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Perseverance

By Mikari

Romance / Drama

Chapter 1

Spike is determined to always be there for Rarity through the unexpected twists and turns of life. SpikexRarity

Perseverance

Part 1: Falling Down

"No! No! No!" The pale pink unicorn screeched in dissatisfaction as she tore off her dress. "This is even worse than before!" She flipped her curly cyan mane in indignation as she paced around the Carousel Boutique, walking in circles around its owner. "Awful, terrible, you don't know what you're doing!" Her golden eyes narrowed at the designer.

Rarity's eye twitched as she tried very hard to keep a professional face and not break into tears of frustration and anger. She had been trying to make the perfect dress for this super picky unicorn for days. Yet every time she showed up for a fitting, she had more to complain about. She had changed her mind about the color and style several times and always found little details to complain about. Too bright, too pale, too simple, too overloaded, too long, too short and so on. Because of Miss Stylista, the rude picky unicorn, Rarity was behind on all her projects. "I'm sure I can adjust the design," Rarity spoke between clenched teeth.

Stylista held a devious grin for a second before her expression went back to being displeased. "I will oh so mercifully grant you another chance to prove yourself, but you better outdo yourself with real quality materials this time. Use only your best."

"Of course," Rarity sighed. She began to pick up the discarded dress while Stylista continued going on and on with her critiques. The picky customer emphasized the fact that she was from Canterlot where the designs were of much better quality than in plain old Ponyville. She reminded Rarity over and over that her opinion could make or break her career as a major fashion designer.

The little bell attached to the front door of Carousel Boutique chimed, indicating the arrival of someone else. Rarity looked up from her notes, her mane a little messy from the stress. "Hi Rarity," Spike greeted her cheerfully, though he soon paused to really take a closer look at her. She seemed so stressed. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, darling, just a little busy right now." Rarity tried not to snap, after all none of this was Spike's fault.

Stylista saw that Rarity was trying her best to keep her temper in check. She was on the edge of a nervous breakdown, which was exactly what the conceded pink unicorn wanted to cause. "Ugh! What is that ugly thing? You allow lizards into your shop? Such bad taste!"

Spike's shoulders slumped and he frowned deeply. Was a dragon really that ugly from a unicorn's perspective? Twilight had never hinted at such a thing and neither had Rarity, but what if they were just being mercifully nice?

Seeing Spike's heartbroken expression, Rarity finally lost all control. She dropped the dress, parchment and quill that she had in her psychic hold and allowed her frustration and anger to show on her face. She was furious, in fact, she was so furious that both Spike and Stylista had to take a step back, because at that moment, the white unicorn was scarier than a fully grown dragon. "How dare you?" Rarity shouted enraged. "Insult my shop, insult my designs, insult me and I can take it in a civilized manner, but I will not tolerate any insults at my friends." She charged forward with her horn glowing brightly.

Before Stylista had a chance to counter, she found herself entrapped in Rarity's psychic hold, being flung out the door and thrown across the street to land in a mud puddle that remained from last night's downpour. Rarity exhaled through her nose with an angry quite unladylike grunt, then slammed the door shut, the little bell falling off from the force of the impact. Angrily pacing about, she placed the bell back where it belonged and changed the 'open' sign on the door to 'closed'.

Spike stood open mouthed, in awe of the outburst. He had never seen Rarity so furious before. Was she defending him because she disagreed, because she didn't think he was ugly? Yes, that had to be it; she must think he was handsome. Yet Spike's happiness didn't last, as he noticed that Rarity didn't look like she felt any better after letting out her emotions. In fact, she looked like she felt worse, which was confirmed as she burst into tears. "Rarity, don't cry!" Spike rushed over to comfort her.

Between desperate sobs and sniffles, Rarity cried out, "I'm ruined! My career is over; I insulted Canterlot high-society and acted like such an uncivilized beast for all the ponies walking down the street to see!"

"But that mean unicorn deserved it!" Spike insisted as he patted Rarity's shoulder in a soothing gesture.

"That's not the point," Rarity sobbed. "I was unable to meet her refined standards, so it was only natural that she became frustrated with my inability."

"But everyone thinks your designs are amazing!" Spike continued trying to cheer her up to no avail.

"Everyone in Ponyville maybe, but being recognized in Canterlot is but a far away unattainable dream!" Rarity cried. "If I had done better from the beginning, this wouldn't have happened."

Spike frowned, his expression becoming further depressed. "If I haven't come in here and scared that Canterlot brat, this wouldn't have happened. I guess I must be hideous by Canterlot standards."

Rarity gasped, moving away her hooves from her face and ceasing her crying in a moment of determination. "Don't say that, my little Spiky-whiky." She sniffled and fought to dry her tears. "No matter what anyone says you're the cutest, most adorable, handsomest dragon I've ever seen!"

Spike blushed at the compliments, "really?"

"Yes, really," Rarity nodded. She regretted her wild actions, but she didn't regret defending Spike. "What was it that you needed?"

"I didn't need anything; I just came by to see you." Spike shifted shyly, a light red blush still on his face.

"Oh..." Rarity had several projects she could work on, but after the upsetting scene, she just didn't feel like it. She really needed a good relaxing rest to feel better. Maybe she should go out for some tea in that nice cafe down the street. It was only polite to take her guest with her. "Spike, do you want to go out for some tea?"

Spike immediately became excited at the prospect of going out with Rarity. It might have been a simple outing between friends for her, but for him, it was a date. "I'd love to!" The young dragon exclaimed.

"Then let's go," Rarity smiled at Spike's happy expression. "Just give me a moment to brush my mane."

"Sure, I'll be waiting right here," Spike smiled.

Rarity walked to her room and looked at her face in the vanity's mirror. She sighed and went to the bathroom to wash her face. She carefully dried it, then went back to her room to brush her mane and re-apply her make-up. Maybe if she looked good, it would help her feel good. After she was finished, she returned to the main room of her shop where an impatient Spike was pacing around as he waited for her. "I hope that didn't take too long."

"Not at all!" Spike was quick to exclaimed. "You look beautiful Rarity," he bashfully complimented.

Rarity giggled, "thank you, my Spiky-whiky." The pair left the shop together and spent a nice relaxing afternoon at Rarity's favorite cafe.

xoxox xox xoxox

The next day, Rarity felt much better after having taken the rest of the previous day off after the upsetting fiasco and getting a good night's sleep. She got ready for the day, ready to dive into the projects she had been putting off. She went to change the closed sign on her door to open, though she didn't expect any customers to arrive that early in the morning. While she was there, she went out to look into her mailbox. She levitated the mail and set it down on the table inside the shop. There was a party invite in a bright pink envelope from Pinkiepie to celebrate Gummy's half-way birthday party, which was to take place on the six month anniversary of his last birthday. A plain white envelope held a bill and a small lavender postcard held an advertisement for a special at the spa she and Fluttershy often frequented.

Aside from these articles, there was one more item that Rarity had retrieved out of her mailbox. She set aside the rest of her correspondence and curiously looked at the pale blue envelope. One look at the return address made Rarity's heart skip a beat. It was from the committee organizing a fashion show competition in Los Pegasus, as part of the opening ceremony for an upcoming theatre festival. She had mailed her dress days ago. A team of models skilled in dancing would wear dresses from the contestants to be judged. Unfortunately, Rarity couldn't make it to watch the show in person, but she was excited to hear about it. This couldn't be a letter telling her that she won or thanking her for her participation and informing her that she didn't win, because the competition had not taken place yet.

Overtaken by curiosity, Rarity opened the letter. Her eyes read over the lines rapidly over and over in disbelief. This couldn't be; it simply couldn't be. Her sapphire eyes watered and tears soon began to cascade from them. Then the sound of the little bell on Rarity's door chiming softly, caught her attention. She quickly dried her tears and put her mail away with her unicorn magic, then went to greet the early potential customer. To her surprise, the one she found was, "Spike?"

"Good morning Rarity, the sign said open so I came in," Spike greeted, he was holding a basket of contents that were as of yet unknown to Rarity.

"Good morning Spike," Rarity tried to make herself smile despite the harsh blow that the letter from Los Pegasus delivered. "What brings you here this early in the morning?"

"I came to bring you some breakfast." Spike showed her the basket full of toast, waffles, a jar of apple jam and a bottle of apple juice. The last two were very likely Sweet Apple Acres products. "You haven't had breakfast yet, have you?"

"Not yet," Rarity smiled, at least she had her little Spiky-whiky to keep her company in her time of woe. "Let me start setting up the table." She focused on the simple task of getting everything ready to have breakfast with Spike. Soon the food was served, but she did little else beyond stare at it.

Spike observed Rarity's sad expression. She looked like she was feeling a lot better when they parted ways yesterday. He thought that she would be over yesterday's incident completely after a good night's sleep. "Rarity?"

The elegant unicorn looked up from her staring contest with the food. "Yes?"

"Why are you still sad?" Spike cut to the chase. He wanted to make Rarity cheer up, but he didn't know how.

"I'm not sad, not sad at all, you don't have to worry about me, darling," Rarity forced herself to smile.

"But you're not eating," Spike pointed out. "Don't you like the food?"

"I like it very much." Rarity took a bite of her toast to demonstrate. "It's delicious and the apple jam certainly gives it a special touch. It was very thoughtful of you to bring me breakfast, thank you so much, my little Spiky-whiky."

Spike smiled, "you're welcome." Maybe Rarity wasn't so sad after all. Maybe she was still half-asleep; it was very early in the morning. But then he looked into her eyes again and concluded that his first theory was correct. Those were not sleepy eyes, those were sad eyes. Even though Rarity had assured him that it wasn't his fault, Spike still felt guilty for scaring her customer yesterday. Sure, the prissy pink unicorn deserved worse, but that wasn't the point. The point was that the whole ordeal had upset Rarity. "Are you still sad about yesterday?"

"Not at all, darling," Rarity assured, trying to sound as normal as she could. She wasn't entirely lying; she was a little upset about yesterday but only as a result of being very upset about today. "My sweet little Spiky-whiky, don't you worry about me, I'm fine."

Another forced smile followed and Spike remained unconvinced. "If you say so..."

