Applecores and Rainbows
The day of their private party had arrived as Rainbow Dash and Applejack headed towards Sugar Cube Corner. The obvious caterer for the event could be none other than Pinkie.
"I hope she made one of her awesome cakes!" Dash exclaimed excitedly, flying in small loops above the orange earth pony.
"Ah'm sure she did. She is Pinkie, after all." Applejack found herself looking forward to the party herself. Though it was only going to be a gathering of their closest friends, it still marked a significant moment for her and the pegasus flying around her. "And would'ya get down here already. Ah'd like to walk beside my mare, if ya don't mind."
Dash couldn't help but giggle. She had grown quite fond of the affectionate titles. "All right. I swear you're trying to make me an earth pony. Too bad you can't hit the skies with me."
The idea had come to AJ a few times to ask Twilight to use that flight spell on her, if only so she could join the pegasus in her own home for once. "Now, Sug', Ah couldn't take the one thing you can do better than me from ya," she joked. The competitive spirit of their friendship had lived well into their relationship, for which both were pleased.
Dash smirked at the pony beside her. "Oh, yeah? How about a hoof race then? First to Pinkie's wins!"
At the challenge, both ponies darted off towards Ponyville.
Applejack burst through the front door of Sugar Cube Corner just moments before the pegasus. "See? Ya don't use those hooves'a yers enough there, Feather-Flank!" She smiled warmly to the mare.
"Yeah, yeah, so you won this time. We'll see on the way back to the farm if it was just luck!" Dash leaned over, nuzzling the earth pony.
Both ponies froze in place as Mr. Cake was heard. They hadn't expected with Pinkie holding a party that the two owners would be in today. Mrs. Cake tended to the displays in one corner of the shop while Mr. Cake ran the front desk. After the abrupt entrance, though, both shopkeepers were now looking to the couple by the door. Mr. Cake spoke again. "Anything we can do for you?"
Dash quickly backed away from her mare, trying to play it casual. "Oh, uh, hey Mr. Cake! Just here for the party."
It was then that Dash and AJ noticed the state of the building. It was no more festive than any other working day in the sweets shop. Colorful desserts and decorations sat around as always, but nothing like what Pinkie's parties normally entailed. Did they get the time wrong?
Mr. Cake looked to the two ponies. "A party? Here? Can't say I heard about it. Did you know anything about a party, Cup?"
Mrs. Cake turned to her husband. "Hmm. Well, I don't recall anything." She looked over the two ponies. "Oh! Are you girls looking for Pinkie? She just left here with a cart of sweets and a bunch of decorations! She was headed to the Event Parlor."
The couple's jaws dropped. Pinkie was somehow able to rent out the Event Parlor for the party? It was a huge gallery, only used for the most special occasions, such as the Summer Sun Celebration. How did the party pony get that venue!
Catching their senses, Dash and AJ pulled together their expressions. "Oh, she is?" AJ managed. "Well, thank ya. We'll just head that way now." She and Dash were quickly off. They just had to ask the pink pony how she had persuaded the mayor to let them use such a luxurious facility for a small party. If anypony could, though, it was probably Pinkie.
As the two ponies left, Mr. Cake turned to his wife. "Do you think they meant the Ponyville Friendship Festival?"
Mrs. Cake set a fresh plate of muffins out on a display counter. "I'm not sure, Carrot. Everypony in Ponyville's going to be at that, so surely they didn't think we were going to hold the event here!" The two shared a laugh as they prepared to open proper for the big day.
As Applejack and Rainbow Dash approached the Event Parlor, Pinkie, Fluttershy, and Spike were wheeling carts of fresh pastries into the door.
"Hey, Pinks!" Dash had beaten AJ in their race this time, but the excitement of the party made her forget to gloat. "So you're throwing the party here?"
The caterers quickly pushed the carts inside. Fluttershy turned to the approaching ponies. "Oh! Girls! You almost spoiled it!"
"Spoiled what?" AJ asked as she caught up to the two ponies near the building. "What's happenin'?"
"Well," Pinkie began, "I was getting ready to throw the party at Sugar Cube Corner, but then this place became available, so I had to redecorate. And since this place is SO much better than the shop, I had to make it a super duper party! But, we're not ready yet! Just a little bit more."
"So, yer sayin' we just gotta wait a bit?" AJ asked. She didn't mind the delay if it meant things would be 'Pinkie Pie Perfect.'
"Oh, not too long! Just a few more decorations!" Pinkie was as bouncy as ever. She always got this way when she threw a large party, even if only for a few ponies. "Fluttershy, Spike, would you please take the girls around back. It's their party, after all, so what better way to have them show up than from the stage!"
