• Published 24th Sep 2014
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A Year of Seasons - The Rising Tide of Night



A glimpse into the love and life of Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, as told over the course of a year - a year of four different seasons that span a lifetime.

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And We Run Through the Rain - Spring (Part 1)

Fluttershy glanced apprehensively up at the gathering clouds as she approached Twilight’s castle, on her way to a long-overdue slumber party. She had an immense amount of respect for those pegasi brave enough to push around those dark masses of rain, let alone the heavy thunderheads they had pulled out for tonight’s spring storm. She shivered as a brief thrum of fear ran through her while she watched the minuscule forms of the pegasi surrounding the clouds, knowing that she certainly couldn’t handle that job. With all of the flying, the dangerous clouds, the flying, the heights, being close to a certain pegasus, and well… the flying, her poor fragile nerves would shatter after the first day.

Well, she might be able to handle the flying. Maybe. If that certain pegasus was there to help her…

She shook her head, catching herself searching the flying forms for one specific form. A light blush crossed her face as she started up her journey to Twilight’s once again. Stop that. You can’t think like that again. Remember, you promised yourself you wouldn’t ruin your friendship with your silly feelings.

Ever since they had been foals together, Fluttershy had always felt a certain attraction to Rainbow Dash. The brash and beautiful pegasus was everything she wasn’t, and would never be: confident, outspoken, an amazing flier, and an all-around wonderful, loyal friend. For the longest time it had felt like her affection was a friendly one, a sisterly one.

It hadn’t been until Rainbow had moved to Ponyville that she’d realized that something about that affection had changed. Odd feelings would crop up whenever the two of them were together, and Fluttershy began to notice certain other aspects of her friend. Oftentimes she would find herself studying Rainbow’s shapely legs or her well-toned flank, or even losing herself in Rainbow’s hypnotic eyes. An unusual heat would build within her chest whenever the two of them were close together, and she would be hard-pressed to focus on anything else.

Not that any of this seemed to bother Rainbow the slightest. If she took notice of Fluttershy’s odd behaviors, she certainly didn’t let on. She probably just brushed off all of her nervous blushing or her embarrassed twitching as normal, nervous Fluttershy. It wasn’t like she had to look at that gorgeous, flowing, rainbow-colored mane all the time, or admire those strong, powerful wings –

Stop it. You need to keep your word and stop doing this to yourself. What would anypony say? They might laugh at me, chase me out of town, or hate me for messing everything up. I’m sure that’s what would happen. It just wouldn’t be good. I’m sure of it.

Applejack’s wedding last fall had been the hardest. Everypony had been so happy, so full of love and life, and it had started to affect her quite keenly. Rainbow had been talking with Rarity, standing there in that lovely bridesmaid gown Rarity had designed, so happy and smiling. Like a moment out of a storybook, the sunlight had hit her just right, enveloping her in a golden glow that had taken Fluttershy’s breath away. If it hadn’t been for her deep-seated fears of losing her beloved friends, embarrassing herself, and well, just about everything to do with relationships, she just might have blurted out something inappropriate then and there.

Lost in her own thoughts, she failed to notice that she had already arrived at Twilight’s castle and was standing silently at the front door, as if willing it to open on its own. Letting out an embarrassed squeak, she quickly glanced around, praying that nopony else had noticed her staring off into space. Satisfied that nopony was nearby, she reached up to knock on the great doors of the castle before a familiar voice caused her to freeze in shock.

“Why, hello there, Fluttershy, darling,” Rarity called excitedly as she trotted up to the castle with a smile. “Fashionably late as I am, I see.” Mistaking Fluttershy’s sudden blush as being due to her tardiness, she hastened to reassure her. “Don’t worry about a thing, dear, I know Twilight doesn’t care that much. As long as we’re all together and having fun, she’s happy.”

“O-Oh, I’m not worried about that…” Fluttershy replied, trailing off inaudibly while averting her eyes from her good friend. She shuffled her hooves as Rarity gave her an oddly penetrating look, one that set her on edge for some reason.

“I’m sorry, darling, what was that?” Rarity asked as she sidled up next to Fluttershy, reaching up to knock on the castle doors. The unicorn seemed unable to contain her excitement at the prospect of a slumber party, as she kept shifting from side to side and glancing over at Fluttershy expectantly.