After breakfast was finished, Spike knew it was time for him to go back to the library, but he didn't want to leave Rarity until he knew she was okay. "Are you heading back to the library?" Rarity casually inquired.

"I guess so." Spike thought that Rarity must be getting tired of his nosy presence and wanted him to leave.

However, her next words took him by surprise. "Do you mind if I come along? There is something I want to discuss with Twilight."

"Sure," Spike immediately agreed. "Let's walk there together." He didn't know what Rarity had to talk to Twilight about, but he was all too glad to have her come over. Besides, maybe this way Rarity would cheer up. Thus the unicorn closed her shop for the day and headed to the library with Spike.

xoxox xox xoxox

After a short walk to the library, Spike and Rarity went in, with Spike announcing their arrival. "We're here!"

"We?" Twilight inquired as she made her way down the stairs. She was expecting Spike to return any minute, but she wasn't expecting him to bring company. She smiled as she spotted Rarity near the door. "Good morning Rarity, what brings you here?"

"Good morning, Twilight," Rarity politely returned the greeting. "There was a little something I wanted to try out and thought you could help me with it."

"I'll do anything I can," Twilight assured, though she didn't even know what Rarity would ask for yet. "What do you need?"

Spike listened quietly as Rarity shared an unexpected explanation. "When I was a little filly, I enjoyed those cute picture books with the stories about castles, knights and princesses." As Rarity explained Spike imagined himself all grown up and wearing polished armor, as Rarity's valiant knight. "I liked to imagine myself as the princess in the story, wearing the pretty gown. I also really loved the ball scene in Hoofrella and the beautiful pictures of all the lovely dresses."

Twilight smiled, listening to her friend speak of her enjoyment of books. She took a guess at what Rarity wanted help with. "So now you want me to help you find those same picture books for nostalgia? Maybe to share them with Sweetie Bell?"

"Actually," this was the unexpected part of Rarity's revelation, though Spike was yet to comprehend what it truly meant. "I wanted to create a picture book of my own. I was wondering if you could inform me on the process."

"A picture book of your own?" Twilight had to admit that she was surprised, but she was also happy. "That's wonderful! I'll be happy to tell you everything I know about publishing. In fact, I have a book about it around here."

"Way ahead of you!" Spike was already jumping down from the shelf where the book in question was stored. "This should be helpful," the tile read 'A Guide For Publication'. "I got a dictionary too, in case you need some extra pretty words."

"Excellent!" Rarity exclaimed. "I'll get started in the project right away!" She didn't feel like going back to her shop so she asked. "Is it okay if I stay here at the library? I promise to be quiet and not get in the way."

"It's no trouble at all," Twilight assured. "You're welcome to stay as long as you like."

"And I'll be happy to help you with your picture book project," Spike offered.

"Me too," Twilight agreed. "Just let us know what you need.

"Thank you both!" Rarity got to work right away. "For now, I think I'll just get started on the basic draft and show you my progress as soon as I have something."

Rarity made herself comfortable in a corner of the library and read through the basic explanations on the guide book. She needed to draft her story before she started sketching so that she knew just what she should sketch. She stared at the quill and parchment in her psychic hold for several minutes before setting them down with a sigh. She had no idea what to write about that would make for an exciting plot. Well, she had always liked balls, so there would be a ball in her story. It might have sounded cliche, but she decided to write a story about a pony who found her true love at a ball.

She tried to picture the heroine; she would be a beautiful princess from a far away land. The book said she had to establish and develop the characters' main traits and that the traits and plot had to compliment each other.

The heroine needed something to overcome, so Rarity decided that the heroine would be lonely, that should be appropriately dramatic. The princess would spend her days reading pony tales of love. None of her suitors were anything like the stallions in the books, much to her disappointment. Rarity took notes of all of that.

A few minutes later, Spike took a break from his daily chores and went over to Rarity. She had stopped her writing and was back to staring at the parchment. She had been doing that for twenty minutes now. "Hey Rarity, sorry to interrupt, I was just curious about how the story was going."

Rarity sighed, "it's not going anywhere right now. I came up with the basic design for the main mare, but I have nothing for the stallion. The heroine of the story is a beautiful princess from a kingdom far, far away."

Did the hero really have to be a stallion? Spike didn't think so. He could be a dragon. "So this princess... She's a beautiful unicorn who is..." He paused with sudden shyness, but made himself continue, "looking for her true love?"

"Yes," Rarity confirmed, wondering if her story was already too predictable. She knew it was a bit cliche, but maybe it would develop into its own tale if she kept working on it. "I have a pretty good idea of what her ball gown will be like. It will compliment her color and mane beautifully! As for the stallion, I have nothing but a big blank." Honestly, she couldn't wait to draw the ball scene, but she had to finish designing the characters first.

"Well... Maybe he could be different..." Spike suggested. Different as in not a pony, but he didn't want to be too direct.

"Different?" Rarity pondered.

"Yes... Then you can show in the story that love overcomes everything," Spike suggested. "And that it's what's inside that counts and stuff."

"Yes, that does fit the theme," Rarity further mused on the suggestion. "I know, it'll be a classic rags to riches tale, but instead of the mare being the peasant who finds her prince like in most pony tales, it will be the stallion who finds his princess. That's it! Oh my little Spiky-whiky, you're a genius! All the so called high class stallions were only interested in the princess' riches and kingdom, but a noble peasant stallion would prove that he truly loved her. He would be... he would be..."

"Lunch is ready!" Twilight's voice suddenly called out.

"Yay! Lunch time!" Spike cheered, he really loved lunch time. It was his favorite time of the day right next to dinner time.

"Lunch time already?" Rarity was taken by surprise. The morning flew by and she hardly had an unfinished draft for her story. If she was making dresses, she would have a finished, or at least nearly finished, product by now. But she couldn't think of that now, it only reminded her of that letter from Los Pegasus, it only reminded her of her shame and her failure. It reminded her of her disgrace that went beyond the disgrace of a failed design. She couldn't think about that now, not when Spike and Twilight were so kindly supporting her in her new career as a pony tale book illustrator.

Rarity tried to hide her sudden outburst of sadness as she joined Spike and Twilight around the table, voicing her sincere thanks for the generous meal. However, her shift in mood did not go unnoticed by Spike and Twilight, who discretely exchanged glances. Maybe Rarity was suffering from writer's block and could use a few suggestions.

After lunch, Twilight decided that rather than waiting for Rarity to call her over, she would provide some feedback. Thus Rarity shared what she had of the story so far. "I must thank you both for the inspiration, the stallion character would still be but a blurry shadow if not for the two of you." Rarity ascertained gratefully. "Spike and I were discussing him just when you called us to lunch and that gave me an idea," she told Twilight. "He will be a chef in the princess' royal castle. He's always there for the princess and truly cares for her. But the princess is so caught up in her pony tale books that she keeps on waiting for her ideal prince and doesn't realize that her dream stallion is right in front of her." Rarity secretly drew some inspiration from her experience with Prince Blueblood for certain parts of the story. "All the princes from other lands disappoint the princess, but the chef stallion has every quality she's looking for, except she doesn't immediately see it because he's not a prince."

"Sounds like the story is really taking off," Twilight encouraged. Admittedly it was a little cliche, but picture book stories were only half about plot and half about the art. Besides, if this was a story for young fillies, then it shouldn't be too complicated and if it had a positive life lesson, even better. "What are the names of the princess and the chef?"

Rarity drew a complete blank and her lack of answer to Twilight's very vital question was plainly obvious on her face. "Ah... well..."

"Rarity and Spike!" The young dragon suggested. Twilight and Rarity laughed in good humor.

Rarity considered her options, "I'm going to name them..."

The knocking on the door interrupted Rarity's thoughts as everyone's attention focused on it. Twilight opened the door to reveal Big Macintosh with a basket on his mouth. "Howdy every pony," he quietly greeted.

"Hey Big Mac, come in," Twilight invited him inside the library.

However, Macintosh shook his head. "S'okay miss Twilight, Ah'm only here tah deliver this pie from AJ." He gave the basket to Twilight and inside it; there was a freshly baked apple pie.

"Wow, this smells delicious, please give Applejack my thanks," Twilight happily exclaimed. "Are you sure you can't stay to have some pie with us?"

"Ah should really get goin' back to tha farm." In all honesty, Macintosh wasn't even sure why Applejack insisted that he delivered the pie, instead of doing so herself when she went to town to sell apples and apple based treats. He didn't question it too much though, he didn't get out of the farm much, and frankly he didn't miss the hustle and bustle of town, but visiting Twilight was... nice.

"No!" Rarity suddenly exclaimed with such dramatics that it made Macintosh worry that she was spontaneously injured somehow. "Please stay for pie Big Macintosh, you must! It is vital for my future!"

Twilight rose a suspicious eye brow while Spike huff with jealousy. "Vital?" Macintosh questioned in confusion.

"Yes, you see, I was just about to finish designing a character for my upcoming book and I can just feel that inspiration is very close. The name is just about to come... It's coming... I know that if I come up with a name, the stallion's face will also appear in my imagination, then I'll be able to draw him along side his princess. Please, oh please stay!" Rarity insisted.

Big Macintosh didn't know how to refuse that, so he simply replied with a helpless, "eeyup."

The four friends had some apple pie in a silence that was too awkward for Rarity's liking. She had thought of becoming an illustrator because she couldn't possibly face the world as a designer after her recent failure. Twilight was always talking about how she loved to get lost in books and an escape from the harsh reality was exactly what Rarity needed. Plus, even though she didn't have any experience in story writing nor in drawing sceneries, structures, backgrounds, poses and expressions, she could certainly draw pretty dresses, so the rest of the art, she assumed, would come on its own during the process. Maybe the library was getting to be a little stuffy though. Thus after the dessert was consumed, Rarity suggested, begged and insisted, that they went back to her house so she could better grasp the fragile thread of inspiration that kept eluding her grip with such agility.

xoxox xox xoxox

At Rarity's shop, she ran around levitating fabric, needles and threads, pins, ribbons and gems all around. Somehow, she managed to work on two projects at the same time with Spike watching in amazement as she put together a dress for Twilight and a suit for Big Macintosh simultaneously. "This here... that there... Stay still now, darlings. Make a few adjustments here... Look up now Twilight... Ah yes, of course, that's what it needs... Please hold still Big Macintosh, this will only take a moment."

