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The Other Side · FiM Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
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Fluttershy Saves the World in 7 Days
Angel Bunny was up late again, only this time, he wasn’t in his usual haunts. He wasn’t in his bed, mulling over Fluttershy’s agenda for the next day, week, and month, until he fell asleep; he wasn’t in Ponyville, gossiping in chirps and squeaks with Mortimer, that ridiculous caged brown bunny with the lazy eye; and he wasn’t curled up with a book inside the secret compartment underneath the couch cushions, although that was where he was when it all started.

Fluttershy returned home from Twilight’s party much earlier than she should have. The booming thunder and relentless rain masked the sound of the front door opening and closing, but Angel certainly heard her bedroom door shut, and the bolt thudding into its socket. His ears perked up, and he heard the breathing—slow and full of effort, getting louder, and with a shuddering whimper here and there.

He leapt out into the living room, kicking himself as he went.

From outside the door, still, all he heard was the breathing, and the occasional whimper, each one driving another nail into his tiny little heart. This wasn’t at all like her usual crying fits or wails of sorrow, pleading for a friend between the lines. This was so much quieter, which made his stomach sink.

He bounded outside to find another way in. The wind and rain drenched him to the bone in a matter of seconds. He made the climb up the tree to Fluttershy’s window, only to find that it was locked too. It was here that Angel Bunny spent the rest of the night, banging on the window. It was here that he witnessed what a panic attack looked like.

It wasn’t pretty. She paced, and paced, and her eyes whirled around the room, dragging her head in snake-like motions, as if a monster was hiding in the corners of her eyes. Her wings were limp on either side, as if she no longer had the energy to hold them. She stumbled a couple of times, and hid there under her forelegs, then suddenly would shout, ‘No!’, before jumping back to her hooves to pace some more. Her room fell slowly into disarray. Books, picture frames, and knickknacks made their way off of their dressers and nightstands as she bumped into them. She collapsed into bed at one point, but kept tossing and turning and breathing and breathing and breathing.

Two elevated heart-rates, showing no signs of calming, beat on either side of the window.

Twenty minutes later, she was finished. She fell asleep, most of her sheets and pillows on the floor. Angel did the same. For the both of them, sleep was spotty, but it lasted until one in the afternoon the next day.

Day 1

The sun shone shadows of moving leaves into Fluttershy’s room, and Angel awoke to the sound of tearing paper. His eyes ripped open and found Fluttershy immediately. She was sitting at the edge of her bed, staring at her dresser, where one item had survived the night. It was a page-a-day calendar she’d bought on a whim around last year’s Hearth’s Warming. Mental Health Word-a-Day Calendar!, was written on the top of each page.

Fluttershy crumpled the previous day’s page in her hooves, eyes locked on the new word. Angel strained to read it.

October 16

Strength (n.): The capacity to be strong.

Try and think of those that you find strong, and those
who make you feel strong. Maybe send one of them a letter!

Exercise: What is strength? Try and come up with as many definitions as you can.

Angel had read words like this before. Each time, he found them useless, paltry, a waste of a few seconds of Fluttershy’s morning. She never seemed to think about them past breakfast. But something in her empty stare made Angel wonder if this one wasn’t sticking with her a little harder.

In a moment, she was on her hooves, wings folded neatly. She walked decisively towards the door. Angel shrieked and rushed back inside, ready in the living room for when she came out.

“Oh…” Fluttershy started at the sight of him—mouth open, eyes watering, studying her face for answers. “I’m sorry, Angel Bunny,” she soothed. There was a limp in her voice. “I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared before.”

Angel’s shoulders slumped and his mouth fell further open. He could only agree.

Fluttershy broke eye contact and sauntered towards the kitchen, and Angel bounded after her. He leapt onto the counter and fixed the same look on his owner. She turned to open a cupboard, where he jumped inside and stared at her again. And she could turn away as much as she wanted, but Angel always found another ledge in the kitchen from which to stare at her.

“Angel…” Fluttershy said, her eyes moving to the floor, just before he did. “I’m… sorry. It won’t happen again,” she whispered, her voice shaking. “I…”

She sat down on the floor and sniffed. She rubbed her eyes, but realized no tears were there and put her hoof back down. “I can’t do this anymore,” she declared quietly.

Angel rubbed circles into her fur.

Her wings unfolded and drooped, but then they rose back up again, along with her neck, her chin, her head. “I’m not going to do this anymore.”

Angel stopped rubbing and pulled back.

“I’m—” Fluttershy paused to swallow. “I’m going to get better.”

After a light gasp, Angel covered his mouth.

In his secret compartment inside the couch, he kept a small stack of thin books and thinner pamphlets that Fluttershy knew nothing about. The books, he had picked up from the self-help section of the library; the pamphlets, he swiped from a therapist’s office. In his head was a recipe containing all the best ingredients from those books and pamphlets, a strategy for his dear owner to grab hold of her life and use it to become the champion in yellow he always knew she could be. He had always wanted to test his recipe, but was always missing the most important ingredient: A Fluttershy who wanted to get better.

Angel finally closed his mouth. He nodded assuredly. He realized he was still wet, so he shook like a dog, spraying water everywhere.

Fluttershy laughed weakly and did the same.

That night, between Fluttershy’s evening nap and her first restful sleep since the attack, Angel laid out his plan.

Fluttershy was in her pink nightgown, huddled up inside her freshly made bed, the cup of peppermint tea in her hooves making the room smell sweet. Angel brought in the calendar from the kitchen. With one paw on his hip, he pointed to Fluttershy, pointed downward, and dragged his paw across the calendar from Sunday to Saturday.

“A whole week?” Fluttershy gasped. “I can’t stay here for a whole week! I have to cancel plans, and-and-and do groceries, and… and see my friends! Oh, they must be so worried, I—”

Angel had a scowl that could silence his owner whenever he wished. Again, he dragged his paw across the calendar.

“…Okay,” Fluttershy agreed, watching the ripples in her tea. “If you think that’s what I need… I’ll do my best.”

