Stepping Stones

by DylanDragon

First published

An Applejack x Fluttershy story

Fluttershy copes with her love for Applejack, but doesn't have the courage to tell her. Can her friends make her turn around? What would Applejack say?
This is an F/F Appleshy* story.
*Flutterjack? Jackieshy? Appleflutter? Seriously, there are too many possible names for this pairing...

Rarity's Recommendation

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Stepping Stones

Chapter 1—Rarity’s Recommendation

“Oh Applejack,” she sighed, “our love will last forever, won’t it?”

“Yes, sugarcube,” she replied, “forever and forever. Just you and me, Flutters.”

The sun was slowly setting to the West, and they could both see their shadows lengthening. Below a single tree sat the two mares, hugging so tightly that if it had not been for the difference in fur colors, nopony could tell them apart.

Fluttershy could feel the soft grass beneath tickle her back as she moved. “I love you, Jackie.”

“Ah love you, too, Flutters. Ah love you, too.” She nuzzled the yellow neck before her, making the timid pegasus gasp softly.

Fluttershy put down her pencil. “That’s not a lot,” she thought. It should be longer.

Her cottage rustled with activity with animals flying, scratching, and clawing everywhere, but her focus on her story never dwindled—that is, until now. What should I put next? Oh, this is so hard!

A sharp tapping on her hoof pulled her away from her thoughts. “Yes, Angel Bunny?” she asked politely at the small furry rabbit. Angel squeaked, screamed, and yelled at her in his own language.

“Oh…what is it?”

He hopped onto her desk and pointed at her day-by-day calendar.


He shook his head.

“March 15th? The Ides of March? Number? Date?”

He nodded and smiled. Then, he put a paw to his forehead and swooned.

“Theater! Uh…tragedy? Drama?”

Angel thought for a moment and nodded. Then, he put a rubber band on his head and took the pencil in his right paw.


Angel winced.

“Queen! Drama Queen! Rarity!”

The small rabbit nodded furiously.

“Date…Rarity! I don’t get—OH MY! I forgot! Thank you, Angel Bunny!”

Oh, I almost forgot my spa date with Rarity! I hope I’m not late. Rarity would understand, though. She’s such a good friend

“Oh there you are!”

“Sorry, Rarity. I lost track of time.”

“Still working on that story, I see,” she winked.

“Oh yes. I need to make it longer.”

“Well when you’re done, be sure to let me read it first!”

“Oh I will!”

Rarity gestured with a white hoof toward the open door of Lotus and Aloe’s Spa. “The usual!” she waved with another regal flourish.

The interior of the spa was painted a calming shade of sky-blue and light pink. A small fence separated the waiting room and the actual spa area. Luckily for the both of them, Rarity was such a frequent customer that she had a special reserved time and section in the spa area. In fact, since her expenses at the establishment paid for that wing, the spa twins considered naming it the Rarity Room of R-and-R.

As they settled into their first mud bath (Rarity insisted on at least three to rejuvenate her complexion as much as possible), they began their small talk.

“So, how was your day?”

“Oh…” Fluttershy said, “I guess it was okay.” She skimmed the top of the greenish glop with her hoof, drawing little hearts.

Rarity moaned and tilted her head, but not so much as to let the cucumber slices fall off. “I’ve had the busiest day one could ever imagine! It all started this morning when Twilight asked me to fix her dresses because Spike accidentally burned them! I mean, do you know how difficult fire damage is? You have to save as much as possible, and then find the right pattern and put it on so the seam is invisible. Of course, I would obviously do it anyways because it’s Twilight, but still! How busy!”

“Oh yes, Rarity. But can’t you use magic?”

“Well yes, dear, but pattern-lifting magic is quite difficult. Anyways, and then I hardly get a break when who should come but Big Macintosh? He asked me to make another hat for him. Apparently, his old one broke the last week. So I say, ‘Of course, Macintosh! I’ll have it ready by next week.’ But wouldn’t you know it; I didn’t realize that next week is also the deadline for the Haughty Couture Line submissions! As a result, I panicked, darling! I know it’s hard to imagine my getting flustered, but try!”

Fluttershy mentally giggled.

“So I worked triply hard this morning! And with all honesty and a hint of incredulity, I finished my submission in two hours! Call it a stroke of genius. I was wondering if you could come model it for me tomorrow? Of course, no obligations, and you wouldn’t have to do it in front of a crowd again. Just for me, so I can see what needs to be altered.”

“Oh sure, Rarity. If it’s just for you, then I can do that.” She smiled.

“Oh, thank you, darling! Now tell me. How much of that story for Applejack have you finished?”

“Oh it’s not for Applejack!” Fluttershy blushed profusely. “I could never show it to her…”

“Oh but you must! When it’s done, at least.”

The buzzer rang and they emerged from their mud bath, dried off, and entered the sauna. The walls were wooden, or maybe bamboo. Aloe stood in the corner, ladling water onto the furnace, filling the room with steam.

“As I was saying, you simply must show her! What better way to convey your true feelings?”

“Oh I don’t want to convey them. I just want to get it out of my system.” In truth, Fluttershy had no intention of showing the story to Applejack. She would hate me! Over the past few months, her feelings for Applejack had been eating her up inside, and she needed to get it out. She told Rarity first, and the white unicorn advised that she write down her feelings.

Her diary of feelings evolved from a quotidian diary to elaborate fantasies and wishes. These transformed into the beginnings of a story.

“Well, we’ll deal with that later. What have you written so far?”

“Um, we’re just under one of her apple trees, cuddling.”

“That’s it?”

“I just started…”

“Well, you must continue!”

Suddenly, Aloe put the ladle down and asked, “You’re writing a story, Fluttershy?”

The pegasus blushed and nodded shyly.

“Sorry I couldn’t help but overhear. It sounds like you’re having trouble thinking of what to write. You know, Lotus was working on a short story last winter, but she also hit writer’s block. So she talked to the town librarian. Twilight Dazzle, I think. I’m not sure. Purple, nerdy, saved Equestria like…three times with five other ponies…I can’t believe I can’t remember. Oh, so you do know her. Anyways, talk to her. She’ll help you a lot. And uh…good luck with Applefritter.”

She left, whistling the tune to “Clippity Clop Means Stop,” leaving the two mares alone.

“Why didn’t I think of that?!” Rarity exclaimed, “Ask Twilight! You know, she’s great with books. Romance, not so much, but she can definitely help you with the writing.”

“I don’t know…she doesn’t know I’m…this way…”

“She does.” The unicorn averted her eyes and coughed softly.

“She…does?” Oh no, oh no, oh no…oh…no…

“Yes…erm…she knows it was you who checked out ‘Coming Out for Beginners.’ In all honesty, it was a bit obvious that it was you under that overcoat.”

“Oh…She hasn’t said anything…” She hates me…She’s trying to ignore it…

“Well you know, darling. She’s a good friend like that,” Rarity continued, “and she’ll definitely help you with your story.”

“You think she won’t mind?” I hope you’re right. No, you are right, Rarity. Twilight is a good friend.

“Of course she won’t! Now, let’s get out of here before my fur turns red!”

“So, you’ll need a dress, right?” Rarity asked when they returned to the Boutique. She always asked Fluttershy to come back with her for a cup of tea. She insisted it was “most excellent for rejuvenating the face after a long time under steam,” but the pegasus knew that it was just an excuse to get to talk.

“A…a dress? Whatever for?” She took a sip—with difficulty, due to her lack of magic—and sighed in relaxation. I really do love this tea. What is it again? Oh yes, Hoofington Pleasure. I do love this…maybe I’ll buy some of my own.

“When you tell your feelings to Applejack, of course!” she exclaimed.

“Oh no, no, no! I’m not telling her! I’m going to keep it locked up forever!”

“Darling, you can’t be serious!”

“I am! I mean…I know she won’t…she won’t…she won’t like me back.” She said the last few words with some difficulty as she began to choke over her words, stumbling over them with sadness and fear.

“You have to try, darling. Go see Twilight tomorrow. In the mean time…” she paused and left the room for awhile.

Fluttershy sat, confused, until the unicorn returned, levitating a pale blue periwinkle dress with a matching headband. “This will do nicely.”


“If you—when you—finally decide to tell Applejack your true feelings, wear this. It complements your coat quite well, and the headband has an apple-blossom on it. It’s perfect, is it not?”

She really is the Element of Generosity… “Okay,” she said, “I’ll take it, but no promises…”

“Good enough for me!” Rarity said, smiling. “Now, let’s see that story!”

Fluttershy reached into her saddlebag and took out a thin stack of papers. The first, she flipped over onto the table. “It’s my drawing,” she explained. The second was full of scribbles. “Scratch sheet.” The third was much neater—the words stayed on the lines. The fourth was blank, for future ideas. Rarity levitated the story-in-progress to her face and began reading. Twenty seconds later, she fetched her glasses and began anew.

“Not bad. A bit short. Okay, very short. We need to lengthen it. Surely, you must have some other ideas!”

“I do!” the pegasus insisted. “But oh, it’s so hard to put it on paper!”

An aura of white magic surrounded a nearby quill and flew onto the sheet. “Tell me then, darling. Tell me what you want to say, and I’ll put it on paper for you.”

