Sadnon

The Rock and the Butterfly

Jan 30th, 2018
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  1. >Every summer brought long-lasting drought and stifling heat that blanketed the cracked earth.
  2. >It settled squarely on her shoulders, threatening with every second to burn her.
  3. >Thick, choking dust was kicked up with every step that Maud Pie took, further and further into the desert-esque farm’s outer reaches.
  4. >The morning, barely before noon, was nearly as hot as the midday sun.
  5. >Bleached white earth crunched underfoot as she padded her way away from the sun and towards the trees just in sight.
  6. > Maud was nearly white, covered in a thick layer of bleached soil that clung to her like a second skin.
  7. >She was long used to it.
  8. >Countless summers, and countless forays into the woods far, far from her home had taught her to ignore the grime.
  9. >Her eyes fell upon the Everfree- unnatural, she had heard it called, and for good reason.
  10. >As if an invisible wall was built between jagged, rough soil and lush, green forest, an overgrowth of twisting trees and thick bushes lined the very edge.
  11. >It was a different world just inside the forest as Maud stepped in.
  12. >It was cool and shaded, dark, winding trees covered the forest in a thick canopy that blocked most of the light save for the trail that twisted through the thick underbrush.
  13. >Maud trekked further and further into the deafening quiet of the forest that was ever-consuming of her visibility.
  14. >Just past the tree marked with a knife by her sister, around the bend of a rock that always looked a little lopsided no matter how you placed it, and just past the hill.
  15. >A spring waited just beyond, hidden by thick foliage and known only to the forest’s residents and the four Pie sisters.
  16. >A gnarled, twisted oak with a face that you could see if you squinted your eyes and tilted your head dominated the center of the pond, a familiar ages-old rope swing hanging from one of the tree’s limbs.
  17. >Maud, quiet as a mouse, stopped at the crest of the hill.
  18. >No one they knew, knew where this hidden oasis lay in the massive forest, yet…
  19. >The figure far down below seemed to cut across those rules.
  20. >Startlingly pink hair and a bright yellow sundress clashed against the deep greens and browns of the wooded area all around her.
  21. >Maud’s head dipped back down to hide herself from sight, but the figure was turned away.
  22. >She peaked just over the hill and spied down at the feminine figure.
  23. >The girl was barely half as wide as one of the massive roots she had sat on, hovering just beyond the water’s cool grasp.
  24. >Maud clambered over her hiding place to get a closer look.
  25. >Wide, frightened blue eyes snapped towards her when the loose soil came apart under her fingers and rolled into the depths of the water below.
  26. >Maud ducked back down, her heart thundering in her chest.
  27. >Those eyes, as clear and blue as the sky above and the pond below, scanned the tree line just visible over the hill’s crest.
  28. >“Hello?”
  29. >Maud steadied her breathing just as the girl’s soft, angelic voice beckoned from the other side of the hill.
  30. >“I-I know you’re there, my daddy knows I’m here!”
  31. >The forest fell silent under the tense atmosphere that was drawn up between the two.
  32. >The soft putter-pattering of feet that only grew harder and harder to hear, even as she was crunching the dense underbrush, was all the clue Maud had to go on.
  33. >She sunk into the soft soil’s embrace with a breath of relief.
  34. >Suddenly swimming seemed much less appealing, the very site of the worn oak and clear, deep pond was something of a turn off, even in the sweltering summer heat.
  35. >Maud breathed in the earthy scent of the dark soil and stared up at the impossibly blue skies from the break in the tree’s dense foliage.
  36. >She slipped into a nap, the lingering sight of those beautiful blue orbs she had just gotten a glance at filling her mind’s eyes.
  37.  
  38. ***
  39.  
  40. >She didn’t see her again until well into the summer months.
  41. >On the hottest day of the year, when the heat was nigh unbearable, Maud had made the hard trek back to the pond.
  42. >Even the cool shade of the forest had been permeated by that ever-present heat that made her clothes stick uncomfortably to her slate-gray skin.
  43. >Maud had to breathe deeply to get over the muggy, sticky air.
  44. >It filled her lungs and settled in her throat uncomfortably.
  45. >She passed that lopsided rock and once more shuffled up awkwardly over the hill.
  46. >Maud stopped dead when she noticed the girl resting down below.
  47. >She was resting against one of the tree’s thick-bodied roots.
  48. >Sun peeking through the gap in the foliage illuminated her pearly white dress.
  49. >She looked like an angel.
  50. >Maud slid down the hill’s slope, as quiet as she could, and stepped lightly towards the girl across the clearing.
  51. >Her chest rose and fell with a rhythm that spoke only of a deep sleep, and Maud was loathe to interrupt her.
  52. >Curiosity won over as Maud crouched in front of the girl and got a good look.
  53. >She was tiny, as thin as a switch and as tall as a sapling, minuscule next to Maud’s labor-hardened body and tall frame.
  54. >Her face was hidden in the depths of her light pink hair, only a thin, bird-like nose peeking in between the locks that fell nearly to her waist.
  55. >Maud’s hand was held just in front of the girl’s cheek, a desperate sort of desire that demanded she wake her up.
  56. >Her hand curled back and returned to rest on her thigh, yet the ultimate desire not to wake her seemed futile.
  57. >Large blue eyes fluttered open.
  58. >They stared in tense silence at one another, Maud curious and the girl terrified.
  59. >She screeched after a mere moment and vaulted backwards, just clearing the root and spilling over on the other side.
  60. >Maud rushed past the root and caught sight of the girl struggling to right her balance.
  61. “P-please, don’t hurt me! I didn’t know anyone was here, I’m sorry!”
  62. >Flighty and panicked, Maud thought, as the girl staggered to her feet and tried to rush from the scene.
  63. >She took another tumble that landed her hard on her front.
  64. >She stopped trying to run away, rather she rolled over onto her back.
  65. >The girl seemed to be stifling tears as she gripped her elbow.
  66. >Maud’s eyes widened only a fraction as the visible blood welled up from the flesh wound.
  67. >She knelt in front of the pond that was mere feet in front of her and gathered water in her palms.
  68. >Maud turned towards the frightened girl and, ignoring the wince, wiped away the dirt and blood from her elbow with the water.
  69. >“Are you… Helping me?”
  70. >Her soft voice was barely audible as Maud finished wiping away the grime and began inspecting the superficial wound.
  71. >More painful than anything else, Maud deduced, nothing a bandage wouldn’t fix.
  72. “Yes.”
  73. >The girl seemed startled by her flat voice, but didn’t comment on it.
  74. >It was silent as they sat together in the clearing, neither girl looking the other in the eye.
  75. >An eternity passed before she spoke up, drawing Maud’s gaze to her plush pink lips.
  76. >“Thank you.”
  77. >Maud’s head tilted forward.
  78. “You are welcome.”
  79. >The silence reigned once more supreme.
  80. >Maud didn’t know what to say.
  81. >What could she say, to a stranger that had- and would have- run off if she hadn’t tripped?
  82. >Nothing helpful, she mused to herself, as the girl wiped at her eyes.
  83. >Her gaze was less fearful than it had been only moments ago.
  84. >Those pure blue orbs that seemed far too innocent trailed her savior up and down.
  85. >A flutter of tiny wings sent shivers through Maud at the girl’s look.
  86. >She didn’t say anything, though, and Maud was inclined to follow her lead.
  87. >Several silent moments passed between them before Maud finally spoke up.
  88. “What is your name?”
  89. >She caught her lip between pearly white teeth.
  90. >Maud could see the fear behind her eyes.
  91. >As if wondering if she could trust this stranger with her name.
  92. >“F..Lutter..”
  93. >Maud didn’t rush her.
  94. >The girl took in a deep breath and closed her eyes as she answered- barely audible but not unintelligible.
  95. >“Fluttershy.”
  96. >The name seemed to fit the lithe girl well.
  97. >“W…What’s y-yours?”
  98. “Maud.”
  99. >“Oh. That’s a… Nice name.”
  100. “You too.”
  101. >The phrase made Maud wince, though she couldn’t place why.
  102. >Fluttershy stood up and dusted off her dress as best she could.
  103. >“I-I should go, I don’t want Mommy and Daddy to worry…”
  104. “Yes.”
  105. >Fluttershy took one last look back as she headed into the dense foliage.
  106. >As much as the well of anxiety that leaped up to her throat wanted to stop the words from leaving, it was too late.
  107. “Will you come here again?”
  108. >It took Fluttershy several moments of quiet deliberation to answer.
  109. >“I think so, if that’s okay with you?”
  110. “Yes.”
  111. >“S-see you.”
  112. >Maud answered, feeling much lighter than she had mere moments ago.
  113. “Yes. See you soon.”
  114.  
  115. ***
  116.  
  117. >Fluttershy had kept her promise.
  118. >Every day that she could, Maud had arrived to the clearing, only to spot Fluttershy there.
  119. >No matter how early she arrived, Maud could never beat her.
  120. >It didn’t matter to her, rather she couldn’t ever seem to get even a little annoyed at her soft spoken friend.
  121. >And, it seemed, that Fluttershy was never angry with her- never bored by her encyclopedic knowledge of rocks.
  122. >Maud found Fluttershy’s similar talent regarding animals to be almost as fascinating as the newest gemstone she had unearthed in her family’s mine.
  123. >Months had passed like that, under the cover of the the trees and spending most of their time with their feet in the water, simply rambling about anything they could think of.
  124. >But time stopped for no one, not under the shade of the trees or with a good friend, and summer faded into early fall.
  125. >when it was just warm enough to enjoy the water and the last of the summer heat, but knowing soon it would quickly change.
  126.  
  127. ***
  128.  
  129. >“When’s your birthday, Maudie?”
  130. >Fluttershy’s bright smile and soft, yet oh-so-angelic voice made her spine shiver.
  131. >Just as it did inexplicably whenever she used that nickname.
  132. >Just as it did when Fluttershy gave her that little grin and her eyes scrunched up as she smiled.
  133. “Have I not told you?”
  134. >Maud still winced whenever her voice came out flat and almost sarcastic.
  135. >Fluttershy didn’t hold it against her.
  136. >Fluttershy shrugged and lay back down next to her friend.
  137. >“I don’t think so. Did you?”
  138. “I fail to recall doing so.”
  139. >Fluttershy responded with her tinkling laugh.
  140. >“You’d know, you’re the walking encyclopedia.”
  141. “Just for rocks.”
  142. >Maud had sounded much more bitter than she meant to.
  143. >“Well when is it, anyway?”
  144. “Today.”
  145. >Fluttershy stayed silent as she mulled it over.
  146. >Unable to tell whether Maud was being sarcastic or not.
  147. >“Really? No fib?”
  148. “...It is not today.”
  149. >Maud knew that lying to Fluttershy could make her cry, which, while not hard to do, always made her feel awful whenever she had made that mistake.
  150. >“Well then, when-”
  151. “MAUD!”
  152. >Maud caught the vibrating, pink blob that had tried to jump onto her stomach.
  153. >Her sister giggled in her grasp and twisted and squirmed, trying to get out of it.
  154. >No luck, Maud knew well that a free Pinkie Pie was a dangerous Pinkie Pie.
  155. >“H-hello Pinkie Pie.”
  156. >That soft, reserved tone that Fluttershy only gave to people she didn’t know made Maud’s gut twist.
  157. >They had met only a few times before, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, and Pinkie was simply too outgoing and hyperactive to clash well with Fluttershy’s meekness.
  158. “Hiya, Flutts!”
  159. >Pinkie finally managed to twist out of her sister’s tight grip and flopped on Mod’s belly, grinning like a loon all the while.
  160. “Where are Limestone and Marble? They are supposed to watch you.”
  161. “Over there, they came with me!”
  162. >Pinkie’s happily chirped direction and the jab of her finger made Maud twist her head to look at her sisters.
  163. >Limestone was glaring at Maud, then at Pinkie, then finally at Fluttershy.
  164. >Her gut clenched when she glanced over at Fluttershy and noticed her shrinking away from the deep scowl.
  165. >Maud looked back over at Limestone
  166. >Marble seemed stuck in Limestone’s shadow.
  167. >Quivering like the leaves just overhead.
  168. >“I-I should probably go…”
  169. >Maud turned over to look at Fluttershy, who was already sitting up.
  170. “Okay.”
  171. >Maud watched as she almost ran from the clearing.
  172. >Her head fell back against the soft grass.
  173. >Maud stayed there until well after her sisters left.
  174. >Hoping that Fluttershy was hiding somewhere in the treeline, that she hadn’t actually left.
  175. >When the rustling of the crickets and the buzzing fireflies began to come out, Maud began the journey home.
  176.  
  177. ***
  178.  