Fluttershy giggled. "Of course. Right this way, girls." She was enjoying playing the role of a party caterer.
As the mated couple followed the quiet pegasus and little dragon around to the rear entrance, Pinkie entered the building, returning to decorating.
Even the party pony had to admit that she had outdone herself on this one. Inside, the parlor was a sea of brightly colored ribbons and banners, all dedicated to the lovers, with large bundles of balloons throughout. She didn't get to use the parlor for parties often, so she had to make it count. The small rainbow dyed cake she made for the original party had been added to, now towering the height of three ponies. She had made a slight error on the icing, writing "Congratulations Appledash and Rainbowjack!" by mistake. Above the stage hung the largest banner, proudly displaying "Applejack and Rainbow Dash Forever!", adorned with pictures of hearts, apples, and rainbows. Not one piece of the room didn't promote the union between the two mares.
Twilight and Rarity were helping with the decorations, using magic to hang the signs and banners on the walls. Twilight turned to the pink pony, setting the final banner on her side of the room. "Pinkie, I think you may have gone a little overboard on this one."
"What do you mean, Twi?" Pinkie was setting out the many sweets she had baked that morning, lining a large table from side to side with sugary delicacies.
"I think what Twilight is trying to say," Rarity joined, "is that this party could put the Grand Galloping Gala to shame. You did remember that only six ponies and a young dragon are attending, right?"
Pinkie giggled, realizing just how far she had gone for the event. "Oopsy daisy! Well, if you're going to have a party, it might as well be a PAR-TAY!"
Noticing one of the curtains had come undrawn, Twilight moved to set it right again. Glancing out through the sheets of fabric, though, she noticed a rather large crowd forming just outside the parlor. "Pinkie, there sure are a lot of ponies out there. Did you tell anyone about this party?"
Pinkie bounced to the window with her friend. Sure enough, a large gathering stood just outside the front. "Oh, wow!" the party pony began. "All of Ponyville must be out there! Ooh! Look! Here come the Princesses!"
A golden chariot pulled by royal guards landed before the crowd, pulling Princess Celestia and Princess Luna within. The mayor was quick to meet with the two royal mares.
Twilight jumped back from the window. "The Princesses?! Why are they here?!" She hadn't told Celestia of Dash and AJ, so why were the royal sisters in Ponyville? She wracked her mind as to what could be going on.
Pinkie continued to watch the growing crowd from the window. "Wow! I wonder if the Princesses heard about my party somehow! Hmm. Princesses. Prin-cess-es. Prin-cesses! That's a funny word!"
Twilight was too busy putting together the pieces to listen to the pony. "Pinkie, tell me again how you got this venue for the party."
The pink pony backed from the window, letting the curtain draw closed again. "Well, I was getting ready in Sugar Cube Corner, when the mayor showed up and told me the Event Parlor was ready for the party! I don't really remember sending in a request, though, but I guess I did! How else would I have gotten this room?"
The gears were turning in the purple unicorn's mind. "Wait... wait, what day is today?"
"Tuesday, silly!" Pinkie answered.
Rarity, who had just tied up the final set of balloons, turned to the others. "No, Darling, it's Wednesday."
Pinkie looked up in contemplation. "Really? Wasn't there was something I had to do on Wednesday?"
Twilight knew there was something special about that day. Something she should remember. "Wednesday... Wednesday..." There was a flash in her mind. The picture was finally clear. "Oh... Oh, Celestia! Pinkie! The mayor didn't lend you the parlor for our party; she lent it for the Ponyville Friendship Festival! You were the party planner!"
Pinkie's expression sank to one of shock at the discovery. In her excitement for her friends, she had forgotten that she was asked to plan a party of the event honoring Ponyville as the friendliest town in Equestria. All of Ponyville was invited to attend, as were the two Princesses. She had mixed up the dates. The crowd outside was gathered to attend the party she had designed in the parlor, which was now decorated in full with congratulations to the mare couple. "ABANDON PARTY!"
Rarity froze stiff. "What do we do, what do we do! Any second now, those ponies are going march in here!"
Twilight felt panic rising in her. "We have to get rid of all these decorations! Now!"
It would be no simple task, the ponies remarked. They had practically painted the room in commemoration of their friends. Even the cake was named to the pair! They had to work fast. The trio scrambled to clear as much of the work as they could.
It was too late though. The doors were being opened for the procession.
Mayor Mare led the population into the theatre, followed shortly behind by the Princesses and their guards. "And without further ado," the mayor announced, "I give you the first annual Ponyville Friendship Festival!"
A stillness fell over both groups. On one side, three stunned ponies had revealed two of their friends' biggest secret. On the other, much of the population took in the strange message around them. The blistering silence was only broken by a commotion from behind the stage.
