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    “Princess, do you think the Spirit’s cursed other ponies?”

    “I don’t know, but I really hope not. If he did, I’d never… Anyway, shouldn’t you two go home?”

    “No? It wouldn’t be a sleepover, then! You know, I bet Sis isn’t afraid of him! She’ll teach him a lesson!”

    “…I don’t even want to think of her meeting him…”

    “Well, we’re not scared of him! If he tries anything against us, we’ll get cutie marks in Spirit butt-kicking!”

    “Spirit butt-kicking…?”

    “Princess? Are… Are you scared of him?”

    “Well, I…”

    “Course she isn’t! She’s already a ghost! He should be scared of her!”

    “At this point, I’m honestly more scared of what your sister will do if she finds out you two came here without her permission.”


    Three diamonds.

    Every stitch on the back end of the freshly bought cloak was placed to imitate its owner’s cutie mark to a tee. The three mares had been working in a small workroom within the Hollow Shades fabric shop for some time now, seated together around a table and surrounded by other tourists who were working away on their own cloaks. Though Hollow Shades residents always marked their cloaks with Princess Luna’s cutie mark, visitors had the option of customizing theirs with different symbols if they so chose.

    “Oooooh, I like it!” Pinkie said, watching Fluttershy carefully finish sewing the first of her cutie mark’s butterflies onto her own garment. Fluttershy smiled in reply, obviously proud of her work, prompting Pinkie to turn her attention to Rarity. “And what about you, Rarity?”

    “Almost done,” she muttered, still working away at the last blue diamond. When given the choice, she had, for a moment, considered sewing on the cutie mark of her favorite princess, as most of the tourists were doing. She eventually settled for her own cutie mark, however. Goodness knows Sweetie Belle would probably try to steal one inspired by her newfound idol.

    “You look better, Rarity,” Fluttershy said, smiling at her friend. She’d been worried for some time now, ever since the nightmare bombs, and though Rarity could tell Fluttershy was still concerned, she appreciated the pegasus’ discretion.

    “I feel better, darling,” Rarity said, focusing on her stitching. “I simply don’t know what got into me!”

    It was a lie. She knew very well what had happened, and even now, hours later, the image on the wall haunted her, terrified her from a small corner at the back of her mind. Could it really have been the Spirit sending her a message? Was it a warning to back off? Rarity had tried to convince herself she’d been… hallucinating, or delirious somehow; maybe she had simply grossly misinterpreted the shadows? The chill that was fast becoming familiar ran up her spine again. It had felt so real.

    Her worries for Twilight still clawed at her, and for once, she wished she had some way of communicating over long distances. What if she somehow ended up indirectly hurting Twilight with her actions? Was that his master plan? If only she could ask Twilight… She’d once heard powerful unicorns of old used spells to contact each other over great distances—maybe Twilight could do something similar?

    It was odd, but the more she thought of the alicorn, the more she found herself… missing her company. And worrying about her even more, too. She shook her head, trying to dispel the thoughts. Come now, Rarity, worrying won’t do you any good. Twilight’s an ages-old alicorn ghost, she can defend herself. And… there’s really not much worse the Spirit can do to her, is there?

    “There!” she exclaimed, her work finally complete. She got up and tied the cloak around her neck, making sure not to hide the necklace beneath it, before modeling to her friends. “How do I look? Fabulous, I presume?”

    “You look great, Rarity!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed, taking the chance to stand next to Rarity and compare their cloaks. “And your necklace is really pretty, too!”

    “Oh yes,” Fluttershy agreed, nodding and then looking back to her own unfinished cutie mark. “I should hurry up…”

    Rarity looked around and noticed a mirror near the back of the room. She excused herself for a moment and made her way over to it, nodding her head approvingly while she admired her reflection. She pulled the hood over her head, initially hoping to find her reflection looking alluringly mysterious, but instead…

    Instead, an image of her hooded doppelgänger entering Twilight’s library filled her mind, and she took the hood off quickly as she forced the image out of her mind. “Stop it, Rarity,” she hissed under her breath. I should be focusing on other matters… like Princess Luna, for starters.

    Through the mirror’s reflection, she looked at Pinkie Pie helping Fluttershy in the distance.

    Pinkie Pie and Princess Luna—or, rather, the “imaginary” Moonlight Lullaby.

