Chapter Eight:

You Ain't Going Nowhere

Twilight was waiting with Applejack when Big Mac and Rarity got back to the barn.

"Hi Rarity, Big Mac," Twilight said cheerfully. Her eyes widened. "Oh Rarity…"

"What is it, darling?" Rarity asked.

Rarity's normally immaculate white coat was covered in dirt and grass, not filthy per se, but certainly filthy by Rarity's standards.

"Your coat, it's all…dirty," Twilight said.

"Well, you can hardly expect one to go work in a field and not get at least a bit dirty, my dear." Rarity replied.

Twilight was shocked at her calmness.

"Although, if you would all excuse me, I am simply exhausted, and am in great need of a bath…" Rarity trotted off towards the house, "…and perhaps a pedicure…"

Twilight looked relieved. At least that made sense.

She turned back to Big Macintosh.

"I just came by about what we talked about earlier," Twilight said. "I went around town, and we're pretty close to being able to start work on Rarity's new boutique."

"Already?" Big Mac asked, surprised.

"Yep," Twilight answered. "I talked to the mayor, and with her help we've been able to get the whole town behind the project. It helps that Rarity's boutique was something that brought in business from all over Equestria."

"Well that's great news!" Applejack said. "Ya really came through on this, Twi.'"

"Well, I am good at organizing things," Twilight said with a touch of pride. "But what about Rarity? Big Mac, you told me she seemed kind of hesitant about the whole thing."

"Well, Ah figure that won't be a problem," Big Mac said.

Twilight shook her head. "I would never have thought I'd see Rarity intentional do something that would get her coat dirty. I guess living on a farm really changed her."

Big Mac looked towards the house.

"No, Ah don't really think so," he said thoughtfully.

The work on rebuilding Rarity's boutique started in earnest just as soon as applebucking season started to wane. They started by clearing out the remains of the old boutique; that way they'd be able to reuse the old foundations. Being cement, it had survived the fire intact.

Sometime in November all of Equestria received an official announcement from Canterlot; in honor of Princess Luna's return there would be a "Winter Moon Celebration," which would mirror the Summer Sun Celebration. The Ponyville residents quickly decided that it would be a combined solstice/reopening celebration.

As the new holiday drew near, Rarity started taking dress orders. She worked on in the Apple family living room, and the Apple family got to experience being makeshift mannequins until Rarity got her new dress forms in.

Finally, the day of the festival arrived.

The Apple family, and Rarity, all got ready for the party, and went outside and piled into a large sleigh, which Big Macintosh hitched himself to. The Cutie Mark Crusaders all sat on a toboggan tied to the back.

"Now, are ya sure 'bout this, Big Mac?" Applejack asked.

"Applejack, for how many winters have Ah took this sled out, an' gave rides to all the little fillies?"

"Well, just go easy then, Ah wouldn' want ya to strain yourself," Applejack said.

Apple Bloom turned to Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo.

"Hang on," she said with a grin.

Big Mac lowered his head down, and took off at a gallop. He dragged the sleigh behind him, while everyone hanged on and gave shrieks of delight.

They reached the town, where everyone piled off and joined in on the winter festivities. Big Mac gave sleigh rides to all the young fillies (as well as some of the older ponies, after they saw Pinkie Pie try it).

The whole town was decorated with streamers and lanterns, which would be lit once it got dark. Everything bore pictures of stars and the moon, in honor of Princess Luna.

Rarity and Applejack joined their friends as they all wandered around the town, examining the different booths, and watching Rainbow Dash try every game of skill they came across.

After a little while Big Mac trotted up to them. He was slightly winded, and steam was rising off him from the cold air.

Rainbow Dash whispered something to Fluttershy, who blushed and giggled.

"Good afternoon ladies," Big Mac said politely.

"Hi Big Mac," Twilight said. "I saw you giving sleigh rides earlier. I hope you don't overexert yourself."

She didn't get why that caused Applejack and Rarity to let out a laugh.

Big Mac grinned. "Ah just finished. 'Thought Ah'd come over an' say hi."

Rarity said, "Big Macintosh, I just realized you haven't seen the inside of the boutique since it's been finished, perhaps you'd like to see it now?"

"Ah'd enjoy that very much," he answered.

"Oh! I haven't seen it either," Pinkie Pie said. "Let's all go!"

Applejack quickly cut in, "Uh, that sounds great Pinkie, but we got to go to the thing, remember?"