If he was going to be perfectly honest with himself, and honesty ran in the Apple family, Big Macintosh was nothing short of terrified. He gave Twilight a pleading look while Rarity attacked him with a brush to his mane. Twilight gave him a smile that was both knowing and reassuring as she whispered. "You better not move right now." For Rarity was wielding a pair of scissors on his mane and tail. She didn't cut much, only trimmed a few split ends here and there, so he looked polished, but not particularly different.

"There, all finished!" After hours of following Rarity's instructions, Twilight and Macintosh found themselves all dressed up as if they were in the Grand Galloping Gala.

Spike was still jealous that he wasn't in the center of Rarity's attention, but he calmed down a little when she gave both Twilight and Big Macintosh attention, instead of just Big Mac. In fact, she had spent more time on Twilight, but that was only natural, since mare attire was more elaborate than stallion apparel. Besides, Spike was pretty impressed with Rarity's talent and the way she put together the outfits so quickly and naturally, she was amazingly talented.

Twilight looked at her reflection in the mirror. She was wearing a silk lavender gown that flowed beautifully and somehow made her legs look longer and more slender. Rose quartz adorned her jewelry in cascading long earrings that shimmered with elegance and a small delicate tiara. "Wow, this dress is really amazing. I can't believe you came up with the design and made it in such a short time." Macintosh said something, but Twilight didn't quite hear him, "sorry, what was that?"

A bit shyly, Mac repeated, "you look really purdy Miss Twilight..."

Twilight smiled, "thank you," she took a moment to examine Big Macintosh in his suit. It was a black tuxedo with elegant golden details. He was a handsome stallion on his own, but she had never seen him all done up like this, he looked like a pony tale prince. "You look really handsome," she complimented.

"Thanks..." Macintosh smiled shyly.

"Princess Rarelight and Chef Maike," Rarity finally decided. It was so much easier to name the characters when she was seeing them. "I finally have names for my characters, now I just have to figure out the rest of the plot. That shouldn't be too hard now that I have my inspiration going. Spike, please take notes."

"Right away!" Spike jumped at the opportunity to help Rarity with her book project and had a quill and parchment ready in no time.

Rarity paced around the room as she spoke. "Princess Rarelight thought she would never find her dream stallion and her only comforts in life were her pony tale books and the delicious treats the castle's main chef, Maike, prepared for her. Maike cared deeply about the princess, he truly loved her, but Rarelight was obsessed with waiting for her perfect stallion prince to appear. She wanted her life to be like the lives of the princesses in her books and would accept nothing less than perfection. Because of that, she was missing out on getting to know a wonderful stallion that wasn't a prince, but had the heart of how a true prince should be."

Everyone listened attentively to Rarity's narration. "Then one day, Princess Rarelight held a grand ball in one last effort to meet her prince. Maike was sad that he couldn't go to the ball as a guest and was instead stuck serving food. However, one of the guests at the ball happened to be a very talented fashion designer, who was also very attentive to matters of the heart and could see that the chef and the princess were each other's true love. So the fashion designer asked Maike to be her model for her new line of stallion attire and thus he changed into an amazing suit right away and returned to the ball in its final hour, blending in with the crowd. He asked Princess Rarelight to dance and she gladly agreed, for she saw that this stallion was with her because he wanted to be and not because of her riches."

Rarity's story was about to reach its climax as Spike speedily took notes of her narration. "Princess Rarelight and Maike danced until the sun came up and the princess asked to know his name and see him again, as he had kept his identity a secret so far. He told her that she already knew him. She tried to see beyond her own misconceptions that a good stallion must be a prince and once she realized how shallow such notions were, she recognized him right away. Thus Princess Rarelight found true love in her dear Maike and they lived happily ever after!"

Rarity's audience clapped. The story was a collection of cliches and things that had been done before, but it was still a good story and it had a positive message, so it deserved to be told. "I got everything written down!" Spike proudly announced.

"Thank you, my little Spiky-whiky, you're such a good helper! And thank you Twilight and Big Mac for being my models for the costumes of Princess Rarelight and Maike," Rarity expressed her gratitude. "To show my gratitude, you can keep those outfits!"

"Wow, thanks Rarity," Twilight smiled.

"Eeyup, thank you Miss Rarity," Big Macintosh added. He didn't have any fancy clothes like this, since he never went anywhere that required him to wear such things, but now he had a fancy suit if he ever needed it. "Ah should really be gettin' back to the farm now."

"Oh of course, duty calls, I'm sorry I took away so much of your time," Rarity voiced. She had certainly gotten caught up on making those costumes.

"It's no trouble, have a good evening every pony." Among the goodbyes of all those present, Big Macintosh glanced at Twilight one last time before leaving. He smiled at her and she smiled back. Spike didn't quite catch the exchange, but Rarity did and she giggled with glee. Maybe she should ask Twilight and Macintosh to be her models more often.

"I should really be on my way too." Twilight voiced. There were several things she needed to catch up with regarding her studies.

Spike organized the parchments of notes and gave them to Rarity, who set them on the table to refer to when she drew the main pictures of the book. He had to finish his chores at the library; he was Twilight's assistant after all. "It was really nice spending the day with you, Rarity."

"I say the same, thank you for having me over," Rarity smiled. After Twilight and Spike left, she began to work on her project right away. She couldn't wait to design costumes for the rest of the attendees of the ball in her story!

xoxox xox xoxox

Later, at Sweet Apple Acres, Big Macintosh entered the house, to be greeted by Applejack. "Wow, what's with tha suit there Big Mac? Ah knew ya were fond of Twilight, but Ah didn't think ya'd go and marry her."

"Marry?" Big Macintosh would have turned red if he wasn't already red.

"Cool your hooves there, big bro, Ah'm just kiddin'," Applejack laughed. "That fancy suit's got Rarity written all over it."

"Eeyup," Big Mac admitted. "She was at tha library and asked," more like demanded, "that Twilight and Ah became her models for some costumes she was making. Ah think she was planning a play or somethin'..." The plan was actually to publish a pony tale picture book, but Macintosh logically thought the story was a play because, why would Rarity need to make costumes if it wasn't?

"A play eh? That'd be interesting to see. Ah'm surprised Rarity talked ya into actin' in it, or did she get Twilight tah convince ya?" Applejack curiously inquired.

The world fell on big Mac like a ten ton apple tree. "Acting?" He started to panic. "Nope, no one told me that."

"But you're wearing the costume and it looks like ya even got your mane trimmed," Applejack pointed out. "It looks tah me like you're part of the cast."

Big Macintosh didn't know anything about acting, but he didn't want to disappoint anyone either. He thought he might as well give it a try. "Ahright, Ah'm gonna try."

"Oh, this I have tah see!" Applejack grinned. Maybe she could help out with the props and sceneries. Of course, she would have to know what the setting of the story was before she could offer. Then when the play took place, she would put out a little booth to sell apple treats to the audience. "Dinner's already on the table, Ah can't wait to hear all tha details about the play."

xoxox xox xoxox

Part 2: Picking Yourself Up

It was the start of a brand new day and Spike decided to go see Rarity again. She had enjoyed his company during breakfast the previous day, so maybe she would be happy to see him again today. He got up extra early and made a special breakfast for Twilight so she wouldn't feel left out. He could be Rarity's dream stallion and Twilight's number one assistant at the same time. After speedily completing his morning chores at the library, Spike made his way to the Carousel Boutique. The sign on the door read 'closed' and Spike decided to wait. He didn't want to wake Rarity if she was still asleep.

After waiting for a long time, Spike curiously put his ear to the door and heard muffled sounds from inside. Rarity was awake alright and she sounded like she was in distress. He tried the doorknob, but it was locked, so he knocked instead. "I'm sorry; the boutique is closed... forever!" Rarity's dramatic voice cried.

"Rarity, it's me, Spike, please open the door!" Spike pleaded. Rarity was just fine on the previous day. In fact, she was happy. Why was she so distressed all of a sudden?

Rarity opened the door with tears in her eyes and a frustrated pout on her face. "I'm sorry Spike; I'm really not in the mood to see anyone right now."

"Please Rarity, let me talk to you. It makes me sad that you're sad," Spike pleaded.

Rarity just couldn't say no to his adorable pleading face. She let out a breath and stepped aside to let him in. "Alright, come on in."

The inside of the shop was a mess of crumpled up parchments thrown all over the place. Spike set aside the basket of pancakes and other such breakfast treats and picked up one of the parchments on the floor, which had been rolled into a ball. He glanced at Rarity so that she didn't feel he was invading her privacy and when she nodded her approval, he stretched out the parchment. It was a drawing of a unicorn mare and a pony stallion. Their outfits were very detailed, but their expressions were odd and the background was a chaotic mess.

"That was supposed to be a picture of Princess Rarelight and Maike looking into each other's eyes, but it just looks disturbing," Rarity frowned. "I'm just not good at drawing backgrounds and expressions. The only things I ever draw are outfits and my ponies look as stiff as ponyquins. I thought I had found my calling as an illustrator, but I'm just not good at it."

"It's not so bad," Spike tried looking at the picture from a different angle, but the drawing was the same. The outfits were great, but the rest was not. "You just need to practice some more!"

Rarity sighed, "I've been up all night and that's not the only problem. I thought that if I couldn't draw a picture book, I could instead write a novel. After all who doesn't love a good romance novel?" Spike didn't like those, but he decided not to mention it. "That didn't turn out very well either. I tried to make my narration sound pretty, but the words kept slipping out of my grasp and I kept on repeating the same words. I tried using some synonyms from the dictionary I borrowed, but then the story just ended up sounding terribly strange."

"Don't worry, Rarity!" Spike tried to encourage her. "I'm sure Twilight can help you pick the right words and we can all work on the pictures together."

"I'm afraid you're missing the point," Rarity frowned. "All that help is just fine for a project done for the fun of it, but not for a career. I have to be able to do this on my own. Oh, why did I ever think I could be an illustrator? What was I thinking?"

"I don't understand," Spike thought that the book project was for fun. He didn't realize that Rarity was considering it as a serious career option. "Don't you want to be a fashion designer?"

