There’s something about rain that makes a creature want to find a quiet spot, get cozy, and stay comfortable, warm, and safe until the sun decides to shows its face again. The inhabitants of Ponyville were no exception. The small town had abandoned nearly all productive activities as soon as the scheduled downpour started, preferring instead to find somewhere snug and toasty to wait out the inclement weather. Twilight Sparkle was curled up in her library, re-reading A Compleat History of Equestria and Surrounding Nations (4th Revised Edition) for the umpteenth time. Pinkie Pie, never one to let something as trivial as the weather spoil her plans, was conducting an indoor picnic with the Cake twins in the top floor of Sugarcube Corner. Applejack was napping peacefully under a bale of hay, exhausted from bucking a field’s worth of fruit before the rain had started, and Rarity, ever the innovator, was meditating in the middle of her Inspiration Room, convinced that the white noise from the storm outside would help spark an idea for her latest line.
All over town, ponies had fallen into a state of warm, drowsy, indifference, content to simply stay inside and wait until the weather was pleasant again. Even Ponyville’s smattering of pegasi had elected to keep indoors, confident that their storm would run its course with minimal intervention on their part. There was nopony outside, just the steady pitter-pat of rain on the cobblestone streets and the occasional rumble of thunder. Nopony, that is, except for a certain butter-yellow pegasus, nestled deep behind the branches of an old willow tree.
Fluttershy leaned against the willow’s gnarled trunk, a pad of paper resting on her legs and a quill pen held delicately in her mouth. Every so often, she would dip the implement into a tiny bottle of ink and write a line or two on the page before promptly scratching it out. She sighed in frustration. This should be easy! You always write when it rains, Fluttershy. Just because this time it’s about... her... The pegasus felt her cheeks go red, despite the fact there was nopony around. Just because it’s... that, doesn’t mean you should be stuck on every single verse. Come on, just think up some rhymes to get you started. Tree, bee, sea, flea... Oh, forget it. She sighed again and stood up, taking care not to upset her ink bottle. Why does this have to be so hard?
That same question had been ricocheting around and around in her head for months, and Fluttershy was no closer to answering it now than she had been then. Why can’t I just go up and ask her? What’s stopping me? She gave a small snort and rolled her eyes, irritated with herself for even asking. Because you’re scared, Fluttershy. You’re a scared little filly who can barely even have a normal conversation, let alone tell somepony you love them. She scuffed the damp ground around the tree with a hoof and sighed. Oh, why can’t I be more like her?
Her. The mare she looked up to, the one who she admired in every aspect of her life. Her boldness, her strength, the devilish smile and spark in her eyes when she got an idea for her latest stunt or prank...
All things Fluttershy had quietly noticed while sitting in the sidelines, watching and wishing, year after year.
Year after year...
A lanky yellow pegasus filly stumbles nervously onto a cloud, looking like she’s afraid it’s going to lick its lips and swallow her up. ‘Summer Flight Camp’ was turning out to be a living nightmare. Surrounded by ponies who could already fly, she’s the odd one out, and they never let her forget it.
She gives a squeak of alarm and attempts to bury herself inside the cloud, with limited success. The source of the voice, a heavyset brown colt with a cutie mark of a dumbbell, laughs and lands next to her. “What’s the matter, Klutzershy? Still can’t fly yet?” A second colt, light orange with a trio of basketballs for a cutie mark, joins in the laughter and points at her tauntingly.
“C’mon, Klutzershy. It’s not so hard. Just jump, open your wings, and flap! Here, I’ll help you.” Sniggering, he grabs the filly out of the cloud with a ‘fwoomp’ and dangles her over the edge, ignoring her terrified squeaks. “You ready, Klutz? On three.” Both colts begin to laugh mockingly. “One, two- oof!”
“You leave her alone!”
A cyan blur shoots down from the sky, body-slamming the orange colt hard enough to nearly knock him off the cloud. He yells, stumbles...
And drops the filly he had been dangling over the edge.
Fluttershy screams, tears streaming down her cheeks only to get instantly swept away by the roar of wind. She flaps her undersized wings desperately, but she may as well have been flapping planks for the all the good it does. The ground rushes closer. She shuts her eyes-
And suddenly, she’s stopped, hovering in midair, held tight by a cyan filly with an unruly rainbow mane. Her rescuer’s forehooves are wrapped around Fluttershy’s chest, wings pumping with the exertion of keeping the two of them aloft. “Hey. It’s okay. I gotcha.” Fluttershy only squeaks in reply, still terrified of the unyielding ground below. “Here, let’s get you safe.”
Straining and flapping her wings, the filly manages to get the two of them to a low-hanging cloud before she collapses from exhaustion. “Whew. Close one, huh?”
Fluttershy, now slightly recovered, manages a small nod. The filly smiles. “I’m Rainbow Dash. Who’re you?”
“‘M... Fl... Fluttershy...”
Rainbow Dash chuckles. “Fluttershy, huh? I can see why.” She looks at clouds above them and scowls. “Those jerks. I bet they won’t even get in trouble. Well, whatever.” She turns back towards Fluttershy and offers a hoof. “If they mess with you again, just tell me, and I’ll kick their flanks into next Tuesday, all right?”
The yellow filly nods and tentatively shakes the offered appendage.
“So,” says Rainbow Dash, making a lazy circle in the air above Fluttershy, “wanna be friends?”
Fluttershy nearly just nods again out of habit, but stops short when she realizes what the other filly is asking. Her entire experience at Summer Flight Camp so far has been nothing but embarrassment and humiliation, and now a filly she barely knew was offering not just to stick up for her, but to be her friend? It seemed almost too good to be true.
