(Reforming Equines Can Be Tricky)
Meeting Twilight in the midst of twilight... the concept amused Rarity more than she cared to admit.
Earlier that day, her fellow unicorn had requested an audience with her around this time. As she knocked on the door to Twilight Sparkle's library house, she pondered just what the cause of her summons could have been. Twilight hadn't bothered to tell her why she was asking for Rarity's presence, but Rarity fully expected to be let in on that issue the second she was allowed inside--and, given what she knew of her friend's penchant for logical progression, for things to go like clockwork thereafter.
What she did not expect when the door opened was to see Twilight Sparkle dressed in full Grand Galloping Gala regalia.
Rarity knew the outfit all too well--after all, it was her own design. Starlight, star bright, stars all over Twilight's gown and shoes to light up a glorious night. Even if it had been the simplest of the designs she had crafted for the Gala, it was one she was most proud of--in part because it held a secret only she knew about.
"Twilight?" Rarity looked over her friend in genuine surprise. "You do realize the Gala was last week, yes?"
Twilight smiled and nodded. "I do. But I figured it would be appropriate. I'm sure you're wondering why I called this meeting in the first place."
"Just a bit, yes."
Twilight put her front hoof to her face in a mock-thinking pose. "Well, I was just noting to myself what a great job you did making this gown for me."
"Well, I... um... thank you again," Rarity said, a little flustered and still confused.
Twilight, however, ignored Rarity's reaction and pressed the issue, walking towards her friend. Her voice took on an edge easily identifiable as sarcasm. "It's just such a striking, powerful design! Tell me, Rarity: should I applaud you for cleverness..." She turned around in her gown. "...or chastise you for laziness?"
"What? I'm sorry, Twilight, but I'm afraid I don't follo-" Rarity started... and then, suddenly, she did. "Ohhhhh."
So Twilight had figured it out, after all.
"Oh, Twilight," Rarity said with a cunning smile. "You wound me to the quick! Inspiration can come from any number of places. I'm sure you know this better than anypony. You've already proven your fondness for taking on the roles of others, have you not?"
Twilight recoiled, miming having taken a magic blast to the heart. "Ooof! Low blow, don't you think?"
"Merely repaying in kind. Just be glad I'm fond of that fondness." Rarity sighed. "But yes, I admit I was a little beside myself when I saw just how well you took to the design--considering from where it was partially lifted."
"I thought it looked familiar, but it didn't completely hit me until the Gala."
"The Gala? Why then?"
"Because the Gala... I saw her there, Rarity. I'm sure of it."
Rarity perked up. "You what? You saw her? And you told none of us?"
"Well... it was more like I sensed her, but only for a few moments. Unicorns of a high enough magic level can do that--and now that I think about it, she disappeared just as quickly as I felt her presence. She must have known I was nearby, too."
"Perhaps she didn't want to be noticed?"
"I'd believe that. I got a brief glimpse of her when were were close, near the outskirts of the castle grounds. It... it was depressing, Rarity. That's all I can say. I don't think she was invited. She was on the outside, looking in. I think she felt like she belonged there... and under different circumstances, she might have."
Such empathy coming from Twilight, Rarity noticed... then narrowed her eyes accusingly. "You... you blame yourself, don't you?"
Twilight hesitated. "What if I do?"
"That's your decision... but I thought you knew better. Anything that filly did, she brought on herself." Rarity shook her head. "I suppose that explains your restoration endeavor, as well."
Twilight gasped. "You know about that too?" Frantically, she pulled Rarity close and shook her. "Who else? Who else does?"
"T-T-Twilight, T-Twilight!" Fighting dizziness, Rarity managed to push her away. "Ease off the red alert! At present, only myself and Applejack are aware of your... pet project. In fact, it was Applejack who found it first, whilst scouting for possible expansion grounds for her family's farm."
Twilight sighed. "Awww. I forgot she goes pretty much everywhere."
"You're rather lucky, actually. She tried to tell the rest of us, but Ponyville will always be Ponyville, I'm afraid. I was the only one not busy yelling at something or somepony at the time." She paused, as if debating something in her mind, then said, "Mind if check on your progress?"
