Rarity appreciated everypony.
She did. Really. Except for right now. Right now, she really didn’t appreciate the gang of loud, rowdy princesses and ponies parading in and out her house as though it were some sort of circus.
She had a dress to make. Several dresses, in fact, because she had a business to kick back into gear, so she’d overcommitted herself, but it was fine, because she’d surely get them done in time if she was just allowed a few hours of pea—
Rarity took a deep breath, turned off her sewing machine for the sixth time that half-hour and looked round to find Sweetie Belle barging in with absolutely no regard for her sister’s work schedule.
“Sweetie Belle,” Rarity said with the patience of a saint, she swore, “for the millionth time, it’s in the pantry! The pantry!”
“I wasn’t going to ask where the flour was again!” Sweetie sputtered, indignantly squeaky.
“Really,” Rarity said, dryly, staring her sister down until said sister blushed and stamped her hoof on the floor.
“… Okay, I was! But it’s really not there! And we need it for the cake!”
“Did you look?”
“Yes!”At Rarity’s stare, she doubled down. “Yeeeees! I looked a bazillion times!”
Rarity got up, her voice ice cold. “Sweetie Belle, you have succeeded in making me stand up. I am going to go down there, and if I find it in the pantry, Denza be my witness I’m going to—”
“Wait, wait!” Sweetie exclaimed, quickly rushing to the door. “Uh, you know what? Lemme look again! Just to be sure…”
“Splendid,” Rarity said, turning back to the sewing machine and the dress she was supposed to deliver that same night. The machine whirred to life. “You go do that.”
When she was gone, Rarity obviously didn’t get back to work because of course—
“Ah. Rarity. A word, if you will.”
Why did she even bother turning it on? Why? Maybe she should just make the dress by hoof, deliver it the next day instead, and sacrifice the rush fee.
Repressing a sigh, she turned around to find Princess Luna towering over her.
“Please tell me you’re not here to ask me about flour.”
“I am here to tell you that I’ll be escorting Cadance to the Apple family estate. She would like to pay her respects to Iron Cobbler and his family’s graves.”
Rarity softened. “Ah.”
If memory served, Iron Cobbler was that guard that worked for Twilight right at the start of the entire Discord affair. Hopefully visiting his grave would bring some solace to the princess.
“Additionally, Spike and Rainbow Dash should be arriving sometime in the next few days,” continued the princess. “I suggest we prepare the inquiries and letters we wish to send my sister.”
“Ah, right. Yes.” Rarity looked over at her dress. “I really do have to finish this, but I’ll let Twilight know in a minute.”
“Rarity.” There was a split-second silence, in which the princess regarded the unicorn with severity. “I understand you need rest, but when will we resume our efforts to free my sister?”
Rarity swallowed. This was not the first time Princess Luna asked that. Something told her it would not be the last.
“Soon, Princess. I don’t know, but… soon. Alright?”
She could almost hear the princess clicking her tongue in distaste.
“All right,” she said.
A silence fell between the two, Princess Luna staring at Rarity, and Rarity staring back. Almost an entire half-minute passed before Rarity politely cleared her throat, eager to get to her dress finally, please.
“…Anything else, Prin—?”
The door slammed open, interrupting her and revealing a distraught Pinkie.
“Rarity!” she whined. “Where’s the—”
Pinkie frowned. “The toilet plunger is in the pantry? Okay! Thanks!”
“Wait, the plunger?” Rarity asked, rushing up to the door. “Wait! Aren’t you cooking?! Why do you need a plunger?!”
“Rarity,” said the princess sternly, “the pantry is not a very hygienic place to put a toilet plunger.”
Rarity carefully closed the door.
“Princess Luna, you are my friend, aren’t you?” she said, next, her voice composed. Collected. Calm.
“…I believe I am, yes.”
Rarity turned around to face her, a gentle smile on her lips. “And you are my confidant. We’ve gone through many things, you and I, and I would say that after the two years you spent being my therapist in all but name, you would want me to be honest and transparent with you, no?”
“…I would hope so, yes.”
“Right! Right. Wonderful.” Smiling, Rarity moved forwards and took Princess Luna’s hoof in hers. Her smile vanished instantly. “Princess Luna, I need you to go outside and tell everypony that the next unfortunate individual to interrupt me will be the target of that pillow over there. Is that clear?”
“Am I allowed to voice my objections?” the princess asked, only to clear her throat at Rarity’s expression. “Very well. I will make your message known.”
The princess trotted off, closing the door behind her, and finally giving Rarity the reprieve she needed. With a sigh of relief, the unicorn turned back to her sewing machine, adjusted her glasses and—
“THE PANTRY, I SAID!” yelled Rarity, smacking the pony right in the face with the pillow.
“The wha—Agh!” yelped poor Twilight Sparkle, the unfortunate victim of Rarity’s wrath, made even more unfortunate by the simple fact Rarity had forgotten that particular throw pillow was as hard as rocks.
“All right, here we go,” Twilight said, she and Rarity now in her library, the latter looking very contrite as the former held a crimson tissue to her muzzle. She gestured to Rarity’s sewing machine and other various necessities, which she’d kindly teleported over. “That’s everything, right?”
“…Yes, thank you, dear.”
Rarity’s ears flopped down. “Darling, I really am sorry. I didn’t mean to…”
“Didn’t mean to almost break my nose with a pillow somehow?” Twilight asked, laughing softly when Rarity whined pitifully. At the unicorn’s beckoning, she walked over and let the unicorn inspect her. “It’s okay. Really. It stopped hurting a while ago.”
“Mmm… Still, I’ll give it another healing touch.” Rarity leaned in to kiss the tip of Twilight’s nose. “There!” she said, pulling back. “All better.”
“All better,” Twilight replied, leaning in for an actual kiss. “Now, you get to work, while I…” Her horn flashed, and suddenly Rarity’s necklace levitated above her. “Look at this.”
