By Colt A
Rarity's day began like any other. She woke up, got out of bed, fed Opal, got Sweetie Belle breakfast, and reminded Sweetie Belle not to try to eat Opal's food, lest the cat scratch her like the last time and leave an ugly scar on her face, and then no stallion would want to marry her.
“But Rarity, what if taste testing cat food is my special talent?”
“That's ridiculous, Sweetie Belle. Ponies don't eat cat food.”
“So how do they know it tastes good?
“Ponies and cats have different tastes, dear. We really don't have time for this today. I've got a deadline in less than a week!” With that, Rarity left the kitchen and went into her studio, where she set about adjusting the hem of a dress positioned on a mannequin. Just as she was about to snip the thread, the front door burst open, startling Rarity and causing her to make a large cut in the hem of the dress.
“Just who do you think you are, barging into my studio while I'm working?” Rarity demanded. “You made me ruin my dress. I hope you know that I expect compensation for--”
“POLICE! Drop the scissors. You're under arrest,” barked a blue colt wearing a police badge.
Surprised, Rarity's magic faltered and she dropped the scissors. Trying to save face before the admittedly handsome officer, she quickly regained her composure and retorted, “Arrest? What for? I swear I haven't seen that photographer since--”
“Not for that,” the officer interrupted. “The charges against you are for tax fraud. You have the right to remain silent...” he began as he shackled Rarity's hooves.
Rarity cut him off. “I know my rights, officer. But there must be some mistake. My taxes are always in order.”
“Save it for the judge.” The officer half pushed, half guided Rarity out the door and into the police carriage. Once Rarity was secured inside, the pegasi pulling the carriage started abruptly, jolting the vehicle.
“Could you be a little more careful?” Rarity suggested. “I'm stressed enough as it is, with my being arrested and all. The last thing I need is a bumpy carriage ride. Celestia knows what this is going to do to my coat.”
“Sorry Lady,” the officer said flatly, “Our luxury prison transport pegasi have the day off.”
“Pegasi?” Rarity was growing more concerned. “I hate flying. You could at least ask them to be extra careful.” As if on cue, the carriage ascended diagonally as soon as Rarity had finished. If Rarity had eaten breakfast that morning, she would have lost it.
After an exceptionally turbulent flight, the carriage touched down at the Equestria Royal Penitentiary, where Rarity's day did not improve. After being processed and hoofprinted by an unnecessarily rough colt, Rarity was ushered into a small room where her mugshot would be taken.
“You're going to take my picture, like this?!” Rarity was shocked. “My mane is completely disheveled, my coat is practically matted, and my face must look like a train wreck! And what sort of a backdrop is this? Horizontal lines? Are you TRYING to make me look fat? You do know what I did to the last photographer who made me look bad, don't you? It could happen again. You're making a huge mis—”
A bright light flashed in Rarity's face, and her picture was taken with her mouth wide open.
“You couldn't even soften the lighting? Everypony knows that direct lighting makes everything look horrible. At the very least, I hope that camera has the proper aperture for such...adventurous lighting situations. It's like you ponies go out of your way to make everything here uglier. Honestly...” Rarity was still complaining as she was guided into the next room, where she was given a bright orange jumpsuit to change into. This was the final straw for Rarity.
“You know, I have no idea why I am here. I haven't committed any crimes yet,” Rarity began. “But if you make me put that outfit on I will have committed a crime, against fashion! Jumpsuits, solid colors, and traffic-cone orange are all very loud design elements, and combining all three of them is downright gaudy; not to mention the entire ensemble completely clashes with my mane. Perhaps if I dyed it a different color and loosened the curls a bit...but by the looks of everypony here, I couldn't trust any of you to touch my mane. I suppose accessorizing could help this situation a little. Do these shackles come in burgundy, or even black?”
“No, ma'am,” stated an annoyed guard. “Just hurry up and put the suit on.” Another guard waved a cattle prod threateningly. Rarity, more afraid of singeing her mane than being shocked, quickly slipped into the jumpsuit and mourned the loss of her dignity.