“Oh, nothing…” Fluttershy replied quietly, which seemed to do nothing for Rarity’s expectations as Fluttershy could see her face fall. Anxiety began building within her and she hastened to reassure her friend. “It’s ok, Rarity, I-I was just… thinking… umm… about… umm… when Rainbow Dash was going to show up…” she trailed off once more, feeling a sense of relief as Rarity’s eyes lit up once more and a bright smile crossed her face.

“Oh?” Rarity asked with a tiny grin. “Is that so?”

“Umm…” Fluttershy was spared having to elaborate by the opening of the castle doors, revealing Spike in his familiar apron, a big grin on his face.

“Hey there, Fluttershy, Rarity,” he greeted them, his voice changing with obvious affection as he turned to Rarity. He stepped back from the entryway, ushering them in with a gallant bow. The two of them entered with a friendly smile for the little dragon, Fluttershy’s smile perhaps a little more grateful than Rarity’s.

Desperate to keep the conversation away from herself, Fluttershy turned to Spike, who had joined them after closing the doors. “How are you doing, Spike?” she asked.

“Eh, can’t complain,” he replied. “It’s been nice and quiet today, so I’ve managed to catch up on my reading and get a head start on the food for tonight. Twilight gave all the servants the day off today, so it’s just gonna be the seven of us here.”

“Oh, that sounds lovely,” Fluttershy replied as some of the anxiety eased from her bearing. She never really like the feeling of being waited on every time she came to visit Twilight’s home, so the news that it would be more like old times was a welcome relief. “Has everypony else arrived yet?”

He nodded. “Yep! Well, almost everypony. Applejack and Pinkie Pie are here, but Rainbow Dash still hasn’t shown up.”

“Oh, good,” Fluttershy replied before catching herself. “O-Oh, I mean, it’s good that Applejack and Pinkie are here. Rainbow Dash is still working, so she’s probably going to be rather late.”

“I do say, that’s quite the storm the weather team is putting together, isn’t it?” Rarity said with a shudder. “I would hate to be the pony caught outside tonight. I’m sure it’s going to be dreadfully loud and wet.”

“It’s just rain,” Spike said dismissively as they found themselves approaching Twilight’s room, where they would all be staying. “I love listening to the sound of rain while I’m trying to sleep.”

“I don’t mind the rain,” Fluttershy replied softly. “I just don’t care for the sound of thunder. It’s always… frightened me.”

She found herself pulled into a reassuring hug. “Don’t worry, darling,” Rarity said. “There’s nothing to worry about tonight. We’re all here for you, so you have nothing to be afraid of.”

Fluttershy smiled in reply and pushed open the door to Twilight’s room, only to be greeted by an explosion of color, sound, and paper. When her vision finally cleared, she found herself staring up at what she eventually determined was the ceiling, with a vague sense of being hit by a runaway cart and an odd ringing in her left ear. Her vision was suddenly filled with a riot of colors, and after letting out a squeak she realized that it was Pinkie Pie leaning over her, covered in confetti and streamers.

“Heya, Fluttershy, what’cha doing on the floor like that?” Pinkie asked, a bright smile on her face.

“Carnsarnit, Pinkie, you know dang well why she’s down there,” came a frustrated drawl from out of Fluttershy’s vision. “Ah swear, some ponies got no respect for others…” The drawl grew louder even as it drifted off into mumbling, and Fluttershy felt strong legs under her shoulders, gently lifting her into an upright position. She looked up at the pony helping her up, only to see Applejack’s kindly smile. “You ok there, Sugarcube?” she asked as she got Fluttershy on her hooves.

Shaking her head to dispel the ringing, she nodded to Applejack while looking around apprehensively. “Y-yes, I think so,” she replied. “What happened?”

Applejack gave Pinkie a glare, the party pony just letting it wash over her obliviously. “Some ponies need ta learn when to check to see who’s at the door afore surprising them,” she said with an air of disapproval.

Pinkie giggled, and gave Fluttershy a big smile. “Sorry there, Fluttershy. I coulda sworn Dashie was gonna be the next one here! I guess I got a little mixed up.”

“Oh! I’m sorry, Pinkie,” Fluttershy replied. “I didn’t mean to ruin your surprise like that.”

“Nah, it’s alright. I always keep a spare party cannon around anyway.” Pinkie reached behind a nearby pillar and pulled out another cannon. In her excitement, she quickly pulled the trigger string, setting off another loud explosion of color and sound, and Fluttershy found herself inspecting the ceiling once more, the ringing now in her right ear.