Rarity’s hoof went to her chest. “What? My necklace? Why do you need it?”
“The chaos magic detection spell,” Twilight said, walking over to a table where she’d set up her own gear—an assortment of old machinery and new ones Professor Awe had given her. “I want to implement the spell in my own necklace, and then reinforce it in both.”
“Reinforce it? You don’t think Discord will be after us soon, do you? We have you and Luna now. Surely we can defend ourselves, can’t we?”
Twilight took off her own necklace and placed it on the table. She studied it a moment, and then turned to Rarity.
“I don’t know, but I’d rather be prepared. We’re not doing anything right now to help Princess Celestia anyway, so he’ll probably leave us alone for now.”
Something about that hit Rarity the wrong way, but she decided to leave the matter at rest.
Twilight seemingly had nothing else to say and promptly dove into her research, giving Rarity the peace and quiet she needed. Not wanting to waste more time, Rarity followed suit, turning on her sewing machine and…
“…Any plans for later tonight, Twilight?” she asked.
Twilight didn’t even look up. “Figuring the necklaces out. And maybe reading a book.”
“I see!” A moment passed. “…Anything else?”
“None that I can think of. Why?”
“No reason in particular,” Rarity said, turning to her machine. “Just curious.”
The conversation died pretty much after that, prompting Rarity to do three whole minutes of sewing before turning the machine off and looking at Twilight.
“Will it be very complicated to do? Reinforce the spell, I mean,” she asked.
“Not particularly,” Twilight replied.
She went back to her sewing, this time working for two whole minutes before turning it off again, turning to Twilight and ‘eep’ing at finding the alicorn staring straight at her.
“Something wrong?” she asked, at once.
Twilight gave her a lopsided smile. “Oh, I was just waiting to see how long it would take before you got distracted again, Miss Twilight-Don’t-Interrupt-Me-All-Right.“
“I’m not getting distracted!” Rarity protested, cheeks red.
“Oh? Okay.” Twilight turned back to her book. “Let’s bet on it. I bet five bits you’ll only last ten minutes at the rate you’re going.”
“I am not getting distracted!”
“Aren’t you?” At Rarity’s frustrated whine, Twilight teleported next to the unicorn and frowned. “What’s going on? I thought you wanted to work.”
“I don’t want to work!” Rarity exclaimed. “Or, rather, I do! But not every day, but I have to work every day, especially with how many commissions I took! I just wanted a vacation with a little work, not a lot.”
“Rarity,” Twilight said, failing not to sound slightly unsympathetic. “I told you not to take so many commissions.”
The unicorn planted her face on her table. “I know! I know, I know, I know!”
“Then why did you take so many?”
Her question was answered with whined nonsensical mumbling.
“Use your words.”
“I feel bad!” Rarity said, eventually, her face still planted on the table. “I feel awful for wanting to take a vacation from helping everypony, and Luna isn’t helping by pointedly asking me every other hour when I intend on resuming our search for Celestia.”
Now this made Twilight frown.
“What? Princess’s Luna’s been what?”
“Asking me when we’re resuming our search for Celestia, and when are we freeing Cadance, and when are we moving on from Ponyville, and when this and that and—” She fizzled out into another whine. “It’s endless! She’s asked me thirty times today already, I swear.”
“Why haven’t you told me she’s been doing this?” Twilight asked, gravely.
Rarity shot her a look. “Because she’s right to do so! How can I sit here and demand rest knowing Cadance is still time-displaced and Celestia is goodness-knows-where!”
“No, she isn’t right,” Twilight replied in no uncertain terms. Not angry, but almost. “She’s not, and she shouldn’t be hassling you like that.”
“But she is right!”
Twilight was silent for a moment. Analyzing Rarity as she so often did, her focused, narrowed eyes betraying the dozens of thoughts crossing her mind. For a moment, Rarity thought Twilight was upset at her. She looked away, ashamed. At what? Who knew. At herself. At everything.
Twilight’s voice pierced through the haze of anxiety clouding the unicorn.
“Rarity, look at me.” Twilight gently took Rarity’s chin in her magic, lifting her face so they were eye to eye, and revealing not anger, but a loving gentleness that completely disarmed the unicorn. “She is not right. Okay? You don’t have to be thinking about this all the time.”
She meant it. Twilight meant it.
“But how can I not?” Rarity asked, pulling away and then looking back. “How can you not?”
“Easy.” She let her go and pointed to the library. “Because I spent a thousand years doing exactly that, and it didn’t really help me in any way. You’re allowed to have a life outside of helping us.”
“I know that too,” Rarity whined, her face again dropping to the table. “It’s just… Stars, sometimes I wish…” She drifted off, burying her face and groaning. “No, nevermind. I don’t know what I wish.”
“You wish what?”
“Nothing! I can’t bear to say it.”
Twilight poked at her ribs. “Come on.”
“Mmmmmm… I just…” She raised her head, resigned to her terrible thoughts. “Sometimes I wish things were like before. I miss the times when it was just you, and the library, and my only concern was whether or not you’d care that I was five minutes too late when visiting you.”
Twilight nodded her head quite seriously. “I see.” She looked around, her brow furrowed. “Hm. Well, I’m sure I can find some way of accidentally trapping myself here for a week?”
Rarity giggled, softening. “Don’t be daft.”
Her giggling intensified when Twilight nuzzled her, a wing wrapping around her.
“Oh, it would be easy, though. And it would make you happy, right?”
“Oh, I suppose it might,” Rarity replied, airily. “Those were the days, weren’t they? Me, trying and failing miserably to get you to notice I loved you…”
“Me,” Twilight added, “being too busy being negative to notice I loved you.” Her nose scrunched up. “Actually, not that part. Let’s pretend that part never happened.”
“Oh? What should we pretend, then?” Rarity asked, still wrapped in her beloved’s embrace.
“Something better than that, please.”
