I couldn’t believe Rainbow Dash! We had been friends for years. Through thick and thin we stuck together, through Discord, Chrysalis, Sombra, Tirek, and Starlight Glimmer, she had stuck by me. I was flabbergasted at her sudden aggression, but to be honest, it was hardly unexpected. She had acted strange long before that confrontation. I noticed she always denied party invites to parties she knew I would go to, or she would be helping Applejack on the farm, and when I showed up she would have somewhere to be. She would even sometimes refuse to come to our group tea parties so she could “catch up on some Z’s.” I just never connected the dots I guess. My train of though was broken when Rarity, who had been leading us through town, spoke up.
“We should be nearing Fluttershy’s villa shortly,” she said. Obviously we knew where Fluttershy lived, but it was nice being able to look down and think, while only following Rarity’s polished white hooves. When I looked up I noticed we were a small distance outside of Ponyville. It was behind us, with town hall always in view above every building. It used to be the “beacon”, per say, of how you knew you were getting close to town. The castle now holds that honor.
The trees were beginning to look less trimmed the further we ventured out of town, until it finally just turned into an overgrowth. This main path led to the Everfree Forest, where many ponies refused to get close to. The cottage was on a deviation to the right of the main path. It seemed the grove surrounding the path to Fluttershy’s cottage always looked greener than the trees on the main path. I didn’t know for sure, but I could conclude she takes care of them personally. Even the dirt road looked raked, with no large pieces of gravel. Fluttershy figured out how to clean a dirt road.
“I never noticed how nice this path looked before,” I said.
“Yes, It does look well groomed,” Rarity answered back.
“Yes in deedily,” Pinkie Pie said as she bounced while walking. I smiled, with one side of my mouth higher than the other, creating more of a smirk.
“So, how are we going to go about this?” I asked, hoping Rarity had a plan since she took us this far.
“Fluttershy has never been a particularly unreasonable pony, I’m sure she will forgive Rainbow Dash. She just needs to know Rainbow Dash is truly sorry for her past… boo boos,” Rarity responded.
“But is Rainbow Dash sorry? She seemed very matter-of-fact about it.”
“You must have still been a bit in the fighting spirit, because it was painfully obvious she felt regret for what she did. I'm sure Applejack would agree.”
Pinkie Pie interjected,” So what do you think they're doing back at the castle? They better not be throwing parties without me!” I giggled a bit and responded.
“I doubt you'll have to worry about Rainbow Dash wanting to throw a party in her current state,” I said.
“Ooooooooh, I should have brought my party cannon to Fluttershy’s, so we could throw a party there!”
Rarity spoke, "Oh no my dear, remember what happened while we were redecorating Twilight’s castle? Perhaps just a civilized talk will do.”
“Wait, what happened while you were redecorating the castle?” I asked. I didn’t like referring to the castle as “mine”, since we all are an Element of Harmony, not just me.
“We don’t need to bring that fashion disaster back up, we have another disaster to worry about,” Rarity said. I wanted to continue my interrogation, but decided to drop it as well when I saw the cottage come into view. I could see the cage in the back, open and empty. I didn’t want to deviate from our main goal, but my curiosity got the better of me. I flared my wings and took off, if only to land back down at the foot of the cage.
“Twilight, hold up,” Pinkie Pie shouted as she sprinted towards me, while Rarity followed behind at more of a quick canter. I was looking at the cage when I saw blood in the grass and decided to follow it. The trail didn’t take long to end. A few measly feet away was what I guessed to be a “timber rabbit”. I could certainly see how Rainbow Dash made the mistake. From afar it looked almost identical to any bunny I’ve ever seen, except that its fur did look more like bark on closer inspection. I could easily tell it was a timber rabbit when I was right next to it, but I did have the power of hindsight. Rainbow Dash did not have that luxury.
I felt bad for Rainbow Dash. It was an honest mistake; its not like she meant to do it. She wasn't an innocent bystander though, and I wouldn't take sides if it came down to it, which hopefully it won't. I frowned at the situation. How could such a small action lead to these huge complications? I was about to head back to Pinkie Pie and Rarity, but when I turned around, Pinkie Pie was right in my face.
"Hey Twilight, whatcha lookin' at?" She asked with wide bug eyes.
"Please Pinkie, I can smell the candy you ate this morning," I nudged her away from my face with my right forehoof. I couldn't help but crack a smile, and when Pinkie Noticed, she giggled a bit. Rarity was closing the distance at a leisurly pace, but started speaking as she walked up to us.
