Feeling slowly returned to Rarity's body, as if the numbness that had swallowed her was being brushed away. The first thing she noticed was a set of tubes that entered her snout and ran into her lungs, filling and emptying with unnerving precision. Her mind, still swirling in a fog of forgetfulness and confusion, immediately instructed her to remove the tubes. Yet, she found herself held fast to whatever surface she was on.

Try as she might to move her forelegs, she soon discovered that it was a futile effort. She Twisted in despair, waiting for the rest of her faculties to return. Her sense of hearing returned next with a 'whoosh' and a 'pop'. A sudden burst of clarity connected the sounds she now heard to the type of room she was in.

In the background were the sounds of a hundred devices ticking, as if somepony had simply dumped a dozen clocks on the floor and left. Accompanying the ticking was a constant pumping sound and a noise akin to somepony closing a paper bag and opening it up again.

In her confused state she interpreted each sound as being hostile and evil. She squirmed on the hard surface she lay on, rubbing her back against the cloth surface. Lancing pain shot through her, paralysing her entire body, whimpering she stopped moving until the pain slowly subsided to nothingness.

She breathed in and out in time with the tubes, and eventually calmed herself down enough for her mind to wander. Something had happened; she couldn't remember what it was, but it was terrible, frightening and painful.

Determined to open her eyes and find out what was going on around her she gingerly forcing through the crust that had grown along their edges, peeking through her eyelashes she immediately came to regret her decision: the ceiling was brilliantly white, her eyes had remained closed for such a long time that the piercing light blinded her.

"Um... is she okay?" Asked a voice she recognized but couldn't quite place.

"Ah think we should get the doctor, he ought to take care of her." This time she knew the drawl and accent, she heard Applejack trot away, leaving her alone with the other mysterious voice.

From beneath closed eyelids she both felt and saw a shadow above her.

Her eyes fluttered open, grimacing against the pain, and focused on the object above her. Fluttershy's yellow face smiled meekly down from above. "Hello, Rarity; are you feeling any better?" She noticed that Fluttershy was covered in an ugly hospital smock and hoof-gloves, she was even wearing a netted cap on her mane.

Rarity attempted to answer, but all that came out were a few grunts instead. Fluttershy moved away from above her and the bright light burned her fragile irises once more. She tried to twitched away from the burning pain but found her head attached firmly in place.

"Oh my, I'm so sorry. Please, try not to move." Rarity felt soft hooves placing the covers around her to make her comfortable. Wherever the covers touched her skin, she would receive twinges of pain. She tried not to whimper or move, the comfort of another pony lending her some aid was worth the small pain.

As disorientated as Rarity was, she couldn't quite understand what was going on. She knew that she was in some sort of hospital and that she was the patient, but why or how she had made it there was still muddled in her mind. Rarity tried to focus on the events prior to her awakening in the rough bed.

Her thoughts were shattered when the door opened and closed once more, the thump of the door shutting was soon accompanied by the sound of hooves walking towards her bed. Rarity tried to turn her head towards the sound, but was unable to... the restraints that had been attached to either side of her head to prevent her from moving.

"Hello, Miss Rarity. I'm Doctor Helping Hoof," said a calm yet firm voice as it moved around her bed and examined the machines around her. "You're quite lucky to be alive."

She heard sounds of paper being ruffled and buttons being pressed. "Quite lucky indeed... hmm, seems that you had a spike in adrenaline upon waking up, that's normal; try to relax. You'll be here for a little while yet before we're ready to let you go." He laughed at nothing in particular.

Rarity tried once more to speak through dry lips but only made grunts and huffs. She tugged at the infernal straps holding her in place. Why couldn't she speak? Why was she tied down like this?

"Now, now. None of that!" The doctor leaned over her, she could smell antiseptic and cheap soap from off of his clean white coat. He smelt of sickness and she wrinkled her nose at him.

"Um, I think she just wants to talk..." said Fluttershy shyly from Rarity's right.

"Pardon me madam, but what kind of medical expertise do you have?" he asked her haughtily. From below him Rarity could see the scrowl that adorned his face as he looked at Fluttershy.

