His paw and talon were quickly becoming frozen; snow icing the tips of his nails, and it stung as it stuck to the fabric. Despite the numbing sting, the spirit wouldn't lower his hand from where he was holding the warm, hastily summoned blanket to Fluttershy.
It seemed to have taken ages for Fluttershy to stop crying, and he had in fact watched as the moon began to rise through the sky, indicating the probable hour or so as the anguish, pain and tears continued. The bright, blue eyes usually full of life and shining were dim pricks of blue – like lights at the end of a long tunnel. She was broken, barely coherent, trembling into him. Holding her was getting uncomfortable, but experimentally releasing her only caused the unstable pegasus to collapse into the snow.
The spirit flexed his stiff, frozen fingers and dug them deep into the snow, pushing his body up. When he tried to flap his wings he found icicles lined the base. Flying wasn't an option, and neither was setting her down to walk on her own. The spirit trekked on through the snow with the pony half swaddled in his arms.
The storm was finally beginning to let up, even if the frigid cold wouldn't. The seemingly endless walk home continued on, and Discord's body was consumed in agony by the time he finally grasped the freezing, metal door knob and twisted it. He was still sensitive from the tumble earlier today, adding the damage of the cold just made it all the more painful.
Ha, pain. As if he had the right to feel bad about his own boo-boos when there was a terminally ill pony in their house. He Rolled his eyes and ran a heavily stressed paw down the center of his face.
The crisp and warm cottage air rippled through his fur, melting away the flakes of snow and thawing the coating of ice as he shakily stepped through the cottage door and lowered the trembling, butter colored ball into his own bed, not having the strength to climb the steps and get her to her own room.
Fluttershy wasn't sleeping, despite her eyes being closed and the way she comfortingly curled into his blankets and pillow. Discord just sat there, part of him wanting to throw the stupid pony off his bed so he could curl up on it – it wasn't as if she was the one who was hurt! ...Not physically anyways – while another part of him wanted to shake her awake and demand what had happened, and yet another part simply wanted to curl up on the floor and forget everything in sleep.
He finally sunk into the floor and watched the patterns of the distraught pony's erratic breathing as she shifted restlessly in his bed. Everything was nice and silent, but it seemed..just a tad off to him. At this point of the night he'd be hearing the sifting of pages from Camellia's dumb books, or at least see a sliver of light from her door.
Discord groggily sat up, hovering in the air as he scanned the room for any sign of the mother mare. Her saddle bag was gone, as were her winter clothing; one torn piece of parchment paper glinted in his eye from on the table.
His head was turned away from the notice as he hesitantly picked it up, eyes closed as he brought the paper in his field of vision. He was nervous of what it might say. Finally, the apprehensive spirit cracked an eye open and briefly scanned it, wishing he hadn't.
Yes, Camellia was gone; it looked as if she had left a few hours ago since the candle she had lit on her way out was extinguished, and not even a trail of smoke came from the wick. She had gone to the hospital for an early treatment, figuring Fluttershy needed some time anyways.
There's no time in the world that can make up for your appalling lie, Discord thought, absently pulling a blanket up over Fluttershy and settling himself on the hard wood floor. He glanced out the window where the thermometer was visibly dropping before his very eyes. Oh, perfect weather for a sick pony to go out in. Dear Equestria, stupidity ran in Fluttershy's family.
Sighing, eyes closing, Discord laid into the hard ground and drifted into a sleep far from peaceful; Fluttershy's short, gasping whimpers haunting him all through the night.
Tomorrow was Hearths Warming Eve, and every tree in Ponyville was decorated with strings of tinsel that shone as if diamonds were embedded in every fiber; crystal like ornaments hanging from them. Ponies trotted by with brightly wrapped gifts in their mouths, smiling and giggling among their equine friends as they chatted eagerly about Hearths Warming the next day.
The only part of Equestria that seemed completely devoid of holiday spirit was the humble, placid little cottage near Everfree. Surprisingly enough, it was not a certain draconequus that wasn't in the mood, but a certain pegasus.
Discord was lounging on a plush, pink cloud, mismatched legs crossed over himself as he glanced back now and then to the distraught, still, little pony at the window. She had been like this for ages, since he had found her bawling in the snow anyways.
When Fluttershy read her mother's notice Discord had expected her to break down bawling once more, or at the very least try to go after her. She had merely slid down the wall to her rump and stared at the window for hours. She'd probably stare and stare and waste away if he didn't remind her to eat. It had fallen to him to not only look after her, but try his hand at taking care of her stupid animals.
"I don't know what in Equestria you expect me to do," Discord snapped from over his cloud, glaring down at a tiny little mouse with a broken tail. "Snuggle you like her? Oh please – I am not that kind of draconequus; the name is Discord, spirit of chaos, and I don't do cuddles."
The injured little rodent wrinkled its whiskers up at him and squeaked, limply holding up the broken tail in his pink paw.
