AN: Just something I wish would happen. Established Fluttercord. Fluttershy passes away in old age, but it turns out to be just the beginning. Also, Earth Ponies live much longer than the other races in my fic, I made it a part of their magic, so AU, maybe, unless they show that Earth Ponies really DO age slower. Also, I use everyONE instead of everyPONY occasionally, since Ponyville has become home to Griffons, a dragon, a chaos god, changelings, donkeys, and others. This is NOT a mistake. Also, bad grammar, possible errors, no editor, don't read if this bothers you. Hopefully some people will enjoy this, though. Will be at least a second chapter. Again, sorry for the grammar errors. I write for fun, not perfection.
Ascension Of Kindness
Twilight Sparkle felt a tear trickle down her face as she stared into the peaceful, calm, and somehow, kind even in death, face of her good friend, Fluttershy. The pastel pegasus almost didn't look...gone. Her fur was still vibrant and her pink mane almost seemed...brighter. Twilight was familiar with death. Too familiar. She'd lost a lot of her friends to the mortality that would not claim her, as an alicorn, for many thousands of years.
Even Celestia and Luna had finally moved on. They became one with the sun and moon, giving Equestria perfect night and day, since magic was no longer required to move them. They moved themselves, and each morning and night, Twilight felt Celestia and Luna's presence. Gone, but not gone. Still, they were gone for her. Gone in their physical form.
She felt a hoof on her shoulder, giving it a squeeze. The purple alicorn wiped away a few more tears, before forcing a smile and embracing her sister-in-law. Cadance was still a young, vibrant alicorn. The Princess of Love was sad, but still she smiled. She too had dealt with death. The death of her husband, and watching her daughter age, seemingly overnight. Flurry Heart had been born an alicorn, but as had been suggested by Sunburst, did not remain so. Her wings withered and fell off before she was even a year old.
Part of Cadance had been relieved. Her daughter wouldn't have to experience the pain of immortality. Of losing those she loved the most. Flurry had ended up marrying a young crystal pony royal guard, much like her mother. Cadance remembered her daughter's wedding, how proud she and Shining had been as her sparkling crystalline gown trailed down the aisle. She almost smiled, holding back a giggle at remembering how Shining had sobbed. Not even Cadance or Twilight had shed a tear, although Cadance had wanted to. She'd had to be strong and comfort Shining.
At the time, Shining more resembled her father than her husband, but it didn't matter. Cadance had loved him until the day he'd passed away, a shriveled old stallion, so old he barely recognized his wife. Cadance had cast one last spell on him, before he finally moved on. A spell that let him see their full life together. Love, marriage, a child...all of their love and the dedication she'd sworn to in their vows.
The Love Princess shook her head. This was a funeral for another friend. Fluttershy. Over the years, she and the pastel pegasus had become good friends. Mostly because Cadance had accepted her marriage to the Spirit of Chaos without question. She could see and feel love, and Discord and Fluttershy's love was nothing short of astonishing. Nothing short of death could break apart that love.
Cadance bit her lip. Here was that death, made real. What would Discord do now? He had been silent ever since his wife's passing. No violent outburst, as they'd all expected. No attempt to find a way to return her to life. Just silence. Depression, Cadance guessed. The pink alicorn wondered whether Discord was contemplating suicide, if such a thing were even possible for a god of chaos.
Cadance put a hoof on the lid of the casket, wanting to close it, but still hoping (or fearing) Discord would show up to see his wife one last time. Twilight gently touched Cadance and shook her head.
"Wait, sister. He...he might be late. Or he might still be grieving. He loved her. He'll come, I'm sure of it." Twilight said. She had never been Discord's best friend, but she had been a friend, and she trusted him, as odd as that sounded. He wouldn't miss the chance to see his wife one last time.
Cadance nodded. The alicorns stepped back. The funeral, held in a soft field of bright green grass, surrounded by nature, was abandoned except for the princesses. The others had left ages ago. Well, except the animals. They seemed to be waiting. Waiting for their beloved Fluttershy to wake up and perhaps tell them it was all a joke, or that she had been merely asleep. Animals likely didn't understand death.
Twilight felt a tiny paw touch her foreleg. She glanced down. A small brown rabbit was gazing up at her, confusion in it's eyes. Twilight touched her horn to the rabbit's head. The rabbit was female and was Angel bunny's grandchild. She sent a wave of magic warmth to soothe the small creature. Still, the rabbit looked worried and upset. She hopped near the casket and scratched the stand it was resting on, seemingly begging Fluttershy to wake up.
Tears trailed down Twilight's face as she watched the little animal's confusion. Fluttershy's animal companions were truly lost without her. She couldn't speak animal, but even Tank the tortoise seemed very upset, despite the fact that he had been Rainbow's pet. Tank had a very long life and would outlive all of the ponies except the alicorns. The poor tortoise had almost grieved himself to death after Rainbow had died during an aerial routine.
