Authored for Adoration

by Sharp Spark

Chapter 1: Authored for Adoration

The curtains at the Carousel Boutique were drawn tight, which could mean only one thing: Rarity was hard at work on something new. And indeed, this was the case, her singing echoing in the currently closed dress shop.

“Thread by thread, stitching it together...”

Her voice trailed off into melodic humming, bouncing along a familiar tune. But as a departure from the normal frenzy involved in a heavy design session, the room was still neat and tidy, everything still and unmoving.

“Always gotta keep in mind my pacing...”

The equine mannequins were neatly aligned in a row against one curving wall, completely unadorned. Even Rarity’s simplest projects would normally result in those pony stand-ins being festooned with the colorful fabric of half a dozen in-progress ideas.

“Make her something perfect to inspire...”

The fabric itself was also missing, or at the least, unutilized. Rather than covering the floor with crumpled piles as the shades were tried, rejected, and later reconsidered, each bolt was neatly rolled up and stored in the appropriate cabinet.

“Gotta mind those intimate details...”

In fact, only one object floated under the control of Rarity’s blue magical aura: a quill. It dipped and spun in the air in time with the unicorn’s song, every few moments swooping down to write on the paper sitting in front of her. This work was not Rarity’s typical sketches of dress ideas, though a few doodles survived in the margins. Instead it was page after page of words, done in an elegant but practical style.

“That ought to do it!” Rarity said, her eyes glowing with triumph. “Opalescence, I do think this is my best work yet!”

She looked around, but her cat had disappeared, likely bored of the comparative inactivity to a dress design session. A slight bit of disappointment surfaced at not having an audience to her literary triumph, but Rarity wouldn't let it ruin her good mood. She gathered up the small pile of papers in her magic and neatly stacked them on the makeup counter she had been using as a desk. Around her feet, wad after wad of crumpled and discarded sheets marked previous attempts that had not met her high standards.

She would still need to proof the story, of course, but Rarity found that revisiting her work was best after a break, to give herself a new perspective on what she had written. Thankfully, getting it all finished this early meant plenty of time for revision, as Hearts and Hooves Day was still several days away. By that time her work would be sparklingly perfect, absolutely sure to melt the heart of her special somepony. But until then, she had other ponies to worry about, other appointments to keep. In fact, Twilight should be by any minute now for...

Sure enough, a polite knock at the door indicated that Twilight was here for their spa day, punctual as always.

“Come iiiin!” Rarity called out. She looked up at the mirror above the makeup counter and gasped at her disheveled mane. Who knew that writing could be so straining?

Twilight walked in just in time to see Rarity bolt to the upper bedroom. “Just a minute, darling,” Rarity said, her voice floating down the stairs. “Let me tidy up a bit.”

They would be going to the spa next regardless, but of course there was no reason for a lady not to be presentable at all times. She dragged a brush through her mane, teasing it back into its normal curled and springy shape. She noticed a thousand other things that could use touching up, but it would be best not to keep Twilight waiting.

As she trotted back down the stairs, she stopped short, realizing her inattention had led to complete disaster.

Twilight Sparkle was reading her story.

And of course, that bookworm was already almost halfway through the stack of papers.

“Wha— Wha— What are you doing!” Rarity cried out, horrified.

Twilight looked up with a guilty smile on her face. “Oh, I’m so sorry Rarity. I just saw this here and figured it might take you a while to get ready, and it wouldn’t hurt to take a peek...”

Twilight’s eyes grew bigger and bigger, and Rarity could have sworn a galaxy of tiny stars glowed in her pupils. “And then I saw you were writing a book! A book! You! Writing!” She began hopping up and down, reminding Rarity of a certain pink-coated mutual friend.

“Er,” Rarity said, “yes... I suppose that’s technically correct.”

“And it’s so good!” Twilight exclaimed. “I mean, I don’t normally read many romance novels, but your characterization is so strong. The fashionista and the farmer are both so vivid and relatable, and the passion is so... so... passionate! However did you come up with the inspiration?”

Rarity’s white face was suddenly suffused with red. “Eh heh heh. I suppose I just have some natural talent...?”

Twilight stopped bouncing, her eyes widening as she was struck by an idea. “Actually, maybe you can help me with a project of my own.”

Glad to steer the conversation away from her own work, Rarity smiled encouragingly. “Of course, Twilight, I’d love to help a friend in any way I can!”

Twilight’s eyes darted from side to side around the empty boutique. “Well. I’m sort of thinking of writing a book, but it turns out it’s really very different from a research paper. See, I found some very interesting hints in an old text about a relationship between an extremely well-respected Canterlot scholar of magic and one of the founding members of the Wonderbolts!”

Rarity tilted her head. “Just hints?”

Twilight nodded back. “I have plenty of information about both of them alone, but very little concrete about their... oh, I don’t even know the right words.”

“Tryst?” Rarity suggested.

“Oh, no, no, no, that makes it sound illicit and a one-time thing. I’m sure it was a pure and deep love between the two.” Twilight gently sighed at the romantic thought.


“And so I was wanting to write a speculative biography, maybe filling in a few details here and there. With reasonable extrapolations, of course. But I don’t even know where to start.”

Rarity smiled. “Well, of course I’ll help you! It would be a pleasure.”

Twilight’s eyes lit up and she clapped her hooves together happily. “Oh, wonderful, wonderful. I’ll have to start getting together my research materials immediately!”

Before Rarity could even mention their spa day, Twilight had already dashed out of the boutique at record speeds, leaving behind only a cloud of dust.

“Hm,” she said to herself. “That was stra—”

“Oh!” Twilight said, poking her head back in the door. “And we’ll need to have it ready by Hearts and Hooves Day. Hope that’s not a problem!” Again, she was gone before Rarity could respond.