“What is it?” Rarity asked when she caught up to me and Pinkie. She stared at it with one eyebrow raised above the other.
“I believe this is the timber rabbit Rainbow was talking about” I answered back.
“Ooooooh creepy”, Pinkie Pie said as she crept closer to it. She poked it with the very tip of her hoof, and it fell apart in a heap of splinters.
“Ewewewew,” Rarity said as she ran away much faster than she had arrived. Pinkie and I both burst out laughing. There were tears in both of our eyes we were laughing so hard. Rarity stopped when she made it to the front yard and yelled back at us.
"It's not funny!" she yelled, "how crude." Pinkie Pie bounced after her. I decided after a few short seconds that there was nothing left for me here. So I sprinted after Pinkie Pie.
I found Rarity, Pinkie, and eventually myself, at the door to the cottage. Rarity was reaching for the door handle as if she had not just been running away screaming like a filly at a campfire story. At further inspection, I saw the door was not closed all the way. I didn’t say anything and Rarity gave an audible “oh dear” when she grabbed it and it practically opened without her.
Pinkie Pie giggled and Rarity shot her an angry glare. Not the serious kind, but the kind you give after someone tells a funny joke at your expense. Pinkie Pie instantly stopped, and Rarity opened it all the way. We did not see Fluttershy anywhere in the entry room, which doubled as the living room.
“We should look around, I can't imagine she would go anywhere if she had bunnies, or any animal, to care for,” I suggested.
“Good idea, Pinkie and I will check down here, you, Twilight, check the upstairs area.” She nodded, waiting for me to respond. I returned the nod. Pinkie Pie didn’t, but started looking around nonetheless.
I crept up the stairs, as for some reason, I didn’t want to alert Fluttershy without first knowing where she was. The stairs started creaking, as wood stairs seem to always do. So I unfurled my wings and leapt, gliding the rest of the short distance to the top. I continued searching through every room, and didn’t find her anywhere.
I was about to give up and return downstairs, until I heard a soft voice behind the last door I had left to check, at the end of the hall. The door leading to the room was also not closed all the way, much like the front door. I peeked through the crack and saw Fluttershy kneeling over what seemed like a small bed or basket.
“I can't believe she did this to you. I hope you don’t hate me for this, but it's for your own good,” she said very softly. I had to strain my ears to make out most of it. She put both of her hooves in the basket and lifted out a bunny, it had a lot of bandages. They all were clean bandages, mainly around the neck and chest area. Fluttershy held him and the next thing I know, she cracks his neck!
I gasped and ducked behind the corner before Fluttershy could look back to see me. I huddled up against the wall, breathing heavily, trying to process what I just saw. With what she had just done, I was terrified. This is Fluttershy; there is probably a simple explanation. I relaxed, and put my hoof to my chest and extended outward, exhaling as I did. That was how I calmed myself when I was stressed, which happened more and more often as of late.
“Who's there?” Fluttershy yelled, which was really a normal voice for anypony else. Then as if on cue, Pinkie Pie came slamming each step as she ascended them.
“Twiiiiiliiiight, find anything up here?” she said. The door next to me opened up and Fluttershy stood there on two legs, with the other two crossed. Her mouth scrunched back to show her mixture of annoyance and slight anger.
Her voice returned to her normal quiet, but not as incomprehensible as when I was eavesdropping, “What are you guys doing here? And why do you look so nervous, Twilight?” When she made enough room, I squeezed past her into the room that she had been residing. I ran over to the basket and checked the bunnies pulse. *thump* *thump*.
“Oh, thank Celestia, I thought you had… Phew,” I sighed in relief, and turned to face Fluttershy.
“What did you thi… Did you think I killed him?” Fluttershy asked in utter disbelief. Rarity walked into the room now, along with Pinkie Pie. The room was not that large, and it was beginning to feel a little claustrophobic.
“Twilight, why didn’t you come find us when you found Fluttershy?” Rarity asked.
“You guys were looking for me?” Fluttershy asked not a second after Rarity.
“SO MANY QUESTIONS!” Pinkie Pie yelled.
“Okay, okay, let's get out of this cramped room and we will explain everything to everybody.” I ordered. Everypony filed out of the room, through the narrow hallway, and into the main room. Fluttershy continued on to make us tea. I looked around the living room. It looked only slightly different than usual, as many of the storage containers, such as the desk by the couch, were rummaged through. As if Fluttershy was frantically looking for something, and made no effort to clean up when, or if she found it.