"You really want to?" Twilight asked. "Didn't you just say-"
"I wish to see your dedication firsthoof. Regardless of the subject matter, I always love watching you put your mind to something. It seems nothing can stand in your way when you do."
"...all right," said a blushing Twilight, and after ten seconds of concentration, they were suddenly in a clearing several miles away. "There it is," she said, pointing to a half-rebuilt wooden pile. "I sort of wish this wasn't taking so long."
"Well, it did get smashed to pieces," Rarity replied. "That sort of thing does take a while to fix." She walked around Twilight's 'project.' "But wow, look at you. You're really going through with this."
"The inside's proving to be the toughest. None of us have ever been in this thing before, so I have to improvise. I just hope it can compare to what she originally had."
Rarity nodded. "Still! Given our first encounter with her, I'm not sure if I would have done the same thing you're doing in your place--and I'm absolutely sure Applejack wouldn't have."
"Really? How do you know?"
"She spent quite some time saying so. Something about 'low-down, no good, dirty, can't-get-right-fer-nothin'-"
"Ouch! Okay, okay, I get the point."
"And speaking frankly, I very much agree with her point of view. I'm not sure the pony you're dedicating this scale of effort to truly deserves it."
Twilight dropped her head. "I'm not sure either. It's sort of why I was afraid to tell you guys."
"As I said before, this is your decision, not ours. You do what you think is right. However, there's one pony on Equestria who I'm sure would condone what you're doing."
"Princess Celestia." Rarity wrapped one front leg around Twilight and nodded towards the wooden structure--a vehicle, she had noticed, whose wheels were already back in place. "I honestly feel she would be pleased if she saw this. Random acts of kindness are a cornerstone staple of friendship. As is forgiveness."
"Thanks, Rarity. I wish I could say this was random, though."
"Oh?" said a mildly surprised Rarity. "You have reasons?"
"I do." Twilight stared up at the night sky in reminiscence. "I remember when I was like her, back in Canterlot. There was a time when I would act superior; flaunting my magic, lashing out... then I got put in my place. I chose to live a pretty solitary life after that, not letting anypony get close to me outside of Spike. The way I figured it, books didn't get mad at you. They never talked back, you couldn't hurt their feelings, and they couldn't hurt yours."
Rarity chose not to comment. While she sympathized with Twilight, her thoughts on such a mindset were best kept to herself.
"Then Celestia took me under her wing, and guided me to meet ponies willing to look past my faults and be friends with me anyway. That's why I was so afraid to show just how powerful I really was for so long. I didn't want to risk losing the gift I'd been given. The gift of a clean slate."
Rarity looked at the vehicle again. "And you want to do that for her."
Twilight nodded. "Everypony makes mistakes in life. Everypony deserves a second chance." She shivered as she recalled memories of years past. Sensing as much, Rarity cuddled Twilight closer to her.
"Now I understand. From what I know of you, this is the first time I've ever seen you... reach out with so much goodwill towards something so unknown. You must be on pins and needles."
"I am. I think she still blames me for what happened, too."
Rarity scoffed and rolled her eyes. "No offense, but you're both crazy. Listen..." And there was that internal debate again. However, her last few sentences had pretty much made up her mind for her. "How about I help you with the interior design?"
Twilight gasped. "Rarity, you don't have to-"
"I insist. Perhaps you have a point about fellow unicorns sticking together. Besides, I shudder to think what might happen if a designer's touch isn't applied to a vehicle whose owner, I must admit, thrived just as much on style as I did."
Not five seconds after she said all that than Rarity found herself near-tackled to the ground by an overjoyed unicorn. "Oh, thank you, Rarity! Thank you so much! I promise you won't regret this!"
"Ouch! I'm not much able to help if I'm in traction, you know."
"Sorry, sorry. But with two ponies on the case, I think we can get this done a lot faster."
"Meaning it will be gone faster. I approve."
"Oh, I kid, Sparkle, I kid. Let me know when you finish the outside, and I'll take over..."