Fall is a special time of the year in Ponyville; the season of change as some ponies referred to it. Although most noticeably the change they're referring to would be the physical change of color that the leaves on the trees exhibit, there are also some more subtle, but nonetheless significant changes that occur throughout ponies lives this time of year. The peak of this season is marked by the annual Running of the Leaves competition, in which several ponies compete in a marathon designed to shake the leaves from the trees as a result of the force of everypony trampling the grounds at once as they run. However this year, there was another competition between two ponies that was slowly gaining more spectators. An Iron Pony competition between the down-to-earth pony apple farmer Applejack, and the head-in-the-Cloudsdale pegasus Rainbow Dash. The crowd mostly consisted of their closest friends, a few other ponies always ready to enjoy a good completion, and Applejack's own supportive family watching from the stands cheering her on.
"Whah!" cheered a tired and frail Grannysmith.
"Whoo-ee!" shouted an exuberant Applebloom.
"Eeyup!" bellowed a somewhat distracted Big Macintosh. The stalwart red colt's name was known throughout all of Ponyville, however not many ponies aside from his own kin knew much about him. Keeping a strong and silent demeanor, most only knew him as a hard worker with little to say. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy talking; he just never found himself in situations where lengthy conversation had rhyme or reason. It meant little to him though. All that really mattered to him in life was working hard, and taking care of family. At least that was mostly what mattered to him
Although he had initially made his way here to support his sister in competition, he found his attention drawn to another pony for most of the time he was there. More specifically, the meek and graceful pegasus that was keeping charge of the scoreboard for the games. Watching her pink tail flow as her yellow wings flapped the air past her sent such a warm feeling through his body. He shut his eyes for a moment; taking in her glory while he imagined what it would be like if he could know her more personally. The thought brought a longing smile to his face. His daydream was rudely interrupted by a small nudge to his ribs.
"Whoa nelly, did you see that?" Applebloom asked him excitedly.
"Huh? Oh, yep, sure did!" Big Mac hastily responded. "AJ sure is cleanin' up down there."
"But, Rainbow Dash just won the Bronco Buck. Weren't you watching?"
"Well, of course I was. I just, you know, I meant she will be cleanin' up, in the next match, that's all."
A puzzled look formed on Applebloom's face. Like any young filly, once her curiosity was peaked, it was quite a challenge to derive her from sating it with knowledge. Her drive to find her cutie mark may have been the only competent rival to the mystery at hand. She looked outwards to see what could possibly draw her older brother away from the heated games that were taking place below. A wide grin appeared as she finally deduced the situation. "Oh, I see now. You're looking at her again."
"I don't know who you're talkin' 'bout." Big Mac replied in a huff.
"You sure as heck do know who I'm talking 'bout!"
"Nope." was his only response.
"So, you're telling me you aint sittin' here taking a gander over at
" she pulled herself up to his head and whispered softly in his ear "Flut-ter-shy?" A faint blush appeared on Big Macintosh's face as his little sister mentioned her name. Applebloom couldn't help but fall off of him into a fit of laughter at his embarrassment."I knew it! You looove her!"
"You hush up." He retorted rather defensively. It was somewhat known throughout the Apple family that he'd had a crush on Fluttershy, and he'd had to put up with a barrage of teasing from both of his sisters for quite some time now. He knew that's just how girls behaved, but it did tend to get on his nerves sometimes; especially when he knew they were right.
"Ask her out, sonny." Piped up Granny Smith, who Big Macintosh could have sworn had dozed off a moment ago. "Keepin yer feelins inside of ya is only gonna drive ya loony."
"I just can't, granny. She probably don't feel the same 'bout me. I mean, what would a pony who lives up in the clouds want with a simple apple farmer like me?"
"But, she doesn't live in Cloudsdale, Big Mac!" Applebloom chimed in. "She lives in a cottage on the edge of the Everfree Forest, taking care of all kinds of critters!"
does?" the red pony but a hoof to his chin pondering this new knowledge.
"You'd be surprised at how many gals 'preciate a good honest working colt like yerself." The elder pony resumed, most likely not even aware of her granddaughters' outburst. Most saw Granny Smith as a senile old mare whose mind had been pulled well past its prime, but her relatives knew that she still had untold amounts of wisdom hidden within."Why I betcha that little Miss Shutterfly would be thrilled if you took her out on a nice date."
"'Fluttershy', granny. But where would I-?" before he could finish his question, Granny Smith had already fallen asleep, snoring contentedly despite all of the action from the Iron Pony competition going on.
"So, you gonna go for it?" his younger sister asked with a hint of excitement.
Big Macintosh let out an exasperated sigh. "Maybe."
"I don't know
"Oh, come on! When did you become so sheepish? You're almost as shy as she is!"
Hearing her remark made his ears perk. "Almost as shy as she is
okay, I'll do it. Right after the competition, I'll ask her."
"Well, alright, that's what I wanna hear!" Applebloom gave her brother a supportive hug as he clenched his teeth thinking about the decision he'd just made. He shook his head and focused on what he'd initially come here for, watching as Applejack swiftly maneuvered through a spinning lasso, clearly outperforming Rainbow Dash, who had somehow managed to tie herself up in a nearby tree.
"Darn Rainbow Dash, using her wings like that!" Applejack fumed, sore at how the Iron Pony competition had concluded: Dash winning the competition fifteen events to five. "I can't believe she'd cheat like that! I thought she was a better friend than that!"
"Hey, come on, AJ." Applebloom tried her best to comfort her older sister, Big Mac sharing a concerned expression. "Wasn't this supposed to be a friendly competition between you two?"
"Yeah, it was! And that's why I didn't think she'd go as far as to use something I can't compete against!"
"Well, if y'all didn't want her to do something like that, then maybe ya should've said so in the first place? I mean, it aint really cheatin to use somethin' you're born with, right?"
The orange Earth pony dug a hoof into the ground, a bit ashamed at her anger taking control of her. "I guess you're right." She admitted. "Besides, I still got tomorrow's race to look forward to. And this time I'm making sure that she aint gonna be flying at all!"
