Proud Mare-y

Applejack stopped at the end of the row, and carefully placed the pan on the ground. Slowly, she stretched her neck this way and that, wincing.

It was just as well Big Macintosh had gone ahead and plowed. She winced at the idea of thanking him—‘thank you for doing all of that plowing, except for the part when you were plowing the love of my life for me’—but all the same, he had seen that she’d ruined herself out on the fields, and had worked all through the night to do the remaining hard labor so she wouldn’t have to. It was a kindness she was more used to seeing from him—the Big Macintosh she’d thought she knew.

It had meant that her work for the day consisted of loading seed into the frying pan, and hobbling along the plowed furrows, shaking her head gently with the pan in her teeth. The Apple family had never considered it worthwhile to buy more specialized tools—the old cast-iron frying pan worked perfectly well and held lots of seed.

The trouble was, the old cast-iron frying pan was… cast iron. It was heavy and awkward. Both Applejack and Big Macintosh were so strong that they made light work of it on a normal day, but it wasn’t a normal day for Applejack. She hurt all over, in every sense, and though she was hanging in there, the weight of the pan had got to her, and now her neck hurt real bad as well.

And so she rested, not being a total fool, and while she looked out over the fields, the thoughts came flooding back.

Why had Rainbow betrayed her? It didn’t make sense in some ways. Applejack remembered back to their first time, out in the forest, and how Dash had cavorted in ecstacy only to end up snuggling against her. She’d said she would love Applejack forever. Never said a thing about loving only Applejack… in some ways, the picture was clear from the first moment. The pretty rainbow ponybird would fly on, loving many, staying not for long.

And yet… that time when she’d asked Dash to make sweet love. The little pegasus had freaked out, unable to handle the intimacy. She’d been so good at wild casual sex, and so bad at tenderness—and then, afterwards, had broken down and wept, seduced into caring.

Applejack could still remember holding her as she sobbed, too vulnerable, emotionally exposed. Rainbow had let her cool-pony facade be stripped away. She’d reacted as if the casual sex thing was ruined for her, as if she’d gone to a terrifying new level of intimacy that made all previous lovemaking seem like another, emptier world.

There was no telling how long she’d lasted—until her nerve had cracked, and she’d secretly gone back to her old ways: meaningless sex with literally anypony who would have her.

Applejack’s face twisted in grief. Her rage and betrayal had carried her, and they surely would come to her aid again when she needed them, but standing alone in the field, she wept. Her poor faithless darling! She hadn’t saved her Dashie from herself, not at all. Her love was not enough to get through to the lonely little pegasus. Applejack knew in her bones she’d have given her life for her cerulean lover, but her life was not requested of her. She’d thrown a rope to a drowning mare, only to have it ignored. Rainbow Dash was not going to learn to love. She would not make that special connection with another pony—even when it was given to her outright. She didn’t believe it, or wouldn’t see it. Dash was lost.

Just for a moment, Applejack hung her head, crying. It wasn’t only Dash who was gone. Applejack knew that nopony had really understood her like Rainbow, and the loss gutted her. With Dash, Applejack had dared to admit the truth about herself—though she was an Apple mare, proud and domineering, though she was so tough as to be like an actual stallion, though she plowed and harrowed fields and tied her hair back to not be girly and ruled her farm like a true Apple matriarch as her grandmother and mother had before her… she wasn’t like them, on the inside.

With Rainbow, she had admitted how mare-ish she was at heart. She’d found a pony who could accept her traditional Apple ways, but saw through that to the fillyish heart of her and loved it as well. Rainbow Dash had reduced her to a squealing, quivering, submissive mare in bed, yes—but more than that, Dash had been there, the only pony to turn to when her feelings were hurt and she’d desperately needed to cry and be held. Dash had been the one safe place to truly be herself, all of herself, even down to her secret heart.

And Rainbow Dash would not be there for her any longer.

Applejack stood in a field, racked with pain from stallionish labor, her mane and tail tied up to not look girly, and knew she was right back where she’d started. If anypony learned that she’d kicked out Dash and looked her up, they’d have heard about her amazing stallionhood, and they’d be like Twilight—they’d want her to be their stallion, and probably she’d eventually give in. It was tough to face a life without sex after you’d got used to it. Applejack sighed. That was all they would accept, surely. She would be a fake stallion for the rest of her…

She blinked.

What if… she didn’t need to be accepted?

Applejack stared across the fields, unseeingly, not focusing on anything in particular. The idea grew in her mind.

What if it didn’t matter about the bit? What if it didn’t matter about her family, her history?

What if she just… kept what she’d gained?

Applejack’s head lifted. A breeze stirred her mane as she gazed out to the horizon.

If no one would accept her true self, except for her lost Rainbow Dash… if the world could not handle a girly, feminine Apple mare owning the farm… if she was not allowed to keep her new secret freedom, and the safe place for it to live had been destroyed…

Well then—too bad for the world! Because she would be all mare anyway, and to hell with all of them!