She began recounting all of her fantasies. She talked about the apple orchard cuddling. She broached the topic of their wedding. She glided over their kissing. She giggled at the thought of any foals. I really am revealing a lot about my crush. Maybe not just to Rarity. To me, too. I think I really love her.

“Do you think this will work? I mean, aren’t these your words on the paper?”

“Of course not, darling!” Rarity exclaimed, “This maybe in my writing, but the words are one-hundred percent yours, I guarantee it! This past half hour, all I’ve been writing down are some choice quotations that you yourself spoke! These are your words, darling, and I want you to take them to Twilight tomorrow and incorporate them into a lyrical melody of passion and love.”

Fluttershy glanced at Rarity’s work. She was right. They were all her words. She spotted, “And I’ll love her forever and ever,” as well as “We cuddled until we fell asleep in each other’s warm embrace.” She also found “I won’t ever judge her negatively because she’s perfect in my eyes” scrawled in the corner with a star next to it.

“Thank you, Rarity. You’re so good at this romance thing. You know exactly what to say.”

“I don’t, darling. These are your words, remember? I just picked out the best ones.”

“Why don’t you have a coltfriend yet? If you don’t my asking…”

Rarity blushed and cleared her throat. “Well, darling. That’s um…I just haven’t found the right one yet.”

“I’m sure you’ll find him soon. Any stallion would be so lucky to have you.”

“Aww, thank you! So long, darling! Don’t forget our spa date next week!”

I could tell she wanted me to stay a little longer, but I really have to go. Rarity is such a good friend. I’m so lucky to have her. I’m so lucky to have all my friends. Applejack, especially. I still remember that time she carried me up that mountain. I was so scared to face that dragon, but she never gave up on me. And all the times she calls me “sugarcube.” Oh, that just makes me…melt…
I have to tell her sometime, don’t I? Rarity’s right. I have to tell her. I don’t want to. I won’t. But I know what would happen if I did. Her eyes began to water as she was walking home. She would reject me. She’d reject me like I always get rejected. And it’d hurt so much more than last time.

Twilight's Tutoring

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Stepping Stones

Chapter 2—Twilight’s Tutoring

Okay, let’s see. What do I need still? She slowed her canter into a saunter, turned her head backward, and checked her saddlebags. I got the carrots, acorns, water bottles, and…where are the quills? I’m sure I got them…I just talked to Mr. Davenport. Oh there you are, you sneaky things, you…hiding under my carrots…That just leaves…oh yes, I need to get the herbal remedies book from Twilight.

By now, her saunter had ceased and she was standing still in the road. She turned forward again, and heard a crack in her neck. Ooh, ouch! Modeling for Rarity was hard today…I was standing there for so long! Maybe that remedies book has a painkiller recipe.

She trotted the rest of the way to the library and knocked on the door with a hoof.

A few seconds later, Twilight stood behind the open version. “Fluttershy! Come in!” she said, “What can I do for you?”

“Um, I think I asked you if I could borrow the herbal remedies book?”

“Oh yeah. Silly me. Let’s see…” She flitted around the shelves until she found the one she was looking for—second level from the ground, on the Eastern side of the room. “Now you said you wanted Natural Cures for the Physiognomy, right? Oh no, it was The Caretaker’s Guide to the World of Herbal Medicine. That’s it.” She pulled it out with her purple magic and gave it the proper stamps.

“Thank you, Twilight.” She opened her saddlebag so Twilight could drop it in, but it never came.

“Nuh-uh!” She shook her head, almost in a teasing manner. She withheld the book and hid it behind her. “Are you busy today?”

“Not extremely so. Why?” I’m so confused…what is this…? What’s wrong with the book?

“Care to spend the night here?”

“Well, I don’t have to feed the animals until the morning, so I guess I could…” Why?

“Excellent. Because I promised Rarity I wouldn’t let you leave until we make some serious progress with your story.” She beamed.

Fluttershy almost fainted. I…I forgot about that…

The other side of her bags was opened and her thin stack of paper flew out under Twilight’s levitation.

“I…I really appreciate this, Twilight, but I…”

“Fluttershy, I’ve known you for years.” She straightened the papers a bit, and acted as if nothing was out of the ordinary. She continued in her matter-of-fact manner, “And I know you’re a fillyfooler. I’ve seen the way you look at AJ. I know the books you check out, and I know you struggle. I know how hard it is for you.”
She suddenly sighed and stayed quiet for a few seconds. He tone changed and become more somber. “Shining Armor swings both ways, if you get my meaning, and before he married Cadence, he was looking for a coltfriend. It was really hard for him to come out and even harder to admit his feelings. I couldn’t help him do that because he was in Canterlot. But please let me help you. Let me help you show your feelings to Applejack, okay? I’ll support you through everything.”

A single tear fell from the pegasus’s eyes and she smiled. “Thank you,” she said softly, and hugged her.

“Okay, let’s see what you got here.”

“Not bad,” she said after reading what Fluttershy had written and what Rarity had noted. “It needs a plotline. It needs a beginning to draw in interest, a middle to send a message, and an end to make that message last.”

“Oh…how about… ‘It was a bright and sunny morning’?”

“Uh…how about something less cliché?”

“Oh…” Fluttershy thought. She thought and thought; the lighting in the room seemed to get darker as time went on, but she was sure it was her imagination.

Twilight lost patience. “How about this? What’s your biggest, most desirable fantasy with her?”

“Well that would be just what I have there—cuddling underneath one of her apple trees.”

“Okay, and how do you think that would start?”

“Um…maybe I would be walking in her orchards, and then suddenly she sees me and we rest under a tree?”

“Great!” Twilight exclaimed, “Great start! Now let’s fine-tune it a bit. Why were you walking around in her orchards?”

“Because…because I was looking for Angel! Because he ran off and I was looking for him!”

“Okay, and you go into the orchards to find him, and you see Applejack, who invites you to sit down with her.”

“And then I tell her I love her?”

“That’s good. Now, to make your writing seem more alive, according to the Egghead’s Guide to Creative Writing, use lots of sensory detail and imagery, as well as introspection. I mean…not that I ever follow the Egghead’s Guide series…” She coughed. “So let’s see you try. Try and put those images onto the paper. If you mess up, don’t worry, we’ll make a final draft later.”

An hour later, the sun was setting both in Equestria and in Creativity Land. The pencil fell from her mouth, and two pages of written material sat in front of the pegasus.
Twilight returned from upstairs to check up on her. “Done?”
She nodded.
“Okay. Let’s see.” She began reading.

Once in awhile, Twilight would stop and point out some inconsistencies, give advice, or elucidate critical—at least in her opinion—grammatical errors (“Never use a comma to separate two independent clauses. That becomes a comma splice. You know, the Third Equestrian war in 650 began because of a comma splice in a treaty”).

After another round of revisions, Twilight proofread. The cycle continued until it slowed, and eventually came to a stop. The moratorium in writing came about only due to the chiming of the clock and the realization that the library was the only building in Ponyville with the lights still on.

“Let’s get ready for bed. I think it’s good enough anyways,” Twilight said.

“Good enough?”

“Princess Celestia once said to me, ‘There is no such thing as finishing a writing piece. There is only a point at which the writer deems it sufficient.’ I think that applies here.”

“Thank you, Twilight,” Fluttershy said softly, “I really appreciate your help.”

“No problem.” She smiled.

After settling into their respective beds, Fluttershy could not stop herself from wondering. How does Twilight know so much about romance? I don’t think she’s ever had a coltfriend… “Twilight?” she asked the darkness.

The darkness responded, “Yes?”

“Have you ever had a coltfriend?”


“How do you know so much about romance?”

The darkness chuckled. “I don’t. I know nearly nothing about romance and love and whatnot. That’s Rarity’s specialty. But I do know a thing or two about writing, as well as the difficulties of being a stalliosexual or mareosexual.”

“Can you tell me about your brother? It’s okay if you don’t want to.”

“Um…to be honest, I don’t know too well. I knew he liked both mares and stallions only because he told me before he left to join the Royal Guard. He sent me some letters talking about how he had developed a crush on one of his bunkmates, and I watched it (or rather, heard about it) grow and finally, he realized he was in love. But he couldn’t tell him. He couldn’t tell that other stallion about how much he liked him.

“He spent all his time worrying about how he would react, and when the other stallion was transferred to Fillydelphia, he never got to tell him ever. He stopped sending me letters after that. He became very…depressed. He nearly got sent home after they caught him crying in the locker rooms.

“Don’t get me wrong, he loves Cadence with all his heart, and he’s very happy now. Those few months, though. They really hurt him, and I don’t ever want that to happen to any one of my friends.”

“Wow, Twilight…that’s…very touching.” That’s more than touching. I think I see Twilight in a whole different way now. She’s so caring. She’s like Rarity. These two really are my best friends. If only I could tell Applejack. I need to tell her, don’t I?
Of course you do, Fluttershy! Look at Shining Armor! He let his chance slip, and he never got to say it! But…maybe that’s a good thing. It could have hurt him so much more if he was rejected…Like…like I’ve been rejected.

Fluttershy sniffled, then yawned, and she could hear soft snoring coming from Twilight’s bed, as well as Spike’s. The little dragon had been fast asleep when they entered, and never awoke once. She couldn’t sleep, though. I can’t stop thinking about my story. There was a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning was interesting—interesting enough in her opinion, at least. The middle had exactly what she wanted: a romantic coming-out filled with cuddles and snuggles. Finally, the ending was perfect. It felt good. It feels nice—having my story finished.
The story is done. My venting is over. I think...I think I really like the story. It’s the kind of story I would put in a box and hide it under my bed forever. I feel better.
I should feel better. I should. My feelings should be better now. But…why does it feel worse? She squeezed her eyes shut and felt few tears trickle out. Why does it make me love her even more? Oh Jackie…why do you do this to me? Why?

Dash's Directions

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Stepping Stones

Chapter 3—Dash’s Directions

“Morning Fluttershy!” Twilight called from the kitchen.

Fluttershy let out a little mumble, as she had just woken up. “Morning…” My mouth tastes funny…

“I made pancakes!” She beamed, and levitated a plate of chocolate chip pancakes onto the table. “So how did you sleep?”

“Terrible. Oh, not because of you or anything!” She added the end after she caught sight of Twilight’s guilty face.

“Oh, was the bed not to your liking?”

“No, it’s just…I couldn’t stop…thinking…”

“About AJ?”

“About everything. AJ was a part of it. About my future. About…my past.”

“Well,” Twilight started with an open mouth, but continued with a full one, “If wu neeh anyhing, jutht tell me.”

“Thank you.” She began eating. Oh my, this is good. The fluffy pancakes were still hot, and she could feel the steam fill her mouth and she chewed. Melting chocolate chips leaked from the airy cake and flooded her taste buds. Some of the outside had burned chocolate, which tasted just as good, if not better—crispy, yet sweet. She could feel the sugar in her throat as she swallowed.

Suddenly, the window above the Eastern book shelf (Nonfiction) opened and in flew a cyan blur. The blur landed in the middle of the floor and trotted to the table.

“Hey Twilight, did Daring Do and the Jewels of Clopatra come here yet? Oh hi, Fluttershy! What are you doing here?”

“Um…I was just…I was…” I’m so bad at lying.

“She was helping me sort books. You should help out, too, Rainbow. Oh, and no, not yet. I think maybe next week. I have to buy it from the bookstore.”

Thank you, Twilight. “Yes, that’s it,” Fluttershy added quickly.

“Oh, so you’re not having a slumber party without me? Or Celestia forbid, a three-way without me?”

Fluttershy squeaked and hid behind her hair. Twilight choked on her pancake and fell to the floor. “RAIN—[cough, cough, choke, cough, cough]—BOW DASH!”

The blue pegasus fell to the floor, laughing. Oh my…I hope they’re okay… “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist!” She laughed.

“Oh Celestia…” Twilight muttered and went into the kitchen to get water from Spike, who was still washing the dishes.

Rainbow Dash leaned in close to Fluttershy and whispered, “Anyways, if you did have a three-way, I know you would definitely invite Applejack, wouldn’t you?”

Fluttershy ducked. “N—No…Why would you—I wouldn’t—I didn’t—But…how did…?”

She pulled away. “Eh, you look at her all the time.” She shrugged, then continued, “You treat her extra nicely. You lean on her when you can. It’s how you acted with Cloudchaser.”

Fluttershy recoiled. That…that name…I can’t…I can’t hear it…

“Sorry,” Dash said and looked down. “Listen, I want to talk to you. Meet me on cloud thirty-eight in ten minutes. Unless you have to be here…”

She shook her head.


“What’s cloud thirty-eight?”

“Ugh…” Dash face-hoofed. “It’s the one on top of your cottage. You know, this cloud code system won’t work if you keep forgetting. I sometimes wonder why I maintain sixty clouds around Ponyville if nopony bothers to know their codes…”

“I’m sorry…”

“It’s okay. See you in ten minutes!” She flew off.

Twilight returned with a glass of water. “Where’s Rainbow?”

“She left. I um…I have to go feed my animals, too, actually.” It wasn’t a lie. She really did have to return and provide food for her various animal friends. She downed the rest of her pancakes quickly. “Thank you so much, Twilight, for breakfast, letting me spend the night here, and most of all, your help with my story.”

“No problem, Fluttershy! Happy trails!” She waved her out.

Okay. Eight minutes to feed everyone and fly up to cloud…twenty-eight? Thirty-eight? Oh Celestia, I forgot. The one on top of my cottage.

Angel greeted her when she arrived. He followed her while she flitted around the cottage like a fairy, sprinkling her food and pixie dust on every animal she saw. Last, but not least, was the bunny. Fluttershy always saved him for last, since his being so persnickety made him hard to cater to. Once she had palliated his hunger, however, he was docile and quite complacent with the world.

Wow, perfect timing. She left the cottage and flew up to cloud twenty-eight—thirty-eight—the one above her home.

“What took you so long?”

“Well, it was ten minutes almost exactly,” she said, landing on the large cloud with a small puff.

“Oh…time crawls when you’re bored.”

“Is that even a saying?” Fluttershy giggled.

“Maybe. Anyways, I wanted to talk to you alone.”

“Oh…what for?” She sort of knew the answer already. A small breeze blew across her mane, making her shiver. The altitude wasn’t that much higher, but it made a difference.

“I want to talk about Applejack.”

“Oh um…” Do we have to? “Okay…” She started drawing little circles in the cloud, making wisps of vapor rise up in spirals before dissipating into the atmosphere.

“Do you love her?”

Yes, so much. More than I thought was possible. “No, it’s just a crush.”

“Do you want to rephrase that?”


“Are you sure? Because I’m really sure it’s more than that.”

“I…I—okay. I…I love her.”

“The reason I’m asking is…” She sighed. “You remember Cloudchaser.”

She winced. “I…I do…”

“Look, there’s nothing wrong with you!” She seemed almost angry. “She’s the one that had a problem! Anyways, she was straight, okay? So you had no chance from the beginning!”

“That doesn’t make it hurt any less, Rainbow…” Please don’t cry. Don’t let me cry. A few tears escaped. I hate myself.

“I’m sorry…I…I don’t want you to get hurt again. And if Applejack hurts you, I don’t think I can beat her up.”

“You didn’t have to hurt Cloudchaser…” She hid behind her mane again.

“Yes I did!” She shouted, “That bitch had it coming! She rejects you, fine. It’s because she’s straight. Nopony cares. But then she goes on and spreads those horrible rumors that you molested her! She almost got you kicked out of Flight School! She had it coming. She deserved it, and I stand by what I did. When I heard that she’s just some floozy show-filly in Las Pegasus, you know what I said? I said ‘Good! That’s where she belongs.’ She made your first crush into a nightmare.” She sighed. “I’m sorry I lost my temper. You…you deserve better…You’re like my sister, Flutters, and I don’t want you to get hurt, ever again.”

Why did you have to bring that up, Rainbow? It still hurts. It still hurts a lot. It was so many years ago, yet…I still think about it…
But…you are like my sister. You’re one of my best friends, just like Rarity and Twilight. You’re all such good friends. You’re all my best friends.

“I…okay, Rainbow. What did you want to tell me about Applejack?” She stuttered through her tears.

“I want to help you ask her out.”

“I’m not…I’m not asking her out.”

“You’re not?!” Her jaw dropped. “But you have to!”

“No!’ she cried, “She’ll reject me, and I…I don’t want you to hurt her!”

“I promise I won’t hurt her. Unlike that horrible Cloudchaser, AJ’s my friend, and I won’t hurt her—as long as she still treats you like you should be treated. And I know she will.”

“Thank you…” She took a few deep breaths and calmed down. “I…I still don’t want to tell her, though.”

“Yes, you do. It’s eating you up inside, isn’t it?”

That’s so true. Every morning I wake up with her in my mind, and she’s the last thing I think about before I sleep. Every waking moment is filled with her. It’s like…like Angel when he’s angry. It lashes out periodically and catches me off-guard.

“Did you try and find a…an ‘outlet,’ as Sparkles calls it?”

“I um…I was writing a story with Twilight last night.”

“Ha. Knew you weren’t organizing books. Since when did she need anypony’s help for that?” She puffed out her chest proudly, as if figuring it out was the zenith of her life.

“I really like it.”

“But did it work?”


“You love her more now, don’t you?”

“…Yes…Yes, I do.” Fluttershy looked down, averting her eyes from the magenta orbs in the pegasus across from her.

“You have to tell her. Show her your story. I bet Twilight told you to tell her, didn’t she?”

“She did.” Since when are you so perceptive, Rainbow?

As if she could read minds (or more probably, facial expressions), Rainbow replied, “I’m a good guesser.”

“Rainbow Dash? Can I ask you something?”


“How do you know so much about love?”

“Eh. I used to have a coltfriend.”

“Oh um…I actually always thought you were a fillyfooler…” Oops…I hope she doesn’t take any offense…

“I am. Turns out he was a coltcuddler. I just liked him because he was so filly-like, and he liked me because I was so coltish—I mean relatively…Huh…I wonder where he is now…Last time I checked he was in the Royal Guard.”

“You don’t have a fillyfriend?”