"I can't," Rarity frowned. "My reputation is tarnished, I cannot design again," she sighed sadly.

"Tarnished?" Spike inquired in confusion.

Rarity realized that the conversation was heading down a dangerous road. That letter from the fashion show committee at Los Pegasus had to remain a secret. "It's okay, I won't give up that easily, I'll find another career to dedicate myself to. It will be something that allows me to unleash my passion for creativity!"

A knock on the door interrupted Rarity's melodramatics, followed by Applejack's voice. "Hey, Rarity, are ya home?" The sign on the door read 'closed,' but perhaps Rarity was home and she was simply too busy preparing for the upcoming play to tend to the shop today. Well, Applejack wanted to talk to her about the play, so it was an offer to help more so than an interruption.

Rarity opened the door allowing applejack inside. There was no use in trying to hide her situation from Applejack. That pony could smell hasty excuses from a mile away. "Oh my... What happened here?" Applejack examined the mess of parchments thrown all over the place.

"Just a failed project, but no worries, I'm back on my hooves and ready to tackle the next option... As soon as I think about it," Rarity replied unsure. "What can I help you with, Applejack?"

"Actually," Applejack was still curious about the mess and what Rarity's words really meant, but she decided not to push the issue. Rarity would talk about it soon enough, besides, she was planning to hang around for a while helping with the play preparations, and Rarity wasn't exactly known for her ability to keep emotions bottled up, all the opposite. "Ah was wonderin' if I could help with anythin' for tha play."

"Play?" Rarity tilted her head in confusion as she asked. "What play?"

"Tha one starring Twilight and mah brother," Applejack reminded.

Rarity took a moment to mull over the earth pony's words. "That was supposed to be a picture book story, and then novel, but none of those possibilities worked out, so it can be a play!" This was the perfect opportunity to make things work. A play didn't need fancy illustrations and the script was about dialogue and action rather than poetic descriptions, because every pony would actually be seeing the poetry in motion instead. "Thank you so much for the idea Applejack, and for offering to help." Rarity dug up her draft of the story which had been written by Spike when he took notes for her the previous day. "This is the basic plot of the story. I don't quite have the dialogue planned out, but if you want to look at it to get an idea of what the play is about you're welcome to. I've read these notes so many times I have them memorized, so I'll just go ahead and start working on the dialogue now and show it to you for constructive criticism soon."

"Sure..." As Applejack read over the notes, she wondered just what in the world she had gotten herself into. After a while of thinking about it, with Rarity writing in the background as Spike looked over her shoulder, while sitting on the unicorn's back, Applejack could not hold her honesty in any longer. "Listen, sugar cube," she started gently, her voice causing Rarity to look up from the parchment she was writing on. "Ah don't mean to be harsh or anything, but this story's a bit... oh... well..." The orange earth pony bit her lip, she couldn't lie, she simply couldn't. It might seem merciful for Rarity now, but in the long run, it would only hurt her more. Besides, she did mention wanting constructive criticism. "Tha story's one big collection of cliches!" Applejack blurted out, before swiftly putting her front hooves over her mouth. "Ah'm sorry, that didn't come out quite right."

"Oh, it's alright," Rarity took it rather well. "I already knew the story was full of cliches. I guess it's because I focused more on the ball room scene and the beautiful clothes it would have rather than on the plot. But you're right, if I'm going to be a theatre director, I must pay attention to all the aspects of the play!"

"Tell yah what, sugar cube, why don't we get the whole gang together and work on this as a team?" Applejack suggested. She was sure that at the very least Rainbow Dash would agree that they needed to spice up the play a little.

Rarity knew she had to be able to do this task on her own if she wanted to make a career out of it, but then she remembered that theatrical productions were not run by one pony. She was the director, so it was okay to let someone else handle other aspects of the play. "That sounds like a splendid idea."

xoxox xox xoxox

Later, Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Spike, Applejack, Big Macintosh, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy and Pinkiepie all gathered at the Carousel Boutique to participate in Rarity's play. Twilight even had a word with the mayor to get permission to perform it in the park, where Big Macintosh, Applejack and Applebloom were building a stage and setting up props. Though the Cutie Mark Crusaders were not originally a part of the plan, they heard about the play and wanted to take part in it. Sweetie Bell was working on lyrics along with Pinkiepie, after the energetic pink pony suggested that the play should be turned into a musical and Rarity approved of the idea. After all, there were so many famous plays that were musicals. At the same time, Pinkiepie was using her boundless supply of energy to come up with choreographies and dance moves with Scootaloo.

It wasn't as easy for Fluttershy to divide herself between two tasks, but she was managing to keep up with Pinkiepie's musical team, planning the melodies to accompany the singing and dancing, while at the same time assisting Rainbow Dash with sound effects. Other than the sound effects, Rainbow Dash would also be working on the special effects. She wanted to incorporate some weather control into the mix to make things grander and Rarity thought it could be rather dramatic, thus agreed. Twilight was scribbling like mad, working on part of the script, while Spike struggled to keep up with her, trying to get other scenes done. Rarity thought that Twilight's script was too ye olde Canterlot style and Spike's was not ye olde Canterlot enough. Together, the two writers tried to find a balance.

As the planning and preparations continued, Rarity found herself less involved in directing and more involved in costume making. She wasn't supposed to be a seamstress anymore, but she couldn't help it. Besides, this was just a small play, not a Canterlot fashion show, so she didn't have to worry about outrageous standards. Either way, this was Rarity, so however small the task may be, she strived for perfection. A few days into the planning and preparation stage, a package arrived in the mail for Rarity with sad bitter memories attached to it. She tucked it away along with the letter from the fashion show at Los Pegasus, as they were both related to the same disaster.

Around that time, Rainbow Dash had to take a break from the play rehearsals, though the performance night was rapidly approaching and the play was still not solid. Nonetheless, she had tickets to a show where the Wonder Bolts would be and Rarity knew she couldn't keep Rainbow away from that. It was an activity at Los Pegasus that would begin with a fashion show competition and end with the Wonder Bolts' performance. The next day would give way to a theatre festival after the opening ceremony. Rainbow Dash wasn't planning to stay for the festival and didn't care about the fashion show. She was only going to see the Wonder Bolts after being lucky enough to manage to get her hooves on a ticket. "What I don't understand," Rainbow Dash had commented during rehearsal the day before she left. "Is what does prissy fashion have to do with the Wonder Bolts?"

"It's not about the fashion or the Wonder Bolts," Twilight had tried to explain. "It's about the theatre. A theatre production involves a lot of work, as we have been learning for the past few days. It involves costumes as well as acting and choreographing. Those elements can be seen during the opening ceremony of the theatre festival."

"I guess so," Rainbow Dash admitted, not that she was any less annoyed at having to sit through a fashion show before she got to see the Wonder Bolts. She considered being late, but she didn't want to risk missing a single second of the Wonder Bolts or not being able to find a good spot near the outdoors stage where the Wonder Bolts would take off from and later land. Thus she would have to sit through the boring old fashion show. Rarity would have loved it though, which reminded Rainbow Dash of something else. "Hey Rarity, didn't you say something about sending a dress for the fashion competition?"

Rarity bit her lip. If her dress was still in the competition she would have replied cheerfully and ask Rainbow Dash to pick up her price for her. Of course, Rainbow would refuse, not wanting to look 'uncool' in front of the Wonder Bolts and they would all have a laugh. But such was not reality. "I will not be taking part in the competition," Rarity had replied simply. She averted her eyes away from her friends and focused on a parchment. "Shall we rehearse the scene at the end of the ball where part two begins?" A whole second part to the story was added to add more action to the script, though the topic of romance was still the center piece at the end.

Remembering the theatre festival's opening ceremony only made Rarity think about the package and the letter and she didn't want to think about that. She had already left her problem behind hasn't she? Surely Rainbow Dash's trip to Los Pegasus wouldn't leave her with any inconvenient information, right? Of course not, she was just being paranoid. Rainbow wouldn't even be paying attention to the fashion show, let alone to the talk going on about it, or the rumors surrounding it. Rarity took a deep breath and assured herself that the secret of her fashion designing career's end was safe. No one would ever know.

xoxox xox xoxox

The night of the opening ceremony, Rainbow Dash was so excited about seeing the Wonder Bolts that she didn't even care that she was dressed formally. She didn't bother going to Rarity for a new outfit, as she didn't really want one, even if Rarity would have insisted if she wasn't so distracted by the play and, unknown to Rainbow Dash, distracted by her secret sorrows. Thus Rainbow just wore the dress from the Grand Galloping Gala and impatiently waited through the fashion show which turned out to be rather short. Despite her usual impatience, she had tried to mentally prepare herself to endure the boredom of a long parade of froo-froo dresses, but it wasn't so long after all. Then finally, there was an extra long performance by the Wonder Bolts.

Rainbow Dash couldn't be happier by the end of the event. She was ready to head on to the train station and fall asleep on the last train to Ponyville that night, but had an unexpected delay as she was about to rush off to catch the train. "Rainbow Dash!"

The fast pegasus looked around to see who was calling her in such a loud voice. To her surprise, she found none other than Princess Luna addressing her. "Princess Luna!" Rainbow exclaimed before she could stop herself.

"Good evening," Luna tried to moderate her voice so that it wasn't so loud.

"Good evening princess, wasn't the Wonder Bolt's show awesome?" Rainbow cheered.

Luna smiled at her conversation being so warmly welcomed. "Yes, I enjoyed it very much. Although because of the mishaps with the fashion show, they had to prolong their performance last minute. Though I did enjoy the show, I imagine the Wonder Bolts must be exhausted."

"Maybe, but it was well worth it!" Rainbow happily exclaimed. Then she realized that what she said didn't entirely sound very nice. "Wait a minute, did you say mishaps?"

"Yes, it was quite troublesome." Luna reached her chariot, but she was not done speaking with Rainbow Dash and didn't want to leave in the middle of the conversation, nor did she want to stand there. "Do join me, won't you? I can give you a ride to Ponyville if that is where you are headed."

"It is, well Cloudsdale actually, but that's right over Ponyville and I would be happy to join you, thank you!" Rainbow hopped on to the chariot, it did look pretty cool.

