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               Rarity hummed tunelessly to herself as she hung her damp towel on the rack to dry and rearranged her toiletries on the bathroom's counter. "That was just what you needed, darling. Dear Lotus and Aloe, lovely as their hooves are, can't stand up to a bath with 'The Scoltish Laird'. A night with Primrose is what you need to truly unwind." She grinned and fondly patted the lovingly worn book she'd set on the edge of the tub. "I've not laughed like that since I found poor Scootaloo's little 'shrine'." A pang of guilt tugged at her, which she waved off dismissively. "I know it was horrid of me to laugh at her," she said to the book and the little pang. "She just reminded me of another silly pegasus who does the same thing." A wicked grin curved her lips. "I wonder if I'll ever tell her."

           The book was silent.

           "You're right. That would be rude of me. Considering the targets of their worship, it may be best to let them pine for now. They'll grow out of it soon enough."

           A loud knock punctuated her sentence.

           Rarity blinked and looked at the clock on the wall, which showed the time to be several hours after dusk. "Now who could that be at this time of night?"

           The knocking grew more insistent.

           "Coming!" she called. "Please be patient!" She cantered gingerly down the stairs to the front of her boutique, only to screech to a halt at the sight of a hulking, misshapen silhouette in the door. It was obviously a pony, but it looked like none she'd ever seen. She swallowed as she levitated an umbrella from the rack by the stairs and quietly stepped toward the door.

           The knocking kept up, growing more urgent.

           A robber? No, they wouldn't have knocked. A thug, come to take advantage of her? They would have broken the glass by n—

           The darkened boutique was filled with the crash of shattering glass as the silhouette put a hoof through the door. There was a frustrated grunt, and Rarity caught sight of a pair of bloodshot eyes glaring through the door before she launched the umbrella at them with a cry. "YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE!"

           The pair of eyes widened in surprise and then disappeared under the simultaneous assault of the rest of the door's glass shattering outward and a spinning umbrella which smacked right between them. Rarity wasted no time in jumping to the door with another umbrella floating over her head ready to strike at the would-be rapscallion! "Stand still and I'll make this easy on—"

           "Wait! Sis!" Sweetie Belle's head popped up through the break in the glass, her hooves covering her head. "It's just us!"

           Rarity blinked and lowered the umbrella. "Us?" Her eyes flitted past her sister to the figure sprawled on the ground behind her. A bright blue unicorn mare was splayed out in a painful-looking heap, half-in and half-out of a muddy puddle. Her mane was caked in mud and glitter and ribbons, and what looked like the remains of a paper hat. Her clothes, the severely cut and powder-pink uniform of a waitress, were torn and stained and had several rhinestones haphazardly glued to it, as well as one or two on her face. She made no move to get up as Rarity trotted over to her; content to lie in the mud and glare at the sky.

           "Trixie? What on earth are you doing out here?" Rarity gently lifted the other mare into a sitting position.

           Trixie's first response was a glower that could curdle milk. Her second was a tired snort. "You locked us out," she muttered.

           "What happened to your key, then?" Rarity frowned in confusion and turned to Sweetie. "And I thought you were staying at Applejack's tonight for that sleepover."

           Sweetie fidgeted uncomfortably as she waited for Trixie to reply. When she didn't, Sweetie swallowed and shuffled her hooves. "We uh… kinda got caught up in a game. We ran into Miss Trixie and I sorta… 'attacked' her with a Bedazzler. And lost Miss Trixie's key."

           "She was aiming for some disgusting little dragon who put spitballs in my hair." Trixie's eyes narrowed to slits.

           Rarity put a hoof to her breast and gasped. "Spike did that? But he's such a gentleman! He would never do something so horrid to a lady!"

           Sweetie shrank back and tucked her head down between her shoulders. "He was kinda sorta aiming for Apple Bloom. 'Cause she sprayed him with perfume and put makeup on him and tried to get him in a dress… and kissed him on the mouth. Four times. Dinky did, too. But Spike was unsconshious."

           Rarity's hoof moved to her muzzle as she tried to stifle laughter. "Oh dear. You were playing that silly 'Mob' game again, weren't you? I hope you didn't harm his pride too severely, darling." Her eyes wandered back to Trixie, who had slouched back down into the mud. "Come inside, you two. Let's get you cleaned up. And it's 'unconscious', darling."

           "No."

           Rarity blinked. "Beg pardon?"

"If you don't mind, I'm going to sit here and wallow for a while." Trixie splayed her legs out in all directions and let herself sink back into the puddle. "But don't let my little pity-party ruin your evening, Rarity. By all means, go inside while I think of what more humiliation the universe can heap upon me, and how I'm going to pay you back for the door I broke. And the key I'll have to replace. And how I'm going to pay for yet another uniform."

           Rarity sighed and reached out with her magic, folding the mare up in a shimmering glow. "Wallowing will get you nowhere, darling. I should know." She stepped over the broken glass and walked through her boutique toward the back of the shop, carrying the limp form of Trixie in front of her, Sweetie Belle in tow. "And don't worry about the door, dear." She bumped the showmare-turned-waitress with her nose to soften her already conciliatory words. "It's not your fault. It was an accident."