Angel tucked her in shortly after, planting a kiss on her cheek. Her words from earlier in the day bounced around in his head.

I’m going to get better.

Angel realized that she had given no indication that she really, really meant that. But he certainly had ways of finding out.

Day 2

Angel Bunny thumped the bedroom door open with a two-footed kick. He stormed inside. The noise beckoned Fluttershy to follow, and follow she did. He jumped onto her bed, which she had made first thing in the morning. With paws outstretched, Angel twirled around the room in one circle, gesturing to the displaced items, scattered clothes, and leftover dishes piled upon every surface of the room. He pinched his nose with his paw, cringed dramatically, and wiggled his tail.

The room didn’t actually smell, but Fluttershy got the message anyways.

“I know… It’s a mess.”

Angel raised his paws in front of him, closed his eyes, and clapped twice. He left the room and shut the door behind the mare, pressing his ear back up against it.

Fluttershy breathed in and out, carefully, before saying, “Time to get to work.”

What Fluttershy needed was a benevolent warden—a role that Angel took to rather well. He spent most, but not all, of the day reading, napping, and making green tea for his busy worker on occasion. He watched her carefully whenever she exited her bedroom, ensuring she wasn’t doing anything other than putting dishes away, grabbing cleaning supplies, or using the little filly’s room.

He was ten minutes deep into an essay on the nature of panic attacks when the first knock at the front door sounded. Fluttershy came out of her room to answer it, but Angel stood in her way and pointed behind her, ordering her to march. Reluctantly, she did.

Angel would end up playing the role of door-bunny all day long. Five times, somepony would knock, and each time Angel would perform the same routine. Open the door. Stare daggers. Accept the gift. Slam the door. The only part that changed was how many times he would shake his head ‘no’ for a request to enter, or nod his head ‘yes’ for every time they asked if the poor girl was okay. But. hidden behind that nod were the words, no thanks to you.

Angel knew the names of Fluttershy’s friends, knew them well. But the best part of not being able to speak or write, was that he could come up with as many nicknames for anypony as he pleased, without worrying that he might accidentally slip up and say them out loud.

Bumpkinhead was the first at the door. “Ah, uh… Wanted ta, ah, er, check up on Flootershy, make shuuurrre she’s o-kay ‘n all, I reckon…”

Angel realized he wasn’t actually listening to a word Bumpkinhead was saying, so he stopped pretending. He waited for her to bring out her gift, and place it on the floor inside.

A basket of apples.

After slamming the door, Angel pinched the space between his eyes. He wondered if Bumpkinhead knew what the term ‘ignorance is bliss’ meant, or if she was happier not knowing. Had she not seen the way Fluttershy ate apples? With her eyes squinting shut in agony, her bites slow and methodical? She must have—Fluttershy only ate those blasted red stones when Bumpkinhead was around.

Deathwish was next, only she soared around the cottage about five hundred million times before finally landing at an entirely unnecessary speed, knocking Angel off of his feet. He opened the door to find her, wings outstretched, with an unwrapped book under her leg.

“It’s my favourite book!” Deathwish explained. “It’s helped me a lot, and, uh…”

Angel frowned. That wasn’t a difficult sentence to finish. The title of the book started with Daring Do and the, but Angel stopped reading it altogether, making a sound that was halfway between a growl and a sigh.

“Anyways, I’ve already read it twice, so, like, it’s no big deal or anything.”

Angel though this was very thoughtful, sarcastically.

“But I still want it back!” Deathwish added. “You know, when she’s done. I don’t like having a hole in my collection.”

With an unearnest smile, Angel waved to Deathwish, gradually turning his paw from a goodbye wave to a buzz off wave. And he was moments from closing the door, when he saw a cloud of cotton candy bouncing up over the horizon, far away. Angel threw his head back and sighed.

Bumper Cars.

Before he could say anything, she was already inside, asking way too many questions and even almost knocking on Fluttershy’s door before Angel finally got to her and pushed her outside.

“You’re strong!” commented Bumper Cars.

Apparently having gotten the message, she revealed her gift to him. And of all the gifts, hers was the worst. An invitiation to a party—a promise, that when Fluttershy felt better, she would throw the Bumpiest, Carsiest party in all of Ponyville. A capital idea, Angel thought. If only a party hadn’t caused the attack in the first place.

Bad Priorities was last, and her gift was Angel’s favourite, because it didn’t exist. Like Bumper’s, it was a promise, that she would make her a splendid dress of her own design. In fact, she could wear it to the upcoming party! When Angel realized he didn’t have to take anything from her, he slammed the door.

Bookface, Celestia bless her, at least had the decency of not showing up in person. Ever since she sprouted those unseemly wings, Angel could never look at her the same way again, finding it odd how long it took an adult pony to find out where they fit on her body. Outsretched? Folded in? Drooping? Sticking out like the hands of a clock at an asymmetrical hour? Angel wished Bookface would just pick a lane.

But, Celestia curse her, she may not have showed up, but she sent Angel’s mortal enemy in her stead.

When he opened the door to see that emotionless face, those glowing yellow eyes, that hairpin beak, he grabbed hold of his tail and launched backwards, glaring. At all their pet play dates, this infernal owl spent all of his time nipping at Angel’s tail and hoo-ing with cheer, as if reminding him of the laws of nature was worth a chuckle every now and again. “If we were both in the wild,” he seemed to jest, “what fun we would have!”

But the bird didn’t come to play. He simply bowed and took off back into the sky, leaving behind a package (which quite obviously held a book), as well as a rolled-up letter. Angel went to scoop the items off the welcome mat, but something caught his eye. This letter wasn’t addressed to Fluttershy at all. It was addressed to none other than Angel Bunny.

He tore it open cautiously.

Dear Angel,

A few weeks ago, I saw you reading one of Fluttershy’s cookbooks and helping her out with a recipe. So I’m sorry if the fact that you can read is a secret. I promise I won’t tell anypony, but I wanted to talk to you.

