• Published 24th Dec 2012
  • 4,932 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 2

It was always a delight to head out from her cottage knowing all the chores and daily tasks were done. Few things put a smile on Fluttershy’s face as surely as greeting a winter morning’s clear air fresh-faced and bushy-tailed.

“You snug and comfy? Sure you don’t want a cloak or something? I think you left your blue winter cloak here somewhere.” Applejack tossed her head in the direction of the farmhouse they’d just departed. “Mighty cold today.”

One thing was better than stepping out of her cottage ready to face the day, and that was facing it together with Applejack, leaving either of their homes after a good meal.

“I’m fine, thank you.” Fluttershy adjusted her light blue scarf and hat. Rarity insisted they matched Applejack’s red garments, and she’d made the outfits for the anniversary of Applejack and Fluttershy getting together. That alone made them the warmest and most precious clothes she owned.

“Right then. That should be about it.” Despite her words, Applejack made no move. Instead, she tapped a hoof to her chin. “I fixed the roof so the barrels stored behind the barn won’t get wet and rot, and I checked the apple cellar to make sure no varmints’ve gotten in.”

“Twice,” Fluttershy said, stifling a giggle. “You know I could have told you if any of my friends snuck in anyways.”

“And you checked the outside of Granny Smith’s window where she was complaining about the leak and all?”

“That, and the dishes after lunch are all done.”

Applejack gave a small sigh and nuzzled Fluttershy’s cheek. “Guess we’ve really got the rest of the day off then.”

“If you want to wait with this, that’s okay,” Fluttershy said, lowering her gaze. Before them, the farmyard clearing became the road that led to Ponyville. It was a short walk all things considered, but Applejack’s procrastination hadn’t gone unnoticed. They could easily have been done by breakfast, and Applejack knew it too. Fluttershy’s mare-to-be rolled her jaw, lost in thought.

Mare to be. She could think that if she was very quiet about it, couldn’t she? They were engaged, but to think that Applejack was hers? Fluttershy bit her lower lip and leaned against Applejack so their coats brushed together.

“That ain’t it. I just don’t want you thinking I’m nervous. Or that there’s any doubt in my mind,” Applejack finally said, those unwavering pools of green locked with hers, an intense look that would have been a glare if not for the smile. “No, that ain’t it at all. It’s more—huh.”

Fluttershy’s steps slowed to match Applejack’s as the farmpony’s face scrunched up in consternation.

“Did you tell anypony yet?”

“That’s what we’re doing now, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but I mean before. No talk at all? I kept it on the low down on account of figuring Apple Bloom would burst inside of a minute if she tried to keep a secret, but I figure you’d have told somepony.” Applejack poked the inside of her cheek with her tongue. “Ain’t like I mind.”

“Oh I’m very excited to tell them, of course, but um, well.” Fluttershy’s voice petered out as she lay her ears flat. “I would have told them, but I was afraid they’d be perhaps a little bit too happy, so I only really told one pony.”

“I’m excited too, you know that, right? I ain’t spouting hot air when I say I love you and that I want you.” The words led to silence and a meaningful look as sincere as the mare who had spoken them. Fluttershy sighed and again angled herself to lean against Applejack as they walked.

“I don’t understand why you worry so much. Of course I believe you,” Fluttershy said. Applejack gave a short nod at that, licking her lips and twitching her ears in that tell-tale manner she always did when she was thinking. Best to let her think if she wasn’t sure on how to say whatever it was she wanted to say. Fluttershy beamed and continued.

“I hope Rarity isn’t angry with me for not telling her sooner. I really wanted to. It was ever so hard to keep from letting her know every time we met at the spa. I've been sitting on the earrings for a little while now. Trying to, well, I guess I was waiting for the perfect moment, just like you.”

