"Finished!" Twilight said.

"Um." Spike looked at the unicorn's handiwork. "...is it supposed to be glowing?"

"Oh yes. That's just the radium powder."

"Is that safe?"

"Of course!" Twilight nodded, "So long as Prince Blueblood doesn't wear it more than once a week. Prolonged exposure might have, er...side effects."

"I don't think that's going to be a problem." Spike said. Shiny, sparkly objects usually triggered his voracious draconian appetite, but the...thing Twilight made him lose his appetite, if anything.

"That's an...interesting color you picked, Twilight." Spike said.

"It's puce!"

"That's a color?"

"Mmmhmm. The Guide to Design says to be bold in your color choices. So I went ahead and picked a color I'd never seen Rarity use before. Isn't it great? Really, this designing business is a lot easier than I thought it would be. I mean, I'll never be as good as Rarity, sure. But I'm still proud of what I did. Whaddya think, Spike?"

"I, uh. I've never seen anything like it."

"Oh, thanks Spike!" she nodded, "We're even ahead of schedule! This will give us plenty of time to clean up, and take all these books back to the library, and then we can eat that pie you hid behind the mirror over there."

"How'd you know?" Spike gaped.

"I can still smell it, Spike. It's been making me hungry. But I appreciate you getting me a snack while I've been working. Because I know you're not going to try anything silly like throwing pies at certain Princes." Twilight Sparkle loomed over her familiar/assistant/little brother. "Right?"

"Uh, right!" Spike said.

"Great!" Twilight beamed. "Now, just put on those lead-lined gloves, and you can-"

"You've got to help me!" Prince Blueblood crashed through the door, and slammed it shut behind him.

"Oh! You're early!" Twilight said, "That's okay, your suit's done, and-"

"Forget the suit!" Blueblood said, shaking with panic and fear, "You've got to hide me!"

"Hide you?" Spike said.

"Yes, hide me! Hide me from...from...her." Blueblood said. He risked a peek out one of the windows, and immediately shrank back. He crawled across the floor in a very un-royal manner, then reached up to pull Twilight down to his level. "It's...that pony. The trollop."

Spike gritted his teeth.

Twilight tried a concilliatory smile. "Oh, she's not a-"

"You're right, she's worse!" Prince Blueblood said. "She's a harridan! A shrew! A veritable gorgon!"

"I'm gonna look up all of that later, but I'm not gonna let you say such mean things about Miss Rarity anymore!" Spike lunged for Prince Blueblood, baring his fangs- only to come to an abrupt stop in mid-air.

"That's enough!" Twilight said, careful not to break her telekinetic hold on Spike. "Spike, I'm putting you in Time Out."

"But Twiiiiiiiiiilight!" But before Spike could protest further, he found himself deposited unceremoniously into a corner. He crossed his arms and sulked.

"Oh, thank you!" Prince Blueblood said, sighing in relief, "that's...a dragon, isn't it? It must have come from the Everfree forest. Beastly place, I understand."

"And you!" Twilight said, glaring at the Prince. "I've tried to be polite, but you're making it very, very hard!" she pushed herself back to her hooves. Prince Blueblood kept groveling on the floor- though whether from the implied wrath of one unicorn, or the very real wrath of another. "For one- stop acting all stuck up like you're better than everypony! Because you know what? I'm from Canterlot too! My name is Twilight Sparkle-"

"Who?" Prince Blueblood asked, prying one eye open.

"AGH." Twilight fumed, "I'm Princess Celestia's favorite student! Which is a title I've earned, which is more than I can say for you! You can't just expect people to fall over themselves for you when you do nothing but treat them like dirt!"

"But I-"

"No buts!" Twilight grabbed hold of the prince and hauled him up to his hooves- all the better so she could glare at him, close enough to press her nose to his. "Now! I'm tired of you talking about my friend Rarity like that! She is one of the nicest, friendliest, most generous ponies I've ever met! And when she comes back, you're going to-"

"I KNEW IT!" Rarity, wild-eyed, crashed through the door (which, by this point, was badly in need of new hinges). "Look at you, Twilight! I leave you alone for half a day, and you're already horn to horn with the likes of him."

"Horn to- oh!" Twilight said, shoving herself away from Prince Blueblood. She gave a wan grin. "Heh, I guess that looks kinda bad, doesn't it? Not as bad as it could be-"

"Oh, I know all about how bad it did get. Sweetie Belle told me all about how she caught you and the Prince en flagrante delicto."

"In a flamingo deli?" Spike scratched his head, "...where'd that dictionary go?"

"Don't look that up Spike." Twilight said.

"In the common parlance-" Rarity didn't take her eyes off of Twilight. "It means they were doing...stuff."

"What kinda stuff?" Spike tilted his head to the side, confused.

"Ask Fluttershy when you're older." Rarity said.

Twilight gasped, and blushed hotly. "Rarity, no! That's not what happened at all! This has all been one big misunderstanding-"

"Er. Might I go now?" Prince Blueblood said.

"NO." Twilight and Rarity said in unison- loud enough to make the royal unicorn cringe.