  179. >Maud could just see the Fluttershy’s eyes, poking out from a scarf that wound around the bottom of her face and a woolen hat pulled low over her brow.
  180. >She, as well as Fluttershy, were covered in a layer of fresh snow that was still lazily drifting down from the gaps in the trees.
  181. >Months had gone by, the weather had dropped into unbearable cold, yet Fluttershy and Maud kept returning to the pond every chance that they could.
  182. >Whether through cold and snow or blistering sun, it hardly made a difference.
  183. >Maud pulled at the collar of her long coat to shake a bit of snow out before it melted.
  184. “What would you like to do?”
  185. >Her teeth chattered in between her words and her body was shaking in her calf-high rubber boots.
  186. >Fluttershy looked around the snow-covered clearing.
  187. >Maud knew she was biting her lip, thinking with her brow furrowed and her nose scrunching just a little.
  188. >“We could go to town. Have you been there before?”
  189. >Maud had, rarely.
  190. >Her parents had discouraged travel into the bustling Ponyville, and Maud had seen no reason to go there.
  191. >Not before now, that is.
  192. >Maud nodded.
  193. >Fluttershy turned away and tramped through the ever-thickening snow towards town.
  194. >The journey, only a few minutes away before the hustle and bustle reached their ears, was spent in shivering silence.
  195. >Maud watched as Fluttershy rubbed her hands together, the appendages growing pale and ever-colder.
  196. “Your hands are cold. Have you not brought gloves?”
  197. >Fluttershy was biting her lip again, Maud could tell, though this time nervously.
  198. >“Well, no. I forgot them at home. Silly me.”
  199. “Here.”
  200. >The bone-chilling cold was entirely unpleasant to Maud, but watching her friend fidget and suffer was even more so.
  201. >”Oh, I couldn’t take your gloves, you’re probably as cold as I am.”
  202. “You are colder. Take them.”
  203. >Fluttershy’s eyes bespoke of her inner war as she debated with herself.
  204. >Could she take her- dare she say best- friend’s gloves?
  205. >“We can share them. I’ll take one and you take the other?”
  206. >It seemed as good an idea as Fluttershy could come up with.
  207. >Maud nodded and handed over the right, slipping back on the left.
  208. >They continued on in silence through the snowy forest.
  209. >Maud, on an impulse she didn’t realize she had, slipped her right hand into Fluttershy’s left.
  210. “So we may both be warm.”
  211. >A half truth, Maud could hardly say that Fluttershy’s delicate hand- all bones and soft skin- that fit neatly in her own calloused digits didn’t send a rush of excitement up her spine.
  212.  
  213. ***
  214.  
  215. >Her eyes, so bright and blue and happy, never failed to get Maud’s heart racing.
  216. >They looked around in wonder as the small town, covered in a fresh layer of snow, was pointed out to her.
  217. >Maud simply nodded and responded when necessary, only half-listening and not daring to look at what Fluttershy was pointing at.
  218. >Rather those eyes that lit up with every turn of the head were keeping her captivated.
  219. >“-And there’s Sugarcube Corner. Are you hungry?”
  220. >Maud nodded, even though she was only half listening.
  221. >The name did ring a few bells, though.
  222. >The little corner store was bathed in a golden glow, in a combination of flickering candle light and dim overhead lights.
  223. >A strong smell of sweets washed over them both just before the heat that melted off any snow still clinging to their jackets and boots.
  224. >The chime of a small bell announced their presence moments before the clattering of pans echoed from deep within the kitchen.
  225. >A pink blur raced out of the swinging doors, one that Maud knew well.
  226. “Pinkie Pie?”
  227. >Pinkie stopped, skidding to a halt almost comically.
  228. >Her jaw dropped as she stared at them, gaping.
  229. >“Maud?!”
  230. >Pinkie hopped from behind the counter with easy as she pulled her older sister into a fierce, rib-bruising hug.
  231. >Maud wrapped her free arm around Pinkie’s back for a moment.
  232. >After several seconds Pinkie pulled back, a mega-watt smile plastered on her face.
  233. >“And Fluttershy? What are you two doing here?”
  234. “We were hungry.”
  235. >Maud’s simple, direct answered satisfied Pinkie, who stopped staring intently at Fluttershy.
  236. >It made Maud’s skin crawl to see that look directed at the girl next to her.
  237. >Pinkie was back behind the counter before either of them could blink, a winning smile curving her features.
  238. >“Well, what does my bestest big sister and her friend want?”
  239. >Maud felt Fluttershy half hide behind her.
  240. >The warm glow that Fluttershy emitted was pressed up against her back.
  241. >A pleasant feeling, to be sure.
  242. >“A hot chocolate would be nice…”
  243. >The fear and anxiety laded voice tickled at Maud’s ear unpleasantly.
  244. “A hot chocolate and a black coffee.”
  245. >Pinkie was nothing if not fast, gone in a pink blur and returning mere moments later she was pushing the two steaming mugs towards her sister.
  246. >“That’ll be four smackaroons, even.”
  247. >Maud stopped Fluttershy’s hand that tried to grab some money before reaching into her own pocket and extracting the bills.
  248. >“Y-you don’t have to-”
  249. “I want to.”
  250. >Maud regretfully pulled her hand out of Fluttershy’s and grabbed both mugs.
  251. >She handed one to the other girl as they lead themselves to a free table.
  252. >The little diner was mostly empty save for a handful of couples deep in conversation.
  253. >They picked a booth next to a window that let them get a good view of Ponyville, snow glimmering like a jewel under the clouded sun.
  254. >“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
  255. >Maud nodded.
  256. >She let her eyes wander, first to the window and out into the blanketed town, to the steaming mug of coffee in her hands, and finally up to Fluttershy.
  257. >Fluttershy was staring in awe out the window.
  258. >Maud sucked in a sharp gasp of breath.
  259. >Light reflecting off the snow was dancing on Fluttershy’s skin, an almost angelic halo forming against her pale yellow skin.
  260. >Fluttershy noticed the unfocused look Maud was shooting at her.
  261. >“Is everything alright, Maudie?”
  262. >Maud snapped back to reality with a slow, careful blink.
  263. “Yes.”
  264. >Fluttershy offered her a shy smile and took a deep draw from the mug clasped in her thin hands.
  265. >She pulled back, leaving a visible dollop of cream on her nose.
  266. >“Is something funny?”
  267. >Maud just realized she was giving her a small smile.
  268. “Your nose.”
  269. >Fluttershy gave her a quizzical look and touched her nose.
  270. >She blushed when her hand pulled back, revealing the white cream.
  271. >“Ah! I didn’t even realize- I’m not usually a slob-”
  272. >Fluttershy’s mad scramble for a napkin was halted by Maud resting a hand on hers.
  273. “Let me.”
  274. >Her face was beet red as Maud wiped off her nose with a napkin.
  275. >“T-thn.. yu..”
  276. “You are welcome.”
  277. >Maud was hiding a smile as she drained the last of her coffee, Fluttershy doing the same with her hot chocolate.
  278. “Shall we?”
  279. >Maud stood up from the booth and held her hand out for Fluttershy to take, which she did.
  280. >They bid a goodbye to Pinkie who waved them out and once more stepped into the chilly December air.
  281. >Fluttershy seemed happier to Maud out here, despite the cold.
  282. >Her soft, timid smile steadily grew into a content grin that widened a little every time Fluttershy glanced over at her friend.
  283. >“I love the snow.”
  284. >Fluttershy grabbed Maud’s hand as they began to walk, neither of them knew where.
  285. >“It’s just so… Fluffy. Like a big blanket.”
  286. >Maud didn’t respond, and Fluttershy didn’t need her to.
  287. >“And snow bunnies…! So cute!”
  288. >Suddenly, Fluttershy spun towards Maud, glowing in excitement.
  289. >“I completely forgot to tell you!”
  290. “Tell me…?”
  291. >Fluttershy’s grin was growing too large for her face, as she reached into her pocket.
  292. >Thankfully with the hand not holding Maud’s.
  293. >“Look, I got accepted into college! I’m gonna be going to the University of Canterlot after graduation!”
  294. >That gleam she had in her eye was uncharacteristically outgoing, yet Fluttershy couldn’t care less who saw.
  295. >Maud was the one she cared about- the one who mattered.
  296. “I am… Happy for you.”
  297. >She fibbed, and that killed her.
  298. >Fluttershy moving away to attend college dropped a heavy stone in her stomach that refused to budge.
  299. >No matter how happy she was for her friend.
  300. >Maud accepted the piece of paper that Fluttershy had thrust towards her.
  301. >It was her acceptance letter, printed in bold, black ink that yes, Fluttershy did gain entry into the University of Canterlot.
  302. >Never before had Maud so desired the ability to change the past- convince Fluttershy that yes, going to Canterlot University was a bad idea.
  303. >But she couldn’t, and the proof was staring her in the face.
  304. >Per usual she didn’t let on what she was thinking, but Fluttershy didn’t mind.
  305. >She was good like that.
  306. “I am proud of you.”
  307. >That was no lie, for which Maud was grateful.
  308. >The bright sparkle in Fluttershy’s eye was enough to let Maud know that her statement was appreciated.
  309. >Fluttershy pulled Maud into a hug, almost cooing in delight.
  310. >Maud stood there, still as a statue and couldn’t form a coherent sentence.
  311. >Instead she awkwardly leaned into the embrace and hoped that Fluttershy didn’t dislike it.
  312. >Rather the opposite, Fluttershy simply gripped her tighter and buried her face into the the junction of Maud’s neck.
  313. >She seemed even tinier pressed so close to Maud, like a thin willow next to a large oak.
  314. >Fluttershy pulled back, a shy smile on her face.
  315. >She bowed her head, almost in shame.
  316. >“Sorry, I forgot that you don’t like people touching you…”
  317. >That timid look and voice- especially used against her- caused her gut to twist itself into knots.
  318. >Without thinking, Maud embraced her.
  319. >Fluttershy squeaked as she was nearly crushed in Maud’s grip.
  320. “You…”
  321. >Maud leaned in close to Fluttershy’s ear
  322. “...Are the exception.”
  323. >The heat rising up from Fluttershy’s face nearly melted all the snow around them.
  324. >They pulled back, and suddenly that hug didn’t seem like such a good idea.
  325. >It left Maud with an odd fluttering sensation in her chest that she couldn’t place, and she couldn’t even begin to think about how Fluttershy felt.
  326. >They stood in the snow for several seconds, shuffling their feet and refusing to look the other in the eye.
  327. >Their cheeks were burning red, and for once the snow didn’t seem all that cold.
  328. >Not when, as they resumed their walk, their gloved fingers were interlocked.
  329.  
  330. ***
  331.  
  332. “You are leaving tomorrow.”
  333. >Fluttershy hummed her affirmation.
  334. >“Why are you here with me, then? Surely there are others you could be spending time with.”
  335. >The hidden clearing surrounded them, the gnarled, ancient oak roots curling over them protectively as they lay together.
  336. >A small nook in the oak’s mighty roots gave them just enough space, but left Fluttershy half-on half-off Maud.
  337. >Not that either were complaining.
  338. >Fluttershy blew out a breath that tickled Maud’s neck.
  339. >“No one who I haven’t already said goodbye to, or that’s more important than you, Maudie.”
  340. >Butterflies flitted in her stomach for a moment when that nickname rolled off of Fluttershy’s tongue.
  341. “Thank you.”
  342. >It wasn’t much, all things considered, Maud thought.
  343. >Yet watching as the birds chirped and the squirrels bounded through the trees, simply watching the world go by…
  344. >She really wouldn’t have it any other way.
  345. >“Maudie?”
  346. “Yes?”
  347. >Fluttershy sat up so she could look Maud in the eye.
  348. >“You’ll write to me, right? While I’m in college?”
  349. >Fluttershy knew that Maud didn’t have a cellphone- she never had need of one- and that didn’t bother her.
  350. >She was good like that.
  351. >“Yes, Fluttershy. Every week.”
  352. >She seemed pleased by that.
  353. >Fluttershy held out her pinkie, almost childishly, with a wide grin on her face.
  354. >Maud didn’t hesitate to curl her pinkie around Fluttershy’s.
  355. >Fluttershy laid back down so her head was nestled against Maud’s chest.
  356.  
  357. ***
  358.  
  359. >Dear Fluttershy,
  360. >How are you? How has your first week at University been?
  361. >Everything is the same here.
  362. >I will see you when you return, which I hope is soon.
  363. >Yours, Maud Pie.
  364.  
  365. ***
  366.  
  367. >Dear Maudie.
  368. >It’s already been three whole months, but I’m already learning so much!
  369. >I’ve been missing you a lot, you and mom and daddy.
  370. >It’s really different here, everyone’s so smart, I hope I can keep up.
