It was three months later.
The day was warm and sunny and Rarity lounged in her Boutique. She was bored; there looked to be no business today and she wondered if she shouldn't close up early. A slow day like this really made you miss the past: sometimes it seemed as though something strange or exciting happened every other day. Now things were so humdrum she was practically dozing. It wasn't as though she was complaining, goodness no, but over the last couple of weeks it just seemed as though something were missing. Some element that she couldn't put her hoof on, a certain je ne sais quoi. Maybe it was just the cozy sunlight making her mind drift.
News had come that Summersday had finally found himself a wife-to-be. Given the events of my visit, I can only hope he played it fair instead of pick-and-choose, she thought to herself. Over the quarter-year her hatred of him had diminished, but he still held a dark place in her mind; one that may never be clean again.
She considered sending a wedding gift wholly for the bride of course, whom she held no ill will towards and while contemplating what she might send her in commiseration as much as congratulations, Rarity's mind drifted from thoughts of the sunny weather to thoughts of Spike instead; her knight in scaled armor. The dear little fellow had been nothing but helpful since that day when she had returned from Summerday's mansion, a shattered remnant of her usual self.
It had been he who had first come to her aid when she had been hysterical with grief. It had been he who had spent the first day calming her into a peaceful slumber, gently stroking her mane and neck while humming quietly to her as if she were a young filly frightened by a nightmare. It had been he who had alerted her friends, so that they might help her through that dark time. And it had been he who made her days since then all the brighter just by being there.
Just by being Spike.
And he asked nothing - nothing - in return, save a smile and spoken words; gifts freely given, for during that time he and her other friends had shown her more generosity than she had; a lesson hard taught and learned well. And he had been the linchpin. Even now, the remembrance brought a smile to her face and often a tear to her eye.
The thought of something missing struck her again and there was an answering spark in her mind.
Spike. The thought had to do with Spike. She didn't know what it was, precisely, but it seemed as though the warm thoughts she had of him were becoming...warmer recently, as if she...
Her eyes widened.
Wherever did that come from? She had felt this way only twice before; the first time leading to disappointment, the second to heartbreak, but in each event there had been one constant.
And though she had only thought of him as a close friend, over the last three months she had slowly begun to think of him as more but had not noticed, as though this thought had slowly crept its way through the undergrowth of her mind.
Until now, when it had finally pounced from its hiding place and into the forefront.
Now let's not jump into this, Rarity. I know he adores me - he's very bad at keeping secrets in that respect and I must admit the feeling is getting more mutual by the day, but I want to take this slowly and carefully regardless. I'm not even entirely sure how old he is. Still, though, he's been the most honorable of gentlemen gentedragons? - I've ever had the joy to meet. Maybe, just maybe, we could...
As she was considering this new and interesting thought, the bell above her front door tinkled gently and Rarity looked up.
It was three months later.
The day was warm and sunny and Spike was walking down the street, about to do one of the most difficult things in his life. It's times like this I wish reptiles could sweat, Spike thought to himself, blowing a small puff of smoke from his nostrils. It's bad enough I'm so afraid for myself that my fire is backing up, but the sun's shining right on me, too. I don't even know why I'm doing this...
Three months ago he had planned to tell Rarity his feelings for her. He'd missed his chance when she'd gone to visit
him. She had returned from her visit a complete wreck and it had taken both himself and her other friends an entire week before they had been able to get her back to herself. Summersday had broken her; broken her into a thousand pieces.
If Spike hadn't been there, hadn't instinctively gone to her Boutique a day early, even knowing she wasn't scheduled to return until the next, there's no telling what could have been the outcome what he and his friends might have found the next day. She might have even...
Oh sweet Celestia; don't go there, Spike, he warned himself. Don't ever go there. Even after three months Spike felt himself go cold at the thought of it; at the thought of what Rarity's despair might have caused her to do. A shudder passed through him and he blinked away tears of fear.
Applejack had been the one who had finally pushed him into admitting himself at the very beginning and since Rarity's return he had considered doing so, sometime when the pain of her betrayal had passed, but she had been hurt so cruelly, so callously...
Summersday had, it turned out, been searching for the perfect wife. He had considered Rarity as nothing more than a toy, as he had with countless other mares; somepony to offer false love to in the hopes of finding the right mare for him and to discard the ones who weren't, as though they were nothing.
Spike felt it best not to risk ever hurting her any further and swore to himself that he would keep his feelings for her bottled up and simply accept that some things just were best left as unattainable; at best he would feel as though he were somehow taking advantage of the situation. But after three months he found the pressure of his refusal to say to those four simple words "I love you, Rarity" - building up within to an almost agonizing degree.
He had to get this out into the open or it was going to eventually kill him. It didn't scare him any less, however; if anything, he was absolutely terrified. As before, he wondered if he should bring something. Perhaps cupcakes and a rose as he had attempted before? Maybe something a bit fancier?
No. No, this had to be done, and done without something to hide behind. He would just say what he had to say what he had always wanted to say - and to Tartarus with the consequences. He could handle whatever happened next; he was a big dragon.
Well, biggish anyway. Mature. You don't have to be tall to be mature. He still wasn't sure whether this was a mistake or not, but he had to do it, if only to bring closure to this. He was big (-ish) and brave and wouldn't back down now. Not now that he'd made his choice.
He slowly made his way to Rarity's Boutique as though he were heading towards a gallows. He nearly turned back a couple of times, before fighting his instincts and keeping himself walking forwards. He'd at least have an excuse to visit; it had been a couple of days since they'd last met and talked. Hopefully he'd be able to push himself that tiniest bit further.
Finally, after trying to drag out his arrival as much as possible by distracting himself with events around him, he reached the front door of the Boutique. The front door leading to the hardest task he'd ever found himself facing.
He took several deep breaths. C'mon Spike, you can do this. You've made it this far; don't chicken out now. As far as she's aware it's just a typical visit.
Taking one final deep breath he pushed the door open. The bell tinkled gently and Rarity looked up.
W-why hello, Spike," said Rarity, a slightly odd smile on her face as she quickly looked back down from the flash of purple and green scales she had seen when her door opened. She began fussing with a spool of thread she had randomly picked up.
"Afternoon Rarity. Nice out, isn't it?"
"Why yes, Spike. Very nice out. Very nice out," said Rarity offhandedly.
"Yeah. Best weather this week, I think," commented Spike, his vision wandering around the inside of the Boutique as though the place were new to him, his eyes never seeming to rest on Rarity herself.
"Mm. I agree. Truly a fine day. Truly," Rarity replied as she looked up from the spool and out of the front door, as if she were admiring the clear blue sky and sunlight, her eyes likewise subtly avoiding looking at Spike. Her vision appeared concentrated wholly on the subject of how nice the weather was.
They tried to make small talk, but their attempts to outmaneuver the other while speaking resulted in a talk which could best be described as distracted. After a minute their vain try at conversation wound down, replaced by an uncomfortable silence.
"Well," said Rarity, coughing gently.
"Yeah," replied Spike, clearing his throat and scratching the back of an ankle with his foot.
Spike and Rarity appeared to visibly steel themselves as - having run out of places within the Boutique upon which to rest their eyes - their gazes slowly turned to look upon the face of the other.
The two froze. Rarity went slightly pink and Spike felt as though his scales had gone pure white as their eyes locked and widened. Each appeared to be hypnotised by the other and they simply stared into each others eyes in total silence. Suddenly something seemed to break within, and they both spoke in tandem as if rushing to get their words out first.
"Rarity, there's something I need to tell you..." began Spike.
"Spike, there's something I wish to say..." began Rarity.