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Rainbow Dash knows. She saw you yesterday – I mean, she didn’t actually read you, but she just…kind of figured it out, I guess. But it’s okay. She wanted to help me, but she didn’t know how. So she told me that I should talk to Rarity, and I said I would. I know Rarity will listen to me. She’d love to help.
I tried to talk to her yesterday, but…something stopped me. I guess I was still too shy. When Rainbow found out, it was just an accident – I don’t know if I can actually tell anypony about it myself yet. I thought about asking Rainbow to tell
Rarity for me, but…no. I can’t do that. I have to do this for myself.
I’m going to visit Rarity today. I’ll tell her about Big Macintosh and ask her for advice. She’ll be able to help me. I know she will.
Fluttershy took a deep breath in an effort to calm her nerves. She stood just outside the door of Carousel Boutique – it was still rather early in the day, so Rarity was bound to be inside working. Fluttershy hated to interrupt her friend if she was in the middle of something important, but this just couldn’t wait any longer. She’d put it off long enough.
Gulping nervously, she pushed open the door and stepped inside.
Rarity stood with her back to the door, fitting a dress onto a mannequin. She wheeled around at the sound of the door opening. The pair of red glasses perched upon her snout indicated that she had been hard at work and deep in concentration. Nevertheless, a smile lit up her face the moment she laid eyes on her friend. “Fluttershy! It’s good to see you, darling. What brings you here?”
“Oh, hi Rarity,” the pegasus answered in a small voice. She gathered her courage; it was now or never. “I just had something I wanted to talk with you about…if that’s okay. If you’re busy, I can come back.”
“Nonsense! I’ve always got time for a good friend. Could you give me just a minute, though? I’m almost finished with this,” she replied, indicating the dress on which she had been working. It was an elegant ball gown, similar in color to the one she had worn to the previous year’s Grand Galloping Gala, but the design was even more elaborate.
“Oh. Yes, of course,” said Fluttershy.
“Splendid! Just one moment, dear, and I’ll be right with you.” With that, Rarity returned to her work, adding sequins to the already rather sparkling garment. “Have a look at it, if you like,” she said. “I’m rather pleased with this one.”
Fluttershy stepped forward to get a closer look at the dress: it was indeed very elaborate, and frankly looked like it would be very uncomfortable and difficult to move in. Not that Fluttershy would know, of course – she was a fine seamstress, but she was no fashionista. Rarity probably knew best. “It, um…it looks really nice, Rarity,” she said.
“Why thank you!” A pair of scissors rose from a nearby desk, enveloped by the blue aura of the unicorn’s magic, and began to make small snips at the fabric. Rarity spoke as she continued to work: “I was afraid at first that the design would come across as a little…I don’t know…bombastic, I suppose. But you don’t think it’s too much?”
“Oh…no, not at all,” Fluttershy answered. She wasn’t really lying, per se, but rather withholding her honest opinion so as not to cause undue stress to her friend. This is what she told herself, at least. Still she was curious. What could’ve prompted Rarity to make such an over-the-top dress? “What, um…what’s it for? Is it for some special occasion?”
“Well, I just heard that Scarlet Silk – I don’t know if you’ve heard of her, but she’s one of the most prestigious names in fashion in all of Equestria – is holding a competition in Canterlot for new designers. I need two dresses to enter, but the deadline is tomorrow night! Not nearly enough time to start a new design from scratch, you see. So I recycled and expanded upon our old Gala dresses. Mine has been sitting around collecting dust for months now, and I couldn’t just let such a fabulous work of art go to waste.”
“No, I suppose not,” agreed Fluttershy. The “expansions” to the outfit seemed unneeded to her, but Rarity’s fashion sense was seldom wrong, if ever. One thing confused her, though: “Whose dress are you using for the second entry? You said you needed two….”
As if in answer to Fluttershy’s query, a voice rang out from an adjacent room: “Rarity? Are you sure this is how I’m supposed to put this thing on?” The voice sounded rather surly, and bore a distinct accent which Fluttershy recognized in an instant.
Applejack. Applejack was here. This made things much, much more complicated: Applejack was a very close friend, but she was Big Macintosh’s sister! As if she weren’t already nervous enough, now she had this to contend with as well. Fluttershy frowned.
Rarity smiled. “I’m sure it’s just fine. Come here, let’s have a look!”
There was a sound of much scraping, shuffling, and angry mumbling from the other room. Moments later, Applejack stepped in, decked out in a resplendent ball gown. Well, shuffled in is more like it – the dress was so absurdly heavy and ostentatious that she could hardly walk properly. It bore some resemblance to her own Gala dress from the previous year, but like Rarity’s, it was far, far more complicated. Its wearer was scowling fiercely.
“How the hay is anypony supposed to move in this thing?!” she demanded, barely bothering to keep her frustration in check. “I can’t hardly move my hind legs without tearin’ this whole dress half to pieces.” She glared down at the monstrosity adorning her figure. “And frankly, I’m startin’ to feel like I ought to,” she muttered.
