• Published 26th Jun 2012
  • 5,366 Views, 243 Comments

The Walls Came Tumbling Down - Dianwei32



Fluttershy Overcomes her Fears with Rainbow Dash's help

  • ...
10
 243
 5,366

Ripping Wings Off of Butterflies

The Walls Came Tumbling Down

Chapter Five

Ripping Wings Off of Butterflies

I haven’t seen Fluttershy in a couple days... I hope she’s OK after what happened at the library.

Twilight Sparkle walked up the dirt road leading to Fluttershy’s secluded cottage. The afternoon sun beat down, making the day uncomfortably warm. As she approached the timid pegasus’ home, she had a nagging feeling in the back of her mind that something was wrong, but she could not put her hoof on it.

I’m sure it’s nothing. Fluttershy just needed some time to think, that’s all. She always falls back on taking care of her sick animals when-

Twilight stopped dead in her tracks. The problem was not what was present, but what was missing. The area around Fluttershy’s cottage was deathly silent. Normally the chatter of all kinds of furry and feathered animals permeated the air, but today not a single sound broke the stillness. Twilight broke into a full sprint up to the cottage, she knew something was horribly wrong. As she approached, she noticed that all the windows were covered with what appeared to be pages from the newspaper.

Without breaking stride, Twilight summoned her magic. Her horn flared to life as she magically grasped the handle of the door and gave it a push. The door did not budge. A sudden panic rose in her chest, and she shifted her magic to grab the entire door. With a thought, she ripped it off of its hinges, spraying broken bits of wood onto the ground. She ran into the cottage, but froze in place just inside the doorway.

Fluttershy’s body hung, unmoving, suspended from the ceiling by a rope around her neck, and a chair lay discarded nearby. Twilight’s brain was unable to process the image in front of her. Acting purely on instinct rather than conscious thought, she shot a bolt of magic at the rope, severing it. Through her panic, she summoned a magical pillow, catching the now-falling Fluttershy and lowering her softly to the ground.

Twilight ran over to her fallen friend and immediately lowered an ear to Fluttershy’s chest. Her heart was still beating, but it was weak and the beats were irregular. More importantly, even with the rope no longer crushing her airway, she was not breathing. Twilight pulled a length of rope off of Fluttershy’s chest and placed her forehooves on her sternum. She began chest compressions while she wracked her mind for a solution.

Every problem has a solution. Her brain needs oxygen. Breathe into her lungs? Too slow, ambient air is only 21% oxygen. Need a tank of pure oxygen. Impossible, don’t have one here, not enough time to get to the hospital. Need a way to concentrate oxygen from ambient air. How? Partitioning spell. Can use spell to separate out oxygen from rest of air.

Continuing her chest compressions, Twilight reignited her horn and began weaving the Partitioning spell. It was a simple enough spell in theory, it could be used to magically separate mixtures or solutions into their constituent components. Focusing her magic, she compressed the oxygen in the ambient air into a smaller space, forcing out all the other gases present. Adding a bit of telekinesis, Twilight passed the ball of pure oxygen down Fluttershy’s trachea and into her lungs. Time seemed to stand still, each excruciating second passing with no visible result.

No... she can’t be gone. I won’t give up on her.

Twilight repeated the Partitioning spell, gathering a second ball of pure oxygen and started compressions on Fluttershy’s chest again. Five seconds passed, then ten. She frantically repeated the process one more time. By now, tears were streaming down her face as she began to think she had arrived too late.

Without warning, Fluttershy began coughing violently. After the coughing subsided, she inhaled deeply and then began breathing on her own. After several moments, she slowly opened her eyes. “How?” She rasped.

Fluttershy! Thank Celestia! I was so scared.” Twilight leaned down to hug Fluttershy's prone form, sobbing softly into her pink mane. Her body was shaking from her friend’s close encounter with death, and it was all she could do to clutch Fluttershy tightly and cry.

