded herself as she carefully opened the door to her room. It was a grim task, but it had to be done.

On the wall there was a large poster for the Wonderbolts. Resting on the end table was the trophy from the Best Young Fliers Competition—Rarity shook off a faint sense of vertigo from the reminder of that day—and an open copy of Daring Do and the Lost City of the Seaponies propped against her flight goggles. On the whole, a fairly sparse room, occupied primarily by the large bed.

Rainbow Dash was sprawled out on top of the covers, all six limbs stretched out in every direction. A faint snore accompanied the rise and fall of her chest. She stirred as Rarity's shadow crossed her.

Rainbow's eyes fluttered open. “Mmh... Rarity? Wha—”

“I'm so sorry, darling... but I have to do this.” Rarity whipped her hoof through the air, sending a cloud of chalky dust towards the pegasus.

Rainbow Dash sneezed. “Rarity, what the hay? I...” Her eyes suddenly lost focus, and she went completely limp.

The moonlight glinted off of a pair of sharp scissors held aloft in Rarity's telekinesis. “Now you just hold still, darling,” she said, a grin crossing her face, “and let me get to work.”

Rainbow Dash's eyes flickered, slowly drawing open. The light of dawn was only just beginning to illuminate her cloud-house.

“Oh good, dear, you're awake,” came Rarity's voice from behind her. Rainbow found that she was no longer in her bed, but upright in a chair in her kitchen. She twisted to see Rarity sweeping up a pile of multi-hued hair clippings. “Now you can take a look and tell me what you think.”

Rarity levitated a mirror in front of Rainbow. She blinked, peering into the glass. “My mane!” she cried, throwing her hooves over her head. “What did you do?”

“Well, it was getting unacceptably shaggy, darling. I decided it was about time somepony did something with it.” Rarity gathered the clippings together and dumped them into a dustbin.

“Rarity,” Rainbow said tersely, “you could have just asked.”

7: Right Where I Want Her [Slice of Life...ish?]

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((Prompt: If you strike me down I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.))

Silver Thread allowed herself a triumphant smirk. She had finally won. Sure, it had been a nasty battle, with no small amount of blackmail, spreading rumors to tabloids, and a fair chunk of mane-biting. She had spent a significant portion of her personal fortune to make this happen, but it was all worth it to put this upstart seamstress in her place. The Canterlot fashion scene was as cutthroat as it came, and it was time for Silver to show this small-town yokel that she had competed against the wrong mare.

“So, if you won't leave Canterlot,” she said, false friendliness dripping from her tone like poison, “I'm afraid I really won't have much choice. Neither of us really want that, do we?” She grinned at the upstart unicorn, this 'Rarity.'

A full minute ticked away on the wall-clock as Rarity sat at her desk, her hooves pressed together in front of her nose, giving Silver no response. Silver Thread smirked. No doubt this amateur was rendered speechless by how utterly she had crushed her.

At length, Rarity finally cleared her throat. “Well, I suppose I'll have to leave, then.” Her tone was quite even, and her face remained neutral.

Silver Thread couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. She had been hoping her opponent would struggle at least a little. A bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth would have made it feel like a more satisfying victory. Still, it was a victory all the same. “We'll all miss you here, but I'm glad you see reason.”

Rarity nodded her head. “Yes, it's for the best, really. I'll pack my things and close up shop. I should be on the train to Ponyville by Monday.” She put a hoof to her chin. “Oh, but I just wonder what will become of my designs?”

“Your designs?” Silver's smile wavered slightly. Where was she going with this?

“Yes, my designs. Why, after my shop closes, you won't be able to find them in Canterlot anymore. They'll become something of a,” she chuckled, “a rarity!”

Silver blinked. “Yes... I suppose they will.”

Rarity's eyes glinted. “In fact they'll probably become, dare I say, vintage!”

A look of horror washed across Silver's eyes. “V-vintage?”

“Ooh, I daresay I like the sound of that.” Rarity waved a hoof dramatically toward the window, gesturing at the cityscape. “Rarity's Vintage Fashions! That sounds like something ponies would pay good bits for, don't you think?”

The smile was now completely gone from Silver's lips, replaced by a troubled frown.

“Of course,” Rarity continued, “I'll still be making them over in Ponyville. Can you imagine, some small town where you can find fashions that go for, well, by that point it'll be hundreds of bits each in Canterlot? Why, Ponyville would become the new mecca of the fashion world!”

“Hundreds...” Silver repeated.

“I must say, it almost certainly is for the best. I'll get to be in Ponyville, selling dresses to ponies all across Equestria from the comfort of my own hometown, and you...” She coughed into her hoof. “Well, I'm sure you'll manage. Sure, maybe it'll burn every time you see somepony paying ten times what they pay for your designs in order to get their hooves on something designed by a small-town yokel, but, like you said, it's best for everypony.”

Silver Thread's eyelid twitched. “I... you...”

Rarity gave her a knowing smirk. “Of course, if you would rather I stay here in Canterlot, I am sure we can work something out. I have a partnership contract here you could sign, if you like.” She scooted a stack of papers across the desk towards her. “You would be working for me, of course, but... oh, how can I put this tactfully? You could stand to benefit, I think, from working under somepony that understands the finer points of design.”

Silver hesitantly took the contract in her hooves.

“Who knows,” Rarity said, “you might learn something!”

“But... but I...” Silver Thread stuttered, her lip quivering.

Rarity gave her a sympathetic pat on the back. “Now, I don't expect you to make your decision immediately, darling. Go ahead and give that a look over.” Her horn glowed, and the door to Rarity's office opened behind Silver. “Oh, and could you be a dear and send the next pony in? Thank you!”

8: She Needs a Fool [Romance]

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((Prompt: Playing the fool))

Rarity was a mess. Her mane was in shambles, her wonderful dress was smeared with cake. Long lines of mascara chased her tears across the bags under her eyes and down her puffy cheeks.

She was beautiful.

She made a face as she blew her nose into a kerchief. “I just... I don't know what I'm supposed to do,” she lamented.

Pinkie Pie took the kerchief for her, which earned her a grateful smile. It was late, and Celestia had graciously offered to let the six of them stay at the castle for the night. All the chaos of the Gala had finally died down, and sounds of soft snoring came from the rooms across the hall where Applejack, Twilight, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy were sleeping. They would all catch the earliest train back to Ponyville in the morning, but for now, sleep was nowhere to be found in Pinkie and Rarity's room.

“I mean,” the distressed unicorn continued, rubbing absently at her swollen cheeks, “I was prepared for the possibility that he might reject me. I didn't relish the thought, but it had at least occurred to me. But I never even considered the idea that he would be so... so absolutely intolerable!”

Pinkie Pie's mouth went crooked as Rarity broke into a fresh round of tears. She never liked to see ponies cry, but especially not Rarity. She couldn't stand to see Rarity unhappy.

“It just makes me wonder...” sniffed Rarity. “What if I'm the problem? What that oaf is really the best I can hope for?” She choked on a sob. “What if I'm not truly destined to find somepony to make me happy?”

Pinkie winced imperceptibly. 'I could make you happy,' leapt to the tip of her tongue, but she swallowed the words. A pony might interpret those words in a different sort of context, and Pinkie wasn't entirely certain that context was fully off-base.

Now was not the time to bring that sort of thing up. Now was the time to bury those feelings and just be there for a friend.

Pinkie Pie took a pillow off of the bed and set it carefully on the floor. She returned and grabbed another, stacking it atop the first. Rarity blinked in curiosity as blankets, pillows, and a few chairs slowly came together to form a small fort.

“Pinkie?” Rarity asked, tilting her head in puzzlement. “What are you doing, darling?”

Pinkie put the last cushion in place. “There,” she said, puffing her chest out proudly. She lifted the blanket that marked the entrance to the structure. “Welcome to Fort Rarity. No princes allowed.” She punctuated herself with a quick nod.

Rarity looked at the makeshift fort. A soft giggle built in her throat. “It looks very secure,” she said, straightening one of the walls with her magic.

“You can sleep soundly, m'lady,” said Pinkie, giving her a silly salute. The soggy kerchief, still in her hooves, slapped against her face. “Private Pie is on watch!” It was a bit more sophisticated than dumping a bag of flour on her head, but it had the same effect.

Rarity yawned. “Thank you, darling.” She gave her a brief hug and stepped inside. Before long, the gentle sounds of sleep rose from the fort.

A fleeting thought passed through Pinkie's head to curl up inside and join her. But she shook it off and resumed her watchful guard. Rarity did not need a pony to curl up next to and snuggle with. Rarity needed a fool to help her laugh and smile again.

And if there was anything Pinkie was good at, it was being a fool.

9: No Storms In Canterlot [Sad]

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((Prompt: Sudden spring storms.))

The one thing about Canterlot that really got to Rarity was the rain. Not that the rain itself was terribly onerous—it rained less in Canterlot than it did in most of the surrounding areas. But the nature of the rain was so... inorganic. Without exception, every Tuesday and Thursday the weatherponies would begin gathering clouds in the early evening and there would be a light drizzle that lasted from seven thirty on into the night.

It wasn't the weatherponies' fault. Okay, it was, in a way, but they could hardly be blamed for doing their jobs properly. It was just that it felt so monotonous, never getting a real spring storm like there would be in Ponyville when the weatherponies put off the rains for too long or when a wild chinook would rise out of the Everfree. There was nothing like that here in Canterlot, just the mechanical rhythm of the twice-weekly shower scheduled late enough in the day to not catch anypony out of doors when the clouds broke.

Or most ponies, anyway. Rarity had grown so into the habit of working late at her shop that she had taken to bringing an umbrella with her to work—a practice nearly unheard of among her peers.

Rarity pushed open the door to her apartment complex, shaking off the cold and the few drops of rain that her umbrella had failed to ward off. She gave the umbrella a shake, flicking the moisture out of the front door before closing it.

A stallion in a well-pressed uniform smiled at her in greeting. “Evening, Miss Rarity,” he said.

Rarity smiled back at the door-pony. “Good evening, darling. I hope I didn't keep you out in the rain.”

He shook his head. “I know better than to wait outside for you on a Tuesday. Oh, that reminds me.” The door-pony drew a tan envelope from the breast pocket of his uniform. “You got a letter in the mail today.”

Rarity took the envelope in her telekinetic grasp. “Thank you, dear. You didn't need to hold onto it for me.”

The stallion shook his head. “It's the least I can do after the work you put into my uniform.”

Rarity took a glance at the return address on the envelope. Ponyville. She gave the stallion a grateful smile. “Well, thank you nevertheless. I think I'll go have a look at this up in my apartment.”

“Of course. If you need anything, you know where to find me.” The door-pony straightened into a crisp posture and retook his position by the door.

The stairs creaked quietly beneath Rarity's hooves as she climbed them up to her third-story apartment. She could hear muted sounds of plates clinking and pleasantries being exchanged as her neighbors had dinner. Her stomach growled, reminding her that she had once again neglected to eat anything since breakfast this morning. She resolved to fix herself a spinach casserole in order to solve this problem.

The door to her apartment swung open noiselessly. Rarity let out a soft sigh as she hung her umbrella on its hook by the door, set her saddlebags on the table to sort out later, and headed into the kitchen to start work on dinner.

