Usually I’d leave my thoughts to the end but I think for this it’s better to do it here.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Rarity’s confidence and her generosity as it being something she gives but does not expect in return, as well as how she’s her biggest cheerleader not because she think’s she’s hot shit, but because she’s taught herself that no one is expected to cheer her on but herself. I thought it was interesting, so I wrote this little ficlet to explore that concept more. I think it also affects the RariTwi dynamic a great deal too, but I didn’t really have time to to cram that into here, so I didn’t it.
It also helped, in a weird way, that I took a completely social media/discord hiatus for about two weeks because my personal life is rough right now, so I was forced into a place where I wrote things for no other person than myself. I think, largely, this fic is also an exploration of that facet of writing: the idea that writing should be done for oneself, and the validation and praise you get from others should always exclusively be nothing else but a welcome surprise, not an expectation.
“I read in a book today,” Fluttershy said, once, sitting on her cottage’s floor as she brushed Angel’s coat, “that you can pinpoint somepony’s entire personality to a single or a few defining childhood events.”
“I can agree with that,” Rarity had replied, idly lying on her friend’s couch as she waited for the clock to strike three and she’d leave to meet Twilight for a picnic-date.
“Really? What were yours?”
When Rarity was little, her mother once helped her make a care package for a sick filly at school.
It was, in Rarity’s opinion, the most beautiful care package to ever be made. Dozens of snacks and pastries tucked inside a hoof-woven basket, which she’d carefully painted in the foal’s favorite color. She’d wrapped it herself, too, in a lovely wrapping paper she’d bought with her own allowance, and finished it off with a nice drawing of a sun shining over singing flowers.
Her mother went with her to the filly’s house, and after dropping the package off, the filly trotted home with a skip in her step.
A few days later, when the sick filly came back hale and hearty, the first thing she did was rush to Rarity, the little basket bouncing on her back. She thanked Rarity over and over, excited by the drawing and the snacks, too! They were her favorite, which Rarity knew, of course.
Other foals fell sick in the coming months—flu season and all—and just as she had for the filly, Rarity made them care packages too, in all sorts of colors and shapes.
And then, one day, Rarity fell sick. She was sick for six days, stuck in bed, feverish and dazed, but happy because she’d get treats too.
The first day came and went, and no one stopped by. The second followed, and only her sister paid her a visit in her room. Then the third and the fourth, and her soupy diet was soured by the lack of sweets and colorful packages. The fifth day came knocking, bringing with it no one but the doctor, and by the time the sixth arrived, Rarity was no longer ill physically, but emotionally? Well…
“You have to go to school, cookie,” her mother said, rubbing circles on the little lump under the covers.
“No!” protested the lump. “I hate them all! No pony cares about me!”
It wasn’t fair, she’d thought, in tears. It wasn’t right. She’d made them all care packages! She wove them almost entirely by herself, and used up her allowances every single time! After all that effort, didn’t she deserve a care package, too?
“Rarity,” her mother said, “why did you make those packages for them?”
“Because they were sick,” Rarity sniffled, “and I wanted them to feel better.”
“Because you wanted them to feel better,” her mother repeated, “or because you wanted them to sing you praises and give you things in return?”
The covers flew off. “Because I wanted them to feel better,” Rarity insisted, and it was true. It was true as the sun was yellow, and the grass was green and sometimes brown. “Because no pony likes being sick and feeling alone.” She slunk back under the covers, her voice small as she sniffled, “Just like me.”
It was on that day that Rarity’s mother told her two very important things.
The first was that no kind gesture—no true genuine one, at least—should be done under conditions or with expectations. Expectations and conditions can breed resentment, said her mother, and those two things darken the heart, turn it gray and wrinkly and withered.
The second was that no one had any obligation to care about Rarity. To be grateful and sing her praises for everything she did. The only pony who should be flattering Rarity was she herself. The affection and consideration of anypony else was a welcome surprise and only that.
The filly took that to heart, of course. She decided, then and there, that her biggest cheerleader would be herself—as loud and vocal as the screaming loneliness she felt those six days.
But. But, she decided, just because no pony was expected to be her cheerleader, that didn’t mean she still couldn’t do it for others, no?