"A bandage?" he questioned, getting a confirmed answer when the mouse nodded. The dark smirk spread across his face and he smiled, eyes glinting dastardly as he snapped his fingers.
The creature gave a horrified squeak as a large roll of bandages lightly constricted around its tiny body like a mummy, and it tipped onto its side, pathetically kicking its legs while Discord laughed at the poor thing's plight.
"Hoho, there, you're healed," the spirit snickered, bursting into further peals of laughter as the mouse tried dragging itself back into its home. "Please see my receptionist at the desk to schedule your next appointment."
Still laughing, the spirit swooped over to Fluttershy in the air, laying on his back and staring upside down at her. "I'd make a lovely doctor, wouldn't you say so, little one~?" His smile fell as the pegasus only nodded unconsciously, obviously having not seen or heard the entire scene. Such a shame – it was funny.
Discord hovered there silently in the air a few minutes, pondering on what to do to crack a smile on that miserable little face. After a few seconds of rubbing his beard, he gently grasped both the pegasus's ear bases from behind and made them flop back and forth.
"Floppy floppy~" He continued this for a few seconds, leaning over the slumped butter colored shoulder to see if there was at least the glimmer of a smile. There wasn't. Retracting his hands, Discord studied the pegasus's face, watching as she gazed at the movements of the snowflakes.
After several seconds, he snapped his fingers and reappeared. As the pegasus watched the snowflakes, one of them flipped slowly back and forth before her very eyes. Discord was at least pleased to see the lifeless eyes widen slightly as his face projected on one of the snowflakes. A burst of wind blew him into the window and though it didn't hurt, Discord made sure to make dramatic gasping noises and roll his eyes and tongue back and forth. Still no response.
Despondently, the chaotic spirit reappeared behind Fluttershy and stroke his beard again, looking a little more glum with his repeated failures. It dawned on him what was far easier than making her laugh: annoying her.
Flitting over to the tree, Discord dropped on all fours and advanced slowly to the tree. "Oh, Fluttershyyyy~" he sing-songed, smirking, "I'm about to crawl under the tree and open all the gifts. Better come stop me."
She didn't even turn, but undaunted, he wiggled under the tree anyways. There was still no reaction even though he knew the pegasus could hear the rustling of the branches and rattling of the ornaments..and chili peppers.
"Oh dear, it appears I've found and am about to open a gift. What a shame." Despite his cheery voice, he was cringing, knowing he was probably risking getting some serious tickles from her (or perhaps she'd go with the threat of tying him to a tree outside), but it would be worth it if at least a smidgen of her usual spark returned to her.
He was more than annoyed when Fluttershy still didn't turn to him, and he was honestly running out of ideas. This had been her biggest pet peeve for the past week; it was his last option, really. He swiped his claw over the wrapping paper with a loud "rip". Definitely expecting the hooves to scurry over to him, Discord was angry to see she was still ignoring him.
"Fine, be like that," he snapped quietly, slamming the present back down. "Last time I try to do something nice. Matter-a-fact, I do believe this was the first time." He tried to wriggle his serpentine body out from under the tree, only to realize he was wedged far too tight.
Uh oh..."Alright, Fluttershy, I get you're depressed and all, but if you could perhaps help me out from under this tree it will be deeply appreciated." He hadn't even noticed Fluttershy was no longer in the room. "Fluttershy?"
No response now, except for the light pattering of feet as they neared him. Far too small to be Angel's or Fluttershy's, the pair of feet belonged to the mouse that Discord had imprisoned in bandages. One of his brethren had chewed him free, and he decided to get his revenge on the spirit by chewing his feet.
"Ouch!" Discord yelped as the tiny teeth gnawed on his toes. He hissed and fought to kick the stupid vermin away, but it clung tightly with its teeth. "Cut that out!" he snarled, writhing and bucking, trying to perform a spell. The painful nipping ruined his concentration, and thus he couldn't teleport away. The draconequus had to reside with laying under the tree and endure the chewing.
Mere seconds later, there arose a sudden, shattering noise, followed by a large thump. Discord began kicking and struggling with the stupid tree, expecting that he'd see Fluttershy sprawled somewhere, having dropped some sort of glass and perhaps cut herself on it. A cold wind rippled through his fur, and it was accompanied by a quiet moan.
The stupid mouse finally let up on his abused feet and Discord teleported himself out from under the tree, taking in the sight in front of him with total bewilderment.
Their window was gone; some pieces on the floor, some outside, and the wind screamed through the gaping hole where the window had been. At his feet was a pale blue pony, buried under a seemingly endless amount of letters. She rose her head, and Discord stepped back slowly at her crossed eyes.
"I'm sorry," Ditzy profusely apologized, hurriedly gathering her letters and stuffing them back in her bulging mail bag. "I wasn't watching where I was going, and the blizzard was really bad, and.." She stopped to take a breath, giving a goofy and sheepish smile.