"Well, none really, I take care of animals..." He huffed at her. "But she looks really thirsty and tired. Maybe we coul-"

"No, no, no. Let me do my work in peace. Now scoot!" Rarity heard Fluttershy quickly flap her wings and bolt away with a little squeak. Rarity had a sudden dislike of this doctor. She reminded herself that he was only doing his job. Still it irked her that he was so rude to Fluttershy.

"Nurse?" called out the doctor. Another set of hooves trotted into the room, this one was quiet and dainty, as if the owner of the hooves didn't want to startle anypony.

"Yes, doctor?" A female voice this time, prim, polite, and very cheerful.

"Give the patient a hundred milligrams of that new sleeping agent," he ordered as he trotted out of the room, muttering something incomprehensible under his breath.

The nurse walked over to her bedside and opened a drawer that Rarity had yet to see. "Hi, I'm Redheart." she said as her smiling face appeared in Rarity's vision.

Rarity grunted a hello through her hoarse throat.

"It's alright, I understood you," giggled the nurse.

Rarity sighed.

"Don't be sad," she tutted. "You have a lot of loving friends here to help you. Not everypony can say as much." Redheart walked around the bed and stood at Rarity's other side.

"I'm very sorry, but this might hurt a little," whispered the nurse tenderly as she pressed a needle against her skin. Rarity flinched slightly as it pierced her vein and poured out its contents.

"Alright, it's all done! You should fall asle-"

It had been an eventful day at the Carousel Boutique. The smoke from the breakfast Sweetie Belle had cook still lingered, two customers that were not scheduled to appear until much later in the week came to the store at the same time, stealing what little freedom Rarity already had, and of course, the fire that had been raging across the Everfree for almost a month had finally reached the edge of the city.

Rarity was rather fortunate in that regard. Most of her friends were quite troubled by the oncoming fire. She, on the other hoof, felt relatively safe. Although the problems her friends were facing did make her want to get out there and help. Slumping her shoulders, Rarity looked out of the one of the windows in the Carousel Boutique and wished she could be with her friends rather then waste her time with snobbish customers.

"Miss Rarity, " said the obnoxious voice of Sapphire Shores, one of Equestria's premiere popstars and member of the Canterlot nobility. "I don't believe that this is the dress that I ordered. My dress was supposed to have blue fringes and a yellow body, not the other way around!" The pop star huffed.

With a sigh, Rarity turned away from the window and gave her attention to her customer. "Miss Sands, don't you think that it looks much better on you this way?" Rarity gave the pony a dazzling, confidence filled smile. "It brings out all of your curves and makes you look so much lighter!" she gushed over the pop star who simply blushed and nodded in agreement.

"Really now, does it?" Sapphire twisted in front of one of the stores many mirrors. "Yes you're right, it does. I'll take it!"

"Perfect!" Rarity was happier to have been able to get rid of the nagging client then to have sold the dress. Rushing over to the cash register she was followed, at a much slower pace, by the client.

"Now, about that other dress I ordered last month?" Sapphire batted her eyes to Rarity. "Shouldn't it be ready by now?"

With a small sigh and a badly concealed groan, Rarity trotted over to the back room that lead to her home and studio. "I'll go fetch it," she said as she disappeared through the entrance.

Rarity's home was a rather simple affair, unlike what many ponies thought it would be. Upstairs, she had her bedroom as well as Sweetie Belle's; on the bottom floor, she had a large kitchen and dining room; and, of course, she had her small studio. Most of the house was taken up by the showroom at the front of the building.

Trotting into the hallway that bisected her home and, ignoring the obvious signs of filly-related trouble, she gingerly found her way to her art studio, avoiding the piles of crafts materials and toys with practised ease. She would be having a talk with Sweetie Belle about cleaning later, she reminded herself. Upon opening the door, she simply glanced at the room and gasped, her jaw dropping in a less than eloquent fashion as her eyes darted from one area in the room to the next.

The usually semi-organized room was an absolute mess. Bolts of tissue were thrown about haphazardly, clothes were torn, cut and stitched together in what seemed to be a random fashion and, in the center of the room, miss Sapphire Sand's dress was no longer its intended colour.

"Look sis'', isn't it prettier?" asked Sweetie Belle, who stood nearby with scissors in one hoof and crafting glue in the other. Rarity simply stared at her speechlessly, unable to comprehend what was going on. All that escaped her was a small squeak.