Well, that would put a new wrinkle in things. But Rarity loved helping out her friends, and it seemed awfully important to Twilight, for some reason.

But a more pressing concern was on her mind. Twilight had read her story and failed to put together the pieces, the hints and allusions she had delicately woven into the plot. This was somewhat of a blessing, as Rarity did not particularly want her secret to get out any sooner than intended. But... how could Twilight have missed the subtle implications, the carefully chosen references? Had Rarity misjudged the transparency of the emotions at hand? Had she made a grave error regarding her expectations of her intended audience? After all, Twilight was rather oblivious to matters of the heart, but the true recipient happened to be the one other pony who would likely be even worse at catching the subtle signals she was trying to send.

Which meant that this draft wouldn’t work, not at all! She would need to be clearer, somehow, without compromising the elegance of the story. Which meant more work. Expressing her frustration in an exasperated sigh, she used her magic to sweep the papers off her desk dramatically. She watched as they fluttered down to join the other wadded-up papers spread across her floor.

Might as well get rid of all these mistakes and start fresh. She pined for the spa, but now she needed to start all over again, not to mention helping Twilight with her own project. Better to keep working for now – after cleaning up, of course. This place was a mess!

Rarity trotted outside, keeping her spirits high as she levitated a large ball of crumpled pages behind her. All her discarded story scraps from last night ended up being quite the waste of paper, but she told herself each faulty attempt was one step closer to the perfect expression of prose. She just needed to take these to the dumpster around back and—

“Hey, Rarity!” a voice shouted down from above.

Instinctively, Rarity floated the ball of sensitive personal documents behind her back, trying to look unconcerned and completely neutral. Glancing up, she saw a familiar rainbow-maned pegasus.

“Oh, Rainbow Dash, what a pleasure. I am surprised that you are not out enjoying a nap in the clouds on this fine day.” Rarity's voice was flat and and rushed, hoping Rainbow would know how to take a hint.

“Naw,” Rainbow said with a grin. “Normally on Tuesdays I sleep in the branches of Twilight’s house, but she just left a few minutes ago.”

“What difference does that—” Rarity stopped the question midstream as she realized a better tack. “Actually, I believe she just headed back that way.”

“Oh, cool!” Rainbow said. “Well, see ya!” She blasted off, the rapid movement and her colorful tail leaving behind a prismatic trail.

Rarity exhaled slowly. That was close. Good thing Rainbow could be so easily distracted.

“Gotcha.” The word came from right behind her, and she whirled around to see Rainbow Dash with hooves full of her precious secret story attempts.

“Rainbow Dash! You give those back right now!” Rarity jumped up, flailing at Rainbow with her hooves, but the pegasus just lazily flapped her wings, floating out of Rarity’s reach.

“Raaaainbowwww,” Rarity cried plaintively. Dash had already begun to scan the pages, looking at one at random, then another.

“I can’t believe it!” she said. “You. Rarity. You...”

Rarity winced.

“Are a writer? What an egghead!” Rainbow spun upside down in the air, laughing loudly.

Rarity breathed a sigh of relief. Thank goodness all her friends were completely devoid of any appreciation of nuance and symbolism. Then her eyes narrowed. This was the second pony today to be completely surprised that she had any literary ability. How rude!

“Yes, yes, get it all out of your system,” she said. “And then give me those pages back!” She glared at Dash, who had subsided into only occasional bursts of snickering.

Rainbow Dash tried to put on a serious face. “Actually, since you know how to do this sort of thing... maybe you could help me out?”

Rarity blinked. “You need something written?”

Rainbow twirled her hooves together nervously. “Yeah. So, I have this friend, right, who likes Daring Do a lot too. A friend you don’t know, of course! And uh, I was thinking about getting her a book for Hear— uh, her. Her birthday. Which is in a few days. And only Daring Do will do, but she’s read all of them. All of them!”

Rarity nodded. “So, you want me to help you write a Daring Do story for your friend. That’s such a thoughtful gift!”

“Right,” Dash said. “Because of course, I’m as awesome a friend as I am a flier. So, you can do that?”

Rarity rubbed her chin. Another project meant an even tighter schedule, but she couldn’t just leave Rainbow Dash in a bind. It would work out, these things always did. “Of course I can,” she said.

“Great!” Dash exclaimed. “I’ve already got all sorts of notes and outlines, I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Let me get them organized, and I’ll get them right to you!” With that, the pegasus took off again, vanishing into a speck in the sky as she rocketed towards her cloud home.

The pilfered papers fluttered towards the ground, Rarity reaching out with her magic to grab them and add them back to the ball. Except for one, which got caught in a rogue gust of wind and soared off down the street.

Uh oh. Rarity leapt into action, chasing after the errant page.

The wind whipped it around a corner, always just slightly out of reach of Rarity’s magical grasp. She galloped after it at full speed, skidding as she rounded the corner and kicking up a dreadful cloud of dust. But it was a necessary sacrifice – as much as it pained her to admit it, she could easily wash off the grime, but a secret exposed could never be put back into its box.

To her horror, she saw that the page had finally stopped. In the hooves of yet another one of her friends.

Fluttershy read the words on the page slowly, her mouth open and moving slightly as she did so. Rarity buried her face in her hooves. This was turning into a horrible day.

Fluttershy looked up from the page and squeaked as she saw her friend’s distress. “Rarity? Is... is this yours?”

Rarity couldn’t bear to face Fluttershy. “Yes,” she said, simply.

Fluttershy’s eyes grew large. “It’s so... very... poetic!”

Oh no. Rarity quivered with shame. Her brief dalliances with poetry as a medium were admittedly symbolic enough that her thoughts were completely obscured, but they also happened to be by far the most unapologetically florid and overwrought of all of her compositions.

“I’ve never read anything quite like this,” Fluttershy continued. “It’s... it’s... wonderful!”