Once things were set to boil, Rarity returned to the table. The envelope lay atop the pile of things to be sorted and put in their place. She took one more glance at the bubbling pot on the stove before seizing the letter in a magical blue glow.

The letter slid easily out of the envelope, and Rarity began reading.

Dear Rarity,

It's springtime in Ponyville. I can tell because Dash and the weatherponies ended up having to cook up another thunderstorm. It's the third one since Winter Wrap-up, and sometimes I wonder if that mare just forgets the regular rain schedule on purpose so she can watch the thunderbolts go off. Anyway, I'm sitting here in the barn listening to the rain beat on the door, and it's got me thinking about that night with you and Twi.

Geez, you're both up in Canterlot now, aren't you? And this is Dash's last spring with the weather team before she heads off on her first tour with the Wonderbolts. Sometimes it feels like I'm gonna be the only mare left in Ponyville before too long. Don't you worry, though. Pinkie, Shy and I'll keep this place in order for you. You'll be dropping by for the Summer Sun Celebration, right?

Anyway, this rain'll probably have let up by the time this gets to you. I just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you. We're all thinking of you, and Twi. I hope Canterlot is treating you all right.

—Sincerely yours, Applejack.

Rarity let the letter drift back to the table. The smell of cooked spinach wafted to her from the kitchen as she watched the water run in rivulets down her window. She took a deep breath, and folded her forehooves in front of her on the table.

And then it began raining in earnest.

10: The Abomination [Comedy]

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((Prompt: How ponies spend the day after Winter Wrap Up.))

Just don't look at it. Rarity cleared her throat and kept her eyes glued to her work. With winter all wrapped up, ponies would be needing new fashions for spring, and she needed to be hard at work readying her new line. The first week after Winter Wrap Up was always one of the busiest times at Carousel Boutique, and Rarity had to be prepared.

But her eyes continued to be drawn inexorably to that one shadowy corner in the workroom. Once it had become clear that the thing was a lost cause, Rarity had hidden it in her boutique to protect the public's eyes from it. But unfortunately, that did little to protect herself.

There it was. Even from across the room, it exuded an aura of wrongness. Its very existence was a cruel mockery of everything it had originally been intended to be. Foul, twisted shapes and impossible angles huddled in a brooding cluster there on the shelf where she had hidden it.

Rarity forced herself to focus on her work, and muttered a mild curse. In her distraction, she had sewn a lime green skirt onto what had been intended to be a lavender cape. The result was unsightly. She clicked her tongue and retrieved her seam-ripper from the desk drawer. That... monstrosity was spreading its ugliness like a tangible thing.

Stop thinking about it. She had her spring fashions to worry about. Never mind that unholy thing in the corner. If she didn't think about it, it couldn't harm her.

She let out a sharp huff. Who was she fooling? There was no way she could just ignore it. The thing was right there, jeering at every principle of good taste and design that Rarity held dear to her heart. She gave up on the cape... dress... whatever it was now, and stomped furiously over to the other side of her workroom.

The abomination was bathed in a blue glow as she lifted it from its place. Little bits of dry grass fell out of it with the motion. Rarity scowled at the thing, as though she could shame it into looking better.

“Why didn't I just get rid of it?” she pondered aloud as she turned it around in the air. She did not wish to think any ill of her dear friend Twilight, but she had trouble believing that anything short of a truly troubled mind was capable of producing this twisted mockery of a bird's nest. Twigs, grass and ribbons intersected each other with an irrational geometry. It could make a pony go mad trying to figure just how the different parts were woven together.

Don't try to fix it, she warned herself. She had spent far too much time the previous day thinking that the very next twig she moved would be the solution, that the labyrinthine snarl would unravel if she only pulled on this one string.

Still it taunted her. Rarity could see a ribbon hanging loose from the edge. 'Tug on me,' it called to her, 'I am surely the key to restoring order to the whole nest!'

Rarity would not be fooled again. There was no such thing as fixing it. At this point, she suspected that even if she threw it in her fireplace and burned it, the ashes would still remain obstinately tied together in a convoluted mess. It was a force beyond her power; the nest that could never be made whole.

Growling absently, Rarity set the nest back down on the shelf. She backed away slowly, keeping her eye on it as though it were a wild predator looking for an opening to pounce on her. She felt her way back to the sewing desk and picked up her needle. She had her spring fashion line to attend to. And an ugly green and purple dress/cape to make.

Her ear twitched. The needle dipped in and out of the fabric. Her eyelid fluttered. The fabric dragged across the table. She smacked her lips. The nest sat there, unmoving.

Rarity's resolve finally snapped. With a feral cry, she lunged at the abomination, tearing grass and ribbons apart. The thing squirmed beneath her hooves, as though it were laughing in victory.

“Twilight, dear,” she sobbed as she struggled desperately with the unsightly knot. “How? How did you do this?”

11: When the Teacher Gets a Break [Comedy] [Slice of Life]

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((Prompt: Cheerilee's big Spring Break plans.))

Rarity let out a long, weary sigh.

Standing next to her, Applejack added a grim chuckle. “You too, huh?”

The warm spring sun beat down on the two mares as they sat outside of the barn at Sweet Apple Acres. From within, a loud crash could be heard, followed by the sound of fillies giggling.

Rarity took a sip from her glass of iced apple cider. “I don't understand how she does it,” she said.

Applejack raised an eyebrow. “Who?”

“Cheerilee,” she replied, keeping her eyes leveled at the barn door. It rattled intermittently as the barn's occupants whizzed about. “I don't understand how she keeps up with this everyday.”

Applejack nodded in agreement. “The mare sure deserves a break.”

“Oh, she's a saint,” Rarity said. “She deserves a whole year off, if only it wouldn't drive the rest of us mad to give it to her.”

High, excited voices rose from the barn. “Cutie Mark Crusaders Woodcutters! Yaay!”

Applejack's eyes widened slightly, and she set her cup down on the grass. “'Scuse me for a moment,” she said, and dashed into the barn. She emerged a minute later with a sharp axe in her mouth and three disappointed fillies trailing in her wake.

She spoke through her grip on the wooden handle. “How's about y'all find yerselves a special talent that don't involve no sharp, heavy objects, 'kay?”

“Awww,” the fillies complained in unison.

Applejack buried the axe into an old stump and returned to her drink and Rarity. She took a deep swig.

Rarity watched the young ponies chase each other around the farm. Her eyelid flickered as one of them shouted, “Look, I found worms!”

Rarity shook her head. “Where did Cheerilee say she was going for her vacation, again?”

“Fuji,” Applejack answered. “I got a cousin there.”

Apple Bloom's ears perked up, and she rolled to her hooves. “Fuji? Is cousin Fiddlesticks comin' ta visit again?”

“No, I was sayin' that's where yer teacher is,” Applejack said. “Might be Miss Cheerilee bumps into her down there. Also, put that down. It's a post-hole digger, not a toy.”

“Sweetie Belle, if you must pick things like that up, use your hooves or your horn, not your mouth,” Rarity called to her sister. “You don't know where it's been.”

“Shfure I gnow where id'z been!”

Rarity sighed and took another long draw from her cider. “Fuji... That sounds nice.”

“Mmm,” agreed Applejack. “All that sun.”

“The soft sand...”

“Crashin' waves the only noise around...”

“The smell of coconut trees and—oh, dear, Scootaloo, look out for that—” Rarity raised her hoof in warning.

A terrific crash made both mares wince. “I'm okay!” the orange filly called from beneath the rubble and dust clouds.

Rarity and Applejack each took a deep gulp of cider.

“I'm glad Cheerilee gets this break, I really am,” Rarity said as the Cutie Mark Crusaders whirled around each other excitedly. “But when the schoolteacher gets a break...”

“...that's when the work starts for the rest of us,” finished Applejack.

The fillies cheered in unison. “Cutie Mark Crusaders Cattle-rustlers! Yaay!”

12: Spa Date [Dark]

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((Prompt: A time of renewal.))

“Oh, darling, I don't know about you, but I've been needing this all week!” Rarity exclaimed as she and Fluttershy passed through the doors of Aloe and Lotus' spa. “This is always the highlight of my week. Don't you agree?”

Fluttershy nodded quietly. “It's always nice to get together and catch up,” she said. The sweet floral scents of the spa greeted the pair of mares as one of the spa sisters greeted them at the front desk.

“The usual,” Rarity told Lotus. With a smile and a nod, the blue pony led them to the changing room where they kept custom bathrobes just for the two of them. The spa sisters knew how to treat regular repeat customers.

It took Rarity and Fluttershy a few minutes to put on their bathrobes and put each of their manes up in a towel to protect them from the humidity. Rarity inhaled a lungful of soothing steam as they entered the sauna. She sighed happily as heat leached into their coats and relaxed their muscles.

“It's just that I've been dealing with so much stress this week,” Rarity continued. Fluttershy nodded; she was used to her friend carrying on conversations across the brief pauses between phases of their spa treatment. “I've had a few orders from my spring line to fill, including that one purple thing that I just threw up there on a whim. I didn't expect anypony to actually order that one, it just rounded out the color scheme on the display.”

After the spa, there was a reinvigorating dip in the ice baths. Rarity shivered as she toweled herself off. “So I had to go back through all my old designs to try and find the pattern for it. I like to think I'm as organized as the next mare, but, well, some of those patterns are from all the way back when I was a filly!”

“Oh my,” Fluttershy responded, sluicing water off of her wings. “So did you find it?”

Another few minutes were spent wrapping the unicorn in seaweed in preparation for the mud bath before she replied. “You know, I never did. I had to remake the whole design from scratch. Fortunately, it wasn't too complicated, but it was still a lot of time I could have spent filling orders or making something new.”

Fluttershy felt the mud soak into her coat. The minerals set to work restoring health and sheen to her skin and fur. “I'm sorry to hear that,” she said, letting her eyes slide closed.

The mud baths ended. They washed off, put their robes back on, and then the massage tables were next.

“B-but l-listen t-to m-me, I've d-done n-nothing-g but c-compla-ain th-this whole t-time,” Rarity said as an assistant's hooves beat lightly on her back. “H-how have y-you b-been?”

Fluttershy's massage was little more than a gentle rubbing. She made a content noise. “Oh, I've been all right. Angel has been especially well-behaved this week.”

The massages over, they moved onto hooficures. Rarity chuckled as Aloe filed away at the rough edges of her hoof. “If he's anything like Opal, that means he wants something!”

Fluttershy shook her head. “No, I'm sure he just wanted to be extra sweet just as a favor. I think I'm going to fix him a special treat today after I get back.”

“Fluttershy, darling, never change,” Rarity giggled.

Their hooves taken care of, Rarity and Fluttershy were led to a private room in the back of the spa. Aloe and Lotus left the pair of them alone in the sparsely-decorated room, closing the door tightly behind them. There was no lamp, leaving them immersed in complete darkness.

Fluttershy blinked in the dimness. “I... don't remember this part of the routine.”

A pale green light illuminated the room. Rarity's eyes glowed with an otherworldly sheen, revealing a small smirk on her lips. The faint sound of buzzing insect wings filled the air. “No, darling, you never do remember this part...”


Rarity and Fluttershy walked out the front door to the spa together. The fashionista took a deep breath. “Ahh, I feel so much better! Don't you, dear?”

Fluttershy swayed on her hooves, and nodded slowly. “Yes... I feel so relaxed...”