"You don't like it?" quizzed Sweetie Belle disappointed.

"Wha-what have you done?!" screamed Rarity. Sweetie Belle backpedalled over some of her creations, ears low and eyes wide.

Rarity stepped into the room and over to the dress. 'You- you painted it? What were you thinking Sweetie Belle! This dress is for one of my customers, it is not a toy!" she yelled at her sister. Sweetie Belle's eyes filled with tears as she shivered.

"I just wanted to help..." said Sweetie Belle as she rose up and galloped out of the room, tears streaming from her eyes.

Rarity watched her leave, still fuming. Then turned back to the dress. Slapping her forehead with a hoof she tried to prepared the excuses she would need to give to Sapphire Shores.

Rarity awoke in a fit of coughing. Somepony was dabbling at her lips with a wet cloth, and some of the water had gone down the wrong passageway as it were.

"Oh no, I'm so sorry." Rarity heard Twilight say. Rather than respond she gave another dry cough. "Should I get the nurse?" she asked. Rarity shook her head as best she could despite the two clamps holding it.

She peeked through her eyelashes and was happy to find out that the light was off. What she could see of the room appeared in a muted blue as moonlight streamed into the small room form a window she couldn't yet see.

"How are you holding up?" whispered Twilight as her head appeared in Rarity's vision, she could feel the bed shift slightly with the added weight of her friend. "Oh right, you can't answer... Sorry." Twilight smiled sheepishly at her. "In any case I'm happy to see that you're awake again. We were starting to get worried. Applejack and Fluttershy said you woke up two days ago, sorry I missed it." said Twilight. Two days ago?! How long had she spent on the anaesthetics? Rarity sighed in frustration.

Did you want to see them?" asked Twilight, misinterpreting her sigh.

Twilight trotted away quietly, leaving Rarity all alone in the dark room. Having nothing else to do, she felt and listened to the world around her. The machines hummed and ticked, the thing that fed oxygen into her lungs huffed and puffed every few seconds in time with her breathing and a small clock in one corner of the room ticked quietly. Overall, despite the ruckus created by the machines, the room was a quiet and serene place.

Moments later Twilight trotted back into the room followed by another set of hooves. "When did she wake up?" asked a deep male voice. Rarity scourged her head and finally recognized it as the doctor's voice.

"Just a few minutes ago, I was going to get my friends to come over and chat."

"Are you stupid? They might have contaminated her!" The Doctor spoke incredibly loud. Rarity was quickly growing to despise the stallion. "She should be asleep." He opened a drawer and then proceeded to slam it shut, making Rarity cringe at the loud noise. His head popped into her vision as he leaned over her. He was a light blue stallion; even shorter than Twilight from what Rarity could tell. Reaching into his white jacket he pulled a small metallic flashlight. Rarity had no time to prepare before he lit it in her face, causing her to cringe away from the bright light.

"Keep your eyes open!" he ordered with a stern voice. After a few sweeps of the light, and many tears on her part, he pocketed the flashlight and dropped below her line of sight. "I'll put her back to sleep for a while."

"Are you sure she needs it?" asked Twilight.

"What is with you mares and being unable to listen to me? I'm the bloody doctor!" he yelled at Twilight. Rarity definitely disliked him. Twilight said nothing and simply stood her ground. Rarity could hear the light tapping of her hooves as she fidgeted uncomfortably at her side.

The Doctor huffed and stabbed Rarity in the flank with a needle. She cried out in pain before her world faded to black.

She sighed, her shoulders slumped as she asked yet another pony. "Have any of you seen Sweetie Belle?" The two ponies sitting on the bench looked at eachother then shook their heads in unison. "Thanks anyway," she sighed again.

Rarity had spent over an hour looking for her sister through the entire town. Many ponies pointed her to a certain spot or location but all of her leads had proven false. She had to apologize to Sweetie Belle, as much as it pained her to do so. Sapphire Shores had somehow made her way into Rarity's studio and, when she found the dress, she exclaimed that it was absolutely stunning; saying that the caked on layers of paint added a 'childish touch' to the style. Rarity simply stood there dumbfounded by the oddity of the customer, not that she had complained.

"Oh, come on Sweetie Belle. I haven't got all day." she murmured under her breath. The faster she found Sweetie Belle and apologized, the faster she could go on and help her friends.