    Everything pointed to Lullaby being Luna, and yet… Why hadn’t Pinkie told anyone of Luna’s whereabouts? Had the princess perhaps forbidden Pinkie from doing so, just like Twilight had? Honestly, what was it with princesses and not wanting to be found? Her only choice was to question Pinkie about Moonlight Lullaby and hopefully get as much information as she could on Princess Luna’s potential whereabouts.

    She made her way back the table and sat down, using her most dazzling grin to catch Pinkie’s attention.

    “What’s up, Rarity?” Pinkie asked, folding her hooves on the table and smiling back. “Did you like your cape?”

    “I do, darling! Very much so,” Rarity replied, adjusting it properly. She then cleared her throat and similarly folded her hooves on top of the table. “I must say, I find Hollow Shades’ fascination with Princess Luna quite charming!” She paused and focused her sight on Pinkie. “Supposing the legend is real—”

    “It is, Rarity!” Pinkie quickly interrupted.

    “Of course! So, knowing the legend is real, where do you suppose Princess Luna might be?” Rarity ventured, trying to guide Pinkie with direct questions before moving on to her other plan.

    Pinkie’s ears dropped. “I don’t know,” she admitted, and Rarity wasn’t able to detect a single hint of dishonesty in the statement. “But I’m going to find out!”

    Plan B it is, then.

    If asking about Princess Luna wasn’t going to lead to any answers, then Moonlight Lullaby it would have to be.

    “And what does Moonlight Lullaby think of it? Surely she must believe in the tale, too?” Rarity sighed theatrically, putting on a sympathetic face. “The poor dear, it’s a shame she’s sick… Actually, Pinkie, I have to admit, I’m rather curious about you two! Could you tell me more about her?”

    “Mh-hm! I love talking about her!” She furrowed her brow in concentration. “…Well, she loves the night! She knows every star and constellation and planet and— I don’t even know how she knows all that! But she can’t see them right now, since she’s sick and all.”

    “Oh, of course…”

    That did make sense, though.

    Princess Luna was—or had been—in charge of the moon, after all. How terrible… If she’s really trapped somewhere, she can’t see the night, can she? It would be like trapping Twilight somewhere without her books. Perhaps that horrid Spirit had shown some kindness to the bookish alicorn.

    “But it’s okay! I draw them for her!” Pinkie added, reaching inside her mane and taking out a small booklet.

    For Rarity to say she wasn’t slightly concerned that such a booklet could fit inside the mare’s mane would have been a lie. How in Equestria did Pinkie manage to store things in her mane like that? Then again, Rarity supposed she’d seen stranger things. She watched as Pinkie flipped through pages and pages of writing and illustrations until she stopped at a two-page crayon drawing of the night sky, the constellations marked out with white lines.

    “Here!” she said, hoofing the book over to Rarity. “Take a look-see!”

    “Oh, how cute!” Rarity said, showing it to Fluttershy, who’d momentarily looked up to admire the drawing. “I’m sure Lullaby must have loved this.” She closed the book after a moment, intending to return it, but her gaze lingered on the title on the cover.

    Pinkie’s Dream Journal — #87

    Hmm… Interesting.

    Just as she made a move to reopen the booklet, Pinkie took it back and, to Rarity’s dismay, returned it to the seemingly endless black hole of her mane.

    “You keep dream journals?” Rarity asked innocently, hoping to draw out more information on the subject. “How interesting!”

    “Yep! Ever since I met Lulla,” Pinkie replied.

    Really?!” Rarity all but shrieked, clapping her forehooves against the table. If she’d been keeping dream journals since she met Luna, then— Oh, Twilight was going to love the information. She then, however, remembered that not only was she a lady, but that she was a lady in a public place. “A-ah, really?” she repeated in a much more socially acceptable volume, clearing her throat and playing with her mane. “Interesting, indeed… Actually, if you don’t mind me asking, how did you meet? I assume you’re foalhood friends?”

    Pinkie nodded. “Yep! She was my first friend when I moved here as a filly!”

    “Moved? From where?”

    “Tall Tales!” Pinkie replied. “I moved here with my parents and sisters when I was a filly. I…” She looked around as if to check that nopony was listening. “I hated it here at first, ’cause it was in the middle of a super scary forest.”

    To an adult, Hollow Shades had charm, and it certainly must be the same to foals who’d been born there, but for a filly who’d been forced to move to such a place… Rarity could see why the little Pinkie Pie might have been afraid. She doubted that she herself would have been too thrilled if she’d been forced to live in the middle of the Everfree Forest as a filly.