“Twilight? You... you brought me back?” Fluttershy looked up and saw the magically sheared rope hanging from the ceiling. Her one chance... gone. Tears rose in her eyes, knowing that not only had she failed to escape the torment of her past, but now she would have to answer for her attempted suicide to Twilight, if not all of her friends.

Twilight pulled away, sniffing and dabbing at her eyes. “Back? No, you were still alive when I got here... barely. Why in Equestria would you do something like that Fluttershy? What could possibly make you feel like that is acceptable?” A sudden flare of anger rose in Twilight’s chest, lending an accusatory tone to her words. With difficulty, she suppressed the anger, realizing that the distressed pegasus was likely in a fragile state, both physically and emotionally.

Fluttershy rolled over and pushed herself up into a sitting position. “I’m so sorry Twilight, I know that it must seem cruel, selfish and cowardly. I... I just can’t take it anymore.” Fresh tears rose in her eyes as she looked over at the mare who had saved her life. “Do you remember the blackout I had at the library? I’ve been suffering through those for ten years. Ever since Dash and I left Flight School. I kept hoping things would get better, but they never did.”

Twilight threw her hooves up in frustration. “So this is your answer?” The words came out sharper than she intended as the anger from before slowly rose in her chest again. She paused took a deep calming breath before continuing. “Fluttershy, you know you can always come and talk to any of us about anything. We’re all here to help you.”

Fluttershy gave a sharp, humorless laugh. “Ha. Sure. Imagine how that conversation would go.” She adopted a faux-cheerful tone. “‘Oh hi Twilight, I was just wondering if you could help me with a little problem I’ve been having. You see, I randomly blackout and re-live horrific portions of my past from time to time.’ You guys would throw me in a mental institution.” Fluttershy’s ears flattened back nervously. “It didn’t used to be that bad, maybe once a week. It happened rarely enough that I had time to recover from one before the next one hit. Recently, they’ve been getting worse. A few months ago it was up to every other day, but I’ve had three in the last three days and almost had two more but Rainbow Dash was able to pull me out of them.”

Twilight sat there, dumbstruck. Words refused to form in her head. Fluttershy was not her usual shy self, cringing from such a personal and painful discussion. She simply looked defeated, as though she had given up on everything. Of course she’s given up. She just tried to... Twilight shook her head, unable to finish the thought.

“There has to be a reason." Twilight tried in vain to analyze the new situation logically. "These kind of things don’t happen randomly. There are ponies out there that can help you. Therapists, Psychiatrists...”

“You don’t think I tried that?” Fluttershy snapped back. “I was in therapy for three years. The best they could come up with was that all the torments and trauma I suffered in Flight School were being repressed and occasionally resurfacing, resulting in the blackouts. Well la-dee-bucking-da, I could have told them that on day one!” All the anger and bitterness suddenly drained from Fluttershy's chest, causing her entire body to slump. “I’m sorry Twilight, I shouldn’t have yelled at you like that.” She mumbled apologetically.

Twilight sat immobilized, once again unable to find any words that seemed appropriate. Finally, the rational portion of her mind reengaged, having been shut down in favor of instinctual reaction ever since she entered the cottage. She placed a comforting hoof on her friend’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry Fluttershy, but surely you can see that... that this isn’t the right answer.” She gestured to the rope still wrapped around the yellow mare’s neck.

Fluttershy seemed to notice the noose around her neck for the first time. She loosened it with her forehooves and slid it over her head, gazing at it almost longingly before tossing it aside. “I know, It’s just... I’m at the end of my rope here, Twilight.” After a moment, Fluttershy belatedly noticed her poor choice of words and clapped a hoof over her mouth, her cheeks blushing a deep scarlet. A small snort escaped her throat, followed by another. Eventually, she could no longer hold in the laughter bubbling up and she burst out giggling.

Even with her mind still reeling from the seriousness of the situation, Twilight could not help but smile at Fluttershy’s coincidental choice of words. After her giggling friend calmed down, she pressed on. “I know that things seem bad, but don’t you think this is a little extreme?

