Sympathy and Synergy
AUTHOR'S NOTE: It is absolutely imperative that you read the first four sections of my fanfic series before reading this one. Otherwise, you will not understand most of the references made here. Links to story Parts 1-4 can be found in the description.
"Oh my goodness, oh no, oh no, oh no," Fluttershy zipped along the as fast as she deemed safe for all the trees that surrounded her. Her quarry, the two young rabbits that bounded along ahead of her, constantly just out of her reach, ducked and weaved their way through the trees of Sweet Apple Acres with ease. Fluttershy mentally chided herself for attempting to handle the Baby Bunny Census herself this year. She had been worried that having Applejack round them up would scare them off like last year, but she had been utterly unable to keep them all in check by herself. Now, these two babies had run off, and if she didn't get them back to their mother, they might be lost. It was all made worse by the fact that they had run into Sweet Apple Acres. Fluttershy knew Applejack had a good heart, but the last time that rabbits had gotten into her crop, she had chased them around calling them "thievin' varmits'. Those were older bunnies and they could handle it, but Fluttershy feared that if AJ ran across these and assumed they were up to mischief, she might really scare them. With thoughts of defenseless baby bunnies in her mind, Fluttershy was bound and determined to catch them before they ran into somepony.
So focused was she on the escaping bunnies, that she didn't even notice when they did run into somepony else. The rabbits however, did, and sensing the presence of another pony, skidded to a halt. Fluttershy noticed nothing but the baby bunnies stopping, and saw her chance. She pounced and landed with her forelegs surrounding them, her head above them, preventing their escape. "Gotcha!" She said with a quiet note of triumph in her voice, a little louder than she would around other ponies, but then again, she didn't know she was around another pony.
"Good afternoon, Miss Fluttershy." The kind voice of a stallion sounded from nearby.
"eeep!" Fluttershy resisted the urge to jump backwards only for fear of losing the bunnies again. She cautiously looked up to see a large dark red earth pony stallion with a short, orange mane and tail and deep, caring green eyes smiling down at her.
"What brings you down to Sweet Apple Acres today?" Big Macintosh asked the trembling yellow pegasus, "Here to see Applejack?"
Seeing Big Macintosh, who was at least familiar to her, calmed Fluttershy's nerves slightly. "Oh, no
" She began quietly, "I was just catching these two bunnies. They escaped and I have to bring them back to the census." She explained, blushing and hiding her face behind her long mane even as she did so.
"Well, then ah suppose ya'll be needin' somethin' ta carry them home with." Macintosh said. He turned around and reached for something behind him with his mouth. He brought his head back around, holding an apple bucket in his jaw. He placed it gently beside Fluttershy. "You can use that, if ya like."
"Oh. Thank you, but I couldn't take this from you."
"No, I insist. You'll need this to carry them anyway. And ya can just bring it back when yer done."
"Oh, thank you, Macintosh." Fluttershy said, placing the bunnies in the bucket, "Is there anything I can do for you?" She asked before taking the bucket handle in her own mouth, she felt like she now owed him for some reason, even though she wasn't expecting him to have anything she would be able to do.
"Actually, Ah think there is." Macintosh said, somewhat surprising Fluttershy, "Ah'll show ya if ya follow me to the barn." Fluttershy hadn't really been expecting there to be anything for her to do, and she had to get back to the rest of the bunnies, but she had offered, after all, and there was a sparkle in his kind eyes that made it impossible for her to refuse. Without speaking, she floated gently up to him, stopping next to him, signaling for him to lead on. He turned and began trotting towards the barn, Fluttershy flapping along beside him. She could tell that he was keeping a slow pace for her comfort, even if it might be slower than he was used to.
'He looks so big and strong and tough, but he really is gentle, isn't he?' She idly thought to herself, unable to keep her eyes off her companion. She suddenly realized what she was doing and shook herself to remove her gaze. Could she be having a
on Big Macintosh? No. No. He was Applejack's brother. Applejack was one of her best friends; she couldn't have feelings about her big brother. Sure, most of the other colts in town were loud and brash, always trying to impress somepony or show off, they had always seemed so rude and unkind to her. And sure, Big Macintosh had never been like that, so modest, so humble, so quiet all the time, so caring and supportive of his family, so polite every time she or her other friends came around to see Applejack. He was a gentlecolt, to be sure, and he
Fluttershy shook herself again. She couldn't be thinking like this! She had always shied away from most company, except for that of her friends. She had never felt this way about anypony else before, but she found she couldn't help but keep throwing him sidelong glances. Her gaze kept falling on his tall, muscular, frame. His wideset shoulders and lean, rippling leg muscles. His orange mane, individual hairs dancing in a soft breeze, entrancing her for a moment
She blinked. 'Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no.' She thought to herself.
"Are you OK, Miss Fluttershy?" Big Macintosh asked. He looked at her, holding the door of the barn open, waiting for her to enter.
"Oh, yes. I'm fine." She said meekly before entering. He followed her through the doors and pointed a hoof towards the back of the barn.
"He's back there." He said, indicating a pile of hay towards the rear of the barn.
'He?' Fluttershy thought as she trotted over. She looked down, and saw, to her surprise and delight, a tiny kitten curled up in a ball in the hay. He was a calico kitten, and his eyes were closed in sleep. Despite his warm, soft bed, he still looked uncomfortable, his sleep seemed troubled, and his breathing appeared to be a little ragged.
