Horsa

Rarity Tales

Jun 22nd, 2015
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  1. >Damn, this is some bomb-ass coffee.
  2. >You're Anon, and you've got yourself set up at a small café in ponyville
  3. >Ever since you've found out about the place, you've been here almost every day.
  4. >Turns out horses were far better baristas than you'd have expected, and the cozy establishment lent itself well to your work.
  5. >Twilight Sparkle, resident princess of friendship and book enthusiast, was fascinated by your world
  6. >Earth's history, myths, legends, whatever little story you could come up with, were bought and paid for by the Princess, and added to the Royal Library of Fantastic Creatures
  7. >And hey, even if half of what you wrote was complete bullshit, you were more than happy to be paid for lounging around with a notebook every day.
  8. >Halfway through writing about the victories of Grand Emperor Hitler over the Mole People and about two-thirds done with your mocha, you notice someone.
  9. >Across the café, a unicorn is looking at you.
  10. >Or in your direction, you're not entirely sure.
  11. >You quickly look away, nervously brushing at your jacket.
  12. >Did you spill some coffee on your shirt? Fuck, maybe. That'd be embarrassing.
  13. >You make sure you're good, and look back up to find she's still looking at you.
  14. >Do you know her? You feel like you've seen her around here before.
  15. >Wait, fuck, she's gotten up, and is coming right towards you!
  16. >Shit Anon, act cool.
  17.  
  18. >She arrives at your table just as you feel you're beginning to regain your composure.
  19. "Hello there, darling! I've heard so much about you!"
  20. >Wait, what?
  21. >Putting on your best suave face, you smile and reply.
  22. "I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage then, miss. Who are you?"
  23. >She chuckles, putting her hoof up to her mouth>
  24. >"Oh, how rude of me. I'm Rarity. Twilight's told me about you; you're writing for her, correct?"
  25. >Oh, that makes sense. Twilight told you about the Elements of Harmony.
  26. "Sure am."
  27. >You wave with your notebook for e mphasis, eliciting another giggle from the white horse.
  28. >"Dear, that's absolutely fascinating! You simply must tell me about your work some time!"
  29. >That's... odd.
  30. >She seems really eager to see your work. Couldn't she just look at the official records in Twilight's library?
  31. >You take a moment to consider it, and notice that she's watching you expectantly, batting her eyelashes slowly.
  32. >Huh.
  33. "Sure, why not; when and where?"
  34. >She takes a moment to ponder the question, raising her hoof to her chin thoughtfully.
  35. >"How about, say... Tomorrow night? Over dinner at the Foin et L'herbe?"
  36. >Oh man, you've heard about that place; apparently, it was the fanciest, most stuck-up joint in Ponyville.
  37. >You've never gone, mostly on account of not wanting to drop an entire week's pay on a single meal, but...
  38. >You look at her again.
  39. >She's cocked her head slightly, bright blue eyes glimmering in expectation.
  40. >Who knows, maybe it'd be worth it. It was always nice to meet someone interested in your stories who wasn't a shut-in bibliophile.
  41. "Sounds absolutely delightful."
  42. >"Dazzling! I'll see you there tomorow, at six sharp!"
  43. >You nod happily, and she takes her leave.
  44. >Just outside the glass doors, you can see her happily dance in place for a moment, before running off to... somewhere.
  45. >You take another sip of your now lukewarm coffee.
  46. >Man, what a cute horse.
  47.  
  48. >The next afternoon you find yourself standing in front of your closet in your underwear.
  49. >You have dick all to wear.
  50. >More accurately, you have stuff to wear, but it's all... casual.
  51. >Your personal shitty boutique is mostly t-shirts and jeans, with the a couple of jackets and an old, worn-out jacket.
  52. >Nope, that just wouldn't do.
  53. >You rifle through your wallet, seeing how much bits you can afford to blow on clothes as well as dinner.
  54. >As it turns out... not much.
  55. >Even the dinner would stretch out your funds, and you're definitely going to have to avoid expensive coffee for a while.
  56. >You think back to the pretty unicorn.
  57. >Is it really worth the hassle?
  58. >...
  59. >Yeah, you think so.
  60. >You sigh, and start putting on your clothes.
  61. >Hopefully she won't mind you showing up slightly shabby-looking.
  62.  
  63. >As it turns out, she did mind, a little bit.
  64. >You arrived at the restaurant a few minutes early, but apparently Rarity was there even earlier.
  65. >She was dressed simply yet elegantly, a jewel-encrusted afghan of delicate pink material draped around her withers.
  66. >In comparison, you looked positively shitty.
  67. >Your worn out jeans went well enough with your well-used dinner jacket, but it was clearly far too casual for such a refined environment.
  68. >Rarity looks you up and down as you approach, taking you in and clearly not incredibly pleased with what she sees.
  69. >For a moment, you're almost annoyed, but you cool yourself down.
  70. >After all, you did the best you could with what you had.
  71. >Your concerns are even further alleviated as you approach, and she gives a wide, genuine smile.
  72. "You're early," you say with a grin, trying your best to fake an air of dashing charm.
  73. >"So are you, dear. Shall we go inside and get comfortable?"
  74. "After you," you say, moving to open the door for her.
  75. >"Oh my, what a gentleman."
  76. >You give a grossly dramatic, sweeping bow as she passes you inside, getting a hearty chuckle from her as you follow behind.
  77. >Man, this is going well already.
  78. >The host at the door leads you two to a booth in a far corner of the room.
  79. >The chairs are an ostentatiously fine velvet, and the table rich... mahogany? Oak?
  80. >Something fancy, anyways.
  81. >The rest of the room is just as fancy, with several chandeliers gracing the ceiling, portraits and landscape paintings dotting the wall, and waiters in fine suits roaming from table to table.
  82. >All of this only really serves the purpose of making you more aware of your less-than stellar attire.
  83. >Rarity is settling herself down on her seat opposite you, delicately moving her perfectly coiffed mane around her withers so as not to brush against the furniture.
  84. >After getting herself set up, she turns to you, eyes glittering in the soft light.
  85.  
  86. >"So, darling, please, tell me about your work. What wonderful stories you must have to tell!"
  87. >You're glad she brought up a topic first; generally, you had the conversation skills of a dormouse.
  88. >You start elaborating on your works, your passion for writing that you took with you from your home dimension, and the stories you've brought back with you.
  89. >As you wrap up your plans for a short anthology of Greek myth (you had to explain the concept of Greece to her briefly), your waiter arrives.
  90. >A grey pony with white hair tied in a ponytail (heh), wearing a ruffled shirt and cumberbund, approaches your table with his chin held high, and gives you two a pair of menus.
  91. >"Sir and Madame, welcome to Le Foin et L'herbe. May I start you off this evening with a drink?"
  92. >You look at Rarity, who fixes you with an expectant gaze.
  93. >Looking down at your menu, you see an assortment of wines, most of which were completely alien to you.
  94. >Zinfandels, Pinots Gris & Blanc, Rosés...
  95. >The list went on and on, and you were at a loss.
  96. "Er..."
  97. >Rarity, thankfully, jumps to your rescue.
  98. >"I think we'll start off with a Chardonnay; the Manehattan reserve, if you don't mind darling."
  99. >The waiter bows and takes his leave, and you look at Rarity sheepishly.
  100. >She gives you a sad little grin, looking at your slightly-shabby coat.
  101. >"You don't do this very often, do you?"
  102. "Turns out writing for a living doesn't make me many bits. So... no, going somewhere this fancy is a bit of a... Rarity, I guess."
  103. >"Oh, you rascal," she says, laughing at fluttering her hoof at you.
  104. >"You know, I never go here very often myself. This isn't the sort of place one goes to alone, and... well, I'm afraid I rarely have an opportunity for such wonderful dining company. "
  105. "Me, good dining company? You're far too generous."
  106. >Before Rarity can answer, the waiter returns with wine on ice, and a pair of glasses.
  107.  
  108. >The wine looks delicious, but before you even get a chance to collect yourself, the waiter speaks up.
  109. >"Madame et Monsieur, have you decided on your order this evening?"
  110. >Oh, right. You haven't really looked at the menu yet.
  111. >Fuck it, you may as well wing it.
  112. "I'll just have a New York 9 oz. steak, please."
  113. >Rarity and the waiter give you a look.
  114. >"New... New York, sir? I'm afraid we don't serve that here."
  115. >Oh, right. Horse names.
  116. >Rarity saves the day yet again, and interjects.
  117. >"I believe he meant a Griffonstone 9oz., monsieur."
  118. >"Ah, oui madame, I should have known," he replies. "And for you?"
  119. >"I'll just have a green salad with spinach fillet mignon, if you please."
  120. >With that, he once again leaves you two to your business.
  121. >Fuck, you weren't really making a good first impression of yourself tonight, were you?
  122. "Thanks," you say gently.
  123. >"Oh, not at all darling. It must be so hard, getting used to an entirely new world! Why, were I in your position, well, I can hardly say that I'd make a better account of myself."
  124. >She rests her hoof reassuringly on top of yours on the tabletop; you look up to meet her gaze to find she's looking right into your eyes.
  125. >"You know dear, why don't we get you some proper clothes? I so rarely get to practice my craft on new and exciting creatures, and I'd consider it a privilege to tailor something fashionable for you."
  126. >You're taken completely aback; this has to be the most generous horse you've ever met.
  127. "I'm honored Rarity, really. But... I can't accept this; how will I repay you?"
  128. >"Please darling, don't give it a second thought! I insist, I simply must make you something new to wear."
  129. "Well, if you say so. Really, I appreciate it."
  130. >You raise your glass of wine to her.
  131. "To generosity, and new friends then. Cheers."
  132. >She smiles and clinks the edge of her glass against yours.
  133. >After that, the two of you fill your time with small talk; you learn about her burgeoning business here in ponyville, about her friends and little sister...
  134. >Before you know it, your food is cleared off and paid for, and the two of you are standing outside the doors of the restaurant.
