Perseverance

Part 3: Dusting Yourself Off

Gummy's half-way birthday party went well and every pony had fun. Rarity's tension lessened and she found herself able to sketch up some drafts for Luna's dress. She was even excited for it, so excited that she even began working on it, and by the time the night of the play arrived, the dress was done along with a beautiful assortment of jewelry to go with it. Rarity stepped back to admire her work. She had to modify one of her ponyquins to make it as tall as Princess Luna so she could work more comfortably. She glanced at the clock on the wall, realizing that she should be on her way to the park if she didn't want to be late.

Rarity heard someone enter the shop, assuming that it was Spike, as the sweet dear had mentioned wanting to walk with her to the park. There was Spike alright, but he wasn't the only one. Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy and Pinkiepie were all there. There was also one more pony present that made Rarity want to faint again. Thankfully, she managed to keep herself conscious and greet her. "Good evening Princess Luna!" She bowed somewhat nervously. What would Luna think about the dress?

"Good evening Rarity," Luna replied in a refined manner, though thankfully not in the royal Canterlot voice, as the loud volume would have startled Rarity, who was already on edge.

Nervously, the white unicorn motioned towards the dress and accessories on the tall ponyquin. "How do you like the dress and accessories, princess? I can make any changes you need."

Luna smiled as she examined the dress. "I never expected it to be finished so soon." She walked in circles around the ponyquin, examining the ensemble from different angles. "When Twilight Sparkle wrote about the play, I didn't expect to also be getting the dress on the same night!"

"Then you approve of it?" Rarity asked with hope filled eyes.

"I love it," Luna smiled. "I almost forgot; here is a letter from my sister to all of you. While you read it, may I try on the dress?"

"Of course!" Rarity voice excitedly as she received the letter. She opened it up and began to read for the group. "To my dear friends, I want to wish you the best of luck on tonight's play, I'm sure you will all do wonderfully. Unfortunately, my royal duties prevent me from being able to make it, but my sister will be attending the play and I'm sure you'll put on a wonderful show for her and every pony there. Remember, the most important thing is to enjoy it. Best wishes, Princess Celestia."

Just as Rarity was done reading the letter, Luna stepped out from behind the changing screen. She was a little worried about having given creative freedom to Rarity. What if what she thought fitted her best was a dark nightmarish attire? Pretending to be Nightmare Moon during Nightmare Night was alright, but she didn't want to be seen as scary all the time. She had hoped to stop by before attending the play to see if Rarity had any drafts for the dress and give a few gentle suggestions. Hopefully that wouldn't discourage the designer from making the dress, but the princess would ensure that the outfit didn't turn out too dark. Yet this was beyond her expectations.

Princess Luna looked beautiful in the gown. It started out with deep blue silk with small diamonds decorating it. The silk faded into a lighter blue until it became silver at the end with a line of larger diamonds at the hem. The accessories complimented Luna wonderfully. The necklace was somehow carved from a particularly large diamond that Rarity took a lot of time and effort to find in between play rehearsals. The designer was relieved to see that it fit Luna very well, as she was only going on her own observations, since she didn't have the opportunity to take the princess' measurements. At the center of the diamond necklace, there was a deep blue sapphire that matched the color of the top of the dress. Matching shoes covered Luna's hooves with diamonds and sapphires. There was even a pair of long earring, which cascaded in diamonds and sapphires.

Luna admired her reflection in the mirror. She didn't look threatening or scary in the least. She looked serene, soothing like a sweet calm night. She looked like a dream. Her eyes almost watered at seeing herself like this. "Thank you very much, Rarity. I will make sure to appropriately reward you for this beautiful gown and accessories."

"Oh princess, I couldn't accept anything in exchange." Rarity insisted, filled with positive emotion that everything went so well in the end. "Giving this gift to you is a gift for me. I am honored that you would wear it."

Luna continued smiling. "Then I shall show it to Ponyville tonight as I attend the play." Rarity couldn't hold it in any longer and finally fainted.

xoxox xox xoxox

After Rarity woke up, the group made their way to the park. The stage and props looked amazing. Rarity had not had time to go look at them, but she had to admit that the Apples did a great job. Basically all of Ponyville was gathered around the stage. There were even a multitude of white fluffy clouds forming a sort of floating second floor to allow more room, with a multitude of Cloudsdale residents ready to watch the play from there.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders spotted the princess and, after they were done staring in awe, they exclaimed. "Cutie Mark Crusaders royal escorts!" The three young fillies led Princess Luna to the spot they had reserved for her, front row center, where she would have a perfect view of the stage.