"Ah found him two weeks ago. Back when it was still winter, before Winter Wrap-up, Ah mean." Macintosh said from behind her, "He was cold and all alone out in a field on the farm, so Ah brought him here to warm him up. At first Ah thought he was just getting' over being cold, but now it's been spring for a week, and the weather has been getting even warmer, and he still hasn't improved. Ah think he may be sick. Ah know yer good with animals, so Ah was wonderin' if there was anything you could do for him."
Fluttershy almost didn't hear him as she went into a frenzy of activity, checking the tiny kitten's heartbeat, his breathing, and everything else she could think of. Then she stood up. "He is sick, but I can fix him. I should go back to my cottage to get some supplies." She stated. "That is, if you want me to
"Oh go ahead, please, Miss Fluttershy." Big Macintosh nodded his head with sincerity. "Ah just want Lil' Hayseed to be OK."
Fluttershy took the basket of bunnies in her mouth again and flew off towards her cottage. 'Such a cute kitten. And he's already given him a name? He must really care about him. I had no idea he was so passionate for animals
' She found herself landing at her cottage soon enough, and she placed the baby bunnies in the chicken coop enclosure, where she had temporarily placed all the bunnies that were waiting for the census. Then she flew inside. She stopped at a drawer in her kitchen and began digging through it. She soon produced a small white set of saddle bags with a red cross and a black paw print on it. "Here it is, the Kitty Cat Care Kit," She said to herself as she slung the bags over her back and took off out her front door again. She wasted no time getting back to the barn at Sweet Apple Acres. When she landed in the doorway again, Big Macintosh looked shocked at her speed. She had always felt that she could give Rainbow Dash a run for her bits if there was ever an animal in distress, after all.
"Could you please warm up some milk, Macintosh?" He ran off to the kitchen before she could even say: "That is, if you want to." Then, she set to work. She first removed a small pouch of catnip from the bag and swung it in front of the little kitten's sleeping face. His nose twitched and Fluttershy was rewarded when his tiny feline eyelids lifted to reveal sparkling blue eyes. She waited for Macintosh to return with a bowl of warm milk. When he did, she reached into her pack and removed some cat medicine. She gently crushed the pill into a powder and stirred it into the milk. She then carefully set a saucer in front of the kitten, who lapped at it heartily. She smiled to see that he was getting his medicine. Then she turned back to Big Macintosh. "This medicine should make him all better soon. If you want me to, I can come back every day to check up on him. Unless it would be a bother, I don't mean to impose
"Naw, that would be great, Miss Fluttershy. I hope he does get ta feelin' better soon. Thank ya so much for yer help."
"I'll see you tomorrow, then? That is, if you want
"Of course. I'm sure Lil' Hayseed will enjoy your visit too."
As she flew home again, it took Fluttershy a moment to realize that Big Macintosh had meant HE would enjoy her visit. 'Is he looking forward to seeing me?' She asked herself as she flew, a strange carefree feeling of giddiness washing over her.
She returned to the farm every day for the next week. For the first couple visits, she gave Little Hayseed more doses of the medicine, and by the third visit, he had greatly improved. Fluttershy told herself that she was coming over every day to make sure the little kitten was doing OK, but in the back of her mind, she knew that the kitten had recovered, and she had another reason for wanting to come over every day. She didn't want to admit it to herself, but she wanted to see Big Macintosh more and more. Each day she got less and less shy around him, and found herself engaging in longer and longer conversations with him. She had never known him to share her interest in animals, but she often found herself talking with him for long periods of time about them. His knowledge of creatures, especially those he looked after on the farm, astounded her and only made her want to be with him more. She still didn't tell him of her feelings though, she still feared what both he and Applejack would think
On the eighth day, she came to Sweet Apple Acres and was unable to find Macintosh. After searching a little bit, she found that she couldn't find him, nor Applejack, Applebloom, or any of the Apple family on their farm. A quick check revealed that they weren't in town either. Perplexed and slightly worried, Fluttershy decided to turn to the one pony who might know where they were.
Fluttershy flew towards the towering cloud house with a rainbow waterfall. Applejack and Rainbow Dash had been dating for several months now, ever since Rainbow had saved AJ's life at the cliffside back in the fall, and if anyone knew where Applejack, and by extension, the rest of the family, was, it would be Rainbow Dash. She landed on the cloud outside the front door, and composed herself before she knocked. After knocking, she heard hooves coming closer to the door from inside the house.
"Hey Fluttershy, what brings you here?" Rainbow Dash said as she opened the door, greeting her pegasus friend.
"Oh, hello, Rainbow Dash. I just had a question." Fluttershy said.
"Well, come on inside. This is no place to talk." Rainbow gestured towards the door. Fluttershy smiled at the invitation, Rainbow had become much less self-centered ever since she had begun seeing AJ. She stepped inside the cloud house and Rainbow gestured towards a couch, where they both sat down. "What is it you were going to ask me?"
"Well, I was just wondering where Applejack, Applebloom and Big Macintosh were. I haven't seen them anywhere today, and I thought you might know where they are, considering you and Applejack are
" Rainbow was silent for a moment, causing Fluttershy to worry. "But if you don't know where they are that's OK too, I'm so sorry I intruded, I'll just leave now." She almost got up, but Rainbow's outstretched hoof stopped her.
"No. I know where they are. You might not like this, Fluttershy." Rainbow said, "They're all at the hospital."
"Oh dear, is somepony hurt? Why didn't they tell anyone?" Fluttershy squeaked, worry filtering into her voice as she feared the worst.
