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    Shall we swoon over the day Celestia taught Rarity that
    Flying on Cloud Nine
    was not impossible after all


    If Rarity had to find a word with which to describe that particular night, she would have settled on the word ‘remarkable’.

    Yes, a rather remarkable night due in part to three simple things. Firstly, it was Canterlot’s Grand Winter Gala, where designers from all over came to flaunt their artistic creations to the wealthiest of nobles. Secondly, Rarity was attending as the personal guest of Princess Celestia. And thirdly, well…

    The poor little unicorn was shamelessly infatuated with the ruler of the sun herself.

    The fantastically fabulous fashion event had gone on well into the night, and Rarity had reaped many of the benefits of attending. Her newest fashion line — inspired by the Elements of Harmony — had been a resounding success, as it should be; her social network, which had been nothing to scoff at, mind you, had grown exponentially; and everything seemed to be going according to plan.

    Except for the princess.

    The princess and her silly little shameful crush, which was maddening in just how much it affected Rarity’s ability to enjoy herself.

    Stars, she finally understood how Twilight felt that one time at the Grand Galloping Gala.

    “Now, Rarity, stop this,” the unicorn said to her reflection in the bathroom mirror, frowning at it for good measure. “We are better than this.”

    This, by the way, being giggling like a smitten schoolfilly the second Celestia smiled her way. Or when she complimented Rarity’s dress. Or when that one pompous noble was droning on and on, and Celestia caught Rarity’s eyes and did a show of rolling her eyes for Rarity’s entertainment, and stars above, why is she so perfect?

    “Hello?” called a voice from outside, a knock following shortly after. “Excuse me, will you be a while longer?”

    “N-no, no!” Rarity quickly called back. “I’ll be out in a minute!” That said, she turned back to her reflection in the mirror and gave herself a threatening stare. “Enough.”

    After a satisfied nod, she gathered her things and finally exited out into the fray, where the chatter of ponies filled the air, tickling Rarity’s ears as she stood in place before the door, her eyes scanning the crowd.

    Scanning for what? Not for Celestia!

    Well, all right, she could be honest, if only with herself and the readers of this tale, that yes, she was very subtly keeping an eye out for the lady of the day. You know, if she had to really sit there and think about it, she’d be hard-pressed to determine exactly when respect for the princess turned into something far more intimate.

    If you’d have told her a year ago, before she took the job in the castle, that she’d be head-over-hooves for the princess, she would have laughed.

    “Uhm, Miss?”

    Rarity blinked. “Hmm?”

    The slightly bouncing mare smiled painfully and gestured to the bathroom door Rarity had been firmly planted in front of for about a minute.

    “Oh!” she blurted out, moving out of the way. “Goodness, I’m so sorry! Do excuse me!”

    Shame burned her. How awful! Look at her, daydreaming like that! She was a lady! A paragon of propriety and nonchalance and poker faces! Why, she’d perfected poker-facing to an artform, she had!

    And in fact, she set out to prove it by engaging passing nobles in trivial conversations. They spoke about the weather, they spoke about the dresses, they spoke about all things that should be spoken of at an event such as this one.

    They also spoke of the Princess.

    “She seemed rather antsy,” noted Gold Lining, peering into his glass of wine.

    “Antsy?” asked Rarity, a flicker of concern alighting within her. Drat! If she’d spent more time with Celestia, she might know what afflicted her belo—the princess’s soul. “Whatever do you mean?”

    “She seems distracted,” Gold elaborated. “I was trying to tell her about my recent trip to Heart’s Haven — you know, that changeling village in the west — and the entire time she’d glance away looking for someone! If I were a lesser pony, I might have called her rude.”

    A hint of jealousy crept into Rarity’s heart.

    My, my, my.

    What a lucky pony, whoever this pony may be.

    “Lookie here. If it ain’t the belle of the ball.”

    The entire world froze around Rarity, and certainly not in the breathtaking way when one’s beloved has just appeared from thin air, holding a rose in their mouth and looking very dashing, oh no. The world froze in the way it freezes when somepony you’ve been trying to avoid finds you and you wish you could jump out the window.

