• Published 5th Jul 2015
  • 3,817 Views, 325 Comments

The Phantom Pony of Everfree - LightningSword

Who is the Phantom Pony of Everfree? What is he? And can he be approached with anything but fear?

  • ...

Kindness and a Basket of Cookies

“OOH!” Pinkie Pie squealed, “Chocolate chips! Lots and lots! Ooh, and we need some walnuts! Or should we use pecans? Ooh! Peanuts! Even better! OOH! OOH! And cinnamon! With a touch of vanilla! Mmmm, these cookies are gonna be so nummy in the tummy!”

Fluttershy sat off to one side of Sugarcube Corner's kitchen while Pinkie Pie hopped from one end to the other and back, grabbing and piling together different ingredients. For two days, Fluttershy had been planning what to do for Nocturne as a thank-you for his act of selflessness. She had decided to start small, and put together a care package of sorts for him. She would start with freshly-baked cookies, with help from Pinkie Pie, and would build it up a little at a time from there. Next to add would be a blanket (It must be awfully drafty in those woods at night, she had considered), a stuffed animal, and a note expressing her gratitude.

He may have seemed like a monster, but to scare away a pony and then perform an act of kindness for a squirrel just didn't make any sense. Cruelty was often a mask for something deeper, but kindness could not be convincingly faked. Fluttershy knew better; after all, she represented the Element of Kindness. She knew what she saw had come straight from the heart. Whatever she'd heard about this “Phantom Pony”, whatever he himself wanted ponies to hear about him, that single selfless act was pure and true. It made Fluttershy certain that that meant Nocturne's “Phantom Pony” act was just that: a facade meant to drive ponies away. Why he felt the need to carry out this act, and for how long, Fluttershy was unsure.

But she stuck with her plan to show Nocturne kindness in return. And this care package was a step in the right direction.

“Hey, Fluttershy!” Pinkie called. “I'm so glad I could make you feel better by helping you with these cookies! Wow, you should've seen how scared you were! And how scared Dashie was! And we got scared seeing you get scared, so you scared us, scaring you, scaring me! I don't think I was crying, though, but I think I would have! Would I? I only cry when I'm sad, but I try not to be sad, but I think being scared might make you sad, 'cause nopony wants to be scared, and nopony wants to be sad, so . . . what were we talking about?” She smiled vacantly, her face almost squeaking from the wideness of her grin.

“Oh, Pinkie Pie,” Fluttershy gently replied, “I appreciate you taking the time to help me, but these cookies aren't for me. They're for . . . .” Fluttershy had decided early on not to alert her friends to her intentions just yet. They still didn't understand Nocturne as well as she thought she did, and would almost certainly be concerned for her safety. Keeping as much to herself as possible, she finished, “ . . . a friend.”

“Oh!” Pinkie Pie replied, enlightened, “Well, who? Is it Twilight? Or Rarity? Maybe Applejack? Ooh, ooh! Rainbow Dash! I know! It's a thank-you to Rainbow Dash for helping you get your stuff back, right?”

Fluttershy didn't argue, but she didn't agree, either. She couldn't be sure that Pinkie could keep this a secret, so the less she knew, the better. She had said that these cookies were for a friend, and as long as Pinkie knew that much, it was fine. While she did feel guilty about lying to her friends (omitting the truth was just as bad, if not worse), she kept reminding herself that she didn't want them to worry about her. She didn't know if they would be willing to believe that Nocturne was actually safe, but she still had to try to repay him, even if she had to do it by herself. After all, that one small good deed was undeniable; he really was a good pony deep down.

And a small good deed in return was the first step to showing her friends—and all of Ponyville—who he really was.

Rarity inspected several different fabrics hanging around in her boutique, rushing from one to the next in a manner similar to Pinkie Pie in her kitchen. As Fluttershy watched patiently, her thoughts went back to the recipient of her care package; having the means to quell Nocturne's rage was one thing, but finding him was something else entirely. Fluttershy decided that simply confronting Nocturne directly would probably not be the best approach, especially after she had angered him twice in one day. She quickly resolved to cross that bridge when she came to it. Until then, she still had to add a little more to this package. After all, cookies were nice, but not quite enough.

That's why Rarity looked around for the perfect material for a blanket.

“Hmmm . . .” Rarity pondered as she analyzed each material, “well, this satin is lovely . . . or maybe damask would be better . . . ooh, I just don't know! Fluttershy, darling, I'm so sorry, but my forte has always been closer to worn fabrics rather than simple blankets.”

“I understand, Rarity,” Fluttershy replied with a nod, “but this is really important. Um, well, of course, I understand if you can't do it . . . .”

“What?” Rarity interrupted. “Rarity, quit? Perish the thought! I shall simply apply myself harder, especially since somepony you know is in need of particularly fashionable warmth!” She stopped, glanced around her shop, then sighed. “Of course, I wouldn't be having this much trouble choosing if I knew this friend of yours. Tell me darling, what's he like?”