Luna kindly thanked the fillies and took her seat. She listened as the people around her murmured and her remaining uneasiness melted away. They weren't afraid of her, they were all talking about how beautiful, peaceful and serene she looked. She might have had her doubts at first, but now she was glad she came.

Everyone took their positions and the play finally begun with Spike's narration. "Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there lived Princess Rarelight. The princess had a beautiful kingdom and loyal friends, but she felt that there was something missing in her life and that something was love."

The curtain rose to reveal Twilight Sparkle in a lovely dress among many books. Rarity insisted that the princess should change her gowns with each new scene, so she had an entire wardrobe for Twilight. She would be getting some backstage changing help from her friends. "Oh how I wish I could meet, the stallion of my dreams." Twilight exclaimed dreamily in a sing-song voice. "He would be the perfect prince, just like in the books they print." Many books were all over the stage to help provide more ambience to the scene of the princess' room in the background.

To say Big Macintosh was nervous was an understatement. He found himself wishing that instead of an earth pony he was a pegasus so he could fly away or a unicorn so he would teleport and escape even faster. Applejack game him a little push, unseen at the side of the stage. "Princess, ah made your favorite snack, cause I saw you were sad."

"Oh dear friend don't you know? My sadness is something I cannot ignore!" Twilight sang with Fluttershy's bird chorus providing the background music. "There is much work to do today, for I cannot live on to another gray day. A magnificent ball shall be tonight, starting when the stars do shine bright. When the ball is over I shall be, safe in the arms of my perfect prince!"

Thus the play continued with Twilight and Macintosh dancing. Then the curtain dropped and with such speed that the audience was astonished at how quickly they changed the scenery, another scene began. The next scene featured Pinkiepie, Applebloom, Sweetie Bell and Scootaloo playing the palace servants getting everything ready for the ball. After that came the scene that Rarity was most excited for, the ball itself. Though in the end, the character of the fashion designer was replaced with three fairies which were also played by the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but they looked quite different in their new costumes.

The play smoothly flowed along to the dance between Princess Rarelight and Maike. Everything was going beautifully up until then. Next up followed the added action adventure parts of the play. The evil Monochrome, who was ironically played by Rainbow Dash, appeared to ruin the princess' love. "Stop right now, for this I cannot tolerate. Don't you know, that love I shall obliterate? For I am cold and I have no heart and this world I shall tear apart. When you are lost deep in the dark, great sorrow shall this kingdom mark! Mwahahaha!" Unfortunately, Rainbow Dash got a little too carried away with the thunder and lightning and ended up breaking one of the stage's side columns that held the curtains and the rest of the set together.

For a dreadful moment it looked at if the pillar would fall towards the audience, but Big Macintosh rushed over to hold it in place. "Come fight me evil fiend!"

Thinking on her feet, or rather, on her wings. Rainbow Dash flew after Big Macintosh away from the spectator's view. Finally the pillar was steadied and the play could go on... somehow.

Twilight was left to improvise, but being the big planner and scheduler she was, that was not something she was good at. Spike tried to save her with his narration. "The brave Maike led the evil Monochrone away from Princess Rarelight, risking his life to protect her!"

Twilight reacted and tried to follow along with the new plot twist. "Oh my beloved Maike! You are so noble to risk your life for me. Oh please, my love, return to me safely!"

While Twilight struggled to make up some lines to fill up time, back stage, Rainbow Dash apologized profusely. "It's okay," Rarity spoke firmly, ending Rainbow's rapid stream of 'I'm so sorry.' "We'll just have to continue somehow, the show must go on!" Goodness, fashion shows were a lot less stressful than this. Rarity had been using her magic to help Twilight with her fast costume changes and also to set up the stage. Her horn was sore from all the magic she had used lately, it didn't help that she had spend the whole day finishing Luna's dress and the days before that working on it. "I'll just hold that in place..." She tried to focus but her psychic grip failed her.

