• 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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25 – To Know and to Believe

Chapter Twenty-Five

To Know and to Believe

Being cuddled by Twilight was one thing Fluttershy simply couldn’t get enough of. There was something magical about feeling Twilight curled around her, holding her tightly. Twilight always did like to latch onto her while they slept. It made Fluttershy feel safe, like nothing in the world could hurt her as long as Twilight was there holding her.

It did make it a little hard to turn to face her, but that only made Fluttershy smile more. All her squirming must have woken Twilight, though, because she found herself looking into her marefriends eyes.

“Fluttershy? Is everything okay?”

“Yes.” Fluttershy wrapped her forelegs around Twilight so they were holding each other. “I’m sorry I woke you.”

“It’s okay.”

Snuggling against the larger mare gave Fluttershy easy access to Twilight’s neck, so she planted a kiss there. “I love you, Twily.”

“Love you too, Shy.”

Fluttershy smiled and kept kissing. She moved from her neck down to her shoulder, then to her chest. Meanwhile, she moved her hoof down from Twilight’s back to her thigh.

“Fluttershy? What are you doing?”

Fluttershy blushed, but she didn’t stop. She kissed Twilight’s stomach, then gave the only answer she could think of. “I… I love you, Twilight.”

She continued moving lower with her kisses, but was forced to stop when Twilight pushed her away. She looked up at Twilight, hurt that she would do something like that, only to find Twilight staring at her angrily.

“Fluttershy, what are you thinking!?”

“I… I…”

Twilight backed farther away from her. “Why would you think I would want to do anything like that with you?

Fluttershy squeezed shut her eyes tightly. “I’m sorry! I didn’t think –”

“You know, maybe this isn’t such a good idea,” Twilight said harshly.

When Fluttershy opened her eyes again, she saw that Twilight was already out of bed. Fluttershy tried to go after her, only to find she was caught in the blankets.

“Things are better this way. Nothing could have ever happened between us. Not now that I know you’re, you know.”

The harder Fluttershy struggled to get to Twilight, the stronger the hold the blankets had on her. Eventually, she felt herself being pulled away from the pony she loved.

“You understand, right, Fluttershy?”

The bed fell out from beneath Fluttershy, and she was falling. The blankets still had hold of her, preventing her from flying. She could see Twilight looking down on her as she fell. She closed her eyes and screamed.

Then the falling stopped. Something had a hold of her, something far more solid than the blankets. At first, that scared her too, but then she heard a soothing voice. “You’re alright now. I have you.”

Fluttershy knew that voice. She opened her eyes to see a friendly face full of concern. “Luna? What are you doing here? Am… am I dreaming?”

“You are indeed, my friend.”

Luna was already holding her, having caught her as she fell. So Fluttershy followed suit, throwing her forelegs around Luna and burying her face into her friend’s shoulder.

“There there, everything is okay now.” Luna nuzzled against her, and Fluttershy felt the blanket slide off. Luna gently flew them up through the hole where the bed had been, only it was no longer Twilight’s bedroom. In its place, they found themselves under a tree in a field of flowers – the same place Twilight had first confessed her feelings to Fluttershy.

Luna set her down gently, and Fluttershy sat beside her. Luna kept a wing around her, which was large enough to completely cover the much smaller pony. “You’ve had a lot of nightmares lately.”

Fluttershy looked down at the ground. “I’m sorry. I know you must be tired of having to help me…”

“There is no need to apologize. Even if it were not my duty to help ponies sleep peacefully, you are a friend. I would never hesitate to help you, no matter how many nightmares you may have.”

Fluttershy smiled a little, although it was weak. “Thank you, Luna.”

“You are most welcome. But I have noticed that your nightmares have changed in the past weeks. Do you think it could be related to your Cloudsdale visit?”

“I… I don’t know…”

Luna nodded slowly. “It was your first time seeing Stormy Skies in ten years. I imagine it must have been hard for you.”

“It… it was.” Fluttershy shook her head. “But… it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I remembered him as a monster, but Twilight was right. He was only a pony all along. I know that now, and I’m not afraid of him anymore.”