13: Cleaning Up After Sweetie [Sad?]

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((Prompt: Spring Cleaning.))

She stood in the doorway to the Boutique. It wasn't always so visible, but right now her age showed in the wrinkles around her eyes and the way the sheen had begun to drain away from her mane. She was still by no means an old pony, but today she looked just a little bit more frail than Rarity remembered.

“Mother,” Rarity said, nodding in greeting.

Rarity's mother gave her a thin smile. It felt a bit odd; she was usually one to have a broad, cheesy grin no matter the circumstances. But there were some circumstances, Rarity supposed... “We're cleaning her room,” the middle-aged mare said. “We... I could use your help, dearie.”

To her shame, Rarity took half a moment's hesitation, her eyes flickering to the unfinished dress on her sewing table before she forced herself to look her mother in the eyes. “Of course I'll help, mother. Give me a moment to put my things away, and I'll walk with you.”

The walk across Ponyville was nearly silent. Mother and daughter shared no words. The town itself seemed quieter than it normally did. The weather team could be seen pulling clouds across the sky in preparation for a light spring shower.

Rarity took a deep breath as her foalhood home rose in front of her, bordered on one side by a still pond that reflected the gathering gray of the sky. Her father set down a cardboard box and waved at the two of them. Rarity smiled and waved back.

“I take it you need me upstairs?” she asked her mother, who nodded in reply.

The upstairs room had been Rarity's once, before she had moved out. Sweetie, ever one to take after her sister, had claimed it the day Rarity's last box of belongings had been taken over to Carousel Boutique. Now the room was empty. There was still a few things of Sweetie's left—a picture on the wall, some clothes in the closet—but nopony lived here anymore. If an empty town was called a ghost town, it was perhaps appropriate to call this a ghost room.

Rarity's mother followed her in, her horn glowing as a box of items floated into the air. “I just wish you could have been here to say goodbye.”

Rarity's eyes narrowed as she wheeled on her. “That isn't fair, mother. You know where I was and what I was doing. Twilight and the others needed me!”

Her mother put a hoof over her mouth. “I—I know, I'm sorry. I just...”

Rarity's face softened, and her shoulders sagged. She took a few steps to wrap her mother in a hug. “I know, mother. It feels so empty without her here.”

A few minutes later, as the two mares carried some boxes outside, they stopped as a young yellow pony who was no longer a filly approached. “Apple Bloom,” Rarity greeted, waving a hoof. “I haven't seen you in a week! How are you, dear?”

Apple Bloom pushed an unruly lock of red hair out of her face. “I'm managin',” she said, grinning weakly. “I thought I might come lend a hoof.”

Rarity smiled sympathetically. “I'm afraid this is the last of it.” Apple Bloom's ears fell at this news. “But maybe you could help Father loading it all into the cart,” she suggested.

The yellow earth pony nodded. “Okay, I'll do that, then.” She trotted alongside Rarity as the three of them carried the remaining boxes around to the moving cart parked around the front of the house.

“Fillydelphia,” Rarity remarked, wiping her brow as she handed the box off to her father, who was busily organizing them all to fit in the vehicle. “That's a long way away.”

Apple Bloom nodded. “Sweetie says they got the best music program there. An' she promised she'd write us back letters every month.”

Rarity's mother took out a kerchief and wiped the corners of her eyes. “Hopefully it'll help it feel a bit more like home over there once her stuff makes it there. Oh, I know I'm getting sentimental, but the house is going to be so empty now that both of you have gone and left the nest!”

“Don't worry, mother.” Rarity put a foreleg over her mother's withers. “She'll be back home for the Summer Sun Celebration.”

14: Her Ticket [Slice of Life]

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((Prompt: A new life.))

Rarity levitated ribbon after ribbon before her. Drab. Boring. Colorless. There was very little that she could do to try and turn the Ponyville Town Hall into something not quite so... rustic. But she made do with what was available. The story of her life, it seemed. Taking a lump of dirt and rock and working at it until at least something glittered.

What would possess the Princess to hold her celebration out here in a noplace town like Ponyville, Rarity had no idea. She was just grateful that she had an opportunity to have her efforts seen by somepony who mattered. She had fought hard for the chance, too. The mayor had been planning to assign the duty of decorating the event center to Roseluck, of all ponies. A great choice, if you wanted nothing but flowers everywhere, but Rarity had managed to convince Mayor Mare that a royal visit required something with inspiration. Simply throwing a few bouquets of sweet-smelling blossoms would not cut it.

A bunch of backwater yokels, the lot of them. Rarity hoped that with this royal visit, somepony with actual taste might notice her efforts, and she would get her ticket out of this one-horse town and on to a new, more glamorous life.

But to do that, first she needed to make the effort. She growled in frustration. None of these ribbons were working. They were all so dull, so lifeless. Just an endless stream of drabness, a perfect fit for this mud-pit of a village. Somepony's voice came to her. Somepony wanted something. “Just a minute, darling,” she said, not turning to see who it was. “I am in the zone, as it were.”

Sunlight glinted off of a few sequins on her work table, and an idea came to Rarity. “Aha,” she said, dusting a wide red bow with a cloud of them. “Sparkle always does the trick. Now, how can I help you—uaah!” Before her was a frizzy thing with a pony attached to it. She dared not call it a mane.

The pony said something about checking on things, but Rarity could not care less. This affront to all things fabulous had to be done away with at once!

A few minutes later, they were at her boutique. Perhaps there were various social pleasantries exchanged, perhaps not. The important thing was that there was no longer a hideous poofy thing wandering about town making the place even more unfashionable than it already was.

Well, one of the words exchanged caught Rarity's ears. “Canterlot?” she repeated. The nation's capital! Glamor aplenty! Sophistication in spades! Stars whirled in her eyes as dreams of rubbing shoulders with the most important ponies in Equestria passed through her head. This was her ticket! This purple mare, though a bit bookish by Rarity's own standards, was her way out of Ponyville and onto greater and better things!

“Oh, we're going to be the best of friends, you and I.”

15: Commission [Dark] [Comedy]

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((Prompt: The guide between life and death.))

“Black? Darling, are you certain?” Rarity asked, a pin held loosely in her mouth. “It is summer, after all. You'll be absolutely sweltering in all black, regardless of how well it might match your coat.”

Her latest client shook his head. He had a very striking appearance, to be certain. There seemed to be no color to him. His coat was as white as bleached bone. His mane and tail were almost the same color, maybe a couple shades closer to gray. His eyes were the color of a dim overcast sky. “I imagine something lighter may be more comfortable,” he said, his voice low and quiet, yet quite clear, “but there are some traditions that are more important than comfort. Besides, the heat does not bother me.”

Rarity nodded. “Very well.” A black suit and tie were not exactly avant garde, but it was ultimately the client's call. She cut some pieces out of a bolt of black wool. “So, I take it this is for a formal event, then?” she said, levitating the pieces into the air.

The stallion rubbed his chin. “I suppose there are ponies that make a big deal of it, but the truth is, it happens all the time.”

Something buzzed in Rarity's head, and she grew the slightest bit more anxious. Keeping a professional smile on her face, she began fitting the pieces of cloth together, pinning them in place with dozens of needles. She pulled a drawer out of her sewing desk and selected a spool of black thread.

The client stood patiently in the showroom floor. “You can sit down, if you would like, Mister... um,” Rarity floundered.

“Grim,” he said. “And thank you, but I prefer to stand. These old bones might not let me up again if I sit down.” Rarity noted, with a growing, irrational alarm, that his expression never deviated from the passive, tight-lipped stare he wore.

She grabbed a measuring tape. “Very well. While you're up, then, would you mind if I took some measurements?” He shook his head, and she went to work. He was awfully thin for a stallion. As she measured his haunches, she couldn't help but glance at his cutie mark. A single grave marker standing on top of a silhouetted hill.

Rarity cleared her throat. “That's, ahem, a very interesting cutie mark, Mr. Grim.”

“It's okay,” he said, “I realize it's a little morbid.” Grim shrugged. “But a pony can't choose their special talent. They can only make the best out of the life they're given.”

A bead of sweat formed on Rarity's brow. “So you...”

“I see ponies on to the next life,” he said, nodding.

“Aha. Black suit, indeed.” Rarity snapped up her measuring tape and returned to her sewing desk. Her hooves began trembling as she ran the fabric through her sewing machine. “Is there—” Her voice cracked and she swallowed, starting again. “Is there... anypony on your list today?”

“Just one,” Mr. Grim said. “A very sweet mare. She will be missed, I am sure.”

The sewing machine stopped. Rarity was still and silent.

Grim raised an eyebrow. “Miss Rarity?”

“You're here for me, aren't you?”

He rubbed the back of his head with a hoof. “Well, yes, I—”

He was cut of by a loud sob from the fashion designer. “How? How did I go? Was it carbon monoxide? Food poisoning?” She gasped aloud. “I... I fell asleep in the tub and drowned, didn't I? Mother always said to be careful about that, but did I listen? No!”

Grim raised a hoof. “Please calm down, Miss Rarity.”

“Ohh, I'm too young to die!” she wailed. “I had so much to live for! Who is going to take care of Opal? Who's going to make sure Rainbow cuts her mane?”

“Miss Rarity, I think there's some sort of mistake.”

“There surely is some sort of mistake!” Rarity said, rounding the corner from inconsolable depression into unfettered fury. “Where do you get off, waltzing into my shop and just saying I'm dead? Just because you're the Grim Reaper doesn't mean you can just—”

For the first time that day, emotion graced Grim's face. An expression of pure befuddlement twisted his eyebrows. “Miss, I am not the Grim Reaper.”

Rarity sniffed. “You're not?”

“No, of course not! My name is Grim Task, and I am in charge of the funeral home at the end of Trotter Street!” He pointed his hoof out the window. Outside, a pony waited beside a wagon loaded with a single coffin.

“S-so, I'm not...”

Grim pinched the bridge of his muzzle. “Miss Rarity, as somepony who deals with the dead on a regular basis, I can assure you, you are not dead.”

An embarrassed tint colored Rarity's cheeks. “Oh. Well, now I feel a bit silly.”

Grim shook his head. “It's my fault, really. I should be more careful about how I introduce myself; I get this kind of thing all the time.”

16: Snowstorm [Dark]

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((Prompt: The night that lasted forever.))

Rarity dared not leave the window, even for a second. Even though there was nothing to see outside but an unending flurry of white on black. Even though the tip of her muzzle went numb from the cold as she pressed it to the glass. She only ever tore her eyes away when the fire died down and she needed to add another piece of wood. Rarity could care less if the fire kept her warm, but she needed to have it ready for when Rainbow returned.

So she waited by the window, keeping the front door lit and tending the fire and cursing herself that that was all she could do. Rainbow was out there somewhere, risking her life. Sweetie was out there somewhere, cold and alone. And here Rarity was, safe and warm, and there was nothing better she could do than keep the damnable door lit up and the fire going.

It was the longest night of the year, the winter solstice. Ponyville had dealt with wild storms from the Everfree before, but this blizzard was a monster even by the Everfree's standards. Rarity knew that her mailbox was mere paces from the front of her boutique, yet the wall of howling wind and ice obscured even that from her vision. The eaves of Carousel Boutique creaked and groaned as frozen gales pounded against its exterior.

