• Published 4th Aug 2012
  • 4,099 Views, 82 Comments

A Glasshouse Butterfly - littlerobotbird



A shippy bit of nonsense featuring Fluttershy and a silly twist.

  • ...
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1 ~ First Attempts

"I just don't know about this is all," Fluttershy replied after had taken a good, long moment to ponder the question. She stared at the back of the spoon in her her hoof, watching her reflection's pursed lips bulge into a wide frown. Slowly, she slipped the spoon back into the pot, giving it a therapeutic stir before speaking again. "It's just that she's so…so…"

"Determined?" a voice offered from up the stairs. "Daring? Maybe even daunting?"

"Well…yes…a little bit. A tiny bit." Fluttershy's voice shrank as she gave the pot a less aggressive, meeker stir.

"Oh! Here we go!" it broke the silence, drawing Fluttershy's attention to the stairs. "Is she enn-nergetic!"

"Yes."

"Eggs-xuberant?"

"Yes."

"Especially, extensively eager and evidently enthusiastic?!"

Fluttershy giggled before replying. "Quite."

"So where's the problem?" the voice asked, the familiar snorting laugh that followed a nervous shudder down Fluttershy's spine.

Well, there's of course that I am most certainly, one-hundred percent not those things... she thought quietly, sliding on the lid and closing the damper as she set the pot to simmer. "Oh, I just don't even know where to begin with all this. It seems so quick. So sudden. I'm just too nervous."

"Well, we'll just have to fix that now won't we?" the voice cheered from upstairs before adopting a more thoughtful tone. "Now, how exactly do we go about that?"

Fluttershy cocked an eyebrow as a nigh imperceptible smile cross her features at the rather loud hum of plotting seemed to vibrate the very air.

"Oh! Oh! I know! I know!" came the sudden cry of realization, followed quickly by a mad scrabble of hooves, interrupted by a rather loud thump before promptly resuming.

"Be carefu—"

The words of warning had barely reached the pegasus's tongue when the chaos of too excited hooves reached the top of the stairs only to be followed by a cacophonous mix of yelps, thumps and bumps of pony tumbling down steps. Fluttershy instinctually scrambled back as the tumble of pink spun past her and slammed right into the kitchen cupboard.

It teetered dangerously a moment. The ingredient the pegasus had carefully stacked atop it swayed before a large sack of flour slid from its proper place, plummeting to the floor in a plume of white powder.

"Oooo…owwies..." came the muffled groan.

Fluttershy rushed through the soft, white fog, the flour settling down around them to reveal a white and pink-speckled earth pony. With a heavy thunk, the bag slid from the bedazed pony, sending another—albeit much smaller—plume of flour shooting across the floor.

"Oh my goodness... are you alright?" Fluttershy asked, her voice low in spite of the continued fraying of her already frazzled nerves, lending a tremble to her hooves. With care, Fluttershy dusted off the earth pony with delicate strokes of her wings. She quickly checked the earth pony for any signs of permanent damage before grasping her head, staring in the pair of sky-blue yes swirling crazily about their sockets.

"Wowies, that first steps is sure one heck of a dooOOoOoooOOozy..." she murmured with an odd, happy sort of grin. Taking a hold of her head, the earth pony shook herself free of the remaining flour.

"You really"—Fluttershy coughed as the flour settled around her—"really need to take it easy." She took great care in inspecting the other pony's heavily bandaged forehoof. "Especially around stairs."

"You aren't kidding!" she replied excitedly, bouncing up onto her hooves before collapsing to the floor as her weight came down on the injured hoof. "Ooo…more owwies. I don't like owwies," she pouted. "They hurt."

"Aww..." Fluttershy cooed gently as the pink pony plopped back onto her hindquarters, face the very definition of melancholy. "Does somepony want Momma Fluttershy to make it all better?"

"Mmmhmm..." she responded, lower-lip out-thrust and trembling. Her eyes quavered and even her curly mane seemed to droop with the effort.


Fluttershy bent down and kissed the earth pony's forehoof before glancing back up. "Better?" she asked, running a soothing hoof over the bandage.

