Courage. Bravery. Fearlessness. All words that meant the same thing; a singular quality that Fluttershy wished she possessed. All things considered, Fluttershy was quite happy with who she was, but she would often sit around and wish that she was as brave as her friends. It wasn't fun being picked on occasionally by the others for her quiet, nervous nature. She knew her friends didn't mean any harm by it, but it was something that still bothered her once in a while. She didn't like feeling as if she were a hindrance to her friends, like she did back when they had gone to deal with the dragon who was snoring smoke all over Ponyville. Sure, things turned out well in the end, and her friends held no grudge, but regardless, she wanted so badly to have courage.
Fluttershy had been thinking all of this through while idly flying down the path to Ponyville. She soon realized that she had been lost in thought for longer than she had planned, because she had certainly passed Ponyville. She looked down and noticed, much to her chagrin, the very last thing that could possibly have broken her out of her current mindset. The sight of Sweet Apple Acres below her sent her into a strange mix of joy and stress. She tried to look away, but she could not help but scour the fields until she caught sight of exactly the pony she simultaneously did and did not want to see.
As Applejack bucked and loosened a handful of apples from their perch, Fluttershy felt her heart skip a beat. Applejack embodied the very personality traits that she so wanted to inherit. Applejack was always brave in every situation. She never held the group back by being scared of anything. She was always there to help her friends whenever they needed her. Fluttershy specifically remembered Applejack's efforts to help her back when she was too scared to go with the rest of the group to talk to the dragon. Applejack was so wonderful that day, going out of her way to bring Fluttershy up that mountain...it was that moment that Fluttershy would often play over and over again in her head. Throughout the entire trip, she had wanted to express her thanks to Applejack, but her fear wouldn't allow her to even move a muscle, let alone let out a word of gratitude. Ever since that day, her shyness would increase tenfold whenever she was around Applejack. At first, she attributed it to the fact that she felt bad about not thanking her. Then she put the blame on the fact that she was intimidated by how courageous Applejack was, and her admiration for that trait was a bit overwhelming. She soon realized that she spent most of her time at home thinking about Applejack, and although she wasn't quite ready to admit it to herself at first, she eventually came to terms with the fact that her feelings for Applejack had grown more than a bit past the point of friendship. This did nothing at all to decrease her shyness towards Applejack, of course. Instead of just worrying about not being as brave as Applejack, she now had to worry about getting the drive to tell her how she felt, and how Applejack would respond when and if she finally did.
"Hey there, Fluttershy!"
Fluttershy's wings nearly seized up as she heard Applejack call her name. She hadn't realized that she was still in plain sight, thinking in her nervous state that her altitude would somehow mask her from the eyes of the pony she'd spent so much time pining over. She caught herself and regained control of her wings just before she would have started to drop.
"Oh...did I distract you from your work?" Fluttershy said quietly. "I'm sorry..." She sighed silently to herself after this. She'd done it again. She didn't mean to apologize so often, but always found herself doing just that. She had to be more assertive and less passive if she was ever going to let Applejack know how she felt.
"Not at all!" Applejack responded, smiling in her direction. "I'm always happy to see a friend! Although I am plum surprised to see you over here. T'ain't often you fly down by these here parts. What brings y'all here?"
"I..." Fluttershy said, then quickly caught herself before another sorry escaped her lips. "...I finished up some work at my cottage, and figured I'd come out and say hello." She managed a small smile. "...If that's OK, I mean..."
"Why, of course it's OK!" Applejack responded cheerfully. "Why don't you come down here and rest your wings a spell?" Fluttershy squeaked to herself, quietly enough that she hoped Applejack didn't hear her. After taking a quick breath, she allowed herself to drift down to the ground, landing gently in front of Applejack.
"You look like you've been awfully busy today," Fluttershy said, looking at the baskets of apples scattered around the area. She instantly regretted saying it. She started to worry that it sounded more like she was telling Applejack that she physically looked like she'd been working hard, and that wasn't what she meant at all. Applejack looked absolutely perfect, just like always. Even though she was always working hard, she always managed to keep her mane and tail nice and neat. Fluttershy loved how she kept them tied back; it always looked so adorable to her. And that hat...she wasn't normally a fan of hats, but Applejack wore hers so well...
"...so can you help me out?" Applejack finished. Fluttershy blinked, realizing that she had been lost in thought and that Applejack had been talking to her the whole time. What did she need help with? Fluttershy had no clue, but looking into those big green eyes...
"...Of course!" Fluttershy said quickly, not even knowing what she had agreed to.