It's Granny Smith. You and I both know she's getting pretty old, and Applejack told me that last winter was especially hard on her. They finally took her to the hospital today, and AJ seemed really worried. I don't want to think about it, Fluttershy, but I fear the worst." Rainbow said, she sounded pretty worried too.
Inwardly, Fluttershy couldn't help but feel slight relief. At least it wasn't Big Mac or Applejack who was hurt, but she knew that it wasn't good for Granny Smith to be in the hospital either. She was old, and if she was getting sick, the outcome could be pretty bad. Fluttershy gulped at the thought.
After speaking a little longer, she bid Rainbow goodbye and headed home again. Nopony saw head or tail of any Apple family member for two more days, and then they showed up in town again, less one member. News spread fast, mostly from Nurse Redheart, the source of the diagnosis: "Old age and natural causes". Old age and natural causes were enough to fracture a close-knit family, and enough to bring every citizen of Ponyville to offer words of sympathy.
The funeral was scheduled for the next week, and Applejack, leaning against Rainbow Dash for support and comfort, trying to fight back tears, personally asked Fluttershy and each of their other friends if they could be there for her on that day. None of them would have thought to do anything less. As such, they all found themselves up front and center in a graveyard. All of the mixed Apple Family relatives had descended on Ponyville for the funeral. The audience of family members surrounded the eight ponies up front. Most of them were crying, some were trying to keep a brave face, but all were touched by the loss of their oldest member. Right out in front, Applejack stood, tears flowing freely down her face, staring at the dark maw that the coffin was to be lowered into. On her right stood Rainbow Dash. She wore a brave face, and Fluttershy could tell Rainbow was blocking out all emotion for Applejack's sake.
Fluttershy pawed the ground. She knew she should have felt sad, but she felt more nervous than anything. Between Fluttershy and Applejack stood Big Macintosh, he was trying to stay composed, but Fluttershy could tell he was close to tears himself. His hoof stroked the red mane of the small yellow filly below him. Applebloom sobbed into the ground, unwilling to look up at the new gravestone or the black hole in front of it. Fluttershy, trying to stay calm and collected, which she was finding difficult due to her emotional state, hovered next to them, wondering what to do. Beyond her, Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, and even Pinkie Pie, her hair down and looking quite straight, all bowed their heads in respect.
Fluttershy contemplated what to do. She kept looking up Big Macintosh's face. He looked sad, but he was trying to hide it. Meanwhile, he continued to comfort Applebloom. Fluttershy couldn't help but think what a good pony he was being. He kept trying to comfort his family, even though he probably needed comforting himself. Herein lay Fluttershy's dilemma. She was beginning to feel comfortable around Big Macintosh, but she wasn't sure if he would accept if she made any advances, even if she did want to try making him feel better. As she argued with herself in her head, she glanced back up to his face. The look in his eyes made up her mind completely. Slowly, gradually, she rose up off the ground and floated next to him. She brought her mouth down to his ear and whispered. "Um
Macintosh?" He looked up at her, saying nothing but willing her to continue. "Are you
are you going to be OK?" She saw him nod. A single, curt nod.
"Oh, Macintosh. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. I know she must have meant a lot to you, and I
if you're feeling sad, I can be here for you. If you want me to, that is." This wasn't working. There was really nothing she could say at this moment. But she wanted to help him, she wanted to be able to do something. Fluttershy looked back down at Big Macintosh. He had shifted his gaze back to the grave. She looked down. Her words weren't helping. She felt sad that she couldn't do anything to help, but then her expression brightened as she saw Macintosh's hoof. It was still stroking Applebloom's mane. 'Maybe that's it!' she thought suddenly. Tentatively, she reached her own hoof out towards Big Macintosh's own orange mane. She felt the hairs of his mane touch her hoof and began to imitate his own motion with her hoof. She dragged her hoof through his hair and smiled for him when he looked back up at her. She watched as but one lonely tear broke through his defenses and fell from his eye.
She continued this motion for a while, saying nothing more, until she got tired of hovering. She landed, but even then, she decided to try and make her comforting presence known. She continued to look up at him, and he down at her. She wasn't quite as tall as he was, but as if to remedy this, she found him leaning his own head down to meet hers. They both looked at each other for a shot while before Big Macintosh spoke. "It means enough that you care." He said. Then, without warning, he leaned his head over and gently nuzzled the side of Fluttershy's face. Fluttershy stood rooted to the ground in both shock and enjoyment. As she took in the feeling of his cheek against hers, she began to rub back, overcoming her shyness for this earth pony, this pony she now knew she wanted to be with.
She thought about him all that night. She still couldn't get him off her mind the next day as she tended to her animals. She had never felt such a strong desire to be with somepony before, and especially now that he had lost a loved one, she found herself wanting to be there for him. To make him feel better, to see him happy again. As afternoon approached, she couldn't fight the urge anymore. She left her cottage and headed over to Sweet Apple Acres.
In the waning light of a setting sun, she approached the Apple Family's farmhouse. As she got closer, she could see ponies through the dining room window, talking. As she approached the window she recognized Big Macintosh and Rainbow Dash. They were chatting about something at the table. Macintosh was talking, and Rainbow seemed to be listening, nodding her head as if understanding something Big Mac had said. As Big Macintosh finished speaking, he looked up at the window where Fluttershy had her face pressed. Her blue eyes met his deep green ones and they locked gazes for a moment. He gave her a warm smile which she promptly returned, and then he and Rainbow stood up and headed towards the door. Fluttershy left the window to meet them. Big Macintosh and Rainbow Dash left the house, and Fluttershy flew the short distance over to them. "Thanks, Miss Dash," She heard him say as she landed next to the two of them. She looked up at Macintosh with a sympathetic look in her eyes, and even then felt warmth in her cheeks as she knew Rainbow was watching her. She looked over to her friend, and saw Rainbow Dash nod in understanding. She smiled for her oldest friend before following Big Macintosh, who was now walking down the path towards town.
