Fluttershy took a deep breath. “The day Angel became mine was one of the scariest days of my life. Of course, the Everfree Forest is scary at the best of times.”
“Why were ya in the Everfree Forest?” asked Applejack. “Ah thought ya hated that place.”
“Well, let me go back a little bit. You all remember the story of how I got my cutie mark, right?”
“Yes,” they responded.
“I got it because I had a special connection with animals. I could understand them as easily as I understand all of you. When I got my cottage I began adopting little animals and feeding them and giving them a warm, safe place to come to when they wanted to sleep. They all flocked to me and loved the way I could talk with them and understand their needs.
“To you guys I’m sure you could look at a group of white bunnies and not be able to tell which one was Angel, but I have an eye for detail about them. Each of them has their own little things that make them stand out from the rest. Of course besides that I can also hear their voices so it makes it even easier to distinguish them from each other.
“One day I saw him getting into a fight with Tabby and Gemstone.”
“Who?” asked Rainbow Dash.
“Oh! Those are two of my other bunnies. He was yelling about how they were fools for getting suckered in for my nice act. He told them they should just leave now while they had the chance.”
Angel tapped her roughly with his paw, chittering away.
“Hmm? Oh, you’re right.” She looked up at her friends. “Angel is upset because you’re giving him dirty looks and judging him without listening to the whole story.”
Twilight blushed a little. “You’re right. We are being kinda judgmental. Go on.”
“Angel had a good reason for doing what he did. He was abandoned by his previous owner.”
“Really?” asked Rarity. “Why?”
A look of anger flashed across her features before she suppressed it. “I’ll tell you all about it.”
Fluttershy was humming to herself, watering her garden, when she heard it: Loud arguing coming from the other side of the yard. To anyone else it would have just sounded like mindless animal sounds, but it was as clear to her as words from other ponies.
“You’re being played for fools!”
“You shut up!”
“No! She’s just gonna leave you too! Get out now while you still can.”
“Never! Fluttershy loves us. She would never abandon us."
“That’s what I thought too.”
Fluttershy came running up. “What’s going on over here?” Three white bunnies were in each other’s faces. “Tabby. Gemstone. What’s wrong?” She looked at the unfamiliar bunny and she let out a squee of delight. She put her hooves to her mouth and then quickly flew over in front of them, kneeling on the ground, joy etched on her face. “Hello, there! Are you a new friend?”
The bunny glared at her for a few moments before he gave her a swift kick in the jaw and stuck his tongue out at her.
“Hey!” Tabby cried out, jumping at the bunny and tackling it. Gemstone quickly went to join in. Fluttershy grabbed them both, picking them up. “Now, now. That’s not very nice, you two. You should be polite to our guest.”
“Polite?” the bunny said with a huff. “Yeah, right. You’re just like all the rest!”
“He’s been nothing but trouble,” Gemstone said angrily. “He keeps trying to say that you’re gonna abandon us and that we should just leave you now while we have the chance.”
“Oh. That’s not very nice. You two know I would never do that to you, don’t you?”
The two of them hugged her. “Of course, Fluttershy.”
“Awww. Huh?” For a second she had seen a pained look on the new bunny’s face, before he quickly adopted an indifferent demeanor and began hopping off. “Wait! Come back!” Setting the two bunnies on the ground she zoomed into her house before flying towards him. “Are you hungry?” She showed him a hoof full of food pellets. “Won’t you at least stay for some dinner?”
The bunny let out another huff, kicking her hoof and knocking the pellets onto the ground before hopping away faster.
“Come on. What’s wrong? You’re always welcome to come and visit. I have tons of animals living with me in my cottage.”
“Will you quit following me?” the bunny said angrily. “I don’t care about you or your stupid brainwashed minions.”
“Won’t you at least tell me your name?"
Seeing he couldn’t outrun her he came to a stop. “If I talk to you for a minute will you just leave me alone?”