It had taken all of Fluttershy's soothing, calming methods and talks to get Tank to understand that he would see Rainbow again someday, just not for quite some time, and that Rainbow would want him to live his life happily. Tank had found a female tortoise and together they'd had eggs. Like most reptiles, the babies would have been left to fend for themselves had Fluttershy not taken them in. She'd loved and cared for Tank and his mate, and his many children. She was as much his mother as Rainbow had been. Who would care for Tank and his family now? Twilight ran a hoof across Tank's shell.
Perhaps...no, she had her castle full enough as it was. A lot of visiting delegates, servants, several noble families she'd allowed to move in, and of course a lost and confused Scootaloo. She was an adult pegasus now, but she still had nowhere to live, as she was an orphan and worked part time as a mailpony, since she was unable to fly. Scootaloo had long ago come to terms with not ever being able to fly, but she had not the strength or magic of an Earth pony to do their jobs, and a pegasus who couldn't fly couldn't work the weather team, like most did. Twilight had invited her to stay at the castle, at first as an ill-thought replacement for Rainbow, but eventually as a very dear friend in her own right.
The Crusaders still helped ponies with their Cutie Marks, of course, but oddly enough, Scootaloo's best friend wasn't Sweetie Belle or Applebloom. It was Silver Spoon, of all ponies. Silver had even asked Scootaloo to move in with her, but as Scoots was a proud pony, she refused to take charity from her best friend. It was different with Twilight. Twilight was a princess, and Scootaloo could simply say she'd been ordered to stay in the castle. Her pride was saved, and she had a place to stay.
Silver Spoon ran the biggest catering business in Ponyville, while Diamond Tiara had become the Mayor. Her destiny HAD been to rule, in some form, after all. Together, they had made Ponyville almost as popular and large as Canterlot. It still had the small-town, everyone-knows-everyone feel, but it was huge and prosperous, with Sweet Apple Acres being the main selling point. Ponies came from all over Equestria just to tour the massive farm and to see where Ponyville had been founded.
Applejack still ran Sweet Apple Acres, but she was now as old as Granny Smith. It was part of Earth Pony magic, the longer life than most ponies. Not as long as alicorns, of course, but much longer than any other pony species. Even Big Mac was still around, having married Cheerilee and fathered three lovely daughters, two Earth Ponies and one unicorn, oddly enough. Big Mac's Earth Pony daughters looked as young and lively as ever, but his unicorn daughter was showing her age, much like Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle.
She knew how much it pained Big Mac and Cheerilee, to see their gifted unicorn child age faster than her younger siblings. She knew all too well...she'd watched all of her friends seemingly age in the blink of an eye. She'd discussed the matter with the Earth Pony couple, but they were still upset, wishing Apple Star (named to honor the Apple family and her unicorn heritage with a celestial name) had been born an Earth Pony instead.
Twilght sighed. Sometimes she wished everypony were immortal. Or at least had the extremely long lifespan of Earth Ponies. Earth Ponies...Pinkie Pie...Twilight almost laughed. There was something really off about that random pony. She was older than Applejack, but somehow looked about twenty years younger. Even Pinkie had cried for Fluttershy. Fluttershy had begged her friends not to mourn for her, but they had. Pinkie had Pinkie Promised that she wouldn't cry for Fluttershy. Pinkie had broken her own Pinkie Promise. If she weren't so devastated, Twilight would laugh at the irony.
Fluttershy had gotten very ill one day, and since she was old, she knew she wouldn't pull through. Discord knew it, too, and he'd begged her to let him do something. He could have cured her with a finger snap. She had told him no, that it was her time to pass on. Some things could not be avoided, and not even the chaos god could make somepony immortal. He would merely be delaying the inevitable, she'd said. Pro-longing his, and her, pain. Her joints had ached, her wings barely worked, and Twilight was sure she'd had arthritis.
Discord hadn't been there when she'd passed, but Twilight, Pinkie, and Applejack had been. She'd died with a smile on her beautiful face, surrounded by friends, both pony and animal. Her husband had been the only one missing. Perhaps Discord couldn't bear seeing her death. Perhaps he was afraid it would make him turn to his old ways, to go mad completely. Twilight wasn't sure. The draconequus wasn't there, and that was all she knew. Fluttershy hadn't even noticed his absence. Her vision wasn't very good in her final days. Or perhaps she had noticed, and perhaps she was glad he was not there for the same reasons Twilight had thought.
Twilight suddenly heaved a sob and lurched forward, kissing Fluttershy's soft mane. Cadance did the same, and closed the coffin. Fluttershy hadn't wanted a cloud burial, where she was cremated and her ashes scattered in the sky. She'd wanted to go into the earth she had loved so much, with all of the animals she'd lost over the years. And so she had. Cadance lit her horn and lowered the pristine silver coffin into the deep hole, tears staining her fur. Twilight couldn't bring herself to put her friend in the ground. Cadance did it out of love, however, for her friend and sister.
Cadance and Twilight wrapped their arms around each other and cried.