Applejack’s eyes flashed. She kicked a hoof, snorting—and then whirled, snapping at her tail, heedless of the protests of her strained, tormented muscles.

She got the tail-tie in her teeth, bright scarlet propriety against the silky blonde of her tail—and pulled it right off. Another shake of the head, and she’d grabbed the one tying up her mane. She pulled that off too, dropping it. She stared at the bright bands of red lying on the ground.

With a snort of contempt, Applejack stomped ‘em into the dirt with her hoof.

She stood, panting, feeling naked. Her heart was pounding—but she’d never felt so alive. She couldn’t imagine what life was about to be, but she thought—whatever it is, I’ll take it and be grateful for it. The world started over today, whether it knows it or not.

Applejack shook out her mane, and silky blonde tresses poured down her neck and across her shoulders. They’d always laid across her shoulder in a tidy lump, bound by the hairtie into a solid mass. Freed of their confinement, they seemed to caress her body, touching her everywhere, whispering of softness and gentleness.

She flicked her tail. The little weight of the hair-tie at the end was gone. Instead of feeling like a lasso, with a clearly defined length and end, her tail felt like a cloud, like the sort of thing Fluttershy would have. She flicked it again, feeling the blonde silkiness swish against her ass.

Heart probably wouldn’t stop beatin’ so fast until later. Would probably get worse, first time she had to face Granny like that. Applejack set her jaw. So be it.

She bent her head, picked up the cast-iron pan, and returned to her seeding work, dutifully. As she moved along the plowed furrows, her tail flicked some more, enjoying its freedom.

After a while, her body began to glide rather than clomp, her orange hips swaying in a new way—for Applejack was experimenting, not caring who watched, to see what it would feel like to move girly.


Twilight Sparkle peered nervously through the doorway. The Carousel Boutique looked no different than usual, although this alone was disconcerting. Twilight couldn’t forget the shocking scene outside these very doors, where Rarity had let it all hang out, literally—and she wondered whether it was safe to enter. She wasn’t sure just what she expected Rarity to do to her, but the uncertainty was its own special anxiety.

“Rarity?” she called.

“Twilight? Is that you? Just a minute, darling!”

Twilight braced for kinky, but to her surprise, Rarity appeared before her, devoid of kinky. She trotted out of her inner sanctum, wearing no kinky garb at all, not even made up beyond a bare minimum of false eyelashes and a little eyeshadow. Even this was applied in haste, and slightly uneven.

“Forgive my appearance, Twilight. It’s been a bit of a shock…”

“I’ll say! That’s actually why I came to visit, Rarity. I wanted to know if you’re all right? I’d like to see everypony get their hooves under them just a eensy bit more than we’ve seen lately. I saw what happened out there, Rarity.”

Rarity winced. “Indeed. I have never experienced such dismay. They fled! The plebians fled, in the face of my demands. And I was perfectly serious.”

“You were perfectly—something! What the heck brought that on? I would never have imagined you being like that!”

Rarity shot Twilight a glance. “He did not tell you, I take it?”

“Who?”

Rarity sighed. “He did not, clearly. Twilight, it was a pre-emptive strike. I was about to be exposed, by the one I trusted most. I suppose it’s no secret now that I have been seeing Big Macintosh.”

Twilight’s jaw dropped. “Uhh… if you say so! Big Mac was going to expose you? It seems like you were pretty good at exposing yourself! Sorry.”

“I can only assume he was!” said Rarity. “I… miscalculated. It cost me his loyalty. I’ve no idea how far he’s spread the information by now, but I’ve got in front of it, make no mistake. It was a desperate ploy, but it was that or see my business ruined by scandal.”

She sighed, and Twilight could see she looked tired, though the make-up covered it to some extent. There were circles under Rarity’s eyes, as if she hadn’t slept.

Twilight reared and hugged her. “Oh, Rarity! And now you’ve had to ruin your business yourself just to stop him doing it? What can I do? I’m not a rich pony by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have some bits and I promise, I’ll do whatever you need to keep you on your hooves. You shouldn’t have to lose your livelihood over this.”

Rarity blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

“I said…”

“Twilight, darling, I think you should step this way for a moment,” said Rarity. “Come on!” She led Twilight back towards her inner sanctum room, her magic swinging the door wide.

Twilight stepped in, and froze in shock. There was a huge pile of bits in the middle of the floor, surrounded by countless torn-open envelopes, and a dizzying array of perverse kink equipment surrounding that. Most of it was in pieces, clearly half-assembled.

“Let us say,” purred Rarity, “I shan’t fret for my livelihood. Rather the reverse…”

Twilight blinked, taking it all in. “Wow. What exactly happened here?”

“Mail order. It appears ponies were more than ready to step into the new world of fashion and daring—provided they did not have to step OUT of their closets, to do so. I’ve been flooded with mail orders. They are simply throwing money, begging for anything and everything. I believe my former apparent innocence won me their trust, for this—now they know I can keep a secret when I so choose. Have you got any sturdy metal pins, Twilight? Not pins in the sense of sewing equipment—more along the lines of finishing nails.”