"How can you see where you're going?" Discord demanded rudely, creeped out by the state of the blue pegasus's yellow eyes. Her head lowered for a few moments, but she seemed to shrug it off, reaching into her mail bag.
"I can pay for the window," the pony assured, blinking as Discord merely snapped his fingers and put it back in place. "...Or that works." She pulled out a small blue envelope, handing it to him. "Message for Fluttershy, from the doctor."
The spirit barely had a chance to open his mouth before Fluttershy trampled him, hastily grabbing the letter that floated in the air after it flew from his hand, and tearing it open. She barely made it past the first sentence before the remnants of her broken heart shattered further and the tears streamed.
"I'm sorry," Ditzy said softly, leaving both draconequus and pegasus to wonder if she meant the window or the letter. Before either asked, Ditzy Doo had flown clumsily out the window, dropping several letters as she did.
Fluttershy sat shakily down by the window she had spent the past two days staring out, and she wiped her face. Every deep breath only came with even more sobs.
"Mummy doesn't have much time." The spirit slunk to a sit beside her, taking the letter and reading through it. He sighed after a few minutes and tossed the paper over his back, watching as further tears flooded down her cheeks.
"And that's it? You're just going to sulk around the cottage until she passes?" he asked, and the pegasus's face screwed up in a failed attempt to contain the further undesired tears.
"What else can I do? She won't want to see me, not after I yelled at her and stormed out..." An amused chuckle was the response as the spirit tilted her chin towards him with a talon.
"Please, my dear; I'm pretty sure if anypony has the right to be angry it is you. You have nothing to apologize for. You are being far too much of an apologist for this." He rolled his eyes. "As usual." Fluttershy didn't appear to hear his last comment as she quietly fiddled with her hooves, resting against his side. Normally Discord shoved her off him, but made an exception for today.
"I'm so scared," Fluttershy whispered, ignoring the sarcastic "what a surprise" as she climbed into the stiff spirit's lap and snuggled into the cinnamon brown fur. A paw tentatively rested on her head.
"I'm so scared to...to see her like that. I've only just realized that she looks so different, and I know that she will look just terrible when I see her at the hospital." Her face scrunched up again as the realization once again crashed in waves. "She's dying, Discord." The spirit flinched when the pony cried into his lap, but didn't pull her off.
"Which is why she needs you," he said, voice slightly stern as he forced the pony to look up at him. "I very highly doubt she'll care about you running off that night, and although I don't believe in forgiveness on your part – or forgiveness in general – perhaps.." He shrugged. "You both should put it aside in.." There really was no easier way to put it: "her last days."
Fluttershy nodded reluctantly, resting her tear stained cheek against his knee and shutting her tired, tear stung eyes. Not even two days ago the young pegasus had been lead on believing that all her mother had was a simple flu since she was a toddler. She was told her Mummy got sick a lot, and that "the germs just seemed to attack her more than any other pony."
Somehow all her life she was stupid enough to believe that lie. Perhaps to a filly that hadn't seen much else than a cold it was understandable, but even as she grew older, more mature, she never caught on. It was always cemented that her mother was just different. She never looked at her mother as "sick", just different. With age the pegasus learned all kinda of pleasant diseases..
...and yet she could never put two and two together and complete the grim puzzle.
"I am so selfish," Fluttershy whispered, covering her face shamefully. "Mummy has been trying to communicate these symptoms to me, and I've never listened. My Mummy needed me and I was never there because I only wanted to protect myself."
Discord was at a loss of what to say, unused to these types of scenarios, especially giving any form of comfort. He merely sat there awkwardly against the wall and waited for Fluttershy to cry herself out. It didn't take long, being how out of tears the pegasus already was.
"Well, look, she needs you now more than anything, Fluttershy. This could be your way of making up for..what you feel you've done." He shrugged, honestly not seeing what Fluttershy had done that was so awful, and not just saying that to protect her. "This might be her last day. If you don't go see her, you will be kicking yourself for it for the rest of your life."
Fluttershy knew he was right; she knew she had little time to say the unspoken words that had been reverberating through her mind the past few days. She knew this wasn't the time to hold a grudge, feel guilty, or just cry and feel sorry for herself and for her mother. No, this was a time to be with her mother, to forget everything that had happened and focus on making these last hours the best she could.
Opening the tear stung eyes, the pegasus forced it out in a trembling, weak and frail voice:
They walked through the dreary hospital corridors. Well, one walked while the other floated. Discord watched on as nurses busily trotted in and out of hospital rooms, carrying trays of food, medicine, bed sheets. Normally in such an environment Discord would go all out of the nurses (having enough dignity to leave the sick patients alone), and he'd turn bedsheets into giant butterflies, make their clipboards come alive, and plenty more.
