• Published 3rd Oct 2015
  • 6,349 Views, 982 Comments

Finding Home - Krickis

Sunset Shimmer returns to Equestria only to find that returning home is different than finding one.

  • ...

15 – Bravery

Chapter Fifteen


Fluttershy awoke with the first rays of sunlight, feeling rejuvenated after a blissful night’s sleep. She would have stretched out, but she was being held down by a certain lavender alicorn. Fluttershy smiled and nuzzled closer to Twilight. Even though the change in season had brought warmer weather with it, Twilight had been extra clingy over the past few nights. Fluttershy didn’t know if it was because of the week they’d spent apart, making up a couple nights before, or something to do with Sunset, but she didn’t really care; she was loving every bit of the extra attention.

It turned out that also included extra attention from Sunset, and it was hard not to feel guilty about how much she enjoyed it. She had to keep reminding herself that it was okay, that they had all agreed on this. She was allowed to enjoy it. She was supposed to enjoy it.

And she did. She may not have been excited for the change at first, but she was definitely coming around to the idea. At first everything just felt wrong, like they were trying to force something that wasn’t working out. Throughout everything, she’d been the one pushing for the triad relationship, but she’d mostly been doing it to make Twilight happy and to give Sunset a reason to get better. At best, she could have said she was open to the idea.

But being detached had allowed her to be bold. Since she wasn’t emotionally invested in dating Sunset, she could take certain risks just to see how things would play out. Nothing extreme, of course. She did care very much about Sunset, and wanted the relationship to work for her and Twilight’s sake. But a kiss on the cheek? That was an acceptable risk. It was a good thing too, as nopony else seemed interested in taking any. Talking over what was going wrong with the date while still on the date? Probably a bit much. But it had felt like her last chance to enjoy their new relationship. Not that she would have given up on it, she was going to give it her best shot no matter what. And if things didn’t work out, she had planned on suggesting Twilight just date both her and Sunset, without her and Sunset dating each other.

Then something happened. While she was in between the two of them, she stopped worrying. Any question of if what they were doing was okay just faded away, and more importantly, she began to feel excited for their arrangement. Twilight and Sunset both loved her, and while she wasn’t sure how she felt about Sunset anymore, she loved the feeling of being loved.

She also loved the feeling of Twilight’s foreleg wrapped around her, but unfortunately she had work to do. Carefully, she extricated herself from Twilight’s grip and got out of bed. She looked back at her sleeping fiancée. Twilight’s ear twitched, and Fluttershy couldn’t help but imagine she looked sad without somepony to cuddle up against. She picked up a stuffed fox and put it next to Twilight, who reached out and grabbed hold of it. “Love you, Twily,” she said, causing Twilight to mumble something incoherent before rolling over with the fox.

Fluttershy left the room as quietly as she possibly could, and made her way downstairs to the kitchen. She planned to make some tea before heading out to take care of the animals, but when she walked into the kitchen, she found a coffee pot sitting in the sink. Even aside from the facts that she had just left Twilight up in bed and that Spike was probably also asleep, there was only one pony in the castle who actually drank coffee.

Smiling to herself, Fluttershy turned around and left the kitchen. She wondered where to begin looking. If Sunset had already come down to make coffee, she probably wouldn’t have returned to her bedroom after. Fluttershy’s first thought was the library, but she had a feeling that wasn’t where Sunset would be. Instead, Fluttershy walked down the hall and into the basement.

Sunset was hunched over a wooden box, books scattered all over the table around her. Fluttershy knew it was part of their radio, but she couldn’t remember which part.

She sat and watched without revealing herself, while thinking again about their relationship. She had come down to ask Sunset to join her, but the feeling of guilt had returned full force. She wanted to spend time with Sunset, but wasn’t sure how Twilight would interpret that. It wasn’t like she was trying to exclude Twilight, she was just asleep. Would it be worth it to wake her up? Maybe they could make a thing of it and all go together. Another day out on town sounded wonderful, after all.

But Fluttershy didn’t know when Twilight had fallen asleep, only that it had been sometime after her. Twilight often stayed up reading in bed, sometimes for hours, and would usually sleep most of the morning away. There was no reason they couldn’t spend time together once she was up. Fluttershy decided to just back out of the room and resume her morning according to plan. She wouldn’t have to feel guilty, and that way when they did spend time together, it would be with all three of them.

She stood up, then hesitated. Sunset was too wrapped up in what she was doing to notice her, so leaving would be easy. Still, she remained where she was. It wasn’t so much that she really wanted to spend more time with Sunset. She hadn’t even been planning on anypony being awake, after all. It was more because she didn’t have any reason not to. She did want Sunset to accompany her, even if she was fine either way, and she knew she wouldn’t hesitate to ask any of their other friends. She was allowed to spend time with Sunset without Twilight, just like Sunset and Twilight could spend time together without her.

Reminding herself that there was no reason to feel guilty, she descended the rest of the stairs. “Good morning, Sunset.”

Sunset’s head bolted up. “Oh, hi, Fluttershy. I didn’t hear you come in.”

Fluttershy walked over to where Sunset was working. “How’s the radio coming along?”

“Good,” Sunset said. “I think it’s almost fully functional again, but I keep running into some problems.”

“I’m sure you and Twilight can figure them out.” At the mention of Twilight, Sunset’s ear twitched. Fluttershy also noticed Sunset wasn’t looking at her, and had a pretty good idea as to why.

“Yeah, I’m sure we could. The thing is I really wanted to fix it without bothering her, since, you know, it’s my fault it’s broken…”

“I’m sure she won’t mind,” Fluttershy said. “But maybe a break will help clear your mind. I was about to make some tea, if you want to join me.”

“Oh, uh, sure.” Sunset grinned, but it was an awkward sort of grin. “That sounds nice.”

“You don’t have to, if you’d rather keep working.”