           Rarity suddenly found herself staring into the blazing eyes of an angry unicorn as Trixie, with a flex of her magic, burst out of her telekinetic grip and rounded on the other mare. "No. It was my fault, and I said I would pay you back. I am a mare of my word! I am going to earn the money myself, and you are going to accept it!"

           Rarity took a step back and glanced at the door. "Trixie, when I took you in, I told you I didn't expect payment. I still don't. You're a guest here. A friend!" Her horn sparked, lifting the glass from the floor and carefully setting it back in the frame. A second flash of magic set the pieces and made them whole again.

           Trixie blinked back frustrated tears. "No, I'm a boarder." She slumped as the fire in her eyes started to fade. "I pay rent, I buy my own food, I fix what I break," Her head dipped, nose nearly brushing the floor. "And I pay what I owe. This town has taken nearly everything from me, but Trixie still has some pride. Trixie may not be 'Great' or 'Powerful' anymore, but I still have that much." Her head rose slightly, unfocused eyes staring at nothing. "If it wants that, it'll have to pry it from Trixie's cold, dead hooves."

           Rarity bit her lip and fidgeted. "Darling, you could always work for me. I could use a talented mare like you around the shop."

           Trixie shook her head. "No. I've already told you that. It would just be one more thing I would owe you. "Bussing tables isn't exactly my dream job, but it pays. Not well, but it pays." She lifted her head and stared her hostess in the eye. There was steel in the look, but it was fragile and weary. Brittle. "It's Trixie's money that she can use to pay what Trixie owes you." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath through her nose. "Now if you'll excuse Trixie, she's going to borrow a bottle of wine which she intends to pay for and drown herself in the upstairs bathroom."

           As she schlepped up the stairs, Rarity looked down at her sister, concern written in broad strokes over her face. "I worry for her, Sweetie. She's going to do herself permanent injury if she keeps on like she has." A rolling sigh escaped her. "I'll go put the kettle on. Perhaps some of Twilight's special blend will calm her nerves. After which, we're going to have to have a talk."

           She trotted away, leaving Sweetie Belle alone in the store's lobby. Little gears turned in her head, struggling against the fluff and nonsense that filled it. Slowly, a thought began to form in her head, which quickly became a plan. Her hooves moved on their own as the pieces came together.


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           "Trixie, you are an idiot. Did you know that?" She stared up at the ceiling, resolving inwardly to clean the moisture off of it before it molded over. "You had to go and get yourself tangled up with one of the worst ponies you could have ever managed to meet." She took a long pull from the wine bottle in her hooves, draining nearly a quarter of it, and closed her eyes. "You had to meet the one pony in Equestria who was genuinely nice to you… A charlatan or huckster, or even a scoundrel, we could have laughed off with no problem. There's been no shortage of them in my life. "

           She took another pull. "But no! She had to go and actually give you a chance and you, like a fool, took it. You went from fuming under a bridge to wallowing in the tub of someone who should be an enemy. But…"

           Trixie sank below the edge of the water, the half-empty bottle of wine in her hooves, and idly contemplated making good on her threat and actually drown herself. Oh that's a very good way to repay the mare that fed you, took you in, and gave you a second chance after you humiliated her publically. Leave your water-logged corpse floating in her tub. She'll be soooo grateful.

           She sat slowly upright and blew out the breath she'd been holding. "I hate this town. I can't even look at the houses without feeling guilty for what that bear and those idiot colts did, even if it wasn't my fault. And of course you don't have a clue as to why you feel this way." She rubbed her eyes. "That reminds me. I still have to pay that stupid mailmare so she can fix her roof. Stupid bear. Stupid children! If it's the last thing I do, I'm never having them! Disgusting little brutes always getting underhoof and mucking up everything! Always crying and whining and leaving foul excretions everywhere!"

           She glared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. "What are you looking at? Come to laugh at the fall of the Great and Powerful Trixie, too? Want to watch the crazypony talk to herself? Then go ahead! Ha ha ha!"

           Her reflection stared up at her from the bathwater. "If it weren't for you, or us, whatever, mucking about under that bridge, we'd be in Manehattan by now! We'd have the whole city eating out of our hooves. But no, we had to go and dither around under a bridge until—"She shut her mouth with a snap and closed her eyes. "Until Rarity found us." Her voice softened as the white unicorn's named rolled off of her lips.

           "Why did she have to help us? We would have been perfectly happy to have been left miserable under there. At least we would still have control of our life, rather than having it stuck in her hooves." She lifted her hoof and punched the water, ignoring the glower the reflection gave her. "But no! We had to let her take us in, and now we're up to our ears in debt! First funds to pay for room and board, and then for the window we broke. And then again for the roof the bear tore up. We've had to pay the city to have our cart cleared."