Dash erupted from the curtained stage, AJ close behind. "What's taking you guys so long?"
Fluttershy and Spike were soon to follow, the quiet pegasus calling them back. "Oh, they didn't call us yet!"
The group on stage joined into the awkward silence that settled on the room. Before the couple was a theatre full of remarks to their love, and a growing sea of ponies they hadn't intended to tell. A glance at Pinkie revealed instantly that this wasn't her plan, a look of worry and apology on her face.
Mayor Mare stepped forward finally. "What is the meaning of this? Pinkie, is this a joke?"
In a rare moment, Pinkie found no words. None of the party planners could speak.
The couple the party had unintentionally been dedicated to stood on stage, all eyes affixed on them. Some were full of confusion, some realization, and a few seemed to burn of disapproval.
Dash looked back to Applejack. The pegasus herself had nothing to lose by being outed, but AJ did. The farmer's face was worn with a fear and worry that Dash never wanted to see again.
The pegasus moved in front of her mare, flaring out her wings defensively as if expecting an attack. Mistake or not, they were revealed. "Anypony got a problem with it?"
Princess Celestia stepped forward past the mayor. She looked about the room, taking in the setting. Finally, she spoke. "This is wonderful!"
Dash and AJ couldn't even mask their confusion. The ponies looked to each other with bewildered looks, confirming they had heard correctly.
"I must say, I wasn't expecting this," the Princess of the Sun continued, "but this is truly something special! What better way to show a town's friendliness than by coming together for two of their own! Congratulations, Rainbow Dash and Applejack!"
The princess began to stomp her hooves in applause for the two ponies on stage, followed quickly by more ponies in the crowd. Soon, the room was alight with the sounds of celebrating hooves and cheers.
The honored couple stood beside each other on stage, incredulous as to what had happened. Princess Celestia had taken the mistake as intention, and supported the couple. They silently decided that no correction was going to be provided. If the princesses supported them, they knew many others would, or would at least stuff a hoof in their mouthes if they felt otherwise.
After a few more rounds of cheering, the party began. Ponies from all over Ponyville filed into the room, going about the event as if it were any other celebration. Soon after the festivities livened, Mayor Mare walked over to the still rattled Pinkie. "When I first walked in, I was most certain that there was some mistake," the mayor began. "But seeing it now, I'm pleasantly surprised with what you came up with! Though, next time, perhaps consult me before trying such radical ideas."
Pinkie put on her widest smile. "Oh, well, it's all in the spirit of friendship!" She laughed, though mostly in a relieved nervousness.
As Mayor Mare rejoined the event, Princess Celestia walked over to the pink pony as well. "Pinkie Pie, this is a wonderful party."
Again, Pinkie faked a confident smile. "Thanks!" It was still a great party, she thought, but was far from her intention.
Princess Celestia returned her own, genuine smile. "And by the way," she added, leaning towards Pinkie to speak in private. "Try not to mix up dates again. This time was a close call."
Pinkie blushed, the Princess revealing she knew of the error. Both ponies giggled to themselves, relieved by how it had played out.
Dash and Applejack began to mingle with the crowd around them. A few ponies cast sidelong glances to them, but many more came to grant them best wishes. Pulling them aside, Bon-Bon and Lyra even commended them on their courage.
"Well, this didn't go as intended," Dash spoke with AJ, finally finding a moment to themselves, "but I think it worked out well." She nuzzled closer to her mare, enjoying being able to show her affection in a public setting. AJ, however, didn't seem to respond as well. Dash could sense something wasn't right. "What's wrong, babe?"
Applejack had tried not to let it show, but something was indeed wrong. "Dash, most every pony in all'a Ponyville is here. Do ya notice who isn't?"
The blue pegasus hadn't actually taken notice, but knew the answer as if she was tuned to the pony's feelings. "Your family isn't..."
"What's worse," AJ continued, "is that Ah know Ah saw'em come in with the crowd at the start..."
Inside a sick feeling of guilt gripped her. She had wanted to tell them, but never knew how. She hadn't intended for them to find out like this. And now, her family was mysteriously absent from the event celebrating the two ponies. Did that mean they didn't celebrate it?
Dash wouldn't stand for it. "Come on, AJ. We're heading to your farm."
Before the orange pony could protest, the Dash was out the door, headed to the Apple home. There was no point in arguing. AJ followed in suit.
The couple reached the farmhouse soon after departing their own party-turned-annual-festival. As they neared, a large red stallion could be seen by the front door, with a smaller yellow pony beside him.
"Big Macintosh," AJ called. "Ah guess things ain't goin' so well here..."
The stallion looked down, a sorrowful look on his face. "Eenope..."