Fluttershy stopped too, landing on the ground. “Okay.”
With a look of disgust he said in an exasperated voice, “Clyde.”
“Clyde! My name is Clyde.”
“CLYDE?” Rainbow Dash said, tears coming down her eyes as she began hysterically laughing and fell off the log she was on.
Twilight and Rarity both had strained looks on their faces, trying not to be rude but letting out little giggles.
Pinkie was unrestrained in her laughter, though unlike Rainbow Dash she wasn’t doing it to make fun of him. “Clyde! Aww, that’s so cuuuute!”
Applejack saw how embarrassed Angel looked, and any desire she had to laugh disappeared. “Aw, don’t ya fuss over such a silly thing, Angel. We all know ya protect our dear Fluttershy so what does it matter what yer name used ta be?”
Rainbow Dash picked herself up, letting out a few last giggles as she wiped off her face. “That’s right, Angel. You’re awesome! You keep Fluttershy on her hooves.”
The rest of them chimed in too, and Angel looked mollified, sitting on Fluttershy’s lap.
“So go on,” said Rainbow Dash. “Tell us all about 'Clyde.'” She let out another little snicker.
“Alright, everypony,” said Fluttershy.
Glaring at her with all the anger he could muster Clyde pointed an accusing hoof at her. “I don’t trust you. You and all you other ponies are a bunch of-”
Fluttershy gasped at the last word. “Such language! I should wash your mouth out with soap, young man!” The bunny’s only response was to continue a profanity laced tirade. Putting a hoof on his ear she gave it a gentle rub. “I understand. You’re in pain. I can hear what you’re really saying.”
The bunny jumped backward. “Don’t touch me! Stop pretending like you really care. You think I want to make pals with YOU? All of your other bunny idiots may trust you, but I never will! All you ponies care about is yourself.” In a bitter voice he said in an undertone, “Just like HER.”
“Her? Her who?”
“Midnight Joy. She was my previous owner. She picked me out of all my brothers and sisters from the pet store. Three years we spent together. She was the most loving and kind foal I have ever seen. She showed me off to everyone, took me everywhere she went that I was allowed, always made sure I was happy and fed and warm and had a clean cage. She was an amazing owner… but then she grew up.”
“She grew into a teenager, and fell in love with a boy. I was glad for her. There was just one problem: he didn’t like rabbits.”
Fluttershy’s heart sank. “So she gave you up, just like that?”
“No. It wasn’t like that. At first she was torn. She really, really liked him. She spent a good many nights crying over him. I decided to leave so that she’d stop crying and she would be happy.”
“I thought you said you were abandoned.”
“I WAS! I left so she could pursue the boy she liked, deciding I’d have to watch her from afar. I thought it was the least I could do after all the good care she had given to me. It turns out the boy she loved wasn’t quite the stallion he had appeared to be. I saw them get into several fights.
"One day when they got into an argument I saw him hit her. I lost my temper and attacked him. That was the last straw. He said he wanted nothing to do with her anymore. I tried to comfort her, and tell her she was better off without him. I thought she’d be glad to be rid of him, but she only got mad at me.
“She blamed EVERYTHING on me. 'If you hadn’t been around I could have had him sooner, my house wouldn’t smell like rabbit and I could bring him to my house.' To her I was the entire reason their relationship had failed. She gave me a kick and told me she never wanted to see me again.
"I tried to make peace with her but she was furious with me. All the years we had been together meant nothing to her… because of a boy who didn’t even really care about her.
"I hate her! That was just cruel! So I gave up on ponies and decided to start a family somewhere else. I’ll make sure my kids stay far away from YOU MONSTERS!” He turned around and began hopping again, towards the Everfree Forest.
Fluttershy began flying, keeping pace with him. In a sad voice she said, “I’m really sorry about what happened to you. You didn’t deserve that.”
Clyde looked over at her questioningly. “Are you crying?”
