The Tumbling Downs was on the very edge of town, an off-the-path place where usually a stallion could be found with too many sheets to the wind and a few too many gold coins wasted on mead. On most nights the Prancing Pony or the Fancy Girdle would be Rarity's first choice, but tonight of all nights, with the village suddenly pizzled in a late-March rain
That she wouldn't be caught dead looking mangled and upset like this in front of her "social friends", well
it was convenient.
Ambling in, the haggard stark white and dark lavender pony took in the sight of a clean, well-lit tavern. True to Ponyville form it featured (heavily) dark hardwood floors, smiley-face wooden drink coasters, the fashionable dry-eraser Specials Of The Day list. The place smelled of cedar and low tobacco notes. It wasn't posh and not the most popular in town, but the entire bar was eerily empty.
This was fortunate. Rarity felt a little empty. It matched, like a tiara and the proper scarf.
"Good evening, Miss Rarity. You're looking
tired," the young dun stallion Silver Stewart faltered, bright blue eyes nervous.
"Thank you for your kindness, Silver, I'll
I'll just need a minute to collect myself. Can I have a water with lemon?" Rarity managed, sagging all-fours onto her stool. Her cheek found her hoof quite comfortable to bury into.
Rarity chewed at her lip. Can I just have my work duds changed, she asks. Can I have it less
froo froo, she asks.
The cold rocks glass with lemon wedge appeared at her hoof. Rarity took it, downing it on one go, spitting back the lemon.
She had come over earlier that day to deliberate over a certain apple-themed dress. Blond eyebrows had waggled, doubting, judging the fine implied action lines Rarity had chosen for her neck line, radiating away from a pretty face.
The filly had tutted her tongue - against those perfect straight white teeth - at the skirt Rarity had herring-bone structured to show off those curves. She was "quizzical" at best at the broach she'd chosen to accentuate the perfect symmetry of pectorals Rarity admired. Rarity so often had seen them working so hard to pick, to reach, to pluck, strong yet supple.
That plebeian was so dismissive of all the simple elegance the dress was crafted for. There was no comprehension in those laughing eyes of how it symbolized the beauty of fresh blossoms under the sun in the lush green of the orchards --
She had guffawed at the finest "country tartan" Rarity had chosen carefully to bring out those gorgeous emerald eyes - or the special lipstick to go with the outfit, chosen especially to wetten those two kissable lips.
Yet at the end, all that and - "Thank yah kindly Rarity, you're a great pal," leaving a list of terrible suggestions, a dress full of penciled corrections, the faintest smell of apples and ... an ache.
A quiet hem hem broke the purple-haired pony's reverie.
"Can I interest you in a special tonight?" Silver Stewart asked, raising a worried eyebrow at Ponyville's best seamstress, seemingly-come-apart-at-the-seams.
"Certainly. I have six dresses and- plenty of reason to celebrate, I suppose. Five friends and all." Rarity attempted to force cheer. It came out threadbare and worn.
Silver nodded, frown vanishing, "'We have a Trojan Horse, a Fine Zombie, the Applejack Sidecar --"
Rarity felt her ears perk. Stopping him shortly, "I think I'd like the
the sidecar, thank you."
The stallion nodded. Mixing and twisting, taking out the martini glass, shaking, blending, taking out the brandy, the right juices, the ample spices, turning and tuning and making something new and diverting, distracting -
A glass appeared suddenly, clear. The drink was brown and solid, swirling, a rind of lemon resting comfortably in a dark orange bath. Raising it to her lips, licking away the rough cinnamon sprinkled at the rim, she sipped.
It was cool. Refreshing. Cinnamon and apples. It had an undercurrent of dark that circled her tongue and made its way icy smooth and brandy-hot all the way down. The lemon only added to the sensation; acids mixed to make biting tang, light yet present. It was perfectly balanced. It was bright. it was explosive. It was delicious and rough and open and honest and caring and beautiful and had the most adorable laugh --
"Just as I thought," Rarity whispered to herself, embarrassed at welling tears, "Applejack tastes wonderful."