Fluttershy hung her head. “Oh, this wasn’t the first step.” She turned to look into the kitchen. “The first step was when I started drinking.” Twilight’s mouth fell open at this admission, and Fluttershy could not help but chuckle at her stunned expression. “Oh Twilight, it’s not as though I would get drunk every night, just after... bad days. I thought that maybe it would help, but it never did. Actually, it usually did more harm than good, like last night.”

“Wait, what happened last night?” Twilight asked as she finally regained the ability to speak.

“Well, after having a few drinks, I decided to go for a little flight.” Fluttershy intentionally omitted the purpose of the previous night’s excursion. “I guess at some point I closed my eyes and crashed into a tree out at Sweet Apple Acres. I wasn’t hurt or anything, but AJ and Big Mac found me lying out in the grass and brought me inside.”

“At least you weren’t hurt.” Twilight remarked. “That doesn’t seem all that bad. Unless... did anything happen at Sweet Apple Acres?”

Fluttershy shrunk in on herself as the memories of Applejack’s rant came back to her. “Well, um... kind of.” A minor blush rose in her cheeks. “I had a... talk with Applejack in the morning. With your theory about me and Rainbow Dash, I asked her what she thought about two mares being together. She was... opposed to the idea, rather vehemently actually.”

Twilight’s mouth worked open and closed, but no words came out. “I... You... I don’t...” She stammered. “Don’t tell me that’s why you did this, is it?” She shook her head. Too many disparate thoughts were running through her mind, she was having trouble focusing on just one. “Besides, I thought your problems were from what happened in Flight School. We all know that Flight School was hard for you, but you and Dash never talk about it.”

“Yea.” Fluttershy sighed. “We agreed after we left that we wouldn’t talk about what happened back then.” A wry smirk tugged at the edge of her mouth. “If it’s so shocking to you that I drink, what would you say if I told you this isn’t the first time I thought about... ending it all?”

What?” Twilight leaned back as far as she could from her seated position. “Why? How?”

Fluttershy shrugged indifferently. “It was always simple enough. Over the years, I’ve learned everything there is to know about animal anatomy and physiology. I know where all the major blood vessels are. There’s one located just below the skin right here.” She pointed to a spot just above her hoof on her foreleg. “One little slice, nick the vein, and you’ll bleed out in around five minutes. It could easily be disguised as an accident, something that happened while chopping up vegetables.” At this point Twilight’s expression was a pale mask of muted horror, all the color drained from her face.

Twilight decided she needed to change the subject. The mention of an agreement between Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash not to talk about Flight School had piqued her curiosity, although her friend’s admission to previously considering suicide had shocked her almost beyond words. She searched for a way to gently inquire about Fluttershy’s past. “Say, do you think that you might be willing to tell me about Flight School? I’m no psychologist, but I did just finish a book from the Canterlot library on equine mental disorders. I might be able to help.”

See? You could have just asked Twilight two days ago at the library and avoided this whole botched hanging. The poisonous voice in Fluttershy’s head made it dreaded return.

Was that really two days ago? It feels like ages ago.

Well, I suppose time does seem to drag on when you’re busy trying to off yourself.

Fluttershy shook her head to clear the thought from her head. Her eyes fell to study the floor as she searched for an excuse. “Um.. w- well I don’t... that is, um... y- you see...” A small sigh slipped out of her mouth as she hung her head in defeat. “I just can’t Twilight. It’s too painful to talk about.” Tears began to well up in her frightened eyes as memories roiled beneath the surface of her mind, but she refused to let them fall.

Really? Her mind scoffed at her. She’s practically begging to help you and you’re going to turn her away?

What if she can’t help? What if I have to relive all that for nothing? I don’t think I can handle that.

Is death truly that alluring to you?