Rarity stood in the middle of town, exhausted, hungry, and frustrated. Not only had she searched everywhere she could think of for Sweetie Bell, she had also looked everywhere for the other Cutie Mark Crusaders. Those three were always up to something together. And where else would a distraught Sweetie Belle find comfort? Rarity had always leaned on her friends for support.

A light rain of ashes began to fall all over Ponyville, stalling ponies who slowed down or outright stopped to look at the snow like particles. Rarity quickly trotted under a nearby tree in a vain attempt to keep the ashed out of her luxurious mane. "I give up." she grumbled, tossing her hooves in the air. Clearly Sweetie Belle was hiding with her friends, she would reappear soon. Suddenly she spotted Apple Bloom and Scootaloo skipping in unison after Miss Cheerilee.

"Wait!" Rarity bolted across the town square, avoiding many ponies as they stood around minding their own business, and came to a halt near the group, "wait." The threesome slowed to a stop and stared at Rarity as she panted for air.

"Hello Rarity. You seem to be in a hurry!" The kind teacher gave Rarity a motherly smile.

"Have any of you seen Sweetie Belle?" panted Rarity. The teacher's smile turned into a worried frown.

"Is something wrong, Rarity?" she asked. The two fillies edged forward, eager to listen in on the conversation.

"No... " she began, "Well... yes, Sweetie Belle and I had a bit of a scuffle and now I can't find her..."

Cheerilee's eyes widened. "Oh no, this is certainly not the time to lose your sister." Cheerilee's eyes turned to the towering columns of smoke on the horizon.

Rarity gulped at the ominous sight. Suddenly her heart filled with dread. What was she thinking, disregarding Sweetie Belle's safety like that. It was her duty as eldest to take care of her little sibling. "I'm scared for her. If any of you knows where she is..."

"We know!" said both crusaders at the same time. The two adults exchanged a look.

"Where is she?" asked Rarity her voice full of concern.

"When she's sad she always goes to our tree house!" Apple Bloom smiled as she answered.

"Where's that tree house?" asked Rarity, bringing her face closer to the fillies.

"On the Apples' farm, near the Everfree Forest." Scootaloo pointed towards the tall dark ominous smoke.

Rarity gulped again.

The two fillies looked at each-other and chanted in unison. "Cutie Mark Crusaders fire res-" They were cut off by Cheerilee as she grabbed both by the scruff of the neck.

"Don't even think about it." She glared at the pair until they glanced away, fearful of the teachers rebuke. "Good," said the teacher. "Now let's all head over to the school house and have some snacks."

Rarity felt a compassionate hoof on her shoulder. "I sincerely hope you find your sister. Sweetie Belle is a smart filly. She won't get herself into trouble." Cheerilee glanced at the two other crusaders, "well, not too much trouble."

"Hello miss Rarity," said Nurse Redheart as she entered the room. Rarity had been awake for a few minutes already and had been counting the ceiling tiles out of boredom when the nurse trotted in.

Rarity gave the nurse a grunt as she walked past her bed. She tried to follow the nurse's progression, but only caught the occasional sight of her white cap as it bobbed up and down. Redheart grabbed hold of a curtain and dragged it across its railing until it had created a small private area within the already small room.

"Time to change the sheets," said the nurse in an overly cheerful voice. Rarity felt her body being exposed to the lukewarm hospital air as her blankets were removed in one quick swoop. She shivered despite herself at suddenly being exposed. "Now don't move, I need to change your diaper."

Rarity turned her mumble into a indignant question.

The nurse's head popped into her line of sight. "Well, where else did you think you did your business?" She lifted an eyebrow at Rarity. She felt her face blush a furious red and was happy that the curtain was in place to avoid having her friends see such a disgraceful act.

A few embarrassing moments later, Redheart was done and she proceeded to start tidying up the room. "You'll be happy to learn that the doc said that we will be able to remove those braces and restraints soon. You'll be able to turn your head and move around a bit."

Rarity smiled at the first good news she had received since the start of her hospital stay. "Your breathing is also much better, we might take out those tubes at the same time!"

Rarity mumbled her approval and the nurse joined in with a giggle of her own. "Well, don't get too excited, you still have quite a bit of healing to do."