    “Well, I hated it ’til I met Lulla, at least. I had really awful nightmares the first week,” Pinkie continued, not noticing how Rarity’s ears perked up immediately. “She would sing lullabies to help me sleep, and then the nightmares went away.”

    “What about the other foals? Did she get along with them too?” Rarity asked. If Pinkie didn’t have any information, maybe the other now-grown foals did.

    Pinkie shook her head. “No. Lulla didn’t like them very much.”

    “Why not?”

    Pinkie looked uncomfortable, making Rarity wonder if perhaps she ought to stop her inquisition, but… she really needed this information.

    “She… She thought they were mean to me,” Pinkie replied finally, intently watching Fluttershy sewing. Rarity remembered the elder mentioning Pinkie had been bullied as a foal. “B-but they weren’t! They just like— They just liked teasing me!” she added. “They used to say that I should go back to Tall Tales ’cause maybe they’d believe my tall tales! Hahaha…” Her laughter, unlike previous times, sounded so… fake and insincere.

    Rarity felt a knot in the pit of her stomach. “That’s not very nice at all…”

    “Lulla used to say that too, but it was all in good fun! They just liked to tease me, really, that’s all!” Pinkie quickly said with a laugh that sounded very forced. Uncomfortable. “Anyway! My parents and my sisters moved back to Tall Tale when I was bigger, but I stayed here.”

    “But… Why not go back with them if you didn’t like it here?” Fluttershy asked, apparently having been paying attention to the conversation. “Was it because you’d miss Lullaby?”

    “Nope. I did stay for Lulla, but because she needed me. She doesn’t have many friends, and I would never let her be lonely!” Pinkie said, lifting her hoof to hold her pendant. “Lulla is my best friend, and even if helping her can be scary sometimes, some friends are worth fighting the scary stuff for, right?”

    Rarity nodded mutely, the earth pony’s words pulling her thoughts away from the conversation at hoof.

    Pinkie stayed because Luna needed her, not the other way around. It reminded her of Twilight, in a way. Rarity herself didn’t need Twilight, did she? She could have gone the rest of her life without ever having met her, and Rarity’s life would have been… fine. But Twilight?

    Twilight Sparkle, who once acted like a terrified animal that had been wounded too badly to ever trust again, and who now had started to open up, to call others “friends,” to… The image of Twilight smiling flashed in Rarity’s mind, and as she started playing with her necklace, words began to flow out of her mouth.

    “I have a friend back home,” she started to say, still smiling at the memory of the giggling alicorn. “She’s rather similar to Lulla. She doesn’t have many friends and she’s…” She paused, idly batting the necklace back and forth. “She is a bit of a… recluse, so to speak, but I’m trying to help change that. Er, well, we are,” she added quickly after noticing Fluttershy.

    “Really?!” Pinkie asked, leaning in on the table. “What’s she like? What’s her name?”

    “Her name? Uh… Well, actually, I also have a nickname for her!” Rarity quickly replied, trying to come up with a nickname and fast. Quick, Rarity, something memorable from your first meeting… Uh… “Sturdy Bookcase!” It wasn’t until after she’d said it that she wanted to slap herself. Sturdy Bookcase? Really? Didn’t poor Twilight already feel guilty enough about that?

    “Bookcase?” Pinkie asked. “I like it! She must love books like Princess Twilight! Is that why you chose that nickname?”

    Or because she is Twilight…

    “Er, I suppose, but it’s more because she’s rather reserved so she doesn’t like it when I tell ponies her real name,” she added, hoping the excuse didn’t sound as flimsy to Pinkie as it did to her.

    “Oh my gosh, she’s just like Lulla!” Pinkie exclaimed, blowing raspberries and resting her chin on her hooves. “She’s so silly! I want to tell everypony about her, but she’s all ‘No, Pinkie, no one must know about us.’ Pfft.”

    “Goodness, Twi— Bookcase is exactly the same!” Rarity replied, rolling her eyes. “Honestly, and there are so many entertaining stories about her, I could write at least two books.” She giggled and nudged Fluttershy with her elbow. “Like the movie projector, remember?”

    It seemed she did, dropping her sewing needle to join Rarity’s giggling. “Oh yes, that was a lot of fun.”

    “It was?!” Pinkie asked, eager to join in on the giggling. “Why? What happened?”

    Rarity bit her lip.

