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6w, 3dSubmission! 11 comments · 99 views
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6w, 6dRead This! 10 comments · 165 views
7w, 10hQuestions 36 comments · 171 views
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26w, 6dChapter 1: An Average Day (But with Lasers) 33 comments · 390 views
A small puff of white disrupted a fragile tendril of steam as a glass of tea, held captive by a soft green aura, rose to meet a gentle unicorn’s lips. The first pale rays of sunlight offered scant warmth in the chill of the early morn, the last day of autumn. Already, overladen trees full of various hues of leaves from gold to deep crimson awaiting the pounding of hooves to help them shed the weighty mantle of fall and move towards winter. Whisper had witnessed the change a thousand times, but as he sat sipping his tea, wrapped in both a hoof-made quilt and the easy embrace of a pegasus mare that warmed him more than the tea which he held aloft, he let slip a soft sigh of contentment, knowing there was no place he’d rather be.
“It’s really pretty...” he murmured, squinting as the sunlight began to break through the trees, scattered shafts of light illuminating the leaves that had already succumbed to the call of winter. He traced one’s path, fluttering on a gentle breeze as it slowly joined its brethren. Fluttershy cracked open her eyes and simply nodded, snuggling closer as a chilly breeze brushed her face.
“Can I have a little drink of tea?” The cup gently floated down, slowly tilting back as she took a small drink, savoring the life-giving heat and affection. A gentle hoof brushed away a small dribble from the corner of her mouth, and her smile grew a little more as she met the calm gaze of soft, scarlet eyes. “Thank you, Whisper. I’m glad I get to share this with you.” While Whisper had gained a reputation for being a veritable chatterbox, he still had an appreciation for quietude, and rather than give her a list of all the wonders apparent to his eyes, which he could conjure at a moment’s notice, he set down the tea, nuzzled her gently for a moment before scorning the natural beauty in exchange for one far greater, bringing their muzzles together in a gentle kiss.
Pulling away, they sat in silence for a time, speaking in hushed tones and pointing out various nuances and wonders of the season before heading back inside. Fluttershy couldn’t help but giggle as the tip of Whisper’s tongue poked out of the corner of his mouth as he folded the blanket with magic, beaming proudly as he set it down gently on his back. Fluttershy had just started to head towards the house before Whisper pranced in front of her, hunkering down and glancing back at the blanket with a grin. “Oh, why thank you, Whisper.” Laughing softly, she sat down on the makeshift saddle and, with a light smack to his flank, he rose, carrying his princess to their magical castle.
A castle inhabited by a sourpuss of a bunny that had little appreciation for anything other than his own whims, something that, while Fluttershy might put up with, Whisper was less tolerant of his “quirks.” Whisper refused to frown as they opened the door to find Angel impatiently tapping a foot, no doubt eager for breakfast, with his little arms folded across his chest.
“Here, Angry bunny, have some tea!” Whisper quipped, sliding him out of the way while simultaneously levitating the tea cup over to Angel, who immediately raised a foot to kick the offensive offering, landing himself flat on his back as Whisper yanked it out of the way at the last second.
“Now, Whisper, be nice to my poor little bunny,” Fluttershy chided, doing a very poor job of staving off the giggles as she slid from his back and swept up her favorite little critter. “You know he doesn’t like it when you call him that, you know.”
“He doesn’t like it when I call him anything, Fluttershy. I’ve tried being nice. He just kicks me,” Whisper explained, pouting a little as he followed Fluttershy into the kitchen.
“Don’t worry, he’ll warm up to you eventually, I think. You know, if he doesn’t want to be punished, that is.” Angel grew sullen as tag teaming ensued, and he marched over to Whisper, glared pointedly at Fluttershy, and popped out his arms, slowly bringing them around Whisper’s foreleg in a loose embrace. “See? He’s doing better already!”
Doing better? Beady black eyes communicated what words couldn’t, which translated roughly in Whisper’s mind as, “don’t think this means we’re friends.” “What’s your problem, huh? Why you gotta be so angry all the time?” Angel released his leg and gave him a bored look, as if the answer was obvious. “You live with the nicest pony ever, she takes great care of you, and... oh, wait, I know! You don’t have a special somepony!” Whisper had meant it as a joke, but as the bunny’s features softened, Whisper realized he had just hit the critter where it hurt.
