However Absurd

by Donny's Boy

Chapter 1: However Absurd

"However Absurd"

by Donny's Boy

Synopsis: Pinkie Pie might not be the knight in shining armor that Rarity always wanted … but Pinkie might just be the knight that Rarity needs.

Written for the deviantArt RariPie group's Hearth's Warming Eve art contest.

"I couldn't say the words.
Words wouldn't get my feelings through,
And so I keep talking to you.
However absurd, however absurd it may seem …"
-Paul McCartney, "However Absurd"

The traditional Canterlot staging of the traditional Hearth's Warming Eve play was followed, as inevitably as the moon followed the sun, by the traditional Canterlot Hearth's Warming Eve party. And as had become a traditional part of that traditional party, Princess Platinum was holding court at the very center of all the festivities.

Well, not really Princess Platinum, of course, as the actual Platinum had been deceased for a good many centuries. If there even had been a real unicorn princess named Platinum-which was in some historical doubt, as Twilight had once explained at great and tedious length. So it was the case that it was not the actual Princess Platinum attending the party but, rather, the actress who'd just finished playing the princess in the Hearth's Warming Eve play.

Rarity still wore her costume in its entirety, however, so she considered it perfectly justifiable that others should refer to her as Princess. Rarity always held onto the costume for as long as she could afterwards. So too with Rainbow Dash and her Commander Hurricane costume, the pegasus holding her helmeted head high as she strode through the doors leading to palace's main ballroom with a fierce grin and flared wings.

Everypony else, in contrast, had changed out of their costumes at the earliest available opportunity-although Pinkie Pie had somehow gotten her hooves on Fluttershy's Private Pansy armor. At the present moment, across the grand ballroom and over by the chamber musicians, the earth pony was giggling and butting helmets with Dash in what Rarity could only suppose was some sort of impromptu jousting contest. Nearby the jousters, Fluttershy cowered while Twilight patted her shoulder comfortingly, and Applejack simply shook her head.

Rarity decided to simply ignore the entire lot of them. That was also a traditional part of the traditional Hearth's Warming Eve party.

Rather than bothering herself with the antics of her castmates, Rarity focused instead on the ponies who'd surrounded her as soon as she'd first stepped hoof within the ballroom. She regaled the small gathering with tales of her adventures with Fancy Pants and Fleur de Lis, braving the dangerous wilderness that comprised Manehattan's shopping district, and she took dainty sips from the glasses of punch that various strapping young stallions kept dutifully fetching for her.

All in all, the evening was going perfectly swimmingly. Perhaps too perfectly and too swimmingly, in fact. Which was, in all likelihood, the precise reason that Prince Blueblood suddenly appeared at the edge of the group of ponies who had adoringly enveloped Rarity.

Immediately the other ponies fell into a hush, and Rarity forced herself to meet the prince's eyes with a steady gaze and warm smile. Well, it was a smile just a few degrees warmer than the icy tundras that surrounded the Crystal Kingdom. But considering who was on the receiving end of that smile, Rarity considered that plenty warm enough.

"Happy Hearth's Warming Eve, Your Highness," she greeted, bowing the bare minimum dictated by propriety.

Blueblood did not return the greeting, instead raising an eyebrow. "That crown you're wearing … you do realize it's only common tin and colored glass, I hope?"

"But of course. It's merely a costume." Rarity kept her smile firmly in place even as her teeth ground together so hard that her jaw ached. "You are familiar with the play and the story of Equestria's founding, I hope?"

"I know the play! I have played Clover the Clever himself many, many times!" Blueblood gave a haughty toss of his mane, and his eyes glittered angrily. "But I would not dream of keeping my costume on past the play's end, like … like … like some sort of foal. That crown looks positively absurd, and I command you to take it off, right this instant!"

By now, Rarity's jaw felt as though it was soldered shut, she was clenching it so tightly. "Your Highness, there is much that is yours to command." She lifted her chin, just the tiniest fraction, and stared down the stallion before her. "But the crown on my head? I am afraid this crown-and anything else upon my person-is decidedly not one of those things!"

A number of the aristocratic ponies who still stood within listening range quietly gasped, while a few others tittered. Rarity dared not glance away from the prince but, unless her ears deceived her, it sounded as though the crowd around them had grown considerably larger over the course of their conversation.

She wasn't entirely sure whether she felt pleased or embarrassed about that.