  371. >I hope to see you soon too, Maudie. My next break isn’t until Hearth’s Warming, but I promise I’ll come see you.
  372. >Maybe we can go back to the woods? If it’s not too cold.
  373. >Everything here is fine, I’ve already got a few friends that aren’t too loud or scary…
  374. >They’re trying to get me to be more “assertive”, especially Rarity.
  375. >She’s a fashion major I met in my math class, she’s so pretty and intelligent and generous.
  376. >I’ve been thinking about going to an assertiveness seminar, but it always seems so loud, and I don’t want to make a fool of myself.
  377. >Sorry if I’m rambling, I’m just so excited, I’m sure you don’t want to read all this.
  378. >As always I hope to hear from you again soon.
  379. >Love, Fluttershy.
  380.  
  381. ***
  382.  
  383. >Feet padded up the steps, escaping the nipping cold that licked at her exposed skin.
  384. >An off-white envelope clutched tight in hand, Maud pushed open the door to her room.
  385. >She sat heavily at her desk and grabbed a letter opener.
  386. >Maud flicked her wrist in what was now a well-practiced move, slicing open the envelope and pulling its contents out.
  387. >The envelope was trashed as she carefully read the letter.
  388. >Fluttershy’s loopy and elegant script ran across the page with a slight tilt, as all her letters did.
  389. >The picture that Fluttershy included in every letter was pinned to the bottom, a picture of her newest animal rescue.
  390. >It was hung up with all the others- countless pictures of animals, of Fluttershy, of her tiny apartment.
  391. >Anything that Fluttershy thought she’d like to see.
  392. >The letter was carefully placed in a box in her top-hand drawer, the only one with a lock on it.
  393. >Her sisters- both Pinkie and Limestone- were simply too curious or nosy for their own goods.
  394. >Maud stood up from her desk and took the short step to her bed.
  395. >It creaked dangerously when she collapsed into the well-worn mattress.
  396. >That dull ache that had trailed after her since Fluttershy’s departure grew worse every time she opened another letter.
  397. >She hadn’t been back to the pond since Fluttershy left- no amount of cajoling from her sisters would budge her.
  398. >It just felt wrong to go without Fluttershy.
  399. >She didn’t know where this feeling came from.
  400. >Maud had lost her share of friends before, but with Fluttershy…
  401. >They hadn’t broken off contact, and that felt worse than anything else.
  402. >Because in every letter that Maud carefully filed away and spent more than a few nights re-reading, she seemed so happy.
  403. >Without her.
  404. >The mattress below her began to grow wet as she burrowed further into it.
  405.  
  406. ***
  407.  
  408. >Dear, Maud.
  409. >It’s almost time for the year to be over! I’m so glad to be able to come see you again!
  410. >Sorry I couldn’t make it over the break, I got a little caught up here.
  411. >I hope you can forgive me.
  412. >I’ve gotta cut this letter a little short, not much has changed and I’m going out with the girls tonight.
  413. >Those self confidence seminars are really working!
  414. >Fluttershy.
  415.  
  416. ***
  417. >Dear, Fluttershy
  418. >I miss you, as always.
  419. >When you return home I would be most delighted to see you.
  420. >I must admit that it has been rather boring without you around.
  421. >Classes are going well, I would presume?
  422. >I believe that you are doing well, you are intelligent.
  423. >It is almost summer and the pond is eagerly awaiting your return.
  424. >A̶s̶ ̶a̶m̶ ̶I̶.
  425. >Love, Maud.
  426.  
  427. ***
  428.  
  429. >She couldn’t remember feeling happier.
  430. >A warm glow burned in her chest and her cheeks were almost rosy.
  431. >Finally, the day had come.
  432. >Fluttershy was coming home!
  433. >Just the thought of her friend returning sent pleasant tingles through her spine.
  434. >The train station was quiet, people all around her were sleeping.
  435. >But not Maud, she couldn’t even sit down let alone go to sleep!
  436. >Her sisters hadn’t joined her, thankfully.
  437. >Pinkie was at a sleepover, Limestone simply didn’t like Fluttershy- or anyone- and Marble was, well, Marble.
  438. >That was probably for the best, Maud could admit to wanting Fluttershy to herself.
  439. >Maud glanced over towards the clock, her eyes lighting up with glee.
  440. >Only another minute and the train would pull into the station.
  441. >Already she could hear the sounds of a train, the grinding of the wheels on the tracks that signaled its’ slow deceleration.
  442. >The large engine roared past her as the train slowed to a crawl.
  443. >The nearest passenger car opened only moments later and a swarm of people started to file out.
  444. >Dozens of people rushed past her, but Maud paid them no mind.
  445. >They weren’t important.
  446. >Rather the willowy girl with soft pink hair and a pale complexion was what caught her attention.
  447. >Like a knife through butter Maud split the crowd with ease, not caring if she shoved someone aside.
  448. >Fluttershy looked around, biting her lip and trying to see over the crowd.
  449. >A warm body burst through the crowd and suddenly she was wrapped up in a tight hug, that bordered on painful.
  450. >Fluttershy squawked in surprise before the familiarity of the strong arms got to her.
  451. >“Maudie!”
  452. >Her angelic, tinkling laugh sent warm chills through Maud’s body.
  453. >Suddenly Fluttershy was spinning as Maud twirled around.
  454. >She hung on for dear life, laughing all the while.
  455. >Finally when the threat of collapsing was simply too great, Maud set Fluttershy down and they separated.
  456. >“Maudie, it’s so good to see you!”
  457. >Fluttershy’s little hands came to rest on Maud’s as she stood on her tiptoes and kissed her cheek.
  458. >Maud could feel a heat rising up the cheeks, especially where her soft lips had touched.
  459. >“Come’on, I’ve got to get my stuff. Are Daddy and Mom here?”
  460. >Maud let Fluttershy take her hand and lead her towards where the bags were being pulled out.
  461. “No, I requested that I be the one to pick you up. They conceded.”
  462. >“You always were good with words.”
  463. >Midst the hustle and bustle of the train station, Maud could really get a good look at Fluttershy.
  464. >She seemed more relaxed now, less fidgety and nervous surrounded by so many people.
  465. >Her back was straight and her head was held high.
  466. >She seemed different, and Maud couldn’t stop that niggle in the back of her mind.
  467. >Just how different?
  468. >Fluttershy pulled on Maud a little more and soon they were standing in front of the luggage.
  469. >Maud didn’t remember Fluttershy bringing so much stuff, the girl was diminutive compared to the bags.
  470. >Fluttershy’s attempts at pulling the suitcases along behind her was stopped by Maud, who grabbed both bags and pulled them up so they rested under her arms.
  471. >“Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to make you do that...”
  472. >She didn’t offer a reply, she just started walking.
  473. >Maud led the way out of the train station and into the cool summer’s morning air.
  474. >It was only a little past three, yet the sun was already starting to peak up over the mountains in the distance.
  475. >Maud readjusted her grip as she and Fluttershy approached a well-worn truck.
  476. >“When’d you get a truck, Maud?”
  477. “Limestone decided to allow me to borrow it.”
  478. >“Really?”
  479. >Fluttershy sounded almost nervous, as if Limestone would pop out of the trunk.
  480. “No. I stole it.”
  481. >Maud’s lips twitched when Fluttershy’s jaw dropped open.
  482. >“Y-you stole it? Won’t Limestone be angry?”
  483. “If she knows, yes. She won’t.”
  484. >“How can you be sure?”
  485. >The truck started after several tries, its’ engine roaring to life.
  486. >Maud gave a noncommittal shrug.
  487. >Fluttershy squeaked as the truck rumbled down the highway just off of the train station.
  488.  
  489. ***
  490.  
  491. >“SURPRISE!”
  492. >Fluttershy yelped.
  493. >The door to her home had been flung open, and a chorus of men and women- old friends, neighbors, acquaintances of all kinds- exploded from the darkened entryway.
  494. >She was instantly sucked into the party, looking for all the world to see a small animal in a lion’s den.
  495. >Maud beat a hasty escape from the beginnings of the party by taking Fluttershy’s suitcase to her room.
  496. >It was dark, yet what she could see were so very Fluttershy.
  497. >Several cages were shoved into a corner- long abandoned by their inhabitants- and the desk just across from the door was overflowing with pots, the plants having long been moved.
  498. >Maud flicked the lights on and set the suitcases in front of the bed.
  499. >She collapsed onto the soft down comforter, certain that Fluttershy wouldn’t notice or mind her absence.
  500. >She was good like that.
  501.  
  502. ***
  503.  
  504. >When the party began winding down and the noise began to abate the door to Fluttershy’s room opened.
  505. >Maud’s exhausted stupor broke as someone stumbled in.
  506. >It was dim and Maud couldn’t quite make out the shambling figure.
  507. >Whoever it was, they reeked of alcohol.
  508. “Hello?”
  509. >Maud’s voice stopped the figure.
  510. >She- because the silhouette’s laugh could only be a woman’s- giggled.
  511. >“Maud-ie…”
  512. >Maud shot up from the bed in surprise.
  513. >Fluttershy was drunkenly making her way towards her bed now, her lips stretched into a dopey grin that was illuminated just-so by the light overhead.
  514. >She finally impacted the bed and collapsed against the still-stunned Maud.
  515. “Fluttershy. You are drunk.”
  516. >“Yep!”
  517. >Fluttershy’s chin came to rest in the junction of Maud’s neck and her arms wound around her chest.
  518. >Maud stiffened under Fluttershy’s grip, but didn’t try to pull away.
  519. >“Ooh, I missed you so much Maudie.”
  520. “I missed you too. Did you enjoy the party?”
  521. >Fluttershy nodded.
  522. >“Someone handed me some punch, but I don’t think it was just punch!”
  523. >She laughed, as if that was the funniest joke she had ever heard.
  524. >Maud swung them around so they were laying down in Fluttershy’s bed.
  525. >“Thanks, Maudie.”
  526. “For?”
  527. >Fluttershy smacked her lips and burrowed further into Maud’s neck.
  528. >“I dunno.”
  529. >She unwrapped one of her arms and let it trail across Maud’s body absently.
  530. >“For being there.”
  531. “I was not at the party.”
  532. >Fluttershy began laughing again.
  533. >“You’re silly, Maudie.”
  534. >The room went silent as they lay together.
  535. >Fluttershy was listening to Maud’s steady heartbeat that seemed too fast for her own good.
  536. >It didn’t matter now though.
  537. >Nothing mattered, not school or drama or relationships, nothing.
  538. >They were there together and that’s what was important.
  539. >“Wanna know a secret?”
  540. >Maud nodded.
  541. >Fluttershy pushed herself forward so her lips were tickling Maud’s ear.
  542. >“Promise not to tell.”
  543. “I promise.”
  544. >“Really really?”
  545. ”Really really.”
  546. >Fluttershy giggled.
  547. >“I love you, Maud.”
  548. >Maud’s heart wanted to beat out of her chest.
  549. >Her face flushed and that gut-twisting feeling came back again.
  550. >Maud looked at Fluttershy, who had fallen asleep just after her confession.
  551. >Love?
  552. >The room suddenly seemed a lot more cramped.
  553. >Maud gently rolled over so that Fluttershy was laying flat on her back.
  554. >Maud pulled herself off of her friend and padded towards the window.
  555. >She needed time to think.
  556. >She glanced back at Fluttershy.
  557. >In a rare fit of open affection she tucked her friend- or possibly more?- in and planted a kiss on her forehead.
  558. “Sleep well.”
  559. >Like a thief in the night Maud left through the window and sprinted back to Limestone’s truck.
  560. >She pulled out of the driveway and sped off, kicking up dust and debris.
  561. >Love?
  562.  
  563. ***
  564.  
  565. >The last vestiges of night were washed away by the ever-rising sun that crept over the horizon.
  566. >Maud reclined against the hood of the truck and took it all in.
  567. >The truck was sat on a hill overlooking Ponyville.
  568. >She was no closer to figuring anything out than she had been when she escaped from Fluttershy’s bedroom.
  569. >That gut-wrenching feeling simply wouldn’t go away anymore.
  570. >She tried to push it down and ignore it, ignore her feelings, but she couldn’t.
  571. >She can’t.
  572. >Maud rubbed at her eyes.
  573. >She would have to get the truck back to the farm before Limestone woke up.
  574. >Maud could already imagine the headache Limestone would cause her as she climbed into the cab of the truck.
  575.  
  576. ***
  577.  
  578. >She was ashamed.
  579. >Maud had been avoiding Fluttershy.
  580. >It was disgusting, but she couldn’t do anything else.
  581. >Those words replayed in her mind every time she wasn’t thinking about something else.
  582. >Like a roaring river it consumed her mind and wouldn’t leave her be.