“What the heck would you do with those, Rarity?” said Twilight.

For answer, Rarity levitated some of her work. Twilight shrunk back as a hoof-cuff floated before her eyes, a metal bracket holding a shiny pointed star.

“They’re mad for the spurs, you see, and I’ve run out of the center pins. I am inclined to fill the orders requesting wooden spurs first, because I am not sure how far I trust this town with the metal ones. I’ve had two orders request spurs sharpened to razor points, and while I am not aghast at bloodplay I consider it most irresponsible to simply fill such an order without investigating the situation thoroughly…”

Twilight licked her lips, her ears back in anxiety. “What-play? What, exactly, are those things for?” She had a feeling she didn’t want to hear the answer.

Rarity seemed to be over-eager to share, however. “Oh! The obvious. They are for mounting, and delivering a little… jolt! …at the right moment!” She reared, and mimed digging in her forehooves. “I recommend the wooden ones for the inexperienced, and I emphatically include the mounter in that equation, not simply the mount-ee! Practice and control is absolutely necessary, darling. If a fellow mounts you and isn’t experienced in their use—he can get your teats!”

Her eyes lit up in wicked glee, saying it. “Ugh, Rarity!” cried Twilight, backing away.

“Well, it’s true!” huffed Rarity. “I’m of two minds about even allowing the metal ones to be sold through mail order at all! Even if I do not sharpen them, some fool might, and I shan’t be responsible for the results! Not everypony has my experience in these matters!”

Twilight stared at her, warily. “I need to talk to you about that, okay? I get that you were afraid of being exposed over, well—this. I guess you’ve had this going on the whole time, huh? You were the secret queen of pony kinky?”

Rarity bowed her head, a little smile playing across her face. “You flatter. And yes—it has been a source of some pride for me. I lived two worlds with poise and command. Now I’ve just the one.”

“Well, here’s the thing. I gave you one of our Mark Three bits, and all of a sudden, this! I get that you always had this stuff as a secret life, but…” Twilight gulped. “I really need to ask you whether, just possibly, you think your behavior has been different since you got the bit from me.”

“Oh, yes.”

“I realize it might seem… wait. What? Yes?”

Rarity nodded. “Very much so. I’d thought of talking to you about it. I am simply maddened by lust. I sleep with the bit on the bedside table, right by my head, and I’d wondered if perhaps this wasn’t the wisest course of action…”

Twilight stared at Rarity again. She seemed perfectly normal, even demure, for all her talk of being maddened by lust. “It might not be. I think we’ve got some work to do, Rarity, straightening all this out. I’m really sorry about that. …you’re serious? Forgive me for saying it, but you don’t seem like you’re maddened by lust right now.”

Rarity’s little smile was tight and not entirely amused. “Give me credit for my self-control, darling—at least, when I’m choosing to exercise it. I know my own mind, and I know when it’s being swayed. I shall manage my own affairs, as needed.”

“We’ll try to fix it,” promised Twilight. “I guess this isn’t as bad as the curse the original bit had, is it? Just hang in there, and we are so sorry for letting you in for all that. I suppose I could… take it back again?”

“Like hell you will, darling.” Rarity’s smile was even more wicked, now. “I shall make do. I feel you should try to fix it, however, for the sake of ponies who haven’t my composure. Though I cannot help but speculate about whether its influence is driving my new sales!”

“Wow,” said Twilight, to herself. “Complicated, much?” She shook herself, and addressed Rarity. “I guess I’ll be going. I imagine you’re seeing, ah, a lot of visitors, and before things get lively in here I should make myself scarce…”

Rarity pouted, unexpectedly. “Hah! On the contrary, it is pleasant to see a pony for a change. Going out for breakfast was frightful, simply frightful!”

“I beg your pardon?”

“They’re avoiding me, Twilight,” admitted Rarity. “They fled, and dare not approach me again. I’m swamped in mail orders, but Ponyville will not speak to me. I’ve put a hoof in it, there is no question about that. Your assumptions are, shall we say, mistaken. I’ve no visitors at all, now.”

Twilight’s eyes were wide. “That’s horrible!”

“It is, rather,” said Rarity. “I had believed better of them. I suppose this is a terribly small town, after all.”

Twilight ran forward and hugged her friend, again, heedless of personal revelations or the array of kinky gear surrounding them, “Oh, Rarity! We’ll solve this, I promise we will! There’s got to be a way to put the townsponies at ease with you again!”

Rarity hugged back. “That is one approach, to be sure. I would imagine that the simple passage of time would help. Eventually they’d get over it, if I were to feign my original innocuous state. Nopony would believe it, but perhaps they would enjoy the pretense?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe,” said Twilight, blinking back tears.

“Oh, don’t blubber, darling, be more cosmopolitan… the other approach, of course, would be to go farther, wilfully. Tattoos? Branding? Perhaps ritual scarification? My white coat would show off any such decoration to full effect, of course, but the permanency of it frankly dismays me. Never to be able to dress clean and radiant… I think not.”

