Shy Can See

by Evehly

Chapter 4

Today was a day where rain was expected. Oily gray clouds completely blanketed the sky, but that didn’t stop Canterlot’s citizens from being out and about on the streets.

It had been far too long since Fluttershy had ventured outside Canterlot Castle’s boundaries. She had almost forgotten what it was like to be surrounded by the city’s dauntingly tall buildings and structures. She initially considered taking a taxi, but with how long it had been since her last visit, she ought to savor every minute of it.

“Fluttershy, darling!”

Fluttershy came to a sudden halt. It was the faintest sound within the crowd, but she heard it plain as day.

“Over here, Fluttershy!”

There, just across the street, was Coco Pommel’s boutique. Waiting just by the doorway was Rarity, waving frantically for Fluttershy’s attention. “Do come in quickly, darling! It should start raining any minute now!”

A water droplet fell to Fluttershy’s muzzle. She looked upwards to the growling sky, then to her friend, who was gesturing her inside.

Thick ropes of rain came plummeting from the heavens before the pegasus even thought to take a step towards the boutique. Some ponies were well prepared for the weather and had an umbrella. Others picked up their pace in search of someplace to shelter themselves from the downpour.

Fluttershy galloped across the busy street and into the boutique where Rarity gave her a big welcoming hug. “I simply cannot express how delighted I am to see you, Fluttershy! It's been far too long!”

Fluttershy twisted her mane around her hoof to drain it of the absurd amount of rain that came crashing from the clouds. “I can't agree more. I stopped what I was doing and came straight to the boutique as soon as I got your letter.”

Coco Pommel came trotting from upstairs. ”It’s great to see you, Fluttershy! Rarity was practically bouncing off the walls once she got here, telling me about how she was finally going to see you.”

An almost unnoticeable shade of red appeared on Rarity’s face. “Oh I wouldn’t say I was ‘bouncing off the walls’, but I was very excited nonetheless.”

The mental image of her classy, well-mannered friend behaving like a filly who was about to go to the toy store was an amusing one to say the least. She held back the desperate need to let out a giggle at the mere thought. Who knew that Rarity was just that excited to see her out of all ponies!

“I'll make you some tea,” Coco said. “Please, make yourself at home.”

“We’ll be sitting in your study if you need us,” Rarity sang as she took Fluttershy’s hoof into hers.

The dressmaker led her away from the front door and up the stairs into what could best be described as the result of an earthquake. Many mannequins littered the upper floor of the boutique, some of which were adorned with incomplete dresses. Various fabrics, buttons and pins were out of their respectable shelves and covered the floor as well, making it an extra difficult task to maneuver around it all.

“My sincere apologies for the mess, darling,” Rarity said as she continued to lead her friend. “Me and Coco have been hard at work to reach our deadlines.”

“It’s okay,” Fluttershy said with a small smile.

The pegasus was pulled into another room. A much cleaner, more cozy room. Across from the door was a small fireplace as well as a couch and a couple chairs. To the left was a spruce wood desk, carrying a couple stacks of paper, ink wells and a quill.

Rarity sat her down on the couch and took a seat next to her. “Here we are. So tell me, darling, how have things been going since you came to Canterlot?”

“Well, I can’t say it was all that great at first. I was just so anxious, I could hardly even sleep. But now it’s a lot better.”

“It’s fantastic to hear that things are going more smoothly. I know you’ve already said all of this in your letters to Twilight, but I just wanted to hear it face-to-face,” Rarity giggled. “But I am noticing that you have quite the bags under your eyes! Are you still not sleeping well?”

Thinking back on it, ever since she arrived to the castle, she never did seem to get any quality sleep. Not even a single night had she slept for any longer than four hours before waking up again. She shook her head.

“And you have to go down into some dark, dreary dungeon and speak to Sombra every day? That sounds simply dreadful!”

Fluttershy’s shoulders pulled up into a shrug. “It’s actually not so bad. You’ll probably think I’m crazy for saying this, but I kind of like talking to him.”

Rarity’s eyes widened to her outlandish statement. “Are you saying he's even the slightest bit civilized? After witnessing how barbaric he acted after his escape, I find that just a tad hard to believe.”

“He's definitely not the nicest pony you'll meet, but he's not at all what I was expecting. He's, well… quiet.”

Coco Pommel entered the room with a small tray of tea. She carefully set it down on the desk, gave both of her guests a small tea-filled cup, and took a seat just across from Fluttershy. “Sorry you have to sit around in my modest little boutique. I know it's no Canterlot Castle,” she chuckled.