She sniffed, wiping her face. “I feel so bad for you, to be thrown away so coldly after everything you two had been through together.”
“Hmph. You’re a little different from all the other ponies I’ve seen. You can actually understand what I’m saying. I still don’t trust you, though.”
“Can’t you at least give me a chance, Clyde? I’m very shy, and I don’t interact well with other ponies. Heck, I don’t think I’ll ever get a boyfriend. I just feel like I’m too much of a loser for any boy to be interested in me.”
For a second Clyde looked like he wanted to say something comforting, but just like before his expression quickly dissolved into indifference. “Look, I don’t want to deal with that kind of pain again. I have my own family to look after.
"Even if I did go live with you what would it matter? You have like twenty bunnies already, along with a bunch of other types of animals. You want to tell me that you consider each of them special? I’d just get lost in neglect.”
“That’s not true. I DO consider every single one of my animals special. Tabby loves having her right ear scratched right in the middle. Gemstone loves having her tail fluffed before she goes to bed. Each of my animals gets an equal amount of my time, and I know them better than I know myself.”
She slowed down and came to a stop, making Clyde do the same. She bowed her head. “I’m sorry. I gave my word before that if you talked to me for a little while that I’d stop following you and leave you alone. I understand why you act the way you do. I just hope you can find it in your heart to trust me.
"You’re always welcome to come and visit me. I understand that you don’t trust me, so you won’t want to bring your family around me right now, but if you’re ever low on food I’ll be glad to give you some to give to them. I won’t want anything from you in return. It would be enough for me to know that I’m helping to keep them from starving.”
Clyde gave her an exasperated look. “I don’t GET you! You’re such a weirdo!” He turned around and took off.
A few days went by before she saw Clyde again. He was talking with Tabby and Gemstone again. They weren’t fighting, so she gave him his space. If she respected his boundaries he’d be more likely to start trusting her. Their conversation was about what made her so great. At first the two of them wanted to fight Clyde for his actions from last time, but he seemed genuinely curious about why so many animals flocked to her.
Fluttershy blushed as the two bunnies gushed about her. When they were done they encouraged him to talk to the other animals to hear what they had to say. So Clyde went around to the mice, squirrels, birds; looking for something negative. He got more and more frustrated that not a one of them would say anything bad about her. Finally he lost his temper and took off back home.
When he was gone Fluttershy gathered her animal friends, happy tears coming down her eyes. “Thank you, friends. All of you. I loved all of your kind words. Don’t worry about Clyde. His last owner threw him away for no good reason. It’s just taking him a while to get over it.”
A few birds put a necklace of flowers around her neck, while several of them came up and hugged her. Her heart swelled with joy, but it faded slightly as she looked toward the forest. “He’ll come around,” she said to herself.
Over the next month Clyde came to visit a lot. He avoided seeing her directly, always spying on her animals and her, waiting for her to slip up. Waiting for her to lose her temper and send one of the animals away, or hit it in rage. Time after time she defied all his expectations, which only made him angrier and angrier the longer he kept at it.
A part of him was starting to believe in her, and he hated it. All he needed was just a little evidence to prove she was untrustworthy, and he could just forget about her, but she provided nothing he could use. She was constantly friendly, kind, and considerate. She gave each of her animals food, made sure they shared, and devoted time to each and every one of them on a daily basis. He felt a pain in his heart because he was reminded of the way his owner used to act.
Finally the day came where Clyde came to speak to her directly. “Fluttershy.”
“Hello, Clyde!” Fluttershy said cheerily. “Are you done playing spy?”
“I may not be that bright, but I’m not stupid either. I’ve seen you wandering around here all month. You can try to blend in with the other bunnies, but I always recognized when you were here. Your tail is less fluffy, your whiskers are the longest, and the inside of your ears is a deeper white than the outside.”
Clyde sputtered for a few moments, hardly believing it. Despite not speaking with her once since the first day they met she knew he had been coming around all the time? She had that much of an eye for detail that she could perfectly pick him out whenever he was around? No. It was probably just a trick. One of the other animals probably sold him out every time, since they didn’t like him.
