• Published 24th Dec 2012
  • 4,936 Views, 138 Comments

Where They Are Joined - Cloudy Skies

At long last, the wedding bells ring for Applejack and Fluttershy. Everypony does their utmost to try to make it the best wedding ever, but as the pair discovers, it quickly becomes a question of getting married despite, rather than because of this.

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Chapter 1

“This shouldn’t be too hard,” Glimmer Tail said. Surrounding the proffered papers with her magic, she idly leafed through them a second time while running the numbers in her head. “I’d put it at about one hundred and fifty-five bits for the pair. The detail on the second piece is tricky, though. Are you sure she can’t come in for study? I want to get it just right."

“The drawings are as accurate as can be. ‘Sides, it’s kind of a surprise.” The orange mare chuckled. “So no can do, partner.”

“Very well, I’m no stranger to that scenario, trust you me.” Glimmer smiled back at her. “We’ll save quite a few bits on the materials on that one at any rate. Rose quartz is cheap this year.”

“I said to spare no expense.” Her customer put on a rather unsettling frown. Glimmer held up a warding hoof.

“And I am not! There simply aren’t too many options for that particular shade of pink. For Celestia’s sake, girl, trust me to do my job,” Glimmer said, adjusting her glasses.

“Well, alright then. I ain’t going to waste time bargaining. I want this done proper. Hundred and fifty five bits it is,” the younger mare said. Glimmer nodded and waited as her customer struggled through the snow-dusted layers of clothing she wore, battling both her scarf and her cloak in her fight to withdraw a pouch from her saddlebags.

“There,” the blond-maned mare said when the bits were finally counted and the counter played host to a shiny mound of currency. “Before the end of the week, y’hear?”

“Two days at most. Business is slow in winter. Thank you for your patronage.” Glimmer Tail crooned as she swept the bits from the counter and into the cash drawer. It made such a delightful clatter she felt compelled to offer her customer a friendly wave and a smile as she made her exit from The Finest Cut.

There were a few words left unspoken, of course. She hadn’t commented on how curious her order had been, or how odd the timing was, despite her good taste. A high-quality set of earrings, the type of which were common in earth pony and pegasus marriages; one was a trio of butterflies in rose quartz and emerald, the other a cluster of three apples done in ruby and emerald. So she’d demanded, and so she’d get.

Glimmer Tail shrugged and trotted back to her workbench, levitating up half-shaped bits of emerald. Customer confidentiality was such a terrible, profitable burden at times. Then again, it wasn’t as if she had an unreasonable return policy.

Perfection was an odd sort of thing. While Applejack had never fancied herself much of a philosopher, the thought stuck with her as she waded through the belly-high snow. It wasn’t snowing for the moment—and bless the weather patrol’s feathers for the clear blue skies—but she was still stuck dragging her saddlebags more than she actually carried them. Her scarf was already frozen stiff, courtesy of the cold air of Ponyville’s outskirts.

No, perfection wasn’t something she’d often been forced to contemplate. It had nothing to do with work ethic; the pony to suggest any member of the Apple family ever did shoddy work or settled for ‘good enough’, they’d be laughed straight out of Ponyville. Instead, it was about being able to take pleasure in the little things. In being able to rest easy with something that was perfect enough.

Regardless, today was special. Today had to be perfect. The kind of perfect that truly was, and not for her own sake. With one single-legged buck, she needed to knock the apple tree clean.

Except the tree got to decide on whether or not the apples would fall. Something like that. Applejack swallowed and exhaled slowly, powering on through the snow rather than pursuing that line of thinking any further. Less philosophy, more walking.

“Are you okay?” a soft voice said from behind. Applejack glanced over her flank to where her marefriend was carefully picking her way after her, following in the furrow left in the earth mare’s wake. Fluttershy’s face was set in a worried frown, but when she saw her looking, she smiled back.

