• Published 18th May 2015
  • 8,061 Views, 682 Comments

Inner Strength - Krickis

When Twilight overhears a private conversation, she has to come to terms with how she feels about herself, love, and a certain somepony. All while weighing her public image against her personal desires.

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18 - Things Kept Inside

Chapter Eighteen

Things Kept Inside

“Twilight, Fluttershy, dinner’s ready,” Spike called through the door.

“ ‘Kay,” Twilight murmured, before rolling over and wrapping a hoof around Fluttershy. “Morning, beautiful.”

Fluttershy laughed. “Twily, it’s dinner time.”

“Good evening, then.”

Fluttershy was prepared for her daily struggle of convincing Twilight to get out of bed, but to her surprise, the alicorn was already rising after a quick kiss. Fluttershy rubbed her eyes as Twilight lit the room. Rather than actually turning on the light bulb, she created a glowing orb that gave them enough light to see without blinding them.

“Ugh, I shouldn’t have slept in this thing. Even if it is made with love, it’s still itchy.” Twilight rubbed beneath her sweater furiously.

“It’s not that bad. Besides, it’s cute on you.” Even after seven months, Fluttershy still felt a little weird complimenting her marefriend, but it was always worth it for Twilight’s smile.

As they made their way downstairs, Fluttershy could smell the wonderful aroma of dinner, and realized exactly how hungry she was. They entered the dining room as Night Light was setting down the last tray of food.

“Oh my.” Fluttershy stopped in her tracks at the sight. She had never seen a family dinner with so much food.

Twilight grinned and used a wing to gently guide Fluttershy forwards again. “Just wait until you see what they do for Hearth’s Warming.”

“Evening, girls. Sleep well?” Twilight Velvet asked.

“Yes, I feel much better now,” Twilight said as Fluttershy nodded.

Night Light noticed Fluttershy eyeballing the food and grinned. “Before we can eat, there’s one more thing to do. Everypony gather round.”

Everypony came together as Night Light set up his camera. Twilight Velvet stood in the middle with Twilight on her left. Fluttershy put a hoof on her shoulder, and Spike used it as a boost to pop up over Twilight’s head, while Shining Armor and Cadance stood on Twilight Velvet’s other side. Night Light set the timer and ran over to stand between Twilight Velvet and Shining Armor. “Everypony smile!” he said. Right as the flash went off, Twilight kissed Fluttershy on the cheek.

“Perfect,” Night Light said as everypony took seats at the table.

The table was large and round, leaving Fluttershy to question how anypony would get to the food in the middle, until she remembered that everyone except for Spike and herself could use magic. Twilight sat next to Shining Armor, with Spike on Fluttershy’s other side. In front of them was enough lasagna for everypony to eat their fill and then some, with enough sides to make a meal by themselves.

“Did you two make all this?” Fluttershy asked as Night Light took his seat next to Spike.

“And dessert too!” Spike said excitedly.

Even on Hearth’s Warming Day, Fluttershy couldn’t imagine making a meal this big. Of course, Hearth’s Warming was usually just her and Rainbow Dash, and on occasion, Rainbow’s parents whenever they were trying to make up for lost time with their daughter. She had been worried about leaving Rainbow alone for the holiday, but she wound up getting invited to dinner with Scootaloo’s family.

“Everything smells so good,” she said.

“Thanks,” Night Light said. “Hopefully it tastes even better.” He poured everypony drinks, offering wine, juice, water, and milk. Twilight chose wine while Fluttershy asked for juice. Spike tried asking if he could have a glass of wine but retracted his request at the collective glare from both Twilights.

“Before everypony begins, I’d just like to thank you all for coming,” Twilight Velvet said. “I know everypony’s busy, and the holidays are no exception. But this old house just doesn’t feel the same without you all in it, and everyone being together means the world to us. And, of course, a big welcome to the newest member of our family. I hope you know we’re always here if you need us.”

“Yeah, you’re stuck with us now,” Shining Armor said.

Fluttershy smiled and nodded. She would have liked to say ‘thank you’ but she didn’t trust herself to speak. Being accepted so readily into Twilight’s family was more than she could have imagined, and she could feel herself on the verge of tears.

