I'll be posting updates as they're written, and I'll be putting them in spoilers for the sake of not inflating the size of this thread. This story is not yet divided into chapters, so I'll be posting chunks of it as I go along. I'd love any feedback you may have, and especially any critique. If you spot any spelling or grammatical errors that managed to slip by me, don't hesitate to make me aware of them.
For a short summary, this fanfiction started as a way for me to vent about my ongoing struggles with social anxiety (which is frankly glaringly obvious near the beginning). Naturally, this led to Fluttershy being the primary character. From there it expanded, and I plan for it to be a decently large adventure story featuring some little-used side characters from the show.
So if you're still here, I thank you for deciding to give it a try; I know how reluctant some people can be about fanfiction. Without further ado, I present my story, under the tentative title Aflutter.
A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfiction by Metaright
Fluttershy sighed, barely audible over the gentle Spring breeze. She knew her motley friend was right. She had vowed to Discord weeks ago that she would make an effort to be more outgoing, but she had realized since then that it was easier said than done. There was nothing tangible keeping the yellow pegasus from joining her friends where they sat at the Haystack Café, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Something inside her kept her glued to where she reclined with the creature that had become her closest friend. She sighed again, the futility of her efforts beginning to rear its head once again.
"I don't know, Discord," she said, her eyes downcast. "I don't think I'm capable of doing this."
"Oh, horseshoe apples," Discord replied with a smirk. "You don't give yourself nearly enough credit, my dear. Does the bearer of the Element of Kindness sound like a pony that gives up so easily?"
Fluttershy felt a weight in her stomach. She very much appreciated Discord's pep talks, as well as his attempts at adapting to modern language, but they simply couldn't help her when it actually mattered. "Well, no, but..."
"And would you expect a pony responsible for the downfall of not one, not two, but three ancient evils to be incapable of something as silly as small talk?" Discord put his lion paw to his chin. "Although I suppose it's rather ironic to call myself evil, isn't it?"
Fluttershy ignored his question. "Well, I suppose not, but..."
"But nothing!" Discord effortlessly turned the mare around and began walking her toward the café. "I won't take 'no' for an answer!"
"B-but you haven't asked me a q-question," Fluttershy said, her heart pounding as the café- and a table full of chatty ponies- approached. She looked back at Discord and wondered how much attention the rather out-of-place spirit of chaos was bringing to her.
"I'm afraid not, but there's no time for questions. Here we are!" With a start, Fluttershy turned around. Right in front of her sat her five friends. Apparently surprised at her sudden arrival, they said nothing. Looking behind her again, Fluttershy was astonished to find that Discord had vanished. She composed herself.
"Um... hi, girls," she began. "Do you mind if I... if I... take a s-seat?"
"No, of course not," replied Twilight Sparkle. She moved over a seat to make room.
"Oh, okay. I understand. I'm sorry to have wasted your time." Fluttershy blushed. Even after going through this conversation dozens of times in her head, she was unprepared for such a blunt rejection.
"No, Fluttershy, that means yes, take a seat," Twilight said. The four other ponies giggled. Blushing, Fluttershy slowly sat down.
Once more, everypony at the table remained silent. Feeling her heart beat even faster, Fluttershy wracked her brain for something to say. Should I comment on the weather? she thought. No, of course not. They'd all know how bad I am at this. Plus, Rainbow is here! What if the weather is actually a mistake? Then saying the weather is nice would be an insult. Unless... is it an insult not to compliment the weather when you're in front of a weather pony? Am I being rude by-
"Fluttershy?" The timid mare snapped out of her thoughts. She didn't know exactly who had spoken, but she needed to say something now. She noticed the decorative flowers in a vase on the table.
"Um... lovely... flowers?" She cringed. 'Lovely flowers'? You're dreadful at this!
Her five friends seemed unsure of how to respond. "Why yes, they are quite fragrant, aren't they?" Twilight gingerly leaned forward to sniff them. "Sunflowers always seem to carry an odor of..." She trailed off.
