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Chapter 1: The Beginning of the End
MLP: FiM Fic by Mr.Dependable
“Even at our birth, death does but stand aside a little. And every day he looks towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh.”
A Cyan pegasus rested her frail and battered body against the old weathered apple tree. A brisk autumn breeze lazily swept over the hills and through the orchard. There was a time when the tepid gusts would have been welcomed by the fragile being, but those days had passed, and now it sent a harrowing shiver down her spine. The Cerulean sky, that she had so comfortably been enjoying, was finally falling to the cascade of fiery oranges and reds that streaked across the heavens.
She stared up and down the massive tree, letting the memories it brought of a long ago time warm her core and explode across the inside of her eyelids. It had grown so much grander then when she used to spend her afternoons leisurely napping after a long session of flying. She looked at the unnatural mound of dirt that lay just 2 feet from her aging body. A fresh tear fell from the stale eyes that used to be so filled with life and energy… but now, now they seemed to lack the ever-present spark that used to live at the back of her pupils.
She recalled everything she had ever done, all her friends, family… or lack of it, and the moments they had shared together. The lump in her stomach rose to her throat as a wave of distain washed over her aging body. She turned and looked at her friend, and with a fresh string of tears streaking across her wrinkled face like a river through a serene mountain range, she uttered two words.
Chapter 1: The Beginning of the End
The death had taken everyone by surprise. While no pony was left asking why it had happened, a sense of sorrow and despair had fallen over the usually bustling village as they mourned their lost friend. It was true that Big Mac was the strongest colt in Ponyville… if not Equestria, but even the brightest light burns out after time has had its way. And for the stallion, that seemed to have spent every day tending to the fields of his families orchard, years of relentless work had brought back the time on his mortal clock.
The service, while simple, was serene and calming, just like Big Mac and Fluttershy would have wanted it to be. Each pony in the crowd was calm a quiet, though sombre as they recollected upon how each of them owed the workhorse a great deal of gratitude. Everypony felt for Fluttershy, it was a well-known fact that they had been the closest couple in Ponyville, if not Equestria, and they all wondered how hard the reality of the loss had hit the most timid pony they knew.
The couple seemed to be a match made in heaven, the calm and quite Big Macintosh paired with the meek and loving Fluttershy. The two had instantly made a bond unlike any pony else in Equestria. Their divine love catered to both decadence and moral perfection, which is believed to be the undisputed factor of how long their marriage had lasted. They never fought, not a quarrel nor a dispute to be heard in all 40 years of their stellar matrimony. Through out their time together they had created a picturesque family, with the couple being the proud parents of a female Pegasus and a male Earth Pony named Skylight Shy and Big Red. The two young foals, brought up with the most understanding and compassionate parents, sprouted into the most mature and well-behaved ponies in Ponyville. Both took after their parents with, the young colt following his mother’s footsteps into the care and doctoring of all animals, and the filly deciding that her calling in life was to help out around Sweet Apple Acres.
Many a-pony would see the family out on a picnic, or meandering around at the fair. It was welcomed sight for many of the ponies in Ponyville, the two spouses swooning over their children and each other. There always seemed to be at the least a small smile plastered on their faces as the trotted into town, and the family always made it a habit to say hello to any pony who was lucky enough to walk by. Their children were enrolled in Ms.Cheerilee’s class, and they always seemed to be happier and filled with more anticipation to great the school day each morning.
However, while joyous, the years had been fast, and thought were filled to the brim with new activities and adventures for the family, they were short.
As years grew, so did their children and it became apparent that time, for the old lovers, was starting to catch up. The first to leave was Red, deciding that with his mother in Ponyville, his talents were required elsewhere. In a shower of tears and emotions he packed his bags and said goodbye, and left for Seaddle. While he wrote home every week, and spent the cold winter months in Ponyville with his parents, without Big Red, Fluttershy and Big Mac were never the same.
Seeing the sombre emotional state of her parents, Skylight promised that she would stay by their side until the end. But even she could not hold herself from enticement of curiosity, as she wondered what else she could be doing. Eventually the promise broke, at the hands of a handsome Stallion who owned a ranch in Appleoosa. While it warmed their heart to see their daughter maturing and finding a family of her own -- Deep down, in the recesses of their bodies, the pain they felt when their son had left was beginning to make itself present once again. However, they still had each other, and that was the major playing factor into the following years of successful marriage. Fluttershy continued to care for her animals and Big Macintosh was out at Sweet Apple Acres almost every day, but not without Fluttershy’s barrage of good wishes and emotional waterfalls.