The room was mostly made of what looked like oak wood. The floor was painted a cactus green. There were bookshelves embedded in the walls, along with a fire place protruding into the room. The fireplace had pans and pots hanging from it, which made it seem like it could be used for cooking. The table, chairs, and floor were all wood, with a multitude of colorings, but mainly the same oak color. There was a couch in the middle of the room. It only had two seat cushions, but looked like it could easily fit three ponies. Next to it were two chairs on either side, each with a cushion on the seat and back. Each one faced a two-layered coffee table in the middle of the room. It had a rug underneath it, with frilly pieces of cloth tied together at certain ends. I took a seat on the couch with Pinkie Pie, while Rarity took the chair closest to the stairs, but furthest from the kitchen.
When Fluttershy returned, she placed down a platter containing a filled kettle, and four tea cups. The tea cups were each a milky white, with purple accents around the drinking edges. The kettle was designed much the same way, but with an added accent at the bottom.
After we each took a cup and she filled them, she took a seat at the last remaining chair nearest to the kitchen, but furthest from the stairs, and I explained everything. I explained Rainbow Dash and my fight, our cutie mark pagers, our planned intervention, and how i'd accidentally thought Fluttershy had hurt that bunny.
“Oh no no, I was just setting his bone. The timber rabbit was in the process of biting his arm, and it broke when I yanked it away. It was just a basic fracture that I set so it could heal faster, it only looked like I cracked his neck from your angle,” Fluttershy explained to me.
“That’s a relief, but enough about that, we came here for you” I said
“Yes darling, you must have felt your cutie mark the same time we did, a little less than an hour ago?”
“Oh no, I was too busy burying my…” she started sobbing up and to my surprise, it was Pinkie Pie who was the one to comfort her. Pinkie Pie got up from her seat on the right side of the couch and hugged Fluttershy.
“It's okay, don’t hold it in, we are all your friends here.” Fluttershy then let out a multitude of sobs, sniffles, and tears all over Pinkie Pie’s back. Pinkie Pie didn’t budge an inch. It didn’t take long for Rarity to go into the kitchen and fetch a small towel for Fluttershy to cry into and give Pinkie a break.
Pinkie Pie and Rarity comforted Fluttershy so well, I was starting to feel bad that I was the Princess of Friendship. Maybe Rainbow Dash was right after all. Did I, and I alone deserve this title? Pinkie Pie rubbed the moisture off her back and sat back down. Rarity waited until Fluttershy was finished, took the towel, and sat back down as well.
“T-thank you guys so much, it's just so hard,” Fluttershy sniffled.
“We know, honey, and Rainbow Dash is truly sorry for it, you should see how much she’s beating herself up over it back at the castle,” Rarity attempted to persuade Fluttershy.
“Oh, her, ya well, I bet if Tank was the one in a hole right now, she would know just how I feel” she stated. She said it in her normal quiet voice, but you could still feel the hint of anger and sarcasm in it. I haven’t seen Fluttershy like this since Iron Bull. It caught me off guard a bit.
“Fluttershy, darling, you know it was just an accident, remember when Rainbow Dash watched the butterfly migration with you, or when she knew you could help with that water tornado, and she never put you down for your low scores. Rainbow dash loves you. Not in that way but… um, like any friend would, she would never hurt you so badly on purpose.” Rarity explained. Rarity was definitely doing what Applejack usually does in these situations, provide the pragmatism. But since she wasn’t here, somepony needed to fill the role.
“Ya, come on Fluttershy, stop moping around here, just talk things out with Rainbow back at the castle. Then we can celebrate with a party when you two make up!” Pinkie decided, and wasn’t taking no for an answer. She got up and took Fluttershy’s hoof.
“I don’t know, maybe,” Fluttershy stuttered. She was obviously still unsure, so I gave that last figurative push that made her come.
“Well the Cutie Map has activated and it takes all of us to bring up the map, so you need to come to the castle anyway.” I said while getting up and giving Fluttershy a literal push, realistically more of a nudge to get her walking out the door.
“Um, okay, I guess so, but just for the map,” Fluttershy reluctantly agreed so I stopped nudging her, but Pinkie still held her hoof and walked her out the door.
When we had all made it out of the cottage, Rarity closed the door. I looked back and our eyes met. I could see she held the same mixed feeling I had of hope, and fear for the future.