“Oh trust me, I appreciate the change of scenery. Being in the castle is nice and all, but it was starting to drive me a little crazy,” Fluttershy giggled.

“I hope the trip here wasn't too nerve-wracking,” Coco said. “You've been the talk of the town ever since you showed up. Everywhere I go, there's always somepony mentioning you.”

Oh no. Fluttershy’s stomach twisted in knots and gurgled nervously. Canterlot had seemed as clueless as she was when she first arrived to the castle, but it apparently didn’t take long for information to leak onto the streets. “Wh-What are they saying about me?”

“Well, they—” Coco suddenly stopped as her and Rarity’s gazes met. She eventually turned her attention back to Fluttershy, her willingness to speak long gone. Whatever it was that she was about to say, she quickly changed her mind. “Actually, that's best left unsaid. Most of it is a little, uh… negative.”

She wasn't too surprised to hear that. More than half of Equestria was a little riled up over her task to reform Discord; she wasn't expecting any different with Sombra.

“Oh! Goodness, I almost forgot!” Rarity chirped. “Twilight asked for me to give you this.”

With a spark of magic from her horn, a scroll—an abnormally large one, at that—materialized right before Fluttershy’s eyes. Other than its size, it looked just the same as any other scroll from Twilight. Fluttershy wasted no time on taking the cuff off and unravelling it.

The bottom of the parchment came free from its bindings and extended all the way down to the floor.

“Oh my word! Twilight sure had a lot to say, didn't she? What does it say, darling?” Rarity asked.

Dear Fluttershy,

The list you see below is a series of questions that I'd appreciate if you asked Sombra and jot his answers for me. I wish I could do it myself, but as you know, my hooves are pretty full with managing the castle.You shouldn't feel inclined to get an answer for every single one, but just try to get as many as you can. It'd help a lot to find out more about Sombra and the effects dark magic has had on him.

Don't forget to bring your notes with you on your way back to Ponyville!

Twilight Sparkle

Each question had a number, all the way down to number one hundred seventy. How Twilight could have come up with so many questions to ask was beyond Fluttershy's comprehension.

She looked up from the dauntingly large questionnaire. “She made a list of questions she wants me to ask Sombra.”

“May I see?” Rarity asked.

Fluttershy hooved the list over to her friend without an issue.

The unicorn’s eyes moved slowly across the parchment. For a long while, neither Coco Pommel or Fluttershy said a single word. They simply watched, waiting for her to speak up.

A hint of red faded into Rarity’s white cheeks as a smile touched her lips. The giggle that escaped made Fluttershy reach for the list. Just what was so funny?

Rarity jerked the parchment away and laughed. “My my! Twilight most definitely didn't hold anything back!”

“What? What did she write?” Fluttershy snatched the scroll and skimmed the questions, brow furrowed in concentration. Her eyes latched onto the question that had to have gotten Rarity’s attention. What she read left her mouth agape, had her heart racing, her whole face flaming!

“Why would Twilight want to know something like this? A-Asking this... it’d be an invasion of Sombra’s privacy!” Fluttershy yelped.

A brief chortle sounded next to her ear. Coco Pommel was next to her, looking over her shoulder at the question that had both ponies flustered. By the second, Fluttershy’s face was growing hotter at what she was inevitably going to have to ask Sombra. There was no doubt in her mind that she wasn’t going to get an answer for this. If anything, he’d be deeply offended by the question. Actually, she had her doubts about whether or not he’d answer any of what’s on the list.

This questionnaire would be the determining factor as to whether or not Sombra would respect his promise of cooperating.

Fluttershy rolled the parchment back up and set it beside her on the seat. She flushed her embarrassment away with a long exhale and spoke. “I’m not so sure that I can go forward with what Twilight is asking of me. My goal right now is to just gain his friendship. Bombarding him with questions from a list would just annoy him.”

“I’m sure Twilight isn’t expecting you to clear the whole list in a day, darling,” Rarity said. “Just sprinkle a couple in every once in awhile during friendly conversation. Use them when you can’t find anything else to say. Think of them as ice-breakers.”

“I… I guess that could work,” Fluttershy murmured.

A bright and beautiful smile blessed Rarity’s face. “Splendid! Although I cannot for the life of me fathom why you’d want to become friends with such a brute of a pony. I’d preferably just reform him and be done with it.”

“Friendship is just part of the process. And he’s not a brute, he’s just—”

“Standing up for him now, are we? Goodness, darling! All those weeks spent with only him as company must have driven you mad! Coco, have you noticed Fluttershy outside of the castle at all?”

Coco slowly shook her head. “I haven’t. And from what I’ve heard, nopony else has either.”