Years passed and ponies came and went. Everyday held a new adventure, despite the aging ponies bodies restricting nature. Fluttershy still made it a habit to get together with Rarity at the spa, which she enjoyed much more than her quiet and shy demeanour would lead you to believe.
“I really do appreciate your company Fluttershy” Rarity quirked one day, “I never really feel like I’ve told you how much I value our friendship”.
“Oh… you really don’t need to”, the timid pony responded, “you’re much to k-kind… I- I mean…”
Rarity was quick to interrupt, “No Fluttershy, I can not let you revoke my appreciation. Every week we get together… and all I ever do is talk, I just assume that you’re fine, and that you never have any problems…”, she sighed, “sometimes it seems like you’re the one who should be the element of generosity, so willing to give up your time on a silly old thing like me…”
Fluttershy was taken aghast; she had never heard Rarity speaking so critically of herself. She took a moment to compose herself… and then let the barrage of complimentary ballistic missiles fly.
“Now listen here Rarity, I may be a mare of few words but there is one thing that always gets me talking, and that is when I see a friend of mine in trouble. I know you might think that way, but not for one second have I ever resented coming here. You have given to all of us so much over the years that I have no doubt in my mind that you have earned your element… but only i-if you agree”.
Rarity always admired Fluttershy and her uncanny ability to be more than kind in a situation of emotional pain, and as soon as she was finished with her monologue she snapped back to her old self.
“You know Fluttershy” Rarity whimpered with tears creeping down her cheek, “you always know just what to say”.
And so the years continued, Fluttershy making sure that she spent time with her friends, animals, and most importantly Big Mac. She felt as if her husband was her priority, the last of her family who lived in Ponyville. Every lunch she would make her way to Sweet Apple Acres and watch as her knight in shining armour worked hard through out the long demanding day. Days ripped by like pages out of a notebook, and it became apparent to Fluttershy that her faithful partner was wearing down. As she watched from her vantage point, high up in a cloud, she could see Mac stop, look around to be sure that no pony was watching and collapse onto his flank as if he was releasing the years of physical strain in one simple motion. Although it hurt her more than anything in the world, she couldn’t help but watch.
He would never tell her, but Macintosh was starting to feel the effects of his age. The stiff rusty pain of arthritis had manifested itself in his rear legs from years of bucking and pulling the massive corroded plough. The stoic colt was constantly in pain, and fighting as hard as he could to hide it. Not even Applejack, who could spot something wrong with her kin in an instant, was able to notice the faltering steps of the big workhorse as the days lingered by. He preferred it this way though, letting everyone else live their lives without worry, never once thinking of what would be best for himself.
Eventually the pain of watching her sweet heart grew unbearable, and Fluttershy confronted him and confessed to her lunch times spent observing her husband. It was a cold winter evening, and the fire was casting a flickering glow throughout the living room of the small cottage that Fluttershy had manifested herself in so many years ago. She had been sitting comfortably in the arms of Big Macintosh as he rested his sore body against the comfortable couch in their living room. The space was warm and a cup of tea was producing a copious amount of steam, and the calming silence was enough to make the most rambunctious filly pause and sit.
Fluttershy hesitantly broke the silence with a question she had been mulling over for the past 3 months.
“What’s wrong?” She asked meekly as the startled colt looked down at her.
“I’ve…” she paused, “I’ve been watching you work for the past few m-months now”, she whimpered, “I-I’ve seen you i-in pain… I guess… you d-don’t seem to b-be able t-to w-work… and you… you’ve been so quiet…”, her voice getting more and more unsure as she questioned what she was saying.
“Never mind, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked… I hope you’re not mad… you’re mad aren’t you… I’m sorry I’ll l-leave now… if that’s what you want”
Big Mac gazed into her eyes lovingly, “Now look here” he said tenderly “There is no way in Luna or Celestia that Ah would ever be cross with you... if anything you’re the one who should be cross with me”.
“Wh… What?” asked a surprised and bewildered Fluttershy.
“Ah’ve been so darn fixated on making sure that Ah ignored the pain and kept going, Ah thought it was the best thing for both of us. After all Ah didn’t want to get yah worried or nothin’, Ah just kept quite and to mahself pushing through each day. But what Ah didn’t realize is that maybe, by doing so, Ah had actually hurt the ones Ah wanted to protect.”
Fluttershy was astounded; this was the most she had heard him talk in one go than any other time at all. She quietly whimpered as she squirmed closer to her affectionate spouse, and started to nuzzle his big burly chest with her soft cheek. Big Mac kissed the top of her head as she started to weep.