“About that. We still gotta see if we can get a refund on the ones we ain’t using. Those bits could get us a head start on fixing the chicken coop. But I’m keeping the earring you gave me, I’ll say that for sure.” Applejack’s smile widened as they trotted on. Ponyville was coming into view, the snow-laden trees to their sides giving way to a town that seemed tranquil, almost asleep were it not for the foals playing in the snow.

“I think I’d like to keep the one you had made for me, too. Maybe the jeweler won’t mind that we don’t give her back the same set,” Fluttershy said, blushing ever so faintly. Still, if Applejack admitted to a romantic little gesture like that, there was no harm in indulging herself as well.

“I’m sure it’ll work out just fine, sugar. Who’s the one pony you told, anyhow?”

Fluttershy opened her mouth, but she never got so far as to reply. She cocked an ear, suddenly aware of a faint whistle which grew by the second, soon accompanied by a cackling laugh.

“Get down!” yelled Applejack, throwing herself towards Fluttershy. The pegasus yelped, and the pair went down in a tangle of limbs and clothes before everything exploded into a soft, white and cold cascade of snow.

Fluttershy and Applejack both popped their heads out from the roadside snowdrift, coming face to face with a riot of colors amidst the otherwise near constant white.

“Hey guys!” Dash said, shaking her entire body and flexing her wings. “I love winter!”

“By way of nothing, I’m gonna go out on a limb here’n suggest the answer to my question is ‘Rainbow Dash’,” Applejack said, shaking her head to dislodge an ample helping of winter-stuff. The earth mare extended a hoof to help Fluttershy up.

“Um, yes.” Fluttershy stifled a giggle and jammed a hoof in her ear to clean out the snow.

“Uh, me what?” Dash tilted her head. “The answer to what? To who’s the most awesome pony ever?”

“You bein’ a menace, for one thing,” Applejack said, spinning on her hindlegs to kick a pile of snow Rainbow Dash’s way. Dash yelped and ducked, still receiving a good helping of powdery white in her face. Applejack grinned as she got her revenge.

“No seriously, what? What’re you guys doing? What about me?" Dash did not relent, barely pausing to wipe the snow from her face.

“Oh hoh, now she’s curious.” Applejack laughed, her grin widening further still. “Well, if you think I’m gonna tell you now—”

“I did it! I asked her!” Fluttershy squeaked more than said, unable to contain herself any longer. The second the words were out of her mouth, she clapped her hooves to her muzzle.

“Way to ruin the sport,” Applejack said, throwing a foreleg around her withers. “But yeah, that’s about it.”

Rainbow Dash’s face split in a grin, the pegasus bolting over to punch Fluttershy on the shoulder, at which the other mare winced.

“Awesome! See, I knew you could do it, even if it took you forever!” Dash laughed, beaming so brightly it brought a blush to Fluttershy’s face. It was short-lived, though. Dash’s mirth disappeared not half a second later when she fixed Applejack with a stern frown.

“You said ‘yes’, right?”

“Of course I said yes, you complete and utter—” Applejack groaned, the rest of her words lost as Dash whooped, pulling into a standing loop that blew snow every which way. Fluttershy giggled and shook her head at the spectacle.

“Best. Thing. Ever! Okay, okay, does this mean I get to tell Pinkie now?" Dash said.

Fluttershy bit her lip. “Um, well, we were going to let ponies know today, so maybe not?”

“Aw come on, what’s the big deal? I’ve been keeping quiet for weeks, and Pinkie’s starting to creep me out! She knows I’m hiding something, but she doesn’t know what.” Dash stuck her tongue out. “Seriously, I tried to throw her off by baking her a cake and pretending that was the surprise, but I don’t think it worked.”

“You baking a cake? That’s surprising to me it is.” Applejack snickered before schooling her features. “Naw, that’s great.”

Dash opened her mouth, looking like she might protest, but she deflated right after, her head low. “Yeah, well, it was gonna be a cake. I don’t really know what to call the thing I ended up with. But hey, she ate it anyway!”