A shudder of fear passed down Fluttershy’s spine at the thought. “Alright, I’ll try.” Taking a deep breath, she decided to be honest with Twilight. She would tell the truth, the whole truth. She looked up at her friend, forcing herself to maintain eye contact despite the tears still brimming in her own eyes. Still she refused to let a single tear fall.

“Everything started when Rainbow Dash and I arrived for our second year of Flight School after Summer Flight Camp.”

*

Cloudsdale Flight School: Fourteen years ago.

Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash were clustered around the bulletin board next to the school’s outdoor track with the rest of their class. Their teacher, Instructor Swift, had just posted a list ranking of all the fillies and colts in their class based on the flying abilities they had demonstrated at Summer Flight Camp three months ago. As the rest of the young ponies in the class moved away from the list, some happier than others, Fluttershy and Dash were finally able to get close enough to examine the list.

Preliminary Flight Score Rankings for Class 302, Second Year

Rainbow Dash – 117
Fleetfoot – 102
Thunderlane – 97
Stormchaser – 91
Shadow Dancer – 88
Flitter – 83
Wind Whistler – 77
Cloudchaser – 71
Ditzy Doo – 65
Fluttershy – 57

Last?” Fluttershy backed away from the list as though it was about to attack her. “I’m last? How is that possible? I know I’m not the best flier, but I figured I at least did better than Derpy. All she did was fly around in circles!” The cross-eyed filly in question was seated a little ways away, but looked up at the mention of her nickname. She waved at Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash before resuming to make what appeared to be muffins out of nearby clouds.

Dash hovered near the list, eyeing it curiously. “What in the hay is this ‘Flight Score’ thing anyway? Don’t get me wrong, I am the best, but I’ve never heard of it before.”

Before Fluttershy could answer, Derpy replied to Dash’s question without even looking up. “The Flight Score is a scale created fifty years ago by Dr. Rudolf Lipizzaner, a famous mathematician from Fillydelphia. It objectively judges how well pegasus ponies fly based on a multitude of factors such as age, weight, height, wing muscle strength, speed, and agility. The scale goes from zero to one hundred fifty, with seventy five indicating an average flier.” Derpy finished crafting her latest muffin from a cirrus cloud and held it up proudly. “Muffin!”

Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy could only stare in awe and confusion at Derpy. Dash was the first to recover. “How does she do that?” She wondered aloud.

Fluttershy went back to stare at the list again. “That still doesn’t explain how I’m in last place. All Derpy did was fly around in circles. I know I fell down a couple times, but I should still beat circles.” She snorted angrily and lashed out with a forehoof at the bulletin board, rattling it and causing a few papers to float to the ground.

All Dash could do was shrug. “Well, she did fly the circles upside-down and backwards. I guess that counts for something.” She landed next to her fuming friend. “Hey, don’t sweat it ‘Shy. I can help ya get better at flying, all ya need is a little practice. Trust me, stick with me for training this semester, and I guarantee that you’ll be in the top five by the time we leave for Hearth’s Warming break.” She placed a comforting hoof on her friend’s shoulder.

Fluttershy perked up at the suggestion. “You really want me to train with you? I mean, I would love to, but I’m not exactly on your level.” She gave the list a baleful gaze, as if willing the numbers to change. After a moment, she looked over at Dash, a determined fire smoldering in her eyes. “Alright, let’s do this.”

“That’s my girl. Let’s start with some endurance training, that seems to be your biggest problem.” Dash stepped away from the resolute filly and leapt up into the air, flying in lazy circles and deep in thought. “What’s your record for doing laps on the track?” She asked.

Fluttershy blushed slightly and tried to hide behind her mane. She knew her endurance was her weak point. “Um... ten laps.” Her voice was small, most first-year fillies could do at least fifteen laps.

Rainbow Dash looked at the track, which was currently empty. She looked back at Fluttershy after making a decision. “Alright, let’s go do twelve laps. No breaks.” Fluttershy looked up at her to say something, but Dash cut across her. “No excuses. If ya wanna be better than Derpy, you’re gonna have to work hard. Don’t worry, I’ll be there to cheer you on the whole way.”