“Fluttershy?” Whisper called out, scooping up the bunning and setting him on the table. “Where do bunnies go to get fillyfriends? I think Angel wants one.” Fluttershy turned a curious eye toward the two, setting aside the salad she was mixing upon realizing that Angel was sitting quietly, two little paws in his lap and his eyes fixated on the table top.
Is that really what’s bugging him so much? That seems a little hard to believe. I mean, I never told him he has to stay or anything. “Um, Angel? Is it true that you’re, you know... lonely?” Having to hear it, coupled with the mare’s aggravatingly consistent mushy affection, made the feeling even worse, and Angel’s ears slowly drooped. “Angel, you silly bunny. You don’t have to stay cooped up in here if you don’t want to. I’d be delighted to have more cute little bunnies running around.” Whisper was becoming increasingly more concerned with Angel’s tame behavior and display of a sentiment other than indifference towards life and all it contains.
“If you wanted to meet more bunnies, why did you stay?” Rather than answer verbally, Angel leapt from the table and hopped outside, leading them both to his little house, where they found he had somehow managed to bury a rather sturdy safe. Demanding they both look away, they listened to the clicking as he input the combination, and the door opened with a creak. Upon hearing it close, they looked over to find a scrap of paper being held out, with Angel unwilling to make eye contact.
“Angel...” Fluttershy hoofed over the paper to Whisper as she scooped the bunny into a tight embrace. Whisper saw the bunny in a new light as he looked at what seemed to be a foal’s sketch of Fluttershy when she was still just a filly, holding a little white something with ears. Despite his outward displays of angst bordering malice, it appeared that there may just be more to the bunny than Whisper was giving him credit for, buried within a safe though it was. “You stayed all this time because you knew I’d be lonely, didn’t you?” A contrite nod accompanied the slow embrace of padded paws, and Fluttershy made a decision she couldn’t have before.
“Angel, I’ll be ok now. You’ve given me plenty of happy memories,” she said cheerfully, releasing her hold and adopting a motherly tone. “Now, I want you to go out there and find a nice girl bunny and make me lots of cute little... I mean, um... hibernate. Right.” He looked hopeful for a moment, but pointed to the picture still held by a unicorn who didn’t understand. Reaching down, Fluttershy adjusted his paw so it was pointing at Whisper instead, giving Angel the last push he needed. Fluttershy wouldn’t be alone anymore, and with that requirement met, he gave the mare one more hug before scampering off towards the woodlands.
“Winter... is always the hardest time of the year for me,” Fluttershy explained, sniffling as she watched with mixed emotions before gratefully melting into Whispers embrace. “I always have so many animal friends around, but when winter comes, I’m left with just me and Angel. I guess he realized that, and stayed around anyways.”
“So Angry bunny really is Angel bunny?” Whisper pondered allowed, receiving a small laugh for his assessment.
“Yes, that’s right.” A soft pressure against her cheek brought forth a soft blush and a wave of reassurance that this winter wouldn’t be so cold.
“Come on, don’t be sad, Fluttershy. Angel is happy, and I know I’m not a bunny, but I’ll stay with you.”
“Whisper... you’re much more special to me than any critter ever could be.” Whisper didn’t fully understand the weight of her words, nor how deeply she meant them, but it was still enough to bring back the butterflies as they held each other close. Tender kisses abounded, and Fluttershy carried Angel’s drawing inside, framing it and hanging it for all to see. Fluttershy placed an affectionate hoof over the picture, letting the memories flow freely before turning towards the kitchen where Whisper was already setting up, singing, humming, and radiating energy with every bouncy movement.
It’s strange... I always used to dread winter, but this time... I think it’s actually going to be a lot of fun. Breakfast was eaten, and resolve was tested as Fluttershy and Whisper helped prepare the many pets around the cottage for winter, doling out food and other supplies. The birds were already preparing for their migration, and by mid morning, winter’s somnolence began to settle in. She gave a weak smile as Whisper drew her close, and through the silence came a distant cheer. “Goodness, is it that time already?” Fluttershy murmured, looking up at the sky to try and find the sun. “We’d better get going, then. I think somepony is just a little excited.”
“Running of the Leaves! Running of the Leaves!” Whisper repeated, skipping a circle around Fluttershy before giving her a rueful grin. “Sorry, I shouldn’t be so happy when you’re upset...”