“No, no! I do want to!” Sunset stood up. She was looking past Fluttershy, toward the door.

“Hmm…” Fluttershy leaned closer. “It sounds like there’s something you’re not saying. You want to, but…?”

“But nothing, I really would love to.” To be fair, Sunset’s everything-is-fine smile was a lot more convincing than Twilight’s. If she could only maintain eye contact, Fluttershy might have even fallen for it.

Fluttershy let out a small sigh. “You feel guilty because you kissed Twilight last night.”

“I –” Sunset glanced around the room while taking a step back and blushing furiously “– don’t really know how to answer that.”

Fluttershy giggled. “It’s okay. I feel guilty too, and so does Twilight, I’m sure.”

Sunset’s surprise outweighed her guilt, and she managed to look directly at Fluttershy with a confused expression. “What? Why? You didn’t do anything.”

“Because, well…” Now Fluttershy was the one looking away. She could feel herself blushing, but did her best to ignore it. “I wanted to, uhm, ask you to help me take care of the animals, but I… feel a little guilty for wanting to spend time with you.”

“Oh… Do you think Twilight would mind?”

“No, it’s just… it’s still so strange to me. I mean, I spent a long time thinking that it wasn’t okay to have feelings for more than one pony. I’m not used to letting myself want attention from anypony other than Twilight. But we’ll get used to it, I’m sure.”

When Fluttershy managed to look up at Sunset, she no longer looked confused or guilty. Instead she had a small smile, and was staring down towards the floor. “What was that about having feelings for me?”

Even though she had mostly broken out of the habit, Fluttershy retreated into her mane. She hadn’t really meant to say it, but now that she did… Did she have feelings for Sunset?

“How about we start with tea?” Sunset asked, leading the way out of the basement.

“That sounds good,” Fluttershy said, following behind. “And you know, I really don’t mind about you and Twilight kissing. Actually, I’m happy. It’s like you said, it’s nice to see the ponies you care about happy.” She hadn’t actually seen them, although she had seen how happy Twilight was afterwards. Right up until she started feeling bad, and making Fluttershy promise that she would say something if anything ever upset her.

“Technically, you said that,” Sunset reminded her. “But I know what you mean. Still, if I ever do anything that’s not okay, promise me you’ll –”

“Yes, I’ll let you know.” Fluttershy shook her head. “Honestly, you two are so similar sometimes.”

Once they got to the kitchen, Fluttershy began opening cabinets to pull out everything for tea.

“Here, I’ll get it,” Sunset said, pulling out everything with magic.

“Oh, don’t worry, I can take care of it.”

“I know you can, but I want to.” Sunset grinned. “Or is doing something nice for you going too far for this stage in our relationship?”

Although she could have argued, Fluttershy was happy to see Sunset relax and finally let a little more of her playful side show, so she just smiled and took a seat. “Thank you, Sunset.”

“Don’t mention it.”

While she worked, Sunset hummed a cheerful song. Fluttershy smiled, realizing she recognized it. “…‘cause we’re here to have a party tonight,” she sang along.

“Huh? How do you know that song?” Sunset asked.

“Twilight sings it sometimes,” Fluttershy said. She smiled and wondered what Twilight would say if she knew Fluttershy was leaking this highly confidential information. “Actually she has a whole dance routine for it. She was so embarrassed when I walked in on her one day, but eventually I got her to show me the whole thing.”

Sunset grinned. “No way! Wow, I can’t believe she still remembers that.”

“She really liked singing with your band,” Fluttershy said.

“Did she ever learn how to dance?”

“Uhm… No, not really.”

Sunset chuckled. She set two cups of tea down before taking a seat next to Fluttershy. “I hope it came out okay, it’s been awhile since I made tea.”

“I’m sure you haven’t gotten too rusty in the past few months.” Fluttershy blew on her tea.

“More like the past fourteen years. I never made tea in the human world.” Sunset took a small sip of her tea, while Fluttershy continued to let hers cool.

“Really? I guess I assumed the other Fluttershy also drank tea.”

Sunset shifted in her seat. “No, we always drank coffee. Not too many people actually drink tea regularly.”

“Huh.” Fluttershy tested her tea, but found it was still too hot. “Sorry, you probably don’t want to talk about her.”

“Oh, it’s not that, it’s just… well, I’m sure you probably don’t want to hear about her.”

“It doesn’t bother me.” She doubted Sunset would believe that, but also doubted she could manage to convince her of it. “I, uhm, I noticed you stopped wearing your necklace.”

Sunset raised a hoof to her bare neck. “Yeah, It was a gift from her, and… well, I’m ready to put that behind me.”

“As long as that’s what you want, and it wasn’t for our sake. I don’t think Twilight even noticed.”

Sunset smiled. “She can be pretty oblivious.”

Fluttershy took a sip of her tea, which had cooled off enough for small sips. “This is really good. You really haven’t made tea in fourteen years?”

“Thanks. And that’s right, not since I was Celestia’s student,” Sunset said, grinning. “She has this whole thing about tea, and how important it is to be able to brew it. Like, she gave me this lecture about how it was symbolic for all this stuff. It was basically the dumbest thing ever.”

Fluttershy nodded. “Twilight told me. But she didn’t seem to think it was dumb. I think she has the whole thing memorized.”

“Yeah, she would. She probably ate up every word Celestia ever told her.” Sunset kept smiling, but her eyes grew distant while she stared into her cup. “I’m glad Celestia finally got the student she deserved.”

Fluttershy had seen Twilight perk Sunset up a few times. She could usually get some sort of banter going between them, but an easier route seemed to be to stroke Sunset’s ego, and she definitely took a lot of pride in her time as Celestia’s student. “So if it was dumb, why do you still remember how to make it all these years later?”

Sunset shrugged. “I guess because it was important to her.”