Rarity could not see how Rainbow Dash could have expected to find anypony out there in such a miasma, let alone a little filly whose coat color was the same as the snow that drifted in heaps outside the window. How long could a pony survive out there in that frigid night?

She shook her head. She couldn't allow herself to think like that. Rainbow Dash would find Sweetie Belle, and she would bring her safely back here. And once her sister was warm and safe, Rarity would kill her for making her worry so.

Any minute, she would spot a rainbow mane flash among the swirling snowflakes. Any moment, she would see light blue in her window like an opening in the sky to a clear, sunny day. Any minute now.

The snow continued to fall without end. No flash of color. No knock at her door.

Perhaps by the time Rainbow found Sweetie, they were nearer to some other shelter and decided it would be safer to wait the storm out there. Yes, that would make sense. Rainbow Dash and Sweetie Belle were surely at Sugarcube Corner right now, laughing and having a grand time with Pinkie serving them hot cocoa.

Surely they weren't lost in the blinding snowstorm, utterly turned around and fumbling their way through the snowdrifts, shivering and crying out for somepony, anypony to help them, only for the cruel winds to snatch their voices away into the dark, churning sky. Surely they weren't feebly struggling to move their limbs as frozen whiteness covered them in a deadly blanket.

It took every last ounce of Rarity's willpower not to go charging out into the blizzard herself. It would do nopony any good, she reminded herself again and again. It would only make for one more pony lost in the frozen tempest. The most good—the only good she could do was wait here and tend the fire. Keep the door lit, so that Rainbow can find her way back.

The light seemed so feeble against the blackness, though. Rarity felt like she could see the limit of its reach a few mere feet beyond her window. Rainbow Dash would surely run headfirst into the Boutique long before she saw the faint glow from the lantern outside.

The blizzard's ice sank into her heart. She had let two ponies die, when there might only have been one. Sure, she had never asked Rainbow to find her sister. But after the sudden storm had driven the two of them into the Boutique, only to find that Sweetie Belle was not inside like she had believed, Rarity had not tried very hard to stop her.

Selfish. Stupid. Cowardly. It should have been her out there searching for her sister. Now she had sent a good friend, more loyal than she deserved, out to die in the vain hope that Sweetie might be found. If anypony deserved to freeze to death out there, it was her.

Rarity nearly leaped out of her own coat as a hoof knocked against her door. “Hey, let us in,” rasped a familiar voice. “I found her.”

17: The Princess's Name [Sad]

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((Prompt: Twilight Sparkle's middle name.))

Rarity balked. There was something about a stern frown on the face of an armed royal guard as big as Macintosh that invited no further argument.

She hung her head and took a step backwards. “Of course, if she's busy, I understand. I can just leave this with the receptionist...”

The guard's face remained unmoved. He towered over her like the palace itself did. Rarity had never felt so small and foalish. She coughed just to fill the lengthy silence. “Ahem. Indeed. Sorry to have disturbed you.”

With one more glance at the door behind him, Rarity turned around and made her way back down the marble hall. The package on her back felt silly. She had designed the dress within as a gift for her dear friend, but walking among the splendor of the royal palace, she couldn't help but feel like the dress may as well be polka-dot pajamas. It didn't fit into Twilight's new life. Rarity didn't fit into Twilight's new life.

A miserable frown etched its way into Rarity's face as she handed the present off to the receptionist downstairs, asking her to give it to Princess Sparkle when she could.

Sure, the guard upstairs was being unnecessarily zealous, and he would no doubt be in trouble when Twilight heard he had turned one of her friends away. Twilight herself would have invited her in, no matter what sort of affairs of state she was entangled in.

But he had something of a point, as well. The Princess didn't need that kind of distraction. She was engaged in important things, delicate things that could not afford to be dropped in the name of a visit from an old friend. As much as she still looked and acted like the same old wonderful pony Rarity had shared so many good times with, Twilight Sparkle was now a critical part of the machinery that ran Equestria. It was not right for Rarity to simply drop in unannounced and expect to get to sit down and have tea with her. It was downright dangerous, the thought that if it were up to Twilight they would do so anyway.

Because while Twilight's life in Ponyville was certainly a part of her, it didn't define who she was like it had the year before. Twilight wasn't her first name anymore. It was her middle name now; still a part of her, still important, but no longer the first thing ponies said when they spoke of Princess Twilight Sparkle.

Rarity turned to make for the exit, but in a bright flash of light, she found her way barred by somepony for the second time today.

The guard had been intimidating. He had been frightening. He had been an implacable mountain armed with golden horseshoes and a shining spear. But Rarity would have sooner bowled him over and trampled him into the ground than refused a command from what stood before her now.

Twilight Sparkle the Princess stood there, chest heaving from exertion, her wings spread wide and the beginnings of tears forming in the corners of her eyes. And Rarity was not getting past her without a good tight hug, and probably sharing a cup of tea.

18: The Blind Leading the Blind [Comedy]

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((Prompt: Two or more characters must accomplish a task while in an environment with zero visibility.))

Rarity's eyes strained against the fabric, but she could find no gaps, no thin points to let light through, nothing. That was of course to be expected. Pinkie Pie had years of practice tying blindfolds for games of Pin the Tail on the Pony, and was something of an expert at it. “Come now darling,” she said, “can't you at least tell me where you're leading me?”

Pinkie shook her head. Or at least, Rarity assumed Pinkie shook her head based on the swishing sound of her mane whipping back and forth. “Noperoonies! It's a surprise!”

Rarity wished this surprise could involve fewer stubbed hooves. She sighed. “Very well, Pinkie. Lead on.”

Hooves clapped excitedly on flagstones. “Eehehe! Okay, follow my voice!” It wasn't very hard to follow Pinkie's voice as it streamed forth with giggles and nonsensical anecdotes like somepony had left a tap running.

In fact, a running tap was such an apt metaphor that Rarity could swear she could feel water splash beneath her hooves. Wait a minute. “Eugh!” Rarity reared back as she realized she had been trampling through what felt like it must have been the deepest, filthiest mud puddle she had ever come across. “Pinkie! A little warning, perhaps?”

“Okay,” Pinkie chirped. “Watch your step, you might find a mud puddle!” The words themselves sounded like a warning, but the tone of her voice portrayed it as one of the best possible outcomes a blindfolded trot across Ponyville could have.

Grumbling, Rarity traced her way around the edge of the puddle. She did not recall somepony placing a lake in the middle of the town square, but that seemed to be the size of the thing. After nearly falling in a couple of times, Rarity finally made it to a point where the damp menace was behind her and the voice of her friend was ahead.

“Keep going,” encouraged Pinkie Pie.

Rarity huffed and strode forward, only run nose-first into something tall and hard. A metallic clang rang out across the town square. She pressed a hoof over the end of her muzzle. “Pingkie Pie!” she shouted, her voice mangled by her stubbed nose.

“Oopsies,” Pinkie replied. Was she wearing springs on her hooves? Rarity could swear she heard a 'boing, boing' as the pony bounced a few paces ahead of her. “Watch out for... um, I think that was a street lamp? Yeah, watch out for street lamps and puddles. And also speeding apple-carts, be careful about those!”

Panic seized Rarity as her ears perked up, searching for the sounds of rolling wagon wheels. She heard no such thing. “Pinkie, I'm the one who is blindfolded. You are the one who is supposed to watch out for these things!”

“I am,” Pinkie replied cheerfully. “And so far I haven't seen any of those things! So we're in the clear, let's keep moving!” Her hoofsteps marched enthusiastically along.

“Oh, for Celestia's sake, this is ridiculous.” Rarity reached her hooves behind her head and undid the knot in her blindfold. The brightness of the daylight blinded her for a minute as her bleary eyes readjusted. As Ponyville came into focus, Rarity's jaw dropped and she sputtered. “What? Pinkie... you—I—why would you...”

They had traveled in a circle from where they had started in front of Sugarcube Corner. Pinkie stood a few paces ahead of her, grinning widely from underneath her own tightly-secured blindfold. “What?” she said. “I wanted where we were going to be a surprise for me, too!”

19: I'm Happy for Them [Sad] [Romance]

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((Prompt: A thinly veiled FlutterPie.))

“I just think it's so wonderful,” Rarity said, waving her teacup in her magic grip. She steadied the cup as a bit of liquid dribbled over the edge. “I mean, any time somepony finds somepony else in this life that truly makes them happy, that's cause for celebration, don't you think?”

Twilight Sparkle yawned and nodded, holding her own teacup in her hooves. Her mother would have chided her for not being polite and using her horn, but she was tired and did not trust her magic to hold steady enough. “Yeah, it's great news.”

Rarity took a napkin and carefully wiped up the minor spillage her gesturing had caused. “I'm so happy for the both of them, I really am. They're perfect for each other, really.” The library's firefly lantern flickered yellow as she took a long sip from her tea. “I mean, at first glance, you wouldn't think it. What with all of Pinkie's... Pinkie-ness, you would expect she might terrorize a timid pony like Fluttershy until she was a quivering wreck.”

Twilight let the bitter taste of the tea rest for a while on her tongue. It wasn't like she spent a lot of time thinking on the subject, but if somepony had asked her which two of her friends were most likely to have fallen for one another, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy would not have been her first guess.

“...But she's really quite gentle with her,” Rarity continued. “I think it's rather sweet. It's clear Pinkie cares for her a great deal.” She drained the rest of her cup and reached for the teapot. “Oh dear, it's empty. I don't suppose you have any more somewhere, darling?”

“I'll brew up some more,” Twilight said, setting her teacup down on the table and seizing the empty teapot. “Again,” she added under her breath.

Rarity smiled gratefully. “You are ever such a gracious hostess, my dear. Thank you.”

More boiling water, another scoop of that blend Twilight had been enamored with ever since Zecora had introduced her to it. A few minutes to steep and cool, and a fresh batch of tea was ready to be shared.

Rarity winced as she took a sip that was still a bit too hot for her. “And their colors go together so well, don't you think?”

For all Twilight knew about colors, Fluttershy and Pinkie might have been pea-green and bright purple and she would still have nodded in response to Rarity's assessment.

“Pink and yellow,” the fashion designer said. “Such a grand combination. I think I shall have to incorporate it into next season's fashion line.” She put a hoof to her chin. “Something flowy, I think.”

Another yawn crept up on Twilight. Being an alicorn did not lend her any super-equine stamina, and she could hear her bed upstairs calling to her.

“They'll of course have to let me make dresses for them to wear on their next date,” Rarity said. “I already know what to make. They're such a charming couple. I... oh my, I'm sorry, Twilight, am I keeping you up?”

Twilight shook her head. “No, I'm...” she stifled another yawn. “...fine. But are you sure you're okay, Rarity?”

Rarity pressed a hoof to her chest. “Me? Why, of course I'm okay, darling.”

“Are you sure?” Twilight asked. “You aren't jealous?”

“Ha! Hahahaha!” Rarity laughed loudly. “Jealous? Oh, goodness no! What in Equestria would give you that idea, Twilight?”

Twilight took a careful sip from her tea. “Other than the fact that you showed up at the library at one in the morning, and have been going on nonstop since then about how wonderful of a couple Pinkie and Fluttershy are, and how you hope Fluttershy isn't too busy with her new fillyfriend to remember your spa dates, and how you wonder if maybe Pinkie is putting on a bit of weight, and that one weird tangent you went on about how Fluttershy's eyes are like tourmalines at the bottom of a very still pool of water? Other than that, no reason.”