“That is good to hear. But if not him, what might be troubling you enough that you continue to have these nightmares?”

Fluttershy turned away again, unsure if she should say. She didn’t want to cause any problems for anypony.

“I only wish to help you, Fluttershy.” Luna gently lifted Fluttershy’s head with her hoof, so that she could see Luna was bending down so her face was just over Fluttershy’s. “Most of your nightmares lately have been about Twilight.”

And there was the problem with saying anything. The last thing she needed was for Luna to blame Twilight. “I don’t… That can’t be it though. Twilight has been wonderful. She’s nothing but supportive of me, even after she found out about Stormy Skies and… and that I’m…”

Luna bowed her head slightly. “You still blame yourself, even now.”

Fluttershy couldn’t keep looking into Luna’s blue eyes when she sounded so sad, so she leaned her head against the alicorn instead. “I… I know it wasn’t my fault…”

“That is good. And of course, it wasn’t, but sometimes there is a difference between knowing something and believing it.”

Fluttershy nodded. She wanted to believe that it was just a horrible thing that happened to her, that it was something she could move on from. But she couldn’t even think of the word without feeling dirty…

“Do you think Twilight thinks any less of you now that she knows?”

Fluttershy shook her head and looked back up at Luna. “She doesn’t. I know that.”

“And do you believe it?”

Fluttershy hesitated. She wanted to say yes, that she believed without a doubt that Twilight had told the truth on the night when she said that it didn’t change anything between them. She wanted to, but she couldn’t find the words. “I… I don’t know.”

“Then perhaps that is what you’re truly afraid of now?”

“I… Twilight’s barely left my side since she found out. And she hasn’t acted differently or anything, it’s just…”

“It is easy to be afraid when someone is so important to us,” Luna said gently. “For what it is worth, I truly do believe Twilight speaks the truth, although I know hearing me say it is not enough to make you believe it.”

Fluttershy winced. She knew what Luna meant, but she couldn’t help but feel guilty. She did believe Twilight. Of course she did. But… but Luna was right, she was also afraid.

But not of losing her, exactly. “I… I do believe Twilight will stay with me,” Fluttershy said slowly. “I’m afraid that… that even if she does stay with me, that she’s still upset with me.”

‘Upset’ wasn’t quite the correct word, but it seemed that Luna understood well enough. “I see. Although I do not believe for a moment that she feels anything negative towards you, it is a normal fear to have.”

“What should I do?” Fluttershy asked hopefully. She knew Luna couldn’t change how she felt, but Luna was the wisest pony she knew. If anyone could help, it was her. “I want to believe that Twilight isn’t upset, that she really doesn’t view me as… as used or… or anything else… But I don’t know how.”

“I fear my reassurances are meaningless to you right now,” Luna said. Fluttershy bowed her head, so Luna leaned in closer to speak softly into her ear. “You need Twilight’s.”

“What do you mean?”

“Have you talked to her about these feelings?”

Fluttershy winced at the memory, even if Twilight had been nothing but perfect in it. “I did. On the night when I told her I was… told her about what happened.”

“And not since then?”

Fluttershy shook her head. “We haven’t really talked about that day at all.”

“It is good that Twilight reassured you, but hearing it once may not be enough. If you need to be reassured again, and it does very much seem that you do, you need only ask her.”

“But… I already know what she’ll say,” Fluttershy pointed out.

Luna nodded. “But hearing the words again will still do you good. And again after that, and again. Even if you know the answer already, you should still ask for her reassurance as many times as it takes until you finally start to believe it.”

The idea of bringing that back up with Twilight was scary. Even just bringing it up once had been difficult enough, almost as hard as it had been to confront Stormy Skies.

But the idea of living with the feeling that Twilight might be disgusted by her was even worse.

“I… I will.”

“Good. And if discussing it proves too much of a challenge, remember that I am always happy to assist. I understand this is a private matter, but I’m quite skilled at handling delicate situations like this.”

Fluttershy smiled. There was no doubt that if she went to anypony for help with this, it would be Luna. “Thank you. I’ll try talking to her today first, though.”

“Of course.” Luna looked out towards something that Fluttershy couldn’t see. “Our time together draws short. Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?”