Prince Blueblood's eyes narrowed, and he took a threatening step towards her-but a sudden, sharp whistling sound caused him to freeze. Frowning, Rarity turned in the direction of the disconcerting noise, just in time to spot a pie hurtling directly towards her and Blueblood. Her jaw dropped open in response, and though she tried to scream, nothing came out.

A split second later, the pie hit Prince Blueblood just slightly beneath his horn. Rarity stared in silent shock as bits of flaky crust and cinnamon-spiced apple dripped down the prince's regal face.

Then, an all-too-familiar voice rang cut through the sudden, deadly silence: "Hold on, milady! I'll protect you!"

And certain enough, a bright pink earth pony came bounding across the palace ballroom, wearing a beaming smile as well as her purloined helmet and armor. As soon as she'd reached them, Pinkie knelt down before Rarity in a low, sweeping bow before whipping around to give Blueblood a ridiculously exaggerated glare.

Rarity tried, and failed, to process just what exactly had just occurred.

Meanwhile, Blueblood stood there sputtering and blinking rapidly. The stunned crowd, for its part, slowly backed away from both the sullied prince and insane knight-errant. Rarity simply stared at Pinkie Pie and numbly wondered if her costume robe would keep her warm on the moon, to which the both of them would surely be banished in just a few minutes.

The only sound to be heard was the quiet plop of bits of ruined apple pie falling onto the ballroom floor.

Seemingly immune to the tension surrounding her, Pinkie Pie glanced over her shoulder at Rarity, and the earth mare's expression instantly shifted from glare to grin. Then, she gave Rarity the biggest and least subtle wink in the entire history of Equestria, those light blue eyes positively brimming with laughter and the purest kind of self-satisfaction, and that was it all it took.

Rarity burst out laughing.

Wave after wave of loud, terribly undignified guffaws poured out of her, even as Rarity knew that actually daring to laugh at the poor prince would only serve to add decades to her banishment. But she couldn't help it. The pie … and that wink … and the pie

Finally, through the sheen of syrupy goop smeared across his face, Prince Blueblood narrowed his eyes at Pinkie Pie. "Now, see here, commoner! This is unacceptable! Disgraceful! Utterly and irrevocably-"


Prince Blueblood's mouth snapped shut, and his eyes went wide with fear.

Everypony present immediately dropped into low bows of the deepest respect as Princess Celestia stepped into their midst, a serene expression upon her face and her mane glowing under the dim ballroom lights. She glanced from Blueblood to Pinkie to Rarity, and her lips gave a tiny twitch. Rarity gulped hard and, as she felt her throat muscles contracted, she realized that at some point she'd stopped laughing.

Celestia levitated over a cloth napkin from a nearby table and began dabbing at the prince's face. "My dear nephew, after you've cleaned up a bit, I believe the Duchess of Hoofington was hoping to have a few words with you about your rose garden." She paused and, when the stallion didn't respond, she added, "You know what a horticulturist the duchess has always been, and your garden is one of the finest in Equestria …"

"Oh, yes! Yes, indeed!" Prince Blueblood nodded gravely-as gravely as a pony could nod, with the remains of an entire apple pie dripping down his face. "I will go attend to the duchess immediately, Aunt Celestia!"

Celestia smiled. "Thank you, Blueblood."

As the unicorn trotted off, his head held high and proud, the princess turned her smile toward Rarity and Pinkie. Rarity forced herself not to flinch in response, and she did her utmost to remain standing upon all four hooves. It was a bit difficult, at the present, as her legs were trembling almost as badly as the ground after a Sonic Rainboom. But Rarity was determined. If nothing else, she would maintain some small semblance of dignity in her last moments in Equestria before her exile.

She would be remembered as a true lady, at the very least. A true lady and a devastatingly fabulous dresser.

"Sir Puddinghead?"

Rarity's eyes cut over in time to see Pinkie Pie straighten her shoulders and give a brisk nod. With a jaunty salute, Pinkie barked out, "Ma'am! Yes, ma'am!"

Celestia's smile grew wider, if just by a bit. "I was hoping you could escort Princess Platinum to the observatory for a bit, as I don't believe anyone should be using it at this hour. It might be a good idea to give Prince Blueblood some space and some time to calm down." Her gaze flickered over to Rarity for a moment. "I think Princess Platinum might appreciate the opportunity to calm herself, as well, unless I'm very much mistaken."

Rarity could do little more than blush in reply. She supposed that she had been yelling at Blueblood towards the end there. Just a bit.