Rarity's ears sagged a fraction of an inch. She took a long gulp from her teacup. A silent pause filled the library. At length, Rarity finally coughed to clear her throat. “That's... that's ridiculous, darling. I'm not...” She stared into her now empty cup. “...I'm not jealous.”

Twilight took a deep breath. Though her bloodshot eyes cried out at her for it, she reached out and refilled Rarity's cup for her. “Do you want a cookie? I think I have some in the kitchen somewhere.”

20: Two White Unicorns [Drama]

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((Prompt: Forgiveness is never easy. Additional Rules: Your story must be completely devoid of dialogue and monologue.))

Two white unicorns stood on a hill behind a small chapel. One's breath was sharp and ragged, recovering slowly from a frenzied gallop across town. Her rich purple mane was tattered and crooked from her haste. The other scarcely breathed at all, fighting back hot tears of fury in the corner of her eyes. Her pink and lavender mane was put up in a beautiful arrangement of buns and curls.

Two white unicorns stared at one another. One had just had the biggest day of her life, and the other hadn't been there to see it. One had joined her life with another pony, and the other had been too busy working to watch it happen.

The wind tugged at two white unicorns. One wore a poorly-fitted white dress, rented only at the last minute because her sister had promised she would sew one for her. The other wore a red pair of sewing glasses, knocked askew from running.

Two white unicorns said nothing to one another. One could not think of anything she could say to make it better. That she was sorry was insufficient. That she would try to do better next time was useless, and just more insulting. The other dared not speak a word, for the only words she had for the mare before her were full of hate and malice.

Two white unicorns shivered beneath the cold gray sky. One hung her head, guilt overpowering her limbs and dragging her toward the ground. The other trembled in fury, her hooves shaking beneath her. Betrayal had happened this day. Neglect had happened this day. Promises broken, bonds fractured.

Two white unicorns had somewhere else to go. One had a new husband waiting for her inside the chapel. The other had a mess left to clean up in her boutique. But there was one thing she needed to do first.

One white unicorn carefully slid a white box off of her back. While she had paid no heed to her mane as the wind shredded its fanciful curls, nor made a noise of complaint as her hooves had cracked upon the rough cobbles, she had defended this box as though it contained her very life. With a gentle nudge, she pushed the lid off of the box and levitated its contents for the other to see.

One white unicorn gasped at the dress that hung before her. White lace and diamonds sparkled as though the sky were clear. Painstakingly detailed embroidery wrapped the garment in beautiful swirls and patterns. Strings of pearls lined the hem. She stood in a rented white sheet, and stared at a wedding dress.

Two white unicorns looked at one another. One peered up with pleading, hopeful eyes, begging silently for forgiveness. The other chewed her lip, beads of moisture still dampening her cheeks.

Two unicorn sisters shared a long embrace, and headed into the chapel together. One had a new wedding dress to try on. The other had a new brother-in-law to meet.

21: I'll Find Her [Romance] [Adventure]

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((Prompt: Write a sequel to a story that ended with “She closed the gate behind her, confident she would never need to open it again.”))

A cold, late autumn wind blew across Rarity's coat as she stood facing away from the rising sun. She shivered and tugged her scarf tighter around herself. She was at the very edge of Ponyville. Where she stood now was still home, still safe and comfortable. A step ahead of her was the world, waiting to swallow her up into its endless expanses.

A scrap of paper hung in her magic grip, glowing a cool blue against the dawn's warm yellow rays. It was what Pinkie had left her with. She had dropped Gummy off at Fluttershy's cottage. Left a sack of bits on Applejack's doorstep that the farm mare had forgotten she was even owed. Returned all her books to the library, and left all her pranking things in a pile beneath Rainbow Dash's cloud house. But at Carousel Boutique, Pinkie had only slipped a mouthwritten note under the door.

'I'm sorry. Goodbye.'

Rarity took a deep breath and folded the note, tucking it into a pocket in her saddlebags. She was dismally underprepared for a journey. Rations for a few days travel, only the most utilitarian of clothing—by anypony's standards, even, not just her own definition of necessary attire—and a few bits in case of expenses. The Boutique was locked up with a sign indicating it would be closed for an unknown amount of time. Fluttershy would take care of Opal.

The others wanted to come with, of course. Rainbow had been especially difficult to convince she needed to stay. Her training with the Wonderbolts started soon, and while her loyalty was commendable, there was simply no reason she should have to lay down her dream when it was something that Rarity needed to do herself.

And she did need to do this herself. Though the girls denied it, it had been Rarity's actions that had driven Pinkie away. Rarity needed to set it right. And just maybe she had her own reasons for wanting to find Pinkie herself. Perhaps she wanted to be the pony there for her, to convince Ponyville's heart that they couldn't go on without her there. Just maybe she had some questions of her own that only Pinkie Pie could answer.

Rarity steeled herself, and put her hoof across the town line. She let out a sudden exhale. She was on the road now. Equestria was before her, and somewhere in it was a pink pony without whom the town she had just left wasn't truly home.

She had an inkling of where to start looking. She adjusted the fit of her saddlebags as she marched down the winding road. It was a long way to rock-farm country.

22: Everypony On the Ship [Romance] [Adventure] [Comedy]

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((Prompt: Rarity tells her friends that she's in love with them. All of them.))

Timbers groaned as the deck listed below her. Rarity had never heard of a kraken before this day. As the thick, slimy tentacle that was wrapped around her midsection waved her through the air, she was quite certain she never wanted to hear of one again.

“Keep it away from the mast!” hollered Twilight, firing off hot bolts of raw magic at the encroaching tentacles. Rainbow Dash whizzed through the air, diving at whatever looked like an opportune target, while Applejack wrestled with a slimy tendril as big around as she was.

“Wheeeee!” Pinkie cheered as she rode one of the tentacles across the sky.

Rarity struggled against her captor, but its grip was too tight to squirm free. She blew a strand of seawater-soaked mane out of her face. “I have a confession to make,” she announced.

Applejack grunted as she kicked at the appendage. “Maybe this ain't the most opportune time, sugarcube.”

Twilight leaped over a toppled pile of crates and blasted away at another tentacle. “Fluttershy,” she called, “any luck?”

Fluttershy hovered in midair over the deck. “I keep asking it to stop,” she cried, “but it just won't listen!”

“That's because it doesn't have ears!” Rainbow Dash shouted, veering sharply to divebomb a tentacle that was busy wrapping itself around the mast.

“Is anypony listening?” Rarity asked. She kicked her rear hooves in frustration.

Applejack now had a pike in her hooves, and was stabbing at the meaty appendage fiecely. “Ya got-” Stab. “-our un-” Stab. “-divided-” Stab. “-attention, hon.” She looked up. “Twi, behind ya!”

Twilight did not turn to look, instead immediately teleporting out of the way as a wide tendril crashed down on the deck, sending splinters of wood everywhere.

Rarity tapped her front hooves against the sticky flesh wrapped around her. “It's all ruined, thanks to this thing.” She gave the tentacle a spiteful kick. “Now this is just going to sound like some half-baked confession in the face of imminent peril. You have to believe me that I had planned to tell you girls this all along.”

“For pony's sake, Rarity, just spit it out already!” Rainbow Dash whirled in the air and took another pass at the tentacle wrapped around the mast.

“Very well, then,” Rarity huffed. “I am in love.”

Pinkie let out a pleased squeal as she hung upside down in front of her. “Ooh! Who's the lucky pony?”

Rarity took a deep breath. “You.”

“Me?” Pinkie pointed to herself with her free hoof.

“All of you,” Rarity said, gesturing across the broken deck of the ship.

Twilight paused, a wisp of smoke rising from her horn. “All of us?” she echoed.

Rarity nodded. “That was the point of taking you girls on this cruise. I wanted to let the five of you know how very much you all mean to me. You are so very much more than just my best friends. I don't know what I would do if any one of you were not in my life.”

The tentacle shook her back and forth. “Would you stop that?!” Rarity kicked it hard, and it held still. “Ahem. Each of you makes me so incredibly happy just by being there, and I don't ever want us to be apart. If that isn't love, then by Celestia, I don't want love.”

Her friends went silent, staring at her wide-eyed. The sounds of crashing waves and creaking wood remained, but the ponies were speechless.

Suddenly, Fluttershy took a deep breath and dove over the side of the ship. For a few moments, only bubbles rose to the surface of the water. Then the tentacles loosened their grip on the ship and retreated into the water, dropping Rarity unceremoniously onto the deck. The yellow pegasus returned to the surface shortly after, rubbing her eyelids.

“I think I got saltwater in my eyes,” she said as Applejack and Pinkie helped her back on board.

Pinkie let out a short giggle. She was soon joined by Rainbow, and then all of them were laughing and sharing a group hug.

Rarity was cold and wet, and she smelled like dead fish. She wasn't even certain what her friends' reaction to her announcement would be yet. But surrounded by the warm bodies and warmer hearts of the ponies she loved, Rarity couldn't keep the smile from her face, even if she tried.

23: Reset [Dark] [Sad]

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((Prompt: There is a conversation happening, but your character can only see it take place.))

'We have to do it.' That was what the purple one said. Or maybe 'We have to go through with it.' Rarity wasn't completely certain. Her lips moved, but there was no sound.

There was never any sound here. Just a dark gray sky above and a blasted, barren plain below. She might have expected wind to at least keep her company, but even the air itself stayed damnably silent. The only signs of life she had seen since awaking was herself, and the flickering images streaming out of the glowing memory crystal embedded into the ground.

The orange pony stepped forward shaking her head, like she did every time the image repeated. Her lips were the hardest to read. Rarity assumed the mare must have an accent of some kind. The only word she could glean from her was 'sacrifice.' Given the context, she assumed the orange one was opposed to sacrificing one of their own.

The image flickered and lapsed into static for a minute. The first time it had done it, Rarity's heart had stopped, as she thought even this much companionship, no more than silent ghosts from a magic crystal, were now lost to her. But the static was part of the recording. She knew it would come back into clarity again.

When it did, the yellow mare had her face buried in her hooves, sobbing. The orange one stood next to her, stroking her back with a hoof.

The rainbow-maned one spoke next. Asking something about 'another way.' The purple one's response to this made her very angry. Her hoof lashed out and smacked the purple one in the chin. In a fraction of a second, the orange pony was on the rainbow one, pinning her to the ground. The look in her eye, though, made it seem like she was half-tempted to just let her have at it.

Now it was the pink one's turn. For some reason Rarity could not fathom, it hurt her heart to see the pink mare so still. She gestured with both hooves at the six of them. Rarity believed her lips formed the words, 'all go together.'

The purple one rubbed her jaw and shook her head. She raised a single hoof in the air. Whatever her plan was, it could only work on a single pony, no more.

Chaos erupted as the six mares began arguing with one another. The rainbow-maned pony was on the verge of an all-out brawl with the orange one, and the pink and purple ponies now sat on either side of the yellow one.

Finally, the white pony stepped forward. She looked just like Rarity. She could almost hear her voice as her lips formed the words: 'I'll do it. I'll go.'