Back at the boutique, Sweetie Belle was beginning to get worried. Her big sister had been gone for hours. Sweetie Belle wanted to go play with Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, but wasn't sure if she should leave a note or tell somepony first. Also she hadn't eaten since breakfast. She guiltily eyed Opal's food dish, salivating. Just as she was reaching down for a nibble, the door opened again, more quietly than before. Sweetie Belle, with her getting-in-trouble radar on high, heard the door and jumped. Opal, sensing a disturbance near her food dish, tore herself away from scratching up Rarity's designs to investigate. Just then, a familiar, timid voice whispered through the doorway, “Hello?”
“Fluttershy!” Sweetie Belle exclaimed as she ran to greet her sister's best friend. Fluttershy flinched at Sweetie Belle's sudden excitement.
“Well, hello, Sweetie Belle and Opal,” Fluttershy said. “Do you know where Rarity is? It's our spa day, and she's half an hour late. She never misses spa day. I was just coming to check on her. She did mention that deadline before...is she too busy today? That's okay I guess...” Fluttershy turned to leave.
Before Fluttershy could go, Sweetie Belle stopped her, saying, “No! Rarity isn't at the spa because she was arrested this morning!”
“Oh, no, not again,” Fluttershy said, suddenly very concerned. “I thought that photographer was in protective custody.”
“Not for that,” Sweetie Belle replied. “The officer said something about taxes, I think.”
“No way,” Fluttershy said. “Rarity is always very careful with her taxes. Doesn't she take them to the best accountant in town?”
“Yeah...” Sweetie Belle answered, her voice wavering.
Rarity was not adjusting well to prison life. After being locked up in her cell, she thought a shower would be just the thing to help her relax. Unfortunately, the water was ice cold. It was miserable, but Rarity would only feel better if she cleaned herself up. The prison's shampoo was subpar, but Rarity had expected that. Nothing conditioner wouldn't fix. As Rarity reached for the bottle, the tragic fact struck her: there is no conditioner in prison. The unicorn had endured countless hardships today, but this she could not bear. Letting go of her final thread of self-respect, Rarity screamed out, “I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANY LONGER! I'm naked and soaking wet and covered in shampoo lather and I DON'T HAVE ANY CONDITIONER TO RINSE WITH! GUARDS! Somepony please bring me some conditioner!”
The guards, already en route to Rarity's cell with a visitor, hurried up, not because they had any conditioner, but because they liked the idea of seeing the attractive new inmate wet and naked and covered in shampoo lather.
“Thank Celestia you're here!” Rarity cried, no longer caring about her pitiful state. “Did you bring any conditioner?”
One of the guards replied, “No, but--”
“THEN WHY THE HAY ARE YOU HERE?” Rarity snapped, suddenly feeling a bit violated.
“You have a visitor.” The guard meekly replied.
When she saw her visitor, Rarity dropped to the ground in shame. “Princess Celestia, please forgive my appearance...”
“Don't worry, my little pony,” the Princess replied, and with a twinkle of her horn, a bottle of conditioner appeared in Rarity's hoof.
“Thank you, Princess...” Rarity began, “but this isn't my brand.”
“You're in prison. Deal with it. Hurry up and rinse off and we can talk.”
Rarity was happy to oblige, although she was disappointed that her mane did not come out as feathery as usual. As she silently cursed the brand of conditioner, Celestia began.
“You can imagine my surprise when I heard one of Twilight's friends was in prison. I was even more surprised after I learned it was you, Rarity. I could see Pinkie Pie, or maybe Rainbow Dash, getting into trouble with the law, but you? Naturally, I was curious, so I did some investigating into your charges, and it all became quite clear when I looked over your tax return. Would you like to see for yourself?” Celestia handed a piece of paper to Rarity.
Sweetie Belle swallowed her last bite of sandwich.
“If you don't mind, I'd like to hear the rest of your story now,” Fluttershy said. “You said that Rarity was very busy on the day she was supposed to meet with the accountant, so she sent you instead...”
“Yeah,” Sweetie Belle continued, “She put everything the accountant needed for the taxes in my saddle bag and sent me on my way. I was almost there when I bumped into Scootaloo on her scooter. She asked me what I was doing, and I told her, and then she got an idea. She told me to wait there while she went to get Apple Bloom. So I waited... I'm kind of thirsty. Fluttershy, do you know if Rarity has any apple juice?”