"Ya'll okay?" Applejack came walking slowly out of the trees. "Ah heard somethin' that sounded like a scream and ah had to make sure...ah know it's hard, sugarcubes, but...she went peacefully. She didn't want us to fret so much over it. Come on, ya'll. Let's head on out."
Applejack waited for Twilight and Cadance. Cadance lit her horn and spread the dirt over the hole, closing it. There was no tombstone. Fluttershy had wanted it as natural as possible. A small apple tree (courtesy of Applejack) marked her resting place.
The alicorns joined Applejack, not daring to glance back for fear of the same despair creeping up on them again. Applejack put a hoof on Twilight's shoulder and pulled her into a hug. The old Earth pony nuzzled Twilight and murmured words of comfort. Slowly, the three made their way back into Ponyville, and out of the forest.
"C'mon. Let's head to Sugarcube Corner. Ah'm sure Pinkie'll be waiting with some kind of weird party or somethin'." Applejack forced a laugh and disappeared into the trees, heading to the bakery where Pinkie Pie and her assistants, the Cake twins, waited for them.
Twilight and Cadance sighed and spread their wings, flying to Sugarcube Corner. Somehow, Applejack had already beat them there. Earth ponies. They truly were a mystery. Nuzzling each other, Cadance and Twilight entered the bakery, leaving their sadness and misery at the door, for Pinkie's sake.
In a large field, filled with sparkling green grass, gleaming stars and a huge moon overlooking it, stood a butter colored, pastel-maned pegasus. Fluttershy looked around in awe at the beauty before her. Was this the afterlife? It was truly as beautiful as she had imagined it, but the stars gleaming overhead was odd. She'd expected bright light, the sun and moon side by side, not this odd...whatever. Still, it was beautiful.
Fluttershy walked slowly over to a nearby lake, filled with waters of deepest sapphire. Her reflection looked back. She looked as she had many years ago. Long, pastel pink mane, sweet-butter colored coat, and bright eyes. She spread her wings. To her surprise, each feather was tipped with the same pastel pink that was the same color of her mane, giving her wings a gleaming, almost butterfly-like appearance.
The pegasus lay down at the lake's edge. She felt sad leaving her friends, her husband, but it was her time. Nothing could change that. It was a kindness, making sure she'd passed on when her beloved hadn't been there. She didn't want to die with Discord watching her. His heart would break. Her draconequus lover would fall into despair, despite his Pinkie Promise that he wouldn't. She knew him better than anyone did.
She spread her wings out further, tips touching the soft grass, and sighed peacefully. Who would meet her to take her truly on? Her parents? Perhaps Zephyr, who had passed away due to illness a few years before she had? Closing her eyes, Fluttershy waited for her loved ones.
It seemed to be only a few minutes after she had laid down that she heard a soft rustle of grass and felt cool wind move behind her. They were here. This was it. She stood, glanced into the lake one last time, at the stars shining overhead, the huge moon, and turned.
"It's been so long, I'm so-" Fluttershy blinked, shocked. It wasn't her parents standing before, but Princess Luna, who had also moved on. Odd, but...perhaps not unexpected. Perhaps this was the job of the old alicorn princesses now, to help other ponies move on.
"Sweet Fluttershy, Guardian of Kindness, Reformer of Chaos...we meet again." Princess Luna walked up to Fluttershy and put a wing around her in a form of pegasus hug.
"Princess..." Fluttershy bowed, "Are you here to take me on? I can't wait to see my parents and Zephyr...I thought they would be the ones to take me on, but I guess you and Celestia need something else to do besides just sit in the sun and moon all the time, so it sort of makes sense..."
She trailed off, realizing she was babbling. Something she rarely did, even though her confidence had increased by a, well, Applejack would say 'country mile', whatever that was, since she'd married Discord.
Luna smiled. "I'm afraid not. Fear not, you will see them again, but not for a long time. It isn't time for Kindness to leave Equestria so soon. I told my sister this should have happened as soon as you married Discord, but she disagreed. Celestia is scary when she is dead set on something." The former Moon Princess giggled.
"I don't understand. I'm dead...I saw them put me in the ground. I heard their goodbyes." Tears welled in her eyes, "I felt their pain. His pain. Discord." Tears streaked down her fur, despite the peace she felt in this place. The pain she had caused Discord was something not even eternal peace could erase.
"You died, but it isn't the end. Kindness is eternal, just like Friendship. Just like Love," Luna looked at the huge moon above them, and into the distance where a single star gleamed brighter than the others, "Just like the Sun and Moon. Equestria cannot exist without Kindness."
Luna touched her horn to Fluttershy's head. Images assaulted her mind. Her marriage to Discord, meeting Twilight Sparkle, befriending everyone, caring for her animals, protecting Equestria with her Element, everything. Her life. This was part of it, she'd heard. When you pass, your life flashes before your eyes.
Tears formed as the image of every animal she'd buried flashed before her eyes, their lives as brief as a candle flame in the wind compared to a pony, but still she had endured. Mourned each one, but carried on in the name of kindness and love. The death of Rainbow Dash and Rarity...the pain worse than even when she'd lost Angel, her best friend for so very long.