“Now, don’t start any of that nonsense,” Fluttershy replied, beginning to trot towards where the event was to take place. “I like seeing other ponies happy, and, well, it makes me happy too. So, um, don’t feel like you have to be sad too, ok? I’ll be fine,” she assured the stallion as he fell in beside her, matching her stride even though his body told him it was much too slow a pace. The mayor was still giving her speech when they arrived, and, sifting through the crowds, they found their friends gathered towards the front, no doubt on account of the fierce flames of pregnant rivalry.
“Hey, big brother!” Cerulean turned at his brother’s soft exclamation, waving them over as the filly on his head did the same. “Are those two going to be ok? They don’t look like they’re very friendly.”
“Observant as always, Whisper,” Twilight replied in Cerulean’s stead, himself going over a few guidelines to assure Dawn’s safety when the event began. “They’ll be fine, Whisper. They’ve been pretty good about keeping it clean since the Running three years ago, and if they overdo it, I’m sure their little ones will let them know about it pretty quickly.” Whisper believed Twilight, but didn’t want to take any chances, and Fluttershy grinned widely as Rainbow Dash gave a startled yelp at a hoof suddenly pressed against her stomach, Whisper instructing all three foals to keep their mothers in check.
“I think Applejack’s baby is gonna be really good at harvesting apples. It’s got a good kick!” The mayor wrapped up her speech, and Whisper eagerly pranced in place, awaiting a number with glee. “Thirteen, I got number thirteen!”
“Very good, Whisper. Yes, that’s right,” Fluttershy replied, smiling as he beamed with pride at his well-deserved praise. It wasn’t long after finding a voice that Twilight insisted Whisper be given basic education, and between herself and private lessons with Miss Cheerilee, Whisper was reading simple words and able to write short sentences, although hearing the alphabet song for a few days straight did strain Fluttershy’s patience on multiple occasions.
“All right, would the runners please line up!” Whisper trotted over, eagerly taking his place before realizing his very special somepony wasn’t beside him, but standing at the sidelines. Fluttershy waved back to him, his excitement almost tangible as he pranced in place while everypony else stretched, chatted, and in some cases, engaged in light smack talk. The final countdown began, and Whisper prepared himself for the stampede. “Three... two... one... go!” Countless hoofbeats exploded at once, like a hundred drums being played in unison, and Whisper watched in awe as the leaves whipped all around, his mane trailing out behind him as he felt the bonds of community. And yet, even in a kaleidoscope of warm hues to contrast the bleak, grassless path, there yet remained one beauty far greater.
“Energetic as always, it seems,” Rarity mused as the clamor receded and the tremors remained. Fluttershy simply nodded, turning her gaze from the horizon towards one who was simply too fashion sensetive to risk the sweat and dirt. “He must be quite a hoofful to take care of. I’ll bet your cottage is even more of a, well, a wreck, if you don’t mind me saying.”
“No, he’s really not bad,” Fluttershy said, shaking her head once. “He’s really very considerate, and he helps out a lot. He treats chores like a game, and he’s learned to pick up after himself, too.”
“You’ve no idea how extremely jealous I am of you, Fluttershy. He may not be what I would consider ‘my type,’ but I cannot deny his fixation on you, nor the love he makes all too evident.”
“Um, what do you mean?” Rarity was slightly vexed that she even needed to explain, considering the mare with whom she was speaking was the recipient of the best kind of pampering a mare could hope for.
“Fluttershy, darling, he dotes on you every second of the day. He’s excited about everything, but it pales when set alongside you. What more could a mare want from a stallion, but to be prized above all else?”
“Um, is that what you want, Rarity?” Fluttershy asked, blushing softly as she remembered all the ways that Rarity was right. All she had to do was ask, and Whisper was right there, ready to do whatever she asked. And yet, the true marvel was that they both extended this selflessness to the other at every opportunity, and that... that was something that was beautiful, and if anything, Rarity knew beauty.
“If you must know, I cannot say for sure what it is I want. At first, I wanted perfection, an ideal that I myself could never hope to live up to,” she explained, her words carrying the weight of acceptance. “I will not settle for somepony who will not treat me as a lady, but to hope to find somepony as avidly adoring as your Whisper, well... I think that may be too lofty a goal for this mare,” she replied, her rueful chuckle soft.