Twilight gulped. “I think not, too…” She released Rarity, carefully, and stepped away, gazing at her friend in wonder. “This is pretty amazing. I feel like I’m meeting you all over again, now.”

Rarity smiled, and it was her old familiar smile—happy, confident, vain. “It is the same Rarity, though. You’ve known me all along, Twilight, at least since you came to Ponyville. I’m delighted that I haven’t lost you, too—but I thought it most unlikely I would, and I did not let the idea worry me.”

“We’re there for you,” said Twilight. “We’ve got to stick together! I should probably go, though. I need to swing by Sweet Apple Acres and check on poor Applejack.”

At that, Rarity blinked. “Indeed. Poor Applejack? Poor why, exactly? What is the matter with her, Twilight? Tell me.”

“Oh! Um… wow, this is awkward,” mumbled Twilight.

Rarity’s eyes flashed. “Now you’ve torn it. Tell me! What has happened to Applejack?”

“I… Rarity, she’s broken up with Rainbow Dash. You knew they were together? They broke up—because apparently Rainbow’s been sleeping with…” She trailed off, looking apologetic.

Rarity’s eyes were wide. “No. You’re joking. Surely you’re joking?”

“I guess we’re all a little surprised at Big Macintosh right now.”

Rarity stared, speechless, and then banged a forehoof on the floor. “Incredible!”

Twilight shifted from hoof to hoof, uncomfortably. “I thought it was pretty incredible he’d been seeing you. Did he suddenly come on to you, or something?”

“Hardly!” snorted Rarity, incensed. “I dragged him from the gutter, or rather from behind the plow, and I was making him quite a prize! A booby prize, and I was the booby, it seems! Incredible! And now he’s taken Rainbow from Applejack? Oh, I knew they were a couple—believe me, you’d be surprised at some of the things those two have done together, I shan’t shock you with it—but to think he would… incredible!”

Twilight nodded, sadly. “Yeah. She’s really torn up about it. And I, uh, before I was with Trixie I knew about some of the things Applejack does. Um… let’s just say she got a magic bit too, and she really, really deserves one. But I wanted her and Dash to have it, and now that’s all broken.”

Rarity stared straight ahead, unseeingly. “It’s just that… if I’ve driven the silly fool to it… if, in my demanding more from that preposterous stallion, it in any way motivated him to do such awful things…”

“I wouldn’t know about that,” said Twilight. “But I should be going—like I said, I want to check in on Applejack.”

“Yes, yes,” sighed Rarity. “You go on, dear. I have much to think about, now. It seems that through challenging my former darling beyond what he could truly stand, his disgraceful behavior has harmed an innocent party—and I must conclude I bear some responsibility there.”

“What?” blinked Twilight. “Oh, come on, you’ve done nothing…”

“Uht! Not another word, Twilight! Rarity does not flinch from her obligations! I will work out what I must do to make amends, and I shall do it, whatever the cost. It will help me feel better, as well. Run along, dear, I’ve dozens of spurs to assemble for our delightful, closeted townsponies, I can’t spare another moment.”

Reluctantly, Twilight headed on her way.


Applejack nudged the drawer on the bedside table closed, with her nose. Her expression was hard to interpret, combining elements of annoyance, hurt, satisfaction into an adorably exasperated, fed-up look. The cause wasn’t mysterious, though. Her magic bit—was gone.

“Hah!” she said to herself. “Fate! Yep, that’s fate for ya… and there ain’t but one pony knows I kept it there. Th’ faithless wretch! Hope she chokes on it. So much for all that!”

She trotted back and forth in vexation, wincing at the strain to her muscles. “Of all th’ ridiculous things ta do… I ought to put up signs! Wanted, Rainbow Dash, for penis larceny! Beware th’ mischievous pegasus, take her to bed and you’ll wake up to find she done stolt your dick!”

Applejack realized she was smiling. She gave a big sigh. “Heh. An’ ain’t that jes’ like her, too. Lil’ outlaw. Outlaw oughta have a dick, I reckon. Guess I’d feel different if I wasn’t giving it up anyways…”

There was a lot to smile about, despite the injuries to her faithful heart.

As she’d been finishing up her seeding, Twilight had come to see her, just to make sure she was okay. She’d noticed the lack of hair ties, though Applejack grew bashful and reined in the girly walk with haste when Twilight appeared across the field. Applejack hadn’t needed to explain a thing. Of course, it was possible Twilight hadn’t understood a thing, but she’d noticed, for after a gentle conversation that was mostly about Twilight’s willingness to be there for Applejack anytime she wanted, Twilight had said “Your mane looks very nice”.

Applejack had nickered and blushed, and that made Twi blush and stammer and explain how she was not trying to imply anything. Her awkwardness was typically adorable. It was nice to see—brought back memories, some sweet, some sour. It was a reminder to Applejack that her world had not consisted solely of Rainbow Dash—that there were connections she’d made, even if they didn’t touch every level or connect perfectly.