“Nope. I realized long ago that I am a complete pony without another filly. Someday I’ll find a nice mare to settle down with. But before then, I’m perfectly happy.”

I wish I could feel like that…Instead, I’m stuck with love…

Fluttershy began prodding the cloud, testing the elasticity with her hooves. She could feel some of the water condense on her fur. She’s right. I have to tell her…I…I knew it all along. Does that make me sound conceited and arrogant? I hope not…
“Rainbow…” she whispered, “How do I…How do I tell her?”

“You can show her your story. I mean, if it’s as romantic and cuddly as I think it is,” the cyan pegasus said, sticking out her tongue in mock disgust, “then she must be denser than a Class Eight cloud if she doesn’t get it.”

“Oh…just give it to her?” That doesn’t sound hard, but I know it will be…

“Of course not! You have to set the mood right. You can ask her to proofread it, and then go somewhere very…romantic, I guess? You’re better at this stuff than me, you know.”

“I’m not very good at lying…and she’s the Element of Honesty! She’d see through it instantly!”

“She can’t possibly know. Just say, ‘I need you to proofread this for me, AJ.’ That’s it. Let me hear you say it.”

“I…I need you to proofread this for me, Jackie.”


“I need you to proofread this for me, Applejack…If you wouldn’t mind.”

Rainbow Dash sighed. “Good enough.”

I can do this. I can do this. “What if she says…what if she says no?”

“That’s like wondering if Twilight will burn a book. It’s so impossible, there’s no point is asking.”

“She burned a book last week, along with a couple of her dresses.”

“Oh um…” Rainbow rubbed the back of her head. “If she says no, then we’ll deal with it. But she’ll say yes.”

“Thank you, Rainbow.”

“No problem. Go tell her tomorrow. I’ll uh…I’ll clear the skies for you,” she winked. “In the meantime, go and uh…get her something.”

“I don’t know what to get her.”

“Get her food. Everypony likes food. But make it yourself!”

“I can’t…I can’t cook very well.”

“Ask Pinkie to help you.”

“I don’t…I don’t even know if Pinkie’s available tomorrow.”

Suddenly, with a loud and shrill whizzing sound, an envelope shot up from beneath them, and punctured a hole in the cloud they were sitting on. It rose up in the air until gravity won the force contest and began pulling it down. It twirled and fluttered into Rainbow Dash’s hooves. It was pink, and had flowery drawings all over it. “To Fluttershy,” it said on the front. Underneath that, it said, “Dashie, you can open it if you caught it.”

They stared at each other for a moment before Dash opened it. “I’m available all day tomorrow. Come to Sugarcube Corner anytime. Love, Pinkie Pie,” she read.

“…How…?” Rainbow stuttered. “That’s…that’s impossible…How did she…?” The pegasus looked up for agreement from her companion, but received none.
Fluttershy had fainted.

Pinkie's Pastries

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Stepping Stones

Chapter 4—Pinkie’s Pastries

Fluttershy rang the bell on the counter. “Um…Mr. Cake? Mrs. Cake? Is Pinkie here? Is anypony here?”

Nopony answered. She rang again. “Hello? Pinkie?”

“Yes?” called a voice behind her.

The pegasus jumped up and gripped the red and yellow ceiling lights.

“Silly Fluttershy! Those lights aren’t real candy! They’re just plastic. Believe me, I’ve tried!”

Fluttershy could feel the teeth marks with her hooves. “How do I get down?” she whimpered.

“Maybe your wings? I mean, if I had wings, that’s how I’d get down from anywhere!”

“You said to come here today?” she said cautiously once her four hooves were on the ground.

“Yup! We’re going to make you some yummy stuff for when you come out to Applejack tonight!”

“How did you know…?” I’m getting tired of asking this…

“Pinkie knows all,” she said mysteriously.

“Oh…” Forgot about that.

“I’m just kidding, Fluttershy! You should have seen the look on your face! I actually saw it in my Mystical Orb of Fate’s Destiny.”

“Oh, um…obviously…”

In the next room over, Pinkie had set up all sorts of baking equipment, as well as ingredients. On the left of the long, pink counter, there was flour, sugar, spices, and sugar. There was also a bag of sugar next to the sugar. And next to that second bag of sugar, another bowl of sugar sat. How is Pinkie not made of candy yet? To the right were all the bowls and baking pans and muffin tins. On the floor were bags of fruit—apples, mostly. Finally, the two ovens were set to two different temperatures, and each was making clicking sounds as it adjusted the internal heat to the specified level.

“Okay, Fluttershy! We’re going to make some super duper yummy stuff!” She giggled girlishly. “So here are my rules for today: One, you have to make everything yourself. I’m just here to supervise (whatever that means). Two, let me read your story when everything is done. Three, don’t forget to have fun!”

“Oh…um…how do I…?” I don’t even know the first thing about baking…how does she expect me to—

Her thoughts were interrupted by another Pinkie Verbal Vortex™.

“So, I was thinking…or really, you need to think of two things to make for her. I can help you make anything your heart desires. Just name it!”

“Um…do you have any examples?”

“Sure. Hrm…got it! So last year, remember that birthday party for Rarity? I made her a cake in the shape of one of her dresses! Or maybe a week ago, when I made muffins for Derpy!”

“Um…how about a cake?”


“With…her name on it? And my name on it? Oh, and a heart between them!”

“Yes! Perfect!” Pinkie leapt up into the air and danced. Pinkie…you broke gravity…

“How do I…?”

“Two cups of flour!” She stopped smiling and became very serious. “I mean flour. Flour. The white stuff. Not lemons, not limes, and definitely not vinegar. Flour.”

Fluttershy backed away half a step. “Got it, Pinkie. Flour.”

“Just making sure!” she giggled.

Fluttershy struggled with the baking. Her animals at home demanded excellence in cooking salad and nuts, not deluxe cakes and cupcakes. The flour—somehow—stained the wall, the floor, and Pinkie. She encountered a myriad of problems, but the pink pony never lost her patience. She sat through the screams when the fastest speed on the mixer was used. She guided the pouring and aliquotting of the batter. She demonstrated proper egg-cracking techniques for physical-law-obeying ponies.

An hour later, their sugar supply was cut in half. A good portion went into the cake, but much more went into Pinkie’s stomach. Part of the cake batter was set aside on contingency for the cupcakes.

I still think muffins are better, but who am I to argue with Pinkie Pie? She mentally giggled. “So how are we going to decorate the cupcakes?” This is really fun!

“Easy! With…” she took out a bag of apples and continued, “apple slices and frosting!”

“Yay…” Applejack will love these. Is it just me, or does everypony in her family only eat apple products? Hrm…anyways. I hope this makes her say yes! A sudden wave of worry and panic flooded her for a moment. It was the dread and fear that the love of her life would reject her—just like Cloudchaser. But it passed quickly. She had already learned that it was impossible to worry or feel sad when one is with Pinkie Pie. She’s such a good friend. All my friends are such great friends: Rarity, Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie. They’re the best I could ever wish for.

Fluttershy carefully frosted each cupcake with green frosting. It was tricky getting the shape right. She had to hold the spatula in her mouth (while making sure none of her oral fluids dripped down and tainted the pastries) and swirl it firmly around the mound of cake.

Pinkie watched with fascination. She was the master—the expert. Her oral skills had been trained for years, and she could frost every single cupcake there in less than a three minutes. She was patient, however, and forgave any errors that she would normally berate herself for making.

“Done!” Fluttershy said. “Is there anything else?”

“Cake’s done, cupcakes are done. So nope! Just package them and let me read your story!”

“Okay.” Out came the pink cardboard boxes with yellow ribbon and orange twine. Around the boxes they wrapped, the two twisting together and tying the boxes shut. Yellow for me, and orange for Jackie. Wait a minute…How did Pinkie Pie know I was writing a…oh, never mind…

After a quick cleanup, Fluttershy fetched her story from her saddlebags. “Please be careful with these, Pinkie. I spent all morning writing them nicely.”

“No problem!” She very punctiliously laid out the papers one by one on the desk (right after making sure there was no liquid on the surface). She used her hooves to adjust each one so the rectangular pages aligned perfectly. Finally, she slammed her face onto the table so that no distance separated her eyes and the words. She slid across the surface, reading every word (at least it looked like it).

She periodically let out little whines of adorability or sniffles. When she was done, she cheered. “This is really good, Fluttershy! I mean, this is so you! Well, I know you had Twilight’s help, but that doesn’t count!”

“How…?” Fluttershy started.

“Mystical Orb of Fate’s Destiny,” Pinkie answered quickly.

Fluttershy giggled. I should have known.

“Hey, Fluttershy?”

“Oh. Yes, Pinkie Pie?”

“You really love her, don’t you?”

“I…Yes, I do. I do love her.”

“Wait here.”

She disappeared, but reappeared in two seconds, with another box—this one light pink. She set it down on the table next to the story, which the pegasus was gently putting back in order.

Pinkie’s voice was very quiet. It was her “serious” voice. “Fluttershy,” she said, “In this box is the Heart of Fates.”

“The…Heart of Fates?”

“Yes. It’s something really special among pastry chefs.”

“What is it?”