"That might be … " Rarity gave the princess a subdued smile. "That might be a good idea. Thank you, Your Highness."

Princess Celestia gave a regal nod in response and, the matter apparently settled to her satisfaction, gently glided off toward the refreshments tables. In silence Rarity watched the princess leave and attempted to get over the shock of not being banished to wherever it was that ponies got banished. She was knocked from the solitude of her musings, however, by the brush of something warm and soft against her flank.

With a start, Rarity glanced over and found Pinkie Pie grinning at her. The earth pony waggled her eyebrows and, still grinning, dipped her head in yet another extravagant, hammy bow.

Rarity just blinked back at her.

"Milady," intoned Pinkie Pie, her eyes huge and impossibly blue, "may I have the honor of escorting Your Highness to the observatory?"

As she continued to struggle to regain her bearings, Rarity opened her mouth to tell Pinkie Pie to cease at once. To yell at her friend for assaulting a member of royalty-although only with baked goods, thankfully-as well as for creating a scene at the palace. To order Pinkie to give that helmet and armor back to Fluttershy.

But then Rarity remembered how angry she'd felt just minutes before, and she realized that she probably would have hit Blueblood with a pie if Pinkie hadn't done so first. Plus, there was the fact that she herself was still wearing a crown made out of common tin and colored glass.

So it was with a wry smile and resigned chuckle that Rarity instead replied, "Please lead the way, Sir Puddinghead."

Pinkie Pie giggled in response and, after dancing an impromptu little jig, arranged her facial features into something approximating a serious expression. Then she clicked her heels together and began marching off toward the stairs, her steps high, almost prancing. At a loss for anything else to do, Rarity shrugged and followed after.

The two ponies nodded to passing guards as they made their way through the darkened halls of the palace. Neither spoke. It wasn't a particularly long trek to the observatory, which was housed in Luna's wing of the palace, but Rarity found that the silence grated on her. Especially so given that it was such an unaccustomed thing to experience while in Pinkie Pie's company.

At last, unable to stand it any longer, Rarity decided to breach the quiet. "Darling, you really shouldn't have done that."

"I guess maybe not," replied Pinkie, in an unusually soft voice. "But the prince was being really mean! He didn't like your crown and tried to make you take it off, but I think it's a super great crown!"

"Yes. Well. Even so." Rarity delicately cleared her throat. "Besides, truth be told, I suppose keeping on the costume after the play was rather absurd ..."

Pinkie glanced over her shoulder with a frown. "Nuh uh! The costume makes you happy, and doing things that make you happy is the exact opposite of absurd."

Rarity didn't really know what to say to that, and so Rarity said nothing at all. She simply kept on walking, kept on walking right past Pinkie Pie, and continued on to the observatory. She remembered well where it stood-the observatory had been one of the very first places Twilight Sparkle had taken all of them, upon their first visit to the palace. Soon enough Rarity found herself before those large, oaken doors that had various constellations and galaxies ornately carved into the wood. She paused outside the doors, reluctant to go any farther though she didn't quite know why.

Pinkie stepped forward after a moment and, shoving open one of the doors with her shoulder, gestured for Rarity to enter. "After you, Your Highness."

A nearby royal guard raised his eyebrow but otherwise kept his peace.

Rarity ignored him and, with an eye roll that was belied by a warm smile, she quickly passed through the doors. Beyond the doorway laid a large room filled with bookshelves and several telescopes of varying sizes. Rarity gasped as her eyes adjusted to the dark and as she took in her surroundings. The sheer size and grandeur of the palace and its many chambers never failed to leave her breathless.

And then she looked up.

The ceiling was entirely comprised of clear glass. Through that glass Rarity could see the endlessly black sky above, dotted with thousands upon thousands of twinkling dots of pure, white light.

"My word," the unicorn breathed. "It's beautiful."

"I know, right?"

Startled, her heart hammering in her chest, Rarity glanced over in time to see Pinkie sidle up beside her. The earth pony's gaze, however, was firmly fixed on the night sky above them. An unusually gentle smile graced Pinkie Pie's face.

"It's really pretty," Pinkie continued on, her voice echoing slightly off the high walls and ceilings of the observatory. "You should come visit my mom and dad sometime, though. Out on the rock farm you can see a gazillion more stars than you can here or even in Ponyville."