“Have you enjoyed your time here, Clyde? I know you don’t like me, so I’ve kept quiet and pretended I didn’t notice. I was sure that if you knew I knew you were there than you wouldn’t come back to visit. I’ve enjoyed your company and am glad you’ve come to visit so many times, even if you don’t care for ponies. It makes me really happy.”
A few tears came down her eyes as she gave him a bright grin. “Can’t we be friends now? It’s been really difficult for me pretending not to notice an extra bunny running around when all I wanted to do was pick you up and snuggle you close and tell you that I’d never leave you.”
Clyde looked up into her eyes, his little heart racing. What WAS this pony? She couldn’t be serious… could she? Why did she care so much? “Um… well… I guess…” He suddenly gasped, a feeling of betrayal rising up within him stronger than any before. So THAT was it! She had known he had been there all along. She was just putting on an act because she knew he had been watching. Tears came down his eyes as he shook with anger. He had almost bought it. He felt like such a fool.
“What’s wrong, Clyde?”
“Shut up! I knew it! You phony! I’m never coming back here again! You’re an even bigger monster than I thought you were, raising up my hopes and then dashing them to pieces.” He turned his back on her and hopped away.
Fluttershy blinked a few times, tears coming down her eyes. She ran back into her house and began sobbing on her bed. She had no idea what had happened. She thought for sure he was about to join her. What had upset him so? It broke her heart that he was still clinging onto the pain of his past abandonment.
It took her a while to settle down. Her animal friends combed her mane and said comforting things to her, but she just couldn’t stop thinking about Clyde. She wasn’t angry at him. All she wanted was to help him. Why couldn’t he see that?
It was quiet around her house for the next few days. True to his word Clyde stopped showing up. She always double-checked but he was never there. That put her into a depression even her animals couldn’t fix. The time not spent feeding the animals she mostly spent meandering around aimlessly in the yard or sitting on her bed and letting out big sighs.
She knew she should let Clyde go. She knew it wasn’t fair to all the others to neglect them because he wouldn’t come around, but she couldn’t help it. He was bearing so much pain inside she just wanted him to be free of it. She decided to herself she had to be firm. Her other animals were more important since they were actually around and wanted to be around her.
Almost as soon as she made that decision she heard a voice calling her name from afar. She turned to look, and she saw Clyde running toward her cottage. Her heart wanted to feel joy, but she refused to feel it. She didn’t want to get her hopes up on him again. “Oh, what does he want now?”
Her apathy quickly faded when she took in his condition. There was a large scrape going down his back. “Help! Help!”
Fluttershy’s heart began racing as she zoomed toward him. “Clyde, what happened?”
“L-listen, I’m sorry about all the nasty things I said. My family is in danger. A group of harpies has invaded my den. You don’t have to forgive me but you’re the only one I can think of who can help.”
Fluttershy looked with terror at the Everfree Forest. “H-h-harpies?” She didn’t like the sound of that. But then she looked down at the pleading face of Clyde, and with a loud gulp she said, “Okay, let’s go.” She began flying towards the forest but her wings quickly locked up and she stumbled onto the ground. Shaking her head she said, “Come on, Fluttershy. It’s… it’s just the big, scary forest… with a bunch of terrifying creatures inside.” She forced herself to think of why she was going in there in the first place. There were animals in danger. That hardened her resolve, and she let out a deep breath as she stared determinedly towards the forest.
Along the way Clyde gave her directions, yanking on her mane whenever he wanted her to turn. As she ran through the forest she kept her fear at bay by concentrating solely on Clyde’s pulls and the thoughts of the animals she was trying to protect.
She suddenly came to a stop as she heard the sound of cheering in the distance, along with some cries of pain. “That’s them!” Clyde said nervously. He smacked her head. “Go! Go!”
