Cutting Ties

by fic Write Off

Overthinking It

I sighed, and closed my eyes.

Outside, the gentle babble of the brook brought about a deep, relaxed sigh. My nostrils twitched at the lingering, musty scent of animal fur and herbs.

I attempted to clear my mind. I imagined that I was back in the past, and I was simply waiting for Fluttershy to return from market because she had discovered she was out of Darjeeling tea, my favorite.

“I’m so sorry, Twilight. I should have remembered to check before you got here. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Could you get the water boiling while I’m gone?”

“Of course, Fluttershy. It’s no problem at all.”

A long, hopeless sigh escaped me.

Outside, the cheerful melody of chirping birds drifting into my ears, like a windchime dancing in the breeze. My heart cringed at the song.

Hush, birdies. Don’t remind me of her.

Wasn’t I just torturing myself?

She’ll be back any minute now.

I gave myself a mental slap. Don’t be so irrational. Of course she won’t.

Then why are you here? Why are you doing this to yourself? Just go back home and go analyze some stupid chemistry experiment. Go be completely rational, and get yourself into another emotional mess.

My eyes still closed, I snorted and slammed a hoof down on the bare floor, rattling the walls.

Rational. How I’ve come to hate that word. Overthinking. Overanalyzing. Of course, these are useful traits to possess in academic matters, but in other areas, they are a hindrance.

I couldn’t handle it anymore. I opened my eyes.

The cottage was just as barren as before. Sunlight streamed into the room through curtainless windows, illuminating bare walls. All the furniture had been sold off, leaving a sad void where it used to stand. No birdhouses hung from the ceiling, no critters scampered about, no pictures were hung. My eyes darted to the spot where we normally had a table set up for tea; I was met with empty space. The only thing that could remain inside was a stone fireplace against the side wall, cold and unused. Although the room was slightly stuffy, a damp coldness seeped into my bones.

I didn’t bother going upstairs; I knew I would just be met with empty rooms and blank space.

At that moment, it felt as if a sedative had been injected into my legs. I collapsed to my haunches and stared at the floor.

Everything seemed so... foreign. Unknown. This was a place I had spent so much time at, it practically felt like a second home at one point in time. Now, it was simply a potential place of residency, with nothing to give it its own identity.

I missed the songbirds that used to fly around, blessing the air with song and gentle wing flutters. I missed the simmering of a pot, promising a delicious soup that would fill my insides with warmth and comfort. I missed the relaxing aroma of herbs and spices, tempting me to slip into a deep sleep on the couch.

I missed her demure voice, so soft and delicate like a spring breeze, that it could melt any anxiety. Whenever I needed to talk, I came here, knowing everything would be all right.

Now, this hearth of comfort was just a mere shell.

I closed my eyes again, fighting back tears.

“Twilight?” Rarity’s regal voice was accompanied by a triplicate of knocks, each one a boom of thunder that pierced my thoughts. I flinched, but remained slumped on my haunches, faced away from the entrance.

The glistening sound of a magical aura reached my ears as the door swung open. I heard several slow, hesitant hoofsteps from behind.

I imagined Rarity peering over my slumped form, biting her lip and searching for the proper words. For several moments, all was still, save for the muffled gurgling of the creek running outside.

“Twilight, darling? Are you okay?” She took one step closer. I sniffled a couple times, choking on any words I attempted to speak.

She sighed, taking another step and laying down next to me. I continued to stare at the ground, as she gave my cheek a soft nuzzle.

A lump manifested in my throat, blocking another attempt to speak. Only a sputtering sob came out.

“Oh, Twilight...” Rarity’s voice cracked, and she sniffled. I continued to stare at the ground, not wanting to see the tears forming in her eyes. “It’s–it’s okay. I miss her too, but she isn’t gone for good. We’ll still be able to write her letters, you know.”