Rainbow notices the indecision on Fluttershy’s face and visibly sags, smile disappearing.“I mean, if you don’t, that’s okay too...” She sighs and turns to leave, but Fluttershy stops her.
“Wait. Rainbow Dash. I... I do. Want to be your friend, I mean.”
Dash’s face lights up, and she spins back around, grin returning in full force. “Sweet! I’ll see you around, Fluttershy. Oh, and don’t worry about the flying stuff. You’ll get it.” She leans closer, and, in a conspiratorial whisper, says, “Don’t tell anypony, but until a couple months ago, I could barely even hover!” Fluttershy giggles softly and nods. “Then, one day, I just jumped off the ground and kept going! You’ll figure it out, I promise.”
She shoots Fluttershy another grin before leaping off the cloud and soaring back into the air, leaving the yellow filly stunned, confused, and surprisingly happy. Maybe flight camp wouldn’t be so bad after all...
Fluttershy opened her eyes, smiling at the memory. That fateful day in Summer Flight Camp had been the beginning of their friendship, but not of her feelings towards Dash. Those had come later, slowly sneaking up on her with every smile Dash threw her way, every hint of praise, every compliment, every laugh...
The Cloudsdale stadium is packed to the brim with cheering spectators, all eager and ready to find out the winner of this year’s Best Young Flier Competition. There’s only a couple entrants left, and the atmosphere is electric.
“And now, for our final competitor of the day, contestant number fifteen!”
From the cloud she’s sitting on with the rest of her friends, Fluttershy sees Rainbow Dash exit the curtain, looking... nervous? No, that couldn’t be. Rainbow Dash was never nervous, not even for scary things like dragons or heights. Why would she be-
“Aaaand apparently contestant number four.”
With a spin and a flourish, Rarity emerges from the curtain. She’s covered in enough makeup that Fluttershy wonders if her magical wings will be able to hold it, but she does looks pretty.
Rarity and Dash appear to have a conversation, though Fluttershy is much too far away to hear. She could see one thing plainly, though. Dash looked nervous, even terrified.
“You go, Rainbow Dash,” whispers Fluttershy. “I know you can do it.” Scared or not, Dash was the best flier in Equestria. She was sure to win.
There’s a cheer from the crowd, and the music starts. It’s light and classical, not at all Dash’s style, but Fluttershy’s too busy watching to notice. She sees her friend slalom between the cloud pillars at the bottom of the stadium, mouth set in determined line. Her rainbow mane streams behind her, shining nearly as bright as the genuine article. Rarity dances and pirouettes overhead, but Fluttershy ignores her. This is Dash’s moment.
Faster and faster Dash goes, wings slicing through the air as she weaves back and forth between the pillars. She’s beautiful, like a bolt of pure color thrown across the sky-
Fluttershy gasps as Rainbow miscalculates, bounces off a pillar, and smacks into the side of the arena, drawing a chorus of jeers from the three colts sitting on the cloud below them. The yellow pegasus starts in shock as she sees their cutie marks: it’s Dumbbell and his friends, the very same ponies who used to tease her as a filly all those years ago. Her eyes narrow. “Come on, Rainbow. Show those bullies what a real flier looks like,” she whispers.
Dash appears to agree, shaking her head to clear it and glaring at the colts before shooting high above the arena.
Phase two, Fluttershy thinks. You can do it, Dash. I know you can. She watches as Rainbow begins to circle around a cloud, going faster and fast until it’s spinning of its own accord. She repeats the procedure with a second one, and then a third...
“Look!” says Fluttershy, pointing excitedly at the display above them. “Phase Two is working!” Her friends give cheers of agreement, and she can barely contain her excitement. I knew you could do it, Rainbow, she thinks. Now just-
Her thought is cut short by Rainbow slipping midair and catching a lump of vapor in the face, sending her and the cloud she had been spinning in opposite directions across the arena. Fluttershy winces as she realizes the rogue cumulous’ destination: a confused Princess Celestia who only narrowly manages to dodge it.
Rainbow watches the impact with a horrified frown, glancing back and forth between Celestia and Rarity, who’s prancing and posing high above her. Then, with a nervous gulp, she sets her jaw and shoots up into the air, drawing ooohs and aaahs from the crowd. Higher and higher she climbs, until Fluttershy is craning her neck as far as she can. This is is, she thinks. Phase three. The Sonic Rainboom. You can do this, Rainbow Dash. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, and the best flier I’ve ever seen.
She looks to the sky and smiles.
I believe in you.
Suddenly, there’s a shrill, piercing scream, and a flailing, white-and-purple shape shoots downward through the stadium.
“Oh no! Her wings evaporated into thin air!” Twilight’s cry causes the other three ponies on the cloud to gasp in horror as they realize the identity of the falling blur. The three Wonderbolts sitting on a cloud spring into action, diving down to catch the falling unicorn. Oh please, Fluttershy thinks, covering her eyes with a hoof please please let her be okay oh please...
Then, high above the stadium, a rainbow speck stops, turns, and begins to rocket downwards, surpassing the speed of even the Wonderbolts. Fluttershy gives a silent cheer as she watches her friend shoot towards Rarity, but then quickly re-covers her eyes as she realizes it may not be enough. “I can’t look...” she mumbles, praying with every fiber of her being that Dash is fast enough.
A chorus of gasps from her friends causes her to crack open an eye, only to see Rainbow gaining on Rarity, a rippling cone of air forming around the cyan pegasus as she dives. Faster and faster she went, the cone narrowing and beginning to crackle and shine with shards of rainbow light. Fluttershy is awestruck, barely able to believe her eyes.
The cone sparks, twists, and flattens, and then...
