• Published 3rd Sep 2021
  • 374 Views, 52 Comments

Kindness and the Fate of Shadow - Raven-Flight



An old threat is back, leading Fluttershy and Discord to confront their plans for the future. They've each been keeping secrets...

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Domestic Bliss

“Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon.” Fluttershy’s smile widened just a twinkle when the illustrated cow sailed over the illustrated moon and disappeared again behind the illustrated picture frame.

“Moon!” declared a squeaking voice, pointing with a little black hoof.

“That’s right, Fio. That’s the moon.” A dusky plum hoof pointed elsewhere on the page, where the flame inside the illustrated lantern had just begun to flicker. “Yes, Corey. Goodnight light...” Fluttershy kept reading. The kittens swatted at each other when it was their turn to be bid goodnight, and when the little old granny turned to look outside her page, lifted a hoof to her lips, and actually whispered “hush” on cue, the foals tucked under Fluttershy’s arms each grew very still.

“Goodnight stars, goodnight air...” Fluttershy paused to giggle.

“Goodnight noises everywhere,” finished a new voice. The illustrated creature lying in the bed with a comically-oversized nightcap was no longer the fluffy little bunny of the previous pages. After he spoke the last line, he sat up into three dimensions.

The twins’ drooping eyes brightened at once and they exclaimed in unison: “Daddy!”

Chuckling heartily at their enthusiasm, Discord flew out of the book and grew back to his accustomed dimensions to stand before his family. Fio and Corey raced to wriggle away from Fluttershy and launch themselves at their daddy. Discord caught them both mid-flight and squeezed them into a hug. “And how are my favorite little bringers-of-chaos this evening? Daddy missed you!”

The garnet-coated foal, Fio, replied simply and eloquently with a delighted squeal. Meanwhile, his frosty-pale lavender brother Corey did not deign to answer the question, pointing instead at the disheveled pile of papers on the coffeetable and commanding “Daddy! Look!”

“Well then, what do we have here?” All in one swift motion, Discord transferred the foals to the grip of his tails—he suddenly grew an extra so each foal could have its own tail—and bent forward to examine the papers. His tails curled up until the twins were both dangling above his head and giggling with abandon. “Why, this is art indeed!” Discord picked up the top page and held it before his and his sons’ faces. “That angelic lump of yellow must of course be Mommy. And this majestic mop of aubergine holding her hoof must be you, Corey!” Corey’s giggles redoubled in affirmation. “Very good, very good. I see a steaming pile of gray goo, and it’s smiling most hideously. Is that meant to be me, oh son of mine?” Discord’s tail jiggled Corey up and down and the colt nodded. “I approve. But Corey—what is that angry scar of red dancing around off to the side, there?”

Corey could hardly speak through his laughter, but he managed to sputter “Fio!”

The named brother immediately burst “No, no! Daddy, see mine!”

Discord set down Corey’s drawing and tossed both foals in the air, where they levitated. Then he unceremoniously crashed down onto the sofa, swung an arm around Fluttershy’s shoulders, and set the foals down in each of their laps. When all was settled, he picked up the next drawing, and Fio didn’t wait for Discord to figure out what he was looking at.

“A bear! He’s gonna get the chicken! See, see? The moon—the chicken didn’t see him!”

“My, what a clever bear to be hunting at night,” observed Discord.

Fluttershy wasn’t so satisfied with the scene. “Fio, dear, the bear doesn’t have to sneak around at night to hunt chickens. Bears eat lots of other things like berries, and roots, and mushrooms. Why not draw a bear finding a nice berry bush instead?”

“’Cuz the bear is me! I like chicken!” Fluttershy had to catch herself from flinching when her son’s enthused declaration exposed his nascent fangs to glint in the lamplight.

Fortunately for her, Discord cut in, lifting the foal upside down and chuckling dismissively. “Oh ho ho, well, I agree chickens are very nice to look at! They’re even very nice to chase around every once in a while, as long as you’re not too mean about it, but any son of mine knows that little Fiorellos are ponies, and chickens are not pony food!”

I know, Daddy,” offered Corey.

Discord nodded. “And you, little scallywag?” He dangled Fio right in front of his face and wiggled his eyebrows up and down.

Fio couldn’t contain himself and started laughing.

“Eh, good enough,” conceded Discord. Then he stood up, shifting his grip on Fio to cradle him more securely in the crook of an arm. “Alrighty then, my gremlins! Time for bed!” Discord began marching upstairs despite the squeaky protests bubbling from the charge in his arms.

The more composed Corey made no such protestations but instead looked to his mother and raised his arms in an “up!” gesture. Fluttershy used a wing to shift her son onto her back as she climbed off the sofa. It had taken until just a year ago for her wings to finally feather out again, and she suspected Corey asked to ride on her back all the time now because he was especially fond of the softness of her remiges. Previously, her wings had been bare and webbed like a bat’s as she continued to recover from the ordeal with the biological father of her children. With the exception of an uncomfortable moon when she couldn’t fly at all due to the changes in her wings, the five years since her precious foals had been born had been a time of contentment such as Fluttershy had hardly dared to hope for.

And one of the biggest reasons for that persisting contentment despite the chaos of caring for two young foals was now standing beside her, tucking their sons to bed and giving each of them a kiss. When the light had been turned off and Mommy and Daddy had left the room, Fluttershy turned to Discord and lowered her voice to just above a whisper. “Are you going to kiss me goodnight too?”

Discord smirked and matched her tone. “Well, you’ve got to be in bed for me to do that!”

Fluttershy’s adoring stare turned impish. No sooner had she whispered “Race you!” than she sprang into flight and dove down the hallway toward their bedroom door. The distance seemed to stretch out before her, and as she realized Discord must have altered the spatial plane, he pulled up beside her and with a grin, inched into the lead. The door ahead swung open of its own accord and Fluttershy flapped faster until she managed to sail into the room just ahead of Discord. She immediately arced downward, intending to crash on the bed.

But Discord was already there, lying on his back with his arms stretched wide to receive her. The crash landing was softer than Fluttershy had prepared for, and she opened her eyes to find that she was mere inches from Discord’s face. Not waiting even a moment for her panting to subside, Fluttershy eagerly closed the distance.

After a few minutes, the pair settled down to catch their breath, with Fluttershy still lying stretched across Discord’s stomach and now resting her head in the fluffy fur of his chest. At length, she broke the quiet. “Well, dear, how was the show today?”

“Oh,” muttered Discord, absently drawing his fingers through Fluttershy’s mane. “There were some dignitaries in the audience today, so Spitfire didn’t want any surprises. She specifically instructed Dash and I not to improvise, so we didn’t.”

“Reeallllly?”

“Okay, I may have thrown in an extra lightning bolt or two, and there’s a slight chance one of them may have singed just the tip of that Soarin’ creep’s tail...”

Fluttershy lifted her head to meet Discord’s eyes with a look of mock disdain. “Discord! How could you allow yourself to be so reckless?”

“Oh it wasn’t reckless, I assure you. It was entirely premeditated! Have you seen the way he checks out Dashie when he thinks nopony’s looking? Why, I don’t trust him as far as he could throw me! Anyway, enough about my stifled creativity. How were the foals while I was out?”

“No more or less chaotic than usual. Corey wandered off during our nature walk while I was trying to stop Fio from eating a dragonfly. I just don’t understand why that colt chose carnivory of all things to obsess over! Then when I couldn’t find Corey, Fio levitated himself to get an aerial view.”

Discord paused from stroking Fluttershy’s mane. “He levitated himself?”

Fluttershy huffed. “Yes. Oh, I was so worried! I flew right up and caught him out of the air, but of course he thought that was hilarious, and no amount of scolding could convince him to feel sorry.”