Somehow, I was able to force some words past the grapefruit in my throat. “I...” I sniffled again. “I know. But that’s not the same as her being here all the time.”

I tore my gaze from the floor and stared into Rarity’s shimmering eyes. “Why did she leave, Rarity? Wh–Why did she leave us?”

The silence hung heavy. Rarity bit her lip and dipped her head.

“She didn’t want to leave us. It probably was the toughest decision she ever had to make. But when opportunities come up... you can’t take a chance and let it pass by.”

Of course Rarity would say something along those lines. She knew about pursuing opportunities more than any pony I knew. I’m surprised she’s stayed in Ponyville for this long, given her success as a fashionista.

She looked up and managed a strained smile. “At least think of how happy she is now. You know how she adores the Canterlot Gardens, and now she works with the animals there all day. I mean, imagine if you received a job at Canterlot University. Would you not take it?”

“I...I guess I’ve never thought about it before.” It was true. I planned my life month to month. I suppose I never thought about accounting for unexpected opportunities popping up.

“Well, her opportunity came, and she took it.” Rarity spoke matter-of-factly, although I could hear the faintest tremor in her voice. “And–I don’t blame her for it. Neither should you.”

“I–” I choked again. I took a moment to let the bulge recede, then continued. “I don’t blame her. I’m not mad at her. I just–miss her.”

I’m mad at myself.

Rarity gave me another soft nuzzle. “We all do, Twilight. But honestly, you need to move on. Fluttershy’s gone now. She wouldn’t want to see you moping like this. You’ve been coming here everyday since she left.”

I wiped the tears from my eyes and forced myself to stand up, my legs feeling like lead weights as I pulled myself off the ground. “Sorry, Rarity. You’re right. I suppose it’s just been tougher for me, for some reason.”

Don’t lie to yourself, Twilight. You know exactly why it’s been so tough.

Rarity stood up and flashed me a smile. “Well, I know exactly what will cheer you up. Pinkie wants to have one of her spontaneous picnics,” she chuckled. “Come, now. You know she simply wouldn’t allow you to be melancholy like this.”

I managed a grin, and this time it didn’t feel like a burden on my cheek muscles. “Hehe, you’re right. Don’t wanna disappoint Pinkie.”

“Perfect!” Rarity clapped her hooves together. “I shall see you at the park in an hour, alright?”

Well, she sure cheered up fast.

I nodded, walking with Rarity towards the door. “Sure. That gives me some time to go get ready. I’m going to run home, then I’ll meet you girls in the park, okay?”

“Um, Twilight, darling?” Rarity chuckled as she closed the door behind us. “You do realize we both take the same path into town? We aren’t parting ways for several minutes, if I’m correct.”

“Oh!” I blushed. “Heh, I suppose you’re right.”

Rarity just giggled as we walked down the dirt road leading away from the cottage. A light spring breeze blew, carrying the relaxing aroma of flowers that were blooming on the hillside. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, letting the scent calm the the sorrow that still tugged at me. I basked in the warm rays of the sun shining down upon my face, and the rest of my heartache melted away. It was a glorious feeling. I felt completely normal. I still had four other friends in Ponyville, and I wouldn’t allow the absence of one to get in the way of my happiness. I was going to enjoy this picnic.

Think about it this way: if Fluttershy’s not there, she won’t be tormenting you like she did for all those years.

I froze as the words popped in my head like a pesky parasprite. I shook my head violently, as if to physically dislodge the thought from my brain.

I continued walking, trying to pretend nothing had happened, but Rarity caught my brief head thrashing. “Twilight? Are you okay, darling?”

“Oh, I’m fine,” I said, straining out a grin. “I was just trying to shake off a mosquito.”

“Ah, I completely understand. Mosquitos are quite irritable.”

I mentally sighed in relief; Rarity did not pursue the issue any further.

Okay, calm down Twilight. Get over it. You’re going to a picnic. You’re going to have fun. Just... forget about her.