Another insufferable pause. Finally, Pinkie Pie spoke up. "So Rainbow Dash, you what were you saying about the Wonderbolt rally? You said something about a barrel roll and a high-altitude dive? I don't even know what "altitude" is but I know that a high-altitude dive sounds super duper exciting!"
Rainbow Dash chuckled. "That's right! So like I was saying, I was there, under the bleachers. I had to stop myself from shouting in excitement because I didn't actually have a ticket to be there, but there's no way I was gonna miss Spitfire's signature barrel roll..."
Fluttershy drifted into her thoughts again. As much as she tried to act interested in her friend's story, she couldn't control her critical mind. You're such a fool, Fluttershy. A useless, useless fool. 'Flowers'? They're never going to let you live that down. Why can't you be good at anything?
She sunk lower into her seat, already having missed too much of Rainbow's story to even hope to catch up. She glanced around the table at her tablemates. Rainbow Dash was the oldest friend she had. They had attended the same flight school, after all. Cloudsdale was a small community compared to the bustling floating metropolises there were near Manehattan, so everyone generally knew everypony else.
And yet even back then, their friendship left much to be desired. Fluttershy recalled with embarrassment the times when Rainbow had seemed almost ashamed to be seen with her, a feeling that wasn't even uncommon all these years later. Fluttershy knew she was a terrible flyer. In Dash's eyes, this made her a disgrace. I would be ashamed of me too, she thought sadly.
Sitting next to Rainbow was Pinkie Pie, listening to Rainbow's charismatic storytelling with rapt attention. Pinkie treated her kindly enough, but Fluttershy was no contender for her attention for any worthwhile periods of time. She was too slow and considering, and Pinkie too fast and dynamic to put any stock in what she had to say. Fluttershy definitely appreciated what little attention Pinkie paid her, but she had long since accepted that she would never be able to get Pinkie to like her more.
To Pinkie's other side sat Rarity, not being able to help herself from being interested in Rainbow's rough-and-tumble tale. She had been Fluttershy's closest friend once. Their spa appointments were once the highlight of Fluttershy's weeks. But in the past several months, the appointments began feeling less relaxing and more stressful. Fluttershy found herself worrying about the things she desperately tried to forget when she spent time with Rarity. She found herself concerned with what she said and how she said it, with her posture in the mud baths, and with figuring out how much satisfied groaning was appropriate when receiving a massage. As time went by, the appointments became rituals that Fluttershy grew to detest. She managed to ease out for several weeks, and Rarity had not invited her back since.
Fluttershy grit her teeth. Nice going, she thought to herself. The only normal thing you do with a friend, and now that's gone. Is it any wonder they think you're a freak?
Continuing down the line was Applejack, who appeared to be dozing, her broad hat pulled over her face. Fluttershy could find almost no faults with her friendship with Applejack, except that she never seemed to see her apart from the rest of the group. This saddened Fluttershy; around Applejack, she never seemed to feel threatened or anxious. She wasn't sure what it was about the orange mare, but something about her put Fluttershy at ease, especially compared to what she had to endure on a daily basis elsewhere. She recalled with shame the day she tripped and fell into the mud during a trip to the market. Though she never looked back, she knew through her own sobs that ponies were laughing at her. Somehow she had conjured up an excuse to visit Applejack alone that evening. The visit was almost pleasant enough to make her forget the humiliation. Almost.
And finally, sitting next to Fluttershy herself was Twilight Sparkle. While she had significantly less misgivings about Twilight than with most of her friends, Fluttershy still felt anxiety around her. Twilight was so much smarter than her, she knew. She was almost afraid- no, definitely afraid, she thought- to speak to Twilight; what if she said something inaccurate or silly? Surely a scholar like Twilight would be able to see right through her. And now that she was a princess, Twilight was only more intimidating. She probably thought Fluttershy was stupid already. Why should I continue to give her reason to? Fluttershy thought, her eyes downcast.
With the familiar surge of pain somewhere inside her, Fluttershy reminded herself just how pathetic she truly was. She only had one friend, really. Two if you count Angel Bunny, though she was reluctant to refer to the rabbit as a friend in front of her pony friends, as no one else did that with their pets.