“It might be time to take them back to Twilight for another magic lesson. Where did you find Corey?”

“In a mole tunnel! Thank the elements Fio pointed out the trail of dissected flowers he left. Fio levitating, Corey shrinking himself—what’s a poor pegasus to do?” Fluttershy shook her head and dropped her muzzle back into Discord’s comforting fluff.

It was all Discord could do to stifle his laughter so as not to wake the sleeping delinquents down the hall. Once he had gotten control of himself, he resumed his stroking. “You know, I thought I would miss the terrible twos when the twins got older, but they’re still delightfully troublesome, and each year gets better and better! Would you like a break? I can take a turn staying home with the foals tomorrow if you want to get out of the house.”

“What, and miss all the fun? Not a chance.” Fluttershy smiled warmly at her mate, and he smiled back.

Then he froze, and Discord’s warm smile chilled like an expression carved into stone.

“Discord?”

His response was to wordlessly summon a mirror and lift up his hand to better display the pink hairs draped over his fingers.

Fluttershy squinted at her reflection, but couldn’t see anything remarkable. “I don’t understand.”

“It’s this one.” Discord levitated a single hair up and let the rest fall.

“Oh.” Now she could see it. “That’s really nothing to be concerned about, Discord.”

He held the hair between his fingers and would not lift his gaze from it. “Yes it is. I’ve lived in pony society long enough to know that one silver hair will become many, and not long after that...” There was suddenly a disembodied sound of a bell clanging out a solemn and desolate peal. It made Discord flinch, dropping the offending hair, and he looked at his hands as if surprised to have conjured the sound.

Now Fluttershy grew worried. She moved off Discord to sit beside him and kept her eyes on his. “While that may be how things go, it’s not nearly as quick of a process as you make it sound.”

“Maybe to you it’s not!” He slithered up to levitate as he fretted. “Even if it takes another hundred years, what is a mere century in the context of the countless millennia I’ve seen? Why, the blink of an eye! The beat of a heart! The belch of a bee!” A carton of dill pickle ice cream appeared in front of Discord, and he fell upon it and began devouring as if his formerly-immortal life depended on it.

Fluttershy flew up beside him and laid a hoof on the arm holding the spoon until it stopped moving and Discord looked at her again. Slowly, gently, she took the spoon. It and the carton of ice cream instantly dissolved into bubbles.

Then Discord grabbed her and held her before him. “I don’t want to lose you! And, almost as much, I don’t want to lose myself. I’m scared, Fluttershy! I don’t want to die. I don’t want you to die.”

Insisting on the distance of that inevitable event obviously wasn’t going to help. Fluttershy regarded the intensity in Discord’s expression for a moment, then slowly called forth a reply. “Discord… It’s been a year or so since your last research excursion. I promise I can handle the foals if you want to spend a few days looking into immortality magic again.”

Discord’s intensity broke. He closed his eyes and lowered himself and Fluttershy back onto the bed. “I do want to. But I don’t want to leave you either, not when I have such precious little time with you! And Fio and Corey! I don’t know, I… I’ll be fine.”

“Jellyfish.”

“Wha…?”

“Jellyfish. And lobsters.”

“Fluttershy, you know I love spontaneity, but—”

“You told me about all your immortality research on magical beings. But have you ever looked into the non-magical ones? There are a few creatures like jellyfish and lobsters that have a kind of natural immortality. You might learn something from them. Are you sure it wouldn’t make you feel better just to go chase one tiny little lead?”

Discord hugged Fluttershy. “This is one of a million ger-billion reasons I love you. Alright, I’ll go look into sea creatures tonight, and I’ll be back tomorrow morning in time for breakfast and a whole day of domestic bliss with you and our little mongrels. Sound good?”

Fluttershy reached up and gave him a quick kiss. “See you in the morning, my love.”

Discord kissed her in return and bid his adieu. After he disappeared, Fluttershy tossed and turned and fell into fitful, lonely slumber.