A brilliant, rippling wave of multicolored light shoots outward from Rainbow Dash, bathing the stadium in a radiant rainbow glow. Fluttershy’s breath catches in her throat as her entire body is consumed with a warm, fuzzy euphoria, unlike anything she’s ever felt before. She feels as if she’s going to burst from pure happiness, and begins to cheer in earnest.
“A SONIC RAINBOOM! SHE DID IT! SHE DID IT!” Fluttershy’s ecstatic yells go unnoticed by her still-dumbstruck friends, but she doesn’t care. Dash had done it. Everything her friend had worked for over those weeks has finally paid off, and Fluttershy can’t be happier. She cheers and cheers, leaping up and down in delight as Dash swoops back up, Rarity and the Wonderbolts in tow. She looks proud, confident and happy, just as Fluttershy has always remembered her.
You did it, Rainbow. I knew you could, Fluttershy thinks, smiling. I always knew.
Yes, Fluttershy thought, her mind now back in reality beneath the misty tree. That was about where it started. She and Dash and always been close, ever since Flight Camp, but that moment in the stadium had been the turning point, when she had begun to see Dash as something more than just a friend. Of course, she hadn’t realized it right away. That had been much more recent, as little as a month or two ago...
The waterspout whirls and howls, throwing waves of leaves and dirt into the air above the small field. Fluttershy can barely make out the shapes of hundreds of pegasi flying within the maelstrom, each trying their hardest to break the eight hundred wingpower needed to complete the funneling process. If only I could be up there too, she thinks bitterly. If only I were a pony who could actually make a difference, instead of a useless little pegasus who can’t even break two point five wingpower.
“Seven hundred!” Twilight’s yell interrupts Fluttershy’s brooding, and she looks out at the windstorm again. Somewhere in it, she knows, is Rainbow Dash. Beautiful, strong, Rainbow Dash, shooting between unsure ponies and giving them the encouragement they needed to be their best. Powerful, confident, sure of herself...
Everything I’m not, Fluttershy thinks miserably. She had tried so hard to impress Dash, to be the mare she wanted her to be, only to fall utterly flat. Even now, the memory make her cheeks burn with shame, and she turns back away from the storm, not wanting anypony to see her in her moment of humiliation.
“Seven hundred and fifty wingpower!”
The storm is picking up now, the gale growing stronger and stronger as the peagsi within push themselves to their limits. Fluttershy squeals as a particularly violent squall picks her up and hurls her into the wingpower-measuring machine, nearly crushing Spike as she slams against the metal.
“They fell apart right after this!” the dragon yells, rubbing his spines. Fluttershy squeaks and covers her eyes.
“Oh, I’m too nervous to look!” she mumbles, burying her head in her hooves to disguise the tears that are seconds away from falling down her cheeks. They’re so close, and here she is, unable to do anything but watch and wish. Useless, she thinks, the word stinging her eyes and heart like a brand. Useless, useless, useless.
“Seven ninety-five! They’re so close! Fluttershy, they need you up there!” shouts Twilight, hanging on to the wingpower meter for dear life.
“I won’t make a difference!” Fluttershy replies hopelessly. I’ll probably just end up messing up everpony else, she thinks. Just what I need. A way for Dash to hate me even more.
But Twilight isn’t done yet. “You can make a difference!” she begs. Fluttershy shakes her head.
“My measly two point three wingpower is still too little!” Useless. Over and over again, the word repeats in her mind, pulsing like some twisted heartbeat. I can’t do anything. I’m a failure. I shouldn’t even be a pegasu-
“It’s sticking at seven ninety-five! I don’t know if they’ve got any more in ‘em!” yells Spike, struggling to maintain his hold on the machine in the roiling wind.
Twilight turns to Fluttershy, eyes wide and pleading. “Do it for Equestria! Do it for Rainbow Dash! Do it for yourself!”
Do it for Rainbow Dash...
Fluttershy opens her eyes, the tears building in them instantly swept away in the roar of the wind. Gritting her teeth, she takes the magically-offered flight goggles, dons them, and charges into the roar of the storm.
For Rainbow Dash.
The whirlwind sucks Fluttershy up, buffeting her left and right as she struggles to orient herself in the swirling current. Eventually, she finds a relatively peaceful updraft and begins to fly in earnest, pushing as hard as her wings can carry her.
And then suddenly Dash is there, flying effortlessly alongside her with a proud, ecstatic grin, her mane trailing behind her like a multicolored banner. Fluttershy smiles back, and feels her heart leap in her stomach. For Rainbow Dash, she thinks. For your friend, for your protector, for the best mare you’ve ever known.
The yellow pegasus redoubles her efforts, eyes narrowing as she flaps harder and harder. Her joints scream from the exertion, but she ignores them. The only important things now are the rhythm of her wings, and the cyan mare next to them.
They’re close, incredibly close. She can feel it in her pinions. But then, just she begins to truly believe she’ll make it, it happens. One by one, the pegasi near her begin to pull away, easily outstripping her on their flight paths. She strains harder, as hard as she can, but it makes no difference. Rainbow Dash is nowhere to be seen, and the horrible rhythm begins again. Useless. Useless. Useless. Fluttershy, Fluttershy, Fluttershy can hardly-
“NO!” she screams, snapping her wings back in a sudden burst of energy. I’m not useless. I’m better than that. I’m the mare Dash wants me to be. She flaps again, shooting past several dumbstruck pegasi, and keeps going. The pain in her wings is reduced to a dull burn as she speeds forward through the gale, but she barely notices. She was flying, truly flying, just like Rainbow had said she could.