    But Rarity was a lady, so she took a breath, donned a practiced smile and turned around to face the noblestallion she’d been avoiding the entire damn night.

    Rarity would hesitate to describe Flatter Gust unkindly, both physically and spiritually. A stallion of, shall we say, robust qualities, he was known for laughing loudly, smiling widely, and poking his nose wherever it could be poked. He wasn’t a bad pony, please do understand, but Rarity’s horror at finding him was more due to his endless persistence.

    Persistence over what, you might ask?

    Hold that thought.

    “Ah! Lord Gust, how nice to see you!” Rarity replied, smiling as one should towards someone who had, all things said and done, always been polite to her. “How are you?”

    “Good, good!” he exclaimed jovially, bowing his head, and then he winked. “Now that you’re here, especially!”

    Rarity laughed good-naturedly, even if she had to internally groan at the absolute cliché of a line.

    Now, remember that thought you were previously asked to hold? Bring it back now. You see, when Rarity first met this stallion and his string of flatteries and praises and the like, she thought she knew exactly what he wanted from her.

    Well, she was wrong.

    “I’m delighted to brighten your day, my Lord,” she said, eager to get away. “And now, if you’ll—”

    “Rarity, my girl,” he interrupted because of course he would. “I trust you’ve been lookin’ for Sweet Breeze, haven’t you?” He winked. “I hear she’s been lookin’ for you too.”

    Rarity couldn’t stop the pained smile. “My Lord,” she said, as politely as she could when about to reject somepony for the umpteenth time, “I really must insist that as lovely as your daughter is and as fervent as her modelling desires are, I cannot hire her as the exclusive model for my designs.”

    “But Rarity!” he insisted. “She’s a beaut’, she is! Proper beautiful, and hasn’t gone on any of them magic diets or nothin’! You just need to give her a real good look and you’ll get plenty of good ideas!”

    “I don’t doubt any of that, my Lord,” Rarity said, holding the urge to add that none of that made up for the frightful attitude his daughter was rumored to have. “But… I am very particular with my designs, you must understand.”

    “No, no, you’ll see!” he insisted. “In fact, let me tell you…”

    And so, without concern for a poor mare who wanted to find her crush, he swished his glass of wine around and spoke about the fabulosities of his daughter in extreme detail.

    If she were Rainbow Dash, she might have told him something terribly rude like, “Listen, dude! Your daughter’s a stuck-up brat and I, like, do not want to hire her, got it? Geez!”

    But she wasn’t Rainbow Dash, so she didn’t, and actually, she wasn’t altogether sure why she’d just thought of Rainbow Dash.

    Was it the wine she’d had earlier? It was probably the wine, loosening her inhibitions.

    Stars, where was the waiter when you needed him?

    “Lord Gust,” interrupted the most heart-meltingly celestial voice in Equestria. “How nice to see you!”

    With the grace of the heavens, Princess Celestia walked towards Rarity and the lord, and Rarity dearly hoped the expression on her face did not match the excitement of her heart. Control, Rarity, control.

    “Princess!” exclaimed Gust. “Good to see you! I was just havin’ a right wonderful conversation with Rarity here.”

    The Princess smiled. “I’m not surprised!” she exclaimed. “Most conversations with her tend to be wonderful.”

    CONTROL, RARITY, CONTROL.

    Rarity laughed a bit too loudly. “Princess, don’t be such a flatterer,” she said.

    “I’m not,” replied the Princess. “I am merely stating facts.” Before Rarity could giggle like a filly, the princess turned to the lord. “Wouldn’t you agree, Lord Gust?”

    “I would indeed!” he said. “In fact, I think she could teach my daughter a thing or two!” He leaned towards the princess and loudly whispered, “Trying to get Rarity here to hire her as a model, you see? Almost got it in the bag!”

    Recognition flashed in the princess’s eyes. She’d heard of this, you see, mostly because Rarity had whi—expressed her frustrations regarding the matter a few days before while working on a dress for Celestia.