"Uh hunh..." the pink pony replied in a soft voiced, fighting back a smile as Fluttershy tenderly kissed the hoof again. "Lil' bit better."

"And what have we learned?" Fluttershy asked with a genteel smile.

"To be more careful around stairs?"

Fluttershy nodded, giving the curly mane a playful tousle, a shower of excess flour cascading from it before helping the pink pony to her three good hooves. Fluttershy found herself quite suddenly grabbed into an awkward one-hoof embrace.

"Thanks, Fluttershy!" the earth pony squealed, clutching the flustered pegasus tight.

"Y-you're welcome," Fluttershy squeaked out, that one good hoof quite enough to squeeze all the air from her lungs.

"Oh!" the pink pony gasped, dropping the pegasus to the floor rather unceremoniously. "I almost forgot my idea!"

"Yes?" Fluttershy croaked out from her place, sprawled on the floor.

"You wanna hear it? Huh?! Huh?!" she asked, bouncing on all threes with surprising expertise as she encircled the downed pegasus pony.

"Okay?" Fluttershy murmured uncertainly as she pulled herself up into a sitting position on the floor.

"You should practice"—she immediately halted, playing the air bugle complete with sound-effects fit for a discount princess before beaming, toothy grinned and wide eyed at Fluttershy—"on me!"

Fluttershy didn't reply as blood filled every capillary in her face.

"Great idea, hunh?!" the pink pony asked eagerly. "I mean, it's the best idea! It's a…a...one second." She hurriedly dashed to the fallen sack, prying a well-dusted book from beneath it before skidding to the table. She scanned over the page ravenously before slamming her good forehoof down on a page. "It is a superbly, superlative... supreme..." She paused a moment to stare down at the book. "Oh bramble dings…I lost my place again. Now I'm gonna have to start all over again." She sat down with a harrumph, glaring at the offending pages.

"Um..." Fluttershy began nervously, drawing the pink pony from her precarious precipice of pouting. "I just don't know…it might be a little..." Fluttershy paused a moment to scratch at an imagined stain on the floor. "Weird..."

The pink pony gasped aloud before swallowing the gasp, cheeks ballooning out and deflating with a sudden exhalation of breath. "It will not!"

"Oh, I just mean…that it could be—" Fluttershy was cut off as the pink pony shot up onto her hind legs, one hoof over her heart and the other held in the air.

"I do hereby, heretofore, hitherto solemnly swear," she started, a look of pure determination written across her features, "that it will not, can not and shall not be weird in any which way." She finished, stone-faced with a nod of head and a hard salute that sent her flipping onto her back.

"I—"

"Before Fluttershy could even muster a protest, she confronted by the full, unbridled fury of that most dreaded of puppy-dog and baby-kitten stares. That quavering lip seeming to have doubled in size, perhaps to keep pace with the veritable oceans of sadness that implored Fluttershy consideration.

"Pretty, pretty please?"

"I..." Fluttershy sighed, thoroughly defeated. "Fine."

"Woohoo!" the pink pony whooped, pelling Fluttershy to her hooves before staring at her, the water in her eyes replaced by determination and unbridled excitement. And then...

...they just stood there a moment. The pink pony silently stared and Fluttershy's blush deepened by the moment beneath the onslaught of those sky blues.

"Well?"

"'Well' what?" Fluttershy replied with a start, nearly scrambling back at the sudden break in the silence.

“Well, aren't you going to say 'Hi, Pinkie', you silly filly!” she replied with a knowing smile.

“Oh... um, of course...” Fluttershy cleared her throat, suddenly unable to look the other pony in the eye as she began. “H-hi, Pinkie.”

"Hiya Fluttershy!"

"I-I'm r-really glad you, um, decided to come and, uh, came?" Slowly the pegasus seemed to be folding in on herself. Unconsciously, she sat, letting her long mane flow out in front of her.

"Fluttershy?"

"Yes?"

"You should really make better eye contact."

Fluttershy allowed her bangs to part just enough that a single, confused turquoise peered out.

"Remember: 'Don't be shy! Look 'em in the eye,'" the pink pony recited, voice suddenly judicious of tone.