Fluttershy frowned, not exactly ready to face the day ahead of her. But she knew Luna had other important things to do, and that she had already spent enough time on Fluttershy’s problems.

She also knew there was something else, but she didn’t know how to bring that up. “No. Thank you so much for everything.”

“You are most welcome. I will ever be at your service if I’m needed again, although a good talk with Twilight today may be all that’s needed to keep us from meeting under these same circumstances tonight.”

Fluttershy nodded and smiled. “It… it would be nice to meet while I’m awake some time.”

“I wholeheartedly agree. But for now, it is time for you to wake and meet with somepony closer to you.”

“Okay.” Fluttershy took a deep breath and tried to summon all the courage she could. “I’m ready.”

The world around them started glowing, everything fading into white. She watched for a moment, then turned to say goodbye to Luna, only to find she was already gone. Only a moment later, Fluttershy was as well.

In the dream, Fluttershy had been able to see around Twilight’s bedroom perfectly. Now that she was awake, everything was dark. It was one of the ways she could tell that she was awake this time.

Another was that her foreleg had fallen asleep because a certain alicorn was lying on it. It was impossible to make out anything but Twilight’s silhouette in the fading moonlight, but she was still clinging to Fluttershy just as she had been in the dream.

Remembering how things had ended in the dream exhausted all of Fluttershy’s interest in staying in bed. Even cuddling with Twilight didn’t seem as appealing when her thoughts couldn’t stay focused on the waking world.

She got out of bed as gently as she could, smiling a little at Twilight mumbling something incoherent when she left. She stretched her stiff foreleg, then walked over to a window to watch as the moon lowered. She was a little disappointed that she couldn’t see it, although that meant that it would be dawn soon, which was also good.

But in the meantime, Fluttershy would be the only one in the castle awake. Neither Twilight nor Spike was liable to wake up before dawn. Fluttershy wouldn’t mind sleeping in a bit more herself, but her nightmares still seldom afforded her the chance.

Walking as softly as she could, Fluttershy left the bedroom. The darkness forced her to move by her memory of Twilight’s bedroom as much as by sight, but she didn’t have any problems. At least the hallway was lit and she wouldn’t have to be quite so quiet, but she still tried to keep the sound of her hoofsteps down while she descended the stairs; she did have to pass Spike’s room, after all.

That lasted only until she reached the bottom of the stairs, then she was able to walk at her usual volume. Which, for Fluttershy, wasn’t much of a difference.

Although she didn’t have anything in particular planned, it was easy enough to find things to do. While Spike was surprisingly apt at keeping the castle clean, he was also only eleven. And Twilight? Twilight was hopeless.

Which meant there were plenty of little things Fluttershy could preoccupy herself with. She chose to do some dusting, since that was something that always needed doing in the large castle.

It worked well to get her mind off things. Fluttershy liked falling into simple tasks that needed to be done, and it was nice to feel useful – Spike couldn’t fly, so he had difficulty getting to the higher shelves.

Twilight was sure to tell her not to worry about cleaning. Even after seven months together, Twilight insisted on treating her like a guest. It was thoughtful of her, but a bit silly. Fluttershy spent half her time at the castle, and the other half with Twilight at the cottage. Although they hadn’t officially agreed to anything, they were more or less living together. And if Fluttershy was sort of living at the castle, then shouldn’t she help out with the chores?

The feeling snuck up on her. She had never meant to feel like she lived in the castle, yet here she was, dusting and thinking of it as her second home. At least, it was starting to feel like home, and that feeling was growing by the day.

Her good mood came to a pause when she approached a window in the entry hall. She stopped in her tracks and struggled to take a few deep breaths in spite of the lump in her throat.

‘Be brave,’ she told herself. ‘Be like Luna.’ Luna would never be too scared to look out of a window.

After another steadying breath, Fluttershy ever so slightly pushed the curtain aside. She peeked out just enough to confirm that Ponyville was definitely still outside the castle. Summoning all her strength, Fluttershy pulled the curtain back just a little more. Now she could even see ponies!

All of whom seemed to be going about their business, completely indifferent to the castle and its inhabitants.