“To family,” Night Light said, raising his glass.

“To family!” everypony echoed.

After the toast, five different magic auras began shuffling plates around. Fluttershy had never eaten in a unicorn household, and was surprised anypony knew what was going on with their plates. As every plate came their way, Twilight made sure Fluttershy got what she wanted before levitating them away. For a minute, Fluttershy was so mesmerized with all the food in the air that she forgot about the food on her plate.

“Yeah, it’s kind of crazy,” Spike said. “You get used to it after awhile.”

“Oh. Was it weird, not being able to use magic when everypony else could?” Fluttershy asked.

“Yeah. I was pretty jealous for awhile, until I realized there were things only I could do, like breathe fire. Besides –” Spike held up his claws “– I’d rather have claws than hooves anyday.”

Once all the plates had settled, everypony finally began eating. It was no surprise that Spike had become such a good cook; everything was delicious.

“That’s hollandaise sauce,” Night Light replied when Fluttershy asked.

“It’s so good,” Fluttershy said. “I’m surprised you didn’t decide to become a cook.”

Night Light chuckled. “Oh, I don’t think I’m that good. I just learned some things here and there cooking for a family of five.”

“We learned it’s best if I just stay out of the kitchen,” Twilight Velvet said. “I don’t know how I ever managed before Night Light.”

“Mom’s cooking is still better than Twilight’s,” Spike whispered, holding a claw up to his mouth.

“I heard that,” Twilight snapped as Fluttershy giggled.

“Twi’s not that bad,” Fluttershy said. Twilight gave Spike a victorious look. “She can make, uhm, sandwiches.”

Spike almost laughed himself out of his chair. Twilight turned and pouted. “See if I make you sandwiches anymore.”

“Mares like us are simply too focused on other things to worry about cooking,” Twilight Velvet said.

Night Light and Spike huddled together. “Or cleaning,” Spike said.

“Watering the flowers,” Night Light added.

“Remembering to feed the pets.”

“Remembering to turn off the lights.”

Both Twilights glared at the homemakers. Night Light at least looked embarrassed; Spike just snickered and returned to his food.

“So, Fluttershy,” Twilight Velvet prompted, pointedly ignoring her husband and son, “tell us a little more about yourself.”

Fluttershy always hated talking about herself, especially open ended questions. She looked to Twilight for help, but her marefriend gave no sign of acknowledgement, probably because she was still mad about the sandwich comment. “Well, I, uhm… I take care of the animals in Ponyville.”

“Like a veterinarian?” Twilight Velvet asked.

“No. Well, sometimes. But mostly I feed and take care of the wild animals.”

“Ponyville has way more wild animals than Canterlot,” Spike added.

“Wild animals?” Twilight Velvet asked. “That sounds a bit dangerous.”

“Oh, no,” Fluttershy said. “They’re really all such sweethearts. You just have to know how to behave around them.”

“She can even talk to them,” Spike said. “She understands them and everything.”

“Really?” Twilight Velvet asked. “I didn’t know ponies could learn to understand animals.”

“Well, I didn’t so much learn it. Understanding animals is just something that came naturally to me when I first came to Ponyville.”

“Where were you from originally?” Night Light asked.

Fluttershy felt her heart drop. There were so many ways this could go wrong. Why wasn’t she more careful with what she said? “I was born in Cloudsdale.”

“Fascinating place,” Night Light said. “Is that where your family lives?”

There it was. “Oh, uhm… Well, Rainbow Dash moved to Ponyville with me,” Fluttershy told her plate. “I, uhm, don’t really have any other family.” Suddenly she could feel everypony’s eyes on her.

“Oh, you poor dear,” Twilight Velvet said.

Under the table Fluttershy felt Twilight’s hoof find hers. She could leave it there. That’s all anypony really needed to know. She was so tired of secrets, but she also didn’t want to ruin dinner when everypony was so happy.

She felt Twilight’s hoof squeeze hers and made a decision. There were too many secrets in her life, and every time she came out about them, things worked out for the best. “And, well, I don’t speak with Stormy Skies. My, uhm, father.”

She looked at Twilight. She had told Twilight, told everypony, that he was dead. Would Twilight be mad that she lied to her? And what would happen when she knew the whole truth? There was no way she’d still want to stay together.