“R-right!” She ran forward, and she felt sick to her stomach as she heard the sounds getting louder. She hoped they would hold out until she got there. “H-how… how…,” Fluttershy panted, “…how many… kids do… you have?”
“Six. It was my first litter with my mate. I was off getting them food when I heard the commotion. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold all of them off and protect my family by myself, so that’s why I came to get you.”
“Thank you, Clyde. I’ll prove you can trust me yet!” With newfound determination she sped up her pace.
As she came into the clearing her courage quickly began deserting her. There were a group of about ten harpies there. She saw the bodies of two baby bunnies being feasted on, and the other ones were being played with for sport. The biggest one, which she guessed was the mother, also had large scratches across her body and looked dead.
The harpies were only half her size, but their number was what scared her the most. She was no fighter. “L-leave those bunnies alone!” she snapped out.
All of the creatures turned to look at her. “Look what we have here,” said one of them. "The pony has brought back another appetizer.”
She could heard the distress in Clyde’s voice as he kicked her behind the ear and said, “Do something!”
Unable to think of anything else meaningful to do she charged at them. They easily flew out of the way.
Clyde hopped off her back and onto the ground, tearing up as he saw the bodies of his dead kids. “No! I’m sorry! If only I’d been faster.”
“Daddy!” the little one said, gathering around him, looking terrified.
Fluttershy gathered up the mama, putting her with the other ones.
“Honey!” Clyde said, holding his mate. “Wake up!”
The mother opened her eyes, saying weakly, “Oh, you’re here. Thank goodness. Protect our babies.” She let out a shudder and closed her eyes.
“No! Don’t die on me! Our kids need you.”
She huffed, looking up at him again. “I know.”
A chorus of laughter interrupted them. “Hey, you losers. Enough with the touching reunion. You’ve just made it easier by gathering all our prey into one place.”
All of the harpies began flying again. Fluttershy looked around at the circling half-bird creatures as one of them charged at the group. She jumped forward, covering the group with her body, putting her hooves protectively around them.
“Yyaaahhhh!” she screamed out as a claw cut through her skin. “L-listen to me!” she said in a quiet, desperate voice. “I need you to-EEEEE-get out of here. I’ll distract them and make it seem like-AAHHH-I’m trying to fly you to safety.” Her eyes closed in pain as the harpies kept attacking her but she wouldn’t move out of the way. “You need to-GGRRAAHH- protect your family and run away as soon as I jump up. They’ll follow me and you can get out of-EEEEEKKK!“
Clyde was feeling guilt in the pit of his stomach. “I’m sorry, Fluttershy. If I had just-”
“Sshhh,” she said, smiling through her pain. “There will be time for that later. Ready?” Clyde nodded. “Go!”
Zooming up as quickly as she could she flapped her wings and headed in the opposite direction of her house. As she hoped the harpies followed her. “They’re getting away!” “Stop her!” “Come back with our dinner!”
The six bunnies ran as fast as they could for a short while, but then Clyde stopped. “What’s wrong?” his mate asked.
“I can’t just leave her alone. She’s weak and frail. She’ll never make it on her own. You take the kids and just keep running in this direction until you get out.”
“I understand, but what can you do?”
Clyde shrugged. “Not much, but she risked her life for me and all of us after I treated her so nastily. I can’t just abandon her or they might just decide they’d rather have pony for dinner. She cares for animals above everything else and that’s the only reason she’s in here. If she doesn’t have something to protect her courage isn’t going to last.” He gave her a kiss. “I want you to run and don't stop for anything. I don’t know if we’re gonna make it out of this alive, but you and the rest of our kids need to get of here. As long as you’re safe that’s all I’ll need.”
She kissed him back. “I understand.”
Fluttershy was panting, letting out frightened squeals as the harpies closed in on her. One clipped her wing and she quickly descended, landing on a tree branch hard, knocking the breath out of her. Slipping off the branch she was heading toward the ground and almost landed on her head before righting herself. The creatures surrounded her. “Hey! She was faking! She doesn’t have the bunnies at all!”
