"So, um, Rarity?" Fluttershy asked, even quieter than usual, "how long have you and Applejack been dating?"

"UWWAAAAH?" Rarity's voice echoed from the marble walls of the spa as her blue eyes went wide enough to make her cucumber slices fall out of place. Not even the thick layer of designer mud slathered across her face was enough to hide her look of shock and/or horror.

"Oh!" Fluttershy said, sinking lower into the tub. "I'm sorry. Was I not supposed to know? I didn't mean to snoop or gossip or anything. I'm sure you two were just waiting for the right time to tell everypony, and I respect that, and now I'm feeling terrible for asking such an awkward question. I am a terrible pony." Fluttershy sniffled, and wiped at the corner of her eye. "Just pretend I didn't say anything. Please?"

Meanwhile, Aloe and Vera pointedly ignored the sudden outburst as they went about the spa, attending to the various tasks requisite to keeping it running. Towels were fluffed, robes were folded, and so on. They certainly weren't eavesdropping.

Rarity pulled in a deep breath, composing herself. "Fluttershy, darling, don't be scared. I'm not mad at you. I'm merely...puzzled, that's all. I mean, not that Applejack isn't a lovely pony, but...well, honestly! Could you even fathom the likes of her associating with the likes of me? It simply wouldn't work! Wherever did you get such a...unique idea?"

"That makes sense, once you say it like that. I'm sure it's just a, um, misunderstanding." Fluttershy murmured, "I mean, I know there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for why you sometimes go out to Applejack's farm and then come back with sawdust and straw in your mane and then the both of you pretend like it never happened."

"Oh." Rarity's tone went flat. "That. Well, I assure you, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation-"

"I believe you!" Fluttershy said, with no small amount of desperation, "I wouldn't have even thought about the possibility of the thing until I heard you and Applejack went out to dinner the same night that Rainbow Dash broke up with Twilight Sparkle and made such a big deal out of it. I and I'm sure I don't even know the full story. I mean, I didn't even know Rainbow and Twilight were a thing, and then they broke up! Shows how much I know. I just thought I'd, um, ask, this time, before I find out when you guys have broken up. Oh, I'm so sorry for being too nosy!" The yellow pegasus hid her face in her hooves.

"No, Fluttershy." Rarity said, tilting her nose upwards at a regal angle. "It's...understandable. In fact, I'm glad you asked me that question."

"You are?" Fluttershy opened one eye.

"Of course!" Rarity said, "you've taken the wool from my eyes. Or, well, the cucumbers, in this case, but you get the point. It's all falling into place, once you lay it out like that. As, under certain circumstances, I now can see how one might assume that Applejack and I are...involved. Which, I might add, we are not, contrary to gossip and conjecture."

"Okay." Fluttershy said. She looked over her shoulder warily, in case somepony had overheard her. They hadn't, but this didn't stop the pegasus from speaking quieter anyway. "Does Applejack know that?"

"What?" Rarity sputtered, "of course she does! I mean, she and I are...close, yes, but no closer than anypony else in our circle of friends. Or, well, perhaps slightly closer than anypony else in our circle of friends, but that's only because she keeps coming back to me for matters of feminine advice, which I am more than happy to help her with, because I am such a good friend. Just a good friend. Really. Nothing more."

"Um. Okay." Were she able, Fluttershy would've shrunk to the size of a dormouse by this point. "I guess it's a lucky thing I asked you instead of Applejack. She wouldn't be nearly as, um, nice about it. I think. Maybe."

"You're right, Fluttershy. Applejack's lovely company, but she's a tad uncouth. Really, it'd be entirely too easy for her to misinterpret your questions as..." Rarity trailed off for a moment. "Or, come to think of it, Applejack would be the sort to make all sorts of misinterpretations." Rarity continued to think aloud, speaking louder and faster as she went on. "And furthermore, it wouldn't be unheard of for poor Applejack to be taken with my genteel manners and dazzling style and cultivated beauty and perhaps even my refined sense of humility and..." Rarity trailed off, the gears turning within her lovely head. "...Fluttershy, I fear you may have a point."

"I do?"

"You do!" Rarity said, and pushed a lock of blue hair back under her towel. "In fact, you're perhaps too right. As...well, given the circumstances, I can now see how things might look like from another angle. Which means...well, I've been remiss, in that I've been leading Applejack on, albeit unknowingly."

"You have?"

"I have! It's a curse, really, to be as beautiful and refined and charming as I am. Applejack has no doubt fallen to my feminine wiles, without me even so much as trying. This happens to me sometimes."

"It does?"

"It does!And I feel terrible about it! But, I fear, there's only one way to remedy such a situation." Rarity nodded.

So did Fluttershy.

A long pause fell over the spa. Even Aloe and Vera leaned a little closer to catch the rest of the story.

"Well," Rarity finally said as her impatience got the best of her, "aren't you going to ask me how I'm going to fix this?"

"Oh! Um, right. How are you going to fix this, Rarity?"

"Simple, Fluttershy." Rarity said, and her voice dropped back into a melodramatic tremor. "I've got to break up with Applejack without admitting we were actually dating in the first place."

"Which you weren't?" said Fluttershy.

"Which we weren't." Rarity nodded, curtly. "Now, follow me, Fluttershy." Rarity climbed out of the spa tub, at which point Aloe and Vera materialized next to her with the requisite fluffy towels and robe. "It's going to take a lot of work to do this properly, and I'm going to need your help."