I forced myself to lift my head up and put on a small smile. Rarity did not notice anything out of the ordinary as we made small chat until our paths split. We said our momentary goodbyes and went our separate ways. Several minutes later, I arrived at the library.

A purple glow enveloped the door as it swung open. I stepped inside and shut the door behind me.

I reveled in the familiar scene. Fluttershy’s cottage was barren, but at least my library hadn’t changed. The shelves of books, the telescope towering out of a nook, the desk propped under the window, all in their orderly places. I closed my eyes and inhaled the musty scent of books and quill ink.

Not a sound disturbed the stillness, save for the occasional rustle of tree branches whistling in the wind. Spike was in Canterlot on royal business, not set to arrive home for a few days.

I stepped over towards the mirror and gave a quick look over my reflection to make sure I was in a presentable state for the party. Hmm, mane looks just a little bit ruffled. Hooves are a bit dusty. I levitated a rag over from the counter before pausing. No, they’re just going to get dusty again anyway. I set the cloth back down on the counter.

As I stared in the mirror for several more moments, I squinted, a piercing beam of light shining directly into my eyes. I turned away from the mirror, eyes darting around the room as I searched for the source of the offensive glare.

My eyes came to rest on a letter resting on my desk, which was situated just under the mail slot. The sunlight streaming in through the open window shimmered off a golden Canterlot seal pressed onto the back of envelope.

Hmm, that’s odd. Is it from Celestia? She can’t very well send letters with Spike being gone. But does she really have something that urgent to tell me? Then again, I suppose she would just fly here if it were that important.

I shook my head to clear my rambling thoughts. I didn’t have to speculate, the letter was right in front of me. I levitated it in front of me and turned it around.

Ice shot through my veins, and my heart dropped into my stomach.

“Twilight Sparkle” was written with elegant, flowing calligraphy, the words so delicate that they practically danced off the letter. Next to the name was an all too familiar triple butterfly print.


My chest rose and fell with short, quick breaths. The name relentlessly echoed in my mind.

Everything’s fine, Twilight. She’s probably just writing to keep in touch as a friend.

As a friend.

Just a friend.

I dropped the letter onto the desk and collapsed to the floor in a bundle of despair, burying my head between my forelegs as hopeless, shuddering sobs escaped me.

It’s fine, Twilight. Don’t think about it. You’re going on a picnic soon! Relax! Have some fun!

The thoughts fell on deaf mental ears.

I couldn’t forget her. I couldn’t get over her.

I loved Fluttershy, but she could never know, simply because I am Twilight Sparkle.

I sniffled several times before slamming a hoof to the floor; a dull “clink” reached my ears as a quill fell over from its stand on the desk.

You think too much, Twilight.

You did this to yourself.

My eyes were shut as tightly as possible as I grimaced, spreading my hooves and bracing them into the ground. I felt my mane dance in the artificial breeze that I had created, carrying with it the sweet melody of wheat fluttering in the distance.

I was surprised I was able to feel any of these sensations, or recall the scene around me. As I struggled to lift the lumbering, now snoozing Ursa Minor, my horn felt like a white-hot javelin jammed into my forehead, pulsing with a magical force I didn’t even know I possessed. I dug my hooves into the ground even further as I carried the Ursa towards his cave in the Everfree Forest. It was like lifting a house through sheer willpower, and I could practically feel his crushing weight press down on my horn. Even though such a thing was impossible, the sheer mass I was commanding, combined with the magical energy I was expending doing so, made it feel as if my horn was going to snap off.

Purple sparks continued to jump off my forehead as I guided the Ursa into the cave and gently set him down. I performed one more quick magical scan to ensure he was in a deep slumber and wouldn’t return to ravage Ponyville.

I barely heard the muffled chorus of cheers that erupted over the magical buzzing that continued to pound in my ears. My lungs were on fire, and I still felt surges of energy exploding from my horn, more power than I had ever channelled before. I fought to take a deep breath and cut off the magic.