The others seemed to protest for a while, but the white one eventually seemed to persuade them. After some discussion that was lost on Rarity, the others formed a circle around her, donning strange jeweled pendants. The white one also wore a pendant, but the purple one had some kind of tiara instead.

The white pony asked the purple one a question, pointing to her head. The purple one nodded, and produced a crystal, just like the one that projected the image now, save for the massive crack that Rarity had in the side of hers. The purple one gave it to the white one, who cradled it in her hooves like it was a foal.

All six of them wore grim expressions as the purple one's horn lit up. Each of their pendants ignited in a dazzling light that hurt to look at, even through the recording. As the light grew brighter, it focused into beams that surrounded the white pony in the center.

And then there was nothing. The recording ended there. After a few minutes, Rarity knew it would start over from the beginning again.

She ran her hoof across the jagged gash in the crystal. If the white pony in the recording was her, then why didn't she remember any of the conversation? And what could they have possibly sent her here to do? There was nothing, absolutely nothing in this barren wasteland. No night, no day, no sounds, no movement.

Rarity shivered, and curled up next to the memory crystal as though she expected it to give off warmth. She was so very alone.

24: You Were Rarity [Tragedy]

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((Prompt: Write a story in the second person in which “you” is one of the Mane Six or Spike.))

You were Rarity, once.

Best in show, the mare everypony admired. Twice the savior of the world, alongside friends the likes of which could not be found in all the world you helped to save. At the top of your game, for every game. The type of pony everypony should know.

You were the epitome of glamor. Rooms fell silent when you entered. Stallions sprained their necks twisting around to see you, and some mares did, too. Anything in Equestria that could be called beautiful had you to compete with.

You were the very definition of success. Your fashions were not just the best in the industry, they were the industry. The other lines were nothing more than pithy outliers and cheap imitations of what you brought to the table. You placed charcoal against paper, and a thousand ponies made a mad gallop to the nearest mall, clamoring for your wares. You made a single, sweeping stroke, and hats became the new scarves. The pegasi might have moved the weather, but you decided when the seasons changed.

You were magnanimous. You were a river of wealth to those less fortunate than yourself. And with such a self, everypony was less fortunate. Streams of gold flowed into charities across Equestria. Your name became synonymous with the concept of generosity, and it was only half joking when it was said that when an orphan spent a coin, they saw your face.

You were a gleaming jewel. A diamond shining like a star upon Equestria.

But then you were satisfied.

You were still driven, of course. You still made designs for your fashion line, still paid visits to the schools your money built. Still kept your mane perfectly trimmed and your tail brushed. But little by little, the gleam faded. It was hard to keep striving when you had already accomplished your dreams.

And bit by bit, it began to crumble. It didn't phase you, the first time you presented a dress to the public that they didn't immediately fall to the ground and worship. Even Rarity has off days, you told yourself. But eventually you produced a half dozen failures to every success. Ponies muttered things about how you had 'lost your touch,' were 'past your prime.'

You tried to keep your commitments to your charities, but you simply could not give money you did not have. One by one, your favorite causes found themselves new sponsors, or faded away. You tried not to let it get to you when the Rarity Public Schoolhouse was renamed to Blueblood Elementary.

You fought so hard to hold on to your looks. Salves, creams, and tonics. Herbal remedies and daily rejuvenation spells. The owners of spas not just in Ponyville but in Canterlot and surrounding areas as well knew you on a first name basis. But nothing could completely hold back the lines that time and stress drew on your face.

You tried, again and again, to relaunch yourself, to reach the lofty peak you had been so accustomed to. But you would stare at a blank sheet of paper, charcoal at the ready, and wait for inspiration that never came. When you did manage to finish a dress, more often than not you had to take a loss in order to sell it.

It was so embarrassing the first time you had to ask one of your friends for a loan. Just to make ends meet in the short term, you explained. Twilight of course agreed with a kind smile. The next time, Fluttershy had to pay for her own half of your weekly spa date because you were too short to cover the both of you. And then she started paying for your half, too. Soon, your friends ended up buying your meals, as well.

You began to resent them. A Wonderbolt. A Princess. Even Fluttershy, who had about as much ambition as a lump of rock, made a name for herself as the Warden of central Equestria's forests. And you were reduced to accepting their charity.

You didn't need their bits. What you needed was to go back to where you had been. To feel the rush of being the uncrowned queen of Canterlot.

You can almost admit to yourself that it felt just a little bit good to see the shock on their faces when you snapped at them. You said hurtful things to them. Did spiteful, bitter things.

They'll forgive you, of course. They always do. They'll nod in understanding. You've been under a lot of stress lately. You didn't mean it.

You used to be a sparkling diamond. Bright as any star in the sky, and harder than steel. You were Rarity, once.

What are you now?

25: Friendship and Frozen Facilities [Comedy]

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((Prompt: The Mane Six are sent on an official mission while their cutie marks are still mixed up.))

Rarity took a deep breath through her nose and gave a happy sigh. Canterlot was so lovely in the springtime. The gleaming white towers stood out so nicely in the sun. And when it rained, it made the air smell so fresh and inviting. Oh, and she couldn't forget about those late spring frosts, always keeping her on the tips of her hooves! Inspiration struck her: what if all of those happened at once? Spring in all its facets, there for ponies to experience! She lit up her horn to start her work, but stopped as she noticed Twilight talking.

“Okay girls,” Twilight said, pacing before the five of them at the gate to the palace. “Princess Celestia needs us. She was a little vague on exactly what, but that probably means it's urgent.”

Rarity nodded with her friends. Besides, even if it wasn't urgent, one never turned down a request from royalty.

Pinkie Pie raised a hoof. “Can we make it quick, please? I've got apples to fix and a broken cart to buck.”

“Shouldn't that be the other way around?” Twilight asked. She immediately dismissed it with a shake of her head. “Anyways, yes, we will make this quick. The Princess said this had something to do with weather, so Rainbow Dash, you come with me. The rest of you wait here in case we need backup.”

Rainbow rubbed the back of her neck. “Um, if it's weather stuff, shouldn't you take Rarity? I'm not the one with an awesome cloud on my butt.”

Rarity nodded in agreement. “I don't mean to question you leadership, darling, but as crudely as Rainbow put it, she has a point. Weather has been my special talent since...” She put a hoof to her chin. “...You know, I can't quite remember when it was, but I am sure it has been a while.”

Twilight's eyes flickered to Rarity's flank, and she rubbed her temples. “Okay, fine, Rarity, you come with me. The rest of you...” She waved her hoof at them. “Just try not to start any fires.”

“Wait,” Applejack said, digging through her saddlebags. “I made hats... er, scarves. Uh, hat-scarves?” She distributed some mismatched scraps of sewn-together cloth that a reasonably disturbed individual might assume were meant to be worn on the head. Rarity did her best to keep from screaming out loud as hers was placed over the top of her mane.

Fluttershy held hers up. “These are nice,” she said, “...not!” She looked around, and coughed quietly into her hoof. “...Except, really, they are. They're very nice. I'm sorry.” She hid behind her mane.

Twilight sighed. “Come on, Rarity, let's go.”

Rather than meeting Celestia in her grand throne room, Twilight and Rarity were led to a small building that stood alone a few paces outside of the main palace. Twilight knocked on the door. “Princess Celestia?”

The door opened just a crack, and the solar princess poked her head out of the gap. “Ah, my faithful student! I am very glad to see you!” Her eyes drifted to Rarity's flank, and she raised an eyebrow at Twilight.

Rarity was not certain why ponies kept doing that today. Sure, she possessed a shapely posterior and a fine, bold cutie mark, but she saw no reason why ponies should keep staring like that.

Twilight cleared her throat. “That's, uh, something we're working on, currently.” It sounded like an explanation for something, but Rarity could not guess what. It must be a teacher-student sort of thing.

“Well,” Princess Celestia said, “it might explain a few things, actually.” She pushed the door wider to reveal that her royal hindquarters were encased in a block of snow and ice. “Like why there is a blizzard in my privy.”

“Aha!” Rarity exclaimed. “So that's where that snowcloud got off to!”

26: A Rare Bloom [Romance]

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((Prompt: One (or more) of the CMC is crushing on one (or more) of the Mane Six. No incest or Scoota-Dash (not that I would have, anyway).))

Apple Bloom was filthy. From the tips of her ears to the bottoms of her hooves, she was covered in grease stains, soot, and paint spatters. Rarity could clearly see the outline of where her protective goggles had been, leaving a raccoonish ring around her eyes. And she bore the biggest, brightest grin this side of Sugarcube Corner. All of this could only mean one thing:

She had finished another piece.

Rarity smiled, giving her messiness an exaggerated sigh. “I'll get my hat, darling.”

Rarity still couldn't believe just how tall the young mare was now, sparing her a glance as they trotted together across Ponyville. Applejack's 'little' sister was now taller than either of them anymore. As soon as she had earned her cutie mark, she had sprung up like a weed. Applejack had often joked with Rarity that Apple Bloom's special talent was actually bumping her head on the tops of doorways.

Apple Bloom slowed a little, looking back at Rarity. “Ya comin'?”

Realizing she had been idling, Rarity picked up her pace. “Of course, dear. I'm right behind you.” She knit her brows in thought for a moment. “Apple Bloom, I've been wondering.”

Apple Bloom tilted her head, but did not let up on her canter. “What about?”

“Well, whenever you make another of these, I'm always the first pony you come to,” Rarity said. “I'm certainly not complaining, in fact, it makes me feel rather special. But I am curious why it is.”

Apple Bloom shrugged; a motion that nearly cost her her balance while her long, lanky legs were already engaged with walking. “Ya got good eyes, Rarity,” she said. “I trust 'em more'n I do my own. You got a better appreciation for this kind of stuff than anypony in Ponyville, an' if I'm goin' down the wrong track, you're able to let me know.”

Rarity could hardly argue with her logic. Having somepony to provide reliable critique was important to any artist. She smiled. “I'm glad to know you value my opinion so much.”

The cobbles of Ponyville passed underhoof, eventually fading into the dirt road that led out to Sweet Apple Acres. As the red barn and farmhouse rose above the green hills, they passed Applejack, busily hammering on a loose plank in the fence.

“Well howdy, Rare!” she greeted. “Bloom's showin' you her new, uh... thing?”

“As I understand it, yes,” Rarity said. Apple Bloom nodded excitedly.

Applejack grinned proudly. “Well it sure is somethin', lemme tell ya. You think you'll be stayin' over fer supper again?”

“We'll see.” Rarity waved to Applejack as Apple Bloom led her on into the orchard.

They had built a workshop for Apple Bloom out behind the barn. It was a squat, sturdy structure with a tin roof. There were scraps of metal strewn about the place, and Rarity could still see the scorch marks along one wall from the time Apple Bloom had nearly burned it down. Hanging from the eaves above the entrance was her first piece, the bronze and iron apple that had earned her cutie mark.

As beautiful as it was, the earth pony's work had only gotten better since. Rarity privately admitted to a certain amount of excitement, getting to see the budding artist's next piece.

Rather than leading her inside the workshop, however, Apple Bloom led her around the back. “It's too big to fit inside the shop,” she explained as the two of them approached a shape covered in a sturdy tarp. Apple Bloom trotted ahead and took the corner of the tarp in her mouth.

“Don't hold back now, ya hear?” Apple Bloom said as she tugged the canvas away. “I wanna know just exactly what ya think about it.”