Redheart came to her bedside and gently put a hoof on her shoulder. "I'll talk to Doctor Helping Hoof to see whether or not we can let your friends in. I know how having somepony you can rely on can be a great help in the healing process."

The kind nurse smiled at her and pushed away from the bed. "Well, you're not the only patient in this hospital. I'll go take care of Mister Scribeswell next door if you don't mind."

She started trotting out of the room, opening the curtain partially as she did so. Redheart opened the door and gently shut it closed behind her. Rarity lay where she was and contemplated the ceiling once more. A small smile spread across her face as she thought about finally being able to get out of the bed and being able to move on her own. Odd, she thought, how something as silly as going to the bathroom herself was so precious, yet she had never given it a thought.

The door squeaked open on rusty hinges. "Oh Miss Rarity, I forgot to tell you about Sweetie Belle. Almost all of her burns are healed up. She'll be just fine. She might come to visit you in a few days!" Redheart said cheerfully as she shut the door once more.

Rarity sighed, if only she could remember what had happened to her...

"Sweetie Belle!" screamed Rarity as she galloped across the outer edge of Sweet Apple Acres. She knew she must have looked positively crazy, her mane in disarray as she scrambled through the bushy ground; her coat covered in a thin layer of mud – not the spa kind; rather, this was the unwholesome dirty kind – , her voice was even beginning to become hoarse. Her mind was abuzz with a mixture of concern and worry.

"Sweetie Belle, where are you?!" she yelled once more. From afar, she spotted a big red earth pony glancing at her quizzically. He turned around and galloped the other way before she could do anything about it. Rarity paid him little heed, she needed to find her sister before the powerful ominous fire did..

"Rarity? What in tarnation are ya doing here?" Applejack yelled as she came rushing down the hill followed closely by Big Mac.

"Oh Applejack, thank the goddess you are here! I lost Sweetie Belle!" Applejack gave her a sceptical look as she came to a halt near her. Big Mac stopped a dozen paces away and patiently listened to the two mares.

"Ya lost Sweetie Belle?" she deadpanned. "How'd ya lose a smart little filly like that?"

"Oh you wouldn't understand." Rarity turned away and searched the Everfree for any signs of her sister. She saw nothing but dark, ominous trees, lit by the flickering shadows caused by the approaching flames.

"Hehe, ah've got more siblings then ah can count! Come on Rarity, tell me what's wrong." Applejack's voice was both stern and worried.

"Fine," relented Rarity. "Sweetie Belle and I, had... A scuffle, of sorts. And I may have screamed at her..."

"Uh-huh, lemme guess, now she's a mite angry?" Applejack crossed her hooves on the uplifted dirt.

"Exactly, and when she's sad she goes to that silly treehouse of theirs..."

Applejack's eyes widened. "The treehouse is smack on the edge of the Everfree!" Applejack addressed her brother. "You go tell the rest of the family. We ought to go take a look, them fires are almost on that place!

When Applejack turned around once more Rarity was already gone in a cloud of dust, smoke and worries.

"Well, what will she think when she sees herself?"

"Ah don't know, to be honest ah'm afraid of finding out..."

"Shush you two, she's awake."

Rarity grunted and was relieved to no longer feel the two tubes that had been stuck in her throat. She lifted a forehoof and rubbed her sore neck. She lifted a fore hoof! Batting her eyes open she stared at her hoof. It was just the way she left it, if a little worse for wear with slight patches of missing fur and quite a few IV tubes poking into her skin, not to mention a few needle marks, but that was nothing she couldn't disguise with the proper attire.

She looked up to see the grinning faces of Twilight and Fluttershy. Behind the pair were Rainbow Dash and Applejack sitting on the floor. They both looked into her eyes and smiled, then looked away.

"Glad to see that you're awake!" said Twilight, her grin grew even larger and more sheepish.

"Oh yes, we were really worried..." whispered Fluttershy as she twisted her hooves together and looked down. Rarity spotted a few tears in the corners of her eyes.

She opened her mouth to speak but, rather than her usual clear voice, she croaked loudly. Rainbow Dash fell to the floor in fits of laughter while Applejack glared at her.

"Rainbow, that isn't the way to treat a friend." The pegasus kept rolling on the floor laughing, after a while everypony in the room caught the giggles as well. Even Rarity found joy in the sound; although she tried not to join in, lest she cause another fit of laughter.