  583. >That was without Fluttershy here, and books upon books to distract her.
  584. >”Her room is this way.”
  585. >Maud perked at Limestone’s gravely tone broke through the door.
  586. >Without knocking the door swung open and Limestone stormed in.
  587. >Her usual scowl plastered firm on her face.
  588. >”You have a visitor.”
  589. >Just as quick as she in the room, she was gone, her heavy footfalls echoing down the small hallway.
  590. >Maud turned her head to look at the visitor
  591. >Her blood ran cold when she spotted Fluttershy’s pink hair and pale yellow skin that clashed against the dreary dark wood behind her.
  592. >“Hi, Maudie.”
  593. >Maud felt her heart race as she looked back towards her book, intently staring at it but not reading a word of what it said.
  594. >The old floorboards groaned and the bed squeaked irritably when Fluttershy approached her and sat down.
  595. >Maud’s breath caught in her throat when Fluttershy rested one of her lithe hands on her arm.
  596. >It was warm and pleasant and sent unfamiliar tingles down the length of her arm.
  597. >“Please, look at me…”
  598. >She couldn’t, her head wouldn’t move.
  599. >Fluttershy’s angelic voice, so soft and saccharine, tickled at her ear.
  600. >“Maudie? Why have you been avoiding me?”
  601. “I haven’t been.”
  602. >It sounded jerky to her ear, her jaw working at the protest of the rest of her.
  603. >Fluttershy sighed.
  604. >Her audible disappointment stung at Maud’s heart.
  605. >Soft fingers- so thin and gentle and perfect- traced against her jaw as Fluttershy turned her head.
  606. >Maud dropped the book and collapsed against her friend, quivering from head to toe.
  607. >Fluttershy accepted her without judgment, just as she always had.
  608. >Maud wrapped her arms around Fluttershy’s waist and burrowed into her shoulder.
  609. “Please, tell me what I’m feeling.”
  610. >Her voice was unsteady and pleading.
  611. “I-I’m…”
  612. >Maud choked up, her eyes squeezed tight against the pressure building up within them.
  613. >”Shh, it’s alright Maudie.”
  614. “Tell me… Tell me. Tell me. Tell me.”
  615. >”Tell you what?”
  616. >Maud didn’t stop- couldn’t stop, it was all too much.
  617. >She repeated it over and over and over again, until her lungs were deprived of air and her throat was raw from speaking.
  618. >She didn’t know what she was feeling, couldn’t put it into words.
  619. >Love, maybe?
  620. >It was impossible to describe, a whirlwind of emotions raced through her mind.
  621. >Her body was thrumming, her heart pulsing and pounding in her chest.
  622. >Her heart burned and ached and her stomach contracted, her mind tingled but she didn’t know why.
  623. >She wasn’t crying- maybe she was, it was hard to tell- but it felt like she should, like it was what any normal person would do.
  624. >Except she wasn’t normal.
  625. >Maud clung tighter to Fluttershy who hadn’t moved a muscle besides the rhythmic petting against her friend’s hair.
  626. >When the strain became too much, Maud fell into a half-asleep stupor that left her exhausted.
  627. >She stopped moving, stopped quivering and crying and talking.
  628. >Too much like a corpse for Fluttershy to be comfortable with.
  629. >Maud slumped, dead asleep.
  630. >Fluttershy hugged Maud tight, as tight as she could.
  631. >She still didn’t know why Maud was acting like this.
  632. >It was okay, Fluttershy told herself, it was going to be okay.
  633. >Maud would snap out of it and they’d go back to how they were- happy.
  634. >It’s okay.
  635. >Fluttershy couldn’t stop repeating it, she didn’t know why.
  636.  
  637. ***
  638.  
  639. >Maud woke with a jaw-cracking yawn that made her eyes ache.
  640. >She couldn’t remember what happened- just that Fluttershy had shown up.
  641. >She had…
  642. >Had…
  643. >Maud curled up into a ball and buried her face into her knees.
  644. >She had made an utter fool of herself- Fluttershy she-
  645. >”M-Maudie?”
  646. >A groggy voice and a warm body shift from right behind her.
  647. >-She was still here.
  648. >Maud pulled away from Fluttershy- she had just realized how entangled they were.
  649. >Fluttershy stopped her, her arms were like a vice, they wouldn’t let her budge.
  650. >Wouldn’t let her pull away.
  651. >Maud slumped against Fluttershy, her resistance overtaken by her exhaustion.
  652. >Her mind felt heavy, drained and weary of emotion.
  653. “Please just leave,” Maud mumbled, “I don’t want you to see me like this.”
  654. >”Tell me, Maudie. I want to know why you’re so- why you’re like this. I have to know.”
  655. >Maud felt shame burn in her cheeks.
  656. “You said-”
  657. >She gulped, pins and needles trailing after.
  658. “You said you loved me.”
  659. >Maud felt Fluttershy stiffen, her skin growing cold as her face took up the majority of her blood.
  660. >It seemed, as Maud looked up at Fluttershy’s face, that it was rapidly turning an angry red, then fading into a white pallor.
  661. >”I-”
  662. >Fluttershy was stunned by Maud’s proclamation, her insides felt like ice.
  663. >She tried to push Maud away, but couldn’t.
  664. >Her arms felt weak and useless.
  665. >“I’m sorry,” she muttered weakly.
  666. >They both slump together in a still silence.
  667. >They made no move to get up.
  668. “Don’t be.”
  669. >It took all she had to mumble that, her eyelids drooped heavily and sleep beckoned her.
  670. >Maud yawned and tucked her head into Fluttershy’s chest.
  671. >”Why?”
  672. >She sounded equally as fatigued as she stroked her fingers through Maud’s hair.
  673. >Maud couldn’t keep her eyes open, she was too exhausted.
  674. >She fell into a deep sleep, Fluttershy following soon after.
  675.  
  676. ***
  677.  
  678. “Is it true?”
  679. >”Is what true?”
  680. >Maud pulled her knees up so she could rest her head on them.
  681. >She looked out the thin gap between the windows, dully illuminated by fading moonlight.
  682. “Do you-”
  683. >Maud took in a deep, shuddering breath and hugged herself tighter.
  684. “-Love me?”
  685. >”Oh.”
  686. >They fell into a brittle silence that was begging to be shattered.
  687. >Maud looked over from the corner of her eye.
  688. >Fluttershy was reclined completely on the bed, whereas she only took up the bottom corner, curled up tight.
  689. “Y-yes. I do. Do you… Love me?”
  690. >The question was exhausting.
  691. >Did she love Fluttershy?
  692. “I do not know.”
  693. >”Oh.”
  694. >Fluttershy rubbed at her face for a moment.
  695. >”Maudie?”
  696. “Yes?”
  697. >”Could you love me?”
  698. >Fluttershy sounded so small to Maud, so fragile.
  699. >It sent bolts of fear up her spine.
  700. “I do not know.”
  701. >Fluttershy sat up on her knees, her head bowed.
  702. >”Maudie, you said that you don’t mind if I touched you.”
  703. >Maud nodded, though Fluttershy couldn’t see it.
  704. >”D-do you think I could…”
  705. >Fluttershy’s stammering tone made it hard to hear to her, but Maud was used to that.
  706. >She lunged, springing from her knees towards Maud like a viper.
  707. >There was no time to react- Maud was already pinned down to the bed in shock.
  708. >Her lips were entwined in Fluttershy’s, the girl above her desperately kissing her.
  709. >It wasn’t spicy, nor well-practiced, so much unlike what she had heard kissing was about.
  710. >Their lips were only meeting for a moment, as soon as Fluttershy was there she was gone.
  711. >Pressed against the wall and farthest corner of the bed away from Maud.
  712. >Maud lay limp like a rag doll on the comforter, her eyes widened ever so slightly.
  713. >She reached up and touched her lips- the lips that Fluttershy had kissed.
  714. >That Fluttershy had KISSED.
  715. >A lingering citrus-y tang tingled at her lips as she touched them.
  716. >”Sorry.”
  717. >Maud turned on her side to look at Fluttershy, still stunned.
  718. >She was shaking life a leaf in a hurricane.
  719. >Maud sucked in a shaky breath and sat up at the edge of the bed.
  720. >The room seemed far to hot to think in, her head was pounding.
  721. “Come.”
  722. >Fluttershy followed, slipping into her shoes as Maud did the same.
  723. >She didn’t ask where they were going- she had a hunch.
  724.  
  725. ***
  726.  
  727. >”Why did you take me out here?”
  728. >Maud pulled off her shoes and let her foot fall into the soft silt of the pond.
  729. “To think.”
  730. >Fluttershy joined her.
  731. >They stood together, bathed in moonlight, shin deep in the cool water that had once been their sanctuary.
  732. >Maud couldn’t think of any better place to think, her mind felt at ease.
  733. >Like an overheated engine that was left to finally cool
  734. >She let herself drift into the cool summer’s morning breeze, into the smells and sounds of the woods that surrounded them, into the glowing sun just peaking over the far mountains.
  735. >Her hand sought Fluttershy’s, as if possessed.
  736. >Their fingers meshed, and they turned towards the other.
  737. >The light of the barely-there sun and the ever-fading moonlight illuminated Fluttershy’s face.
  738. “I…”
  739. >Maud didn’t know where to start.
  740. >Her jaw worked up and down, trying to say what she felt.
  741. >She couldn’t, it was locked tight inside herself.
  742. >Fluttershy looked up into Maud’s flat affect with no judgment- no anger or resentment.
  743. >It settled her nerves, Maud would admit to herself.
  744. >Finally she couldn’t stand to look at Fluttershy’s begging, pleading eyes, so she closed hers.
  745. >Her lips moved forward.
  746. >It was cold at first, then Fluttershy’s warm forehead lingered under her lips.
  747. “I am willing to try.”
  748. >Fluttershy hugged her.
  749. >Gentle- as Fluttershy was- arms wrapped around her waist and a familiar pointed chin rested in the crux of her neck.
  750. >Maud stayed stiff.
  751. >It didn’t bother Fluttershy.
  752. >She understood.
  753. >She was good like that.
  754.  
  755. ***
  756.  
  757. >The stars glittered overhead, way into the deep reaches of space.
  758. >Maud wondered sometimes whether the stars were lonely or not, hanging around for so long by themselves.
  759. >She would be lonely, way out there all alone.
  760. >Without anyone around- not Fluttershy or her sisters, or anyone.
  761. >Her attention drew over to the girl laying next to her as she shifted positions.
  762. >Fluttershy tucked herself into Maud’s side and let out a contented sigh.
  763. >“What’re you thinking about?”
  764. “The stars.”
  765. >“What about the stars?”
  766. >Maud paused.
  767. “They’re pretty.”
  768. >Lonely stars, indeed.
  769. >”They are pretty. You’re pretty, too.”
  770. “Thank you.”
  771. >Fluttershy giggled and sat up.
  772. >She rolled over and straddled Maud’s waist, her pink hair coming down in a curtain.
  773. >Cutting off the stars and the black, inky sky from view.
  774. >Fluttershy was looking at her, her eyes scrunched up into a pleased smile as her hands came down to rest on Maud’s shoulders.
  775. >The little peak of her eyes- the only part of Fluttershy not shrouded in darkness- closed as she leaned down.
  776. >Their foreheads touched, warm in the cool summer’s night.
  777. >Maud couldn’t tell where the kiss began, just that it had.
  778. >The kiss ended with warm faces and burning lungs.
  779. >The stories of kissing didn’t do it justice- it wasn’t a magical moment with a prince or princess charming.
  780. >It was indescribable, not good nor bad, not full of passion that burned and tingled or flat and emotionless.
  781. >It simply was.
  782.  
  783. ***
  784.  
  785. >The summer wound to a close.
  786. >It was blurry to Maud- she couldn’t quite remember much of what she had done, just that Fluttershy delighted in dragging her along wherever they went.
  787. >”Girlfriends” she had squealed to whomever spared an ear.
  788. >Across town, just bordering the metropolitan area, the raging party thundered around her.
  789. >Maud couldn’t care less about parties- they simply made her stand out even more than usual.
  790. >It was part of the reason she had sought out a quiet place to escape from the crowded halls.
  791. >A lonely balcony had been her refuge, one that overlooked the tiny town of Ponyville.
  792. >Up in the hills as they were, it offered a wide view of the valley.
  793. >The sliding glass door behind her opened with a hiss, but Maud didn’t turn around.
  794. >Whoever it was would go away, she hoped.
  795. >”Maudie! I’ve been looking all over for you!”
  796. >Slender arms wrapped around her broad shoulders as a gleefully giggling Fluttershy buried her face into Maud’s back.
  797. >The stench of alcohol trailed after Fluttershy like a wraith.
  798. >“This parties fun, isn’t it?”