“Eep!” Fluttershy released a nervous squeak, and began to blush faintly. While it was true that she had been expecting this, it didn't help to prepare her with a decent response. “Umm, well,” she tried explaining, “he's kind of shy, like me, but he doesn't get out a lot . . . at all, really . . . .” she paused to think back on more of what she knew about Nocturne. But now that she thought about it, she couldn't recall if anypony ever said whether Nocturne had ever been seen outside the Everfree Forest. All incidents related to him in the past seemed only to involve him scaring somepony who had wandered too far into his area of the woods. He'd probably never been to Ponyville before. “I think,” Fluttershy continued steadily, applying what she'd deduced for herself as best she could, “I think he's really lonely, but he's . . . difficult to talk to about it. So, I wanted to do something nice for him. You know, to reach out to him, and show him that he's not alone.”

“Oh, Fluttershy, what a lovely gesture! You must really care for this fellow to do so much for hi—” Rarity stopped for a second, her eyes widened slightly, then narrowed as she pointed them at the Pegasus. “Oh, Fluttershy?” she asked, a somewhat ominous lilt in her voice. “You wouldn't happen to be keeping something from me, would you, dear?”

Fluttershy's heart began to race—she'd been found out. “Umm . . . I . . . I don't know what you mean . . . .”

“Oh, don't try to hide it,” Rarity said earnestly, “your face is an open book, darling! The flushing of your cheeks, the stammer in your words, the waver in your voice, that sense of . . . longing . . . I know exactly who this blanket is for!”

Fluttershy sat down, her nervousness getting to her. She could barely respond to Rarity's semi-accusatory tone, except with a soft, “Oh, dear . . . .”

“Oh, yes, you sneaky thing, you!” Rarity teased, taking a step closer. “I can see it from miles away. This blanket is for that pony, isn't it?”

It was over now. There was no denying that Rarity knew about Fluttershy's plans. At this, she could only stay silent.

“Yes . . . this blanket is for . . . that very special somepony, isn't it?!”

“Rarity, please, I can expla—what?”

“Oh, darling, no need for such secrecy!” Rarity comforted her, putting a gentle hoof on her shoulder. “Feelings of affection are hardly controllable! I couldn't blame you in the least! In fact, I imagine you feel the same about him as I do about . . . Trenderhoof . . . ooohhhh . . . .” She took a moment to swoon, but was back at a moment's notice. “So, this coltfriend of yours, he must mean quite a lot to you, yes?”

Fluttershy still felt nervous, but she couldn't help but release a sigh. Her secret was safe, but this was the last way she wanted to preserve it. Still, it felt wrong somehow to answer 'no'; she did find herself caring about Nocturne. She knew he must've been in some kind of pain, and she had vowed to help him feel better. Looking back up at Rarity, she grinned a little as she replied, “Well . . . I guess you could say that.”

Rarity began emitting a shrill squeal like an excited schoolfilly, and hugged her yellow friend. “Oh, Fluttershy, I'm so happy for you, darling!” she cheered. “I have no doubt that you'll take good care of this fine young stallion you've taken a liking to!” She then plucked a roll of vibrant-looking wool off a nearby table, seized a pair of scissors with her Unicorn magic, and cut a five foot length of it from the roll in little time. She then took up a needle and thread and set to work hemming the edges. “And be sure to let him know where this came from, so that when he caresses this lovely little blanket between his hooves, he will know that it comes courtesy of Rarity's Carousel Boutique!”

Fluttershy smiled warmly at Rarity's peerless generosity. “Thank you, Rarity,” she said as Rarity lowered the finished work into the basket Fluttershy carried on her side, “I'm sure he'll love it. Oh, it must get so nippy in those woods at night . . . .”


Fluttershy gasped lightly, feeling sheepish at the dead giveaway she'd just uttered. “Oh! Umm,” she fought to recover, “I said . . . it must get so nippy . . . without wood to light. Yes, that's it, umm . . . see, he's kind of low on firewood lately, you know, for his fireplace? In his house . . . you know, that he lives in . . . and he can't always keep warm, so, that's what the blanket is for!” Feeling her welcome (and her excuses) being expended, she concluded, “Umm, I have to go, Rarity. I'll . . . I'll see you later, okay? Thanks again!” And with that, she turned to the door, left through it, and was on her way.

Rarity raised a curious eyebrow in the wake of her friend's awkward exit. That's when realization seemed to strike: “But it's the beginning of summer. Why could he possibly need to keep warm?” After a few seconds of pondering, she then shrugged and giggled to herself. “Ahh, matters of the heart!” Her giggling soon became uncontrollable, and she trotted in place as she squealed ecstatically. “Oooh, I can't wait to meet this young lad of hers!!”

“So . . . you want me to write what, now?”