After the laughter died down, her four friends reunited around her bed. Rarity counted the faces above her bed. Where was Pinkie Pie? She tried to ask where she was via grunts while Rainbow Dash giggled into her hoof under Applejack's glare.

"Oh, Pinkie was..." started Fluttershy.

"Thrown out. The doctor said that we shouldn't do anything crazy, and, well, you know Pinkie..." Twilight shrugged.

Rarity laughed a little.

"She sounds like a drowning hippo." snorted Rainbow Dash. All four of them glared at her.

"Oh alright then," she huffed "I'll be outside." The rainbow maned mare flew dejectedly out of the room, to the relief of her friends.

"Please forgive her, sugarcube. Rainbow has had it rough. We've all been a little worried is all." Applejack shook her head.

Nurse Redheart interrupted any further conversation as she walked into the room wearing her customary smile. "Ah, Miss Rarity you're awake!" She trotted over to her bedside and joined her friends. "I'm glad to see you're recuperating quite well! Soon you'll be out and about, I'm certain of it!"

Rarity couldn't help but smile at her jovial attitude, her friends smiled along with her. Suddenly, the door burst open and a pink blur charged to her bedside. Balloons and streamers left in the blur's wake at seemingly random intervals floated around the room and landed on the medical equipment, give the otherwise bland, white, room a burst of jovial colours.

"Hi Rarity! You're awake!" Pinkie screamed as she screeched to a halt. Nurse Redheart looked at her quizzically but didn't make a fuss about her grand entrance.

"Oh, I'm so excited!" Suddenly she gasped, "You'll need stuff to do! Wait right here!" Pinkie disappeared in a puff.

Twilight ignored the pink pony's antics and struck up a conversation with nurse Redheart. Rarity paid attention at first, but quickly lost interest as the conversation veered towards the realm of medicine. Applejack and Fluttershy turned to one another and began talking about the fire's effect on crops and the wildlife respectably.

Rarity took the opportunity to look around the room. To her left there was a desk and dozens of cubicles nailed to the wall. The drawers under the desk were all neatly labeled with names that she couldn't begin to read, let alone understand.

She turned to her right and looked at the small chairs destined for visitors and the large machine that had helped her breathe. Rarity was fascinated by all the odd objects in the room and spent the next few moments examining them. Being free, even if it was just being able to move her head around and look at the room she was in, was an incredible and joyful experience.

Suddenly there was a loud ruckus from beyond the hallway. Before they had the time to question each-other, Pinkie Pie reappeared carrying a large pink bag in her muzzle.

"Looch I gotch," she said through her bag-filled mouth. "Some stuffs fer you todo while yush wait!" Pinkie dumped the bag onto the hospital ground and started going through its contents. "I've got some toys, a mirror, candy, a globe, three flashlights, a blanket, some cups, a sealed jar of cider..." Rarity stopped paying attention to Pinkie and focused on nurse Redheart.

"Cider?! You're not allowed to bring cider into a hospital! And why would she need a flashlight?!" The nurse stepped over to Pinkie. "And you know full well that Doctor Helping Hoof said not to bring any mirrors in here!"

Rarity frowned. Why were they not allowed to bring mirrors? Cider she could understand, but mirrors? She looked around and saw Twilight and Fluttershy had started up a conversation while Applejack was arguing with Pinkie and nurse Redheart. Rarity looked at the cheap plastic mirror that stuck out of the bag.

Using her magic, she levitated the tiny mirror up and out of the bag. It floated towards her slowly, bobbing up and down as it gently moved towards her wrapped in blue magic. As it approached she saw her reflection. Twisting it upwards to looked at her mane just as she had done a thousand times before.

A small sob escaped her throat. Where her mane was supposed to be all that remained was pinkish skin and a few stray strands of burnt purple hair. Shaking, Rarity focused her magic into turning the mirror towards her face.

Twilight gasped and the mirror was wrapped in a purple shell. The two unicorns fought over the small plastic mirror. "Stop," croaked Rarity. Twilight looked up with a face contorted in fear and shame. "I-" Rarity whispered while looking into the eyes of her friend. "I want- to see," Twilight relinquished control of the mirror and looked away, bowing her head in shame.