  135. >You make to leave, but before you do, Rarity calls you back.
  136. >"Anonymous, I just want to say again what a pleasure it was getting to know you. We simply must meet again soon!"
  137. "Of course, I'd be happy too. It's not every day I get to meet such a charming pony."
  138. >"Oh Anonymous, your such a flatterer. So, we'll meet on Sunday for your fitting?"
  139. "Wouldn't miss it for the world."
  140. >With that, you two go your seperate ways, and you go to sleep that night happier than you've been in a long time.
  141.  
  142.  
  143. >A few weeks have passed since that night with Rarity at the Foin et L'herbe, and you've been keeping yourself busy.
  144. >In addition to your job writing for Twilight, you've picked up some spare work at Sweet Apple Acres to make ends meet.
  145. >Ends that are... well, a little bit frayed by your newfound relationship with the dress horse.
  146. >Not that you mind; you've never really been one to spend very much money, and the fancy dinner excursions are a welcome change of pace from your usual routine.
  147. >The two of you had been on several dinners by this point, split between varying locales and venues.
  148. >Between dinners at Le Foin et L'herbe and afternoon jaunts to Ponybucks, you're starting to learn quite a lot about Rarity.
  149. >Her aspirations towards fame as a designer and seamstress, her time spent with Opalescense and Sweetie Belle, her adventures with the Elements of Harmony.
  150. >About the latter subject, you've already heard quite a bit from Twilight, but Rarity's tales could always get a laugh out of you.
  151. >In kind, you tell her about yourself, your world, and the kind of person you are.
  152. >None of which seems very interesting to you, but she always seems enraptured by your accounts.
  153. >More and more, though, you start to realize that through her, you've started to turn a more critical eye towards yourself.
  154. >After all, didnn't you want to be the kind of guy someone with tastes as refined as Rarity would appreciate?
  155. >According to Twilight, your writing over the last while had improved greatly, and you were always looking for new angles to approach the world from.
  156.  
  157. >You're interrupted from your reverie by an orange pony walking up to you from down the hill.
  158. >You prepare yourself to be removed from your usual relaxing spot beneath the apple tree by your newest employer, and stand up brushing the grass leaves and dirt from your jeans.
  159. >"Now sugarcube, y'all just relax. I reckon we're done for the day, don't you?"
  160. "Well shucks Applejack, you're too kind."
  161. "You get back on the grass, pulling your hat dow to cover your eyes, as Applejack moves beside you to lay down as well.
  162. >The two of you lie there for a while, enjoying each other's company in the unique silence that follows a hard day's work and action.
  163. >Just as the sun is beginning to set, Applejack breaks the silence.
  164. >"So Anon, how're you settling down? Finding life in Ponyville to your liking?"
  165. >"Mhmm. Gotta say, with everyone as welcoming and friendly as they are, I feel as at home as I've ever been. And hell, I'll be able to move out of Twilight's spare room sometime soon, so that's something."
  166. >Applejack laughs softly.
  167. >"Glad to hear it, Anon."
  168. >There's another moment of silence, then. The sun sets slowly, Celestia painting her portrait across the canvas of Equestria.
  169. >The idea of horse princesses controlling the heavens was something you still weren't quite used to.
  170. >The silence between the two of you was different, this time, however.
  171. >Tense, almost. You'd always had a keen sense of atmosphere, and you could taste the expectation on the air.
  172. "What's on your mind, AJ?"
  173. >"How're you and Rarity?"
  174. >Aaaaand... confusion.
  175. "What d'you mean? We're good, so far as I know."
  176. >"I'm gessin' you don't know?"
  177. "Know what?"
  178. >Applejack gorans and visibly rolls her eyes.
  179. >"I swear, stallions are so darned dense..."
  180. "I'm not a stallion, you damned silly horse.'
  181. >She raises an eyebrow at you, kind of condescendingly.
  182. >"Point still stands, sugarcube. Y'all are thicker than Granny Smith's applesauce."
  183. "And what's that supposed to mean?"
  184. >"She likes you, hun."
  185.  
  186. >Well, that's something.
  187. >You suppose you should have known that, with her approaching you out of the that one afternoon, and the days you've spent together since .
  188. >Still, you have no idea what to begin to think about this revlelation.
  189. "...What? Why?"
  190. >Applejack wipes her hoof on her face wearily.
  191. >"Honestly, Celestia alone knows why. Oh, don't give me that look, you're a perfect gentleman, s'far as I'm concerned. Real up and down sorta guy."
  192. >She looks away now, gazing into the bright burgundy horizon.
  193. >"Honestly, she's had a bit of a past, so far as special someponies are concerned. Nothing to get concerned about, mind, and it's her business whether or not she's told y'all about any of that."
  194. >"She... just has a habit of getting all worked over somepony, and, well, I'd hate to see that happen again."
  195. >That's... ominous.
  196. "So, what's your advice, then?"
  197. >Applejack fixes you with green eyes full of concern.
  198. >"Don't disappoint her, y'hear? I only want what's best for the both o' y'all."
  199. >You nod sagely, too distracted to give voice to your consent.
  200. >There's another silence, this one thoughtful and reserved.
  201. >Once it's well and truly dark, the two of you part, after making arrangements to tackle the next section of orchard early tomorow morning.
  202. >Applejack only had one more set of parting words before you left, however, and you were left to think on them in depth on the walk back to you home at the tree-library.
  203. >"Don't worry too much about all this, Anon. You're a great guy, I'm sure you've got what it takes to make her happy."
  204.  
  205. >You awaken next morning tired and sore, worn out from your previous day's work and... less than perfect sleep.
  206. >Applejack's revelation had gotten into your head, and you were spinning and weaving your thoughts late into the night.
  207. >As you had realised almost immediately last night, you really should have know that Rarity was interested in you.
  208. >Still, you were never great with relationships, and had assumed there could be no way you'd have a chance with her.
  209. >Now, though, you were forced to reconsider yourself. After all, hadn't Applejack said you had what it took?
  210. >As you go through your usual morning ritual of washing up and shaving, you stop to look at yourself in the mirror.
  211. >You've never been a particularly huge fan of who looked back, but now, you look at yourself through what Rarity's eyes, and see... someone else, maybe.
  212. >You were still you, and maybe it was just your imagination, but you could swear that you looked more mature. Almost as if you'd grown older and wiser overnight.
  213. >No, that's definitely your imagination.
  214. >You give your reflection a questioning look, and get a shrug returned to you from the glass. Fuck it, you figured it was time to get on with your day.
  215. >Exiting the bathroom and dressing yourself, you eventually emerge into the library's main hall. Another thing that took some getting used to.
  216. >Twilight was at her usual spot at the middle table, perched up next to a pile of books with a cup of coffee levitating in the air beside her.
  217. >"Morning Anon. Gosh, someone looks tired."
  218. >You grimace.
  219. "That bad, huh?"
  220. >"Yep. Someone not get a good sleep?"
  221. "Eh, I've had worse. Got any more of that stuff made?"
  222. >You gesture at the cup Twilight was just about to take a sip of, and she nods energetically. Fucking morning people, man.
  223. >"Yep, there's some just over there. Got any progress done on that new work of yours?"
  224. "Working on it; don't have a lot of time to write between work at the farm and Rarity."
  225. >Twilight nods sagely.
  226. >"Take your time, I'm sure it'll be worth the wait when it's done. Oh, and are you seeing Rarity today?"
  227. >You pause as you take a sip of your coffee. Rarity's still fresh on your mind, and you're shocked for a moment to hear Twilight talk about her too.
  228. "Not sure; wasn't really planning on it. Why?"
  229. >"Oh, it's not a big deal or anything, but her issue of Advanced Sewing Techniques for the Metropolitan Mare came in, and I've just got so much studying to do. You wouldn't mind bringing it to her on the way to Applejack's, would you?"
  230. >What a weirdly specific magazine. You look long and hard at twilight, trying to see if this is a setup or something. "
  231. >Her innocent eyes and placid smile assure you you're safe, so you agree and take a brown, thin package and your cup with you out the door.
  232.  
  233. >The sun was beating hard overhead and you shuddered to think of the hard day at work out in the orchards ahead of you.
  234. >Summer was rolling in quickly, and that meant Applejack needed as many hooves (or hands) as she could get.
  235. >The apple trees needed constant pruning and spraying, water hoses needed setting up, vegetables and other smaller crops needed planting and tending...
  236. >Lots of work ahead for sure. You hoped you'd be able to spend your quality time alone with your notebook and pen soon, but the prospects weren't looking hopeful.
  237. >At least you were almost always able to make some time for Rarity; you'd promised to try out a new bistro in downtown Ponyville with her, and Applejack had assured you that you could be spared the next day.
  238. >Today though, you had work to attend to.
  239. >Before too long, you find yourself at Carousel Boutique, package in had and coffee mug long since drained.
  240. >You knock, and hear Rarity call out promptly.
  241. >"Just a minute dear!"
  242. >There's the sound of shuffling fabric and a powering-down sewing machine from inside, and within a few seconds, Rarity's opened the door, looking absolutely frazzled.
  243. >Her hair is missing it's usual elegant smooth curls, judging by how crumpled and frazzled it is, you can only assume she slept in it, and hadn't been able to tend to it this morning.
  244. >Her iconic red work glasses are askew, measuring tape draped around her withers and several pencils tucked behind her ears.
  245. >At first, she looks like she's annoyed at her unexpected visitor, but her eyes light up again as she recognizes you.
  246. >"Oh, Anonymous, what a pleasant surprise! Please, please, come in... I'm afraid I'm not at my best at the moment, but I can have some tea..."
  247.  
  248. >She cuts herself off with an involuntary yawn, and you take the moment to interpose.
  249. "It's fine Rares, I'm just dropping something off. Gotta get back to work with AJ, so I'm headed out right away."
  250. >"Oh, goodness! Is that the new Advanced Sewing Techniques for the Metropolitan Mare volume? Oh dear, you're too kind! I'm sorry you don't have time to stay over..."