Oh no.

A lavender beacon of light exploded from my horn. My limbs thrashed about as I was helplessly thrust into the air, my fur crackling from arcs of power that danced across my coat. The light emanating from my body pierced the night sky.

Come on, Twilight! Shut it off! Spike said it himself, you’re the most powerful unicorn in Ponyville!

The panic did nothing to stop the outburst. The magic had taken on a mind of its own, tearing at every fiber of my being. I was blinded by the dazzling purple light, and a defeaning magical hum buzzed in my ears.

In short, I had no idea what my magic was doing to Ponyville.

Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no. I turned my parents into plants when I was just a filly.

Are the houses being turned into pumpkins? Will everypony be transformed into inanimate objects?

What’s happening now? I mean, my skills are so much more powerful than they were all those years ago.

This had to stop.

I forced my eyes shut and peered deep into my mind’s eye, searching for the valve to shut off the flood magic. My body still flailed around helplessly in the air as energy surged out of every pore.

It was no use. In the chaos that consumed me, there was no way to gently shut down the magic. I would have to forcefully cut it off.

My limbs continued to thrash about in the maelstrom. Through sheer willpower, I managed to stop my right front hoof was jerking around and instead hold it still. It was as if I was holding the hoof stationary under a waterfall. I let out a guttural scream as I slammed the hoof against my white-hot horn.

A bolt of seering pain shot through every nerve in my body, but the hurricane of power stopped. I tumbled to the ground, panting heavily. Immediately, I jumped to my hooves, eyes darting every direction in a panic.

Oh no.

Every direction I looked, where ponies should have been standing on the street, I was met with a towering, sloped wall of dirt, completely surrounding me. I choked on the dust that still lingered in the air.

The crater had to be at least a half mile wide. There was no trace of buildings or ponies, just dirt.

My veins turned to pure ice.

Did I--did I just--

Murder Ponyville?

Without even trying?

I awoke with a jerk, my chest spasming with short, shallow breaths. My body glistened with a cold layer of sweat, soaking the sheets. I jumped out of bed and ran to the window.

In the distance, I could make out the outline of buildings in the dull moonlight. The road was still intact.

There was no crater.

I took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm myself.

Okay, Twilight. It was just a dream.

Not a dream. A nightmare.

Ponyville is still there. Everything is fine. Calm down.

I turned around and surveyed the room. All I could make out was a hazy outline in the moonlight. My horn glowed to illuminate my surroundings... then I immediately cut off the light spell.

Wait, you think that lighting up your horn is going to cause you to lose control? Come on, Twilight. It was just a dream. It didn’t happen.

My horn glowed again, and this time it stayed lit. My gaze immediately jumped to a bookshelf next to the bed, filled with thick tomes...

...Containing evil, dark, powerful magic only I could cast...

I shook my head and stomped a hoof down. Stop it, Twilight. Think rationally. It. Was. A. Dream.

But could that actually happen? I mean, it didn’t happen... but next time you have to use that much magic...

I gulped.

Then, the lesson I had learned a week ago cut through the fear: Don’t be ashamed of your talents.

Yeah, but other ponies’ talents don’t let them destroy without even trying.

I slammed another hoof down so hard that a jolt of pain shot of my leg. “Stop it! Stop it, stop it, stop it! Stop thinking so much!”

What? But you wouldn’t be Twilight Sparkle if you didn’t overanalyze everything!

Face it. You’re one of only a handful of unicorns in Equestria that could vaporize a town

“No...” My legs gave out, and I slumped down to the floor.

It was just a dream. You probably couldn’t actually lose control like that.

But it all felt so real...

I could practically feel the arcs of magical power crackling under my coat.

It was a dream.

That doesn’t mean it could never happen. Face it, Twilight:

“You’re a freak.”