“Don’t even think about it!” Rarity snapped. She took a moment to compose herself, and then continued more softly: “I realize it’s not entirely comfortable, but anything less extravagant simply won’t do. If my designs don’t truly stand out, I’ll have no chance of impressing Scarlet Silk.” She walked over to Applejack, scissors hovering beside her, and started to work on her dress. “Besides,” she added with a good-natured smirk, “you can’t complain. You volunteered for this, after all.”
Applejack rolled her eyes, but kept quiet as Rarity moved around her, snipping away at loose threads. She eyed Fluttershy, and her face brightened somewhat. “Mornin’, sugarcube!” she said in a cheerier voice.
“Oh, good morning Applejack,” Fluttershy replied. The farm pony had no idea that Fluttershy was crushing on her brother; how would she react? Applejack had a tendency to be very protective of her family…what if she got angry? The yellow mare’s face scrunched up worriedly.
Rarity put a few final, finishing touches on the garment – a snip here, a sequin there, and so forth – and was done. “Perfect!” She turned back to Fluttershy, smiling warmly. “Now, Fluttershy, what was it you wanted to speak with me about?”
“Well…I…uh…” Fluttershy began. She was now acutely aware that there were two pairs of eyes one her: Rarity’s and Applejack’s. Both were looking at her with rapt interest. The shy pegasus shrank even further back into her mane. “I…uh…um….”
“Is there something bothering you, dear?” asked Rarity. If only she knew.
“It ain’t nothin’ I can help you with, is it?” Applejack asked, genuinely concerned.
The words “you can help by leaving” floated through Fluttershy’s mind, but she banished them at once. That would be rude. “You…it, well…actually….” Her eyes darted back and forth between her two friends. She had been prepared to talk to Rarity, but not this. Not to two ponies at once, and certainly not to the sibling of her object of affection. She trembled, her knees knocking together. “I…it…I…” she squeaked, her voice growing smaller with every word.
The other two ponies continued to stare at the stammering pegasus. Applejack’s face was contorted in confusion, but she still seemed concerned. Rarity, in meantime, was deep in thought. The cogs and gears of her socially experienced mind whirred at a frantic pace; and then all at once the answer clicked like a lock.
She smiled, warmly and caringly. “Fluttershy,” she said in a soft voice. “This is about Big Macintosh, isn’t it?”
If Fluttershy’s eyes had widened any further they would’ve popped right out of her head. “B-b-but, b-but h-h-how d-did you know about….”
Applejack also looked quite surprised. She turned to Rarity. “Wait, what’s this got to do with my brother?”
“I’m not surprised you didn’t notice,” said Rarity to Applejack, doing her darndest to keep any hint of condescension out of her voice. “You’re usually quite good with ponies, but I’m by far the more perceptive it comes to romance.”
“Romance!” Applejack exclaimed. “Are you tellin’ me Fluttershy here is sweet on Big Macintosh?”
Rarity prepared to answer, but was cut off by a small, weak voice: “Yes.”
The earth pony and the unicorn turned as one and looked at their pegasus friend. By now she had retreated fully into the safe depths of her pink mane, so that all they could see of her face was a single, glistening eye. “I just wanted to ask for your advice,” she said to Rarity, so quietly that she was barely audible. “H-how did you know?”
“It wasn’t really very difficult,” said Rarity. “You’ve been keeping to yourself so much lately, but whenever I do see you, you just seem…distracted, as though there were something on your mind. You’ve been blushing a good bit more than usual, too. And then there are all the longing glances towards Sweet Apple Acres, and the way you always clam up whenever Applejack mentions her brother….”
Fluttershy’s cheeks burned. She thought for she’d kept her secret safe! But Rarity was right; her behavior had changed greatly in the last two months. And she remembered more than one conversation she’d had with her friends where she’d grown suddenly quiet when Big Macintosh’s name came up. Maybe she hadn’t been as careful as she’d thought she was….
“Oh, don’t worry, darling,” Rarity assured her, putting a comforting hoof on her shoulder. “It takes a very socially adept pony to pick up on signals like that. I’m sure no one else has noticed.”
“I know I sure didn’t,” Applejack confirmed. She felt a little silly for not having noticed it herself, but she pushed the thought aside; right now, Fluttershy needed her help. She smiled as well, trying to tell her that everything was okay. “So how long’ve you been crushin’ on Big Macintosh?”
“Since Hearts and Hooves Day,” Fluttershy answered. “Actually, I think it’s been longer than that, but…that was when I first realized it, I think.”
“Hearts and Hooves Day?! That was two whole months ago! Why didn’t ya just say somethin’ to him about…” Applejack frowned as a realization hit her. “Oh, yeah. Cheerilee.”
“I wanted so badly to talk to him at first. But I couldn’t, not while he was with her.” Fluttershy stared at the floor, speaking quite softly even by her standards and sniffling a little. “So I wished that I could just forget about him and move on. But…but then I realized I didn’t want to forget about him. He means too much to me….”
“Oh, you poor dear,” said Rarity, stepping forward and pulling her friend into a gentle hug. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that alone. You could’ve told one of us!”
Fluttershy took a deep breath and regained her composure. Rarity’s embrace and kind words helped alleviate the ache in her heart. “I thought about it,” she said. “I wanted to tell somepony, anypony at all, but…I just couldn’t.”