Right now he just...wasn't really into it for some reason. He despised that. When had he not been into chaos? Was it because he was still tired and in agony, or was it the tears on the frail little pegasus's face who had unceremoniously wriggled her way into his indifferent heart? That perhaps had a factor, but for the most part Discord simply assured himself he was exhausted. Tired and wanting only to sleep more than anything. He had been given the option, but for reasons unknown to him he decided to tag along.
"She's right in here." The draconequus's head snapped up at the doctor's somber tone; his bushy eyebrows furrowed in a stressed and sympathetic frown as he led the two into the ICU.
Fluttershy wasn't prepared for the grizzly sight that met her eyes upon entering the dim white room. There her mother was, or at least there lay the hollow gray shell of what was once her mother. Dear Equestria, had it only been a few days? It looked as if years had passed; her mother seemed fifty years older, already turning into a sunken skeleton against the white pillows she laid upon.
Fluttershy swallowed hard and felt like crying, turning from the door, but the firm mismatched hands blocked her.
Mother and daughter met eye to eye, and it seemed like years since they had. Camellia's vibrant eyes seemed lifeless and devoid of the sparkle they usually had. They were sad, tear filled, looking to her with yearning.
"Darling." She could still speak, and she could still weakly hold out those swollen arms, that Fluttershy promptly fell into and cried as her mother pressed dry and cracking lips to the butter colored forehead, ignoring the pain as she rocked her only daughter.
Discord observed the emotional display in total silence. Tears and hugs were never his thing, but he didn't exactly feel like making any gagging noises like he usually did anyways. Mother and daughter needed their time, and he needed to get himself back into the mindset of causing trouble and strife. Now that he thought about it, those nurses wereindeed fabulous candidates.
"Mummy, I..I am so sorry," Fluttershy gave a thin and painful whisper, lowering her head and burying her face into the sick mare's graying mane. "I have been so stupid all this time; I never realized and I should have. I just left you.." She breathed in a sob, smoothing a hoof over the unbrushed mane. "I left you when you needed me the most."
Camellia took the hoof in her own hooves and pressed it close to her face, tightly, holding it there and feeling her daughter's warmth against her freezing cold cheek. "I am the one that owes the apology." She took in a deep and shuddering breath. "I thought what I was doing all these years was protecting you."
Fluttershy licked her dry lips and played with her mother's hoof in her own, gently rubbing it to warm it and shutting her eyes. "S..so..how..how long?" she whispered hoarsely, figuring she may as well bite the bullet.
The pale blue eyes were sad, yet her mother feigned a pathetic attempt at cheer as she lightly swung her daughter's hooves back and forth. She chewed on the inside of her cheek before quietly responding. "We will have the night together." She brushed back a lock of rosette hair from the pegasus's face. "We can carry on our Hearths Warming Eve traditions, and Discord can participate as well if he wants."
Fluttershy laughed at the initial thought of forcing Discord into participating in their holiday traditions, and the giggles grew even more high pitched and hysterical as she remembered she and her mother's favorite activity was to give each other make overs.
"I'm sure he'd love us making him pretty." Both mother and daughter shared a laugh at that, exchanging different and devious ideas of the kinds of things they could do to him, falling back in hysterics when the suggestion of braiding his beard and putting a pink bow around it came up.
"Mummy, he'd turn you into a vegetable," Fluttershy advised, yet having to laugh at the initial thought of Discord wearing a bow. "A bag of frozen vegetables. Hm, speaking of which, I wonder where he went."
One needn't look too far but the frenzied corridors of the hospital, where nurses sped by, shrieking that the hospital was haunted when their quills inexplicably came to life and began scribbling over their clip boards. Papers were scattered, fluttering through the air like large snowflakes as ponies ran by, abandoning their reception desk and bolting through the hospital doors. At the very least he hadn't done anything to the patients. (Although several were at their door or staring from their bed to the hallways.)
Fluttershy pursed her lips and stomped her hoof at the door when she saw her little draconequus rolling on the floor, laughing his head off. The pegasus clamped her jaw down on his tail, deliberately harder than usual, invoking a yelp of pain as she dragged him back to the hospital room and shut the door to the chaos outside.
"You're staying here," Fluttershy said flatly, and Discord was pleased to see the chagrined frown on her face and the angry spark in those baby blue eyes.
A satiated smile spread across the spirit's twisted face and he flipped onto his back, head hanging down, floppy ears dangling into the miffed pony's face. "Ah, success~" he chuckled quietly.
"Excuse me?" Flutteshy dead panned, blinking as the draconequus wedged a paw under her chin to tilt her face towards his, and she found herself staring into those every playful, harmlessly taunting, ruby red eyes.
"Well, really, little one, how else was I going to get anything other than that teary little frown on your face~?"
Fluttershy stood there for several seconds, blinking and taking in that mischievous twinkle in his eyes. With a warm glow coating her large heart, she shook her head, heartfelt tears brimming in her eyes. "You are...impossible."
"Granted, my dear, because what is possible is horribly boring," he drawled, hanging upside down over the small hospital cot. Camellia smiled at how silly he looked, also shaking her head at him.
"Afternoon, Discord," the elder pegasus croaked out, "it's nice to see you again." She flinched as the multibeast summoned a soft, plush, pink cloud, and she tensed in anticipation for the cold sweet rain, but Discord merely draped himself over it, popping on a pair of large sunglasses for some reason.
"Afternoon, Camellia," he said nonchalantly, trying not to show he had lost an iota of valor at the pegasus's sickening condition. Oh, it wouldn't be long now. He lowered the sunglasses at her next comment. "Likewise I suppose - if just so that pesky daughter of yours would stop her moping." He feigned hurt, a talon flying to his heart. "I mean really, all that work on all my pranks – wasted because she wouldn't give a decent reaction."
Camellia looked sympathetically at her bedside where her daughter was looking at the ground and sighing. Rumpling the younger pegasus's mane, the mother smiled. "She'll probably be back to her old self in no time."
Fluttershy was unsure of that; she wasn't sure if she'd ever be able to smile again, not if she lost her mother. She shut her eyes. In only two days her mother's cold became a fatal disease, and she was going to lose her. In only two days. A double blow.
But Fluttershy was determined to keep her mind off all this. She would not allow her despair to ruin her last hours with her mother. All the tears could release themselves in a tsunami for all she cared after her mother passed.
"If you want, I can go back to the cottage and get some things for us to do." She smiled, hopping up on the side of the bed, keeping her shudder inward when she saw the tubes coming out of Camellia's pale skin.
"I could get some supplies for us to do our yearly make overs on each other," Fluttershy said, and would certainly welcome the idea of brightening that ghastly face with a little bit of blush, and tying that faded mane up into the usual perky bun she put in every year.
Camellia only laughed, shaking her head and smiling knowingly as she pointed down to her saddle bag. Fluttershy blinked briefly in confusion, before reaching into that bag and pulling out a package of hair pins, and a wide bristled hair brush.
"Mummy, you really thought of everything, didn't you?" Fluttershy asked with a giggle, pulling the bag of hair things up onto the stiff cot and opening them with her teeth, beginning to run the soothing bristles through her mother's somewhat scraggly mane. She decided to make a small joke to lighten the mood.
"Mummy, your poor hair looks like a tornado struck it. It's absolute chaos." She giggled when Discord's ears visibly perked up at the mention of chaos. Camellia just blinked, surprised her unusually mischievous little filly had the gal to say such a thing. She smiled, pulling her young daughter against her side and lightly running a hoof down her rib cage while the pegasus let out soft laughing squeals.
Discord hovered from above, having to smirk in delight when the pony finally truly laughed after a few days. It felt nice to hear it, he had to admit. "Oh, now go for her back hooves – that just kills her," he chuckled evilly.
"Oh, I know," Camellia chuckled as well, lifting her hoof off her daughter's side and instead wrapping it around the wooden handle of the brush as she tenderly raked the bristles through the slightly mussed mane. "Your hair doesn't look too spiffy either, my little flower~"
Her mother held the the long rose locks gently in her hoof, stroking the brush through. Fluttershy remembered that the mare always ended the make over with a few hair pins lightly holding back the longer curls of hair that fell over her face and over her blue eyes.
The dreary, white hospital room suddenly began to swirl in front of her eyes, briefly, as did the figures around her. Her mind projected the image of her old house, and her gentle, healthy and ever vibrant Mummy. Her hooves were no longer wrinkled and swollen as they gently pinned her hair back behind her ears.
She had questioned her mother as the thin veil of pink was removed from her sight, and she could now see the window she was perched in front of, freely. Quietly, the timid pegasus questioned her mother's motives for doing this, and the pegasus only smiled, kissed her cheek, and told her to look out the window.
Lights exploded in twinkling patterns as the fireworks ignited high in the ebony skies, and Fluttershy tilted her head, watching in awe as these brilliant lights made flower like shapes in the sky. She realized the reason behind her mother's hair pinning, and she beamed up at the pegasus, who only softly nuzzled her nose.
Fluttershy blinked her way back to the world around her; the bright and luscious face before her eyes had disappeared, replaced with the fading white one, and the sunken blue eyes. Yet, the smile stayed ever loving, and like she had so long ago, her mother nuzzled the tip of her nose with her own.
"Now you'll be able to see the fireworks better."
Fluttershy choked down the urge to burst out crying.
The soft heavenly hum reverberated through out the streets of Ponyville, and the lanterns in their teeth shone bright as they trotted through the soft snow. Fluttershy allowed the sweet voices of the carolers to drift through her ears and heart, but it brought no comfort.
From on the cot it was clear the sickly mare was in her last hour. As the day went on, her pendulum of life had dwindled away slowly; she and her daughter had started the afternoon giving each other make overs and playing cards, but by the time evening came the head could no longer lift from the pillow.