"Just don't let your feelings get the best of you, ya hear?" Big Macintosh stepped in resting his hoof on top of her head. He gave her a reassuring smile, a sprig of wheat hanging out of his mouth.
"Yeah, yeah, I gotcha. I'll be a good sport and all, you aint got nothing to worry about." As she spoke, Big Macintosh's concentration was broken by a soft giggle in the distance. He looked past Applejack to where a trio of ponies, consisting of Pinkie Pie, Twilight Sparkle, and Fluttershy, were conversing amongst themselves, Pinkie Pie most likely having just uttered one of her characteristic gut-busting one-liners. After saying their goodbyes, each pony went their separate ways, the yellow Pegasus making her way towards the Apple family.
"Speaking of lettin' your feelings get in the way
" Applebloom made her way over to her brother and nudged her head into his side. "There she is, go talk to her!" Big Macintosh winced and turned his head to the side away from the approaching Fluttershy.
"Oh for Pete's sake, are going over this again?" Applejack rolled her eyes at hearing her brother fret over his crush on one of her closest friends again. "When are you gonna pony up and tell her how you feel, ya big chicken?"
"I aint no chicken!"
"Well then, prove it!"
Big Macintosh opened his mouth to argue further, but decided against it when he heard a soft voice speak out.
"Wow, Applejack, you and Rainbow Dash did really well in the competition today!" Fluttershy congratulated her friend in a soft whisper. Hearing her voice caused Macintosh's mouth to hang open as the piece of wheat stumbled out and fell to the ground.
"Well, thanks, Fluttershy." The orange mare tossed her ponytail back in a charismatic fashion at being praised. "'Course, your scorekeeping showed I didn't do well enough."
"Oh, don't feel bad. I'm sure that if Rainbow hadn't used her wings, you would have stood a much better chance at winning."
Applejack's eyes narrowed at Fluttershy's remark. "That's what I said! If she was an Earth pony like me, I woulda wiped the floor with her!"
"Oh my." Fluttershy lowered herself at hearing Applejack's voice raise. "Did I say something wrong?"
"Why, that little-!" Applejack caught herself before she said something she'd regret, and cleared her throat. "Anyway, that aint important. What is important is that my brother he has something real important to discuss." She said, as she walked behind Big Mac and gave him a powerful nudge towards the yellow pegasus, almost knocking him over.
"Wait, I told ya, I can't-!" Big Macintosh's protests met with disapproving glares from his family as he turned back towards Fluttershy and gave a sheepish grin, hardly able to hide his anxiousness.
"Um, what did you want to ask me, Big Macintosh?" Fluttershy asked softly, half her face hidden by her beautiful pink mane.
A few beads of sweat broke out on the red pony's' forehead as he heard her elegant voice. He moved his eyes to and fro, hardly able to make eye contact with her. "Well, uh, you see, I was wondering, you know, if you'd like to- and if you don't I completely understand, but if you're not busy, maybe you'd like to, you know, uh-"
His clumsy proposal was interrupted by Fluttershy's tiny voice suddenly. "Big Macintosh?"
"I'd love to go out with you and get a little something to eat tonight." She spoke with a sense of confidence, before immediately reverting back to her usual timid self. "If that's what you'd like, of course."
"Yeah! I mean, no, great! Good. Okay, I'll see you, uh, tonight then- yeah, that's whatcha said, right? Yeah, you just said it, I was here when-!" Big Macintosh felt a sharp pain in his rear leg as he looked back to see the eldest of his sisters stamp on his foot, urging him to wrap it up while he was ahead. "I'll uh
see you tonight then, right before the moon starts to rise."
Fluttershy gave him a tiny smile as she looked up at him. "That sounds nice. Um, I guess I'd better go. Bye." Without another word she scampered off back towards her cottage, leaving Big Macintosh with an excited smile on his face.
Smirking, Applejack propped up on her hind legs and rested a fore hoof on Big Mac's rump. "Now was that honestly so hard?"
Big Macintosh regained his tough exterior and shrugged her off "I aint got time to be lectured. I got plans tonight."
"Yeah, thanks to me!"
"And me!" Applebloom reminded him.
"I don't know what you're talkin 'bout." He responded curtly. As he made his way over to retrieve a sleeping Granny Smith from the bleachers, his two sisters followed him back to the Apple farm, giggling amongst themselves every trot of the way.
"Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness!" Fluttershy exclaimed, prancing across her living room in a panic. "I'm supposed to go out with Big Macintosh any minute now on a d-d-d-date, and
I have no idea what to do!" For the past hours she had been in this state, fussing over how she was supposed to handle this new ordeal approaching closer by the second. She caught a glance at her reflection in a mirror; wide-eyed, mane an absolute mess, and her teeth clenched; she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Okay, settle down, Fluttershy." She said to herself out loud. "Getting all worked up and out of sorts isn't going to help any. Just get a hold of yourself." With her history of being so socially awkward and timid, she was the last of her friends she expected to find herself on any kind of date. Even when she'd met Twilight Sparkle, who secluded herself from other ponies more than she did, she could hardly raise her voice enough to introduce herself. If hadn't been for her baby dragon assistant Spike bringing out her excitement for young creatures, she might still only have Rainbow Dash and Rarity as her closest friends.
She took another look at her mane out of sorts, and cleared her throat and called out in a delicate manner. "Angel? Can you come help me please?" Her faithful bunny companion didn't respond. "Angel, where are you?" Taking a few steps around her sofa, she found him lying underneath, his head buried in some book that he must have snatched from Twilight. "Oh, good, there you are. Um, if you're not busy, do you think you could help me fix my hair, please?" Despite putting on her sweetest smile, Angel resumed reading his book, with his back turned towards her. Even though Angel was her faithful companion, he could be very impatient with her at times, and often a bit selfish. He was still fairly young for a bunny, so she often overlooked his rude behavior. "Angel, I'm sorry that I'm interrupting you, but I could really use your help right now." Still no response from the bunny as a frown formed on Fluttershy's face. "One
" Hearing her start to count, Angel scampered away from his book and towards Fluttershy's dresser, finding her own special brush in the top drawer. Apparently, he knew what came after three, and he did not want to have to look at those eyes ever again.