Rarity hummed thoughtfully, pulling away from the alicorn so as to brush back her bangs. “Mmmmm! Perhaps we can pretend that the first time we met, you instantly realized I was the most beautiful mare you’d ever seen, and it was your lifelong mission to entice me to stay with you forever within your secret lair?”
Twilight laughed. “Secret lair? I know I was cold when we first met, but I wasn’t an evil villain.”
“You say that, dear, but…” Rarity bit her lip. “You did throw me against a bookcase. But we can pretend you did it because you were so dazzled by my presence, you simply had to confirm I wasn’t a figment of your imagination.”
They stayed that way for a moment, until Twilight’s expression hardened.
“I meant it, though. Please don’t feel bad about this. Promise me.”
“…All right,” Rarity relented. “You’re right. I’ll try not to let it get to me again.”
Twilight smiled, leaning in to kiss her on the forehead. “Good. I’ll deal with Princess Luna so she doesn’t bother you anymore, okay?”
“All right.” That said, Rarity’s eyes drifted towards her sewing machine and a sigh escaped her lips. “Unfortunately, there’s not much to be done about my commissions at this point. I’ll just have to buckle down and spend the week finishing them up.”
Twilight was quiet for a moment.
“If there was one thing you wished you could really do if you had the time,” she asked, thoughtfully, “what would it be?”
Rarity blinked at her, taking the question in. Truthfully, there were many things she wished she could do. Go to the spa, spend a day reading books, just relax and breathe for a bit. But, if she had to really decide on one thing she’d been really wanting to do, well…
Her cheeks flushed with slight embarrassment, which was silly because she had no reason to be embarrassed, and yet…
“Ah. Well. I suppose I had been excited about having a…” There was that burning sensation again! Stars, it just felt so… juvenile considering everything going on. But she cleared her throat and pressed on. “About having a proper first date with you.”
Surprise washed over Twilight. “That’s what you want to do?” she asked, and though her cheeks reddened as well, it wasn’t so much out of embarrassment but quiet delight. Rarity didn’t look, but she could almost feel Twilight’s tail wagging. The alicorn raised her eyebrow teasingly. “Really? Interesting.”
Rarity almost snorted. Interesting!
Twilight was so silly, grinning at Rarity like she’d uncovered her deepest secrets.
“Yes, really,” Rarity said, a quick eye roll alleviating her embarrassment. “We… Well, we haven’t actually had a proper first date. One where we’re both actually fine, and not trying to be fine, or pretending we don’t have other pressing matters to deal with.”
She felt bad for saying it, and certainly the words left a bad taste in her mouth, but she couldn’t help it.
“A romantic date where we can pretend we’re in a normal relationship having a normal life,” she finished, the words coming out less like wishful thinking and more like a shamed confession.
What a seemingly innocuous word that felt like a poison she both feared and wanted.
“Nothing about Us is normal,” Twilight replied, not in any accusing way, but more like a statement of fact. It didn’t mean Rarity didn’t wince when she said it, and didn’t feel any less bad when she continued, “We probably won’t ever be normal, at least not in the way you’re thinking, which I guess is modern society’s kind of normal.”
Ah, how it burned Rarity, the regret of speaking her thoughts aloud. She felt so ungrateful. Hadn’t she chosen this life? She had, and yet there she was, longing for a life that, as Twilight had said, she would never again have, regardless of whether Twilight was there or not.
She’d tried it before, hadn’t she? Two years of trying to go back to being Normal to no avail.
“Well, nevertheless,” she said, turning to her machine and wanting to move on with the conversation, away from these uncomfortable meditations. These thoughts would pass. They always did. Just a bad spell that would soon wash away. “Back to work, shall we?”
But Twilight did not budge. She remained there, not angry or frustrated, just contemplative, her eyes on Rarity.
“When do you think you can take a day off this week? If any.”
Rarity looked back to her. “A day off? Hrm.” She went over her mental schedule and to-do lists. “Thursday, maybe? If I really focus for the next few days. Why?”
Twilight giggled. “You know why,” she said, rolling her eyes. “So we can go on a date!”
“A date, you say?” Rarity asked, grateful that the previously awkward moment was gone and they were back to being Them.
Twilight nodded. “A date.” She smiled. “A normal date.”
Just like that, the aching pain in her chest returned. “Twilight… We don’t have to have a ‘normal’ date. I was just saying things. We don’t have to be what society considers normal.”
Twilight blinked innocently, furrowing her brow in the way she did when she thought Rarity was being silly.
“Rarity. I never said it would be society’s kind of normal.”
Rarity frowned. “…How do you mean?”
In response, Twilight merely leaned forward. “Good luck with that dress,” she said, and then, just like that, with a crack of magic, she was gone.
The days leading up to Thursday were surprisingly uneventful.
Twilight must have spoken with everypony else, as the Carousel was quiet whenever Rarity was working. Fluttershy had taken to keeping her company, but everypony else stayed mostly clear of the place except for lunchtime and dinnertime.
To her great relief, Princess Luna stopped bringing up Celestia, and her short visits were instead devoted to talking about the many interesting things she’d found in Ponyville.
Eventually, when Thursday rolled around, the unicorn was nearly done with her most pressing commissions.
With a great unceremonious flop, Opalescence plopped herself down next to Rarity’s sewing machine. She’d been doing that a lot, having apparently missed her owner during her self-imposed-exile-not-exile from Ponyville.
“I’m almost done, darling,” Rarity said, which was a lie, but Opalescence didn’t have to know that. She likely wouldn’t be done for another day or so, but Twilight had given her strict instructions to be done with work at exactly five in the afternoon.
A little early for dinner, Rarity thought, but she wasn’t about to complain about more time with her beloved and whatever ‘not society normal’ date she’d planned.