It wasn’t too hard to reassure Twilight, either. Not for a kind, loving mare willing to speak her heart. A hug, a kiss on the nose—earnest words—“Ah know what you mean, an’ I love you too, very much, Twilight.” Then, a wicked grin at the silly, adorable unicorn… “Even if y’all too much dang mare for th’ likes of me!”

Twilight had giggled, and the tension was broken. She’d trotted off home, back to Trixie, who was apparently able to handle the unicorn madness, being another crazy unicorn herself. Applejack remembered her blunt “Yes”, when asked if she was good to Twilight. She’d meant it. Applejack felt confident in them, and it made Twilight feel more solid as a friend that the two unicorns had each other.

The conversation with Twi had lifted her spirits a little, so that when she returned from the fields, she walked right in past Granny Smith without a word of explanation or apology for her mane and tail. They hadn’t gone unnoticed, either—Granny spotted the differentness right away, and lifted her head, drawing a breath—but Applejack’s chin was just as high, and she’d caught Granny with a look. It wasn’t by any means an angry look, couldn’t be called defiant except in the most gentle way, but all the same the look stopped Granny in mid-expostulation. It said: Yep. Git used to it…

Granny had subsided, muttering helplessly, to the effect of “I don’t know… ever’ day seems like they’s more changes… allus changes an’ changes…” and her tone was dejected but had a certain resignation that was music to Applejack’s ears.

Now, Applejack considered the larceny of her little outlaw pegasus ex, and laughed softly. Some of it was from sadness—the poor thing was falling back on heartless debauchery, and it was tragic—but all the same, Dash was used to that and knew no better. It hurt to admit the helplessness, to know that Rainbow’s loneliness could not be healed through true love—it hurt terribly. But all the same, Applejack had to picture Dashie sneaking into the house, bent on larceny, probably all done up in her black catsuit that she’d ripped the crotch out of in her eagerness to be fucked that day by the waterfall. Ended up with her ass hanging out, and Dash wasn’t one to mend clothing—so, most likely, the house had been robbed by a fearsome burglar all in black with cerulean butt poking out of the scary ninja catsuit. It was a ridiculous image, and too cute to stay mad at.

“What’s that?” came a voice from downstairs, Granny’s—and then some kind of mumble, a more subdued voice. Granny’s answer was clear. “She’s upstairs, girl… dancin’ the can-can! Looks like you’re fixin’ to help her! Go on, then!”

Applejack heard Granny snort in exasperation, and then hooves sounded on the stairs.

To her astonishment, Rarity came into view, bearing an expression of great earnestness behind an array of makeup that defied description. It wasn’t quite what she’d worn at the Young Fliers’ Competition, but it was a cut above her everyday finery.

“Hi, Rarity,” said Applejack cautiously. “What’s th’ occasion?”

“Oh, my. Your mane is lovely!”

Applejack’s eyes widened. She sounded serious. But then, this was the mare who’d dressed her in a big floppy hat, and admired her girliness, wasn’t it? Rarity could be trusted to side with her on the matter.

“Well, gee, thank y’all for sayin’ so, I sure appreciate it.”

“No, really—I’m not just saying it, the look suits you.”

Applejack shifted from hoof to hoof, wincing at the twinges of sore muscles. “Thank you even more, then—but what are you doin’ up in these parts? You can’t have come here to admire my mane, I just done it this way a few hours ago, and I din’t tell nopony. Except Twilight. Ya talkin’ to Twilight?”

Rarity drew herself up, taking a big, ostentatious breath. “Applejack—I am here to apologize.”

“Beg pardon? Apologize for whut?”

“No no, it is I who must beg pardon. I am afraid some of my choices have led to terrible consequences! I don’t know if you’ll ever forgive me, but…”

“Hold on!” said Applejack. “Slow down, missy. What, exactly, have you done?”

Rarity paced around. “Well, you know some of my private life. For you, at least, I shall not have to explain certain things, since I did have you watch us…”

“You… the.. WHAT?”

Rarity blinked. “Oh, I’m sorry—you weren’t aware that I expected it? You watching was more of an unexpected pleasure, but I’d expected Rainbow Dash. She’d have followed that mysterious cloaked figure to Hoofington, I’ll wager. It all came off perfectly. Did you not notice the lighting, or me making excuses to Big Macintosh and pretending I didn’t know you were watching from the loft?”

Applejack’s jaw hung loose. She gathered it up, while the white unicorn gazed primly at her.

“Hell no!” she said. “I guess you weren’t mad or nothin’, huh? That what you mean by choices?”

“Some of them, yes.”

Applejack narrowed her eyes. “Did you put him up to it? So help me, if you did…”

“No!” protested Rarity. “No, no, I would never! Letting you and Rainbow watch, that time, perhaps I should not have done that—but when did I ever appear as though I would send my stallion after your lover? Why ever would I want that? Applejack, I swear it, I did no such thing!”