"Oh, thank you so much, Angel." She responded gingerly, trotting towards him and sitting on the floor so he could get to work. Climbing on top of her shoulders, he worked his arms up to the top of her head and gently worked her brush down, filing all of her frizzy hair back into place. "I would do it myself, but I'm just so nervous right now. I mean, I've never been on a date before. I mean, a few colts have asked me before, but I've always just
run away." She sunk her head for a bit, until Angel thumped her, prompting her to keep her head still while he did his job. "But, you know, I'm really surprised I was able to ask him out. I don't even know where it came from. He's usually so calm and collected. Seeing Big Macintosh so out of sorts like that kind
inspired me, for some reason."
Angel didn't seem to be paying any attention to Fluttershy as she confessed her anxiousness about her first real date in her life. Having finished restoration of her pink mane to its former glory, he hopped off of her down to the floor. "Oh, you're done. Thank you, Angel, you've been a big help to me." In a huff, the grumpy bunny took his book into his mouth, and hopped back towards the sofa, resuming where he had left off.
Fluttershy looked out the window and saw that Luna's moon was just starting to rise. Big Macintosh should have been here by now. Had he gotten lost on the way to her house? Did he get hurt? Or maybe he had more work to do on the farm? "Or, probably
he just decided not to come." She said in a disappointed tone. "That's okay though. It just means I have one less thing I need to worry about. I guess it's for the best if he just doesn't-"A sudden knocking on her door sent her flying under the sofa, right next to Angel who stared at her with a puzzled look on her face. Another set of knocks on the door, and Angel slammed his book shut, hopping towards the door to open it impatiently.
"Oh, uh, hi there, little guy." Big Macintosh's strong voice rang out boldly. "Say, is Fluttershy 'round here?" Looking back to where she was hiding, Angel lifted a paw up at Mac signaling him to wait right there. Hopping towards Fluttershy, he grabbed her by the tail with both arms, and using all of his strength, pulled her out from under the couch leaving her right in front of her date.
hi." she said sheepishly, barely able to keep eye contact with him.
"Hey, Fluttershy!" Big Macintosh greeted her with enthusiasm, much differently than earlier today at the Iron Pony competition. "You alright? You look a little pale." Fluttershy covered her head with both hooves. Here he was, right on her doorstep and she couldn't think of anything about what to say or do with him. "Look, if you aint feelin well, I guess I understand. I'll just go back home. I don't wanna force you to-"
"No, wait!" she piped up suddenly, standing up from the floor and reaching out to him. She could detect the disappointment in his voice, and she didn't want to be responsible for any sad feelings he might have about her setting him up. "I'm okay, really! Oh, please don't go home!"
Big Macintosh turned back towards her, a relieved smile on his face. "Well, glad ta hear it." Getting a good look at him, she realized how much trouble he had gone through before arriving. His hair had been groomed neatly in rows, his hooves had been manicured, and in place of his usual harness was instead a bow tie elegantly hung around his neck, along with a primed vest squeezing a bit too tightly around his body.
"Oh my." Fluttershy responded while taking the sight of him in. "You look
With a grin, Mac explained his new look. "Thanks. It's kind of funny story. See, my sister done blabbed to one of hers and your friends Rarity, and she offered to give me a 'make-over'. I tried to protest, but before I could get a word out, I'd been hog tied and pushed into the daintiest salon I'd ever been in. Not, uh, not that I go into a lot of salons, mind ya."
Fluttershy giggled. That did sound like Rarity. As generous as she was with her talents, she did sometimes overlook the fact that her tastes might not sync up with others. "Well, do you like it?"
"I dunno. What do you think of it?"
" Fluttershy pondered her words carefully. She didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable, although from the looks of it he didn't seem very comfortable to begin with. "It's a little much."
Big Macintosh let out a frustrated sigh. "I knew it! This fancy frou-frou stuff just aint me! I look ridiculous don't I?"
"Oh no, it's not that bad. We just need to tone it down a bit." She stepped towards Big Macintosh and grabbed the strings to the vest with her teeth, pulling them loose until it fell away, relieving his large build of its restriction.
"Hwaa!" Big Mac took in and let out a huge breath of air. "I can breathe again! Thank Celestia!"
"And, let's just fix this while we're at it." Fluttershy buried her snout into his hair, ruffling it around until it resembled its natural untamed finesse. She wriggled her nose a bit, the smell of apples poking at it. It must have been a shampoo, if Rarity had gone to the trouble of fixing his hair like that. She was a clever filly, no doubt about it. "Now, all that's left is the tie."
I kind of like the tie. Makes me look formal, don't ya think?" Big Macintosh turned his head up striking an uncharacteristically suave pose.
"Hee hee. Um, yes." Fluttershy bemused, happy that he was finally comfortable around her. "Well, I guess we should get going. Angel, be a dear and look after the place for me. You're in charge while I'm gone, okay?"
Angel lifted his paw in a mocking salute, before quickly slamming the door. Big Macintosh turned back towards her, scratching one of his hooves with the other. "So, uh
you got a place ta eat in mind?"
"Oh, yes." Fluttershy replied meekly. "Actually, I've never been before. It's somewhere that Twilight recommended to me. She and Spike eat there most of the time."
"Alright, sounds good. Shall we?"
Walking side-by-side with him, Fluttershy would occasionally glance up at Big Macintosh to admire his robust demeanor, turning away suddenly if he looked back at her. The comfort they'd felt a few minutes ago had already begun to fade away. Oh no, She thought to herself in a panic. What have I gotten myself into?
"Monsieur and mademoiselle, may I present to you your entrees for the evening." Their refined waiter carefully placed his silver tray balanced on his head in front of Big Macintosh and Fluttershy, seated outside of the restaurant so they could gaze at the stars slowly making their appearance over them. "For the lady, a garden salad, with freshly sliced cucumbers. And for the gentlecolt, a bean lettuce and tomato sandwich, with
added bar-be-queue sauce."
"Oh, um, thank you." Fluttershy responded quietly.
"Yeah, thanks!" Big Macintosh replied in haste, not even waiting for the waiter to depart before diving in head first into his sandwich.
