All That Remains

by Draconian Soul

Chapter 1: What I Have Left

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A dragon's lifespan goes on for many millennia. The general growth spurt of that dragon starts around its two-hundredth year. It took us several years to finally learn about my aging patterns, but the answer I got wasn’t as comforting as I would have liked. If anything, it was a dark, foreboding reminder of the mortality of everypony around me. As time went on, that reminder became reality.

Seventy years is a long time to wait for your friends to leave you. The years seemed to fly by fast, though I wish they hadn’t. I would have preferred to have the years be slow, perhaps even standing still for eternity. If only Star Swirl had invented such magic that could defy age and time. Maybe even Twilight could have figured it out. Maybe I’m just grasping for something, anything that would have made things different. Something that would have kept them around for just a little while longer.

I’ve harbored the fear of being worthless, not needed, and left alone. It was why I cherished every moment I spent with my friends. I could recount every memory, every adventure we went on, every single word said to me, positive or not. The memories are my treasure, and it’s all that I have left of them. Well, all we have left of them.

While most of my friends have withered away, one still remains in my life. The most beautiful, generous one I know seemed to have denied death and outlasted the bitter reality of age. Not physically, but mentally. She’s still the same, radiant pony I fawned over as a young whelp. The way she carries herself, how she acts and interacts with others, it’s as if she hasn’t aged at all. While I wish that were true, the fact of her mortality still shows in her outward appearance.

No matter how hard she tried, she was never able to relive her younger years. Her hair was graying and becoming frailer, her eyes were beginning to sag, and her legs occasionally buckled underneath her. If that wasn’t already enough, her sight was worsening each year. I’ve seen her move her hooves over the counters, searching for the eyelashes that were right in front of her face. It saddens me to see her in such a vulnerable, frail state. But it’s the reality I have to live with. It’s the reason that I decided to accompany her ever since the blindness started to sink in.

As cruel as it may sound, I’m glad that I was given a reason to be around Rarity. No matter how hard I tried, I could never shake off the feelings I’ve had for her. You would think that after seventy years, staying friends with her and supporting her in the pursuit of her true love, that I would be able to rid myself of this “silly crush”. I guess waking up every morning, wishing she would have chosen me over him and envying him for a majority of my life says otherwise, or maybe it just shows how unable I am to move on.

I didn’t hate the guy for this, though. I was quite supportive of him marrying Rarity. She deserved a stallion who was able to take care of her. I was there to support them on their wedding day. I could see the joy that filled her eyes, and that alone was good enough for me. Even then, we remained really good friends, and she still let me come around to assist her when she needed another hand to help her out. Her husband was surprisingly fine with this too, though I decided against making it a normal thing. I didn’t want to impede on their marriage. Life was simple for her, and she was happy.

Unfortunately, this happiness didn’t last long. Eventually, they found out that Rarity was infertile. She would never bear any children of her own. This caused conflict between the two, until he eventually left her one night, never coming back. I never forgave him for that. If only he could have seen the nights she spent lying on her bed, broken down in tears. If only he was there to see the misery in her eyes, wishing every single day that things could have been different, that she could bear fruit. I had to witness it. I wanted to. I wanted to be there to comfort her. She didn’t deserve to be miserable, so I refused to let her be.

With the help of my friends, she slowly but surely grew out of her depression, and was back to her old self again. She spent more time working on her projects, her eyes bright with inspiration. It’s amazing what kind of inspirations come out of sadness. I offered to help her out during her recovery, but she often decided to do it alone. She would weave her fabric, snip the thread, and piece her work together like magic. It was always fun watching her doing what she loved. It gave me a thrill that nothing else could. I suppose that is why I constantly made excuses to go see her. The times went on normally, and I spent as much time with my friends as possible, never aging but watching them do so.

The years began to wear on my friends, and eventually, their deaths caught up to them. Slowly but surely they began to fade from the world, and I was once again reminded by my cursed existence. I wanted to be able to live with them, to grow and get old with them. To eventually die with them. What’s the point in living if you don’t have anyone to live for? It’s a question I’ve often asked myself thousands of times. And the questions didn’t get an answer. Just a cold, biting stab to my heart.

I started growing null to the concept. Death just seemed like an arbitrary thing, and I was immune to it. It truly was a curse. You always assume that you will be ready for it. You build yourself up for the inevitable, spilling your tears in private so when you have to bury them, it doesn’t happen again. One would think that would work. The tears flowing down my face every time we bury a friend says otherwise. Each one is more depressing, and it sucked the life out of me. I was completely devoid of emotion. I was so used to it by this point. It was a normal occasion to me at that point. It was nothing new, yet nothing easy. I just waited for them to all leave me. Sitting and waiting for the inevitable to happen. When Rarity was left, I was saddened. I knew she was close to her end. I feared what was to come, and I shut myself from the world, waiting each day for her to pass and leave me alone.