Rarity turned back to Fluttershy with a knowing smirk. “So you’ve been in the castle all this time, have you? Not a drop of sunlight to speak of?”

Fluttershy began sinking in her chair, part of her face hidden behind her mane. Her voice toned down to but a cowardly whisper. “I… I have been going outside. I’ve just been going outside to the Canterlot Gardens.”

“That doesn’t count. You need to be out in the city, darling! Not cooped up in some luxurious castle! All three of us are taking a little trip down to the spa—no excuses!”

“Oh, that sounds like fun!” exclaimed Coco Pommel. “I could use some time away from work.”

Rarity stood up and beckoned for her friends to do the same. “Come then, girls! I’m simply dying for a good massage!”

Fluttershy remained huddled in her seat. “Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to go, but—”

Before Fluttershy could finish her sentence, she was pulled out of her seat and whisked straight down the stairs and out the door. She knew a trip to the spa was bound to happen, but she suddenly felt a little… castlesick? That’s the only way for her to really describe it. Unwanted thoughts about how Sombra was feeling and what he was up to flooded every crevice of her mind. Was he happy? Angry? Frustrated? Was he in any pain?

Was he thinking about her at all?


Night had long since shrouded the entire city of Canterlot, and the moon had already taken its place high in the sky. The downpour of rain had subsided and the rain clouds broken up to expose the star-filled sky above. The city itself was bustling with ponies eager to take advantage of what the night had in store, but for the castle and its occupants, it was a time of peace and quiet.

Fluttershy entered the castle foyer in a sluggish, exhausted manner. Her trip to the spa with Rarity and Coco was one she certainly didn’t regret. All of the tension built up in her body was worked away by the hooves of a massage therapist, leaving her in the most relaxed state she had ever been in. However, the need for her to visit Sombra had been continuously growing during her brief time away from him. Despite how badly she wanted to fall into her soft, warm bed, the desire to check up on Sombra was stronger.

She ventured down the long winding staircase that led to the dungeons. Being surrounded by no light sources other than the occasional torch against the walls strangely soothed the pegasus. As she descended further down and under the castle, she watched the mesmerizing flames of the torches flicker and crackle. Her vision grew soft and her eyelids fell lower and.

Her front hooves skipped over a step. Fluttershy’s eyes snapped open and a sharp gasp spilled from her mouth before she stumbled down the stairs. She came to a stop at the first floor of the dungeon where the infirmary was held, just managing to stop herself from falling face first on the ground. Her hooves automatically kicked into a light canter towards Sombra’s room, far away from the location of her embarrassing stumble. She could only hope that none of the guards had noticed her slip.

The sight of somepony standing besides Sombra in his room stopped her from opening the door. A certain mare in white was seated in the chair just next to Sombra’s bed, a clipboard full of papers in front of her face and her pen speeding across the page. Every so often she’d look up from her work to closely inspect the sleeping stallion before her, then go right back to writing.

Fluttershy waited patiently just outside the door, watching her through the tiny rectangular window. She’d occasionally have to bat her eyes frantically in an attempt to keep them open. What time was it? Eleven o’clock? Midnight?

Dr. Warmheart eventually came out. Her saggy eyes and weary frown were quickly replaced with a smile upon noticing the pegasus just outside the door. “Good to see you, Fluttershy! Sorry if I made you wait a long while. I had to take care of a little work I’ve been holding off on.”

“What were you writing? N-Not to sound rude or nosy or anything,” Fluttershy murmured as she rubbed her tired eyes.

“Just a little report on Sombra’s condition. Anyhow, I can’t really stick around; I’ve got some sleep I need catching-up on. Sombra is asleep right now, but feel free to go on in regardless. You have a good night!”

“Good night, Doctor,” Fluttershy yawned.

Ever so quietly, she stepped into the room and closed the door behind her. She took a seat beside him, but refrained from saying anything to wake Sombra up. Maybe it was better if she didn’t wake him up at all. After all, it wasn’t like she had anything new to talk to him about.

He was facing away from her, his stomach rising and falling ever so slowly with each breath. His left ear would occasionally twitch to the slightest sounds coming from out in the halls, then fall back to stillness with the rest of him.

What do ponies like him dream about? Fluttershy figured that he regularly had dreams that’d make any normal pony shiver. Conquering lands, killing opposers, disciplining slaves.... Fluttershy found the idea almost cute. There he was, in somepony else’s castle, reduced to nothing but a powerless prisoner. And yet, each and every night, he’d have tremendous dreams of being something far greater.

