Somepony was nuzzling Fluttershy's sleeping neck and shoulders, moving down to her wing, slipping warm snout and breath under her feathers.
Fluttershy stirred. She was deep, deep within the well of dreamless sleep; she stretched her wing and rolled away by reflex alone. Wisps of cloud-bedding trailed from her feathers and hooves. Her limbs were gangly, too long for her adolescent body. The butterflies newly emblazoned over her hip flexed as she stretched her hindleg and let it fall back into her bed.
Fluttershy drifted awake. Her eyes and ears fixed the pony, a white mare ghostly in the dead of night.
"G'morning, Flutterbutt," she said. Her voice was familiar, but out of place. The bed was wrong, too. Fluttershy wasn't at home, nor in her bunk at flight camp, which was where she was supposed to be.
But the mare looked and sounded like Snowdrift, her oldest sister. Fluttershy looked around the room, a cabin filled with slanting moonlight from the windows. It was polygonal, roughly circular with buttressed rafters supporting the roof. There were several other bunks arranged in a circle, and she heard the regular breath-sounds of other ponies sleeping.
Gradually, Fluttershy realized where she was. "What's going on, Snowy?"
"Come with me, Fluttershy. This is your First Dawn," said Snowdrift with quiet weight. She then turned toward the door.
Fluttershy stepped out of bed and softly onto the floor so that she wouldn't wake anypony else.
Her father was there and so was her other sister and one of her brothers too. Her other brother was at Hoof Camp for the Royal Guard and her mother couldn't come because of weather work - but even without them, most of her family had come to celebrate her cute-ceañera. It had been Fluttershy's happiest day for a long time.
And now Snowdrift sat in the door, silhouetted by moonlight and looking back at her. Fluttershy wasn't sure if it was just a trick of her memory or if the light was strong enough, but she thought she could make out the colors of Snowdrift's coat and mane. She was white, ever so slightly tinted blue, and her mane alternated the eerie peach and rose hues of a snow-filled sky.
"Do I need anything?" asked Fluttershy. Everything was so quiet that she barely needed to use her voice at all.
Snowdrift shook her head. She hunched her body low and split her wings from her back, making a spot in the middle for Fluttershy to ride on.
She was so cool. Her cutie marks were three snowflakes, each a different shape. She was a strong flier, an artist with wind, and yesterday she and Fluttershy had spent hours talking about the animals Fluttershy had met on the ground.
Snowdrift didn't know everything about them, but she lived and worked on the ground herself and knew tons more than the other, sky-dwelling, members of their family. She had a house and had married an earth stallion the fall before.
So Fluttershy trotted outside with an extra bounce in her hooves and climbed onto Snowy's back, brimming with excited curiosity. Cloudsdale Cadets weren’t supposed to take ponyback rides. They did sprints and slaloms and races - and Fluttershy knew by the end of the first week that she had chosen the wrong summer camp for herself.
Snowdrift rose, closed the door, and bore Fluttershy up. The filly's heart soared and her gut sank and she clung tightly to her big sister's neck.
Only the highest wispy clouds rose above the altitude of the camp. The waning moon had climbed halfway down the sky by then and was casting long shadows from the cabins and tents. Below, all was dark. Fluttershy could barely make out a patchwork of clouds covering the ground, the dim fires and lamps of ground-pony dwellings below them.
The sky above wore a canvas of stars and silver-gilded high clouds. The rim of the sky was twilight blue, dark and deep, and the black teeth of the mountains were barely visible against it.
Snowdrift banked and spiraled away from camp, bringing Cloudsdale into view. It glowed under its streetlamps like a second moon, huge and hanging only a few minute's flight away. The air between them and it was empty and still. Fluttershy thought she could hear the crash of the rainbowfalls and bustle of the city.
She leaned her face into Snowdrift's mane. "What are we doing, Snowy?" Fluttershy suspected it had something to do with getting her cutie marks, some last little ritual with her big sister.
"We're going to watch the sunrise," Snowdrift replied. "Hang on, and make yourself skinny!"
She leaned forward into a dive and Fluttershy pressed herself tightly against her sister's body. Snowdrift vectored them toward the quilt-cloud below, faster and faster, curving toward an out-of-place pill-cloud that budded from it.
She turned into a tight curve, squeezing Fluttershy flat with the g-forces and a moment later they were climbing again, the cloud cut loose and driven ahead of them by Snowdrift's forehooves. She power-climbed with the cloud and at last, higher even than the camp, set it in the sky and came to hover above it.
Fluttershy gripped Snowdrift's shoulders with her forehooves, so that she wouldn't slide off her sister's back, not until Snowdrift said, "Okay, hop off," and Fluttershy jumped and buried herself in the cloud.
It was fabulously soft. Fluttershy sunk in and it buoyed her up more like liquid than the solid clouds which pegasi used for construction. It wasn't a terribly big cloud, and when Snowdrift set herself down, there wasn't anywhere for her to go except Fluttershy's space, much like sharing a hammock. They sat before the sky and Snowdrift’s warm wing nearly covered her little sister.
"Mother says she's sorry she couldn't come," said Snowdrift. "But she asked me to do this for you. I've never given a pony her First Dawn, so I need to apologize, too. I'm probably going to mess stuff up."