“Don’t say that, Rarity. You’ll find somepony to make your dream come true, even if it’s not how you expected. I mean, I was thinking I’d only be happy with Big Macintosh for a while, but, well, that clearly didn’t happen. And you know what? I’m happy it didn’t, because I know now that Whisper... is the only pony for me.” Her confidence brought with it inspiration, and Rarity felt her hopes grow a little more as she applied them to herself.
I had once hoped to be literally swept away by some Canterlot royalty, destined for a life of luxury, fame, and pampering, but now, I count such things as trivial in the face of a truer love, not founded on status or material possessions, but mutual generosity in all things. That... that is what I truly desire. And, if he’s rather skilled in the bedroom, I certainly wouldn’t complain. “Fluttershy, you are a fascinating mare. Thank you for being my friend.” Fluttershy smiled secretly as she drew Rarity into a gentle embrace, simply glad she could make another pony happy. “Come now, we should head to the finish line so we can see your stallion arrive. He’ll be quite disappointed if you’re not there, you know.”
“You’re probably right,” Fluttershy giggled, releasing her hold and standing upright as they cantered off. “It’s strange that Pinkie Pie didn’t take part this year. She normally loves the Running of the Leaves.” Rarity said nothing at first, her gaze falling to the ground. “Um, did something happen between you two?”
“Well... I guess you could call it that... Fluttershy, have you noticed Pinkie Pie acting... well, it’s rather strange to ask if she’s been acting odd, but I trust you’d know what I mean. Does she seem different to you?”
“It’s hard to say, really. I don’t see her very often, and I just assumed that was because she was helping with the twins. Do you... know something about it?”
“As you said, it’s hard to say... I certainly see a change, and she’s come by the boutique a number of times recently for nothing at all. She seems... melancholy.”
“Oh, well that’s no good. We should all throw her a party. She seemed really happy last time, and maybe it would help,” Fluttershy proposed. Rarity gave this some thought before nodding once.
“Perhaps you are right. I’ll speak with her about it.” I wish I had more of an idea. After the dinner at Applejack’s house, she asked to sleep in bed with me. She didn’t ask for or try anything else, and she actually fell asleep quite fast, but ever since... Rarity shook her head, determined not to let the thoughts get her down. Today was to be a celebration, a festival of sorts, and she certainly couldn’t abide the thought of being generous with doubt. Her opportunity arose sooner than she expected, finding Pinkie Pie next to the refreshment table bantering excitedly with Silver over some donuts and soda.
“Go ahead, Rarity,” Fluttershy encouraged. Not having any reason to resist, she nodded her thanks to Fluttershy before trotting over to the mare and joining in on the conversation. Fluttershy took her place with a few other spectators at the sidelines, waiting patiently for the arrival of her stallion. After a couple of minutes, she watched Rarity and Pinkie Pie wander off together, and she waved cheerfully as they left, Pinkie’s trademark bouncing in full display. The world faded from view as Fluttershy closed her eyes, concentrating on the vibrations massaging her hooves, the faintest hint of a smile tickling the corners of her mouth as they grew just a little stronger. It wouldn’t be much longer till Whisper was back by her side.
“Daddy, look! Jade Whishper pony!” Dawn announced from her vantage point as, sure enough, the stallion trotted towards his brother and his family, breathing hard and grinning ear to ear. The Running of the Leaves had already given him many memories he swore would never dim, but there was yet one more thing on his mind that he knew would never be forgotten. “Late, Whish... Whis... Whisper!” Dawn's foal magic had begun to recede, and as such her speech had suffered. She knew the proper way to speak, but now found the task cumbersome, and while every other pony seemed to find her newly formed impediment adorable, for her, it was simply aggravating.
“I know, sorry, Dawn! Sorry brother, Twilight. I got a little carried away...” he admitted, looking up at them sheepishly. “I was running, and the leaves were going whoosh! All around, and it was so pretty, I just...”
“It’s fine, Whisper,” Cerulean chuckled. “Twilight will help you get ready. I’d fly you, but then you’d be seen, and we can’t spoil a surprise, now can we?”
“Nuh uh! This is supposed to be a super extra special surprise just for Fluttershy,” he affirmed, looking eagerly over at Twilight as she stepped forward.
“Are you ready?” One look was all it took, and Cerulean resumed his path towards the finish line at an easy canter after a single lavender flash signalled the removal of two ponies, on a mission far more meaningful than lowering the leaves.
“C’mon, daddy, fashter!”