    It… probably wouldn’t hurt to tell this one little story about Twilight, would it? It was just like telling an anecdote from any other friend! Convinced by her own argument, and her intense desire to relive the highlights of the story, she cleared her throat and donned her best story-telling tone of voice.

    “So, when you were a filly, did your teacher ever put on one of those documentaries on the roles of ponies in society?” she asked, trying not to let Fluttershy’s giggling get to her.

    Pinkie nodded. “Uh-huh! We saw the one on pegasi and the weather! Except…” She grimaced. “They were super duper boring…”

    Rarity nodded. “Oh yes, they were absolutely dreadful! Don’t know why they make ponies go through them!” she agreed before waving it off with her hoof. “But that isn’t the point! The point is that, as I mentioned before, my friend is a bit of a recluse, so she’d never even seen or imagined that something like a projector existed,” she explained, Fluttershy’s giggling finally getting to her. She turned to her friend and gestured for her to quiet down despite her own amused snorts. “Fluttershy, please, I’m trying to tell the story!”

    “Sorry,” Fluttershy said, turning to her sewing and failing to hide her grin.

    “One day, we asked the local schoolteacher if we could borrow her projector for a day, along with some of her films,” Rarity continued, “and we took it all the way to my friend’s library.”

    Truthfully, lugging the projector all the way from the school into the forest and back had been quite the ordeal, but everypony’s enthusiasm had been a great motivator—Rarity herself delighted in watching Twilight’s overblown reactions to the most simple modern technology she was presented with.

    “Library?” Pinkie asked, blinking three times. She bit her lip, apparently lost in thought, before shaking her head and then nodding. “Mm-hm… Then what?”

    “So, once it was ready, we sat her down in front of it, started it up, and…” She drifted off, the suspense she was trying to create ruined by Fluttershy’s muffled laughing.

    “…And?” Pinkie asked, looking back and forth between the two mares. “Did she like it? What did she say?”

    “Nothing,” Rarity replied with a devilish smirk. “She said absolutely nothing at all, did she, Fluttershy?”

    “Mm-hm,” Fluttershy said, smiling cryptically.

    “Aw…” Pinkie’s face fell. “She didn’t like it?”

    “Oh, not at all, darling. She absolutely loved it,” Rarity clarified, smiling brightly, still toying with her necklace. “It just took the poor dear around ten minutes to pick her jaw up off the floor in order to speak, is all.”

    “That’s great!” Pinkie said, clapping happily. “So she really super duper liked it?!”

    By this point, Rarity’s giggling had returned full force. “Oh, goodness, I think she must have watched the same documentary at least twenty times! And she kept pointing out the most mundane details as if they were the most fascinating facts on Earth! It was adorable.”

    Pinkie bit her lip. “Lulla doesn’t know about movie projectors, either… Do you think she’d love them too?” she asked, ears flicking up. “Maybe when she— she’s not sick anymore, we could go visit you and your friend.”

    “Oh, I think she’d like that very much,” Rarity replied. The look on Twilight’s face if one day Rarity arrived accompanied by Princess Luna… She looked down at her necklace and sighed. “I think that would make her very happy indeed.”

    “Aww…”

    Rarity looked up to find Pinkie giving her a rather endearing stare, like a foal faced with a little kitten. “Is something the matter?”

    Pinkie quickly shook her head. “Nope! It’s just that I’m happy you have such nice friends, like Fluttershy and Bookcase!” she clarified, smiling cheerfully. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so excited! Ever! Even if we just met… once. You two must be very close!”

    Rarity laughed. “Well, I don’t know if we’re that close yet,” she admitted, finally letting go of the necklace. Or, well, she didn’t know what Twilight really felt toward her, did she? At least she knew they were close enough for Twilight to consider them friends, but… “I hope we are. I like her very much, at least.”

    It wasn’t a lie, but her latter statement got the most unusual response—from Fluttershy. Just as soon as Rarity had finished, the pegasus had let out the smallest of audible giggles—a teasing giggle, which she tried to mask by pretending to focus on the last few stitches of her butterfly. Rarity would have thought nothing of it, usually, but the fact that Fluttershy pointedly turned away with a slightly larger smile when Rarity turned to her, well…

    It was Pinkie Pie who spoke first, though.

    She looked back and forth between the two mares, eyes widening. “Ooooooh.”

    Wait, Rarity hadn’t meant to imply that…

    Pinkie raised her hooves to her mouth and, as if she were a filly with a colossal secret, whispered, “You like like her.”