“Fine, then! A few little babies wouldn’t have filled me up anyway.”
“Pony for dinner!”
“Po-ny din-ner! Po-ny din-ner!”
Fluttershy was huffing and puffing, her heart beating so fast it felt like it was gonna give out as the creatures began chanting. She let out a scream as one of them grabbed her in its claws, lifting her up. “Bring it to the nest! We’re eating good tonight!”
Fluttershy was paralyzed with fear, unable to move. She didn’t want to imagine being feasted on by a group of monsters.
Clyde bounded into the clearing, hopping onto Fluttershy’s tail and climbing up it and her body, then onto the harpy’s hair, giving it a big bite on the nose.
Fluttershy squeaked as she fell to the ground and the harpy cried out in pain. Clyde dropped down in front of her. “Clyde? What are you doing here?”
“I thought you might need my help. I know how scared you had to be, but you still came here to help me save my family.”
“Get her!” a harpy yelled.
Fluttershy quickly grabbed Clyde, jumping out of the way. “Now I have to save you,” she said strongly, her fear eroding. Setting him down she stood up in front of him, putting her hooves out. “Get out of here and save your family! I’ll hold them off as long as I can!”
Clyde looked over at her with horror. The entire backside of her coat had turned red from all the bloody slashes she had received. She was panting and shaking, and he kept seeing more and more that Fluttershy truly WAS an exemplary pony. She was willing to go through so much, just for him. No selfish pony with only their own interests at heart would sacrifice themselves just to make themselves look good, or put their life in danger simply to prove a point. Fluttershy was doing all of this out of the goodness of her heart, and it only brought tears to his eyes to see how stupid he had been when he had seen the truth long ago. It was only his stubbornness that had stopped him from trusting in her before.
He began running towards her as the group of harpies all extended their claws and charged towards her. He could see quite plainly that she was willing to die for him, just to keep him safe. He was equally committed to making sure that didn’t happen. Jumping forward he headbutted her right hoof, knocking her off balance and most of the harpies crashed into the ground or each other as they tried to stop.
Clyde jumped on her face and gave her a hard smack. “Nothing good will come of you dying!” he said angrily. “You understand me? Too many animals still need you. Come on! Let’s go now, the TWO of us.” From the bottom of his heart he said, “I trust you, Fluttershy! So I need you to trust in me too.”
Still huffing, Fluttershy nodded. She gave him a quick kiss, smiling down at him. Her back was on fire, but she refused to focus on it. She was needed now. There was time to worry about the pain later. She picked Clyde up, throwing him on her back as she flew into the air and began racing toward her home.
As the harpies untangled themselves they began flying after her, but she managed to stay ahead of them. Like before Clyde tugged on the side of her mane whenever he wanted her to make a turn, allowing her to avoid the claws of the harpies each time they got close.
Just when she thought they were home free she screamed as a large shape suddenly appeared in front of her. A fully-grown harpy flew down in front of her. She quickly changed directions but was unable to control her momentum in time before she crashed into a tree. She managed to move her head but her wing and her front leg still got the brunt of the impact. She bounced off the tree, and Clyde went flying off of her.
Fluttershy felt dizzy. “C-Clyde?” she called out, seeing him laid out about fifty feet away.
The big harpy landed next to her. “Honestly, children. Why were you having such trouble with such pitiful prey?”
“Sorry, mom!” came the reply.
“Now, kill the stupid bunny and be done with it. The pony is mine.”
“N-no!” As the words of the harpy registered with her she felt some strength welling up inside her. Hopping up on her good legs she hastily limped over to Clyde, hugging him. “Clyde! Get up!”
He opened his eyes.
“This is it for me,” she said weakly, “but you can still live and be with your family.” She gave him a push. “Go on! Your family already lost two of their own today. Why should they lose any more?”