A moment later, Fluttershy had once again been helped up by a disapproving Applejack while Rarity gave Pinkie a stern lecture. Looking suitably guilty, Pinkie apologized to Fluttershy once more, and the four of them made their way into Twilight’s room where they found the bookworm princess hard at work setting things up for the night.

“Hey, Twi, Fluttershy and Rarity’re here,” Applejack called.

Glancing up from where she had been carefully aligning the snack trays, Twilight gave them a big smile. “Fluttershy! Rarity! It’s great to see you girls,” she said, enveloping the two of them in a hug. “I’m glad you both could make it.” She glanced around them, eyes searching anxiously. “Has Rainbow Dash arrived yet?”

The two of them shook their heads. “No, she’s working right now,” Fluttershy replied. “She’ll be here soon, I’m sure.”

“Oh, good,” Twilight said, relieved. “I really wanted everypony here tonight. It’s been so long since we’ve had a proper slumber party, it just wouldn’t be right without Rainbow Dash as well.”

Just then, a window high above them burst open and Rainbow Dash came rocketing into the room in a blaze of color. She swooped around the room just barely above their heads, finally coming to a skidding stop in the middle of the room. Twilight, her wings flared in surprise, glared at Rainbow, who carelessly flung her saddlebags over in the corner of the room. “You know, Rainbow, I have a door for a reason,” she said in a snarky tone, which Rainbow ignored.

“Yeah, well, since I’m already at the window, why should I bother going all the way around just to open the door?” Rainbow replied. Looking around as Twilight continued to glare at her, she gave them all a big smile. “Hey, guys, how’s it hanging? Ready to get this party started?”

None of them had a chance to reply as shortly thereafter, Pinkie Pie’s third party cannon went off, showering them all with confetti and streamers. Once more, Fluttershy found herself on the ground, but instead of inspecting the ceiling like she’d expected, she found herself looking up at an upside-down Rainbow, who was giving her an odd grin. “Hey, Fluttershy,” Rainbow said. “You ok? Here, lemme help you up.”

Fluttershy let out a squeak as Rainbow hauled her to her hooves, and she blushed. “Thanks, Rainbow,” she said softly.

Rainbow hesitated for a brief moment before giving her a smile. “No problem,” she said, turning to Twilight. “Oh, Twilight, you might wanna close the window. The storm’s gonna start any second now.”

Twilight, in the process of cleaning up the confetti, immediately began to panic. “WHAT?” she cried, confetti flying everywhere as she spun around. “Rainbow, why didn’t you tell me sooner? Oh, I need to make sure all of my windows are closed, or the rain will get in and ruin all my books. SPIKE!” she yelled, before noticing that the little dragon happened to be just a few feet away, covering his ringing ears. “Oh, there you are, Spike. Can you please make sure all of the windows in the castle are closed? I’d hate to have water getting in.”

Spike rolled his eyes. “Twilight, I already took care of that as soon as I heard there was a storm planned tonight. Now, can you close that one? I can’t reach it from here.”

Twilight immediately began to relax, her self-imposed crisis averted. “Of course, Spike, thank you.” Her horn glowed briefly and the window closed and latched itself.

Spike absently buffed his nails on his apron. “Yeah, I know, you’d be lost without me,” he said simply, before heading to the door. “Anyway, I’m gonna get out of your hair for now. Call me if you need anything. Enjoy yourself, ok?”

A few minutes later, the soft sound of rain striking the castle began echoing through the room. Applejack smirked at the sound before turning to Rarity and Twilight. “Remind y’all of our first slumber party?” she asked with a grin.

Twilight and Rarity both fell to giggling, and the three of them began reminiscing together, while Rainbow and Pinkie made a beeline for the snacks. Fluttershy idly watched them go, finding herself unconsciously watching Rainbow, admiring her –

No!

Rainbow suddenly turned around, catching her eye with an odd look. Fluttershy immediately averted her gaze with a blush, embarrassed to be caught staring, before heading over to talk to Rarity once more.

Pretty soon, as the rain began to pick up strength and lash the castle, the party was in full swing. Everypony was having a great time talking, laughing, and playing games, even Fluttershy. From what Fluttershy could tell, though, Rainbow didn’t seem to be having as much fun as she usually did. She would be standing with an unusually pensive look on her face, only to quickly turn away any time Fluttershy noticed. Or she would catch Rainbow and Rarity talking, Rarity with that bright look in her eyes, and Rainbow looking uncertain.