Looking back, she saw Rainbow kick off the ground and fly up into the air, before disappearing into the open window that she assumed led to Applejack's room. She turned to Big Macintosh walking next to her and asked: "What is she doing?"
"Applejack took Granny Smith's death very hard. She locked herself up in her room today, and Ah couldn't get her to come down. So Ah asked Miss Dash if she could fly up there and cheer her up. Ah really hope she'll be OK."
"Don't worry. If anypony can cheer her up, it's Rainbow Dash. She is the element of Loyalty, after all." Fluttershy said. "Speaking of which, Macintosh, how are you doing? I know you're worried about Applejack, and you were worried about Applebloom yesterday, but I want to know about you. How are you taking this?"
"Ah suppose Ah'm takin' it better than most. I knew Granny Smith was gettin' weaker for a while, and Ah guess you could say I saw it comin', but
"But it still hurts now that she's not here anymore?"
"Exactly." Macintosh sighed. "Miss Fluttershy? Ah just wanted to let you know
how much it means to me that ya care enough to ask about me. Ah feel like, sometimes
other ponies just see me as a quiet farmpony without feelings, and don't pay attention to me. Ah get used to it, but it's still really nice to have somepony like you ask me how I'm feeling and spend time with me."
Fluttershy stopped and threw her forehooves around his neck, catching Macintosh by surprise. "I'm so sorry you feel like that Mac." She sobbed. "Nopony deserves to be ignored. You can always come to me if you need a little kindness." She held onto his neck, wanting with all her heart to be there for him.
"It's OK, Miss Fluttershy. Like Ah said, it means enough that you care." He said. She pulled herself away, blushing again. He continued, "Actually, Ah wanted to make it up to ya."
"Oh." Fluttershy squeaked, "You don't have to do anything for me. I'm just happy to be here, with you."
"But I want to. Please, Miss Fluttershy, let me take you out to dinner tonight." He said.
Fluttershy couldn't argue. "OK. But nowhere fancy. I don't want you to spend your bits on me"
"Ah know just the place." Macintosh replied with a wink.
As they reached town, they heard voices off in the distance. "Ahhhhhhh! Look! Can't you see them! Run, run, RUN!" They both looked to see what was happening, and were surprised as the flower sisters rushed past them. Roseluck, Lily, and Daisy had worked themselves into some sort of panic.
"Oh dear, what do you think is wrong?" Fluttershy asked, suddenly worried that something might be happening.
Macintosh chuckled. "It's probably nothing. Ah've worked the apple stand next to their flower stand for years now, and Ah can tell you, they act like this almost every spring."
"Aaaaah! Ohmygosh! Look! In my garden! Purple roses!" They heard from some distance down the road.
"See, they've always had a flair for the dramatic." Macintosh and Fluttershy shared a laugh at the thought of ponies getting so worked up over flowers. The unexpected interruption did have the good effect of lightening the mood, and both ponies found themselves more relaxed. In no time at all, Fluttershy found herself at the door of the restaurant Macintosh had been leading her to. "After you, m'lady." Macintosh said with a grin as he held the door open. Fluttershy blushed as she walked inside.
Dinner was light-hearted and enjoyable. They shared many laughs and stories as they ate their way through salad and sandwiches. Macintosh found a release in telling Fluttershy stories about Granny Smith and his childhood. Fluttershy listened intently to each one. She laughed at some, she cried when he told her of losing both his parents, and they kept talking late into the evening. When they left the restaurant, Macintosh, ever the gentlecolt, offered to walk her home. They walked the path to her cottage in silence, Fluttershy reflecting on all the fun she had had that night, more than she had in a while.
"Thank you for dinner, Macintosh. I really enjoyed myself." She said when they reached her door.
"It ain't a problem, Miss Fluttershy. Thanks for bein' there for me. It really does means a lot to me that ya cared for me when I needed it."
Before he could walk away, Fluttershy hovered up so that her mouth was level with his ear. "I still do." She whispered.
With that, Macintosh turned around and planted a big kiss on Fluttershy's cheek. She was shocked and immediately began to blush, the unexpected move catching her off guard. She didn't say anything for a moment, just floated in stunned silence. Seeing this, Macintosh thought he had overstepped his bounds, and turned away, beginning to walk home with his head hung in shame. Fluttershy saw this, and would have none of it. She sped through the air to get in front of Big Macintosh. In the split second it took for her to turn herself around in front of the Farm pony and face him, she had made her decision. She chose to let go of all fear, abandon all trepidation, and forget her shyness. Macintosh barely had time to react to suddenly having a pony in front of him before she pressed her lips to his.
For any other pony in Ponyville, the time could be measured in seconds. A couple dozen ticks of a clock and this particular moment would be over for them. For Fluttershy and Big Macintosh, however, no unit of measurement could accurately represent the moment they experienced as they were pressed together. For them, time and other such logical things ceased to exist as the universe stopped, just for them. It could have lasted for an instant or an eternity, but when they pulled apart, neither cared. For a long time afterward they just stared into each other's eyes as the universe got back up to speed around them.
"Good night, Macintosh." Fluttershy spoke first. As she passed him, walking back towards her house, she let her long, pink, tail flit across his still-frozen face.