"Forget it, yer too exhausted right now." Applejack glanced at the stage from it's side next to Big Mac where the audience couldn't see her. "Pinkiepie, it's time for the fateful servant to go cheer up the princess and... and..."

"Tell her not to give up hope?" Fluttershy suggested. If she was nervous just being backstage, she couldn't even begin to imagine how poor Twilight felt.

"Right!" Pinkiepie rushed out to improvise a hopeful song. Much to Twilight's relief, she suggested that the princess should rest, while she continued entertaining the audience with her antics. People found it to be pretty funny, even though it was supposed to be a tragic scene. Poor Maike could be dead for all Rarelight knew. At least the audience would be entertained for now.

Twilight joined the others backstage letting out a breath of relief. "How are things back here?"

"My magic is exhausted and my horn is killing me," Rarity confessed.

"I still have some magic," Twilight looked at the pillar Macintosh was holding. "I can hold that with my magic."

"Don' trouble yerself' Miss Twilight, Ah got it." Macintosh smiled despite the uncomfortable position he was on.

"This is no time to be chivalrous; you have to go back on stage!" Rarity reminded. Then another thought occurred to her. "How are we going to change the scenes and costumes fast enough without unicorn magic, not to, mention assist with additional special effects? I'm going to need some time to recover."

"Leave it to me," Twilight offered.

"And who will play Rarelight? I wouldn't mind taking the stage, but how would we explain that the princess is suddenly different? And what about Maike? We can't just say that Monochrome killed him. This story is supposed to have a happy ending!"

"Ah don' know about that, but it looks like Pinkiepie's gettin' tired," Applejack pointed out. "She's still jumping around like it's nothin' but she's making less and less sense," and she usually didn't make a whole lot of sense to begin with.

Rarity took a deep breath; she was supposed to be this play's director so she better start directing. "Applejack, signal Pinkiepie to finish her performance before she says something weird, er, weirder. Everyone, except Big Macintosh since you are very busy with a vital task, as soon as those curtains are down, I want you to turn this stage into an evil lair." The others exchanged confused glances. There weren't supposed to be any evil lairs. They were supposed to be fighting in the royal courtyard of Rarelight's castle. "Work with me here, just be creative!" Rarity pleaded.

Applebloom, Sweetie Bell and Scootaloo saluted chorusing. "Cutie Mark Crusaders evil lair builders!"

Rarity continued with her improvised plans. "Rainbow Dash, do you think you can go out there and improvise some gloating for Monochrome's victory against Maike? Just be careful with the special effects this time, but keep the crowd entertained. Applejack, I know you were supposed to be backstage, but I need you to act as Rarelight's royal knight, Sir... Sir Apple! Who has gone to search for the missing Maike in hopes of reuniting him with Princess Rarelight. Put up a mock fight with Monochrome and make it long, but entertaining. Don't win though; the main character has to be the one to win."

"We're on it!" Rainbow Dash and Applejack exclaimed.

"Twilight, since I know you don't like improvising and because my magic is exhausted for tonight, please take my place managing everything backstage where magic is needed. Is that okay?" Rarity asked.

Twilight looked relieved. "It's very much okay."

"Sorry Big Mac, but I can't pull you away from holding the stage in place while the show is still going, Twilight's magic will be busy and without magic, no one else is strong enough to stop the stage from falling apart. Do you mind giving your character to someone else?" Rarity inquired apologetically.

"Nope," Big Macintosh immediately replied. He had enough of being on stage with all eyes on him to last him a life time.

"Rarity, Rarity, what should I do?" Spike jumped around flailing his arms in excitement. He wanted to help too.

"Be my prince," Rarity's words made Spike's heart skip a beat and he promptly fainted. "Oh, my little Spiky-whiky, it's okay, you don't have to act in the play if you don't want to! I'll just get um..." Rarity looked around desperately. "I'll just get Fluttershy to hide her wings, dress up as a stallion and play the part of the prince. After all we can't disappoint every pony. Don't forget that all of Ponyville and Cloudsdale are out there and even Princess Luna."

"Me?" Not it was Fluttershy's turn to faint.

"Oh come on Fluttershy, playing a stallion can't be that bad, Rainbow Dash did it when she played Commander Hurricane, remember? And Twilight dressed up as an elderly stallion for Nightmare Night."