"Well, if you two are all set, then I suppose I shall just, eh
leave you to enjoy!" the waiter scampered away, somewhat startled by Macintosh's ravenous consumption. After taking many large chomps, he looked up at Fluttershy who was gazing at him with a very surprised look on her face. He took a moment to look down and realized that he was already nearly finished with it, while Fluttershy hadn't even started on her meal yet.
"Pardon- I mean, uh, excuse me." Big Macintosh uttered, embarrassed by how uncultured he had behaved. "I hadn't eaten all day. Breakfast is usually early before the sun even comes up. And with the Iron Pony competition and Rarity sprucing me up, I aint had time to catch lunch or dinner. I was just plain starving."
Fluttershy giggled. "That's okay. I just wasn't
expecting it. That's all. I usually spend all day with small animals that nibble at their food, so I've never really seen somepony eat so much so fast." Fluttershy took a small pick at her salad, chewing at it with the utmost delicacy.
"Heh, well, when you're spending most your time lugging around carts, and lifting baskets full of apples, it works up an appetite. In fact, me and AJ usually buck more apples than we can carry, so we can catch some snack time while we work."
"Oh, I see. I'll bet it's really hard work. I can't even imagine how you and Applejack are able to do it without hurting yourselves."
"Heh heh, nah, it aint no trouble. Applebucking's what we do in the family. It's our namesakes, anyways. I can't really imagine what I'd be good at if it wasn't Applebuckin."
"Oh, don't say that. I'm sure you're good at lots of things."
"Eh, maybe. I dunno." Big Macintosh scratched his head, taking a moment to admire Fluttershy's encouraging smile. He felt like a million bits. Here he was with the mare of his dreams, and she was smiling at him, directly at him. But he couldn't just keep gloating about himself, or she might think he had some sort of overinflated ego. "Anyway, how 'bout y'all tell me about yourself?" He took a very small bite of what was left of his sandwich, trying to make it last a bit longer if he could.
"What?" Fluttershy asked, her face turning to a worried sulk. "Oh, no, there's nothing for me to talk about. I'm not that interesting."
"Aw, come on, that can't be true. Ya got lots of friends, including AJ. They can't all think you're uninteresting. Try me. I'd love to hear about you."
"Well, I, um, take care of animals."
"Y-yeah. I just, keep them with me, and feed them, and treat them if they're sick and
stuff." Fluttershy's head sank, turning away from Macintosh as she spoke.
"Oh, well that's nice, I guess
" Big Macintosh frowned at hearing her lose confidence in herself. He couldn't really contribute to the conversation at hand. Although they did keep a large number of animals at Sweet Apple Acres, they were mostly used for farming and their own benefit. Cows, pigs, and sheep could pretty much take care of themselves, and feeding them was simply a matter of filling the trough. It didn't compare to the tender-loving-care that Fluttershy probably gave her animals. Desperately searching for something else for them to talk about, he happened to notice their waiter a distance behind Fluttershy, waving his hoof, beckoning Macintosh to meet him for a moment. "Uh, 'scuse me, Fluttershy, I need to, uh
"Oh, right, go ahead."
"I'll be right back." He lifted himself up from his seat and, making sure that he wasn't being watched, trotted closer to his waiter.
"Sir, I couldn't help but notice that you were sitting with one of the six mares who defeated Nightmare Moon, oui?"
Big Macintosh's brow furrowed "Oh, shoot! Of course she is! I shoulda asked her about that, it would have made a better conversa-!"
"You misunderstand me, sir. I merely bring this up because there happens to be an open-seating play being held in Town Square tonight; a play centered on the story of our Dear Princesses Celestia and Luna. Part of that play will tell the tale of how the elements were used to defeat Nightmare Moon."
"Okay, I guess that sounds interesting."
"And maybe if someone were trying to get to know more about his date, he might want to take her to something that covers an important part of her life, no?"
His eyes widened as he finally put the pieces together. "Oh, that's genius! Thanks, buddy, I really owe you a big ol' tip!"
The server pony closed his eyes with a confident smile "Oh no, sir, I assure you, it's my pleasure-"
"Tell ya what, you ever see me or my sister at an Apple stand, we'll get you basket- no, make that two baskets of apples, free of charge!"
His face puzzled, apparently not the sort of tip he was looking for. But he shrugged and put on a polite smile. "Sir, you are too kind. I would be happy to take that offer from you." Shaking hooves, Big Macintosh ran back to Fluttershy, still eating her salad slowly. "Hey, you wanna get out of here?"
"Huh? Oh, why? Are you not having a good time here?"
"No, it aint that. It's just that I think we might find something really fun to do at Town Square tonight. Like maybe a show or something."
"Okay, I guess we could-!"
Without a moment's notice, Big Macintosh lifted Fluttershy onto his back and carried her in a gallop off towards Town Square. This is my big chance, he thought to himself. If she won't tell me about herself, I'll find something else to do it for her!
Ponies of every size and age gathered 'round the large stage in the center of Town Square. The area served as the central place for Ponyville's largest events, from public speakers to the annual Summer sun Celebration. It had even served as the location for one of its most infamous performances, as a spotlight for the Great and Powerful Trixie (though most ponies would attempt to change the conversation topic at the mention of her name). A large banner with the title The Moon's Lament decorated the scenery, with the infamous image of the Mare in the Moon at the footer of the title. Just as the sound of the orchestra raised along with the curtain to signal the start of the show, two ponies running late to the show politely inched their way past the crowd closer to the middle where they could witness the action more easily.
"Um, Big Macintosh?" Fluttershy asked her date for the evening.
a fan of theater or something?"
"Nah, not particularly. Why?"
"Oh, well, I was just wondering, because you seemed like you really wanted to see this play."
Big Macintosh chuckled "Well, I aint big into all that theater stuff, but this one's different. I think you'll get a real kick out of this one."
"If you say so
" Fluttershy craned her neck to see above the ponies in front of her, all much taller than her. As the orchestra's sounds dimmed, the lights on stage rose, showing two ponies with their backs turned to the audience standing on the floor, one dressed in white, the other dressed in black, as an enchanting voice narrated.