Rarity peeked out from behind one hoof. “Really?”

“Oh, yes,” Fluttershy said. “I wish I could write like this... I’ve thought so much about writing a love poem, but my thoughts never come out the way I want them to...”

“Oh, Fluttershy, darling, that’s the sweetest thing anypony has said to me all day!” Rarity leapt up and wrapped her friend in a tight hug.

The latter half of Fluttershy’s statement suddenly caught up to her, and Rarity pulled back to look Fluttershy in the eye. “Wait,” Rarity said. “A love poem? Meaning... you have a special somepony in mind?”

Fluttershy’s cheeks grew to a bright pink and her response was completely inaudible, but that said plenty to Rarity.

“Why, of course!” Rarity exclaimed. “I’ll help you write a love poem. One that will make your prince fall head over heels for you!”

“Oh,” Fluttershy said. “Only... only... if it’s not too much trouble. And... he’s not really a prince...”

“A prince is more than just a pony with fancy clothes and a title, my dear. Trust me on this one.” Rarity thought back to the Gala and shuddered slightly.

Fluttershy stared off into space. "I suppose he is strong... and courageous... and kind... and..."

Suddenly thoughts of Rarity’s other promises floated into her mind. She had so much to do! “Fluttershy, darling, stop by the Boutique once you’ve had a chance to think it over, and we’ll talk about how to approach the poem. I must run for now before the day has entirely passed us by.”

Fluttershy nodded, still harboring signs of a blush, and Rarity trotted off, collecting all the scraps of paper once again.

Unseen, one page drifted off from the bottom of the ball, carried off by the wind whilst managing to escape detection from either of the two departing ponies. It floated in the breeze, flying high up in the air before drifting away towards the very outskirts of town. It crested a large hill and then fluttered down into farmland, where neatly planted rows of trees adorned the hillside...

Safely at the dumpster behind the Carousel Boutique, Rarity took one last glance around to make sure no other ponies were lying in wait to sneak glimpses of her personal thoughts. Satisfied, she smugly smiled and dropped the large wadded ball right into the dumpster.

“Ow!” a voice echoed. “Hee hee!”

Rarity smacked her face with a hoof. “Pinkie Pie. What are you doing in my trash?”

Pinkie’s head popped out of the metal box, a sheet of paper crowning her poofy pink mane. “What are you doing at my super secret emergency party supply stash number thirty-three?” She flipped a kazoo out and balanced it on her nose.

“I see,” Rarity said.

“You see my super secret emerg—”

Rarity raised a hoof to interrupt. “Figure of speech, dear. Can I convince you to join me out here?”

“Of course!” Pinkie leapt out of the the dumpster in one springy bounce, catching enough airtime that Rainbow Dash would have been impressed. She tilted her head back and the piece of paper slid back into the trash.

Rarity closed her eyes. “So Pinkie...”

“Actually, Rary-berry, I was just looking for you to ask you for a favor!”

Rarity tried to stay calm, fearing what was coming next. “I’m always willing to help a friend.”

“Well,” Pinkie said. “Since you’re so super duper awesome at writing lovey dovey mushy wushy stories, I figured you could help me write something too!”

Rarity’s eyes flew open. It was about what she expected, but she couldn’t help it. “How did...?”

“You’re my friend, silly! And also I was helping the Cutie Mark Crusaders try to be caricaturists last week, and Sweetie was using the back of the latter half of The Adventures of Apple Heart and Sapphire Mind. Which, it’s probably good that you moved away from space opera. It was a little bit overly melodramatic.”

“Oh...” Rarity said weakly. “Yes...”

“I want to write the book about the best party ever! One with all our friends, that never ends! Hey, maybe I could be a poet too? Hee hee.”

“Of course, darling,” Rarity said. Her head hung down and she spread her front hooves, trying to steady herself for the coming work.

“Are you sure?” Pinkie said, noticing Rarity’s posture. “If you have too much to do, I understand...”

“No.” Rarity raised her head once again with a determined glint in her eyes. “I always have time for my friends, and you are definitely a friend of mine.”

“Hooray!” Pinkie cried out. “We’ll have to have a Rarity-Is-Best-Writer Party! Oh! Oh! At the library, that would be perfect!”

She dashed off, still spouting plans and ideas for her next party, and Rarity adjourned to the Boutique.

Where, of course, she found a familiar orange mare.

“Hey there, sugarcube,” Applejack said.

Rarity jerked her head back and forth as she scanned the Boutique’s interior for any leftover pages or notes. Luckily, she had been thorough in gathering them together earlier.

Seeing Rarity’s brief panic, Applejack cocked her head to the side, brow furrowing. “Everything okay there, Rare?”

“Ah. Yes. Sorry.” Rarity smiled tentatively. “The place is just such a mess, I wasn’t expecting company.”

Applejack looked around the room. Everything was still in its place, meaning it was actually the cleanest the room had been in ages. “Uh huh.”

Rarity’s smile began to look forced and her eyes glazed over slightly. “Eh heh heh. Yes. So, can I help you with something?”

Applejack smiled cheerfully. “Ah reckon’ so. Was just at the library and Twilight was tellin’ me all about some book you were writing.”

“Oh, did she now?” Rarity’s voice sounded noticeably strained.

“Now, t’weren’t high literature or anything, but Ah was thinkin’ about doing a little something myself. Granny has all these scrapbooks of family get-togethers and important events. Ah figured it might be fun to make one of m’ own for the Apple family.”

“A scrapbook,” Rarity said. “That’s... I mean, isn’t it just putting in pictures and mementos? There’s hardly any writing to do.”

Applejack’s smile fell. “Oh. Ah reckon’ you’re right. Terribly sorry to bother you then, Ah know how busy y’all get.”

“No, no, wait!” Rarity cried out. “I’d love to help you. Even something like that is still focused around telling a story, albeit in a more visual manner.”