I wanted to come explain and say hi yesterday, but I figured Fluttershy might want to be alone. And then I realized that you were probably wondering what was going on. I won’t go into details, but I’ll say that we had a conversation that got out of hoof. We started talking about life, the future, and, well, relationships. AJ and Dash started to nudge her, and Pinkie and Rarity started making guesses about her. She left pretty flustered, but then I guess you were there for that part. I really hope she’s okay.

With this letter, you should find a book. It’s for her.

Angel unwrapped the package and studied it. Daring Do and the Rest of Her Life. The adventurous protagonist of the series wasn’t on the cover of this one—it was designed instead to look like an envelope, addressed to her, from somepony named Thousand Heart.

It’s a side story to the Daring Do series, and it’s one of my favourites. It’s quite atypical, actually; it turns into a romance about halfway through. But don’t tell her I said that. It’s a spoiler.

Again, I’m sorry about everything, and I hope you won’t hold it against us. We should have never pressed her like we did.

Oh, and sorry for sending Owlowi

Angel rolled his eyes and pulled out a pencil.

Oh, and sorry for sending Owlowiscious. I thought of using Spike but I know when he sends something it can be rather, well, startling. You should find this courier more professional.


Twilight Sparkle

That night, under flickering candlelight, Fluttershy read Twilight’s book on an uncluttered desk. A one-sided smile bloomed on her face.

Before she’d started, she noticed a thin wooden bookmark halfway through, covered in moons and suns and stars. She placed it aside, murmuring to herself that Twilight must have been reading the book, and that she would return it later. From his bed, Angel watched the bookmark hanging over the desk, the significance of it not at all lost on him as it was on her.

Day 3

Fluttershy’s rooms was spick and span. So too was the first floor. But the kitchen only had a day’s worth of food. Well, two days of pony food, but only one day of bunny. Angel sat cross-legged in the center of the counter—having taken a full stock of the cupboards—and pondered his next move.

The week wasn’t even half over, and groceries needed to be obtained. Angel couldn’t do it—he could never carry the heavy bits there, let alone the heavier groceries back, and he could never communicate such a transaction to the grocer anyways. This meant that Fluttershy would have to go. That’s right, Fluttershy, off on her own to the marketplace to be pushed, talked at, and haggled until everything they’d worked for came undone, and all she would have to show for it was overpriced food.

Angel’s pocket watch ticked to 6 o’clock, and he realized that the sounds of cleaning from upstairs had disappeared. The silence clutched at Angel’s little heart, and he shot to his paws, bounding up towards the attic. He found his owner safe and sound behind a stack of boxes of old school supplies. Her nose was nuzzled in Twilight’s book.

“Uh—!” she stammered, stashing the book away, taking flight, and dusting off the top of the box of old school supplies. The box Angel had asked her to find a way to dispose of.

Angel leapt onto the box and stared the shrinking pony until she was on the ground.

“I’m sorry…” she said. “It’s just really, really good. It sounds like Daring Do might settle down with this stallion! That would be lovely.”

This plot element registered somewhere in Angel’s brain, but not in a very important spot. With a sigh, his eyes wandered to the single open flap of the box. Inside, he saw a stack of cue cards, still wrapped tightly in plastic. He gasped, ripping them out of the box, kissing them all over, snuggling them close.

“…Are you okay, Angel?”

In quick, assured motions, Angel withdrew his pocket watch and pointed one paw towards it, tracing it ten notches along the edge.

“Ten minutes?” Fluttershy asked. “Okay! Meet you downstairs?”

But Angel was already gone.

At one end of the kitchen table sat Fluttershy, and at the other sat Angel. Between them were six cards, spread out randomly over the tablecloth. Each card had a distinct drawing on the front, which Angel had made with his trusty pencil, and colored with his new set of pencil crayons.

Fluttershy’s eyes had been lighting up gradually as she looked over the cards. “Is this like pictionary?” she asked.

Angel held one paw flat in the air and wobbled it back and forth.

“It’s… kind of like pictionary?”

He flipped over one of the cards, revealing a line on the back. He pushed his pencil towards his owner.

“Oh, I have to guess them all? And write it in?”

Angel snapped his paw, then sat back and waited, the palms of his paws pressed together in front of his little pink nose. Fluttershy picked up a card. The drawing showed a paper bag with a baguette, a cucumber, and several carrot stalks sticking out of the top.

“Um… Groceries?”

Angel applauded, and then turned over the card for Fluttershy to write the word on the back. She did so with glee.

She got the next two rather quickly. A picture of a pony shaking her head and frowning, was simply the word ‘No’. The drawing of an eye, was an eye. Then she picked up the drawing of a large tent, adorned with colorful stripes and flags, with ponies mingling all around it.


Angel had to stop his foot from tapping impatiently.

“A circus?”

Angel shook his head vehemently.

“A… carnival?”

Angel cringed, then started rotating a paw in a forward circle.

“Close, so… a fair? Or…?”

The snapping of Angel’s paw startled her into a giggle. She turned the card over and wrote ‘fair’. She made to pick up the next card, but Angel waved his paws in front of her face and pointed back down at the card, at the space before the word.

“Oh… you want the ‘a’?”

A snap, an applause, and a point at the card. Fluttershy rolled her eyes and scrawled in the extra letter.

Angel braced himself with a short exhale. This next one she’d chosen would be tough. It depicted two stallions with boxing gloves on their forehooves, glaring at each other through bruised eyes, and snarling through cut lips.


A good start, but Angel shook his head.

“Hmmm… a fight?”

Angel made a tsk sound. He held up one paw and darted out of the kitchen, returning with a thesaurus. He opened up the page to ‘fight’, and then pointed at the plethora of words underneath it.

“Uhhhh…” Fluttershy began reading. “An altercation…? An argument? A battle? A bout?”

Angel smacked his paws together.

“A bout!” Fluttershy celebrated.

Angel put on an open-mouthed grin. He threw his paws up in the air, and then pointed them at the card.

As Fluttershy scrawled both words onto the card, Angel snatched at the last one on the table. It was his finest work, a mean-looking stallion with a brown pelt and a stubble, wearing a flat cap and sucking on the end of a corn pipe. Angel shook his head. This one would be impossible, but in the morning, it wouldn’t be open to interpretation.