On the other hoof, sometimes perfection was simple and understandable, something constant and magical courtesy of a special somepony else. Sometimes, perfection was a smile from the one you loved.

“Just dandy, sugar.” Applejack shook her head. “Ain’t a thing that could’ve been better. You say this spot of yours is just ahead?”

“It’s just past the trees.” Fluttershy gestured to the snow-laden evergreens of the Whitetail Woods ahead. They could barely see the weather vane that topped Sweet Apple Acres far behind them. “It should be perfect for a little winter picnic. I can walk first for a little bit if it’s a bother wading through the snow and everything.”

Applejack gave a short bark of laughter. “Ain’t that, not at all. I was just thinking. If you don’t believe I think about things sometimes, you’ve been listening too much to R.D. Besides, ain’t like we’re in a rush. Not today.”

Fluttershy giggled at that. “Okay. Just let me know if you want me to carry your saddlebags instead, maybe?”

“You got your own. Which is mighty silly. I told you I could fit all we need for the picnic in mine. I can see from here you’ve barely got anything in those little things of yours.” Applejack cast Fluttershy’s slim saddlebags a frown.

“Oh. Um, well, I—I’d just like to help a little. It’s not fair that you should do everything,” Fluttershy said, a ghost of a stammer creeping into her voice. She re-furled her wings and cleared her throat.

Applejack couldn’t help but laugh. “Sug’, your cheeks are brighter’n those of a filly caught with her hoof in the cookie jar.”

"Sorry." Fluttershy sighed and hung her head until her snout skimmed the snow by her legs.

“But you still ain’t gonna tell me why,” Applejack said. As they spoke, the snow lessened, and gradually the sparse canopy of Whitetail Woods—such as it was in winter—covered their heads.

Fluttershy bit down on her scarf to pull it tighter around her neck, still not meeting her eyes. “I just told you.”

“I mean why you’ve been underhoof during this entire ordeal.” Applejack sighed, smiling still as she brushed the snow from her coat. Here, in the woods proper, the layer of snow was far more forgiving. Pure white powder a hoof’s breadth deep was marred only by the occasional animal tracks.

“I got this here pie I made, fresh with apples imported from down south where winter ain’t touched yet, and then you reveal you got a jar of honey saved up for this.” Applejack scratched her cheek as she tried to think of how many of these little episodes had preceded the big day of their winter weekend picnic. “That, and while I was off securing nice and warm blankets for us, along with a thermos that’d hold enough tea for two, you ran off to ask your little animal friends to find this ‘perfect’ spot.”

Fluttershy smiled. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’m going to say ‘sorry’ for that.”

“Sure, but I told you I didn’t mind arranging for everything this weekend, that’s all.”

“And I said the same.” Fluttershy rubbed a foreleg with the other, looking away whilst she protested.

Applejack shrugged, nudging her hat back on her head as she trotted a little closer to where Fluttershy stood her ground. “And when I ask you why you’re suddenly skittish and all, acting like we ain’t shared our lives for over a year now, you ain’t got an answer.”

“There’s no reason. I’m fine.” Fluttershy craned her neck and buried her muzzle in her scarf as she spoke, muffling her voice.

“And that there? That’s a lie. It’s a terrible lie, but you don’t lie to me ‘less you got a real good reason for it.” Applejack bit her cheek and gave her a wry grin. “So right now? I ain’t gonna ask no more.”She leaned forward to kiss the tip of Fluttershy’s snout. Fluttershy made no reply other than to touch their foreheads together.

“Is this the spot?” Applejack said, reluctantly pulling back.

“No, not exactly.” Fluttershy perked up as she spoke. She licked her lips and looked around, as if only just now seeing their surroundings, her ears twitching under her winter hat. After a moment’s contemplation, she spread her wings and took off low to the ground. “This way,” she called, and Applejack was all too happy to follow, kicking up snow as she trotted through the forest.

For what might’ve been a minute, an hour, forever or a second, she followed the merrily dancing snip of pink tail that led her through the wintry woods. Every so often, Fluttershy would confer in hushed tones with a bird or a rabbit before darting off again, knowing Applejack could easily keep pace. Finally, Fluttershy came to a halt, at rest between two trees waiting for Applejack.

It was amazing how well she fit in here. Even at winter and laden with clothes and saddlebags all, Fluttershy looked twice as alive where she belonged. It was part of the reason Applejack had suggested this little picnic. For all that she was beautiful snuggled up by the fireplace in Applejack’s hooves, the way Fluttershy brightened as she got to show Applejack one of her little secrets was beyond compare.

“Here it is,” Fluttershy said. Behind the yellow mare, Applejack swore she could spot green grass, but a wall of pine trees obscured her sight. Only when Applejack drew near did Fluttershy step aside to reveal the hidden grove.

Here, winter was held at bay. In the center of the ring of trees and bushes, a small pond bubbled and smoked, and around it, grass green as summer grew. Applejack stared slack-jawed at the defiant little grove that refused the seasons. In a few hoofsteps, she could step from winter to warmth. A small cough from her side drew her back from her thoughts.

“Um, do you like it?” Fluttershy bit her bottom lip. Applejack settled for a grin as she leaned against her.

“I’m gonna drop all them fancy words and just go with ‘yes’, sugar.” Applejack nuzzled into Fluttershy’s mane.

Fluttershy’s wings half spread, the pegasus leaning back into her attentions. “I’m glad.”

“It’s just about the best picnic spot I ever saw, but I say we get to using it before the pie gets too cold to eat. I’m right powerful hungry now. Don’t suppose you have anything edible in those bags of yours?”

“Not really, sorry,” Fluttershy said, joining Applejack inside the grove proper. Applejack slipped out from her own saddlebags, refusing to let that little confusing nugget bother her. If Fluttershy hadn’t explained herself by bedtime, perhaps she’d ask again. As it was, she had plenty enough on her own mind. It wasn’t as if one could do a terrible job of spreading out the picnic blanket, but suddenly she had four left hooves, and she was sure she’d muck something up.

The very second she’d fished the cloth out from her saddlebags, another muzzle joined hers, grabbing on to the opposite corner. Fluttershy smiled around the heavy blanket, and Applejack smiled back, feeling a rush of affection and anticipation both. Some ponies spent their entire lives chasing fame or fortune. Just then, Applejack caught herself thinking that she’d be more than happy if only she could keep what she had.

A minute later, the two mares sat side by side in the winterless patch, Fluttershy nursing a cup of tea while Applejack chewed her pie noisily and without shame. At least, it started out that way, but Applejack’s chewing slowed down and came to a full stop when she noticed a wild hare sat at the edge of their picnic blanket making big eyes at them. Applejack swallowed audibly and stared back.

“I told them to give us some space today, but he’s really hungry,” Fluttershy said, glancing back and forth between the little critter and the pie platter.

“If you’re lookin’ to feed every varmint in the forest, it’s coming from your share of the pie.” Applejack rolled her eyes. Fluttershy opened her mouth to reply, but Applejack beat her to it, taking one more bite before shoving the remains of her own slice towards the white-coated little thing.

“That was a joke," Applejack said. "But I’m having another slice.”

She couldn't keep up the surly act when she saw the smile Fluttershy gave her at that. The look that her mare gave her. Applejack took a deep breath to try to dispel some of the warmth that crept up on her, a pleasant fuzziness that had nothing to do with the nearby hot spring.

“Perfect,” Fluttershy whispered, her eyes trained on something far off.

“What’s that, sugar?”

“Oh, nothing,” Fluttershy hastened to say, shaking her head. “I’m just very happy. Goodness, that sounds so silly when I say it out loud.”

Applejack let out her breath through her nose and leaned back, inching over so she could rest against Fluttershy’s tummy. The pegasus did not protest in the least, putting her cup down and sitting up to support her. The long tresses of Fluttershy’s mane soon framed Applejack’s world in a pleasant pink.

