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    I cried for two weeks straight when my parents left the city and I moved into the Lady’s house.

    I pressed my face against my pillow at night, desperately hoping it would muffle my sobs while I clutched my mother’s farewell letter against my chest.

    I felt ashamed; aghast at the fact that I dared weep when the Lady had given me all that I’d ever wanted. She allowed me to stay in the city, she filled my belly with feasts unlike my parents were ever able to serve, she financed my education in the best high school that money could afford.

    She’d even offered to do the same when Sweetie Belle came of age.

    My parents had been beside themselves with gratitude

    So was I, I thought, and yet…

    And yet there I was, a weeping fourteen year old whispering for her mother, wishing she hadn’t moved away to the other side of the country, and feeling awful for wishing it.

    It was silly of me to think the Lady didn’t hear me every night. How could she not when so little happened in this city that she did not know about?

    You would think her cruel. Who would stand by a door and listen to a child weep and do nothing about it?

    The truth was, you see, she felt guilty.

    Sitting on her reading chair, every night staying up until I fell asleep, Lady Celestia felt quite, quite guilty.

    She was stung by the fact that I wept for my mother, and horrified that she was stung at all. She should be grateful, and I don’t say that in any ill way, but because that’s precisely what she thought.

    You might think I’d been the privileged one, the one who’d gained more, but the Lady thought differently. It was not me that should be grateful she let me stay, it was she that should be grateful I stayed.

    I’ve mentioned this before, or hinted at it at the very least, but the Lady was lonely. Unmarried by choice, single by choice, childless by choice, and she was fine with it all until she met me. In the same way she had changed my life, so had I changed hers, and yet…

    She had never really understood how important I was until the day my mother said goodbye.

    “You’ll write to me, won’t you?” my mother had asked the day she left, standing by the mansion’s doors with tears in her eyes as the Lady watched. Guilty. “Tell me about your first day in high school, and about your friend, and your first boyfriend, and your first—” Her words had been caught in the emotion of it all, of all the things she now realized she wouldn’t be there for, and her eyes welled up with tears.

    “I’m sorry,” she said, and to this day the memory pains me, of her thinking she’d somehow failed. “It’s expensive here, and your father needs the job and… and—”

    “It’s alright! It’s fine, it’s fine,” I told her. I stood tall and proud, a child trying to look like what she wasn’t. “I’ve grown up. I’ll be fine.”

    She stroked my cheek and laughed softly. “My grown-up girl.”

    I remember still how she stood up and looked at Celestia, their gaze holding a conversation I couldn’t understand as a child.

    My mother tried to speak.

    “Dear La—”

    “Please,” the Lady softly interrupted.

    My mother tried to smile, and overcome by emotions and stress and the unbearable pain of saying goodbye to your child, she forgot to be discreet and took out a thick white envelope from her bag.

    It was the Lady who reacted first, her hand going to my shoulder and her voice gentle but stern. “Rarity, please give us a moment, won’t you?”

    My mother reacted to that, her eyes widening and the envelope quickly returning to her bag.

    “What was that?” I asked, foolish, foolish, foolish. I’d heard them talking before, about matters that did not concern me, and I decided to make them my concern. “Is that money? It is, isn’t it? I heard you talking to father!” I was horrified, by the idea of my mother losing money, and my stay with the Lady becoming a transaction. “You need that money! For you and father and Sweetie! You don’t have to pay her!” I turned to the Lady and expected her to agree, which she surely did. “Isn’t that right, Auntie Celestia?!”

    If the Lady looked uncomfortable, she did not show it, and neither did she voice her agreement with my statements. She only offered my mother a sympathetic smile.

    My mother bent down, tears still in her eyes. “Rarity,” she whispered, almost pleaded. “Please go inside.”

    “But mo—”

    “Please,” she said, quietly and forcefully and painfully proud, “please let me do this. Just this one thing.” She smiled shakily at me and brushed back my hair. “Go inside. Please.”

    And so I did, shaken by something I didn’t understand as a child, shaken just as the Lady had been shaken by the entire display. Shaken at being shown so completely how one who has so little will still insist on being able to give her not just what they believed was owed, but what they held most dear if it was what seemed right to do.

    This moment, this frame of time was fresh in her memory every time she heard my cry, every time we were both beset by our oppressive guilt.

    I, for feeling I’d replaced my mother with Celestia.

    The Lady, for loving me as though I was hers.

    So she waited, every night, as my sobs filtered through the air, and decided that I should come to her. She’d been taught as a child that a girl should cry in her mother’s arms, and so she would wait every night until I came out, if I came out.

    She would not take anyone’s place unless it was needed.

    She would act as my mother, if and only if I allowed it.

    Relief flooded her the night I came out, found her sitting in the library, rushed into her arms to cry, and so did we allow ourselves to forget our guilt and forget her place.

    Forget it when I’d tumble onto her bed, a teenager ready to vent to her mother

    Forget it when she’d scold me over my rebellions, my whiny yells echoing throughout the mansion.

    Forget it when I teased her relentlessly over the many men that vied her attention, scorning those that had children that might take my place.

    Forget it when I admired and loved her much in the same way she did me.

    But we knew what was real, did we not? We allowed ourselves to forget, but this does not mean it wasn’t still there, waiting in the wings for the perfect moment to come out, and it did!

    It did, this weapon we had, the most cutting sword we could ever use against each other.

    She wasn’t my mother, she knew, but never had it struck her so fiercely as the day we last spoke, when I hissed it to her myself.

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    1. Silver Mint
      Sep 13, '22 at 1:16 am

      There are so many emotions here that I can’t unpack them all. Rarity, Rarity’s mother, Celestia… Everything is… Real. Everything is real.

      A child cannot help but love their mother no matter what. Even if that mother is not their biological one.

      There are so many things in this short chapter, but I can’t mention them all.

    2. platinumSKIES
      Jul 7, '22 at 2:06 pm

      Nothing is worse than a lie that everyone wants to believe…but knows they can’t in the end.