But for right now at least, Twilight’s look held concern, and maybe a little curiosity, but she didn’t press Fluttershy to say more. Fluttershy hadn’t expected her to, however. Not in front of her family.

“You know we’re all here for you,” Night Light said. “If there’s anything you want to talk about or anyway we can help, just let us know.”

“Thank you,” Fluttershy said. “But I’m fine. It’s something I moved past a long time ago.”

Something about Twilight’s look made Fluttershy suspect she didn’t believe that, but again, her marefriend held her tongue.

“Of course,” Night Light said, setting a hoof on Twilight Velvet’s, who had just opened her mouth to ask something else. She closed it, but didn’t look happy about leaving things where they were.

“So, Mom, what are you reading now?” Twilight asked.

“Equestrian Gods.” Twilight Velvet practically had to pry her eyes off Fluttershy to address her daughter. “Have you read it yet?”

“No, what’s it about?” Twilight asked. Fluttershy squeezed her hoof and smiled as a silent thank you, which Twilight returned.

The conversation stayed safely away from Cloudsdale and Fluttershy’s family for the rest of dinner. Instead, they talked about what everypony was doing lately. Fluttershy found she had an easier time talking than she usually did, in no small part because Twilight or Spike would help guide her along when she struggled.

The conversation kept time moving quickly, and everypony remained sitting at the dinner table well after they had all eaten their fill. But even if the meal had been more than enough, it seemed that they weren’t through quite yet.

“So, anypony ready for dessert?” Night Light asked. He was looking directly at Spike, who sat straight up.

“I ate too much,” Shining Armor grumbled.

Cadance grinned. “Oh, he’ll change his mind once he has something else in front of him.”

Night Light disappeared into the kitchen for a minute, then returned with two platters. The big one, which he set in the center of the table, had a large cheesecake topped with strawberries. The smaller one, which he set in front of Spike, had a miniature version of the cheesecake, but with red gemstones replacing the strawberries.

And just as Cadance had predicted, once he had food in front of him, Shining Armor sat upright with his plate ready. Although everyone smiled at the delicious looking dessert, his enthusiasm was only truly rivaled by Spike.

“So, Fluttershy,” Twilight Velvet asked as she passed around slices of the cheesecake, “have you ever had a chance to go sightseeing in Canterlot?”

“Not really,” Fluttershy said after savoring a bite of the rich dessert. “We mostly just visit the castle while we’re here, and even then it’s usually only when the Elements of Harmony are needed.”

By the time Fluttershy felt Twilight nudge her under the table, it was too late; Twilight Velvet was already frowning. “I worry about you girls so much. All that dangerous business.”

Although her concern felt completely warranted to Fluttershy and her tone had been anything but harsh, she noticed everypony glance around at each other. They all looked afraid of saying anything.

“Now, honey, I’m sure Princess Celestia would never ask them to do anything they couldn’t handle,” Night Light said. Fluttershy couldn’t help but think that just maybe Twilight didn’t tell her mom the full stories of most of their exploits.

“I know, but sometimes I feel like she relies on them too much,” Twilight Velvet said. “Like when that Tirek was stealing everypony’s magic. I still can’t believe the princesses let it get that far, and then left Twilight to take care of it.”

“That was a complicated situation,” Twilight deflected. “Things didn’t exactly go according to plan.”

Cadance set her fork down. “And even when it did go a little awry, we had every confidence that Twilight was the perfect mare for the job.”

Twilight Velvet smiled at her daughter-in-law. “Oh, I didn’t mean you, Cadance dear. Of course I wouldn’t expect you to take care of it either.” Twilight and Cadance exchanged annoyed looks.

“Mom, we’ll be fine,” Twilight said. “We’ve been through a lot, but we’re never alone. We look out for each other, and there’s nopony I’d rather have looking out for me than my friends. They’re the reason I know that no matter what happens, everything will always be okay. So please, don’t worry so much about us.”

“Twilight, I’m your mother, I can’t just not worry about you.” She looked around the table. “All of you. I never could have imagined everything you have all accomplished, everything you’ve all grown into. Twily, when you became Princess Celestia’s personal student, and Shiny, when you became captain of the royal guard, I thought nopony could ever ask for more.”