"Good night, Flutter." She heard from behind her, and her heart threatened to burst.
The next day, Fluttershy knocked on the door of Carousel Boutique. "Come on in, Darling, we're just about to open anyway!" She heard from inside. It was still a few minutes from opening time. Fluttershy opened the door and stepped inside the shop. "Oh, Fluttershy!" Rarity sang out, "What brings you here this morning?"
"I need to talk to you about something."
"Darling, you're my best friend, you can tell me about anything." Rarity responded.
"Please promise you won't gossip about it all over town?" Fluttershy asked.
Rarity's ears flinched. If she was worried about gossip, then this must be especially interesting. She had to promise, though. She wouldn't tell a soul. "Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!" she said as she went through the motions.
"I had a date last night." Fluttershy stated.
"Oh, Darling, that's just fabulous!"" Rarity exclaimed, "Who's the lucky colt?"
"Big Macintosh." Fluttershy said simply, blushing slightly as she did so.
"Oh. Come to think of it, I do remember you stroking his mane at the funeral." Rarity said, "You must tell me everything!"
"Well, I was worried about him, so I went to see him at Sweet Apple Acres, and then we walked through the orchard to get to town, and we talked some. Then he offered to buy me dinner, but I tried to tell him it wasn't necessary, but he insisted. So we ate dinner together, and we talked for a long time. He told me stories from his foalhood, and we just sort of talked until it was really late. Then, he walked me home. He told me how nice it was that I cared about him and how much it meant to him that I came to ask how he was doing. And then
he kissed me
on the cheek."
Rarity gasped. "What did you do?"
"I just hovered there. I was so startled, not that I didn't want it, I just wasn't expecting that. So I was just silent for a bit. Then he started to walk away, he looked so sad. Maybe he thought that I didn't want it. I was scared he would leave
"So what happened? Tell me tell me tell me tell me!"
"I flew after him and I kissed him right on the lips." Fluttershy squeaked, "Oh, Rarity. I'm so confused. I don't know if I did the right thing, or if I'm taking this too fast, or if
I think I love him." She finished, her voice growing particularly quiet.
"Oh, Darling!" Rarity cried, embracing her best friend, "You did just the right thing. You couldn't have him leave thinking you didn't like him back, could you?"
but does he even like me?" Fluttershy asked.
"Well, what did he say when you kissed him?" Rarity responded.
He said 'Good night.' And
" She paused, blushing as if it were embarrassing to continue, but continued anyway. "And he called me 'Flutter'."
"Well there you go. Big Macintosh is a very polite, formal pony when it comes to interacting with others. I don't think I've heard a time when he hasn't referred to one of us, except for his sister, obviously, as 'Miss Rarity' or 'Miss Fluttershy', or the like. If you got him to call you a name like 'Flutter', then he must really like you and feel comfortable around you." Rarity said with a smile on her face. Fluttershy began to cry. Rarity was taken aback, "Fluttershy, darling, aren't you happy?"
"I am, Rarity, I really am!" Fluttershy said between sobs, still holding onto Rarity, "I just don't know what to do now! I don't want to ruin this, but I have no experience! I don't know what to do!"
"Well, you've come to the right mare for advice, Fluttershy!" Rarity exclaimed, smiling as her friend's sobs slowed. "And my advice is this. Go find him. Spend more time with him, and be yourself. He likes you for who you are, and if you keep being the nice, kind, caring, sweet, and cute Fluttershy we all know and love, you'll never lose him." She said with all the sincerity she could muster.
"Th-thanks R-Rarity," Fluttershy said as she pulled from her friend's embrace. "I've got to go find him now!" She declared, and before Rarity could get a word in edgewise, she was out the door.
Rarity sighed. "First Rainbow Dash and Applejack, and now Fluttershy." She sighed again, "Don't worry Rarity, you'll find somepony soon enough. The perfect stallion is out there waiting for you, you'll find him soon enough."
As if on cue, the bell to her front door rang again. "Ooh! My first customer of the day!" She exclaimed as she headed out to greet them.
She was confronted with a tall, handsome, unicorn stallion whom she had never seen before. "Is this where I can find the acclaimed fashion designer, Rarity?" he spoke in a smooth voice that seemed to flow through the air like silk.
'Yes, perhaps I will find him soon enough.' Rarity thought to herself as a smile crossed her face, ready to greet this new customer.
Fluttershy flew so fast along the path to Sweet Apple Acres that she almost flew right into Big Macintosh, who was coming the other way. "Well, hullo there, Flutter." He said, brightly, "Ah was just comin' ta see ya.'
"Good morning, Macintosh, I was just coming to see you too."
"Well, I guess it's a good thing we found each other, then." He replied with a smile.
"Yes, yes it is." She said, answering a question she could have taken two ways, and answered both in the same way. "How is Little Hayseed doing? Is he well?"
"Eeeyup. He was up and playing around in the barn early this mornin', that medicine ya gave him really worked wonders."
"Oh, it's nothing special. I just love helping out little animals." Fluttershy responded, meekly shoving away the compliment.
"Flutter," Big Macintosh said, bringing his head down to nuzzle Fluttershy gently, causing her to blush, "What you did was really good. Ah'm real thankful for it." Big Mac paused as if just noticing something, "It's gettin' pretty late in the morning. Ah guess Applejack is up by now. Ah should probably be getting' on home."
but weren't you just there?" Fluttershy asked as she started to follow him along the path.
"Nope. Ah slept in the barn last night."