           Her reflection in the mirror arched a brow. Trixie arched the opposite one. "It's no good telling me they didn't want my money. They took it quick enough, with only the most minor of insistence on my part. If I weren't truly in debt, they wouldn't take the money."

           Trixie's eyes narrowed to wary slits. "I'd almost think there was a conspiracy to keep me in Ponyville. Every time I think I've got my head above water, of finally being free of my debt to this horrid little burg, something else breaks, or goes wrong, or falls on my head, and I sink back down into the depths of destitution!"

           Her reflections, both of them, stared sympathetically at her. She was getting loud; louder than this time of the night allowed one to be. Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to calm, and for her voice to even out. "Yelling won't help you, Trixie old girl. You're just talking to yourself." An unsteady sigh gusted out of her. "A sure sign you're going mad under the strain. Maybe we should talk to… No. No, Rarity would want to help, and we would owe her even more for psychiatric aid." She shut her eyes, blanking out the stares of the other two Trixies. "This is something we have to bear ourselves."

           "Although…"

           Trixie sank backward, laying the back of her head against the lip of the tub. "Twilight once referred to her as the 'Element of Generosity'. And she is, surely, the most generous pony we've ever met. She even gave me, who turned her hair green and assaulted her friends, however deserving they were, a second chance. I think. But she must be getting something out of this arrangement, or else she wouldn't be so generous. If only I could figure out what. Some sick sense of schadenfreude? A bet?"

           Her eyes opened slowly and her throat suddenly became a size too tight. "Or… is it, could it? No." She shook her head fiercely. "No, she couldn't feel the same. She's rhapsodized about her 'perfect stallion' too many times to ever have feelings for you, Trixie girl."

           Her sigh this time was less unsteady and more bitter. "Not that we'd blame her. What have we to offer? We're a perpetually broke showmare with no home, a lousy job, and zero prospects for the future." Her head sank lower under the water. "It doesn't help that she's smoking hot, and we're… Well, we're also gorgeous, of course. But we're far too muscular from pulling that pest-ridden old rattletrap of a cart to ever get a dainty goddess like Rarity to look twice at us." She looked over at the fogged mirror with a wistful smile. "You know what I mean, yes? Those gorgeous, slender legs of hers, so sleek and graceful, with such delicate ankles. Oh, how I want to kiss them, to run my lips across them in worship of her incredible beauty!" She closed her eyes and clasped the bottle to her breast. "Her coat is so smooth, and shines like the diamonds on her flank, and such flanks! The kind you can sink your teeth into: firm and fulsome and ripe, with the skin taut across them, leading to the perfect bottom, with just a hint of jiggle as she walks to draw the eye to it." A dreamy sigh puffed the steam that curled around her. "And then... what's between—"

           She heard a scuffling at the edge of the bath and tried to ignore it. The mood was broken, however, the thoughts of Rarity's rear end fleeing from her mind. "Maybe if we cut our meal funds, we'd lose some of the muscle weight and earn a little more toward paying off the debts." She nodded. "Yes, one meal a day will do just fine. And we should apply for another—" The scuffling grew louder. "What is over there?"

           The scuffling grew louder as a little white horn poked up over the lip of the tub, followed by pastel pink-and-purple hair. Sweetie Belle put her hooves onto the tall end of the tub and heaved herself upward, pulling herself as high as her skinny legs would let her go. She stared intently at the water, clearly trying to decide the best way to enter, when gravity took over and pitched her headfirst into it. She spluttered and flailed until she managed to turn over on her back and begin floating, her eyes now fixed intently on the ceiling.

           Throughout this, Trixie watched silently, taking the occasional pull from the bottle. "Are you having fun over there?"

           "Uh huh. I'm real good at floating. Scootaloo says it's 'cause my head's made of wood." She floated calmly with her limbs splayed out.

           "I see. If you're going to join me, then hold this." She placed the bottle's bottom on Sweetie's belly and let go. Immediately, Sweetie grabbed it in her forehooves and continued to float, an indignant look on her squinched up face.

           "Hey!" Sweetie whined. "I'm not a coaster, Miss Trixie! That's what mean ponies do! And Miss Pinkie Pie. But she gives me cupcakes, so it's okay."

           Trixie rolled her eyes and tugged the bottle out of Sweetie's hooves. "You must not have been listening when the other ponies told you I was no good, then." She took another pull. "Or you'd have known not to bother me."

           "But Rarity told me not to listen to them, so I don't." She folded her arms and slumped on the surface. "She says you're a good pony, and I believe her."

           Trixie responded by muttering something around the mouth of the bottle.

           Sweetie paddled forward, still on her back, and thumped her head against Trixie's stomach. "Listen to me! My sister is the smartest pony ever, besides Miss Twilight. She wouldn't like you so much if she didn't believe that. So if she says you're a nice pony, then you're a nice pony!" She punctuated the last few words by lightly banging her forehead against the older unicorn.