"A millennia ago, when life had only just spurned from creation itself, chaos reigned throughout the land. Life would form and diminish in the blink of an eye while havoc coursed throughout each moment. But on one fateful day, all that had been and would ever be would finally change."
The two ponies in center stage rose slowly, as their clothing began to exhibit an enchanting glow.
"The two regal princesses; Celestia of the Light."
The pony in white about faced, towards the audience, raising her right hoof dramatically, her face beaming with charm.
"And Luna, of the Dark."
The pony in black turned as well, her left hoof lowered to her side, keeping a more reserved smile on her form.
"Together, these two sisters drove out chaos and brought about order and harmony into what would from that moment on be their kingdom. The eldest, Princess Celestia, would create the day, filled with light and energy. Her younger sister, Princess Luna, would create the night, full of darkness and tranquility. For a time, it was good, as the sisters reigned in harmony over the land, with their subjects created in their image, each with individual traits borrowed from their makers."
As the voice explained, the two ponies began to dance and sway around each other, the lights moving to reveal the background, a mural composed of earth ponies, unicorns, and pegasi, all playing, working, and sleeping together in a mixture of night and day. The lights faded until only one remained on the pony portraying Luna.
"However, all did not sit well between the two sisters. While the mortal ponies reveled and embraced Princess Celestia's day, when nightfall came, most ponies slept and shunned the night sky that Princess Luna had worked so hard to create. While she never brought the matter up with her sister, the bitterness grew within her heart. Each rise and fall of the moon that passed, the empress of the night contemplated how she would persuade her subjects to appreciate her creation. And if they could not be persuaded, they would simply be forced."
The lights rose again to reveal a change in the background, now a reflection of the interior of a royal mansion, most likely what one would imagine the princess's home to resemble. The actress playing Princess Celestia made her way towards her acting sister.
"Oh, good morning, my beloved sister." She said drearily, fighting back a yawn. "If only I could find a way for the sun to rise without my need to rise from my chambers. I could surely use some more sleep." Princess Luna looked over her shoulder at her sister, then back away, not wanting to entertain conversation. "Come now, Luna, I have already prolonged my duties as a princess. We cannot afford to keep the daylight waiting any longer."
Princess Luna lowered her head, forcing herself not to look at her sister as she spoke. "No" she cried softly.
"Luna" Princess Celestia raised her voice, inflecting her seriousness at this opposition before her. "I will not stand for this. Lower the moon now so that I may raise the sun, as we have done for so long already."
"No! I will not! I want them to awake and catch a glimpse at my night, even if just for a moment."
"I am sorry, my sister, but this cannot be done. If we prolong the day and night for so long, this world will slip back into chaos. Is this what you desire?"
"Maybe it is!" As she protested, the lights dimmed for a flash, causing a stir among the audience, especially the younger ponies. "I've heard you speak of how we must keep a sturdy schedule to prevent the land from falling into disarray, but I think it is a hoax! You merely want to keep me hidden within the shadows, so that you can keep your role as everyone's favorite princess."
"Luna, please, I would never-!"
"Do not address me by that name anymore!" she cried out, a blackened bolt of magic striking out from her horn towards her eldest sister, knocking her back and onto the floor. A dark swirl of energy began to form around her, obscuring her from sight. "That name represents our union as rulers. But I will break this union and begin my own rule. From now on, you may call me
" the swirling ceased, as it all collected in the middle, and burst forth, illuminating her presence again, now changed to a much more larger and more menacing armor-clad form, eliciting gasps of fear from the audience with her lower growling voice. "Nightmare Moon!"
" Princess Celestia struggled to her feet as she addressed the fearsome presence before her. "You're not
you can't be
my sister? What has happened?"
"Your sister has grown up." She responded "And she has grown tired of your oppressive rule. Now I will see to it that the night lasts forever under my reign. They will never see your wretched sun again!" She threw her head back letting out a vicious cackle, forming into a black mist as she made her way offstage in a rush.
"Dear me, this cannot be allowed to pass!" Princess Celestia cried out to herself, gazing towards where Nightmare Moon had made her escape. "My sister
what has become of you?"
The narrator resumed her tale as the lights faded, and the actress exited to the left offstage. "And true to her word, the dark princess, now referring to herself as Nightmare Moon, left her moon in the sky. Whole crops began to die from lack of sunlight, the tides rose rapidly from the rays of the moon, whilst creatures large and small panicked from the unbalancing of nature. For what should have been four cycles of night and day, terror and havoc gripped Equestira. Until on the fifth day, Princess Celestia construed a plan to lure her corrupted sister out to face her. Though Luna's power prevented her from controlling the moon, she was still able to control her sun as she pleased."
The lights once again rose, depicting what the environment might resemble during a solar eclipse. A sparkling dark cloud formed in the center of the stage as Nightmare Moon appeared in a fit of rage. "Celestia!" she bellowed fiercely. "What is the meaning of this!? You dare mock me by raising your sun whilst my moon is still occupies the sky!? Come and face me, now!"
Princess Celestia made her way back onstage towards her dark sister. "What troubles you, sister?" she asked with a dismissive attitude. "I have allowed you to keep your moon in the sky, despite it going against centuries of royal tradition. Do not think that this will keep me from carrying out my own task. I will continue to carry out my duties to my kingdom, whether you approve of it or not."
Nightmare Moon dug her hoof into the ground hearing her sisters resolve. "You will regret those words, princess of the sun! The night SHALL last forever!"
"Then your mind is made up, is it? You would go against me just to keep the land in eternal darkness, dear sister?"
"I am no longer your sister!" she screamed as she charged towards the white alicorn. Suddenly a flourish of colors formed around Princess Celestia, shielding her from Nightmare Moon's charge.
"Yes you are. You are still my sister, and also my closest friend. That is why
" as she spoke, the colors surrounding her took form, as bright and shining emeralds emanating with a powerful magic essence, receiving a series of oohs and ahhs from the captive audience watching their battle. "That is why I am still able to utilize these: the Elements of Harmony, the spirit of friendship! Even though you may be my friend, I will still defend what is best for my kingdom!" Her form hovered into the air, as the elements spun 'round her with increased speed, and a powerful rainbow launched from the top surrounding Nightmare Moon and causing her to rear on her hind legs in fear.
