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    Written while listening to Just A Man from Epic: The Troy Saga.

    She hadn’t slept well. 

    It hadn’t even been because of nightmares or things of that sort. She truly and simply just had a restless night—the kind where one is half-asleep the entire time, but awake enough that there is no rest. 

    She was so tired that day, and even more so when she heard yelling coming from the theatre room. 

    A brawl had erupted between two colts—an argument over a toy—which ended with one of them sporting a black eye and bloody nose. Hours later, Rarity had to stand there quietly and contritely, shame burning her, as the rightfully furious parent lashed out at her during closing time. 

    “We’re new at this,” Pinkie insisted as the three walked into the bakery. “Hiccups are always gonna happen! We’re allowed to fail.”

    “Yeah!” Incantation had agreed, her supportive expression vanishing as soon as she turned back and saw Rarity. “B-Boss?”

    Rarity stood under the frame of the door, her pride drowning in as much pain as her eyes were in tears. They were wrong, she thought. She wasn’t allowed to fail. She wasn’t allowed to fail at yet another thing, she wasn’t, she wasn’t, she couldn’t.

    Incantation and Pinkie were at her side before she’d even hit the floor, a weeping symphony flooding the room. Flooding the room, and her eyes, and her soul, and even more so as every single part of her suddenly bled for Twilight Sparkle. 

    I miss Twilight. 

    “Rarity, it’s okay,” Pinkie insisted, desperate to alleviate her friend’s pain. “It’s okay, really!”

    “I-I’m sorry,” Rarity said, ashamed at herself for crying because no one should ever see their employer sob like a filly. She tried to wipe her tears away, but the more she wiped, the more they came, and the more desperate she felt.

    “You’re just tired, boss,” Incantation continued, and that felt even worse. 

    She felt so worthless, a tired wreck who was not even able to take care of two bloody foals. 

    And then Pinkie said it, holding her close: “You’re not alone.”

    And she wasn’t wrong. She wasn’t, Rarity knew this, and the shame scalding her quadrupled when the words left her mouth without her consent, her hoof gripping the pink pendant of the shackle choking her neck.  

    “But I am.”

    Because they weren’t Twilight. 

     Because she wanted it to be Twilight there consoling her, because no pony understood this, because if Twilight was there she’d have a clever solution or something snarky to say and Rarity would laugh and things would be okay. 

    But instead she had two friends who loved her entirely, and how vile and pathetic she felt at the thought that she’d trade them away in an instant.

    Trade them without a second thought in exchange for a moment of comfort from the one who’d shut her out. 

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    1. Gearcrow
      Apr 22, '23 at 2:56 am

      This last part hits hard. There is only so much control we can exercise over our emotions, and the shame of failing to feel what is “right”, what we imagine is expected, that shame is searing and impossible and self-fueling. And the way in which we tie each event in our lives, particularly the great ones and the horrible ones, to everything else in a web of convoluted mixed up causes and effects, it’s something none of us can really prevent. It’s all ugly and difficult and fundamentally human, a universal experience we’re all too afraid to share.

    2. Cynewulf
      Apr 14, '23 at 9:48 am

      I’d love to see Twilight wrestle with this idea going forward, weighing warring emotions and needs. As grief matures it spreads out, as we’re seeing here, but it also in my experience grows more complex–we mourn not only the lost thing, and ourself in relation to it, but everything else in relation to the loss and our now changed self.

    3. A Deer
      Apr 13, '23 at 10:36 pm

      Grief can be one of those wounds that never seems to want to close. And then it may be fragile at times even after closing. Twilight and Rarity formed such a deep bond as their relationship grew that to have it pulled away so suddenly is shocking. It’s like you’re missing some part of yourself. It can be traumatic. Being alone with thoughts is one of the harder parts. Like Rarity wanting sleep to come resonates with me. Missing people is hard – especially those with whom we formed close special bonds.

      These chapters are pretty heavy. A lot of emotion is packed into them. And they show how Rarity struggles with trying to heal. The way the emotion comes from them is well done. It brought me into her world at a tough time for her.

    4. SigmasonicX
      Apr 13, '23 at 9:47 pm

      These are some really strong chapters, and you can really sympathize with Rarity here. Her cycling through the stages of grief instead of just finishing at acceptance hit especially hard, and you can see how this would all lead into her behavior in TEK.

      It was also interesting seeing a brief look at the start of Dreamland, and how they weren’t all immediate masters of watching over kids.

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