‘Well that didn’t work.’ Fluttershy had expected a comment about how it was because she was an amazing student, so of course she still remembered. But it seemed trying to solve the problem the way Twilight would wasn’t going to work, so she’d have to solve it her way.

“Well, if I were her, it would mean a lot to me that you did still learn the lesson just to make me happy.” Fluttershy smiled. “It’s kind of like Twilight’s mom. Every year she makes Hearth’s Warming sweaters for everypony, even though she really hates knitting. But I think it means a lot that she does it anyway. It shows how much she cares about her family.”

“Maybe. But I mean, she probably doesn’t even realize. It’s fine, I’m not worried about it anymore. I mean, that was a long time ago.”

Fluttershy didn’t really believe her, but wasn’t sure that arguing the point would help any. She took a sip of her tea as Sunset finished hers. “I can’t believe you drank that so fast.”

Sunset grinned. “I like hot things.”

Fluttershy smiled as she remembered Sunset saying that once before. “Like me?”

“Uh, how did…” Sunset facehoofed. “Did I say that when I was drunk?”

“Uhm… yeah.” Fluttershy frowned. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I keep bringing up all these awkward things.”

“It’s fine. And yes, hot things like you.” Sunset stood up and brought her cup to the sink and washed it, along with the coffee pot from earlier. By the time she was done, Fluttershy had finished her tea. “Well then, still want to take care of the animals together?” Sunset asked.

“I’d love to.”

Taking care of the animals with Sunset’s help actually made everything take longer, but only because she kept asking Fluttershy to explain what each animal was and what made them special. Early on in their relationship, Twilight had read up on all the local wildlife so she could better help Fluttershy take care of them. It had been very sweet, and Fluttershy was happy to see Twilight take an interest in her passion, but she realized she missed out on something: actually being able to teach somepony about them. It had been fun explaining things to Spike, but he was mostly concerned with what he should do to help her, while Sunset absorbed any information Fluttershy could give her.

Judging by the sun, it was almost noon by the time they finished. As much as Fluttershy enjoyed feeding the animals, her stomach reminded her that it was time to feed some ponies. Since it was late enough for Twilight and Spike to be up, they decided to head back to the castle and all have lunch together.

Ponyville was much livelier on the way back. All along the way ponies greeted them, so when Fluttershy heard a voice calling her name, she didn’t think anything of it. At least, not until she turned to wave and saw whom it belonged to. “Oh boy…” She sighed, smiling politely as the reporter approached them.

“Fluttershy, I’m with Pony Magazine, and I was hoping we could get a few words with you,” he said.

Reporters never used to bother Fluttershy when she wasn’t with Twilight, but ever since news of the engagement hit, they both seemed to be prime targets, and she never knew what to do around them. “Oh, well, actually… we were just –”

“Only be a moment of your time, doll. Smile.” Without bothering to ask, the reporter snapped a picture of the two of them. Sadly, the fact that he bothered to indicate he’d take it at all was an improvement over most of the tabloid magazine reporters.

“Well, uhm… maybe we could…” Fluttershy felt Sunset’s hoof on her shoulder. She turned to look at Sunset, who smiled and nodded.

“Ahem.” Sunset stepped in between Fluttershy and the reporter, wearing a confident grin. “Since you’re addressing the beloved of a member of royalty, the proper title would be Lady Fluttershy. At her preference, Miss Fluttershy is also acceptable.”

Rather than look annoyed at the interruption, the reporter seemed even happier. Twilight always said they had to be polite to the press, because when famous ponies were rude, they could spin the story to portray them in a very negative light. She hoped Sunset knew what she was doing.

“I know you, you’re the pony that’s been spotted with the royal couple an awful lot lately.” He snapped another picture, which Sunset actually posed for.

“Sunset Shimmer. And that would make sense, considering Princess Twilight hired me to be the captain of her royal guard.”

The reporter regarded her doubtfully. “You know, you don’t look much like a guard.”

“As I’m the only member of her guard, the princess has decided a dress code will not be necessary. And as I’m among the most powerful unicorns in Equestria, I decided armor won’t be necessary either.”

“Well then, perhaps a demonstration is in order, Miss Sh–”

Captain Shimmer,” she insisted. Her tone certainly matched the title she’d given herself, as she spoke with all the authority of an actual royal guard. “And no, it wouldn’t. Lady Fluttershy has a prior engagement which needs to be attended to. You are of course more than welcome to file a request for an interview at the Castle of Friendship, but we’ll be leaving now. And while the princess does fully respect the freedom of the press, you should know that as Lady Fluttershy is under my charge at this moment, I have full authority to use any means I deem acceptable to keep her safe, and will consider somepony following us to be a safety concern.”

Before he had a chance to respond, Sunset turned around and walked off, gently nudging Fluttershy to do the same. It seemed her threat held up, because the reporter didn’t follow.

Fluttershy waited until they were out of earshot before she turned to Sunset and smiled. “Sunset, that was –”

“That was bucking awesome!” Rainbow Dash said, as she popped up from among the crowd of ponies.

“Dash? Were you there the whole time?” Fluttershy asked.

“Most of it,” Rainbow said, grinning. “I was gonna step in and make the guy hit the road, but I could tell Sunset had it covered.”

Sunset may have looked a little nervous around Rainbow, but Fluttershy was happy to see her, and even happier to see that it looked like Rainbow was ready to put their differences behind them. “Even Twilight isn’t that good at getting rid of them,” Fluttershy said.

Sunset smiled nervously. “Well, knowing Twilight, she probably cares way too much about making a good impression.”

“You can say that again,” Rainbow said. “The look on his face when you two walked away was priceless, he was so pissed.”

“I just hope I didn’t go too far with the captain of the guard thing.”

“I don’t think so,” Fluttershy said, nudging Sunset. “Captain Shimmer.”

