The afternoon sun was peeking through the window when Rainbow Dash finally awoke. She immediately regretted it as usual, squeezing her eyes shut in protest at the uncomfortable brightness. Grumbling incoherently under her breath, she automatically pulled the blanket over her head and buried her face in her pillow, embracing the sweet darkness again.
Naturally this did not go without consequence; the movement jostled the nearby nightstand, sending a heavy book toppling down directly onto her head.
Making a sound somewhere between a gurgle and a shriek, Rainbow jerked sharply to the side, rolled right off of the bed, and collided messily with the floor in a tangled heap of blanket and feathers. The resulting pain was not particularly affected by the fact that the floor, like the rest of the house, was made up of fluffy white cloud.
Groaning, she pushed herself onto her hooves with enough force to shove the blanket beneath halfway through the floor. Unfortunately she had forgotten that her violent reaction to the book's unwarranted attack had wrapped her snugly into its cloth embrace, and her entire body was pulled downwards as a result. Her wings flared automatically, flapping as some primal part of her brain urged her to escape, but this only left her even more tangled up in the hideous mess. She toppled forward in what had to be her least graceful moment of all time, falling to the floor again with a loud thump.
She scowled and struggled slightly less forcefully to free herself, twisting her body and limbs this way and that, and gradually pulling herself out of the blanket's crushing weight. Eventually she managed to emerge and stand on the refreshingly cool cloud, avoiding an embarrassing career as a pony burrito.
With that adventure out of the way, she stepped a bit shakily forward to take revenge on the book. It was lying there innocently enough, but she knew better than to let her guard down. After pausing to rub the sleep out of her eyes, she peered down at it suspiciously.
"What is this … 'Sewing and You: A Beginner's Guide'?" Her lip curled in automatic disgust, as if reading the title left a literal bad taste in her mouth.
Now that the haze of sleep was starting to disperse, she began to remember how she had gotten the book in the first place. Rarity had generously loaned it to her late last night, just before she'd left to finally go home for the first time in three days. The gift had been given in the midst of several piles of scraps sewn very messily together, creating a mess of clashing colors that even pre-demon Rainbow would have considered hideous.
"You really must get home," the unicorn had told her, levitating the imposing tome in her direction a bit anxiously. "I insist you wrap this up, figuratively speaking, darling, and get some rest. While I can hardly call myself an expert in weather operations, I'm fairly certain that your coworkers will be less than pleased if you fail to show up for your work tomorrow."
"You're just scared I'll win the bet," Rainbow had replied with a sleepy sneer, wrapping few squares of indigo and lime-green fabric into a ball and tossing it over her shoulder. Rarity had made a noise of disgust at this, but naturally it was ignored. "'Snot like they'll care anyway … weather patrol's pretty cool with it most of the time. Raindrops should still be covering my shift for the next few days anyway; I've still got to let them know I'm out of the hospital already."
"Be that as it may, you should still take a look at what you've just knocked over."
Rainbow had blearily glanced around to take in the sight of a clock resting on a thick pile of fabric, still ticking away insistently despite being abruptly dislodged from its rightful place on the wall above. "What? It's not broken or anything, it works just fine. Jeez, Rarity, don't get saddlesore over it."
"The time, Rainbow."
"Quarter past midnight, so what?"
"You're seeing the hands quite the wrong way. It's almost four in the morning."
"Already?" She had paused in her automatic reaching for the next doomed fabric scrap, letting the fact of the hour sink in. "Huh."
"I want you to go home, Rainbow," Rarity had ordered, gently but firmly. The massive volume in her grasp had nudged the pegasus lightly, blue magic sinking briefly into blue fur. "Go home, and get a decent amount of sleep. And I'd like you to begin reading from this once you've woken up; it should be highly informative to a beginner. Not that I believe you need a remedial course in sewing or anything similar," she'd lied hastily, noticing her friend's expression. "You're coming along splendidly, but I'm afraid there's only a finite amount of fabric in the world to work with, and my finances would greatly prefer a minimal loss. You understand, don't you?"
Mulling over that conversation in the present, Rainbow Dash found that she did understand that fact. She wasn't an expert in money management, but she knew that had their positions been reversed, she wouldn't have wanted to waste money set aside for sun taxes just to fund a little whim project for Rarity. It was a communal understanding throughout Equestria, and actively being a drain on another pony's resources was frowned on at best. If there was one thing the prismatic pegasus didn't want, it was the disapproval of other ponies.
Rainbow also understood that if she failed to read a significant amount of that book, Rarity would undoubtedly feel entitled to refuse her entry to the Boutique until that issue was corrected. Obviously such a thing would not do, for various reasons. Letting that demon eat her soul would be a crushing blow to her ego; losing a bet against Rarity of all ponies was simply unacceptable.
Sighing in defeat, Rainbow heaved the book up onto her bed with considerable effort. She considered the prospect of spending the next several hours laying there on her stomach, hind hooves grinding into the pillow behind her from restless boredom, wings folding and unfolding and flapping in a semiconscious longing to return to the sky, eyes constantly shifting up towards the clock to see the seconds tick by with agonizing slowness that would make even Tank shake his head in disbelief, all for the sake of a pretty sparkly suit or whatever that everything in Equestria would scream at for immediate incineration and the destruction a demon that she hadn't even known existed last week …
Then her gaze drifted back over to Daring Do and the Cove of Candles, resting innocently on the windowsill.
"Nah," she decided, grabbing the smaller novel in her hooves and flapping out of the room. That hideous manual could wait for an hour or so, and she needed to get some late breakfast in her stomach before even considering undertaking such a monstrous task. And Tank had to be fed, of course. She really had to remember to thank Fluttershy for taking care of him while she'd been gone, as well as bringing Cove of Candles over to her house. She'd been waiting ages for it to come in to the library, to the point that not even the wet puppy-dog eyes of expectant school-age colts could keep her from finally getting her hooves on it. It couldn't hurt to get a chapter or so read while munching a daffodil sandwich. She'd had the demon for days now, so what was twenty or so more minutes of putting it off?
On the bed behind her, Sewing and You: A Beginner's Guide remained silently in place, feeling as lonely and underappreciated as a book possibly can. In the distant library a studious unicorn's ears pricked as some sixth sense alerted her to the aching tragedy of a book unjustly unread. The unicorn paused for a moment, wondering what had mysteriously distracted her, before shrugging to herself and returning her attention to the dozens of open books surrounding her. It was probably nothing, she decided, and thus refocused her intent on assisting her distressed pegasus friend in overcoming her inner demon.