"Great!" Applejack exclaimed, smiling widely. "Now you go take care of those trees over yonder, and I'll get these over here!" Fluttershy looked over where Applejack had pointed, and, seeing a row of trees with apples still on them, realized that she must have agreed to help get the apples down. Fluttershy squeaked a bit, not sure of her ability to shake them down. Applejack was much stronger than she was, and could get apples down with one swift kick. Fluttershy nervously approached the first tree. She stared at it, intimidated by its height and sturdiness. Closing her eyes tight, she turned around and gave the bark a weak kick. Opening her eyes, she saw that not a single apple had been shaken from its perch.
"You gotta kick a little harder than that, sugarcube!" Applejack called over, as she brought a number of apples down with a strong kick to her tree. Fluttershy felt her heart melt a little bit. She loved when Applejack would call her sugarcube. She knew that Applejack called everyone sugarcube, but it still warmed her heart to hear it in reference to herself. Regaining her composure, Fluttershy closed her eyes again. Applejack depended on her to get those apples down. She had to do it for Applejack. Fluttershy reared back, then kicked with a level of might that she didn't even know she was capable of. It hurt a little bit, but she quickly forgot the tiny bit of pain when she heard the sound of apples hitting the dirt.
"Atta girl, Fluttershy!" Applejack said proudly. Fluttershy smiled larger than she ever had in her life. Hearing Applejack's praise sent shivers of joy down her spine. She headed to another tree and, thinking about how happy Applejack was with her previous kick, gave it a kick of equal power, once again setting in motion a cascade of apples. Fluttershy squealed with delight. Not only was this earning her praise from Applejack, but it was fun too! Feeling as courageous as she'd always hoped to be, she continued to kick trees, paying no attention to the fact that her kicks were getting harder and harder. All that mattered to her was that she was helping Applejack.
Suddenly, Fluttershy felt a surge of sharp pain down her right hind leg. The pain shocked her mostly out of her haze, and she knew that she must have kicked too hard. As she tried to step down, her leg buckled under her, and she stumbled backwards. She felt her right wing slam hard into the tree, and before she knew it she was on the ground. She barely knew what had just happened, but she knew that she was hurt.
"Fluttershy!" she heard Applejack's voice ring out as the clop-clop of hooves got closer. "Are you OK, sugarcube?" In an instant, Applejack was at Fluttershy's side, looking down at her. Fluttershy tried to move her right wing, but found that she couldn't; the pain was too much to bear. She felt tears well up in her eyes, and tried to hide her face with her hooves.
"You poor darlin'...and all cause you were trying to help me!" Applejack said, bringing a hoof around her back, being careful not to press on the injured wing or jostle the hurt leg. "I feel downright terrible...I'll get you to my home and we'll get you all patched up...poor darlin'..."
As Applejack dragged her as gently as possible towards her place, Fluttershy couldn't help but think back to the day that she had replayed so many times in her mind. In between the little jolts of pain that were inevitable from being dragged across the ground (not that she wasn't grateful; it was the best Applejack could do), she found her mind straying, and her affection and gratitude towards Applejack growing more and more. Eventually, she forgot about the pain altogether, lost in happy thoughts towards the apple-loving pony who was trying her hardest to bring her to safety. She soon found herself drifting into a deep sleep, feeling safe and comfortable in Applejack's care.
"You awake, sugarcube?" Applejack's voice broke Fluttershy out of her slumber. She found herself lying down in Applejack's bed. She gave Applejack a small nod, then tried to move her leg and wing, but found them both bandaged up.
"Don't you try to move, darlin'," Applejack said. "It's just a couple of little sprains, nothin' major, but it's best to be careful anyways." Applejack looked down at her and smiled, even though her eyes showed the regret she had for putting her dear friend in a position to hurt herself.
"I'm sorry to inconvenience you," Fluttershy said softly, feeling her eyes begin to water again.
"No, no," Applejack answered. "It's me who should be sorry. I'm awful sorry you got hurt on my watch, when you were tryin' to help me with a job I shoulda finished already. I feel like a downright foal." Fluttershy thought she was seeing things as Applejack's eyes began to water a bit. She had never seen Applejack this close to tears.
"It's OK, I shouldn't have pushed myself so hard," Fluttershy responded. "Thank you for taking care of me." Mustering up every single bit of courage that she previously never thought she had, she leaned up and nuzzled Applejack's cheek. Shocked at this minor overcoming of her apprehension, Fluttershy rested her head back on Applejack's pillow. She was worried that her action might have been unwelcome, but that worry disappeared when Applejack returned the gesture.
"Anything for you, sugarcube," Applejack said. For a moment, Fluttershy thought she saw a glimmer of something in Applejack's eye, a glint of something that reciprocated the feelings Fluttershy had towards her. She wasn't sure of it, but she could always hope.