Fluttershy glanced to her left and then her right. She put on a coy smile. “So… Did I win?”

Angel glowered and pointed up the stairs. Fluttershy marched.

That night, Fluttershy let it slip that she had sent a letter to Twilight.

“I didn’t leave the cottage,” she explained to his frantically tapping foot. “I just put it in the mailbox…”

Angel sighed and applied his paw to his forehead.

“I’m almost done my book,” Fluttershy said. “And I was wondering if she could give me another one!”

Day 4

Angel stood at the edge of the Ponyville Market without a clue of what to do. In front of him was a sea of legs, turning and churning, pausing and continuing, moving in every direction at once. Ponies towered overhead, smiling and chatting and paying no attention to little creatures that might be nearby.

He clutched his cue cards, the only things he had with him. He stared at the drawing of groceries on top and gulped. His prize was in the center of these legs—a small stand of fruits and vegetables. Every so often, Angel spotted the stallion manning his post, looking bored, blowing his blond mane out of his eyes.

Angel turned and started to step away, but saw Fluttershy through the window of his mind, pacing, panting, whimpering, and he turned back to the legs. He gulped and took a step forward, certain he was about to die.


Angel’s breath leaped out of him. He stumbled into the ground and clutched at his tail instinctively, dropping his cards. Almost hyperventilating, he gathered himself and stared back at the owl, baring his little bunny teeth.

“Hoo,” Owliscious stated, hopping twice to Angel’s left.

Angel dusted himself off and pointed to his chest with one paw.

“Hoo?” Owliscious went on, hopping twice to Angel’s right.

Angel scoffed, jabbing his chest with both paws.

The owl shook his head, waving his wings in front of Angel’s face, and making him want to body-check the crazy bird.


Owliscious hopped to Angel’s left.


Owliscious hopped to Angel’s right.

Angel suddenly snapped to attention. He swallowed and nodded.


The two of them hopped to Angel’s left.


The two of them hopped to Angel’s right.

Angel started clapping and hopping on either foot, his eyes gleaming. He even shook the owl’s wing.

The owl waved him back to attention again, paying him a serious look. Next, he strode away towards the crowd for two paces, shouted, “HOO!” and then stopped in his tracks. His head rotated back towards Angel to make sure he was watching.

He was, but he wasn’t liking what what he was seeing. He nodded anyways, thinking carefully.


Owliscious took off, and began circling the crowd.

Angel gathered up his cue cards and stuffed them under his shoulder. He slid up to the crowd of legs with one eye closed, like he was approaching the edge of a diving board. He waited for an opening and jumped inside.


Angel darted left, dodging a stomping hoof, and then prepared to move left again.


Without looking, Angel jumped right, almost dropping the cards. A red-furred leg barely grazed him, and he kept running.

“Hoo. Hoo? Hoo. Hoo. Hoo?”

Zig-zagging through the legs, Angel gradually shut his eyes and leapt on command, feeling the breeze of passing legs, but never the warm, firm strike of a kick. He opened them again and saw the stand, just two hops away, and he coiled like a spring.


Angel halted. A bicycle whizzed past his nose. When it was gone, he rolled forward out of the crowd, flattening into a sprawl. He clutched at his ears, head, body, arms and little feet, finding that they were all still together, unbruised. He laughed hysterically, nearly in tears.

Owliscious circled overhead until Angel gave him a thumbs-up, and the owl left him to his business.

After brushing the dirt from his snow-white fur, Angel shook out the thrill from his body. He gathered up his cue cards and scaled the market stand, to meet the bored stallion under the straw roof. He was brown, with a stubble, and a tweed flat cap. He sucked on his corn pipe lethargically. Behind him, in a steel-framed cage, a small brown bunny with a lazy eye blissfully ate a meal. He did a double-take when he saw Angel. His mouth fell open, bits of carrot falling out.

The brown bunny shook his head. Angel nodded, grinning. The brown bunny shook his head faster, grabbing the cage and rattling it.

“Quiet back there, Mortimer!” the stallion boomed, casting a side-eye at his pet. “What do you want little rabbit?”

Angel fanned out his cue cards in front of him, the words facing him, the drawings facing the stallion. He selected one and placed it on the counter, pushing it forward.


“You got any money?” inquired the marketpony.

Angel placed the cards down neatly, then pantomimed pulling empty pockets out of his hips, still smiling.

“Wait, I know you…” the stallion intoned. “Yeah… the little wuss’s rabbit, right? What, she gets her animals to do her errands for her? Sheesh.”

Angel’s eye twitched, but his smile didn’t waver.

“Listen, rabbit, no coin means no sale. Maybe ask Miss Scaredy-pants to give you some allowance, heh! Only fair, right Mortimer?”

With an agreeable shrug, Angel turned to leave. Mortimer stopped rattling and wiped his brow. But at the last second, Angel held up his paw and turned back, wagging it at the stallion. Mortimer got louder, whining like a dog.


One at a time, Angel placed the eye, the pony shaking her head, the boxing ponies, and the colourful tent in front of the stallion.

He peered down at the cards, uninterested. That was, until Angel flipped them over.

eye no a bout a fair

Under his brown fur, the stallion’s skin went white. His corn pipe fell out of his mouth. “What the—? How in the world did you—?”

Mortimer stopped rattling his cage, suddenly looking like he wanted to make as little noise as possible. Angel walked to his groceries card and tapped it twice, politely.

“This… this doesn’t matter!” the stallion maintained, messing the cards up. “It’s not like you could communicate it to my wife anyways, ya dumb little rodent.”

Angel raised an eyebrow, he pushed away all but one of the cards—the a fair card—with a swift kick, and with a confident flourish, played the last card in his paw on the table: A stunningly accurate depiction of the stallion himself, who started to sweat.

“Yep,” he said. “That’s damning, alright.”

Soon the grocer was collecting fruits and vegetables, stuffing them in a bag about twice Angel’s height, even with his ears up. Angel jumped inside the stand, and leaned against Mortimer’s cage without looking at him. The brown rabbit hid under his ears, only coming out to grab a carrot to munch on.

