"So Being What We Sow When We Sew"
Written by The Descendant
It had been a horror show. As Fluttershy had spun around on the turntable she realized what had happened, and she saw what she had done to Rarity. As the crowd at the fashion show laughed and jeered she had watched the unhappy form of the unicorn make her way down the runway, and she knew her friend was crushed…that she was watching the dreams of her friend die.
The next few days had been miserable. As Fluttershy watched on Rarity slipped farther and farther into despondency. Soon she had locked herself inside her rooms inside her shop, her own little private sanctum, and there had given herself over to doubt and depression.
As she went about her routines at her cottage Fluttershy found herself thinking of Rarity, not knowing what to do. She would suddenly stop, Angel watching her, and stare at nothing as a gnawing guilt tore through her guts.
The seabirds consumed much of her time, and as spring began Fluttershy found herself straining to fulfill their needs as well as those of her friends that had now returned from far away lands and awakened from their winter burrows.
As the nights became warmer she risked letting the birds outside, into an enclosure she had made near her stream. It was a large coop, one where the birds could sit and squawk and beat their quickly re-feathering wings in the spring breezes.
One bird did not join them in their new home. The smallest one, its pinfeathers giving it an odd appearance as they emerged, followed Fluttershy along as she went about her tasks, often roosting beside Angel, or even perching atop the head of the rabbit.
The presence of the little seabird was a small, if welcome, comfort. As those days after the fashion show wore on she grew more and more concerned…and the feelings of guilt tore at her more and more. As she sat before her fireplace or on the new shoots of grass, Angel and the seabird in her lap or perhaps laying and perched around her, she wished she knew what to do.
It was with immense relief that Twilight called upon her. "She's not getting better…if anything, she's worse. We have to do something, anything," stated Twilight, "We just can't leave her in misery."
So it was that as they stood outside her door, listening to Rarity lament her misfortune through the timbers, that Fluttershy looked on as Twilight implored her to come out…
"You're not a laughingstock, Rarity," implored Twilight.
"She kinda is…" began Rainbow Dash, her brutal honesty adding a disproportionate weight of anxiety. Properly shushed by Twilight the other pegasus pony made her way back to where Fluttershy stood among the group. In her presence Fluttershy felt pained, as though Rainbow's constant certainty and strength fed upon her own weakness.
"Now what do we do?" asked Twilight, not even looking up from the door as Rarity's latest tirade ended.
"Panic?" Fluttershy answered, the word arriving on her tongue by instinct.
"That's your answer for everything!" lamented Rainbow Dash, looking to Fluttershy. Fluttershy's expression fell, and as Applejack begged the group to act her eyes stayed on Dash. The judgement of her fellow pegasi was harsh, but not unwarranted, and Fluttershy felt ashamed.
Pinkie Pie mentioned cats, and Fluttershy thought of Opal. What would be her fate? Has she been fed during Rarity's descent into depression? Everything was going wrong…it had gone wrong…and Fluttershy felt her own guilt rise up again.
Twilight was looking at another door, humming as she peered through a keyhole. Fluttershy knew that Twilight was thinking…pondering, and tilted her head to watch.
The door of the workspace came open with a bit of magic, and though she felt self-conscious about entering one of the sanctums of Rarity's world without her permission or presence she trusted that Twilight was working towards Rarity's betterment, and so she followed along after the group.
Before them stood Rarity's dress, her magnificent dress, the one which would have made her dreams come to pass. Instead, it stood here on the form, untouched, incomplete, gathering dust…
"We need to show her that she was right, that she had the ability, that she does…that we were wrong," said Twilight, her head dropping in unison with the group at their mutual guilt.
"Does, does anyone know anything about sewing?" said Twilight, levitating the plans towards herself, looking over the various components and patterns planned by the other unicorn, the one whose bawling could still be heard through the thick wall.
There was a moment of pause, and Fluttershy swallowed hard. "I…I…I know a…a bit."
Twilight passed the plans along to Fluttershy, the whole group watching her as her face became red. "This…is…this is called the over design, and this symbol here tells us…that, that it is a…chain stitch, and here's an overcast stitch…" she said, gaining confidence as she spoke.