Rarity returned to looking up at the stars. Idly she wondered how long it might take to count each and every one that she could see. It would probably take weeks, if not months. And yet there were places where one could see even more stars? She was unsure of just how many a "gazillion" might indicate and, even setting aside the vagaries of Pinkie's choice in terminology, she found it a hard thing to attempt to visualize.

She tried to imagine it anyway.

"Rarity?" Pinkie Pie's voice was just a hair above a whisper. "Are you mad at me?"

The unicorn sighed, more at herself than at Pinkie. "No. No, I suppose I'm not."

"Oh. Okay."

They lapsed back into silence, with no one for company but the stars and each other. Rarity had no idea how long they simply stood there, transfixed, eyes lifted up towards the heavens, but it felt both too long and not nearly long enough. She stood there, and she wondered. At what strange impulse had compelled her to keep her costume from the play in the first place. At what had compelled her to push back so doggedly against Prince Blueblood's demand that she take it off and then went along with Pinkie's ridiculous little game of lady and knight.

But deep down, she knew. She knew why. Deep down, she'd always known why.

Eventually, some far-off church bells interrupted the quiet as they began to chime the hour. They rang out clear and crisp through the dark night air.

Rarity swallowed and took a deep breath. "I … I enjoyed it. When you called me 'milady' and 'Your Highness.'" She could hear her own voice shaking, but she pretended that it wasn't. She was good at pretending, when she wanted to be. "As utterly ridiculous and nonsensical as that might sound to you …"

The bells kept chiming.

"I don't think that sounds ridiculous at all, Rarity."

Slowly Rarity turned her head and lowered her gaze. She found Pinkie Pie looking back at her with wide, sparkling eyes.

"Not many ponies take me seriously," Pinkie continued on, "but you always do. Even when I'm being silly." The earth mare giggled, but it was strangely soft, a murmur instead of a shout. "So I thought maybe you'd like for somepony to take you seriously even when you're being silly."

Rarity licked her lips and felt every chime of the bells echo almost painfully within her chest.

Pinkie executed a quick twirl, followed by a bow that had her nose scraping the observatory floor. As she popped up from the bow, she grinned broadly and declared, "Therefore, Your Royal Highness, never shall you fear! Sir Puddinghead is-and shall remain-at your service!"

Rarity smiled back at the beaming pink pony. It seemed like the thing to do, for some reason. "I do believe I should like that."

It sounded strange. It was, in truth, exceedingly strange. But perhaps that was all right. There was nopony else around to hear, after all, nopony else around to care. There was only Pinkie Pie here with her, and Pinkie Pie didn't think it strange.

That should have worried Rarity. And in some back corner of her mind, it did, a bit. But for the most part, the thought just filled her with a sense of warmth that was lovely to possess on such a cold winter's night.

Still smiling, Pinkie leaned forward and wrapped her forelegs around Rarity. "It's okay, you know," whispered Pinkie, her breath hot and sweet against the Rarity's face. "It's okay to … to want things you don't have. To wanna be something else, something big."

The unicorn allowed her eyes to slide shut, and she reveled in the softness and warmth of the other pony. She hesitated just a moment before venturing, "Such as a baker instead of a rock farmer, perhaps?"

Pinkie gave a tight squeeze before at last letting go. "Or a princess instead of a tailor!"

Rarity lifted her nose in mock disdain. "Fashion designer. I am a fashion designer, thank you very much."

Pinkie Pie simply kept on grinning. As the earth pony took a step back, Rarity couldn't help but notice he black helmet Pinkie wore was too large for her head by far, and Fluttershy's unbuckled costume armor hung awkwardly off Pinkie's flanks. All in all, the pink mare looked positively absurd.

Rarity knew she probably did, too.

But right here and right now, under the ethereal starlight, in a darkened observatory where it seemed as though they were the only two ponies in the world, she found it hard to care.

Suddenly, Pinkie Pie cocked her head. "The bells stopped ringing. I guess that means it's midnight. Ooh! Which means it's finally Hearth's Warming!" She bowed down low, but her shining, moonlit eyes never left Rarity's own. "Happy Hearth's Warming, Princess Rarity!"

Rarity let out a dry chuckle in reply. "Happy Hearth's Warming ... Sir Pinkie."

Revised 1/8: Major changes were to the confrontation with Blueblood and the end conversation between Rarity and Pinkie Pie. Thanks to all who provided feedback, with special thanks to nemryn, Esle Ynopemos, and ugugg93 over at Fimfiction.

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