“I miss them Mac…” she quietly sobbed as a torrential rainstorm of tears flooded down her cheek and onto his chest. “I miss our babies… I know they’ve got their new families, a-and I’m happy for them… but I miss the picnics in the sun, the trips to the orchard in autumn for the corn maze, I-I miss everything… and I guess… I guess most of all I miss being together.”
He tried his hardest, but not even Big Macintosh could keep from shedding a tear. He usually tried to keep a calm and assertive demeanour, but his wife’s words had hit home. Within moments he too found himself silently sobbing as he realized he would never be able to enjoy those moments with his family again.
“Look here Shy, Ah know that ya might miss them. And Ah know that we might not get to enjoy those moments again. But yall still have those memories… and that’s what makes them so special… they’re yours.” Big Mac felt a lump in his throat as he comforted her, “And Ah promise you, that Ah will not abandon you… Ah will be here for you forever and always.”
Fluttershy took a break from her weeping and looked up into his eyes, as a smile started to tug at the side of her mouth.
“Forever?” she whispered
Big Mac lent forward and planted a tender kiss onto the lips of the Pony he had shared an unfaltering love for 38 years with. He looked back down at her with loving eyes, and spoke only one word. A word that was wrapped in the softest of tones and dripping with emotion. A word that on it’s own would mean nothing, but coming from his lips it was wrapped with most care anyone could give.
And so they came to a consensus, to make sure that Fluttershy and Big Macintosh never had to feel alone again, she dropped her duties at her veterinary clinic and moved everything to Sweet Apple Acres. Not only were there copious amounts of animals to tend to, but she was also able to watch over her precious husband.
In the morning they would walk together and discuss what they planned on doing throughout the day. When they arrived at Sweet Apple Acres, they’d reluctantly go their separate ways, but not before making their love for each other redundantly clear. Fluttershy would open her office in the barn, which was so generously offered to her by Applejack, and fed and tended to all the animals she had in her care. Big Mac would either hitch himself up to the plough and get to work on turning the soil, or would grab the cart that contained the weathered half barrels they used while apple bucking. They’d spend the rest of the morning painfully dealing with miscellaneous chores that needed to be done, and at lunch would meet on the porch and tuck into the picnic that Fluttershy had spent much time meticulously creating. In the afternoon Mac would head back out into the hot afternoon sun, but not without the aid of his wife. They would work together for the rest of the day, Big Mac bucking trees or sowing seeds with Fluttershy never more than 10 meters away tending any animal that required her scrupulous and caring attention. At the end of the day when the sun dipped behind the horizon, they would bid their farewells to the rest of the Apple family, and begin their trek home to the cottage. All the while indulging on what each other’s day was like. Eventually they would stumble into their house, bones aching and knees shaking. Fluttershy would do her best to work the kinks out of the colts back while in turn he would start a fire and cook dinner while she relaxed on the couch. Each day ended with both of them in each other’s arms, lazily nodding off as they recalled all the momentous times they had spent together over the past 39 years.
And so they lived everyday like that, from morning till dusk, week after week, month after month. They truly cherished each other’s company, spending each moment together as if it were more interesting and intoxicating then the last. They kept living like this until about a month after the summers sun had started to make itself less present along with the warmth that it brought.
It wasn’t a particularly special day, the sun had covered the field in a blanket of heat, and mirages played tricks with your eyes as you looked off into the horizon. It was most likely the last day of immense heat before the invading army of frost and snow found their way to Equestria, and encased it in a capsule of chilling weather and long nights.
Fluttershy had loyally followed Big Macintosh out into the fields after their picnic lunch on the porch of the red house at Sweet Apple Acres. She drifted away from her husband to investigate a flock of geese that had majestically landed in the orchard a few rows over. While indulging upon the structure and design of their bodies she heard a dull thud as something heavy hit the soft earth. The thud was also accompanied by a bellowing cry, not a sorrowful heart felt cry, not one filled with joy at the thought of something pleasant, but one of pure twisting pain and shock. Startled by the horrendous bark of agony, the geese scattered, deserting whatever form they had held before they landed. In that moment Fluttershy’s heart sank deeper than any other time in her life. Herself and Macintosh were the only two ponies working out in the orchard today; Applejack and her own child were inside sorting the apples that had already been picked.
“M-m-mac?” she called out praying with all her might to Celestia for the strong colt to reply with his trademarked “Eeyup”.
But nopony returned her call, only an unsettling silence was present as her heart sank deeper into the recesses of her stomach.
“M-mac” she said slightly louder as she carefully trotted towards his last known bucking tree.