“…Anything else?” the grocer seethed when he was finished.

Angel nodded, frowning. He picked up the stallion’s card, feigned putting it back into his paw, and then slammed it down again, twice as hard.

The stallion’s head dropped and he gave his counter a half-hearted kick.

“…Lead the way.”

That night, as they gobbled up lemon-and-lime zest salad, Fluttershy showed off her new book from Twilight. Angel wondered if, when a book reached a certain size, it could still be called a book, or if it got upgraded to tome at a certain pagecount. This tome was ancient, well-traveled, with some pages sticking out, no longer glued to the spine. The title read:

The History of Pegasus Magic. Ancient Lessons Passed Down From Pegasopolis Past.

“It’s…” Fluttershy’s rubbed a shoulder. “It’s really dense. I’m not sure if I can—”

But Angel had fallen asleep. When a bunny has a headache, it takes over every inch of their body, radiating pain from within, forcing them to retreat into sleep.

Fluttershy gathered the dishes and washed them in the sink, dried them, and put them back where they were. She gently picked Angel up by the scruff of his neck and placed him in his basket, planting a kiss on his cheek.

Day 5

“You want me to what?

Fluttershy re-read the pamphlet that Angel had placed in front of her (over her Daring Do book) one more time.

Write letters to your friends about the things they do that upset you, and then don’t send them.

Angel padded his foot against the desk, not taking his paw off of the instruction.

Fluttershy went up in the air, fretting and fretting. “Oh, oh… Angel! I can’t do that!”

His foot still padded, his paw still pointed. He had even brought a stack of five cue cards, upon the fronts of which he had scrawled the five cutie marks of her friends. He had wanted to draw the ponies themselves, but he thought he might get carried away. He had already planned to give Bumpkinhead cross-eyes, to stick a dress in Bad Priorities’ mouth, and to draw Deathwish with her spine bent so far backwards you couldn’t even see her head anymore. But Angel knew where it was.

The cutie marks were more impartial, in the end.

“But… I love my friends! They don’t do anything to upset me.”

With an audible sigh, Angel took a piece of lined paper on the desk and placed it in front of the chair, along with a quill and an ink well. He took the first card off the stack—the three apples—and put it neatly over the page. He snapped his paw for good measure.

Fluttershy got in her chair, pushing her forehooves into its edge. “Okay,” she said. “If you’re sure this will help.”

The process took a couple hours. It started with a few tears, but it ended with careful, methodical breaths. Calm ones, that had a pinch of vigor in them.

When Angel checked in on her, she was finishing her fourth letter. He looked over her work, just to make sure she wasn’t holding back. She wasn’t. Bumpkinhead got a stern sentence or two about how she made Fluttershy feel like a child. Bad Priorities got something similar, with an added shot to her laissez-faire attitude toward Opalescence.

Bumper Cars’ was more lighthearted—mostly just a lecture on the difference between extroverts and introverts. Deathwish was called out for making Fluttershy feel like she kept her around as a kind of contrast, always making herself look more athletic and brave whenever she was nearby.

Angel hummed in approval. He noticed that each letter was still signed with her name, right after the word ‘love’.

Then he noticed she had stopped writing. She picked up the card with the spiked stars. She rubbed her bottom lip with the point of her hoof.

“Um… I don’t know what to write,” she said. Not scared or worried, just matter-of-fact. “Actually…” She dipped the quill and began writing.

Fluttershy wrote ten unsent letters to Twilight Sparkle that day. Angel left her to her first, then checked up during her third, her sixth, her eighth and tenth. He wasn’t about to do anything that might cause her to lose the silly smile appearing on her face.

That night, as Fluttershy re-organized the bookshelf in the living room (she felt she could do better), Angel read over her pile of letters to Twilight. Sentences popped out at him as he skimmed.

I’ve never met anyone who could be so awkward, so bookish, yet still be so great at friendship and getting herself out there. I wonder if you could teach me someday?

I love really like how you seem to outdo yourself every day. It’s like you never stop working. It doesn’t surprise me that you’re a princess now, you deserve it.

Twilight, you’re going to save the world one day. I mean, I know you already have. We already have! But even if we weren’t here, you would have done it without us. I’m sure of it.

Angel’s foot began tapping uncontrollably. When Fluttershy walked into the room, she caught him grinning. She shooed him away, blushing wildly.

Day 6

Angel’s seven-day plan was finished in five days. The cottage was tidied. Bags of discarded items, waiting for pick-up, sat inside the foyer. And every door and window to the cottage was open, letting it drink in the fall breeze, its leaves rustling gladly.

Pony and bunny sat on lawn chairs, just paces from the babbling river in front of the cottage. Fluttershy read her tome. Angel, nodding in and out of sleep, held a tiny reflective board across his shoulders, a patch of sunscreen on his pink nose. Both of them wore sunglasses.

Whether or not Fluttershy was recovered, or if she truly ever would be, Angel couldn’t tell. But her fur seemed to catch the sun a little better than ever before, and that was a good enough start. Maybe this was just a peak before another trough, but the point, to him, was to prove that the peaks existed.

“I think I’m going to ask Twilight for another book,” Fluttershy announced. She closed the cover of her tome, not having gotten past the first page in over half an hour. “I don’t think I’m…”

Angel raised both eyebrows as she considered her next words carefully.

“…ready for something like this yet.”

Angel smiled.

With that, she flew into her cottage, only coming out to place a letter in the mailbox and take her place back in her chair, carrying her book instead of her tome.

She had another announcement. “I’m hoping to see Twilight tomorrow.” She turned to Angel for a moment. “I know tomorrow’s my last day. But if it’s okay with you…?”

It was nice of her to ask, Angel thought. But he knew had no way of stopping her. He nodded, putting on a frown that feigned a tough decision being made.

Fluttershy giggled. “Okay, good,” she said. “Because I just asked her.”

Angel chuckled, massaging his aching shoulder and temples. He dozed off. Hours later, the sound of crackling green fire startled him from slumber, causing him to clutch at his heart.