There’s a deep, whirling, roar and the sound of rushing water, and the reservoir arcs up into the sky like a glistening liquid rainbow. Fluttershy doesn’t even acknowledge it, eyes shut tight as she loops around and around. Just focus on the wingbeats, she thinks. One, two, three, turn. One, two, three-
The yellow pegasus is jolted out of her aerial nirvana by the sudden and unexpected appearance of a cloud, which she promptly slams into.
“Whoa girl, take it easy!”
“Wha?” Fluttershy looks up from the cloud, nervously glancing around at the scene below her. The crowd of celebrating pegasi, the dry reservoir, Rainbow Dash smiling proudly above her...
Her heart catches in her throat. “What? D-did we do it?”
“Yeah!” Dash’s grin is big enough to swallow her entire face. “You did it!” She leaps forward and gives Fluttershy an ecstatic hug, ignoring the blush beginning to form on the other pegasus’ face. Fluttershy drinks the touch like cool water, and when it ends, she slaps the high-wing Rainbow offers without a second of hesitation. I did it, she thinks, looking around at the smiling faces below. I’m not useless. I’m brave, just like the mare I- Fluttershy stumbles mentally as she tries to fill in the verb. Admire? Like?
She glances toward Dash, who smiles back at her, magenta eyes showing nothing but joy and satisfaction, beautiful mane blowing in the breeze...
Her subconscious gives a tiny mental nod. Love, she thinks, surprising even herself at the firmness of the thought. I love you, Rainbow Dash. The two mares land back of the ground, and Fluttershy is almost immediately swept into a crowd of cheering, grateful pegasi.
And someday, she thinks, even as she’s thrown into the air, I’ll be brave enough to tell you.
Fluttershy sighed as she remembered the promise she had made that day, a promise that, so far, she had utterly failed to keep. It wasn’t for lack of opportunity, of course, but every time she tried to so much as bring up the topic of love around Dash, her throat would close up, her cheeks would redden, and she would suddenly be reduced to the quivering, terrified filly at her first day of flight camp.
She looked towards her ink and paper, still empty save for a couple blots and scribbles, and sighed again. Maybe singing will help clear my head.
The pegasus closed her eyes and let the sound of the storm wash over all her other thoughts, feeling it fill up her entire being. She loved times like these. There were no scary things, no appointments to make, no friends to remember to talk to, no animals to feed. Just her, her writing, and the soft rustle of the wind and rain through the willow’s branches.
Fluttershy felt a small smile play across her lips, took a breath, and began to sing.
It was an old earth pony ballad, with lyrics that had long since been lost inside the nooks and crannies of time. The melody remained, however, and the pegasus performed it with abandon. Her voice was perfect for the tune: high, sweet, and clear, it carried across the town and over the treetops of the Everfree. Any other day, she wouldn’t have dared to let out so much as a note, but rains like this one were special. She could sing as loud as she wanted, and nopony would hear. It was perfect.
Fluttershy finished the ballad, letting the last few notes get progressively softer before petering out into a soft hum. She sat back down against the tree, eyes still closed and slightly breathless. Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever sung that loudly before. I hope nopony-
“Fluttershy? Is that you?” There was a rustle of branches. “Uh, Rarity wanted me to see if you were okay.”
With a terrified squeak, Fluttershy dove behind the trunk of the willow, shaking in fear and embarrassment. Oh no oh no oh no oh no. WHY did she have to hear me, of all ponies? She watched as the drooping branches were shoved aside to reveal a very wet, very cold-looking Rainbow Dash. The blue pegasus frowned, looking around the sheltered clearing in confusion.
“Hello? Fluttershy? Anypony home? Huh. I coulda sworn...”
Fluttershy was paralyzed. She quivered behind the tree, wishing, not for the first time, that she could just melt into the smooth trunk. Nopony notices trees. They don’t have to worry about hiding, or liking somepony that probably doesn’t even like them back, or-
She felt her blood turn to ice.
There, not two feet from where Rainbow Dash was standing, was her pad of paper, still open to the page of her latest work. In her haste to avoid being spotted, Fluttershy had forgotten the small notebook entirely, along with her ink and quill. Now it lay in the damp grass, almost begging to be picked up and read. The yellow pegasus squeezed her eyes shut.
Oh Eternal Sisters of the Sun and Moon, if there is any kind of justice still present in this world, please, please, PLEASE do not let Rainbow Dash pick up that notebook.
Um, sincerely, Fluttershy. Thank you.
Her plea, while heartfelt, was destined to go unanswered. No divine intervention of any kind appeared to stop Rainbow Dash from noticing the pad, picking it up, and flipping through it curiously.
“What’s this? Some kind of journal? Hmm. First page, let’s see. ‘Property of Fluttershy the Pegasus. If found, please return to-’ Oh no way! Fluttershy’s personal diary?! Oh man, I wonder what kinds of juicy stuff she’s got in here? Secret journals, love notes, sappy poetry... she’s so quiet normally, there’s gotta be something she keeps bottled up inside. I can’t wait to...” She paused and looked around guiltily. “Well, maybe I shouldn’t. It is hers, after all. She’s probably looking for it. I should probably go find her and give it back...”
Yes, yes you should.
“...After I read a page or two.” The cyan pegasus grinned at her own cheekiness.
Fluttershy could only watch in silent horror as Dash flicked through the journal, finally stopping at the second most recent entry. The shy mare suppressed another squeak of alarm as she noticed the date on the page. Oh no, please. Any of them but that.
Brow wrinkled in concentration, Rainbow began to read the entry aloud.
There’s another storm scheduled for today. Applejack says she wonders if they’re trying to drain all the water out of Cloudsdale before the Running of the Leaves. It’s true, there has been a lot of weather lately, but I don’t mind, not really. With everpony inside staying dry, I can sing as loud as I want, and write without anypony watching or sneaking up on me. It’s nice.