"Driver, make a stop at Cloudsdale on our way to Canterlot. Now, where was I?" Luna continued as the chariot took off. "Ah yes, the disaster at the fashion show. It was quite regrettable. One of the designers, Fashionista, hired ponies all over Equestria to sabotage her competitors by keeping them busy with rush orders and attacking their confidence with harsh critiques. I heard that one of them even pushed one of the competitors to throw her across a street and then reported it as an uncalled for assault and got the competitor banned from participating. It happened several times before the committee managing the event took notice of the suspicious pattern and investigated. Of course, Fashionista was banned from competing when her cheating was discovered, but it was too late for the other designers who didn't have time to send in their dresses or whose dresses were send back, as the packages had already been mailed back to them. That is why the fashion show was so short."

Realization donned on Rainbow Dash as she recalled a particular event. She was on cloud cleaning duty, just passing over Rarity's shop. From her perch on a cloud above, she saw a pink unicorn fly out of the shop and land across the street. She thought it was hilarious and wanted to go see what happened to lead to it. However, Ditzy Doo bumped into her, literally, soon after and distracted Rainbow Dash, thus she forgot about going over to ask Rarity what happened. "That story sounds very familiar," Rainbow voiced. It couldn't be a coincidence that Rarity didn't enter the competition.

Then another memory resurfaced for Rainbow Dash and suddenly the bag of bits tugged into her dress felt terribly heavy. Just as she was leaving for Los Pegasus, Spike secretly gave her the coins and asked her to get a souvenir for Rarity if they had them available at the fashion show. Rainbow Dash protested, but Spike's pleading look ultimately got to her. Rainbow did mention that they might not even have souvenirs, as it was more so a show than a fair. The dragon thus asked her to pick up a nice gift for Rarity then. That sounded like a more do-able request, though what Rainbow and Rarity would define as a 'nice gift' might greatly differ.

"Was it a friend of yours?" Luna asked, waking Rainbow Dash from her pensive daze.

"Probably," Rainbow admitted. "I also just remembered something else..." Oh well, she was already on her way to Ponyville and she couldn't ask Luna to turn around after she so kindly gave her a ride in her awesome chariot. Surely Spike would understand that there was little room for anything else in her thoughts when the Wonder Bolts were near by, but that felt somewhat disloyal and Rainbow didn't like it.

Rainbow thought about a past lesson she and her friends had learned from Spike. It involved the young dragon running around like crazy trying to find the perfect birthday gift for Rarity. He followed her around everywhere in hopes that the observation would help him figure out what he could give her that she liked and didn't already have. In the end, he got distracted and didn't have anything to give her when the moment arrived, taking Spike by surprise. No pony reminded him that the time of the party was upon them because every pony thought that after Spike obsessed about it so much, his mind was constantly on the date and time.

Yet Spike had lost track of time spending time with Rarity, while every pony assumed that he was purposely distracting her so that the party's preparations could remain a surprise. Even so, Rarity insisted when Spike profusely apologize for the lack of the 'super awesome expensive gift' he so wanted to give her, that he had given her a wonderful day, helped her a lot and that his company was the best present she could get. Spike still insisted on giving Rarity a late birthday present on the next day and after much fussing, Twilight suggested a bouquet of flowers, which Spike did give Rarity and she loved them.

Taking the event into consideration and the lesson Spike wrote about to Princess Celestia, also sharing it with the group, Rainbow Dash recalled that a gift didn't have to be a material thing. It could be an action, for example. Once again, Rainbow Dash was brought out of her thoughts by Luna as the night princess asked. "What were you remembering? It seems to trouble you."

"I was thinking about some friends," Rainbow Dash started to explain. "What do you think would make a fashion designer happy?" If she didn't have time to pick up a gift from Los Pegasus, Rainbow would at least help Spike with an idea.

"If a lot of ponies wear the designs, I think that would make the designer happy," Luna replied. She theorized that Rainbow was indeed thinking about how to cheer up a friend of hers that was kept from the fashion competition tonight. She thought about the other ponies she had met along with Twilight Sparkle and Rarity stood out when she tried to match the image of a fashion designer to one of them. Luna didn't hear the details about the thrown across the street story, but that wasn't important now, as nothing could be done. The committee would take care of sending their letter of apology, but the competition simply couldn't have been postponed.

Rainbow Dash nodded at Luna's suggestion. "That's true..." Although she wasn't sure how any pony could make that idea work. She wanted to give Spike some really good advice to make up for forgetting to buy the present. A lot of ponies wearing Rarity's designs would make her very happy, but how would Spike go about making it happen? Didn't a lot of ponies already wear clothes made by Rarity on occasion? Even she was wearing one of Rarity's creations right now.

There was always next year, but for the time being, Rarity would need something to cheer up and this was Luna's opportunity to show support for one of her subjects. After all, Rarity was one of the elements of harmony who helped her recover her true self when she was Nightmare Moon. The princess smiled as an idea came to her. "Would a princess wearing a dress made by her bring Rarity happiness?"

Rainbow Dash's face lit up. "I'm pretty sure that would make her very happy!"

"Then it shall be done!" Luna spoke too loudly again and Rainbow Dash nearly fell out of the rapidly moving chariot. With a flap of her wings, the speedy pegasus climbed back on and smiled reassuringly at the princess, who continued. "Please ask Rarity to design a dress for me. I have no specifications, let her have full creative freedom in designing what she thinks will fit me best. There is also no due date, let Rarity relax and take her time."

"Thanks Princess Luna! I'm sure that'll make Rarity very happy. I'll tell Spike and he can tell her, because I'm sure it'll make him happy to give Rarity this present, the opportunity I mean, it's like the perfect gift for Rarity!" Rainbow exclaimed.

Luna laughed fondly, she was the one getting a new dress and yet it was like a gift for Rarity. "I am pleased to be able to make my subjects happy." The night princess felt a warm satisfaction like she had not felt since Nightmare Night.

Some time later, Luna's chariot made a stop at Cloudsdale where Rainbow Dash got off. Her only regret was that it was late and most pegasus were asleep, thus it was unlikely that anyone saw her super cool arrival riding around on that awesome chariot, it was really fast too. After exchanging goodbyes with Princess Luna, who turned out to be extra cool after getting to know her a little better, Rainbow Dash headed home and took off her fancy dress, and not a moment too soon. Rainbow went to sleep imagining Spike's face the next day when she told him the kind of present she managed to find for Rarity and it didn't even cost any bits. Then she imagined Rarity's expression and wondered if Pinkiepie would take her up on a bet on whether or not Rarity would faint. Rainbow Dash would bet that she would, of course. Than again, who would actually bet that she wouldn't?

xoxox xox xoxox

Yet another day rolled around and the play was starting to look more solid. After staying up late, Rainbow Dash slept in and was swamped with weather chores when she did get up. Thus mid day arrived and she still had not had the opportunity to tell Spike about the gift. Spike was currently at Rarity's house, helping her put together a few last minute accessories for the play. "I think this is it." She levitated a quill and made a check mark on the list that Twilight had prepared for her. The purple unicorn was acting more so as the director, while Rarity fell into the role of costume designer. That wasn't how it was supposed to be, but this was only her first play and Rarity reasoned that she was still getting the hang of it. Although she had to admit, she would much rather focus on the costumes than on anything else.

Yet she wasn't a fashion designer anymore. She had been purposely avoiding the papers and magazines because she didn't want to read any articles gossiping about what a brute she was. The dress she made for the Los Pegasus fashion contest was in a box in the bottom of her closet along with the letter from the committee banning her from the competition because of her behavior. She couldn't help it though; her anger turned her into a beast. She sighed and bowed never to blow her temper like that again.

The next time she was angry, she would express herself with words and she wouldn't throw ponies across streets... Unless they initiated the physical violence, of course, she wouldn't just stand there getting beaten or letting her friends get beaten, but she wouldn't act in such an unladylike manner unless it was as a last resort of self-defense. For anything less, a few well placed scolding words would be used instead. Even so, she couldn't get herself to feel regret. She felt embarrassed because she didn't behave like a lady and she was upset at the consequences, but those emotions were different from regret.

She finished setting up a little lunch for Spike and herself. He mentioned he would come over to see her after he finished his library chores in the morning. Though his excuse was more along the lines of taking the final version of the script to her for one last revision. Albeit the script had been under development the whole time, they had been rehearsing and incorporating the changes as they went along with the process, thus they were not too behind.

"I'm here," Spike announced as he entered the shop and followed the scent of food to the kitchen. "Hey Rarity, I picked up your mail for you, the mail box seemed pretty full."

"Oh... thank you," Rarity made herself smile. She was afraid she would be tempted to read the fashion magazines she subscribed to and find something terrible written there about herself, thus she avoided getting them out of her mailbox. She took the magazines and letters, making them float away with her unicorn magic. She separated the magazines from the letters and stuffed the magazines into a cupboard before she was too tempted to read them. Spike thought it was an odd place to keep magazines, but he didn't question it. Rarity looked over the letters. A pink envelope from Pinkiepie provided a reminder that Gummy's half-way birthday party was that evening. As if Pinkiepie herself didn't give them enough reminders with her excitement. A pale blue envelope from Los Pegasus made her re-live the moment when she opened another similar envelope with dreadful news. She was certain that Stylista ruined her reputation, and the way she was banned from the competition was so shameful.

"Rarity?" Spike asked in worry. "Are you alright? You look like you saw a ghost."

"I'm fine," Rarity forced a smile, but her face twitched nervously.

"No, you're not," Spike frowned. "Please tell me the truth. Don't you trust me?" He pouted cutely.

Rarity could do little else but to pout back. Lately she had developed quite a weakness to Spike's pleading face. But no, she couldn't tell Spike, she couldn't tell anyone, especially not Spike. He would blame herself for the incident and feel guilty, which would only make Rarity feel worse. "It's nothing really," she shoved the envelope that had come all the way from the theatre festival committee at Los Pegasus into the cupboard where the magazines were, hiding it like something shameful, because to the best of her knowledge, it was.

"Spike! Are you here?" Rainbow Dash's voice surprisingly called from the entrance of Rarity's home.

"I'm in the kitchen!" Spike called back automatically.