"Where did you hear that?" Fluttershy asked, allowing her mane to flow back as she stared up at the other pony.

“I read it in that book you had underneath your dresser’s leg,” she explained. “It had lots of neat sayings. And most of them rhymed too! I love rhyme!” she exclaimed before suddenly staring at Fluttershy intensely. “By the way, your dresser is really, really crooked. You should fix it.” She brightened back up. “It had so many cool, rhyme-y sayings! I can't wait to try them!”

“Oh...well, you shouldn't take that book too seriously. It could lead to some”—Fluttershy fell quiet for a moment—“bad behavior.”

“Oh. Soooo... I shouldn't look other ponies in the eye?”

“Oh, no, no. I mean, that's good advice, but some of the other sayings are... not so good advice.”

“Ah...” She pondered this little tidbit a moment, turning to glance at the clock. “Oh, but we're running out of time! Where were we?”

“Um... 'Hello'?”

“Oh, right!” She bounded over to the table. Grabbing a pad and pencil, she spent the next minute scribbling furiously before glancing back over at Fluttershy, finishing with a flourish of the pencil. “Greetings, check!” She paused a moment. “Well," she erased a bit, ”mostly check. A three-quarter check." And then erased a bit more. "Maybe two-thirds of a check? I mean, we covered them, but we didn't 'cover' cover them, right?"

Fluttershy's face fell in increments until it was resting atop her hooves.

"This really is a bad idea." She blew a bit of mane out of her eyes before burying her face into the wood grain, quietly hoping to disappear into a fissure or a knothole. "A terrible, awful, horrendous idea."

Silence reigned as Fluttershy stewed in nervous self-pity on the floor. She shuddered as a hoof came to rest on her shoulders.

"Aww... c’mon. It is not a 'bad' idea. In fact, it's a wonderful, spectacular, super especially awesome idea! It's the bestest sort of idea!"

"Oh... I'm just too nervous," Fluttershy murmured, glancing up at the beaming pink pony before standing up, a panicked look in her eyes. "I can still call this off. I’ll-I’ll say I have the feather flu and have to be in bed,” she rambled on, staring at the floor as began to trot. “Have to get lots and lots of rest. I can't do this. I just ca—"

She was interrupted mid-stride to the door by a flash of pink, the world swirling about until she found herself pinned to the floor by a rather aggravated-looking earth pony.

"Fluttershy, you are doing this!"

"Bu—"

"No ifs, ands nor buts of any sort!” she declared. “You will do this. You will like this and you will be happy darn it!"

"Bu—"

"No, I won't let you ruin this for yourself. You will talk, you will like each other and you will be in love and it will be perfect!"

"It's just... I've known her for so long. I couldn’t bear to lose her as a friend."

The pink mare's face softened. "You wouldn't be losing her losing her as a friend, silly! You..." She paused a moment, tapping a hoof to her chin. "You'd just be making her your super special bestest friend forever and ever."

"But what if she doesn't want to be my, um... super special bestest friend forever and ever?"

"You know better than that," came the reply, a pink hoof patting her mane as the familiar grin set the butterflies in Fluttershy's stomach at ease. "Is she really the kind of friend that would just abandon a pony?"

"No... she's always been a good…no a great friend. But... Oh, I just don't know how she'll react if this all goes badly." Fluttershy mewled as the pink pony helping her back to her hooves. "It's scary."

"It's okay that it's scary, but that doesn't mean you should just give up!” the pink pony cried out, drawing the pouting pegasus into a tight hug. “Remember, you're an awesomely fantastically amazing friend and she totally knows that. Nopony would want to lose you as a friend.” Her grip relaxed to allow them to look eye-to-eye. “Got that?”

“I think so... maybe?”

The pink mare grinned. “You can do better than th—”

They were interrupted by a playful rap-a-tap-tapping on the cottage's front door.

“Whoopsies! Outta time!” Fluttershy was immediately released, the pink pony dashing towards the stairs only to skid and crash into the bathroom in a clatter of shower curtain rods and toiletries.

“Are you oh—”

“No time!” came her reply from the bathroom before she dashed back to grab the pegasus by the shoulders. “And remember," she grabbed the pegasus's cheeks, pulling them in a smile, “confidence!”

