"Of Females and Feathers"

Rainbow Dash had been a citizen of Ponyville for about a month now. And honestly, she hadn't felt better than she felt now in a while. For the first week or so, it'd been a little weird seriously having the town as her legit home, but with the passing of the next few, it quickly became just as normal as anything else. She loved Ponyville. She'd taken the chance and moved to Ponyville (of course, only after spending a few weeks in Cloudsdale again). She'd accepted her job, and was now an official weather pony. She was happy.

After talking to the mayor about her situation, and the fact that she would indeed be taking the position she'd been offered, the mayor had allowed her the freedom she needed for the weekends, to go back to Cloudsdale and see her parents. It was something she planned to attempt every weekend, and something she'd succeeded in doing for all of the current month. After being so amazing in allowing her to stay in Ponyville and take her job, after all, there was no way she would ever fail to keep the promise she'd made with her mother and father. Not as long as she could help it, anyway. So while other plans changed at random, Rainbow Dash always spent her weekends in Cloudsdale; all her friends knew it, too, as she'd made sure to tell them.

The job itself, was definitely something she enjoyed most about her new home, tied only with spending time with the friends she'd made. It was generally easy, as her main task was clearing the clouds when needed, and bringing them in when needed. And usually, all of the weather team helped out with their own specific tasks of the day. Each of them got their fair share of weather jobs, but with her speed, Rainbow Dash could almost always finish hers in minutes. Hell, sometimes even in seconds. She was already a natural, and the more she practiced, the more of a weather expert she would become. She'd actually never even dreamed she'd be working with weather like her father did, especially since she'd never held any interest in working in the factory. But of course, she hadn't even thought about the differences in weather tasks there, and here on earth. These kinds of weather jobs, she could do!

With her weekends planned, a real job, and a new life of her own, Rainbow Dash had even taken the next step to make it complete.

She now stood at the base of her very own new house, looking up at the big cloud structure with pride. She'd made it, herself, though she couldn't exactly take all the credit, as before she'd built it, it'd only been planned as a house. Now, nearly completed, and strangely, she knew, it was a castle.

"…Why would I want a castle?"

"Why WOULDN'T you want a castle?"

As the exchange of words ran through her mind again, the Pegasus grinned to herself, actually really glad now that the crazy Pinkie Pie had come along while she'd been building, and helped herself to throwing in some of her own suggestions. While the idea of having a castle sounded almost too swanky to her at first, it hadn't taken long for the change of heart to ensue: after all, she did plan on becoming the captain of the weather team eventually, as well as a Wonderbolt. And what better way to keep her gradually returning ego boosted than living in a place like this?

It had certainly been the hugest step she'd made, moving out from home, as well as from Fluttershy's cottage. She still hadn't completely moved out from the latter until right lately. She'd miss being with Fluttershy all the time, perhaps even more than being in Cloudsdale all the time, but she knew better than anything that it was time. Besides, it wasn't as if she wouldn't be seeing the shy pony anymore; they would definitely still be hanging out, visiting one another, and not to mention, they'd still be in the same town. But Rainbow Dash couldn't keep living with her forever. If she didn't go ahead and leave now, it'd only serve to make things more difficult down the road – and she surely didn't want that.

Now, though, she finally felt content. She'd felt happiness during all the things she'd been through lately, excitement, lots of different emotions, but as far as being content with her life, and feeling like she was done with changes – at least for the moment – this truly was the first she'd felt of it since before her troubles had even begun. She liked it.

Rainbow Dash sighed, sitting down on her clouds and enjoying the feeling. She really didn't feel like anything else could make things better right now, even despite the fact that she certainly wasn't prepared to "come out" yet. That would have its time as well, she knew, eventually. But for now, she was fine still having it as her own little secret. In fact, she was so fine about everything, that she only smiled, completely unaware that she was in for a surprise that would already change the assumption she'd gathered a moment past.

And surprise her was indeed an understatement.

At the sound of large wings brushing the air in a stop above her, Rainbow's magenta eyes widened in slight confusion, but also in wonder. She knew that sound. But before she could even lift her head to see if the inkling was telling the truth, the familiar voice that broke the silence beat her to it.