Her thoughts of Twilight instinctively led her hoof to reach out for her necklace, only for a tinge of annoyance to flash through her at remembering Twilight hadn’t returned it yet. She felt oddly naked without it, not to mention she was admittedly worried Twilight tampering with it might break it even further.
Three knocks at the door interrupted her.
“Rarity?!” came Pinkie’s chirpy voice. “Are you almost done?!”
“Almost!” she replied in sing-song.
“Hurry uuuuup! We’re going to be late!”
Rarity blinked. We?
She stopped the machine. “We?” she called out, looking to the door. “What do you mean we?!”
Incentivized to really hurry it up now, Rarity finished up her current stitch and put her half of a dress away. Surely Twilight knew that romantic dates were supposed to include only the couple, yes? Unless dates in Equestria’s past involved everyone they knew?
Oh dear, dear, dear.
Trying not to be too obvious about her alarm, she trotted out of her workshop and into the foyer, glimpsing Pinkie ‘eep’ing at her arrival and scurrying into the kitchen.
“She’s coming!” she whispered. Loudly.
Clearing her throat, Rarity made her way towards the kitchen and stepped inside to find… the very normal sight of Pinkie, Fluttershy, and Sweetie Belle gathered around the kitchen table, the former sporting a pronounced frown.
Twilight, surprisingly, was nowhere to be found.
“Er…” said the unicorn, eloquently. “…Hello.”
Sweetie Belle pounded her hooves against the table, utterly ignoring her startled sister.
“I’m telling you! She’s real!” she whined, accentuating every word with another pound of her hooves. “She is!”
“I don’t knowwwww,” Pinkie said, humming with great exaggeration. “That’s just a fairy tale, silly!”
“What’s a fairytale?” Rarity asked.
Sweetie again promptly ignored her. “It isn’t!” She helplessly looked towards Fluttershy. “You believe me, right, Fluttershy?!”
“Oh… I don’t know, Sweetie Belle…” Fluttershy said, failing rather miserably to look concerned as opposed to what she looked like, which was amused. “Somepony would have found them by now…”
Finally, the filly turned to her elder sister.
“Rarity! You’re late! Seeking Night already started!”
“Pardon me? Seeking Night?”
Pinkie giggled. “Yeah, silly! Didn’t you know?”
Sweetie gasped. “Rarity! Didn’t you see the calendar?!”
She gestured towards a calendar hanging from the wall, which, to her credit, did in fact have Seeking Night scribbled on it in big red letters.
“We’re going to go find Princess Booky inside the Everfree Forest!”
It took Rarity one, two, three seconds before it clicked.
“…Are we now?” she said, at length, joining them at the table. “Terribly sorry, dear. I must have missed the memo! I must say, I had the most fascinating impression I’d already found Princess Booky!”
“Silly Rarity.” Pinkie patted her head. “Somepony had too much sleep tonight.”
“It would seem so! So, do tell, how exactly are we supposed to find this princess?” She hummed loudly, tapping a hoof against her chin. “Thank goodness we’re responsible ponies and wouldn’t do something outrageously dangerous like, say, wander into the Everfree forest without telling any adult, no?”
“Oh, goodness no,” Fluttershy added, directing her gaze towards a quickly reddening Sweetie Belle. “We would never.”
“Wellanywaythatdoesn’tmatter,” mumbled the filly before turning toward the door. “Oh!” she exclaimed suddenly. “But how will we start?!”
Rarity waited for something to happen.
“Oh, I said!” Sweetie squeaked with a mighty pitch. “How will we start?!”
“Oh!” a voice yelped from outside. Moments later, Princess Cadance stepped through the half-closed door. “I’m here!”
“Princess!” Sweetie protested. “The door! The door!“
“Oh! Oh, dear, uhm…” Princess Cadance retreated through the door, only to magically slam it open and step past it instead. She cleared her throat and smiled. Regally. “Hello, my little ponies. It is I, Princess Denza.”
“Princess Denza?!” Rarity gasped. “Here?! In my boutique?! My stars! My heavenly stars above!”
“Stop being weird about this!” Sweetie whispered, her pout intensifying when Rarity blew her a kiss.
“What are you doing here?!” Pinkie asked, ignoring the sisters’ shenanigans.
“I am here to ask for your help with…” Princess Cadance gave a dramatic pause that was entirely too long, but Rarity allowed it. “Finding the lost princesses.”
“Finding the lost princesses?” Rarity asked, a wonder in her voice that quickly disappeared with a yawn. “Oh. I really don’t know. I’d like to nap, to be quite honest.” She reveled in Sweetie’s glare for a moment before adding, “But I suppose I could do some looking.”
“Oh, wonderful!” the princess exclaimed, her wings rustling. She opened the door with her magic and gestured them out. “Then, go! You must. The lost princesses are waiting.”
Unfortunately for the lost princesses and Sweetie Belle, they had to wait a dozen minutes more while Rarity put on makeup and perfume. But, once she was done with that, she was sent off on her way.
“Go!” exclaimed Princess Cadance, holding the front door open for Rarity. “Go forth and succeed where so many have failed!” She grinned. “Have fun!”
“That wasn’t part of the script!” whispered Sweetie.
Pinkie frowned. “Should she NOT have fun?”
As a discussion ensued over that very silly topic, Rarity stepped out of her boutique. Honestly, she wanted to head straight to the library to see her beloved, and she wasn’t entirely sure she was in the mood for such a production.
But her tune quickly changed at the sight of the ponies waiting outside her home.
Dressed in an old Princess Selene costume, complete with paper crown and cardboard wings, Applejack certainly looked regal…ish. Apple Bloom was next to her, dressed in an adorable little batpony outfit.
Oh ho ho.
“Princess Selene?!” gasped Rarity, her hoof slamming against her own chest. “Outside my house?! My staaaaars!”
“That’s me,” Applejack said, only to let out a pained yelp when Apple Bloom shoved her elbow into her ribcage. “Errr, I mean… Verily! That’s me… Er, we. Thou princess is—”
“Thy!” whispered her sister. “Thy, not thou!”