“D’you know I used to dislike winter? I ever tell you that?” Applejack rolled her jaw, watching the content hare chow down on the last of the pie before bouncing off with its belly big and round.

“Oh? But it’s ever so cozy,” Fluttershy said. “And then there’s Hearth’s Warming Eve, too!”

“Sure, but think of the farm. Nothing to sow, no clearing or harvesting to be done; there’s just about nothing to do. Used to be I was bored out of my skull when winter rolled around. Heck, sometimes it was downright miserable.”

“You seemed fine last winter. Oh dear, did I miss something? Did I not pay attention? I’m—”

“No, no, heavens!” Applejack laughed, arching her head to nuzzle Fluttershy. “That’s just the thing, ain’t it. I may be a hard-head, but somepony’s taken the time to teach me there’s a silver lining to it. I get to spend more time with you.”

Fluttershy’s cheeks reddened, the pegasus’ wings fluttering. Her voice was barely a whisper. “That’s very nice of you to say.”

“You ain’t supposed to thank me. It ain’t a compliment, it’s just how it is. I love you, you silly, silly pony.”

That brought a wide smile back to Fluttershy’s face. Words that never failed to make her reply, three words that were always spoken without fear.

“I love you, too.”

It didn’t get much better than this. Applejack had never been a pony of hesitation or reluctance, but still cold sweat threatened when she realized there was no reason or excuse left to put it off any longer. A comfortable silence settled over the two ponies, and Applejack slowly disentangled herself from her marefriend, reaching over to her saddlebags to retrieve a little box.


“Um, I was—”

The two mares paused, looking into one another’s eyes. Fluttershy’s jaw hung half-open, and Applejack froze.

“Sorry, you first,” Fluttershy said, folding her wings. Applejack shook her head, letting go of the little black box inside her saddlebags and turned to face her. It was clear something was on Fluttershy’s mind. While Applejack was about to ask the most important question of her entire life, you couldn’t very well raise a barn unless the ground was solid.

That, or she was secretly glad for a distraction—and twice as surprised when Fluttershy didn’t insist even once. Instead, the love of her life simply nodded in thanks and drew breath.

“I really do love you, you know. Um, oh, goodness, I don’t mean I think you don’t believe me, but, um.” Fluttershy let out a shuddering sigh, her lips trembling as she composed herself. “I’m making a mess of this, I—I’m really sorry, I really am.”

“It’s okay, hon. I know.” Applejack said, simple words that she had spoken so many times to assuage and soothe. Words that Fluttershy now shrugged off, shaking her head.

“No! I mean, yes, but this is important!” A spark of fire crept into Fluttershy's voice as she forced herself to look up again and meet her eyes. The hesitation in the pegasus mare died in an instant, blue-green eyes unwavering and unblinking as they pinned Applejack where she sat.

“Last fall, you spoke about marriage. You said that you would ask me to marry you someday.”

“I meant it,” Applejack whispered before she could even think, unsure of whether or not Fluttershy heard.

“You said you would ask, or that maybe I’d ask you first, and that it would be okay.” With each word, the courage Fluttershy had mustered seemed to evaporate like morning dew before the sun. Applejack had no idea when she herself had stopped breathing; time seemed to bend and warp, slowing down to accentuate every single syllable of her marefriend’s speech. Every single word from the pony who had never before quite looked so beautiful as then.

Tears budded in Fluttershy’s eyes as she forced a final few words out, one of her trembling wings reaching behind her back to hold up a little black box she’d hid in her saddlebags. Inside rested two sets of exquisite earrings, each the likeness of their cutie marks done in gold and gems made twice as resplendent by the words that came with them.