    Rarity blinked. “I… like like her?” She processed the sentence in her mind, and perhaps what pushed her into reacting wasn’t the statement itself, but rather that her first thought upon hearing it hadn’t been to deny it, but to consider it. “O-oh, no, wait!” she finally blurted out, definitely not nervous in any way. “It’s not like that at all! We’re just very close is all.”

    Rarity’s excitement toward Twilight was purely out of fascination with the legend, not to mention her duty toward helping the princesses now that she was involved. It wasn’t because of any… ulterior motive like…

    Her blush intensified, and she restrained herself from shooting her friend a flustered glare.

    Where had Fluttershy even gotten such a ridiculous notion? And here Rarity thought she was the one who’d read too many romance novels. She couldn’t even imagine it. Twilight was a ghost, an ethereal being who just happened to be… rather cute when she was fascinated by… well, by most anything. She certainly wasn’t unpleasant to look at, either, and she was incredibly intelligent, and…

    And she realized she was doing a very poor job at demonstrating why she didn’t have a crush on the alicorn.

    Which she didn’t!

    “Finished,” Fluttershy announced, putting down the sewing needle and allowing Rarity to inspect her hard work. Once she’d gotten her friend’s seal of approval, she put the cloak on and stepped back so as to allow Rarity and Pinkie Pie to admire her new cape.

    “Ooooh! You look like you live here!” Pinkie exclaimed, as though putting on a black cloak was all it took to look like a Hollow Shades local.

    Unfortunately, it seemed Rarity’s conversation with Pinkie Pie would have to be postponed. With Fluttershy’s cloak done, they didn’t have any more reason to linger inside the workshop.

    The three mares made their way out of the shop and into the now empty streets of Hollow Shades.

    “So, whatcha wanna do now?” Pinkie asked, still eager to continue with her impromptu job of official tour guide. “The shops are closed now, but we can go to the plaza again, or wander in the forest, or go ask Elder Moonshine if she can tell us spooky stories, or—”

    “I think it might be best if we head to our hotel, darling,” Rarity interrupted, offering Pinkie a grateful smile. “You’ve been exceedingly hospitable to us, and we wouldn’t want to impose.”

    Night had fallen several hours earlier, and Rarity knew they’d have to go to sleep soon unless they wanted to risk missing Professor Awe yet again. It was fortunate they’d already found a bed and breakfast to stay at.

    “Aww… That means no super spooky sleepover?” Pinkie said, her mane deflating as did her spirits. “It’s ’cause you wanna see that mean professor, isn’t it?”

    Rarity still didn’t understand what was so terrible about the professor. He had seemed pleasant enough in the article she’d read about him, but he must have done something notably awful if somepony as friendly as Pinkie Pie disliked him.

    “Why don’t we meet up after our visit to the professor?” she suggested, eager to wipe the sad expression off her friend’s face. “Our train home won’t leave until tomorrow night, so if we finish up early, we’ll have most of the day for you to continue showing us around. What do you think, Fluttershy?” she asked, turning to her friend who nodded in reply.

    “Oh yes, I’d like that,” Fluttershy said, smiling at Pinkie.

    “Oh! Okay! We can do that!” Pinkie replied, her cheer returning instantly. “How about we meet up at noon tomorrow? Near Luna’s statue?”

    “That sounds lovely,” Rarity said.

    Now that they’d agreed on a date, Fluttershy and Rarity bid goodbye to Pinkie and trotted off, waving one last time at the pink mare still standing in the street and watching them go. Admittedly, Rarity’s questions about Princess Luna still burned in her mind, and she felt distressed about not knowing for absolute sure.

    If she… If she gave Twilight false hope…

    She let out a sigh and Fluttershy immediately nudged Rarity with a wing.

    “Rarity?” she asked, concern for her friend evident on her face for what must have been the fifth time that night. Rarity decided she really should try and keep her act together, lest she end up making her friend nervous too.

    “Sorry, dear. I was just lost in thought,” she said quickly, running a hoof through her mane. She couldn’t go back to Ponyville without knowing for sure whether Lullaby was Luna, and the only way to do so was to confront Pinkie Pie about it. She just wished she didn’t feel as though it was going to be a very… difficult conversation.

    “Do you want to talk about it?” Fluttershy suggested, smiling kindly at her distraught friend.