           She rolled onto her stomach and stood up. "A bad pony wouldn't do what you do, Miss Trixie. A bad pony wouldn't try to pay people back, or apologize for turning somepony's hair green. A bad pony wouldn't be my friend and make sure I got home safe." Trixie flinched when Sweetie put her hoof on her arm and looked away. "A bad pony would have left Ponyville by now, instead of trying to make up for things."

           Trixie rounded on Sweetie and swept her hoof off. "And I should leave! I should never have stayed! Ever since I entered this horrid little hick town I've been humiliated at every turn! I've been the subject of pitying derision for weeks now; Rarity's little 'charity case'! I've been trampled, set upon by reptiles and dragons and you disgusting little children!" she snarled, surging out of the water. She swiftly stomped out of the tub, clutching the wine bottle in the crook of her ankle. "I met a pony the other day, did you know that? He was a customer of mine. Do you want to know what he called me?"

           "Um… was it a bad word?"

           A humorless grin split Trixie's muzzle. "Oh yes, it was a very bad word. He called me a 'has-been'." The bottle smashed to the ground a second later, spraying wine and glass everywhere. "A HAS-BEEN! I, Trixie, who has wowed the crowds of Fillydelphia and won the hearts of even Manehattan's famously jaded ponies. I, Trixie! The Great and Powerful! A HAS-BEEN!"

           Her eyes blazed as she turned and glared at the little filly. "It's all this damned town's fault, too! This was supposed to be just a warm-up show for Canterlot. I was going to charm all the little ponies, and then work my way up to performing for Princess Celestia herself! I would have been legendary."

           "But Ponyville happened," she hissed through her teeth and turned to the mirror. "The little warm-up show, a charity event for you bumpkins, became the worst disaster of my entire career. And it wasn't content to merely destroy my career, oh no. This town took my dignity, my grace, and is now after my pride, too. Trixie should leave; she has every right to. But I'll be damned if I'm going to let this town win. I'll earn enough to pay my debts, and then leave this little hellhole behind! DO YOU HEAR ME?!"

           Sweetie shook her head and took her hooves down from her ears. "Uh uh. I had to cover my ears when you started saying bad words. I'm sorry."

           Something snapped in Trixie's head with an audible twang. Her eyes bulged out as she bit her lip and ground her hooves into the floor. "Ffffffffff—"

           "Um, are you gonna say another bad word?" Sweetie's hooves inched toward her ears.

           The door to the bathroom burst open and Rarity hurried in, carrying a teapot in a glowing cloud of magic. "What is going on in here? Trixie? Is everything alright? I heard yelling."

           Trixie's glared snapped onto Rarity. In instants the blue unicorn was on her, nose an inch from the other mare's. "You! You're a part of it, aren't you! I know you are, so don't bother denying anything!"

           Rarity stared into the other mare's eyes, her nose pricking at the sour smell of cheap wine on her friend's breath. She held firm as Trixie's off-kilter glower bored into her. "Sweetie, darling? I need you to get dried and go to bed. Use the towels in the linen cupboard." Her horn shimmered as she cleared a path through the glass on the floor.

           "Okay, sis!" Sweetie chirped. She wiggled up onto the edge of the tub and tumbled to the floor with a wet splat. A quick shake to get the soapsuds and water off of her, and she scampered out of the bathroom, hooves squishing loudly.

           "Now Trixie, what is going on? You've been an absolute bear for the past two weeks."
Trixie snarled and waved dramatically. "Oh I haven't the foggiest idea! Why, being trampled by young snots and having stallions ogle my hind-end all day is exactly my idea of a good time! That was sarcasm, by the way, in case you didn't catch the hint."

           "I gathered that. But I'd like to think I know you better than that. You're too prideful to let little things like those get under your skin. Would you please tell me what's the matter?"

           "What's the matter?" Her eye twitched. "What is the matter? My career, my glorious career which was once described as 'meteoric' and even compared to the great Hairy Hoofdini, if only once, has been crushed and trampled into the dust by this place. I have no idea if I'll ever be able to reclaim my former glory, or even be able to perform ever again!"

           Rarity nodded and sat back on her haunches. Tea served itself in two porcelain cups, one of which floated out to Trixie, who ignored it. "Yes, I know darling. You've been saying so for two months now. But if this truly bothered you, you would have left by now." She took a sip of tea and closed her eyes. "I wouldn't hold it against you."

           Trixie opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out except for a strangled squeak. She cleared her throat and closed her eyes. "Your sister said much the same thing, and I'll tell you what I told her: I should leave. My debt won't let me."

           "I think something else is keeping you, Trixie." Rarity smiled around the rim of her cup. "You are prideful, yes. One of the most honor-bound ponies I've ever met, however misplaced your honor is." She took a long sip and looked over her cup through half-lidded eyes. Her smile faltered as she saw the effect they had on Trixie. "But even honor couldn't keep you here." She reached out and laid a hoof on her friend's.

           "Please. Whatever it is, you can tell me. I am here for you. I have always been here for you."