  251. >You take a moment to look at the boutique hall behind her. A mess of half-dressed mannequins lie scattered across the hall, bolts of fabric thrown across the counters, dozens of drawings plastered across drafting tables, and a no man's land of discarded material surrounding the sewing machine.
  252. >You smile, and look back to her.
  253. "I don't know Rarity, looks like you're pretty busy yourself. Sudden work?"
  254. >"Oh yes, it's absolutely wonderful... A Canterlot client needs a new line by the week's end! Can you imagine? Goodness, I don't know how I'll manage, there's simply so much to do..."
  255. "Fuck, that sucks. Anything I can do to help?"
  256. >She smiles softly at you, before giving another loud half-yawn, half-whinny
  257. >"Oh Anon, that's very kind of you... I'm afraid this is my burden to bear, though. My clients are paying for the very best craftmanship I can provide, you see."
  258. "No worries, I understand. you still good for tomorow?"
  259. >She bites her lip, looking back at the pile of work behind her.
  260. >"Err...."
  261. >You hold up your hands, shrugging.
  262. "Say no more, you're busy, it's cool."
  263. >"I was so looking forward to going, though... but no, you're right, I really don't have the time."
  264. >You think about that for a moment. You were looking forward to your time together, too. If only there was something you could do...
  265. "Hey, what if I bring some food over after work today? You can't work the entire day away, I can come over and we can de-stress with you for a bit."
  266.  
  267. >Rarity beams, and for a moment, the brilliance of her brief happiness completely banishes her tired, frumpy demeanor.
  268. >"Why darling, that sounds absolutely delightful! You're really too kind. "
  269. "Hey, least I can do for my favourite horse. I'll see you, say, at around 6? I'll need to clean myself up, obviously."
  270. >"Oh yes yes, of course. I'll see you then. Oh, and tell Applejack I say hello!"
  271. "Will do, Rares. Don't work *too* hard, okay?"
  272. >Suddenly, she rears up on her hind legs and wraps her hooves around you, squeezing you in a warm, soft, amazingly comfortable hug.
  273. >"Of course dear, wouldn't dream of it. You have a good day too, okay?"
  274. >You reassure her that you will, and she backs off you, turning to tackle her work once again, as you get back to your short journey.
  275. >Once her door closes, you turn back and look at the boutique. You can see the shadowed figure of Rarity behind the curtains, running to and fro at work collecting fabric.
  276. >You can almost feel her soft, warm body still against yours...
  277. >You turn around and rapidly shake your head, and get back to your walk.
  278. >Focus, Anon. You needed to have your head about you for orchard work.
  279. >...
  280. >No, you really didn't.
  281. >You've been working out in the hills for about 4 hours now, clipping away errant branches and spraying down worm-infested leaves with pesticide.
  282. >Applejack may be the element of honesty, but apparently she'd never gotten around to telling Fluttershy about that particular detail of her apple farm.
  283. >Not that the inhumanity of it bugged (heh) you very much. Seriously, fuck having worms crawling in your apples.
  284. >Anyways, with half your shift over, your mind had begun to wander.
  285.  
  286. >You could still feel the ghost impression of Rarity held up against you, even if it was only for that small moment.
  287. >Rarity had never really hugged you before. Sure, you've spent a lot of time together, and were growing closer as each day went by, but still.
  288. >Not that you've never been hugged by a girl before, of course. They did that sometimes.
  289. >Rarity was pretty reserved though; even around her best friends, she was rarely as physical as the others.
  290. >You were absolutely sure you were reading to deep into her actions, but maybe this was proof?
  291. >You thought back on what Applejack had said the night before, and that revelation somehow seemed even more possible today than in your ensuing dreams.
  292. >You were almost terrified at the prospect of pushing things and losing your best friend over this, but you owed it to yourself to try.
  293. >After all, you were going over to her place this evening, weren't you? You could think of no opportunity better than tonight for making a move.
  294. >You decision made, you get back to work with renewed vigor, the time swiftly passing by as you impatiently urge the night closer.
  295. >A few hours of mindless field work later, Applejack comes to get you from the fields and to hand over your day's pay.
  296. "Hey, Aj, think you can help me out with something?"
  297. >You make the request just as you were about to leave the farm for the day, interrupting her return to her house.
  298. >"Oh? What can I do for ya, sugarcube?"
  299. "I'm headed over to Rarity's tonight; she's stressed as balls from work. Thought I could buy some apple treats from you. You know, a comfy dessert or something."
  300. >AJ teasingly wolf-whistles at you, and you awkwardly look away to hide your blush.
  301. >Dang partner, you move fast. Hold up, think Granny was just getting done with some fresh cooking back at the house. Be back in two secs, y'hear?"
  302. >With that, she runs off to the house.
  303. >You knew she was the element of honesty, but that horse could be really fucking blunt sometimes.
  304.  
  305. >Applejack returns shortly, a delicious-smelling and neatly-wrapped box bouncing on her back.
  306. >"Here y'are, hun! Fresh Apple Strudels, made with the finest love an' ingredients we have to offer, as usual!"
  307. >If there was one thing Applejack was always unfailingly enthusiastic about, it was her apples.
  308. >You start to take some bits out of your pocket, but Applejack stops you with a shake of her head.
  309. >"None a' that, sugarcube. This is a present; I mean, gosh, Rarity being as stressed as you say she is, it's the least I can do."
  310. >She wiggles her eyebrows at you and nudges you hard in the sides, making you wince in momentary pain.
  311. >"Besides, if these help... heh, 'grease the wheels' at all, then I'm happy to help."
  312. "Come on AJ, it's not like that. I'm just helping her relax after a hard day's work. Nothing else."
  313. >Applejack raises an eyebrow at you.
  314. >You look at her, keeping your stoic glare plastered on your face.
  315. >Eventually, you break out into a smile.
  316. "I'll let you know how it goes, kay?"
  317. >That did it. Applejack resumes her customary cheery expression, and nudges you again in your side.
  318. >Fuck, you'll be feeling that later.
  319. >"You go get 'er tiger. Good luck!"
  320. >With that, you set off back into town. Before too long, you're cleaned up, dressed in your casual gear, and dusted in a light spray of cologne.
  321. >Yous stop by the corner store on your way to Rarity's, and pick up some broccoli and cucumber sandwiches; a favourite of her's.
  322. >You're at the step of her boutique, and before you knock, you feel the dread of trepidation rise in your chest.
  323. >What if Applejack was wrong? What if she turns you down? What if she has some other stallion in her life? What if she only saw you as a friend?
  324. >You know you're stressing yourself out for no good reason, but you still can't help but have yourself invested in this moment.
  325. >You're at the edge of a cliff, the dark and stormy waters beneath you. All you had to do was jump.
  326. >You gulp down the fear and nerves, and quickly dry your palms on your jeans.
  327. >You knock on the door, awaiting the answering voice you've grown so fond of.
  328.  
  329. >""Just a moment!"
  330. >Within seconds, Rarity is at her doorway, looking absolutely exhausted, yet still somehow vibrantly excited to see you.
  331. >"Oh, Anon! You're right on time, I just finished my last piece for the evening! Please, come in, come in, make yourself right at home."
  332. >You do so, stepping into the boutique after removing your at the door. The place is somehow even messier than you left it, with more and more piles of fabric thrown hither and thither.
  333. >In the middle of it all, though, you see three mannequins, each bedecked in some of the most complex, exquisite clothing you've ever laid eyes on.
  334. >You've never had a great eye for fashion (of course, your relationship with Rarity was changing that), but you can easily tell these works are of incredible quality and make.
  335. >You give a low whistle of appreciation as you take a seat on the nearby sofa, and Rarity stops putting away her materials for a second to turn to you, eyebrow raised.
  336. "Those are amazing, Rares. You did all that today?"
  337. >"Ahaha, oh, you're too kind. Yes, all finished up today. I do think that one hem needs taking in... but, well, they're all about as finished as they can be. Do you like them?"
  338. "They're beautiful. I mean, I know you were talented, but this is something else."
  339. >Rarity giggles, blushing furiously. She mutters something about you being a sweetheart, and gets back to her wrapping up.
  340. "You sure you don't want a hand with anything?"
  341. >"Oh, don't bother yourself darling, I'm almost done. Just one more minute..."
  342. >Five minutes later, she's still shuffling away various papers and stencils.
  343. >Right, fuck this.
  344.  
  345. >You walk over to her side, unnoticed as she absently chews at the end of a pencil, and place a hand on her wither.
  346. >She jumps, startled, but quickly relaxes. She looks up at you, clearly abashed.
  347. >"Oh, Anon, I'm such a terrible host. I just get so wrapped up in my work, and I hardly know where the time goes! I'm so terribly sorry, dear..."
  348. "Hey, that's what I'm here for, remember? Come on, your work will still be here in the morning. Let's have something to eat."
  349. >Rarity looks at you, then back to her work... and back again.
  350. >"Alright dear, just one more..."
  351. "Rarity."
  352. >You give her your trademark stern gaze, and she makes one more longing glance at her work.
  353. >"Alright, alright. You're right of course, I may need just a teensy-weensy break."
  354. "That's the spirit, Rares. Come on, you'll love what I got. Want to eat outside? It's beautiful out today."
  355. >She gives a weary smile.
  356. >"Why, that sounds lovely. After you, monsieur."
  357. >Man, she looks absolutely drained. You grab the small meal and head out to the back of her boutique, where she keeps a small patio.
  358. >You grab some plates on the way out, and get yourself set up on the quaint little table. There's no chairs; ponies aren't really inclined to sit very often, and they'd be too small for you anyways.
  359. >Rarity takes a seat next to you, giving a loud yawn and stretching her neck with an audible crack.
  360. >"Oh, do forgive me, that wasn't very ladylike, was it?"
  361. "Nah, not really. But you've been working yourself to the bone today, haven't you? I've never seen you looking this tired before."
  362.  