“That was fast!” Fluttershy elated. “But… there’s no book?”

Snatching at the letter before it hit the ground, Fluttershy tore off the seal. Angel watched her eyes fly across the page, and he almost went back to sleep, until he saw her eyebrows turn upwards at the middle, and her lips press together. From behind her sunglasses, her eyes began to twinkle with the ghosts of tears.

Angel rocketed to her from his chair, massaging her shoulder with both paws. He made worried sounds to get her attention.

“Oh.. Angel, it’s fine, it’s just,” but he could hear her voice shaking. Her gaze moving between him and the page, then suddenly behind her. She got up and paced, dropping the letter on the ground. In a moment, she was trotting towards the cottage. Angel made to follow, but couldn’t leave without reading the letter first.

Hi, Fluttershy!

I’m so glad to hear you’re feeling better! You’re right, I’m always busy, but I can open up my schedule tomorrow. How about we go to the Ponyville Zoo? Say around 4 PM? I haven’t been there since it opened last year. Maybe you can teach me a thing or two about the animals!

And I’m sorry to hear that the book is a struggle, I just think it would be really cool if we could both learn how pegasus magic worked together. Did you know, that if you get good enough, there might be a way for you to invent your own pegasus magic? How cool would that be? I mean, nopony has ever done anything like that before, but that’s what makes it so exciting! Maybe we can talk about it tomorrow?”

Twilight Sparkle

Angel sighed and applied his paw to his forehead. The Ponyville Zoo was a lot of things to Fluttershy. It was caged animals, restricted from living their lives. It was the absence of their growls, cries, roars, chirps, squeaks, and other sounds of the wild, implying some kind of sedation. But not the chemical kind—something much more powerful than that.


Angel threw the letter on the ground and kicked it. How naive he was, to let this happen! To let Fluttershy give the decision of ‘where’ to have their first date to that Bookface, that imbecile! To give her an opportunity to blow it like she just had! Angel stamped and stamped on the letter until it was covered in dirt, then picked it up and tore it in two.

A single word appeared in Angel’s mind, and he held onto it firmly.


There was still one day of his week left. He wasn’t going to let it end this way.

That night, Fluttershy finished Daring Do and the Rest of Her Life. Closing it softly and pushing it across the desk, she laid her head down and exhaled deeply. Angel knocked on the wood to get her attention. He didn’t have a chance to give her a quizzical look—she answered without turning.

“The ending wasn’t what I wanted,” she murmured.

Angel rubbed circles into the back of her neck, spinning strands of pink hair together.

“…But it was the only way it could have ended.”

Angel kept rubbing. He noticed that she was staring at the page-a-day calendar still standing proudly at the back of her desk. Fluttershy had yet to tear off the page from six days ago, asking her what strength was.

Day 7

Angel wouldn’t let Fluttershy leave without him. On her way out the door, she had found him laying on his back in one side of her saddlebags, staring up at her with a concentrated frown, his paws crossed.

“I’ll be okay,” she told him, and her smile made him believe her.

But he was going to see this through to the end. And if he had to be in her bag, where he could easily push up against her chest and monitor her heartbeat, then that was just fine with him. It was a nice little place to ride shotgun—the sun poked little rays through the top flap into the bed he’d fashioned out of blankets from home. An intermittent breeze filtered in while Fluttershy flew to the zoo, brushing Angel’s whiskers and reminding him to stay awake, alert, ready.

Their arrival was obvious. The subtle shift in weight as Fluttershy landed. The noise of ponies nearby, many of whom were children. And, of course, the sudden jostling of the bag as Fluttershy was assaulted with a hug.

“I’m so glad you’re feeling better!” Twilight’s voice sounded just a little too loud, even from inside the bag.

“It wasn’t so bad,” Fluttershy claimed. “I’m sorry I ran away like that. It was rude.”

“Not at all. You really had me worried there!” Twilight gave a quick snort, followed by a nervous laugh, as she let go. Angel snickered in approval. What an awkward dork. There was no way Fluttershy could resist.

But then, could she? Her heartbeat hadn’t changed at all since they left the cottage—no uptick when she saw her date, or even when they came in contact. Surely it should have at least spiked for a few seconds. She was calmer now, sure, but this was extreme.

“Shall we go in?” Twilight suggested. “I’ve already bought us tickets! Actually, that’s a lie… They were free. Perks of being a princess, I guess.”

There! A spike! It was unquestionable. It seemed Fluttershy’s heart was simply a sucker for jokes. But then why didn’t she laugh?

“Actually, um… Do you mind if we just… sit over there a second? I have to ask you something first.”

Angel almost leapt out of the bag. He wanted to grab Fluttershy by the ears and take control. Steer her to the gates. Somehow take over her voice and get her to say, On second thought, forget I said any of that, let’s go have honest, innocent, ignorant fun.

“Er,” Twilight stuttered. Unsurprisingly. “Sure… I suppose. What’s on your mind?”

The saunter towards some far off bench felt like walking towards the edge of a cliff for Angel, yet he couldn’t control it. He flattened his ears against his face. His teeth chattered.

Fluttershy placed her bags on the grass before she sat down. Angel felt the sudden stillness of the earth instead of a heartbeat, a jostle. He peeked out to see Twilight and Fluttershy, sitting on opposite sides of a bench, eyes staring forward. Behind them, a stubborn maple tree shed the last of its leaves. But, he saw, there was a bunch of them still left just above the bench. He waited until he was sure he wasn’t being watched, or rather, until he realized he didn’t altogether care who saw him, before shooting out of the bag in a flash of white and scurrying up the tree like a squirrel. When he got to the bunch, he skidded to a halt and grabbed his tail.

“Hoo,” Owliscious greeted. He saluted with his wing, and turned his attention to the ponies below.

Fluttershy asked her question, and Angel held his breath.

“Are you going to… live a lot longer than me?”

Twilight’s eyes grew two sizes. Her mouth opened and closed, and she swallowed an invisible stone. “I mean… who’s to say… who gets to live longer than whom?”

“You know what I mean,” Fluttershy said sadly.