In seconds, Rainbow Dash was there, "Hey Spike, Rarity." She greeted them. "I have something to tell you Spike, come over here a second, okay?" The speedy pegasus retreated to the shop area.

Spike followed her curiously, "I'll be right back I guess."

"Okay..." Rarity found that the occurrence was strange, but she let it pass. Her curiosity was killing her. Even if reading that letter from the committee only brought her grief, she simply had to read it. She took a deep breath and retrieved the envelope from the cupboard, opening it. Her face was filled with relief as she read through the letter. So it was Fashionista who hired Stylista to sabotage her. That dirty cheat didn't belong in the glamour of the fashion world! At least the committee had apologized and lifted their ban. This year's competition was over, but there was always next year. Even so, what if all the things Stylista had said were true? What if her other customers were just being mercifully polite? The seed of doubt had already taken root in Rarity's heart and it would take more than an apology from a group of strangers to get it out.

xoxox xox xoxox

Meanwhile, away from Rarity's hearing range in the shop area of the Carousel Boutique, Rainbow Dash proudly gave Spike the news. "I went looking for you at the library, but you weren't there, so I gave the bits to Twilight."

"You did?" Spike looked disappointed. He was wondering what kind of gift Rainbow Dash picked out at Los Pegasus, but it turns out there was no gift after all.

"Yup, because the awesome gift I got for you to give Rarity was free," Rainbow declared.

Now Spike was really curious, "for free? But what kind of gift could you possibly have gotten that was that awesome and free?"

"I had a talk with Luna last night," Rainbow Dash began to explain.

"Princess Luna?" Spike gasped in surprise.

"That's right," Rainbow assured. "She gave me a ride home in her super cool chariot, that thing's fast, it was awesome!"

Sensing that Rainbow Dash was getting off topic, Spike tried to get her back into it. "So about the gift?"

"Luna suggested it herself," Rainbow revealed. "It would make Rarity happy if a princess wears a dress made by her, right? I mean she got all excited about it when Princess Candence and Shining Armor got married. So now she has the chance to make a dress for Princess Luna! Luna said there was no due date and no specifics, so Rarity can take her time making any kind of dress she wants!"

"That's amazing! You rock, Rainbow Dash!" Spike cheered.

Rainbow chuckle, "yeah, I know, I'm awesome." The pegasus gladly accepted the dragon's compliments. "Well, go on then, go give Rarity the present."

"Right!" Spike jumped with excitement. "Thanks again for getting such an awesome present for Rarity. This is definitely better than a souvenir!"

"I bet she faints," Rainbow Dash joked, though she fully expected it to happen.

"Oh, you're right; I should probably tell her in the livingroom." Spike didn't take the bet against Rainbow because, really, who would? "Rarity, could you come over to the living room for a moment?"

"I'll be right there!" Rarity answered from the kitchen where she was frantically reading over the fashion magazines. If there had been any negative articles about her, then she now had the power to rebuke them with the letter of apology. So far she hasn't actually found any articles, so she wondered if it was all just paranoia, but she would make sure to go through all the magazines later just in case. Besides, she liked reading fashion magazines.

Rarity found a smiling Spike and Rainbow Dash at her living room. The white unicorn wondered if Rainbow was about to play a prank on her. Spike wouldn't be in on it, would he? Her little Spiky-whiky? Spike sat on the couch and patted the space next to him while Rainbow raised an eyebrow at the setting, but remained silent. "Have a seat Rarity; I have something to talk to you about."

Reluctantly, Rarity sat down. She didn't know what she was suddenly so nervous about. It's just that their behavior was so odd, as if they knew something she didn't and they were about to drop the bomb on her. "What did you want to tell me?" The suspense was killing her!

Spike puffed up his chest in pride and happily informed. "I asked Rainbow Dash to pick up a present for you from Los Pegasus and she just delivered it to me, so I'm going to give it to you now." He couldn't not give credit to Rainbow Dash after she managed to obtain such an awesome present that was so perfect for Rarity.

Rarity let out a breath of relief. So all this suspense was about giving her a present? That made things a lot easier. She didn't know what kind of gift it could be, but none the less she appreciated the sentiment. "Thank you, that's such a sweet thing to do."

"And you haven't even heard what the present is yet," Spike continued.

He would have held the suspense going for a little longer, if not for Rainbow Dash's impatience. "Spit it out already!"

"Alright, alright!" Spike took a deep breath and revealed the big secret. "This present is not a material thing for you, but it does kind of involve you giving something to someone else. Even so, it's kind of a present for you because I'm pretty sure it'll make you very happy. None other than the famous Princess Luna of Equestria wants you to make a dress for her. No specifics, no time limits, you have all the time and freedom to let your imagination flow."

Spike and Rainbow's guessed have been correct, as Rarity promptly fainted. The purpose of the dragon's strategic position became clear as the back of Rarity's head landed on his lap, her soft violet mane bouncing around it in its perfect curls.

xoxox xox xoxox

Eventually, Rarity woke up and as soon as she did she nervously told Spike and Rainbow about her crazy dream where she had to design a dress for Princess Luna. Once it was made clear that it wasn't a dream, she fainted again. When she woke up the second time, she didn't even bother to sit up and just closed her eyes, suddenly too tired to move her head off Spike's lap. There was no time limit, but she couldn't keep a princess waiting for too long. There were also no limits in terms of what the dress could be like, but that also meant that there were no guidelines. What if the princess hated the dress? Then Rarity would really be ruined. Besides, she was in the theatre business now.

Oh, who was she kidding? She was still a fashion designer deep down, or perhaps not so deep down. Maybe she shouldn't have recoiled at the first sign of big difficulties. She had challenges before, but this occurrence felt like too much. Rarity felt that she had to realize that sometimes things like this would happen, that even when she tried her best, she might not win everyone's approval. But that wasn't the end; she had to keep on going. No one reached a big success without a few failures, big and small, along the way. She felt Spike gently petting her mane trying to soothe her and remembered that no matter how harsh the road may be, she didn't have to walk it alone.

"Thank you," Rarity finally opened her eyes, looking up at Spike's concerned face. "I really liked the gift." She sad up slowly, "thank you too, Rainbow Dash."

The pegasus nodded, "you're welcome, but was all that drama really needed? I mean, you fainted twice in a row for the same reason."

"I'm just very impressed," Rarity assured with a smile that was weary but real.

"No kidding," Rainbow chuckled. "Well, see you around you two; I have to go practice for the play. I get to play the villain and you know what they say, it takes real skill to be a cool villain. Mwahahaha!" Rainbow Dash happily trotted out of Carousel Boutique, practicing her evil laugh and freaking out a few passer by ponies along the way.

Rarity still had her doubts, but she was learning to be stronger, starting to pick herself up after the fall. She was learning the true meaning of perseverance. She wondered what would have happened if she had not received that letter of apology. Surely her friends would eventually pick up on the specifics of her problem. She already knew they were aware that something was bothering her and since she didn't share what it was, they could only hope the play would cheer her up. If she had not received that letter, she knew she would have ended up confessing her worries. She would have hurt Spike with her confession and it would take a lot to reassure him.

Just as she would reassure him, he would reassure her and all their friends would reassure them both. Then eventually, she would muster the strength to stand again and so would he. She would gain the courage to openly design fashion without the mask of needing costumes for a play. She did enjoy the experience of designing for a theatrical production and would like to do that again, albeit organizing the entire play might be a little too much. Rarity smiled, "perseverance," that one word seemed to come out of nowhere from Spike's perspective and he gave Rarity a curious look. The elegant unicorn smiled. "I just learned what it means."

"From Twilight's dictionary?" Spike inquired.

Rarity laughed, "no, I learned it from life itself. Thank you for being there for me, my little Spiky-whiky."

Spike smiled back. "Then you're feeling better now? You must be, right? Because your smile is different now, it's so real."

Rarity felt a warmth in her heart seeing that Spike knew her in such detail so as to catch when her smile was real. "That's right," her smile grew. "Could you write a letter for me?"

"Of course!" Spike quickly got a parchment and quill.

Rarity began to dictate the letter. "Dear Princess Celestia, I have learned that perseverance doesn't simply mean moving on from a bad situation. It means facing it. This is not an easy task, but in the end, running away from the problem doesn't solve anything. Besides, it's always very encouraging to know that whatever I have to face, my friends will be there to help me. Sincerely, Rarity."

Spike finished the letter and sent it, then he started writing a letter of his own. "Dear Princess Celestia, today I learned that even if you don't know exactly what is bothering someone important to you, just being there and your showing support can make them feel better. Sincerely, Spike." He sent his letter as well.

Rarity couldn't help it, but to let out a little giggle. "Just so that you don't have to be burdened with the mystery, my problem was that I had lost confidence as a fashion designer, but I'm feeling much better now."

"Really?" Spike looked at Rarity in disbelief. "But your designs are amazing, anyone can see that!"

"Thank you, my little Spiky-whiky, I think I can face the world as a fashion designer once again," Rarity smiled. She glanced at her clock on the wall. "Oh my, it's already afternoon and we didn't touch our lunch." They returned to the kitchen, where Rarity gasped in disbelief. "Opalessence!" She had only herself to blame for this. "I'm so sorry I was late in feeding you, but you didn't have to jump on the table and dig through our lunch!" The cat didn't really like the food so she didn't eat more than a nibble here and there, but she certainly made a mess of the rest.

"I'll help clean up," Spike offered, getting started on the table. Opalessence hissed at him, but made no real efforts to stop his progress as she jumped to the floor.

"Here you go, now you behave, young lady." Rarity put out Opalessence's cat food, which the cat eagerly ate.

"Since our lunch plans are cancelled, what do you say we head on over to Pinkie's early? She was so eager for this party that even if it's supposed to be this evening, she probably has a lot of food out already," Spike suggested.

"You're probably right," Rarity agreed.

xoxox xox xoxox

Part 3: Dusting Yourself Off

Gummy's half-way birthday party went well and every pony had fun. Rarity's tension lessened and she found herself able to sketch up some drafts for Luna's dress. She was even excited for it, so excited that she even began working on it, and by the time the night of the play arrived, the dress was done along with a beautiful assortment of jewelry to go with it. Rarity stepped back to admire her work. She had to modify one of her ponyquins to make it as tall as Princess Luna so she could work more comfortably. She glanced at the clock on the wall, realizing that she should be on her way to the park if she didn't want to be late.