“It’s a cookie, basically.” She opened the box. It was heart-shaped, and had raised edges. In the middle was a pink liquid that rippled in the shape of smaller hearts that started in the center and expanded until they hit the edge. She closed it. “It’s only for those who truly desire true love.”

“Why is it so special?”

“The cookie itself isn’t that special. It’s just regular old cookie dough. But see the pink goopy stuff in the middle? That takes a long time to make. And it’s super duper complex. I didn’t get it right until my third try. This is the first one that’s actually successful. It lasts forever, and it’s very special.”

“What does it do?” She was a bit intimidated.

“Er…to be honest…I don’t think it really does anything. But it’s cool, isn’t it? It’s mostly…symbolic. It’s just supposed to be really romantic thing. It comes from this old Earth Pony legend my Granny used to tell me. I can tell you someday.

“Oh…th—thank you…”

“So basically, according to tradition, you’re supposed to each eat half at sunset. But really, I think any time works. It took a long time to make, and I think I really want you to have it. I would be so honored if my friends would be together forever!”

“Wow, Pinkie…th—thank you…” She sniffled with happiness and gratitude.

“Aww, no problem!” Her serious face disappeared. “Good luck with AJ!”

“Bye Pinkie Pie, thank you so much!” she said as she walked out.

Heart of Fates…sounds nice…I wonder what it tastes like. She couldn’t wonder for too much, however. The grand majority of her capacity was taken up by worrying on the way to Sweet Apple Acres.

Interlude: The Legend of Prince Raigo and Princess Ichthya

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Stepping Stones

The Legend of Prince Raigo and Princess Ichthya

“Hey Granny, can you tell me that story again?” Pinkie chirped happily.

“Let’s see now…which story did you want? The one about the mirror pool?” Granny Pie asked with a twinkle in her voice. In her old age, her previously bright magenta fur had slowly dulled to a dark pink and her vision had given way and she needed her blue-rimmed glasses. Her body had long been unfit for rock farming, so she lived in her own room on the side of the farm. Yet her mind was still sharp, and she gleamed with ancient wisdom, charisma, and experience.

“Ugh, no…I don’t like the mirror pool now…You know…the one about the Heart of Fates? The one you always tell me when I visit?”

“Ah, you mean the legend of Prince Raigo and Princess Ichthya!”

“Yeah! That one! I finally made one!”

“Has my little Pinkamena found love?”

“Nah, I don’t think she notices me. But one of my friends has! So I gave it to her!”

“How generous…Let’s see…I don’t quite remember the details, but I can read it.” She stopped in her rocking chair and crossed the round room to fetch the book. The rotund floor was covered in a light blue carpet on which Pinkie sat contrastingly. The walls were covered with pictures of the Pie family. A fire blazed on the side, and around it sat multiple bookshelves. The one on the left housed Legends of Equestria. Granny Pie picked out the sixth volume, returned to her chair, and flipped it open to beginning. She began her tale.

As you know, the Equestria was established from three different kingdoms. Our story begins long before the unification of the three kingdoms. These events take place centuries before, in the Earth pony kingdom.

The Earth pony kingdom was ruled by two rulers: King Lorr and his fair Queen Lianne. They oversaw the kingdom’s laws, the society, the economy, but most of all, its virtues. Lorr and Lianne allowed no crime—no overstepping of boundaries. To break a rule—even a social norm—was equivalent of the worst deed and deserved death.

Those who disobeyed the kingdom’s unspoken rules were tossed into the surrounding ocean, forced never to return, for their precious Earth did not deserve such uncivilized scum. In this time, many of the activities that are accepted today were scorned and worthy of death back then. Activities such as premarital relations, dancing, littering, stalliosexuality and mareosexuality, and verbal slander were all taboo. But not one rule was followed more strictly than the ban on incest.

“Ewww! Incest!” Pinkie stuck out her tongue.

“Well, you have to remember, Pinkamena, that in those times, it was common. Royal blood should be kept in royal families. King Lorr knew about how it was bad, and he was one of the first to condemn it.” She stopped for a moment to shift her glasses higher.

“Well…maybe…but who is he to say that you can’t be a fillyfooler or coltcuddler?”

“Speaking of fillyfooling, when are you going to find a mare to settle down with?”

“When you finish the story, Granny!” Pinkie giggled.

King Lorr was the sole, unchallenged ruler of the kingdom, for his brothers were all unfit to rule—both mentally and physically. They were the product of the incestuous relations between his mother and his uncle. He alone was healthy, and as a result, he set forth a decree so strict, that not only were the violators to be sent to death, but their kin as well.

Our story begins with Lorr and Lianne’s young son—Raigo. Raigo was a healthy, pert, young stallion of maturing age. His childhood had been spent on learning the art of leadership, for Lorr had trained him from young to become the next king. Everything in Raigo’s life was predestined—from his diet, to his marriage. He was marked to marry Princess Triana from the neighboring kingdom of pegasi. The bond was to be a legal treaty between the two kingdoms.

One fine morning, however, the kingdom received word that Queen Lianne had been successfully mated, and a new royal foal was to be born soon. The citizens rejoiced, yet King Lorr remained anxious. He had spent twenty years cultivating his formerly sole heir to the throne. If the foal was to be a colt, his pride may have to face a challenge.

His worrying, however, need not have been, for the foal was born a filly, and the king rejoiced with his empire.

In time, the filly grew to be healthy, beautiful, and most of all, intelligent. She was Princess Ichthya. She was the pride of Queen Lianne, for her mind was sharper than the rays of sunlight that pervaded throughout the kingdom. The Queen began searching for suitors, finding many across the land whom she deemed unworthy of marrying her daughter. After years of searching, however, she finally encountered one fine stallion—Prince Tulo of the unicorn clan. They were marked to marry when they both came of age.

“Hey Granny,” Pinkie interrupted, “Didn’t you have an arranged marriage?”

“I did…your grandfather and I knew we would be married when we were in school.”

“Does that…work? I mean, I definitely wouldn’t want to have an arranged marriage…there’s no surprise anymore, and I love surprises!” she bubbled.

“Well, I thought it worked well. I loved him even the day he died…anyways…”

Prince Raigo, in the meantime, remained adamantly focused in his leadership lessons from King Lorr. He was so preoccupied, that he harbored no desire for the outside world. His life consisted of his studies from his father and care from his mother. There was nopony in his social life—except for Princess Ichthya, whom he was smitten by.

The bond between Prince Raigo and Princess Ichthya was more lucent than the brilliant sun. It was softer than the dullest moon, yet it was stronger than the fiercest wind. It had been said that Prince Raigo often slept in the Princess’s quarters under the cover of the night.

These rumors harrowed King Lorr, whose strict anti-incest policy was still in place—and would continue to be so. The King, fearing the worst, separated his two offspring. They were to sleep alone, study alone, eat alone, and spend day and night separately.

The King’s splitting the two, however, had no effect. While he had prepared for the worst, he had no knowledge of the true love between the two.

The first night of the new separation, Prince Raigo escaped from his guarded bedroom to visit his Princess. He slunk through the night, evading all eyes until he was safely in Princess Ichthya’s quarters and his muzzle was softly on hers.

Princess Ichthya feared discovery and became disturbingly frayed as time passed. Prince Raigo, caring for his love, decided to seek the help of a pony who he believed was his only hope.

He left the castle one day unannounced, searching for the one pony known as “The Mistress.” The Mistress lived in the slums of the kingdom, and the entire kingdom knew of her powers. Her powers were legendary, yet unwitnessed, for nopony wished to see the extent of her capabilities. Even King Lorr was not brave enough to convict her. She used to have a name, but that name was long forgotten—perhaps due to fear—and replaced with “The Mistress.”

Dressed in his darkest cloak, he approached her tent and asked for something that would guarantee his love with Princess Ichthya would last forever. He knew his Princess was losing herself over worry of abandonment and discovery, and he sought for something—anything—that would soothe her nerves.

Mistress T handed him a heart—rippling pink liquid in the middle, with golden sides. She sang:

Two lovers’ wish for great infinity,

An everlasting loved affinity.

Through Heart of Fates do those create the bond,

And love will last for now and then beyond.

The touch, then right to masculinity.

The split, the left to femininity.

The sun, it sets, and both must be consumed,

At last, it’s pink, and two are in commune.

Prince Raigo graciously accepted the heart and hurried back to the castle. Sneaking once more into Princess Ichthya’s room, he presented it to her as a gift, singing to her the song that The Mistress had sung to him.

“So Pinkie, when you made your own Heart of Fates, did it ripple?”

“Of course!”

“Were the sides golden?” Granny Pie raised an eyebrow.

“Erm…” Pinkie rolled her eyes away, “Well…see, the golden dye is super duper expensive, and the Cakes already said that I can’t buy those super duper expensive things anymore, because they need to pay for damages to Sugarcube Corner because...I kept…biting things…” Pinkie sheepishly smiled.

“It’s okay. I was just curious. But Pinkie…”

“I know, I know! Things that look like candy are not necessarily candy,” she recited.

“Good filly.”

­­­ Prince Raigo and Princess Ichthya both placed a hoof on each side of the Heart of Fates, and at that moment, it split apart into two halves. Prince Raigo took the right half, and the left remained for his Princess.