“No,” Twilight answered sharply. She leaned a little towards her date, who didn’t react to the advance. “A few days ago, I… went to see Princess Celestia to ask. She said that she wouldn’t make such a decision for me without asking first.”

Fluttershy turned, and their muzzles came within an inch of each other. Angel and Owliscious leaned over the leaves, nearly falling.

“But,” Twilight added, closing her eyes, turning away. “She said I have the option. She would just have to cast a spell. It’s simple, but for alicorns only. And it’s… irreversible.”

Fluttershy’s head dropped lower than it had in a week. Pushing her mane out of her eyes, she sat up and relaxed her shoulders. “And if I were to… learn pegasus magic, and… devote a lot of time to it. Do you think I could become an alicorn too?”

Twilight didn’t say anything. She was suddenly distracted by something, or rather, anything else. “Maybe,” she eventually decided on. “I mean, I don’t know. It was just a thought.”

Angel had to check if his heart was still beating anymore. Every bit of that conversation seemed to grip it, twist it, slow it down to nothing. He looked over at Owliscious, who was looking down at the ground, his eyes closed with force.

“You never finished the book you got me,” Fluttershy noted. “Is it alright if I spoil it for you?”

Twilight shrugged. She started rocking. Angel wondered what her heart was doing. And when Owliscious started rocking himself, he figured the infernal owl was doing the same.

Fluttershy raised her chin and watched the clouds pass overhead. “Thousand Heart… breaks it off with Daring Do. He decides that… she’s too important to the world to settle down with him, so he doesn’t give her the option.”

Their muzzles came close to each other again, not even half an inch away. A breeze pushed their manes lightly away from each other.

“I think you’re going to save the world someday, Twilight Sparkle.”

Angel’s body folded towards the tree branch, and Twilight started breaking. A few tears sprang forth. And then the wiping. And the sniffing. Fluttershy took a deep breath, her eyes closed, and put her wing around her friend. Owliscious did the same for Angel, hoo-ing softly.

Fluttershy had one last thing to say.

“It’s obviously your decision, but… If I’m all that’s keeping you from it, well, um… I hope you’ll ask for the spell. And I hope that no matter what you choose… that we’ll still be friends.”

Twilight sniffed loudly, pulling her own chin up high. She scanned all over the sky, as if it had answers for her. “Okay,” she murmured. “…Alrighty then… I’ll just…”

The princess departed without another word, and Owliscious flew off after her. Angel raced down the tree and stepped in front of Fluttershy, who now watched the sky herself. His foot thumped against the ground ferociously, and his eyebrows angled in a disappointed glare. But he stopped, clutching his paws together. His ears fell down behind him.

Fluttershy lowered her head to greet him. “Hi, Angel Bunny,” she blubbered, biting her lower lip. “I want, I-I-I… Uh-m…”

Angel leapt onto the bench and massaged her flank, wishing he had arms wide enough to wrap around her.

“I want to go home.”

That night, Angel climbed into Fluttershy’s bed to give her a squeeze around the neck. He’d never wished to be able to speak, or write, at any point in his life. After all, why string together words in a slow, frustrating process, when he could simply draw a picture, and have a thousand of them? But as he listened to Fluttershy’s easy breathing, and the occasional sniffs that punctured the air, sleep coming nowhere near her, he wished he could speak just one thing to her. He had something to say that no picture could ever convey.

But he did have a working idea, so he snuck out from under the covers and drew it on her page-a-day calendar, right at the bottom. A purple pony and an owl, and a yellow pony with a rabbit, both pairs walking away from each other. He circled the words, What is strength? and drew an arrow pointing to his champion in yellow.
« Prev   11   Next »
#1 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny >>Rao
This is pretty good.

There were a few points where I felt like I wasn't really 'in' on what Angel was thinking, though? The 'seven day plan' thing was the most obvious one; I expected, like, therapy or something. But it was just... clean the house, do the dishes, etc etc? It didn't seem like the sort of program that would have long lasting effects, I guess is what I'm getting at, but after Angel stole pamphlets and books and what and put it all together, it felt like it should be really impressive I guess...

I mean, what it is isn't a problem, story-wise. But my perception of it was that it was something more impressive than I ended up seeing it as. ...Yeah, I'm getting tired, I can tell from that sentence. Hopefully the rest of this is understandable. :P

The second bit that struck me the same way was the bit with Owloysius - although even in show they don't really pronounce the 'owl'... I feel like it should just be Aloysius, TBH - that bit also cleared up for me, when Angel runs through the crowd. The thing is, he apparently realizes what Owloysius is motioning to him about halfway through the pantomime, and I... didn't.

I kinda felt like the inclusion of 'are you going to live a long time' here made me think less of the story. I'm... really not a fan of immortal ennui. I'd say 'better to have loved and lost', take the spell, do the thing, deal with the consequences afterwards. Despite your 'strength' doodle at the end, I ended up feeling like Fluttershy and Twilight took the cowards way out, by not even trying to make it work. As such, the ending felt faintly ridiculous to me, instead of bittersweet.

Well, maybe I'm misunderstanding your point, or maybe I'm not really someone in your target audience.

On the other hand, the thematic elements here are quite strong; you have threads running through from beginning to end, and even if I don't totally agree with how they're woven, I can appreciate the craft nonetheless. This is a solidly constructed story from beginning to end, and I enjoyed reading it.

Good work!
#2 · 1
· · >>Baal Bunny
Good Stuff: This fic kept me guessing all the way through, and I really enjoyed trying to solve the mystery. Why did Fluttershy panic? How can Angel Bunny help her? I liked his secret reading habit and the fact Twilight is in on it. Some of the therapy tricks, like the flash cards and the writing letters tricks, seemed believable to me. Also I laughed out loud when Angel told the guy at the market what he knew. Speaking of Angel, he was written well here, with his snarky and disapproving side balancing out his helpful and fatherly side. His nicknames for the rest of the Mane 6 were my favorites. Lots of good Fluttershy stuff, like her dislike of zoos.