“I’m sure it wasn’t that bad,” Fluttershy said, though she took care not to meet Rainbow Dash’s eyes. It was a transparent little lie; she’d seen first-hoof Dash’s attempts at cooking unguided and unaided. Before she and Pinkie got together, the best the brash flier could manage was something best described as an assault on a kitchen.

“She said it wasn’t nearly as bad as the baked bads,” Rainbow Dash said in a voice that suggested possible agreement.

Applejack cleared her throat. “Yeah, well, either way, it kind of is a big deal, this whole telling people we’re getting married thing.”

“Oh. Yes, that, too. Um, if you don’t mind.” Fluttershy pawed at the snow.

“Frankly, even if you do mind.” Applejack said. “You ain’t telling Pinkie. C’mon R.D., give us this.”

“Aw fine, whatever.” Dash held up a hoof. “I’m busy anyway. I gotta head over to Rarity’s and get some new oven mitts.”

Applejack was quiet for a moment before replying. “I ain’t asking why, this time. I remember last time, and this is me not asking.”

“Pinkie Pie baked them into a pie,” Dash said, her mouth worked into a thin line.

“Couldn’t you just—” Fluttershy began.

“And then ate them.”

The silence held for a few seconds while Rainbow Dash scratched the back of her head.

“Right. So, I’m gonna go see if Rarity feels like making a pair of very gross oven mitts. Or two. Or ten. This is awesome, I’ll catch you later to get the full scoop!” Dash whooped and took off, the powerful flier’s wings carrying her away before much more could be said on the issue.

“I couldn’t not tell her,” Fluttershy said, setting the pair walking again. In their short pause, it had started snowing again, great big flakes drifting down from on high.

“On account of you being old friends and such, that makes a bunch of sense. Guess that unlike some, she can keep a secret, too. Rare skill in this here town, I’m thinking.” Applejack chuckled.

“Mhm. Last week during her flight practice, she wanted to try for a low-flying sonic rainboom to celebrate the wedding day, but I managed to talk her out of it.” Fluttershy giggled at the memory. “She said it would look really neat, or, well, um, awesome, because it would send the snow scattering for miles.”

Applejack grinned. “I was gonna say that sounds mighty dangerous, but it’s not like that’s gonna stop that R.D. You think we should hold the wedding in winter and all?”

“Oh goodness, that’s right, we really need to start thinking about setting a date, don’t we?” Fluttershy said. Finally they crossed the bridge that spanned the frozen brook. Sugarcube Corner rested straight ahead with its twin signs; three balloons and a rainbow lightning cloud, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash’s cutie marks on display above the store.

“You in a rush now, sugar?” Applejack reached for the door.

“Oh, no. Or, I mean, yes.” Fluttershy shook her head, trying to find words that made sense. “Kind of? You know what I—” she said, only to realize Applejack had already slipped inside and turned around again, the farmpony’s head poking out from the door.

“Sugar? I’m just poking fun at you.”

“That’s not very nice at all.” Fluttershy lay her ears flat and pouted. She scarcely had the time to sit down in protest before Applejack trotted back out and planted a kiss on the tip of her muzzle.

“Sorry about that. Of course you’re right. We’ll talk about it tonight if that’s okay with you? Besides, you can’t blame me too much. I’m in a good mood all because of you. Now let’s go give Pinkie Pie the good news!”

Fluttershy nodded, nuzzled Applejack, and squared her shoulders before following her inside. The interior of the shop hadn’t changed much after the Cakes sold the Corner to Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash, and the shelves all around were lined with fresh-baked goods of all kinds. The weather probably explained the lack of customers, but the faint smells of butter dough and blueberries wafted in from the kitchen, betraying the pink proprietress’ presence. As if that wasn’t enough, Pinkie Pie’s voice drifted through the doors that separated the shop from the kitchen proper, raised in song.

grab some cinnamon and let it fly, vanilla too? Come on let’s try

“Pinkie Pie!” Applejack's call brought the high-pitched voice to a halt. Mere seconds later, Pinkie’s flour-covered head poked out. The earth mare beamed with unbridled delight.