“Applejack? Would you please marry me? If—if you don’t want to—”

“I remember exactly what I said, and I meant it. I meant every darn single word.” Applejack reached up to knock the hat off her head, if only to distract herself from the way her voice trembled. “And I got a right powerful desire to hug and kiss you right now, so if’n you’ll excuse me.”

Applejack leaned forwards, vaguely aware she knocked Fluttershy’s cup over. Hot tea spilled over one of her hindlegs, but she hardly noticed. The earth mare touched her muzzle to Fluttershy’s neck and nuzzled into it, planting a trail of little kisses until at long last she pecked her on the snout, smiling widely.

Fluttershy remained entirely wooden, barely breathing. When Applejack finally managed to calm down enough to look into her eyes, Fluttershy was taking short, shallow breaths, as if she scarcely dared exist at all.

Applejack sighed and locked her forelegs around her neck. “Sugar? That’s a ‘yes’. A ‘yes’, a ‘you bet I do’, and a ‘I’d like nothing more in the whole wide world of Equestria, thank you very much’.”

Fluttershy’s face lit up in a big and bright smile, the pegasus returning the hug in earnest with forelegs and wings all wrapping around Applejack, and for a moment, there was absolutely nothing more to say. The two ponies sank down to lie in each others’ embrace, and Applejack didn’t care that she lay draped half across the pie she’d been meaning to eat. She held Fluttershy tight and tried to calm down, tried to still her heart and calm her breathing—and she loved how she completely failed. Every time she drew breath, she won the rodeo. Every time she exhaled, she wrapped up another year’s applebuck season.

“Um, Applejack?”

Fluttershy’s soft voice barely reached Applejack’s ears. The earth mare reluctantly shifted, coming to rest atop Fluttershy with her head on Fluttershy’s chest and her muzzle resting along her neck.

“That’s my name, sugar.”

“What was it you wanted to say?”

“It weren’t nothing. Don’t worry about it. It doesn’t matter. Just give me a moment here.”

“Oh. Okay,” Fluttershy said, the quiet settling back in place. After a moment’s pause, Applejack felt familiar and gentle hooves running through her mane. A proposal and a grooming both? The farmpony sighed and rubbed her cheek against Fluttershy’s chest.

“I just hope I didn’t interrupt something. I didn’t mean to. Sorry.”

Applejack chuckled, a low sound that shook both their bodies ever so slightly. “Heavens to betsy, sugar, can’t we just rest for a bit? You just made me the happiest mare in Equestria.”

“Sorry,” Fluttershy said, her breath hot on the back of Applejack’s head as she leaned forwards to kiss. “I was so nervous.”

“Told you. I meant it. Ain’t no doubt in my mind.” Applejack shifted a bit to lay on her belly resting atop her mare. Her smile simply wouldn’t go away. “And you did a right beautiful job of it all.”

Fluttershy made no immediate reply to that, the faintest of blushes adorning her cheeks as she kept running her hooves through Applejack’s mane. As an afterthought, she reached over to slip the hair band off the blonde tresses, letting Applejack’s mane flow free.

“It’s just that it looks a little bit like a tiny black box poking out from your saddlebags, that’s all.” The corners of Fluttershy's mouth turned up in a small smile.

Applejack sighed, but a nervous laugh bubbled to the fore despite her best efforts. She reached up to touch Fluttershy’s muzzle. “Maybe it is, but you’re the one who asked. I’m awful proud of you, and I think I like it better this way.”

When Fluttershy said nothing, the pegasus half hidden behind her own mane, Applejack felt a tendril of doubt brush her heart by. She couldn’t see Fluttershy’s expression, and wondered for a second if she’d said something wrong.

“Uh, ‘least I like the idea of that, but it’s up to you. I don’t know if that’s all demeaning and what-not. We can always—”

Fluttershy leaned down to lock their muzzles in a brief kiss. When they parted, Applejack lay still and breathless looking up at a Fluttershy whose eyes were glistening with wet, yet undeniably smiling still.

“I reckon it’s fine, then.”