The air left Rarity's lungs. The sculpture was made of gleaming white ceramic and expertly welded steel airbrushed to a deep purple. It was a flower, on the verge of blossoming. The steel stem was anchored firmly in the ground, supporting the metal and ceramic bud above. The shining petals were slightly parted, like a lover's lips after a kiss. The whole thing somehow had the silhouette of a heart, casting its shape as a shadow on the grass. And atop the edges of each petal, glinting like dew...

Rarity gasped. “Are those diamonds?”

Apple Bloom rubbed one foreleg with the other. “They were tough to get my hooves on. I was gonna ask you to use your gem-finding magic to help me, but I sorta wanted it to be a surprise.” She grinned sheepishly. “So what do ya think?

Rarity did indeed have good eyes. She caught the color scheme of the piece immediately. She knew Apple Bloom's style, and could tell that the heart-shaped silhouette was definitely intentional. And underneath the grime, Rarity's sharp eyes caught a hint of color on Apple Bloom's cheeks.

Rarity smiled and drew the young mare closer to her with a hoof, soot and all. “It's beautiful, dear.”

27: Sparkle Always Does the Trick [Dark]

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((Prompt: Twilight disappears, and only one pony remembers she was ever there at all.))

Sparkle always does the trick, don't you agree?

“Spike?” Rarity stepped into the library. “Spike darling, have you seen Twilight?”

The little purple dragon did not look up from the book he was reading, and simply gave her a vague chuckle.

Rarity's lips pressed into an impatient line, and she levitated the book out of his grasp.

“Hey!” he shouted, reaching out for it.

“Spike, this is important,” Rarity said, keeping the book out of his reach. “I need Twilight Sparkle.”

Spike blinked a few times before a spark of recognition came to his eyes. “Oh! Okay, Rarity.” He dug out a piece of parchment and some quills, and cleared his throat. “Uh, sure thing, Twilight! I'll get that friendship report sent off to the Princess right away!” He scribbled on the parchment without dipping the quill in ink first.

Rarity frowned in confusion. “Spike, what are you doing?”

The dragonling continued writing nothing on the parchment. “I'm writing out that report like you wanted, Twilight!”

Rarity sighed and rubbed her temples. “Darling, that's very amusing, but this is serious. Do you know where she is or not?”

The scratching at the parchment stopped. Spike peered over the top at her. “But... I thought we were playing that game again.”

“Fine, dear, here's your book back.” Rarity dropped the book back in Spike's lap. “Maybe one of the girls has seen her.”

Canterlot? Oh, I'm so jealous, I've always wanted to go!

“Have I seen who, now?” Applejack stopped in the road, the wagon wheels behind her creaking under the weight of all the apples she hauled.

Rarity rolled her eyes. “You know, purple unicorn, about yea high, led us into the Everfree to save all of Equestria from Nightmare Moon? Any of that ring a bell?”

Applejack laughed. “Oh hay, are you talkin' 'bout that time ya dragged me an' the others out into the forest an' we found those ruins? Boy howdy, those were some times!”

I didn't drag us out there, Twilight did!” Rarity stamped on the ground in frustration. “Am I the only pony in this town that has not suddenly gone crazy!”

Applejack kept smiling. “Hey, I'd love to catch up, but I gotta get these babies to market,” she said, gesturing to the barrels of apples in her cart. “I'll bump into ya again, I'm sure. Have a good day, Rarity!”

Dear Princess Celestia, today I learned...

Rarity looked around herself. She did not remember entering this quiet office, nor sitting down in the soft chair across from a very formal-looking unicorn with a square pair of glasses and a notepad. There was a sound like somepony barking like a dog out in the hallway.

Glasses peered at Rarity. “I'm trying to understand, but I can't if you won't tell me anything, Rarity,” she said.

“Please,” Rarity said, sniffing, “I'm just trying to find my friend.”

Glasses glanced at her notepad. “This would be this 'Twilight Sparkle,' correct?”

“Yes.” Rarity nodded. “Have you seen her?”

“The unicorn who is a protege to Princess Celestia,” Glasses continued. Her eyes were unreadable. “Whose special talent is magic itself, her brother is the Captain of the Guard in Canterlot, and she has taken you on a number of incredible adventures on behalf of Equestria...” She glanced at her notes one more time. “...And has recently become a princess herself?”

“Yes! That Twilight Sparkle!” Rarity cried. “I don't understand how anypony could forget her! She's the most incredible friend anypony could ask for!”

“Yes, she certainly sounds like it,” Glasses said, scribbling down a note on her pad.

“So will you help me?” Rarity pleaded.

The unicorn pushed her glasses up her muzzle. “I would like to help you, Rarity, if you would let me.”

Rarity breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness! Now, the first thing we need to do is go to the library and see if there is such a spell as can cause mass amnesia like this. That is what Twilight would do.”

Glasses rose from her chair. “I think we might need to try a different approach.” Two large stallions entered the office, dressed in white uniforms.

Orderlies. This was a mental institution. Rarity blinked. Why would she have sought help from a mental institution to find Twilight? A look of terror washed over her face as they stepped toward her. “Y-you don't believe me, do you? You think I'm crazy!”

Rarity's horn glowed in a bright flash, and suddenly she was outside. She stumbled in the grass; she must have teleported, like Twilight would have done. Yes, she needed to start thinking like Twilight if she was going to get her friend back. She started toward the library. She would look up the memory spells first. There had to be something there that would get them all to remember Twilight.

They would all remember Twilight Sparkle.

28: Over Again [Sad] [Romance]

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((Prompt: I stood up, my heart pounding, the lump in my throat refusing to be swallowed, my legs shaking with each timid step. I crossed the room and looked in their eyes, finally saying what I’ve needed to say all along, and they replied with a hollow smile and the words I knew would tear my world apart.))

She opens the bedchamber door, and I can see it in her eyes. Celestia, it's like stepping on glass every time I see that look. Guilt and shame haunt her, strangling the gleam out of her eyes. Fear pulls her features taut—though whether she's more afraid of me or of herself, I'll never know. That look turns my stomach into cement and makes my legs want to buckle. I see that look and I know.

It's happened again.

Sometimes I just wish she would try and hide it from me. What an awful thought to have! Who actually wishes her wife would sneak around behind her back? All of Twilight's damnable books on relationship counseling say that openness and honesty are critical to a healthy marriage. But sometimes I think to myself, if it's already unhealthy, is it so wrong that I get tired of seeing the sick parts of it?

Ugh, listening to me, you would think we're teetering on the brink at every moment. It isn't like that. Twilight and I are very happy together most days, and incidents like this don't happen as often as the tabloids would have you believe. I am royalty because she loves me. I still love her back as much today as I did back when she swept me off to Canterlot with her, put a ring on my horn and made me into the Princess Without Wings.

Sure, we aren't perfect, but what couple is? We get on very well, considering the circumstances...

But still, it hurts me deep when this happens and I see that look in her eyes again. She pushes the door open wider, and I get a look at who the other mare is this time.

I am surprised to see it's one of us. I suppose chamber maids and visiting diplomats just aren't enough for her anymore. Or maybe she just needed a taste of Ponyville. Fluttershy stands very still, staring at the floor. Usually at least some of her face is visible behind her mane, but right now there is only a droopy pink mane sputtering something. I think she is trying over and over again to say, “sorry,” but it's only coming out as hushed squeaks.

I tell Fluttershy she can go. This isn't her fault, not really. In the last few years, I have discovered that Twilight can be frighteningly persuasive when she sets her mind to something. Given her natural charisma, her role as the respected leader among the six of us, and her persistence, I can't imagine the poor dear stood much of a chance against the will of Princess Twilight Sparkle.

Fluttershy leaves, and it's just us now. Canterlot's Royal Couple. Twilight's eyes dart around, falling everywhere except on my own. As angry as I am, I can't really blame her, either. After her transformation, she began developing certain... appetites that frightened her even more than they frightened me. Celestia and Luna do not know what the cause is, nor can Cadance provide any insight. Twilight has to fight an uphill battle to keep her impulses in check. Today is one of the days she failed.

She takes a small step forward, her eyes brimming with tears. The words are hard for her. They always are, because she truly means them every time. “Rarity... I'm so sorry.” She breaks into sobs, and it is all I can do to keep from wrapping her in my forelegs and brushing the tears from her cheeks.

I know what response she is looking for. I know the words she—goodness, what a morbid thought, the words she is hoping I'll say, if only to get it over and done with. She is waiting for me to tell her that it's over. That I've had my fill, and have finally decided it's time to leave.

But I suppose I am not as generous as they say I am. I won't give her that. I am greedy and cruel, and I am keeping my princess, even if it means breaking my own heart, and hers.

I pull her into a tight embrace with one hoof, and run the other through her mane, following the bold pink stripe down the back of her neck. “Hush darling,” I tell her. “I still love you.”

29: Positively Barbaric [Comedy] [Human]

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((Prompt: Ponies visit or are visited by a culture whose people are not accustomed to public nudity.))

“I have never been so appalled in all my life!” Rarity stormed in the doors of the embassy. The golden-clad guard tensed for a moment, but relaxed when they saw nothing follow her in. It was pretty easy to tell at a glance who did and did not belong at Equestria's embassy. “Twilight, you told me this was a civilized culture!”

Twilight pushed her paperwork aside and looked up at the distraught mare. “Why? What happened?” Her eyes narrowed. “Did one of them hurt you?”

Rarity shook her head angrily. “I only wish it were that. At least that would be the doings of a lone individual. But this... this reflects gravely on their people as a whole! There can be no forgiving this!”

Twilight stepped out from behind her desk and placed a wing on Rarity's back. She waited until the fashionista's breathing had slowed before saying anything. “Just back up and tell me what happened, Rarity.”

Rarity sniffed and nodded. “As you know, I started off by having lunch with a group of them. They seemed decent enough creatures, they could hold a conversation, and they wore suits and ties. Well-made suits and ties, even.” She took a deep breath. “B-but then...”

A sigh escaped Twilight's lips. “One of them ordered meat for lunch, didn't they? Rarity, I know it can be hard dealing with a culture of carnivores, but just like with the griffons, we need to see past those differences if we're going to work together.”

“Oh no, it wasn't that,” Rarity said, shaking her head. “I'm just fine sharing lunch with carnivores so long as I'm not on the menu. I even tried a bite of a ham sandwich.”

Twilight withdrew her wing. “You did?”

“I can't say I enjoyed it. It was a bit dry,” Rarity said, shrugging.

Twilight squeezed her eyes shut, trying to clear out the mental image of her friend chewing on a chunk of pig. “So, if that wasn't it, what was the problem?”

“Well, after lunch, one of them suggested we go for a round of golf,” Rarity explained. “It's apparently a ritual of theirs, playing golf with those they intend to make deals with. I'm hardly an expert at the game, but I'm not terrible at it, so I figured, why not? I'll give it a try.”

Twilight listened, nodding. “So, where is the part where they're all horrible?”

Rarity's voice cracked. “Oh, it was just awful! When we got to the golf course, they stopped to change out of their nice suits and ties, and... and...” She broke into a fit of sobs.

Twilight rubbed Rarity's neck with a hoof. “There there,” she cooed. “They can't hurt you in here.”