"I'm gonna get back to work now that I know you're alright," Applejack said, smiling. "You ain't gonna be able to walk or fly until at least tomorrow, so you go ahead and rest, and when I finish up, we'll have ourselves a good ol' unplanned slumber party."
"That sounds wonderful," Fluttershy said, hoping that Applejack didn't notice her face turning as red as the apples they'd been harvesting.
Appleshy, Part 2
"Anything for you, sugarcube."
Those four words echoed through Fluttershy's head again and again. She had been resting in Applejack's bed for a good couple of hours, and she had barely stopped smiling the entire time, even though her wing and leg hurt quite a bit. Earlier today, she never would have expected something like this to happen. Today was supposed to just be a typical day for her, one spent staying at home and taking care of her animal friends, with perhaps a quick visit to Ponyville to see if anything interesting was going on with her friends. Instead, here she was, not only in the house of the pony she desired most, but in her bed, with the promise of an entire night to spend with her coming up. Fluttershy blushed at the thought of what she and Applejack might do that night, and blushed even harder when her mind started turning to thoughts that might have earned her a stern talking to from her parents if they had access to them. She quickly turned her mind to more innocent things, but the ever-present implications of those thoughts persisted, and she was embarrassed at how much joy they brought her.
Fluttershy looked out the window. The sun was just starting to set. Surely Applejack would return any minute now. She began to wonder how she would go about talking to her friend about her feelings towards her, or if she even would at all. It was a very difficult subject to approach, and she often had trepidations about any kind of conversation, let alone one regarding something so touchy. She knew it was important that she told her, though. Applejack was one of the most honest ponies she knew; she didn't embody the element of honesty fraudulently, after all. Fluttershy wanted so badly to be honest to her about her feelings, but feared that she would freeze up when trying to tell her. Then a new fear invaded her mind. She had already worried about whether or not AJ would feel the same way about her, but what if her profession of her feelings was not only unrequited, but also hurt their friendship? Fluttershy suddenly got very nervous thinking about this. After a moment, though, she came to her senses a bit. Applejack had always been very nice to her. The day with the dragon was a shining example .Not only did she volunteer to bring her up the mountain, but she was also the first to offer kind, encouraging words when she had to jump that chasm. She was also one of the only ones to console her when she felt bad about causing the avalanche, and one of the only ones to show total confidence in her abilities just as they were about to enter the dragon's cave. These were all things that could have been completely innocent and based on nothing but a solid friendship, but Fluttershy hoped with all her heart that there was something more to it. Either way, even if she didn't return her feelings, it was somewhat unlikely that she would just drop their friendship over it. The yellow pegasus began to relax again, just as she heard the door open. Not knowing why she was doing it, Fluttershy closed her eyes, pretending to be asleep.
"I'm home!" Applejack said, entering the room. She looked over and noticed that Fluttershy was asleep (or at least looked like she was asleep). She trotted over to the bed and looked down at Fluttershy for a moment, smiling. The pegasus's eyes fluttered open, and seeing AJ caused her to break into a content smile.
"You feelin' any better, darlin'?" Applejack asked, pulling the sheets off of her a bit to inspect her hurt appendages. She gently touched Fluttershy's wing with one hoof. Fluttershy tried to stay strong, but she cringed and let out a small squeak at the pain.
"Guess it still hurts then," Applejack said, pulling her hoof back. "Sorry bout that." Fluttershy could only nod and smile weakly. The orange pony smiled back, then sat down next to the bed, resting her head on the mattress. "Boy howdy, am I exhausted," she said, sighing. "I thought I'd be able to finish that bunch of trees earlier, but then Apple Bloom was botherin' me about getting her cutie mark, and Big Macintosh had to help Granny Smith go to the Cakes' for a delivery so he couldn't help..." Even though Fluttershy cared very much about how Applejack's day was, she found herself almost hypnotized by her eyes. AJ's eyes were darting back and forth while she was talking, and watching those big green eyes swish back and forth was simply marvelous. Suddenly, Applejack's eyes met Fluttershy's. She quickly snapped out of her trance and nodded, hoping that her distraction went unnoticed.
"So are you ready for the rootinest tootinest slumber party of all time?" Applejack asked, the excitement in her eyes betraying the exhaustion she'd displayed moments ago. Fluttershy smiled and nodded. She tried to speak, but couldn't get a word out. Suddenly, she remembered something. She was about to speak, when Applejack interrupted her.
"Oh, and don't worry none about your animal friends," Applejack said, as if she had read her mind. "Lyra and Bonbon are on their way to your cottage, they've got it all under control." The mere fact that the two of them had thought of the same thing at the same time was nearly enough to make Fluttershy squeal with delight, but she restrained herself.