“You’re a lifesaver, Rare.” Applejack’s smile returned and her green eyes danced in a way that made Rarity’s heart briefly flutter.

“Not a problem,” Rarity said. “I always have time for you.”

They both smiled at each other for a moment that stretched slightly too long to be comfortable.

“Y-you and all my friends of course!” Rarity blurted out. “Eh heh heh.”

Applejack tipped her hat and trotted towards the door. “Of course. They don’t call you the Element of Generosity for nothin’, sugarcube.”

Rarity stared after her as Applejack took her leave. Then she remembered. Six stories, including her own. Or, well, stories or love poems or scrapbooks or “speculative biographies”. In just about as many days. Uh oh.

But a sharp mind lurked below that pretty face. Rarity hadn’t survived in the cutthroat world of high fashion without learning to deal with unexpected complications. She also knew when to learn from her previous mistakes. That last time, the near-disaster with the dresses... History wouldn’t repeat itself. She would have her friends as active partners from the very beginning on these projects, to make sure they had a say every step of the way. And she would be willing to put her hoof down hard when they were going too far. How hard could it be?

The knocking continued, growing more impatient in tempo, as Rarity finally managed to raise her head off the uncomfortable hard surface she had been resting on. She blinked slowly, her eyes still blurry, and saw a monster in front of her.

“Eeek!” she cried out, before realizing it was just her reflection in a mirror. Gazing down, a sheaf of papers had been filled with increasingly erratic writing, finally trailing off into misshapen sketches of apples as she had succumbed to slumber while working last night.

The knocks were getting even louder. Rarity paused for a moment, wishing for the time to attend to her appearance, but her politeness outweighed those concerns. Given the urgency of their attentions, her visitor must have a pressing need to see her.

She trotted over to the door, opening it with a flash of blue magic, only to find herself face to face with an entire wall of books, glowing purple as they gently floated. One of them had been tapping its spine on the door, and it sailed into the shop.

Rarity backpedaled hastily. Oh no, was Ponyville under some sort of attack by book golems? The horrible creatures!

Then, as the rest of the volumes floated into the room, she saw a familiar face following shortly behind.

“Oh, Twilight Sparkle,” Rarity said. “What a pleasant surprise!”

“Hi, Rarity,” Twilight said cheerfully. “Sorry for the early start, but I was just so excited to get started! I brought over a few of the more relevant volumes for historical context.”

Rarity looked at the giant stack of books that had settled into a literary mountain at the center of her shop. A few. Right.

“I’m sure they’ll be such a great help,” she said, carefully choosing your words. “But Twilight... have you ever heard of the phrase ‘dramatic license’?”

“Of course!” Twilight said. “I read an entire book last night about adaptation of historical settings to fictional novels. But it’s vital to be able to properly maintain suspension of disbelief. I mean, what if you’re reading along and suddenly you realize the key romatic scene is set among the dusty stacks of the literature section of the Canterlot Royal Archives, when everypony knows that there wasn’t even a fiction wing of the Archives until nearly three hundred years later!”

“Ha, ha.” Rarity’s laughter was hollow. “Of course, dear.”

“Of course, there are some points that could stand to be improved. Like what if Sky Striker’s coat wasn’t just that boring old grey but something more romantic, like... hm.” Twilight nudged open one of her saddlebags and a beaten-looking old journal floated up and turned to one of many bookmarked pages. “A glorious cyan, the color of the sky on a crisp fall morning in which all dreams seemed close at hoof.”

Rarity’s eyebrows raised. “Oh.” A light went off in her head. “Ooooh.”

Twilight’s journal slammed shut and it floated behind her protectively as she hastily spoke up again. “That’s just an example, of course!”

“Right,” Rarity said. “Well, we truly will have to make sure this comes out absolutely perfect then.”

Twilight smiled happily. “I knew I could count on you, Rarity!”

Hoofsteps announced another pony’s presence, and Fluttershy stuck her head in the still-open door. “Rarity? I hope you don’t mind... I came by to maybe talk about the... thing we had discussed yesterday.”

“Come in, darling, come in!” Rarity called out. A love poem would be manageable. Sure, poetry required much more effort to piece together, but at the least it would be far shorter than the other stories. Maybe she could even get this particular one of the projects sorted out today, leaving more time for the others!

Fluttershy tentatively stepped in. “I’ve been thinking about the style, like you said... And Twilight found me an example to start with, I think.”

Rarity’s smile grew. Oh, and something to start from, too! This was sounding better and better.

“Oh, right, I brought that over,” Twilight said. She peered at the mountain of books and then her purple magic coalesced around a volume. One very very large volume. It dragged along the floor over to sit between Fluttershy and Rarity.

“Have you ever heard of the Filliad? It’s ancient Phoeneighcian epic poetry.”

Rarity looked down at the monstrous book and felt a headache coming on. “Oh. Yes. Lovely. Girls, will you excuse me for a moment?”

Rarity fled up the stairs, Fluttershy shrugging as Twilight began to happily issue a lengthy correction about the specific ancient culture responsible for the massive poem.

As soon as she got to the top of the stairs, Rarity raised one hoof dramatically over her head and let out an aggrieved sigh, sliding her fainting couch in to catch her mid-fall.

She lay on the tasteful purple velvet for a moment before flailing her hooves in all directions. A pillow floated across the room to her grasp and she pressed it to her face, muffling some rather un-ladylike outbursts. Those friends! She would be glad to do anything for them, but they could never make it easy for her, could they?

A tapping on one window confirmed that thought. She looked up to see Rainbow Dash flapping her wings outside, loaded with a huge stack of disorganized papers. Of course.

She rolled to her side on the fainting couch, not bothering to get up as her horn glowed with the magic to unlatch the window. Rainbow immediately swooped in and dumped the pile of papers all over the floor of Rarity’s bedroom.