  363. >Rarity has her mouth full of sandwich, and takes a moment to finish her bite and meekly wip at her mouth before replying.
  364. >"Oh yes, with such a big order having come up so suddenly, why, I believe I could almost fall asleep at any moment."
  365. >She takes another bite of her sandwich, and you start in on your own.
  366. >The sandwich is plain and almost entirely unseasoned, but somehow it tastes marvellously fresh and delicious.
  367. >The two of you sit in silence for a while, enjoying your small meal and the simple pleasure of each other's company.
  368. >After her sandwich is done, she leans up against you and gives a tired, contented sigh.
  369. "Sorry it wasn't the fanciest meal ever; I didn't really have a lot of time after work to cook up something special."
  370. >"Oh, even the smallest of dishes are as good as a feast with the right company, dear. It was a pleasure."
  371. >She nuzzles up against you slightly, and your hand finds itself wandering up to her back.
  372. >You gently squeeze her wither, prompting a small shudder of delight from her.
  373. "Sore back?"
  374. >Rarity looks up at you with a reluctant half-smile, and nods.
  375. "Hold up, let me help with that."
  376. >You scoot around behind her, placing her poised, sitting form directly in front of you as your hands get to work on her back.
  377. >You didn't have any kind of training as a masseuse, but you were pretty damned good with your hands, and a simple massage wasn't exactly the most difficult thing to figure out.
  378. >You start kneading gently at the soft, yielding muscle of her back, and she almost instantly melts on the spot. You feel the tension slip away from her body, and your efforts are rewarded with soft coos and murmurs of delight from your companion.
  379. >You continue on for a while, but take a mental moment to soak this scene in.
  380.  
  381. >The hills behind Rarity's boutique roll on into the distance, birds singing the last remnants of the day away as Celestia starts to tenderly lower the sun.
  382. >With the scenery unfolding in front of you painting a perfect backdrop to this tender moment of gentle care and peace, you can't imagine ever forgetting this moment.
  383. >Almost without your volition, your hands stop. Rarity's leaned back pretty much entirely up against your body by this point, and at first doesn't react to the end of the massage.
  384. >You're worried she had fallen asleep in your arms, but after a moment, she turns in your lap to look at you.
  385. >Her piercing blue eyes, half-lidded with weariness, look directly into yours. No, past yours, as if she was looking right through you, her gleaming sapphires piercing directly into your soul.
  386. >Without further thought, you hold her tightly to yourself, and kiss her.
  387. >She meets you in kind, lips brushing timidly against yours, her breath hot and intoxicating.
  388. >That sensation of her lips against yours, so simple and yet so earth-shatteringly powerful, holds you enthralled in it's thrilling embrace for what feels like an eternity.
  389. >And, just as suddenly as it started, it stops. You withdraw from each other, and hold each other's eyes once again.
  390. >Suddenly, she buries her head in your neck with startling speed, nuzzling you fiercely while holding you so tightly it seems like she's afraid you'll slip from her grasp at any moment.
  391. >You rub her back, holding her tight and close in kind.
  392.  
  393. >The two of you sit like that for a while longer, holding each other close and still.
  394. >You'd imagined this scene would have been far more... dramatic, somehow. Crying in the rain, violins playing in the background, heartfelt promises of eternal love... something like that.
  395. >You realize now, that this is better than anything you could have imagined. Just the two of you, alone in your own personal little vacuum, sharing in the simplicity of each other's warmth and presence.
  396. >Rarity pulls back away from your neck to look you in the eyes once more.
  397. >"Darling, I was starting to lose hope that you'd ever do anything like that."
  398. "Couldn't you have just done something first?"
  399. >"Why, a lady make the first move? How very uncouth of you to suggest such a thing!"
  400. >She boops you lightly on the nose with her own, and gets off your lap. You rise as well, stretching out your back, and looking around at the scenery.
  401. >The sun's almost entirely set by this point; clearly the two of you had been sitting there for some time.
  402. >Rarity's magically picking up the dishes the two of you'd left on the table, quickly and neatly tidying up the small mess.
  403. "Need a hand?"
  404. >"Oh, would you be a dear and get the door?"
  405. >You do so, and follow behind her into the kitchen. Waiting for you inside, completely forgotten, are Applejack's strudels.
  406. "Oh man, I totally forgot. Hey, Rarity, Applejack gave us these."
  407. >You proffer up the box on the counter, which Rarity takes and unwraps with a look of glee.
  408. >"Oh, how marvellous! I do so love our dearest Applejack's baking. She's such a good friend."
  409. "Yeah, she really is. Want to have these on the couch?"
  410. >"Sure, darling. let me just get some more plates out.
  411.  
  412. >In short order, the two of you are cozied up on her elegant chaise lounge, talking about nothing in particular and enjoying the somehow-still-warm baked treats.
  413. >Rarity leans up against you all the while, nuzzling up against your side while happily eating away at her strudel.
  414. >This all feels very similar to your previous little evenings and nights out together, just somehow even more comfortable and natural.
  415. >It's as if a giant weight had been lifted off both of your shoulders, and you were finally free to just be yourselves.
  416. "So, how long?"
  417. >You don't need to elaborate further; Rarity takes your meaning instantly.
  418. >"Oh, I think from the moment I first saw you at that cafè. I mean, of course, Twilight had told me about her newest authorial find, and I was ever so eager to meet you. Of course, well, you were just so handsome and mysterious, being such a strange creature tucked away in our world."
  419. "Yeah, I've heard about you from Twilight too, but, well, from the first time I saw you there, I knew you were probably the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I just had to get to know you better."
  420. >Rarity nuzzles you, then fixes you with a playful look.
  421. >"Probably?"
  422. "Definitely."
  423. >She smiles and coos, and turns her muzzle up to meet your mouth. You share another kiss, warm and happy.
  424. >Afterwards, the two of you turn to finishing up your strudels. Rarity gives a little moan of satisfaction as she reaches the gooey centre.
  425. >"Mmm, we really have to thank Applejack for these, they're simply divine."
  426. "Yeah, she really pulled through with these... She knows, by the way."
  427.  
  428. >"Well, of course she does, dear. Applejack's one of my closest friends, and she's a lot smarter than a lot of ponies give her credit for."
  429. "Yeah, that seems about right. She's the one who encouraged me to try and make this work tonight."
  430. >"Mmm, I'm glad she did. I'll have to thank her sometime soon..."
  431. >Rarity sets her empty plate aside, levitating yours from your hand at the same time and setting them down together on a nearby coffee table.
  432. >She curls up next to you, resting her head on her lap, leaving you to absentmindedly stroke her mane. Digging your fingers into it, you scratch behind her ear, your efforts rewarded with a soft sigh.
  433. "It's been a hell of a day, huh?"
  434. >She nods.
  435. "What now?"
  436. >She opens her eyes again, looking into the distance lost in thought for a moment.
  437. >"Well dear, I suppose we carry on much as we have been... I'd love for you to be my special somepony... and I think you feel the same?"
  438. >You nod at the suggestion happily, no words necessary to confirm such an obvious statement.
  439. >"Excellent. I am so sorry about having to miss out on our day out tomorrow... Would you care to stay the night, though? We could prepare a breakfast together tomorrow, before I have to get back to work."
  440.  
  441. >You're startled at the suggestion. I mean, that was moving things forward a bit quickly, wasn't it?
  442. >Rarity notices your discomfort, and giggles a little.
  443. >"Oh, you rogue, don't go getting any bright ideas. I don't think we're quite there yet, hmm? Besides, I'm far too tired for any kind of.. activity."
  444. >As she says the last word, she places herself fully on your lap, holding herself close against you.
  445. >"I think, though, I could get used to this... I tonight to end in your arms, my big, strong human," she whispers into your ear.
  446. >You kiss her cheek and along her neck, and whisper back;
  447. "I can't think of anything I'd like more, Rares."
  448. >After another series of kisses, the night closes to find you and Rarity tucked away in her disproportionately large velour bed, her snoring and whinnying quietly in her sleep, and you quickly drifting off alongside her.
  449. >You run your fingers through her mane rhythmically, your other arm holding her warm, soft form against yours.
  450. >Yeah, you could get used to this.
  451.  
  452.  
  453. >The morning finds you tangled up in soft silk sheets, the warm summer sun shining through the drapes directly over your head.
  454. >Wait... these weren't your sheets.
  455. >You look around, getting your bearings on your strange new surroundings.
  456. >Walls lined with lace, mannequins in the corners, elaborate four-poster bed... Yep, you definitely weren't in your bed.
  457. >You roll around and collide with a small marshmallow-esque lump curled up beside you.
  458. >Ah, now you remember.
  459. >Everything that had happened last night seemed so surreal, you were sure you had just dreamed it.
  460. >Clearly your clumsy collision had woken up your new marefriend (if that was the term you should use, you really had no idea) up, however.
  461. >Mumbling something incoherent in her half-sleep, she stretched herself languidly and lusuriously, before taking off her eye mask and looking over at you with half-lidded, bleary eyes.
  462. >"Why, hello there handsome~"
  463. >You smile, and move in close to her for a kiss. She meets you, but quickly ends it, turning away and smacking her mouth open and closed.
  464. >"Ach. Very sorry dear, but... ah, morning breath."
  465. "On it. You have any mouthwash?"
  466. >"Why yes, just above the sink, on the right side of the medicine cabinet."
  467. >You take care of a little bit of your morning routine, and are back in the room in short order.
  468. >Rarity rears off the bed as you approach, grabbing you by the neck and pulling you in towards her lips.
  469. >"Good morning, Anon."
  470.  
  471. >You pull away from her lips after a moment, stretching out your morning tiredness as she went to go put away her fluffy pink bathrobe.
  472. >You had spent the night in your boxers; the clothes you had worn last night were still pretty clean, so you put those back on.
  473. >Rarity, of course, was ready to face the day naked, as usual.
  474. "Hey, Rarity, I was wondering... if you don't usually wear clothes, why do you sleep in that bathrobe?"