Applejack blinked, startled by Rarity’s intensity. “Gosh. Uh, I guess I’d have to believe you an’ all, on account of you din’t want no part of either of us, and you never let slip that you had Big Macintosh to yourself, neither…”

“I hope I did not seem rude,” said Rarity. “You and Dash shocked me horribly—Dash rearing and revealing that appendage, and then boasting of your… gifts, all amidst my public, chaste life where I had to keep up appearances. It was a matter of boundaries, and I simply had to deflect Rainbow Dash’s advances.”

Applejack grimaced. “At least somepony did.”

Rarity’s eyes glistened. “Oh, Applejack! I am so sorry. I feel that I am responsible for the shattering of your connubial bliss. I can see the agony in your face, even now! I shall never be able to make it up to you, never!”

The country mare gave her an exasperated look.

“Simmer down, Sally. Darn tootin’ it hurts my heart, but there’s somethin’ you should know before wailin’ and tearin’ your mane like you do.”

Rarity sniffled. “What?”

“I done fucked up my back, honey. An’ my legs, an’ my neck… That’s why I’m makin’ faces. You want to make things up to me? Fine. Take me down to the spa, your treat. I could use it.” She winced. “Hell, I’d beg ya. You ain’t kiddin’ about that there agony.”

Rarity gasped. “Of course! We shan’t waste a moment, hurry as quickly as your suffering limbs will bear y… oh.” She’d glanced at the clock.

“Don’t tell me,” sighed Applejack. “They ain’t open this time of night. Consarn it! I’mma hold you to that, honey. You figure they can fit me in tomorrow mornin’? It would be a mercy.”

Rarity hung her head and promised, “Of course. I’ll pull every string, and personally make s…” She trailed off. She bit her lip, anxious.

“Cat got your tongue?” said Applejack, sourly.

“Pony got idea…” breathed Rarity. She lifted her head again, and her eyes were a little too wide. “Quite the idea. It’s almost too perfect.” Her voice quavered.

“The hell you talkin’ about, missy?”

Rarity licked her lips. She gulped. “I’ll do you. I owe you that. Right now.”

“Now what in tarnation…”

“I’ll rub you!” protested Rarity. “Why should you wait for Aloe and Vera? I can see how badly you’re hurting. I’ve got a rough idea of how it goes. And I get so tense, darling, they pound at me fiercely. I’ll warrant you’re in no less of a plight! Oh, please, let me soothe your hurts?”

Applejack regarded her with narrowed eyes, her jaw set. After a while, she said, “You serious?”

“Utterly.”

“Happens I got a lil’ experience with kinky ponies by now. What else you fixin’ to soothe?”

Rarity looked away. “Why, noth… you’re not buying that, are you?”

“Nope.”

Rarity pouted. “Very well. Yes, I find you attractive. You were, shall we say, spoken very well of. You remember: you were there to hear it, and you blushed and tried to hide under the brim of my pretty hat. I knew the design worked at that moment, darling, for you were an image of loveliness.”

Applejack’s ears were back. “That’s as may be, Rarity, but…”

“No, let me finish! I am admitting what you’ve observed. But pray understand this without a speck of ambiguity: it need not matter. We love each other as friends, darling, and right now you’re all aches and pains. I shall beg you, in turn. Allow me to ease your pains, sans eros, sans expectation, sans everything but simple, loving compassion.”

Applejack’s visage was piteous. “Whut the hell are sand zeroes? Rarity!”

“I’m sorry! Here, let me try again.” Rarity took a deep breath, screwing up her face and pouting with concentration. “Your body hurts dreadfully. I promise I shan’t take advantage, but please let me rub the sore parts.”

This didn’t seem to comfort Applejack that much. “Honey, they’re ALL sore parts.”

Rarity regarded her levelly. “Good. I never promised I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I swear to you I shall behave myself. Now please, please, let me try and help you.”

“Of all th’ ponies who could ever promise to behave themselves…” said Applejack in disbelief. “Y’all freakier than Dashie. She said so herself.”

Rarity looked startled. “Really! I hardly know what to say! I suppose I must take it as a compliment—but it seems you don’t believe me?”

“Aw, Rarity, what do you expect me to think?”

Rarity lifted her chin, and glared. “Think of this. Applejack, I have openly rebuffed you and Dash, I have permitted you to follow me to a tryst regardless; I have taken secret delight in allowing you to watch me being pleasured. I have worn the finest in sexual attire before you. I have come until I could cry out no longer, before your eyes.” She took a deep breath. “But when have I ever, ever, EVER lied to you?”

That stopped Applejack. Rarity could see her thinking.

“You’re right, Rarity. Damn if you ain’t right. You never lied. Even said you had another engagement.” Applejack blinked. “Boy howdy, weren’t that th’ truth…”

Rarity seized the moment. She gazed deeply into Applejack’s eyes.

“You have my word that I will massage your body and take no liberties you don’t wish me to take.”

Applejack’s lip quivered. “Aw, Rarity!”