“Rainbow, dear. You are aware that my establishment has doors?” Rarity’s voice was flat, and she did not bother to look down at the mess that Dash had created.

“Psh,” Rainbow said, wagging a hoof. “Doors are boring. I brought you all the notes for the story you’re going to write for me!”

“The story I am going to help you write,” Rarity corrected.

Dash shrugged. “Yeah, whatever. I got a million ideas and each one is more awesome than the last! This is going to be the best Daring Do adventure ever!”

Rarity rolled onto her back and floated a few sample pages above her. They were full of scribbled plots of half-planned action sequences. At least the ones that weren’t stick-figure ponies swinging on vines and running away from boulders.

“These... These are hardly ideas. This piece of paper just says ‘LAVA’ on it twenty times in a row.”

“That’s because the more lava there is, the more exciting it is.” Rainbow Dash’s voice was matter-of-fact, as if explaining what should be patently obvious. “Ooh. Wait. I can feel another idea coming: what if the temple they’re exploring is actually in the middle of an active volcano!” She grabbed the closest piece of paper and began furiously writing on the back.

Rarity sat up as she carefully set the pages back down with the rest. She frowned and started trying to coalesce the pile into a neat stack. “Rainbow, that’s lovely and all, but you need more than a string of horrible traps. There needs to be some sort of overarching plot to tie all the action together.”

“Right,” Dash said. “I thought of that, too. So, you know sometimes Daring Do has that annoying colt sidekick but that’s soooo lame, so I thought we could add a new character. Like this bookish mare who’s a boring professor of ancient historography at some University somewhere but she’s always wanted to get out and see adventure first-hoof and then Daring swoops in and saves her from an evil organization out to steal her research and they rush off to a mysterious temple to save an ancient relic that could spell doom for all Equestria if it fell into the wrong hooves.”

“Hm,” Rarity said. “A little formulaic, but adventure novels are by their very nature. Yes, that could work.”

Rainbow Dash wasn’t even paying attention. She was still rambling on about her story. “...And then Evening Twinkle realizes that what she’s been looking for the whole time isn’t the adventure or the artifact itself, it’s the awesome pony that saved her life like four times now and she’s fallen head over hoof for the courageous and awesome Daring Do and she agrees to go on more adventures, between classes of course because Daring respects her marefriend’s career and isn’t going to ask her to give up on her own life goals and...”

Rainbow!” Rarity said loudly, causing Dash to trail off, blushing. “I think I get the point.” Dash looked up at Rarity with the best puppy-dog eyes she could muster.

Rarity sighed slightly. “Yes, dear, I think we can work with this.” Rainbow’s face lit up with a huge grin. “I’ll put together an outline for you, and we can get started on writing it soon. Why don’t you go downstairs and ask Twilight if she has any books on writing fundamentals you can borrow?”

Rainbow Dash’s wings flapped to full attention suddenly. Her head jerked as she stared down at the floor and then back up towards Rarity. “Oh! I just remembered I had some more notes I needed to go get first bye!” She blasted off out the window, causing the stack of papers to swirl around all over the room, once again settling into a disorganized mess.

Rarity gritted her teeth. Though, at least that confirmed one other thing she had been suspecting.

Pinkie Pie bounced around the Boutique, hopping from one discarded book to another. Rarity assumed the pink pony was playing at some game in which the floor was lava, but she remained perfectly content to allow Pinkie her fun. Though, of course, Twilight would have almost certainly thrown a fit to see her books treated in such a way – even if they were all dreadfully boring treatises on cultural minutiae from centuries ago, a fact that Rarity knew all too well after spending practically all day yesterday buried in them. Those, and a certain book of epic poetry that she had to somehow translate into a message of love.

At the moment though, Pinkie was a welcome distraction. If there was one thing Pinkie excelled at... well, it was parties. And then baking. But somewhere in the top ten of the list of things that Pinkie excelled at was ‘distraction’.

“Charades! Pin-the-tail-on-the-pony! Miniature golf! Miniature elephants! Regular-sized elephants! Ooh, a circus!”

Rarity nodded bemusedly, occasionally using her quill to note down the ideas of Pinkie’s that weren’t entirely far-fetched. She heard the bell ding as a pony entered the Boutique, and upon seeing who it was, she happily waved, the quill falling to rest on the counter.

“Applejack, darling!” Rarity said, excitedly. “I was wondering if you had changed your mind about your scrapbook.”

Pinkie stopped hopping for a minute, tilting her head to the side as her gaze flicked between the other two mares. Oddly, she had stopped while in mid-air between two books, but gravity didn’t seem to mind.

“Oh, Pinkie, I’m sorry,” Rarity said. “Go ahead and keep thinking of ideas, I just need to catch up with Applejack.” Pinkie’s smile returned and she resumed her bouncing through the book-bedecked Boutique.

“Yeah...” Applejack raised one hoof and rubbed the back of her head guiltily. “Ah keep meanin’ to get it done, but it’s harder than Ah thought to get started. Ah mean, what do you even put in a thing like that? Ah don’t have anythin’ fancy or nothin’.”

Rarity shook her head and laughed. “You said Granny Smith had some scrapbooks of her own, did those have anything fancy in them? I’m sure your family will love it no matter what it contains. In fact, they’ll probably enjoy it even more without any facade of pretension involved.”

“A what now?” Applejack said suspiciously.

“I mean you shouldn’t try to make it something that you’re not,” Rarity explained.

Applejack still seemed unconvinced. “What if who Ah’m givin’ it it to expects it to be all high-class-like?”

Rarity rolled her eyes. “Darling, I know Apple Bloom has been getting into new things what with her Crusader friends and that city cousin of hers, but trust me, she’s still an Apple through and through. Look, the important thing is not how nice it all looks, but whether it’s honest and from the heart.”