That was enough of a relief for Fluttershy to risk moving the curtain a little more, so that she could actually get a good look at the world outside the castle. Everything seemed to be as it should – no ponies gathered with protest signs, no reporters waiting for the royal couple to make an appearance. Just Ponyville being Ponyville.

Fluttershy let the curtain fall back into place and sighed. It was meant to be a sigh of relief, but she didn’t actually feel very relieved.

She was going to have to go out there. She needed to take care of her animal friends. That was too important to miss, no matter how she felt. Days when they stayed at the cottage were easier. Sure, she was still afraid of going into town, but she wasn’t afraid of going out her front door there.

But at least she didn’t have to do it alone. Twilight would be by her side, and that would make things easier. She felt stronger with Twilight. She felt like she could face the day ahead of her.

She glanced at the stairs. Twilight would likely be asleep for some time to come. With a sigh, she returned to dusting.

It was so quiet. Of course, that was to be expected since Fluttershy was the only one awake. But it was different. The quiet of Twilight’s castle made Fluttershy realize that the quiet of her cottage wasn’t actually quiet at all. There were mice and squirrels running around and chittering in their secret rodent languages. There were hens outside that would be awake by now and clucking softly. There were birds both in and out of the house, and the air would be filled with their songs, inviting Fluttershy to sing along with them.

The quiet wasn’t quiet at Fluttershy’s cottage, but here in this castle that was far too big for two ponies and a small dragon, it was all she could hear.

Maybe Twilight would let her bring a few small animals into the castle. She did always like watching them when they stayed at the cottage, after all.


Fluttershy grinned at the unexpected question. “Just who I wanted to see.”


Fluttershy turned to Owlowiscious, who was perched on a ledge high above her. “You, silly. Do you think this place might be a little less lonely if we brought a few of my little friends here?”

Owlowiscious cocked his head to the side. “Who?”

“Oh, I don’t know exactly. But maybe a few chipmunks or rabbits. Or a raccoon or two, or…”


Fluttershy frowned. “Too much?”

Owlowiscious blinked in response, then flew down to land on a table next to Fluttershy. She smiled and gently patted his head, happy to have some company.

“So, do you know any songs, Owlowiscious?”

Owlowiscious stuck one wing out, posing as if he were a minstrel. “Who who who who!”

Each ‘who’ was identical and carried nothing resembling a melody. Fluttershy smiled all the same. “Very pretty!”

“Is everything okay down here?” Twilight mumbled from behind them.

Fluttershy frowned as she turned around in time to see Twilight walk down the last few stairs. “I’m sorry, did we wake you?”

Twilight rolled her eyes, but she was smiling. “Well, someone did.”

“Who?” Owlowiscious asked with his most innocent expression.

Twilight poked the fluff on his belly. “Who indeed.”

“I’m sorry, Twily.” Fluttershy blushed. She didn’t want to admit that she had felt lonely when Twilight was right upstairs. “I just… couldn’t resist talking to Owlowiscious a little bit.”

Twilight smiled. “It’s okay. Besides, we should probably get going to check on those animals.”


“Fluttershy and me,” Twilight answered. “You need to stay here and get some sleep.”

Owlowiscious ruffled his feathers at Twilight then flew off. Twilight turned to Fluttershy. “Was it something I said?”

Fluttershy giggled. “I think somebirdy is just cranky because it’s bedtime.” She stepped closer to Twilight to give her a good-morning kiss.

She stopped short, however. Memories of the dream came back before she could offer a kiss, and instead, she opted for a hug. Twilight didn’t seem to notice, hugging her back and kissing her on the cheek.

“Cranky birds aside, what do you say, Shy? Ready to go take care of the animals?”

Fluttershy put the thoughts of the dream aside and turned towards the door. That gave her enough to feel anxious about without having to also worry whether or not she should have kissed Twilight properly. Ponyville was on the other side, and more to the point, other ponies were.

The negative thoughts were given pause when Twilight draped a wing across her shoulders. They didn’t go away, but that one small act was enough to break the cluster of negativity into more manageable pieces while giving her something positive to focus on instead. They could walk all the way through Ponyville like this, and that was a light in the darkness.