Upon consumption, the bond was created. It was stronger than the sturdiest chain, for it connected not their bodies, but their hearts, and as long as their hearts were together, physically they would be, as well.

Princess Ichthya became calmer and was no longer frayed and worried. Knowing that her Prince would be hers forever placated her mind. Their late nights together continued for some time, until the unavoidable became reality.

Late one night on a walk around the castle, King Lorr spotted Prince Raigo’s open door and Princess Ichthya’s closed door. Curiosity and fear overcame him, and he peered inside the Princess’s quarters and spotted his two offspring sharing one bed.

His greatest fear confirmed, he promptly called the guards to seize Prince Raigo and send him to the dungeons in the bowels of the castle.

The princess wept for her Prince, but she could not help him. She was placed under constant supervision and had no opportunity to see her love. She felt the fear in Prince Raigo’s heart in her own. She felt his pain. Conversely, Prince Raigo experienced the loneliness of his Princess and her own fears, as well.

King Lorr was in a predicament. His anti-incest law was the most upheld in the entire kingdom, and the law clearly outlined that banishment and death were the only punishments for the accused—the instigator of the incestuous relationship. It was quite apparent to the King that it was Prince Raigo who had begun their illicit activities, and this left him with two possible routes.

Firstly, he could convict his only son and banish him out to the oceans to die. Or, he could spare Prince Raigo. He wished dearly that he could take the alternative, but sparing his son would invalidate the law, as well as vilify his leadership. He balanced two curses, neither of which he desired to have—the kingdom or his son.

“So which do you think he picked?”

“Granny, I already know this story!”

“Oh, that’s right. I forgot. You’ll forget things, too, when you’re old.”

Pinkie giggled. “Probably!”

­ The next morning, Prince Raigo was slated to be executed by exile. As the castle guards dragged him to the shore, Princess Ichthya wept for her love. She ran after him, longing to see him one last time before he was to be swallowed up by the sea.

Prince Raigo was donned in the iron chains and stone clasps that would eventually drag him down into the depths of the waters. Princess Ichthya begged King Lorr for forgiveness, but the old ruler regrettably had none. He could not allow the most sacred rule in his kingdom to be disobeyed, and by his son, no less. Thus, Prince Raigo was cast in the ocean by catapult. He flew in a final graceful arc until a large splash, and he was dragged under.

“That’s so sad…” Pinkie sniffled, “I don’t like King Lorr…”

“Well, Pinkamena, remember that King Lorr had to uphold an entire kingdom, and he always feared and hated incest.”

“Still…I don’t like him…” Pinkie said.

“Cheer up. It gets happier in the end.”

“Granny, I know this story, and it doesn’t get happier.”

“Depends on how you frame it,” she winked.

Princess Ichthya pushed her way past the guards and flung herself into the violent waters, trying desperately to reach her love. She fought the currents and battled the waves, delving deeper and deeper underwater. She faintly spotted Prince Raigo, still chained to the ocean floor. Despite the warbled shouts from her father to return from ashore, she remained with her Prince, holding onto his limp body.

Up on the shore, King Lorr was in a panic. He shouted and yelled at his guards and at the overlooking citizens, demanding that they go save their Princess. Nopony could, however. The ocean was unknown territory, and there was nopony that had the skills or the courage to dive underwater.

Queen Lianne wept silently on the side, and it was hours until King Lorr gave up on his daughter. Without the two Earth pony heirs, Princess Triana and Prince Tulo lost their partners, and the kingdom was not tied to the pegasi or the unicorns at all.

In the next year, King Lorr lifted the strict bans that had been in place before. Some remained, but were effectively revoked in the future under a new King from a new family.

It is said that Prince Raigo and Princess Ichthya are still underwater somewhere, their love perfectly preserved under the ocean waves. Their souls remained forever bonded, and because of this, they both were together forever.

“The end,” said Granny Pie, closing the book and putting it back on the bookshelf.

“See? It wasn’t a happy ending!”

“Well, remember that Prince Raigo and Princess Ichthya wanted nothing more than to be with each other. So they were finally together forever. That’s something to be happy about, right?”

“I guess…” Pinkie yawned. “This isn’t a true story, right?”

“Nopony knows…” she said mysteriously.

Pinkie giggled. “Alright, Granny. Nighty night!” She stretched on the carpet, stood up, and headed for her bed.

Granny Pie resumed her rocking. “Good night, Pinkamena.”

Applejack's Answer

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Stepping Stones

Chapter 5—Applejack’s Answer

Oh…what do I do? What did Rainbow say? Oh yes. “I need you to read this for me, Applejack.”

Fluttershy set her pastries down on the ground and stood behind the tree, occasionally peeking out from behind to see the orange Earth pony lift her hind legs to kick the tree. She’s bucking apples again. The pegasus loved to watch the apple of her eye buck trees. Some of those reasons were less than platonic. She felt a shiver ripple from her chest and travel down all of her hooves as Applejack flexed her hind legs, poised and ready to strike the tree.

“Hi, Applejack. Read this for me, please?” “Hi, Applejack. I just wrote a story. Please read it?” “Applejack, hi! I just wrote this story. Do you think you can read it?” “And tell me what you think?”

“Oh heya, Flutters. Ah didn’t see y’all there.”

Fluttershy let out a small “eep,” not realizing that she had accidentally emerged from her hiding place. “J—Jackie…Hi Jackie…”

Applejack chuckled. “What can Ah do ya for?”

“Oh…I don’t want to be a bother…”

“The day’s almost over, so Ah’m pretty much done with my chores for the day. Y’all won’t be a bother, don’t worry none.” She smiled reassuringly.

Darn! “Um…I wrote this story. Do you think…” Her voice faltered. She tried again. “Do you think…” Deep breaths. “Do you think you could read it for me?”

“Oh, sure! Ya’ll want my proofreadin’? Ah’d love to, but wouldn’t Twilight be better at this?”

“Oh, um…I’d rather if you read it.”

“Fluttershy, Ah really would like to, but Ah’m really plum-tuckered out after today’s work. Ah mean, Ah’d love so much to hear it and all, but Ah don’t think Ah have the focus to read it myself.” She yawned and sat down under the apple tree she had just bucked. “Er…Ah don’t want to be a hassle or anything, but do ya think you could read it to me?”

Jackie…you’re really going to do this to me? Oh Jackie…I…I can’t…Deciding to show it to you in the first place was difficult enough, but now you want me to read it to you? I don’t think I have the courage…

“It’s okay if y’all don’t want to,” Applejack said, noticing the long hesitation.

Oh, now she’s going to think I’m difficult and lazy and ohh!

“Okay, I’ll read it. Just um…please be gentle…”

“Sure thing!” she said. She tapped her hoof on the grass in front of her, motioning for the pegasus to have a seat facing her.

Fluttershy sat on the grass, feeling the small blades flicker across her fur. It tickled, but the tickles were minute compared to the pounding in her chest. She took a few deep breaths and laid the paper in front of her. She looked up and saw the shining green eyes and supportive smile of her companion. They gave her enormous encouragement. “Okay…” she whispered softly to herself, “You can do this.”

She took a few deep breaths, and began to read:

Angel hopped across the fields, trying to escape from his caretaker. Every time dinner was served, he adamantly refused. His eating was finicky, and that made him hard to take care of. But his caretaker, Fluttershy, was patient and made sure he was fed.

“Angel!” she called after him. But there was no response but a stuck-out tongue.

He hopped faster and faster, hoping to escape the celery. He hopped down the road, past the fields in front of Fluttershy’s cottage, and finally into Sweet Apple Acres.

“Oh, Angel!” She finally caught up with him after awhile. He was a lot smaller than the pony, so he tired out much easier. “Please come back and eat your celery.”

He shook his head.

“I know you don’t really like it, but it’s healthy…”

He turned around stubbornly.

“How about this: If you finish the celery today, then I’ll make you your favorite carrot soup tomorrow.”

His ears perked up and he turned back slowly.

“Is that a yes?”

After a few moments of thinking, he nodded his head quickly.

“Okay! Now go back to the cottage and eat your celery, okay?”

He started hopping back. Fluttershy was about to follow him, but a voice kept her back.

“Ah’m really impressed at how you keep all your animals so happy.”

She turned around to see her friend Applejack. Perhaps “friend” wasn’t the best way to describe it. In truth, Fluttershy was very, very fond of her. It was because of this fondness that she was very nervous and especially shy around her. This time was no exception.

“Oh…H—Hi, Jackie…”

“Howdy there, Flutters. Is Angel giving you trouble?”

“Oh…oh, not particularly. He’s just very…persnickety.”

Applejack nodded. “Fluttershy, are ya busy right now?”


“Well care to come have a chat with me? You know, to just talk?”

“Oh, of course!” Fluttershy was happy that she could spend some time with Applejack. She followed her until they found a tall apple tree. The leaves were very green, as it was still summer, but it managed to provide lots of shade.

“Ya know, Flutters? Ah really like times like this.”

“Me…me too…”

“Just me and you, lying under Appletina here.” She lied down, closed her eyes, and sighed peacefully.

To Fluttershy, she was just like an angel—one that was not persnickety at all. “Oh, Jackie…” she whispered. Without thinking, she leaned down and kissed Applejack on the cheek.