I’ve been working another song for a couple days now, something that I might be able to use to tell... her how I feel. Of course, writing a song and actually performing it for someone are very different things, but hopefully this time I’ll be able to get over myself enough to at least try.”
Rainbow Dash paused in her reading, sounding bemused.
“Wow. Sweet little Fluttershy, a fillyfooler? Who woulda thought?”
Behind the tree, Fluttershy’s cheeks burned with a hot mixture of anger and humiliation.
Well, it’s out now. No more normal life for me. I wonder how quickly I can convince Angel to move to the Griffin Highlands.
Dash’s expression shifted, becoming something unreadable. She stared out into the distance, magenta eyes clouded in contemplation.
“Yeah. Who woulda thought...”
A tiny spark of hope flared up inside Fluttershy’s heart, pushing back the overwhelming torrent of shame that threatened to consume her by just a little. What? No. It couldn’t be... could it? It was more than the pegasus dared to wish for.
Rainbow Dash cleared her throat, and, with another furtive glance around her, continued to read.
“I’m so sick of this, diary. I’m sick of having to hide all the time. I’m sick of having to make excuses every time Pinkie offers to take me out to meet a date, or Rarity volunteers to help find me ‘Equestria’s most perfect gentlecolt.’ I’m sick of waiting, and I’m sick of her not even knowing how much hurt she’s causing. Oh, ponyfeathers. You know what, diary? I’m going to do it. I’m going to finish this song, and I’m going to go up to her, and I’m going to sing my bucking heart out. I don’t care if she laughs at me, or if I get run out of town. Anything would be better than... this.”
There was a heavy silence, punctuated only by a crack of thunder overhead. Then Dash chuckled, shattering the air of gravity her reading had created.
“Whoa. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard Fluttershy swear! Guess even the Element of Kindness has her limits.”
Behind the tree, the pegasus in question facehoofed. Of all the things she could find important...
Dash frowned. “But where’s the song? Maybe the next page? She turned to the next entry, and her face lit up in mischievous delight. “Here we go. ‘Ode to the Unknowing Light of My Life.’ The pegasus cackled. “Ohhh, this is gonna be good!”
No no no no no no no. The journal entry was bad enough. If she reads that, my life is over. Well, it’s already over, but now it’s going to be even worse... oh, WHY can’t she just leave other pony’s property alone? What right does she have, anyway? Why-
“Ahem. ‘Ode to the Unknowing Light of My Life, by Fluttershy the Pegasus.”
Something sparked inside Fluttershy then, something deep and primal, fueled by months and months of pent-up frustration and loneliness. With an angry snort, she tossed her mane away from her eyes and stalked out from behind the tree, mouth twisted in a very un-Fluttershy-like expression.
“Verse one- GAH!”
Dash immediately shot several feet into the air and dropped the journal, looking like a filly caught with her hoof in the cookie jar.
“Uh... you were looking for this?” She grinned meekly.
There was pregnant pause. Then the silence was broken, quite uncharacteristically, by Fluttershy.
“Rain. Bow. Dash.” The pegasus’ voice was deadly calm, her normally gentle eyes looking hard enough to cut diamonds.
“Uh, heya Fluttershy! Ya know, I was actually just about to go and find you, when this nasty gust of wind just came outta nowhere and blew me right into this tree! Crazy, right? Anyway, here’s your journal-”
“How. Dare You.”
“You okay, ‘Shy? Kinda freaking me out here...” Dash said, hovering nervously and avoiding the other mare’s eyes.
There was another pause.
Then Fluttershy unleashed.
“HOW DARE YOU! How DARE you snoop through another pony’s personal property without their permission! How DARE you read their private thoughts out loud for the whole bucking world to hear! How DARE you treat their hopes and dreams like nothing but an amusement for yourself! An amusement! A toy! Is that what my deepest desires are to you, Rainbow Dash? Just something to have a quick laugh at before you throw them away? Is that it? Do you think this is some kind of game?”
“B-but there was nopony else here! It was just me and y-” Dash’s spluttered argument only served to make Fluttershy angrier.
“So that makes it okay?” Her voice changed to a cruel, mocking tone, anger dripping off every word.
“Oh, let’s snoop on Fluttershy! Let’s look at all her secrets! Let’s all laugh at her pathetic little fantasies! Don’t worry, she won’t care! She’s too shy. Too sweet. Too nice.”
Fluttershy stopped to catch her breath, still seething.
“AND ANOTHER THING! Not only do you read my private diary out loud, but then you have the nerve to try and lie about it to my face?! Some Element of Loyalty you are!” she spat.
Fluttershy realized that tears were streaming down her cheeks, leaving warm salty trails of hurt and frustration across her muzzle. She pushed on through her sobs, practically screaming at the cyan mare.
“I THOUGHT I COULD TRUST YOU! I THOUGHT THAT YOU WOULD HAVE AT LEAST A TINY SHRED OF RESPECT LEFT FOR THE PONIES YOU CALL YOUR FRIENDS!”
Fluttershy took a deep, shuddering breath.
“I guess I was wrong. Now if you could please just- just go away.”
She collapsed onto the grass, sobbing quietly to herself. All the righteous fury she had felt just seconds earlier was gone, replaced by a huge, yawning pit of misery that threatened to swallow her whole.
Rainbow Dash stood soaking wet and motionless, looking like she had been hit by a sledgehammer the size of the moon. Her wings hung listlessly at her sides, all thoughts of flight forgotten. Then, wordlessly, she turned and began to slowly walk away, tail drooping and eyes downcast. As she came to the edge of the sheltered cave of branches, she risked one last glance behind her.