Sunset scratched her neck. “You know, I kind of actually do like the sound of that.”

“Really? Well, we could make it official, if you want,” Fluttershy said. “You could be our knight in shining… uhm, actually that’s a bad word choice.”

“Maybe. I guess Pony Magazine is probably gonna run a story on it anyway.” Sunset turned to Rainbow. “So, uh, about the other day…”

“Hey, don’t sweat it,” Rainbow said. “We both could have handled that one better, so let’s just skip the whole heart to heart this time.”

Sunset relaxed a bit. “Fair enough.”

“So what are you up to today?” Fluttershy asked.

“Actually, I was on my way to the castle,” Rainbow said. “I figured I’d check in now that your anniversary’s done. How’d everything go?”

“It was… different,” Fluttershy said. She glanced at Sunset, who was looking nervous again. “In a good way, but, well… let’s go back to the castle. We can talk about it there.”

They hadn’t decided what to tell other ponies, so the whole way back Fluttershy considered what she wanted to do. Of course, they’d have to discuss with Twilight, but it’d be nice to go into it with an idea of what she wanted to do. She remembered how much she hated hiding away her relationship with Twilight, like it was a dirty secret she should be ashamed of. She didn’t want to go through that again with Sunset. But she had dated Twilight for months before even considering going public, and their relationship with Sunset had only just begun. Of course, there was also a big difference between going public and telling their friends. Rainbow, Luna, Cadance, and Amber all knew about what happened, and they would all want to know how things went.

Apparently they weren’t the only ones. Applejack and Rarity were already waiting outside when they reached the castle.

“Hello, darlings,” Rarity said. “How are you all today?”

“Uhm, good,” Fluttershy said. “Is something going on?”

Rarity smiled while trying to find the proper phrasing. “Well, you see, the thing is…”

“We wanted to make sure everything’s okay between you and Twi,” Applejack said.

Fluttershy and Sunset both turned to Rainbow. “Hey, I didn’t tell anypony anything.”

Applejack grinned. “Y’all do realize word spreads whenever any of y’all do anything, don’tcha?”

“Yes, for better or worse our little town does so love its gossip,” Rarity said. Her smile gave away that she definitely considered it ‘for better’. “Some ponies took note when Twilight disappeared, and since we didn’t know of any business she had elsewhere, and with it being so close to your anniversary, we were just the smallest bit concerned.”

Well, if they were going to tell their friends, best to get as many done at once as possible. “Thank you, girls, but there’s no need to worry. Let’s all go inside, we’ll get Twilight and Spike, then we can all have lunch. And you really don’t have to wait outside next time, you’re always welcome to let yourselves in.”

Fluttershy led the way inside and realized getting Spike wouldn’t be necessary since he was already downstairs with their other guest. “…but the balloon wouldn’t stop inflating! Honestly, what’s a pony to do?”

Spike fell out of his chair laughing at what was apparently a hilarious story. “Hello, Pinkie,” Fluttershy said.

“Hello, everypony,” she replied. As she looked around the group, her eyes went wide and she began pouting. “You weren’t all off doing something fun without me, were you?”

“Seriously, Pinkie?” Sunset winked. “You know we wouldn’t leave you out if we had something fun planned.”

“Sunset and I just ran into everypony when we got here,” Fluttershy added.

“Why didn’t you just wait inside?” Pinkie asked. Applejack chuckled while Rarity shook her head.

“I’ll go get Twilight,” Fluttershy said. “Spike, could I ask you to start making lunch for everypony?”

“Sure thing,” Spike said, still smiling from Pinkie’s story.

“Thank you. I’ll help once we’re back downstairs.” Fluttershy turned to go upstairs, then looked back to see Sunset looking at her uncertainly. “Uhm, you should probably come with me.”

Once they were upstairs, Fluttershy stopped to talk with Sunset. “It’ll be okay.”

Sunset had been staring into space, but her focus snapped back to Fluttershy. “Hmm? Oh, uh, yeah…”

Fluttershy gave her a quick hug. “We’ll find Twilight and talk with her before we tell anypony anything. But we won’t tell anypony unless we all agree on it, and that includes you. I know you want to go along with what Twilight and I want, but this is an important decision for you too.”

Sunset nodded. “Thanks, but I’ll be okay. It’s just… I guess I’m mainly worried about Rainbow.”

“Let me worry about her,” Fluttershy said.

She led the way into the library, but it was empty. There was the possibility that Twilight would be in the basement, but that didn’t seem too likely either, so they made for her private study, which was attached to the bedroom. However, along the way they found her fast asleep in bed. The stuffed fox was still in her forelegs, and a bit of her mane was stuck to her mouth from drool.

“Geez, she’s really out cold today,” Sunset said. She lingered in the doorway as Fluttershy walked into the room.

“She’s usually up by now. And you can come into the bedroom, you know.” Fluttershy walked up to the bed while Sunset stepped through the door, closing it behind her. She stood in the doorway, as if afraid of trespassing despite the invitation. Fluttershy got an idea and grinned as she motioned for Sunset to come closer.

Almost reluctantly, Sunset did finally walk over to the bed, standing next to Fluttershy and smiling nervously. Fluttershy held a hoof to her mouth, motioning for Sunset to keep quiet, took a step back so she was standing behind Sunset, then turned back to the bed. “Twily? It’s time to get up. Our friends are here.”

Twilight opened one eye, and grumbled something. She didn’t seem to notice Sunset, which was perfect for Fluttershy’s plan.


Without even looking, Twilight sat up and wrapped her forelegs around Sunset, pulling her into the bed. “Cuddles first. Friends later.”

Unfortunately, Fluttershy couldn’t see Sunset’s expression, but she did keep quiet. Slowly, so as not to alert Twilight, Fluttershy climbed onto the bed, close enough to Sunset that Twilight wouldn’t notice her voice was coming from the wrong place. “Good morning to you too, sleepy head. But, uhm, we have company.”