“Slavedriver,” Cerulean muttered, picking up his pace a little bit.
“‘tever, daddy. More fashter!” Dawn commanded, bopping him on the head with a spare hoof before finding she needed both to hold on, and she squealed delightedly as Cerulean burst into a full gallop. Dawn let out a whoop as the hair whipped her mane, while her father simply enjoyed the moment, a time when life finally seemed to be at peace.
“Thanks for walking with me, Rarity! This is way better than wandering willy nilly like a silly through the forest by myself!” Pinkie exclaimed, bounding in front of the mare and trotting backwards. “So, what’re we doing out here? Are we going to play a game? Let’s see, I think I stockpiled some rubber balls around here someplace...” she muttered, slowing to a stop and glancing around.
She seems happy enough right now, I don’t really want to disturb her. Perhaps... I should just keep quiet for now. If she is struggling with something, then I’d rather not be the pony to bring it to the surface. “Oh, I simply wanted to spend some time with one of my dear friends. Is that so wrong?”
“Duh! No? What kind of a question was that? If I had a ‘silly question’ sense, it’d so be tingling right now. You’re funny, Rarity,” Pinkie quipped before bounding off ahead, humming happily to herself as if she hadn’t a care in the world.
“Funny? Well, I should hope so. A lady of distinction and refinement will always have a taste for the more laughable things in life.”
“Uh huh! Hey, Rarity, would you ever date a mare?” Rarity slowed to a stop, too shocked by the sudden question to answer.
Do I even have an answer? Goodness, where in Equestria did that come from? “I’m not entirely sure why that concerns you, Pinkie. Is there some reason you wish to know?”
“Nope, just curious!”
“Well, then I’m sorry to say that...”
“Super duper, mega gonna-explode-if-you-don’t-tell-me curious! Come on, tell me, please~?” Pinkie begged, adopting the most adorable pouting face not belonging to a foal or Whisper.
“Eh... likely not, if you must know.”
“Oh...” Pinkie replied, staring blankly, appearing neither happy nor upset. “Why?” she asked, tilting her head to the side, confident that would enhance understanding.
“You sure are asking a lot of questions, Pinkie. Why is this so important to you?” Pinkie said nothing, but rather tilted her head to the other side, as clearly she hadn’t heard right, given that what Rarity said sounded nothing like an answer to her simple, straightforward question. I do believe this is the most serious I’ve ever seen her, and it’s somewhat... frightening. Perhaps answering is the best option available. “Because I... have a dream I wish to see come true, and part of it is marrying a stallion.”
“Dream, huh? That’s silly.” It wasn’t even voiced as an opinion, but as fact, and it hurt Rarity to hear it. “Making ponies smile in a dream isn’t nearly as fun as making ponies happy in real life. I’d rather live in the present, or at least... mostly. Sometimes... dreams can make wishes come true that could... never be real when you’re awake.”
I am fully aware that, even now, I may never attain what I desire, but that doesn’t mean... that doesn’t mean I can’t try! But, Pinkie... what’s gotten into you?
“Oops! Sorry!” she chortled, smacking herself lightly in the side of the head. “The ponies are going to be making it back soon, and somepony has to feed them, right? I gotta get back, so let’s walk again later.” She hopped right past Rarity, leaving the faint scent of frosting in her wake, and Rarity’s daze worsened as she heard a soft voice sound from behind her. “Thank you for walking with me, Rarity.” Not knowing what to make of what had just occurred, nor feeling entirely stable herself, Rarity lifted her eyes, looking around at the leaves falling all around.
Sometimes, Pinkie, I believe I outclass you in silliness. Chasing a dream... Will it be worth it, I wonder? Recalling the encouragement she’d received from Fluttershy, from Carrot Top, and from Cerulean and Twilight, she began her trip back to the finish line, determined to continue on the path she’d chosen for herself, regardless of whatever tragedy or triumph may await her in the future.
Not surprisingly, neither Rainbow Dash nor Applejack even came close to first, but given the fact that they were some seven months pregnant, the fact that they finished at all was laudable. Indeed, their friends gave them a hearty round of hoof stomping as the pair finished together, their rivalry set aside, definitely only on a temporary basis, as they shared the bond of motherhood and swore to each other never, ever to participate in the Running of the Leaves again. Applejack immediately made for Silver while Storm waited with open hooves, each mare taking comfort in their stallion’s while simultaneously admitting, each in their own way, that maybe it would pay to listen to the males next time they say that running such a distance while with foal may not be the most brilliant plan ever concocted. However, having Everfrost soda on tap was, and everypony downed grateful glasses as Fluttershy waited from the sidelines.