"You'll do fine," said Fluttershy. "Whatever we're doing. What are we doing?"
"Yesterday was your cute-ceañera, your last day as a filly. Starting this morning, you're growing into marehood." Snowdrift nuzzled her jaw against her sister's head. "First Dawn is a beginning and an end. I didn't want you to be alone."
"Oh," said Fluttershy. Her sister was next to her. Her future loomed over her, dark and mysterious. It hadn't really occurred to her yet in the excitement of discovering her special talent, but it was true, wasn't it? Grown-up ponies had cutie marks. Little fillies didn't, and there wasn't any going back now.
"So," said Snowdrift. "You're ready. Your whole life has gotten you ready for this time. You don't have to be scared."
"Should I be?" asked Fluttershy.
"No!" Snowdrift jabbed her in the ribs, gently. "Hehe. Okay, I'll admit I'm a little nervous. But it's because this is important and I care about you and... I'll shut up. Mom said to start with feelings, so here goes." She swept the dark scenery with her forehoof.
"Everything, all that, it's pretty amazing, right? And it's easy to think that it's all out there and the way you feel about it is right here." She tapped Fluttershy's chest. "But sometimes it's hard to be sure. Say somepony gets sad. What happens to him?"
Fluttershy wondered if it was a trick question. "Well, he can feel it."
"That's inside. What about outside? What happens to his body?"
"He cries, maybe. Or maybe he just begins to cry. His eyes feel scratchy."
Snowdrift nodded. "Exactly. Or if somepony gets angry her heart pounds. Do you understand?"
"If you see something interesting or surprising, your wings open by themselves," said Fluttershy. "Feelings echo in a pony's body."
"Yeah, that too. Those are all foal feelings - well everypony has them. They're not like foals' teeth. They don't fall out when you grow up."
Fluttershy rolled her eyes. "Snowy, I'm a filly, not an idiot - not that I'm trying to be a know-it-all, either." She cringed. "I mean, Shadow and I have talked a lot about feelings. Sorry."
Snowdrift took a deep breath. "Hey, sorry that I haven't been around lately. How's that going, anyway? You know, it's not your fault - any of it. If there were any justice around here, I could go and beat some manners into those ponies."
"I don't think there's anything wrong with me," said Fluttershy, quietly. "And sometimes I hate them too. But hurting them won't solve anything."
"Yeah," said Snowdrift. "Still, the whole situation rubs me the wrong way. There's nothing about you to fix."
"Shadow isn't trying to fix me," said Fluttershy. "She's trying to make me stronger. And I am stronger. There are bullies here too, you know."
"Oh, really..." An edge crept into Snowdrift's voice that, for a moment made her sound more like a griffon than a pony.
"You mustn't! They haven't laid a hoof on me, they just say awful things, but you know what?" Fluttershy sprung into the air, pulling herself into a hover just off the edge of the cloud.
"They're right. I can hardly fly. But I can fly and I'm working hard and I'm getting better and the truth is, I don't need them. Because what I can do is real, and nothing they say can change that!"
Snowdrift stared for a moment and then a grin spread across her face. She clopped her forehooves together.
Fluttershy blushed and set herself back down against her sister's side. "I'm counting down the days to the end of camp. Sometimes I hate it here. But it's not all bad. There are good ponies to."
One pony in particular came to Fluttershy's mind, a filly with an unusual six-colored mane. Come to think of it, Rainbow had gotten her marks on the same day. Fluttershy wondered if she too was on a cloud somewhere this morning.
That reminded her that Snowdrift wanted to talk about becoming a mare. "Anyway, where were we? Feelings?"
"Yeah," said Snowdrift. "Filly feelings and mare feelings. Now that you have your marks, your body is going to change. Heh. 'Echo.' I like that word. Mare feelings echo in a mare's body in a new way, only..." Snowdrift fell silent.
The sky had begun to brighten, turning the high clouds from rivers of sable and silver to rivers of gold over the course of a few minutes. The rim of the world burned up the spectrum through blue to yellow and peach, its hottest area far to the right of Cloudsdale, over the mountains to the east.
"Only what?" Fluttershy looked up at her sister in concern. Snowdrift seemed to be having trouble saying what she needed to, and Fluttershy set her mind to work as if it were a riddle. She was a smart pony after all, and she'd just tackle the problem step by step.
To start, she had been experiencing a new feeling, since that spring. She'd written it off as general frustration and restlessness, but now that she thought about it, it was rather peculiar. It was like she wanted to tackle the whole world and wrestle it down laughing and tug on its ears - which made no sense at all. And this new feeling seemed to come from the pit of her gut.
Snowdrift made a sweeping gesture at the sky again. "It's not the best metaphor. Because what happens outside matters inside, too."
"Echoes echo back," said Fluttershy.
"Heh. They do. Or..." Snowdrift pointed to the left of Cloudsdale, to the mountains to the north. Sunlight grazed their peaks, marking them as islands of light above the shadow that still covered the world below.
"Feelings are a lot bigger than they appear," she said. "Like those mountains. The part you feel might be as small as those peaks, but the reality, everything that matters, is the whole mountain."
Fluttershy interrupted. "Snowy, you're being silly. Let me show you. It's really simple how feelings echo." She grabbed her sister in a hug around the chest and ground her face into her wings. "See? That's a hug and it means I care about you. Don't make it complicated."