    Rarity mulled it over. Telling somepony of Pinkie’s situation and how terribly she’d been bullied wasn’t really a very… tactful thing to do, but it was the possibility of a princess having been found, and she would be confiding in Fluttershy, whom she knew to be one of—if not the—most trustworthy ponies she was friends with.

    “Well…”

    “It’s about Moonlight Lullaby, isn’t it?” Fluttershy asked, smiling meekly when Rarity’s surprised expression gave her an affirmative answer. “You seemed a bit too curious about her.”

    “Ah…” Oh, enough already. She trusted Fluttershy with her life, and she needed to tell somepony or else it would haunt her for the rest of the night.

    “Fluttershy, I have a suspicion about her,” she started, realizing how silly what she was going to suggest sounded. “Now, truthfully, it might sound somewhat… crazy, but—”

    “Rarity, you say that as if we weren’t friends with a spirit trapped in a library,” Fluttershy interrupted, giggling when Rarity rolled her eyes playfully.

    “All right, I get your point,” she said, laughing as well. She took a deep breath, collected her thoughts, and began, “You know how Elder Moonshine and I spoke in private earlier? Well…”


    On the way to the hotel, Rarity told Fluttershy everything she knew about Pinkie and her mysterious friend. The pegasus listened quietly to how Pinkie had claimed as a filly that her friend was Princess Luna, to how she’d been bullied by the other foals, and to how Moonlight Lullaby became a nickname for the imaginary friend the entire town said she had.

    By the time she’d finished her long story, they’d already reached the hotel, gone up to their room, and Rarity had finished taking off her makeup and other things. She may have gotten a little distracted complaining about how Twilight hadn’t allowed her to mention her existence, but when she sat down on her bed, she was ready to hear Fluttershy’s opinion.

    “It just doesn’t make any sense,” Rarity said, stifling a yawn. “Why is she the only one who can see the princess? Are there any conditions to ‘seeing’ her? And when I asked, she said she had no idea where Princess Sele— Luna was. I’d feel inclined to assume she’s lying to protect the princess, but…”

    “But…?”

    “But if that were true, why would she then claim she ‘believes’ in Princess Luna?” Rarity replied, levitating a brush over and running it through her mane. “Why would she say she believes in her, yet not say where she is? Wouldn’t it help to have evidence of the princess’s existence?” She put the brush down and sighed. Unless Pinkie can’t show proof of Luna? If she says she saw her in her dreams… but then why wouldn’t the princess tell her where she is?

    “Don’t worry, Rarity. We’ll understand more when we talk to Professor Awe tomorrow,” Fluttershy said, attempting to soothe the increasingly frustrated unicorn. “And you said you’d talk to Pinkie tomorrow about Princess Luna, didn’t you?”

    “I have to, but I just wish… Things would be so much simpler if Twilight were here with us. Maybe she’d know… Well, I don’t know if she’d know if it was the princess, but I just… wish she were here.” Rarity toyed with her necklace, thoughts again drifting toward the alicorn. What was Twilight doing at that moment? Why was she so worried…? “Maybe we should go to bed. All this aimless speculation won’t get us anywhere.”

    The two mares lay down on their respective beds, Rarity using her magic to flick the lights out. Unfortunately, sunk in the darkness, her mind started to wander toward its favorite subject whenever she had a brief moment of respite.

    Twilight.

    It was silly, wasn’t it? The first time, when she left for Canterlot, her only thought regarding Twilight while she was away had been to try and figure out what the story behind her was, but now it was different. Now her thoughts were not wholly consumed by the mystery surrounding the alicorn, but by the alicorn herself, and what she was doing, and how she was feeling.

    What was she doing back home in the library? Rarity snorted at her own question. That had an obvious answer: Twilight was probably—no, definitely—reading a book, as she always was when Rarity barged in, announced or not. Except for that one time she’d found Twilight playing with Elara and Themis, and Rarity’s giggling had given away the fact that she was watching.

    The memory alone made her feel giddy and she tried very hard to stifle the giggle bubbling up in her throat. She should have taken a picture of the moment instead of cooing at it from afar. Actually, no, she should have taken a picture of how mortified Twilight looked, caught being adorable with her owls. She rolled over again, biting down a large smile.

    Goodness, Twilight is rather cute, isn’t she?

    “Rarity?” Fluttershy yawned, turning around to look at her friend in the darkness. “Why are you laughing?”

    Rarity felt her face grow hot. “O-oh! Sorry, darling, it’s nothing!” she quickly blurted out, clearing her throat and turning on her side to face Fluttershy. “I was only remembering something Twilight did some time ago.”