“Okay,” Fluttershy nodded, voice hardly more than a whisper squeezed through her clenched smile.

“Alrighty! Now, go, go!”

Without warning, Fluttershy was sent hurtling towards the door, bouncing across the cottage floor before coming to a rest in front of the door.

“Go on!” came the very loudly whispered encouragement as Fluttershy's vision was filled completely and utterly by the seemingly massive door before her.

Oh... my...

The rapping of hoof on the door seemed to come in slow, thunderous poundings now, matching, blow-for-blow, the steady nervous thumps of her heart in her throat. She stared at it as if it were about to fall, crushing her like so many ill-conceived hopes and dreams.

Thump.

“Psst! Fluttershy?”

Thadda-thump.

“Hey, Fluttershy?

Thadda-thump-thum—

“FLUTTERSHY!”

She shot to her hooves, the voice shocking time back into its normal cadence, the rap-tap-taps on the door now forming a familiar melody.

It's just your friend... you’ve known her for years... nothing to be afraid of... except everything that could go wrong of course... yes, but just that. No big deal.

With a nervous gulp, Fluttershy brought a trembling hoof to the door knob and began to twist it... ever so slowly... inching it along its circular journey—

“OPEN IT!”

With a not-so-quiet eep, Fluttershy's hoof jammed the knob all the way and the door exploded inwards in a shower of confetti and streamers.

“SURPRISE!!”

The familiar, ear-splitting cry rang in her ears as Pinkie slid into the cottage in a proper showmare's pose, pink top hat tilted forward over her eyes as the bits of rainbow color fell down all around her.

There was a moment of silence as the bits of paper settled to the floor.

“Fluttershy?” Pinkie, maintaining her pose, tipped the hat back to find Fluttershy staring up at her from the flat of her back, eyes wide and body rigid. “Oh... um, too much?”

“Y-yeh-yeh”—she hiccuped—“Yes,” Fluttershy stuttered out as Pinkie popped up onto her hooves with a bounce.

“Sorry... been working out my entrances for surprise parties—the Cakes are going to be having one soon—and you've always been honest with me and I figured you'd be honest now and you were!”

“Um... you”—another hiccup interrupted—“ you're welcome,” Fluttershy offered as she lifted herself from the floor, a hoof rubbing at her chest as she willed the hiccups away.

“Was it the confetti? The streamers? Oh! Oh! I know! It was the volume." She paused a moment, nodding sagely. "It's always the volume.” Pinkie rambled quietly to herself a moment. “Or maybe I should try sparklers instead. What do you think, Fluttershy?”

“Sparklers?” Fluttershy muttered, voice containing more than a note of rising panic.

“Yeah! Like this!”

Pinkie vanished out the door, Fluttershy rising to follow before her friend burst back inside, now wearing a vest covered in reflective sequins and glittering top hat complete with sparklers sticking up from it and her hooves.

“Surprise!” Pinkie shouted, albeit at a marginally lower and less hazardous volume.

There was silence in response.

Pinkie tipped the hat back again and glanced down. “Oh, you're on your back again.”

Fluttershy looked up from the floor, legs sticking straight up in the air, frozen in shock.

“Eh, I'll work on it later. But for now”—in one fluid motion of her hoof, Pinkie slipped out of her ensemble and tossed the outfit out the door—“let's get you back to the party.”

Working quickly and with a gentleness few would expect of the self-proclaimed 'Party Pony of Ponyville,' Pinkie worked the pegasus's legs from their state of shock-induced rigor mortis.

“There! All better,” Pinkie said with a smile that Fluttershy returned wholeheartedly.

“Th-thanks, Pinkie.”

Oh, the plan!

“Um... hiya, Pinkie!” Fluttershy said with what she hoped was a happy, confident voice, giving an exaggerated wave of her hoof.

“Heya, Flutters!” Pinkie replied with giggling snort. “Little late for hellos. You should work on your timing.” She gasped as a light came over her, smacking her forehead with a hoof. “Pumpkin and Pound could help! They're super good with timing! Although... they're not so good with puns.” Pinkie sidled up to Fluttershy, sending a blush across the pegasus's face as the party pony's voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper. “Just between you and me, I think they got that from Mr. Cake. That pony just has no appreciation for proper pony punnery.”