The fashion designer sniffled. “I... I thought that a culture that wore clothes all the time must be good at making them. Wouldn't that make sense? I mean, if they all have to wear clothes every day, surely they would be more fashion conscious than the average pony, right?”

Twilight tilted her head. “Huh?”

“What I saw on that golf course, though...” Rarity shuddered. “Darling, I am so upset that when we get home I just might sell the Boutique and take up a career in mining! They have completely shaken my faith in fashion!”

“What did you see, Rarity?”

Her lip trembled. “Plaid pants, Twilight.” Rarity's face turned a shade of green as she spoke. “They wore baggy plaid pants without the slightest hint of shame! They're monsters, Twilight!”

30: Never Heard of Her [Adventure]

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((Prompt: The secret life of a background pony.))

It was a dark, moonless night in Ponyville. A low-hanging cloud-cover obscured the light from the stars, leaving only the faint glow of distant firefly lamps to light the way as a cream-colored mare made her way to Carousel Boutique. The windows were darkened, and anypony that didn't know any better would have assumed the Boutique's occupant had already retired to bed. Bon Bon knew better.

She glanced suspiciously behind her, making certain nopony had seen her approach. Satisfied that the dark streets were empty, the mare raised her hoof and tapped on the door. Five times in rapid succession, pause, then two slowly.

A minute of silence followed, before a voice rose from the other side of the door. “Who's there?”

“The guardian with a thousand voices,” recited Bon Bon solemnly. “The mare with no face. Ponyville's shadow, that keeps the darkness from overtaking the light.”

She heard bolts on the other side slide open. The door creaked open, and the muted glow of Rarity's horn lit up the doorstep. “Come in, darling.”

Bon Bon let out the breath she had been holding and quickly rushed inside. Secrecy was key to her duty, and she did not want somepony passing by to see her and wonder what a simple candy-maker was doing outside of Carousel Boutique at this hour.

Once the door was shut, the unicorn risked a bit more light as she trotted back across the showroom floor to her sewing desk.

Bon Bon swallowed. “I'm sorry about the day before. Berry Punch was so excited when she saw Fluttershy, and we ended up in here.

Rarity paused at her desk, her hoof resting on her sewing machine. “You 'never heard of me?'” she said, arching her brow. “Darling, we're practically neighbors, you can come up with a better cover than that.”

“I panicked, okay?” Bon Bon grunted. “Berry seemed to buy it, anyway. It's a good thing she was so focused on chasing a supermodel, or else she might have started asking questions.”

Rarity sighed. She took the current spool of thread out of the machine and replaced it with a spool of dark purple. “Well, no matter, then.”

Bon Bon tapped her hooves nervously on the tiles. “So... is it finished?”

“It is.” With a click, Rarity pressed on the top of the spool. A low rumble sounded from beneath the floor as gears turned. A sharp hiss of steam made Bon Bon leap away as one of the ponnequins folded away into an opening in the tiles and was replaced with a large glass case.

Bon Bon's eyes widened as she pressed her muzzle against the glass. Within, lit by a few small lamps, was a costume. It was made of midnight purple and indigo, with a few silver accents. The mask would completely conceal a pony's face when worn, but the special fabric over the eyes would still allow her unrestricted vision. The wide-brimmed hat and cape were impressive, yes, but more importantly, they would conceal her shape when hiding among the shadows.

It was made of light fabric practical for moving around in, yet it was reinforced where it was needed to be. It was a suit of armor, and a disguise, and a symbol of justice all at once.

“Go on,” Rarity said, raising the glass with her magic. “Try it on.”

Bon Bon licked her lips and nodded. Usually clothing was difficult for an earth-pony to put on by themselves, but this seemed to slide onto her like it was meant to be there. “It fits perfectly,” she gasped.

“Of course it does, darling. I made it.” Rarity grinned as Bon Bon pulled the mask over her face.

The newly-masked hero tested the mobility of the costume, experimentally chopping her hooves through the air in the deadly strikes she had been trained to do. “It's so light,” she remarked. “I could fight evil all night in this!”

“That is the idea,” Rarity said. She closed the glass case, which sank back into the floor to be replaced once again by an innocent ponnequin.

Bon Bon lowered her mask and smiled at the seamstress. “Thank you so much!”

Rarity waved a dismissive hoof at her. “Of course, darling, it was no problem at all. Just make sure not to drop this one into an active volcano like last time.”

Bon Bon grinned sheepishly. “I can't make any promises on that front.”

Rarity rolled her eyes and chuckled. “Oh, before you go, do you mind if I hang onto the design? You never know when it might be useful to have a masked hero costume.”

“Of course you can,” Bon Bon replied. She put her mask back over her face. “Now, I must go. Ponyville needs me.” With a flourish of her cape, the first Mare-Do-Well dashed out of Carousel Boutique and disappeared into the night.

Bonus #1: Subterfuge [Adventure]

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((Prompt: The circumstances leading to, following, or surrounding somepony uttering the question, “How could Twilight Sparkle be so stupid?”))

A puff of smoke rose from a lit cigar and pooled in the low ceiling. The smoker, a dark brown pegasus with a jagged scar across his cheek, frowned as he studied a pile of documents and a strip of microfilm on his desk. The room was deep within the bowels of Canterlot's labyrinthine network of sewers and underground tunnels, and the dull thunder of passing hoof-traffic on the thoroughfare above served to make the firefly lantern sway back and forth, causing shadows to dance across his features.

“I don't get it, Dag,” he said, rubbing his jaw. “I thought the princess was supposed to be some kind of genius or something. How could Twilight Sparkle be so stupid?”

A scarlet unicorn coughed and waved her hoof, trying fruitlessly to waft the smoke away from her. “I do wish you would go outside to light those things, Cloak. It's rank enough in this ratty dungeon without you trying to smoke me out.”

Cloak grunted and took another draw on his cigar. “It helps me think.”

“Well, we both know you need all the help you can get in that department, dear,” Dagger jibed. She peered over his shoulder at the stolen documents. “What seems to be the issue?”

The stallion pointed to the topmost sheet of paper. It was a page from Twilight's day-planner, copied from memory by one of the pair's embedded spies among the royal staff. “Observatory. Library. The donut shop on fourth street. She's spending her whole day going from one open, easy-to-hit security blindspot to the next. There's no way her guard detail could secure even half these places.” He thumped his hoof on the desk. “It's like she wants us to kidnap her and stage a coup.”

“Don't underestimate her,” Dagger warned. “The princess might seem like a naive young mare, but there's a long list of things, pony and otherwise, that have found out the hard way just how canny she is.”

Cloak nodded. “Yeah, I guess.” He shifted the stack of papers, bringing out a street map of Canterlot. “But, I mean, what's to stop us from snatching her as a hostage when she leaves the donut shop at two?”

The red mare studied the map carefully, frowning in thought. “Well darling, perhaps she might activate her double agent infiltrated in our organization to neutralize it if it ever became a threat.”

Cloak blinked. “Wait... what?” He turned in his chair, but a sudden strike from a red hoof caused him to slump to the floor, unconscious.

Dagger flicked a lock of her mane out of her face. She appeared to flicker for a moment as the illusion spell Twilight had adapted from her study of changeling magic faded, revealing a white unicorn with a stylish purple mane. She pressed her hoof to the enchanted communication crystal she wore as an earring.

“It's taken care of, dear. You can send the boys in to clean up now.” She gingerly stepped on the cigar, extinguishing it.

A smile spread across Rarity's lips as the crystal glowed with Twilight's reply.

“Oh, that would be lovely,” Rarity said, stepping over Cloak's prone form. “Could you get me one of the ones with sprinkles?

Bonus #2: A Thing [Romance]

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((Prompt: Two or more of the Mane Six move in together.))

Commitment. Was it truly so frightening of a word? Was it really so terrifying that the great, fearless Rainbow Dash quaked at its mere mention? All it meant was that a pony had a plan, and was willing to act on it. All it meant was that Rarity was no longer content with a pony that, after three months of dating, was unwilling to call what they had anything more than “a thing.”

Rarity huffed. A couple of gradeschool foals holding hooves were a thing. Peanut butter was a thing. There was literally nothing in all of existence that wasn't, in some sense, a thing. If their relationship meant no more to Rainbow Dash than its mere existence as a definable concept, then perhaps she was kicking at the wrong cloud. And what in the name of Celestia were her socks doing on Rarity's bedroom floor?

“Rainbow Dash!” she shouted. Her telekinesis held the socks by their tips at the very edge of her range as she carried them down the stairs. “The floor is not a laundry chute!”

Rainbow glanced up from the newspaper article she had been reading at the kitchen table. Beneath the news was a mug of coffee with her cutie mark on the side—no coaster beneath it, naturally. “My bad,” she said. “You wanna throw 'em in your hamper for me?”

“My hamper?” Rarity repeated. “Do you not have your own laundry?”

“Well yeah, but yours is way closer.” Rainbow took a swallow of her coffee. “Plus, I only wear them when I'm here, anyway.”

That was a fair point. But still. “I'm your marefriend, not your maid, Rainbow. Put them away yourself.”

Rainbow rolled her eyes and set the paper aside. “Okay, but keep an eye on the eggs for me.” She pointed to a pan sizzling on the stove. With a flap of her wings, she snatched the dirty socks from Rarity and darted upstairs.

Rarity inspected the eggshells on the counter. Goodness, that mare could make a mess. “Four eggs seems a little excessive, don't you think?” Sure, Rainbow was an active pony and would burn through it quickly, but at this rate she would run Rarity out of eggs before she had a chance to go to Fluttershy and ask for more.

“Half those are for you,” Rainbow's voice called down from the stairs.

“Oh.” Rarity noticed that two of the eggs were over easy the way she liked them while the other two were scrambled. “Well then. Thank you, darling.”

Rainbow Dash returned to the kitchen. “No prob. I got it from here.” She took a spatula under her wing and flipped the eggs. A little globule spattered out and hit the end of Rarity's muzzle. “Oops.”

“Ack!” Rarity reared back. “Be careful!”


“I'll need to wash it out before it stains,” lamented Rarity, rushing to the washroom. To her relief, it only took a bit of warm water to get the egg off of her face. Hers was a coat color that stained so easily, after all.

She sighed as she took note of the dried globs of toothpaste around the rim of the sink. “Honestly, dear, is it so difficult to use a tube of tooth... paste...” Her eyes slowly widened as realization dawned on her. The clothes on the floor. Cooking. Dash's toothbrush. This was... She stumbled out of the bathroom and plodded back to the kitchen table, blinking.

Rainbow set a plate of eggs before her. “Breakfast's ready,” she said. Taking note of her marefriend's dumbfounded expression, her ears perked forward. “Something wrong, Rares?”

“Rainbow,” Rarity asked slowly, “when is the last time you slept at your own place?”

Rainbow put her hoof to her chin and thought. “Let's see. There was the Wonderbolts show, and then I crashed at your place... Then Pinkie had that all-night party... Then I didn't feel like flying back up to the house so I stuck around here... Gosh, I guess it's been a couple weeks.”

Rarity nodded. “Rainbow dear, I don't wish to alarm you, but I think you have moved in. We are... we are a couple that live together now.”

Rainbow Dash grinned and shrugged. “Well yeah. I wanna spend more time with you, Rares.” She leaned across the table and gave Rarity a peck on the lips. “We're a thing, remember?”