“He’s fine, I’m sure.” Fluttershy turned at the sound of Cerulean’s voice, acknowledging the stallion with a smile before plopping down next to her. “He probably just got distracted by something in the forest.”
“Oh dear, should I go look for him? He could get hurt, or lost, or... um...”
“Take it easy, Fluttershy. If he’s not here in a few minutes, we can go look for him, ok? In the meantime, would you like something to drink? Maybe a snack? I mean, you are going to be my sister in law at some point.”
“Heehee, that’s right, isn’t it? I can hardly wait. I was hoping he’d make a move sooner, but, well, just having him around is really amazing.”
“Yes it is...” Cerulean agreed, beaming as he saw a green pony appear in the distance. A yell very uncharacteristic of such a demure mare captured the attention of many a pony, and Dash chuckled as Whisper missed the finish line completely and ran straight to Fluttershy, stopping just short only to be tackled and smothered with congratulatory kisses.
“Wow, she hasn’t shouted like that since I made it into the Wonderbolts,” Rainbow Dash remarked, only slightly bothered as the tender kisses momentarily turned a little more intimate. Slowly, she’d begun to come to terms with the fact that Fluttershy was in a relationship, and thus would eventually delve deeper into intimacy as time went on. It still made her slightly crazy thinking about it, but simply watching the two in their everyday interactions helped ease her mind considerably. That, and Fluttershy had grown to a point that, if she felt like it, she could put her hoof down and stand up to just about anypony if she had a reason, and Rainbow Dash didn’t want to be that reason.
“Fluttershy, you should run with me next year! That was so much fun, and everything is more fun with you around, so if you ran with me, then it’d be even more fun!” Whisper exclaimed, holding the mare tight. A gentle pressure bid him release his grip as she removed herself and sat beside him, unsure of herself.
“Oh, I don’t know... I’m not very strong, and, well, we’d have to go really, really slow because, you know, I don’t run fast,” she explained, scuffing the dirt with a hoof.
“Fluttershy, it’s not the running that makes it fun, but sharing the experience with other ponies. And you’re the best pony in the whole world, so I just know it’d be more fun with you.” Whisper sat up, planting a gentle kiss to her forehead before looking back towards the forest, the trees nearly completely barren and the ground set ablaze with leaves bearing all the colors of fire. “Fluttershy? Would you trot with me? There’s something I’d like to share with you.”
It didn’t seem like a very long while before they were nearly halfway through the path, holding their very own first annual Trotting Through the Leaves, but there was a problem. Well, two, actually, the first being Whisper’s eerie silence, and the second being an overpowering bout of curiosity that was slowly whittling away at Fluttershy’s self-control.
“Um...” she started, glancing over at Whisper who gave her his full attention in an instant. “You sure are, well, quiet right now, Whisper.”
“Really?” Well, of course I’m being quiet! When I talk, I talk a lot, and then I’d talk too much, and I’d say something and ruin everything! How am I going to make it all the way there? I can’t refuse Fluttershy if she asks! Gotta think... no, wait, gotta speak! No, wait, can’t do that... “...sorry.”
“Oh, it’s no trouble, really!” Fluttershy immediately assured him, utterly confused as to why such a simple comment would lead to the stallion sounding so dejected. “I just wanted to make sure, you know, that everything is alright.”
“Alright? It’s more than alright! Today is one of the best, most exciting days ever, because I’m gonna... gonna...” Gonna spoil everything! Come on, distraction, I need a distraction! Red leaf? No, wait, yellow leaf. Orange one? No, no leaves, that won’t do. Um... shoot.
“...gonna finish that sentence?” Fluttershy urged, growing playful as she realized her stallion was definitely hiding something.
“Yes, ok, it’s... no! I mean, is that ok that I say no? I’m sorry!” he called out, breaking away and bolting down the path. Fluttershy’s athleticism, or lack thereof, was of no consequence in the face of the playful curiosity and borderline stubborn nosiness that had gripped her at the idea of Whisper keeping a secret, and thus she took off after him, the stallion never leading her by much as they raced through the leaves. She was almost close enough to catch his tail when he suddenly skidded to a halt, only to have Fluttershy tumble into him, giggling helplessly all the while.