Then he’d wake up, realizing he’s fallen so far that the closest he’ll ever be to his former glory is his dreams.

On second thought, Fluttershy thought of the idea to be quite sad. She hoped it wasn’t actually true. Perhaps he dreamt of far simpler matters, such as… well, whatever innocent thing he likes to do for fun. Maybe he enjoys stargazing, or maybe even taking walks.

She let loose another delicate yawn, careful not to wake him. She made herself a little more comfortable in her seat and shut her tired eyes.

Just going to rest my eyes for a minute...


Sombra raised his head from his pillow and stretched his aching limbs. The quality of his sleep was subpar as usual, but at least his accommodations were far better than his previous bed: the ground.

The sudden but quiet sound of somepony snoring caught Sombra’s attention. He looked to his right to find a yellow pegasus in a chair right by his side, curled up in a ball and obviously in a deep sleep.

He leaned in cautiously and prodded her with his muzzle. She didn’t budge an inch. How long had Fluttershy been in his room? Most importantly, why was she sleeping in his room?

Sombra moved in close to her ear. “Do you need something?” Sombra asked rather loudly.

“Eep!” Fluttershy stumbled out of the chair in a startled daze. She shook her head and took a good look at her surroundings before bowing her head in embarrassment. “I-I’m so sorry! I just got back from the spa with my friends and I’m really exhausted but I—!”

“How did it go?” Sombra asked.

The pegasus’s eyes widened at the question as if it was the last thing she was expecting to come out of his mouth. She quickly regained her voice and smiled awkwardly. “It went pretty well. We stayed there for quite awhile and left sometime during the night. So, um, how are you feeling since we last talked? Are you feeling any pain at all?”

“Not quite. I’m feeling rather stiff from laying in bed every day, but that is all,” he sighed.

“Oh, well that’s great news! N-Not the stiff part, the ‘not feeling any pain’ part. Do you want to try standing up?”

Sombra stared at the polished tiles for a moment, silently trying to determine by the feeling in his legs whether it was even worth giving a shot so soon. He desperately needed some form of physical activity; lazing around in bed was doing him no good. “I suppose,” he finally said.

Fluttershy watched on with a noticeable gleam of excitement in her eyes as Sombra hesitantly felt around the floor with a foreleg. He applied a small amount of his weight to his leg and thankfully received no pain in return. Once he was certain his leg would hold up, he tried his other foreleg.

“You’re doing great so far!” Fluttershy chirped. “Just remember to take it nice and easy; there’s no rush.”

Both of his forelegs were now planted firmly on the ground. Once his shaky back legs touched the tile, he was finally standing. His legs shook furiously under his own weight, but he was standing nonetheless.

He noticed that the excited smile on Fluttershy’s face somewhat faded. The smell of fear tickled the stallion’s nostrils as she spoke. “O-Oh my. I… I guess I forgot how tall y-you were,” she chuckled nervously.

Sombra couldn’t deny that he was a fair bit taller than most stallions, but what also needed to be recognized was that Fluttershy was a little small for a pegasus—or at least he thought so. Are all pegasi so tiny compared to the other pony races? Pegasi were rare sights to see in the Crystal Empire, so Sombra didn’t have much to compare with.

“So, do you think you can walk? Try taking some steps towards me,” Fluttershy said.

At the command of his reformer, Sombra took a wobbly step forward. Then another, and then another until he reached the pegasus. He was towering over her at that point, emphasizing just how much of a size difference there was between the two. The very top of her head was level with his shoulders.

She took a few steps back. In response, Sombra took a few steps forward. Another few steps back from Fluttershy, and then another few steps forward from Sombra. This cycle continued until Fluttershy’s rump met with the door to the outside. She smiled a nervous, fear-filled smile. “We-Well, it seems you’ve gotten the hang of walking pretty quickly. So, Uh… I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay? Y-You have a good night.”

Sombra’s words stopped her just before she went out of the door. “Am I doing something to frighten you?” He asked. While the sight of Fluttershy stumbling over her words and flinching at his every movement was amusing to watch, it wasn’t going to help him get any closer to escaping.

Fluttershy was silent for a few seconds. She hid behind her mane and smiled that same concealing smile to try and hide her own fear. “N-No, it’s just that you—I mean I’m not… I’m not… um…”

“There is no need to fear me, Fluttershy. Even if I wanted to do harm to you, your princess would simply have me killed if I acted on it. What good would that do me?”

“I kn-know, it’s just…” The pegasus lost her words once more as she began to back slowly out of the door.