  799. >Maud made an evasive sound, but Fluttershy kept on.
  800. >“I love you.”
  801. >Those words had become so familiar to Maud, each and every time it stung because she couldn’t repeat them.
  802. >Not to herself, and especially not to Fluttershy.
  803. >Fluttershy rubbed her face against Maud’s warm shoulders, her body a furnace that easily staved off the chilly night’s air.
  804. >”Maudie?”
  805. “Hm?”
  806. >Fluttershy stopped giggling.
  807. >”Come with me.”
  808. “What do you mean?”
  809. >”Come to college with me. I want you there, I don’t wanna be apart from you anymore.”
  810. >Maud looked up into the vast expanse of stars.
  811. >They were sparkling clearly through the night sky, glittering like gems.
  812. “I-”
  813. >”Please.”
  814. “I can’t.”
  815. >Maud swallowed thickly.
  816. >Her tongue felt ten sizes too big for her mouth.
  817. >”Why not? Is it- am I-”
  818. >Fluttershy sounded on the verge of tears, and it felt that way way as she pressed her eyes into Maud’s back.
  819. >”I love you.”
  820. >It sounded mournful, and regretful.
  821. >As if Fluttershy had made a mistake.
  822. >Maud couldn’t help but agree.
  823. >”I can’t wait anymore, Maudie. Please tell me, do you love me?”
  824. >The answer wouldn’t come, her lips wouldn’t move.
  825. >Her heart was torn in two and was waging a fierce battle in her chest.
  826. >Maud didn’t say anything, not for a long while.
  827. >Indecision, it seemed, would be her downfall as Fluttershy unwrapped her arms from around Maud’s waist.
  828. “Fluttershy, wait!”
  829. >Fluttershy stopped in her tracks, Maud’s voice cracking through the quiet air like a whip.
  830. “I-”
  831. >She breathed in deeply and closed her eyes.
  832. “I love you too.”
  833. >Fluttershy squealed in delight and hugged Maud tight.
  834. >It hurt.
  835. >Lying hurt.
  836.  
  837. ***
  838.  
  839. >Her father’s grim face peered out from under his hat’s brim.
  840. >Fluttershy quailed under the stern man’s scowl as Maud and Limestone loaded the last of her things in the back of a truck.
  841. >Summer had ended, and the train to Canterlot was bound to leave at any moment.
  842. >Igneous Rock tilted the brim of his hat up a little so he could peer down at Fluttershy, the crows feet around his eyes squinting hard against the harsh sunlight.
  843. >“You are the girl that has infatuated my daughter.”
  844. >Fluttershy meekly blushed and nodded.
  845. >Igneous Rock hummed- though it sounded much more like the rough grinding of gravel- in penitent thought.
  846. >He nodded and stepped into his dwelling.
  847. >”Goodbye, Maud Pie.”
  848. “Goodbye, Father.”
  849. >Igneous Rock spared Maud one last look over his shoulder and closed the door behind him with a creak.
  850. >Maud glanced back at him, then at her mother who was walking towards her.
  851. >Her flat affect so matched the muted grays and light-greens that she was draped in, yet a motherly warmth flickered in her eyes.
  852. >Cloudy Quartz stopped just in front of her daughter.
  853. >“I will miss you.”
  854. “And I you, mother.”
  855. >Cloudy Quartz held her arms open and Maud embraced her.
  856. >She hugged Maud tight and leaned in next to her ear.
  857. >”Your father and I are proud of you, Maud Pie. We love you.”
  858. >Maud tightened her hold.
  859. “I love you too.”
  860. >They separated and, as they pulled apart, Cloudy Quarts surreptitiously wiped at her eyes.
  861. >Limestone grunted as she hauled the last of Maud’s luggage into the bed of the truck.
  862. >”Get in. The faster I get this done the faster I can get back to work.”
  863. >”WAIT, MAUD!”
  864. >Maud rounded on the bubbly pink ball of energy that was her sister.
  865. >She darted out of the house and flying-tackled Maud into a hug.
  866. >”Oh I’m gonna miss you! Mom and Dad and Marble- and even mean ol’ Limestone- helped make this special super-duper notebook, with all our pictures and nice letters and everything! So you won’t ever feel homesick! Promise you’ll write? Oh you gotta promise! And I just wanna tell my most favorite big sister in the whole wide world how much she means to me and-”
  867. >Maud patted Pinkie on the back as she devolved into a tearful mess, clinging desperately to her sister.
  868. “Pinkie Pie.”
  869. >Pinkie stopped rambling and looked up to Maud, a watery smile on her face.
  870. “Goodbye. I love you.”
  871. >Pinkie grinned into Maud’s chest as they separated.
  872. >Fluttershy turned away- the tearful goodbye seemed much too personal for her to watch.
  873. “I love you too, Marble.”
  874. >Marble, who had been hidden behind Pinkie Pie, glowed with a soft smile.
  875. >She hadn’t said anything, but she didn’t need to.
  876. >They shared a quick embrace.
  877. >It was enough.
  878. >”Alright, alright. Come on, let’s go already.”
  879. >Maud nodded as she, Limestone, and Fluttershy climbed into the truck.
  880. >It’s engine roared to life as they rolled away.
  881. >Maud looked in the rear-view mirror.
  882. >Her Father and Mother were standing side by ever-tinier side, just in front of a waving Pinkie Pie and Marble.
  883.  
  884. ***
  885.  
  886. >”Hey.”
  887. >Maud turned to face Limestone’s ever-present glare.
  888. >Her face softened a little.
  889. >”I didn’t wanna do it in front of the others…”
  890. >Maud stopped her sister with a hand on her shoulder.
  891. “I know. Goodbye.”
  892. >They hugged, for the first time in who-knows-how-long.
  893. >Surrounded by the rushing crowds and busy train station, under the warm glow of an overhead lamp.
  894. >”Bye, sis.”
  895. >Limestone hurried out of the station and back towards her truck.
  896. >Maud watched her go, and stood there staring, until Fluttershy started to tug her along.
  897. >The train was leaving.
  898.  
  899. ***
  900.  
  901. >The train rumbled under them, a soft humming buzzing in Maud’s ears.
  902. >She watched through a tinted window as the countryside blurred past them, further and further away from her home.
  903. >As they left the valley and approached the mountains, the beginning of fall began to cover the ground in the form of light snowfall
  904. >it was sprinkling down into the deep crevices and onto the tall peaks, catching the last smatterings of sunlight.
  905. >The body next to her shuffled.
  906. >Fluttershy yawned as she sat up in the train’s seat, still hugging Maud’s left arm.
  907. >”Morning.”
  908. “It is nearly nightfall.”
  909. >Fluttershy curled up against Maud’s side again.
  910. >”Good nightfall, then.”
  911. >She sounded amused to Maud as she let out a jaw-cracking yawn.
  912. >”Hey Maudie?”
  913. “Yes?”
  914. >Maud turned to look at Fluttershy, her warm blue eyes peaking through her pink hair.
  915. >”I love you.”
  916. >Fluttershy’s soft hand came up to rest on Maud’s cheek.
  917. >Her thumb pressed at Maud’s jaw, tilting her face so they were mere inches away.
  918. “I love you too.”
  919. >Maud’s eyes closed as Fluttershy kissed her.
  920. >It felt… wrong.
  921.  
  922. ***
  923.  
  924. >”Fluttershy! Darling it is so good to see you again. And who’s this? Maud Pie, I presume? Dear, she’s just as cute as you described her!”
  925. >When Maud was accosted by a dazzlingly bright smile affixed on a face that looked like it cost a million dollars, she didn’t know quite how to react.
  926. >Rarity- as Fluttershy had called her name as they embraced- looked her up and down.
  927. >Her piercing sapphire eyes lined with clouded eye shadow sized her up, like Rosie O’donnell looking at a candy bar.
  928. >Rarity and Fluttershy separated.
  929. >Fluttershy sprang back to Maud’s side as Rarity cautiously approached.
  930. >”My name is Rarity. It’s lovely to meet you. Shall we come inside? Those bags look awfully heavy…”
  931. >Fluttershy nodded and dragged Maud into the dwelling.
  932. >”Right this way, Maud. You can just leave those heavy bags there- yes, that will do. Darlings, would you?”
  933. >Rarity gestured towards the bags Maud had dropped and almost immediately several simpering girls were picking them up.
  934. >The girls followed in Rarity’s wake as she lead Fluttershy and Maud through the elegant home.
  935. >”Just this way, up these stairs. Have you ever been to a sorority house, Maud? It is lovely here, you’ll get along well with all the girls I’m sure.”
  936. >Rarity lead them to a large door, flowing script elegantly flowing across a nameplate, marking the room as Fluttershy’s.
  937. >”I assumed you would be staying with Fluttershy. Fluttershy, would you and Maud like to spend some time resting before dinner? I’m sure that your train ride was long and exhausting.”
  938. >”Okay Rarity. I’ll show Maud around tomorrow. Is the party still on tomorrow?”
  939. >”Yes, dear. See you at dinner. It was a pleasure, Maud.”
  940. >Maud nodded.
  941. >The click-clacking of Rarity’s heels signaled her departure.
  942. >Fluttershy opened the door and lead the way in.
  943. >The bed dominating the center of the room creaked as Fluttershy collapsed into it.
  944. >Fluttershy groaned and buried a pillow she pulled towards her.
  945. >”Come lay down with me Maud, I bet you’re tired too.”
  946. >Maud nodded and obliged Fluttershy’s request as the last of the followers carrying their luggage left the room.
  947. >The bed sunk in around her as she sidled up next to Fluttershy.
  948. >Fatigue she didn’t know she had, had caught up with her, her bones ached and her muscles felt stiff and tired.
  949. >Fluttershy wrapped an arm loosely around Maud’s waist.
  950. >She rested her head on Maud’s chest and took a deep breath.
  951. >”Love you.”
  952. >Fluttershy kissed the bottom of her jaw.
  953. “I love you, too.”
  954. >Maud was so tired.
  955. >Her eyelids felt heavy and her mind blurred.
  956.  
  957. ***
  958.  
  959. Diary,
  960. >Life in the house had been…
  961. >I can’t quite describe it.
  962. >Hectic, maybe. Or chaotic.
  963. >However it manifested itself, the girls were more wild and very un-Fluttershy-like than I had been expecting.
  964. >Then again, Fluttershy seems to walk with a renewed confidence and a spring in her step that was so unlike the timid girl that I remember.
  965. >Fights are commonplace, if passive-aggressive bickering and back-handedness could be considered “fighting.”
  966. >Every day I feel more apathetic to the petty squabbling, even as an outsider.
  967. >So far none of the girls besides Rarity have spoken a word to me. I am an outsider, as much as I wish I wasn’t. Rarity’s sycophantic followers seem too busy trying to get her attention to even look at me, much less talk to me.
  968. >Rarity doesn’t seem particularly mean, but she’s dangerous. A social butterfly with the cunning of the viper.
  969. >She seems especially good at charming everyone she glances at, such is her beauty and grace.
  970. >I can’t help but admit that I, too, have not been entirely resistant.
  971. >A social butterfly with the cunning of a viper.
  972. >She seems content with the way things are now, and I am happy that she is not more ambitious.
  973. .
  974. .
  975. .
  976. >I can’t bring myself to care anymore.
  977. >Every day it gets harder to live this lie.
  978. >Fluttershy seems unaware of my inner turmoil, for that I am most grateful.
  979. >I just don’t know how much longer I can continue.
  980. -Maud.
  981.  
  982. ***
  983.  
  984. Diary,
  985. >It’s been a month.
  986. >I’m tired.
  987. -Maud
  988.  
  989. ***
  990.  
  991. Diary,
  992. >I apologize for my short entry yesterday, Diary.
  993. >I couldn’t bring myself to write more.
  994. >Fluttershy has changed.
  995. >The girls that followed Rarity around, now follow Fluttershy around.
  996. >I am afraid that I may be one of them now.
  997. >The only difference is that I am holding onto her arm, not her bags.
  998. >She seems to enjoy taking me to parties, even though I can barely stand by the end of them.
  999. >We are going to one tonight. A casual affair hosted by Rarity.
  1000. >Girls from other sororities are attending.
  1001. >I am tired.
  1002. -Maud.
  1003.  
  1004. ***
  1005.  
  1006. >There were exactly two-hundred twenty three tiles in the ceiling of the House’s roof.
  1007. >eight-hundred ninety-two sides.
  1008. >Made of porcelain, translucent vitrified ceramics made of kaolin heated to a minimum temperature of roughly twelve-hundred degrees to a maximum temperature of fourteen-hundred degrees.
  1009. >Maud couldn’t help herself.
  1010. >The party was loud and the lights were blindingly bright, strobe and flashing and headache-inducing.