“Honest...” Applejack said, looking uncomfortable. “Ah reckon’ Ah ought to be able to manage that. Ah suppose.”

Rarity nodded encouragingly. “And it’s not how much you have in there, or how big the memories are, just that they’re important memories to you. If they’re important to you, they’ll be important to those you share them with. Sometimes it’s the little moments that really mean the most, not the grand gesture.”

Applejack seemed to finally relax a little. “Y’know, that makes sense, Rare!”

Seeing her friend finally happy, Rarity couldn’t help but sincerely smile. “So, did you bring some pictures? Or what you have so far? I’d be glad to take a look and offer some advice!”

Applejack’s eyes grew large. “Oh. Ah did say Ah was going to do that. Ah must have plum forgot.” Her mouth twisted up in a strange fashion and Rarity raised an eyebrow. Why, that almost looked like the time with Discord when Applejack had started ly—

“Marshmallows!” Pinkie shouted triumphantly.

Rarity jumped and whirled around to see her pink friend, who had been uncharacteristically silent for a while now. “Marshmallows?” she asked.

“Marshmallows,” Pinkie said firmly. “You can’t have a party without marshmallows.”

Rarity blinked. Oh, right, Pinkie was still brainstorming for her story about the perfect party. A ringing behind her indicated the door, but by the time Rarity had turned, it had swung shut, with Applejack nowhere to be seen.

Disappointing! Rarity had been looking forward all day to spending time with Applejack and it ended up only being a few paltry minutes. These story projects were just getting in the way of everything!

Sighing, she levitated the quill once again and wrote ‘Marshmallows’ down on the paper. Pinkie was still staring at her, so she underlined it twice, which seemed to satisfy her friend, as Pinkie nodded solemnly.

“This has to be the story of the best party ever, because it might be the last party ever,” Pinkie said, so quietly that Rarity wasn’t even sure that she had heard it right.

Rarity furrowed her brow in confusion, but Pinkie had already resumed her bouncing, shouting out more ideas.

“Rock music! Rock candy! Regular candy! Candy corn! Popcorn! Pop rocks! Rock music! Waiiiit...”

The next few days were a study in frustration. As much as Rarity liked writing, it was by no means her special talent, like dressmaking naturally was. So the process was comparatively even more exhausting. Even though every one of her friends pitched in on their own projects, it was on Rarity to constantly guide them away from their worst tendencies.

At the moment, this meant everypony crammed into the Boutique, split between Dash and Pinkie making a mess in her bedroom and Twilight and Fluttershy doing more or less the same in the showroom downstairs.

“Pinkie,” Rarity said firmly, “the idea is novel, but I promise that putting real cookies in between each page of the story will only result in crumbs and chocolate everywhere.” She studiously ignored Pinkie’s pouting expression.

She heard Dash sigh theatrically. “Yes, Rainbow Dash. Let me guess. It needs to be 20% cooler?”

Rainbow threw her hooves up in frustration. “No! Like 400% cooler! This part is just lame. There’s no way Daring Dash would let her partner get captured like that.”

“Rainbow, dear, first, it’s Daring Do and second, Evening Twinkle must be captured to set up the later scene where Daring Do swoops in to rescue her assistant, earning a spur-of-the-moment kiss. Remember?”

Rainbow froze as the image ran through her head. Rarity could have sworn she heard creaking as mental gears turned in Dash’s head. “Oh. Yes. I like that part.” She cleared her throat. “Still, it takes more than just ferocious tigers to overcome Daring Do. Maybe... maybe if they were robot tigers who could also transform into fire-breathing crocodiles!”

Rarity winced. “Don’t you think that’s overdoing it a tad?” Dash was already slinging ink everywhere as she furiously wrote, not having heard Rarity’s response.

She trotted downstairs for a break, only to see Twilight eagerly waiting for her. Uh oh.

“I thought about what you said about my approach being too dry and worked really hard on this!” Twilight shoved a few pages into Rarity’s hooves.

Rarity looked down, quickly scanning the writing. Her face began to turn pink. Then bright red. She had always thought of Twilight as being a bit... inexperienced. But this depiction of Rune Sigil painting Sky Striker in the nude was detailed. Very very detailed. It made some of Rarity’s favorite trashy romance novels look subtle in comparison.

“Er. Yes,” she finally squeaked. “But maybe—”

Twilight had already snatched the papers back and was humming to herself as she returned to the huge stack of papers that comprised her work thus far.

Another page found itself forced into Rarity’s hooves as soon as the first ones had left.

“Iambic pentameter, please,” Fluttershy said quietly, but with surprising intensity.

Why was it that seemingly everypony had invaded her Boutique except for the one mare she did want to see? Applejack had been missing all week!

Rarity fled upstairs again, running right into Rainbow Dash.

“Hey Rarity,” she said, “I was thinking about how you said stories have rising action, then the climax, then day-new-mah, and I figured... What if we just had the action rising like the whole time. Then bam! Climax climax climax, all in a row! And scene.”

Pinkie peered over Rainbow’s shoulder. “This party is good,” she said, “but it’s not blow-your-socks-off great. It’s called Pinkie Pie and the Best Party Ever, not Pinkie Pie and the Party that was Pretty Cool.”

Rarity covered her ears with her hooves and screamed.

It was late afternoon on the day before Hearts and Hooves Day. Somehow, some way, Rarity had managed to pull off the impossible.

Before her sat four stacks of paper.

The towering one was Twilight’s exhaustively researched speculative biography regarding the historical romance of Rune Sigil and Sky Striker. Rarity harbored a great deal of skepticism concerning its accuracy, but it was a gripping read, even taking into consideration its advanced length.

Next to it sat a comparatively thinner stack that contained the adventure of Daring Do and the Amethyst Heart, each page carefully pared down to a maximum of captivating adventure and heart-pounding romance.