Fluttershy gasped. "But why?" She stammered, "Weren't you cold? Weren't you uncomfortable?"
"Nah. It actually gets pretty warm in the barn, and Ah had plenty o' soft hay ta sleep on. Ah've done it plenty o' times before."
"But why this time?"
" Macintosh suddenly looked uncomfortable, "Miss Dash was
in there uh
'comfortin'' Applejack last night. I didn't feel comfortable goin' into the house."
" Fluttershy whispered, "I see." She blushed again at the idea of two of her best friends
she shook herself. She didn't need those thoughts
"Ah figure it's about time to head back for breakfast now." Big Mac said, turning his head back in the direction of the house.
"Ok. I guess I'll be going then." Fluttershy whispered uncomfortably and began to rise off the ground.
"Why don't you come with? You're just as welcome in mah house as Miss Dash is." Macintosh said, turning to her.
"Well, thank you for the offer, but I would hate to impose
"What's worryin' you?" Macintosh asked, sensing that there was something wrong.
Fluttershy sighed. "I
I just don't know, Mac. What about Applejack? What will she think of
us? I mean
she is your sister
The faintest glimmer of a frown crossed Macintosh's face before he smiled again and answered her, calm and collected. "Well Ah suppose there's only one way to find out." And with that, he brought a hoof up to rest on Fluttershy's back, causing her to land softly next to him. She pressed herself up against his side for a moment. Then, with her strong, caring, protecting stallion at her side, Fluttershy began the long walk to Apple Family house.
"Well Ah'm happy for y'all!" Applejack exclaimed, surprising Fluttershy as she embraced her, "but Ah gotta say, it took ya long enough! Ya came over every day for a week, even after we all knew that silly cat was all better. It ain't hard to guess what ya were really after."
"It's good to see ya feelin' better, sis" Big Macintosh spoke up, saving Fluttershy from the embarrassment of responding as red spread across her face.
"Well, Ah have mah own pegasus ta thank fer that." Applejack responded, turning to face a cyan pegasus with a rainbow mane, sitting at the kitchen table with a hot drink in front of her and beginning to develop a blush of her own. Rainbow Dash stood up and walked over to the other three ponies in the room. She placed her hooves around Fluttershy's neck as well and hugged her oldest friend for a moment.
"Don't be upset, Fluttershy," She said as she looked at her friend, "If anypony deserves this, it's you." Her eyes spoke more than her words. They spoke of the many years of experience the two pegasi had shared. Fluttershy knew the sad story of Rainbow Dash and the role she herself had played in it just as well as Rainbow herself did, and the look in the cyan pony's eyes told Fluttershy just what her friend was thinking of. Cloudsdale, Flight School, and a little yellow pegasus filly who had mended a broken heart, and was now getting her due in return.
Fluttershy smiled to her friends, finally hugging Big Macintosh as a single tear of joy ran from her eye. "So what do ya want to do today?" Macintosh whispered into her ear as he nuzzled her.
"Oh, I don't know," Fluttershy answered, her heart feeling lighter now that she had no further worries. "I think a nice walk in the park would be lovely. But you don't have to buy me dinner again. Oh, no, I don't mean that I didn't have fun last night, I really had a great time, but I
just don't feel
with you spending bits on me
" She finished, hiding her face behind her mane as she felt she had said too much.
"A walk in the park it is then." Macintosh said, continuing to nuzzle her cheek, bringing a smile to both of their faces. "But what do you think we should do for dinner then?"
You could come to my cottage
I mean, I'm a pretty good cook
If you want to, that is, I don't want to force you
" Macintosh's only answer was to gently press his lips to hers, causing her second-guessing to melt away in a small moment of passion. Smile still on his face, he led his marefriend out the door and back outside, on their way to the park.
"Looks like we have the house to ourselves again," Applejack said, turning to face Rainbow once they were alone.
"Do you think I should tell them about the storm the weatherponies have planned for later?" Rainbow asked.
"Nah." Applejack replied, drawing closer, "They'll be fine. Besides, Ah'm not ready fer ya ta leave just yet." She whispered as she locked her mouth with Rainbow Dash's, her tongue slipping inside the mouth of her partner
Just as Rainbow Dash had known, the storm was scheduled for that night. Everypony in Ponyville took their shelter indoors as the swollen black and grey clouds, put in place by the pegasus ponies of the weather team, unleashed their contents on the sleepy community. Droplets of water pelted down from the sky, falling thick and fast to soak the town and surrounding countryside. Winds blew in a frenzy, whipping some of the falling water into even more directions and causing further confusion in the gathering storm, as moving air and water combined to create billowing sheets of water that were thrown down at a frightening rate from the storm clouds. Every few moments, a bolt of electricity would flash from the sky, the lightning and the exploding crashes of thunder that tagged along adding more noise and confusion to the scene of chaos that was quickly enveloping the outdoors. In truth, pony-made storms were not meant to be this violent. However, unforeseen circumstances and outdoor events, especially the funeral, had necessitated the rain that was supposed to be falling steadily for a few days to be held off until the third day. Behind schedule and with a quota to fill, the Ponyville weather team had had no choice but to use the power of a major storm to dump the week's required fill of rain in one day.