“I told you to let me bring my script!” Applejack whispered back, before turning to Rarity with slight annoyance at the situation. “Thy princess is here! You have—”
“Thou hast! Tho—mmph!”
Rarity tried not to laugh at Apple Bloom’s expression when Applejack shoved her hoof against her muzzle.
“I reckon you sure did find me, Rarity. That sure is—S’cuse me a sec.” She turned to her sister. “Licking my hoof won’t make me take it off.” Back to Rarity. “That sure is amazing!”
“Why, thank you, Princess Selene. It was very difficult. Though…” She stepped forward, inspecting her friend. “I must admit you look very different from what I imagined. I always expected you to be taller and more… blue.” She cocked her head to the side. “Not quite this orange.”
“It’s a sunburn. I put on bucket loads of sunscreen, but ya won’t believe what not being under the sun for a thousand years does to your coat.”
“Now tell her where to go!” Apple Bloom whispered, which was really more of a mumble considering Applejack’s hoof was still on her mouth.
“Oh.” Applejack turned to Rarity. “The Everfree Forest.”
“Alone!” exclaimed Apple Bloom, pushing her sister’s hoof away and narrowing her eyes.. “You hafta go all alone.”
“All alone? My, how terrifying! When am I supposed to go?”
“Now…” Apple Bloom said, somberly. Right up until Rarity eagerly took several steps forward. “Wait, wait!” she blurted out. “Don’t go yet!”
Rarity blinked. “But you said to leave now.” She glanced at Applejack. “Didn’t she?”
Applejack turned to her sister. “That’s what you said.”
“I know that’s what I said!” Apple Bloom exclaimed, stamping her hoof on the ground. “Because she does have to go now! Just… don’t go too fast, all right?!”
“Oh? Why not?”
“Because!” the filly explained, pushing her sister towards the boutique.
“Just because!” Apple Bloom insisted, oblivious to her sister rolling her eyes. “Okay, bye!”
Rarity waved them, stifling a laugh. “Ta-ta!”
Despite her earlier annoyance at having all her friends be included in whatever-date-this-was, she couldn’t help but admit she was charmed by the effort everypony was putting into the entire thing.
It was… nice. Nice was the word. Nice to do silly things without worries or concerns or with any ulterior motives like having to rescue somepony.
Stars, it was just nice to be and have somepony else take charge for once. She didn’t know what was going on! For the first time in what felt like ages, she had no clue what was going on, and it was wonderful.
The only thing expected of her was to have fun.
If the others had planned anything for the forest, Rarity sure wasn’t seeing it. Her trek through the woods went by slowly, as Apple Bloom requested, but quietly as well. Themis had been waiting for her near the edge of the woods, guiding her through their usual path and not some… secret path?
“Hoot!” he exclaimed, flying next to Rarity and animatedly hooting about… something exciting, Rarity was sure. She couldn’t understand Owl, but by God, he really did not care, apparently immensely satisfied with her occasional nods.
She’d never heard him so talkative, which admittedly led her to theorize this was some sort of distraction method—particularly so when she heard some noises in the distance, and she noticed he immediately started hooting even more profusely. It happened again later on, and she tried to look this time which resulted in him practically slapping his body on her face so fully she almost tripped on an unseen branch.
This was a tad too much, but… well, she couldn’t fault him for taking the assignment to heart.
When they eventually reached the great oak tree, Rarity was yet again surprised to find the entire area, well, empty. Tentatively, she walked towards the edge of the sinkhole, looking around for the others. She’d half-expected Princess Luna to finally make her grand appearance, but it seemed not.
“Where is everypony?” she asked Themis, which she later realized was silly because he couldn’t exactly answer her, though he tried anyway, which led them nowhere but she appreciated his efforts.
After a moment’s hesitation, she jumped down into the sinkhole and landed with a thud. Well, she thought, maybe that really was it?
Now, that made her stop.
But, it is exceedingly important to note that what made her stop wasn’t a howl, but somepony loudly yelling the word howl.
Thus, she reacted accordingly.
“Gasp!” she gasped, a hoof clutched against her chest as she dramatically turned around to find not one, not two, but three adorable little timberwolves standing at the edge of the sinkhole. “Awwww! Darlings, those costumes are precious!”
“Thanks!” chirped the slightly whiter timberwolf proudly, until the slightly oranger one shoved her. “Er! I mean! Awooo!”
“Aw man! You suck at this!” exclaimed the orange one.
The third little timberwolf frowned. “We suck? You yelled ‘howl’!”
“Giiiiirls!” the first wolf whined, “stop argui—”
A loud thundercrack startled all present, ending the argument between the three. Before Rarity could ask what the hell was that, the three fillies stepped to the side, revealing a tall, cloaked pony emerging from the forest.
The pony trotted all the way up to the edge of the sinkhole, right up until they were looking down at Rarity. It was weirdly nostalgic, which was probably the point.
“And who are you?” she asked.
The ‘stranger’, who happened to look like Princess Luna, snorted. “Who am I? You ask who am I? Hah! I am the book bringer! I am the one who guards all the knowledge in our land, little pony! The one who knows the answer to everything and anything!”
“Oh!” Rarity perked up. “A librarian, then. How wonderful! Rather far from your library, aren’t you? Are you lost?”
“Fool!” boomed the stranger, stamping her hoof on the ground. “A librarian?! You think me as ordinary as a mere librarian?”
Rarity made a show out of wincing. “Oh, dear. I’m going to tell Twilight you said that, Princess.”
“You dare threaten me!” She turned to her furry subordinates. “Tell her! Tell her what happens to those who dare spread our ill-words!”
“Princess! I can’t say to that Rarity!” Sweetie Belle whispered urgently.
Scootaloo, on her side, had no such reservation.
“Snitches get britches!”