The next single sheet held an intricately woven declaration of love in poetic format, Rarity having managed to talk Fluttershy into slightly more practical brevity, though the layered meanings and poignant allusions were still excellent at tugging at the heart.

Finally, a small selection of pages were covered with colorful illustration, Pinkie demonstrating an impressive artistic side in her own effort. The party was so vividly described that it leapt right off the page, and the drawings only served to fill in the details and make it that much more real to the reader.

Unfortunately, Rarity had not seen hide nor hair of Applejack all week, meaning she had managed to neglect her promise to the one pony she cared the most about. The guilt still hung over her head like a raincloud – if only she had taken the time to go out to Sweet Apple Acres and offer her help directly!

Instead she had focused on her own silly story. It was complete as well, currently safely downstairs in the Boutique, carefully placed in a drawer where it would be overlooked amongst all the other leftover pages that littered her entire establishment. It wasn’t perfect, but it would have to do, as much as it made Rarity’s stomach twist just thinking about it. It might even serve as an apology to the mare she had failed.

Sighing again, Rarity gathered up the completed works carefully and headed downstairs.

Where she found five ponies and a spotlessly clean showroom. Considering that the last time she had peeked downstairs it looked like a tornado had plowed through a paper mill on its way to Canterlot’s archives, this left her nothing short of speechless.

Seeing her expression, Rainbow Dash nudged Pinkie with an elbow.

“Rarity!” Pinkie said, her voice sharp but sounding a little less cheerful than usual. “We cleaned up everything for you! And we want to say... we are super duper sorry!”

Cleaned up... everything.

Rarity didn’t say a word as she trotted over to the drawer where her story was stored. With a creeping sensation of dread, she slid the drawer open to see... it was empty.

She turned to look at her five friends, her face completely blank.

“That bit was my idea. Spike just got done cartin’ away all that scrap. Ah wanted ta stop by to apologize for not showin’ up after all,” Applejack said. “Ya just looked so busy and Ah figured one silly cowpony in the way would only make things worse.”

Rainbow scuffed one hoof against the floor. “And, uh. I wanted to tell you... I think the story is really great and all, but it turns out I got my friend’s uh.” She fell silent for a moment, thinking. “Oh, yeah, her birthday. I got her birthday wrong. So I actually don’t need the story anyways.”

Twilight looked a little surprised, somehow having remained oblivious to Rainbow’s attempts to write a story in the first place. She shook her head to clear it and opened her mouth as well. “Well, for me, I think there’s more editing I need to do, and I think I may have made some erroneous conclusions as regards artistic proclivities and...” She giggled nervously as she trailed off, not able to meet Rarity’s eyes.

Instead, the still stunned Rarity swiveled her head to look at Fluttershy. One glance at the yellow pegasus currently doing her best to hide behind her mane was enough to know how that was going to go.

She turned to the last of her friends. “And Pinkie. Do you not want your story as well?”

“Nope,” Pinkie said. “Turns out I don’t need it after all.” She smiled nervously.

“So,” Rarity said. “What you all are saying is that none of you intend on going through with your stories. That we did all this work for nothing.”

The silence stretched out, each of the ponies suddenly finding the walls, floor, and ceiling to be extremely interesting subjects of study.

WHAT!” Rarity shouted, flinging all the pages into the air, creating a veritable storm of paper.

“We did all this and you can’t even be honest enough to go through with it?” Rarity cried out furiously. “Oh, no. No no no no NO.”

YOU! And YOU!” Rarity pointed an accusatory hoof at Twilight and then Rainbow, standing deliberately on opposite sides of the room from each other. “You two are obviously infatuated with each other. Get over yourselves and get a room!” Twilight and Rainbow looked like mirror copies as their jaws dropped in unison. They turned towards each other, but as soon as their eyes met, their heads jerked forward again, both overcome with blushing.

YOU!” Rarity shouted, pointing at Fluttershy, who squeaked and tried to hide behind Pinkie. “Sweet Apple Acres is practically on the other side of Ponyville from your cottage and yet how many times did Big Macintosh happen to walk by in this past week alone?”

Fluttershy managed to respond in a barely audible whisper. “F-f-f-five times... I... I... t-think...”

“Pony up and tell him you like him! I’ve never heard that stallion say more than two words at any single time. You’re going to have to take the initiative for once!”

Rarity whirled to point at Pinkie. “And you!” She blinked for a moment. And then a light dawned. Rarity’s tone shifted, staying steely but softening momentarily. “Pinkie, we are all your friends and we always will be. Nothing is going to change that. Just because some of us may eventually find a very special somepony does not mean that we will not include you. You will always be a special somepony to each and every one of us.”

Rarity could see Pinkie blink, as the faint hint of tears formed in the corners of her eyes. But the smile on her face was broad and genuine.

“And YOU!” Rarity pointed at the one remaining mare, Applejack. “I... I...”

Rarity swallowed, trying to work up her nerve. She had fury on her side and if she didn’t have the guts to go through with being honest now, would she ever?


Rarity’s voice faltered, and she felt liquid trickle down her cheeks.

Just go away, all of you!

She bolted up the stairs, slamming her door shut and locking it.

She had managed to berate each of her friends and break their trust about their most intimate secrets. And all without even being able to tell the one secret she still kept.

Rarity was prone to the dramatic, but she knew with a sick feeling that this time, of all the things she could have done, this was indeed the very worst possible thing.

It was a beautiful Hearts and Hooves Day because of course the weather had been scheduled for the perfect condition for picnics and romantic walks. Even the birds were getting into the swing of things, happily chirping away at their own loved ones.

Those particular noises were torture to Rarity, sprawled out in her bed with her head buried under a pillow. She had been up all night wallowing in self-loathing. She had checked after last time. Self-loathing was the appropriate thing to wallow in for a pony who had bucked things up this badly.