"No! You can't do this!" he protested frantically. "How could you!?"
"For threatening the kingdom of Equestria with eternal moonlight, I hereby strip you of your command over the night, and cast you into exile within the moon you so cherish above all others!"
"Nooooooo!" with a final powerful shout, Nightmare Moon's figure faded away, until the entire stage turned to blackness, followed by a bright depiction of the moon, now with the fallen princess's looming face cascaded into its' surface. "This is not the end." A chilling whisper echoed throughout the audience, causing everypony to turn and search for the source of the voice. "I shall have my revenge. Even if it takes a thousand years, I'll have it. The stars will aid in my escape. And when I do return
" The moon diminished at a steady pace, until the warm glowing sun took its place.
The swirling colors came to a halt as Princess Celestia collapsed to the floor exhausted from spending so much power. The elements began to flicker slowly. They began to lose their vibrant color, turning to stone and falling to the floor, each one cracking slightly at the force of the crash. Out of breath, she gazed at the fallen elements. "I
I've done it." She stated. "I've saved my kingdom, and everypony in it." Her head sank to the floor as she spoke. "But
I've failed. I could not save her. My fellow princess. My younger sister. The friend I've known longer than anypony in existence. And it was I
with my own hooves
I am responsible for her no longer being here." Her voice trembled and cracked as she shut her eyes, a single tear spilling down her upstaged cheek. "What horrible thing have I done?"
With the conclusion of her monologue, the curtains lowered, signaling the end of the first act. A thunderous round of applause rang from the audience, everypony clopping in admiration of what they had just witnessed, accompanied by a few enthusiastic whoops and whistles as well.
"Pretty good stuff, aint it?" Big Macintosh turned to where Fluttershy had been sitting, only to see it empty. Looking to the left and right of him, he panicked fearing that she had grown bored of the play, or him, and left back home. His fears were put to rest when he heard a small whimper underneath him, and looked down to see Fluttershy trembling with her hooves over her face. "Heh heh, how long you been down there?"
" Fluttershy peeked out for an instant to look up at him. "About since the time that she transformed
"Aw, no, you missed out on so much!"
"Well, I heard it, most of it, anyway. I don't think I like this, it's so
"Oh, Fluttershy, you gotta be brave." Big Macintosh leaned down and nudged her gingerly. "Sometimes the scary things are a lot of fun, as long as you know it'll end up okay."
"But- but what if it doesn't end up okay? What if it ends up really badly?" she shut her eyes and crouched deeper underneath him.
"Well, it's a chance you gotta take, I guess. Besides, y'all should know that this story turns out okay, right?
do?" While she questioned her date, the narrator picked up again, to usher in the beginning of the second act. Big Macintosh backed up and gently pushed her rump urging her to stand up and watch the rest of the play.
"With the heaviest of hearts Princess Celestia, who had banished her own sister to save all of ponykind, learned to control her sister's moon, and took on the responsibility of raising both the day and night for the next several centuries. But Nightmare Moon's vow to return still haunted her. A millennia had passed, and this day marked the annual Summer Sun Festival. Though most of ponykind had dismissed the tales of Nightmare Moon as an old foaltale, the princess knew that this day could possibly spell doom for all in her kingdom."
Big Macintosh smiled as he helped Fluttershy onto her hooves. "Well, yeah, wasn't it the night of the Summer Sun Festives that you met Twilight and all your other friends? The ones that you defeated Nightmare Moon with?"
I guess you're right. I hadn't thought of it like that. Thank you for-!" she was suddenly knocked into Big Macintosh as the surrounding ponies moved in a bit closer, completely drawn into the play and wanting to get as close as physically possible to the stage. It was a bit tight, Macintosh had to admit. But he wasn't about to complain about Fluttershy standing up close to his side. He had a new sense of confidence with the way the evening was turning out.
"Ah, me, what to do?" the acting Princess Celestia muttered while pacing back and forth onstage. "'It's the night of the longest day of the year, and keeping watch on the alignment of the stars, I fear that Nightmare Moon may use their energies to aid in her escape. If she does, I will no longer be able to stop her. My control over the Elements of Harmony was broken when I cast her
my closest friend
into her lunar prison. What to do, what to do!? May even a princess not have some higher being to beg for assistance from?"
At that moment, a puff of fiery smoke wafted in from the side of the stage, forming into a scroll of parchment in front of her. Using her magic, the princess levitated the letter in front of her and read it aloud. "'My Dearest Teacher: My continuing studies of the pony magical arts have led me to the realization that we are on the precipice of disaster. For you see, the mythical Mare in the Moon is in fact Nightmare Moon. It is my belief that she may make her return on this night. She will return to Equestria, bringing with her eternal night to rule over the land. Appropriate actions must be taken to prevent this terrible prophecy from being fulfilled. I await a hasty yet prompt response from you, your most faithful apprentice
Twilight Sparkle.' Oh, Twilight!" the princess's face lit up at finishing the letter written for her. "My most loyal pupil! I should have thought of this long before. She is the most powerful unicorn I have known for centuries. I remember the day I met her, how she easily increased her future apprentice's size by ten stories. But, alas
Twilight, you are often so wrapped up in your studies, that you seldom make time to find true friendship. How will you harness the Elements of Harmony if all you do is rely on your own powers?"
yes, this may work." She said to herself, raising her head up slightly. "If I task her with forming bonds with suitable companions, perhaps she could learn the magic of friendship on her own. It is a long shot, and it means that I will need to distance myself from her so that she may learn from them instead of me. But it is the best shot there is right now." In a hurry, the princess began to write her own letter back to her student. "She will think it a meager task, meeting unfamiliar ponies and gaining their friendship. But she won't realize how important her mission is until the night approaches." Her horn glowing, she set the parchment ablaze, sending it to Twilight Sparkle's dragon assistant. "Good luck, Twilight. They may not be aware, but all of Equestria will be counting on you."