At the Golden Oaks library, Fluttershy hoped she didn't look too suspicious as she looked back at Spike's confused glance. “A thank-you note,” she confirmed, holding out a blank card to Spike. “There's somepony I want to thank for doing something really nice the other day—”

“Oh, yeah, I forgot!” Spike interrupted. “Twilight told me you and Rainbow Dash had a bad run-in with somepony in the woods. You guys okay?”

“Yes, Spike, we're okay. But if it's no trouble, I'd like someone to write this out nice and neat for this pony. So, if you'd be willing to, I'd appreciate it.”

“Hmmm . . . .” Spike looked at the blank greeting card, glancing between it and Fluttershy. “Well,” he answered, shrugging, “since Twilight's out picking up some ink bottles, I guess she won't know I took a quick break. And it's for a friend, so I don't think she'll mind anyway.” He took the card from Fluttershy's hoof, pulled out a quill and readied for her words. The whole time, Fluttershy felt that vague panic arise again—she was desperately hoping Spike wouldn't make the connection and realize that the pony she'd had a “bad run-in” with and the pony Spike was writing this greeting for were one and the same.

“Who do I make this out to?” Spike asked with a joking grin, as if prepared to sign an autograph.

Fluttershy took a breath and began with: “To my very special friend . . . .”

From there, Fluttershy quoted the exact words she wanted the card to say, and Spike's pen moved in time with her words. Fluttershy had memorized the entire message in the hopes that it would help things go without a hitch; so far, it greatly helped, as she quoted the whole thing, word-for-word, back to Spike as he wrote. In only a few seconds, the entire message was complete.

Spike read over what he'd written, then looked up with another confused glance, this one mixed with a hint of indignity. “Cookies? This guy gets cookies?”

“Well, yes,” Fluttershy replied simply, “I made them with Pinkie Pie today. They're a part of the gift basket I'm making for him, just like the note.” She looked back at Spike's pleading eyes, and couldn't help but giggle. “Well, I suppose one less cookie wouldn't be so bad. And it would make a lovely 'thank you' for your help, Spike.”

“That it would!” Spike quipped excitedly.

Fluttershy giggled again and reached into the basket, gently lifting out a cookie and hoofing it out to the enthusiastic dragon. Spike took the cookie and began munching on it immediately. “Mmm! Delicious!” he exclaimed, spewing crumbs everywhere. “Wow! You and Pinkie make great cookies! Thanks, Fluttershy!”

“You're welcome,” Fluttershy replied with a smile. The smile faded quickly when she glanced over her shoulder. “Oh, I'd better get going. Thanks again.”

“'Get going'? Already?” Spike questioned, disappointed. “Can't I have just one more cookie?”

“I'm sorry, Spike,” Fluttershy replied, starting to get worried, “I, uh . . . I have to feed Angel. I'll see you later, okay? Tell Twilight I said hello.” She went to the door and left quickly, and the feeling of guilt struck her harder than before. Her dishonesty was still evident to her in the worst way; while she did need to feed Angel later today, it wasn't the cause for her departure.

She just hoped she could leave without having to explain herself to Twilight.

The last part of Nocturne's care package was arguably the most difficult. Having to hide her intentions from Pinkie, Rarity and Spike had been stressful, but doable. But here, even in the comfort of her own cottage, Fluttershy had great difficulty in placing this finishing touch on the gift basket, and the stress seemed to want to seep back into her mind, bit by bit.

“Hmmm . . . bunny, duckie, or teddy? Oh, dear, I just can't decide . . . .”

The three stuffed toys sat in a row on her bed. One of Bunny's floppy ears covered a black button eye. Ducky's fluffy yellow feathers made it look poofy and huggable. Teddy had round, adorable little paws and ears. All three were perfect for Nocturne, but it was so difficult for Fluttershy to decide which was most perfect.

After a while, Fluttershy decided to simply divine an answer from what she knew about Nocturne. “Hmm . . . well, he lives in the woods, so he's probably seen a lot of bears. And bunnies, well . . .” She glanced at Angel, sleeping in his little bed basket at the foot of the bed.


Fluttershy took the fluffy duckie toy from the bed and placed it in the basket, next to the folded-up blanket. “You're going to love your new home, little friend!” Fluttershy giggled. “Nocturne may look mean and scary, but . . . he's a good pony. I know he is.” She said it just as much to herself as she did to her stuffed duckie.

Fluttershy inspected the contents of the basket one last time: a bowl of Pinkie Pie's chocolate-cinnamon cookies, a thick, woolen blanket, and a plushie duck from Fluttershy's own collection. With the greeting card placed on top—with Fluttershy's message written by Spike—the care package was complete, and Fluttershy set the basket on her side before turning to leave her cottage. “Bye, Angel,” she whispered as she passed him on her way out, “I'll be back soon, okay?”

Now, Fluttershy finally started to feel excited. Nocturne was going to love this.