    She was about to wish her friend a good night, but stopped herself the second she heard Fluttershy snort in the same way she earlier had earlier with Pinkie Pie.

    “Fluttershy, Twilight is just a friend,” Rarity said, trying to sound stern despite the blush on her face and the hesitation she felt at her own claim. “I haven’t the faintest idea why you keep giggling like that when I mention her, but I’d like that to be clear.”

    “I know, Rarity,” Fluttershy replied, stifling a yawn which Rarity was positive was a cover for another giggle. “I just think it’s nice you and Princess Twilight are so close. The princesses are lucky.”

    “Lucky?”

    Fluttershy sat up, rubbing her eyes. “Princess Luna is lucky to have such a good friend like Pinkie Pie, and Princess Twilight is lucky to have such a good friend like you,” she elaborated.

    “Twilight has you too, darling. And Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo,” Rarity reminded her, even if she privately reveled in the fact that she’d been singled out. “You mustn’t diminish the part you’ve played here. You’re just as important as I am in helping her.”

    Fluttershy nodded. “Oh, I know, and I’m very grateful for my friendship with Princess Twilight,” she replied, lying back down on her bed and stifling another yawn. “It’s just that she seems to like you very much, and I’m happy for her that you like her very much too.”

    “Oh…” Rarity watched Fluttershy for a moment before lying back down. “You say that, but sometimes I wonder if the only thing she likes very much are her books,” she said jokingly, a smile spreading across her lips.

    “Good night, Rarity.”

    “Good night, Fluttershy,” Rarity said, rolling over, closing her eyes and letting her thoughts wander back to her friend’s claim.

    Princess Twilight seems to like you very much…

    She let her thoughts cling to that claim, a warmth spreading across her chest, and her blush remaining prominent. She thought about Twilight one last time, wondered what she was doing one last time, hoped she was still safe from the Spirit before allowing her nearly faded mind to ask one last question as it drifted off into sleep.

    When did I start caring about that silly alicorn so much?


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    1. A Deer
      Nov 17, 22 at 8:18 pm

      It’s always a sweet moment when someone realizes they might have feelings for the ghost princess trapped under a tree library in the spooky woods outside their town. And good thing Rarity can turn to memories of Twilight after her scary ordeal in the last chapter. If the ordeal was meant to frighten Rarity away it didn’t work. Instead it seems Rarity is more determined. She grows stronger under pressure and heat. Like a diamond.

      The conversations in this chapter really drove the story. Felt like I was sitting there as part of the group. Just relaxing. Talking about our day. And our secret ghost princesses that I’m sure we all know about already. The dialogue was nice and crisp. Kept the pace at a good tempo. Felt very real. A lot came through the dialogue. Really made this chapter fun.

    2. Zanna Zannolin
      Sep 1, 22 at 8:02 pm

      YESSS my favorite trope: the italicized oh moment except even better.

      full disclosure i had this elaborate plan where to distract myself from an upcoming job interview i was going to read one chapter this afternoon and it would be like WOW you didn’t expect THAT did you and then i ended up doing laundry instead so just one chapter today like all the rest.

      this is such a fun one though like. i love when people are completely oblivious to their feelings and then someone looks at them and goes “ohhhhhh okay you like them/you’re in love with them” and the character is like i am WHAT. the flustered shock is so funny every time and with rarity it just heightens the experience. i love rarity and fluttershy’s friendship as i’ve said and i love the thought of fluttershy having to just watch twilight and rarity be smitten and clueless and do a facehoof. they’re SO dumb and i love it.

      and like i said last time i cherish pinkie and luna as a duo i don’t know why it works but it absolutely does. the story of pinkie growing up is just so….like jesus it makes me so sad. there’s this post on tumblr that compiles things a lot of comedians have said about how being funny is their way of looking for love and i think about pinkie pie a lot in relation to that. she is so nuanced and i can’t stop thinking about it.

      rarity and pinkie exchanging stories about their princesses without actually saying who they are is so personal to me. like yes queens bond! BOND! i can’t wait til pinkie gets to meet twilight.

      and lmao rarity’s denial is delightfully funny. you’re like just oh darling you are really in for it huh. the slowburn in this fic is so great because it’s both realistic, heartwrenching, and fucking hilarious like it makes me laugh so much. and WOOO next chap brazened awe…he is like a brother to me….