The words were so soft, I was unsure if I had even spoken them at all. My eyes shimmered with tears.

Do you know why everypony cheered you on after you saved the town from the Ursa? Gratitude, yes, but fear as well. Fear that if they stepped out of line, you would zap them.

“That’s not true!” I shouted into the darkness.

You don’t know that for sure. You can never truly know what another pony thinks of you.

Ponies fear power, Twilight.

Oh, why did Spike have to be in Canterlot? He could help. I could sob into his shoulder and hear his gentle reassurances. He was a bit childish at times, yes, but he knew how to listen. He’d spent his entire life with me. He would know just what to say.

You’re not a freak, Twilight.

I could repeat the thought a thousand times, but coming from me, the words meant nothing.

With a brief glow of my horn, I shut the curtains, dimming the room even further before immediately cutting off my magic. I lifted myself off the ground and pulled my body into bed, burying my head under the pillow and plunging my world into darkness.

At that moment, I was totally and completely alone.

I was a loner back in my days in Canterlot, yes, but this was by choice. I knew what other ponies thought of me: a bookworm and a shut in.

Now, I wasn’t quite sure how others perceived me.

You’re not a freak, Twilight.

It was useless.

I closed my eyes, and attempted to utilize my method of clearing my head: I pictured on a plain white square in my mind’s eye, and imagined all my pesky thoughts bouncing off the sides off the box. The shape was the only thing that existed in my mind; if I focused on it hard enough, I would calm down.

The box was instantly shattered by a furious barrage of thoughts.

I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t be alone. I would drive myself insane. I needed to talk with somepony, any pony. It wasn’t a desperate want; it was a need, much like air and shelter.

Okay. Let’s think. Spike’s gone, so I’m going to have to go to somepony’s house.

In the middle of the night. What time was it? I rolled over and glanced over at the clock: one AM. Erk.

Still, I didn’t care. I needed to talk.


She was certainly a good friend, and I had no doubts that she would be willing to listen, but I had the suspicion she wouldn’t be too comfortable with the whole “magic” thing. I could picture her stumbling over her words in an attempt to reassure me, which would only make things worse.

Rainbow Dash?

Heh. I bet that girl would let my concerns go in one ear and out the other, giving me blind reassurances instead. Empathy was not one of her strong points. Plus, I had no way to reach her cloud home.

Pinkie Pie?

That pony wouldn’t even be able to sit still for two seconds to hear me out. Pinkie Pie, having to be stationary and taking something seriously? Possible, but unlikely.


Possibly. Afterall, she was a unicorn, and would be able to relate to my problem the best. Still, she certainly wouldn’t be happy to be woken up at such an hour, which would most likely hamper her ability to be comforting.

Twilight, what are you doing? You’re analyzing your friends’ ability to be a good friend! They’re all good friends! No matter who you go to, any one of them will make you feel better. Stop overthinking it!

The stray thought caused me to chuckle. Given my despair, I was surprised I was even able to think analytically.

Still, it was a valid concern. I had no idea if this problem would go away on my own. Each of my friends had different personalities that could either help or hinder my ability to get over it.

As I lay on my bed, I put a hoof to my chin. I was forgetting somepony.

Ah, Fluttershy.

Delicate. Gentle, with the most demure voice I had ever heard. Not just demure, but genuine. Applejack may be the element of honesty, but any words Fluttershy spoke simply sounded honest, not to mention relaxing. And I couldn’t imagine her getting angry at an unexpected night visit. We could have a nice, relaxing conversation with no convictions.

I smiled. Just the thought of talking with Fluttershy pushed my demons into an almost forgotten corner of my mind. I pulled myself off the sweat-stained sheets and trotted down stairs. I then opened the door and stepped into cold night air.

The walk was not an entirely pleasant one. I was unaccustomed to strolling through Ponyville at night. Not a single light illuminated the buildings as I passed by, and an eerie wind howled through the silence. Not a soul roamed the streets, not a single merchant stand stood along the road. Thank goodness the moon was half full tonight; navigating the deserted streets through dull horn-light definitely would have been creepier.