The room grew incredibly quiet as all eyes were on her. Even Pinkie chose to stay silent as she fussed with her own hooves.

Rarity slowly twisted the mirror and looked at her own reflection. The left side of her face was welled up and had turned an ugly pink and brown as her body tried to heal itself. A single tear rolled out of her right eye. For a pony who prized beauty and appearances as much as she did, having such a disfigured face was beyond nightmarish.

"It... will heal... probably," said Fluttershy, in a vain attempt to encourage her.

Another sob escaped Rarity. She looked down at her body. She was entirely covered in a thick linen blanket. It was tucked below the bed. Her mind raced at the possibilities of what she would find under the covers.

"Don't!" barked nurse Redheart but it was to late. Rarity ripped the covers off of the bed with a burst of her magic. Upon seeing herself, she pulled her hooves to her face and started crying. Her friends looked away in shared shame.

Her body was covered in patches of brown, burnt skin. What was left of her once-glorious white coat was stained black. Over her entire right side a huge section of fur was gone. In its stead was a bubbly patch of caked scars. Rarity looked at herself and shivered. Slowly twisting her hind leg she stared at her flank. Where her cutie mark had been was only scar tissue and burns. All that was left was one faded blue diamond.

Rarity ran through the forest, ignoring the stinging branches of the trees that she nearly ran into. She could smell the thick smoke as it swarmed around her. Coughing and grunting she desperately tried to gain speed.

She tripped over a root and smashed into the ground. For a few seconds, she simply lay there panting, unsure of whether or not to continue. After all, Sweetie Belle might not even be there.

A piercing scream of distress made up her mind for her. "Wait Sweetie, I'm coming!" Getting up Rarity charged through the last of the woods and stopped dead in her tracks when she reached a clearing.

In the center of it was a beautiful little house, halfway up a splendid tree, around it were toys, capes and even a little picnic table. The scene would have been one of idyllic beauty if it were not for the wall of flames that was quickly rushing towards the small house. Thick plumes of smoke obscured her vision as Rarity wiped the soot and tears away from her eyes.

Rarity backpedaled into the much cooler shade provided by the trees she had ran out of moments ago. Stomping on the spot she thought about what to do. Should she look inside the house? wasn't it dangerous? Was Sweetie even there? Her mind went blank as a familiar white form popped its head out of one of the windows.

"Rarity!" Cried Sweetie Belle before the entire side of the house was engulfed by the red flames.

Rarity awoke with a start to find herself once more tied down to her bed. From her side she heard a now familiar huff. Twisting her head as much as should could she stared at the angry face of the doctor.

"What the hay were you thinking?" he deadpanned. "I spent all this time trying to make you better, and now you go along and move and scratch yourself all over. It'll take twice as long to heal now!" he screamed. Rarity flinched as far back into the bed as she could.

"Why are you so mean?" she rasped wearily..

"Why am I mean? Why?!" He looked at her and huffed. She simply stared at him quietly until he hunched his shoulders in defeat.

"Fine, I'll show you why." Bending down out of her line of sight he disappeared for a moments before reappearing.

This time, he wasn't wearing his lab coat. His blue coat was covered in big patchy scars with a pinkish edge contrasting against his blue coat. The scars were old and had healed, they even showed tell tale signs of aging, but his coat had never grown back.

"That's why," he whispered. "You are not the only pony to ever get burned, you know."

Rarity started crying once more. Both out of pity for Helping Hoof and for herself. Was she going to be that scarred? He looked at her tear filled eyes and sighed. "Where I lived, there were no doctors or any decent medical facilities..."

"Don't worry, given time and good medication you won't have any real bad scars." He ducked down, picked up his coat and donned it. He started trotting out of the room.

"Thank you," she rasped. He turned and looked at her, then simply kept walking away.

Almost a half hour later, nurse Redheart walked into the room in her signature good mood. She went about doing her business while Rarity watched quietly. Eventually, the nurse turned to Rarity and spoke. "You sister was let out today. I'm sure she'll want to visit you once the doctor allows it."

She stared at the ceiling. Watching the sun creep along until, in weariness, she fell into a deep slumber.

Rarity forgot everything. All that mattered was saving her beloved little sister.