As the play progressed, the attention now focused on a new pony actress, one with the appearance of the purple unicorn librarian, Twilight Sparkle. Each scene depicted her and her assistant (played by a younger filly in a scaly costume, trying to keep balance on their hind legs) entering a different section of the town of Ponyville, meeting another one of her five closest friends for the first time. Each reenactment seemed spot on with each pony, drawing a laugh out of the audience as they saw how many times the original pony had said something similar to line they had just heard. Fluttershy herself even joined in the laughter, especially during the scene with her long time friend Rainbow Dash.
"Hee hee, oh Rainbow. She makes me laugh." She giggled to herself. "When we were in flight school, she claimed that she could do just about anything in ten seconds flat."
"Heh, see? I told you that you'd like it." Big Mac gave her cheek a playful nudge, as he turned his attention back towards the play. In a few moments though, a special scene played out before them as Twilight Sparkle entered a setting with the appearance of a surrounding forest, with a yellow pony conducting a small gathering of birds in lyrical harmony.
"Excuse me, miss?" Twilight interjected, causing the birds to fly away in fear. "Oh, my apologies! I seem to have frightened your musicians away. Please forgive me."
it's quite alright." The yellow pony replied, turning towards Twilight, but averting eye contact as much as she could. From the looks of the actress, she was a bit older than the other thespians, perhaps enough to be somepony's mother. Though only her skin tone matched Fluttershy's appearance, the way she portrayed her character was almost identical.
"I don't believe I have your name. I am known as Twilight Sparkle. How may I address you?"
Digging her hoof into the ground, Fluttershy's actress responded so softly, it was barely considered audible. "My name
it is, um
"I am sorry; I did not hear what you just said. Could you repeat yourself?"
She cleared her throat, but again could not raise the volume of her voice. "F-Flu-Flutter-shy
"I apologize; I am having quite a difficult time hearing you. Could you perhaps speak a bit louder?"
" Hiding her head from Twilight, she let out the tiniest frightened whimper, luring a resounding "Awww!" from the audience, enthralled by how socially awkward she was.
"I am NOT that shy!" a small voice rang out from the crowd. Surprised, everypony in the audience, even the actresses onstage, turned towards the source of the shout. There they saw Fluttershy with an annoyed look on her face. Suddenly realizing that all eyes were on her, she backed down and grinned sheepishly. "Oh, I'm so sorry, I wasn't- I mean, I didn't mean to, I just
" hiding behind Big Macintosh, Fluttershy let out her own adorable whimper putting the onstage actress to shame. This brought about an uproar of laughter from everypony surrounding her, as well as more applause.
"It's okay, sugarcube." Big Macintosh reassured her as she trembled behind him. "They aint makin fun of ya. They just really like ya, that's all." Turning back towards her admirers, a stern look appeared on his face, as he motioned his head back towards the stage. Taking his signal, the noise quickly died down and the actresses quickly got back into character.
"Ahem, well, I
I suppose that our business here is concluded." Twilight's actress responded, forcing a laugh back down her throat. "I shall report to the princess that the Summer Sun Festival should not experience a single hitch in its events, and I can resume preparing for how to combat Nightmare Moon's arrival!"
And the play continued on without a hitch from that point onward. Each scene recounted the events of Nightmare Moon's return, and Twilight's quest to seek out the Elements of Harmony with the assistance of her five best friends through the frightening Everfree Forest. Once or twice Fluttershy would close her eyes when something terrifying was portrayed onstage. But with some encouragement from her date, she found the resolve to watch and enjoy the show along with the rest of the audience. With bated breath, the audience watched as the final scene unfolded before them. Twilight Sparkle, finally realizing that she and each of her friends represented one of the six elements of harmony, joined their powers together to form a giant glowing rainbow. Enveloping Nightmare Moon in a violent vortex of colors and casting the darkness away, all that was left was the frail and weakened Princess Luna in her place. With the climax of the play finished, Princess Celestia appeared on stage congratulating the little ponies on their victory.
"Twilight Sparkle." She said with admiration as she hugged the small unicorn. "My faithful student. I had faith in you all along, and just as I had hoped, you've performed splendidly."
"But, your majesty, wasn't it you who told me not to worry about Nightmare Moon?"
"No, my student, you forget my words. I advised you to make friends. For without friendship, none can hope to harness the power of the elements. You did exactly what was necessary, and I could not be more proud of you." Twilight beamed at her mentors praise. "Now, if you'll excuse me, there is one last matter I must attend to." The princess made her way over to the smaller alicorn, frightened and shuddering on the floor in fear of the one who had banished her so many years ago. "It has been some time since I have seen you like this, dearest sister. I beg of you, put aside our differences and accept my friendship, so that we may resume our rule of this kingdom together
the way it was meant to be ruled. Please
Princess Luna's eyes sank to the floor as her bottom lip trembled. Bursting into tears, she leapt towards her older sister, and buried her face into her chest sobbing. "Please forgive me!" she cried. "I don't know what came over me! I missed you ever so much"
Overcome with emotion herself, a single tear slid down Princess Celestia's cheek. "As did I, sister. I shall never do such a thing again. The emptiness I've felt with your absence was unbearable. Now, with you back at my side, I finally feel
With the touching moment concluded, the curtain fell on the final scene, a rumbling roar of stamping hooves in applause from the audience, and cheering so powerful that some would even have heard it in the deepest regions of the Everfree Forest. The thespians of the show made their way onstage, taking humble bows to the audience's praise. After what seemed an eternity, the actress playing Princess Celestia raised a hoof in an attempt to quiet the audience down. "Thank you all so much, everypony! Tonight was a dream come true for so many of us, as we've been working on it for so many months now. But we would like to give a special thanks to one member of the audience for attending and being such a wonderful sport as she watched herself be portrayed onstage. Let's hear it for the element of kindness: Fluttershy!"
At the sound of her name, a stage light shone upon Fluttershy in the audience leaning next to Big Macintosh, prompting her to quickly hide behind him, poking her head out slightly. A burst of laughter erupted from the crowd, followed by warming applause as she shuddered behind her date in fear.
"What's the matter, sugarcube?" he asked, nudging her hair with his muzzle "You're famous now! 'Aint that neat?"