“Alright,” Fluttershy said. “Let’s get going.”

It had been an easy day. They made it through Ponyville without incident, and had fun taking care of the animals together. Afterwards, Fluttershy had made them a nice lunch, then they found themselves lounging in the living room, sitting on the couch together.

Despite all the anxiety of the morning, the afternoon had turned out quite nice. It was the kind of day where hardest part was trying to decide what to do next.

“Want to read together?” Twilight suggested.

Fluttershy was a little tired of reading. Neither of them wanted to go into Ponyville, especially in the middle of the day, but that limited their options. Reading was something both of them loved, but it did get a little tiring without some variety. This part of the day was easier at the castle – they had Spike for company, and would often play games with him. Fluttershy had a few games that two ponies could play, but she was a little tired of those as well.

This was a usual dilemma for them, but Fluttershy didn’t usually mind it too much. They always settled on something to do, and once they got going with it, they did have fun together.

“Or we could play cards,” Twilight suggested, making Fluttershy realize she hadn’t answered about reading.

She didn’t want to play cards. She didn’t want to read. She didn’t want to do anything that they usually did, and there was a very good reason for that. But bringing that up out loud was harder than it had been when she practiced it in her head…

“Is… everything okay, Shy?”

“Oh, sorry…” Fluttershy shook her head. “I was just… thinking.”

Twilight smiled. “About what?”

Fluttershy winced. There wouldn’t be a better chance to talk about what was on her mind, but it was still so hard to get the words out. “Well… I saw Luna last night.”

“Luna?” Twilight’s smile fell to a frown. “Did you have a nightmare?”

Fluttershy nodded. “And… she said I should talk to you about it.”

“Alright. So what was it about?”

Fluttershy turned away, unable to look at Twilight in light of how dumb her fears were. “Well… it was about you. Uhm, about you not wanting to be with me.”

She felt a hoof wrap around her own. “Shy, I love you. Of course I still want to be with you.”

Fluttershy smiled a little and nodded. “I know. It was a silly dream.”

“You know, you don’t have to wait to talk to me if you have a dream like that. You can always wake me up.”

“Oh… I wouldn’t want to do that…”

“I don’t mind,” Twilight said brightly. She scooted closer to Fluttershy. “Besides, then I get to fall asleep cuddling you again.”

Fluttershy’s smile grew and she rested her head against Twilight. “I don’t deserve you.”

“Hey now, none of that.” Twilight nuzzled against Fluttershy. “You deserve to be happy. And if I’m what makes you happy, then, well… I guess you deserve me.”

Fluttershy was being silly. Twilight was always so good to her; what did she think would go wrong? Besides, Luna had wanted Fluttershy to talk about this, and she had never been wrong before. “Uhm, there’s something else.”

“You know you can tell me anything.”

Fluttershy rubbed against Twilight and took a deep breath, finding comfort in her scent. “Well… it’s something that’s been on my mind since Cloudsdale…”

Twilight’s wing moved to cover Fluttershy, protecting her from everything else. She just hoped it would stay there.

“And… and Luna said I should talk to you about that, too.”

“Luna did?” Twilight tried to hide it, but Fluttershy could feel how she tensed up. “I didn’t know Luna knew about, er, Cloudsdale.”

Even though she herself had just done the same thing, Fluttershy kind of wished Twilight hadn’t danced around the subject. She wanted it to be something they could talk about, just a horrible thing that had happened to her. Instead, it was something dirty, something they couldn’t even say the name of.

“Luna’s known about… about Stormy Skies for a long time.” Fluttershy winced as Twilight’s hoof tightened around hers. “I’m sorry, please don’t be mad.”

“I’m not mad,” Twilight said quickly, although her tone said otherwise. “Just… surprised.”

Fluttershy looked down at their hooves. Twilight was still gripping hers tightly. Not tight enough to hurt, but too much for it to be intended as a comforting gesture.