No, her only real friend was Discord. The spirit of chaos that she had somehow managed to curb from a sinister, destructive nature. But everyone else thought Discord was just a freak, so-
"Hey, I heard that." Fluttershy was jarred out of reflection once again. She looked around for the source of the voice.
"Psst! Psssst!" The voice was coming from... the vase?
Leaning forward, Fluttershy noticed that a particular flower had somehow gained two eyes, a mouth, a goat horn, a deer antler, and a scruffy beard. She recoiled with surprise when she realized what Discord had done.
"Discord, we've talked about this!" she whispered. "You simply can't go about reading ponies' thoughts like that!"
"But you're practically screaming in your head, my dear!" the flower whispered back. "It's very hard to concentrate on Rainbow Dash's exciting story when you won't keep your blabbermouth shut!"
Fluttershy blushed and crossed her hooves.
"Oh, you know I'm only pulling your mane!" Discord whispered. "You're not being very talkative right now, are you?"
Fluttershy made a hasty glance at her friends. Rainbow had finished her story, and now several side conversations had been made. None of which involving her, of course. How often was she left alone with her thoughts because her friends were not easy to talk to?
"Too often to figure, I believe," Discord said with a chuckle.
"I can believe it." Fluttershy slumped even further down. "Maybe we should just go."
"Ah ah ah, Fluttershy," Discord chastised. "We don't leave until you at least try to make conversation!"
A sudden rage boiled inside the yellow mare. "I have!" As quick as the words left her lips, Fluttershy regretted it. Her friends were now staring at her with surprise, along with several ponies from nearby tables.
"Everythin' alright, Sugarcube?" Applejack asked curiously. Fluttershy glanced with desperation at the flowers in the vase, one of which looked back expectantly.
She gulped. "Um... I... um... nice... nice weather we're having?" Though she was unsure, she believed she heard what sounded like a flower slapping itself in the face.
Across the table, Rainbow Dash sighed. "Actually, this weather was a mistake. We were supposed to have a light rain today, but Celestia forbid it's clear for one day-"
Rainbow was interrupted as Fluttershy stood up quickly, sending the vase toppling onto Applejack's lap.
"Oh, fer the love of... Fluttershy, why did ya do that?" Her only answer was the sight of the yellow pegasus as she hurried away, sobbing as she ran.
"You should have seen them, Angel," Fluttershy lamented to her rabbit, lying flat on her loveseat. "They all thought I was an idiot!" Angel silently continued to comb the pony's mane, wiping away her tears when she raised her head to speak.
On the opposite seat, Discord sighed, something he had done innumerable times since moving in with Fluttershy. As he glanced absently into the fireplace, he tried to think of some better way to cheer her up after the afternoon's events. Even three months after vowing to make his new friendship his top priority, Discord certainly wasn't getting the hang of motivation. How does a spirit, made something of a cynic after a thousand years' imprisonment, cheer up such a sensitive pony?
Discord considered his words carefully. Not even he was powerful enough to change the past, after all. "I believe you overestimate how much these ponies think about you," he said.
Fluttershy glanced up at him. "You... you really think so?"
"Of course!" Discord replied with a triumphant smile. Maybe he was finally getting her to see that-
"Then I suppose they won't notice if I languish and die all alone!" Fluttershy collapsed back into the seat, a new wave of tears overtaking her. A small, vindictive pair of eyes looked up at the spirit as Angel renewed his combing.
Discord snatched up the rabbit in his paw. "As if you could do any better, you little rodent."
"Discord!" A shrill voice rang out in the small room. "You put Angel down this instant!" Gingerly looking down, Discord was met with the sight of a furious pegasus. He gently set the rabbit down with a pat on the head.
"Better?" he asked, tapping his mismatched fingers together nervously. Mere months ago, the opinion of this mare wouldn't have mattered to him in the least. But now that he had a friendship to maintain, his usual mannerisms didn't seem to prove very useful.
"If you're only here to make me upset, just go!" Fluttershy shrieked. In an instant, she returned to her familiar self, all her anger seemingly depleted. "Um, if that's alright with you..."