Despite herself, she thought of her foalhood story while walking to the park. She didn’t necessarily like thinking about it, to be honest, for it always resurfaced Thoughts She Did Not Like.
She tried to focus instead on the sound of her hooves against the grass, but the grass was soft and quiet, so her thoughts were louder.
She knew ponies thought her a confident, ego-centric bitch. Not all of them, no, and certainly not her friends, but ponies who knew little about her. It was perfectly fine and acceptable to do grand gestures for others, but the second she did them for herself… The second she dared praise herself as loudly as she did others, that’s when it was a problem.
But I don’t do it for special occasions, she thought, despite herself yet again and again and again. She praised people for the silliest… well, not silliest, no, because nothing is silly, but for…. For the most seemingly inconsequential of things.
Fluttershy, for example, was feeling sad and depressed, and when she got herself out of bed and went to lunch with Rarity despite the great darkness washing her, Rarity made sure to praise her for that. To tell her she was so proud and happy to see Fluttershy doing what was good for her even when she did not want to do so.
Rarity came to a stop, feeling her mood starting to sour. “Enough,” she said out loud, to herself and the world. She refused to be in a bad mood during a picnic with Twilight.
But no one sings you praises when you do things right, the voice continued, nagging and needless and infuriating. Infuriating because it was wrong, mind you. Rarity didn’t need praise for every little thing she did, even if she wanted it.
“Of course I want it,” she muttered, resuming her slowed steps. Everypony wants praise. The key was knowing you did not need it. As her mother had said, praise and validation should and exclusively be a welcome surprise, not anything else, and certainly not an expectation.
She wondered, once, if no one really gave it to her because she gave praise to herself so much. Why on Earth would anypony flatter the pony who already flatters herself? She’d noticed in the past years that nopony really flattered or praised her unless she’d really done something spectacular to deserve it. Beyond that, no one told her they were proud of her for waking up when she was sad.
And they shouldn’t! she quickly thought, chastising her egoist thoughts. Yes! It felt nice! Which is why she did it for others, but she couldn’t expect the same. She couldn’t, and wouldn’t, and shouldn’t.
“We’re done,” she said to herself, to the conversation, loud and unequivocally clear.
And she was.
Twilight was already waiting for her by the time she arrived, the picnic was spread out and kept fresh and warm with some light magic spells.
“Oh, darling, I’m so sorry I’m late,” Rarity said, peppering Twilight with contrite kisses.
“It’s okay, Rarity,” Twilight replied gently, watching with some concern as Rarity plopped herself down on the mat, a great frown on her face. “Is everything all right?”
“Yes,” Rarity replied, a little too forceful and a little too quick.
Twilight’s eyebrow arched in the way it did when she wasn’t convinced and they both knew it. “Really?”
After a moment’s hesitation, “No!” said Rarity despairingly, looking away. “You’re right, I’m not. I’m upset because I’m late to my date with the most beautiful mare in Equestria!”
Her despairing frown turned into a relieved, smitten grin when she heard Twilight giggling, and later saw the alicorn looking slightly annoyed yet very pleased.
“Right,” Twilight said, reaching for a sandwich from a basket.
“Right?” Rarity asked with charming innocence, opening the bottle of wine with her magic and pouring it into two glasses. “That you’re the most beautiful mare in Equestria, you mean? Because if so, then yes, I am right, thank you very much.”
Just like that, the conversation strayed away from Rarity and towards nicer things, like what Twilight had done, what book she’d read, and what pompous noble she’d sent off with their tail between their legs.
The conversation eventually lulled out, and the two mares devoted themselves to doing personal things in quiet company. Alone together, Twilight called it once, which incidentally led to a fascinating discussion on how alone together sounded perfect, yet ‘together alone’ sounded like a miserable situation.
Regardless, there they were, alone but together, Twilight reading a book and Rarity sketching a dress. It was nice, as things with Twilight tended to be. Nice and calm, just the two of them and the sounds of the park, the turning of pages, and pencil on paper.
It was completely unremarkable. Rarity, in that moment, was a mare like any other, doing a trivial sketch for a trivial dress.
Which is why, when she idly looked up, she was surprised to find Twilight intently staring at her.