Twilight kissed Sunset’s head. “I know, but they’ll be okay for a few minutes.” She absentmindedly started stroking Sunset’s mane.

“Yes, I’m sure they will, but that’s not actually what I meant,” Fluttershy said playfully.

Twilight moved her hoof down along Sunset’s back. “Hmm… what are you…” She stopped suddenly, and Fluttershy could tell her brain was finally waking up enough to tell that something was amiss. Her hoof moved back and forth a few times, no doubt noticing that instead of a wing, she was brushing up against a dress. Slowly, Twilight opened her eyes.

“Uh… hi,” Sunset managed.

“Aah!” Twilight bolted upright.

Before Sunset could sit up, however, Fluttershy threw her forelegs around the two of them, giggling at the situation and her role in arranging it.

“You two are so cute,” Fluttershy said. “But now that you’re up, I think it’s time we figure out what to tell our friends.” She looked between Twilight and Sunset, who were both frozen in place and avoiding each other’s eyes. She began to wonder if she’d gone too far. Like the day before, being with Twilight and Sunset together made her feel like everything would be okay. She had stopped worrying about what she was supposed to do and only thought about what they might all enjoy doing.

But even if she was okay with Twilight and Sunset cuddling, she had taken it for granted that they would be. She let go of them, though nopony actually moved away from each other. “I’m sorry… I thought tricking you into thinking Sunset was me would be a harmless surprise, and we’d all laugh afterwards. But maybe I shouldn’t have…”

Twilight finally looked towards her, smiling reassuringly. “It’s not… well, yes, that was a bit surprising, but I think it’s more that, uh… Well, I know at least what’s on my mind is more, uhm, last night…”

Fluttershy looked between the two of them, and it dawned on her. “Oh, this is because you two kissed.”

The fact that both of them immediately turned away was all the answer she needed.

“It’s really okay,” she said. “Sunset, we already talked about this, and Twilight, it’s not that big of a deal. I know it’s not something we’re used to thinking of as okay, but I really don’t mind at all, so why should anypony else?”

“I know, but…” Twilight at least turned to look at her.

Fluttershy had an idea. She couldn’t believe she was even considering it, and it might make things even worse. Not to mention she’d probably already taken a big enough risk when she tricked Twilight. But once it was in her head she knew she would regret not trying it. So, ignoring her rapid heartbeat, she scooted over to Sunset, who was still looking away. Fluttershy tapped on her shoulder, and once Sunset turned to face her, she kissed her.

If nothing else, she finally also broke Sunset’s determination to not look at anypony. As she pulled away, both Sunset and Twilight kept their eyes fixed on her. She blushed and brushed her mane out of her face. “There, see? Not a big deal. And we’re all even now.”

Slowly Sunset turned to Twilight, who had worked her way from a look of total shock to a surprised smile. “I, uhm… To be fair, me and Twilight kissed twice, so I don’t think we’re actually even yet.”

Fluttershy giggled, and glanced at Twilight. “Well, that is true,” she said, so Fluttershy leaned in and kissed Sunset again. Now that it wasn’t so out of the blue, Sunset kissed her back.

Now we’re even,” Fluttershy said. “And I think our friends are probably starting to wonder about us, so we should figure out what to tell them.”

At first, nopony volunteered an opinion. Eventually, Sunset cleared her throat. “Well, I guess my vote depends on how you two think they’ll react. I don’t think it’s a good idea to be too open right now, not until we’re absolutely sure we know this is going to work in the long run. It’s fair to assume public reactions will be worse than when you two came out, since there’s at least some precedent for famous ponies being gay.”

“I agree, although I definitely wouldn’t want to keep things hidden forever,” Twilight said. “But we don’t have to worry about our friends telling other ponies. Whether they accept it or not, they’ll respect our decision enough to keep it under wraps.”

“I think we should tell them,” Fluttershy added. “Even if they don’t understand, I’m sure they’ll still accept us.”

“So then we’re all in agreement that we tell our friends, then leave it at that for now?” Twilight asked, to which they all nodded. “Okay then, I guess it’s decided. Better get to it.”

They all smiled encouragingly at one another as they walked downstairs, but Fluttershy could tell they were all a little reluctant. She stuck close to Twilight, and took comfort in being in between her and Sunset. ‘Just one little explanation, then it’ll all be taken care of.’

They arrived downstairs to find everypony already in the dining room eating macaroni and cheese with salad on the side. “What took you so long?” Rainbow asked through a mouthful of salad.

“Rainbow, please. You could at least chew your food before speaking,” Rarity chided.

“Hope y’all don’t mind macaroni and cheese,” Applejack said. “Me and Spike whipped it up. Bit simple, but we needed something quick for the eight of us.”

“Thank you both, and of course we don’t mind,” Fluttershy said. She looked at the seats and realized they left two open ones side by side for her and Twilight, but Pinkie and Spike sat on either side. Noticing where she was looking, Spike winked and moved to another chair. Fluttershy smiled her thanks to him.

Fluttershy chose the middle chair, wanting the encouragement of being in between Twilight and Sunset. She looked between the two and smiled.

“Thank you for coming, everypony,” Twilight said. She looked around the table and took a deep breath. “We have something we’d like to share with you, but it’s a little unorthodox, so we ask that everypony keeps an open mind.”

“Is it habanero-flavored cake?” Pinkie asked. “Because as much as I appreciate a good cake, I think I’ll pass on that one. Trust me, I know it sounds like a good idea, but you’ll regret it later.”

“I don’t think that’s the kinda share she meant, Pinkie,” Applejack said. “And whatever it is, I’m sure there’s no need for y’all to get so worked up about it.”