"Now," Twilight said, "Rarity, I think you calm down and let me explain-"

"Explain how this was all your plot? How you invited that pony here- to Ponyville, to my store, so you could seduce him?"

Twilight squinted at Rarity. "Seduce him." she said.

"With your feminine wiles!"

"But I don't have any of those!"

"Obviously." Prince Blueblood said, sotto voice.

Twilight spun on him, snorting steam. "What's that supposed to mean!"

"You know," Spike nudged the big unicorn, "I was planning on throwing a pie at you, but I think this is gonna be a lot more fun to watch."

"...it's not too late for the pie, is it?" Blueblood said, very carefully.

"It serves you right, Twilight." Rarity leaned in to poke her friend in the chest. "But the only way to learn some things is to find out for yourself." she narrowed her eyes, "you can even tell Princess Celestia about it in a letter."

Twilight's nostrils twitched at a rather familiar scent. "Rarity, have you been drinking?"

"A little." Rarity said, and drew in a steadying breath.

"It's not even lunch yet!"

"Which is why it was just cider." Rarity noted.

"That's just what Applejack would-...where is Applejack, anyway?" Twilight said.

"Oh, she couldn't make it all the way to Ponyville." Rarity's eyes gleamed with mad pride, "she's a bit...tied up at the moment, you understand."

"NOT ANYMORE I AIN'T!" Applejack barreled through the doorway- and into Rarity. The two tumbled over and over each other, until Applejack's brawn proved more than Rarity's delicate frame could handle. "Ha!" Applejack said, pinning Rarity to the floor. "That was a dern fine lasso ya made me chew through, Rarity. But I ain't gonna letcha come down here n' make a dern fool of yerself."

"Ha!" Rarity cackled, "You're too late!"

"I find myself perplexed." Prince Blueblood said. "Who's the pony in the peasant hat?"

"Shhh!" Spike said through a mouthful of popcorn. "No talking, just watch."

"Where did you get snacks?" Prince Blueblood scratched at his head.

"Pinkie Pie brought them."

"Hi!" Pinkie Pie said.

"Ah!" Blueblood very nearly bumped his head on the ceiling, "Where'd you come from?"

"Well, a long time ago, my mommy and my daddy loved each other very much-"

"She just sort of shows up whenever something interesting happening." Spike said.

"It's a talent!" Pinkie Pie said, and shoved another mouthful of popcorn into her mouth. "Now stop paying attention to me and watch everypony else!"

"Rarity, Applejack, stop it right now!" Twilight stamped on the floor. The two did stop, but mostly because Applejack was sitting on Rarity's neck. "Honestly, Rarity, I don't know what's gotten into you!"

"'bout a gallon a' homebrew, by my figure." Applejack said.

"Mmph!" Rarity mmphed.

"Ugh!" Twilight rubbed at her temples, and (not for the first time that day) wished she had a drink handy. "Everypony...calm down. There is a perfectly rational explanation for everything that's happened today, if you'll just give me five minutes to-"

"There isn't any time!" The brown-haired pony with the hourglass cutie mark yelled as he came through the door. Roseluck and Captain Jack Harness came in right behind him. The square-jawed pegasus slammed the door shut and leaned against it, barring anyone else from entering. Which was likely a good thing, too, as between the eight ponies (and one baby dragon), Rarity's boutique was becoming very crowded, very fast.

"What now?" Twilight said.

"Something terrible's about to Ponyville!" Roseluck said.

"An Emergency?" Twilight pronounced it with the capital letter. "I can deal with that! What's going on?" her horn glowed slightly as she began to recall some useful spells.

"There's no time to explain!" The hourglass pony said. "You've all got to listen to me and do exactly as I say!"

"And why should we do that?" Applejack said.

"Because I'm clever!"

"I'm clever too!" Twilight huffed.

"Of course you are." The hourglass pony said, patting Twilight briefly, patronizingly on the head. "But as things are now, unless we can find something strong enough to act as a lens for a million gigawatt ion pulse, Ponyville is doomed."

"Wait, a lens?" Twilight said, "...couldn't you just use that octo-faceted carbonate crystal you took from the store this morning?"

"What octo-faceted carbonate-" The unnamed pony paused, "-oh, that octo-faceted carbonate crystal. Of course! Brilliant! C'mon, we've got to go back!" And as soon as they came in, the hourglass'd pony and his two friends charged back out (even if Roseluck had to drag Captain Jack Harness away from Prince Blueblood with a muttered "Not now, Jack.").

Twilight stared at the now open door, noting the distinct lack of an apocalypse going on outside. She found herself perversely disappointed- if nothing else, she knew how to deal with magical crises.

"Those ponies are so random." Pinkie Pie said.

Twilight rubbed at her temples and forced her eyes shut. "If anypony else has anything to say, now's the time to say it."

"I ain't interruptin'." Applejack said.

"Mrph." Rarity said from beneath Applejack.

"I have no idea what's going on!" Pinkie Pie said, cheery.

"Ah, if I might ask..." Prince Blueblood said, scratching at the back of his head, "did anyone get the name of that pegasus pony who was almost as pretty as me? Just, uh, for curiosity's sake."