"I was Starswirl the bearded!" Twilight argued, while at the same time tending to her new duties concerning the play.

"I don't think Fluttershy fainted because of the costume. I think she just doesn't want to go on stage," Spike pointed out. "But I'm awake and ready to be," he sighed happily, "you're prince."

"If you're sure you can do this, my little Spiky-whiky." Rarity didn't want to pressure Spike, but she really needed him to say yes.

"You can count on me!" Spike assured.

"Alright then, let's do this!" Rarity began to put on her costume as she explained. "After Sir Apple fails to defeat Monochrome, Princess Rarelight sets out on a quest to rescue her beloved herself. However, because she's a princess, she'll be going in disguise, in fact, you can mention the fairies changed her. I need you to narrate all that, well not all that, just the parts that are needed for the story. You get the point."

"Got it!" Spike nodded in understanding, his full attention on Rarity as she went on.

"I'll go on stage with my loyal servant and find Sir Apple. I'll have Pinkie take Applejack off stage to heal Sir Apple's wounds back in the castle, while Princess Rarelight, bravely faces off against Monochrome," Rarity explained. "Seeing that Rarelight's love is so strong that she is unbeatable, Monochrome intends to break that love by unleashing a ferocious dragon upon Rarelight, that's you Spike."

Spike pouted, "but I thought I was supposed to be Maike!"

Pulling on her accessories as quickly as possible, Rarity finished her explanation. "You are. It's just that I need to explain why Maike is suddenly a dragon. Monochrome cursed him into becoming a ferocious beast, but Rarelight's love brought him to his senses and Maike remembered her. Rarelight recognized him as well and together they vanquished Monochrome forever with the power of love. They looked different, but they were the same on the inside and that's what really mattered to them, so they lived happily ever after. Did you catch all that, Pinkie? You'll have to take over the narration when Spike goes on stage. We'll fill up the plot holes as we go along, places everyone!"

"I got it!" Pinkiepie cheered, while Spike smile widely. He liked that ending, he liked it a lot.

Thus they continued performing the best they could. "When Sir Apple did not return, Princess Rarelight decided to take matters into her own hooves and set out to find her beloved Maike herself. However, she knew that it would be difficult to go out in public as a princess, thus she had the fairies change her appearance to disguise herself."

Rarity went on stage, now playing the role of Princess Rarelight. Pinkiepie was following her, though Rarity did the talking. "Oh my loyal knight!" She knelt next to Applejack.

Applejack slowly lifted her head, "who is there? Some pony I do not know?"

"It is I, your princess in disguise..." Rarity voiced dramatically.

"Princess?" Applejack pretended to have a difficult time standing. "Oh princess, it is you, I can feel it somehow. Please princess, you must flee from this place at once, for we are in the lair of Monochrome!"

"Never fear brave knight, for I am here to help you. My loyal servant, please help Sir Apple reach the castle and be healed," Rarity commanded.

"Princess, it's too dangerous for you to stay here," Applejack dramatized.

"My love for Maike shall be my shield. He risked his life to protect me and I shall do the same for him!" Rarity declared with great determination. This was so exciting, she couldn't deny that she drew inspiration from the incident with the grownup Spike for the improvised ending of the play.

"Okey-dokey-lokey!" Pinkiepie saluted. "Well, you heard the princess, she's got an evil villain to beat so let's go back to the castle and get you healed!" She ran off with Applejack and they both left the stage.

"Monochrome, you terrible witch, I know you are here!" Rarity challenged.

Rainbow Dash used some thunder for effect, but not too much. "Who are you?"

"I am Princess Rarelight!" Rarity revealed.

"Princess Rarelight? You have disguised yourself and my minions were unable to find you. I would have stopped you before you got this far if I had recognized you!" Rainbow Dash called for more weather dramatics, but thankfully, she kept it in control this time around.

"What Princess Rarelight never expected was for Monochrome to call her ferocious dragon minion against her!" Pinkie narrated from backstage.

"I have a dragon minion?" Rainbow Dash realized. "I mean... I have a dragon minion, mwahahaha! Go my ferocious dragon and devour Princess Rarelight!"

Spike ran on stage trying his best to look ferocious, for which he was aided by a dragon costume. He was standing on Applejack's back to look taller. "Roar! I shall devour you! Roar!" The audience erupted in laughter.