“Hey... Fluttershy?” It wasn’t a question. It was a plea.
The yellow pegasus sniffled. “What? What do you want?”
Dash sighed, staring at the ground. “Look. I know you probably hate me now. And you totally have every reason to. And you probably want nothing more to do with me, either. But before you, you know, shun me forever, I just want you to know that, uh, I’m cool with it.”
Fluttershy blinked in confusion. That had not been the response she was expecting. “C-cool with what?” She couldn’t mean...
“Ya know. Liking mares.”
She did. The pit of sadness collapsed in on itself, and that tiny, warm spark of hope ignited again. “You are? You d-don’t... hate me?”
Dash chuckled weakly. “Hate you? Why the hay would I hate you for something as dumb as that? Who you like isn’t a choice, it’s just something you’re born with. Like wings or a horn. Don’t be ashamed of it, heck, be proud! It’s something that makes you different, special.”
The spark swelled, becoming a flickering flame.
Dash shuffled her hooves awkwardly, eyes still fixed on the ground. “I mean... I would know.”
The flame roared to life, becoming a full-fledged bonfire of wish and desire. Fluttershy looked up from behind her tears, barely daring to believe what she was hearing.
“You mean... you like...?”
Rainbow sighed. “Yeah, I like mares. I know, shocker, right? Ponyville’s best flyer, the tomcolt with the freaking rainbow mane, a fillyfooler? Who woulda thought?” She sounded almost bitter. “But look, don’t let that get in the way of what I’m saying, all right? I mean, sure, there’s always going to be ponies who don’t see it the way I do, but you know what? I say, if they can’t accept for who you are, buck ‘em.” She slammed her forehooves together, accentuating her point. “You don’t need them anyway. Trust me.”
Dash looked around, scuffing the dirt with a hoof. “Well, guess I’ll be going then. I hope it works out with her, whoever she is, and, uh, I’m really, really sorry. Honest.”
She began to walk away, the boughs of the willow parting to let her back out into the clouds and rain.
Fluttershy’s heart felt like it was going to pop out of her chest. This is it! This is the chance you’ve dreamed of, the only opportunity you’ll probably ever get! Come on, Fluttershy! Mare up and say something! Wiping her tears away, she stood up from the damp grass and called out uncertainly.
“Wait! Um... Rainbow Dash?” The question came out as a squeak.
Rainbow turned. “Yeah?” she said, half of her body already soaked again from the downpour outside.
“I’m... I’m really sorry too. I shouldn’t have gotten angry like that. It was mean and horrible and you didn’t deserve it at all. If anything, I should be the one apologizing, since I left my journal out for anypony to find. It was only natural for you to be curious.”
It was a white lie, but one she was willing to tell if it meant repairing the most important relationship in her life.
“Um... do you accept my apology?”
Fluttershy looked into Dash’s eyes, mentally begging her. Please say yes. Please say yes.
Dash smiled. The fire inside Fluttershy burned a little brighter.
“‘Course I do, you silly filly. The Element of Loyalty doesn’t turn her back on her friends just because of a stupid fight.”
There was an awkward pause. Then Rainbow spoke again.
“Uh... thanks for not hating me, too. I mean, for a minute there I thought you were gonna bite my head off or something.” She stepped away from the edge of the tree, shaking water off her coat and shivering.
Fluttershy gave a small smile of her own, disguising the fireworks show that was going on inside her stomach. Thank you, Sisters. May your reign be eternal and filled with peace and harmony. “Oh, don’t be silly, Rainbow. I would never even think of hurting any of my friends. I was just angry, is all.” And hurt, and terrified that the one mare I want to be with forever would think my deepest desires were silly and pathetic. But that doesn’t matter now.
Dash laughed. “I know, Fluttershy. Just messin’ with ya.” She grew serious for a moment. “But, honestly, I still feel kinda cruddy about what happened. Is there any way that I can make it up to you? A favor? I could help with the animals if you need it, or something.”
Fluttershy’s head was spinning. Rainbow Dash, the Rainbow Dash, is offering me a favor? She shook herself mentally, fighting back the storm of emotions. Oh, get a grip, you silly mare. Ask her!
“Well, there is one thing...” Am I really doing this?
“Shoot. There’s nothing the great Dash can’t handle.” said Rainbow, now back to hovering in the air. She did a loop-the-loop around the tree, as if to prove her point.
“Well, you remember the song in my journal?”
“Yeah. Ode to the something or other, right?”
Fluttershy giggled softly. “Yes, that one. Well, it’s actually a duet, and, um, I was just wondering if, just maybe, um, you would like to sing it with me? If you don’t mind, of course.”
She mumbled the last couple words so quietly they were barely audible.
Rainbow frowned, looking uncertain. “You mean, like, as practice for when you perform it for her?”
Fluttershy nodded. Yes. Practice. That’s it. I hope she doesn’t realize it’s not actually a duet.
“Sure, I can do that, I guess.” Dash looked slightly uncomfortable. “I’m warning you, though, singing isn’t really my thing. Don’t be surprised if I screw everything up.”
Fluttershy wanted to tell her right then and there. She wanted say that even if Dash hit every note three octaves flat, it would still be the best performance she had ever heard. Instead, she just nodded and smiled again, trying to reassure her oblivious friend.
“I’m sure you’ll be fine. It’s a very simple melody, really. Here, repeat after me.” She hummed a soft, trilling phrase that reminded Dash of a bird’s call.
“Now you try. You can go an octave lower if like.”
Rainbow complied. She stumbled over the tune a bit at first, but after several repetitions and her friend’s encouraging words, she was hitting every note.
Fluttershy beamed. “That was great! All right, do you mind if we tried it with the words now?”