The farmer pony quickly sat up and rubbed her cheek with her hoof. Fluttershy gasped and shied away. “Oh, what have I done?!” she thought. “She hates me!”

“F—Flutters?” Applejack stuttered. “Did y’all just…?”

Fluttershy became scared and wasn’t sure what to do, but she knew she had to be brave. She took a few deep breaths and became very courageous. “I’m so sorry, Jackie—Applejack…”

“It’s okay…” she said, but Fluttershy was sure she was just trying to be nice.

“I’ve just…I’ve loved you for so long, Jackie…I just couldn’t help myself. I’m sorry!” She was crying, but it was okay because she was being brave—something she wasn’t able to do for any other reason than for her love. “Please don’t hate me…”

“Ah…Ah couldn’t hate you even if Ah wanted to, Flutters…”

“C—Can we just forget about all this?” She sniffled.

“Ah don’t think Ah want to.” Applejack kissed the cheek of the sobbing pegasus.

Fluttershy sniffed a few times and opened her eyes. Applejack’s beautiful green eyes stared back at her. She felt orange hooves wrap around her body and pull her in tightly. She heard the words “Ah love you, too” whispered into her right ear.

Fluttershy kept crying, but this time because she was happy. The love of her life reciprocated her feelings, and there was nothing else she could ever want.

After the pegasus had calmed down, Applejack still refused to let go of her. She knew that she was holding a very fragile pony and needed to comfort her. She was sensitive like that.
“Oh Applejack,” she sighed, “our love will last forever, won’t it?”

“Yes, sugarcube,” she replied, “forever and forever. Just you and me, Flutters.”

The sun was slowly setting to the West, and they could both see their shadows lengthening. Below a single tree sat the two mares, hugging so tightly that if it had not been for the difference in fur colors, nopony could tell them apart.

Fluttershy could feel the soft grass beneath tickle her back as she moved. “I love you, Jackie.”

“Ah love you, too, Flutters. Ah love you, too.” She nuzzled the yellow neck before her, eliciting a small gasp from the timid pegasus.

For Fluttershy, everything was perfect, and it would continue to be so, because the only thing she ever needed was right next to her—forever and ever.

Fluttershy put the paper down and moved it behind her. Her eyes followed it across the grassy ground. She didn’t turn forward. I’m afraid to look. If only I were as brave as Story Fluttershy.

“F—Fluttershy…” Applejack said softly.

She still didn’t turn around. The fear of what was to come swallowed her whole. The deed was done. She knew everything. There was no going back. If Applejack rejected her, she would have to move again. She would have to live with another rejection—one that she very much wished she wouldn’t live through.

“Are these…? Is this…?” Her voice seemed to be sucked away at the end of every sentence. At last, she asked, “Do ya really feel this way?”

Fluttershy nodded while still looking back, trying to lengthen the time until she had to face her worst fears. Nothing was said for a few minutes. Finally, curiosity took better control of her. With her eyes glued to the grass, she asked softly, barely over a whisper, “Do…do you feel the same way?” The sound was diminished even more under the competition of the light breeze. She could feel tears beginning to form, but they were still static.

A pause. Then, Applejack spoke. “No. Ah’m sorry, but Ah don’t love you.”

The dam burst. But…But my story…It was supposed to be…Why don’t you…Please love me…I love you so much…I can’t…I don’t…I…You…But…Jackie…Jackie….Jackie…please…

Fluttershy stood up slowly, sobbing heavily. The world collapsed. There was no reason to live anymore. There was no reason to exist. The love of her life hated her. Everything was against her. The sun was dim and weak. The farm became a toxic waste dump. Everything around her disintegrated into her worst nightmares. Cloudchaser came back to her just to mock her again. But this time, Applejack was there, too.

She could already see it. In a few days, everpony in town would tease her and shun her, calling her a fillyfooler. She couldn’t even walk down the street without jeers and derisive insults. Ponies would hit her with things and throw rocks at her, and she would have to go to the hospital again. Only this time, it would be worse. The doctors would turn her away, saying that they couldn’t help somepony who molested other fillies. The police would then arrest her, and she’d go to prison and spend the rest of her life lonely and bullied by the other inmates. But that didn’t seem very bad compared to how she would feel on the inside.

Applejack doesn’t love me. I don’t…I don’t want to stay here. I’m going to move. I’m going to move into the ground. Nopony come look for me. I’m just going to wither and die in the ground. Only the dirt will love me. Cloudchaser and Applejack are just perfect examples of why I don’t deserve to be here. Rarity was wrong. Twilight was wrong. Rainbow Dash was wrong. Pinkie Pie was wrong. They were all wrong. I hate myself. I hate myself. I…I want this to end. Now…

Fluttershy took a few steps forward, and her wobbly hooves broke her into a run. At least, they wanted to. Before she could even walk three steps, Applejack’s strong hoof pulled her back by the tail.

She felt those strong hooves grab onto her neck and yank her forward. She expected to be hit. She expected the ground to meet her face to hopefully end it all. She wanted to be hit. She wanted Applejack to use her bare hooves to beat the life out of her. She wanted to feel blows onto her face that would snuff out her life and her pain bit by bit. After all, that’s what she deserved, right?
Instead, her muzzle felt the soft belly of the Earth pony. The hooves slipped down from her neck and onto her withers. They held her fast while she sobbed freely into the orange fur. They rubbed her fur up and down, trying their best to comfort her. They petted her on the head and they rubbed her sides gently.

She started letting out all of her emotions. All the hiding. All the denial. All the fear. All the stress. And finally, all the hate—hate for herself, and hate for the world.

“Y’all didn’t let me finish,” she said softly. “Ah don’t love you, Flutters…”

Please don’t say that again…Please…I can’t bear it…

“But that doesn’t mean Ah won’t in the future. Listen, Flutters. Ah’d like to give this a try, okay? Just because Ah don’t feel anythin’ for you now, doesn’t mean Ah won’t in the future. If you’d like, Ah’d love to go on a date with you, okay?”

“S—So…you’ll…you’ll l—love me…l—love me later in th—the future…?” Fluttershy asked erratically through her crying. Please say yes.

“If all goes well, then yes. Ah will love you.”

“Oh, Jackie!” she cried. The world became lighter. The toxic waste dump became Sweet Apple Acres again. Her senses reopened and she could feel the hooves rubbing her back. She continued crying, but the tears were less of desperation and more of need—an emotional need.

Applejack was patient. She waited through all the tears, constantly giving the pegasus signs of attention. Her hooves were at work again, rubbing her back and petting her mane. She whispered words of encouragement like “It’s okay” or simply a “Shh” sound.

“Have Ah told you how much Ah love it when you call me ‘Jackie’?” She suddenly asked.


“Well, Ah do. It makes me feel real special.”

Fluttershy raised her head up from Applejack’s stomach and saw her green eyes, looking straight at her. She saw the compassion and care in those eyes—compassion and care that gleamed differently than that of her friends’.

“So…d—do you…um…” Her crying had subsided substantially, and her sentences became less and less fractured.

“Yes, my fillyfriend?”

“F—Fillyfriend? I’m your fillyfriend?”

“Well, if we’re gonna be datin’, then you’re my fillyfriend, aren’t ya?” she chuckled.

“Dating…” she cooed. “Dating…”

“Eeyup. Datin’. Speakin’ of which. Ah think Ah know where Ah’m gonna take you for our first date. And if you feel like it, Ah know where Ah wanna take you tonight.”

The dam was repaired, and the tears subsided. Except for a few heaves from her chest and some sniffles, she was happy again. Fluttershy put her muzzle back onto Applejack’s belly, but now due to comfort and not need. “My fillyfriend,” she whispered. A small spark fizzled in her throat and a warm flame flickered in her chest when she said those two words. She said them louder: “My fillyfriend.” The spark and flame grew and were joined by butterflies in her stomach. She said it louder. And louder.

Applejack joined in.

“My fillyfriend.”

Fluttershy's Felicity

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Stepping Stones

Chapter 6—Fluttershy’s Felicity

“Ah really like your headband,” said Applejack.

“O—oh. Thank you,” Fluttershy said with a smile. Thanks, Rarity. She felt a little overdressed because of her periwinkle frock. Compared to Applejack’s Stetson and a simple green dress, it felt awkward. I shouldn’t have worn so much…

“Darn, now I feel underdressed,” chuckled Applejack. “Ah’m gonna look silly next to such a pretty filly.”

All better. “Oh Jackie…I think you look great.” She was impressed that they could both dress so quickly. After Applejack suggested a date that night, they both only had twenty minutes to go home and change, then meet at the restaurant.

“Shall we go in?” she asked, holding open the door.

“Thank you, Jackie,” she giggled. How chival…chiv…chivalistic…? How nice!

The restaurant was arranged so that the tables were scattered everywhere, with no ostensible pattern. The kitchen was on the right, and waiters and waitresses poured in and out from the double doors, carrying trays piled high with food, or nothing at all. Ponies were dining and chatting, and the entire scene was full of activity—characteristic of a Saturday night.

The whole place was very brightly lit—something that Fluttershy liked very much. She hated the dimly lit restaurants that made everything so hard to see. She had tripped in Le Cloppeaux once while dining with Twilight, and she had severely bruised her forelegs in Hoofington Complex last month during an interview for the newspaper. She was very flattered that Applejack knew about her love for adequate lighting. But then again…Nah, I’m just over-thinking it. There’s no way she could have known. It’s just a pure coincidence that she took me here.