Even in face of the praises, everyone only looked down at their plates. “Then you did more! Now you’re the Princess of Friendship and one of the Elements of Harmony, and you’re the Prince of the Crystal Empire. And even Spike, you’re still a kid by pony or dragon standards, and you’ve still helped save both Canterlot and the Crystal Empire! And who knows that else there is that nopony’s telling their mother about.”

Everypony looked around, not meeting anypony’s eyes. Even Spike who normally stood proud whenever anypony talked about his accomplishments just sat idly with his claws in his lap. “And I wouldn’t change any of that for the world. No mother has ever been as proud as I am of you all. But with all these titles comes all this danger. And I’m just here, not able to protect you from any of it!”

While the conversation earlier had come easily, now nopony knew what to say. For her part, Fluttershy could only mentally kick herself for having brought up the Elements at all.

Eventually Night Light cleared his throat. “Well, if everypony’s done with dessert we’d better get these dishes taken care of,” he said. Twilight Velvet nodded in agreement.

“I’ll help,” Fluttershy and Cadance offered at once.

“Thank you, girls, but we’ve got it,” Night Light said as he and Twilight Velvet levitated the dishes into the kitchen.

Once they closed the door, Twilight dropped her head onto the table. “I can’t believe I forgot to warn you not to mention Element stuff to Mom.”

“I’m sorry,” Fluttershy said with her head hung low.

“Don’t worry about it,” Shining Armor said. “You didn’t know.”

It didn’t do much to help ease Fluttershy’s guilt.

“It would be nice if she at least considered us real princesses,” Twilight grumbled.

Cadance smiled. “It’s kind of endearing. We’ll always be her little fillies.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow. “Are you really saying it doesn’t bother you?”

“Well…” Cadance’s smile faded. “Okay, it does a little.”

With no more reason to stick around the dining room, everypony awkwardly made their way back into the living room so they could at least now know what to say in comfortable lounge chairs. They all seemed to be waiting for somepony else to break the silence.

Eventually, Shining turned to Fluttershy. “You know, if you haven’t ever seen the town, there’s tons to check out. Maybe Cadance and I can show you around tomorrow.”

“That’d be nice,” Fluttershy said. “Uhm, if you don’t mind, that is.”

“Of course we don’t. It’ll be fun,” Cadance said, smiling.

“Ooh! I know where we can go!” Twilight said, grinning with excitement.

“We’re not spending all day going to different museums,” Shining said, giving his sister a deadpan expression that suggested he’d let her make the itinerary a few too many times.

Twilight turned and pouted. “Well, maybe not all day…” She turned to Fluttershy, giving her the puppy dog eyes. “But maybe we can go to the Equestrian History Museum? They’ve got an exhibit on prehistoric animals I know you’ll love!”

Fluttershy was sure she’d like the animal exhibit. She was also sure they’d probably wind up spending more time than anypony other than Twilight wanted to at every other exhibit as well. Still, there was simply no way she could say no to that face. “Well… maybe just one museum would be okay.”

“Yes! You won’t regret it!” Twilight hugged her, and when she thought Fluttershy couldn’t see, stuck her tongue out at Shining, who was sitting with his forelegs crossed.

“Well, you can count me out,” Spike said. “I’ve seen enough of Canterlot, and way too much of the Equestrian History Museum. I’d rather just stay here.” He stretched and leaned back in his chair, which was almost big enough for him to lay down in, given how small he was.

Fluttershy was reminded that he had been up just as early as she and Twilight had been, and he spent the day cooking while they took a nap. Cadance and Shining Armor didn’t look much better; they no doubt also had a busy day travelling from the Crystal Empire.

Soon, Twilight Velvet and Night Light came in. Twilight Velvet looked a little embarrassed at her earlier display. “We’re gonna turn in for the night,” Night Light said. He smiled when he noticed Spike. “Looks like we aren’t the only ones with that idea.”

Spike waved a claw without opening his eyes. “I’m not sleepy.”