Miraculously, she managed to exceed her prime. Weeks passed, and she kept moving on. There were tears. There were heartaches; I expected as such. But after the tears were shed, she went back to her normal life. It was almost as if she was oblivious to the fact. She continued on with her life, talking to her sister as if everything was fine. But then, her actions made me realize something: everything was normal. Life is a cycle. If you dwell on the death, your life will be miserable. I didn't want to wallow in my friends' deaths. I needed to move on. But I didn't want to do it alone.

From that point on, I made Rarity my main focus. I spent as much time with her as I possibly could. Anything to keep her out of the retirement home she was pressured to move into constantly. She would always turn it down, and every time, I would sigh in relief. The idea of her being taken care of by some second rate facility, being attended to by some ponies that didn’t know her like I did made me sick. I wouldn’t let them take her, even if they insisted. I wanted her to stay at her boutique, in a place she was familiar and safe at. A place where I could always visit her. A place she can sleep comfortably at night. It might have been selfish, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want anyone to take her away from where she belonged.

When our friends died, the visits began to grow more frequent. Rarity seemed to defy the ages, outlasting even her sister. I don’t know how she did it, nor do I care. I just knew that I wanted to be there to take care of her, and make her feel like she was still young. I helped her take care of her boutique, putting away the fabric that gradually became less used. I helped her get food, took care of the cleaning around the house, and made sure she was comfortable in the night, opting to cover her up and lull her to sleep before I went back to the library.

The sleep always concerned me. I never knew if she was going to be awake when I next saw her. I only had faint hope, and that hope waned with every passing second. Regardless of my fears, I kept visiting, kept socializing, and accompanying her to wherever she wanted to go. I did all of this to keep myself from falling apart. I did it so that the last years of her life would be eventful for the both of us, and in the process, maybe I could fight off those feelings that have haunted me for nearly seventy years.

This has been going on for ten years now, and the feelings still remain. Strangely enough, they’ve grown. But I’ve kept them to myself all these years. What would happen if I told her? She must have thought my silly crush had passed by now. If I were to tell her, what would she do? How would she react? These questions prevented me from testing the theories that bubbled in my head. I’m still afraid of losing her, and to confess this to her when she’s past her prime might hurt more than it would help. Or at least that’s the thought I used to have. I’m still worried about the outcome, but after what just happened, I’m positive she already knows. Today has been an interesting one to say the least.

It started with the same routine: cleaning the library, eating while reminiscing on a portrait of me and Twilight when she was… around, and waiting for the librarian to show up for the day. I would pay her enough to keep watch of it while I was away. I wanted to find the best one to watch over it, one as obsessed with books as Twilight was. It’s the way she would have wanted it.

After that, I always directly go to Sugarcube Corner to pick up some candies for Rarity. She seemed to love the caramel hard candies more lately. I can’t lie, I like her taste. Caramel has always been my favorite flavor candy. Just another thing I could relate with her with.

Anyway, after getting her candies, there wasn’t anything else left but to make my way towards the boutique. I was always fearful when entering. I was never sure if I would be greeted with a hello, or just another corpse I would have to bury. Hers would be the hardest, and I don’t think I could bring myself to do it. If she were to have died, I would have found a special burial for her. She deserves more than the average gravestone. But fortunately, she's been just as lively as she was when she was young. This eases my tension every time.

I entered the boutique, and was greeted by nothing. It was empty and quiet. Just a normal day then. If I was correct, which I prayed I was, she would be reading one of her magazines. I went up the stairs, and none of that had changed. There she was, reading one of her “In the Scene” magazines. It was always amusing to see her interest in fashions. She refused to let the age define her. It’s her refusal to accept defeat that made me smile every time I saw her. As I walked into the room, she looked up, adjusting her glasses, and pushing her hair out of her face.

“Spikey? Is that you?” she asked in that frail, yet alluring voice. It’s funny how well she could hear though. I barely made a noise coming in, and she was able to pick up someone stepping into her room. I guess it’s to compensate for her fading vision. I was never an expert on these things. I smiled and nodded.

“The one and only,” I said, walking to her side. She gave a small smile and giggled quietly.

“That’s quite lovely. I always enjoy seeing your company.”

“So do I.” I pulled up the bag of hard candies and handed them to Rarity. “I know it’s still quite early in the morning, but I decided to get your candies. They’re pretty cheap when you get them, so I was able to get plenty.”

She levitated the candies and put them on the ground, which was unusual. Normally she’d place them on the cabinet, or give one a quick taste before putting the rest away. “Thank you, sweetie. I can never have too many of these.”

I smiled. Not the fake smiles that you give when you want ponies to think that you like them, but the genuine smile that grew more and more genuine each day. Everything about her made me feel happy. Her personality, her poise, the way she carries herself, and yes, even her looks contributed to the feelings that welled up inside of me.