"…Been a while, huh, Dash?"

Rainbow was hit with a state of complete shock as her eyes met the golden ones of the griffon she knew oh so well, as a partner in flight camp, and the oldest best friend she had. For a moment, she couldn't speak: her voice was completely caught in her throat. Quickly, though, she choked out the only reply that came to her mind, not caring in the least that it wasn't an answer to the question.

"GILDA?" she exclaimed in response.

As the Pegasus beamed one of the biggest smiles of shock Gilda had ever seen, she only laughed, and jumped down to the base of the cloud structure next to her. Though her own move was the slightest bit hesitant, Rainbow Dash didn't wait even a second to tackle her old friend in a joyous hug, nearly knocking her down with the gesture. Both of them laughed happily, overjoyed to see one another again, and honestly, it was almost as if the incident that had happened a few months back had never even occurred. Or if it did, it didn't matter. Once the hugging had ended, Gilda finally spoke again.

She said, "Your folks said I'd find you here, so…I decided I'd try my luck."

Rainbow still only grinned, just happy to see her again. She'd never dreamt to get a visit from her, though! And seeing her again finally had her realizing just how much she'd missed her over the months. She and Gilda had been best friends ever since their filly and chick years, and honestly, this was one of the longest times they'd ever been apart. Of course, it was only natural, given what had happened. Rainbow Dash, however, was fully prepared to put it behind them, just as they did everything else, and get back to the way things were. She answered, "Yeah. I live here now!"

Still a dumb thing to say. The griffon raised a brow as she gave an awkward smirk; obviously she already knew that little piece of information. And also realizing it, Rainbow also stifled her own laugh, and looked away a moment, a small blush coming to her cheeks.

"Yeah," Gilda chuckled after the pause. She tried to break the weirdness they'd fallen into. "…Well it's good to see you're doing alright."

Rainbow's smile returned, and she replied, thankful for the break. "I'm doing great! …It's great to see you again, too, G."

At the response, Gilda immediately met Rainbow's happy gaze. Her own gaze was of slight confusion, but she still understood. She knew the pony hadn't misheard her statement, only assumed what she'd meant by it. Usually she was right. But hearing it now only made Gilda stiffen just a bit. She hesitantly looked away again in silence. They were right back to the awkwardness. Gilda couldn't help it, though; she'd no idea how to word the truth that she really was a little gladder to see that Rainbow was doing well, rather than simply seeing her. And naturally, it didn't take Rainbow Dash long at all to sense the vibe change that had taken place so quickly in her friend.

"…G?" she asked, almost cautiously. The tone was also sprinkled with a bit of worry.

Gilda looked back to her at the inquiry, still tense, but at seeing Rainbow's expression, she did her best to relax. She let a small smile grace her beak again and shook her head as a sign that her weirdness could just be ignored. "Sorry. Yeah. I missed ya."

But Rainbow wasn't taking that as an answer. She knew the griffon better than anyone, and far well enough to tell when something was up. Though she was often willing to let Gilda have her secrets and deal with her own issues quietly, this time was different. They'd been apart for months! Now that they were finally together again, all Rainbow Dash wanted was for things to be like they'd been before. They were still best friends! That definitely hadn't changed for her.

She hesitated. "…Gilda, what is it?"

"It's nothing, Dash!"

But it was. They both knew she was lying. So finally, with a sigh, and a nervous half-shrug, golden eyes again averted, Gilda corrected herself. "…We're okay…right? After you…"

She trailed off, closing her eyes and stifling an annoyed grunt. Gilda had never been one with words, especially not when it came to emotional shit like this. Perhaps her past had done it to her. Perhaps this one issue was simply more of a big deal to her than others. But she'd never been able to get it off her mind when her closest friend had left camp, and she'd never stopped worrying that things wouldn't be the same between them anymore. She'd avoided it for a while, as best she could, but in the end, she'd had to come find her. She loved her, after all. And she'd never meant to hurt her. If she had.

"…What?" Rainbow Dash finally asked, confused.