Fluttershy giggled, if only to cover up the nervous tremble in her throat.

“So, what's up, Shy-Shy?” Pinkie chirped as she slipped away from Fluttershy, the pegasus nearly tipping over due to the earth pony's sudden absence.

“Oh! Um... nothing really... except you! You're here and that’s, um... that's nice.”

“Super duper nice, I hope?” Pinkie inquired, giving the pegasus a friendly pat on the mane, smiling wide.

“Oh, um, of course,” Fluttershy replied, straightening out her mane as Pinkie went bouncing into the living room proper.

“And how are you, my most pinkest of avian friends?” she heard Pinkie ask.

Fluttershy's eyes went wide, the pegasus slamming the door closed and whirling around to find Pinkie and a flamingo staring at her.

“You alright, Fluttershy?” Pinkie asked, frozen mid hoof-to-webbed-foot bump with the flamingo which stared at Fluttershy, neck craned at a perturbingly perfect right angle.

“Oh! Yes! Fine! Completely fine!” Fluttershy squeaked, sliding back against the door with a relieved breath.

“So how 's our phoenicopteridae friend doin'?” Pinkie asked, completing her customary greeting with the lanky wading bird, taking care to avoid hitting its heavily bandaged wing.

“Um, Phoenico-what?” Fluttershy asked nervously, her heart rate jumping once more.

“Flamingo!” Pinkie said with an excited bounce. “I was at Twilight's earlier and I saw a book on birds and thought to myself, 'I could totally study and help out my friend Fluttershy with our bestest flamingo friend Flammy because that's what friends should do!’” Pinkie explained gleefully, having taken to doing a strangely choreographed dance with the flamingo. She hopped between her hind hooves whilst swinging her forehooves rhythmically, Flammy mirroring her actions with flipper and wing.

“I suppose they do...” Fluttershy trailed off as she became enamored by their dance.

I’m forgetting something... The idle thought appeared, her brow furrowing as she watched the dance.

A certain, out-of-place odor tickled her nose before she heard the clattering of metal from the kitchen.

“Oh, my goodness! Our dinner!”

With a hard flap of her wings, she bolted through the pair of prancing fools into the kitchen, nearly smashing into the oven as she landed hard on her hooves.

Oh, please don't be burnt, please don't be burnt...

She thought she might cry as she switched off the fire and shoved aside the clattering lid, a plume of smoke wafting up from blackened sludge inside.

Oh, pony feathers... she swore quietly, her eyes tearing up. It's all ruined... everything is just ruined...

She felt the tears begin to run down her cheeks, a quartet of hesitant hoof steps moving around behind her.

“It's alright, Fluttershy,” the voice said as a pink hoof gently massaged her shoulder.

Fluttershy sniffled as she glanced up at Pinkie's smiling visage, Flammy lurking just behind.

“The important thing is that we're here and we're gonna have a fun time, right?” Pinkie stated, flicking away a tear as the flamingo bobbed its head rapidly in agreement.

“Th-that’s right,” Fluttershy replied with a blush. “Thanks, Pinkie.”

“We can always order something in.”

“That sounds nice,” Fluttershy replied, the tears subsiding.

“Well...” Pinkie began, a sinister-looking grin flowing over her face. “Anypony up for some hay shakes?” Pinkie asked with a wide grin before dashing outside. “I bet I can hit Señor Super Grains from here!” Pinkie shouted from outside before Fluttershy lept at the sound of cannon fire.

~o~0~o~

“Okay, so it took like twenty shots... I still hit them,” Pinkie stated smugly before taking a enormous bite out of her third hay-steak burger.

“I think they'll be cleaning up all day tomorrow,” Fluttershy mused, glancing over at the outskirts of Ponyville.

Even at a distance, one could see the masses of streamers and confetti strewn across the rooftops and streets, some still dancing in the evening breeze.

“Still... it was impressive, right?” Pinkie asked with a grin. “Right into the trot-thru window!”