“Are you all ri…” She stopped, because what she saw had confirmed her darkest fears, what she saw was anything but all right.
Like a serpent from within, her stomach launched itself into her throat. And with sudden bolt of speed and adrenaline she pushed her aching old body to the limit, hoping she could make it to her wheezing husband in time.
He was lying up against one of the many uniform trees, and it’s trunk while, straining under the weight of his heavy muscles, stood firm and supported the sick colt. Fluttershy had moved at a speed that even rainbow dash would find impressive and planted herself at the side of her heavily breathing husband.
“M-mac, what happened… w-what’s wrong…”, she probed as tears began to well in her eyes.
“I-I knew I should have stayed w-with you… this is my fault, I should have been here… I’m so sorry” she wept as her husbands breaths drew weaker and weaker.
Big Mac struggled and with what little strength he could muster, tilted his head towards Fluttershy and wrapped his hoof around her shoulder. It had become clear to the delicate Pegasus that her husband of all these years was finally making his last encore. She shuddered and let out a long wail as she burst into tears.
“Shhhhh…” he comforted, trying to calm his wife, “It’s alright… calm down… this ain’t yah fault…” as his own tears started to fall.
“YES IT IS” she yelped “I-IF I HAD BEEN HERE I WOULD HAVE NOTICED, I would have been able to get you in before… this hap… before this happe…” she couldn’t complete her sentence as her sobs became more and more violent.
“No Shy… it isn’t… yah… yah couldn’t have stopped this... There are things in life… that even someone like you can’t fix. Ah’ve been walking… in the shadow of death for some time now… and we… we both know it…”
He paused as his wife collapsed onto him in a fit of tears and sorrow. He brought her into a tight hug with tears streaking down her face and onto his shaking chest.
“You… have made these… last few months so very special… even more so than the years we spent… together… in no way can Ah be more thankful for what yah done”
“M-mac…”, she interrupted
He hushed her with a soft kiss as his breaths became more and more irregular and painful.
“The only thing… Ah wish ah could do… was keep mah promise… and Ah’m afraid…” his eyes began to shake as he struggled with the words he was trying to say.
“Ah’m afraid that… that Ah’m abandoning you… the very thing… Ah promised Ah wouldn’t”
Fluttershy wiped her eyes, and fought back the tears as best she could. It was her turn to comfort the one she had loved for so many years.
“You aren’t Mac” she whimpered, “In fact, you’ve done exactly the opposite, you aren’t abandoning me, because I’ll always have our memories…” she shuddered as her defences to the army of sorrow began to fall, “I’ll always have you right here” as she took his hoof and placed it on her chest directly above her heart.
Big Mac started to wheeze as the moment of truth grew closer and closer.
“Remember, the time we went to the fair…” Fluttershy asked as a smile started to manifest itself on her tear stained face.
“And Skylight got her hair covered with cotton candy… and the time we went to the zoo and that poor tiger everypony thought was trying to eat them, just had a popcorn kernel stuck in his throat. And you and Red went and helped him get it out”
“Eeyup” whispered Big Mac
“I’ll always remember those” she replied.
Macintosh closed his eyes and let the memories of his time spent with his loving family warm his heart. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, and Fluttershy hugged tighter as she felt his chest rise a fall slower… and slower… and slower. She held him tightly nuzzling his neck and trying to console his shivering body. Big Macintosh, using the last of his strength leaned closer to his wife, his lover, his spouse, his friend, his Fluttershy and pressed his quivering lips against hers… before gently slipping away in her arms.
Fluttershy rested her head on his still chest, letting the tears fall. The memories of their life spent together running like a movie behind her eyelids. She wailed and shuddered and let her emotions run free. He was gone; her husband had finally left his painful tormented body and had crossed to the other side.
She stayed like that, wrapped in her Macintosh’s cold lifeless arms until night came. Until Applejack called out to them, and she remained silent. Until Applejack found, to her horror, her dead brother wrapped in his lovers arms. And until she found her dear friend… poor Fluttershy with tears streaming down her face, singing a song she knew all too well.
“Hush now quite now
It’s time to lay your sleepy head,
Hush now quiet now,
End of Chapter One
Hello everyone, I assume that if you’re reading this, you enjoyed my story enough to make it to the end. This is my first fan fic and I’m not going to lie, I cried at the end while I was writing this.
All sorrow aside, I would just like to thank you and let you know that this is only the first chapter in what I hope will be a 7 or 8 instalment. Please let me know what you think and follow me if you want to read more.
I do not currently have an editor, so if you find any mistakes or you would like to offer, P.M. me and let me know.