'Where'd ya' learn all this terminology, Shy?" asked Applejack, squeezing next to the Pegasus and looking over the design, fixing Fluttershy with a smile.
"I…I had a good teacher…a very good teacher," said Fluttershy, blushing once more and finding a familiar knothole in the floor to stare at, "I've had to sew…a bit…over the winter…"
At once Fluttershy felt herself filled with magic, the warm fulfilling sensation of beneficial and benevolent magic at work, and her world was tinged with purple. She looked up to see Twilight looking to her, needles and thread gathering around them, "Show me."
As Fluttershy worked Twilight looked on, the dutiful student in her catching on, copying the skills with her magic, putting them into practice. Fluttershy remembered the words Rarity had spoken, tried to copy them, "Think, think of it…like it's a song, a harmony…copy the harmony…yes! Like that…very, very good Twilight!"
"What can I do? What can I do?" asked Rainbow Dash, prancing among the group.
Applejack raced from cabinet to cabinet and to the sewing baskets, Fluttershy guiding her through Rarity's possessions with flicks of her eyes as she held pins and needles in her lips, nodding when the correct object had been retrieved.
"Seriously! What should I do?" pleaded Rainbow Dash, pacing up and down the room, her hooves impatiently clicking on the wooden floor.
As Twilight and Fluttershy worked the dress Pinkie Pie, her amazing energy evident, held various elements in place. As the gemstones were set and the beadwork and embroidery came into play she balanced them for the sewing ponies, sometimes theatrically balancing on a single hoof.
"I wanna help, I wanna help, I wanna help!" demanded Rainbow Dash, her eyes closed in impatience, her forelegs beating the floor in time with her loud implores.
At that moment, Fluttershy felt the familiar form of Opalescence brush against her, and she looked down to the big white Persian cat. Twilight saw the cat too, and Fluttershy saw a plan quickly form in the eyes of the unicorn, and soon Twilight was whispering in her ear.
As the rest of the group carried the completed dress down the stairs Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Opal stood before the open window, looking at the tree outside.
"You'll do it…won't, won't you Opal, to help Rarity?"
Fluttershy looked down to the cat as it placed its paws on the windowsill, and looked down to the ground far below. Opal looked back to Fluttershy with a fearful look in her eyes.
Fluttershy shot her a quick stare, and the issue was decided. The cat meowed in compliance, and as Fluttershy nuzzled her she began to purr. With that Rainbow Dash gathered up the cat, extended her wings, and jumped out the window to the tree beyond.
With a deep breath, Fluttershy followed, leaping into the daylight.
Moments passed, and soon the situation revealed itself. Rarity came to the aid of her beloved cat, Rainbow Dash made the grand reveal, and soon the whole assemblage stood before the dress. Rarity, her eyes wide, stuttered a question…attempted to understand how her dress, forgotten as it had been, could possibly have assembled itself.
"We all finished your dress for you!" stated Pinkie, smiling.
"Thanks to Fluttershy's freaky knowledge o' sewin'," added Applejack.
Freaky. What a word. There was nothing freaky about it, Fluttershy thought to herself, just the patience of a friend, and the hope that her own abilities were enough to repay what had been lost, to give her friend and teacher back her dream.
"Do you like it?" asked Fluttershy, recovering from a blush, her voice a song of hope.
"Like it?" asked Rarity. As she walked forward she looked the dress over, her slippers and nightgown warming in the sun. As she did she felt her shock wearing off, and a different emotion replaced it.
"Like it?" she stated in a harsher tone, letting them guess her feelings. There was no doubt in her mind though about how she felt about it…the stitches, the pleats, and the embroidery. They were the product of a friend whom had learned earnestly and honestly, a student of her own design…and it had come across marvelously.
"Uh oh, she doesn't like it…" guessed Fluttershy, her heart sinking, her eyes watering…how, how…what had gone wrong?
"No…I don't like it," said the unicorn, her head held dismissively, as the group let out an exasperated sigh. Yet, at once she recovered, "I love it!"