“I mean it. You’re hurting. You shouldn’t have to suffer that, you’ve done nothing wrong. Please say yes!”

The country mare heaved a big sigh. “Twist my hoof, why don’t you? All right. Yes. Hell yes! Start on my neck, sugar, it’s unbearable.”

She climbed onto her bed, wincing with each step, and Rarity pranced over and leapt into bed like a small filly. “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to jump. It’s unharmed, I hope?”

“Y’ realize who you’re talkin’ to? And who else has been here?”

Rarity made a wry face. “Point taken.” She wasted no more time, but began prodding Applejack’s neck and shoulders with her hooves.

“Aaaah!”

“Darling! Too harsh?”

“Give it to me, jes’ like that!”

Rarity snickered. “My! Those words will haunt my dreams, won’t they, darling?”

Applejack snorted. “You know what I meant! Fine. Talk as silly as you want, jes’ ahhh! keep doin’ that there!”

Rarity bent down to Applejack’s ear and crooned, “My pleasure.”

She fell silent, then, and the only sound was the thud of hooves, mingled with muffled yelps from Applejack when Rarity’s hooves attacked particularly tough knots of muscle.

Applejack sprawled out bonelessly as Rarity worked. First her neck, then shoulders and back were pummeled lovingly into yielding softness. Rarity screwed up her face in another pout as she rubbed Applejack’s forelegs between her hooves, for she’d only seen Aloe do that and wasn’t entirely sure how you went about it, but Applejack’s moans of pleasure told her she wasn’t screwing it up. Hindlegs required even firmer treatment, Applejack’s mighty hocks resisting the massage for a long time before being softened.

Rarity’s forehead sweated from her exertions. Her horn glowed as she wiped it, sparing her busy hooves. Then, she gnawed her lip tenderly. The time had come.

Rarity’s hooves began fondling and kneading Applejack’s ass.

“Nnhhh… uh… Rarity? What in tarnation do ya think you’re doin’?”

“It’s part of the massage, darling! Just relax.”

“But…”

“You’ve seen them do this. We’ve done everything else.”

“But… Oh, c’mon, Rarity, I smell th’ horny on you. You’re enjoyin’ this part.”

Rarity paused. “I’m sorry. I can stop. You’ve caught me. I… hoped I might smell it on you, as well.”

Applejack shook her head. “Honey, you done wonders. But don’t you understand I really was hurtin’? I reckon you’re givin’ me a sweet night’s sleep, and the relief I really needed. Ain’t that enough?”

“Of course,” said Rarity quietly, and then Applejack felt a little splash on her side, near her hip. It had been a tear: Rarity was crying.

“Aw, now, sugar! Don’t you cry! Uh… I hope that ain’t you bein’ a lil’ too clever?”

Rarity shook her head. “No. I assure you, no. Shall we conclude? Perhaps I’d better.”

Applejack twisted her head around to look back at Rarity, whose hooves were still on her ass. Rarity looked back, tragically. Applejack gulped.

“Honey, you mind tellin’ me what’s wrong? Y’all a lifesaver, I din’t mean to hurt you or nothin’.”

The elegant white unicorn didn’t sob. She didn’t wring her hooves, or wail, or ham it up in any way. She just looked back, tearfully, and Applejack slowly realized it wasn’t the usual Rarity moment.

“Rarity? Please tell me what’s th’ matter?”

At that, Rarity looked away. “I’m so sorry, Applejack.” She lifted her hooves off Applejack’s butt, carefully. “It was wrong of me.”

“Don’t tell me you was about ta… do stuff I din’t ask for?”

“What? No! You had my word! I would never!”

“All right,” said Applejack patiently. “Then why ya cryin’? Spit it out, Rarity.”

Rarity made a face. “Crass. But then, no more crass than myself…”

“Come on. Out with it. You weren’t gonna do nothin’ to me, but…?”

Rarity took a breath. “…but I’d hoped, really hoped, you’d… do things… to me. I am so ashamed, Applejack. And so sorry. I hope your neck feels better, at least?”

“Jes’ one minute. This is ‘cos of you thinkin’ stuff? I kinda saw that comin’. No offense.”

Rarity’s expression was dark. “My confounded appetites. I understand from Twilight that the magic bit is only exacerbating them.”

“Ex-a-what?”

“Making them worse. Or better… but it’s worse, if I can’t trust myself around my dearest friends. I knew you had one, and I thought it might be influencing you in the same way. I’ve lived a life of secret perversity, and I came here, after the pony I corrupted wrecked your relationship, and thought I could drag you into all that. Applejack, can you ever forgive me?”

“Now, hold on,” said Applejack stubbornly. “You’re shamed on account of you’re a perverted-ass pony?”

“I remember the night you and Rainbow watched me. I kept peeking up at the loft. Dash’s wings kept popping up, and she could scarcely contain herself, but it seemed like you were hiding your head and trembling. I’m not really sure, it was so hard to see anything in that darkness. My ways must seem so shocking to you. I have no business trying to entice you, even with backrubs.”