Fluttershy took the topic of their conversaton as the next clue to her riddle. Fillies and mares were different. Mares could take care of themselves, and were wiser, and their opinions were trusted by other ponies.
Snowdrift laughed. "Okay, okay, smartypants. You're right. The thing is, I can't possibly tell you everything about what it's like to be a mare, but maybe I can tell you enough that you won't be totally confused. It's always okay to ask, and Mom's better at explaining this stuff than I am."
And, oh of course, mares could carry foals, Fluttershy realized. "This is about foaling, isn't it? Grown-ups always seem to get embarrassed whenever the subject comes up. I'm right, aren't I?"
She was. Snowdrift stiffened and startled, and said, "Yeah. Foaling's a feeling. Actually, a whole bunch of feelings."
The other puzzle-pieces fell together just like a bucket of sleet down Fluttershy's back. "Oh, goodness. I need to find a father, and don't you think I'm a little young, and I have no idea how I'd care for-"
"-this is all so sudden, I-"
"Fluttershy! What makes you think you're going to have a foal? I promise you're not. Not yet."
The cloud was silent for a moment. Fluttershy blinked.
"Shy-Shy, just relax, okay?"
"I'm not actually having a foal?"
"No. How the feather did you get that idea?"
Fluttershy heaved a huge sigh and flopped back into the cloud. "You said it's a feeling. I have been feeling different, sometimes. Around here." She indicated her lower belly with her forehoof. "And I know that's where a foal grows.
"And you grown-ups won't say it, but," she continued, "I'm pretty sure I know how a foal gets out, too. Mares and fillies have cunnies. Colts and stallions don't. So that's where foals come from. Right?"
"Yeah. Hoookay," breathed Snowdrift. She blinked and smiled an embarrassed smile. "Sometimes it's scary how clever you are, Shy."
"But am I right?" pressed Fluttershy. "I'm supposed to know, right? If I'm a mare?"
"Yeah, point taken - and you're more or less right about foaling, too. I shouldn't let myself be embarrassed." Snowdrift reclined herself into the cloud and unfolded her wing through the mists under Fluttershy. "Sit up, and I'll explain."
Fluttershy lifted herself to sit on her haunches. Snowdrift held a forehoof to her own belly. Fluttershy glanced at it, then out of habit looked back up to her sister's eyes.
"Hey, here's the deal. I'll try to not be embarrassed, but you can't be too modest either. It's okay to look."
"Okay," said Fluttershy.
"Like I said, you're gonna change pretty fast. Your nipples get a little bigger, for one." Snowdrift's rose as low conical peaks above the curve of her belly, between her navel and thighs. Their bare skin took the blue cast of her coat and refined it to a pastel-chalk tint.
"There's a little bit of growing pain when that happens," said Snowdrift. "It's kinda achy."
"That's where a foal nurses," said Fluttershy.
"Mmm-hmm. And when you have a nursing foal, they get even bigger for a while."
"Okay," said Fluttershy.
"Before a foal is born, it grows inside, in a mare's womb." Snowdrift set her hoof just below her navel. "Or, 'uterus,' technically. Which sits right about here when she's not carrying a foal."
Snowdrift drew a line to between her nipples, paused, and continued with her narration. "Around here-ish, it joins her vagina. That's a tube of muscle that goes tailward, through her pelvis and past her bladder and meets her vulva." Her white hoof stopped at blue skin tucked between her thighs. It was the same color as her nipples. "Or cun, if we're not being so technical."
"Okay," said Fluttershy. "That's pretty simple, actually." She traced her own lower belly, past her tiny nipples and between her thighs. "A cozy nook for a baby foal, and a path outside."
"And she has eggs in two ovaries on either side of her womb. Every three weeks from late spring to early fall, she feels a heat, which is pretty obvious once you've had a few. That feeling echoes in an ovary and one egg moves into her womb. Sometimes two, and that makes twins."
"So I'm heated?" asked Fluttershy.
"Nope. You can't be in heat, 'cuz you just got your marks. That'll be another change. Next summer. And that's why you don't have a foal now."
"Okay," said Fluttershy, relieved. At the same time, she wondered what her feeling was. It was something low and wonderful and, she was sure now, coming from her budding marehood. "Now, Snowy, I've seen chicken eggs and I know griffons won't let ponies see their eggs. I've heard of dragon eggs. But never pony eggs. So I guess pony eggs hatch inside."
"Not quite. No shells, and our eggs are too small to see without magic."
"And, oh," said Fluttershy, with a touch of sadness. "If mares lay every three weeks, that means most eggs don't become foals. Only very, very few."
"We say 'ovulate,' not 'lay.' And there are only a few because foals come from love."
Snowdrift said the last part with a perfectly straight face and earnest voice. Fluttershy thought she and her sister had something special and honest going - or at least until it turned out to be a practical joke. "You said foals come from eggs! Baby griffons come from griffon eggs, so why call pony eggs pony eggs if baby ponies don't come from them?!"
"Do you eat baby chickens?" asked Snowdrift. "I said foals come from a feeling. Eggs are only one part of the echo of a feeling that's part of that feeling."
"Oh," said Fluttershy. She scowled and took a moment to gather her feelings. The sunlight had started to crawl down the peaks and along the ridges. The ground still lay in shadow, covered by a blanket of clouds.