She ran to the tree-house and, ignoring the pain of the licking flames the poked around the edges of the steps and jabbed at her hooves, she hopped onto the balcony. The blazing door was sealed tightly. Swearing, Rarity began bucking it until, finally, it smashed inwards, breaking apart into hundreds of little splinters as it did so.

Rarity covered her face with a hoof and jumped into the billowing cloud of smoke that made plumed out of the interior of the small house. Inside she couldn't see anything, the smoke blinded her eyes with dirty tears and choked the air out of her lungs. Suddenly she heard the sound of Sweetie Belle's sobs, trotting towards it she found her sister curled up in a small ball at the far end of the room. Without thought, she bit Sweetie Belle by the nape of her neck and dragged her towards the entrance of the house.

Just as she was going to reach the door, the building shifted. Planks from the roof fell, thundering down until they blocked her only exit.

Rarity looked around desperately, the small subdued light from a nearby window gave her a glimmer of hope. The small hole had lost its glass protection, and the small decorative curtains were aflame. Rarity picked her sobbing sister up and placed her onto her back, hefting the weight with a determined grunt. Without waiting, Rarity charged at the small opening, jumping at the last second to fly out of the house, trailing smoke behind her.

In mid air, Rarity gulped her first breath of fresh air since entering the house. She had only a second to take in her surroundings before crashing with a loud thump on the hard soggy ground.

Rarity didn't feel herself lose consciousness, but she did feel herself regaining it. When she opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was Sweetie Belle's unconscious form. The filly was curled in a small ball amongst the burnt grass as the sky rained ashes all around her small frame. Rarity dragged herself forward on burning limbs and covered her sister with her own body.

A few long minutes later, Rarity heard other ponies galloping through the sound of the inferno at her back. "Ah found her!" one of them yelled.

Somepony tried to pick her up, but she fought back as she desperately tried to protect Sweetie Belle. "It's alright Rarity. You did good, she'll be safe now."

Rarity took a small moment to understand the message, once she did, her mind fell into a state of pure relief.

Rarity had been lying in the bed tossing and turning for hours. All the cards and books that were left on her bedside had been discarded hours ago and she was too exhausted to read or write. And yet she was still unable to sleep for fear of the horrible memories and nightmares that plagued her.

That morning, Nurse Redheart and Doctor Helping Hoof had untied her once and for all. The doctor had threatened to sew her legs to the bed if she reopened her wounds again. She was still uncertain as to whether or not he was joking.

In her frustration, Rarity tossed and turned some more. She remembered what had happened to her over week ago; still, some things were not clear to her. How she arrived at the hospital was still a mystery; as was Sweetie Belle's condition. She was tempted to ask Doctor Helping Hoof to let her friends in, but every time his answer was the same; an adamant no.

Suddenly, the door burst open, shocking her out of her reverie. A little white filly ran into the room and, ignoring the Indignant yelling of nurse Redheart who had followed her in, hopped up onto the bed. Rarity felt her sister's tiny hooves crush her into a tight hug. She ignored the slight pain and discomfort and tried to hug her back. Both sisters quietly shared the moment as their tears flowed. "I'm so sorry sis," was all Sweetie Belle said.

"It's not your fault, Sweetie," Rarity croaked. The hug tightened.

"But-" began the filly, until Rarity shushed her.

"It's my fault, I should have never been mean to you. You don't deserve that."

Rarity heard somepony sobbing, and was surprised to see that it was neither her nor her sister. Nurse Redheart sat hunched over on the floor trying futilely to stop her downpour of tears with her little white cap. From the doorway five familiar faces poked out and looked at the scene. They all let out little 'awws' and dabbed at their eyes. The five trotted, bounced and flew into the room ignoring Doctor Helping Hoof as he too followed the small group.

All of her friend gathered around her bed, some smiling contentedly, while others squirmed awkwardly. Rarity smiled contentedly. It was okay, she knew that they all loved her, and for that she loved them back. Too soon the doctor began hustling the entire reluctant group out of the room. When they had all left her the doctor closed the door half-way then turned to face her. "You're lucky to have such good friends Rarity; take care of them."

With that the doctor left the room with hardly a whisper. Rarity lay on her bed, thinking about what had happened and how it had and would affect her life. Soon she fell asleep, and for the first time in over a week, she didn't dream about anything.

Emotion and sadness practice.