“Neck-rubs,” said Applejack.

Rarity shrugged. “Isn’t it much the same thing?”

“Not to me, sugar, not tonight!” said Applejack fervently. “And before you get so upset with yourself about corruptin’ the innocent farm-pony—how about you take a moment to consider jes’ who she was with, on that night?”

Rarity blinked. “It doesn’t bother you? That my motives were… Darling, you’ve made very plain that you weren’t interested. Through a blend of compassion and cunning, I touched you all over and fondled your ass extensively, even so. I feel I’ve not honored the spirit of the thing in the least. I shouldn’t be ashamed?”

Suddenly, Applejack smirked, her face transformed with mischief. “Ain’t touched me ALL over.”

Rarity blushed.

“Hah! Got ya,” said Applejack, and continued. “You’re takin’ things too serious, as usual, Rarity. You got nothin’ to be ashamed of. Your strange ways, well, they might be strange, but you din’t do nothin’ wrong. And it seems like… well, yours and mine, our esteemed exes, they was just made for wrong, damn it.”

Rarity didn’t respond. Applejack pressed on, earnestly.

“I did my best with her. I’m sure you hung onto him as long as you could. From what I’m seein’, I guess you was fair. I tried to be fair. We did our best, Rarity, each in our own ways. From everythin’ I know of you, I can’t see it as wrong. Mighty strange, sure, but it ain’t wrong. And you ain’t done me wrong, neither.”

Rarity sniffled, a bit. “Thank you, Applejack.”

Applejack chuckled, thoughtfully. “I coulda tole you not to do what you done to him, though. Dang, sugar, you got a nerve. You ain’t as smart as I thought. I guess you started th’ avalanche with your lil’ snowflake.”

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” said Rarity.

“Don’t blame yourself.”

“He came at least fifteen feet across the room. It was like a little come-cannon.”

Applejack gawked. “Okay, too damn much information…”

“Sorry.”

“No problem. Jes’ sayin’, that’s all.”

They sat for a moment, in silence.

“It’s not that little,” said Rarity. “Of a snowflake.”

“Heh.”

“Just saying, that’s all…” said Rarity.

“Uh-huh. Sure,” teased Applejack.

“I’m told yours isn’t little… quite the reverse, in fact.”

“Feelin’ a lil’ better, huh, Rarity? Suits me. Y’all can rub my neck anytime… but I ain’t got one of what you mean, now.”

“Of course not, I’d have seen it in your mouth. And elsewhere. Isn’t magic wonderful?”

“No,” said Applejack, “you ain’t followin’ me. I ain’t got no bit, no more. SOMEpony stole it. I’m all mare now.”

Rarity blinked—twice. “Stolen?”

“Yep.”

“Twilight could…”

“Nope. Din’tcha see my mane? I’m all mare now, Rarity. I don’t need it. How can I even… okay, remember me tryin’ on that hat of yours? Peekin’ from under th’ brim?”

“Yes? Radiant, by the way. But yes?”

“That’s me, Rarity. That’s me. No more stallioning. That page done turned. Writin’ on a new page now.”

“A new page?”

“Brand new.”

Rarity smiled at her friend, and Applejack smiled back—and then, Rarity leaned in to whisper…

“I still have mine… and I am prepared to use it.”

Applejack’s face was a study in consternation as thoughts ran across it. Finally, she stammered, “Well… then you sure ain’t me!”

“Quite,” said Rarity. She waited to see if Applejack had anything more sensible to say, but the country pony seemed speechless, so she continued. “Would you like me to bid you goodnight, dear Applejack?”

That broke the spell. “Uh, yes! I got to get some sleep. I got work tomorrow. I’m sure grateful you rubbed my neck and back, Rarity, you’re a lifesaver. I hope ya feel good because you’ve been real kind an’ all, an’ I surely do appreciate it…”

Rarity went for broke. “May I see you again?”

It was such a laughable question—they saw each other in town, constantly. It was also, at the same time, far from a laughable question—though it may have been a terribly hasty question. Rarity cursed her voraciousness, her greediness, for second after second as Applejack blinked, looked away, tried to process what was being suggested. Finally, she replied.

“Maybe.”

Rarity beamed, blew a kiss, and trotted out of the bedroom, down the stairs, and out of Sweet Apple Acres. She was halfway to town before she realized where she was.

Applejack lay in bed, her mind whirling, her body at ease. Her eyes darted about as she thought, and thought, and thought.

Eventually she admitted to herself that she had no idea what the shape of life was going to be. All she knew was this: whatever else happened, she would be able to keep her girliness. It was far more popular than she’d ever imagined, apparently. The freedom of that beckoned to her.

She snuggled into bed, kicking a hoof under the pillow—and gave a start, as she touched a blue feather, and memory beckoned to her as well.

It said: you’ve just gone an hour without thinking of Rainbow Dash. Are you happy?

Applejack fell asleep half an hour later, but she’d still not found a sensible answer to that question.