Discord shot up, hovering above the seat. "Have it your way, then! If you want to sit here and-" He hesitated, barely holding his anger back. He almost surprised himself with his restraint. With a loud snap and a bright flash, a zipper appeared on his mouth; he closed it with a grunt. Beside his owner, Angel laughed silently.
Fluttershy seemed to have turned completely around, all of her anger now replaced with regret. "Oh, Discord, I'm so sorry," she pleaded softly. "I really didn't mean it!"
Discord merely turned his back. With another snap and a flash of light, the room was now much emptier. Fluttershy's face fell to the seat once again, her sobs resuming louder than ever. After what seemed like a lifetime, she succumbed to the exhaustion of the day’s events, falling into a restless sleep.
Fluttershy awoke with a gentle groan. The night had been rough on the mare’s back. Making a mental note to never spend a night on the loveseat again, she groggily ambled to the door of her cottage. Outside on the ground laid her mail, once again improperly delivered. With a quiet sigh, Fluttershy filed away another mental note to contact the mail carriers once again to complain about her postmare. As endearing as she found the clumsy grey pegasus, the job was never done quite to Fluttershy’s satisfaction. Bending down, she brought the stack of papers inside and dropped it onto a table. As she glanced halfheartedly at the papers (No doubt they’re all bills, she thought), a handwritten note on the top caught her eye.
Gone to talk to an old friend. Sorry about yesterday. Be back soon.
P.S. Also, you’re out of milk. Just thought you’d like to know.
Fluttershy sighed in relief. At least if Discord was upset, he wasn’t so upset that he never wanted to see her again. After the first real spat they’d ever had, Fluttershy was worried that he’d leave Ponyville, never to return. Or worse yet, that he’d relapse and thrust Equestria into a state of chaos once again. She shivered at the thought.
The entrance into the room of a yawning rabbit interrupted her thoughts. Ambling over to Fluttershy and climbing atop her head, Angel seemed to sense her discomfort at the thought of Discord returning to his former wicked ways. With another yawn and a pat on the head, Angel laid himself down in her pink mane and fell asleep.
Fluttershy chuckled. “C’mon, you silly rabbit,” she said softly, walking out the door. “Let’s go see if Applejack has any milk to sell today.”
Amidst the frantic clopping of innumerable hooves inside the castle, Princess Luna ambled slowly toward her bedchamber. The scattering ponies all about the alicorn stopped to give a respectful bow, but they didn’t register through her exhausted eyes.
“I have those reports on this month’s star alignments, your highness” a bespectacled orange mare told her with a bow.
“Yeah, star ailments,” Luna replied lethargically. “Thanks...”
“Your highness,” a gruff blue stallion said, “you asked me to notify you when Everfree’s cloud layer dropped below the fifty-seventh percentile?”
Luna nodded at him. “Yes, yes, the cloud layer. Excellent... excellent cloud layer work, excellent.” She waved him off. The stallion continued on his way, looking back at the princess with confusion.
Reaching her bedchamber and closing the door, Luna barely made it to her luxurious bed before collapsing. She only needed... a few hours... of sleep...
With a bright flash and a sudden rush of air, the chamber now contained two. Leaning over the slumbering body of the princess, the second figure spoke. “I do regret disturbing a mare in the middle of her beauty sleep.”
At the sound of the voice, Luna jolted awake. “Wha? Who goes there?” She frantically looked about the room, her eyes eventually finding their target. “Oh. ‘Tis only the prodigal serpent,” she said.
Discord chuckled, and began to recline on his back in midair.. “I’m not disappointed to hear your signature flowery prose after all these years.”
Luna laid down again, resting her tired head on her crossed hooves. “I trust you will excuse my lethargy, Discord, as the burdens of last night’s duties are still weighing upon me.”
Discord crossed his arms behind his head. “Most certainly, your highness, most certainly.” Luna rolled her eyes. “Why don’t you tell me about it? I could go for a good story.”