“Stitches!” whispered Apple Bloom. “Stitches, not britches!”
“My stars.” Rarity raised an eyebrow. “We’ve exchanged only a scant few words, and I’m being threatened with assault already. I should have come prepared.”
“Silence!” the princess boomed. “Rarity the unicorn! Heed my words, lest I show you the true meaning of hitting the books!” She gestured to the great oak tree. “Beyond you is the lost library of Princess Booky! Trapped for centuries, she has awaited your arrival for one reason and one alone!”
Rarity giggled. “To rescue her, I take it?”
“No,” said the princess.
“No,” repeated the princess. “You must romance her.”
“Ooooooh! Rooooomance her!” squealed Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom with childish delight, drowning out Scootaloo’s audible gag.
Rarity didn’t bother hiding her snort. “Pardon me? I have to what now?”
The princess again stamped her hoof against the ground, thunder crackling in the distance. “You heard me!” she demanded, her voice growing louder and louder. “Only by romancing her can you liberate her from her shackles of loveless repression!”
Rarity tapped a hoof against her chin. “How unorthodox! Are you certain that’s the right thing to do?”
“It is! I decree it as your princess!”
“Strange! I thought you were a librarian? I could have sworn—eep!”
“I am annoyed by your stalling, is what I am!” Princess Luna said, her magic enveloping Rarity and pushing her towards the tree. “Now, go forth and seduce! Kiss her until your lips are cracked!”
“Ewwwww!” Scootaloo whined. “That’s gross!”
“I shall go all in!” Rarity enthusiastically called back. “I shall leave no lips unkissed!”
Darkness greeted Rarity once she stepped past the trapdoor, down the stairs and into the tunnel. It kept her company all the way up to the library, and it was only once she crossed the tunnel and her hooves felt solid floor that she finally lit up her hornlight, looking around.
The library seemed empty.
She knew, of course, that it wasn’t. Just like years before, an alicorn lurked somewhere in the depths, beyond the reach of her light, waiting to be found.
This time, however, Rarity wasn’t afraid. Wasn’t afraid as she had been that very first time, or the time they came back after Twilight had been freed.
This time… she just really wanted to see her marefriend.
“Twilight?” she called out, stepping further into the library.
It seemed like the game was still afoot.
Weaving into the aisles of bookcases, Rarity gasped theatrically. “Oh, my! What a large, frightening place! I do hope nopony comes out and gives me a ghastly fright!”
No sooner had she finished her sentence, she whipped around,
“Ah-ha!” she exclaimed, only to find nopony waiting to spook her with a monotone mention of her name. Her ears lowered and she stepped back. “Oh. Hm.”
After a moment and a last look, she went on her way, heading down another bookcase aisle.
“If you really want this to be a re-enactment of when we met, you’re going to need a lot more towers of bookcases scattered around, dear,” she called out. A moment passed. “No comment? Really?”
“A thousand years.”
Twilight’s voice came from nowhere and everywhere all at once, enveloping the startled unicorn who’d definitely not screamed in fright. She just exclaimed in surprise that’s all.
As soon as she composed herself, Rarity whirled in place, trying and failing to find sight of the alicorn.
“For a thousand years…”
There it was again. Her voice, everywhere at once, its origin hard to pinpoint, seemingly following Rarity as she rushed through every corner, every aisle, every spot.
“I’ve been trapped in this library.”
A dim light came alive in the corner of Rarity’s eyes, and when she turned around, she saw it was coming from above. A very faint magical light, barely just revealing the shape of an alicorn sitting atop a bookcase, her every feature hidden in the shadows.
It was mesmerizing.
So much so Rarity forgot she was playing pretend.
“I’ve been alone here for so long.” Twilight drifted off, her voice no longer dispersed but clear. “Or I used to be.
From within the darkness, a pair of purple eyes glowed to life and turned to Rarity, ensnaring the unicorn in her gaze.
There was a crackle of magic, and Rarity gasped in surprise at Star coming to life right in front of her, its candles alighting with purple magic.
“Why did you find me?”
“Why?” Rarity stammered, struggling somewhat to fall into a role. “I… Er! Well! You see, I was walking through the Everfree forest and—”
“That’s not what I asked.”
Twilight’s light blew out, and appeared again seconds later, but atop a completely different bookcase.
“I’m not interested in how you found me. I’m asking why you came here.”
“Why I’m here? Oh, it’s quite simple! I’m here to, how shall I say…” She stifled a giggle. “Seduce you, as it were.”
Twilight giggled, as well, which she very quickly tried to mask with a condescending laugh. Her light disappeared again, and did not return.
“You?” she asked, her voice echoing throughout. “You’re here to seduce me? You think that I, a spirit trapped here for thousands of years, would fall for the first mare to step into my lair?”
Rarity gasped. “Ah! So you do admit you have an evil lair?”
“No,” replied Twilight, the slightest annoyance in her voice delighting Rarity. “It’s a secret lair.”
Rarity shrugged. “Same thing, I’d say. It’s just that, rather than, I don’t know, kidnapping ponies and throwing them off cliffs, you force them to memorize an entire book on teleportation. Now, that’s evil.”
Now Twilight snorted. “Teleportation is incredibly useful, which you’d know if you practiced it more, which you don’t.”
“I’m not trying to be rude, oh spirit, but how exactly would you know that when we just met, hm?”
There was a pause.
“If this is your attempt at seducing me, you’re off to a bad start.”
Rarity fluttered her eyelashes at some random spot in the dark. Not that Twilight could see, probably, but still.
“Darling. You’re the one who’d be missing out, not moi.”
And then, it happened.
“Oh?” whispered Twilight, right behind Rarity, her breath tickling the back of the unicorn’s neck. Except, when Rarity turned around, she was gone, and her voice again permeated the entire room, sending chills down Rarity’s spine. “We’ll see about that.