Twilight realized after a moment and loosened her grip. “Sorry…” She took a deep breath. “I guess I am a little upset, but not at you. It’s just thinking about him…”

Even as she spoke, Twilight was beginning to sound upset again. It wasn’t like Fluttershy couldn’t understand why, not after she herself had only ever said his name with malice if she had to say it at all. But it was another reminder that this wasn’t just something that had happened. It was something that was still happening, so many years later. Something that wouldn’t let go of her.

“I’m sorry,” Fluttershy said, although she wasn’t sure what part of it she was apologizing for. All of it, she figured.

“Please don’t be.” Twilight leaned her head on Fluttershy’s. “I’m sorry, you don’t need me getting upset on top of how you must already be feeling. What was it Luna said you should talk to me about? Did you have nightmares about him too?”

“I… I used to. That’s how she found out about him.”

“Used to?” Twilight smiled. “So the nightmares stopped? That’s great, Shy!”

Fluttershy bowed her head, but she smiled a little too. “Yes. You were right, after seeing him again, I’m not afraid of him anymore. I haven’t had any nightmares about him since we got back from Cloudsdale.”

It was kind of funny, in a way. The nightmares had first started when she left Cloudsdale as a teenager, and now they finally stopped after a visit there as an adult.

“It must have been really hard on you.” Twilight said. “All those years before Luna was around to help…”

Fluttershy winced. She wasn’t sure how to tell Twilight that the nightmares had stopped before, and more to the point, that they’d only come back after she started dating Twilight. After she realized what dating somepony might lead to, and how that stirred up old memories and wounds that had never healed…

But she couldn’t tell Twilight that. Maybe she should, but she wanted to talk about their future, not her past. For now, she would just go along with the idea that she’d always had the nightmares to keep the conversation going. “I’m just glad she was able to come to my rescue eventually.”

Twilight nodded. “Of course. I’m glad she was able to help you when you couldn’t come to me.”

Fluttershy wasn’t sure if Twilight was referring to the fact that Fluttershy hadn’t told her about Stormy Skies back then, or if she just meant that only Luna could enter a nightmare. Either way, she felt guilty; she wanted to come to Twilight for anything, but some things were just easier to talk to Luna about.

But Luna was right, this was something that she needed to talk to Twilight about, no matter how hard it was. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to jump into the topic like she really wanted to, so she kept it on Stormy Skies himself since that seemed a little easier. “Uhm, Luna told me she took care of him, at least. So we don’t have to worry about him anymore.”

“Stormy Skies? What did she do to take care of him?”

Fluttershy frowned. “I actually don’t know. I… don’t really want to. I trust Luna, and if she says not to worry about him, that’s good enough for me.”

“I see.” Twilight didn’t sound so easily convinced, but Fluttershy didn’t expect her to be. “So is that what Luna wanted you to tell me?”

“No, but I thought you should know that too.”

Twilight nodded. “I’m glad you told me. It’s good to know that Luna’s done something, although I wish I knew what.”

“Maybe you could write to her. I’d rather not think about it, though…”

“Of course.” Twilight nuzzled against Fluttershy’s cheek, which got her to finally look up into Twilight’s face. “So what else is on your mind?”

“I…” There was no more stalling. Fluttershy had to tell Twilight, no matter what. Even if it was hard, she had to say it. “I keep thinking that… that you’re disgusted with me…”

“Fluttershy, no…” Twilight let go of Fluttershy’s hoof to instead wrap both of her forelegs around her marefriend. “I love you. I love you so much, and I could never be disgusted with you.”

“I… I know. I just…” Fluttershy felt tears welling up and tried to hold them back. “It’s hard to remind myself of that…”

“Have I done anything wrong?” Twilight asked. “I didn’t mean to, but if anything I’m doing is making you feel –”

“No,” Fluttershy said. “You didn’t do anything at all. It’s just… I… I don’t know.” She shook her head and sniffed as a tear escaped. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t think something like that.”

“Shh.” Twilight wiped the tear away and spoke softly. “You don’t have anything to be sorry for. I understand. And I’ll remind you as much as you need me to.”

Fluttershy smiled and felt a little of her worries slip away. She wasn’t convinced, not fully, but that would probably take time. For now, she was happy with the reminder. “Thank you, Twily. I love you.”

“I love you too, Shy.”

Emboldened by the reassurance, Fluttershy did what she neglected to do earlier: She looked into the face of the mare she loved, smiled, then kissed her. Twilight kissed Fluttershy back without hesitation, which also helped reassure her that Twilight was telling the truth.

“Thank you, Twily,” Fluttershy said. “You always make me feel so much better.”

“I’m glad. You’ve done so much to help me when I feel anxious, you deserve the same in turn.”

Fluttershy still wasn’t sure she did all that much for Twilight, but she felt too happy to argue the point. Little by little, the weight she had been carrying was replaced with her love for Twilight.

A kiss wasn’t enough for how happy Twilight made her. She wrapped her forelegs around Twilight and lay back, bringing her marefriend with her. Twilight laughed and cuddled up to Fluttershy. As was always the case, cuddling on the small couch was more than a little awkward, but as long as it meant she got to be close to Twilight, Fluttershy didn’t mind.

Twilight smiled as she brushed a strand of Fluttershy’s mane out of her face. “You’re so beautiful.”

Fluttershy giggled and blushed. “No…”

“Oh yes.” Twilight kissed Fluttershy’s forehead. “You are –” she kissed her cheek “– absolutely –” she kissed her nose “– gorgeous.”

Twilight kissed Fluttershy’s lips, and Fluttershy closed her eyes and let herself get lost in Twilight. She opened her mouth for Twilight’s tongue and used a hoof to draw circles on her back.

Twilight moved one of her hooves along Fluttershy’s side as they kissed, slowly making her way towards Fluttershy’s stomach. The longer they kissed, the more impassioned Twilight seemed to become.

Twilight broke apart from Fluttershy, but only so she could move down and kiss her neck. Fluttershy moaned softly, and Twilight’s hoof seemed to be moving lower. She wondered if Twilight realized how close it was…

Fluttershy moved her leg, letting Twilight explore lower. She held tight to her marefriend and smiled. ‘Please… Just a little lower…’

Twilight hesitated just as she was almost there. Fluttershy placed her mouth by Twilight’s ear and breathed her name, just above a whisper. “Twily, please…”

Everything stopped. Twilight’s hoof remained where it was, and she stopped kissing Fluttershy’s neck. After a moment, she brought her hoof back up, using it to hold Fluttershy by the waist instead.

Fluttershy wanted to ask why Twilight stopped. She wanted to say she didn’t have to, that they could do more in their relationship, that she wanted to do more in their relationship. But all she could think about was that she might get an answer she was afraid of.

So she said nothing. She just held Twilight, wishing it was as comforting as it had been earlier.

“I love you, Shy,” Twilight said after a while. There was a note of something in her voice, but Fluttershy couldn’t figure out what it was.

“I love you too.”

Fluttershy tried to think of reasons why things might have stopped that weren’t because Twilight didn’t want to do things like that with someone like her. Maybe it was just too awkward to try to do things on the couch? “Do you… maybe want to, uhm… We could go to the bedroom. To… to lie there instead.”

Twilight didn’t respond right away. When she did, it wasn’t with a direct answer. She pulled herself back up so she could kiss Fluttershy’s cheek, a far cry from the intimate kissing they had done just moments before. “What do you say we go for a walk? It’s supposed to be the warmest day this week, seems like a shame to spend it inside.”

Fluttershy didn’t want to go for a walk. But she knew this wasn’t really about what they did, it was about what they weren’t going to be doing. Why had she even thought that Twilight might want to do those kinds of things with her?

“Okay,” Fluttershy said, trying her best to keep the disappointment from her voice. “That sounds nice.”

“Shy, what are you doing?”

Fluttershy paused, her hoof on Twilight’s stomach and lips against her neck. She said the only thing she could think of. “I love you, Twily.”

She tried to move her hoof lower, but Twilight swatted it away. “What do you think you’re doing!?”

Fluttershy recoiled back, casting Twilight a pleading look. “Twilight, I…”

Twilight was rising from the bed. “Why would you even think I’d want to do something like that with you?

“I… I’m sorry, I…”

“I think this is enough for tonight,” a voice spoke from behind her.