“The hostess said twenty minutes. Ah hope y’all like this place. Ah picked it special. Ah know how much y’all like bright places.”

“I love you!” she squealed.

Applejack chuckled and petted her mane.

The minutes ticked by. At five minutes, Fluttershy was resting her head on Applejack’s shoulder. At ten minutes, she was playing tic-tac-toe with herself in her head. At fifteen minutes, she began twirling her hooves. At seventeen minutes and thirty seconds, she was shaking her leg impatiently. At seventeen minutes and forty-two seconds, she mentally groaned. “Oh, this is taking so long!” I can’t wait for our date…

“How about we play a game?” Applejack suggested.

“Oh, what game?”

“It’s really fun. Twilight taught it to me. Ah think you’ll like it.”

“Is it the alphabet naming game?”

“Er…yes, how did ya know?”

“She teaches that to everypony…that was the game we played at Le Cloppeaux before she took me to the hospital for a concussion.”

“Uh…Ah guess Ah’ll start. Ah call the topic of food, two syllables. Apples.”

Fluttershy giggled. “Of course. Oh um…bagels.”



“E…Eh…Er…Em…” Applejack stuttered. “Epples?”

Fluttershy laughed erratically. “Epples?!”

“Ah couldn’t think of anything, and Ah was runnin’ out of time!”

“What about eggplants?”

“…Ah knew that.”

A feminine voice called, “Applejack, party of two?”

They stood up to claim their order. “Last time Ah show up day-of,” Applejack said under her breath so that only Fluttershy could hear.

“It’s okay. I um…I like spending time with you.” Forgive my earlier impatient outburst.

Their table was against the left wall, situated between a table of unicorns who were fancily levitating their silverware and a table seating the polar opposite: a family with young foals.

Applejack scanned through the menu and picked the first thing that looked appetizing—a daisy salad with apples. Fluttershy, on the other hoof, weighed her options very carefully. She factored in taste, appearance, nutrition, and price (Since she’s paying for me, I don’t want to get anything too expensive…).

“The second pasta. This one, here,” she said to the waitress.

“So Flutters, how are ya likin’ our date so far?”

“I love it, Jackie…”

“Good. Ya know…Ah um…Ah did a lot of thinkin’ lately…this past hour. And Ah was thinking about how good of a friend you are to me. And Ah realized that Ah’m closer to you than to anypony else.”

“I feel that way, too…”

“But Ah felt like…Ah felt like Ah wanted you to be real happy. Ah realized that Ah care about you more than Ah care about myself, and Ah really am glad Ah get to call you my fillyfriend.”

“Does…does this mean…?”

“Ah don’t think Ah’m ready to say that Ah love you yet, but now Ah’m sure that Ah will one day.”

“Oh, Jackie!” Fluttershy exclaimed. She began crying out of happiness and she felt the sudden urge to stand up and lovingly tackle her date. Gravity and manners held her down.

Their conversation breached even the furthest of boundaries. Although it was first very superficial with current events, the eventually became more and more comfortable with each other. Fluttershy learned that Applejack was a mareosexual like her, but kept it a secret from her family. She heard about Applejack’s foalhood, and her favorite places. In return, Fluttershy told her about her own past, including her friendship with Rainbow Dash and her difficult times in Cloudsdale. She purposely left out anything about Cloudchaser, knowing that the right time to broach that topic could be very soon. She knew, however, that when she did mention it, Applejack would be supportive and caring—and that’s all she needed to know.

“You know, Flutters, Ah think Ah’m really fallin’ for ya.”

“Good!” Fluttershy giggled.

After Applejack paid the bill, they began the walk back to Sweet Apple Acres. In the back of Fluttershy’s mind, she remembered that she had left the cake, cupcakes, and the Heart of Fates under the tree.

“Jackie…are you still hungry?”

“Are ya kiddin’ me? Those fancy restaurants never give enough food!”

“I have a cake and something…really special back at the farm…if you’d like…”

“Oh…I’d love to, Flutters.”

Once back to the apple tree, Fluttershy picked up the three boxes (with difficulty) with her mouth. The sky was already dark, and Luna’s moon illuminated the grassy fields and leafy trees. The iridescent stars glimmered and shimmered like millions of the night-lights Fluttershy kept in her room. The occasional hoot from owls and the chirping of crickets were the symphony of the night, and the two ponies were the audience.

Applejack led her into the barn off to the side. It was newly painted a deep crimson. Pushing open the door, she gestured with a hoof for her fillyfriend to enter.

The inside of the barn was a lot darker than the open night sky. Applejack lit a few lamps off to the side, bathing the interior with a soft, flickering yellow glow.

“Just here, sugarcube,” she said gently, guiding Fluttershy onto a soft hay stack.

“Fluttershy set down the three boxes onto the dirt floor. “Thank you, Jackie.”

“So what’s in those boxes there?”

Fluttershy giggled. “This one’s a cake. This one’s cupcakes. And this one…is really special, and…and I want to save it for last.”

Applejack’s stomach audibly rumbled as Fluttershy opened the first two boxes. “I made these myself…so I hope they’re good enough for you…”

With a mouthful of cake, she moaned. “Are ya kiddin’?!” she said after swallowing, “This here’s amazin’! Ah love it!”


Fluttershy gave herself a cupcake. Applejack was right. The frosting melted in her mouth, and the apple didn’t taste sour at all. The soft moist cake perfectly complemented the sugary frosting. There was no part that she disliked. Touché, Pinkie…cupcakes are superior to muffins. She mentally giggled. I’m so proud of myself for making this…(with Pinkie’s help, of course!)

Their eating was silent, mainly because their mouths were so full of confection. I hope someday I get to feed her food. That would be so romantic!

“Ahh…that hit the spot,” Applejack sighed, patting her slightly distended belly.

Fluttershy also gave it a rub, eliciting a shrill laugh from the Earth pony. “Me, too…”

“So what’s that super special thing ya got there? Unless it’s private…”

“Oh…um…” Now or never, I guess… She opened the box, revealing the heart-shaped cookie with the pink liquid, still periodically rippling. It was only about as big as the bottom of her hoof.

“It’s so pretty…Did ya make this one, too?”

“Oh no. Pinkie made this one. She said it’s called the Heart of Fates.”

“That sounds like a cheesy name,” Applejack laughed.

Fluttershy chuckled. “I wasn’t the one who named it. But it is kind of silly, isn’t it? Maybe the pony who invented them couldn’t think of anything better. We shouldn’t laugh at the name. It’s not that bad. Oh um anyways…well, see, we share it, and it’s supposed to be super romantic.”

“Ah think it’d be romantic anyways cause Ah’m with you!” she said happily.

Fluttershy unfolded the sides of the paper box and put a hoof on one side of the heart. The slight disturbance caused it to ripple faster. Applejack placed her hoof on the other side. At the exact moment of contact, a zig-zag rift appeared down the middle, and the two halves separated.

To her surprise, the liquid didn’t leak out. The cross-section revealed that the pink liquid was held in place by what seemed like an invisible force field.

“Say ‘ahh,’” said Applejack, holding it up in her hoof in front of Fluttershy’s face.

Fluttershy complied and her mouth opened wide like she was visiting the doctor. She felt Applejack place her half onto her tongue. She closed her mouth, but kept it intact in her oral cave. She offered her half to Applejack, who graciously accepted it with her own teeth.

She chewed into it. The chewy cookie on the bottom was sweet and sugary. The liquid leaked into her mouth, and she swished it around with her tongue. Then, the pain began.

She whimpered, and could hear Applejack panting as she chewed on her own half. “Spicyyy…” she managed to say.

Then, as quick as it came, the hotness disappeared. It was sucked down into her abdomen, which now glowed a light pink. She peered over at Applejack’s belly, and could see the same glowing. She felt a tickling deep in her stomach.

She stood up and hugged her fillyfriend tightly. Applejack was laughing. “That was painful, but Ah guess the symbolism works…”

The tickly feeling rose up. It filled her chest and expanded into her forelegs and hind-legs. It flooded her mind, and all she could think of was her happy future with the one she loved.

They exited the barn, seeing as the interior had nothing to offer. The outside, however, gave them an excellent view of the spotted skies, softly lit by Luna’s moon.

Applejack led Fluttershy back to the tree that they had spent so long under that afternoon. After some scuffling, they finally found themselves in a position similar to before—Applejack on her back, and Fluttershy with her head on the Earth pony’s stomach.

Fluttershy could feel those hooves that comforted her for so long snake around her—one wrapped around her head, and the other one around her back.

Applejack sighed with happiness and looked up at the stars. It seemed like every star, millions of light-years away, still enticed them to join them among the heavens. Occasionally they sparkled, and even rarer was the shooting star that flitted across the night sky like the end of a whip. “Ah’m lookin’ forward to my life with ya, Flutters.”

“Oh, me too, Jackie!”

“And all our friends, too,” Applejack said.

“And a great fillyfriend,” Fluttershy added.

“My fillyfriend...”

“My fillyfriend.”