           A knot choked off Trixie's next words as she stared into Rarity's sky-blue eyes. "I-I know… That has been the hardest part. Knowing you're here, and yet, so very, very far away." Trixie closed her eyes and took a deep breath through her nose. Damn this mare. Damn her to the moon! "Knowing that you're everything I could ever want, and yet you can't return my feelings. It tears me up inside! Thinking about you, day after day, trying to live up to the example you set and trying to be a better mare. I want to be someone worthy of you. I know I can be worthy of you! I just need more time. Time to pay off what I owe."

           Trixie leapt forward and caught up Rarity's hooves in her own. "I want to give you everything, because you deserve it! You've given me no less! I don't care if this is some sick, perverted attempt on your part to get a rise out of me, Rarity! I don't! I never have!" Tears streaked Trixie's cheeks as she pressed her nose against the other unicorn's. "And I know you feel it, too! As many stallions as there are in this town and the next, and you haven't found one? I know you're holding out for someone better and I CAN BE THAT SOMEONE! I know you feel it, Rarity! Don't deny it, tell me! Please don't say it's not true, because I know I can be, and already am, the one you want, deep down! Tell me I'm right!"

           She searched Rarity's eyes for a reply when she didn't immediately react. "TELL ME!"

           Rarity swallowed past the lump in her throat and stared into her friend's eyes. "Trixie, I… I had no idea you felt this way." She looked down at the floor and thought back on the smell of alcohol on Trixie's breath. "I truly did not. Had I known, then things might have…"

           "Then you do feel the same?" Hope fluttered in Trixie's chest and made her voice catch.

           Rarity was pained by the fragile hope gleaming behind the mare's eyes, but forced herself to look. All of the little looks and attitudes, even Trixie's continued presence in her house finally made sense.

           "No."

           The word pierced the little ray of hope and pinned it to the floor. The color drained from her face as she slumped to the floor and curled around herself. "I-I see…"

           Rarity shook her head. "It isn't like that, Trixie." She placed her hoof gently on Trixie's shoulder and nudged her tenderly with her nose. "You know it isn't." Her voice was soft as she nuzzled the other unicorn's cheek. "I am your friend, Trixie. I do care for you. I love you, even! Just, as your friend."

           Trixie closed her eyes and lowered her head. "But..."

           "Listen to me." Rarity gripped Trixie's shoulders and held them tight, snapping the unicorn's head to attention, and stared hard at her friend. "You are a beautiful young mare. You are smart, talented, and funny in a bitingly dry sort of way. Any pony who would be with you, as friend or lover, should count themselves lucky. You have goals, drive, ambition. You know what you want, and how to get it, and you persist even in the face of great adversity! There is a deep core of confidence in you. And you are lovely! Don't get me wrong. With your looks and talent, you could have anyone you wanted if you put your mind to it."

           Trixie shook her head. "But I already--"

           "No, Trixie." Rarity sighed. "I know it sounds harsh, but it is for the best right now. You don't need a lover, not now. Right now you need a friend." She nuzzled Trixie's cheek. "And I am your friend, however much you pretend otherwise." She stood slowly and cleared the glass around her. "Whatever happens, good or bad, I am your friend."

           Trixie's eyes were fixed on Rarity's tail as she slowly walked out. "'My friend', she says." She closed her eyes and lowered her head until it touched the cold, wet floor. "Perhaps she's right. Maybe we just need a friend. Hmph. 'Friend'." The word felt heavy, like lead. It weighed on her even as it rang hollow in her ears. "I can't say I've ever had anyone I could call that. 'Lackey' yes. 'Servant', 'minion', 'loader', even 'hey you!'. But... until Rarity, I don't think I have called any of them 'friends'."

           A bitter sigh gusted across the wet glass. "Maybe that's all we can ever--" Her ear pricked at something. Her eye opened and stared at the face of the blue mare reflected in a shard of glass. "But she said we were beautiful." She stood up slowly, eyes locked on the shard. "She thinks we're beautiful." She touched her face with a hoof and looked up into the bathroom mirror, brushing off glitter and glass. She brushed her hair out of her face and turned to face it more fully.

           What stared back was not some broken has-been, chasing the approval of a town that didn't want her, that pitied her. It was Trixie; brash, bold, and lovely Trixie. Trixie the magician. Trixie the star.

           Realization washed over her moments later. "But then she must mean... of course." She smiled at herself in the mirror. "She said we could have any pony we wanted. And we want her." Her smile widened slightly. "Oh how we want her." She took a deep breath.

           "You will be worthy of her, Trixie. You just need time. It won't be soon, but you can show her someday." She traced a heart on the mirror. "But how to go about it? This town... of course! This town is so hung up on friendship that they practically ooze it! I will be the best friend she has ever had. And I will show her why we should be together."

           She rounded on the tub, a manic grin on her face. "I will reclaim my glory, too! But how? Another show? Hmm, perhaps. Yes. Yes it is what I was born to do. Let Rarity design the costumes, perhaps even perform with me! I will earn her love, even if it takes me years. Why do this?" She stared at the door and squared her shoulders. "Because Rarity is worth all of it. Every single hardship is worth seeing Rarity waiting for us at the end." She stood on her hindlegs and shook a hoof at the roof. "You hear that world? Trixie is back! Ahahahaha!"