Rarity heard someone enter the shop, assuming that it was Spike, as the sweet dear had mentioned wanting to walk with her to the park. There was Spike alright, but he wasn't the only one. Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy and Pinkiepie were all there. There was also one more pony present that made Rarity want to faint again. Thankfully, she managed to keep herself conscious and greet her. "Good evening Princess Luna!" She bowed somewhat nervously. What would Luna think about the dress?

"Good evening Rarity," Luna replied in a refined manner, though thankfully not in the royal Canterlot voice, as the loud volume would have startled Rarity, who was already on edge.

Nervously, the white unicorn motioned towards the dress and accessories on the tall ponyquin. "How do you like the dress and accessories, princess? I can make any changes you need."

Luna smiled as she examined the dress. "I never expected it to be finished so soon." She walked in circles around the ponyquin, examining the ensemble from different angles. "When Twilight Sparkle wrote about the play, I didn't expect to also be getting the dress on the same night!"

"Then you approve of it?" Rarity asked with hope filled eyes.

"I love it," Luna smiled. "I almost forgot; here is a letter from my sister to all of you. While you read it, may I try on the dress?"

"Of course!" Rarity voice excitedly as she received the letter. She opened it up and began to read for the group. "To my dear friends, I want to wish you the best of luck on tonight's play, I'm sure you will all do wonderfully. Unfortunately, my royal duties prevent me from being able to make it, but my sister will be attending the play and I'm sure you'll put on a wonderful show for her and every pony there. Remember, the most important thing is to enjoy it. Best wishes, Princess Celestia."

Just as Rarity was done reading the letter, Luna stepped out from behind the changing screen. She was a little worried about having given creative freedom to Rarity. What if what she thought fitted her best was a dark nightmarish attire? Pretending to be Nightmare Moon during Nightmare Night was alright, but she didn't want to be seen as scary all the time. She had hoped to stop by before attending the play to see if Rarity had any drafts for the dress and give a few gentle suggestions. Hopefully that wouldn't discourage the designer from making the dress, but the princess would ensure that the outfit didn't turn out too dark. Yet this was beyond her expectations.

Princess Luna looked beautiful in the gown. It started out with deep blue silk with small diamonds decorating it. The silk faded into a lighter blue until it became silver at the end with a line of larger diamonds at the hem. The accessories complimented Luna wonderfully. The necklace was somehow carved from a particularly large diamond that Rarity took a lot of time and effort to find in between play rehearsals. The designer was relieved to see that it fit Luna very well, as she was only going on her own observations, since she didn't have the opportunity to take the princess' measurements. At the center of the diamond necklace, there was a deep blue sapphire that matched the color of the top of the dress. Matching shoes covered Luna's hooves with diamonds and sapphires. There was even a pair of long earring, which cascaded in diamonds and sapphires.

Luna admired her reflection in the mirror. She didn't look threatening or scary in the least. She looked serene, soothing like a sweet calm night. She looked like a dream. Her eyes almost watered at seeing herself like this. "Thank you very much, Rarity. I will make sure to appropriately reward you for this beautiful gown and accessories."

"Oh princess, I couldn't accept anything in exchange." Rarity insisted, filled with positive emotion that everything went so well in the end. "Giving this gift to you is a gift for me. I am honored that you would wear it."

Luna continued smiling. "Then I shall show it to Ponyville tonight as I attend the play." Rarity couldn't hold it in any longer and finally fainted.

xoxox xox xoxox

After Rarity woke up, the group made their way to the park. The stage and props looked amazing. Rarity had not had time to go look at them, but she had to admit that the Apples did a great job. Basically all of Ponyville was gathered around the stage. There were even a multitude of white fluffy clouds forming a sort of floating second floor to allow more room, with a multitude of Cloudsdale residents ready to watch the play from there.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders spotted the princess and, after they were done staring in awe, they exclaimed. "Cutie Mark Crusaders royal escorts!" The three young fillies led Princess Luna to the spot they had reserved for her, front row center, where she would have a perfect view of the stage.

Luna kindly thanked the fillies and took her seat. She listened as the people around her murmured and her remaining uneasiness melted away. They weren't afraid of her, they were all talking about how beautiful, peaceful and serene she looked. She might have had her doubts at first, but now she was glad she came.

Everyone took their positions and the play finally begun with Spike's narration. "Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there lived Princess Rarelight. The princess had a beautiful kingdom and loyal friends, but she felt that there was something missing in her life and that something was love."

The curtain rose to reveal Twilight Sparkle in a lovely dress among many books. Rarity insisted that the princess should change her gowns with each new scene, so she had an entire wardrobe for Twilight. She would be getting some backstage changing help from her friends. "Oh how I wish I could meet, the stallion of my dreams." Twilight exclaimed dreamily in a sing-song voice. "He would be the perfect prince, just like in the books they print." Many books were all over the stage to help provide more ambience to the scene of the princess' room in the background.

To say Big Macintosh was nervous was an understatement. He found himself wishing that instead of an earth pony he was a pegasus so he could fly away or a unicorn so he would teleport and escape even faster. Applejack game him a little push, unseen at the side of the stage. "Princess, ah made your favorite snack, cause I saw you were sad."

"Oh dear friend don't you know? My sadness is something I cannot ignore!" Twilight sang with Fluttershy's bird chorus providing the background music. "There is much work to do today, for I cannot live on to another gray day. A magnificent ball shall be tonight, starting when the stars do shine bright. When the ball is over I shall be, safe in the arms of my perfect prince!"

Thus the play continued with Twilight and Macintosh dancing. Then the curtain dropped and with such speed that the audience was astonished at how quickly they changed the scenery, another scene began. The next scene featured Pinkiepie, Applebloom, Sweetie Bell and Scootaloo playing the palace servants getting everything ready for the ball. After that came the scene that Rarity was most excited for, the ball itself. Though in the end, the character of the fashion designer was replaced with three fairies which were also played by the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but they looked quite different in their new costumes.

The play smoothly flowed along to the dance between Princess Rarelight and Maike. Everything was going beautifully up until then. Next up followed the added action adventure parts of the play. The evil Monochrome, who was ironically played by Rainbow Dash, appeared to ruin the princess' love. "Stop right now, for this I cannot tolerate. Don't you know, that love I shall obliterate? For I am cold and I have no heart and this world I shall tear apart. When you are lost deep in the dark, great sorrow shall this kingdom mark! Mwahahaha!" Unfortunately, Rainbow Dash got a little too carried away with the thunder and lightning and ended up breaking one of the stage's side columns that held the curtains and the rest of the set together.

For a dreadful moment it looked at if the pillar would fall towards the audience, but Big Macintosh rushed over to hold it in place. "Come fight me evil fiend!"

Thinking on her feet, or rather, on her wings. Rainbow Dash flew after Big Macintosh away from the spectator's view. Finally the pillar was steadied and the play could go on... somehow.

Twilight was left to improvise, but being the big planner and scheduler she was, that was not something she was good at. Spike tried to save her with his narration. "The brave Maike led the evil Monochrone away from Princess Rarelight, risking his life to protect her!"

Twilight reacted and tried to follow along with the new plot twist. "Oh my beloved Maike! You are so noble to risk your life for me. Oh please, my love, return to me safely!"

While Twilight struggled to make up some lines to fill up time, back stage, Rainbow Dash apologized profusely. "It's okay," Rarity spoke firmly, ending Rainbow's rapid stream of 'I'm so sorry.' "We'll just have to continue somehow, the show must go on!" Goodness, fashion shows were a lot less stressful than this. Rarity had been using her magic to help Twilight with her fast costume changes and also to set up the stage. Her horn was sore from all the magic she had used lately, it didn't help that she had spend the whole day finishing Luna's dress and the days before that working on it. "I'll just hold that in place..." She tried to focus but her psychic grip failed her.

"Forget it, yer too exhausted right now." Applejack glanced at the stage from it's side next to Big Mac where the audience couldn't see her. "Pinkiepie, it's time for the fateful servant to go cheer up the princess and... and..."

"Tell her not to give up hope?" Fluttershy suggested. If she was nervous just being backstage, she couldn't even begin to imagine how poor Twilight felt.

"Right!" Pinkiepie rushed out to improvise a hopeful song. Much to Twilight's relief, she suggested that the princess should rest, while she continued entertaining the audience with her antics. People found it to be pretty funny, even though it was supposed to be a tragic scene. Poor Maike could be dead for all Rarelight knew. At least the audience would be entertained for now.

Twilight joined the others backstage letting out a breath of relief. "How are things back here?"

"My magic is exhausted and my horn is killing me," Rarity confessed.

"I still have some magic," Twilight looked at the pillar Macintosh was holding. "I can hold that with my magic."

"Don' trouble yerself' Miss Twilight, Ah got it." Macintosh smiled despite the uncomfortable position he was on.

"This is no time to be chivalrous; you have to go back on stage!" Rarity reminded. Then another thought occurred to her. "How are we going to change the scenes and costumes fast enough without unicorn magic, not to, mention assist with additional special effects? I'm going to need some time to recover."

"Leave it to me," Twilight offered.

"And who will play Rarelight? I wouldn't mind taking the stage, but how would we explain that the princess is suddenly different? And what about Maike? We can't just say that Monochrome killed him. This story is supposed to have a happy ending!"

"Ah don' know about that, but it looks like Pinkiepie's gettin' tired," Applejack pointed out. "She's still jumping around like it's nothin' but she's making less and less sense," and she usually didn't make a whole lot of sense to begin with.

Rarity took a deep breath; she was supposed to be this play's director so she better start directing. "Applejack, signal Pinkiepie to finish her performance before she says something weird, er, weirder. Everyone, except Big Macintosh since you are very busy with a vital task, as soon as those curtains are down, I want you to turn this stage into an evil lair." The others exchanged confused glances. There weren't supposed to be any evil lairs. They were supposed to be fighting in the royal courtyard of Rarelight's castle. "Work with me here, just be creative!" Rarity pleaded.