“Thank you, Applejack… and, uhm, Pinkie,” Twilight said. “I know you’re all here to check on Fluttershy and me, and the truth is there is something we’d like to tell you about. This past week has marked a major change for us. It’s… a little hard to explain, but basically, we’ve decided to include Sunset in our relationship. Fluttershy and I are still engaged, but now we’re also dating Sunset.”

Fluttershy smiled nervously and looked around the room. Aside from Spike, all their friends had variations of confused expressions; Rainbow stared slack-jawed, Applejack looked around like she was hoping somepony would tell her what was going on, Rarity only seemed somewhat puzzled, and Pinkie looked like she was in deep thought about something.

Spike started clapping, with Applejack joining in almost immediately. Once she noticed the others, Rarity joined in as well. “Well, that certainly is unexpected, but –”

“That’s such a great idea!” Pinkie exclaimed, jumping up excitedly. She hopped behind them and pulled Twilight and Sunset closer to Fluttershy, then did her best to hug all three ponies at once. “This way you don’t have to decide which pony you want to date! And just look at you three, you’re so adorable together!”

Fluttershy closed her eyes and smiled, letting herself get lost in the moment.

“Thank you, Pinkie,” Twilight said, the relief in her voice obvious. “It means a lot to have your support. But you know, even though this is what we decided we think will work best for us, that doesn’t mean it’s the best for everypony. We’re going to have to face a lot of trials ahead, not to mention how confusing things can be. It’s not a decision that anypony should make lightly.”

Applejack cleared her throat. “So, uh, pardon me if I’m the only one confused ‘bout all this, but let me see if I got this straight. So all three of you are dating each other now?”

“Yes,” Twilight said. “We’re just like a couple, but with three ponies instead of two. Yesterday marked our first date together.”

Applejack smiled good-naturedly. “I s’pose that makes sense. Still, I’m not even gonna try to pretend I understand why y’all’d wanna do that, but so long as the three of you are all happy with it, then I’m happy for ya. I reckon I learned my lesson ‘bout judging other ponies for who they love already, and I don’t ever plan on making that mistake again.”

Out of everypony, Applejack had been the one Fluttershy was most worried about. All she could do was smile happily while looking at the ponies around her.

“Well then, as I was saying before I was interrupted” – Rarity shot Pinkie a dirty look – “although this is unexpected, I think I speak for all of us when I say we support you one hundred percent. I do hope you know what you’re doing, though. I think you’re right in that there will be adversity ahead of you. That, and a lot of rude questions, once some of the less reputable news sources catch wind of this.”

Twilight smiled around the room. “Thank you all. And we aren’t trying to rush into anything as far as that’s concerned. For now we’re still trying this out, and we’ll be slowly telling the ponies closest to us. Right now, the only ones who know are in this room, and we don’t have any plans on going public with this yet.”

“Hmm, perhaps you should readdress it after the wedding?” Rarity suggested. “It is still a few months away, which will give you time to think about what you all want, and that way you won’t have to worry about balancing wedding planning with the hassle of nosy reporters. Well, there will be fewer nosy reporters, in any case.”

“That’s a really great idea,” Sunset said. “And I want to thank all of you. I’ve been worried about what you’d all think since Twilight and Fluttershy asked me out, and having your support means so much to me.”

There was still one pony who hadn’t voiced her support. Fluttershy turned to Rainbow, who seemed to be waiting patiently for everypony else. Once she noticed Fluttershy was looking at her, she motioned away from the table. Fluttershy nodded, then stood up. “I’ll, uhm, be right back.”

She felt bad leaving Twilight and Sunset, both of whom were probably more nervous about Rainbow’s opinion than they needed to be. But if Rainbow was going to need some convincing, it would be better for everyone if it happened in private.

They rounded a corner and stood in the foyer. “Okay, Dash. What’s on your mind?”

“I just want to make sure this is what you want.”

Fluttershy chuckled. “You’re not the only one. Twilight and Sunset keep saying the same thing. But yes, I thought about it a lot, and this is something I want to try.”

Rainbow was still frowning. “I just don’t get it.”

“Well, like Twilight said, it’s not really that different from being a couple.”

Rainbow shook her head. “Not that. I mean, that’ll probably take some getting used to, but as long as you’re happy with it, then that’s all that matters to me. It’s just… why Sunset? I mean, with everything that happened, this really isn’t Twilight pushing you into anything, right?”

“It’s not. I was the one who suggested it, actually. Besides, you know Twilight would never do anything like that.”

“I know, but then…” Rainbow took a deep breath. “Is it because this way Twilight’s not cheating on you if something else happens?”

Fluttershy shook her head. “It’s not like that at all. I don’t think anything else would have ever happened between Twilight and Sunset if I hadn’t suggested this. They both felt really awful for what happened, and I trust both of them.”

“So then… do you actually love Sunset?”

“Love probably isn’t the right word,” Fluttershy said. Realizing she’d be better off explaining the whole thing, she led them to the side of the room, where there were some chairs for them to sit in. “Before this past week I didn’t think of her as anything more than a friend at all. But then while Twilight was gone, Sunset confessed she loves both of us, which didn’t really make sense to me at the time.”

“What?” Rainbow asked, bewildered. “When did that happen?”

“Oh, the night before you two got into that fight.”

“So, what?” Rainbow squinted her eyes and shook her head. “She just told you she loves you, just like that?”

“Well, there was a lot going on at the time, and she didn’t really mean to. I think it just kind of slipped out.” Fluttershy took a deep breath. The last thing she wanted to do was give Rainbow another reason to not trust Sunset. “Like I said, she felt horrible about kissing Twilight, and she, uhm, she’d been drinking a little.”

“She was drunk,” Rainbow said flatly. Fluttershy never could lie to Rainbow.

“Uhm, yes…” Fluttershy stared at her hooves, waiting for Rainbow to make some sort of judgement.