"So what do ya wanna do first, little miss quiet?" Applejack asked, playfully nudging the pegasus with her nose. Fluttershy couldn't help but smile at the contact.
"Well," Fluttershy started, "I haven't had many slumber parties...but there is one thing..." She stopped, not sure about how to continue.
"And what's that?" Applejack asked, tilting her head.
"Well..." Fluttershy said, "...We could braid each other's tails...I mean, if that's OK with you..." Fluttershy looked at AJ, waiting for her response. AJ's tail was always tied back in a ponytail (a fact which she found a bit ironic for a moment), and she wasn't sure if she was open to the idea of changing it. The orange pony was quiet for a moment, and she worried that she didn't like the idea.
"...Well alright, sure!" Applejack answered. "Reckon I've kept this style for a good stretch of time now. I could use a bit of change."
"Yay!" Fluttershy exclaimed in a tone that was a slight bit louder and more confident than her usual yays.
The night seemed to go much quicker than Fluttershy could have possibly wanted it to. After admiring their new tailstyles, the two friends started telling each other stories. Due to the pegasus's usual nervousness, they stuck more to fairy tales, but there was one attempt made by Applejack to tell a ghost story. Fluttershy just barely made it through it, and even then she clutched AJ's pillow like her life depended on it. If any other pony had subjected her to such a story, she likely would have raised a fuss and cowered in fear, but just the fact that she was spending time with Applejack was enough to instill the tiniest bit of bravery in her, which was just what she needed to make it to the end of the story.
"My, it's awful late," Applejack said at the conclusion of the story. "We should get some rest." Fluttershy nodded in agreement, surprised that time had passed so quickly. She began to slide out of AJ's bed, but AJ stopped her.
"No no," Applejack told her, placing a hoof on her shoulder. "I don't want you to strain yourself. We can't let you hurt yourself any more."
"But where are you going to sleep?" Fluttershy asked, looking around the room for somewhere she could conceivably rest. She was startled by a sudden shifting of the mattress, and turned to see AJ sliding under the covers herself.
"There's enough room for the two of us," Applejack said matter-of-factly. "I shacked up with Rarity at Twilight's place and her bed was smaller than this one. Have a good sleep, sugarcube." Fluttershy was stunned into silence. Instantly, her somewhat-naughty thoughts from earlier in the day returned, and she once again turned bright red. She couldn't believe that she was sleeping in the same bed as the object of her affections. She wanted so badly to slide up close to her and hold her, maybe whisper her feelings into her ear, but she knew she couldn't do that. Even the thought of it caused her to shiver with happiness.
"You cold, Fluttershy?" Applejack asked. She was lying on her side and facing away from Fluttershy, but apparently her shiver was still noticeable. The pegasus was about to say no, when Applejack spoke again.
"Scoot a bit closer, darlin'," Applejack said. "I don't mind none." Fluttershy couldn't believe what she was hearing. Slowly, cautiously, she slid over in the bed until she found AJ's body against hers. She was so warm, and her newly-braided tail tickled the pegasus's belly a little.
"Better?" Applejack asked.
"Much," Fluttershy said. "Thank you for all you're doing for me, Applejack."
"T'weren't nothin', sugarcube," AJ said. "Now you get some rest. You've had a tough day. Sweet dreams."
As Fluttershy drifted off to sleep, she had a feeling that whatever dreams she would have that night couldn't hold a candle to the reality she was experiencing.
Appleshy, Part 3
Fluttershy had a number of dreams that night, and unlike other nights, she remembered every detail of every one of them. She remembered the one where she and Applejack sat together on a hill, watching the sunrise. She recalled resting her head in AJ's lap as the two of them sat talking with their friends, who all seemed to act like nothing out of the ordinary was going on. Her favorite, though, was the final one she had before awakening. In that last dream, the two of them were in her cottage. Fluttershy vividly remembered the room being decorated with not only her possessions, but Applejack's as well. Pictures of the two together were displayed all over the room. The two were lying on the bed, in the same position they had fallen asleep together in reality. Fluttershy nuzzled the back of the orange pony's neck and gave her a gentle nibble on her ear, as AJ told her how much she loved her. Fluttershy knew that it was a dream the entire time, but at the same time it felt so real, so palpable, so right. She wished with all her heart that she had the courage to do these things in real life, but even more than that, she yearned for the ability to tell AJ how she felt about her, and for AJ to return her feelings in kind.