“Ooh! Customers! Friends! Friendsomers! Hi, you two! What can I do you for? Oh, that’s fancy-talk for ‘are you hungry and do you want something to eat’, by the way.”

“We’re not really here to eat,” Applejack said, glancing over at Fluttershy. “D’you wanna tell her?”

It seemed that the earth mare shared a little of her trepidation and excitement, and for a moment, neither of them spoke. The loudest thing in the room was the swarm of butterflies in Fluttershy’s stomach.

“Oh? What’re we talking about? You’re not wearing helmets, so you’re not here to play extreme indoors hoofball.” Pinkie frowned and bounced over the counter, shaking the worst of the flour from her mane.

“Um, we’re just here to say.” Fluttershy paused to bite her lower lip. She ground the floor with a hoof.

“Oh now I definitely ain’t saying it, it’s all on you.” Applejack smirked, shifting to lean against her. Suddenly, it was all Fluttershy could do to hold back a bubbling laugh and a grin. Pinkie blinked and leaned closer, her neck stretching impossibly.

“We’re getting married!” Fluttershy blurted.

Pinkie Pie just stared, her head slowly tilting degree by degree, and her eyes adopting a faint squint. “You’re a gecko’s merit? That doesn’t make any sense at all! For a second I thought you said you were getting... married.”

The intervening time and space may as well not have bothered with trying to keep Pinkie from sweeping her two friends up in a crushing hug. One moment, Fluttershy was confused at Pinkie’s words. The next, her face was buried in the pink fluff of her friend’s mane.

You’regettingmarried! That’s amazing! That’s fantastic! That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard!” Pinkie all but screamed, letting go and bouncing around in tight little circles. Fluttershy collapsed to the floor in a daze, Applejack sitting down at her side in the eye of the giggle-storm.

“I guess it’s a good thing we decided to come here first,” Fluttershy said. Even if Pinkie Pie could be a little loud, her enthusiasm left her feeling warmer still. Applejack laughed and nodded her assent.

“I don’t expect it’ll be like this every step of the way. I intend to make it back home before dinner. How long do you think it’s gonna take her to calm...” Applejack’s voice trailed off. Her words was the only noise to be heard, and Fluttershy followed her marefriend’s eyes to where Pinkie Pie sat calmly perched on top of the confectionery’s counter. Pinkie Pie had procured a quill and a notepad and scribbled merrily away.


“Um, Pinkie Pie? What are you doing?” Fluttershy said, standing back up and taking a tentative few steps towards the ominously calm mare.

“Oh! Sorry. Should I do a little more cheering?”

“Uh.” Applejack scratched the back of her neck.

“I’m so super sorry, I’m really excited for you guys and this is totally the best thing that has ever happened!” Pinkie squealed, the width of her grin testament to her sincerity. “There’s just so much to do!”

“I don’t understand,” Fluttershy admitted. Pinkie tilted her head and slipped off the counter to wrap her forelegs around Fluttershy’s neck in a soft and gentle hug, moving on to hug Applejack next whilst she spoke.

“Well duh, you’re the best, super-cutest-most and neatest ponies in the whole wide world, and if you’re getting married, hitched, looped, hookin’ up big time—why, then we have to make it the biggest, best and loudest party ever!”

“Uh, sure.” Applejack reached up to scratch her head through her hat. “Though we ain’t hardly even thought much about—”

“I need to start thinking about cakes, muffins, cupcakes and sweets, and we probably need some boring non-sugary things too, like sandwiches and stuff! Oh, and we need to ask everypony! Not just the rest of the gang and Spike, I mean, of course they’re coming, but I need to send a letter to mom and dad, and I’m sure the others will want to, too! And then we need to check with Cheerilee, Lyra, Bon Bon—oh, and the Cakes! I’m sure they’d love to come! Oh, who else?”