In the momentary jubilation that followed Fluttershy caught Rarity's eye, and a week of pain and confusion between them fell away, evaporating like the forgotten snows.
The rest of the story is known, how in a few frantic minutes the judgmental Hoity Toity had returned, and as they ponies had exhibited the dresses Rarity had meant for them to wear, the ones that she had designed for them, he became enamored with Rarity's designs.
Fluttershy looked on as Rarity returned to the magnificent figure of poise and grace, of inner beauty reflected in outward understanding of design and purpose.
"If…if you need…any, any help…making the other…" she had begun once Toity had departed. But before she had a chance to finish she was caught up in Rarity's embrace, the others joining them.
As they put the dresses away Fluttershy felt Dash's eyes on her, and she grew self-conscious. When Dash spoke it wasn't the usual cynicism, but instead something different…
"Hey, Fluttershy," said Dash, staring around the room, "Good…good job today, with the sewing, and the cat…"
"Thank…thank you!" said Fluttershy, fighting her ever-present blushing, not used to compliments from the other pegasus in their small group.
"Yeah, sure…hey, I've got something coming up…something I could use your help with, a competition. Would you…mind?" said Dash, this time it being her turn to become uneasy, to stare at the floor.
"I'd love to," said Fluttershy, smiling. "Really?" answered Dash, bolting to attention, "Great! We'll start practice in a couple of weeks or so. Thanks!"
Fluttershy looked on as Dash pranced out the door, a smile on her face, then felt the wind as the powerful pony took to the air.
As she winged her way home Fluttershy bobbed on the breezes, let herself be carried along rather than flying…more soaring than gliding, like the raptors of the wild Everfree or her seabirds. She could not stop smiling, she smiled so much that it eventually felt a strain, and Angel looked on in wonder as his mistress landed with a giggle and trotted up to the cottage.
The next day, it was the turn of the seabirds to bring about more smiles. She spent the morning looking over the biggest of the seabirds, the large one she had decided was a male, examining his feathers. She picked up the smallest, also male, and inspected him too. These two birds, the most responsive to her, seemed to be…ready.
As a small assemblage of her animal friends looked on Angel dug out the posts around the coop. At once Fluttershy dropped the far wall, the one that looked out over the meadow to the pond beyond.
There was a great rush of wings, and just shy of half the birds erupted from the coop, some stumbling as they felt freedom for the first time in months.
They took to the air, formed a cloud in the sky that swooped back and forth and called to their kin.
Of the nine other birds, six went slower, looking around them, up to Fluttershy, then took to the air.
The biggest bird and another chirped at her, tilted their heads. She tilted hers back, smiling, and soon they too were off, the two together. As they did the flock, her flock, turned to the north and were soon retreating from view over the forest and hills, to the mountains beyond.
Fluttershy, though smiling, felt the tears running down her face. She had lost half of them, and the number she had saved were not even a twentieth of the number that had fallen from the sky. These few had survived to leave her that day.
Yet, she had dealt with the struggle, and taken the pain, fear, and loss…and had carried on. Something inside her felt pride, and she blushed to no one, feeling the same as she did after the dragon had been dealt with…and as Angel slid up beside her she sighed happily.
That is when she heard the chirp, and turned to see the little bird, the one that had been most accustomed to her, drop to the ground in a roosting position, its head wobbly and unsure.
"Oh no," she breathed, and her expression dropped. She knew what was coming.
That night the bird grew weaker, and soon she was trying to feed it just as she had when it first came to her. Yet, it slid farther away as the night passed. She found no black ribbons beneath the new feathers, and as she became quiet Angel joined her as she cradled the bird in the beautifully embroidered blanket, the sequins shimmering in the firelight.
As she sang a lullaby the three of them, the pony, the bunny, and the bird slipped off to sleep as Luna's power dragged the planet beneath the moon once more.
As Celestia took the helm of their world the pony and the rabbit awoke, and the small form of the little bird lay still and cold in her lap.