Sombra had never seen a pony so needlessly afraid of him before. Not once had he ever laid a single hoof on this filly, and yet here she was, cowering before him as though she was one of his many crystal slaves of the empire.

Perhaps it was just his height that was so daunting to her. Normally he wouldn’t dare to willingly lower himself in front of lesser ponies, but for the sake of his freedom, he took a few steps away and laid down on the chilling tile. “Is this better?”

Fluttershy’s cowardly demeanor lessened now that she was no longer being shadowed by the stallion’s figure. A crimson shade of red faded into her cheeks as she shook her head, even giggling a little at the spectacle. “I-I’m really sorry. I know how I’m acting is a little silly. You don’t have to lay on the floor like that; please stand up.”

Sombra slowly raised himself back onto his hooves as his shivering legs fought him the entire way. Seeing the bright smile on the filly’s face brought back very vivid memories—the kind of memories that were nearly impossible to forget. What came out of his mouth next seemed to surprise Fluttershy almost as much as it surprised himself. “Do make sure to visit tomorrow.”

Fluttershy’s smile widened. “Of course! Matter of fact, since you’re already up and walking, I’ll have you out of this dungeon and into a more proper room much earlier than I thought! Do you think you’d be healed up enough to go on a little trip to your new room by next week?”

“Most probably.”

Distant hoofsteps were heard clicking across the flooring and were getting progressively louder. The door suddenly opened behind Fluttershy, startling her into scurrying away from it. Who entered was Dr. Warmheart with a mug of coffee in one hoof and a small stack of papers balancing on her back. “Oh! Hello, Fluttershy. You’re here quite early! And I see you’ve managed to get Sombra out of bed. Lovely.”

“Early? But didn’t I see you only a couple of hours ago?” Fluttershy asked.

The doctor laughed and took a large swig of coffee. “Oh nonsense. That was almost nine hours ago!”

Fluttershy’s brow furrowed and her eyes stretched wide open. Unbenounced to Sombra, she remained silent for an unnaturally long period of time.

The doctor disregarded her unresponsiveness with another swig of coffee as she saw herself back out the door. “Anyway, sorry for interrupting you both. I’ll be in my office, so just holler if you need me.”

With a swift twirl and a few splotches of coffee left in her wake, Dr. Warmheart was gone. The stallion and his reformer were alone once more, but the effect that the doctor’s words had on her didn’t falter in the slightest.

“Is there something that I’m missing here?” Sombra asked.

His voice was the spell that snapped the pegasus out of her moment of trance. She dropped her head into both of her hooves and groaned. “I was asleep for a lot longer than I thought…”

“So you mean to say that you slept in here for the entire night?”

She nodded in confirmation, her face burrowing deeper into the safety of her hooves. What she was doing was clear: she was hiding her embarrassment.

“Quite surprising, I must say,” Sombra added. “To sleep curled up on a chair all night? I can only imagine how you must be physically feeling right at this moment.” While he held zero signs of a smile on his face, he was grinning wickedly in his mind. His eyes had a mind of their own as they dragged down the length of her body, acknowledging every curve, slant, and dip. He had never taken the time to fully appreciate her figure until now. Had she always looked so beautiful? “If you wanted to sleep in here so badly, I wouldn’t have minded sharing a bed. All you had to do was ask.”

Her head shot back up from her hooves like a bullet. Her large turquoise eyes remained fixated on his face for a few seconds before she finally spoke up in clumsy, flustered fragments. “I d-didn’t want to sleep in… in here! B-But that’s not to say that—I mean I’m not saying that I don’t want to be around you or—I enjoy your com-company and all but… oh goodness, I’m sorry! I’m really, really sorry!”

A deep chuckle sounded in the back of the former king’s throat as he returned to his bed to give his legs a rest. “If that is all you have to say, then I would like to be left alone now. I could use a few more hours of sleep.”

“O-Of course! I’ll just… see y-you some other time then. H-Have a good nap!” Fluttershy stammered.

As Sombra watched her leave, he couldn’t help but notice that one of her wings were a little more outstretched than the other. Something was being held under it. “One more thing before you leave,” Sombra spoke up.

Fluttershy stopped just as she opened the door. “Um, yes?”

“What is that under your wi—?”

“I-I-I’m really sorry, but I j-just remembered that the princess needs me for something! Bye!”

Before he could get another word in, Fluttershy sped out of the room and slammed the door shut behind her.

Sombra set his head back to rest against the pillows and shut his eyes. Very odd that pegasus pony was, but at the same time, intriguing. He himself may not have realized it, but he was actually looking forward to Fluttershy’s visits.

A shame that he was eventually going to have to leave her behind.