Rainbow just shrugged. “Yeah, okay, so she loves both of you. Doesn’t mean you have to date her.”

Fluttershy smiled, happy Rainbow was just going to let them move on with the story. “I know, but then I talked to Luna about it. She told me about polyamory, and how some ponies make it work. At first I was just happy to know that Twilight’s feelings for Sunset didn’t mean she loved me any less, but then I started wondering if I could feel that way too. So while I waited for Twilight to come home, I invited Sunset to stay with me, and I kept asking myself if I could see a relationship with both of them working out. In the end, I still didn’t really know, so I decided the best thing to do would be to try one date, which is what we did yesterday.”

“And now you’re sure this is what you wanna do?” Rainbow asked.

“I’m… Yes. I’m sure this is what I want,” Fluttershy said. “Or at least, I’m sure that I really do want to keep trying it out.”

“Well, then I’m glad you’re happy.” Rainbow finally smiled. “I just worry about you. You’re too nice for your own good, you know.”

“I know,” Fluttershy said, smiling. “And I appreciate it. And I understand you probably have reservations about Sunset, but please try to get along with her, for me.”

“I think I can manage that.” Rainbow grinned. “So, what’s it like being with two ponies?”

“It’s… actually pretty amazing.” Fluttershy giggled. “Being in between the two of them is the most wonderful feeling, like I have my own little bubble of ponies who love me.”

“I dunno, sounds like a lot of work. I can’t imagine trying to please two ponies at once.” She winked and nudged Fluttershy, leaving no doubt in what way she meant it.

“Rainbow!” Fluttershy pushed her while they both laughed. “We haven’t done anything like that yet.”

“Oh!” Rainbow wrapped a foreleg around Fluttershy’s shoulders and poked her with the other hoof. “You said ‘yet,’ you’re already thinking about it!”

Fluttershy blushed and laughed nervously. “Well… I suppose I am a little curious.” Rainbow lost it, laughing so hard she was leaning on Fluttershy for support. “And uhm… we did kiss today. Twice.”

“Uh oh.” Rainbow caught her breath and sat up, but kept grinning. “Two kisses? This just got serious.”

Fluttershy giggled. “Alright, I think we let them worry enough. We should head back.”

“Yeah, okay.”

They stood up and walked back to the dining room. Now that she had Rainbow’s approval too, Fluttershy felt like nothing could bring her down.

“No I, uh, I reckon I’ve only ever been interested in stallions,” Applejack said as they walked into the room.

“Okay, what’d we miss?” Rainbow asked as they both took their seats. Fluttershy smiled at Twilight and Sunset, doing her best to silently convey there was no reason for them to keep looking so worried.

“Pinkie was just confiding in us that she’s attracted to both mares and stallions,” Rarity answered.

“Really?” Fluttershy asked.

Pinkie shrugged. “I thought you all knew.”

“How could we know if you never told any of us?” Rainbow asked.

“That’s what I told her,” Applejack said

“Then she was saying she was surprised Rarity and Applejack don’t like mares,” Sunset added.

“Mares are so pretty,” Pinkie said, as if that was all there was to it. “Come on, not even Rainbow Dash? Everypony’s a little bit gay for Rainbow Dash!”

“What?” Rainbow stared at her, trying to tell if she was joking. Pinkie only smiled back.

“No, not even… especially not Rainbow Dash,” Applejack said, grinning.

“Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?” Rainbow asked. “I’d make a great marefriend!”

“You two would be perfect for each other!” Pinkie said excitedly.

“Yeah, we’d be – Wait, no, I don’t want to date Applejack!”

“Oh, I don’t know, darling.” Rarity tapped her chin. “I think I could see it too. You two have so much in common, and wasn’t Applejack the first pony you met when you came to Ponyville? Destined from their first encounter, it’s so romantic!” She sighed wistfully as she placed one hoof on her forehead and the other over her heart.

“Now don’t you start with that nonsense, too,” Applejack said, narrowing her eyes at Rarity. “And I don’t recall you ever answering Pinkie’s question. Have you ever had any romantic experiences with a mare?”

Rarity folded her forelegs and stuck up her nose. “Honestly, so tactless. And I hardly think that’s any of your concern.”

“Uh huh.” Applejack leaned across the table. “So who was she?”

“A lady doesn’t speak of such things. Besides, there’s a child present.”

“Fair enough.” Applejack leaned back. “Rainbow, Rarity said ya gotta leave the room so the adults can talk.”

“Hey!” Rainbow scowled at Applejack and Spike, who was laughing.

Rarity turned her back to Applejack. “If a lady happened to be curious in her youth, and happened to have experimented with another member of the fairer sex, then it would still not be any of your business.”

“Says the pony trying to set me up with another mare,” Rainbow said.

“I merely said that it would not be so surprising to find that you two found happiness in one another.” Rarity regarded them both again, then resumed looking indignant. “But I’ve changed my mind. You’re both insufferable, and nopony in their right minds would date either one of you.”

“What did I do!?” Rainbow threw her hooves in the air.

“Aww, it’s okay Dashie,” Pinkie said, putting a hoof around Rainbow’s shoulders. “There’s still plenty of ponies who aren’t in their right minds that you could date.”

Rainbow put her head on the table. “I need a nap.”

Fluttershy looked around the room at everypony. Spike and Applejack were in hysterics, while Rarity was still pretending to be upset. Pinkie seemed to have subtly scooted her chair closer to Rainbow, who had her hooves over her head. Twilight and Sunset were both just watching the scene unfold in silent amusement. She reached out for their hooves, taking one from each of them in her own.

“I love all of you so much,” Fluttershy said to the room. “I can’t believe I could be so lucky to have found such wonderful friends.”

Everypony smiled at her, even though Rainbow did roll her eyes once she picked up her head. “Aw, thanks, sugarcube,” Applejack said. “But y’all better start eating that macaroni, or else I’m pretty sure Spike’s gonna eat it for you.”