Fluttershy giggled. Normally, the mention of so many ponies would make her a little nervous, but even if it was a bit much, Pinkie Pie seemed so very happy. It would almost be a shame to protest.

“Um, I’m sure that would be lovely, Pinkie Pie,” Fluttershy said. She bit her tongue while trying to work out how exactly to explain that they hadn’t set a date, much less discussed where they wanted to hold the wedding.

“—Derpy and Dinky, oh gosh, how could I forget Scootaloo? She has to be there! I’m sure I’m forgetting somepony here.”

“Uh, sugar?”

Fluttershy finally tore her eyes away from Pinkie. Applejack was giving her one of those small smiles that could mean anything, but the rather chaotic backdrop of Pinkie’s antics made it hard to make out much more than that.


“Could we, uh, talk for a bit?”

Fluttershy’s heart sank, and it was all she could do to keep her wings and ears from drooping.

“Of course. I—is something wrong?”

Applejack stole a quick glance over at Pinkie Pie, and her smile widened an inch until it could truly be called just that. “Not a thing, sug’, but we best find somewhere a bit more quiet. Think we can head over to your place, maybe?”

Letting out a little sigh of relief, Fluttershy nodded, and finally, it seemed that Pinkie Pie had clued in to the conversation going on without her.

“Are you having secret sneaky talky times? You’re not very good at that. You’re supposed to do it when nopony’s listening.” The pink pony took a single decisive bounce in their direction. “Are you guys okay?”

“Don’t you worry none, but I think we’re just gonna head home for a bit,” Applejack said. “We’ll be back for a bite a bit later if you don’t mind. Got lots of ponies to talk to yet. How’s a snack at the corner sound before we get on with it?” Applejack turned to Fluttershy as the pair made for the door.

“That sounds wonderful,” Fluttershy said, though part of her was still searching for a crack in Applejack’s smile.

“Aw, okie-dokie.” Pinkie pronked ahead to hold the door open for them. “It was nice to see you, and I’m really happy for you! I don’t get a lot of customers before the Hearth’s Warming rush, so I just bake a lot, and when I bake a lot and get no customers, I have to eat a lot, and that’s not just fun and games, you know!” Pinkie leaned against the open door and sat down on her rump to give her tummy a skeptical glance. “It would go better if I had help, but somepony’s been out all day. I don’t know where—oh! Rainbow Dash!”

Fluttershy squeaked and backed up behind Applejack fearing a repeat of earlier today, but the Rainbow Dash who landed in front of the confectionary was most certainly not laughing. Dash looked more than a little worried. The pegasus shook her wings before folding them, her ears pinned back.

“Uh, guys? I kinda goofed up,” Dash said.

Applejack blinked and turned to glance over her own flank at where Fluttershy sat. “Sugarplum? I don’t think this is the kind of problem that warrants hiding.”

Dash sighed. “Not so sure about that. Listen, when you said—”

Pinkie Pie gasped. “Is the problem that Applejack has the cutest little pet name for Fluttershy ever? Because she does! Did you hear that? She called her sugarplum! I want to be a sugarplum too!”

Fluttershy blinked and blushed, and Rainbow Dash made a little gagging noise.

“No, and that’s totally lame,” Dash said, grimacing at Applejack. “No offense.”

“Yeah, none taken.”

Pinkie crossed her forelegs. “I want a pet name too! Or, well, a new one. Not just the things you call me when we’re alone, like—”

Rainbow Dash plugged Pinkie Pie’s mouth with a hoof, her cheeks tinted red. “Right. So, problem!” she said, her voice cracking as she locked eyes with Fluttershy. “Remember when you told me that I couldn’t tell Pinkie? Well, I didn’t. Also, Pinks? That’s way gross,” she added, pulling back her hoof which was now dripping with spittle. Pinkie Pie grinned unapologetically.

Fluttershy giggled. “We kind of figured. “Thank you.”