"No," said Fluttershy. "We eat wind eggs. They don't have any chicks inside. But our class once had a tray of live eggs and they hatched. Do you mean that most pony eggs are wind eggs?"
"Chickens lay wind eggs because their bodies have to lay. Griffons don't like ponies knowing about their brooding, so don't bring it up, but they're similar. Our wind eggs are so tiny that our bodies clean them up without us noticing. Now, let me tell you what the difference is between a wind egg and a live egg."
Snowdrift gestured with a forehoof, and Fluttershy leaned in close. Snowy pulled her atop her chest and whispered, "A mare can't make a foal alone, not without a stallion to water her. The chicken eggs we eat come from hens kept with other hens. A mare's egg and a stallion's water and her womb is their foal's home. It's not really a secret, but I think it's special. It's like a mare's body is a model of her family."
"Wow," breathed Fluttershy, and she lay atop her sister's chest and listened to her breathing and felt Snowy's hoof reach up and stroke her mane. It was beyond words, the way it made her feel.
Presently, her curiosity returned like any other appetite, and Fluttershy stirred and sat up next to her sister and traced once more a foal's path on the surface of her belly as a kind of review. She stopped at her cun, which she couldn't see very well. Its rim of bare skin was the same color as her coat.
She used it to pee, rinsed it when she was done, didn't stare at other ponies because it was very rude, didn't make peeing motions at others because that was very rude too, and until today that was as much as she knew for sure.
Now it raised a somewhat troubling question. "Snowy, how does a foal get out?"
"Folded up and forehooves first," she said. "Usually."
"But out your cunnie? Isn't it a little bit..." Fluttershy swallowed. "small?"
"Yeah. But we stretch. Oh horsefeathers." Snowdrift sat up and swept cloudstuff behind her back as a pillow. "All this talk about foaling, and I forgot about sex, and then I wanted to finish the topic at hoof without getting you confused, but now I'm all out of order."
"You're a wonderful teacher," said Fluttershy. "I think the only part that doesn't make sense is how a stallion waters you." She had a vague image in her head of some handsome stallion standing next to her and then his pee running down her hind legs, which was gross and obviously not right.
"Yeah, that's the complicated part. Listen, let me answer your foaling question first and then I need to go through sex to get to watering. I promise it makes more sense that way."
"Okay," said Fluttershy. "And don't be nervous. You're doing a great job."
Snowdrift shifted and turned one thigh open, brushing Fluttershy's quarterflank and exposing her crotch. "You'll need to scootch over to get a good look."
"Shy, I said it's okay to look."
"I..." Fluttershy thought about this. Why was it rude to look at other pony's personal parts? Because they were personal, of course, but Snowdrift was teaching her something important, so it was scientific and probably okay. Fluttershy decided she'd be very respectful just the same.
"Okay." She leaned over her sister's leg and reached out her forehoof to support herself. She forgot how soft the cloud was. Her hoof sunk the moment she put any weight on it and she tumbled over, her face crashing into the cloud where Snowdrift's tail was floating on it. Her belly landed across Snowdrift's thigh. "Oops."
Snowdrift laughed. "Hey, you okay? Got a clear view?"
Fluttershy did. Snowdrift's hindquarters were heavier than Shy's head and so sunk lower into the cloud. The hair of Snowy's tail lead Fluttershy's eyes straight to her pastel lips, which were tucked neatly between the muscles of her white-coated hams and thighs. Her cun pinched together between them and her anus, and it filled out the space between them and her belly in a skinny raindrop shape.
"So," said Snowdrift, "you already know when you need to pee, you evert like this." She demonstrated, momentarily pursing the fat part of the drop open, revealing moist flesh. It was the same pink color as the inside of somepony's mouth.
"Pee comes out of the middle. The fold at the belly end is my clit hood, and at the tail end..." She reached down with both forehooves and pulled the skin either way. Her lips parted, revealing a dip where the flesh wrinkled over itself. "That's the opening of my vagina."
"Isn't there a hole?" asked Fluttershy.
Snowdrift let go and her mare parts rearranged themselves closed. "That's it. It's all folds and wrinkles when it's empty. That gives it a lot of room to stretch. Does that make sense?"
"So, sex." Snowdrift took a deep breath. "Sex is wonderful. But it's... I don't think anypony understands it. It's a bunch of feelings, and mostly really nice ones, and many of them echo down here. But, you'll see when it happens-"
Fluttershy lifted her head so she could look her sister in the eye. "Snowy, you're getting embarrassed again." And an embarrassed Snowy wasn't explaining what "watering" was - to Fluttershy's growing frustration.
"Fine, fine. Look, Fluttershy, I messed up my plan. Foaling's last part of sex, but you made me start there."
"No, I don't mind, just, I dunno. Can you maybe forget all that for a moment? Like I said, you get your marks and then your body changes and, oh hailstorm, you've still got filly parts."
"Okay," said Fluttershy. She scrambled back upright. "Let's start over, then. What's different? I know I'm not in heat yet, so no eggs in my womb. My nipples are tiny, but they're going to grow. What else?"
"I've messed up bad if you go looking for a stallion to water you..."
"Snowy," said Fluttershy. "We both know I'm too young to take care of a foal. And no eggs, remember?"