Spike reaching maturity and flying away, to the Dragonlands, shortly after Rarity's death. His love for her never fading, but having become only a friend's love. It still hurt, to see sweet Spike leave, even though he was leaving to be with his own kind and a love of his own, Princess-Dragon-Lord-Lady Ember, as it turned out. Spike would be a good co-leader for her, with all his experience with the other races.
She let the memories take her. Happiness filled her when the memory of her first kiss with Discord came to her. She missed him so much. The memories slowed to a halt, finally faded, but remained within her, as vivid as if she'd experienced them just that moment.
She opened her eyes, a smile still on her face as she felt the love, kindness, and friendship within her memories. Luna was smiling as well, her dark blue eyes glittering with what Fluttershy almost thought were tears. The Princess put a hoof on Fluttershy's shoulder.
"Equestria needs you, Fluttershy. You must go back. It is your destiny. You will not be alone, of course. You will always have Discord, along with Twilight and Cadance. Perhaps even Pinkie Pie, if my sister and I are right about her." Luna's lips twitched as she tried not to laugh.
"Princess...I still don't understand. Go back? I'm dead, Princess. I told you...my body lies within the ground." Fluttershy was still confused.
"You will see," Luna nuzzled Fluttershy and pulled her into a hug, "Give them all our regards. My sister and I, that is. I do not speak with the Royal 'We' anymore. Tell Twilight how much Celestia still loves her. How proud I am of Cadance and her family. We think of them as our children. Tell Discord that we...well, what Celestia said was a bit nasty, so just tell him we say hello."
With that, Luna's horn flared. Fluttershy felt something warm expand within her, filling her, covering her body. She closed her eyes as the warmth spread. It felt like she was moving through a long tunnel, suddenly coming to a stop within a grassy field she recognized as the place she'd been laid to rest. She looked behind her at the small apple tree that had been planted for her. She placed a hoof on it.
"This is the first time we meet, I guess. Hello, little apple tree. Thank you for marking a place for me." She smiled at the small tree, a little sadly, as she noticed some of the leaves were dark and dry, "I wish I could help you. If I really am alive again, I'll tell Applejack to come water you."
She felt a strange warmth in her forehead, and suddenly a soft pink light engulfed the small apple tree. The dark leaves turned bright green, the dried buds burst open, revealing gleaming flowers, and flowers that suddenly produced gleaming red apples. Fluttershy gasped and stepped back, tripping over a wreath someone had left to honor her, almost falling plot first into the small pond nearby. A frog croaked indignantly. She turned to apologize, but a shocking sight greeted her when she gazed into the pond.
She stared in shock. She was looking at herself...but not herself. This wasn't the Fluttershy she remembered. Her wings were much larger and each feather was tipped with the same almost crystalline pink she'd seen in the strange moonlight world with Princess Luna. Her mane was a bright, pastel pink, but seemed to almost move on it's own, like Luna's. Streaks of silver gleamed within her mane as she turned, examining it.
The startled pegasus couldn't believe what she was seeing. She rubbed her eyes as she noticed another, very different, feature that she hadn't had in life or the afterlife. A long, butter-gold horn had appeared on her head, just like a unicorn. Had...had that been what she'd done to revive the tree? Magic? She didn't understand. Wings and a horn...how in all of Equestria had SHE become an alicorn? She hadn't created new magic, nor spread love across Equestria. Was this...because of her kindness, like Luna had said? Was this what the Princess had meant by Equestria still needing her?
She touched the reflection in the pond. Ripples spread, but her reflection didn't change. She still looked like an alicorn. She turned to the frog she'd tripped over.
"Froggy, do I have a horn? Is my mane all floaty? Or am I just having an odd dream. A REALLY odd dream?" She bit her lip anxiously.
The frog, a large leopard frog from the looks of her, leaped from the edge of the pond and landed on her horn, tapping it a few times.
"Oh no!" Gasped the new alicorn, "I don't know anything about magic! What will I do? I'm not Princess material! Maybe I should find Twilight and Cadance. Or Discord first...I don't know what he's up to, without me to watch him. Thank you, froggy." Fluttershy unconsciously lit her horn and lifted the frog off, placing her on the ground.
The frog shook her head and leaped on her back, between her large, pink-tinged wings. Fluttershy understood. The frog had taken a liking to her and didn't want to leave her new friend. She almost laughed.
"Alright, little frog. You can come with me. Do you have a name?" She asked the large frog.
The frog gave a ribbit, signaling that she did not have a name.
"Alright, uhm...how about Lily?" She asked hopefully.
The frog gave a happy croak, agreeing to the name.
"Alright, Lily. Let's see...where would Twilight and Cadance be? Oh! Sugarcube Corner. Pinkie and Applejack would definitely go there to try and cheer each other up." She took to the air, Lily's padded feet gripping the fur between her wings tightly.