The strangest thing was more than once, Rainbow seemed on the verge of saying something to her, but what would come out of her mouth was something either completely mundane or off the wall, and Fluttershy would notice a brief flash of frustration on her face. It happened only a few times, but it was enough that Fluttershy noticed. Once she contemplated asking Rainbow what was going on, but her fears got the better of her, and the moment passed by as Pinkie started up another game.

Eventually, the evening wore on into night and the thunder began to rumble in, setting Fluttershy’s nerves on edge. Every now and then, a particularly close lightning strike would light up the room, followed by a rumble of thunder that would shake the castle to the core. Each time this happened, Fluttershy would let out a squeak and dive under the nearest pony, which more often than not happened to be Rainbow Dash.

After the fifth such instance, Twilight suggested that they all pull out their sleeping bags and get settled in for the night. “We can still talk and everything,” she said, “but that way we’ll all be a little more comfortable.” She gave Fluttershy a wink as she rolled out the sleeping bags, settling into her own. The rest of them followed suit quickly, and somehow Fluttershy ended up between Rainbow Dash and Rarity. She wasn’t complaining, not by any means, but it was a little surprising as Rainbow usually ended up between Applejack and Pinkie Pie.

After they were settled, Twilight glanced around them, smiling. “So, anypony got any good stories for tonight?”

Rarity gently cleared her throat, and all eyes were immediately on her. “While I don’t happen to have any good stories, darling, I do have something else to say.” She smiled, and with a dramatic flair, gestured around the room. “Now, I do happen to know of a certain somepony that’s been hiding a secret tonight that she’s been just dying to share, but somehow hasn’t quite worked up the courage yet.” She gave a covert glance in Fluttershy’s direction, and Fluttershy felt her heart leap into her throat.

She can’t know! she thought, panic gripping her chest like a vise as she heard Rainbow gasp beside her. How can she know? I’ve never told her! Nopony should know!

Rarity continued speaking. “I would just like to say that this certain somepony should feel free to share this secret with the rest of us, as we are all good friends here, and will not judge one bit –”

Her speech was cut off by an exasperated drawl. “Aw, c’mon, Rares, Ah gotcha,” grumped Applejack, a half smile on her face. “Ah’ll spill, Ah’ll spill. Though Ah can’t rightly say how ya know, Ah do got something Ah’ve been hiding tonight.”

Rarity simply stared, completely flabbergasted by Applejack’s announcement. Opening and closing her mouth a few times, she gaped at her friend, who was looking at her with a raised eyebrow and a grin. Applejack took a deep breath before letting loose her secret: “Ah’m pregnant!”

The shocked silence after Applejack’s announcement was deafening, only broken by the sound of rain on the castle walls. Finally, as Applejack began to look slightly uncomfortable, Twilight spoke first. “Applejack, that’s wonderful!” she said with a big smile. “When did you find out?”

“Just earlier this week,” Applejack replied, relieved. “Ah haven’t told anypony ‘sides mah family yet, so Ah’m a little confused ‘bout how Rarity knows.” She gave Rarity a half-smile. “Though Ah suspect it’s got something to do with a certain pair of little sisters. Apple Bloom could never rightly keep a secret.”

Rarity, for her part, had an expression that was torn between confused and overjoyed. “While I am ecstatic to hear about your impending motherhood, that certainly was not what I was referring to. I honestly had no idea.”

“Really?” Pinkie Pie said, bouncing up and down in her sleeping bag. “’Cause what could be more awesomely fun and surprising than a new baby?”

“Well…” Rarity began, shooting another glance in Fluttershy’s direction. Fluttershy shrank down slightly, averting her gaze as she felt Rainbow shift slightly next to her. A moment later, Rarity spoke up again. “You know what, it doesn’t matter right now. Perhaps we can discuss it another time.”

As the conversation quickly changed over to baby-related topics, with Twilight offering all sorts of advice based on books she had read and Pinkie chiming in with things she’d heard from the Cakes, Fluttershy looked over at Rarity. Her friend had an odd look on her face: a strange combination of wistful, disappointed, and joyful. “Rarity?” she asked softly, so as not to interrupt the conversation. “Are you ok?”