A horrified look crossed Snowdrift's face. Fluttershy didn't understand why, but she continued, "So there's no point wasting his time, whatever it is he does..."
Snowdrift blew out a huge breath and muttered, "Dodged a freight train there."
The wheels were finally turning if Fluttershy's head. It didn't make any sense why she'd want to be watered without eggs, but that wasn't what Snowy was thinking, judging from how she acted. Maybe mares were supposed to like it.
Snowdrift cut in. "Your cun needs to grow up."
"What do you mean?"
"Fillies are a little different," said Snowdrift.
Fluttershy lay back on the cloud and peeked at herself. She couldn't get the angle right, no matter how hard she tried.
"And, Shy-Shy, I'm sorry. I should have brought a mirror. Mom had a mirror for me; I just didn't think you'd be as curious as I was."
Fluttershy came up with a straightforward solution. The cloud was slippery and semi-fluid; their weight tended to push them toward the middle, but it wasn't a problem. She turned her rump toward her sister's face and set one flank against her sister's side. Her forequarters she buried face-first in the cloud, which buoyed her up, and with one forehoof down her crotch and the other around her rump, she could flag her tail and - gently of course - spread her legs and cunnie.
"Shy! What - careful!"
"I'm not hurting myself, Snowy," said Fluttershy, muffled by the cloud. It felt like breathing soup. "Now be my mirror, please."
"I..." Snowdrift took a breath and blew it out. "Fine. Let's start with what's similar, I guess. You have the same basic parts - that doesn't change."
"Can you see, Snowy?"
"Yes, I've got the picture. Go ahead yourself comfortable, Shy. Let's see... your clitoris is a lot like a full-grown mare's, just smaller. You're a healthy pink, out-of-heat color inside, just like me."
"Hold on." Fluttershy finished untangling herself and turning around so she was lying on her belly snuggled against Snowy, her head sideways on her forehooves and turned toward Snowy's face. "What's a clitoris?"
Snowdrift's growing blush doubled its shade in two seconds. "That's the really personal part that grows along either side, under the skin. It mirrors your sex feelings by swelling and shrinking, and it has a really ticklish tip at the bottom of your cun, nearest your belly."
Fluttershy shifted her body away and felt with a forehoof along her groove. She was warm and soft, and when she pulled toward her belly and brushed her clit, she startled and flinched. It didn't exactly hurt but it was a surprise bordering on shock. "Wow," she said, and set her hoof relaxed on her belly. "Okay. What about the rest?"
"Your outside skin still matches your coat exactly - my guess is you'll go darker and a little more orange, but there's no way to tell exactly what a mare's color will be. Your lips and vagina aren't as stretchy as they will be and your entrance is still covered over like a filly's, so don't poke it with anything yet, okay? That's all."
"Thank you," said Fluttershy. And then she figured out how watering worked.
That year in school, ponies had made horrible fun of a colt just a little bit older than her, so much so that the grown-ups had actually stepped in and told them to knock it off - which almost never happened.
Fluttershy felt sorry for him. Even now, her ears started to burn in sympathetic shame, and she felt terrible that she couldn't even remember his name, only the quiet chanting that followed him around: "got a dick like a stick." Ponies said it quietly when they thought they could get away with it - and they didn't stop.
It was horrifying what happened with his colt parts. Like any other colt, Fluttershy assumed, he had the usual slit and triangle of bumps on his belly. When a colt peed, he let the middle-forward one, the aptly named pee-nis drop through its slit.
Just like a filly everting, it was kinda gross and definitely rude to do it outside the bathroom. And just like any other gross thing, colts and fillies made sure each other knew about it.
Being a pony gross thing, it was really good for making griffon chicks turn green with disgust.
As far as Fluttershy had heard, it only happened once in class, but this poor colt's penis dropped outside and got stuck and just kept growing until it was a long semi-rigid stick dangling down from his crotch.
Well, he excused himself and it got better and the grown-ups said it was normal and they mustn't tease him, but if Fluttershy's body ever didanything like that in front of everypony, she'd probably curl up right there, turn to dust, and be blown away.
Now Fluttershy traced an imaginary straight line inside her belly. She couldn't imagine what kind of stallion feeling echoed to make his penis do that, but the colt's incident - so to speak - slid together with her new understanding of her own anatomy, and the facts fit much better than she would have liked.
"Snowy, does 'watering' happen inside?" Fluttershy dared to ask.
It was all the answer she needed. "Gross! Why would any mare want some boy pee-part poking her cun?!"
"You're gross!" riposted Snowdrift. She sounded offended and glared at her sister, but then her face softened into a smile. She reached her wing out into the mist and scooped her sister to her side.
"Come'ere, Shy. Sex makes a lot of gross things less gross," she said. "So I guess I have to explain it now, and I'm gonna start by talking about being family."
By this time the sky was at its most dramatic. The stars were gone, veiled by the sky's blue. High-clouds burned across them. Light was soaking down the sides of the mountains and dawn-glow gathered at the horizon was highlighting the textures of the low clouds.
Fluttershy saw all of this with her head propped up against Snowy's chest, in the crook of her forehoof. She lay in her sister's wing, held snugly between it and her sister's ribs. Her rump fit perfectly against her sister's loin, which pressed and shifted with their breaths. Snowy's forehoof hugged her side and lay on her chest. In a word, they were together.