Fluttershy spent the past few hours trying to talk to her mother, only to receive barely audible whispers in response. She had shut her eyes and a certain purple wing had draped over her when the tubes were removed, and the doctors had cast sympathetic glances to her (and a few annoyed ones to the spirit sitting there in absolute silence) as they made their way out the door.
"And through the hardest of times our love will pull us through.." The saccharine singing invaded Discord's mind and he inwardly cringed, but found going "oh, GAG me" highly inappropriate at the given moment, so he merely sat and suffered in silence.
"And when we feel we cannot last.." Fluttershy lifted her head off the cinnamon brown chest when she heard the distinctive, soft and crackling voice echo from the hospital cot, where the tiny form lay on her side, eyes open enough to look out the window where the carolers now stood.
Fluttershy shakily pushed herself up off of Discord and trotted over to her mother's bed side, afraid to touch her hoof for fear of breaking it. "Mummy, save your strength and your voice." Oh, for what? When she died? "You should rest."
This earned a sad chuckle from her mother as she stroke a tender, cold hoof down her daughter's face. "Sweetheart, the next time I rest...I will not open my eyes again." Fluttershy felt the tears brim, but for her mother's sake, held them back. "Oh, don't you remember, dear? We always...used to sing the carols before bed."
Fluttershy nodded thickly, and brushed back a loose strand of hair from her mother's face. "That..that was my favorite of the traditions. That and the fireworks."
The sweet singing drifting into the room from the frigid outdoors took on a different tune, and Fluttershy could easily discern that it was her favorite song – the main carol: "Fire Of Friendship."
Camellia noticed that as well, and the faint smile touched the thin, pale cheeks. "Oh, sweetheart...it's your favorite carol. Sing with me, dear.."
And Fluttershy did, her soft and angelic voice growing with confidence with every note as she granted her mother's final request. "The fire of friendship lives in our hearts.."
The sparkle twinkled in those sagely eyes for the final time, as he mother opened her mouth and joined her. "As long as it burns we cannot drift apart..."
Fluttershy opened her squinted, tear glued eyes. This was so wrong.. Why were they singing such a sweet and happy-go-lucky tune in such a painful, dark moment? It didn't feel right, and the pegasus felt her lungs constricting when she looked over and saw her mother smiling, looking concerned, and waiting patiently. Oh Equestria – she forgot the words. Her limbs trembled and her heart pounded, and she was ready to faint – was going to faint, when...
"..The quarrels arise..." The voice was adorably awkward and gravely, obviously unaccustomed to singing, especially such a sappy song, but he mumbled out the lyrics regardless, face red.
Fluttershy took a deep breath, shaking off the initial shock at what she just heard and merely concentrated on finishing their final duet. "Th-their numbers are few..."
"Laughter and singing will see us through..."
Fluttershy placed her front hooves on her mother's bedside. "We are a circle of pony friends.."
"A circle...of friends..." Camellia's loving, fading eyes said all the unspoken words she had wanted to say, and the tears slid down her face, mingling with Fluttershy's, before staining the white hospital bedding. "...we'll be...til the...very.."
Fluttershy waited for her mother to finish the final verse, but she never did. The warmth of life was already leaving the still body, and as her mother's head slowly nodded off to the side, Fluttershy felt a soft sense of peace. Quietly, she nuzzled the lifeless face, and let the tears softly drip on her mother's muzzle.
Fluttershy greeted Hearths Warming's sun with a gentle, tranquil smile that morning as she perched her hooves at the window sill and lightly tilted her head. She threw open the shutter and smiled as the chilly breeze caressed her fur.
Good morning, Mummy.When she was young her mother always told her that when she passed she would live in the sun, so she could rise day by day to greet her daughter the moment she woke up, and she'd be with her all through the day, to nurture her flowers, to watch the filly play.
A wind whipped behind her – followed by the rough rustling as Discord bolted underneath their holiday tree, eagerly pawing at his presents that Fluttershy had pushed to the very back of the tree, where he couldn't reach them. The pegasus had to laugh and shake her head, rather endeared by his adorable childishness.
"Alright, alright, I suppose I did keep you waiting long enough." Smiling, the pony wriggled her own way under the tree and pulled out a brightly colored package, blinking as he thoughtlessly snatched it from her hoof and tore into it like an animal. (Well, figuratively speaking.)
"Oho, my chaotic life is complete," Discord snickered, pulling out a six feet long silly straw, and instantly summoned a glass of chocolate milk. He giggled like a school filly when he placed the glass on the ground and was able to drink it, nearly from the ceiling.
Fluttershy giggled, "I don't know if you want it, but I just thought of you when I saw it in stores." She watched, amazed as the stream of chocolate milk surged through the seemingly endless straw. "Wow."