Pinkie Pie looked at her blankly. "I don't remember any 'thing' we have to go to."

Rainbow Dash sighed exasperatedly. "Remember Pinkie, the thing at the place?"

Pinkie Pie looked over at Big Mac and Rarity, realization dawning in her eyes.

"Oooooohhhh. The 'thing' at the 'place.'" She gave Rarity a big wink. "I guess will just have to leave you two all by yourselves."

Big Mac politely tried to look as though he hadn't noticed Pinkie Pie's attempts at subtly. Rarity simply rolled her eyes as the five mares trotted away from her and Big Mac.

"Shall we?" Rarity asked him.

The two made their way towards Rarity's boutique. As they walked towards Rarity's shop, they ran into a familiar brown unicorn with a gray mane and thin-rimmed glasses.

"Dr. Trotten!" Rarity said. "What a pleasant surprise."

The unicorn gave them a beaming smile, holding a caramel apple with his magic.

"Good to see you both," he said.

"I would have thought you'd be in Canterlot for the celebration," Rarity said.

"I would have," he replied, "but Twilight invited me to attend here, and after sampling the local cuisine during my last visit, I couldn't refuse."

"Well, we'll be sure to send ya off with all the food ya can carry," Big Mac said. "It'd be the least we can do ta show our appreciation for all the help ya gave."

"Speaking of which, mind if I take a look?" Trotten asked.

Big Mac dutifully raised a leg, which Trotten examined.

"Good, good," he said. "Minimal scarring, all of which is covered by your coat anyway. How's your movement, do you have full flexibility?"

"Yes sir," Big Mac answered, demonstrating with each leg, "thanks to Rarity here and all the help she gave me."

"Well, you are very lucky to have such a good friend," Trotten said.

"Ah reckon that's true," Big Mac said, smiling at Rarity.

"Well, don't let us keep you from the festivities," Rarity said, a little bit hastily.

"Yes, I'll see you two at the banquet," Trotten replied, grinning.

Rarity and Big Macintosh said goodbye and continued towards the boutique. They reached the rebuilt building, and stepped inside. The sun was shining in from the west, giving everything a golden tint. It was furnished, and ready for its opening, although Rarity hadn't got everything set up yet.

"This actually gave me the opportunity to make some changes I always wanted." Rarity said. "For instance, I've added a proper fitting room in the back. Although, of course you know the layout better than anypony after all the work you've done."

"It all looks mighty fine," Big Mac said.

He paused for a moment, glancing at the staircase.

"Hey," he said, "Ah just remembered something Ah wanted to show ya."

He led her outside, and towards the left side of the boutique. He stopped in front of the cornerstone, and gestured towards it.

"Recognize it?" he asked.

Rarity shook her head.

"It's from that boulder we dug up," he said.

Rarity laughed.

"Oh, that's splendid," she said. "That way there will always be a connection between our families when Sweetie Belle and I move back in."

She paused.

"I suppose we'll have to do that soon," she said quietly.

They were both silent for a moment.

Big Mac started to speak, "Ya know…"

"Hey guys!"

He and Rarity both looked over at Pinkie Pie as she waved at them.

"The sun's about to set! You're gonna miss it!"

"I suppose we should go," Rarity said, and the two set off towards the center of town.

As the sun began to sink low in the sky, the whole town gathered at rows of picnic tables set up in front of the town hall. There were numerous grills placed between each table, on which ponies were roasting various dishes.

The talking died down as the sun finally sank down over the horizon, and all the ponies cooking covered up their grills, so that the only light was coming from the sky.

The last vestige of sunlight faded away, and for a moment everypony was left in darkness, silent and thick with anticipation.

Suddenly, quicker and brighter than it ever had before, the moon rose up into the sky. Out of it spread the twinkle of millions of stars, filling the sky thicker than they'd ever had before, until the sky was a sea of shining points of light, all surrounding the giant sphere of the moon.

The ponies all let out a great cheer, the lanterns were lit, and the mayor declared the banquet officially commenced.

There were pies, fritters and cakes. There were vegetables; fried, roasted and raw. There were cupcakes, caramel apples, cookies, salads, soups, soufflés and crème brûlée. For the adults there was mulled wine, and for the fillies there was heated apple cider and hot chocolate.

Various speeches were given, including one by Rarity, in which she thanked the Apple family, and the whole town for their help. It was very well received, particularly the part about the "grand, reopening sale." Everyone was in good spirits as the evening wore on, some ponies filling themselves with more good spirits then others.