  1011. >The people were too touchy and they didn’t understand a “no” when it came to being given refreshments.
  1012. >So she focused on each tile, its’ every flaw and detail, every crack- exactly twenty three of them, mostly located in the edges, evidence of a nearby fault-line and seismic activity- that she could see.
  1013. >The couch creaked under the weight of a body next to her.
  1014. >Fluttershy’s familiar perfume and that heavy stench of alcohol lingered in her nose as her girlfriend sidled up next to her.
  1015. >”Whatcha doin’, Maudie? Countin’ tiles?”
  1016. “Yes.”
  1017. >Fluttershy giggled into Maud’s neck.
  1018. >”You’re silly.”
  1019. “Yes.”
  1020. >Silly.
  1021. >Maud’s blood boiled
  1022. >She remained calm, focusing instead on the tiles.
  1023. >Silly.
  1024. >”Why aren’t you having fun with the rest of the party?”
  1025. “I am tired.”
  1026. >Fluttershy poked her stomach, then giggled again when the tight flesh resisted her prying fingers.
  1027. >”Go to bed, sleepyhead. Hey! That rhymes.”
  1028. >She laughed again, as if that was the funniest thing she had heard all night.
  1029. “Okay.”
  1030. >Maud stood up, dislodging Fluttershy from her position pressed tight to her side.
  1031. >”Wait, I didn’t mean so soon!”
  1032. >Fluttershy might as well have shouted it across an ocean, as Maud was already lost in the throng of people.
  1033. >Her eyes lit up when someone approached, two cups in hand, Maud completely forgotten.
  1034.  
  1035. ***
  1036.  
  1037. >Maud hadn’t gone to her room.
  1038. >Just outside the party raged on, she knew well that she wouldn’t be getting any rest there.
  1039. >She took to wandering the rest of the mansion-like house, through its’ winding hallways and up and down dozens of flights of stairs.
  1040. >The raging inferno that was her mind calmed as she left the party behind.
  1041. >No more tiles, no more noise or lights or touching.
  1042. >Just as she liked it.
  1043. >Maud stepped out onto a balcony, closing her eyes in relief as the chilly air cooled her aching head.
  1044. >”Hello.”
  1045. >Maud jumped and spun towards the voice.
  1046. >A girl, not much shorter than her, was sitting just a foot away.
  1047. >She was smirking, a lit cigarette in her mouth that danced merrily across her lips.
  1048. >”Sorry, am I interrupting? I can leave if you like.”
  1049. >The offer seemed genuine, but that smirk said otherwise.
  1050. >Maud tilted her head in recognition before she turned to leave.
  1051. >”Hey, what’s your name, tall-dark-and-silent? I don’t see many of your kind around here.”
  1052. “My… Kind?”
  1053. >”Yeah. You don’t look like one of those vapid cunts that usually live here. A guest I take it?”
  1054. >Maud said nothing, but the girl seemed to take that as an answer if the way the cigarette bobbed as she smiled was any indication.
  1055. >”Who roped you in? You Rarity’s new toy? Never imagined her to go for your type.”
  1056. >Maud turned towards the stranger, eyeing her warily.
  1057. >”Not Rarity then, huh? Thought so, that girl’s a real piece of work. A fine specimen like you wouldn’t fall for her, am I right? Not to say she doesn’t have a fine ass. Sculpted by an angel, I’d say.”
  1058. >The girl didn’t wait for an answer as she continued on, completely oblivious to Maud’s lack of speech.
  1059. >”You a dyke? Seem the type. A little too butch to want a man. You’re hot though. Did I get your name yet?”
  1060. “Maud.”
  1061. >The girl flicked her cigarette off the balcony as it finally burned low.
  1062. >”Well Maud, I’m called many things. Great and Powerful, Village Fascist for some reason, heck even a Demon. You, however, can call me- Ah shit, gimme a minute.”
  1063. >The girl pulled her buzzing from a deep jacket pocket and stuck it up to her ear.
  1064. >”Right. In the fish tank? Nah, that Sparkle girl’s aint got the guts. I’ll be there.”
  1065. >The phone snapped shut, and the girl looked back up at Maud.
  1066. >”Looks like I’ll have to tell you some other time then, Maud. Lemme see your hand for a minute?”
  1067. >Maud did as commanded as the girl pulled a pen out of her jacket.
  1068. >In a hasty scrawl, her phone number was plastered over Maud’s palm.
  1069. >”Right-o. See ya, stud. Don’t leave a lady waiting.”
  1070. >Maud watched her go, unable and unwilling to stop her, even to speak to her.
  1071. >She strutted back into the house and was gone from sight in an instant.
  1072.  
  1073. ***
  1074.  
  1075. >”What’re you doin’, Maudie?”
  1076. >Maud’s eyes were locked onto the cellphone sitting in her right palm as she turned it over and over in her hand.
  1077. >She looked over at Fluttershy who was languidly kicking her feet back and forth as she lay on the bed.
  1078. >Fluttershy was smiling gently at her.
  1079. “I met someone at the party.”
  1080. >Fluttershy lit up as she turned over and scooted towards Maud.
  1081. >”Who? A new friend?”
  1082. >Maud pursed her lips as she looked back to the phone and continued to turn it over in her palm.
  1083. “Yes.”
  1084. >”Oh, that’s so exciting, Maud. What’s her name?”
  1085. “I do not know.”
  1086. >Fluttershy’s simpering smile faltered.
  1087. >”I see. You should call her.”
  1088. “That was my intent.”
  1089. >Maud flipped the phone into its’ correct orientation.
  1090. >Her finger hovered over the numbers, and she began to doubt herself.
  1091. >Maud breathed in deep, closed her eyes, and began dialing.
  1092. >The dial tone rumbled in her hand, and Maud couldn’t help but feel regret.
  1093. >She didn’t even know this woman, could barely recall her face.
  1094. >Her fingers tightened around the phone as she thought over her decision.
  1095. >She was interrupted by a voice, the one from just a few nights ago.
  1096. >That confident, cheery voice that sent shivers up her spine.
  1097. >”Hello?”
  1098. “Yes. Hello. This is Maud.”
  1099. >”Maud…? That dyke from the party?”
  1100. >Maud’s lips pursed.
  1101. “Yes.”
  1102. >”Hey Maud! What’s up?”
  1103. “I was wondering if…”
  1104. >She looked up at Fluttershy, who was grinning encouragingly at her.
  1105. “If you would enjoy accompanying me to a gathering of some sort.”
  1106. >”A… What?”
  1107. “A gathering.”
  1108. >”Do you mean a party or somethin’?”
  1109. “Yes.”
  1110. >”You should’ve said so, Maud. I’d love to. I’ll be over in fifteen.”
  1111. “Wait!”
  1112. >”Yeah?”
  1113. “What is your name?”
  1114. >Maud could almost feel the smirk from her end of the line.
  1115. >”Wouldn’t you like to know?”
  1116. >The phone went silent as the girl hung up.
  1117. >Absolute infuriating.
  1118.  
  1119.  
  1120. >Maud couldn’t quite get her mind off the girl.
  1121. >The party, the introductions, being dragged through town, all of it was simply a blur.
  1122. >Except for her.
  1123. >She stood firmly in Maud’s memory.
  1124. >Confident and cheerful, with a mega-watt grin.
  1125. >Maud couldn’t imagine any other way to describe her.
  1126. >Her every move seemed intentional, even accidents, like the world did its’ level best to accommodate her.
  1127. >She flowed through crowds easily, like a knife through butter, dragging Maud along yet making her feel apart of the ride.
  1128. >Maud turned over to Fluttershy’s half of the bed.
  1129. >She was dead asleep, her chest rising and falling gently.
  1130. >Maud should feel happy, content with what she had.
  1131. >But she wasn’t.
  1132. >She should feel warm and fuzzy and should realize that Fluttershy loved her.
  1133. >But she couldn’t.
  1134. >It felt wrong.
  1135. >A charade, held up by needle-thin threads.
  1136. >This new girl…
  1137. >Maud rolled back over so she was staring at the ceiling.
  1138. >She could never remember feeling so…
  1139. >Alive.
  1140.  
  1141.  
  1142. >”Maudie? You still asleep?”
  1143. >Fluttershy’s sweet voice drew Maud from slumber as her girlfriend gently shook her awake.
  1144. >”Morning sleepyhead. Happy birthday.”
  1145. >Maud yawned as she sat up and rubbed at her eyes.
  1146. “Good morning. Thanks. How did you know…?”
  1147. >”That it was your birthday? Pinkie Pie only called me about twenty times this morning.”
  1148. >Maud blinked away the sleepiness and looked at Fluttershy.
  1149. >Her teeth were bared in a wide grin, and it looked like she was about to explode from excitement.
  1150. “What do you need?”
  1151. >Fluttershy’s excitement burst from the surface as she thrust a pair of paper slips at Maud.
  1152. >”Look what I got! I figured since we haven’t really been on any official “first date”, and since it’s your birthday, that I’d take you to the museum. I’ve been waiting months for the Geology exhibit’s new displays to go up!”
  1153. >Maud blinked at her girlfriend, then squinted.
  1154. >Fluttershy seemed oddly like Pinkie Pie.
  1155. “That sounds lovely. Thank you.”
  1156. >Fluttershy laughed as she leaned in for a kiss.
  1157. >”We should go soon, before the crowds get there. Get ready, and brush your teeth.”
  1158. >Fluttershy flicked the lights on, much to Maud’s sleepy chagrin, and sat in her desk.
  1159. >”Go shower, I’ve got a few things to do before we head out.”
  1160. >Maud yawned again in reply and rolled out of bed.
  1161. >She blindly stumbled towards the bathroom and shut the door behind her.
  1162. >Maud sluggishly pulled her pajamas off of her and waited for the water to heat up, arms crossed over her chest in the cool bathroom.
  1163. >The spray was warm and comfortable, almost enough to make Maud fall asleep right then and there.
  1164. >She held off the desire and reached for the shampoo and began to lather her hair.
  1165. >Maud didn’t know how long she had been in there, but it was long enough for the bathroom door open.
  1166. >Fluttershy’s soft, angelic voice was just audible over the rushing sound of the water.
  1167. >”Maudie?”
  1168. >Maud washed the last vestiges of soap from her hair.
  1169. “Yes?”
  1170. >Fluttershy didn’t answer with the sound of her voice, rather the distinctive tone of the shower curtain being drawn back met Maud’s ears.
  1171. >”I-I wasn’t sure about this, b-but I’d like to give you a birthday present e-early.”
  1172. >Maud hadn’t heard that uneasy quaver that laced Fluttershy’s voice in nearly two years.
  1173. >She could tell that if she spoke, she would have it too.
  1174. >Soft arms, bare of any fabric, wound around her waist.
  1175. >Fluttershy’s chest pressed into her back and her face rested in between Maud’s shoulder blades.
  1176. >Maud turned around, both their faces aflame in the steam-filled shower.
  1177. “Are you-”
  1178. >Maud cleared her throat.
  1179. “-Sure, about this?”
  1180. >Fluttershy’s whole face was glowing red, and she nodded.
  1181. “W-well. Where d-do we start?”
  1182. >”Kiss me?”
  1183. >Fluttershy sounded more unsure than Maud had ever heard her.
  1184. >They had kissed often, but now, embraced together without any thread of fabric between them, it felt different.
  1185. >Maud felt uneasy about doing this with Fluttershy, but she couldn’t refuse.
  1186. >It would crush her.
  1187. >They separated.
  1188. >Fluttershy’s soft hands gently grabbed Maud’s wrist and brought her palm down chest level.
  1189. >Maud didn’t fight it as she gripped the impossibly soft orb of flesh in her rough palms.
  1190. >Fluttershy let out a little gasp as Maud did the same with her other hand without prompting.
  1191. >Usually, just being so close and… Vulnerable, made Maud shudder and pull back.
  1192. >But this, it was different.
  1193. >They were both vulnerable and exposed to the other.
  1194. >Fluttershy reciprocated Maud’s actions with her own, dainty, hands.
  1195. >It sent a rush of pleasure up her spine.
  1196. >It was Fluttershy’s hand that trailed down first, first over Maud’s abdomen, then shyly squeezing her backside.
  1197. >Slowly drawing it around to the junction of her legs.
  1198. >Maud’s jaw clenched as more pleasure began to curl up inside herself.
  1199. >Her hands clenched a little tighter, and Fluttershy gasped a little louder, and those wonderfully amateur fingers moved a little faster.
  1200. >Fluttershy was sloppy and not especially skilled, but her eagerness more than made up for it in Maud’s mind.
  1201. >Maud’s legs quivered as Fluttershy grew faster, and more bold, and simply better.