Fluttershy looked at Spike, who had a spoon sticking out of his mouth and two bowls of macaroni in front of him. Meanwhile, Rainbow tried to take a bite of hers, only to find it had disappeared when she put her head down. “Hey, give me back my food!”

Spike grinned, and quickly pushed the empty bowl away. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Fluttershy giggled, and finally started eating her own food. It had started to get a cold, but she didn’t mind. Everypony laughed while Rainbow chased Spike, who was running around the room with her bowl, taking bites along the way.

Once lunch was finished, everypony went back to their own affairs. Fluttershy had enjoyed the visit, but she was also looking forward to spending more quality time with Twilight and Sunset. Before she could suggest anything, however, Sunset began yawning.

“Did you not sleep well last night?” Twilight asked. They were gathered in the foyer, having just said goodbye to their friends.

“Uhm… not really,” Sunset said. “I tossed and turned for a while, but I was feeling pretty anxious after, well, you know.”

“Me either,” Twilight sighed.

“Is that why you were asleep so late?” Fluttershy asked.

“Yeah, I guess so. I, uh, I kept having bad dreams.”

“Aww, you should have woken me up.” Fluttershy hugged her. “What were they about?”

“Well…” Twilight glanced at Sunset. “I dreamt that you left me after… last night.”

“Then you definitely should have woken me up,” Fluttershy chided. She tapped Twilight on the nose. “And I’m not going anywhere. Especially not for a kiss, which you can talk about, by the way. It’s really okay, you two can kiss whenever you want. We are marefriends, after all.”

“We are?” Twilight smiled. “I mean, we never decided on a title. Not that I mind, or anything.”

Fluttershy shook her head. “Twily, we’re already talking about what we’re going to do in our relationship months from now. I think marefriends is an appropriate title.” She turned to Sunset. “Uhm, if that’s okay with you, of course.”

“That’s more than okay with me,” Sunset said, beaming.

“Good.” Fluttershy smiled as an idea occurred to her. She began walking towards the stairs. “Now, follow me,” was all the instruction she gave.

Along the way, Fluttershy kept quiet about what she had planned. “The bedroom?” Twilight asked, as she opened the door.

“Yes. Since neither of you slept well last night, I think we should all take a nap together.” Without waiting for an answer, Fluttershy jumped into the middle of the bed, lying on her back and rolling from side to side.

Twilight and Sunset looked at each other, then Fluttershy. Sunset grinned, while Twilight smiled bashfully. “Did you not sleep well either?” Twilight asked.

“Oh no, I slept like a baby.” Fluttershy held out her forelegs, inviting the two mares into the bed with her. “I just want to be cuddled.”

Sunset hung back a moment, looking to Twilight to gauge if it was okay to accept. Twilight also seemed hesitant, but climbed into bed, with Sunset following closely behind.

Fluttershy giggled. “Are you really wearing clothes to bed?”

Sunset blushed. “Well, uh…”

“Shy, humans see clothes differently than ponies do,” Twilight reminded her. “It’d probably feel pretty strange for her to not wear clothes.”

While Twilight snuggled in next to Fluttershy, Sunset hung back. “I know it’s weird, but even if I’m a pony now, it’s just what I’m so used to. I mean, I guess I could…”

“No, it’s fine,” Fluttershy said. “I wasn’t really thinking. But what isn’t fine is that you’re still not cuddling me.” She folded her forelegs and pouted.

Sunset laughed and lay down next to Fluttershy. Hesitantly, she scooted closer until they were side by side, then reached a hoof across her stomach, which Twilight took hold of.

“There’s, uhm…” Sunset took a deep breath. “Well, the main reason I wear clothes is really ’cause it’s just what feels normal to me, but there’s something else too.”

“What’s that?” Fluttershy asked.

“It’s… well, I’ll show you, but it’s gonna be kind of weird.” Sunset sat up, and pulled at her sleeve, revealing her shoulder.

Fluttershy and Twilight had to lean in for a closer look. “Hold on, is that…”

“ …my cutie mark?” Fluttershy finished.

“Uh, yeah. Well, kind of.” Sunset pulled her sleeve into place. “I got it when I was dating the other Fluttershy. I was, uhm… I was really drunk at the time.”

Fluttershy cocked her head to the side. “I thought humans didn’t have cutie marks.”

“They don’t,” Sunset said. Although Fluttershy and Twilight lay back down, Sunset remained seated. “But humans do tend to adopt symbols as a fashionable part of their identity. Which happen to correspond to their respective pony’s cutie marks.”

“Huh. That’s interesting.” Fluttershy pulled Sunset back down.

“I, uh, hope that’s not super weird,” Sunset said. “I really don’t want to make either of you jealous or anything.”

“It’s fine,” Fluttershy said. “Neither of us care that you had a relationship before us, right Twily?”

“Actually, I am a little jealous,” Twilight said.

“Really?” Fluttershy asked. She had told Twilight to come to her when she was feeling jealousy, but she wished they had talked about it another time, since Sunset was already so apprehensive about bringing up her past relationship.

“Yeah,” Twilight said. “I mean, I’m the only one who doesn’t get to have those adorable butterflies on me? That hardly seems fair.”

Sunset and Fluttershy laughed, while Fluttershy pulled them both closer. “Sleep well, girls,” Fluttershy said. After taking a moment to steel her nerves, she kissed Sunset, then Twilight. While smiling at her courage, Sunset and Twilight leaned over her to kiss as well, which only made her smile more.

Sunset and Twilight both fell asleep before too long. Twilight clung close to her side, while Sunset had rolled over and wound up sprawled out on top of her. They were a mess of bodies and limbs, and as she slowly drifted off to sleep herself, Fluttershy wouldn’t have it any other way.

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