Applejack looked at her curiously. “Why not? Y’know you can always come to us when you have a problem, don’t you?”
“I think I understand,” said Rarity. She stepped back and looked the pegasus in the eye. “This is something very personal for you, isn’t it?”
“You’ve always had trouble talking about your own feelings, even with ponies you know very well. It’s just a part of your personality. Even though you know that no real harm could come of telling somepony about your feelings, you’re still afraid to try because it just isn’t easy for you. Is that right?”
“Um…yes,” Fluttershy answered, awed by how perfectly Rarity had figured her out.
“Sounds right to me, knowin’ you,” added Applejack. “I’m sorry too, Fluttershy. You must’ve been in one hay of pickle these last two months. I wish I’d have known about it so I could help.”
“Thank you,” said Fluttershy. “Thank you both. And you’re right, Rarity. But I need to tell him. And…and I can. I know I can. I just….” She looked at the floor once again, hiding ashamedly behind her mane. “I just don’t know how to say it.”
“Well, how do you feel about Big Macintosh? What do you like about him?” asked Rarity. “You can tell us, can’t you?”
“Oh, I don’t think I could ever put it into words,” the pegasus replied. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before…I don’t even know how to describe it.”
“Please try, dear. For us. For him.”
“For yourself, too. You have to get this off your chest, or else it’ll keep eatin’ away at you.”
“Okay,” Fluttershy said, and looked aside in thought. There was a long pause before she spoke again. “He’s very kind,” she said at length. “And gentle, and sweet. And he loves his family very much.”
“I coulda told you that,” Applejack said with a broad smile.
Fluttershy smiled in return. “And he’s always so polite,” she went on, conviction creeping into her voice. “He treats everypony he meets with so much kindness and respect, even when they don’t deserve it. And not because he wants something from them, but just because he’s nice.”
By this point, Rarity had taken hold of a pen and notepad with her magic and was scribbling down notes. “Yes, go on dear,” she prompted.
“And he’s so hard-working. He’s dedicated and reliable and strong...and…he…he’s really special to me. Every time he talks to me or does something nice for me, it makes me feel like I’m special to him….” Suddenly her face fell and her voice softened considerably. “Even though I know I’m not.”
“Aw, c’mon sugarcube. I’m sure you’re special to him, he just doesn’t know it yet. All you’ve gotta do now is let him know how you feel.”
“But how? What am I supposed to say?”
“It’s simple, darling,” said Rarity. She magically passed her notepad to the pegasus. “Just tell him this.”
Fluttershy sat and held the notepad between her hooves. The words on the page seemed very familiar. Moments later, she realized that they were they very words she had just used to describe Big Mac; Rarity had simply written them down.
A long pause ensued. Fluttershy blinked several times. “You mean…that’s all I have to say? I-It’s really that simple?”
“Of course it is, dear,” explained the unicorn. “Just let him know how you really feel about him. Use the very words you just used: tell him you think he’s kind and caring and strong, and tell him how special he is to you. It’s not all that difficult.”
Fluttershy merely stood there as if in shock for several seconds more. Could it really be that easy? Just tell him how she feels? No gifts, no ceremony, no clever pick-ups? It had never occurred to her before that it might be that simple.
Well…perhaps simple was the wrong word. She now knew what to do, but asking out Big Macintosh was a task easier said than done. In fact, it seemed an even more terrifying prospect than Rainbow Dash’s method; at least that one had some degree of subtlety. This method required that she bare her soul.
But…no, she had no choice. She hadn’t waited for so long just to give up now. If this was really her best chance – her only hope – then she had to give it a try.
“Thank you,” she said to her friends as she dropped the notepad into her saddlebag. “Thank you both so much.”
“Oh, it was my pleasure,” said Rarity. “I just hope things work out for you and Big Macintosh. You two would make such a darling couple.”
“And I’m sure y’all will,” added Applejack. “And remember, just say what you feel. Be honest. And don’t worry: if anypony knows how Big Macinosh’ll react, it’s me. I think he’s gonna be real happy gettin’ asked out by a mare like you.”
Fluttershy smiled – a nervous smile, but a smile nonetheless. She thanked them again and made for the door. In a moment she was gone.
After the door closed, Applejack chuckled lightly. “I gotta admit, I wasn’t expectin’ that kind of advice from you, Rarity,” she said. “I figured you’d try to set Fluttershy and Big Mac up on some big fancy date.”
“Well, as much as the idea appeals to me,” Rarity admitted, “it’s not in Fluttershy’s best interests. You know how sensitive she is; a ‘big fancy date’ as you so inelegantly put it would just embarrass her further. In love, as in all things, you must know when extravagance is appropriate and when it isn’t.”
The farm pony looked down at the ridiculous gown she was still wearing. Then she looked at Rarity’s dress, still adorning the mannequin. Then she looked Rarity in the eye with an expression that could only be described as deeply amused. “I’m guessin’ dresses don’t count as things, right?”
Rarity hmphed. Applejack laughed. And outside Carousel Boutique, Fluttershy hoped.