Bad Stuff: It's mostly cos what works really works, but some things are just OK by comparison. Angel's sign language was hard to translate once or twice, especially at the market scene with the "Hoo. Hoo?" meanings. I got it, but I was unhappy with having to wait because it could have been explained on the spot and I was clueless for a bit in a bad way. The ending was OK, but I had a "wait that's it?" moment because I didn't feel like the pay-off fully matched the build-up. I think Twilight and Fluttershy needed more scenes to establish their chemistry, because the romance angle didn't meet expectations much for me.

Verdict: Top Contender. It does have its disappointments, especially at the end, but Angel's characterisation and the solid build-up and mystery, the comedy in some scenes, and the mixture of cynical and sweet, all mean I end up really liking this one for what it does so well.
#3 · 2
Very, very nice:

I'll agree with >>Not_A_Hat and >>HiTime that the pantomime scene in the marketplace needs a bit of a tune-up, but my only real suggestion involves giving us more of AngeI's emotional investment in Fluttershy's happiness. The old saying goes, "If you expect the worst, you can only be happily surprised," and I'd like to see both hope and grouchiness as he has to change and update his plan during the course of the story. That way, when it all gets completely overturned at the end, it'll be that much more of a gut-punch, especially his final realization in the last paragraphs that this is the only possible way things could've turned out.

#4 · 3
· · >>Bachiavellian
Currently the top story on my prelim slate. An ambitious attempt at an original story. I'll skip discussing a lot of the high points – suffice to say there were many.

Writing a story from the point of view of a non-verbal character is a difficult task, and there's a few times where this story gets tangled up trying to resolve that difficulty. The pantomime scene with Owlicious in the marketplace is the most obvious – I couldn't follow it at all, and just kind skipped to the end of the scene to get the gist. The charades and words-on-cards that Angel Bunny used to blackmail the grocer worked a bit better, but it was still unnecessarily drawn-out, and considering how close you were to the word-cap on this story that space could've been better used, I think, on other scenes. I'm not sure you even needed the whole scene with Angel blackmailing the grocer for groceries. What point did it serve? I guess it demonstrated that Angel can draw well, but there didn't seem to be any narrative purpose beyond that.

The defining conflict of the story, Fluttershy and Twilight's star-crossed romance, comes into the story extremely late. That sort of head-fake can work, and I think it works well here – we know from the start that something has upset Fluttershy, but the explanation we get from the rest of the mane six is clearly lacking and suggests there's something more going on (which of course there is). I think dropping another hint or two along the way would help the story gel a bit more.

Right now there are essentially two conflicts: Fluttershy's attempts to become more mentally healthy, and Angel Bunny's role in that struggle; and Fluttershy's conundrum regarding Twilight. As it stands, the two plots have almost nothing to do with each other except that the second one precipitated the first. You could eliminate either plot from this story and the remaining plot would work just fine. My suggestion, author, would be to find a way to inextricably link them together, even if those linkages don't become clear until the end.

But those are just my thoughts. As I said, this is currently topping my slate, and I expect it to do extremely well in the finals.

(Loved Angel Bunny's names for the other mares.)
#5 · 2
The greatest strength of this story (IMHO) is that it very effectively understates its conflicts. It was an excellent decision to make the POV character somebunny other than Fluttershy, because it still frames the conflict around her while forcing the readers (and Angel) to interpret what's happening to her. It's often really difficult to strike a balance between being clear enough and being too ham-fisted, so I'm very glad when stories take full advantage when they have the ability to be neither.

As for complaints, I will have to echo one from >>Cold in Gardez that Angel's charades got confusing at a couple of points. It was easy enough to understand when there was somepony there to interpret it for us (Fluts or the grocer), but when it was just Angel and Owlicious, things got weird.

Another area that might need a second look is Twilight's last scene with Fluttershy. I know that this is your climax, and I know that it's really important to make sure your reader isn't confused by your conflict's resolution, but I can't help but to think that this scene loses a degree of the story's subtlety that worked so well for you in previous areas. In particular, this line, "If I’m all that’s keeping you from it, well, um… I hope you’ll ask for the spell" felt a little on-the-nose to me. On my second and third re-reads though, it didn't bother me as much, so there is a good chance that this was a personal knee-jerk reaction.

All in all, I think you've got a great story here, despite whatever small complaints I might bring up. I enjoyed it very much, and I'm happy that you wrote it!
#6 · 2
Everyone else hit most of the highlights so I'll just add a personal anecdote to >>Not_A_Hat's comment:
But it was just... clean the house, do the dishes, etc etc? It didn't seem like the sort of program that would have long lasting effects [...]

I mentioned this to Bach in the chat, but back in some of the worst throes of my depression, I kept a piece of paper taped up near my computer. It only had four tasks written on it, and if I managed two of them per day I considered my day a win. One of those tasks was eating. When you're in that bad place, the really bad place, accomplishing everyday necessities, let alone chores like cleaning, can be a huge deal. There were days, often consecutive ones, where I neglected the four tasks.

And since I got better, I haven't let myself wallow in garbage like I used to, which is an anecdote for another day. I think Angel, by just having her clean, is trying to give her some semblance of control and propriety. It's rote, it's necessary, and from my experience it's nicer staring vacantly at a clean desk than a messy one. All the mess does is reinforce negative feelings.

Otherwise! Yes the nicknames were great, the entire cue card scheme was amazing, and I did have to re-read the Owlicous bit twice to understand the intent, but once I did I found it very clever. Also sweet that Angel's mortal enemy would deign to help him (at Twilight's explicit request, I imagine).

The romance angle feels out of left field at first, but thinking back to Twilight's letter and the book she sends it's not at all hard to piece together, I think.

Edit: Oh also the title is so damned clever.
Edit 2: Thinking about it a little bit more, Flutters being more direct in the end also acts as a sort of graduation ceremony for her taking control of her feelings and actions. Which is why Angel isn't present right at her side for the finale. She knows he's in the bags, and leaves him away from the action intentionally. He ends up watching with Owlicious, who up until then has been Twilight's proxy in the narrative, signaling his change from the driver of action to another viewer.