“‘Tis not a daring tale of adventure, so much as a drowsy report of the mundane,” Luna cautioned. At the appearance of a box of popcorn in Discord’s hands, the princess sighed. “Well, the residents of our land tend to simplify the duties of their monarch of the night to the maintenance of the lunar cycle, but ‘tis no easy task in itself. I cannot raise the moon without first verifying the position of the sun with Celestia, and then verifying the position of the sun with Celestia’s aides, and even this is before going through the inevitable flood of paperwork thrust upon me by-”
“Oh, stop, stop, stop!” Discord interrupted. “Luna, if there is one thing you do not do well, it’s storytelling.”
Luna was too exhausted to be angry at his words. “If you did not wish to hear the tale of my duties, you should be wary of asking to hear it. But ‘tis beside the point of why you came, isn’t it?.”
“Must there be a point to everything? The best things in life are often the most pointless!” With a snap, Discord produced a blinding light. When Luna could see again, her mouth hung open. The room was now much bigger, and darker. A mist lofted about, and the floor was divided into squares that flashed different colors. A shining, glass ball hung from the high ceiling and rotated. Discord, suddenly clad in a bright blue tuxedo, was shifting across the floor to the heavy beat of loud music, the source of which Luna could not see.
Luna covered her ears with her hooves and winced. “Must you go to such drastic measures simply to prove a point?” she shouted above the music.
“If you insist!” he responded with a snap. Panels on the walls opened, and tiny boxes began shooting red lasers about the room as the music grew louder. Luna collapsed onto the painfully bright floor.
“In the name of the cosmos, Discord, cease this at once!” As soon as she spoke, the room returned to its original state. “If I have suffered irreversible damage from this, I dare say you will know the true meaning of sorrow,” she said to Discord, her eyes filled with contempt.
Discord shifted, now levitating on his belly. “Hey, I put it back, didn’t I?” He laughed, pounding the air with his fists. Luna glared at him, saying nothing. His laughs subsided, and Discord wiped the tears from his eyes. Luna continued to glare.
“Well, heh...” Discord muttered, acutely aware of the silence.
“You wanted to know why I’m here?”
“Such information would be pertinent,” Luna said, climbing back onto her bed.
“I would have thought it was obvious. I mean, come on!” Discord chuckled. “Do you remember the last time we saw each other?”
Luna put her hoof to her chin, as if in deep thought. “Hm... ‘twould that be the instance in which your actions threatened the safety of all I held dear?”
Discord nodded. “Yes, now keep going...”
Luna rubbed her chin. “And, if I am not mistaken, ‘twas then that my sister and I discovered the Elements of Harmony...”
“Yes,” Discord urged with a smile. “Yes, and?”
Luna couldn’t keep a smirk from her face. “And was it not then that my we used the Elements to encase thy wicked visage in a prison of stone?”
“Ding-ding-ding!” Discord sang happily, as streamers and balloons fell from nowhere. “We have a winner!”
Luna laughed at his display, only to frown in confusion. “So... you have visited to remind me of how I imprisoned you?”
Discord’s smile disappeared, along with the decorations. He lowered himself to the floor. “Of course not!” he said, sitting on the bed next to Luna. “Why, that would be as silly as, say, an immortal spirit of chaos becoming friends with a mortal pony!” Luna tilted her head, still confused. Discord put his hands to his cheeks. “Almost as silly as an immortal spirit of chaos changing his behavior to suit the desires of some puny pegasus!” The princess blinked. “Almost as silly as an immortal spirit of chaos becoming friends with a pony responsible for his failure to enact revenge!”
Suddenly, a look of understanding came to Luna’s face. She smiled and squinted at the draconequus. “You come seeking forgiveness, do you not, Discord?”
Disord jumped up, floating again. “What? No, of course not!” he insisted, shaking his head vigorously. “I simply came to brag about how popular I’ve become.” Luna kept smiling, and Discord took his seat on the bed, his hands folded in his lap. “Although, now that you mention it, forgiveness doesn’t sound too bad.”
Luna closed her eyes, satisfied at his confession. She was pleased to find out just how different Discord had become. “Perhaps if you promise never to construct such an overstimulating room ever again.”