           "Wahahahaha!"

           "..."

           "..."

           "...what?" Trixie blinked.

           "I like laughing, too!" Sweetie Belle trotted up to Trixie and buried her muzzle in the older mare's shoulder with a soft yawn. "I don't know what it was about though," she murmured sleepily. "Looked like fun."

           Trixie sighed and scooped Sweetie up in a foreleg. "What are you still doing up, you little snot? Rarity sent you to bed already."

           Sweetie snuggled into Trixie with a contented burble, nose burrowing into her chest. "Rarity tol' me to tell you that Miss Fluttershy needs her help getting Pinkie Pie out of a big tub filled with candy, so she left to go to the spa to help out, and asked if you could watch Gummy for her."

           Trixie blinked and looked down at Sweetie's tail. There, dangling from the end, was a small green alligator latched on with what looked like a cheerful grin. As cheerful as an alligator could be, at least. She carefully tugged it off of her tail and tossed it into the tub with a plop.

           "...Right. We'll deal with that thing in the morning. Now you need to go to bed." Trixie trotted slowly down the hall toward Sweetie's bedroom.

           "Promise me big sis will make it home safe?" Sweetie's eyes peered up at Trixie from a curled up ball of filly.

           "...I, I will. Someone has to be responsible, after all." Trixie swallowed and laid Sweetie Belle down on the bed.

           Sweetie yawned and curled closer to Trixie, hooves reaching out to wrap around her neck almost as soon as she touched the sheets. "Told you you were a good pony, Trixie," she murmured as sleep took her.

           Trixie laid her head against the filly's chest and let her hold her for a moment longer.

           "Thank you, Sweetie Belle. I'll try to be."
Part 8 of 12 of the Secret Tub Fun Series.

Finally, at long last, Trixie's turn in the tub!

Trixie never left Ponyville after the Ursa Minor fiasco. She stayed the night under a bridge, until morning came and showed her a lifetime of boasting and ego-stroking and grand gestures come undone. Now she is struggling with the results of her biggest mistake ever, and to pull herself out of debt to the worst pony she could ever be indebted to.
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:iconhaissan:
Haissan Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2012
sweetie as ... well i dunno about sweetie being dumb but as far as character bits go not bad
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2012
She's the sweet sort of dumb, and more cheerfully oblivious than stupid.

She's a little kid, after all.
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:iconhaissan:
Haissan Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2012
and that is why I like the kind of dumb shes got, cause its the naive truth she may sometimes speak
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2012
Though I don't mind DerpSweetie at all, like how she's portrayed here as kind of thick but still very sweet.
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:iconhaissan:
Haissan Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2012
my head is made of wood was a good line
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2012
I loved it too. :3
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:iconjazman71092:
jazman71092 Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Congrats. You have now made me love Sweetie Belle. I mean, i liked her before but the way you wrote her is just so freakin adorable, that i have a much larger appreciation for the character now! She's so fraakin cute.

Anyways, great story! What impresses me the most, is not your great writing skill, but your huge diversity in that skill. I've seen you take this story in so many different directions, and you pull most of them off quite well. Keep it up!
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2012
I think, in every story I've written so far, I've latched onto a character to be 'fun to write', and went to town with them. In STF 8 it was Sweetie, and she was hilarious. It helps that she's also teeny-tiny and thus brings her marshmallowy cuteness to the whole thing. :)

Thank you, sir! So far it looks like I'm achieving my goal of trying a new writing style or tone with each of the entries, even if that means trying one that doesn't quite gibe with my readers as much as I'd like.
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:iconjazman71092:
jazman71092 Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Well in my own experience, writing a different style from what you're accustomed to is extremely hard. Some people just find one style and stick with it, but a truly great writer knows how to capture an audience in more ways than one. I applaud you for taking the initiative to keep improving yourself. It shows that you really love writing!
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2012
And I do~

My next project will be less experimental than this one, and will have a consistent tone and style. This project has helped me find my own.
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:iconrk-striker-jk-5:
RK-Striker-JK-5 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012
Very nice, here. RariTrix... I can see it, here. I've always felt sorry for Trixie. What happened to her was a bit... disproportionate to her 'crimes' IMHO. She's flawed, sure, but still...

So no continuation? Then in my mind she proves herself to Rarity, pays off her debt and lives a good life after. how's that? ;)
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012
There's no real continuation yet, no. If I ever reference this again, then it'll be in the adventure series I wanna do. There, she'd be the girl Rarity'd come home to, perhaps? Or maybe still just a close friend.

As for Trixie's fate; she really brings it on herself. Most of the unpleasant results come from her own pride.
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:iconsilentsteel:
silentsteel Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2011
Awwww. Such a sweet ending.
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2011
Ehehe, totally read that in Sweetie Belle's voice.