  1202. >Her back hit the tiled wall, depending completely on it to keep herself upright.
  1203. >Maud’s arms had dropped to her side as Fluttershy sped up again, then slowed down, then sped up- fingers working quickly and agilely.
  1204. >Maud looked down at Fluttershy, both their faces so red it cut cleanly through the dense steam.
  1205. >She seemed to be looking for something, and in Maud’s addled brain she could barely tell what it was.
  1206. >Fluttershy seemed to take it as what she wanted it to be, and Maud wasn’t in any position to stop her.
  1207. >Not that she would, especially as Fluttershy knelt down to the shower floor.
  1208. >Was she really going to-
  1209. >Oh god.
  1210. >She was.
  1211. >She did.
  1212.  
  1213.  
  1214. >The hot spray lingered on them as they lay against the shower wall.
  1215. >Fluttershy’s head was resting on Maud’s chest, curled up in the girl’s strong arms.
  1216. >Maud felt positively boneless after their ordeal.
  1217. >But she had never felt better.
  1218. >Like a coil that wound deep in her gut that had finally been released.
  1219. >”Did you like your present, Maudie?”
  1220. >Maud felt a rush of affection for Fluttershy.
  1221. “Yes.”
  1222. >Fluttershy giggled.
  1223.  
  1224.  
  1225. >The museum was stately and grand, romane-columned and pearly, gleaming white.
  1226. >The inside was full of high, arched ceilings and mosaic tiled floors, the air was cool and crisp.
  1227. >Fluttershy cooed over the exhibits, her eyes bright as she pulled Maud along.
  1228. >Maud found herself not minding being dragged along, rather the exhibits and Fluttershy’s exuberance was almost refreshing.
  1229. >”Look, Maudie, it’s the geology exhibit!”
  1230. >Maud smiled as Fluttershy pulled her along.
  1231. >She listened intently as her girlfriend rattled off information about every rock that Fluttershy pointed at.
  1232. >Encyclopedic, almost.
  1233. >”What’s this?”
  1234. >The brightly glimmering stone drew Fluttershy’s eyes.
  1235. >Enthusiasm radiated off of her as she pointed towards it, getting as close to the glass as she could.
  1236. “Sunstone. Plagioclase feldspar. The light catches the copper trapped inside the stone, causing an optical effect reminiscent of the sun. Refractive index; 1.525 to 1.58. Cleavage; 001. Twinning; lamellar.”
  1237. >Fluttershy’s beaming smile met her when Maud looked at her.
  1238. >She didn’t follow, Maud realized, but she was interested.
  1239. >And that was enough.
  1240. >Maud gathered Fluttershy in her arms and kissed her, long and hard.
  1241. >Fluttershy melted in her arms as she wrapped her own willowy appendages around her girlfriend’s neck.
  1242. >Maud pulled back, leaving a red-cheeked, heady eyed Fluttershy to refocus.
  1243. >Fluttershy’s plush pink lips parted a little, her small tongue darted out and wet her lips.
  1244. >Maud was transfixed.
  1245. >Fluttershy made sure she could stand on her own legs before moving away from Maud, yet her eyes never strayed.
  1246. >Piercing and blue, and oh-so-confident, something that Maud hadn’t seen in her friend in times long past.
  1247. >”You know something, Maud?”
  1248. >Fluttershy’s smiled.
  1249. >”I really love you.”
  1250. >Maud’s head bowed.
  1251. “I love you, too.”
  1252. >And this time, she meant it.
  1253.  
  1254.  
  1255.  
  1256. >”Hey.”
  1257. >Maud jumped and spun on her heels.
  1258. >She was back, a confident smirk dancing on her lips.
  1259. “Hello.”
  1260. >”You haven’t called me a while, Maud, I’m starting to think you don’t like me or something…”
  1261. >She sounded hurt, yet those pleading, wide eyes held a touch of mischief.
  1262. “I do not dislike you.”
  1263. >”Funny way of showing it.”
  1264. >Now, she did sound hurt, but it was only for a moment.
  1265. >Maud barely caught the well-disguised bitterness that laced the girl’s tone.
  1266. >”So, did what’s her name rope you into coming to another one of these parties?”
  1267. “Yes. Why are you here, if you dislike them so much?”
  1268. >She rolled her shoulders in the rough approximation of a shrug.
  1269. >”Dunno. Maybe I like to torture myself…”
  1270. >She gave Maud a wink.
  1271. >”Or the few people who give a shit at my sorority like to show as many of us off as they can.”
  1272. “That sounds unpleasant.”
  1273. >”Maybe. I met you here, didn’t I? I consider that worth it.”
  1274. “Why?”
  1275. >She gave Maud another non-answer with a roll of her shoulders.
  1276. >”So when are you ditching whats her face to come hang out with me again?”
  1277. “I did not ditch Fluttershy.”
  1278. >Maud surprised herself with the venom in her voice.
  1279. >The girl let it wash over her without flinching.
  1280. >”Right. That’s why you were hanging all over me at the party?”
  1281. “What do you want?”
  1282. >She raised her hands in mock surrender.
  1283. >”I was here first, remember? You can always leave. Unless you don’t want to…”
  1284. >That infuriating, smoldering smirk lingered on her lips again.
  1285. >”I’m sure we can find something to do.”
  1286. >Maud snorted.
  1287. “I’m going to find Fluttershy. Good night.”
  1288. >”Wait!”
  1289. >Maud turned towards her.
  1290. >”Why are you so… Hostile?”
  1291. >She leaned in, their cheeks almost touched as she caressed Maud’s cheek.
  1292. >”Aggression isn’t hard to work out, especially when you’re having… Fun.”
  1293. >Maud wanted to turn away, to push this woman off and storm back into the house.
  1294. >She couldn’t.
  1295. >She loved Fluttershy, that Maud realized, but this girl- this woman- was different.
  1296. >She didn’t want to love this woman, she felt nothing but contempt for her, yet…
  1297. >The woman’s lips were pressing tight to Maud’s before she could even think about pulling away.
  1298. >Her lips were hot, her tongue even more so.
  1299. >It was like she was being lead on by a siren, the way that she couldn’t pull away.
  1300. >Maud relaxed and leaned further into the kiss, but before she could deepen it- before she could go any farther- the woman pulled away.
  1301. >She wiped at the corner of her mouth and gave Maud a predatory grin.
  1302. >”So the stalwart knight can be corrupted. Interesting.”
  1303. >Maud couldn’t respond, didn’t want to respond.
  1304. >She wanted to go farther, but she couldn’t.
  1305. >Wouldn’t.
  1306. >Fluttershy-
  1307. >Oh god, what would Fluttershy think?
  1308. >A deep pit of ice formed in her stomach.
  1309. “I have to go.”
  1310. >”Hold it.”
  1311. >Her pale arms wrapped around Maud’s neck from behind as the girl’s whispering, alluring voice spoke softly in her ear.
  1312. >”Would you like my… name?”
  1313. >No.
  1314. “Yes.”
  1315. >She nibbled flirtatiously on Maud’s ear as she spoke.
  1316. “A-”
  1317. >The name was carried away as the sound of approaching party-goers drowned it out.
  1318. >The girl planted a kiss on Maud’s neck, then left the balcony.
  1319.  
  1320.  
  1321.  
  1322.  
  1323. >Translucent, silver moonbeams poked through the curtains and cast the room in a soft glow.
  1324. >Her eyes rested squarely on the gently rising and falling body laying in the bed, just feet away.
  1325. >Unblinking, un-moving, save for the rhythmic rocking of her chair.
  1326. >Fluttershy had fallen asleep almost immediately after coming into the room, but Maud couldn’t join her if she tried.
  1327. >That woman’s lips dominated her mind, keeping her from sleep.
  1328. >Her scents, her taste, that tingling, first-kiss feeling that sent jittery, nervous shivers up and down her spine.
  1329. >Crawling through her cold skin like insects.
  1330. >Maud couldn’t stop thinking about it, over and over and over again.
  1331. >Teasing lilt, fluttering eyes, and a passion that stayed Maud’s temper.
  1332. >She enjoyed it.
  1333. >A lot.
  1334. >Kissing Fluttershy, even for the first time, felt like nothing.
  1335. >A little wet and cold, simply a mechanical process involving their lips.
  1336. >But this girl- this girl that Maud couldn’t even say she knew the name of- drew her attention, and kept it.
  1337. >It left her sick to her stomach, and with the feeling of dozens of butterflies fluttering up and down her throat.
  1338. >An ache, longing and remorse intertwined in an odd feeling, rested in the back of her throat.
  1339. >Maud couldn’t remember feeling like this, not since Fluttershy had truly admitted her love.
  1340. >When she was lost and confused, isolated and thrown into the deep end of emotions she didn’t really understand.
  1341. >That seemed par for the course, Maud couldn’t remember when anything about Fluttershy- or this new girl- seemed familiar, simple, easy.
  1342. “I’m sorry.”
  1343. >She said it out loud, to the quiet, dark room.
  1344. >She knew that she would be hearing it again, soon.
  1345.  
  1346.  
  1347. >”Hello dear, what are you doing out so late?”
  1348. >Maud stopped and turned towards the elegant voice.
  1349. >Rarity was lounging on a plush, purple couch.
  1350. >Her half-moon, red glasses were perched on the edge of her nose just as her intricately woven bun held just at the edge of her scalp.
  1351. >Maud looked up and down the flowing, silken gown that looked one strong breeze from leaving Rarity bare.
  1352. “I could not sleep.”
  1353. >”You too? A pity. Sit with me?”
  1354. >Maud nodded and took a seat on the couch.
  1355. >She sunk in, yet she was still a head above Rarity as the girl shuffled closer towards her.
  1356. >”Were you out for a walk? It certainly is a nice night for one.”
  1357. “Yes.”
  1358. >Rarity giggled.
  1359. >An elegant sound that matched its’ owner well.
  1360. >”Not one for words are you? What’s kept you up?”
  1361. “Fluttershy.”
  1362. >”Oh dear, nothing bad I hope.”
  1363. “No.”
  1364. >”Good.”
  1365. >They fell silent.
  1366. >Maud turned to look at Rarity when she felt the other girl’s piercing blue eyes staring at her.
  1367. >”My apologies for staring, it is just so rare to meet someone like you.”
  1368. “Like me?”
  1369. >Rarity gave her another soft, well-mannered laugh.
  1370. >”I don’t mean any offense. You’re different from the other girls. More… Independent.”
  1371. “...Thank you.”
  1372. >Rarity beamed up at her and shuffled a little closer.
  1373. >Maud eyed Rarity’s ivory leg that was exposed as her gown rode up her fair thighs.
  1374. >It nudged her own, almost teasingly so.
  1375. >”Dear? Are you alright?”
  1376. >Maud looked at her, at those gleaming blue eyes that demanded her attention.
  1377. >She felt flushed as Rarity sidled closer to her.
  1378. “Yes.”
  1379. >Maud hand came up to push her off, but Rarity’s eyes shined with a devilish gleam.
  1380. >Her large hand came down to rest on Rarity’s breast, pulling out a low, breathy whine that seemed artificial, but served its’ purpose well.
  1381. >Maud pulled back, as if burned.
  1382. “I-I’m dating F-Fluttershy.”
  1383. >The way Rarity’s teasing smirk drew a thin line across her lips made Maud realize that she wouldn’t stop for something as silly as that.
  1384. >”Do you really think that I didn’t seduce Fluttershy as well?”
  1385. >Maud’s jaw tightened and her stomach burned in anger.
  1386. >All traces of guilt were gone, in its’ place a lustful zeal that demanded Rarity.
  1387. “D-do you do this with e-every new girl…?”
  1388. >Rarity gave her a low, throaty chuckle as she moved Maud’s hand back to her chest, then the other to her backside.
  1389. >”Hardly.”
  1390. >Rarity’s sweet voice was whispered in her ear as she caught Maud’s lobe between her teeth, nibbling gently on it as she continued.
  1391. >”It only takes one sycophant to keep the others in line. Fluttershy is good at what she does. You will be, too.”
  1392. >Maud wasn’t trying to pull away, rather she began enjoying the warm heat that rose up her chest and burned at her cheeks as Rarity straddled her.
  1393. “D-does Fluttershy s-sleep with the other girls?”
  1394. >”No.”
  1395. >Maud’s head was pulled to the side as Rarity sank her teeth in the warm flesh of her neck.
  1396. “Did you wait for me here? To seduce me?”
  1397. >Rarity chuckled again as she released the tender, reddening flesh.
  1398. >”I’m not a witch, Maud. I knew you’d be out and about. That kiss the other night confirmed that for me.”
  1399. “You saw that?”
  1400. >Those sharp teeth that bit ever-deeper, almost enough to draw blood, were her answer.