The first thunderstorm of spring meant plenty of water for plants that had had but a few weeks since winter to grow. Around Ponyville, homeowners and proprietors retired to the beds in their houses and shops as the night grew late. It was the thought of all the help the plants were getting, and the beauty that would come of it, that allowed most ponies to tolerate the cacophony and drift off to sleep. But sleep did not come to everypony. In the outskirts of Ponyville, on the edge of the Everfree Forest, stood a cottage. Within the small structure was a room full of comfortable looking furniture, but the pony who would normally use them was instead on the floor. Curled in a tight ball on the rug in the middle of the floor and shaking in fright, a soft yellow pegasus with a flowing pink mane tried to block out the flashes of light and explosions of sound that assaulted her senses. Fluttershy was terrified.
Hiding from the outside world behind her mane, half-eaten dinner forgotten, Fluttershy might have even forgotten about her house guest had he not spoken up. "Flutter? Are ya OK? Is there something wrong?" Big Macintosh stood over her, staring down at her shaking form with care and concern in his eyes. 'She was fine right up 'til the lightnin'' He thought to himself.
I-I really d-don't like s-storms." She managed to squeak out.
"There's nothing to be afraid of." Macintosh said as he lay down next to her, "It won't hurt you in here."
"B-but w-what if the l-lightning s-s-starts a f-fire?" She looked up into Big Macintosh's face, tears nearly forming in her eyes. "It's just so d-dangerous
"Don't worry, Flutter." Big Mac whispered soothingly to her, "Ah'm here. Ah'll protect you. As long as Ah'm here, you're safe. As long as Ah'm here, nothing can hurt you." He snuggled up close to the still-shivering mare and lay his foreleg over her, stroking her with his hoof in an effort to calm her down.
Fluttershy tried to stop shaking. Gradually, she managed to stop focusing on the storm. She let the sweet, succulent aroma of apples wash over her as she embraced the earth pony next to her tightly. As she held him close, she could feel his heartbeat through his chest, slow and steady, calm and collected. She let the feel of each individual beat relax her as she felt her own fast-paced heart slow down too. The noise and the flashes that so bothered her became but a backdrop to the warmth and pleasure she felt surge through her as she held the strong pony beside her. Her protector. Her lover. Her Big Macintosh. The frenzied panic of terror left her system as she was overcome with a different emotion. She suddenly found herself very tired, but above all, happy. Heart rate slowed, shivers subsided, Fluttershy opened her eyes to gaze into those of the pony whom she held so close, and was holding her back.
"I love you." She whispered, before she, content and at peace, drifted off to sleep in his loving, caring, protecting embrace.
Sugarcube Corner was decorated lavishly. Pinkie Pie had pulled out all the stops for this celebration. All around the room, streamers were hung, streamers of every color of the rainbow. Hanging from the ceiling alongside the rainbow streamers were hearts and apples cut out from paper, which had obviously been hoof-made. On one side of the room an impromptu dance floor had been set up, and it was here that the pony guests had rocked and swayed to music both fast and slow for much of the night. Across the room, on the opposite wall, the first of two long tables had been set up with white table cloth and a place setting for each guest. Each place setting had the usual dishes and silverware, including flasks which Mr. and Mrs. Cake kept filled with Sparkling Apple Cider. The center of each platter featured a six-colored striped rainbow napkin with an apple placed on each. The second of these white-clothed tables stood against the rear wall. This table held an abundance of food for the ponies. Pies, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, and every type of apple treat imaginable filled plates the whole length of the table.
The piece de resistance, however, adorned the center of this table. A towering cake that rose high and barely missed touching the ceiling. It was Pinkie Pie's pride and joy. Six layers tall, each layer featured a coating from one color on the rainbow, from red on bottom to purple on top. Polka-dotted across the exterior were the shapes of apples, drawn in red and green frosting. At the very top sat a real apple, and cascading down the sides of the cake were two ribbons of rainbow frosting. These stripes, made from strips of each color applied via pipette, resembled six-color waterfalls wherever they stretched down the side of a layer. It was the largest, most intricate cake Pinkie Pie had ever designed.
Of course, it was the first wedding cake she had ever designed. In the center of the room, beneath a large, hanging banner that read: "Congratulations Applejack and Rainbow Dash!" stood Ponyville's newest, and arguable happiest, wedded couple. The reception had gone well so far, the time had been spent dancing and feasting on treats, but the dinner had yet to be served.
From his own position, Big Macintosh could see the friends and neighbors from around Ponyville that had shown up to celebrate the happy event. Even though the wedding had been less than formal and nowhere near orthodox, Fluttershy, Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity had still served as bridesmaids, and he himself had insisted on escorting his sister down the aisle. Applebloom had been Ring Bearer, and she, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo, who had enjoyed their roles as Flower Girl and (self-appointed) "Rainbow Dash's personal assistant", respectively, were now having fun on their own.
Even Princess Celestia and Princess Luna had shown up to see two elements of harmony married, and he could see them having a discussion with Miss Twilight Sparkle at the head of the dinner table. Fluttershy was safely out of the way talking to Miss Pinkie Pie, and all the other ponies, except for Rainbow Dash and Miss Rarity, had left his sister. Now was the time to approach her, if he didn't do it now, he would never get the chance to ask. As he walked up to the group of three, he noticed that his sister and Miss Rarity were still having a conversation. He politely stopped to wait.
"But darling, I still don't understand why you went so fast in planning this affair. You didn't even give me the chance to make either of you fabulous new dresses for the occasion." Rarity said.
"Ah told ya, Rarity." Applejack responded, "Ah didn't want no fancy new dresses. You know Rainbow and Ah were never ones for them fancy frou-frous, and we didn't want our weddin' to be gussied up like that."