Thank you. :)
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:iconspacecommie:
Spacecommie Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
EQD brought me here and by Lauren Faust herself I beg you for an expantion of this Raritrix you've created here.
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2011
Weeeell... I have been propositioned to rewrite STF 1 and 2 to bring them up with the others in (if nothing else) length, so perhaps I can. I don't intend to write a sequel to this one, but then the future's a funny thing, so we'll just have to wait and see!

Don't hold your breath waiting for it, though. I kind of like leaving it unresolved and letting you come up with your own ending. :)
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:iconspacecommie:
Spacecommie Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
thankyou, as a person viewing your art tis' but my place to observe and suggest, you are the artist and therefore whatever your choice be it what I desire or not is in the end yours to decide.

thankyou for even considering it.
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2011
Not a problem, big guy! I'm always open to ideas, especially from readers and friends, and this is one that's got my noodle working double-time. Now, as I said, it's unlikely I'll ever write a sequel to STF 8 (STF 9 isn't really a sequeal, just the next part in the series), but that's not to say the events of STF will be forgotten.

There's an adventure series brewing in my head that has really got me going, and I'm almost certainly going to refer back to this series frequently. Maybe Trixie wishing Rarity good luck, or demanding to come with her... Hmmm~

But for now, I'm going to leave the ending open and let you decide how it goes with those two.
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:iconlexvstee:
Lexvstee Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2011
loving the series a lot

though i have one question:....

are you going to rewrite the first two chapters to give them as much depth as the rest ? that would be amazing

anyhow... keep up the great writing
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011
Hmm... I might. Probably not, though. They're pretty much complete. STF 1 was meant as a short joke, and would probably not translate well into a longer story, and the same is true for STF 2. Not to say they couldn't, but the original intent wouldn't hold.

But if you've got an idea, I'm more than willing to listen.
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:iconlexvstee:
Lexvstee Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011
well i wasn't so much talking about changing the way those stories flow, i was just hoping that you could expand upon them:
where/when did twilight find those toys and why does she play with them (flashback to castle maybe)

what i mean to say is, same overal story just with a bit more detail to try and get it in line with the rest of them
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2011
Hmmm... I'll see what I can do. No promises, though.
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:iconlexvstee:
Lexvstee Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2011
that's all i can ask :)
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:iconvaguelycreepy:
VaguelyCreepy Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2011  Student General Artist
Amazing. I think you've actually managed to turn Trixie's flatness into depth. She isn't merely self-confident - belief in her own capabilities seems to be the interminable foundation of her character. She's self-confident no matter what. It's almost some sort of twisted abnormality. Even at her lowest, when most would think themselves no better or more capable than dirt, she still thinks "I can pull this off, I can pay what I owe, I can have what I want, eventually, even though everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, indicates otherwise." If not for the distinctly impressed feeling I'm currently experiencing, I don't think I'd be able to tell if it's impressive or nigh-psychotic obsession.

One thing I'm not quite clear on is why exactly Trixie decided to idle around Ponyville before she met Rarity. Rarity herself said Trixie's honor wasn't enough to make her stay, but I can't imagine that she'd had enough interaction with Rarity before she found her to develop the feelings which seemed to be the only thing that kept her there.

Is there an ETA on #9?
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2011
Unfortunately no, there isn't. It's slow going at the moment due to a major upcoming move and anxiety about that, as well as frustration at dumbshit, and a general lack of inspiration. I'm working on remedying that by watching more ponies. We'll see how it goes.

The reason she stayed wasn't written, and I should have done so, but never found the opportunity. What was supposed to happen was she hid under a bridge just inside Ponyville to find a place to think and work out a plan for what she was going to do next. But then she fell asleep, and Rarity offered her breakfast and a place to stay for a day or so to allow her to get back on her hooves. Of course, Trixie had to repay this.

Thus followed a long and painful series of comedic disasters and mistakes all centered around Trixie.

I think I'll address this a bit further in STF 9, and make the bridge she hid under the one leading to Sweet Apple Acres, and Rarity ate breakfast with Applejack. Ah ha! AJ required her to pay, since she was a no-good hussy what humiliated her in front of all them other ponies. Rarity admonished her, saying that she had already forgiven Trixie, and would pay for her in any case. And that started the feeling of indebtedness.

Thanks! :D

As for Trixie's flatness: There are so many things you could do with her. She's not just a show-off magician, she's got some spark of nobility in her, as the Ursa Minor incident showed. I just took her in a different direction than everyone else, since I can't see any reason for her to feel anything at all about Twilight Sparkle. True, I had to invent something for Rarity, but even so.
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:iconvaguelycreepy:
VaguelyCreepy Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2011  Student General Artist
Ah, frustration at dumbshit. Completely sucks, and usually made worse for me when I inflict it upon myself. As for the move, well yeah, that's always a nightmare. Try and get as much packed as possible as soon as possible. I always wait until the day/night before to pack the majority of my stuff, and I always end up hating myself for it. Again, more self-inflicted dumbshit. Also try to give yourself a few days to settle in without much else to do after the move is complete - a little time to get used to the new digs. A sudden switch of environment always leaves me cranky for a few days.