Fluttershy noticed that the larger wings, while not allowing faster flight, did allow for less wingbeats and allowed her to catch more air. She sighed happily. Flight, while never her strength, was always enjoyable. Freedom and peace, that was what flight was for her. Not a race or a show of superiority, like it had been for Rainbow Dash.
The large wings made it easier to glide through the air without constantly flapping her wings. Her silvery-pink mane flowed and glittered in the breeze generated from her flight. A smile spread across her face. This was wonderful. Gliding effortlessly through the air, an animal friend on her back, the wind in her mane. Still, she was worried. How could she, little Fluttershy, be a Princess? It didn't feel right to her. She was just a pegasus. A shy, timid little pegasus. And paragon of Kindness, so said Princess Luna.
Twilight and Cadance would know. If anything, they would know where Discord was. She missed her beloved with all her heart. She almost ached from separation.
"Please be okay, Discord. Don't do anything stupid, like teleport yourself to a parallel universe or try to kill yourself. If you can, I mean. I don't know much about spirits or gods. Or whatever you are." She still hadn't figured out whether Discord was merely a spirit that represented chaos or an actual god of chaos.
The alicorns weren't gods, at least Twilight and Cadance...well, and she herself, were not. Celestia and Luna probably were, now that they had merged with the eternal heavenly bodies. She sighed. Answers. She would find answers. Sugarcube Corner appeared below her suddenly. Apparently the larger wings allowed for faster gliding, even without much flapping. She'd noticed that her wings were larger than Twilight's and even Cadance's. What in the name of Tartarus was that about?
The butter colored alicorn shook her head. It didn't matter. All that mattered now was getting an answer. Seeing her friends. Telling them what had happened with Princess Luna and the strange world of stars and moonlight.
She lowered herself to the ground, noticing as she did that several ponies gasped in shock and bowed, some muttering 'Princess!' and staring at her in awe.
"I didn't know we had a third alicorn princess now! She's beautiful! Look at those wings!"
"That mane! It's like cotton candy and silver gems!"
She tilted her head down, the old shyness creeping up on her, and bit her lip. She tucked her tail and entered Sugarcube Corner. The awed ponies did not follow, apparently respecting even an unknown princess. Or rather, alicorn. She didn't think she was princess material.
Sugarcube Corner was nearly empty inside. Twilight, Cadance, and Applejack sat at the table furthest from the door, while Pinkie was packing cupcakes behind the counter. Her cheery demeanor was forced. Fluttershy could almost feel the sadness from her. Pinkie Pie, embodiment of laughter and fun, nothing but a depressed mess. Her puffed curls had gone poker straight, much like her sister Maud's, and even her bright pink fur seemed dulled.
Fluttershy bit her lip and approached the counter. "U-uhm. Hello. I-I..."
Pinkie Pie looked at her dully and plunked a box of sweets on the counter.
"Take what you like. Everything is free today." She sighed and went back to packing boxes with sweets.
Fluttershy looked at the box of sweets. They were messy and made poorly. Pinkie definitely wasn't herself, neither were Pumpkin and Pound Cake, her assistants.
"P-Pinkie? It's me." She put her hooves on the counter and stared at Pinkie, her bright eyes meeting the Earth pony's.
Pinkie Pie screamed, "ZOMBIE! VAMPONY! HEEELP!"
And instantly passed out.
Twilight, Applejack, and Cadance were there almost instantly. "Pinkie Pie! What happ-" Cadance broke off, staring in shock at the sight before her.
"F-Fluttershy? You're...you're gone. You...how?"
"Well, whaddya know?" Applejack smiled, but shock was written all over her features.
"Fluttershy! You're an alicorn!" Twilight, still not understanding, but too happy to see her friend again, squeezed her into a tight hug, the purple alicorn's tears staining Fluttershy's shoulder as Twilight buried her face in her fur. "How did this happen?"
Fluttershy managed to pull herself gently out of Twilight's grasp, and used what little magic she knew to levitate Lily to the ground. The frog gave a happy ribbit and leaped on the counter, where she started nibbling one of the cupcakes.
"I don't know...Princess Luna...she said-"
"Princess Luna?" Twilight gasped, "You saw Princess Luna when you were...dead? Was...was Celestia there?"
Fluttershy noted the pleading and sorrow in Twilight's voice, "No...just Princess Luna. She did say to-to tell you that Celestia loves you still. You and Cadance. You were like her children. She said that Equestria still needed kindness. That I was still needed. That's all she said."
Fluttershy sat on a nearby chair, "I still don't understand why anyone would consider me worthy of becoming an alicorn. I never did anything special."
Cadance smiled and put a hoof on her shoulder, "Nothing special? If I were in charge of making people alicorns, I would have made you an alicorn before even myself and Twilight. You reformed a god of chaos. You fell in love with chaos. If it weren't for you, Equestria would have fallen. You are more worthy than either of us, Princess."
Cadance bowed, followed by Twilight and Applejack. Pinkie was still passed out. Fluttershy sank to the ground, trying to cover her face with her hair, but the waving-on-it's-own thing wasn't helping.