Fluttershy pondered it a moment before cracking a smile. “Yes.”

“Hah!” The table shuddered as Pinkie’s hoof, pointed squarely at Fluttershy, slammed down on it. “I knew you had a little streak of mischevity in ya, Flutters,” Pinkie stated with a jovial grin, giving the blushing pegasus a soft jab in the shoulder.

“Maybe...” Fluttershy smiled. “Just a little, tiny one.”

“Hey, you roll with the Pink and we'll have you up to a hoof-wide streak in no time flat.”

“Hoof-wide?” Fluttershy echoed, glancing down at a hoof.

“Baby steps, Fluttershy. Baby steps,” Pinkie replied before digging into her food wholeheartedly, coming up for air a minute later with a ketchup, mayo and hay-streaked face, her cheeks packed full with fries.

“You've, um... got a little... on your face.”

“Mwhere mwat?” Pinkie's eyes crossed as she tried to see her own face. “Om mwy teek?”

“Uh...” Fluttershy motioned with a hoof to her right cheek, then her left and her forehead and then, with a disbelieving shake of her head, simply motioned to everywhere.

With a solemn nod, Pinkie flipped her tongue out of her mouth, stretching it, in ways Fluttershy wouldn’t have thought physically possible, to slurp up the dripping mess of condiments in one clean swipe.

“Gowt it?” she inquired as she shifted the lump of foodstuff from one bulging cheek to the other.

“Um... yes,” Fluttershy replied, eyes wide, her face flushing a bright red as she was unable to do anything but stare at Pinkie as she quickly finished her meal.

Um... quite impressive... yes... she thought as she squirmed uncomfortably in her seat. I wonder what else... that is... I... wow...

The honking, avian equivalent of a chortle from Flammy cut off her rambling thoughts. Fluttershy shot the pink bird a look of disapproval as it sat a few feet away, head craned over a bowl half-full of fish. The bird simply cocked its head, launching into a series of impatient honks.

Now? Right now? As in 'right now' right now? Fluttershy’s mind panicked as she glanced from Flammy to Pinkie, the pink-coated pony finally swallowing her dinner. *As good a time as ever...*

“Um... Pinkie?”

“Yeah, Fluttershy?”

“I, um... I did kind of have a reason I asked you to come here tonight...” she began, rising from the table. “Something I wanted to tell you...” For a moment, she just stood there, unable to look up into those familiar soft blues.

“Well, I’m here. Ask away,” Pinkie said with a cordial motion of her hoof, her smile always present.

“I... I... um...”

She glanced over at the flamingo, the bird giving her a scratchy squawk of encouragement.

I can do this... it's just Pinkie Pie... it's just... She broke out in a nervous sweat as she stared at her friend... eye-to-eye.

All the words she had spent so long thinking of, all the words she had stayed up thinking of in a seemingly endless cycle of revision, seemed to flow together into a mish-mash pile of nonsensical gibberish that wedged itself deep in her chest.

I... I ...

“Um... Fluttershy?” Pinkie asked worriedly as the pegasus trembled before her. "Are you feeling okay?"

I can't do this... I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't, I can—

She let out a panicked squeak as a beak nipped her flank, shocking her from her catatonia. She looked up to find Pinkie now standing atop the table, sloshing bucket of water in hoof, ready to soak the pegasus.

“Good thinkin', Flammy! Now we don't have to clean up!” Pinkie chirped excitedly, sliding the bucket down on the table before giving the flamingo a quick pat on the head to which it replied with a satisfied squawk. “Feeling okay, Fluttershy?”

“Um... no. Not really,” Fluttershy replied honestly, frustration bleeding into her otherwise carefully chosen tone. She took a quick drink from the bucket, silently contemplating jamming her head into the water and having a nice private scream of frustration.

“Is this about earlier?”

Fluttershy didn't answer, too busy stewing in her own self-disgust.

“I can try to do an order differently next time if that's what's bugging you...” Pinkie stated sadly, leaning down to try and catch a glimpse of the pegasus's face behind the long, pink mane.

“No… that's not it...”