"Okay!" Twilight said, "Now that we have that taken care of...Rarity, do you promise not to go crazy if Applejack moves?"

"Mrph." Rarity said.

"I'm gonna assume that's a 'yes,' or else I'm going to zap you with a spell."


"Alright then. Applejack, if you please?"

Applejack nodded, and very slowly stood up. Rarity was back on her hooves and glaring at Twilight in a moment, but she managed to keep the maniacal outbursts to a minimum. "So not only are you doing...stuff in my home, but you're going to threaten me as well? I suppose I shouldn't be surprised."

"Dernit Rarity, you ain't listenin'. Ain't none of this is Twilight's fault!"

"Thank you!" Twilight said. "Now, as I was saying, I never did any...stuff with Prince Blueblood. Or anybody. Your little sister and her friends just got, uh...confused."

"And how, pray tell, did that happen?"

"Eheh. Funny story. Y'see, I was taking Prince Blueblood's measurements."

"Measurements?" Rarity narrowed her eyes. "What...for?"

"He thought I was you! He just heard about some unicorn designer in ponyville, and he just barged in asking for a suit! I tried to tell him the truth, but he wasn't even listening."

"Oh?" Rarity said, "It would take an exceptionally boorish and...dense pony to make your story plausible."

Everypony (and a small dragon) looked at Prince Blueblood.

"I believe you completely." Rarity said, slumping her shoulders, "Which...means I owe you an apology, Twilight. I shouldn't have made such wild conjecture."

"I'll say." Applejack poked Rarity in the shoulder. "Makes me glad ya didn't get into the whiskey."

"That makes two of us." Rarity said, and turned back to Twilight, "Can you ever forgive me?"

"Only if you'll forgive me!" Twilight said, and pulled Rarity into a tight hug. On both sides, tears were shed.

"Hn. How commonly sentimental." Prince Blueblood said, mostly by reflex.

"Oh hey, I just learned a new word!" Spike looked up from the Mareiam-Webster dictionary and elbowed the princely unicorn.

"And I should care...why?"

"The word is 'regicide.' Pretty neat, huh?" Spike smiled, showing off a full set of draconian dentistry.

"OH LOOK AT THE TIME I SHOULD BE GOING NOW." Prince Blueblood announced, and made for the door.

"Don't you dare." Rarity said, steel and needles in her voice.

"Please, not the face!" Prince Blueblood ducked down, covering his head with his hooves. "I'm too pretty to be regicided!"

"That's not even a word!" Twilight said.

"Please." Rarity untangled herself from Twilight's hug and circled around Prince Blueblood. "Nobody's going to hurt you, my dear Prince."

"Promise?" He cracked one eye open.

"Of course!" Rarity brushed her hair back behind her ear. "After all, you've still ordered a suit from Ponyville's leading designer, and it would be an absolute tragedy if it were wasted as funerary attire, don't you think?"

"...Absolutely." Prince Blueblood said.

"Ah, I knew you'd concur. Now go," Rarity made a dismissive flick of her hoof, "Stop by at about this time tomorrow, and I'll have your suit ready for you."

"Ah. Yes. Quite." Prince Blueblood said. And with one final glance around the boutique, he bolted out the door.

"Well, that certainly ain't how I expected that ta go." Applejack pushed the brim of her hat back. "But heck, nobody's bleedin', n' nothin's on fire, so I can't complain."

"Your optimism is inspiring, Applejack." Rarity deadpanned.

"So, uh. That's it?" Twilight said. "I mean, after all that...a hug and an apology fixes everything?"

"It usually does!" Pinkie Pie said.

"Mmm, yes." Rarity said, smiling a bit. "...funny how things work like that. Though, just between us girls-"

"I'm not a girl!" Spike said.

"-just between us girls and dragons," Rarity corrected herself, "there's another silver lining to be gleaned from this entire fiasco."

"What's that?" Twilight said.

"The absolutely exorbitant price I'm going to charge Prince Blueblood, of course! I mean, there's fashion...and then there's buisness."

"I like the way ya think." Applejack cracked an admiring grin.

"Mmm. So do I." Rarity preened.

"Oh oh oh!" Pinkie Pie said, "I know we're almost done, but there's something important we almost forgot!"

"And that is?" Twilight said.

"PIE." Pinkie grabbed the pie Spike had brought earlier. "I dunno if it's just me, but all those hijinks made me hungry!"

"You didn't do anything but watch!" Spike said.

"I know! I bet you guys are even hungrier." Pinkie Pie giggled. Her laugh was infectious enough to get the rest of the ponies (and baby dragon) chortling along with her.

"Twilight, darling," Rarity said, "I'm sorry it came to this. I can't even imagine what it was like. I'd barely know the first thing to do if someone foisted something...scholarly upon me. It must have been worse for you! I'm just glad I got here before you had to do anything...complicated."

"Er, actually..." Twilight scratched at the back of her head, and glanced over at certain mannequin. Rarity followed Twilight's gaze...and did her best not to wince as she felt her blood go cold.

"Oh. Darling. Is that...puce?"