  475. >"Why darling, because it's comfortable, as well as fabulous! Of course, the de facto ponyville fashion is to go about in my altogether, but I do like making my nights a bit more fashionable."
  476. "Can't argue with that, you're definitely the cutest, most marvelous thing I've seen this morning."
  477. >"Oh, Anon, you're too kind. Now, I have to get back to work pretty soon... Again, I am so very sorry we can't spend the day together like we planned, but would you join me for a bit of a breakfast?"
  478. "Of course, it'd be my pleasure."
  479. >The two of you make your way downstairs, greeted by the smell of burning bacon. You look at Rarity, eyebrow raised, and she just shrugs.
  480. >In the kitchen, you're greeted by the sight of a small white filly with curly purple hair cooking... something in a pan.
  481. >"Rarity! I was gonna make you breakfast in bed again! Hiya, mister monster!"
  482. "Erm... the name's Anon."
  483. >Rarity walks over to the stove, her hoof slammed into her face.
  484. >"Oh, Sweetie Belle, what are you doing here?"
  485. >"Mama and Papa dropped me off! They're busy for the weekend, so you can babysit me!"
  486. >Rarity groans, and Sweetie Belle's face visibly falls.
  487. >"Oh Sweetie, I have so much work to do, I really can't take the time to look after you..."
  488. >"Oh, I've never heard that one before."
  489. >Sweetie Belle walks away from the warzone that's the kitchen counter and slumps into a chair at the table.
  490.  
  491. >"Well darling, it's true, there's an order I simply must fill... I'm ever so sorry."
  492. >You decide you may as well throw your word into this argument. Better than just lurking against the doorway, anyways.
  493. "She's right though, er, Sweetie Belle, was it? We were actually going to spend the day together, and had to cancel. Some fancy client up in Canterlot, it can't be helped."
  494. >"Thanks darling," Rarity says gratefully. "Why don't the three of us have a bit of a breakfast together, and we can decide what to do afterwards, okay?"
  495. >Sweetie Belle groans exasperatedly. "Fine, whatever. I think the bacon's almost done, we can have that."
  496. >You look over to the stovetop, where Rarity is busy cleaning up the charred, twisted, blackened remains of what was once bacon.
  497. >The three of you spend the next half hour or so working together cleaning up the kitchen, getting ready to make some actual breakfast.
  498. >With a little persuading, you enlist Sweetie Belle's (heavily supervised) help, and before too long you have a happy meal of bacon, eggs, toast and fruit at the table.
  499. >It's a nice breakfast, but you could cut the tension between Rarity and her sister with a knife.
  500. >Rarity had told you about her sister. You'd never met her, but you'd gathered that although Rarity loved her dearly, she could rarely make the time to spend with her.
  501. >Clearly, Sweetie was pretty pissed about that.
  502. >"So Sweetie, do you know what Scootaloo and Applebloom are up to today?" Rarity asks nervously.
  503. >Sweetie stares resolutely into her eggs, poking at them idly.
  504. >"Scootaloo's taking flying lessons from Rainbow Dash, Applebloom's helping out AJ with the orchard."
  505. >"...Oh."
  506. >There's another tense moment of silence, broken only by the awkward sound of chewing food and clatter of cutlery.
  507. >Suddenly, you have an idea.
  508.  
  509. "Hey, I can look after you today, Sweetie Belle, I already have the day off."
  510. >"Oh, what a splendid idea! Sweetie, Anon is a very special friend of mine, I'm sure the two of you would get along absolutely swimmingly."
  511. >You give a sidelong glance at Rarity and nudge her hoof under the table. She looks back at you, with eyes that almost seemed to say, "Sorry, we'll talk about it later."
  512. >Sweetie Belle looks at you, rubbing her chin with her hoof dramatically, sizing you up.
  513. >Finally, she gives a shrug.
  514. >"Sure, that sounds okay."
  515. >"Splendid! Oh, I'm sure the two of you will have a marvellous time."
  516. >You look at Sweetie Belle apprehensively. She looks... doubtful.
  517. >Somehow, you weren't entirely sure today was going to be as marvellous as Rarity seems to believe, but you can't really fault her for being optimistic.
  518. >Before too long, the breakfast was almost wrapped up, with you tackling dishes while Rarity was already busy in her main gallery, running to and fro fetching the fabrics she'd need for the long day ahead of her.
  519. >You were almost resentful of not getting to spend the morning alone with her, but you knew as well as anyone that... well, shit just happens sometimes.
  520. >You polish off the last plate, and look over to Sweetie Belle, who's idly drumming her hoof on the table as she stares dully out the window.
  521. >Someone was in a bad mood.
  522.  
  523.  
  524. "You ready to get going?"
  525. >"Sure am, Mr. Monster."
  526. "It's... it's Anon."
  527. >You weren't sure she heard you, as she had already started walking towards the door.
  528. >Rarity meets the two of you by the door, her face worried and preoccupied.
  529. >"You're quite sure the two of you will be okay? She can be quite a handful."
  530. >"I HEARD THAT!"
  531. >Ignoring the angry squeak from outside the door, you answer.
  532. "Oh yeah, I'll be fine, kids love me."
  533. >You weren't sure you believed that, but you didn't want to distract Rarity from her work with worry.
  534. >Rarity gives you a final hug, pecking you on the cheek before sending you off to spend the day with a very angry filly.
  535. "So, uh... what do you want to do today?"
  536. >"I dunno, you're the 'babysitter', Mr. Monster."
  537. >She says 'babysitter' with exaggerated finger quotes (well, more like hoof-quotes), rolling her eyes annoyedly.
  538. >You could clearly see she was Rarity's sister; they both had a particular flair for melodrama.
  539. "You know, I'm not actually a monster. I'm just... weird."
  540. >"Yeah, what's up with that, Mr. Monster? What kinda creature are you? You're not a half-minotaur or something, are you?"
  541. "Nope. Well i guess I'm sort of a half-minotaur... I'm a human. I don't think you guys have any in Equestria."
  542. >"Nope, never heard of them."
  543. "Yeah, that seems about right. Anyways, I was thinking we could grab some food and go for a hike. I know this really cool spot up near the dragon mountains we could get to. Maybe have a picnic or something."
  544. >"That sounds like fun, Mr. Monster."
  545. "It's An... you know what, never mind."
  546. >That gets a little giggle from her. She was clearly dedicated to being as grumpy as possible for now, and you could see why, but maybe today wouldn't be as disastrous as you'd thought.
  547.  
  548. >Taking care of your new qt3.14 gf's little filly sister for the day? You could think of worse ways to spend your time.
  549. >Of course, you'd rather spend it with Rarity herself, but there wasn't much you could do about that.
  550. >Maybe after the week was out, the two of you could spend some quality time together and celebrate your new relationship.
  551. >Now wasn't really the time to think about that, of course. You had a filly to take on a hiking adventure.
  552. >A quick stop by your place at Twilight's library, a run for some food at the local grocer, and you figured the day would be over before you knew it.
  553. >You and your petite companion soon get to the library by the town centre without much fuss.
  554. >She'd been making annoying small talk the entire way so far, in the way little kids do.
  555. >You were pelted with a series of questions such as "Why do you always walk on two legs?", "What's it like having fingers?", "Can you do magic?", et cetera.
  556. >As you drew up to the tree-brary, she suddenly changed her wandering line of questioning.
  557. >"Wait a moment, you live at Twilight's?"
  558. "It's a bit of a temporary living place but yeah, I do. Why?"
  559. >"Oh, I like her! She's cool, even if she's a bit of an egghead."
  560. >You laugh heartily.
  561. "That she is, sweets. She's probably buried in a book or something, but I'm sure she won't mind us bugging her for a second while we get ready to head out. Come on."
  562.  
  563. >As you expected, Twilight is at her post in the middle of the room, surrounded by her customary pile of books.
  564. >Spike is nestled in the corner, idly munching his way through a snack bowl of gems and burying his snout in the latest Marevel comic issue.
  565. "Hey Bookhorse, how's it going?"
  566. >Twilight, who at first didn't seem to notcie your arrival, jumps up from her book with a start.
  567. >Settling down, she carefully places a bookmark in her tome before adressing you.
  568. >"Hello there Anon, I was wondering where you'd gone off to! Where'd you go last night?"
  569. "Oh, just spent the night at Rarity's, I was helping her unwind after work. Apparently she has a massive order she's been stressing out about.
  570. >Twilight eyes you suspiciously.
  571. >"Unwind, huh?"
  572. >You stick the most innocent, naive look o your face you can muster in response.
  573. "Yep! I'm looking after Sweetie here today, too. Y'know, help Rares out a bit, spend some bonding time with one of the fabled Crusaders."
  574. >Sweetie giggles a little, and Twilight (who had clearly been really, *really* involved in her reading) does a double-take at the filly.
  575. >"Oh, Sweetie Belle! I'm sorry, I didn't even see you there. How are you?"
  576. >"Oh, okay. Me and Mr. Monster are gonna go hiking!"
  577. >You roll your eyes and groan exaggeratedly at the nickname, getting another giggle out of the filly.
  578. >"Oh wow, hiking? Sounds like quite the adventure! You guys take whatever you need out of the kitchen."
  579. >Twilight trots over and nudges you in the ribs.
  580. >"So long as a certain 'Mr. Monster' remembers it's his turn to get groceries."
  581. "You got it, bookhorse."
  582.  
  583. >You and Sweetie Belle make your way into the kitchen, where you grab a pack of trail mix and prepare some hay-and-lettuce sandwiches.
  584. >"Wow, I didn't even know Twilight had a kitchen!"
  585. >You laugh at Sweetie Belle's shocked outburst.
  586. "What, you thought she ate books?"
  587. >Sweetie's only response is to pout and blow a gross, wet raspberry at you.
  588. >Soon, you guys have everything ready, your food and water packed in your trusty, durable, custom-fit-by-Rarity haversack.
  589. "Alright kiddo, ready to get rolling?"