"Love is the feeling that makes ponies not alone," said Snowdrift. "And it echoes many, many ways. In a pony's body and in her magic - and there are many kinds of love, too. It's the biggest and most powerful feeling a filly has, and that a mare has, and so I want to start take that as common ground and work my way into explaining sex."
"Okay," said Fluttershy. And she added, "I love you, Snowy," because she hadn't said it in too long.
"I love you, too, Flutterbutt," said Snowdrift. She stroked her hoof along Fluttershy's breastbone, massaging the flight muscles that anchored to it. "We're not alone. We're sisters, and family, and that's a kind of love that wants to touch, just like this. So, that touch echoes back and..."
She squeezed Fluttershy, who filled in the blank. "The touch is love, too. That's a filly feeling, not sex, but I bet there's a sex feeling like it, and..." She nudged her wing into Snowy's side.
"That's exactly right. I love Swift Brook. He's my husband and my mate, and- Okay, Fluttershy, listen. What I'm going to tell you has to stay with the mares in the family. Because this is private between him and me, how sexy he is, and my family can know, but absolutely nopony else. I don't know if you'll understand, but you have to agree."
"I promise," said Fluttershy. And she thought maybe she did understand. Grown-up pride was swelling up inside her.
"He is my family, but not my foalhood family. He is my mate. My mare feelings and his stallion feelings echo in each other, and the echo of adult feelings is called sex. We touch."
Fluttershy's eyes grew wide, and she took a deep breath.
"We touch like family would do, like brothers and sisters. We hug and bump hooves and even just try to catch each other's eyes across a room. We talk and we argue and we kiss. All of that is..."
"...an echo of love, like you and me. I understand that part, but you and him have sex between you too, yes?"
"You and I have sisterhood, which he doesn't have, so don't get too jealous. But yes our sex is too wonderful for me to explain. Shy, I want your touch soft on my chest and back and neck and face. It's a gentle want between us. But I hunger for Brook. It's wild and untamed, like a freak storm. I need him to touch my cunnie and every inch of me, to kiss me and lick my tongue, and all kinds of gross things like that."
Hunger. A spark flashed in Fluttershy's mind. Her new feeling - she was hungry sometimes, and it was coming back with an odd tightness between her hams. She was a spring day when the air is warm for the first time and birds sing. She was waiting nervously on starting blocks, but somehow she could be as confident the other ponies.
The bridge of her nose felt hot.
In curiosity, she lifted a forehoof and set it between her thighs. They tingled under her touch, feeling sparkled from their surface like sunlight on fresh-fallen snow when a pony flew over it. Her hoof's weight on her cun felt at once like a sigh of relief and somepony cheering in excitement.
"And I need to touch him, too. He likes it when I nibble his ears. It makes him mew like a kitten. We find a soft place out of the way, and- Hmm. He's a stallion, so I need to explain that, too. Like I said, you and I have clits that echo our feelings. They have two roots, one on either side of our cuns. When we get horny and erect - that's a sex feeling - they swell up with blood and their tips get bigger."
Fluttershy felt for hers like she did before, but softly so she wouldn't bother Snowy. She swept her fetlock side to side and felt her now erect clit as a broad bump inside her cunnie. The whole thing was getting hot. Her touch there felt a little bit like a hug, but one that was incredibly powerful and was making her breathing feel a little strange. She realized the feeling was her sex.
"Now Brook is a stallion and he's all closed together in the back. And instead of a clit, he has a cock and it goes all the way around his rump and through his sheath. When he feels horny, it fills with blood and stretches out even further, and pokes out so long it can reach past his belly button. So I can tell exactly what his feeling is - all the better to sweetly torment him. Mares are lucky that way."
Fluttershy, lying in her sister's wing with her free hoof stuffed between her thighs, was a water-balloon of sweet and cuddly feelings. She stirred herself with gentle circles on her cun, eyes closed and ears tuned to Snowy's voice.
Instinct told her to evert, so Fluttershy did, poking her half-hooded clit-head into her fetlock. She managed to stifle her cry of pleasure.
But she didn't hide the soft wet "clop" sound it caused. Snowy shifted. Fluttershy turned and looked into her smiling eyes .
"Enjoying yourself, Shy?" she asked.
Fluttershy's heart missed a beat. Her blush doubled and redoubled and she pulled her hoof away, trailing a strand of something wet that glittered in the morning sunlight. Dawn had found them.
"Sorry," said Fluttershy. "I was just- Oh wow, I'm wet." Her fetlock hair was slicked against her hoof, which was shiny with... with herself. It had a mild but animalistic smell which she had been too involved to notice, and for a moment Fluttershy was surprised, not embarrassed.
That didn't last. "Sorry." She looked up at Snowdrift, who was wearing an unreadable expression of concern and good humor.
"What for, Fluttershy?"
"Oh, well, I was supposed to be listening, and, um... This is gross, isn't it?"
"It's a little awkward," admitted Snowdrift. "But I think you're learning a lot, so I don't mind. What do you want to do?"
"I..." said Fluttershy. She looked down at herself, which didn't look any different, but she could feel the wanting sex, and the stirring sex would be nice to return to.