At one point Apple Bloom asked to try some of the spiced wine everyone seemed to be enjoying so much.

"Ah don't know…" Applejack said.

"Pleeeaaas?" Apple Bloom said, doe-eyed. She turned to Big Mac. "Come on, Big Mac!"

He chuckled.

"Aw, sure. Just a taste won't hurt."

He watched with a mischievous grin as Apple Bloom tentatively took a sip, and then let out a loud laugh as the young filly gagged at the bitterness of the alcohol.

"How can y'all drink this stuff?" she asked, disgusted. "Ah'm sticking to apple cider!"

"What about you two, y'all want to try?" Big Mac asked Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo.

Both the fillies quickly shook their heads.

"No thanks," Sweetie Belle said.

"Yeah, I'm good," Scootaloo agreed.

The three fillies ran off to find trouble, as somepony got together some musicians, and started the singing.

Rarity turned to Big Mac.

"You know," she said, "it's been really great for Sweetie Belle having you around. She's never had any male role models around, and you've been like an older brother to her these last few months."

Rarity paused for a moment.

"I hope we'll still see you after we move out."

"Well 'course you will," he replied, slightly surprised, "why wouldn't Ah visit family?"

Somepony came and dragged Big Mac away before Rarity could respond, insisting that they were in need of his baritone. Rarity smiled as she watched Big Macintosh launch into a rousing folk song.


She liked the sound of that.

The End

Full Credits:

Alison Krauss & Union Station:

"The Lucky One"

The Blind Boys of Alabama:

"I Shall Not Walk Alone"

Bob Dylan:

"You Ain't Going Nowhere"

The Felice Brothers

"Fire at the Pageant"

"Ambulance Man"

"Lady Day"

"Take This Bread"

"Don't Wake the Scarecrow"

James Taylor:

"Sweet Baby James"

The Nashville Bluegrass Band:

"Slow Learner"

Robert Louis Stevenson:

Treasure Island

And of course...

Lauren Faust:

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

A very special thank you to Lemon Drop AKA Aidan Maxwell over at Ponychan for reviewing the hell out of this thing. Apparently "they shouldn't have mouthed off" is not an excuse for comma abuse. I also got some more anonymous help from Ponychan, so thank you, mysterious stranger.

I would also like to thank everyone who reviewed the story. This was the first story I've ever posted; actually this is the first story I've ever written, so I was a little apprehensive about how well I was doing. All the reviews were excellent encouragement.

I'm also curious as to how many people looked up some, or all, of the songs I referenced, so if anyone wants to mention in a review...

I thought I'd talk a little bit about my writing process; more for my own edification than anyone else's. Everyone is of course free to read or ignore this as they please.

I originally wrote this for Equestria Daily's "National Pony Writing Month." I always wanted to try writing fiction, but I could never get more than a few pages in before I hit writer's block, and gave up. When I saw the contest on I saw the perfect opportunity. The reason it was so perfect, was because my biggest challenge was my fear that what I wrote wouldn't be perfect. But with this, there was no need for it to be perfect; after all, I can't publish fan fiction, and anyway, it's a My Little Pony story, so it's not like I'll ever show it to anyone, right? (I actually have introduced the show to several people, but showing them my fan fiction is a line I'm not yet ready to cross). With the specter of success removed I was free to simply write without fear of failure. Incidentally, this was the same lesson I learned in an art class; that the biggest obstacle to doing well is caring how well I do. Or caring a lot anyway. Perhaps a better way to put it is that I needed to learn to trust in my mind's ability to create without being able to see exactly how I'm doing it. That's a slightly facile explanation, but this is a My Little Pony fan fiction, not a paper on epistemology. I'm sure Aquinas could explain it better.

Obviously, this is quite a bit shorter than the fifty thousand word goal of the contest. Not that I ever expected to reach fifty thousand words; in fact I really tried to do the much as I could I tried to eliminate redundancies. From writing the this story, the lessons that seem the clearest, (besides the previous lesson that is), is, whenever possible, show, don't tell, and never be redundant. I tried to convey as much meaning as possible with the fewest words possible. (Clearly I'm a little more lax when it comes to nonfiction).

I plan to revisit this pairing in the future; I always like reading stories that explore the more unusual dynamics (personality-wise that is). Until then, thanks for reading.

-Evan MacIan