Honestly, who would have thought such a vibrant city could ever be so desolate? Then again, I suppose that is the nature of night.

Besides the wind, the only sound was the lonely clacking of my hoofsteps upon stone. I felt as if I was walking through a ghost town.

You’re a freak, Twilight.

Outside the comfort of my library, and in the unfamiliar darkness of midnight Ponyville, the thought was intensifying its vicegrip on my psyche. If I wasn’t walking, I would have shut my eyes. Instead, I picked up my pace.

Several minutes later, I passed over the bridge that lay a short distance from Fluttershy’s cottage. With the buildings gone, it felt like I was standing in an endless void as the dark hills stretched into forever on either side of me. I took a deep breath to calm myself and kept my head forward. I walked a short distance further, and as soon as I knew it, I was standing at the front door of the abode.

Even Fluttershy’s house, normally bustling with animal activity, felt barren. No lights were on, no skimpering of animals was heard inside or from out back; the only sound was the gentle babble of the brook running behind me.

I really shouldn’t wake her... everything seems so peaceful.
I took a step closer to the door and raised a hoof.

It’s Fluttershy, though, she won’t yell at you. She’ll probably apologize for some reason. I chuckled at the thought, and knocked at the door.

Several moments of silence passed. The wind continued to howl. I made the motion to knock again, when a light came on in living room. I could barely make out the sound of hoofsteps, and I imagined Fluttershy quivering as she stood on the other side of the door.

“Um, yes? Who is it?”

Just hearing her voice made me smile.

“Hey, Fluttershy, it’s Twilight. Can I come in?”

With a soft creak, the door cracked open, and Fluttershy peered around the corner. Upon noticing it was me, she swung the door open, bearing a look of unease. “Oh, hello Twilight. Um, can I help you? It’s really late...” She cast her gaze away from mine, flinching as she uttered what she must have thought to be a major complaint.

A smile tugged on my lips. “Hey, Fluttershy. I’m really sorry to wake you, but...” I bit my lip.

You’re a freak, Twilight.

“Can I come in? I just... want to talk.” The thought became more and more embedded in my mind as I was forced to recall my motive for coming here. The smile vanished from my face, and I sighed.

I must look so pathetic.

“Of course, Twilight. What’s wrong? What do you need to talk about?” Her smile replaced mine as I stepped into the cottage. Fluttershy closed the door behind me.

The normally bustling home was completely still. I could spot birds sleeping in their houses that hung from the wall, but birds don’t snore, I suppose. My muscles relaxed somewhat in the bright surroundings.

“Um... well...” Another hopeless sigh escaped me. There was no point in making small talk. I had to get this out right away.

“Am I a freak, Fluttershy?”

She gasped, her eyes widening in shock. “What? Twilight, why would you ever think that?”

Even when she’s exclamatory, her voice is still so soothing...

The pure concentration of concern in those words brought tears to my eyes. I sniffled and dropped to the floor. “I... I had a nightmare. I–I dreamed that I was saving Ponyville from the Ursa... and....” I gulped as the words caught in my throat.

Fluttershy took a step forward and dropped right next to me. “It’s okay, Twilight. Don’t be scared.”

Don’t be scared.

It was all the reassurance I needed.

I took a deep breath, and continued. “...I lost control of my power, and turned Ponyville into a crater.” A shuddering sob escaped me. “Th–there was nothing left.”

I continued to stare at the ground. I didn’t want to see Fluttershy’s reaction.

Moments passed, the silence only disturbed by the constant ticking of a clock on the wall.

“Oh my. I suppose...”

I pictured her rummaging her thoughts in order to expertly pick out the proper words.