"Should I let you have the cloud to yourself?" asked Snowdrift.
"No!" said Fluttershy. "Can you still hold me? I won't do it if it bothers you."
Snowdrift answered by squeezing Fluttershy once with her wing and bringing her forehoof hoof over Fluttershy's chest so that met the other beside her ribs. She snaked it under Fluttershy's far forehoof so that she'd have both free, and she nuzzled Fluttershy's forehead with her mane.
"You're not doing anything wrong. I'm sorry I interrupted you."
Thus bundled and affirmed, Fluttershy returned to clopping. She pinned her hoof, unpleasantly chilly for a moment, between her thighs and lay still. Snowdrift rocked the two of them back and forth ever so slightly.
Fluttershy wondered where she might meet a stallion as good as Brook. It was obvious that Snowy loved him, and that he was head and shoulders more a decent pony than many colts her peers.
More than ever she felt it was stupid when ponies said pegusi were the best. But maybe Fluttershy too would find her home on the ground. After all, that was where the animals lived, and her talent seemed to be taking her there.
And a tender, wonderful stallion would be waiting there, and would hug her low around the ribs and rub her like she was now rubbing herself. Her feelings rushed back once her body realized it could keep going. Now freed from shame and the need to pretend to be paying attention, Fluttershy allowed herself to pant and mew in time with her sloshing good feelings.
Snowdrift held her silently, bringing one hoof up to her mane and gently brushing at it.
Fluttershy's nose blazed with warmth and her cheeks wouldn't stop smiling under her closed eyes. They could have foals, she realized. Earth foals on the ground and pegasus foals who didn't have to grow up in Cloudsdale. She'd live someplace where ponies were nice to each other.
She brought her other hoof into play, running it up and down her belly. Her nipples, tiny as they were, loved the attention. Her hips wanted to buck and grind on their own; her cun twitched open and closed underhoof. She was a water-skin of good feelings, shaken back and forth, panting and filling up closer and closer to bursting.
She stopped. "Oh downdraft, Snowy. I've got to pee."
"No you don't," her sister said. "You're so close that you won't. I promise."
Fluttershy found herself trying to catch her breath. Her scent hung over the cloud. "Close to what?"
"Your body will tell you a lot better than I can - and it's a nice surprise."
Fluttershy turned back to herself with gleeful curiosity. Her clit liked a direct stroke in line with her belly, enough to tug its hood around, but not so extreme that it brought fetlock hair against its surface. But if she was careful, she could glide her smooth - and wet - hoof-keratin over it. That she did. One hoof rubbed her groin, the other painted long slick strokes growing shorter and faster. The pressure inside her grew and grew and finally Fluttershy began to overflow.
A single broad wave of pleasure seemed to grip her entire body and drove the air from her lungs with a surprisingly deep "woof." The second was bigger, and she twitched and bucked and felt Snowdrift's forehooves clamp down. She lost focus on her off hoof, and only barely managed to keep the other scribbling over her clit, around which her cun was popping open and closed in time with the waves.
By the fifth-ish, Fluttershy had lost count, and needed to inhale, which she did with a sharp squeak. Her cun was drenched with hot fluid, now definitely running down into her tail.
Long seconds later, she was done, utterly spent and filled with lethargic bliss. Her breathing slowed and she opened her smiling eyes to Snowdrift.
Who was looking into the sky. Staring, in fact. Fluttershy's smile drained from her face.
Snowdrift finally brought her orange eyes down to meet Fluttershy's and she forced a smile. "Hey. What do you think?"
Fluttershy tried to make herself smile too. "It was delightful. But, Snowy, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," lied Snowdrift. "You didn't do anything wrong." She was a terrible liar: she smiled too hard and her voice always sounded funny whenever she tried. Fluttershy felt herself starting to cry.
There wasn't any reason for it, just that everything was too much. Fluttershy, her thighs and hooves starting to dry, lay in her sister's hug under the morning sky and bit her lip and fought her sniffles. "I- I'm sorry, Snowy. For being so gross, and-"
"No, no! You're beautiful, Shy. It's just that sisters shouldn't..." Snowdrift froze, then gently took her hooves from around her sister and pushed her from her chest.
Fluttershy sat up on her rump and forehooves and gazed at her sister through her tears. "Are- are you saying we shouldn't have done that?"
"You're fine. I shouldn't have done what I did."
"What part?" demanded Fluttershy. "You held me and helped me when I was scared. You only did sister things, and you weren't the one touching my cunnie. That was me, and if it was bad, why didn't you tell me to stop?! You can tell me if I did something bad, just, please tell me what you feel!"
"Oh, Fluttershy..." Snowdrift's face scrunched up. "I just... Okay, I'm sorry and I just thought if I stopped you, you'd think you were doing something bad and you'd end up ashamed of your body. Looks like I messed that one up something awful. No, you didn't do anything bad."
Fluttershy frowned. "I feel bad, though. It was so good, and then, and then... Snowy, I said I'd stop if it bothered you! I'm sorry if I did; I didn't mean to shock you. I..." She hung her head.
"That's the thing, Fluttershy," whispered Snowdrift in a tight voice. "You didn't shock me. I'm a bad pony. I am a really bad pony."
Fluttershy looked up. Snowy was lying funny, half-twisted away with her quarters closed.