Soft bristles of white fur rubbed against her torso, and the pegasus turned her head to look down at her little bunny. "Oh, Angel, Happy Hearths Warming," Fluttershy smiled, cuddling the soft, snow white face. She blinked when the rabbit held up a ball shaped present.
Gently, Fluttershy unwrapped it, suppressing the soft giggles when she unwrapped a cabbage. Of course. Fluttershy gave her flushing and beaming little rabbit a final affectionate nuzzle with her face, gratefully taking the vegetable and setting it down. A subtle and almost hesitant tap barely touched the back of her head, and the pegasus turned, blinded by the beautiful colors held up before her eyes.
The spirit floated there in the air, averting his eyes and seeming to glare at the wall, flushing and lightly jabbing the bright package towards her. "Um...here you go," he mumbled almost bashfully. Fluttershy took it tenderly into her hooves and Discord flushed further when he felt the smiling eyes on him.
"Oh, Discord, you..you got me a present? ...Why?"
The spirit raised his eyebrows at her, chin resting in his paw. After a few moments, he smirked. "Let me re-clarify the tradition of Hearths Warming Eve, shall I~?" He snickered, flipping over onto his back in the air when the pegasus hid her embarrassed blush.
"Oh, yes, I know that; I'm just wondering why..you got me something." She nudged his elbow gently with her snout and he grimaced, shying away, muttering a quiet "it's not really..anything.." He certainly wasn't used to any of his actions being well received, despite meaning to get a good reaction this time.
Fluttershy didn't get too excited as she grasped the pink ribbon in her teeth. Something was going to pop out at her, she just knew it. Eyes closed in anticipation and worry, she hastily pulled off the ribbon and nudged the box open. Nothing popped out or splat into her face. Finally, she had the courage enough to open her eyes, and she gasped.
Perched comfortably on a small white, laced cushion was a small and twinkling golden trinket. When the pegasus pulled it out she realized it was a charm bracelet, decorated with several hanging charms on a golden band and pink beads.
"Oh, Discord," she breathed, left breathless by the bracelet's beauty and the fact that he was the one to give it to her. "It's just.." The spirit delicately took the piece of jewelry in the palm of his hand, fingering a few charms.
"This is a Canterlot charm bracelet," Discord began, keeping his gaze away from Fluttershy's beaming face. It was just making him more uncomfortable. "They were once popular in Canterlot eons ago, though few ponies seem to wear them these days. What a shame." He swooped down towards her, holding out a charm slightly; a diamond butterfly.
"This one represents your element and your love of nature." He smiled slightly. "Much like your cutie mark, in fact." He moved onto a golden heart. "Quite obvious what charm this represents-" He made a gagging motion with his finger in his open mouth, having to lightly smile when Fluttershy laughed. "-love."
Fluttershy happily wriggled it onto her hoof, watching as a particular charm bounced lightly and jingled in front of her eyes. It was a small pair of hearts; a pink one and a black one. "What does this one represent?"
A playful glint shone in the draconequus's eyes. "I'll let you figure that one out yourself, my dear~"
Fluttershy set down the box, standing on her hind legs to hug him – only to fall flat on her face as he jerked away, glowering.
"I don't think so," the spirit said flatly, dusting himself off where her snuggling hooves touched him. "There is no way I'm letting myself succumb to the indignity of both giving a pony a present and being cuddled all in the same day." He narrowed his eyes at the pony, not liking that look in her eye. "Fluttershy," he warned. His eyes widened and he barely had time to dodge as the pegasus jumped at him.
Fluttershy eagerly landed on the spot where he had been, scraping her hoof into the wooden floor playfully, tail flicking back and forth, as did her darting eyes. She proceeded to chase the spirit around the cottage until he finally had enough sense to teleport, reappearing beside the couch – only to be instantly pounced on as Fluttershy took a running leap off the couch.
Discord protested and whined and squirmed, trying so sound as angry as he could and failing as the energetic, affectionate little pony smothered his face with cuddles and nuzzles. His empty threats became muffled as he struggled to speak through the pink hair that kept wiggling in his face and mouth.
"Fl-Flutter – okay, I can't breathe!" He pushed the playful little pony off, climbing to his feet and grooming his ruffled fur. He rolled his eyes as the pegasus giggled at him from where she was on her back on the ground. "Very funny, you pesky little pony," the spirit muttered, yet finding himself giving an exasperated smile of his own when Fluttershy put her hoof to her mouth and giggled further.
Fluttershy rolled onto her hooves, laughing still as she stood. "We better get going; we don't want to be late for the party Pinkie Pie is throwing at Twilight's."
"Perish the thought of delaying our time to spend with those delightful, miscreant foals," Discord said sarcastically, only to yelp as Fluttershy plucked a small feather from his wing.
"Be nice," she told him, eying the pouting draconequus sternly. "It's Hearths Warming Eve, remember? The day when everypony puts aside their differences and join as a family."
"Gag me," the spirit muttered, yelping further as Fluttershy lightly clamped her jaws down on his tail and pulled him out the door.