Applebloom looked up to her brother. "Is Applejack gonna hafta move out?" Big Macintosh quickly shot a look to the small pony, silencing her.
AJ could feel her knees buckling. Dread filled her as the thoughts twisted in her mind. She could always depend on her family, and now she didn't even know if she was considered part of it anymore.
Big Macintosh looked back to the mare. "AJ, Ah think Granny Smith wants a word with ya."
Applejack expected such. Speech having left her power, she could only nod to the stallion. She walked forward to the door.
"If it means anything," the stallion continued, "you'll always be family to me."
It was a simple comfort in a world of fear. "Thank ya, Big Macintosh."
Dash stepped forward to join her mare, but found herself blocked by the hoof of the stallion. "Ah don't think ya need to go in with her, Dash."
"I'm sticking by my mare, Mac, so just get out of the way." For nopony but AJ would she have taken such an offensive tone with the larger pony.
"It's all right, Dash," AJ called from the doorway. "Ah gotta do this on mah own. Just promise me you'll be out here when it's done."
Dash hated letting AJ enter the house by herself, but respected the strong ties the family held to honor. "Okay, Jacks. I'll be here."
AJ disappeared into the eerie silence of the Apple house.
Granny Smith sat in her rocking chair in the den. It wasn't often that she called a family member aside for a talk, but when she did, anypony would grow nervous.
Applejack walked before the elder, sitting between her and the wall of family portraits. The thick tension that hung in the air drove nails under the ponies hooves. Just facing her grandmother in this circumstance told every fiber of her being to take to her hooves and retreat. Bound by an undying respect for the Apple name, she knew she would accept whatever came of her actions.
Granny Smith halted her rocking motion as the mare stood before her. "How long?"
AJ felt an icy chill run across her coat. She couldn't meet her grandmother's eyes. "Two months."
"Two months," her elder repeated, "and you never told your family?"
"Big Macintosh knew," the younger mare replied in a factual tone.
"And I had to learn at a party?" the older pony accused.
Guilt again rang through Applejack. "The party was a mistake. It was s'posed to just be me and mah friends. Pinkie Pie mixed it up. We didn't intend fer everypony to know."
There was a long silence in the dark room. The family elder was debating her judgement, and AJ stood as the accused. Her only crime was being true to herself, but perhaps that was all it took.
Finally, Granny Smith broke the soundlessness. "Do you love her?"
AJ didn't even have to think the question over. "With all mah heart."
Granny Smith began to rock her chair again. This signaled that a verdict had been reached. "I can't pretend I understand, or that I can fully approve."
The words stabbed into the Applejack's heart. She felt as if she was going to faint as her punishment was to be called.
"But," the elder continued, "if she makes you happy, that's what matters most."
The world seemed to shift on its axis. AJ looked up, tears still wet in the corner of her eyes. The older pony was smiling to her.
"I raised you since you were just a little filly," she spoke, warmed by the memories. "All I've ever wanted was to see you happy. If she's what it takes, who am I to say that's wrong."
AJ stood wordless, wrapped in disbelief. Her heart swelled with joy as the words sank in. "Oh, Granny!" She moved forward, wrapping her forelegs around the older mare in a tight hug.
She should have known she could always trust her family. Big Macintosh had told her that two months ago, and it took this long to sink in. When all was said and done, they were always there for her. And now, Rainbow was truly a part of that family.
AJ sat with her mare atop the hill Dash had first asked her out from. They both watched as Celestia's sun set beneath the horizon. The party held accidentally in their honor still continued in the distant village.
"Yer not allowed to stay over anymore," AJ answered to the pegasus, "and Granny'd be happier if we didn't show too much of a shine to each other around her. Got off pretty easy on that, Ah'd say."
Dash couldn't protest the arrangement. She knew it was out of respect for AJ's family, which she found admirable. "I'm just glad things worked out in there. And if I can't stay with you in the Apple home, we'll just have to get a house for the both of us. Even if I have to build one myself, it's as good as done, babe."
AJ chuckled. "Ah'd like that, but don't ya dare think yer buildin' it on yer own. It'd be mah house, too. Besides, ya need a strong pony around to do it right anyway."
Both ponies enjoyed a laugh together, snuggled beneath the glowing sky.
"Ya know," AJ began again, a solemn tone to her voice, "someponies may never talk to us again after today."
"Yeah," Rainbow Dash responded. "And I'm okay with that, because we don't need those kinds of ponies. All we need are our friends," she nuzzled against the orange pony, "and each other."
AJ rubbed back against the mare she called her own. "Ah love you, Rainbow."
The pegasus blushed under the cooing voice. "I love you, too, Applejack."
The couple shared a passionate kiss as the final light of day passed before them.