That wasn't exactly the reaction the spectators were supposed to have to this scene, but Rarity knew they couldn't stop now. The play was almost finished and her quiet life as a fashion designer awaited her beyond all this stress. "Oh no, a dragon! Back you beast!"

"I'm going to eat you! Roar! Ah!" spike lost his balance and fell from Applejack. The fabric of the costume pulled her to trip and she fell to the floor of the stage, with Spike accidentally tackling Rarity down with them.

"Oh no, the dragon has me!" Despite her position on the floor of the stage, Rarity tried to continue her acting. She was normally rather dramatic, so she was pretty good at this. "But what is this I feel from this beast? Can it be? This dragon is not a beast at all, for I feel deep within my heart the same emotion that I feel for my beloved Maike!"

"Get him off me," Applejack grumbled quietly. No pony liked having their head stepped on, even if it was an accident.

Rarity pulled Spike out of the costume. "When the beast sheds his scaly armor he has a heart of gold inside. It is the heart of my beloved Maike, my destined prince!"

"So you saw through my curse?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed. "It would have been the perfect ending to be devoured by your beloved. But it doesn't matter; I'll just end your lives myself. Mwahahaha!"

"No you won't!" Spike dramatically exclaimed. "Because nothing is more powerful than our love!" He was acting on stage with Rarity, he was acting the role of her beloved, this was so exciting!

Twilight helped out with the light effects, making Rarity and Spike glow brightly. Rainbow Dash took it as her cue to thrown in the towel. It was a pity though, because she was having lots of fun playing Monochrome. "The love, it's too strong!" Rainbow pretended to sink into one of her clouds. She snuck off stage from cloud to cloud and caused them to dissipate as if Monochrome had dissolved into mist.

"We did it!" Rarity cheered. "Now our kingdom will be safe!"

"And we'll live happily ever after!" Spike cheered. Rarity gave him a kiss which he didn't know if it was part of the play or just Rarity being relieved that it was almost over and they had managed to save the show. The point was that he liked it and it felt like much more than just an act.

Fluttershy's bird choir went into the final melody of the play as Rarity and Spike sang, with the dragon trying hard to get out of his happy daze and remember the lyrics. "A happy ending we have found, and all around there is the sound, of cheers of joy and happy shouts!"

While the play was going on, the backstage team had managed to patch up the damaged pillar and Big Macintosh could finally let it go, just on time for the big finale. The whole cast went on stage as Rarity and Spike's song ended, and started to sing the closing melody. They even managed to get Fluttershy out there. "Never let your heart go astray, for love will always find a way. And so we hope you all enjoyed the play, we wish you well with smiles on each and every day!"

The audience's stomped their hooves in a clapping sound, as cheers filled the air and the tired but happy actors and theatre staff took a bow. The pleased audience hung around for a while discussing the play. Applejack and Pinkiepie had been busy during the show, but they finally took the opportunity to sell apple treats and baked goodies. The audience was all too happy to get something to eat and both their booths were filled with customers. Princess Luna had the chance to mingle with her subjects outside of Nightmare Night, which pleased her very much. Plus it was a beautiful night and people were awake to enjoy it. They even thanked her for the starry skies and the dim light of the moon that allowed fireworks to shine in a way they couldn't possibly be seen during the day. Yes, fireworks, it was the final treat they had prepare for after the play.

It didn't look like anyone felt like going home, so Fluttershy fed her team of birds and they went for another round of songs. Even the birds were too excited to sleep anyway. Though the ponies and dragon in the play were tired, they too were enjoying the party too much to think about leaving. The festivities went on until morning and as the sun went up, sleepy but happy ponies, unicorns, pegasus and one dragon, returned home to get some much needed rest. Just as they parted way to get to their own residences, Spike looked towards Rarity and smiled. She smiled back before going on her way home along with Sweetie Bell. As Rarity left, Spike could have sworn he saw her wink at him...

End

I'm not an expert on this show, as I only watched a few episodes to accomplish this fanfic challenge and looked up wiki for a few references on specific details. None the less, I hope you enjoyed the story. I don't have anything else planned for this fic, but I love feedback. Reviews are always welcomed and appreciated no matter how new or old the story may be.