“Teehee, I got you, Whisper! Now, you’re gonna tell me, right?”
“I, um... hey, look at that!” he exclaimed, pointing a hoof up at an old wooden sign with multiple arrows poking out in multiple directions. Fluttershy’s desire to know what exactly the stallion was up to exploded as she read the fresh paint coating one of the signs.
“‘Fluttershy’s Path?’ Whisper, did you write that? Whisper? Hey, get back here!” she demanded, darting after the stallion as he followed the sign and took off into the forest, grinning back at his mare as she tried to keep up. Ooooh, what’s he up to, leading me on like this? He better have a good reason for running away. Goodness, this is a lot of work. It’s not fair, I can’t even be upset with him! “Come on, Whisper, slow down!”
“Nuh uh! Gotta catch me if you wanna know my secret!”
Oh, so he wants to play hard to get, huh? Well, that’s just fine! I’ve got wings! They’re not very strong, but they’re still wings! Cream colored wings spread wide while confidence burned bright, and then burnt out as it realized its presence was superfluous. Whisper had stopped a good distance ahead, appearing to be trying to catch his breath, and Fluttershy seized her chance to capture her stallion once and for all. “I’ve... got you... now!” she cried, hurling herself at the stallion who, rather than bolt, or even brace himself for impact, turned and accepted her with open hooves.
For a moment, the world swung wildly, before they both toppled back and a rush of icy cold soothed the heat coursing through her limbs. Unable to reconcile how they had fallen into the earth, nor why it was cold and wet, Fluttershy emerged with a gasp, pulling back her mane to find herself eye to eye with Whisper, and suddenly, it all became clear. “This is...”
“...where you saved me.” Whisper slowly waded over, his mane flowing behind him in the currentless waters, collecting leaves as it went, and slowly brought his hoof to Fluttershy’s cheek. “I’d... be looking for a cave right now, someplace I could shelter from winter’s cold, if you hadn’t given me a chance. Another three months of wondering if... if I’d fall asleep and never wake up...”
“Whisper, I...” she started before he wrapped his hooves around her and held on tight, too overcome not to shed a few tears.
“Thank you so much, Fluttershy... I can’t say it enough, which is why... I’d like to ask you a question.”
Oh my goodness! Is he going to ask? I think he is! I’m not ready! No, wait, what am I thinking? I’ve been dreaming about this day for the last two months! Whisper... this place, this day... it’s so perfect! Whisper took a deep breath, preparing to take the plunge when his mind took a detour, noticing that Fluttershy was trembling and quite wet.
“Um... are you cold?” Anticipation went down in flames as one mare prepared to become a bride suddenly found strength to do little else but stare dumbly at the stallion.
“That... that was your question?” I thought for sure he was going to propose, or something. It’s just not fair! “You mean to tell me you dragged me out here, made me chase you through the forest, tricked me into a pond and got me soaking wet just so you could ask me if I was cold? No! No, I’m not cold, not after all that running, and laughing, and... and hoping you’d...” she fumed, slowly losing steam as he met her rant with radiant calm.
“Sorry, counted wrong. Numbers are really confusing; that was just the first question!” Why is it so hard to ask? I’ve been planning this for two weeks, and everything went totally perfect up until just a second ago, but now I’ve made her all upset and... and I’m shaking now too!
It’s ok, calm down. I don’t have any real reason to be upset... Oh well, I guess it won’t happen today. “I’m sorry for yelling, Whisper. You didn’t deserve that. What’s your question?”
“Why am I nervous?” Fluttershy’s head slowly tilted forty-five degrees to the right, holding as she watched her stallion slowly cover his blushing face with a hoof. “I meant you’re making you nervous. Me nervous! Making you... uh... um...” Conflagration in his cheeks, compounded by a useless, flaccid tongue, bid the stallion take a temporary marine retreat, slowly sinking below the surface of the water that seemed not nearly cold enough against his face. I’m ruining everything! Twilight helped me get everything ready, Cerulean helped me come up with the plan, and Silver helped me earn enough bits, and... and it’s just all going wrong!
Whisper? You’re not making any sense. Making you nervous? I never make you nervous! Fluttershy waited patiently as Whisper rose from the shallow depths, sitting still for a moment as water drained from his mane. A timid, crimson eye peered back at her from behind his wonderful mane, and without a word he rose, exiting the pond while Fluttershy looked on. “Whisper, is, um... is everything ok?”