Fluttershy was no stranger to death, and she perhaps more than any of her friends saw it on more regular a basis. This was her domain, the gatekeeper, guardian of life and death for her bird and animal dependants. She could not know what killed the little bird, be it sickness or ennui, but as she sewed it within the blanket the sentimental part of her rose up, and soon she and Angel were walking a sad little path through the sunlit day to where a hill rose near her cottage.
Here, atop the hill with a view of the forest, stream, and pond beyond was a little cemetery. Plain, unobtrusive, and small, it was however well kept, and simple stones marked with little names kept their secrets. Here is where animals that Fluttershy had most loved were laid out…beyond the reach of scavengers from the Everfree.
Angel dug out a spot, shaking out his paws to remove the dirt as he leapt from the grave. He laid himself out in the sun nearby, next to the grave of his predecessor. Looking to the stone he thought about how this was where he would someday rest, and he smirked as Fluttershy lowered the blanket into the earth.
He watched as she slowly and certainly filled it in. He watched as she placed the stone, etched with carefully chosen words, upon the freshly moved earth.
With a stretch he jumped up, a chill running across his back as he crossed his own eventual grave, and wrapped himself around her leg. As Angel looked to the words she read them, and he could almost feel the tiny weight of the bird…as though it rested upon his head once more.
"A bird of the sea. Beloved," she said, with a pause. The two stood there for a long moment, then turned to leave.
"It's…it's good to have ones…ones we love…friends, I think," said Fluttershy as Angel hopped down the path beside her, "It…it makes…the 'ouch'…less 'ouchy'."
That year wore one, into the summer, and to her great joy Fluttershy found Rarity more and more her friend, and soon each week they set aside time to simply be with each other. Most often this involved the spa, and Fluttershy was happy that her friend confided in her in that place. But, also, time was spent in other ways, ways Fluttershy better liked, in the woods or in the hills…and Fluttershy shared what she could of her world with the unicorn.
Just as Rarity had for her…
It was on a clear autumn day, when they sat together beside her pond admiring the golden leaves, laying on the blanket Rarity had given up, that Fluttershy handed Rarity something. Something that was embroidered and cleverly stitched…
"It's lovely," began the unicorn, "Not entirely sure…what it is though. Oh! It's the…thing!"
Fluttershy began to explain that it was a little coat, namely one that had saved the life of the small bird, if for a time, and that by extension had saved all of her birds. Rarity, she concluded, had taught her this, and as such was just as responsible as she for the preservation of the birds.
"And if you'd like it, I'd like to give it to you."
Rarity was amazed. She tried to think of something to say, about how proud she was of Fluttershy…how pleased it was to be part of saving a life. But at that moment all she could do was stare with a smile and feel the tears start.
And, in that moment, something disturbed the surface of the pond.
Fluttershy looked up, and there was a seabird…a tern, like the ones she had saved.
Soon there was another, and another, and soon a whole flock descended upon the pond. As the two looked on in amazement a few made their way up the beach, through the grass and to where they lay.
One stood before Fluttershy, tilted its head, and chirped. She replied, and knew it to be the biggest one…the one that been the last to leave her months before.
So the cycle continued, the migrations went on, and each time the flock grew larger.
North in spring, south in fall, an ancient cycle preserved. Though death would eventually claim the birds she knew their instinct to live, to find this sheltered place beyond the mountains, this place of safety with the winged pony and her kind…that would continue on through generations of birds uncounted.
Though Rarity and Fluttershy would have their difficulties, as all friends do, they too would continue on. They would always find their way here to the pond, upon the old blanket, among the lives that they touched and the scion of such.
As their lives went on, no matter how they changed, they would be there in the times of pain and fear, doubt and anger, happiness and joy, love and loss, for one another…to be there to help the other say "Ouch", if need be, and then carry on.
So it continued, the cycle of life, preserved in one sharp instant by the bond between a demure pegasus and a compulsive unicorn. And so life itself, being what they sowed when they had sewed, had found a way.
Such are the types of things that are possible when friendship is magic, and while Procer Celestia Invictus and Procer Luna Revenio continue to guide their charges across the Equestrian sky.