Fluttershy looked back to the track, then at Derpy, still making cloud-muffins. The determined spark in her eyes shined a little brighter as she nodded to Dash. “Let’s do it.” She leapt into the air and flew over to the track.

Two hours later, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash trudged into their shared dorm room and flopped down on their respective beds. In the end, Fluttershy had flown seventeen fulls laps of the track before almost collapsing from exhaustion. Even the athletic Dash looked a little winded as she laid down on the bed.

“Seventeen laps. I never thought you had it in ya ‘Shy.” She rolled onto her side to look at her burnt out roommate. “Keep this up and you could probably challenge Fleetfoot for number two in the class.”

Fluttershy could barely raise her head from the pillow. “Can’t talk. Everything hurts.” She grumbled. It was true, every muscle in her body ached, and her wings felt like they were on fire. Ten laps into the training, she had wanted nothing more than to fall over and rest, but Dash’s encouragement had sparked something in her. She couldn’t explain why, but Fluttershy did not want to let Rainbow down. She had pushed herself past the point of exhaustion, past the point of feeling anything beyond the pain in her wings, all to try and live up to Dash’s expectations.

Rainbow Dash laid back on the bed, a tired smile spreading across her face. “Just wait until tomorrow. We’ve got speed training. Basically it’s just flying as fast as you can, but with a parachute strapped to your back. Helps build up the old wing muscles.” Dash carefully flexed her own wings, stretching the sore muscles.

Tomorrow? Are you serious?” Fluttershy protested, her words muffled by the pillow. “I’ll be lucky if I can walk tomorrow, much less fly.” She experimentally tried to extend her wings, only to have the pain spike at the motion.

Dash hopped off of her bed and trotted over to her training partner’s bed. She fluttered her wings and hopped up onto the mattress. “Don’t worry ‘Shy, I know just what ya need.” Rainbow leaned over, gently placing her hooves on her friend’s back.

“Dash! What are yo-ooooooh,,,,” Fluttershy began protesting, but the words melted away as Rainbow started massaging the tired muscles in her back. “Mmmm... that feels good.”

Dash chuckled to herself, she knew better than most the aches and pains that came from hours of intense training. She moved her hooves out to the side to massage the muscles that pull the wings down, but the new sensation caused Fluttershy to jump.

“Ah! Careful, that tickles!” Fluttershy warned.

“Oh really?” Dash arched an eyebrow, a mischievous grin playing across her face.

Fluttershy looked over her shoulder and caught a devious glint in her trainer’s eye. “Oh no. Don’t you dare Rainbow!” Dash started massaging Fluttershy’s sides again, causing the exhausted filly to break out in uncontrollable laughter. “No! Dash! Laughing hurts!” In desperation, Fluttershy grabbed the pillow off the bed and threw it back at Dash, hitting her in the face. The cyan filly pulled the pillow away, her smile growing even wider.

“Oh, it’s on now.”

*

Three months later

Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash fell into a rigorous training routine that left them with little free time. The weeks blurred by, and before either of them knew it, the Hearth’s Warming holiday break was only two days away. They both knew that it was worth it though, Fluttershy had made incredible progress in the previous months and found herself actually looking forward to the upcoming Flight Score evaluations. Instructor Swift was very pleased with her dramatic improvement, but the other fillies and colts in the class usually gave her evil looks each time she surpassed another of her classmates in flying prowess.

“Alright everypony, here’s the latest evaluations.” Instructor Swift explained with a lilting Las Pegasus accent. He tacked the list onto the bulletin board and quickly moved away before the class mobbed the board. “Have a nice Hearth’s Warming break.” He turned to head back to his office.