    “Oh?” asked the princess. “I have to walk back towards the entrance, but I would love to hear about your daughter, if you’ll accompany me.”

    “Why, I’d love nothin’ more!” he said, missing the wink Celestia threw Rarity’s way.

    And so, with great amounts of relief and gratitude, Rarity watched Celestia guide the lord away. Or, rather, she felt relief until she remembered one of the two ponies walking away was the only one she was even remotely interested in spending time with.

    Well, now what?

    Drown her sorrows in ice cream? Was there even ice cream?

    As it turned out, there wasn’t any ice cream to be found on the dessert table, much to Rarity’s chagrin. How was she supposed to be a martyr if she lacked the proper tools? Who’d ever heard of eating your woes away with cupcakes?

    Oh well, it’s what Pinkie would have wanted, she told herself, levitating a vanilla cupcake with lavender frosting and taking a bite, and another, and then another until she’d eaten about four of them and had clearly lost all control of her life.

    Four cupcakes! The end was nigh, no doubt.

    “Hard to resist, aren’t they?”

    Rarity choked on her red-velvet. She would deny it if ever questioned, but it’s important this fact is known. If Twilight Sparkle were there, she might have said something like, ‘If you believe in the multiple universe theory, there’s a universe out there where you died from choking on a cupcake!’

    Twilight was a strange and perplexing individual, but she had a good heart and was cute to look at, so this could be overlooked.

    Regardless, going back to the story, Rarity choked on a delicious red-velvet cupcake at the sound of Celestia’s voice.

    “Princess!” exclaimed the unicorn, her eyes glancing around for Lord Gust. “However did you escape him?”

    The princess raised an eyebrow. “Now, Rarity…”

    “However did you… how shall I put this kindly…”

    “Lord Gust is more talkative than I remembered, but I parted ways with him after Archminister Burro distracted him for me,” she said, sitting next to Rarity and levitating a cupcake over. She took a big bite that left frosting on her lips, after which she sighed in delight and everything about her was perfect, and adorable and wonde—” Truthfully, I was hoping to find you alone, Rarity. There’s something I need to ask you.”

    “Ask me?” Rarity said carefully.

    She expected something rather upsetting, but the question that came next was surprisingly benevolent, genuinely interested and a fair bit concerned.

    “I trust you’re having a good time?”

    “Oh yes!” Rarity replied at once. Rambled on for a bit about how everything was perfect, just delightful, and how nice the music was, and the ravishing comments her designs got, and thank you ever so much for inviting her.

    “Good,” Celestia replied, and it felt much more like a comment to herself rather than Rarity, like what one might when proud of one’s achievements.

    It made her seem a bit more mortal, somehow; the idea that she worried over whether things had gone right or wrong.

    “How did your evening go?” Rarity asked in turn.

    The Princess was reserved with her reply. “It went well,” she said at first and then paused for a moment. “As well as it has always gone.”

    Rarity smiled. “A little bored, were you?”

    A teacup and its saucer appeared before Celestia, and Rarity could barely repress a smile. One should always take a moment to be dramatic before a confession, she concluded as she watched the princess take a delicate sip.

    “Is it that obvious?”

    Rarity laughed. “Not unless you’re looking for the signs, no.”

    The princess took another long sip before offering Rarity yet another scandalous confession.

    “In truth, I had been hoping to spend more time with you, Rarity,” she said, and the poor little unicorn could only thank the stars Celestia was too busy staring at distant nobles to see the blush on her face.

    “Really?” she asked, and her voice was not a little higher than usual, and her heart was not drumming up a solo.

    Celestia continued to speak, explaining that so many ponies had been vying for her attention unfortunately, especially after that scandal in Trottingham, and then so many of them wanted to know about her plans for the Hearth Warming Celebrations and to make a long paragraph short, the point was that…

    “It’s hard to have time to do what you want when you’re Princess Celestia?” Rarity ventured, and further grinned at the princess’s comical long-suffering sigh. “Aaaah.” She giggled. “The trials and tribulations of the famous.”

