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    I fell gravely ill when I was thirteen. I almost died.

    I was in bed for several month, at least. Plagued by a disease my parents understood little, and I even less, so dazed by pain I could hardly understand the doctor explaining my condition to my parents and Lady Celestia. He said it would be a miracle if I survived. Would there be a plaque for me, too?

    ‘Here lies little Rarity, taken to a better place by life’s cruel disease. Died on a bed, not on a bench.’

    I don’t remember much of it all. I remember bits and pieces, fragmented memories of a horrible time, but not all of it. I wonder if the Lady played a part in that. If my lacking memory of those deathly months was by magical design, as opposed to the natural passage of time.

    Here are some things I remember:

    I remember coughing up blood for so long, I can taste the iron if I think about it too much.

    I remember the shame and contrition I felt every time someone noticed blood on my lips. Their gasps of horror.

    I remember, one day, my father carrying me out of Lady Celestia’s carriage; how I insisted on giving the Lady a goodbye kiss despite my great pain, and how I wept with fear when pulling away revealed blood on her cheek.

    I stole my mother’s red lipstick the next day and put it on, hoping the blood would blend in with lipstick, and it did. But when I kissed my mother’s cheek and saw what I thought was blood marks, I cried. And when I truly did cough up blood, I tried to rub it away, smeared red lipstick all over my face, and I wept even more.

    My mother must have told the Lady, for she came to visit us the day after.

    She brought materials with her, a whole basket filled with waxes and butters, oils and natural colorants, and our little messy kitchen became a workshop. It took us all day, as I was weak and needed to rest, but by nightfall, we’d done it.

    Dozens of glittery and colorful lipsticks in an assortment of colorful lipstick tubes, which I would be allowed to wear in modest amounts. Of course, the one that mattered the most to me wasn’t any of the colorful lipsticks in colorful tubes, but the crimson lipstick I carefully put inside my brand new golden lipstick tube.

    “And now,” the Lady has said, “it’s time for the magic touch.”

    She smiled widely, instructing me in a spell of her own design while my mother watched with awe. Magic erupted from my fingertips, sprinkling onto the lipsticks like freshly fallen snow.

    When the spell was over, I put on the red lipstick, and when I kissed my mother, no mark was left behind.

    And when I coughed up blood and wiped my lips, no red stained my face.

    My illness faded a few months after that, leaving me alone for the time being, but my lipsticks remained. A symbol, of sorts, of the fact that I’d survived. That I, like the Lady, was undefeatable.

    That lipstick tube reminded me that I’d survived death.

    And now Twilight Sparkle had it.

    She hadn’t been able to give it to Lady Celestia, who withdrew for a few days after my drunken incident. She hadn’t been able to give it to Lady Luna, afraid of going back to the Sapphire and facing my wrath.

    And she hadn’t been able to throw it away.

    Just like the key in her pocket, a constant reminder of the lock on the bridge she still couldn’t bring herself to go and unlock.

    One day, I’ll give this back, she said to herself.

    One day, I’ll take out the lock, she said to herself.

    One day, one day, one day.

    But not today, she thought, pressing the lipstick against her heart. Not today.

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    1. Silver Mint
      Sep 24, '22 at 1:18 am

      That lipstick tube reminded me that I’d survived death.

      And carry on you will, Rarity. These chapters are tricky, because they reveal a lot in very little. I love them, to say the least.

    2. platinumSKIES
      Jul 8, '22 at 1:27 pm

      …boy this chapter isn’t ominous at all.

      Nope. Not a bit.