"I-I don't...I'm really not a princess. Luna just said I needed to come back. I think making me an alicorn was the only way. I don't deserve to be a princess, I really, really don't. Please don't bow," The butter-gold pegasus looked at the floor, tears pooling in her eyes, "I should be in the ground, nurturing that tree. Which you didn't take very good care of, Applejack...I had to help it, or it would have died."
AJ looked a bit confused, "Oh, well, I can't really see too good these days. Need me some spectacles, I think." The earth pony squinted at Fluttershy.
"Oooh, I just had the weirdest dream! In it, Fluttershy was a ZOMBIE ALICORN! It was so realistic and-" Pinkie had come to, and immediately screamed again, seeing that her 'dream' wasn't.
Cadance caught Pinkie with her magic, freezing the bouncy pink mare in the air, "It isn't a dream, Pinkie. It's real. Fluttershy is a princess."
Somehow, Pinkie broke free of Cadance's magic and reappeared across the room with her party cannon.
"Fluttershy's an alicorn party, yay!" She shrieked, coating the room with confetti and frosting, a very annoying new addition to her cannon, "I'm going to invite my whoooole family! Well, except dad. He moved on, but mom and my sisters will totally want to come! Maud loves parties almost as much as I do!"
The alicorns looked at each other, biting their lips. It was impossible to believe Maud liked anything other than rocks. It was also impossible to believe that Pinkie's entire family had barely aged any more than Twilight and Cadance. Somehow, Twilight was going to find out exactly why the Pie mares didn't age. Earth ponies still aged, but Pinkie didn't.
Cloudy, Maud, Limestone, and Marble didn't either. Cloudy looked as much like she had at Maud's last birthday party. Perhaps there was something to Pinkie having plans for her family's five-hundredth birthdays. She sighed. Pinkie was something else, that was for sure. Pinkie wasn't the issue here, however.
Fluttershy sank to the ground and tried to cover her face. "I'm sorry. I don't know what happened, really." Tears swam in her eyes, "I don't think I should have came back, not before Rainbow and Rarity, at least. They were better, more worthy...I didn't do anything special. Loving Discord...love isn't...well, Cadance is the Princess of Love, so my love wasn't anything worth this change. Kindness...I just...everypony should be kind, I am not the only kind pony in Equestria."
Cadance sighed, "Stop, dear Fluttershy, please. As I said, you are more worthy than any of us. We need to somehow alert Discord. Who knows what he's doing right now? Could be causing chaos in some far away part of Equestria or..." She trailed off, and bit her lip.
"It's alright, Princess...I know Discord might try to destroy himself. He told me...when I was ill. I knew I couldn't live forever, so I made him Pinkie Promise he wouldn't, but sometimes you can't keep a Pinkie Promise, no matter how hard you try. Even Pinkie broke her own Pinkie Promise." Fluttershy nodded at Pinkie, who was grinning madly, "She cried when she Pinkie Promised me she wouldn't."
"I couldn't help it! I was soooo sad! But now I'm not, so it's okay. If Discord breaks his Pinkie Promise, I'll BREAK HIM!" Pinkie shrieked, setting off her party cannon again, this time shooting hard candies across the room, causing a few ponies to swear and leave the store.
Everyone stared at Pinkie. She looked totally serious, despite the fact that Discord was a god and couldn't be 'broken' by a pony. Fluttershy momentarily wondered if Pinkie and her sisters were somehow related to the chaos god. Discord had always sworn he'd never had any relatives, that he was the only draconequus in all Equestria, but he was the embodiment of chaos, and chaos lied, even to his wife. She ended up just shaking her head in confusion. Pinkie was just being Pinkie.
Fluttershy put her hooves to her chest and closed her eyes. She didn't know much magic, but this was something else. A bond created when she and Discord had wed. She reached with her heart, at least that was what she always called using the bond, and felt for Discord.
There. In the Canterlot sculpture garden, sitting in the place his statue once occupied. She felt the deep, overwhelming sadness that filled him, the desire to go back to being stone, but this time, unable to feel anything at all. Unable to hear or see. His way of keeping his promise to not kill himself or take over Equestria in rage. Somehow finding a way to go back to stone.
She touched his heart, or soul, whatever sort of magic they shared. The chaos spirit looked shocked, his ears flickered slightly and he frowned, shaking his head. She felt his doubt, his anger that someone would find a way to use his shared bond with his dead wife to try and summon him. He reached back through the bond furiously.
Fluttershy gasped and disappeared in a flash of pale pink light. She was standing in the garden in front of Discord, who was gazing down at her in anger. He grabbed her by the neck with a claw, slamming her against a nearby statue.
"Changeling filth! Using my love to try and feed. How dare you!? You'll be lucky to get away from here with more than two body parts!" His crimson eyes flared deep scarlet, gleaming with the same wicked chaotic evil she'd seen years ago, in the maze where he'd first met them all.
She choked, "I'm not-ugh-please!"
Discord's grip tightened, "Chrysalis' precious hive will be turned upside down. She'll wish she'd never messed with me. I'll make her my personal toy. Pathetic excuse for royalty!"