    In a rare gesture, the princess rolled her eyes at Rarity, and the unicorn almost wanted to comment on how she now knew who’d taught Twilight the gesture.

    Eventually, and by eventually this means right after the rolling of her eyes, the princess put the tea back on the table, finished her cupcake and her entire aura changed as she suddenly stood up straight.

    “Well!” she said with a tone that compelled Rarity to stand upright as well. “I’m going to retire to the castle now,” she continued before very, very, very politely adding, “Would you like to join me?”

    The entire world came to a stop.

    If Twilight Sparkle were there she might have pointed out that that was impossible, Rarity, but actually Rarity didn’t know why she was thinking of Twilight Sparkle when her entire world had… metaphorically stopped? Spiritually? Oh, whatever.

    Standing there, in a world that frankly should have stopped, thank you very much, Rarity took in the fact that Princess Celestia had just asked her, privately and personally, if she wanted to retire home with her.

    She had to be dreaming. She had to! Somepony pinch her! Or not, because on second thought, she did not want to wake up from the dream if it was indeed a dream.

    Additionally, were she Rainbow Dash and not a lady, she might have been inclined to wonder just what room of the castle Celestia had invited her to, but she wasn’t Rainbow Dash so she didn’t wonder.

    “P-Pardon?” she asked.

    The princess elaborated. “I think we’ll be able to talk more comfortably away from the crowds? The library should be empty now.”

    Which was exactly what Rarity had been hoping she’d say. Really, who even daydreams about having the princess confess her undying love and whisk her away to her private cha—

    Ah-hem.

    “Princess, I would love nothing more!” Rarity exclaimed with a dashing smile.

    The princess, pleased by her answer, regaled Rarity with the cutest little smile that was certainly illegal somehow. She then gestured towards the faraway exit.

    “Shall we?”

    They began to move, but a few steps in and it was clear that their path to freedom would not be so simple unless they swam through a sea of ponies who would doubtless engage them in trivial conversation. That, and the fact that Rarity could clearly see Lord Gust and his daughter standing right next to the exit.

    “Is something wrong?” Celestia asked, stopping in her tracks.

    Rarity offered a pained smile. “Ah… Well…”

    To her great fortune, the princess was not born yesterday. She scanned the crowd for a moment and then turned to Rarity with a teasing smile.

    “Somepony near the entrance that you’d like to avoid?”

    Rarity deflated.

    “Yes,” she confessed. “I’ve… ah… rejected the poor lord so many times, I’d rather not have to do it again. You’d think that with so many fantastic designers here, he might have had a change of heart, but…”

    “I see,” Celestia said and her teasing smile grew when she echoed Rarity’s earlier statement. “The trials and tribulations of being exceptionally talented.”

    Before Rarity could even hope to swoon over the compliment, the princess smiled mischievously.

    “I have an idea,” she said, and without further explanation, trotted off.

    An intrigued Rarity followed her past the table of delicacies, past the huddles of gossiping nobles, out into a grand balcony and the moment Rarity joined her outside, the two crystal doors closed behind her.

    “Princess?” asked Rarity after a sneeze from the sudden breeze.

    “Sometimes,” Celestia began to say, turning towards Rarity and ruffling her wings, “I like to leave events without making too much of a hassle.”

    And I’m very sure you can imagine the state of Rarity’s poor heart when Princess Celestia extended her beautiful wings before her, and noted with a charming smile that it was a lovely night for a quick flight.

    And the thing is, unfortunately, that Rarity’s heart was not wildly beating because of the reasons one might expect—not entirely, at least. She was surprised, and she was delighted, but she was also overcome with a rather unpleasant feeling.

    She stepped back and swallowed. “Oh…”

    The princess was determined. “Well?”

    Rarity’s smile was very, very pained and in more ways than one as she forced herself to speak. “Princess, this is very kind of you to offer, but… I can’t.”

    Celestia did not yet retreat her lovely wings.