"I let my little filly sister clop herself while I held her, and I liked it. Keep that beautiful little sex of yours to yourself, Shy-Shy. Save it for somepony a whole lot better than me." Snowdrift closed her eyes and turned as far away as she could atop their cozy little cloud.
"I love you, Snowy." Fluttershy wiped the tears from her cheek. "But the sun's up now and I want you to listen to me as your little mare sister. I gave you that feeling. It was wrong of me, and even if you don't blame me, I do want to take responsibility."
Fresh daylight grazed her big sister's coat, filling the little dips and shadows with snowy blue. The three flakes on her hip were each their own shape, unique and special and formed by strands of blue hair that irridesced in the summer sun like frost on windowpanes. She breathed and her wings shifted on her back, but she didn't say anything to Fluttershy.
And there was a little quivver that shook the ends of her flight feathers. Fluttershy leaned forward. Tears dripped rolled silently down her tough, cool big sister's nose. "Snowy, I love you and I'm sorry." She set her dry forehoof on a pure, white wing. "Please don't feel bad."
"Don't say that when I'm horny, Shy."
"Well," offered Fluttershy, "just this once, do you want me to hold you while you-"
"Absolutely not." Snowdrift rolled back and locked eyes. "Even if we weren't sisters, I'm married, Shy. My sex belongs to Brook."
Fluttershy almost argued that Snowdrift had helped her and it was only fair, but she finally realized what her sister was feeling. And it hurt that a sisterly hug and kiss wouldn't make things better. "I understand. And I forgive you, for holding me and, I guess, borrowing my sex like it wasn't mine. You're still my big, wonderful sister, and if it weren't so confusing and I weren't such a filthy mess right now-"
Snowdrift screwed up her face and sobbed and grabbed Fluttershy, embracing her sex-slicked and distraught little sister, pulling her close, clamping her chest in a bear hug, and wrapping her in cocoon of soft feathers. She didn't seem to mind messing her coat, and she kissed Fluttershy's nose and said, "No. You are my beautiful little sister and if you need a hug, nothing - certainly not a little fresh mare-dew - is going to keep me from giving you a thunder-striking hug! Understand?"
Fluttershy grunted in agreement and Snowdrift let her breathe. They lay together and all was forgiven between them.
Snowdrift sighed. "Now if only I can figure out what to tell Brook."
"What do you mean?"
"Ponies don't stop looking nice to us just because we're married, Shy. So we have a rule that we share our sex feelings. But that's gonna be awkward: 'Hey, honey, you know Shy-Shy, my little sister? She had her First Dawn today and, wow, she fired me up. Let's screw."
Fluttershy laughed. "Goodness, that's direct. Why don't you tell him what we did? You needed to tell me about sex, and that lead you to talk about him. I started touching myself, because you two are so sexy, and you wished he was there, right?"
"That wouldn't have been appropriate, but... I did feel left out."
"So that's what you tell him. We talked about sex. Naturally, that lead to him. Hearing about you two made me feel sexy and I clopped for the first time. You felt very confused lying with me and thinking about him, but you let me do it because you wanted me to know how - and it all made you ache for him. That's all true, isn't it?"
"Sleetstorm, Fluttershy," said Snowdrift. "That... that is probably going to lead to very nice things. Thank you."
"Oh," said Fluttershy, "I try. Mostly you have to say the truth, but make it sound nice."
Snowdrift reached a hoof up and tussled Fluttershy's mane. "Let's get cleaned up and find some breakfast."
She let Fluttershy slide off her chest and stretched her body long and her wings wide, so that she mostly filled the misty surface of the cloud in which both sisters floated. "Well, maybe in a couple of minutes. Hey, you wanna hear something? Brook knows about this, and my doctor does, too, but nopony else."
"What is it?"
"You're so smart, Fluttershy, I think it'll be more fun making you figure it out. I haven't been in heat since, oh, about ten weeks ago." There was a playful tone in Snowdrift's voice, and in the way her eyes sparkled as she looked toward the sky.
"It's usually three weeks?"
"About two weeks from heat to heat."
"And it's still summer, and it doesn't sound like the doctor thinks you're sick..."
"Nope. Perfectly healthy."
Fluttershy thought about this. Snowy's body wasn't ovulating, so no eggs. No more eggs. Fluttershy couldn't stop smiling once she figured it out. "I'm gonna be an aunt?"
"Bingo. As long as our foal doesn't get sick, but the chances keep getting better and better. It's time to let the family know, and, well, you're the first."
"Wow," said Fluttershy. "That's just... wow."
Snowdrift was the same pony she'd been moments before, confident and kind, especially toward her little brothers and sisters, but Fluttershy saw her with new eyes. She was beautiful from the points of her ears to the last strands of her tail. Her eyes fixed a far-off point with an optimism that took the shame out of her tears, which she hadn't wiped away. She wore the wet kiss Fluttershy had left on her belly and the glint of her own disquieted sex with the same humble dignity. The morning sun brought out the fire in her mane and eyes. She was youth and hope, seasoned with a dash of maturity. And, Fluttershy thought with a trace of a blush, she could fit her whole new family within her belly - sometimes, and in a manner of speaking.
Someday Fluttershy hoped to be just like her. "I love you Snowy."
"I love you, too, Flutterbutt."