"D-Discord!" Fluttershy concentrated, vanishing in a spark of pale pink light and reappearing next to the chaos lord, "I'm not a changeling. It's really me. I-Princess Luna, that is-I saw her when I died. She sent me back...as, as this."
She tilted her head, so her silvery pink mane shifted and revealed the gleaming gold-yellow horn beneath. She spread her pink-tipped wings, which almost sparkled and glittered in the sunlight of the Canterlot gardens.
Discord's eyes narrowed into slits as he glared at her, still unbelieving. Two pops later and Twilight and Cadance were standing on either side of her. Perhaps they'd sensed her distress. Maybe it was an alicorn bond or something. To no one's surprise at all, Pinkie Pie leaped out of thin air and tackled Discord.
"It's really her, Dizzy! I thought she was a zombie, too! But she's really real! And we're going to throw a party! You're coming!" Pinkie glared at the chaos god, as if threatening him.
"Pinkie Pie!" Twilight grabbed the pony and pulled her off Discord, "I'm so sorry, Discord...I guess she jumped one of our teleports or something. It really IS Fluttershy, Discord. We checked. We used all the scanning magic we could."
Fluttershy was shocked. She hadn't felt anything. No magic used on her, even though she always felt it when Discord used magic, and even when Twilight did before...well, this. Maybe she was just immune to their spells now. Felt nothing at all.
Fluttershy covered her face with her large wings, burying her head into the feathers, wincing as the new sharp horn stabbed one of her delicate wings. That would take some getting used to, certainly.
"Fluttershy...?" A soft voice asked, "Is it...true? Are you real?"
She felt a soft grip on her wings, slowly pulling them away. She gazed into Discord's eyes, her own brimming with tears and wide with fear. How could her love not recognize her? Even as an alicorn, the others had. Even extremely normal Applejack.
"It's me," she said in a small voice, "I came back. Princess Luna sent me back. To you. And she said...she and Celestia...they said to tell you...hi." She didn't mention that Celestia had probably said something rude.
Discord shook his head, as if trying to clear it. "I don't know what to say. I always thought you deserved this more than those idiots," He pointed to Twilight and Cadance, who glared at him, "but I never dared hope. You were never a student of either Princess, you never had magic, and you never did anything special with love..."
Fluttershy flew into the air and wrapped herself around him, touching her new horn to one of his, "I never did anything special with love? Our love wasn't special? It was to me." She kissed him, enjoying the feeling of being healthy, youthful, and with her husband again.
"You are real," Discord said after they broke apart, "Only the real Fluttershy could kiss me like that. So soft and gentle, yet sensual, amazing..." The draconequus broke off, after realizing once again that they had an audience of Twilight, Cadance, and Pinkie Pie.
The spirit of chaos squeezed Fluttershy tightly, nuzzling her, and snapped his fingers, teleporting them both.
Fluttershy opened her mouth wide in shock. It was the most beautiful place she'd ever seen. A large, lush garden, overflowing with fruit trees and flowers, animals she'd never seen or heard of, and a crystalline lake in the distance, a waterfall rippling down into the sparkling water.
"D-Discord...what is this?" She looked up at him.
"A place for us. I found it, after you...died. I was trying to find some other dimension I could wreck chaotic havoc on so I would keep my promise about leaving Equestria alone. This is a place called 'Earth'...just...'Earth'. The inhabitants are called 'humans', but we needn't worry about them here. This is before they came into existence."
"It's amazing." She touched a nearby apple tree, the fruit almost sparkling in the brilliant light, "Applejack would kill to come here."
"Only you, Fluttershy. And me. It's only for us. Our garden. Forever, Princess." He kissed her again, the sparkling green garden blurred around her as she relaxed into his arms, allowing him to lower her to the soft grass.
Some time later, after their...catching up, so to speak, Fluttershy shook Discord awake with a hoof.
"Love? We...we need to get back. The others...they'll think you did something to me." She bit her lip, worrying about her friends.
Discord lazily opened one eye, "My dear, I DID do something to you, in case you forgot last night..." A sly smile crossed his face, but he still snapped himself awake, literally. A finger snap later and he was already fresh as a daisy, as if he'd not rolled around in grass for hours.
Fluttershy smiled slightly and blushed, "I...yes, but...we should still get back. We'll have time for this and so much more later," she embraced him and nuzzled him with her new horn, "We'll have time for anything. Everything."
The draconequus ran a claw through her silvery pink mane and let out a large sigh. "Sweet Chaos, you're even more beautiful than before, and I didn't think that was possible. And that new alicorn stamina...well...wow." He smirked and lifted her into his arms.
A flash of light and they were in Twilight's castle. Fluttershy still felt her heart ache when she looked at the empty thrones of Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Spike. Twilight, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie were sitting on cushions on the floor, around a pile of books, apparently trying to find out what happened.