Rarity laughed, as charmed as she was flustered. “Will we now?”
Star’s candles flickered in response and the candelabra floated away, Rarity following close behind. She was led all the way back to the library’s entrance where she was greeted by dozens of multicolored candles floating about, as well as a small platform right in the middle of the lobby, illuminated by several more floating candelabras.
My stars, Rarity thought. It was like she’d stepped straight into a fairytale.
“Step into the light,” Twilight’s voice commanded.
“Am I to be judged?” Rarity asked playfully, doing as instructed and daintily jumping on the platform. Once there, she struck a pose. “Try not to be too dazzled, darling. You know what they say about staring straight at the sun.”
“Well?” Rarity prompted, twirling around on the spot to make sure Twilight could see every side of her entire, splendid physique. “What’s the verdict, princess?”
“I don’t know…” she answered from within the darkness.
Rarity ran a hoof through her mane. “Perhaps you ought to take a closer look?”
“I guess it couldn’t hurt…”
A few of the candelabras floated away from Rarity and towards the bookcases, bathing the alicorn in their light as she finally left the shadows.
A gasp followed.
A gasp that, it should be mentioned, did not come from Twilight, but from Rarity.
It should be noted that, for as long as Rarity knew her, Twilight Sparkle was not particularly interested in her own appearance. The only time she’d ever dressed up, if it could be called that, was when she occasionally wore her regalia, but that was the extent of it.
Which was fine, obviously. Rarity always found her to be stunning, and though the unicorn prided herself in maintaining a fabulous personal appearance, she did not expect Twilight to do the same.
In fact, it was in fact a blessing that Twilight wasn’t all too keen in primping herself up because, at that exact moment, Rarity realized that if she were, the poor unicorn would be reduced to a flustered babbling mess at all times.
There stood the princess, a sneaky smile on her lips, looking quite literally transformed.
Her long mane, usually let down, now fell over the side of her shoulder, glowing as it had when she was displaced, and loosely tied together near the bottom with a beautiful silver bow. Her eyes, twinkling with delight, were accentuated by a modest amount of makeup—not too much, not too little, just enough. Her lovely coat was protected by her royal regalia, the golden collar and horseshoes bearing her insignia gleaming under the candlelight.
And finally, atop her head, complimenting this wonderful ensemble, was her crown.
She was gorgeous.
She was absolutely radiantly beautiful, and Rarity was too mesmerized to realize her rather unseemly blush.
See, It was sometimes easy to forget, but one had to understand she had never been so vividly reminded as right then and there that Twilight Sparkle was quite literally a fairytale princess.
Whom she was dating.
“Something wrong?” Twilight asked.
“Wrong?” Rarity did not stammer.
“Mhm?” Twilight continued, with a smile that was perfect, damn her. “Is there something wrong with how I look?”
Alright! Enough of this! Rarity thought, trying to compose herself. Which she did, thank you very much. She was not about to be out-charmed by Twilight Sparkle!
After clearing her throat, Rarity grinned back.
“Wrong with how you look?” she asked, fluttering her eyelashes. “Darling, dearest, you look…” Almost immediately she looked away, a really quite unwanted blush spreading over her cheeks. “Mmmm.”
“What did you say?” Twilight said innocently, probably trying not to sound as smug as she certainly looked, damn her, damn her, damn her! “I look what, Rarity?”
“…Very pretty,” Rarity squeaked, ashamed by her complete transformation into a flustered school-filly faced with her crush.
“Oh! Is that why you can’t even look at me?” asked Twilight, and her laughter was beautiful, and wonderful, and totally unfair.
“I most certainly can look at you!” Rarity shot back, doing just that and backtracking at finding Twilight had stepped much, much closer. “I-In fact!” Rarity jumped off the other side of the platform. “Why don’t you step onto the platform? Shouldn’t I be allowed to judge you, too?”
“Oh!” Twilight exclaimed, caught off guard. “Oh, uh, I guess I could do that.”
Rarity smiled. Ha-ha! Now it was she who’d have the upper-hoof, as it should be.
“Or,” Twilight continued, “I could always just do…”
A crack filled the air, followed by a spark of magic, and suddenly Twilight went from being several feet away to right in front of Rarity, her smirking muzzle inches away from the muzzle of her flustered marefriend.
Startled, Rarity backtracked yet again. “Well! Well, I… Well!”
“Rarity,” Twilight said with a playful frown, again stepping forward, “what’s wrong? This isn’t like you at all!”
And Twilight was right! It wasn’t! That wasn’t who she was! She was Rarity, unicorn extraordinaire! She’d gone head to head with chaos spirits, dragons, and all manner of creatures! She was the one who was supposed to be charming! Not the other way around!
“A-Ah, well, you see, I—” She backtracked into a bookcase, which gave her a wonderful idea. Sure, it was a joke that had been used to death already, but desperate times called for desperate measures. Except.
Except, to her increased flush, Twilight got there first.
“Huh,” said the unicorn, Rarity trapped between the bookcase and the alicorn’s body, inches away. Twilight cocked her head to the side ever so slightly. “This seems familiar, doesn’t it?”
“D…Does it?” Rarity asked, determined beyond all measure to regain the upper-hoof somehow. She managed a smirk. Somehow. “Yes, I suppose it does! I do like this version better, I must admit. Less pained screaming and all.”
There was a split second pause.
A split second that felt eternal as Twilight took Rarity in and her lips curved into a sinfully delighted smile that might have killed the unicorn then and there.
“Oh, there’ll be screaming, Rarity,” she said. “It just won’t be from pain.”
“Twilight Sparkle!” Rarity gasped, scandalized by Twilight, sure, but more by the fact that she liked this. “What in Denza’s name has gotten into you?!” Immediately, she slammed her hoof on Twilight’s mouth. “Don’t you dare answer that!”
A stupid, futile question, as Twilight’s raised eyebrow was doing a good job of conveying the answer.