  590. >"Yes sir, Mr. Monster sir!" Sweetie says, saluting.
  591. "Noice."
  592. >You pass through the main hall of the library again, past the supine form of the relaxed dragon-servant.
  593. "Later, brah."
  594. >"Seeya, Anon," Spike replies absentmindedly from behind his comic book.
  595. >"You two be safe out there, okay? I have my copy of the Hiker's Guide to Hiking, 1st edition if you want it!"
  596. >You brush off Twilight's customary bookish worry.
  597. "Don't worry about it Twi, this ain't my first time to the rodeo. Don't study too hard, now."
  598. >"Okay, well you guys have a good time!"
  599. "I'll try, Twi."
  600. ______________________________________________________________________________________________
  601.  
  602. >An hour or so later, you could definitively say you were not having a good time.
  603. >Sweetie Belle, of course, was not carrying her own shit, and even though you considered yourself fairly healthy, you were quickly getting tired out.
  604. >Seeing as you were barely a third up the hill, this was sure to be a long trip.
  605. >The sun was particularly hot today too, and though it didn't seem to affect your quadrupedal companion, you were sweating bullets.
  606. >"Oooh, Monster, what's that one?"
  607. >Sweetie had been occupying her time chasing after bugs and small forest critters on the way up, and asking you about them as if you had any idea what they were.
  608. >Presently, she'd chased a small black squirrel a good dozen yard off the path.
  609. "Oh man Sweetie, you don't wanna mess with one of those."
  610.  
  611. >She looks at you, her eyes wide as saucers with worry.
  612. >"R-really?"
  613. "Oh yeah, they'll mess you up. You've never heard of Heart-Eating Black Squirrels? They'll eat your eyes and store their nuts on your skull."
  614. >"You're making that up!"
  615. "Nuh-uh. Go ahead, chase that one some more. Word is, they love the taste of little filly eyes."
  616. >Right on cue, the squirrel chitters angrily at being disturbed, and glares angrily at the filly.
  617. >With an ear-piercing shriek, Sweetie Belle darts away from the (actually completely harmless) squirrel and clamps herself to your head.
  618. "Argh, what the fuck?"
  619. >"THAT SQUIRREL'S GONNA EAT MY EYES!"
  620. >Well, you made your bed, you supposed the only thing you could do was lie in it.
  621. >With a sigh, you trudge further along the path, the comforts of Ponyville growing ever smaller behind you.
  622. ______________________________________________________________________________________________
  623.  
  624. >Drenched in sweat, breathless, and with a filly still clamped to your head, you finally reach the top of the mountain.
  625. >You pry Sweetie Belle off you, and take a moment to absorb the scenery.
  626. >All of Equestria seems to stretch out before you, a miniature Ponyville nestled snugly alongside the Everfree Forest.
  627. >The gleaming spires of Canterlot rest against a mountain's edge, overlooking the valleys, rivers and rolling hills of this happy realm you've found yourself in.
  628. Yep, this was the kind of view you made the trip for.
  629.  
  630. >As you regain your breath and take in the view you've climbed to with pride, you notice the small filly trotting up to your side.
  631. >"Wow, now this is a view, Mr. Monster!"
  632. "Sure is, Sweets. Think it was worth the climb."
  633. >She ponders that for a moment, prodding her chin thoughtfully.
  634. >"Well, you did carry me for the last half or so... So yeah, I think so."
  635. >You laugh and tousle her mane at that, prompting her to squeal in shock and hurriedly turn away to fix her curls.
  636. >Cheeky filly.
  637. "Well, since we're up here, wanna have lunch? Those hay sandwiches aren't gonna eat themselves.
  638. >"Sure!" she squeaks, her voice cracking adorably with her delight.
  639. >The two of you set up your spread on a large, nearby rock.
  640. >Hay sandwiches, trail mix, water, and not much else.
  641. >Not exactly a meal fit for a princess, and you're sure Rarity would fuss over the lack of refinement in your chosen cuisine, but it's filling.
  642. >Besides, your miniature companion doesn't seem to mind. She busily chomps away at her food, stopping every now and again to pester you with questions about humans, why you're always wearing clothes, and other things.
  643. >You'd thought you'd exhausted her curiosity quite a while ago, but clearly you were wrong.
  644. >A classic blunder, the most famous of which was "never get involved in a land war in Asia" - but only slightly less well-known was this: "Never underestimate the inquisitiveness of a bored filly".
  645. >You pocket away that little piece of wisdom for a second, just as Sweetie Belle finishes her food.
  646. >For a moment, she's oddly quiet, her unceasing line of question brought to a close.
  647. >Finally getting a chance to finish up your own food, you start in on the last few bites of your sandwich, only to be interrupted by her once more.
  648. >"So, you're Rarity's special somepony, huh?"
  649.  
  650. "How'd you figure that?"
  651. >Sweetie Belle scoffs sassily.
  652. >"I might be a filly, but I'm not dumb, you know. Why else would a weird monster guy be staying the night at my sister's boutique?"
  653. >You quietly take a drink of water as you search for the right words to say. Before you get a chance to, however, she speaks up again.
  654. >"It's okay, though. You seem alright. Better than that one prince, anyways."
  655. "Wait, she dated a prince?"
  656. >"Not really, she just wouldn't stop talking about him for a while. Some famous 'Blueblood' guy or something. She didn't mention him again after the Gala though, but Applebloom told me that AJ said it didn't work out."
  657. "...Huh."
  658. >"Yeah, she was *super* upset about it. She didn't tell me anything, but she wouldn't stop eating ice cream for a week. It sucked."
  659. >She takes another sip of her water bottle.
  660. >"You're alright though, Mr. Monster. I don't know why she'd want to date a weird monkey-minotaur thing, but I don't mind."
  661. "Yeah, I have no idea why she'd want to either, but I'm glad she does. And thanks, Sweetie, that kinda means a lot."
  662. >"Don't worry about it. Just leave all that lovey-dovey stuff for when i'm not around; I've had enough of that from Big Mac and Cheerilee to last a lifetime. "
  663. >At the memory, she fake-vomits, prompting another laugh out of you.
  664. "Alright, whaddaya say we head back down?"
  665. >"... Can I ride on your head again? That was fun."
  666. "Nope."
  667. >The two of you pack up your stuff in short order, and make your way back down to ponyville.
  668. >This time, you're the one bugging her with questions; listening to her recount the hijinks she'd gotten into with her Cutie Mark Crusaders, the disastrous Hearts and Hooves day she'd organized with Appleblooms brother, and other stories.
  669. >Not ten minutes into the walk, you've let her perch on your head again.
  670.  
  671. >By the time you get back into Ponyville, the sun is hanging low in the sky, ponies in the town marketplace closing up their shops and packing away their wares for the day.
  672. >Though the hiking trip took longer than you expected, you were still sure that Rarity would appreciate as much time to work on her clothes as she could get.
  673. "Hey Sweetie Belle, you hungry?"
  674. >As if on cue, you hear her stomach rumble from her perch on your head.
  675. >"Kinda..."
  676. "I know a good place, let's get some something to bring back to Rarity's. Whaddaya say?"
  677. >"Sure!"
  678. >You walk over to a small bistro nestled close to the Tree-brary. It's the kind of comfortable place you found yourself going to nearly every day, with a decent menu of good food sold at a more or less reasonable price.
  679. >You unclasp the filly from your head as you enter. You generally didn't wear hats inside, and you figured the same idea applied to small horses.
  680. >"Ah, Anonymous, welcome back!"
  681. >A grey mare with a brown mane and a heart-shaped muffin for a cutie mark welcomes you as you close the door behind you and Sweetie Belle.
  682. "Hey Muffin Heart, how's business?"
  683. >"Not bad, today's been pretty steady. What can I get ya and your little filly friend?"
  684. >You look over questioningly to Sweetie Belle, who had clearly not expected to be called on for her own order.
  685. >"Oh! I, ummm..."
  686. >She looks over the chalkboard menu behind the counter, a pursing her mouth in concentration.
  687. >"A... sundae and some chocolate chip cookies?"
  688. >You give Sweetie a disapproving sort of look.
  689. >"Fine... Flower soup, oat bar... and chocolate milk?"
  690. "That's better. And I'll also two brocolli lasagnas, all of it to go, if that's okay."
  691. >Muffin Heart gives a pouty simper.
  692. >"Not going to keep me company today, Anon?"
  693.  
  694. "Nah, I'm just foalsitting Sweetie Belle here today. We're just going to go back to Rarity's for dinner.
  695. >Her goofy pout was clearly fake, but you could have sworn her face fell at the mention of Rarity.
  696. >She quickly regains her composure, however.
  697. >"That's a shame, you'll just have to eat here again this week to make up for it, 'kay?"
  698. "Will do, Heart."
  699. >You give her some bits, and she bustles off to the kitchen in the back to get your food started.
  700. >"Does she..."
  701. >You quickly nudge Sweetie Belle with your foot, shushing her before she can finish that thought.
  702. >You knew what she was about to say, and the last thing you wanted in your life was drama.
  703. >The two of you grab a seat by the window, and pass the time in something of an awkward silence.
  704. >No one else comes into the bistro while you wait, and you idly look out the window, watching the motes of dust dance in the golden rays of the setting sun.
  705. >Sweetie Belle is absentmindedly playing with a curl of her hair, yawning every now and again.
  706. "Tired?"
  707. >She nods, her hoof covering another drawn-out yawn.
  708. "Come on, you were on my head for like half the trip."
  709. >"Yeah, but you're, like, huge, Mr. Monster. That mountain was like a tiny little anthill or something for you."
  710. "Heh, yeah, I guess you're right."
  711. >You hadn't really considered the size difference between you two, but she was right; compared to her, you were pretty damned monstrous.
  712. >Well, a tired-out Sweetie Belle was pretty much the best result of today you could have hoped for. By the time she got back to Rarity's, she'd be too tired to give her any trouble.
  713. >Mission fucking accomplished.