Fluttershy awoke, expecting to feel Applejack's body pressed up against hers like it was when they fell asleep. However, she was a bit confused to find herself in bed alone. She looked at the clock, which read 8:30, and she realized that the earth pony, an avid worker, must be an early riser. As she lazily rubbed the sleep from her eyes, the pegasus noticed a sheet of paper lying on the bed where AJ had been. Fluttershy reached a hoof out and slid the paper up to eye level.
I had a better time last night than I have in a good long while! I think I might keep my tail braided, I love the way it looks! I'm still awful sorry you got hurt trying to help me, but at least it led to a wonderful evening. I wish we'd spend more time together like this (but without the injury!). I'll be in the kitchen when you read this, I'm making us some apple pancakes for breakfast. You're welcome to stay as long as it takes for your pain to go away. If you're still in pain, I can always get Big Macintosh to work today since he didn't yesterday, so we could spend the day hanging out! We have a lot of work to do, but if you need the company to forget about the pain then that's more important. Thanks again for the great time!
Fluttershy felt her heart melt at Applejack's words. As she felt her stomach rumble, she wasn't sure what she was more excited about; the potential of staying with AJ longer, or the apple pancakes. Fluttershy smiled at the thought, and decided that she was more excited by the former after all. She yawned and stretched her wings...and then realized what she had just done. She stretched her wings again, and realized that the pain had gone away. She carefully slid her right hoof out of the bed and pressed it against the floor, and sure enough, the pain in her leg had faded as well. The yellow pegasus was relieved at first, but that relief quickly gave way to sorrow when she realized that Applejack had invited her to stay as long as she needed to get over her injury. Fluttershy had loved their evening together, and wanted to spend another day with her, but if AJ knew that her injury had healed, then she would go work in the orchard, and they wouldn't be able to spend the day together. Just as she started panicking, she heard the door open. Fluttershy quickly pulled her leg back under the covers as Applejack walked in, two heaping plates of apple pancakes balanced precariously on her back.
"Mornin', sleepyhead!" Applejack said cheerfully, swishing her braided tail as she trotted up to the bed. "Hope you're hungry! Mind taking these off my back?" AJ leaned down in front of Fluttershy, who broke out of her panic long enough to reach over and pull the plates off with her teeth (and blushing a bit as she removed the one balanced on her flank).
"So how are you feeling?" Applejack asked. She raised a hoof, and Fluttershy noticed it approaching her wing. She panicked again, wanting so bad to spend an entire day with the object of her desires. As AJ's hoof pressed on her wing, Fluttershy winced and let out a squeal of fake pain.
"Aw, poor darlin'," Applejack said. "It breaks my heart to see a sweet pony like you in pain like this because of me." Fluttershy couldn't believe what she had just done. She lied to the pony she loved, the one who held the element of honesty. She felt terrible about it, but her worry was quickly forgotten when Applejack nuzzled her cheek. "I'll let Big Macintosh know that I'm cashing in the favor he owes me for yesterday once we finish breakfast."
Fluttershy smiled and laughed through their entire breakfast, but inside, she couldn't shake the feeling that she had done something wrong by pretending to still be hurt. It was a little white lie, one that in the end most likely wouldn't cause much, if any, harm, but it still bothered her. At times during their meal, she would decide to admit the truth, but a single look from Applejack and memories of last night caused her to put it off each time.
"I'm gonna make a quick run to the market," Applejack said once they'd finished their pancakes. "You just sit tight till I get back, and when I do, we're gonna have a whole day of fun!" Fluttershy smiled at the thought of it as AJ left the room, but as soon as she was gone, the worries about her lie once again came back to haunt her. After much deliberation, Fluttershy decided that once Applejack returned, she would tell her that the pain had gone away and be on her way. That way, she would be able to make things right and still look like she hadn't lied earlier. She looked around the room, and noticed that their plates from their meal had been left on the ground. She simply couldn't let them sit around on the ground, so she slid out of bed and gathered the plates up. As she was about to bring the plates out of the room, the door suddenly opened.
"Forgot my hat..." Applejack said as she walked in. She stopped short, seeing Fluttershy standing perfectly fine on the leg that she thought was injured. The two ponies stood silently, staring at each other. Fluttershy's heart rate jumped through the roof, and she found herself shaking a bit.
"...You...you're OK?" Applejack said, confused. Fluttershy stood frozen and silent.
"...You lied to me?" Applejack continued. "...I can't..." Fluttershy was shaking even more now.
"Fluttershy..." Applejack said quietly. "I offer you my horsepitality, I let you sleep in my bed, and you take advantage of me?" The yellow pegasus was taken aback by these words, partially because of what was said, but more because of the tone it was said in. Applejack didn't even sound mad...she sounded more disappointed.