  1401. >Maud grit her teeth as Rarity marked her neck up and down.
  1402. >She wanted to give in, let Rarity seduce her- get Fluttershy back for that, most of all.
  1403. >Maud could, she maybe even should, but would she?
  1404.  
  1405. >Maud’s hands gripped Rarity’s slender hips.
  1406. >Thick, work-worn fingers dug into pale flesh as Rarity’s nightgown continued to ride up her hips.
  1407. >”Feisty, aren’t you?”
  1408. >Maud didn’t respond verbally, rather she threw Rarity off her and onto the couch.
  1409. >”What-?”
  1410. >Maud was on her in an instant, wide frame easily dwarfing Rarity’s slenderness.
  1411. >Rarity looked up into Maud’s stern blue eyes.
  1412. >They demanded her attention, and even Maud’s rough hands gliding over her soft skin couldn’t pry her eyes away.
  1413. >The calloused hands moving up and down her frame didn’t catch Rarity’s attention, but the gentle brush of Maud’s rough fingers against her barely-clothed sex did.
  1414. >”Maud? Ooh!”
  1415. >Maud’s hand slid under her silk night gown and prodded clumsily against her sex.
  1416. >”Wait! L-let’s take this t-to the bedr-ooh!-oom!”
  1417. >Maud didn’t seem keen on moving, and Rarity didn’t really want her to move, either- except for those clumsy hands that were just missing her ever-dampening heat.
  1418. >Maud’s fingers refused to move more than a little at a time, until Rarity was flushed and panting, writhing and squirming under her.
  1419. >”Yo-ou! Are a natural!”
  1420. >Maud’s face didn’t move, her eyes were locked on Rarity’s.
  1421. >Rarity panted.
  1422. >”Dear, I think it’s t-time yo-ou got to t-the point already!”
  1423. >Like a switch, Maud’s fingers penetrated her.
  1424. >Her fingers were quick, seemingly as quick as Maud could move her arm, curling and twisting inside Rarity in that toe-curling way.
  1425. >Rarity bit her lip as her mind clouded, yet Maud’s stern, unyielding countenance drew her back.
  1426. >Those piercing blue eyes that made Rarity want to give in, melt under Maud’s clumsy attempt at pleasuring her.
  1427. >A fire- unrelated to the one emanating from her sex- built in Rarity’s belly.
  1428. >Maud was bigger, so much bigger, than Rarity, but that wouldn’t stop her.
  1429. >Like a jungle cat with her muscles taut and ready to spring forward, Rarity did so.
  1430. >Surprising Maud and throwing her backwards and onto the floor with a grunt.
  1431. >Rarity almost tore the gown she was wearing off and slammed her hips onto Maud’s mouth as she pounced forward.
  1432. >Maud rolled to the side, but not before Rarity hooked a leg around the back of her head, driving her head further in between her thighs.
  1433. >Rarity looked down at Maud as she struggled, fierce blue eyes still stern and piercing.
  1434. >”Well?”
  1435. >Maud’s rough, wet tongue almost made Rarity’s hold loosen, but it was for only a moment.
  1436. >She smirked at the twinkle in Maud’s eye.
  1437. >”I’m no amateur, Maud. You’ll have to try harder than that.”
  1438. >It seemed, as Maud plunged further in, that she had taken that as a challenge.
  1439. >And what a challenge it was.
  1440.  
  1441.  
  1442. >”I’ve definitely had worse.”
  1443. >Maud wiped the last of Rarity’s cum off her face with the discarded gown.
  1444. >”Hey! That gown costed quite a bit of money, if you so much as leave a stain-!”
  1445. >Maud carelessly tossed it to Rarity, who was inch-by-inch working her way up into a standing position.
  1446. >Rarity blew a bit of hair out of her eyes and looked up at the hand that Maud offered her.
  1447. >”Thank you dear. I haven’t been with someone quite like you in a while. The sycophants are usually so submissive. It’s quite a bore. Wait-!”
  1448. >Maud hadn’t pulled her to her feet, rather she had slung Rarity across her shoulders.
  1449. >”A fireman’s carry, darling? How uncouth.”
  1450. >Maud didn’t say anything, but Rarity could just tell she was being laughed at.
  1451. >Rarity didn’t protest much over the walk to her room, she was simply content in basking in her afterglow.
  1452. >Maud had opened the door to her room, set her down, and left, leaving Rarity to lay on her plush bed and fall into a half-asleep stupor.
  1453. >Life was good.
  1454.  
  1455.  
  1456. >Maud couldn’t say the same, the second she had reversed the tables on Rarity, she had regretted it.
  1457. >The house had never seemed so empty before, so devoid of life.
  1458. >Maud felt more alone than she had in a great long while, not even the vibrant bouquets of flowers lining the halls improved her mood, nor the well-etched marble statues that beckoned whoever looked upon the gleaming surface.
  1459. >A gleaming, pale-white surface, but a rotten core.
  1460. >It left a bitter taste in her mouth when she passed the carefully carved cherubs and women.
  1461. >Maud rubbed at her temple and tried to stifle the burning, aching tears that prickled at the corner of her eyes.
  1462. >She stopped in the middle of a random hall in the eerily still house.
  1463. >Her shoulders shook with silent tears as she broke down, sinking to her knees and burying her face in her hands.
  1464. >Maud rubbed at her face to try and stop the fat beads of water that trailed down her cheeks, but she couldn’t.
  1465. >She had cheated on Fluttershy again, but it had been no simple kiss.
  1466. >She had- had-
  1467. >Maud’s shoulders trembled violently.
  1468. >What was wrong with her?
  1469. “I’m sorry.”
  1470. >Slow, at first, but it built up quickly.
  1471. >She couldn’t stop, didn’t want to stop.
  1472. >It felt good to say something to break the oppressive silence of the hall.
  1473. >Maud stood up from her kneeling position and began walking back to her room, muttering apologies over and over again.
  1474.  
  1475.  
  1476. >The door creaked as it swung over the carpet, casting a soft glow into the room around Maud’s form.
  1477. >She shuffled in, still rumbling apologies softly to herself.
  1478. >Fluttershy was asleep, and Maud…
  1479. >Maud didn’t want anyone to see her, not right now.
  1480. >The door shut with a click.
  1481. >Maud eyed the bed, so tantalizingly close and just begging to be slept in, but she couldn’t.
  1482. >Fluttershy was in that bed, and Maud didn’t deserve it.
  1483. >She spun on her heel and impacted the door as she stepped forward.
  1484. >Maud didn’t open the door, rather her mumbling grew in pitch and her tears flowed more freely as she banged into the dark wood.
  1485. >Soft enough to not wake Fluttershy, but harsh enough to punish herself.
  1486. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
  1487. >Over and over again.
  1488. >Thump.
  1489. “I’m sorry.”
  1490. >Thump.
  1491. “I’m sorry.”
  1492.  
  1493.  
  1494. >Warm hands came up to wrap around her neck.
  1495. >Gently, and with all the love Fluttershy had always shown her, the hands turned her around.
  1496. >Fluttershy, half asleep and with hair askew, was staring up at her with those bright blue eyes, full of worry and concern.
  1497. >”Maudie, are you okay? What’s wrong?”
  1498. >Maud’s jaw clenched and she squeezed her eyes tight as she shook her head.
  1499. “I-I can’t tell you.”
  1500. >”Why not? Are you- you know, are you in trouble?”
  1501. >Maud shook her head as she wiped feebly at her closed eyes, at the tears that burned at her ducts.
  1502. >”Maudie please. I love you. Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
  1503. “You’ll hate me.”
  1504. >Maud hated the quivering desperation in her voice that begged for just the opposite.
  1505. >”I could never hate you.”
  1506. “Yes. You could.”
  1507. >”Maudie.”
  1508. >Maud shuddered.
  1509. >Fluttershy voice was so confident and sure, and it shook her to hear it.
  1510. >”Tell me.”
  1511. “I- I slept with R-Rarity.”
  1512. >Maud kept her eyes squeezed tight.
  1513. >Fluttershy’s hands fell from her shoulders and face, and she went deathly quiet.
  1514. >Maud wished Fluttershy would just hit her, or kick her out, break up with her, anything but letting her wait.
  1515. >The seconds felt like hours as they ticked by and yet Fluttershy stayed quiet.
  1516. >”I see.”
  1517. >Fluttershy’s flat tone sent a spike straight through Maud’s chest.
  1518. >She finally opened her eyes and looked straight into Fluttershy’s.
  1519. >The hurt, the betrayal, anger, resentment, all of it where directed right at her.
  1520. >”Why?”
  1521. “You did it first-”
  1522. >The slap that followed sounded like a cannon in the oppressive silence.
  1523. >Maud touched the flaming hand print on her cheek as Fluttershy snarled out a reply.
  1524. >”Don’t you dare, Maud Pie. Don’t you dare say that I ever cheated on you, you bastard!”
  1525. “Rarity said-”
  1526. >”Rarity said? Rarity SAID? You mean the woman who was trying to screw you?”
  1527. >Fluttershy’s hurt fueled a bitter anger that made Maud back up into the door.
  1528. >She didn’t let Maud go even an inch without stepping after her, fists clenched and knuckles white at her side.
  1529. >”I have NEVER cheated on you, Maud Pie. I love you, even if you don’t love me.”
  1530. “I do love you!”
  1531. >”Funny way of showing it. I know that when you agreed to come with me you were lying. You’re bad at it, even I can see that! You should’ve said no, I was expecting you to! I wanted to break up because I knew you couldn’t love me!”
  1532. “Fluttershy, I really do love you-”
  1533. >”When? When you wrote in your diary that you hated being around me?”
  1534. >Fluttershy jabbed her in the chest as her lip curled back in a heated snarl and her brow curled angrily.
  1535. >”Or when you fucked Rarity? How about when every party that I wanted you to go with me you’d leave as soon as you fucking could? I’m not blind, Maud. I’m a person who can take a fucking hint!”
  1536. >Tears were streaming down Fluttershy’s face and her voice became hoarse.
  1537. >”I love you, I always have, but you make it so hard- you, you’re like a robot. Only an idiot loves a robot, and I’m the biggest idiot of them all, apparently! You never smile, you never laugh or show me any kind of affection, it’s like I’m in love with a fucking brick wall!”
  1538. >Her finger jabbed Maud in the chest again, hard.
  1539. >”No one should love a fucking robot, but I do! I do love you, and I don’t know why, and it’s hurt me every day for my efforts!”
  1540. >Fluttershy had stopped poking Maud in the chest and began pounding with her fists as she screamed.
  1541. >”I hate that I love you so much, you emotionless bastard!”
  1542. >Fluttershy wiped ineffectually at her eyes as she collapsed against Maud’s chest and burrowed her face into her.
  1543. >”I just want you to love me, Maud. I just want you to love me the way I love you.”
  1544. >Maud’s legs felt like they were made of lead.
  1545. >She lowered them both to the ground and wrapped her arms around Fluttershy as they cried together.
  1546. “I’m sorry.”
  1547. >Maud sniffed.
  1548. “I never realized that you felt that way, I thought…”
  1549. >”That I was just oblivious? That I never realized?”
  1550. “Yes.”
  1551. >”I didn’t want to realize. But no matter how much I wanted to just ignore it, I couldn’t. I knew that you didn’t love me, I just hoped…”
  1552. “I wanted to feel for you the way you felt for me. I could not. Not until recently.”
  1553. >They lay there for several quiet moments, exhausted and dried out, both physically and emotionally.
  1554. “Where does our relationship go from here?”
  1555. >”I don’t forgive you. I’m not sure if I ever can, but I will always love you.”
  1556. >Maud didn’t know what to say to that.
  1557. >She wasn’t certain if she could make the same promise, and she wouldn’t try, either.
  1558. “I love you.”
  1559. >That, Maud was certain of.
  1560. >She loved Fluttershy, maybe not forever, but they didn’t need forever.
  1561. >They just needed now.
  1562. “Fluttershy?”
  1563. >”Hm?”
  1564. >Maud lifted her up, her legs steady.
  1565. “Come with me.”
  1566. >”Maud, I’m exhausted. I’ve got class in the morning, whatever it is-”
  1567. “No. I mean come with me, away from this. Come with me somewhere.”
  1568. >”Where?”
  1569. “I don’t know. I just want to be with you.”
  1570. >Fluttershy looked up at Maud, and saw the determination that sparkle in her eyes.
  1571. >”Okay.”
  1572.  
  1573.  
  1574. >A light drizzle fell on their shoulders as they walked through it, hand in hand, in the dim morning gloom.
  1575. >The streetlights overhead reflected off the raindrops that fell in a fine mist, illuminating their way as they went.
  1576. >They didn’t know where they would end up, they were just thinking of home, and their meadow.
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