“I mean, I guess that would make you feel like a freak.” A shiver went down my spine as she leaned over and nuzzled my cheek. “But you’re not, Twilight. You’re a very special pony, and you just had a bad dream. My animal friends have them all the time. Everything is okay now.”

Oh, my. Did she rehearse this?

I never felt so comforted in all my life. Her words were a beam of sunshine cutting through the bleak fog clouding my mind.

But it wasn’t completely cleared, yet.

“Thanks, Fluttershy. Really, I mean it.” I lifted my head and managed a smile, my eyes shimmering as I gazed at her reassuring complexion. “I honestly don’t know what came over me. I guess... I never really never thought about it before.”

“Thought about what?”

I bit my lip, the words on my tip of my tongue, where they wanted to stay. I managed to force them out. “I’m one of the only ponies who could cause a tragedy like that. If I lose control of my special talent...”

I couldn’t say it.

She nuzzled me again, and I shuddered. Her soft snout was like a beacon of pure comfort. The fog dispersed even further. “But you didn’t lose control, Twilight. It was just a dream. Don’t worry about the what-ifs. Everything is fine.”

Everything is fine.

I sniffled again, wiping away the mist around my eyes.

Everything is fine, Twilight.

This time, the words came from within, and I believed them.

I smiled at Fluttershy. I had never noticed it before, but her silky mane seemed to form the outline of a heart. The smile she returned was the softest and most genuine I had ever seen

My cheeks tingled, and I turned to stare at the ground once more.

“Um, Twilight, are you okay?”

“Oh! Um, nothing, I’m fine,” I choked out. I turned away for a moment.

What’s happening to me?

I snuggled up closer to Fluttershy. I felt her body twitch at the motion, but she didn’t protest.

“Um... Fluttershy?”

“Yes, Twilight? What is it?”

Oh, goodness. Her voice. It feels like I’m snuggled up in bed with a nice book and a mug of hot cocoa.

I knew what it was, now. Any trace of a worry burdening me had completely evaporated. At that moment, I knew everything would be alright.

“Um... well...”

Wait, who’s Fluttershy here? Come on, just tell her! Tell her that...


The blissful sensation melted away. It had only lasted a few seconds, at most. My mind began to plot against me once more.

Do you really want to risk telling her? Wouldn’t that be incredibly awkward? Do you want to ruin this moment?

Isn’t it already ruined, though?

Yes, but you ruined it yourself by thinking too much. You’re over analyzing the potential consequences of your actions.

If you tell Fluttershy you love her, you have no idea what will happen.

The thought struck me like a brick.

“You’re a really good friend, you know?”

No! Tell her more! Tell her how soothing her voice is! How you want to hug her and never let go! That you want to stay in this moment forever!

And risk ruining your friendship? You have no idea she would react. It’s one thing to reassure a pony after she has a bad dream. It’s another to have a friend confess her affection to you.

Don’t take risks, Twilight.

It was a miracle that I didn’t scream. With luck, Fluttershy only saw a delicate smile on my face, and not the battle thrashing on in my head.

“Aw, why thank you, Twilight,” Fluttershy cooed. She stood up and smiled at me. “You know I’m always here if you want to talk about anything.”

As she stood up and the heat of her body left my bones, it was as if I had stepped into a blizzard. I want to feel her against me. I wanted to feel her heart beat. I wanted her to extend a soft wing and curl me tightly against her, to feel the tickling of her feathers.

I couldn’t have any of that. All I could do was smile and hug her. “Are you sure you’re not mad that I woke you up this late?”

I wanted to squeeze her as tight as I could and feel her silky mane against my cheek. Alas, all I could do was give her a hug that could only be interpreted as “friendly.”

“Of course not, Twilight. I’ll always get up if you need to talk.”

I had to fight back tears yet again. Tears of desperate longing.

“Thanks, Fluttershy. It means a lot to me, honest.” I did my best to fake a yawn. “I’m really tired now, though. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

Fluttershy nodded, the light bouncing of her mane pounding the image of the heart shape deeper and deeper into my consciousness. “Sure, that sounds wonderful.”