Dash shook her head, looking uncertain but determined. “Let’s do it. The Element of Loyalty never breaks a promise.”
Fluttershy retrieved her journal from the damp grass and opened it to the page of her song. She shook her wings absently, trying to steady her nerves. This is it, Fluttershy. The edge of the waterfall, the handle on the door. As soon as you open your mouth, there’s no turning back.
Oh, the hay with it.
“All right, I’ll take the first verse by myself, and you come in after that.”
Fluttershy took a deep breath, ignoring the butterfly-flickers of apprehension in her stomach, and began to sing again. Her voice rang out from the base of the willow, overpowering even the din of the storm beyond.
At this point, she didn’t care who heard her.
“When she walks through the cobble-strewn streets of my hometown
All the ponies she passes, they’ll stop and they’ll stare
And she knows that their gazes will linger unfaltered
Ever colt, every filly, every stallion and mare”
Her flutey soprano was joined by Dash’s scratchier alto, the two voices contrasting perfectly over the sound of the rain.
“And she flows through the sky
Like wind on the water
Spinning and turning through sunset and stars
And I long for the day when she’ll know my desires
The day when her ‘mine’ will transform into ‘ours’”
Fluttershy took another breath, closing her eyes and building her voice to a passionate crescendo. Beside her, Rainbow Dash did the same.
“How I wish I could fly through the heavens to touch her
Her cerulean coat and bright prismatic mane
Then we’d soar through the clouds
Like spring wrens on a voyage
Dancing through torrents of slow-falling rain”
Dash’s voice fell away at the end of the verse’s final line, but Fluttershy continued unaccompanied, singing the melody wordlessly one last time. She drew out the notes, pouring every ounce of love and passion she had into the heart of the music.
After the last strains of song had faded from the air, Fluttershy sat down next to Rainbow, who was leaning against the tree, unmoving. The yellow pegasus kept her eyes closed, lips parted the barest hint of a smile. She looked content, peaceful, the image of serenity.
For a while, there was nothing to disrupt the silence but the echo of thunder, the gentle patter of raindrops, and the soft shh-shh of the willow’s branches in the wind.
“Wow,” murmured Fluttershy, almost reluctant to break the tranquility.
“Yeah,” Dash replied. She sounded... odd, almost choked.
Fluttershy opened her eyes and snuck a glance in Rainbow’s direction. The chromatic mare’s eyes were still squeezed tightly shut, her mouth set in a quivering line. Oh no.
“Um, Rainbow Dash? Are you OK?”
Oh why did I have to do that and now she probably does hate me and it was stupid and selfish and I never should have even-
“I-I’m fine. Really,” the pegasus said shakily, eyes remaining closed. “Just tired.” Fluttershy noticed a couple droplets leaking out from between Dash’s clenched eyelids. But that would mean...
“Rainbow? Are you... crying?”
Oh, I didn’t make her angry, I upset her! Stupid selfish bad Fluttershy. Even when you try to love somepony you just hurt them more.
Dash opened her eyes. They were wet with tears.
“C-course not. Just some... rain in my eyes. L-like I said, I’m fine,” she mumbled, before turning away and promptly bursting into quiet, hitching sobs.
“Throwing caution to the winds, Fluttershy spread her wings and enveloped her friend in a tight, comforting hug.
She felt her pinons brush against the edge of that incredible rainbow mane, the sensation sending tingles of electricity through her entire body.
She saw those beautiful magenta eyes widen, first in surprise, then gratitude.
She pulled Dash closer, expecting resistance from the normally touchy pegasus. There was none. Fluttershy gave Rainbow a tender nuzzle, feeling the last vestiges of her fear and apprehension dissolve into cool softness of her friend’s cyan coat.
This... this is nice.
It’s more than nice.
This is incredible.
The two mares held the embrace for a long minute, neither wanting the moment to end.
Finally, just when it seemed the hug would last forever, Rainbow Dash broke away. Her eyes were still shining, and her mane and coat were streaked with tear tracks, but she was smiling.
“Thanks, ‘Shy. I... I needed that,” said Dash, sounding slightly embarrassed at the show of weakness. She sniffled, trying to clear away any evidence of the temporary chink in her emotional armor. Fluttershy saw the gesture and began yet another torrent of apologies, mentally berating herself for taking pleasure in her best friend’s pain. What kind of pony...
“Oh, Rainbow, I’m so sorry! I never would have made you do anything like this if I knew it was going to...to-”
Stupid stupid stupid...
Dash held up a hoof, eyes steely.
“No. You stop that right now, filly. Listen to me. You have nothing to apologize for. Nothing. Got that?”
Fluttershy nodded, slightly taken aback by Rainbow’s abrupt change in tone.
“S-sorry. I mean, um, yes.”
Dash sighed. “It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have gotten all stupid and sappy like that. It’s just... the song...”
Fluttershy’s heart plummeted.
“Y-you didn’t like it?”
“Didn’t like it? Didn’t like it? Are you kidding?”
Rainbow locked her gaze with Fluttershy’s, looking more intense and passionate than the yellow mare could ever remember seeing her.
“Fluttershy, that song was... that song was the most incredible thing I’ve heard in my life. It was beautiful, and smart and poetic, and...”
Fluttershy’s heart soared upward again, feeling like her emotions were being pulled along by a rollercoaster.
Rainbow Dash stomped a hoof on the ground, looking irritated. “Oh Celestia dang it, why can’t this be easy? Look. I guess what I’m trying to say is that whoever that mare is, she’s... well, she’s really, really lucky, and I hope that she realizes that. I mean, you’d make an awesome fillyfriend.” She winced at her choice of words. “Not that I would- I mean-”
That does it. I can’t stand to see her hurting herself like this.
