• Member Since 12th Dec, 2011
  • offline last seen Monday

Impossible Numbers

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying, And this same flower that smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying."


Apple Bloom wants to grow up. She's sure she does. Surrounded by the family that founded a town, shaped it, and made it what it is today, she finds herself all the more invested in becoming a part of this legacy.

Yet as Apple Bloom's interest in the legacy grows, so does her interest in a pony who never had one.

After all, sometimes there's a good reason to step outside. To fly on your own. To look beyond the herd.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 34 )

Wow, that was pretty intense. This was a really nice coming of age story. It's always interesting to see some of the I interactions in a world where most of the animals are sentient in a way akin to humans. The part of Fluttershy comforting the robin who the timber wolf ate the eggs of, and her going to make sure the timber wolf is okay just shows how alien of a world it is. I quite enjoyed this story and the thought that a pony could slowly start to understand the things Fluttershy does with time.


That's one of the reasons I like writing about Fluttershy so much. She's a bridge between the civilized world and the wilderness, and that balancing act could make for some fascinating stories. I just kinda wish the show had delved into it a bit more, but at least we got our fanfic building blocks out of what's there.

Thank you very much for the comment, too. A pleasure, as ever, to hear other people's thoughts. :twilightsmile:

Very nice, very good writing for all of them. Really enjoyed the emotion we could feel coming from Applebloom, and how you didn't rush the story. Very nice.


:scootangel: Thanks! Glad you think so. Apple Bloom in particular I wanted to get right: I've written Fluttershy multiple times before, but haven't had as much experience with the Apple family's youngest. Did have a few ideas about her role in the family, though, which I wanted to get across.

And especially her emotions: thank you for offering feedback on that. I wanted very much to get inside Apple Bloom's mind as she experienced all this, the good and the bad. I've always enjoyed exploring the psychology of a character.

" She never crunched. She just softened things up and helped them go down as easily as possible."

Not big on nachos, then?

Another lovely story. A great portrait of Fluttershy, who could make a great surrogate Mom. (A shame Hasbro didn't think to give her and Discord a cute little monster of their own in the epilogue.) Haven't seen xylophagic timberwolves before, interesting notion (you are what you eat, right?), although it does make it a bit puzzling why they're so quick to attack things made out of meat. (Probably less over-dramatic than my notion of them being forest debris animated by the angry spirits of predatory species exterminated by ancient Ponies. :ajbemused: )

One of so many pairs that never happened, just waiting for the right writer to see what could be...

I notice Fluttershy doesn't talk about all of her family. But then, she's probably a big follower of "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". (Which perhaps puts her frequent silences in a bit of a different light...)

After finding they were spirits, I figured they didn't eat at all - either they live off fear or something, or just hunt because that's their nature.

;-; I loved it :heart:

Excellent story, a very nice look at both Fluttershy and Applebloom. I have a small complaint unfortunately, the first 4 parts seem to be missing quotation marks entirely.

:raritystarry: Top of the Featured Box! That is really incredible; I don't think I've ever gotten a fic that high on the rankings before. Usually, at best they peek in around the bottom temporarily. Thank you so much for the honour, dear readers! :yay:


Heh, now I'm just waiting for the screenshot that proves my description there wrong. They've eaten nachos at some point, right?

I honestly had to resist writing "motherly" to describe Fluttershy at various points, partly because it'd be a bit too heavy-handed, partly because I feel like I used up my allowance for that word with a previous fic, Mothering, Someday. But it comes out so easily when you're writing her as a kindly support figure for a child.

Timberwolves are among the show's best creature creations (and puns, of course!): the wood bodies but obvious magical/supernatural element invites a lot of speculation as to how they live. Wood-eating was just one idea I came up with (or possibly picked up from someone and forgot about for a while).

As for aggressive behaviour... phew, there are lots of reasons animals attack others: territoriality, feeling threatened, being crazed by hormones, even - if we credit them with some degree of intelligence - for malice or fun (I think orcas are known to play with their food, for instance, before killing and eating it). That's before we consider timberwolves might be more like malevolent spirits than animals.