Turning towards the harpies she said with all the strength she could muster, gasping for breath, “If… if you hurt him… you’ll... you’ll… regret it!”
Clyde began hopping away, but he only got a few steps before his conscience stopped him dead in his tracks and he turned around as Fluttershy collapsed. He ran over to her and sat in the crook of her leg. “No! I’m not leaving!”
“You have to! I’m done for, but you can still survive. Go on! Go!”
“NO!” he yelled, hugging her. “If you have to die I’m not letting it be all alone and scared. You didn’t have to do all of this. You saved my family’s life. I can never repay you for that, so the least I can do is be willing to give up my life so that you can at least go while holding an animal you love. No one should have to die all alone and abandoned.
"Leaving you now would make me worse than my old owner.” He hugged her around the neck. “I love you, Fluttershy! I’m so sorry! I won’t leave you no matter what!”
Fluttershy began crying too, holding Clyde close to her, her eyes shut tight as the two of them waited for the end.
Fluttershy paused for a moment, taking a deep breath as she recalled that day. As she looked up she could see all of her friends were on the edges of their logs, looking anxiously at her.
“Don’t stop there!” Rainbow said excitedly. “Who saved you? What happened next?”
“Yeah, Fluttershy!” said Twilight sternly. “Don’t keep us in suspense.”
“Okay, okay!” Fluttershy responded as she was relentlessly pestered for requests to finish.
The large harpy laughed, and all the smaller ones were circling around her, chanting like before.
Fluttershy was crying her eyes out. She didn’t care about herself. She didn’t care if she died. She just didn’t feel Clyde should have to die along with her. She appreciated the gesture he was making, but she felt it would hurt less knowing she would die alone, so long as he was safe. “I want to help him!” she cried out. “Please! Let me help him!” She slammed her hoof on the ground. “I don’t want you to die!”
The harpies were taking their time, savoring their triumph as they whetted their appetite for their prey.
“Kill the bunny!” said the large harpy. “Let her suffer as she watches us devour him. She’s too injured to go anywhere.”
“JUST TRY IT!” Fluttershy said angrily, something snapping within her as all her other emotions faded away, leaving only a feeling of overwhelming rage. She glared at them with all the contempt she could muster. “I’ll tear you apart!”
All of the harpies fell to the ground as she stared at them, each of them feeling a sense of terror so complete they forgot to fly. Even the large harpy stopped her approach.
“Um… never mind!” As one all eleven of the harpies raced out of the clearing as fast as they could.
A few seconds later Fluttershy blinked. “W-what just happened? Are we really safe now?”
Clyde looked around. “They’re all gone? What did you do?” He looked utterly shocked.
“I… I don’t know. I just got so frustrated and wanted to protect you. Something just… awoke in me.”
Clyde let out a sigh of relief. “What a day,” he said as he collapsed on the ground. “I can’t believe I’m still alive.”
“Yeah. You are.” She smiled as she gave him another kiss. Her head fell for a second, and she shook her head as she began feeling sleepy. “C-Clyde? Is it cold out here, or is it just me?” She began shivering. “I’m… I’m feeling so cold.”
“Uh-oh! That’s not good. You lost a lot of blood!”
“Huh?” she asked, his words coming in fuzzy. “W-what do you think we should do?” Her words sounded distorted.
Clyde didn’t like it, but he only had one choice. He turned around and hopped out of the clearing as fast as he was able.
“C-Clyde!” Fluttershy sputtered out. “W-where are you going?”
A few minutes later she heard a yelling voice, coming closer to her. Was it another threat? She tried to stand up but she just felt so weak. She couldn’t muster any strength.
“Come back here, you thieving varmint!”
Clyde hopped back into the clearing, holding an apple. Shortly after a yellow pony with a green mane ran in. “There you ar-haaaahh!” He let out a cry as he saw the injured pony.
Clyde hopped next to her and began chittering as he pointed to her. “Sorry, but I don’t speak rabbit.”