“You’re, it’s... fine.” I’m so frazzled, I can’t even control my magic right now! Not enough to pick anything up... Disappearing behind a large rock nearby, Fluttershy watched with growing confusion as a soft shuffling indicated he was rifling through something, but from her position in the water, she couldn’t see what. Green eyes grew bright as Whisper slowly made his way back towards her, a simple wrapped package held in his mouth, which he set down at the water’s edge, averting his blushing muzzle.
“Whisper, is that...”
“Present.” He chanced a glance at her as she sat down across from him, but his nervousness couldn’t shout loud enough to turn his eyes away again. He nudged it forward with his nose, and she accepted the small box, wrapped in shiny pink tissue paper and clad with a tag that read “For Flutersy” in terribly messy letters, clearly Whisper’s own writing.
“Thank you, Whisper. Whatever is inside, I’m sure I’ll love it.” Her words sent a thrill of excitement through his being, and he found himself leaning forward, eyes shifting between her hooves opening the gift and her face, clad in a calm, grateful smile. Casting aside the paper, she found an unmarked, plain looking cardboard box, but what lay within...
“Fluttershy?” She wanted to look, to gaze upon the one turning her dreams into a reality, but she sat transfixed by the ring that lay inside. It was simple, the antithesis of gaudy, made of two intertwining bands of platinum, adorned with a gem of blended green and pink sapphires. For a time, all she could do was stare, any thoughts of being emotionally prepared melting and running down her muzzle.
“W... Whisper...” was all she could manage, tearing her gaze fromt he box only to find something every bit as cherishable held before her. Whisper sat with a paper held in his mouth; a picture, crafted solely for one purpose. Her eyes traced over her form, clad in white, to the green stallion standing beside her. Behind them stood Celestia and Luna, while their friends cheered nearby. And there, at the bottom of the page, were the words she longed to hear. “‘M... marry...” Whisper sat down the page in front of her, pointing with a hoof.
“Marry... me. That’s your question I wanted... my... the question I wanted to ask me. You, I mean...”
“I... messed it all up, didn’t I...”
Messed... messed it... “What?!? Don’t you dare say that again, Whisper! You don’t just make me the happiest I’ve ever been ever and then start saying you did something wrong. That just... just...” Whisper was no longer nervous, simply frightened as Fluttershy take a deep breath, no doubt set on mimicking his tree trunk shattering vocalization, only to have something entirely different come out, though just as loud. “Yes! Oh, goodness, yesyesyesyesyes! He asked! He finally asked me, and I said yes!”
“But... but I thought...”
“Whisper, no talking, gotta kiss you!” Whisper fell back as Fluttershy lavished her overflowing affection upon him, blushing and unashamed. At length, she pulled away, and Whisper smiled sheepishly as he pointed behind her to a box that lay forgotten.
“Fluttershy, you forgot your ring.”
“Whisper, the ring isn’t why I’m happy,” she giggled, kissing the tip of his nose. “Would you like to know why? It’s because the ring represents a promise: a promise that I’ll never have to be alone, and that you’ll treasure me above every other pony. That, Whisper, is the greatest gift I could ever ask for.” It may not have been how I imagined it, and it certainly wasn’t, well, normal, but Whisper... Today was perfect. Thank you. Thank you...
“What about wrestling?” Fluttershy stared, blinked once, and fell backwards, her body convulsing with laughter at his genuine curiosity about how the activity ranked when set alongside the promise.
“You... you really... really just asked me that?” she chortled, standing shakily. It seemed to her that some things would never change, and as she let the mirth slide in to replace the tenderness, she knew that they never should. Whisper beamed as she slowly slipped on the ring, admiring it for a time before turning back to a truer gift. “Come on, Whisper. Let’s get back to the rest.”
“Ok, but are you gonna... hey, wait up!” he called out as she took off at a gallop, pausing a short distance later and grinning sweetly, beckoning him deeper into the forest. Oh, I just love it when she gets playful like this! Fluttershy let out a soft yelp of excitement as Whisper gave chase, her laughter trailing behind her and spurring the stallion closer, ever closer to the center of his whole world: the mare that held his heart with kindness. Hey, wait a second... “Aren’t you gonna answer my question? Fluttershy~!”