I really like pairing up characters who rarely get much shared time together, in show or even in fanfics. I've done similar off-beat pairings between the CMC and the Main Six before (Sweetie Belle and Rainbow Dash, for example). It's always fun to find new ways of mixing up and testing characters to see how they fare.

Also: Heh yeah, especially after Fluttershy's anger issues in "Putting Your Hoof Down", that would definitely explain a lot. Although my omitting Zephyr was more mundane: he just wasn't immediately relevant to the theme of family legacy the same way Fluttershy's parents were.


I must admit here that was actually a stylistic choice, a technique called free indirect speech. Initially, I'd written the whole story without dialogue markers, but it felt wrong in the second half and a bit dry after a while, so I restored them for that half, and then later thought I'd tie it in with the major event at the mid-point (the timberwolf attack) to sort of represent Apple Bloom's change of perspective and everything reaching a tipping point, so to speak.

To be fair, it might not have been a good idea on my part. If the result reads unnaturally, I can understand that would still be a problem. Do you think I should go back and put them in the first half too?


It's very kind of you to say so. Thank you for leaving such delightful comments! :scootangel:

In fact, and lastly of all, a big thank you to everyone who has left a comment. Critical feedback or genuine praise, it's always valuable to hear from my readers and learn from them. And of course, a pleasure to see people enjoying my work.:twilightsmile:

This was a delightful read! A very nice take on Applebloom, really well-done Fluttershy, with her own brand of quiet wisdom and strength, and even Diamond Tiara gets to play a part.

This is really not my area of expertise, so I apologize if I get this completely wrong. This is the part that initially made stumble over the missing quotation marks:

Don’t be silly.

Don’t you get along with ‘em?

We get along wonderfully. They’re always happy to see me, and Rainbow likes to visit too. She likes visiting them more than she likes visiting her own family. Sometimes, I wonder if –

I checked the Wikipedia page on free indirect speech and the example given there makes it look like it's basically filed down indirect speech. You leave out the bits that more directly indicate you're using indirect speech like he asked, she said, they complained etc. And the sentences above the ones I quoted work according to that principle, I think . The lines I quoted are, to me at least, basically direct speech with the quotation marks missing.

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Indirect speech generally is treated as normal narrative. However, a character’s internal monologue is italicized. The excerpt posted looks to me like a character’s thoughts, rather than indirect speech; if my impression is correct, as a professional typesetter I recommend italics.

“But even if their job should be done, a pony should like it too. Liking things is more important. Except when it happens to be a very important job. Then it isn’t.”

This was a wonderful bit of practical philosophy. I hope you don't mind me lifting it to use with my 6-year old who has trouble doing anything un-liked.

Cutie Mark Crusaders fics are happening! :yay: I am going to read this first thing on Wednesday! :scootangel:

That indirect speach part took me out of the story flow for a bit.

But this was a fantastic slice of the frustration of growing up.

I'll never know what it could be like with that kind of family. Or knowing of someone so close who could be so distant.

I didn't really get how hanging out with Fluttershy could segue into an apprenticeship, but it was nice seeing shy accepting AB into her normal circle.

This was agreat story and I loved how it simply explored Apple Bloom's uncertainty about her position and her talk with Fluttershy. Taking on too many chores because she thinks she isn't supposed to complain is something Apple Bloom would do.

Fluttershy's familiarity with the more unsavory aspects of nature and her quiet wisdom are two of my favorite topics to see explored in fanfics, and this story delivered on both accounts. It's almost paradoxical that someone who seems so sensitive and vulnerable can come across as so self-assured in contexts that would unsettle most people, while still remaining her modest and empathetic self. It's a fascinating dimension to her character that at the same time seems easily overlooked. I haven't read as many Apple Bloom stories, but her characterization here was really believable as well.

I enjoyed the free indirect speech as a stylistic choice, though quoted dialogue entering the picture midway did throw me for a little loop. The brief mention of there being such a thing as a "hermit crab-apple" was a creative touch too.