Discord looked at Luna and smiled. She was touched at the smile’s sincerity, as such things were a rarity with the spirit. After a moment, he spoke. “I probably won’t have to after I’m through showing it off to the pink one. Can you imagine how far that one would take the idea?” With a hearty laugh and amidst the urgent pleadings of the princess, Discord disappeared from the room with a flash.
The sun had hardly found its way to the crest of the sky when Fluttershy arrived at Sweet Apple Acres. The pegasus sniffed deeply; the aroma of fresh apples and Spring flowers was always something she enjoyed about visiting Applejack. As she entered through the gate, she saw Big Macintosh walking by, with three bales of hay stacked perfectly upon his back.
Fluttershy blushed as she approached. “Um, hello, Big Mac...intosh,” she said nervously. “Do you know where... where Applejack is?”
The large red stallion met her eyes, then, looked away in thought. “Mm, could try the barn,” he said slowly. “Said somethin’ earlier ‘bout takin’ inventory.”
Fluttershy looked at the ground, hiding behind her mane. The difference in stature between the two was sure to be striking, she thought. “Um, thank you,” she said softly. “I’ll go then. To the barn, I mean.” She began walking around Macintosh, rotating her body so that she always faced his direction. “To look... for Applejack...” The barn behind her, she began backing away. “In the barn.”
As she turned toward the barn, she could feel familiar thoughts beginning to surface. Smooth, Fluttershy, she thought to herself. Smooth. You make it look so easy! She blushed again, her own self-directed sarcasm hitting its target. The way to a stallion’s heart is to make him think you’re a fool. That should work...
As she neared the barn, she could hear the labored grunts of her orange friend. Walking inside, Applejack was nowhere in sight. “Um, hello?” she called out softly. “Ap-Applejack?” Receiving only more grunts in response, she tried again, slightly louder. “Applejack? It’s Fluttershy.” Still no answer. Fluttershy reared up her head, taking a deep breath, preparing to call out as loud as she her lungs would-
“Why, if it isn’t Fluttershy!” Applejack’s voice rang out. Fluttershy exhaled deeply as her friend descended from the loft above. “What can I do ya fer on this beautiful mornin’?” Applejack asked, trotting down the stairs.
“Oh, hello Applejack,” Fluttershy responded with a small smile. “I was wondering if you have any milk to sell.”
Applejack pursed her lips in thought. “I don’t think so,” she said, “but if yer willin’ to sit tight a bit, I have to milk some cows later this evenin’.”
Fluttershy sighed inwardly. Wonderful, she thought. You can’t just wait until this evening- there are animals to be fed! Now you’ll have to go to the market. Fluttershy could feel her pulse quicken at the thought. The market! You should have come yesterday, when you noticed you were running low!
Applejack looked at Fluttershy, unsure as to why she suddenly stopped talking. She knew Fluttershy could be awkward, but it had never been so bad around her. At least, not until recently...
You’ll arrive, and all of the merchants will look at each other, knowing how awkward you are. Fluttershy’s thoughts continued as she visibly shrank to the ground. I bet they laugh at you whenever you turn your back.
“Er, Fluttershy?” Applejack said.
Oh, and of course they’ll want to make small talk with you. They always do. Maybe if you hurry home, you can get Discord to help you think of things to say...
“Fluttershy!” the orange mare called. “Are you alright?” The pegasus looked at her, coming to her senses.
“Um, yes,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
“Ain’t got nothin’ to be sorry fer,” Applejack reassured with a smile. “If you’re keen on stickin’ around, I could use some help in the orchards.”
Say ‘no’, Fluttershy. Just say no. You’re a busy bee; you don’t have time. Fluttershy steeled herself for the rejection, trying to word her response just right.
“Um, okay,” she answered.
“Good! Out in the west orchards are some trees with rotted apples on ‘em,” Applejack explained, already walking back up the loft. “Could ya go ahead and drop ‘em to the ground for me? Some animals like ‘em, and more apples can grow in their place.”
“Of course,” Fluttershy said, smiling. “That doesn’t sound difficult.”
“That’s the spirit! I’ll meet ya as soon as I’m through up here.”
Fluttershy sighed and turned to the door. I guess I could help until Applejack’s done in the barn...