“What's up then?” Pinkie asked, cautiously brushing the long pink mane away. “You know you can always tell your auntie Pinkie Pie what’s got you down”

Fluttershy laughed softly at the term. Auntie Pinkie Pie... friendly... familial.

“I know... it's just...” Fluttershy glanced up, but immediately felt her throat constrict. “It's nothing... I'll be fine.” She ignored the worried nibble of the beak on the back of her mane as she swallowed her words.

“How 'bout I make us some tea?” Pinkie offered quietly, all her usual excitement buried beneath worry. “Chamomile with a sprig of mint, right?”

Fluttershy simply nodded.

Pinkie disappeared into the kitchen with a backwards glance before the pegasus slumped down to the floor, Flammy curling up beside her as the flamingo quietly preened her ruffled feathers.

I can't...

~o~0~o~

“I just really, really, REALLY hate to leave while you're still so down in the dumpies.”

"It's okay... I know you have other things to worry about than me."

Pinkie made as if to say something but snapped her jaw shut and simply stood, just outside the cottage door. "You sure you're feeling better?"

"A hundred percent better," Fluttershy stated, masking the grimace she felt forming on her face with a smile, the tea curling up into a comforting lump in her stomach, her careful words having long since dissolved.

Pinkie simply stared at the pegasus, eyes narrowing before suddenly brightening.

"Oh! I know!" She bounded past the pegasus, spinning Fluttershy about on her way to the table. "You can prove it to me tomorrow!"

Fluttershy stared in horror as Pinkie grabbed a pencil in her maw and began to scratch at a notepad that had been carelessly tossed atop the couch. After a few seconds of scribbling, Pinkie tore off the top of the pad and bounced back to Fluttershy.

"Fer yew!" she exclaimed, the scrap of paper held in her teeth as she presented it to the pegasus.

“'One Free You-Should-Visit Muffin For One Super Spectacularly Awesome Friend,'” Fluttershy read aloud, glancing up at Pinkie before continuing. “Void Where Prohibited. No Monetary Value?”

“Standard legal release,” Pinkie explained, taking the scrap out momentarily.

“If Lost, Please Return To Fluttershy, k? Thanks, bye! Good Tomorrow Only So You Totally Have To Come Tomorrow Or Else Miss Out On A Totally Awesome Muffin.”

“Amnd they mwill be aweshome!” Pinkie shouted ecstatically around the coupon, drawing a smile out of the otherwise morose pegasus.

In the corner, there was a hastily sketched drawing of a poofy-maned, grinning pony beside a long-maned one with a similarly big grin.

"Thank you, Pinkie Pie," Fluttershy stuttered, letting Pinkie release the coupon into the her hoof. "It's... very thoughtful of you."

"Be sure to come by," Pinkie implored before hooking her hooves around Fluttershy, drawing her into a quick hug before bounding away towards the still confetti-strewn streets of outer Ponyville. "Sleep tight! Don’t let the bedbuggies bite!" she called back before disappearing down the road.

"Bye..." Fluttershy replied quietly, sitting down in the doorway as the cool night breeze swirled through her mane. Behind her came a soft, mournful squawk, followed by the sound of webbed feet slapping against wood.

I couldn't do it... I just couldn’t...

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a flash of green light up the door frame...

It's just too hard...

…the slaps of webbed feet replaced by the gentle clip-clop of careful hooves drawing nearer and nearer as she stared out at Ponyville...

And it'll always be hard...

She didn't even flinch as the hoof ran through her mane.

"It's okay, Fluttershy..." that familiar voice cooed as she turned to face it.

"I..." Fluttershy croaked out before abandoning words altogether and burying her face in the cloud of pink.

All was quiet as she sobbed into the familiar mane... it even smelled the same: a mix of cotton candy and sugar cookies.

"It's okay... we just have to practice a bit more. That's all," it stated uncertainly, running a hoof down her back as they embraced awkwardly. "We'll just practice a bit more and then everything will be perfect and you'll be so happy. It'll be great. You'll see…I'll make sure that next time is perfect. Absolutely perfect."

Maybe…maybe she's right ... maybe with just a bit more practice...

Author's Note:

(Last Updated: March 31st, 2013)