A different style from what I usually read, but no less for it.

It was a relaxing read, even in my current, time-pressed circumstances. Thanks. :twilightsmile:

Not bad... Somehow the synopsys made me think it was going to be a AB and Fluttershy shipping, but it was a entertaining story

Applebloom struggles between her family identity and being herself as an individual pony. I could always see that Applebloom is much more than an Apple. A brilliant look into Applebloom's mind and what moves her. Finally a story like that for Applebloom! Broke the fave button! :heart:

My word, this fic has had a good run in the Featured Box. It's also become my highest rated fic. I mean, wow! I really don't know what to say that could do this all justice. It's simply extraordinary. Thanks a ton, everyone! :pinkiehappy:


Showing that "quiet wisdom and strength" is exactly what I love doing when writing about Fluttershy. As for Diamond Tiara, she actually wasn't in the original plan, but partway through I saw an opportunity to contrast her with Apple Bloom, and the rest sort of took off from there. Even in my fics, Diamond Tiara likes taking control! :trollestia:


Having seen the feedback offered here, I think on balance I will go back and convert those earlier sections into traditional speech. Yourtasteinhorsesisawful is correct: the free indirect speech thing usually requires some mediation between character's voice and narrator's (e.g. changing "what have I done?" [character's POV] to "what had she done?" [narrator's POV]), but I see I took it to extremes and let the characters outright possess the narrator at times.

Couple that with the fact that even people who liked it found it a bit distracting, and I think the case leans firmly towards dialing it back a touch. Bear with me a moment while I edit those sections...


Feel free, by all means: it's hardly an original trademarked phrase on my part. :raritywink: Life always has been a balance between what you want to do and what you need to do. I'm certainly not the first person to notice, heh.


I suppose the "close but distant" thing might make a bit more sense if I put it into perspective. Say you imagined it the other way too: someone who visits or contacts their family so often that they come across as excessively clingy.

Most of the time, a person strikes a balance between the two extremes of too distant and too close. But different people set the optimum balance at different points. The trick is to negotiate among those different people with different temperaments so some higher balance or compromise among them can be achieved.

Fluttershy and her family simply tend towards what some might think the "distant" end of the scale. At least, that's the way I see it.

Hm, good point about the segue being unclear. I was trying to convey that Apple Bloom wanted to understand Fluttershy better, or felt she owed her something back for her help, but now you point it out, I don't actually see any particular bit confirming that. I think I might edit that part too, once I've taken care of the speech issue.


Oh yes! One of the things I appreciate about (and, frankly, that makes me sympathize with) Apple Bloom is how insecure she feels over her identity - it's part of what motivated her cutie mark crusading in the first place. Well, that and a strong sense of feeling socially inadequate and lonely at the time. Couple that with her boundless determination, and I think it would translate well to her sucking it up and ploughing on regardless.


I've always felt it was a crying shame the show never delved that deeply into those sides of her character. To be fair, I enjoy thoroughly the Fluttershy episodes we do get, but seeing the bigger picture, I'd have preferred fewer "face your fears" storylines (a trope I have problems with at the best of times, not least of which is because it can be trite) and more exploring her affinity with nature and animals. Of course, I'm interested in biology, so I would say that, wouldn't I? :twilightblush:

"Hermit crab-apple" just came to me while I was writing, and I wish I got inspiration like that more often. :rainbowlaugh:


"Relaxing", no wonder: for some reason, I really like writing scenes in which characters sit down in a home, chatting over tea or similar. I just love the homey comfort of that kind of quiet moment. If I ever write a massive Tolkienian fantasy epic one day, expect an inordinate amount of tea scenes in between the orc battles.


Eh, I don't really do shipping for foals. Not my field of interest. But I do like showing emotional intimacy and warm trust, which is the reliable sign of any good relationship.


Heh, glad I delivered! Apple Bloom's always been one of my favourite Apples for showing great loyalty and love to her family whilst also doing her own thing away from the farm. Mind you, each of the CMC is a fascinating break from the traditional mould, in a sense: Scootaloo's pegasus drive turned to a non-flying pursuit (and some deep fears and insecurities of her own), and Sweetie Belle's musical passion and love-hate relationship with her sister, whom she takes after without copying entirely.

In fact, I should thank you for turning my thoughts towards the CMC. I can't guarantee I'll have anything more for them soon: apart from all the other projects on my list, currently I'm taking a week off from writing stories so I can catch up on other things. Really delighted with how this turned out, though, and I'd like to write something for Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo too. (Sweetie Belle especially - I've only written one completed fic with her as a protagonist at all!).

Lastly, again a big thank you to everyone who's commented. This has been a joy to behold. Ta very much, folks! :ajsmug:

And done! Traditional speech markers restored for the first four scenes. That should do it.

EDIT: Also added this paragraph in the last scene to address resonance's point about seguing.

Apple Bloom hesitated. It had seemed like a good idea when she’d discussed it over drinks. After all, she vaguely felt she owed it to Fluttershy. Should give back to someone who’d given her so much. Besides, her cutie mark crusading instincts and childlike interest teamed up to make her curious. And Applejack always said it was a good thing to walk a mile in another pony’s horseshoes, even though Apple Bloom was actually flying and by this point was definitely more than a mile from the cottage.

Depend of what you define foal, as many take a cutie mark as a sign of them being grown up, and if we think the cake twins can understand things being a couple of months old, then ponies age different.

Not to say there are many loves, like puppy love or a crush, and even so, from what I think of your story this AB have a couple of years extra from the one in the show, so she should be a teenager or so... Sure, even if AB is around 15, Fluttershy is around 30, but those type of thing happen all the time around the world.

But of course, how else are we supposed to flaunt our civilized society to those savages?

I couldn't agree more. I did appreciate Fluttershy's role in "Tanks for the Memories", which was arguably the closest they were willing to approach those themes.

While I'm here, something else I liked about this story were the moments highlighting how odd Fluttershy appears from Apple Bloom's perspective. It might be easy to forget when she's almost universally adored by the fandom, but it's quite conceivable that Fluttershy's unusual talents and withdrawn nature likely would come across as strange to other ponies in-universe.


Mind you, each of the CMC is a fascinating break from the traditional mould

All of them are awesome and genius ponies. Seeing them for the first time after finding MLP: FiM in 2012 caused an immediate spark of love and a fire that burns even brighter and hotter today than it did then. :heart:

In fact, I should thank you for turning my thoughts towards the CMC.

You're welcome, but thank my Crusaders for this. Without their awesomeness and my resulting love for them, I would have never asked you about deep, insightful fics for them, so the three power fillies take all the credit here. :heart:

I can't guarantee I'll have anything more for them soon: apart from all the other projects on my list, currently I'm taking a week off from writing stories so I can catch up on other things.

That is fine. For now, I have this story and I feel I should read it again soon to extract even more from it. Until more comes, I'll be happy with what I got so far. :scootangel:

And here I thought the titular Lone Wolf would be Fluttershy. Yes, but also no!


How is Apple Bloom remembering all those chores? She doesn't seem to be writing them down or anything...


He’d eaten bird eggs, once, quite by accident – that was how the sad news befell Fluttershy, comforting a weeping mother blue jay

Nice touch with the mother jay!

How do you accidentally eat bird eggs, as a Timberwolf? Aren't nests usually high up?


Interesting how the other Crusaders aren't shown in this, and Apple Bloom's main pony interaction is with Fluttershy.

Especially since how the chores take her around town, and she can meet the other Elements, and Crusaders.



Well, "motherly" is a bit vague as well. Being more specific is better, like "caring", or "understandingly", etc... unless, you're doing things from Apple Bloom's POV, and she thinks on her interactions with Fluttershy.

like a hermit crab-apple looking for a dropped fruit to use as a shell.

This is amazing and I love it. Perfect addition to the Equestrian bestiary.