"Besides," Rainbow chimed in, "We had to get this out of the way fast. Or else this little pony would have messed things up!" She knelt down and gently nuzzled the side of Applejack's swollen midsection with her nose for emphasis, causing AJ to giggle and playfully shove her away.
"Not here, Rainbow Dash." She said in a mock-serious tone that betrayed her inner mirth, "Ah don't even think Ah could fit into a fancy weddin' dress in this condition," she continued, addressing Rarity as she looked down at her significantly bigger self.
"Well I suppose that's true, when is the little darling due, anyway?" Rarity asked.
"Nurse Redheart says it should be about two months now." Applejack replied, looking up and spotting her older brother for the first time, "Hey Big Mac, ya waitin' fer me?"
"Hello sis, Rainbow, Miss Rarity." Macintosh spoke up, "Ah was just wonderin' if Ah could ask y'all something."
"What is it, Big brother?" AJ asked him, her curiosity now piqued.
"Well," Macintosh struggled to think of a way to explain without giving too much of his plans away, "Ah hid mah 'special present' in a box under mah chair at the table. Ah was hopin' ta take it out and use it durin' dinner, but seein' as how this is yer celebration, Ah figured Ah should ask y'all for permission first."
"What do ya mean by yer 'special present'?" AJ asked, confused.
"Ask Miss Rarity, she's the one Ah bought it from." Macintosh responded. Rarity, who knew exactly what he was referring to, rushed over to Applejack and whispered in her ear. As she whispered, Macintosh was able to watch his sister's expression as Miss Rarity revealed his secret to her, finally finishing when AJ's smile had reached its widest.
"Big Mac," She said, happiness clearly audible, "Ah can't think of a better weddin' present than that." She tried to give him a hug, but was thwarted by her belly.
"A better present than what? What is he going to do?" Rainbow piped up, kept out of the loop and not understanding.
"Patience, Dashie," Applejack said as she turned to face her wife, "You'll find out soon enough," and she leaned in to give her a kiss.
Big Macintosh swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. Now that the moment he had waited for was finally here, he was nervous. Extremely nervous. But, he decided, there was no turning back now. He looked up and down the table, his sister and sister-in-law were seated at one end, and Fluttershy was of course right next to him, while the two princesses were at the other. He actually hadn't counted on the rulers of his country being there at this moment, but it was a factor he was prepared to deal with. He rapped his glass five times with the hard edge of his hoof before he rose from his seat at the table, feeling all eyes shift to him as the buzz of conversation fell to a hush.
"Attention everypony." He spoke loud and clear, trying to make himself understood as well as he could. "Ah have an announcement to make." He looked around the table, most ponies looked confused, but his sister shot him a big knowing grin and Miss Rarity seemed excited enough to burst. "First, Ah'd like to congratulate my little sister Applejack, on her happy occasion, and officially welcome Rainbow Dash into the Apple Family!" This was met with a chorus of agreement from around the table, and Macintosh waited until it died down to continue. "Mah sisters and Ah have been through a lot in the past few months. Well, Ah guess Applejack more than the rest o' us." That brought laughs from some ponies, including, he noticed, Princess Luna, who was holding her hooves to her mouth with the spark of an unshared secret in her eye. "It got me thinkin', that with Rainbow Dash, and especially today, Applejack seems to be at her happiest."
Macintosh turned her gaze to the shy yellow pegasus mare sitting next to him. This was the moment now, he thought. No turning back. "Now, Ah think most of y'all know that me and Fluttershy here have been dating for a while now." He gave her a smile and got only a look of confusion and nervousness in return. Fluttershy's eyes flicked about the room, suddenly aware that she was now the center of attention, before they returned to meet Macintosh's gaze.
" He began, searching for the right words, "what Ah'm tryin' to say is
Ah love you. Ah love you as much as a member of mah own family and maybe even more. Ah want to see you just as happy as Ah know mah sister was today. Ah want to be there to make you happy, to live with you. Ah
" He paused as he suddenly pushed his chair out of the way behind him and swept his hoof down to scoop up a small box that had sat concealed underneath. He lifted it up on his front hooves as he knelt down on his forelegs, holding the small blue velvet box up in front of his face. "Ah want to spend the rest of mah life with you, Fluttershy. Will you
will you marry me?" he finished as he flipped the lid off the jewelry box.
For a few moments that never seemed to end, Fluttershy was silent. She stared at the little box that rested on the hooves of her stallion, and she felt her heart beat faster. The beautiful ring sat there, a brilliant and flawlessly carved pink gem sat attached to the golden ring. It was carved in the shape of a single butterfly. As she took in the beautiful pony and the beautiful engagement ring before her, Fluttershy could feel the excitement rising in her body. Of all the ponies in attendance, only the other Elements of Harmony and Princess Celestia had been at the Grand Galloping Gala to witness the last time Fluttershy's excitement had gotten the best of her. Thus, they were the only ones not shocked when her rising emotions broke over the top of the emotional wall that normally prevented her from being anything but timid when in the company of so many ponies.
With one flap of her wings, Fluttershy leapt into the air in the room and soared over their heads, releasing her emotions in a sudden expense of energy as she cried "YESYESYESYESYESYESYES!" in rapid succession. Almost as soon as she had flown up she dove back down to embrace Big Macintosh. She hit the astounded stallion hard enough to knock him onto his side as she peppered his surprised face with kisses, bathing him in her love and a few tears of joy. Fluttershy didn't care that everyone was watching them and applauding them, congratulating them, she didn't care that she was the center of attention. In that perfect moment on that perfect night, Fluttershy was the happiest mare in Equestria, and that was all the mattered.