Rarity looked at the tax form. She couldn't make head or tail of the numbers and lists written on it, but she immediately noticed a problem as her eyes scanned over the bottom of the sheet. In the preparer's signature box, instead of the cursive her accountant usually scribbled, there were large block letters that read, “CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS ACCOUNTANTS! YAY!”
“I don't think any of the little fillies got their cutie marks that day,” Celestia joked. “Your cat may have nine lives, but obviously that doesn't mean you can list her as a dependent nine times.”
“I'm truly sorry about the mix-up, Princess,” Rarity said, “but surely you can see that this isn't my fault.”
“Certainly, my little pony! And I'm more than willing to pardon you. Of course, you are going to have to pay all the taxes you owe.”
“About that...” Rarity began. “I may have spent the money.”
“All of it? On what?”
“You spent fifteen hundred bits on a hat?”
“It was a fabulous hat, Princess! Surely you can understand. Sweetie Belle had just told me about the deduction, and I had some business in Canterlot, so I was excited to spend it. I passed this chic little shop and saw the hat in the window; it really is gorgeous. It's a light lavender color, with a wide brim, and this silky white ribbon wrapped around it...”
Celestia interrupted, “Was it from the shop on Seabiscuit street?”
“Yes! How did you know?”
“I wanted to buy that hat. I saw it on my way to a meeting, and was determined to get it on the way back. But when I returned to the shop after dinner, the hat was gone! I'm so glad to have found the mare who bought it. You can just give it to me, and everything will be square.”
“Well, Princess,” Rarity hesitated before she spoke again. “I absolutely hate to say this, but I really am fond of that hat, and honestly, it wouldn't look as good on you as it does on me. I'll give you anything else you want, though. A new dress, perhaps? You could even take Sweetie Belle. I'm sure you're getting lonely in your palace without Twilight to tutor. How about a new pupil?”
“Your little sister? If she can't even fill out a tax worksheet, I'm not sure she'd be able to do research magic. Rarity, all I really want is the hat. Or the fifteen hundred bits you owe. If you can't give me either of those, I don't think I'll be able to help you.”
“Please Princess,” Rarity pleaded, “I'm sure I could make a hat that suits you much better. Just give me a chance. That's all I ask.”
“Very well. I'll give you one week. If you can't give me a hat I like better by then, I'm banishing you to the moon. You'll like it better than prison, trust me. It's more glamorous.” Celestia instructed the guards to release Rarity and take her back to the Carousel Boutique.
“Princess Celestia, one more thing,” Rarity inquired, “Could you send me back in any way other than the prison transport carriage? I get horribly airsick.”
“I'm not doing you any more favors until I get my hat,” Celestia declared. Then she walked out of the prison and boarded her chariot back home.
When she returned home, Rarity got right to work on Princess Celestia's hat, throwing her other deadline aside. That client wasn't very important, anyway. Rarity was so absorbed in her work, she barely had time for anything else. In fact, she only fed Sweetie Belle twice that week. Sweetie Bell, moved equally by hunger and curiosity, took another taste from Opal's dish. Furious, Opal scratched Sweetie Belle on the flank, leaving a scar which Sweetie Bell thought was her cutie mark for the next two weeks.
A few hours after Rarity's return, Twilight Sparkle walked into the boutique. “Hello, Rarity, I'm reading a book on the magic of fashion, and I was wondering if you could clarify a few topics for me.”
“Twilight!” Rarity exclaimed. “Just the pony I wanted to see. About how big do you think Princess Celestia's head is?”
“Oh, I don't know,” Twilight responded, “a little less than twice the size of yours? But what does that have to do with anything? Anyway, could you help me out?”
“Well, thanks anyway,” Rarity blabbered as she rolled out some heavy fabric. “I guess I'll just estimate. I do wish I could talk some more, but I'm far too busy. Sweetie Belle, show Twilight out, would you?”
A couple days later, Pinke Pie stopped in for a visit. “Hey, Rarity, how was the clink? I've always wanted to wear hoofcuffs; are they fun? How's the food? Don't say it's better than mine! Anyway, I came to see you because I'm baking a pie, but I'm not sure if I should weave crust over the top, or just lay a whole flat piece. What do you think looks better?”