In a very faint voice Fluttershy said, “He says that I need to go to the hospital and he wants you to help me.”
“Oh! Of course!”
Fluttershy let out a heavy breath, unable to stay awake any longer. She passed out, her head hitting the ground, the last thing she heard was Clyde calling out her name.
“The next thing I knew I was waking up in the hospital. They had given me a transfusion to bring my blood count back up and wrapped up all my injuries. They said if I had been brought in just a few minutes later I probably wouldn’t have made it. As it is I was unconscious for almost an entire day.”
“Wow!” said Rarity. “That is amazing!”
“Yeah!” said Rainbow Dash. “You awakened The Stare and nearly got yourself killed a bunch of times for a bunny? Now that is AWESOME! You are hardcore, Fluttershy!”
“Yeehaw!” Applejack said brightly. “You go, girl!”
Fluttershy blushed brightly at her friend’s compliments. “I couldn’t have done it on my own,” she said demurely. “I only fought so hard because I wanted to protect him.” She put her hoof over Angel, scratching his ears. “Angel stayed with me throughout everything. He wouldn’t leave my side until I woke up. He wouldn’t take any food. He wouldn’t even check up to make sure his family had made it out okay, and so the first thing I saw when I woke up was him.”
“Hmm… mmm… uhhh.” Fluttershy opened one of her eyes a crack, blinking in the light. “Whoa!” She felt something collide into her neck, squeezing it. Looking down she saw Clyde. “Hey, there,” she said quietly.
“You idiot! I thought you were dead! Don’t ever almost die again!”
Memories of her adventure began coming back to her. “I’m sorry, Clyde.”
“No!” he said, giving her a light smack, making her give him a questioning look. “Clyde is the name my traitorous former owner gave to me. I don’t want that one anymore. I want my new owner to give me a new name.”
“New owner?” she said, looking distraught. “That’s a shame. I was hoping to have you.
"Oh, well. As long as you’re happy.”
Clyde smacked a paw to his face. “I’m talking about YOU, Fluttershy.”
“M-me?” she said, her frown quickly turning upside-down as a boundless joy crossed her features. “Oh, that’s so great!” She looked him up and down, from his ears to his paws. “Okay, then. How about “Angel?” Because you helped to save my life and protected me when you could have just left me a bunch of times to save yourself.”
Clyde looked up and down, left and right, sucking on his cheek as he thought it over. “Okay,” he finally said, smiling at her. “Angel it is!”
He gave her another hug, and she put her good hoof around him as she nuzzled him. “I love you, little Angel Bunny.”
“Awww,” said Pinkie Pie. “That was a great story. Kinda scary, but fun!”
“Angel did lose two of his children, Pinkie,” said Twilight. “Be a little more tactful.”
“Oh!” she said, looking contrite. “Sorry, Angel.”
He began talking to them, and then they looked at Fluttershy for the translation. “He said that he forgives you and he’s had a few years to move past that terrifying incident. The rest of his family made it out safely, and they now all live at my cottage.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, Fluttershy,” said Rarity, “but isn’t his name a little off?”
“What do you mean?”
“You said you named him Angel, like a guardian angel, because he saved your life. But the only reason your life was in danger in the first place was because of him not trusting you and just having his family live with you a while ago.”
“That’s true, but it doesn’t change the fact that he risked his life and was willing to die beside me. I love all my little animal friends, but I can’t force any animals stay with me that don’t want to. He had every right to choose to stay away from other ponies if he thought it would put his family in danger. I don’t blame him for it. If anything, the blame should go to his former owner for being so ungrateful. Angel willingly left her so she could be happy with her boyfriend, and in the end she spurned even that generosity when things didn’t work out between them.
“Speaking of generosity, I believe it’s your turn, Rarity. How did you get Opal?”
“Well, darling, Opal wasn’t original my cat. She was the one who helped get my fashion career off the ground.”