Hearth’s Warming Break Flight Score Rankings for Class 302, Second Year

Rainbow Dash – 119
Fluttershy – 108
Fleetfoot – 104
Thunderlane – 99
Stormchaser – 93
Shadow Dancer – 86
Wind Whistler – 83
Cloudchaser – 78
Flitter – 75
Ditzy Doo – 73

Fluttershy stared at the list, her mouth hanging open. “Second.” Her voice was barely a whisper. “I... I’m second.” She broke out in a huge grin and leaped into the air with an inarticulate cry of joy. Upon landing, she ecstatically looked over to Dash, her personal trainer for the last three months. Rainbow had an equally large grin on her face.

“Second place, ‘Shy! That’s amazing!” Dash reached over and pulled Fluttershy into a bone-crushing hug, which she returned happily. “I bet all those extra training sessions feel worth it now.”

Fluttershy pulled away to look at Dash, oblivious to the fact that several of their classmates were glaring daggers a the two fillies and muttering under their breaths. “Thank you so much Rainbow, I couldn’t have done it without you. Come on, let’s go get our stuff and head back to the dorm.” The two friends took off and flew into the locker room that their class stored their belongings in during flying practice. As they landed in the locker room, they noticed that the rest of the class was gathered in the corner, looking and whispering about something near Fluttershy’s locker.

Fluttershy slowly edged her way through the gathering, trying to get a good view of what everypony was looking at. With a start, she realized they were staring at her locker. Somepony had spray-painted “FILLYFOOLER” across her locker in bright orange paint. Fluttershy galloped to the front of the group and whipped around to face them, a red-hot anger building in her chest. “Alright, who the buck did this?” She bellowed. She fixed each filly and colt with a malevolent glare, daring them to say one more word. A deathly silence fell over the assembled students, none of them daring to speak or meet her furious gaze.

Eventually, one colt stepped forward. He was tall and thickly built, his impressive muscles making him seem several years older than he was. His hair was a short shock of light blue and silver which stood in stark contrast to his dark grey coat. The daring colt’s cutie mark depicted a thundercloud with a single lightning bolt. His name: Thunderlane. “Why should we be afraid of some little fillyfooler like you? What are you gonna do? You and your marefriend Rainbow Crash gonna fight us?” Thunderlane flared his wings and stood towering over Fluttershy, challenging her to respond.

The anger drained from Fluttershy's chest. She had no idea how to respond to the vehemence in Thunderlane’s voice. Tears welled up in her eyes, unbidden, and she quickly dabbed them away. Rainbow Dash had been watching the exchange in stunned silence, but finally regained her composure enough to speak.

“You leave her alone, you coltcuddler!” Dash stepped in front of Fluttershy, standing between her and Thunderlane.

Without warning, the rest of the class followed Thunderlane's lead, calling out taunts of “fillyfoolers” and “marefriends” at the two pegasi. Anger flashed in Dash’s eyes, and she seemed ready to fight every filly and colt in the room. She leapt at Thunderlane, but Fluttershy grabbed her back hooves, stopping her in mid-air.

“Don’t Rainbow, he’s not worth it.” She pulled Dash back down to the ground. “Let’s get out of here.” The two friends shouldered their way through the crowd of colts and fillies to reach the exit. As they reached the door, a single wolf-whistle sounded from the assembled class. Dash shot a withering stare over her shoulder, but could not find the culprit. As the two fillies emerged from the building, Rainbow’s temper finally got the better of her.

“Just who the hay do they think they are, saying those kind of things about you?” She let out an angry snort.

Fluttershy raised an eyebrow, shooting a sidelong glance at Dash. “You mean us?

Dash gave a slight jump. “Oh yea... us.” A slight blush crept into her cheeks, thankfully hidden by her coat. “It’s just that everypony was focusing on you because it was your locker. I guess I didn’t realize they were also makin’ fun of me.” She gave another snort. “If I see Thunderlane again, I’m gonna buck him square in his stupid face.”

Fluttershy rolled her eyes. “Let it go Dash, everypony will have their fun with it for a couple days, but once they see we don’t care it’ll die down.” She put a hoof around her disgruntled friend’s shoulder. “Come on, we’re still number one and two in the class, I say that calls for a celebration.”

