Just A Taste</u>
Applejack liked to keep things focused. It had always been the surest way she knew to get things done right. One step at a time, one problem resolved before another, one line of thought pursued from start to finish. No dithering, no distractions, just concentration and clarity.
As the orange Earth Pony made her way through Ponyville’s streets, the stars in the night sky providing her the only real light available, that focus was all the more valuable now. The day she had just experienced left her no shortage of things to think about, after all; Twilight Sparkle, an alicorn princess! It had been quite the shock for everypony, and Applejack only hoped that the Coronation, which would be held at the first light of dawn tomorrow, would be as wonderful a one as her dear friend deserved.
But for all that she was happy for her friend, and equal parts excited and anxious to discover what this new title meant for the former unicorn, Applejack found her thoughts kept coming back to another element of the day’s adventure: the three little diamonds she had so briefly worn as her Cutie Mark.
The specifics of what had happened in that time were still…muddled for Applejack, vague and dreamlike to recall. But the broader feelings? The emotions that had raced through her heart like lightning, pulsing and pounding and overwhelming? Those, the Earth Pony remembered with crystal clarity. She had gotten a taste of what it was like to be Rarity. To her surprise-and her shame-it had proven more than she could handle.
There were, of course, plenty of skills Applejack did not have, things she was not very good at doing. There was nothing wrong with that; the farmer had long since learned how to swallow her pride and accept her limits. Yet as the Carousel Boutique came into view, she knew the reason her inability to meet the challenge Rarity’s Cutie Mark had presented held onto her thoughts so strongly.
Knocking on the door, taking her signature stetson hat in hoof and holding it to her chest, Applejack hoped she’d at least be able to tell it to the pony who most deserved to hear it.
“Hello?” Rarity greeted with a sing-song voice as she opened the door.
The unicorn was wearing her work glasses, the tell-tale tape measure draped around her neck. Working on her friends’ dresses for the Coronation, Applejack guessed with a little smile. ”Evenin’, Rarity,” she replied humbly, “Hope I ain’t botherin’ ya none?”
The fashionista’s eyes twinkled a bit as she let her visitor inside. ”It is never a bother to have a dear friend visit, Applejack,” she said, “though I admit myself curious as to what brings you by at this late hour. Shouldn’t you be getting plenty of rest for Twilight’s Coronation?”
“I couldn’t sleep,” Applejack replied simply. ”Kept thinkin’ about…things. Things I wanted t’tell you.”
That clearly caught Rarity’s attention something fierce. ”Oh?”
Applejack nodded, taking a brief moment to look over the boutique and its many glimmering gowns. Hazy images of tattered shades and boarded-up windows danced across the farmer's mind at that. ”I reckon I made a right mess ‘o’ this place,” she whispered. ”And you fixed it right up in no time at all.”
“Oh now Applejack, darling,” Rarity was quick to put a comforting hoof on the Earth Pony’s shoulder, “think nothing of it. None of us were in our right minds today, after all, and I would no more want you feeling guilty over it than you would Pinkie Pie’s time as a farmhoof.”
That got a chuckle out of Applejack, one that helped her keep a little smile as she met the unicorn’s blue eyes. ”Fair ‘nuff,” she said, “but the thing is….”
She pressed down on her hat a bit, taking a moment to resolve herself. To make sure the words came out exactly right. ”Look, Rarity,” she said, “I’ve always known you were a good Pony ‘n’ a fine friend. But I think, deep down, I always looked at what you do as…well…silly. Not ‘real’ work. And today, I got t’learn just how wrong I was.”
She slipped her hat back on, only to place her now-free hoof upon Rarity’s. ”I just wanted t’apologize for underestimatin’ you all this time. You’re as hard a worker as I could ever find, ‘n’ I’m all the prouder t’have you as a friend. I only hope you can forgive a silly ol’ farmer for her silly ol’ mistake.”
Rarity’s eyes glimmered with pride and glee, a bright smile spreading on her face from cheek to cheek. ”But of course, darling!” she said. ”After all, if Applejack, the most dependable Pony in Ponyville, tells me she is proud of my work...well, one cannot ask for a higher compliment than that.”
The Earth Pony’s smile widened just a bit, and both shared a quick little hug. ”Well…thank ya kindly for bein’ so understandin’, Rarity,” Applejack said, a yawn cutting her off before she could say more.
“Think nothing of it, dear,” Rarity replied, gently guiding her friend back to the door, “Now you go on and get some sleep, and thank you again for the visit.”
Applejack nodded, rubbing a bit of sleep out of her eyes. ”G’night, Rarity,” she said warmly.
“Good night, Applejack,” Rarity replied in kind, watching her friend depart with a giddy heartbeat.
Once she was sure the farmer was gone, she quickly trotted into the Carousel’s backroom, barely able to contain her excitement. There, tucked behind the Coronation dresses that were long since finished, was the unicorn’s true project: the gown Applejack had been working on when Rarity had come to help her in the boutique, slowly but surely being rebuilt under a more experienced hoof.
“Just a few more touches,” Rarity said to herself as she prepared to finish her friend’s gift.