"N...no...it's not that..." Fluttershy stammered.
"Then what is it, if it isn't that?" Applejack asked, her voice becoming a bit louder. "Because it sure looks like that..." Fluttershy couldn't help but notice that Applejack, the rough-and-tumble pony who never feared a thing, was starting to tear up a bit. The yellow pegasus's heart couldn't take seeing her like that. She knew it was now or never. Fluttershy took a deep breath.
"Applejack..." she started, and then the words just came pouring out, faster than she had ever spoken, completely unstoppable.
"It's just that you're always so nice to me and you're so brave and strong and those are all things I wish I could be but I have trouble being them because I'm so shy but when I'm around you I feel like I can maybe be those things too and I was so happy yesterday because I got to spend so much time with you because I really like spending time with you and I didn't mean to lie to you this morning but I did because I wanted to spend more time with you..." Fluttershy took another big breath, surprised at her outburst, but knowing there was one more thing that needed to be said.
"...Because..." The last few words became a squeak.
"Because?" Applejack said, looking a bit stunned.
"......I love you, Applejack," Fluttershy said.
The two ponies stood in silence. Fluttershy had turned redder than she ever had before, and was shaking like a leaf. She stared intently at Applejack, knowing that there was no going back from there. Applejack, meanwhile, stared at her with a completely blank expression. Fluttershy noticed her eyes start to water, and she feared that the worst had happened. The pegasus closed her eyes, feeling a single tear drip down her cheek. She was on the verge of breaking into a full-on sob, when she felt a presence directly in front of her. She opened her eyes to see Applejack close to her, looking directly into her eyes.
"Sugarcube," Applejack said, her voice wavering a little bit. "Those are the words I've been hopin' to hear for a mighty long time now."
"...What?" was all Fluttershy could say.
"Darlin'," AJ said, feeling a tear fall down her cheek as well, "The only reason I haven't said a thing to ya is cause I was afraid of hurting your feelings. I know you're a sensitive pony, and I didn't wanna throw my feelings at you cause I thought I'd scare ya off. Why do you think I volunteered to help you up the mountain that day we went after the dragon? Why do you think I was so keen on getting you down on the ground with me yesterday when I saw you flyin' by?"
"I..." Fluttershy started, not knowing what to say.
"It's because you're just about the sweetest thing I've ever met," Applejack continued. "You're so caring and kind, you're downright adorable with how shy ya are, and when the time calls for it, even though ya don't think ya have it in ya, you're just as tough as I am...heck, sometimes even more so. I guess what I'm trying to say is...I love you too, Fluttershy."
Fluttershy nearly passed out from the impact of those words. Before she knew what she was doing, she found herself leaning forward and kissing Applejack, a moment she had envisioned in her head a number of times but never thought would actually happen. She felt like she was living a dream, and from the passion she felt behind AJ's return kiss, she was pretty positive that she felt the same way.
The two ponies spent their entire day sitting together on a hill near the orchard. Big Macintosh had come by once to try and get his sister's attention, but upon seeing the two together, decided that maybe it was best to talk to her later. He smiled as he walked away. She had told him of her feelings for the pegasus a good while ago, and seeing his sister this happy was a wonderful thing.
"So what about the others?" Fluttershy asked, picking her head up from its resting place on Applejack's side. She tipped Applejack’s hat, which she was currently wearing to keep the sun out of her eyes, out of the way so she could look straight into the big green eyes of her love.
"What about 'em?" Applejack responded.
"What will they think?" the pegasus asked.
"Don't worry yourself none about that," AJ told her. "Twilight's a very understanding girl, and Rarity's a pretty high-society type. I'm sure they won't have any problem with it."
"And what about Rainbow and Pinkie?" Fluttershy continued. Applejack looked down at her, a small grin crossing her face.
"Sugarcube," she said, "Trust me when I say that THOSE two will be more than happy for us."
"What do you mean?" Fluttershy asked, confused. Applejack smiled, then gave her a kiss on the forehead.
"You're too adorable," she told her. Fluttershy closed her eyes and smiled. That was a good enough answer for her.
Appleshy, Part 4
Fluttershy woke up to an empty bed again that morning. She could already smell the pancakes cooking, and she smiled a big smile, happy that the events of the previous day had not been a dream. Yesterday was the single greatest day in her entire life, and to find out that it was just a dream would have crushed the poor pegasus' heart, but thankfully, this wasn't the case. She had wished for so long for the courage to say those three magic words to Applejack, and to hear her speak those same words back to her was simply wonderful.