The next few days passed without much incident. The fillies and colts of their class kept calling Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash “fillyfoolers,” but they refused to respond. Then the days turned into weeks, and the weeks dragged on into months. Still, the insults came whenever the two pegasi had their backs turned. Fluttershy did her best to ignore the taunts and jeers of her classmates, but Dash was not so stoic. Rainbow's temper grew shorter and shorter as the months wore on, causing her to get into fights with her classmates who were particularly abusive towards Fluttershy and herself.

Once a week, Dash would come back to the dorm room covered with fresh cuts and bruises, and Fluttershy would do her best to patch up her hotheaded roommate. Over time, she learned the best ways to treat various forms of injuries using common household items. However, she always felt that it was her fault that Dash was constantly getting into fights. Fluttershy could not help but feel that every cut, scrape and bruise her friend suffered was because of her.

The usually outgoing Fluttershy began spending more and more time secluded in her room, away from the mocking of her classmates. She began making excuses to skip training sessions with Dash, hoping that it would stop the ridicule if they were not seen together as often. It did not work. The verbal abuse continued, made worse by Fluttershy’s slowly regressing flying abilities now that she was not training with Rainbow as much. The sustained jeering of her classmates took a toll on her psychologically, a toll that she refused to let even Rainbow Dash see as she silently cried herself to sleep night after night.

*

Tears ran freely down Fluttershy’s face now, leaving dark trails along her cheeks. Nevertheless, throughout the tale her voice never once broke or wavered. She had been unable to meet Twilight’s gaze while recounting her story, but now she looked up to her friend. Fluttershy’s normally peaceful eyes held nothing but pain, haunting memories beyond even what she had just shared. She gave a weak smile. “That’s pretty much the end of the story.”

Liar. The voice in her head spat.

For once, words failed the normally eloquent Twilight. Her mind was unable to form a coherent thought, while half a dozen emotions fought for her attention. Anger, for the fillies and colts who had made life so difficult for such a kind and loving pony, all out of jealousy. Sorrow, for knowing that Fluttershy had been suffering through this torment all alone, day after day for years. Pride in her reserved friend, knowing how tortuously difficult it must have been to divulge such painful and personal memories. Several other darker emotions swam through her mind, but she did not trust herself to acknowledge them. All Twilight could think to do was reach out and hug Fluttershy tightly.

“I’m so sorry, Fluttershy.” The words seemed woefully inadequate, but they were all that she could bear to say. Fluttershy returned the hug, shaking slightly as she sobbed into Twilight’s mane. For several minutes, they simply sat together while Fluttershy slowly regained her composure.

Eventually, she gave a deep sigh and pulled away from Twilight. She dabbed her eyes roughly, wiping away the remaining tears. “Thanks Twilight.” Her voice cracked slightly. “I actually feel a lot better now. It’s funny, I must have told that exact same story to half a dozen psychiatrists, but every time it just made me feel worse about it. Telling you just now was strangely... cathartic. This has been eating away at me from the inside for years, but I feel like now that somepony else knows about it, it’s a little easier to bear.”

Imagine how much easier it would be to bear if Dash knew about how you blamed yourself for everything.

No, I can’t tell Dash. Not yet. Fluttershy stood up to distract herself from the thought. She flared her wings, stretching out the stiff muscles. “Do you want a cup of tea? I think that sounds nice right now.” She asked, helping Twilight to her feet.

“Sure, that does sound good.” Twilight confirmed. Then she remembered the original purpose of her visit to Fluttershy’s cottage. “Hey, you said something earlier about my theory from the library. I was coming by your house to see if you had figured anything out about that.”

Fluttershy blushed slightly. “Oh... yes actually.” Her face flushed deeper and a giddy smile spread across her face. “I thought about it and I... I’m in love with Rainbow Dash.”

Clack. A sharp sound near the door caused both ponies to whip around.

There in the doorway, her weather goggles lying forgotten on the floor, stood Rainbow Dash.