Fluttershy steeled herself.
Dash paused, blushing the same color as the red in her mane. “Yeah?”
“Do you know what ‘prismatic’ means?”
Rainbow’s brow wrinkled in bewilderment. “What does that have to do with anything?”
Fluttershy sighed, barely suppressing a smile. “Just answer the question.” Even when she’s confused she’s adorable.
The other mare shook her head, still looking baffled. “No idea.”
“It means... like a rainbow’,” whispered Fluttershy, now sporting a blush of her own. “A beautiful, strong, vivid rainbow. Something that lights up the sky wherever it goes.”
Oh, please don’t make me explain it, I don’t know if I can-
Dash’s eyes widened as comprehension dawned.
“Wait. The song... rainbow-like... ‘prismatic mane’... it was about me?” she said, voice cracking in disbelief.
Fluttershy was silent. She had prepared herself for this moment for countless hours, rehearsing it over and over in her head. But here, now, with the mare she had spent what felt like a lifetime longing over just inches away, her mind was drawing a blank.
“Um... yes,” she squeaked, feeling smaller and more insignificant by the second.
Rainbow Dash stood, dazed and motionless, processing this turn of events. Finally, she spoke.
“Fluttershy... that’s... that’s...” Dash was stammering, searching for the words to express the vortex of emotions she was experiencing. “You’re... you...”
Of course she doesn’t know what to think! I just confessed my love for her! She’s probably looking for the best way to let me down nicely... stupid, STUPID Fluttershy...
The flood of apologies began to well up again, her natural instinct for politeness and passivity overriding all else.
“Rainbow, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I should have just left you alone, I shouldn’t have tried to- Oh!” She cried out in surprise as Dash grabbed by the torso and soared upwards, breaching the sheltered canopy of the willow with a single beat of her wings. Outside, the rain was still going strong, and Fluttershy felt herself beginning to shiver as the cyan pegasus climbed higher and higher.
What is she doing?
Finally, just when Fluttershy could have sworn ice crystals were beginning to form between her feathers, Dash halted her ascent.
They were hovering above the vast, sweeping expanse of the Everfree Forest, trees and rivers laid out in a nebulous patchwork of jades and midnight blues. Fluttershy glanced downward, immediately regretting doing so. The height was dizzying, and she felt herself beginning to panic.
“Um, Rainbow Dash, if it’s not too much trouble, could we maybe, please, um, go down, just a little?”
“You know something, ‘Shy?”
“You’re really cute when you’re worried.”
She inclined her head downwards, bringing the yellow mare’s face closer to her own. Her eyes sparkled.
“I mean, you’re pretty cute the rest of the time, too.”
And with that, she leaned in and met Fluttershy’s lips in a quick, tender kiss.
Fluttershy felt every detail of the outside world melt away, her senses feeling simultaneously electrified and awash with the warmest, most pleasurable sensation she had ever experienced in her life.
Her desires, her longing, her deepest wish.
It had all finally become reality.
I have a fillyfriend. I have a special somepony. I have Rainbow Dash, and she has me.
She repeated the thoughts over and over, as though losing track of them would somehow make her make her dream slip away.
No, silly. That won’t happen. This is more than a wish, more than a dream. This is real.
She looked up, meeting Rainbow’s gaze.
They were the eyes of more than a friend, more than a companion.
They were the eyes of a lover.
A million unspoken thoughts passed between them in that fleeting instant, saying more than words could ever hope to.
With a shy smile, Fluttershy snuggled closer, taking solace in her Rainbow’s protective embrace.
“Thanks, Dashie. Um, you don’t mind if I call you that, do you? I know that you don’t like it when Pinkie does it...”
Rainbow shook her head dismissively. “Nah, it’s cool. Sure, when Pinkie does it can be kinda annoying, but I think I make an exception for my fillyfriend.” She smiled, and Fluttershy felt her heart skip.
I’m Rainbow’s Dash’s fillyfriend. This is really happening.
Dash interrupted her self-assurance with another kiss, this time to the cheek. Fluttershy had to stop herself from shivering in delight as she felt the touch of the other mare’s lips upon her face. Rainbow smirked, noticing the reaction.
“Don’t worry, there’s plenty more where that came from.”
She spun in the air, causing Fluttershy to yelp in surprise, and gestured out at the slate-colored sky above. “So, what do you say we wrap this storm up? I don’t know about you, but I think the whole ‘clouds and drizzle’ thing is getting pretty old.”
Fluttershy nodded happily. Usually, she wouldn’t have even considered flying when the sky was anything but a clear, cloudless blue, but today, for so many reasons, was different. She felt alive, energized, like she could fly across Equestria and back without even breaking a sweat. She pecked Rainbow Dash on the nose, causing the other pegasus to blush, and launched herself away into the sky beyond, dipping and turning without a care in the world.
Dash laughed at the normally-timid mare’s unexpected burst of energy. “All right, the major cumos are back over there, a little past Sweet Apple Acres,” she said, pointing with a hoof. “We’re gonna have to clear those first if we want to make any headway.”
She grinned at her fillyfriend.
“Last one there’s a leaky cloud.”
With a whoop, Dash rocketed away towards the sky above the farm, Fluttershy laughing and following behind her. They flew freely, spinning and looping, reveling in the simple joy that can only be found in the twin gifts of life and love.
And they flowed through the sky
Like wind on the water
Spinning and turning through sunset and stars
And they remembered the day when they knew their desires
The day when their ‘mine’ transformed into ‘ours’
Though the morning began with their teardrops and sorrow
They saw their affections were one and the same
And they soared through the clouds
Like spring wrens on a voyage
Dancing through torrents of slow-falling rain