Predictably, Pinkie's book was a foal's coloring book. Somehow, she was coloring even worse than a two year old foal. Applejack was wearing what looked like a pair of new spectacles perched on her ancient muzzle as she read the books. Twilight was doing what she usually did. Speed reading through a dozen books at a time. Fluttershy almost laughed at how familiar it seemed.
She nudged Discord gently and gestured at Pinkie, "Are you sure you were totally honest with me when you said you had no other family?" She whispered.
Discord shrugged, "I had a sister once. No idea what happened to her. She wasn't really the chaos spreading type. She was actually really boring, which is why I never mentioned her. She was so boring she made Applejack look chaotic. Pinkie Pie is definitely NOT my sister. I would know her in a heartbeat." He crossed his arms and nodded.
Fluttershy glared at him. So he DID have family, just no family he actually cared enough about to mention. Boring or not, family was family, and she would have liked to meet her sister in law. Boring was safe, so she wouldn't even have to be afraid. Of course, being afraid of someone like Discord was now foreign to her, so even if his sister had been just as chaotic, it wouldn't have mattered. She sighed and decided if it didn't matter to him, it didn't matter to her. At least not now. They would apparently have more than enough time to talk about that issue later.
"Uhm...girls? I'm here. What...what are you doing?" She walked slowly toward her friends, still nervous about her transformation, part of her still thinking it was a dream that would vanish in a heartbeat.
Twilight blinked several times and let the books she was levitating fall to the ground. She flew through the air and hugged Fluttershy.
"I'm so glad you're okay! I wasn't sure what Discord was doing to you! I mean, what if he thought you were still a changeling and was hurting you?" Twilight's eyes sparkled with tears, "I was looking for the spell to summon Discord. I lost it a long time ago...I don't know how...I don't lose things!"
"Oh come on! Not even Pretty Purple Princess Twilight is perfect!" Discord sneered, "And I would never hurt Fluttershy. Ever. I would hurt you for even thinking such a thing, however. Oh, and about that spell? I ate it."
"You WHAT!?" Twilight growled, and lunged for Discord, "How dare you eat my books! Again!"
Discord sighed and vanished, appearing on the other side of the room. "I don't like it when you summon me randomly. What if I were in the middle of something important? As for the first time, I wasn't going to sit idly by while you cast a brain-washing spell on me!"
"Whatever! You do not eat my books! I love my books! My books are my babies!" Twilight shrieked, then blushed furiously as everyone gave her an odd look, "Er, that is, I've had them for so long! Some of them even longer than I've had Spike! They were from my parents, uhm...heheh."
"Please...no arguing. I'm still confused. I don't know what to do, really. I don't want to be a princess. I'm not a ruler. Not really, unless animals are involved. Or chaos spirits," she laughed softly and nuzzled Discord.
Pinkie Pie suddenly interrupted them, appearing in between the arguing chaos spirit and purple alicorn.
"Hey! I invited Maud and my mommy to see Fluttershy! We should go back to Sugar Cube Corner. They'll be their any minute. My basement slide goes all the way from the rock farm to Ponyville!"
She jumped up and down excitedly, "Oh, and Marble and Limestone couldn't come because they were busy. Well, Limestone was busy with the rock harvest...Marble was scared. She thinks meeting a princess is scary, even though she's met you and Cadance before. And daddy couldn't come because he's dead. Sorry, Fluttershy. I tried to get my whole family to come, but I couldn't."
Fluttershy blinked at Pinkie Pie in utter confusion. That strange pony...she shook her head and smiled. "Thank you, Pinkie Pie. I look forward to seeing your family. I only ever met Maud when I was alive...I mean, when I was just a pegasus. It would be an honor. And Marble...she sounds a lot like I used to be. Scared of everything. Shy."
"Oh, she totally is! I had to talk FOR her when we were fillies! It's a good thing we're twins, we can totallllly read each other's minds. I always know what she wants to say," Pinkie did a cartwheel and sprinted out of the throne room, likely to greet her family at Sugar Cube Corner.
Twilight and Cadance sighed. Discord just facepalmed. When someone confused Discord, it was truly a feat. Applejack just made a soft 'hmm' sound and stood up with a grunt.
"Guess I better head on over...Pinkie'll be expectin' us," Applejack ambled slowly toward the exit before disappearing completely out the door.
"AJ's right...I...I don't think it would be polite to keep ponies who came specifically to meet me waiting," Fluttershy blushed deeply, "I mean..they came all the way from a rock farm just to meet little, unimportant me!"
"My dear, you are anything but unimportant! And little! Why, you're as tall as Princess Luna was, now!" Discord said, wrapping an arm around the butter-colored alicorn.
"I-I don't feel special, you know that. I just feel like me. This is going to take a long time to get used to, you know that." Her ears flattened against her skull, her old nervousness coming to the fore once again.
"My dear, you'll have ages, truly an eternity, to get used to it! It is a gift! A wonderful gift!" Discord pulled Fluttershy closer, nuzzling her softly, "Now come, the annoying Pink One and her family will be waiting for us."
Discord snapped a claw and they disappeared, to Sugar Cube Corner.