She hadn’t been able to sleep since they came back from the library.
She simply lay on the edge of her bed, unable to tear her eyes away from the sleeping alicorn beside her, the ink all over her coat staining the sheets and Sweetie Belle huddled next to her.
For hours, she was convinced it was a dream. It had to be. Any moment now, she thought, she’d hear Incantation yelling her name, she’d wake up back at Hollow Shades, and Twilight would still be sealed inside the library.
But the hours had passed, and the more they passed, the more she had to confront the fact that it wasn’t a dream.
Twilight really had been freed from the library.
Pinkie was awake when Rarity came down the stairs at around five in the morning.
“Rarity!” she exclaimed, and she was happy, and thrilled, and delighted, and it was jarring. “You’re awake! Were you too excited to sleep, too?!”
Rarity smiled thinly. “Ah. I suppose I was.”
It was jarring and uncomfortable, and Rarity didn’t know why, but it was. Hours ago, she’d shared that joy! Double, even triplefold, endlessly relieved and overjoyed that Twilight was back, completely drunk in the euphoria of what seemed to be a miracle.
She’d been happy, but somewhere in between then and now, reality had settled and now she was something else. Something she didn’t quite want to think about it, because whatever it was, it felt bad.
It felt frightening.
She hadn’t seen Twilight Sparkle in two years.
She’d been torn apart from Twilight longer than she’d actually had her.
She made herself tea, in this house from this town she’d abandoned from sheer paralyzing grief—over somepony she’d only known for a year! Dear stars, dear stars, dear stars above—listening quietly as Pinkie rambled on and on. How excited she was! How thrilled! If Princess Twilight had gotten out, then Princess Luna would, too! With every excited hop around the kitchen, the pink necklace Pinkie had been wearing for over a year bounced on her chest. It bounced, and bounced, and it was transfixing and mesmerizing until Rarity remembered when she’d taken it off.
Remembered the hazy hours of staring at the necklace for days on end feeling like nothing else mattered.
She quickly looked away, fixing her stare on her cup of tea and the drops spattered on the table around it, and she hated it.
How she hated it.
Pinkie left a little later, off to see Mister and Missus Cake so she could use their kitchen to bake Twilight a cake. Rarity waved her off, standing under the frame of the front door, and when Pinkie was but a speck in the distance, she went back inside to pour herself another cup.
This time, her hoof was steady. A small insignificant detail, but it mattered to her.
She sat down at the kitchen table, dropped a sugarcube inside, and then stirred the tea with her magic. Stirred, and stirred, and stirred it, a mechanical motion that allowed her to press her chin on her hoof and look off into the distance, her thoughts drifting her away.
For the past two years, after a six-month haze of grief, Rarity the unicorn was fearless. Fearless enough to leave her hometown, fearless enough to be blinded into abandoning her fashion career and everything she’d built, fearless enough to try and free Princess Luna from her cave. All these things that might have once frightened or stopped her did not anymore.
She hadn’t been afraid of anything going wrong, because no matter what happened, no matter how badly it went, no matter what it was, nothing in the world would ever absolutely and completely shatter her as much as losing Twilight had. Nothing could devastate her as that had.
One couldn’t really fear death anymore when one had already died.
And now, all of a sudden, Twilight was back.
Just like that.