Applebloom, Sweetie Bell and Scootaloo saluted chorusing. "Cutie Mark Crusaders evil lair builders!"

Rarity continued with her improvised plans. "Rainbow Dash, do you think you can go out there and improvise some gloating for Monochrome's victory against Maike? Just be careful with the special effects this time, but keep the crowd entertained. Applejack, I know you were supposed to be backstage, but I need you to act as Rarelight's royal knight, Sir... Sir Apple! Who has gone to search for the missing Maike in hopes of reuniting him with Princess Rarelight. Put up a mock fight with Monochrome and make it long, but entertaining. Don't win though; the main character has to be the one to win."

"We're on it!" Rainbow Dash and Applejack exclaimed.

"Twilight, since I know you don't like improvising and because my magic is exhausted for tonight, please take my place managing everything backstage where magic is needed. Is that okay?" Rarity asked.

Twilight looked relieved. "It's very much okay."

"Sorry Big Mac, but I can't pull you away from holding the stage in place while the show is still going, Twilight's magic will be busy and without magic, no one else is strong enough to stop the stage from falling apart. Do you mind giving your character to someone else?" Rarity inquired apologetically.

"Nope," Big Macintosh immediately replied. He had enough of being on stage with all eyes on him to last him a life time.

"Rarity, Rarity, what should I do?" Spike jumped around flailing his arms in excitement. He wanted to help too.

"Be my prince," Rarity's words made Spike's heart skip a beat and he promptly fainted. "Oh, my little Spiky-whiky, it's okay, you don't have to act in the play if you don't want to! I'll just get um..." Rarity looked around desperately. "I'll just get Fluttershy to hide her wings, dress up as a stallion and play the part of the prince. After all we can't disappoint every pony. Don't forget that all of Ponyville and Cloudsdale are out there and even Princess Luna."

"Me?" Not it was Fluttershy's turn to faint.

"Oh come on Fluttershy, playing a stallion can't be that bad, Rainbow Dash did it when she played Commander Hurricane, remember? And Twilight dressed up as an elderly stallion for Nightmare Night."

"I was Starswirl the bearded!" Twilight argued, while at the same time tending to her new duties concerning the play.

"I don't think Fluttershy fainted because of the costume. I think she just doesn't want to go on stage," Spike pointed out. "But I'm awake and ready to be," he sighed happily, "you're prince."

"If you're sure you can do this, my little Spiky-whiky." Rarity didn't want to pressure Spike, but she really needed him to say yes.

"You can count on me!" Spike assured.

"Alright then, let's do this!" Rarity began to put on her costume as she explained. "After Sir Apple fails to defeat Monochrome, Princess Rarelight sets out on a quest to rescue her beloved herself. However, because she's a princess, she'll be going in disguise, in fact, you can mention the fairies changed her. I need you to narrate all that, well not all that, just the parts that are needed for the story. You get the point."

"Got it!" Spike nodded in understanding, his full attention on Rarity as she went on.

"I'll go on stage with my loyal servant and find Sir Apple. I'll have Pinkie take Applejack off stage to heal Sir Apple's wounds back in the castle, while Princess Rarelight, bravely faces off against Monochrome," Rarity explained. "Seeing that Rarelight's love is so strong that she is unbeatable, Monochrome intends to break that love by unleashing a ferocious dragon upon Rarelight, that's you Spike."

Spike pouted, "but I thought I was supposed to be Maike!"

Pulling on her accessories as quickly as possible, Rarity finished her explanation. "You are. It's just that I need to explain why Maike is suddenly a dragon. Monochrome cursed him into becoming a ferocious beast, but Rarelight's love brought him to his senses and Maike remembered her. Rarelight recognized him as well and together they vanquished Monochrome forever with the power of love. They looked different, but they were the same on the inside and that's what really mattered to them, so they lived happily ever after. Did you catch all that, Pinkie? You'll have to take over the narration when Spike goes on stage. We'll fill up the plot holes as we go along, places everyone!"

"I got it!" Pinkiepie cheered, while Spike smile widely. He liked that ending, he liked it a lot.

Thus they continued performing the best they could. "When Sir Apple did not return, Princess Rarelight decided to take matters into her own hooves and set out to find her beloved Maike herself. However, she knew that it would be difficult to go out in public as a princess, thus she had the fairies change her appearance to disguise herself."

Rarity went on stage, now playing the role of Princess Rarelight. Pinkiepie was following her, though Rarity did the talking. "Oh my loyal knight!" She knelt next to Applejack.

Applejack slowly lifted her head, "who is there? Some pony I do not know?"

"It is I, your princess in disguise..." Rarity voiced dramatically.

"Princess?" Applejack pretended to have a difficult time standing. "Oh princess, it is you, I can feel it somehow. Please princess, you must flee from this place at once, for we are in the lair of Monochrome!"

"Never fear brave knight, for I am here to help you. My loyal servant, please help Sir Apple reach the castle and be healed," Rarity commanded.

"Princess, it's too dangerous for you to stay here," Applejack dramatized.

"My love for Maike shall be my shield. He risked his life to protect me and I shall do the same for him!" Rarity declared with great determination. This was so exciting, she couldn't deny that she drew inspiration from the incident with the grownup Spike for the improvised ending of the play.

"Okey-dokey-lokey!" Pinkiepie saluted. "Well, you heard the princess, she's got an evil villain to beat so let's go back to the castle and get you healed!" She ran off with Applejack and they both left the stage.

"Monochrome, you terrible witch, I know you are here!" Rarity challenged.

Rainbow Dash used some thunder for effect, but not too much. "Who are you?"

"I am Princess Rarelight!" Rarity revealed.

"Princess Rarelight? You have disguised yourself and my minions were unable to find you. I would have stopped you before you got this far if I had recognized you!" Rainbow Dash called for more weather dramatics, but thankfully, she kept it in control this time around.

"What Princess Rarelight never expected was for Monochrome to call her ferocious dragon minion against her!" Pinkie narrated from backstage.

"I have a dragon minion?" Rainbow Dash realized. "I mean... I have a dragon minion, mwahahaha! Go my ferocious dragon and devour Princess Rarelight!"

Spike ran on stage trying his best to look ferocious, for which he was aided by a dragon costume. He was standing on Applejack's back to look taller. "Roar! I shall devour you! Roar!" The audience erupted in laughter.

That wasn't exactly the reaction the spectators were supposed to have to this scene, but Rarity knew they couldn't stop now. The play was almost finished and her quiet life as a fashion designer awaited her beyond all this stress. "Oh no, a dragon! Back you beast!"

"I'm going to eat you! Roar! Ah!" spike lost his balance and fell from Applejack. The fabric of the costume pulled her to trip and she fell to the floor of the stage, with Spike accidentally tackling Rarity down with them.

"Oh no, the dragon has me!" Despite her position on the floor of the stage, Rarity tried to continue her acting. She was normally rather dramatic, so she was pretty good at this. "But what is this I feel from this beast? Can it be? This dragon is not a beast at all, for I feel deep within my heart the same emotion that I feel for my beloved Maike!"

"Get him off me," Applejack grumbled quietly. No pony liked having their head stepped on, even if it was an accident.

Rarity pulled Spike out of the costume. "When the beast sheds his scaly armor he has a heart of gold inside. It is the heart of my beloved Maike, my destined prince!"

"So you saw through my curse?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed. "It would have been the perfect ending to be devoured by your beloved. But it doesn't matter; I'll just end your lives myself. Mwahahaha!"

"No you won't!" Spike dramatically exclaimed. "Because nothing is more powerful than our love!" He was acting on stage with Rarity, he was acting the role of her beloved, this was so exciting!

Twilight helped out with the light effects, making Rarity and Spike glow brightly. Rainbow Dash took it as her cue to thrown in the towel. It was a pity though, because she was having lots of fun playing Monochrome. "The love, it's too strong!" Rainbow pretended to sink into one of her clouds. She snuck off stage from cloud to cloud and caused them to dissipate as if Monochrome had dissolved into mist.

"We did it!" Rarity cheered. "Now our kingdom will be safe!"

"And we'll live happily ever after!" Spike cheered. Rarity gave him a kiss which he didn't know if it was part of the play or just Rarity being relieved that it was almost over and they had managed to save the show. The point was that he liked it and it felt like much more than just an act.

Fluttershy's bird choir went into the final melody of the play as Rarity and Spike sang, with the dragon trying hard to get out of his happy daze and remember the lyrics. "A happy ending we have found, and all around there is the sound, of cheers of joy and happy shouts!"

While the play was going on, the backstage team had managed to patch up the damaged pillar and Big Macintosh could finally let it go, just on time for the big finale. The whole cast went on stage as Rarity and Spike's song ended, and started to sing the closing melody. They even managed to get Fluttershy out there. "Never let your heart go astray, for love will always find a way. And so we hope you all enjoyed the play, we wish you well with smiles on each and every day!"

The audience's stomped their hooves in a clapping sound, as cheers filled the air and the tired but happy actors and theatre staff took a bow. The pleased audience hung around for a while discussing the play. Applejack and Pinkiepie had been busy during the show, but they finally took the opportunity to sell apple treats and baked goodies. The audience was all too happy to get something to eat and both their booths were filled with customers. Princess Luna had the chance to mingle with her subjects outside of Nightmare Night, which pleased her very much. Plus it was a beautiful night and people were awake to enjoy it. They even thanked her for the starry skies and the dim light of the moon that allowed fireworks to shine in a way they couldn't possibly be seen during the day. Yes, fireworks, it was the final treat they had prepare for after the play.

It didn't look like anyone felt like going home, so Fluttershy fed her team of birds and they went for another round of songs. Even the birds were too excited to sleep anyway. Though the ponies and dragon in the play were tired, they too were enjoying the party too much to think about leaving. The festivities went on until morning and as the sun went up, sleepy but happy ponies, unicorns, pegasus and one dragon, returned home to get some much needed rest. Just as they parted way to get to their own residences, Spike looked towards Rarity and smiled. She smiled back before going on her way home along with Sweetie Bell. As Rarity left, Spike could have sworn he saw her wink at him...

End

My Main Site: http://azurelight.net
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FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"

The Cyneweard

Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."

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Spectra

Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."