Twilight Velvet chuckled and lifted him in her magic. “Come on, Spike. Maybe Twilight is a little lax with bedtimes, but as long as you’re here you’ll be going to bed at a decent hour. You’re still a growing boy and you need your rest.”

Spike looked at Twilight, but she just shrugged. “Sorry, Spike, but you know the rules. Sleep tight.”

As they went upstairs to bring him to his room, Spike seemed to accept his fate, even if he did it with a scowl. Fluttershy was sure that he would be out as soon as he hit the bed, despite his protests. Cadance and Shining Armor didn’t wait long before deciding to call it a night as well, leaving Twilight and Fluttershy to themselves.

Fluttershy leaned against her marefriend. “I can’t believe how nice everypony’s been.”

Twilight grinned. “It’s not that surprising. I mean, who wouldn’t love you?”

Fluttershy nudged her. “So you weren’t even a little nervous?”

“Well, okay, maybe I was a little bit worried. But I should have known better. I mean, they’re my family, I know them better than that.”

“Hmm, I bet that’s how it’ll be when we tell everypony about us,” Fluttershy said. Being so accepted by Twilight’s family made Fluttershy even more resolved to finally tell Twilight she wanted to come out. If they could accept Twilight dating a mare, then why should anypony else have a problem with it?

“Maybe,” Twilight said, shifting in her seat.

Fluttershy wrapped a wing around her marefriend. “Are you nervous?”

Twilight smiled. “Kind of. But I know we’ll get through it alright.”

‘Okay, this is it. Just tell her the truth.’ Fluttershy forced a smile. “So, I, uhm…” Twilight turned to her and Fluttershy looked away. “I love you, Twily.”

Twilight tilted her head to the side. “I love you too, Shy. Is something wrong?”

“No,” Fluttershy answered too quickly. “I mean, uhm… I was just wondering…” She nuzzled against Twilight’s neck, hiding her face away. She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t ask Twilight to tell everypony about her. She was being selfish.

Twilight hugged her closely. “Come on, Shy. You can tell me anything. What’s on your mind?”

“Well… I was wondering when, uhm, when you think we should tell other ponies.” Fluttershy closed her eyes tightly. She knew better, but some part of her still expected Twilight to be angry that she’d even ask something like that.

“I don’t know. I guess…” Fluttershy opened her eyes to see Twilight tapping a hoof on her chin before shaking her head. “Well, we’re still on vacation now. Let’s worry about that after we get back to Ponyville.”

Fluttershy kept her head on Twilight’s shoulder so she wouldn’t notice the frown. “You’re right,” she said. Twilight did have a point. Even if Fluttershy was ready, they could at least wait until they were back in Ponyville.

“What do you say, Shy? Ready for bed?” Twilight asked.

“Yeah, that sounds nice,” Fluttershy said. The nap earlier had helped, but she was definitely looking forward to a good night’s sleep. She followed Twilight up to the bedroom.

“So, Shy…” Twilight said as she closed the door behind them. Fluttershy frowned, she knew what question was coming. She had been expecting it since dinner. “Why didn’t you ever tell me your dad was still alive?”

Fluttershy sat on the bed. She looked at Twilight, trying to read her expression, but her face remained impassive. “I just… I don’t like to talk about him.”

“Okay,” Twilight said. She looked away for a moment before turning back with a concerned look. “Well… do you mind if I ask what happened between you two?”

How could she explain? Twilight’s family was so perfect, the worst that she was used to was when her mom was too worried about her. So instead she just smiled. She was fine now, there was no reason to talk about him. “We just… don’t see eye to eye. It’s fine, Twily, it really is something I put behind me a long time ago. And, uhm, I’d rather just leave it alone.”

Twilight frowned, ears folded down. “Okay, if you’re sure…” She pulled off her sweater and haphazardly tossed it on a dresser before climbing into bed next to Fluttershy.

Fluttershy snuggled against Twilight as the alicorn turned out the lights. She was glad the bed was so small, it meant Twilight wouldn’t wonder why Fluttershy was extra close to her. She closed her eyes and focused on her marefriend’s breathing. Everything was okay now. Twilight was holding her, and she was in the safest place in the world.

Author's Note:

So Pasu-Chan drew a wonderful comic based on a scene from this chapter, check it out!

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