It couldn’t compare to Carousel Boutique but this was definitely Rarity’s room. Few other ponies would consider a dress form and a fainting couch to be essential décor. As had been usual for far too long, the fainting couch was covered with half-finished dresses, blankets, and shawls, some of which hadn’t been worked on in many summers. The dress form stood dusty and neglected as well, as if it had become more decorative than functional.
Something else that never changed was Rarity. There she sat, in her usual chair, humming contentedly as she knitted an ever-lengthening scarf, the flashing needles half-held in shaking hooves and buoyed by dim and flickering magic.
Sweetie Belle stepped gently into the room, her long-legged grace and the carpeted floor combining to mask her approach. Her singsong voice called gently across the room. “Rarity? Big sis?”
The elder mare looked up from her knitting, smiling from beneath red-rimmed glasses half-hidden behind a faded and silver-streaked violet mane. “Sweetie! Do come in, darling.” She nodded towards a chair and continued to knit absentmindedly. “Have a seat. It’s been too long, little sister. How is everything?”
“I’m doing well,” signed the younger unicorn, a weak smile gracing her muzzle, “and I have some news for you.”
“Oh? How is your singing tour going? Still dazzling the crowds from Canterlot to Hoofington, I assume?”
Sweetie looked away for a moment before answering, “It’s been a long time since I toured, Sis.”
“Oh, I know, dear, I know! You were always such a busy filly. What with your singing career, and learning magic at the Academy, and all those adventures! I remember the time you and that yellow filly – what was her name?”
“You mean Apple Bloom?”
Rarity’s brow furrowed for a moment. “Apple… Bloom… Was that her name? I can never remember. How is the darling?”
Again Sweetie searched for a window, a clock, anything to avert her gaze so that she could pretend to have a reason not to look at the creases in Rarity’s patchy, dirty-white fur. “She was fine, last I heard. Married a stallion from outside of Fillydelphia, had a few kids. Started a business and was doing well, I think, though I kind of lost touch with her after our little trek to Zebrica together.”
She finally turned to face her big sister and brightened up a little. “Speaking of tying the knot, I thought you should know. I’m getting married!”
Rarity dropped her half-finished scarf and clapped her hooves together. “Sweetie Belle! That’s wonderful! Oh, we’ll have to plan a reception – I’m sure we can use Sugarcube Corner. And Pinkie Pie will certainly want to throw an announcement party! It will be the most smashing soiree!”
Sweetie held a tired hoof to her graying temple. When she spoke, the words came slowly and quietly. “Rarity… Sugarcube Corner closed almost twenty years ago. The Cakes shut the shop down after Pinkie died. The twins wanted them to keep it going but they said they couldn’t bear it. Do you remember?”
The mare behind the red-rimmed glasses paused and cocked her head a little. “Pinkie… Pinkie’s gone? I never see the girls anymore, I guess I… it must’ve slipped my mind.” She picked her knitting up, arranging and re-arranging it in her lap. “I never found the right colt, you know. Kept looking but it never seemed to work out. So, who’s your lucky stallion?”
“Rumble. He’s an old school friend. You probably remember his father, Thunderlane.”
A wheezy chuckle escaped Rarity’s lips. “Old Thunderlane? Oh, I remember him. Another of my suitors, you know! Never quite worked out, but I bet he remembers Rarity.”
“ ’Old’ Thunderlane? He’s two years younger than you, Sis!”
“And when did that ever matter? Anyway, this is about your special day, darling! We’ll have to find a dress for you, and book the chapel, and - ”
“We don’t need all of that, Sis. It’ll just be a quiet little visit to the courthouse. We’ve been seeing each other for almost a year. Rumble’s wife died in that harsh winter several years back, and all their foals are grown and moved out with families of their own. “ Sweetie’s eyes sparkled a little as she continued, “We figured at our age, it’d be nice to live out our twilight years with a somepony to keep us company. He gets a pension from the Wonderbolts, and I still get royalty checks for my songs, so we’ll manage okay. Maybe we can travel a bit.”
“Twilight years? You’re much too young for such talk.” Rarity froze for a moment. “Twilight… I feel like that name should mean something…” She shook her head, a few loose silver hairs falling astray from her mane. “Shame you couldn’t have found this Rumble boy earlier.”
“I know, Rarity, I know. With my singing, and my studies, and gallivanting across half of Equestria, there just… never seemed to be time for that sort of thing. I’m just glad to have found somepony now. Never too late, you know?”
“Yes, darling, you’re quite right. Never too late.”
There was a knock at the door and a young white-coated earth pony let himself in. “Miss Rarity? How is everything today?”
“Fine, fine, Blueheart. Do you know my little sister here?”
“Yes, we’ve met,” he replied, smiling politely. “Now, time for your medicine, Miss Rarity. Can’t have a beautiful young mare like you forget her medication.“
Rarity’s graying cheeks blushed a little as she swallowed the handful of pills. “Oh, you flatterer!”
“Nonense, Miss Rarity! You don’t look a day over eighty-five.” He smiled again as he let himself out.
“I need to be going, Sis. It’s been… ,” and she swallowed a sigh and a tear as she rose, “good talking to you again.”
“Oh, okay. Thank you for coming by, darling,” Rarity said from under a white-silver mane and red-rimmed glasses. “Tell my little sister to come visit if you see her. Her name’s Sweetie Belle. Stunning little unicorn filly with the most delightful voice. Do you know her?”
Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting any stories quite this far in the future! This was really powerful though, seeing Rarity having largely lost her mind and Sweetie Belle only now finding love so late in her life. I really enjoyed all the details we got about how much things had changed, even as painful as some of those details were. Great work!