Gilda continued, echoing her thoughts. "…After you left…I… Dash…I'm sorry I… I shouldn't have…"

Realizing what she was getting at, the Pegasus' eyes widened. Gilda was blaming what they'd done on herself? That was sure what it sounded like. Rainbow was nearly in disbelief, especially given that she remembered her first time quite well, and she sure as hell remembered how completely willing she'd been to do it. That was what had brought all these troubles to begin with! Quickly, she responded, raising a hoof to show how crucial her next words would be.

"Whoa. G. You didn't…do anything wrong," she told her, getting eye contact before she went on, quite seriously. "…You know that, right?"

The griffon softened at the response, but moreso from the steady, promising look in the magenta hues she knew so well. She stayed silent a moment more, but finally rolled her eyes in slight annoyance with herself, as the smile came back to her beak. She knew Rainbow was right. But…still. "I know…but…I still…I just wanted to be sure. That's all."

Rainbow Dash stifled a laugh, also rolling her eyes. "G, I would never hold that against you. I'd never done it before, but I still totally wanted to. I practically asked for it!"

Gilda's smile only grew into a grin; yeah. She had. Maybe it really wasn't as bad as she'd worried after Dash had run back home. Nevertheless, she couldn't help but worry a bit, that perhaps she'd gone a little too far. She still wasn't completely convinced that she hadn't. But she'd definitely be able to tell if her friend was lying, or if she was troubled. Which, she wasn't either of those things. Thank Celestia.

"I should probably be thanking you," Rainbow continued, a bit sheepishly. "…Cuz well, I've pretty much accepted it now… I like girls."

The Pegasus could already feel her cheeks warming a little just from remembering how freaked out over it she'd been before. She shrugged, trying to ignore it. Gilda laughed quite loudly at the news, actually really glad to hear it, despite how funny it sounded now. Rainbow had really come a long way, and it was easy to tell she was reverting back to her old, cocky self more and more.

Gilda answered through a laugh, brow raised. "Oh really? And you're okay with this traumatic discovery?"

Also giving a giggle, Rainbow couldn't help but bop her friend with a hoof at the sarcasm and give her a funny look. She actually wasn't completely ready to face everything that came with it yet, but for the most part, yeah, she was okay with it. And despite Gilda's sarcasm, she replied with the truth.

"Yes," she grinned. "Besides. You were right. It's not a big deal."

Haha, surprise! (: I was going to make you guys wait till next Friday, but... I can't begin to express how happy & grateful I am for you guys getting me to 100 reviews. So, as a showing of my gratitude, I changed my mind, and decided to post this today. Thank you so, so much! And just in case you're wondering, NO, this isn't the beginning of Griffon the Brush-Off; this story takes place about two years BEFORE that, so, yeah.

I forgot to mention in the last author's note, that one of my main goals and purposes behind writing this story, was to portray Rainbow Dash as a lesbian, in a more serious light. The jokes about her mane and tomboyish personality, well, they're funny to an extent; but it really bothers me that so many fans seriously use those jokes as their reasoning behind Dash's homosexuality. This is why I refrained from even mentioning them in this story, and it's also why I gave Rigel the rainbow mane as well: straight male, married, father, with a rainbow mane. Rainbow Dash is a lesbian, because she's a lesbian. And I wouldn't want her any other way. Hearts.

For those of you who've stuck around to read this, you get two more surprises:

1. The title of the upcoming sequel is "Of Freedom and Fanfare." Keep a lookout, or author alert me!

2. I'm sure a lot of you know SoundofRainfall, one of my most faithful reviewers, as well as one of my favorite authors here. Well, he and I have decided to do something crazy: we're collaborating to bring you an all-new fanfic, written by both of us, about the one and only Discord. If you're reading his story "Scented Venom," our collab is going to be...partially connected to it, but not completely. You'll see what I mean once we start writing. ;) If you're not reading it, I'd recommend doing so. We'll probably be posting it from my account, also, just to let ya know. So yeah, keep a lookout for that too, if you're interested!

And I guess this sums up my final oFaF author's note. Thank you again, to everyone, for helping me get this far! It's been a pleasure writing this story, and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.

As always, reviews are very appreciated! Stay tuned for future fanfics. (: