• Published 18th May 2015
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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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7 - First Date

Chapter Seven

First Date

Things could change so quickly. It had been a month since Twilight had found herself outside of Fluttershy’s door, expecting nothing other than to spend some time with a friend. Only a month, and Twilight’s world had turned upside down.

Now her friends all knew her most well-kept secret. Now she didn’t have to hide a big part of herself from the ponies she cared about most. Now she was standing outside the same door that had started it all, about to go on her first date, with her first ever…

What were they to each other, anyway? It was probably too soon to call Fluttershy her marefriend, but were they still just friends? They were about to go on a date together, an actual date!

It was exciting just as it was daunting. Although she told herself that she was contemplating a major change in her life, when it came down to it, she was really just stalling. She kept reminding herself that it was just a party they had both planned to go to anyway. And besides, Fluttershy had asked her out, so clearly there was nothing to be worried about.

It was a perfectly rational outlook. It didn’t help. She wanted their night to be perfect, she needed it to be perfect. She needed Fluttershy to see how happy they could be together, or else she might decide not to go on another date.

‘Well, sitting here isn’t going to make anything perfect…’

With one last calming breath, she knocked on the door. At first there was no answer, but just as she was about to knock louder, the door opened – seemingly of its own accord, until she looked down to see Angel motioning for her to come inside. She followed him into the living room and looked around, but saw no sign of Fluttershy. Angel pointed to the couch, then hopped up the stairs. Twilight sat down and waited as Fluttershy called out, “Uhm… I’ll be down in a moment.”

“Oh, take your time,” Twilight replied. “I’m sorry, I know I’m a little early.” She was still panicking, but at least now she was panicking from the comfort of Fluttershy’s couch.

After a minute, Angel came back down. He stared at Twilight. Not his usual glare of annoyance, more so like he was looking for something. Twilight glanced around and couldn’t see anything he could be interested in; he was definitely looking at her. He looked up to Fluttershy’s room, then back to her. His ears folded down as he nervously rubbed his paws together. Not for the first time, she found herself wishing she could understand the rabbit.

Eventually, her attention was drawn away by the sound of hoofsteps on the stairs. Twilight turned to see Fluttershy descend. She let out a small gasp as Fluttershy reached the bottom and turned towards her. The yellow pegasus was wearing a purple halter sundress with a teal sash. Angel jumped up to fix a strand of her mane, which had been braided. She looked at the ground as she squeaked out a greeting.

“Fluttershy, you look beautiful.” Twilight felt her cheeks grow warm as she openly spoke her mind about her crush for the first time. It was nothing compared to Fluttershy, whose face had gone completely red at the compliment. She tried to hide in her mane, which proved impossible with it braided and only served to frustrate the little rabbit still hanging on her head. Twilight suspected that was Rarity’s plan, to not let the shy pegasus hide away as she usually did.

“Oh, uhm… thank you,” Fluttershy managed to say. She pried her eyes off the floor to look at Twilight, who was wearing a sunflower yellow sheath dress with blue trim. “Uhm, you too,” she said, blushing even harder and looking away again.

Twilight smiled. Fluttershy had called her beautiful! Well, sort of, but she knew better than to expect more than that right away. She walked over to the pegasus, who seemed determined to go from yellow to red. Twilight put a hoof around her and nuzzled her cheek. “Are you ready to go? I know we said we’d help set up, but I sent Spike ahead already so I’m sure they’ll be fine if we take our time.”

“No, I’m ready,” Fluttershy said. “Let’s go.”

They departed and walked side by side towards Sweet Apple Acres. Twilight felt a rush from being so close to Fluttershy. She always enjoyed her friend’s company, although there had always been a measure of guilt involved, as well as the fear of being found out.

But for the first time, she didn’t have to worry about any of that. She walked with a spring in her step, and a smile spreading from ear to ear. While her shy companion initially seemed to be more weighed down by her nerves, eventually the positivity proved infectious and she lightened up as well.

Still, there was something that needed to be addressed. “So what do you want to do about telling other ponies?” Twilight asked as she nervously pulled at the hem of her dress. She tried to keep her tone casual, as if it was just a meaningless question asked out of curiosity.

Fluttershy stopped in her tracks, a look of panic returning to her face. Twilight had expected this. She knew they had to decide before seeing everypony, but she still felt horrible for ruining the mood.

Twilight put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “We don’t have to tell anypony anything if you don’t want to. I won’t push you into a situation you’re uncomfortable with.”

“I… I know I should just tell everypony and get it over with, but what will everypony think? I wish I was stronger…” Fluttershy moved some dirt around with her hoof.

“Fluttershy, you know it doesn’t have to be everypony, right? We could just tell our friends for now and decide what to do about everypony else later.”

“Well, it would be nice to not have to hide things from them anymore. And, well, I uhm… I told Rainbow already. I hope that’s okay.” Fluttershy folded her ears back.

Twilight smiled softly. “Of course it is. I’d never ask you to keep secrets from her.” She rubbed the back of her neck. “Besides, I kind of already told Spike.”

Fluttershy smiled a little and nodded. “And Rarity knows, so I suppose it’s really just Applejack and Pinkie Pie. I guess maybe that won’t be too bad.”

Twilight hesitated while thinking of how much she should say about Applejack. All their friends had a soft spot for Fluttershy, so she doubted Applejack would do anything to make her feel unwelcome. Still, Fluttershy deserved the right to make an informed decision. “About Applejack. I told her about myself and she, well, she didn’t exactly take it well.”

“Oh.” Fluttershy stared at the ground.

“She didn’t say anything against it, exactly. I asked her for advice on what I should say to you. I didn’t tell her it was you specifically, of course, I just told her it was a mare I like.” Twilight frowned remembering the details, but Fluttershy needed to know what she was getting into before she decided what she wanted to do. “She made it very clear that she was willing to ignore my love life so long as I kept it to myself.”

Twilight took a moment of self-pity, staring idly off to the side. She felt Fluttershy’s foreleg wrap around her shoulders as the pegasus instinctively moved in to comfort her. Whether it was because she didn’t know what to say or because she had the same thoughts weighing down her own mind, Fluttershy didn’t say anything. It didn’t matter. Having Fluttershy next to her, on their first date no less, made Applejack a distant concern.

“We don’t have to tell her anything,” Twilight said. “Pinkie was there too, and she was, well, Pinkie. I don’t think she could ever look down on her friends, no matter what. I know she’d be really happy for us.”

Fluttershy looked surprised. “Did you… already tell all our friends?”

“Yeah, about a week ago. I, uhm, wanted a few opinions on how to talk to you about it.” Twilight hoped she didn’t sound weird for talking about how nervous she had been. “Why do you ask?”

“I’m just surprised you did it all by yourself. I don’t think I could ever be that brave.”

“Well, it wasn’t easy, and I didn’t exactly do it alone. I let it slip to my friend in the human world, Sunset Shimmer, and she supported me when I was ready to tell other ponies. But you know, I probably would have kept hiding it except, well…” Twilight trailed off as she gave Fluttershy a sideways glance.

“Except what?” Fluttershy asked, tilting her head.

“I found somepony worth being brave for,” Twilight finished, causing Fluttershy to blush. She felt a little guilty at how much she enjoyed it, but she couldn’t help herself. She was simply too adorable when she blushed.

“I… I think telling Pinkie wouldn’t be so bad,” Fluttershy said, turning her face away to try and hide the redness. “But maybe we could tell Applejack later, when we’re not working on a birthday party.”

Twilight’s mind raced at the implication in what Fluttershy said. ‘We can tell her later. That means we’ll still be together later, it’s not just one date! But did she mean that, or was she just not thinking about what that sounded like?’ She simply smiled and said, “I think that sounds like a great idea.”

“Okay,” Fluttershy said as she leaned on Twilight. “But I really do want to tell our friends about me, and us. Even, uhm, Applejack. You’ll help, right?”

Twilight felt like she might explode. Was this how Pinkie felt all the time? Because she suddenly understood how the party pony was able to pull off so many impossible feats. She only just barely managed to remind herself that not only were the laws of physics still a thing, but she didn’t want to make a scene in front of Fluttershy. “Of course I will,” Twilight said as she wrapped Fluttershy in a hug.

Eventually they broke apart and resumed their walk. Twilight was relieved to find the positive spirit from before had returned as they walked the rest of the short trip to Sweet Apple Acres.

Fluttershy took a deep breath and stopped to compose herself. “Okay, I can do this.”

We can do this,” Twilight reminded her with a gentle nudge. Fluttershy smiled as they made their way towards the barn.

“Well howdy, y’all!” Applejack said as they approached. She was up on a ladder hanging ‘Happy birthday’ streamers from tree to tree. “Glad to see ya. Rarity’s helping Cheerilee get ready, and Rainbow failed to show up, as expected.”

Fluttershy frowned. “She told me she’d be here.”

Applejack just laughed it off. “That’s Rainbow for ya. Thanks a bunch for sending Spike over, he’s been a big help with the decoratin’. Him and Pinkie are in the barn, and I reckon she can tell you what’s left to be done better than I can.”

On one hoof, Twilight appreciated Applejack not causing a scene, but on the other, she was frustrated with how casual the farm pony was. As if they could just pretend nothing had happened between them, pretend Applejack hadn’t undermined Twilight’s feelings when she had needed help.

But despite still being hurt by her friend’s actions, Twilight knew bringing that up would only cause more problems, so she smiled along with Applejack and did what she could to keep her tone amiable. “Alright, we’ll go talk to her then.”

She gave Fluttershy a quick look, just to see if she seemed to have changed her mind about telling Applejack. The answer was plain as day – if anything, she looked even more nerve-wracked than before, so Twilight led the way into the barn.

They were greeted by Spike as they entered. “Hey, guys.”

He was setting up a snack table, and seemed to be doing a good job of it. Twilight smiled. “Hello, Spike. The decorations look great.” She looked around and saw no sign of anyone else. “Where’s Pinkie?”

“Hiya, Twilight!” Pinkie said as she popped out from inside a haystack. Twilight yelled and fell to the floor. “Hi, Fluttershy!”

Fluttershy only jumped slightly and was quicker to recover. “Hello, Pinkie.”

“What in the hay were you doing in there!?” Twilight demanded as Fluttershy helped her up.

Pinkie gasped. “Was that a pun because I was in the hay?” Twilight facehoofed. It absolutely was not. “I’m rubbing off on you!” she added in a sing-song voice.

Twilight rolled her eyes. “I probably don’t even want to know, do I?”

“I was testing hiding places for when Cheerilee gets here. A lot of ponies think all that matters is yelling ‘surprise!’, but if you really want to go the extra mile, you gotta think about things like hiding places.”

“Oh, I didn’t know it was a surprise party,” Fluttershy said.

“It isn’t,” Twilight groaned. “Cheerilee already knows about the party! She sent out invitations herself!”

“That’s why it’ll be such a great surprise! Nopony will suspect a surprise party at a regular party!”

Twilight gave up. She would never understand Pinkie and that was all there was to it.

“Uhm.” Fluttershy started to say something, but she lost her nerve when everypony turned to look at her. Twilight moved beside to support her while Pinkie looked between them, her smile growing.

So,” Pinkie said, busying herself with fixing the haystack she was in a moment ago, “anything new going on?”

“Well, I uhm, I mean we…” Fluttershy looked to Twilight who smiled encouragingly. She knew it would do the shy mare good to say it herself. And if she was being totally honest, she really wanted to hear Fluttershy say they were dating.

Pinkie stopped pretending to be busy and started bouncing excitedly. “I know!” She propelled herself across the barn, grabbing both of them and pulling them into a group hug.

Twilight and Fluttershy exchanged confused looks. “You do?” Twilight asked. Her glance fell on Spike.

He held his open palms up innocently. “Hey, don’t look at me. I haven’t told a soul!”

“Of course I know! I always know what’s going on with my friends, even when they don’t know it themselves yet! Besides, Twilight’s crush was pretty obvious.”

“It was not!” Twilight said. “Nopony else knew!”

“That’s just because nopony else was looking. They all fell for that Flash Sentry distraction just because he’s a stallion, but I always knew you two were OTP.”

“What does that even mean?” Twilight asked.

Pinkie gasped. “Does this mean I can throw a party to congratulate you two?”

“No!” Twilight said quickly. “We haven’t told everypony else yet, so no parties.”

“Aww… okay,” Pinkie relented.

“Thank you.” Twilight noticed Fluttershy had been quiet for most of the conversation and was surprised to find she was giving her a strange look. “Is everything okay?” Twilight asked her.

“Oh, yes,” she said with a shy smile. “I was just thinking how cute you are when you’re all flustered.”

Now Twilight was the one turning red. She wondered if this was Fluttershy’s revenge for making her blush earlier.

“Isn’t she? Sometimes I go out of my way to mess with her just to see her reaction!” Pinkie said.

“You do what!?” She asked and immediately regretted it as both Fluttershy and Pinkie giggled. Even Spike snickered, trying unsuccessfully to hide it behind his claws. Twilight would have probably been more upset if Fluttershy hadn’t just called her cute.

Once everypony was done picking on Twilight, the four of them set about actually putting up the rest of the decorations. “Just so we’re clear, we haven’t told Applejack that we’re together yet,” Twilight said.

“Why not?” Spike asked. “Didn’t you see her on the way in?”

“Yes, but…” Twilight didn’t really want to go into it all over again, and figured it wouldn’t exactly make Fluttershy feel any better about coming out herself.

“Aww, I don’t think you have to worry too much about that,” Pinkie said. “After you left Rainbow came over and we talked to her about it, and I even got to sing a song!”

Twilight snickered, remembering how much Rainbow had wanted to avoid exactly that.

Spike looked around at everypony. “I don’t get it,” he said when no one offered an explanation. “What did you guys have to talk to her about?”

Realizing she wasn’t getting out of explaining it, Twilight walked over to Spike. It was probably for the best that they talk about this. “Remember how I told you some ponies wouldn’t understand?”

“Yeah, but Applejack’s your friend,” Spike said, shrugging. “Why would she care?”

Twilight shook her head. “I don’t know, but she was pretty clear that she didn’t want any part of it.”

Spike tapped his chin. “I guess it makes sense. I mean, her family can be pretty backwards, especially the ones that don’t live in Ponyville.”

“How do you know that?” Twilight asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Apple Bloom told me. She said that sometimes the Apples at the family reunions talk about how bad it is to be gay like it’s just something everypony thinks.”

Although she hated that Applejack’s family would do that, Twilight still smiled. It was good to hear that Spike had talked about this with his friends. “When did you two talk about that?”

“After that day Rainbow came over and yelled at you,” Spike said. “I mean, I didn’t tell them about you two or anything, we just talked about it. None of the Crusaders think it’s a big deal. I guess Apple Bloom thought it was kinda weird at first, but then we talked about it and she doesn’t anymore.”

It always surprised her to see Spike growing up. She had been so worried about telling him, and here he was convincing other ponies that there was nothing wrong with being gay. She probably would have pulled him into a death grip of a hug, but she didn’t want to embarrass him in front of Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, so she just gave him a one-forelegged sideways hug before returning to work.

Even at their leisurely pace it didn’t take long to finish up, and soon everypony was making their way outside to help Applejack. Before leaving, however, Fluttershy stopped Twilight and they lingered until they were the only ones in the barn.

“Uhm… do you think Applejack will come around like Apple Bloom did?” she asked.

“I’m sure she will,” Twilight said. “But Apple Bloom’s younger and less set in her ways. It’ll probably just take a little more time.”

Fluttershy nodded. She seemed to be debating something. Twilight wondered if she should say something else, or hug her, or maybe do something else entirely. How was she supposed to act on a date, anyway?

“I think… I think we should tell her,” Fluttershy said after a while.

“Really?” Twilight asked. “What made you change your mind?”

“Well, if she keeps ignoring it then she won’t ever change her mind,” Fluttershy said. “Maybe if she knows that, uhm, that we’re dating… maybe that’ll help her get used to it.”

Twilight smiled. “That makes sense. As long as you’re okay with waiting for her to figure everything out.”

Fluttershy hesitated a moment, but eventually nodded. “I… I think I can handle that. Uhm, as long as, well…”

Twilight cocked her head to the side, but Fluttershy just shook her head. “As long as what?” She smiled encouragingly and put her foreleg around Fluttershy’s shoulders.

“Well… I, uhm… I don’t think I could actually tell her…” Fluttershy said. She looked pleadingly at Twilight, who suddenly felt guilty for trying to make her tell Pinkie before.

“Don’t worry, I’ll tell her,” Twilight said. Fluttershy smiled and hugged her, then the two finally left the barn.

“Was wonderin’ where you two got to.” Applejack said as they walked out. “Could one of you fly this end up there?” She gestured to a tree across from where she was.

“Sure.” Twilight took the streamer from Applejack and tied it off where she had indicated, before returning to Fluttershy. She looked to the pegasus who nodded, then back to the earth pony. “Applejack, there’s something we wanted to talk to you about.”

“What’s on your mind, sugarcube?” Applejack asked, stepping down from the ladder to talk properly.

Twilight took a deep breath then put her foreleg around Fluttershy. “Applejack, the pony I came to talk to you about the other day is, well, Fluttershy. Today is actually our first date.”

Lacking the ability to hide away in her mane, Fluttershy nestled her head into Twilight’s shoulder. It almost didn’t matter what Applejack did, not when Twilight got a reaction like this from Fluttershy.

Applejack stared at the two ponies in complete bewilderment. “Wait. You mean you’re both… you two are…” She pulled her hat over her face for a moment before pulling it away, revealing a more composed expression. “Well I’ll be. That’s, well… I’m happy things are working out for ya.”

“Thank you,” Twilight said. Nopony quite seemed to know what to say, but before the silence could drag on too long, a small explosion went off beside them.

Everypony turned to see a grumpy Spike covered in glitter, while Pinkie stared at her party cannon. “Whoops, I must have calibrated it wrong.”

Applejack smiled and shook her head. “Well, this place don’t look too bad. How ‘bout I go get us some drinks? Come on Spike, you can come in and get washed up.”

Once Applejack was inside the house, Twilight turned to Pinkie Pie. “Thank you for the distraction, Pinkie, but did you have to hit Spike?”

Pinkie shrugged. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Twilight just shook her head, knowing she wasn’t going to get a straight answer. She didn’t always understand Pinkie, but she knew her well enough to know that her party cannon going off wasn’t an accident.

It didn’t take too long for Applejack and Spike to return. He was considerably cleaner, although he still sparkled in the sunlight and probably would for days. He was clearly a little upset about it, but didn’t seem to mind too much.

As they all sat around drinking the apple juice Applejack had brought for them, Rarity showed up. “So sorry I’m late, but there was a last minute change of plans on Cheerilee’s dress.” She noticed Spike, who was unsuccessfully trying to not be seen by his crush while he sparkled. “Oh, Spike, whatever did you do to your scales? They’re simply dazzling today!”

“I, er…” Spike glanced at Pinkie who smiled innocently. “Oh you know me. Just wanted to look my best for Cheerilee’s birthday!”

“So how’s the birthday girl?” Pinkie asked.

“She’ll be along soon,” Rarity said. “I ran ahead to make sure everything was ready, but it seems I needn’t have worried.”

“Yup. Got it covered while you were out gettin’ pampered,” Applejack teased.

“Hmph. I’ll have you know we spent the whole morning putting the finishing touches on her dress. It was a complicated design, even before the change. I took up so much of her time that afterwards I just had to treat her to a spa trip. So excuse me if I think a lady deserves some special treatment on her big day.”

Rarity took a seat next to Fluttershy. Twilight wondered if she was just imagining the way Fluttershy’s eyes seemed drawn to her. As inconspicuously as possible, Twilight placed her hoof on top of Fluttershy’s.

“I’m just messin’ with ya, Rare,” Applejack said, waving a hoof. “Like I said, everything was fine here. Besides, as far as I’m concerned, it’s better you than me with all that prissy stuff.”

“Oh come now, darling, you really ought to come with us more often.” Rarity pouted. “You always enjoy yourself whenever I do manage to get you into the spa.”

“Pass.”

Shaking her head, Rarity turned towards the others. She smiled at Twilight and Fluttershy, and pointed with her eyes towards Applejack.

Fluttershy smiled. “It’s okay, Rarity. We already told them about us.”

“Oh, I’m so glad to hear it! And I really can’t hold it in any longer, you two do make such a lovely couple!” Rarity said, clapping her hooves together and making both of them blush.

“I know!” Pinkie popped up from behind them, putting a foreleg around each of them. “Just imagine how cute their foals will be!”

Everypony turned to her with variations of the surprise spectrum. Twilight was definitely not ready to go there. “Pinkie, that’s not how that –” She realized Pinkie was grinning and facehoofed. “You’re doing it again, aren’t you.”

“Doin’ what now?” Applejack asked.

“Teasing Twilight, ‘cause she’s just so cute when you do!” Pinkie answered as she smooshed Twilight’s cheeks together.

Applejack eyed her suspiciously. “Oh, uhm, right…” she turned her attention to fixing a decoration that was fine to begin with.

“I dunno though,” Spike said. “Twilight as a mom? I’d be afraid for the foal.”

“Spike! Don’t encourage her!” Twilight snapped.

Everypony laughed except Fluttershy, who gave Twilight a comforting smile. “Aww, don’t listen to them,” she said. “I’m sure you’ll be a great mom.”

Twilight felt her face go red as she tried to respond, the words getting lost somewhere between her brain and her mouth. Before she had wondered if Fluttershy was getting revenge for Twilight making her blush, but now she was sure.

Twilight was saved from her torment when Cheerilee and Cherry Blossom showed up. “Hello, everypony!”

“Surprise!” Pinkie jumped out of the haystack, which Twilight was positive she had left in the barn.

“Oh, my!” Cheerilee jumped back. Cherry Blossom just looked confused. “You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Pinkie. I never would have suspected a surprise party at a regular party.”

Pinkie gave Twilight a victorious look.

As everypony greeted the sisters and wished Cheerilee a happy birthday, Twilight had to admire Rarity's dress work and the amount of thought she clearly put into each one. The dresses Twilight and Fluttershy wore were simple in comparison, but they accentuated one another perfectly. Rarity herself had also gotten dressed up, and while Twilight had no doubt her dress was at the peak of current fashion trends, it made room for Cheerilee’s to really shine. She had certainly gone all out on Cheerilee’s gown, making her the star of the show.

Soon other ponies began to show up – a lot of other ponies. Alongside her friends and family, Cheerilee’s whole class came for the celebration. And not just them; between current students, former students, and families of students, it seemed the whole town was present. There could be no doubt that the teacher was loved by all of Ponyville.

By the time Rainbow Dash showed up, the party was in full swing. She found Twilight and Fluttershy talking to Cherry Blossom and grinned, declaring herself the ‘best matchmaker ever’.

“What’s that all about?” Cherry Blossom asked.

“Oh nothing,” Twilight said. She cast Rainbow a dirty look, but she had already flown off somewhere else.

Cherry shrugged it off and glanced at the clock. “Well, it’s about time.”

“For what?” Twilight asked.

“For our little surprise.” Cherry waved at Cheerilee, who was talking with one of her former students, and pointed at the clock. Cheerilee nodded. Twilight looked at Fluttershy, but she seemed equally confused. Cherry just grinned and disappeared behind the barn.

After a few minutes, the Mystery Mare – Cherry Blossom’s masked wrestler alter ego – made a surprise appearance. A large group of excited fillies and colts ran up to meet the unexpected guest and ask for autographs.

“Happy birthday, Ms. Cheerilee,” Mystery Mare said once she had met with all the foals.

“You know the Mystery Mare?” the young stallion Cheerilee had been talking to asked.

“Oh yes, we go way back,” Cheerilee said.

“So, since it’s your birthday how about I show you a few moves?” Mystery Mare asked. Her entourage of young ponies all gasped.

“Oh, I don’t know, I don’t think wrestling is really my thing. Besides, I don’t want to mess up my dress.” Most of her students looked relieved to hear their teacher was out of harm’s way.

“Aw come on, I’ll go easy on you.”

“Well, I suppose maybe just a small lesson.” Cheerilee undid a hidden latch on her dress and most of the frills came off, leaving it much more form fitting. Rarity really had thought of everything.

Everypony made room for the two. Cheerilee’s students watched with a mixture of worry and excitement. True to her word, Mystery Mare went easy on Cheerilee, but only at first. Cheerilee kept showing up the wrestler at every turn, initially making it look like blind luck, but eventually taunting her as time went on.

“I think that’s enough for now,” Cheerilee said after a while. “We wouldn’t want to wear down the Mystery Mare too much.” She hadn’t even messed up her dress.

“Alright, but one of these days I’ll get you in the ring for real.” Mystery Mare promised. The group of foals that had been following Mystery Mare around ran over to Cheerilee and all began talking excitedly as one. Mystery Mare used this chance to make her escape. The foals didn’t even notice, their attention entirely on the teacher.

At least until Cherry returned with cake.

Eventually the party had to end, sooner than anypony wanted it to. But Cheerilee insisted; there was school the next day, birthday or not.

“Do you want any help cleaning up?” Twilight asked Applejack.

“Sure, I –”

“Absolutely not!” Rarity interrupted, giving Applejack a dirty look. “The night is still young, after all, and I’m sure we’ll manage just fine.”

Applejack waited a moment to make sure it was safe to talk before speaking up. “Well, y’all heard the lady. I reckon we’ll do alright over here.”

“Oh, but it wouldn’t be fair,” Fluttershy protested. “Besides, there’s just so much to do we couldn’t just –”

“Rainbow!” Pinkie called as the pegasus was attempting to make an escape. “Could you take care of those streamers over there?”

Rainbow gave a desperate grin. “Well, you know I would, but I’ve got this thing…” Rarity cleared her throat and flicked her tail in Fluttershy’s direction. Rainbow sighed. “Yeah, alright, I’ll stay.”

“I knew we could count on you!” Pinkie said. Rainbow just grumbled.

“See, we’re fine here,” Spike said through an armful of streamers and balloons. Most of the little dragon was hidden behind the decorations.

“You’re sure it’s okay?” Twilight asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Of course, darling,” Rarity insisted. “Now you two enjoy yourselves.” She winked and gave a look that left them both blushing.

As they left they heard Rainbow call after them. “But don’t enjoy yourselves too much!” They turned and looked at each other before both ponies broke into laughter.

Once they had recovered and began walking again, Twilight asked, “So what would you like to do? I mean, if you don’t want to go home yet.”

“Oh, uhm, I don’t know. But I, uhm, wouldn’t mind if you wanted to do something else together.”

Twilight’s spirits soared. She smiled enthusiastically. “I was thinking maybe we could go for a walk in the moonlight. The sky’s clear tonight, so it’s perfect for stargazing.”

“That sounds lovely.”

They made a general path towards the park. “I hope today wasn’t too much for you.”

“No, I’m glad all our friends know now. It’s nice not having to hide anything, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Having you with me made it easier, I think.” Fluttershy leaned against Twilight as they walked. “And when it’s time to tell everypony else, you’ll still be there, right?”

“Of course I will.” Twilight smiled. “We can cross that bridge together when we get to it.”

Twilight felt excited being so close to Fluttershy, talking about a future where they were still together. But at the same time, she felt calm. Fluttershy had a way of making her feel peaceful whenever they were together, and she treasured even the silence as they walked.

“Hmm.” Fluttershy chuckled. “I can’t believe I asked out a princess.”

“I have to admit, I was pretty surprised too. I was planning on asking you out, but I kind of lost my nerve halfway through.”

“Uhm, can I ask you something?”

“Of course, anything.”

“Why me? You could probably be with anypony. Somepony braver, or who understood magic, or just... somepony better than me.”

Twilight shook her head. “Braver? What matters is being brave when it counts, and I’ve seen you rush headfirst into danger plenty of times. And maybe I could find somepony who could keep up with me in magic, but so what? I’d never find a pony as compassionate as you. I want to be with somepony who appreciates simple things, somepony I can enjoy being around whether we’re with friends, or just walking through flowers and watching clouds roll by.”

“That does sound nice.”

“There’s no pony I’d rather be with,” Twilight said. Fluttershy smiled at her as they stopped walking. Twilight stared into her blue eyes and felt her heart race.

‘Is this the right moment?’ she wondered. Was she imagining it, or was Fluttershy’s face moving closer?

She decided to go for it. Fluttershy had been brave enough to ask her out, now it was Twilight’s turn to try to take a leap. She’d never know if she didn’t at least try.

“Let’s take a break over there.” Fluttershy motioned towards a tree.

“Oh, uh, sure.” As Twilight followed the other mare, she couldn’t help but notice her tail was swaying seductively.

‘Probably imagining it,’ she reasoned. As they sat down, she put her hoof on Fluttershy’s. At least the tree gave them some privacy, not that anypony seemed to be out.

They sat in silence for a moment enjoying the cool evening breeze. “I’m glad I asked you out,” Fluttershy said, nuzzling Twilight.

Determined not to overthink things again Twilight bent down and kissed Fluttershy on the cheek. The pegasus’s head popped up and Twilight smiled sheepishly. Blushing, Fluttershy leaned in and kissed Twilight’s lips before she even knew what was going on.

They smiled at each other for a moment before turning away blushing. Twilight smirked. “And you said you weren’t brave.”

“I guess I found somepony worth being brave for, too.” Fluttershy rested her head against Twilight’s neck as Twilight draped a wing over her, and they sat together watching the stars.

~ End Act I ~

Author's Note:

For those curious, Cherry Blossom and her wrestling alter-ego the Mystery Mare come from the IDW comics (issue 29 if you wanna look it up, though it’s not important to this story).

This brings Act I comes to an end :twilightsmile: For those who are interested in this sort of thing, here’s some end of act music for you. You can consider it sort of like a song that appears in the end credits of a season finale; there will be one at the end of every act. Of course if you’re uninterested in that, feel free to just skip ahead to the next chapter.

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