Yay! I'm a helper! :iconfighterplz: I'm always here if you need a sounding board again later.

And you're right about Trixie, I just meant that I was impressed with how you worked what little character she was given into something more elaborate and well-rounded. The third-person bit is still as annoying as ever, though. =p
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2011
Stuff's packed already and on its way. It's just moving myself, now.

Also: But the third person is so integral to her character. <:E And fun to work with~
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:iconvaguelycreepy:
VaguelyCreepy Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2011  Student General Artist
Yeah, you're right. I've just still got a bad taste in my mouth from her episode.

:icongreatpowerfultrixie: )>"The Great and Powerful Trixie!"

:icontwitchplz: GAAAH! That. VOICE. So. SHRILL. It's not even all the time - just whenever she says her title. It's like a frikkin' dog whistle, except I can hear it!
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2011
The voice is what most people love about her. :V How odd that you find it shrill. I, myself, found it vaguely sexy as well. Her attitude needs work, yeah, but she could talk at me in third person all day.
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:iconvaguelycreepy:
VaguelyCreepy Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2011  Student General Artist
Huh. Well, I have found that my aural tastes tend to differ from the norm.

And it's not her voice all the time, just when... actually, you know what? I'm pretty sure this is going to end up being one of those "agree to disagree" situations, so I think I'll just reiterate that you did a good job developing her and leave it at that.

Lookin' forward to #9, whenever it's ready. :thumbsup:
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2011
Hehe, no worries, bro. I didn't mean anything by it, just thought it was odd, was all.

And thanks! AJ's time has been coming out a bit better lately, so we should have something soon.
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(1 Reply)
:iconnova225:
Nova225 Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011
I don't quite remember any (much) of the other Parts, just the big lines (and even then)...

But, this part was relatively interesting.

Sweetie Belle and Trixie had some light, but nice interactions. :)
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011
Thank you, sir. :)

Sweetie and Trixie are fun together. :)
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:iconlurks-no-more:
Lurks-no-More Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011
Floaty Belle is the best Sweetie Belle. :D

Well, no, not really; I like Sweetie!

And I really like the way you wrote Trixie and Rarity here. Excellent!
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011
And then Sweetie's cutie mark was a buoy.

Rarity is fun to write for. All the ponies are, really, but Rarity even more than some. She seems just a little more worldly than her friends and definitely older. I know that they were all supposed to get them at around the same age, but I'd put Rarity at getting hers several years after the other girls.
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:iconlongshotlink:
LongshotLink Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Well, she could still be older than the other girls and still have gotten hers at the same time. After all, didn't Fluttershy once mention she was older than Pinkie Pie?
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2011
This is very true. I had done a theory up for that, but I'll be damned if I can find the stupid thing.
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:iconmarinafeld:
MarinaFeld Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Very touching and well-written, as the last installments were. I love the way you portrayed Trixie in this story and I'd love to see more. You have also given me the inspiration I was looking for. Bravo, hun. <3
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011
Always good to hear I've inspired someone! It'd be neat to see it sometime when it's finished. What sort of thing is it?
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:iconmarinafeld:
MarinaFeld Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Oh it's just a silly OC ship/clop fic I've been working on. I'm just having some trouble with dialogue and scene flow. Merely seeing a good writer at work can help me through my dry spells, however, and the Secret Tub Fun series has helped me a lot with that.

I've loved this entire series by the way. You're quite a storyteller, hun. I really hope to see another installment soon. Very well done. =)
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011
Glad to be of service, miss! And thank you for the compliments.

This next episode of the series is going much more smoothly than the past one, thankfully. It should be out relatively soon. Though, with my update schedule, that isn't saying a whole lot.
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:iconmarinafeld:
MarinaFeld Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I'll be on the look out for it then. I can't for the life of me reason why I hadn't had you on my watch before before. ^__^
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2011
Infrequent updates, a lack of notoriety, and little to no advertising are a couple good'uns. It happens. :)
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:iconmarinafeld:
MarinaFeld Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I was reading your stories from EqD myself.
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2011
That's about the only place I show 'em, aside from a handful of people on IRC.
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(1 Reply)
:iconyahooeny:
yahooeny Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Daaaaawwwwwhahahaaawwwwww...
Cutest thing ever? Might be.
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011
That honor would belong to the end of STF 6.

And anything with Fluttershy in it.
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:iconmrmildman:
MrMildMan Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011
I made a DeviantArt account just to compliment your epicness. On a unrelated note, why is your avatar a blooper?
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:iconlawn-pygmy:
Lawn-Pygmy Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011
Because squids are awesome. <:E

And thank you! :D
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:iconclockwisegear:
ClockwiseGear Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Yay, back to the lighthearted stuff!

"Sweetie shook her head and took her hooves down from her ears. 'Uh uh. I had to cover my ears when you started saying bad words. I'm sorry.'"
That just killed me. :lmao:
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