  714. >Eventually, Muffin Heart emerges from the kitchen, some take-out boxes wrapped up in string suspended from her mouth.
  715.  
  716. >"Top one's yours, cutie."
  717. >You blush, and scoop up the packages gratefully. Promising to come back soon, you make your way out of the bistro, finally on the way back to Rarity's.
  718. >Sweetie Belle trots out by your side, and looks up at you with an eyebrow raised suspiciously.
  719. "Don't."
  720. >She shrugs dismissively, and continues to walk by your side in silence.
  721. >You make it back to the Boutique pretty quickly, the warm smells of the lasagna and soup in your take-out containers tantalizing you every step of the way.
  722. >You get to the door and make to knock, but Sweetie Belle supercedes your attempts and just barges in.
  723. >Shrugging, you follow in behind her.
  724. "Hey Rarity, we're back!"
  725. >She's in pretty much exactly the same place you found her the night before, hunched over her sewing machine, dresses, bolts of fabric, and other supplies strewn out around her.
  726. >You can clearly see the fruits of her labour, however.
  727. >Where before there were three mannequins adorned in exceptional finery, now there were six, with another looking about half done.
  728. >"Oh, Anon darling make yourself at home. Please forgive me, I'm almost done with this one bolt... Did the two of you have fun?"
  729. >Sweetie pipes up for you, her voice squeaking excitedly.
  730. >"Yeah, Mr. Monster was fun! We went hiking, and I saw an eye-eating squirrel, and-"
  731. >Sweetie Belle launches into a fast-paced narrative of your day, and you can tell that although she'd trying to pay attention, Rarity still needs to pay attention to her work.
  732. >Halfway into an incredibly detailed account of everything she could see from the mountaintop, you interrupt Sweetie's harangue.
  733. "Hey Rarity, I brought some dinner. You guys hungry?"
  734. >"Oh, why Anon, that sounds lovely! And honestly, they call *me* the Element of Generosity~"
  735.  
  736. >After Rarity quickly puts her work away, the three of you set the table in her kitchen.
  737. >Rarity fetches some cutlery, and you set out the take-out boxes on the table.
  738. >On a gut instinct, you give Rarity the top box.
  739. >Rarity pours you and herself a small glass of wine, while Sweetie Belle starts burying her muzzle into her soup and chocolate milk.
  740. >You open your takeout box, and hear Rarity squee from across the table.
  741. >"Oh, Anon, this is wonderful!"
  742. >You look across to her box, where her lasagna (or more accurately, your lasagna) was decorated with a small outline of herbs and spices in the shape of a heart.
  743. >You make a mental note to casually mention you're in a relationship the next time you're at Muffin Heart's Bistro.
  744. >Luckily, Sweetie Belle was too busy eating to notice what Rarity's dish.
  745. "Thought you'd like it, Rares. Bon Appetit."
  746. >You reach across the table to affectionately touch her hoof, just in time for Sweetie Belle to look up from her soup.
  747. >She fake gags, rolls her eyes, and gets back to her meal.
  748. >You and Rarity share a laugh, and each get to your meals.
  749. >Muffin Heart really outdid herself this time; the lasagna is delicious.
  750. >Almost before it starts, you're done your meal, the warmth filling you up from the inside and urging you to sleep.
  751. >You start to wrap up the garbage from your collective meals, and Rarity starts heading back into the dressmaking core of the boutique.
  752. >Sweetie Belle is slumped over her finished soup, eyelids drooping sleepily.
  753. "So, Rarity, you got Sweetie Belle for tonight?"
  754. >"Oh yes darling I think I can handle her for tonight. In fact, I'm actually ahead of schedule for this order; I suppose inspiration strikes at the oddest times, doesn't it?"
  755. >You walk with her into the living room, out of Sweetie Belle's sight. Once you're around the corner, she turns around and reaches her hooves up around your neck, her mouth meeting yours passionately.
  756. "Yeah, I suppose it does."
  757. ___________________________________________________________________________
  758.  
  759. >"So, how is it?"
  760. >Three months later, you find yourself eating once again at Muffin Heart's Bistro.
  761. >Winter is almost on Ponyville; the pegasi are all working overtime on cloud production, and Fluttershy's been enlisting help for the crafting of her small, furry ward's hibernation shelters.
  762. >This particularly frosty afternoon, you've decided to treat yourself to a warm coffee and panini at Muffin Heart's.
  763. >Your latest writing job for Twilight was a bit of a hit within Canterlot's academic circles, and you've started making a small handful of royalties.
  764. >That, combined playing a pretty big part of Applejack's enormous end-of-year harvest and cleanup meant that you were feeling pretty financially confident.
  765. >You swallow down a deliciously moist and warm bite of panini, dabbing the corners of your mouth with a napkin
  766. "Fantastic as always, Muffin Heart. I don't know why you don't get more business."
  767. >True to your statement, you're the only diner at her cozy establishment. You've just about never seen the place full, but apparently Muffin's managed to keep it open for years, now.
  768. >"I don't know, I kind of like how quiet it is around here sometimes. Gives me a chance to relax between the busy days."
  769. >Muffin carries over a coffee of her own to your table. She takes a sip, a happy grin on her face.
  770. >"Damn, I make a great cappucino, don't I?"
  771. "Someone's full of themselves, aren't they?" you say, laughing.
  772. >"Come on, Anon, you know it's true."
  773. >You don't answer, instead taking another sip of your coffee. Of course, your stifled 'mmm' of appreciation betrays you, and she beams at you.
  774. >She was right, of course; she made fucking excellent coffee, but you weren't about to give her the satisfaction of knowing that so easily.
  775. >"So, anyways, how're things with Rarity?"
  776.  
  777. >You pause, taking another sip of your coffee to buy some time.
  778. >Muffin Heart still has her customary warm smile plastered on, but you've known her long enough to know that it's not entirely genuine.
  779. >By now, it's common knowledge across Ponyville that you and Rarity are an item.
  780. >Spike hasn't really been friendly with you lately, making living at Twilight's library slightly difficult.
  781. >Muffin Heart, meanwhile, hasn't treated you (or anyone else, really) that differently, but you can tell that she's been more and more tense around you as the weeks have gone on.
  782. >You hadn't wanted to make things awkward; she was still one of your best friends, and you could only hope you were reading too much into things.
  783. "We're good. I'm moving out of Twilight's soon, so we'll have a place to hang out outside the boutique for a change."
  784. >"Oh really? I had no idea. Gonna get a roomie?"
  785. "Oh, nah. There's a small house out by Sweet Apple Acres for sale. Bit of a rent-to-own kind of thing, and Twilight and AJ are giving me some sweet references."
  786. >"Nice! You're not moving in with your lady love?"
  787. >She bats her eyes and purses her lips, making mock kissing sounds, getting another laugh out of you.
  788. "Nah, we're not really there yet. We have a lot of things going on in our lives, and it's a huge commitment, you know?"
  789. >"Yeah, I hear ya. I had a stallion going on in my life. We were almost gonna get a place, maybe have some foals and fillies... Turns out he'd been writing love letters to some Vanhoover mare for 5 months! Can you believe it?"
  790. "Holy shit, Muffin, that's crazy; you've never told me about that before."
  791. >She shrugs, looking despondently out the window for a moment, before turning back to you and taking another sip of coffee.
  792. >"Eh, it's not a big deal. Happened in the past. And hey, it's the reason I moved here, so it all turned out for the better, yeah?"
  793. >You chuckle.
  794. "Hey, if he's the reason I'm getting these bomb-ass paninis, then I should thank the guy."
  795.  
  796. >That gets the smile back on her face, thankfully. The two of you fall back into an amiable silence as you finish your food and drinks.
  797. >She takes your dishes back to the kitchen after you're done. Sometimes, it was easy to forget that she actually ran a restaurant; so often, you came to just have something to eat and hang out with a friend.
  798. >She returns soon, wiping one of her hooves against a white kitchen rag.
  799. >"So Anon, got any big plans for the day?"
  800. "Oh yeah, Me and Rarity were going to the art gallery tonight, and maybe get some wine later. Apparently some bigwig Canterlot artist is showing off his newest collection in Ponyville, and... Wait, how did Rarity put it..."
  801. >Muffin Heart finishes your thought for you.
  802. >"Oh, darling, we simply must go! Anyone who's *anyone* will be there!"
  803. >You've gotta hand it to her, her Rarity impression is impeccable.
  804. "Yep, that's pretty much it. Anyways, I've gotta dash. You have a good night, 'kay?"
  805. >Muffin Heart smiles and waves you out of the bistro.
  806. >"You too, Anon. give Rarity my best!"
  807. >You could swear her voiced dropped a little bit at the end of that sentence, but, you could only hope you were reading too much into it.
  808. >You head back to the treehouse, planning on using your time to get gussied up for one of yours and Rarity's inordinately fancy dates.
  809. >Rarity, generous soul as she was, had made you several sets of clothes and suits for fine dining and high society.
  810. >At first, she had insisted on making each ad every piece as completely overdone and fabulous as damned possible. Luckily for you, it hadn't taken you long to convince her that a straight-cut black suit suited you best.
  811. >She did know her way around accessories, but you would be damned if you'd let anyone but you be the leading authority on Human clothing in Equestria.
  812.  
  813. >You walk into the library, greeted by a scene you'd long since grown accustomed to.
  814. >Twilight was at her desk, Owlicious fluttering about and delivering her notes and supplies, while Spike lounged around with his snacks and comic books.
  815. >You would have been convinced that Spike was just lazy at this point, but after everything you'd heard about the adventures that Twilight and her gang had gotten up to, you were willing to concede that the guy deserved some R&R whenever he could get it.
  816. "Hey bro, how's it going?"
  817. >Spike looks at you with narrowed eyes, and nonchalantly tosses a ruby into his mouth.
  818. >"S'good."
  819. "Power Ponies manage to capture the Scary Saddler yet?"
  820. >"Nuh-uh."
  821. "Aight."
  822. >Almost every conversation you'd had with Spike since you and Rares had started dating had gone like this.