“Well, what do you want to eat today?” I asked. “You know I can make some mean waffles. Maybe freshly squeezed orange juice. You must be getting tired of drinking milk every day.”

“It’s not a bother. I could use a bit of calcium for these old bones, anyways.” Rarity smiled and pushed her glasses up, closing her magazine. I was curious about that. Normally she wouldn’t put away her magazine before she ate. I stood there puzzled, scratching my head as I saw her grin. “But I don’t want you to cook for me today, darling. You deserve a break.”

“Oh.” I looked down, kicking my feet around. “Well, if you just want me to go out and get you some food, then that’s fine. I don’t mind going out for you.”

“I actually had another idea.” Rarity slowly lifted herself out of the bed, putting on her pink slippers. “I would actually rather get out of the house today. I’ve been cooped up here for a while, and I want to get out while the day is young. I need to flex these old bones a little, don’t you think?”

She winked at me, and I smiled. Slowly, she trotted towards the bathroom with me standing by her side so she wouldn’t tumble over. She went by the same routine things every day. She would always apply her eyelashes first, powdering her face and straightening her hair the best way she could. She eventually gave up with her tail, asking me to tie it in a bun. She just couldn’t be bothered with it. So much work would have to go into her tail. It was bad enough that her mane was wild. She eventually gave up on that too, and shortened it. After working on her mane and eyelashes, she would powder her face, trying to simulate that perfect youth she once had.

I found her efforts laudable, but was saddened at the thought of how she must feel. While she never showed it, there had to have been some dread in her. I always imagined her worrying if the next day would come, waiting for the night to take her, and join the rest of her friends. I liked to imagine it, because it made me feel a little better believing I wasn’t the only one with that dread.

She would turn to me and flip her hair, giving me that wonderful, hopeful smile every single time she finished. This time was no different. It was the same as I always remembered. The sparkle’s clouding my vision as her luster showed itself to me. But unlike the other times, this one seemed more, joyful and energetic.

“How do I look?” she asked, as if my answer would change. I’m sure she knew how I felt about her. I reminded her every single day.

“Words can’t even describe how you look.” It was more like I was running out of things to say. Everything I could say had been used a thousand times before. Saying it would just be rewording the same thing over and over again. And yet, I always felt the need to say them. “But it’s awfully early for you to be applying makeup, my lady. I haven’t even gotten your meal yet.”

“That’s the thing, Spike,” she began, still smiling widely. “I want to go out and eat today. It would be nice to go out every now and then and mingle with the townsfolk, wouldn’t you agree?”

I blinked in confusion. I don’t know why it was surprising that she wanted to get out of this lonely, empty boutique she was sheltered in. Any sane pony wouldn’t want to be cooped up inside for life. Still, the suddenness of it. The way she presented the idea to me. The fact that she wanted to spend this day with a friend outside the confines of her home.

‘Yeah. I guess being inside of this boutique could get dull sometimes,” I answered. “Do you have any idea where you want to eat?”

I stood and waited for Rarity to answer my question, anticipation welling inside of me. “Well, I was hoping you could pick it out. You have a good sense of what I want. I trust your judgment.”

I looked up at her. There was genuine joy in her eyes. The hopeful glance that filled my cold heart with warmth. I wish I could share that smile. My smiles are used to hide my fears now, to make her believe that everything is fine. Still, that wasn’t the time or place to think about such depressing things. Rarity needed me, and I wanted to provide for her.

“Well, we could always go to the cafe near the—” I couldn’t bear saying the name. The memories of the ponies that resided there would have been too much for me to stomach. I didn’t think it would be that hard to mention an old friend’s occupation and job, but it was. It never got easier.

I think Rarity saw this pain. She trotted closer to me and stroked my head slowly in the attempt to sooth me. Even though her hooves weren’t as smooth as they once were, they still were as soothing and warm as I remembered. It was refreshing, knowing she was still here with me.

I smiled back. That was all I could do. There was nothing further to say, nothing I could say. The only thing I could muster is continuing my earlier proposition to her.

“So, do you want to eat there, my lady?” I still call her that. She isn’t truly my lady, so why did I keep calling her that? Why did I feel the need to treat her so royally. Whatever the reason, it didn’t matter. All that mattered is getting her to where she wanted to go.

She quickly grabbed her sunhat and walked to my side. “Lead the way, Spikey Poo.”

A blush painted my face, yet again. After all these years, I was still victim to her honeyed words, on the verge of losing my ability to speak every time she would reply to me. I could stand there and look at her splendor for the rest of the day, but she had her requests, and I wanted to fulfill them. When we left the boutique, I wasn’t expecting to do anything significant other than eat with Rarity. Little did I know, this would be the start of one of the most emotional journeys I’ve had in a while.

Next Chapter: Her Request Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 22 Minutes
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