“Dearest? Is something wrong?”
There was a pause before Twilight replied. A small one, mind you, but a pause nonetheless which was promptly followed by a very particular smile. Not big, or cheeky, or anything remarkable. It was just a gentle smile, earnest in a way that only Twilight Sparkle could be.
“Nothing’s wrong. I was just thinking.”
“Thinking?” Rarity pressed, going back to her sketch so she could finish the sleeve. “Of what, pray tell?”
“That I’m lucky,” Twilight replied, “that I get to love you.”
The pencil stopped, followed in short order by Rarity’s face flushing, completely disarmed. “Well!” she stammered. “Aren’t we suave and correct today?” She giggled and put down her pencil, fluttering her eyelashes. “But really, what were you thinking about?”
Twilight snorted. “What do you mean? That is what was I was thinking. I was thinking you’re great, and I’m lucky to love you.”
Ideally, Rarity would have laughed and said something along the lines of “As you should be!” or “You’re right, you are lucky”. Obviously, things never really went as intended, so despite herself and everything she insisted she was, her next question came unbidden:
“That I’m great? But why? I haven’t done anything great or special to prompt that,” she said, and continued, despite, despite, despite herself, “and you’re a beautiful princess, darling! You could have anyone you want.” She meant it playfully, she wanted it to be playful, but there was a painful honesty as she finished, “I’m the one who should feel lucky we’re dating, not you.”
Twilight closed her book. “You don’t actually think that, do you?”
“Of course not,” Rarity lied.
“Good.” Twilight giggled, and it was astounding to Rarity how Twilight could just say truly arresting things as casually as if she were noting the weather. “And besides,” she said, opening her book, “you did do something great. You were you.”
And just like that, Twilight Sparkle went back to her reading.
“You’re right,” Rarity eventually managed, proud to not sound as strangled as she felt.
“I am right,” Twilight replied. “The only reason I don’t tell you every time I’m thinking about you is because it would drive you crazy.” She looked up. “Not that I think about you all the time, but everypony tells you all the time you’re great. I get to be the one who tells you when you’re just being you.”
Rarity forced her sight back to her drawing and went on with her day. Or tried, to at least, and failed miserably at that.
Earlier, she’d been saying she wished she were praised, but that wasn’t it at all, was it?
It was this, what had just happened. She didn’t want praise, or validation, or anything of the sort. It was just nice to be considered. To be thought of for no reason at all than she existed and that made others as happy as she tried to make them.
Sometimes, it was just nice to be acknowledged unprompted.
It wasn’t until Twilight said her name with alarm that Rarity realized she was crying.
“Rarity?” asked the alicorn, instantly alert. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing!” Rarity blurted out, wiping the tears that did not stop and even less when Twilight rushed over to scoop her up in a hug. “I’m sorry, I just—It’s silly. It’s so stupid, Twilight, I just— I didn’t ever consider you would feel lucky to be with me, is all.”
Despite it all, Twilight couldn’t help but laugh. “But, Rarity— What, did you think I’m dating you just because? Or what?”
“I don’t know, Twilight! I told you it was silly!”
“Do you need me to tell you I think you’re great and I love you all the time? I don’t think that’s healthy permanently, but I can.”
“No!” Rarity replied, half-crying, half-laughing. “No, you don’t. But maybe just… when I’m being me. That would be nice.”
Twilight hummed loudly. “So… all the time then because you’re always being you? I could say it right now, for example, because right now you’re being very you. We need to define what level of you is the one you mean.”
“You know what I mean!” Rarity giggled, and even more so when Twilight levitated a notebook over. “Put that away! You’re the one being very you right now!”
Twilight grinned. “Thanks! I know you meant that as a bad thing, but I think it’s a great thing.”
“Stars above,” Rarity whined, her heart as light as a feather as Twilight nuzzled her. “Have I told you how insufferable you are sometimes?”
“Thanks! I try my best,” Twilight replied, and then added with a smirk, “I bet now you’re not so happy I got to be the one to love you.”
“Oh, darling,” Rarity replied, knowing that even if the world didn’t acknowledge her, the one pony who mattered did. “Twilight Sparkle, darling, dearest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”