As for the larger story, great work throughout. Ponies can sink into a herd mentality even more easily than humans, especially somepony like Apple Bloom. She does have a tendency towards anxiety, after all. It's almost Twilight-esque; she has her role model, her image of the perfect pony to aspire towards... and she lives in constant dread of failing to measure up. This story did a great job of teaching her how to step out of that rut. It's even in her mark: She may literally be an Apple at heart, but there's more to her than just that.

And the stuff with Diamond Tiara was brilliant. There are consequences to getting written out of any further plots. It's going to wear on a filly.

Thank you for this.


Whoops! I've neglected to reply to this comment. Sorry about that, and for being so late.

That said, I can't think of much to add (though the timberwolf eating the eggs accidentally: knocked them out of the tree, maybe?). The other Crusaders not being prominent was due to a couple of things: trying to keep it simple, and trying to break away from obvious tradition a bit. I take it as a given they did stuff together off-screen, but it simply wasn't crucial to the story.

Thanks for reading, too, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. :twilightsmile:


Funny thing is, in hindsight the hermit crab-apple comes across to me more like an Avatar: The Last Airbender creature, since the usual M.O. there is to take two organisms (usually two animals) and smash them together to create a new animal (e.g. platypus bear, rabbaroo, hog monkey). Then again, MLP:FiM does have fruit bats and fly-ders.

Sadly, I haven't got much to add to your larger paragraph, except I've got a massive grin on my face after reading it and my mental stock cupboard has suddenly run out of happy "yes's". Though the parallel between Apple Bloom and Twilight you draw attention to... My word, that's insightful stuff! I didn't think of it like that before. Can I borrow it? I might capitalize on that in a future project someday.

Ha, Diamond Tiara is suffering from Neglected Focus Syndrome (I'd call it Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, but I think she does cameo here and there after "Crusaders of the Lost Mark"). It's especially disappointing for me because after someone decides to reform is where the real meat of a story lies - a lot of old habits to unlearn, for a start. Ah well, if canon does not provide, then DIY is the way to go.

Thank you in turn for commenting. I love getting feedback and insights like this. It's one of the pleasures of writing fanfic. :scootangel:

Feel free to borrow the Twilight-Apple Bloom parallels. People liking my ideas enough to make use of them themselves is one of the highest compliments I can get. :twilightsmile:

Excellent story! It was a very relaxing read, and it's about two of my favorite ponies, so of course took an interest in it. Apple Bloom's emotional conflicts felt real, like she has something she wants to prove, but doesn't know what that is yet. I liked how you gave Fluttershy an interest in a bonnet that Apple Bloom sees as immature and gaudy, but Fluttershy sees it in an entirely differently way. I think that contrast helps accentuate the overall theme of individuality. And of course, I saw parallels between Apple Bloom and Brown Fang, both of them trying to figure out their place in the world.


Ha ha, you have superb taste in favourite ponies! :yay:

I've often felt Apple Bloom was the socially insecure type who felt a strong need to prove herself, from "Bridle Gossip" and "Call of the Cutie" onwards, and it's something I find very relatable in her character. I've long wanted to write a fic exploring how that socially conscious side of her might be jolted into a journey of self-discovery, especially as she grows older.

Apple Bloom's parallels with Brown Fang, yes indeed: one of the principles I look to when writing a story is finding a way to create parallels between different elements in unexpected ways, either to make a point more strongly or to show it from another, more unusual angle. Make it resonate. You could also compare his odd outsider status with Fluttershy herself, in that respect: they're strange by the standards of their own communities, and it doesn't always endear them to it, but they can find mutual support in each other, at the end.

Exactly as you point out, the bonnet provided another opportunity to make the point about individuality. That's exactly what I try to do for stories like this. Even little details help.

It's been a pleasure to read your detailed comment. Thank you so much for letting me know how much you liked my story. Always an honour. :twilightsmile:

Another fic from a past review that I didn't come over here and favourite. I adored the character writing in this one -- immensely satisfying.

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