  823. >It's not like he ever had an actual chance with her, really. Come on, dude.
  824. >Giving up on the scintillating chat, you make for your room.
  825. >The spare bedroom had gotten cluttered over your tenure; Even though most of your belongings were in boxes due to your impending departure, there was still more than enough mess to make finding your accouterments unnecessarily difficult.
  826. >Eventually, you're wrapped up in one of your most handsome suits; sleek, shiny, and matched with a carmine tie.
  827. >After allowing yourself a modest spritz of your best Eau de Chevalier cologne, you finally feel ready to meet with your beautiful marefriend for an evening of romance and charm.
  828. >At least, as romantic and charming as a visit to an art gallery could be.
  829. >You step outside, immediately making a note to get some kind of overcoat for the winter.
  830. >Winters in Ponyville seemed to be warmer than what you were used to back home, but it was still cold enough to make the walk to Rarity's a pain in the ass.
  831.  
  832. >You knock on her door, your knuckles near freezing by time time you've concluded your short walk.
  833. >Rarity quickly opens it, and beckons you inside. She's wearing an adorable beatnik getup, with a comfortable looking (and close-cut) black turtleneck and red beret.
  834. >Once inside, you scoop her up into her arms. She throws her hooves around you, and leans in for a kiss.
  835. >From another room, you hear the distinctly high, cracking voice of a filly making fake throwing-up noises.
  836. >Rarity giggles, and breaks from the kiss to nuzzle into your neck.
  837. "Nice to see you too, Sweetie Belle."
  838. >The little filly walks into the room, several crayons in her mouth. Doubtless, your arrival had interrupted an intense colouring session.
  839. >"Hi Miffter Monffter!" she says, clearly not particularly caring to get her art supplies out of her face.
  840. >"Now Sweetie Belle, make sure you don't swallow those, okay?"
  841. >Sweetie Belle glares at Rarity's admonition, and spits out the crayons behind her.
  842. >"C'mon Rarity, I haven't swallowed a crayon in a whole year!"
  843. >The two of you just laugh, and Sweetie Belle trudges back to her project, grumbling. You set back down on the floor, and she walks off to gather her purse.
  844. "So, you ready for tonight, cutie?"
  845. >Purse held aloft in her aura, she trots up beside, playfully poking your side with her hoof.
  846. >"Of course, darling. Let's get moving, shall we?"
  847.  
  848. >You walk side by side towards Ponyville's small art gallery, your hands buried deep into your suit pockets in an attempt to keep warm.
  849. >Rarity notices this, and looks up at you.
  850. >"Bit chilly out, isn't it?"
  851. "Yeah, kinda. You're not feeling it?"
  852. >"I suppose not. I guess humans just get colder than us ponies, don't they?"
  853. "Yeah, I suppose we do. Lucky quadrupeds," you add, sticking your tongue out at her.
  854. >Rarity giggles, raising a hoof to her mouth.
  855. >"Well, we'll just have to fix that, won't we? I'm working on my winter line, and I've been just *dying* to try out some of my new techniques and materials with you. You make such a fascinating model, Anon."
  856. >"Hey, I'm glad to help. And if I get some of your clothes out of the deal, who am I to refuse?"
  857. >The rest of the walk is spent discussing human winterwear, with Rarity practically salivating at the challenge of making wool gloves for you. She still hadn't quite gotten over the idea of fingers, and it just about made your night to see her so excited.
  858. >You had to give it to her; the girl was passionate about her work.
  859. >You arrive at the art gallery in short order; it's warmly lit, with a large crowd of fancily-dressed ponies milling around in a room that had clearly not been designed to accommodate them.
  860. >The walls close to the entrance are hung with the works of local artists; mainly a collection of landscapes and wildlife portraiture. Nothing terribly fancy.
  861. >After paying the modest entrance fee to the gallery's concierge, you and Rarity make your way deeper into the room, to where the majority of the function seems to be taking place.
  862.  
  863. >As you'd noticed, the room was full near to bursting with ponies.
  864. >Groups gather around small tables topped with sculptures and serving trays of champagne and bite-sized servings of cheese.
  865. >The art is almost impossible to see past the throng of ponies; or rather, it would be if you were pony-height. As it stands, you have a good two feet over the tallest pony in the room, so it doesn't prove to be much of a problem for you.
  866. >You point out a particularly interesting piece to Rarity, and the two of you start making your way through the crowd to appreciate it at close range.
  867. >It's an abstract piece, subtly flowing gradients of blue draping the canvas through an array of textures and layering.
  868. >It looks deceptively simple, but on closer inspection you can see that it must have taken immense skill to put together. Clearly, whoever had made it was a genius.
  869. >You're about to point out as much to Rarity, but she'd taken the moment to grab some champagne, and was chatting with another pony in a blue waistcoat and purple bow tie.
  870. >You make your way over to grab a glass of your own, and suavely interject yourself in the conversation.
  871. >"...and, wouldn't you know it, he had completely forgotten to get pants for his suit! Can you believe it?"
  872. >"Oh Rarity, you are just a *treat*. Oh, who's this strapping fellow?"
  873. >Rarity's companion had noticed that you'd made your way over, champagne in hand. Thankfully, you hadn't really had time to hover before he mentioned you.
  874. >"Oh, dear, how very rude of me. Fancy, this is my coltfriend, Anonymous. Anonymous, meet Fancy Pants, a dear old friend of mine in Canterlot."
  875. >"Anonymous, a pleasure. You must be quite the charmer, tying down such a treasure as our dear Rarity, hmm?"
  876. "Frankly, I'm more surprised that Rarity managed to get her hooves on me."
  877. >Thankfully, that gets a laugh out of both Fancy and Rarity.
  878. >"My darling Anonymous is so humble, wouldn't you say?"
  879.  
  880. >You, Fancy, and Rarity continue to shoot the shit for a little while, helping yourselves to some of the cheeses and hors d'oeuvres on offer.
  881. >Unfortunately, neither of them seem nearly as interested in the art as you, and before too long Rarity had gone off to talk to a client of hers that she'd recognized while you stopped to admire another piece.
  882. >You'd expected this, of course. Rarity considered herself a bit of an under-appreciated socialite, and was far more comfortable schmoozing it up with the social elite than appraising modern art.
  883. >The two of you had different skills and interests; it was far from being a problem, so far as you were concerned.
  884. >The art's amazing, and you make a mental note to get the artist's name before you leave, and order some prints to hang in your new house.
  885. >After a little while, Rarity migrates over to your side once more. You're in the middle of a conversation with some mare about the artist's brushwork, and quickly excuse yourself to attend to your marefriend.
  886. >"Oh, Anonymous, I didn't mean to interrupt. But I was just made aware that the vintner is closing, and we really should get going if we're going to share a glass tonight."
  887. "Oh yeah, for sure. Hold on though, just wanted to get my hands on the artist's card..."
  888. >10 minutes later, you and Rarity are on the road again, with a carefully wrapped print you'd been convinced to buy tucked securely under your arm.
  889.  
  890. >Back at Rarity's boutique, you finally get a chance to drop your coat and unwind.
  891. >You take the wine out of its bag while Rarity fetches some crystal glasses from the kitchen's cupboard.
  892. >Apparently, it's a good vintage. At least, that's what the store's clerk told you, but you were pretty sure he was on commision.
  893. >Uncorking the bottle, you give it some time to breath before passing it under your nose.
  894. >Smells... surprisingly sweet, and you catch the faintest hint of cherry. Should be right up Rarity's alley.
  895. >Speak of the devil. You suddenly find yourself being leaned on by an affectionate white horse, one hoof draped around your side while she suspends the pair of glasses in her aura in front of you.
  896. >"Shall we?"
  897. >Before you know it, the bottle is almost empty, and the candles you lit on the coffee table are burned down almost to their base.
  898. >Rarity swishes the wine around under her nose before taking a long swig, finishing her glass and replacing it on the table in front of her.
  899. >You finish yours as well, and lean over to refill your glasses with the last of the wine.
  900. >"I must say Anonymous, we really must see if we can find more of this vintage, it was simply divine."
  901. "Yeah, you're not kidding. It almost makes me want to start a cellar at my place."
  902. >Oh dear, that sounds grand! And I could help design it! Why, I'm thinking an oaken bureau with black iron filligree would just be the most marvellous addition to your basement, and perhaps a small dining table made of..."
  903.  
  904. >Rarity's at it again, excitedly listing off the additions she could add to your place and dreaming up renovations.
  905. >Of course, your house (and budget) was too small to allow for her grand changes and renovations, but you always found her energy and excitement endearing.
  906. >"..And, why, we could even add a sunroom! Imagine that, it'd be so grand to spend a summer evening in.."
  907. >Interrupting her, you move to softly cup her cheek in your hands. She'd been entusiastically drawing a floor plan in the air with her hooves, but stopped suddenly, pulled out of her electric cogitation by your touch.
  908. >Suddenly, both of you were very, very aware of the reality of the moment.
  909. >It was cold and dark outside, the small corner of the boutique lit only by the warm, muted light of the candles. You were leaning into each other, every soft brush of her mane against your skin electrifying; your fingers teasing into her hair and resting against her neck eliciting small, sharp breaths.
  910. >To top it off, you were both fairly tipsy.
  911. >Ignoring your unfinished wine on the table, you lean in to kiss her, your touch met with the press of her warm, supple body against yours.
  912. >Outside, the cold wind started to howl against the windowpanes, providing a melancholic background to the rush of sensations, exertion and passion the two of you had silently agreed to share.
  913. >Afterwards, you lay awake, Rarity asleep against your bare chest.
  914. >Her soft breaths tickled slightly against you as you stared at the ceiling, promising to yourself that you'd never let this moment leave your mind.
  915. >Feeling certain beyond any doubt that you'd take the memory of this night to your grave, you slowly let yourself drift off, carried into a deep, dreamless sleep by the sound of howling wind and the combined scents of burning candles and Rarity's perfume.
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