Fluttershy gasped and turned around to see Luna standing in her bedroom. When she turned back to Twilight, she was gone. “I’m… I’m dreaming again.”

“You are. It seems I found you quickly this time, at least.”

Fluttershy bowed her head. “I’m so sorry… I don’t know why this keeps happening.”

It couldn’t have been comfortable due to her large size, but Luna sat on Fluttershy’s bed with her. “There is no need to apologize, my friend. I only wish you did not need my assistance for your own sake.”

Fluttershy leaned on her friend and sighed. “I tried talking to Twilight like you said I should, and that helped. Until… until it didn’t…”

Luna wrapped a wing around her. “What do you mean?”

“Twilight told me she isn’t disgusted with me or anything like that, and I believed her. Or at least, I started to. But then…”

Luna looked at the space where Twilight had been before. “Fluttershy, I do hope you know I am more than the Princess of the Night. I am your friend, and I care for you. You can speak to me about anything at all.”

Fluttershy nodded. “I… I don’t think Twilight wants to, uhm…” Fluttershy blushed, but forced herself to say it. “To have sex with me.”

Although Fluttershy felt like she might die from embarrassment, Luna hardly seemed to mind the topic. “I see. I take it this dream was at least in part based on reality?”

“She didn’t do anything like that,” Fluttershy said, wanting to make sure Luna didn’t get the wrong idea. “But… we were, uhm… being intimate, and I suggested we go to the bedroom, and then she stopped.”

“And because we’re talking about Twilight, she didn’t say why, I’m certain.”

Fluttershy nodded. “I keep thinking that she doesn’t want to because… because he…”

Luna stroked Fluttershy’s mane. “I think it more likely that she is simply worried that your past trauma might make sex hard for you. Do you think you were clear in your desires? Poor Twilight is rather oblivious.”

It was comforting, in a way, to hear Luna talk so frankly. “I think it was pretty clear. And… and I think she did understand. She just… didn’t want to.”

“This was not an isolated incident, I take it? I feel this may be a contributing factor to your nightmares. How long has it been going on for?”

“Uhm, well today was the most obvious, I think.” Fluttershy thought back. Even if they had never come as close as they had earlier, it was far from the first time. “It started a while ago. I… I don’t remember when. But back then, Twilight would always be the one to start things, then she’d stop. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, and I always thought Twilight was stopping for my sake.”

“It sounds likely. It was good of her to wait until you were sure.”

Fluttershy nodded. “But now even when I start things…”

Luna waited long enough to make sure Fluttershy wasn’t going to finish her thought. “I believe Twilight still feels that she is protecting you. This is new for her as well, and she has never coped well when she is beyond her depth. This isn’t exactly the type of thing she can learn how to approach with a book.”

Fluttershy smiled a little. Knowing Twilight, she had probably looked for answers in a book. “You’re right. But I don’t know what to do…”

“I imagine Twilight feels the same. It sounds as if she has some conflicted thoughts of her own on the matter. If she was starting things before, I think it is clear she wants to progress things between you two as well, and I don’t believe learning about Stormy Skies has changed that.”

“So what do I do?”

Luna smiled. “It is quite simple. You let me handle it.”

Fluttershy blinked. “You?”

“Will you trust me to take care of it?”

Fluttershy wanted to be the one to fix things in her own relationship, but she knew she couldn’t. Twilight wasn’t the only pony who was out of her depth. “I do.”

“Then it is as good as done. I promise you that I will not fail.”

Fluttershy didn’t just know that was true, she believed it. Luna truly was an amazing pony, and if she said things would be taken care of, then they would be. “Thank you.”

“Think nothing of it.” Luna looked around the room. “But for now, I think it would do you some good to sleep. Take comfort in the knowledge that I will not permit another nightmare to trouble you on this night.”

Fluttershy smiled. Even though she knew she was already asleep and this was a dream, she still lay down and closed her eyes. “I’m so happy I have a friend like you.”

“And I you. Now rest well, I shall not leave you until I am certain that you are sleeping soundly.”

Just as she knew she was cuddled up with Twilight outside of the dream, Fluttershy snuggled closer to Luna. With a smile on her face, she finally found herself in a dreamless slumber.

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