“I'm sorry, Pinkie. I can't talk now, I'm trying to decide whether the crown should be rounded or square. Oh, what am I thinking? Square, of course! The Princess isn't some common workhorse! I've got to get to work. Pinkie, I'm afraid you'll have to go. Sweetie Bell, could you?”
“Sweetie Belle, you look hungry.” Pinkie Pie commented as Sweetie Belle walked her to the door. “You should come with me to Sugar Cube Corner. I just made cupcakes!” Sweetie Belle was more than happy to eat and get away from her big sister, who was now contemplating whether the brim should be three and a half inches, or three and three quarters inches.
A day before the deadline, Rainbow Dash wandered into the Carousel Boutique. “Hey Rarity, you haven't seen my training saddle, have you? I know I lent it to you a few weeks ago--”
“I've got it!” Rarity shouted.
“That's great,” Rainbow Dash said. “I really need it because I'm--”
“This hat should capture the essence of the sun!” Rarity declared, ecstatic about the breakthrough.
“What?” Rainbow Dash was confused. “Never mind, I'll just look somewhere else.”
Princess Celestia arrived just as Rarity was putting the final touches on her hat. She chose a pink ribbon with the exact color that appears on the edge of a perfect sunset, and tied it around the crown. The Princess walked into the boutique, her expression a balance of excitement and incredulity. “Is that it?” she asked in a neutral tone as she motioned towards the hat in Rarity's hooves.
“It certainly is!” Rarity presented the hat to Celestia. “I certainly hope you like it. I put everything I've got into that hat.”
Celestia inspected the hat carefully before trying it on. “What's this yellow thing sticking out of the top?” she asked skeptically.
“It's supposed to be the sun...” Rarity explained.
“Oh, alright. I see it now. And the rest of the hat is going for kind of a cloud aesthetic,” Celestia said as she glanced at a mirror, her tone becoming more judgmental. “What I don't understand, though, is why the crown is square, then. A rounded top would really sell the 'cloud' more. Also, the brim could be just a quarter inch wider. And this ribbon blends with my mane in a rather odd way. It sort of makes it look like there's a big gap above the brim.”
“So do you like it?” Rarity asked, trying to remain optimistic.
“Well, it's certainly not a bad hat,” Celestia commented with diplomatic flair. “In fact, it's really quite nice. But honestly, I think it just isn't for me.”
“But I made the hat especially for you,” Rarity argued, her desperation growing.
“And I certainly appreciate that, my little pony. But if I can lead all of Equestria, I think I can make my own fashion decisions. And I liked the other hat you bought better. I'll give you one last chance to give it to me right now, otherwise...”
“Princess Celestia, you can't send me to the moon!” Rarity was panicking. “There are no boutiques there, no fashion reporters, no other ponies at all! Is there even water? How will I get clean? I'd have to roll around in dirt! How can anypony get clean by rolling in dirt? Please don't banish me to the moon! I just can't bear it!”
“Rarity, calm down!” Celestia ordered. “If I was going to send you to the moon, I would have done it before I had to listen to all your whining. Some circumstances have come up, and I'm going to offer you a choice. Surely you've heard of my nephew, Prince Blueblood?”
“We've met...” Rarity calmed down a bit, but the thought of the Prince sent new chills down her spine.
“He has tickets to the Royal symphony in Canterlot, but his date won't be able to make it, something about a cordless urban bungee jumping accident. If you'd like to go with him, I think I could forget about all this silliness. However, if for some reason you'd rather not, the moon is always on the table. I really do think you two would be a good match, though. It's more like I'm doing you a favor than punishing you. But it's your choice, Rarity.”
Rarity groaned. This just wasn't her week.
Rarity walked over to Fluttershy's house. “Fluttershy, can you do me a favor? Sweetie Belle mentioned how nice you were taking care of her while I was...incarcerated. Could you possibly watch her for a little while longer?”
“I suppose...” Fluttershy was hesitant. “May I ask why?”
“I have...” Rarity let out a long sigh, “a date.”