    “I assure you it’s not an imposition,” she said with the tone she must have used thousands of times when trying to convince ponies that she really was the same as them.

    And poor Rarity, though it pained her and it really truly did, said again, “I can’t, Princess…”

    Eternity passed in a moment.

    Eternity until Celestia straightened up and tucked away not only her wings, but whatever defense she had no doubt let down.

    “Very well, then,” she said, and gone was that little familiarity that had warmed her tone, making it very clear that Rarity was no longer addressing Celestia, but The Princess.

    The princess made a move towards the doors. “Well, I’m sure we can be quick about it and avoid him!” she offered, the chirp in her voice feeling more than a little fabricated.

    And Rarity…

    Rarity…

    Wait!” she exclaimed, finally.

    Celestia stopped and turned to her.

    “Yes?”

    And Rarity, who could not bear to make her beloved feel as though her offer was nothing more than immensely appreciated, spoke with no small amount of shame.

    “Heights,” she said, her cheeks burning from the rising memories. “I… I’m afraid of heights. Ever since the… the accident in Cloudsdale, when I… my wings…”

    She didn’t really want to say much more than that. It was an event she wished dearly she could erase from her memory and from the memory of the over four hundred ponies in that sun-forsaken stadium that day.

    In fact, she was embarrassed to remind Celestia of her poor behaviour from that day, but her fears were alleviated when the princess simply smiled at her with disarming kindness. She walked back towards Rarity, extending her wings as she did so.

    Before she knew it or could even really process it, Rarity had the crown princess of Equestria kneeling before her.

    “If you’d like to try, you’d be in no safer wings,” said the Princess, and what she said was arguably true.

    Rarity bit down on her lip, throwing the sky a worried look before finally making up her mind. Despite the flood of emotions warring inside her, she stepped forward and as delicately as she could climbed onto Celestia’s back. Then, after ignoring the princess’s giggles, she wrapped her forelegs around Celestia’s neck as though her life depended on it.

    Which, arguably, it did.

    “Comfortable?” asked Celestia and Rarity managed to mumble something akin to a “yes” despite having her face pressed against Celestia’s neck.

    Goodness, she did smell nice.

    And she was softer than Rarity had imagined, and she felt sturdy which was probably not the most romantic way to describe your beloved, but it could be forgiven and oh stars, she’s taking off now. All right. All right. Everything is fine. Everything is absolutely, fabulously fine because Princess Celestia would probably not let me fall to my dea—

    “If you think you can brave it, I do think you’ll enjoy the sights if you open your eyes,” said the Princess.

    “I… Well…”

    “Only if you feel you can do it,” the Princess reassured.

    And, deciding that she’d be damned if she did not display anything but bravery in front of her beloved, Rarity cracked open an eye and… and what a gasp left her lips at the sight of the city glowing radiantly below them, brimming with minute signs of life.

    It was breathtaking, really, and not entirely as bad as she’d imagined. The princess was not flying through the air so much as she was gliding, and her extended wings offered Rarity some sort of added protection.

    It was a remarkable experience.

    So remarkable in fact that it was simply too much to take in and Rarity had to bury her face in Celestia’s coat again after a minute. Though she wished it were different, one did not get over fears quite so fast.

    Not that this was too much of a problem.

    In fact, she was more than delighted with resting her cheeks against Celestia’s neck, closing her eyes and simply enjoying the moment.

    Eventually, her little flight over cloud nine found its destination, ending with an almost graceful thump when Celestia landed on the balcony of Canterlot Castle’s empty grand library.

    Rarity was almost sad it was over. Almost.

    “I hope that wasn’t too bad?” asked Celestia as Rarity hopped off.

    “No, it was not,” Rarity replied, and Celestia rewarded her bravery with that outrageously adorable pleased smile of hers.

    And then, finally, now that they were away from crowds, and silly stallions, and things that were entirely unimportant in the grand scheme of things, Princess Celestia gestured towards the doors leading to the cozy, empty library.

    “Shall we, then?” she asked.

    Rarity smiled.

    “We shall.”

    FIN

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