After their alone time on the hill yesterday, the new couple relocated to Fluttershy's cottage. Spending two entire days away from her animal friends didn't sit well with her, and Applejack was more than happy to go help her with them. Lyra and Bon Bon were glad to see them arrive as well, as they had been having a bit of trouble keeping Angel under control. They seemed stressed as Fluttershy and Applejack entered the cottage, but upon seeing how close together the two were walking, they smiled knowingly and left. Fluttershy thought she heard Lyra say something about how much they reminded her of Bon Bon and herself, but AJ had looked straight into her eyes at that moment, so her recollection of anything other than those big, green eyes was unreliable at best.
Fluttershy had prepared their dinner that evening. She was never the best cook, but she felt obligated to do so after the wonderful breakfast her love had prepared for them. Her culinary offering, while not terrible, did leave a bit to be desired. The yellow pegasus was so nervous as she brought the dishes out to the table. It was evident even by looking at the meal that she had overcooked the grass and undercooked the hay. Still, Applejack ate every bite, and even though she could tell that it didn't exactly thrill her, she smiled with every bite, and even asked for seconds. The two ponies fell asleep not long after, situated in Fluttershy's bed in a similar fashion to how they had slept the previous night. This time, however, Applejack insisted they switch positions. If Fluttershy had loved their previous sleeping arrangement (and she did), it was nothing compared to this. The pegasus felt safer than she had ever felt with AJ's forelegs holding her close. She felt AJ nibble gently on her ear, much like she had dreamed of doing to her last night. The last thing Fluttershy heard before she drifted off to sleep was Applejack whispering those three magic words again.
After the two had finished their breakfast (bringing the used plates to the sink at Fluttershy's behest), they sat down in the living room. After a little while of affectionate cuddling, Fluttershy decided that it was finally time to bring up the only thing she'd worried about at all since yesterday.
"Um...AJ?" Fluttershy spoke.
"Whatcha need, sugarcube?" Applejack responded.
"...We need to tell our friends about us," the pegasus said, sounding a little nervous. AJ patted her on the shoulder.
"Darlin', I can tell you're anxious about it," Applejack said reassuringly. "But don't worry. Like I said yesterday, I'm sure they'll be fine with it."
"I know," Fluttershy said, her hair falling over her face. "But I can't help but worry about it."
"Well then, let's call 'em over!" AJ offered. Fluttershy squeaked. "Don't worry your pretty head none, I'm sure everything will be just fine."
Fluttershy spent the next few hours in frantic preparation for her company. It wasn't often that she had her friends over her place, and even a normal, everyday get-together would have sent her into a tizzy. Considering the gravity of the situation at hand, it was a miracle the yellow pegasus hadn't gone into shock. Only the presence and reassuring words of Applejack kept her under control.
"Darlin', you've cleaned that countertop five times already," the orange pony said, chuckling a bit. Fluttershy turned bright red at her love's laughter.
"W-well...it needs to be really, really clean!" Fluttershy stammered, trying to justify her actions, which even she started to realize were a bit silly.
"You're awful cute when you're nervous," Applejack said, a statement that made the pegasus calm down the tiniest bit. "And I promise that you ain't got a thing to worry about."
"Oh, you're probably right," Fluttershy said. Applejack nuzzled her neck, and she smiled. Just then, the doorbell rang. Fluttershy squeaked and fell onto her back, her legs stiffening up. The orange pony sighed.
"You're too much, sugarcube," she said, grabbing Fluttershy's tail with her teeth and pulling her to the door.
"Oh, Applejack!" Twilight said upon seeing her answer the door. "We were wondering why you didn't meet up with us." Twilight stopped, as she and the others noticed Fluttershy paralyzed behind Applejack.
"She...uh...got surprised by the doorbell," Applejack said. The others nodded. Having known Fluttershy for a while, this didn't strike them as very odd.
"Oh, hi girls!" Fluttershy said, legs still stiff. "Care to come in?"
The six ponies enjoyed a delicious lunch. Applejack had handled the preparation of the food while Fluttershy had used a special blend of herbs from the Everfree Forest to make tea. AJ had tried once or twice to bring up the reason why they had all gathered today, but Fluttershy stopped her each time. Before company had arrived, the pegasus had insisted on being the one to give them the news, as it would help her overcome her fear. Had the girls been looking more closely at the situation as they ate, the new nature of Fluttershy and AJ's relationship would have probably been fairly obvious. The two sat together the entire time, and their gazes at each other were a bit longer and deeper than usual. Fluttershy was thankful for Pinkie Pie's energetic story about a harmless accident in the Cakes' place yesterday, because it took the focus off of AJ and herself.