“But I told Rarity.”

“Consarn it, Rainbow!” Applejack groaned.

“I didn’t mean to! She just kind of pried it out from me! I mean, I’m happy for you guys, and she asked why I was so happy, and, come on, you know how Rarity can be!”

Fluttershy leaned forward to nuzzle Dash. “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”

Rainbow Dash drew back and shook her head. “I wasn’t worried when she squealed so loudly I nearly went deaf, but she ran off to see Twilight, and I have no idea what’s going on now.”

“Oh. Um. Okay,” Fluttershy said, clearing her throat as she sought Applejack’s eyes. There were no answers to be had there; the earth mare blinked and shrugged.

“Maybe we should go have a look?” Fluttershy said.

“I—well, yeah. I guess that’s a good idea.” Applejack paused to puff out her cheek, slowly letting out her breath. “Sort this mess out. We can talk later. Now I could really use a rest, and we ain’t barely done anything all day.”

Fluttershy giggled and rubbed her cheek against Applejack’s neck, only now noticing that Pinkie Pie was grabbing a scarf from behind the door, and Rainbow Dash was patiently holding the door open. At a questioning glance, Dash shrugged.

“I don’t know what she was on about, but I still need to get that new pair of oven mitts,” she said, clearing her throat. “And I mean, you were gonna tell her anyway, but, uh, yeah. Sorry.”

“And I’m not staying here alone!” Pinkie said.

“Uh, hate to burst your bubble, but you were here by yourself when we got here,” Applejack said.

“Yeah, for almost an hour!” Pinkie said, nodding solemnly. “It was terrible. Let’s go!”

Sometimes, Rarity scared Fluttershy a little. Sure, it wasn’t the terribly scary kind of scary—the one that made her want to run and hide under her bed—but it was a kind of scary that led to silence and wariness all the same. She expected Pinkie Pie to be loud, startling, and sometimes a little bit crazy, but that was Pinkie Pie for you, and Fluttershy wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rarity, on the other hoof, had a tendency to surprise ponies in ways that were genuinely surprising, and apparently Fluttershy wasn’t the only one to think so. The four ponies stood abreast in the Ponyville Library’s generous doorway, watching the fashionista dart back and forth around the library’s main floor. The area was a battle zone.

Maps of areas both rectangular and square were dotted with markers and notes, while ribbons and reams of fabric in every color imaginable—and a few more—hung from walls and shelves. Designs and plans filled the library with more loose paper and parchment than even Twilight Sparkle could manage on her craziest of study days. Said librarian stood off to the side, mute after opening the door.

“So, what exactly are we lookin’ at, here?” Applejack finally said.

“Fun?” No sooner had Pinkie uttered the one single word than did she gallop Rarity’s way as if the promise of entertainment was some black hole the gravity of which she couldn’t resist.

Twilight cleared her throat, her eyes still on Rarity’s back where the other unicorn levitated up dozens of napkins, eyeing them one by one. Rarity still hadn’t even noticed their arrival.

“Well, uh, Rarity heard, so she rushed over here to begin to plan—oh my gosh, and I’m being rude!” Twilight whipped around to trot over to the group of three. She seized Fluttershy in a hug, then Applejack, smiling brightly at the pair. “What I should have said first was of course congratulations, you two!”

“Oh, thank you,” Fluttershy said, dipping her head.

“Thank you kindly.” Applejack grinned. “Was meant to be us who told you, but I guess that ain’t happening.”

“Said I was sorry,” Rainbow Dash muttered.

Applejack sighed and nudged Dash in the side. Fluttershy opened her mouth to protest, but Applejack didn’t seem particularly vexed. Rather, Applejack leaned against Dash.

“Stop fretting. It ain’t a big deal, and I ain’t mad. Now what’s this here about? Should we be worried?”

Twilight rubbed one foreleg with the other and stole another glance towards Rarity. With Pinkie Pie’s help, she’d moved on to sketching a wedding cake, the layers of which were well past innumerable and into the territory of the ludicrous. Apparently, they planned to fit an edible version of the entire Sweet Apple Acres atop, with Fluttershy’s cottage and edible marzipan weasels surrounding it.

“Worried? Well, I’m not sure, I haven’t heard back from the Princess yet. We obviously won’t get the main chapel, but the palace has many smaller gathering rooms, and there are at least three chapels within walking distance.”

Fluttershy and Applejack exchanged glances. Still, Fluttershy forced herself to maintain her smile to match Twilight’s.

“Uh, Twi?” Dash said when it was clear nopony else was going to say anything, but she barely got a word in before a gasp rang out from the other side of the room. As quickly as decorum allowed, Rarity trotted over to join them.

“There you are my dears! Twilight! Why did you not tell me they had arrived? Oh, well, I should have inferred or asked Pinkie, but—my word!” Rarity's smile reached for her ears as she nuzzled Fluttershy and briefly hugged Applejack. “You two will look lovely together! That’s not to say you don’t look lovely right now. Simply marvellous! And I insist you let me make the dresses! In fact, I already have some wonderful ideas. Have I ever commented on how well your colors compliment each other?”

“Chapel?” Applejack said, the one word spat worth with enough force to draw everypony’s eyes—but not enough to derail the conversation.

“Um, quite often, actually,” Fluttershy said. “Thank you.”

“Seriously, what’s up with the, uh, well, everything?” Rainbow Dash said, gesturing to the room at large. Rarity followed her hoof and shrugged.

“Clearly, these are plans for the cake, for the reception, for seating—oh my word, is there something I’ve forgotten?” Rarity clutched her chest.

“Cake’s too big. It’ll fall if somepony sneezes. Oh, yeah, and other’n the fact that we ain’t set a date yet?” Applejack said, voice flat.

“Oh yes, about that!” Rarity perked up even further. Fluttershy took a step back as Rarity rounded on Twilight. “Did you hear from the Princess yet? Surely she has something available for us. Ah well, that for later. I need to make sure Pinkie’s cake design is inoffensive.”

Twilight cleared her throat as she watched Rarity trot back to the drawing board where Pinkie busied herself with colorful markers. The unicorn’s eyes lingered, but at last, Twilight tore herself away.

“It’s a bit much, I guess. I’m sorry. She barged in the door here a little while ago and asked if I could contact Princess Celestia, and, well, uh. She was just so happy when she heard about you two.” Twilight dropped her gaze, fidgeting.

“Biggest party ever!” Pinkie cheered from over by the other side of the room. Rainbow Dash re-furled her wings and glanced back and forth between the two groups of ponies. Applejack stood quiet with her eyes closed, but Fluttershy couldn’t very well say nothing at all. It was hardly how she’d imagined the whole wedding business to happen, but Twilight’s smile wavered, teetering on the brink of collapse.

“I’m sure it’s fine,” Fluttershy said, leaning over to touch her snout to Twilight’s. “I mean, I think it sounds very nice.”

Twilight’s sigh of relief was loud, but louder still was the silence from Applejack. Her marefriend bit the inside of her cheek while she locked eyes with Fluttershy. Her face was blank and unreadable for a second, and then a smile slowly spread across her muzzle. Before she said a single word, Applejack leaned over to nuzzle Fluttershy, draining away tension that the quiet pegasus hadn’t known was there.

“Alright then,” Applejack said. “First, I wanna have a look at that cake.”

No, winter wasn’t so bad at all. Applejack let out a quiet sigh of contentment as she felt Fluttershy’s wing seek out her back, curling around her withers while they leaned against one another. With so little to be done on the farm’s grounds, it was that much easier to decide to spend the night at Fluttershy’s cottage and feel no guilt about chores undone.

Perhaps there would come a day when they would find a different way of going about things, but they were both grown mares. For all that they shared freely of their lives, Fluttershy wasn’t about to give up on her animal care practice and her herb garden—and Applejack wasn’t about to say goodbye to her family just yet.

Besides, it made these quiet evenings special. Applejack closed her eyes and ground her muzzle against Fluttershy’s cheek, earning a little giggle. They both loved their predictability, their safety and stability; perhaps that was part of why they worked so well together. Still, when there was a choice, the decision to have a night at Fluttershy’s cottage for just the two of them, that was variation and plenty excitement for the both of them. Fluttershy’s tea cup and Applejack’s cider mug both stood empty between them and the crackling fireplace, and the evening wind set the cottage creaking in a way that was as intimately familiar to Applejack by now as the apple-themed blanket swaddled around them.

“What was it you wanted to talk about?”

Fluttershy's voice was a low murmur. Applejack cracked an eye open to find Fluttershy didn’t look nearly as sleepy as her tone suggested. In the scarce and flickering light of the cottage’s main floor, Fluttershy’s stare was the only thing that did not waver.

Instead, Applejack was the one who averted her eyes and sought out the dancing flames as she thought. She knew Fluttershy wasn’t weak. She’d thought so, once, and she’d been shown time and again how wrong she was. Quiet strength. The shows of force when it truly mattered.

And she’d seen that Fluttershy looked happy when they were discussing the wedding plans. Applejack had no intention of poisoning the moment. She smiled as she turned back to nuzzle Fluttershy.

“Ain’t a thing. I figured it out, so forget you that, sugar,” she whispered back, despite there hardly being any reason to be quiet. Angel was upstairs, and the critters who wintered in her cottage were notoriously hard to bother. Fluttershy nodded her head a fraction of an inch and smiled back, tension draining from her body. Finally Fluttershy rested back against her, and the wing that had apparently left Applejack at some point pulled her closer.

“I was just afraid that something was wrong. You know, when people say, um, ‘we need to talk’, it’s usually something very bad, and we haven’t really had any big arguments.”

Applejack nodded. “Except that time I scared off those otters you sent over to help with the north fields.”

“Oh. Um, I wasn’t mad. I really wasn’t, and it was my fault for not letting you know.”

“It’s a done deal, don't you bring that up again.” Applejack grinned.

“I guess. I’m glad. I got a little worried today, but I suppose it’s just one of those little worries that I can’t shake.” Fluttershy gave a voiceless little giggle that shook her body. Once again, Applejack nodded.

“Yup.” Another white little lie. Except it wasn’t. Things were complicated when it came to her friends, and twice as complicated when it came to Fluttershy, to her love, and to the mare who was and would be hers.

It was about making perfect what wasn’t. Now, they had a date. Two months from now, mere weeks before Hearth’s Warming Eve, they would be wed. That thought never failed to stir something whenever she thought it, anything from excitement to contentment. Now, curled up with Fluttershy, it took a different shape. Another word sprung to mind.

“It just feels right,” Applejack said. Simple as that. Simple and amazing, and every day she got to stand shoulder to shoulder with Fluttershy and look out over Sweet Apple Acres with her—or help her with some of the things important to Fluttershy for which she felt wholly unqualified—she would count herself the luckiest mare in Equestria.

“I know,” Fluttershy said, and Applejack thought she saw something glisten in the corners of her eyes. The fact that Fluttershy didn’t even ask what she was thinking spoke volumes.

Applejack wrapped a foreleg around Fluttershy’s neck and hugged her close. On the nearby table, a small black box waited. The only thing that mattered. More than Rarity’s wedding dresses. More than Rainbow Dash’s air show and all the cakes and party preparations Pinkie could muster. More than any wedding chapel or a dozen of Princesses.

So what if some of the details around their wedding weren’t exactly how she had planned them? Moving the wedding was no big deal. A little chapel in Canterlot wasn’t a problem. She had the love of her life. Canterlot, she could handle. She could make it perfect still.