“Hmm?” Rarity replied, before jumping slightly and looking back at Fluttershy. “Oh! Oh, yes, I’m fine, Fluttershy, darling.” Her eyes darted away, looking behind Fluttershy for a moment before meeting her gaze once more. “It’s just… well, there are a few things on my mind at the moment.” Her gaze narrowed as Fluttershy felt movement on the other side, and she turned to see Rainbow getting up and heading towards the door. “And one of them appears to be leaving…” she heard Rarity mutter.

The others had stopped their discussion to watch Rainbow’s departure. Rainbow gave them all a smile and said, “Hey, sorry guys, but I’m feeling a little cramped at the moment. Gotta take a quick walk. Congrats, Applejack, by the way. You’re gonna be an awesome mom.”

As Applejack blushed and thanked her, Fluttershy felt a nudge on her shoulder. Looking over at Rarity in surprise, she saw the unicorn gesturing after Rainbow’s retreating form. “Why don’t you go with her, darling? I think she could use the company.”

Fluttershy’s heart, which had finally managed to settle down to her normal nervous rate, leapt into her throat once more. “M-Me?” she said apprehensively. “W-Why me? Wouldn’t Pinkie Pie be a better pony to go with her? Or Twilight, or Applejack, or –”

Rarity silenced her with a look of determination. “Fluttershy, I will brook no more excuses tonight.” Her gaze softened slightly, and she motioned towards the door. “Please, Fluttershy. Rainbow has something I know she’s been dying to say to you tonight.”

Her nerves working on overdrive at these words, Fluttershy could only nod in the face of Rarity’s insistence. She slowly got to her hooves as the rain outside began to pick up tempo, beating against the palace walls like a frantic drum that matched the tempo of her heart. The others, their attention drawn by her movements, looked at her quizzically. “I-I’m going to go walk with R-Rainbow,” she said softly, barely audible over the sound of the rain. “B-Be right back…”

Without waiting for a response, she carefully made her way out of the room. She walked along hesitantly, searching for any sign of Rainbow in the darkened, shadowy halls. “H-hello?” she called quietly, her eyes darting this way and that. Another flash of lightning followed by a roll of thunder caused her to freeze up with a soft squeak of fright, but in the brief glimpse of light, she was able to catch sight of Rainbow’s still form staring out of a nearby window.

“Rainbow…” she breathed, uncertain whether or not to approach her friend. Rarity had said that she wanted to say something to her. What could it possibly be?

And was it something that she honestly wanted to hear?

She shook her head, doing her best to push away her worries. She had promised herself that no matter what, she would always be Rainbow’s friend. Steeling herself, she slowly made her way over to where that friend was standing, ready to face whatever hard news she was about to hear.

However, the first words she heard Rainbow utter were definitely not ones she expected to hear.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” Rainbow muttered harshly, absently scuffing her hoof on the floor with each word as Fluttershy approached.

“What was that?” Fluttershy asked uncertainly, coming up behind Rainbow.

Rainbow started violently, spinning around only to find herself nose-to-nose with Fluttershy. “F-Fluttershy!” she sputtered, jumping back in surprise. “What are you doing here?”

Fluttershy shrunk back from the harsh tone in her voice, ears folding back uncertainly. “Umm… you left… and Rarity said you needed some company…” She fidgeted slightly before continuing, her voice trailing off nearly inaudibly. “She also said you had… something to tell me… if you don’t mind, that is…”

“She did, did she?” Rainbow growled slightly, looking a bit put out. When Fluttershy let out a soft squeak and huddled down even further, Rainbow immediately became apologetic. “Oh, sorry, Flutters,” she tried to reassure her friend. “Not mad at you, promise. She’s just been getting on my nerves a little lately, that’s all.”

Fluttershy perked up slightly at that. “Oh, ok,” she replied, as another rumble of thunder rattled the windowpanes, and she shuddered. The two of them stood there for a long moment, the rain pounding the castle the only accompaniment to their fidgeting.

Finally, Fluttershy broke the silence between them, her insides churning. “Um… did you want to tell me something?”

Rainbow shuffled her hooves once more, staring into Fluttershy’s eyes, her expression torn between fear and longing. The seconds started to drag by as the two of them stood there, and Fluttershy was just about to apologize profusely and leave when Rainbow shook her head slightly. Her eyes hardened, and she nodded to herself.

Rainbow took a deep breath, and opened her mouth.

Author's Note:

Spring: A time of beginnings, of love, of new light. A time of storms, of growth, and revelations.

My first attempt at a relationship story. And because it's a relationship, nothing can ever be easy.