"And THAT'S why Mr. Cake isn't allowed to bring bunnies into the kitchen anymore!" Pinkie finished. The girls all had a good laugh, and for the first time since company had arrived, Fluttershy actually felt somewhat calm.
"So Fluttershy," Rarity said, finishing the last of her tea. "I was to understand that you had something important to tell us?" The pegasus nearly choked on her last bite of apple fritter, and Applejack was quick to slap her on the back and dislodge the offending bit of food.
"Yeah, that's what you said in your letter this morning," Rainbow Dash added. Fluttershy shot a quick look at Applejack, suddenly realizing why she had insisted on looking at the letters in private before they were sent out. AJ shrugged her shoulders innocently.
"So what's this all about?" Twilight asked. "Is everything alright?"
"Of course!" Fluttershy said, turning red again. "Everything's just fine."
"So then what's so important?" Pinkie questioned. "Are we having a party? Because I've been wanting to have a party, but I couldn't think of what to have a party about and I was hoping someone else would bring something up..."
"It's not that," Fluttershy said. The group sat silently for a moment.
"So...care to tell us what it IS, rather than what it isn't?" Twilight asked, sounding a bit annoyed. The pegasus closed her eyes, then took a breath.
"Well, you see..." she began. "The other day, I went by Applejack's farm..."
"Wow, that's really neighborly of you!" Pinkie interrupted. "The other day, I went to Cheerilee's house, and..." She was quickly quieted by Applejack stuffing an apple into her mouth.
"Let the girl finish," Applejack said, then turned back to Fluttershy. "So you were saying?" Fluttershy gave a nervous smile, then continued.
"...And I helped her kick down some of her apples," she went on. "And I hurt myself, so I stayed the day at her house, and we woke up the next day and had some delicious pancakes, and..." Applejack stopped her.
"Fluttershy, just get to the important part," the orange pony said.
"Yeah, this all seems really pointless," Rainbow said. Applejack shot her a stern look, and Rainbow, not wanting to start an argument, took the hint.
"The point is," Fluttershy went on, "I had a really good time with her...and...it wasn't like the normal good times I have with everypony else...it was different."
"And it was different for me too," Applejack added.
"Different how?" Rarity asked, also seeming to get a bit frustrated at how long it was taking for whatever needed to be said to actually be said.
"Um..." the pegasus muttered, trying to figure out how she wanted to say it. "...You know how it feels when you spend your whole life looking for something, but you don't know what it is? And then, right when you think you're never going to find it, it turns up in the least-expected place?" The other ponies looked confused. Fluttershy desperately looked to Applejack for help. Applejack didn't say a word. She simply smiled and took the pegasus' hoof in her own. Fluttershy reached her other foreleg out, holding AJ's hoof with both of hers. That was all the support she needed.
"What I'm trying to say is..." she felt the words starting to approach her lips, and finally felt comfortable saying it. "...We're in love."
The room was completely still. Not a single pony said a word. Twilight, Rainbow, Pinkie, and Rarity all stared at their friends, none of them able to speak at all. Fluttershy tightened her grip on Applejack's hoof, worried that her friends were not taking it well despite AJ reassuring her that it would be OK. It was a good while before anypony said a word, and it was Pinkie who finally broke the silence.
"...OHMYGOSH THAT'S SOOOOOO ADORABLE!!!" Pinkie burst out. Fluttershy's heart skipped a beat. She looked at AJ.
"I toldja it'd be fine," Applejack said, smiling.
"Girls, that's wonderful!" Twilight said, getting up and hugging Fluttershy, as Rarity did the same.
"You girls are gonna make such a cute couple!" Rainbow said, flying over and putting her forelegs around the two lovers' shoulders.
"This is soooo great!!" Pinkie said, tackling the group and nearly knocking them over. Fluttershy's tears flowed freely, so relieved by her friends' acceptance. She and Applejack shared a gentle kiss, and the pegasus noticed that AJ was making no effort to hide her tears either.
"I was so nervous to tell you girls," Fluttershy said, blushing even harder. "I didn't know how you would react."
"Fluttershy," Twilight said, "We're your friends. We're always going to be here for you, and we're always going to support your decisions. Of course we're happy for you two!"
"Of course we are!" Rarity said. "Love is such a beautiful thing..And your colors complement each other so well! Oh, making matching dresses for you will be a blast!" The group laughed.
"I'm just...so relieved," Fluttershy said. Applejack pulled her over for another kiss.
"I love you, sugarcube," she said, smiling wider than she'd ever smiled before.
"I love you too, sweetheart," the pegasus said, her smile matching that of her love's.
"See, Rainbow?" Pinkie said, patting Rainbow on the shoulder. "I TOLD you we weren't the only ones!"