"Um, no, not really." She murmured to him. "Being famous means that everypony's always looking at you. I don't like the sound of that."
"Heh heh, alrighty, I'll see if I can get ya out of here. Thanks y'all, now gang way, celebrity's gotta get some air, ya hear?"
Slowly but surely, a row of ponies around them cleared away to provide an exit path for the couple to pass through. Smiling and nodding at all of the admirers, Big Macintosh escorted Fluttershy out of the crowd, as their attention wavered back to the ponies onstage. "And of course, we'd like to give our thanks to our director, please give him a hoof
" her voice died out as the two made their way out of town and back to Fluttershy's cottage.
"Oh my goodness, that was amazing!" Fluttershy squealed as she trotted alongside Big Macintosh. "I can't believe what a wonderful job they did! It was so moving, and-and- and spectacular, and, everything about our adventure was just so accurate! Well, I think they exaggerated the parts about me a bit, but still, everything else was just great! I loved how they-!"Fluttershy took a glance at Big Macintosh, wide-eyed from how expressive Fluttershy had become all of a sudden. "Oh
Letting out a chuckle, Big Mac shook his head "Ya 'aint got nothin to apologize for, Fluttershy. I've been wanting to get ya to open up to me all night, and I think that show did the trick. I'm glad y'all had so much fun."
She smiled at him politely. "Well, thank you for taking me. It really was a nice show. It did get scary a few times, but, being with you sort of helped me get through them and enjoy the rest of the show. How did you do that?"
Shrugging his shoulders as he replied "I dunno. Maybe you're just braver than you give yourself credit for?"
" Oh, me? No, I'm really not that brave. I get scared so easily."
"Being brave aint about not getting scared, sweetie. It's about dealing with what you're scared of. Everypony gets scared of something or another. It's the ones that push past it and don't let it get in the way of their goals that are the bravest ones."
"Oh my, well
thank you. You're very kind."
"That means a lot, coming from the element of kindness."
Fluttershy giggled softly. "Stop it, you're gonna make me blush!"
"Well, that wouldn't be too bad. You look downright adorable when you blush." Hearing him, she felt her cheeks burn fiercely as he winked at her. "Eeyup, just like that!"
eep!" Fluttershy laid down on her stomach, burying her flushed face into her hooves while Macintosh erupted in a fit of laughter.
"Aw, Fluttershy, you're too much! I'm sorry; I'm just being mean now." He dug his hoof into the ground for a moment, searching for the right words to say to her. "I really like you, Fluttershy. You're a sweet mare. And I'm really glad you let me spend some time with ya tonight."
Taking a deep breath, Fluttershy's face cleared up a bit as she regained her footing. "Oh, of course! I had a great time tonight with you. You're such a gentlecolt."
"Me? Nah, I aint no gentlecolt." He replied, trying to be humble. "They's more Rarity's type, the ones that live in the city. I'm just a farmer. A hillfilly."
"No you aren't!" Fluttershy protested fiercely. "You're well-mannered, you're encouraging, and you're very pleasant to be around. You may not be like the colts from the city, but that doesn't mean anything. In fact, I think it makes you a bit more relatable than them."
Taken aback by Fluttershy's insistence, a wide smile appeared in Macintosh's face. "Gosh
thanks Fluttershy. That's the nicest thing a mare's ever said to me."
The two ponies looked into each other's eyes for a moment, until they heard the bump of a door opening. Apparently they had made it back to Fluttershy's cottage, where Angel stood in the doorway with an expression that urged Fluttershy to decide whether she was planning to come inside or spend all night outside. "Well, I guess we're here. Thanks for walking me home Big Macintosh."
"Eeyup." Big Macintosh replied.
"What is it?"
"Well, I don't know how to ask this
" Fluttershy struggled to get the question out. "Do you want to
no I don't know." Big Macintosh answered honestly.
"Oh come on, you know
something most colts want at the end of a date
Big Macintosh stood with a puzzled look on his face before his expression changed to a sly grin. "Oh
that. Sure, if you're offerin, I'll take ya up on it."
Fluttershy gulped, and closed her eyes as she prepared herself for what might happen. Even she couldn't anticipate what happened next
Suddenly, she felt a strong set of lips press against her cheek for a moment, until a soft smack could be heard as they broke their connection to her. She opened her eyes slowly to see Big Macintosh pull his head away from her, a gentle smile on his face. "Goodnight, sugarcube. Glad you had fun tonight." With a polite nod, he began to make his way back towards his home.
"Wait!" she shouted, running up to him. "That's it, really? You're not looking for
"Fluttershy, I'm sorry, but I don't know what you're getting at. Just spit it out, what are you looking for?"
Fluttershy was dumbstruck. He honestly couldn't figure out what she was hinting at. He was such an honest pony; it was just too much for her. She began to giggle at his naivety. "You're supposed to do it like this, silly." Suddenly, she leaned in and planted her lips directly on Big Macintosh's mouth, giving him a long but simple kiss. When she backed away, she smiled as she took in the sight of his face, his cheeks slightly pink against his red skin. "You know, you look pretty cute when you blush too." Without another word, she turned away and scampered back to her cottage, shutting the door behind her.
"Oh my gosh!" she slumped to the floor letting out an exhausted sigh. "I can't believe I did that! I've never been so
assertive before! I really hope he doesn't think I took advantage of him. He's such a sweet colt; I couldn't bear the thought of pushing him away like that. I'd just-!" Before she could finish her sentence, she felt a carrot knock her in the head. Rubbing her head with her hoof, she looked into the kitchen and saw Angel with his chef's hat on concentrating on making a batch of carrot stew, using the recipe from the book he had been reading before she left. "Oh
Sorry Angel."Ducking her head down, she quietly made her way to her sofa and lay down, finally relaxing from the most exciting evening she'd ever had with a colt before.
"Hm, he really is a nice colt. I still can't believe that he likes me like that. I mean, who would ever think that somepony would be interested in me, with all my social problems?" closing her eyes, she began to drift off to sleep. "Big Macintosh
you've made me the happiest mare in Equestria tonight