After some time yesterday she had heard somepony knock and call from behind the door to her room, but she couldn’t face them. Talking with her friends would only further emphasize the pain she felt at betraying them. She had covered her ears and curled up in her bed until they left. Maybe she could just stay in her room forever, slowly wasting away as everypony else reclaimed their lives and moved on without her.

Her thoughts spiraled round and round, sucking her downwards into bleak depression.

A sudden bang startled her, the sound of a hoof rapping against her bedroom door enough to break her out of her catatonic state. Immediately after, rather than a questioning voice, all she heard were the clopping sounds of hoofsteps hurrying down the stairs. Sitting up abruptly and concentrating, she thought she heard the distant ringing of her front door’s bell.

Why would someone knock and then leave?

She approached the door to her room with great trepidation. Placing an ear against the wood, she listened intently but couldn’t hear the sounds of any ponies outside. And if Rainbow or Pinkie had been waiting outside, neither would have been able to go so long without making some sort of noise.

Quietly she slid back the lock and opened the door the tiniest of slivers. The hallway outside her room was deserted.

She swung the door open fully and peered around, mystified. As she went to step into the hallway her hoof bumped against something. A book?

Immediately suspicious she shut the door again. But only briefly; curiosity got the better of her, and she quickly opened the door just long enough for her magic to yank the book into her bedroom.

It was strangely proportioned compared to a normal hardback, thin but much taller and wider. The cover was plain and somewhat worn, with no title or markings.

Rarity retreated to her bed, wrapping herself in a blanket so that only one eye could be seen, afraid at what the volume might contain. Using her magic, she tentatively flipped the book open to its first page.

Only to find a picture of... herself? She knew this picture! It was one of the glamour shots she had gotten a while back, her very favorite one of the set. She blushed a little at the memory of her behavior after that photo shoot, passing out pictures to all her friends. To be fair though, they were absolutely divine. She did have ample justification to want to share them.

Flipping several pages further, she gasped slightly. It was a photo from the nearly-disastrous sleepover she and Applejack had at Twilight Sparkle’s. Twilight had taken several of them, claiming some sort of need for proper scientific documentation. And here it was, a candid picture of the moment when Rarity and Applejack had jumped into each other’s arms out of fright. A twig had been pressed and taped to the bottom of the page. Was that from the tree that had crashed in through the window?

She turned to another page. She immediately knew those pictures as well, but the ticket at the center of the page confirmed it. It was from the Grand Galloping Gala, a night she would always remember. On one side was the picture of her and Applejack modeling their dresses before they had left. The smile on Rarity’s face in that picture was her familiar plastic grin that she defaulted to in photographs. But on the other, the photo was of Donut Joe’s, Applejack and Rarity standing side by side, their dresses ragged, their manes tangled, their eyes drooping from the long night, but the smiles on their faces perfectly genuine.

Her breath caught in her throat. That was the night that Rarity had realized it for the first time. Realized that she had been chasing after a prince who never existed when right next to her there was a mare who was stronger, braver, and more honest than any stallion. It had taken long after that to admit it to herself directly, but it was that night that the seed was planted in her mind.

But... who made this, and why?

She started flipping through the pages more and more rapidly, until one image near the end caused her to stop.

It was a picture from the Crystal Empire. Rarity and all the others still had coats of sparkling crystal, and they had hastily taken the opportunity to get a group photo. Rarity, of course, had reared back in a delightful pose that caused the sun to sparkle magnificently, accentuating all her natural contours. Some of the others had tried similar things, excepting Applejack of course. She was staring off into space in the picture, but Rarity had assumed that was because Applejack was too humble and honest to try and draw attention to herself. She looked at the picture more carefully. Tracking the orange pony’s eyes across the picture she suddenly realized the truth. Applejack wasn’t just being modest. She was the only pony not looking at the camera – instead she was staring right at Rarity.

Beneath the photo a single phrase written in very careful cursive mouthwriting.

“Good things are better when they’re a Rarity.”

Tears welled up in Rarity’s eyes, this time feeling very different from when she had cried herself to sleep last night. She slowly tore her view from the picture, turning one further, to the very last page of the book.

There was a crumpled piece of paper, one she had thought had been disposed of. It was the very last page from one of her many attempts at writing, the story that a very long-seeming week ago she had thought would be finally sufficient to reveal her feelings. The crumpled paper had been smoothed out with care, and attached to the final page of the scrapbook.

The farmer and the fashionista sat on the hill, back to back. The fashionista looked down on the orchard that stretched below her, noting the beauty and vibrancy of nature shown through the growing trees. The farmer had a view of the town, the hustle and bustle of ponies revealing the excitement and at times chaos of civilization. Both saw in front of them a world that they had never known before, but their shared love had awakened this new meaning in both of their lives. They turned, moving at the same time to face each other. “My world is not your world,” the farmer said, “but I will always be here to meet you in the middle.” The fashionista leaned forward and their lips finally met. It was everything that both had dreamed, but only a prelude to the new wonder to come.

It was just as Rarity had thought, but when she had last seen the page, nothing at all was underlined.

She rose and walked to the window, looking out into the town.

There she saw many happy ponies. She saw a yellow pegasus and a brawny red stallion sitting at a table outside a cafe, both silent but looking deeply into one another’s eyes. She saw a lavender unicorn and a blue pegasus walking closely side by side down a busy street. She saw a pink earth pony wearing a party hat busy shopping for supplies, preparing to throw several important parties for important ponies.

And she saw the steep hill of Ponyville Park, standing between the town and Sweet Apple Acres. A single old oak tree crowned the peak of the hill. And under that oak tree she saw an orange pony looking out over the town.

Rarity galloped all the way to the park. She didn't want to waste a single moment, though she knew Applejack would be there no matter how long the wait.

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