With every shred of willpower I could muster, I broke off the hug and walked back outside into the lonely night. I closed my eyes and gathered my magic, before disappearing in a burst of energy. In a flash, I was back in the library next, standing next to my bed. I threw myself onto the still damp sheets and buried my head in the pillow as I sobbed my heart out.

I opened my eyes as the painful memory finally came to a halt. I levitated the letter in front of me once again, sniffling as I stared at the name printed on it.

Twilight Sparkle

Curse that name. I hated myself with a relentless passion at that moment.

I loved her, but I couldn’t tell her. The night that I had talked to her, I went over all the scenarios in my head. After I was done sobbing, I even made a list. A stupid, stupid list.

Fluttershy and I were such good friends. We still are, I supposed. I knew I could talk to her whenever, and everything would be all right, no matter how dark things seemed to me.

If I told her I loved her, and she rejected me, I risked the chance of ruining that bond forever. Sure, we would probably move on, but it wasn’t guaranteed.

I’m Twilight Sparkle. I don’t take risks like that.

Even if she was receptive to my feelings, what would the rest of our friends think, if there were four friends, and two mare friends? Wouldn’t things be incredibly awkward when we hanged out? Might that drive our friendships apart?

All those years ago, I discovered just how wonderful friendship was for the first time. I wasn’t about to risk throwing that all away. Even if Fluttershy and I kept it a secret, there were no guarantees it would stay a secret.

So, I forced myself to bottle up my feelings. I spent time with my friends, never saying a word. I never told Fluttershy how I really felt for her. I never even hinted at it. If she knew, she didn’t tell me.

To her, I was just another friend.

Because I couldn’t take any risks for the highest possible happiness, I had to settle for a guaranteed middling joy.

And then she got that job offer working in the Canterlot Gardens during a visit a few weeks back. I begged her not to take it, that I would miss her too much. That I didn’t want our time together to come to an end.

That was when I should have told her. That was the time to lay all my cards on the table, but rationality struck again. If she turned me down, then our time spent together in Ponyville would end on a sour note. Of course, it was more than likely that we would make up, and go back to being happy friends through letters.

“More than likely” is still an unacceptable risk, though.

The letter trembled in my magical grasp.

Just open it. Worst case scenario, it’s a friendly letter.

Best case scenario...

My heart pounded in my chest, each beat rattling my bones.

I took a deep breath and opened the envelope, gathering myself so the page didn’t shake so much.

Her handwriting was just as beautiful and elegant as her voice.

Dear Twilight Sparkle,

I hope life is treating you well in Ponyville. I really miss everypony, but I’m having a wonderful time working in the gardens.

It was an incredibly tough decision to leave all of you, it really was. I don’t want you to think I abandoned you. I didn’t. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have the job of a lifetime. I’ll still be back to visit as often as I can, but that might be only once every few months. Not often enough to justify keeping the cottage.

There’s another reason I took the job though, Twilight.

I love you.

I had always suspected you felt the same way ever since you came to visit after your nightmare, but perhaps I shared your doubts about revealing this information. I mean, what if I was wrong? What if you said no? I couldn’t risk tainting our friendship like that. And what if our friends knew? I couldn’t risk ruining those friendships either. That is why I couldn’t tell you.

You know I’m a shy pony. When you don’t talk much, you have a lot of time to think things over.

I desperately hope I am right in my assumption. If I am wrong, I hope we can move on and keep being friends. If I am right... now there’s a way we can spent time together with no pony knowing. I’m sure you can find a reason to visit Canterlot, since you are Celestia’s personal student.

We don’t have to risk our other friendships to be together now. Even if we can’t spend every moment with each other, at least you know how much I care about you now. I can only hope you feel the same about me.

Please let me know. I’ll be waiting for you.