“I’m going to take my hoof away now,” Rarity said. “And you better be good. Am I understood?”
Twilight nodded, fluttering her eyelashes. As soon as she took it off, Twilight licked her lips. “Mm. Tasty.”
Rarity scrunched her nose up, laughing playfully. “You don’t even know where my hoof has been.”
Twilight shrugged. “No.” She smiled. “But I know where it will b—Mmph!”
“Twilight Sparkle,” Rarity said, her hoof against finding its place on Twilight’s mouth. “What did I say?”
Twilight broke into a fit of giggling, moving Rarity’s hoof away with her magic. “Okay, okay, I’m done,” she conceded, leaning in to give Rarity an innocent kiss. “I do actually have other things planned for us to do.”
Rarity laughed, charmed. “Did you? And here I thought the plan was to kill me with your shamelessness.”
“Come on. The girls helped me make dinner for you downstairs.” Twilight gestured her on. She allowed herself a proud smile. “I spent all morning perfecting a spell to keep the food warm for as long as we want.”
Rarity followed after her. “Anything planned for after dinner?”
“No, not really. Spike and Rainbow Dash should be getting here tomorrow morning, so we can’t stay up too late.”
Rarity’s ears perked up. “Oh!”
And then, they lowered.
“Oh… That’s rather sooner than I expected.”
Twilight stopped, turning back to her. “Is it?” she asked, her eyes betraying concern. “Is there something wrong with that?”
Rarity smiled painfully. “No. No, of course not. It’s just… I suppose that means they’ll want to talk about our progress regarding Princess Celestia, and well… we haven’t progressed, have we?”
Immediately, Twilight frowned.
“…Rarity. Stop thinking about that. Nopony expected us to have anything.”
“But shouldn’t we have something regardless?” She fell down onto her haunches. “Darling, I… Please, don’t take this the wrong way.” She gestured to the library. “This was lovely. It was. But we could have used this time to prepare something for them. To try and contact Celestia.”
She felt awful for saying it.
Everypony had put so much effort into this silly little thing, but that was it, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it silly? A distraction?
In that moment, Rarity felt like quite the horrid, ungrateful pony, but she had to say it, regardless. They’d promised to be honest, hadn’t they?
“Wasn’t this a bit of a waste of time?”
Twilight stared at her. She didn’t say anything for what felt like the longest time, just staring at Rarity with an excruciatingly blank expression.
Doubtless because she was angry, which she had every right to be, Rarity thought, every passing millisecond an eternity of shame.
“I’m sorry I said that,” Rarity said suddenly, trying to backpedal. “I’m sorry. I’m wrong, I’m being si—”
Twilight cut her off. “Wait here.”
And just like that, with a crackle of magic, she was gone, because of course she would. The telltale sign that Rarity had truly messed up now, wasn’t it?
Idiot, she thought to herself, wanting to smack her own face. Idiot, idiot, idio—
Another crackle of magic interrupted her, and when Twilight materialized before her, it wasn’t the alicorn that Rarity fixed her eyes on, but the two glowing necklaces floating in between them.
“Twilight?” Rarity asked, wary as Twilight floated the necklaces over the head of their respective owners. “What are you doing? Are you upset?”
Twilight snorted, smiling slightly. “No, I’m not upset, Rarity. You would know if I’m upset.” Once the necklaces hung from their necks, the familiar ping rang out in the air, Twilight’s horn glowing along with it. “Come on,” she urged. “Pick up.”
Rarity recoiled. “Twilight… Is this necessary?”
“Yes, actually, it is,” the princess replied, still maintaining the spell. “I told you that you were allowed to not have to think about rescuing anypony all the time, and evidently you didn’t believe a word I said, so I need to do this in order to make sure you have no way of not believing me this time.” She smiled. “Come on. Close your eyes and pick up.”
“All right, fine,” Rarity murmured with a huff.
She closed her eyes, cast the spell, and before she could even think, she felt Twilight’s forehead pressed on hers.
“Did you have a good time today? And I know you did, because you’re thinking you did, and I know that now you’re thinking answering my question is ridiculous, because I already know, but do it anyway.”
“Yes,” Rarity replied lamely.
“Then it wasn’t a waste of time,” Twilight said, firmly. And she meant it. She knew it, Twilight knew it, and…
Rarity stamped her hoof on the ground. “But—”
“Princess Luna was incredibly sorry when I told her what she was doing to you. She understands completely. She does. I’m sorry to say, but these are just excuses.”
“Excuses?!” Rarity protested. “These aren’t excuses, they’re—Stop smiling!”
“I’m not!” Twilight laughed.
“You literally are! I can feel it!”
“Come on,” Twilight said, her tone gentle. “What else are you worried about?”
“Well, what about—!” Immediately, Rarity was engulfed by a very clear memory of Cadance expressing to Twilight how delighted she was over her little trip to Ponyville.
“This isn’t fair!”
“What?” Twilight asked, and Rarity felt her smirk. “That I’m fixing everything?”
“Yes, actually,” Rarity exclaimed, but her anger had faded, replaced instead with a playful whine. “You’re cheating. And stop trying to get me to think about what I would say to you if you were in my position, because you already know what I’d say.”
Rarity stopped the spell, and when she opened her eyes, her gaze met Twilight’s.
“That things that make you happy,” she said, “are never a waste of time. And that I’m allowed to have a life beyond being a dazzling princess rescuer.”
She laughed when Twilight kissed her nose, her reward for having reached the right answer.
“Good,” she said, nuzzling the unicorn. When she leaned back, she gestured towards the stairs leading to the floor below. “Now, would you like to have dinner and then spend the rest of the evening doing nothing?”
“I would,” Rarity said, a great weight lifted off her shoulders. “I would like that very much.”
I don’t write in all my anxieties into my stories, YOU WRITE IN ALL YOUR ANXIETIES INTO YOUR STORIES.
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