"Party tiiime!" Pinkie Pie squealed, and confetti showering down from the ceiling, decorating the tinseled tree with large sprinkles of rainbow, that also got caught in every pony's mane, and stuck to a certain draconequus's long twisted horns.
That certain draconequus was laying in a pile of gifts, cheerfully licking at a caramel apple from Applejack, while drinking chocolate milk from his impossibly long silly straw. He glanced up at Rarity approached him with an elegant, striped scarf with a bow on it.
"Here you go, dog," she said dryly, handing him the scarf. Discord turned it over in his hands a few times, looking thoughtful, and then he turned it into a long stretching piece of swiss cheese, which he happily tied around his neck.
"The nerve," Rarity huffed, turning on her hoof and trotting away to sulk. The paw lightly gripping her tail stilled and froze her.
"Oh, Rarity, my dear, don't you know it's rude to walk away from someone when they're about to give you a present as well~?" The unicorn turned, only to stare in wide, open mouthed shock at the dreadful, ugly grey boulder with a bow on it at the spirit's side that she was sure she had seen the last of.
"Oh, Equestria – how – how have you come back!" the unicorn cried, a hoof to her heart as she staggered back. "How – no – nooooo, get away, you hideous thing!" Rarity shrieked, hooves to her head as she stumbled backwards, whirling around and bolting to the farthest corner of the library to shake.
Discord only laughed hysterically, laying in the pile of colorful wrapping paper and chewing away at his candy apple, while munching on a polka dotted, cotton candy flavored cupcake from Pinkie Pie. The pink frosting covered his face, creating an adorable pink beard around his mouth, and sticking to his own beard.
Rainbow Dash wrinkled her snout up in disdain at the ill-mannered beast who had now outright dove his face into his cupcake, frosting even dripping from his horns now. "Okay, so I may not be the best mannered, but it's that a little TOO much?" She exclaimed, gesturing to him with her hoof and making a grotesque sound as the spirit flicked his serpentine tongue over his face to clean it.
Fluttershy merely laughed, taking a tiny, elegant sip of hear herbal tea. "Just let him have his fun, Rainbow Dash.. I will make him take a bath later." Oh, bath time, now that was always fun. It wasn't that she couldn't make him go into the water, but it was that he always insisted on turning the water into some sort of sweet and sticky liquid.
Twilight winced as splotches of icing splattered into her shelves and she inwardly vowed to do something terrible to him if he ruined her books with his stupid cupcake. Her attention was averted to a very quiet Fluttershy, who's eyes seemed drawn to the window and the bright, warm sun.
"How are you doing, Fluttershy?" Twilight asked softly, nuzzling the peaceful butter colored face. "I'm so sorry for your loss.."
A strange, calm and tranquil look came to the soft blue eyes, and the pegasus rested her chin on the windowsill. "I don't wish to think of it as a loss," she said softly, smiling and holding back the brimming tears. "I know Mummy is happy now, and that makes me happy." She leaned her cheek against the back of Twilight's neck as the lavender mare nuzzled lightly under her chin.
"If you don't feel like being alone, any one of us will gladly let you stay with us. We're your friends, Fluttershy."
Fluttershy gratefully nudged her snout against Twilight's, and glanced from the corner of an affectionate eye at the spirit, inwardly giggling when he seemed to get his own paw stuck to his cotton candy covered face. "I'm not alone, Twilight."
"Let me rephrase," Twilight said flatly, narrowing her eyes at Discord, "if you don't want to be alone with him." She tried not to say it with too much disdain, given how much Fluttershy cared for the spirit.
The pegasus didn't seem to mind, only smiling absently over at the draconequus and taking another sip of her tea. "Oh Twilight, I don't mind being with him. I love being with him most of the time."
Twilight found she couldn't really argue with Fluttershy's response; she had heard of what happened in the hospital, and the fact Discord was what brought Fluttershy and her mother back together in her final moments.
According to Fluttershy, he had actually been pretty well behaved since Camellia passed on. No pranks for the entire night, not even the extent of changing something in the cottage. No teasing, and most of that night he simply stayed in his bed or hovered over the couch where Fluttershy stared silently out the window.
The small unicorn gave an inward smile, before directing it to the multi beast still trying to get himself out of the cotton candy mess he had created. He sighted the smile however and made a bucket of water appear over her head and drench her.
Fluttershy still had her eyes plastered on the sun as she silently made her way out the door, passed Pinkie Pie and her 'Pin The Star On The Holiday Tree' game, and past Applejack and Rainbow Dash bobbing for apples. (Even past a rather distraught white unicorn in the corner.)
Her hooves glided out freely into the snow; she didn't even bother putting her new boots on, loving the cool sensation under her hooves. She gazed at every sparkling flake of snow, and then back up to the sun. Her eyes felt like they were shriveling like a grape in their sockets, but she hardly cared as she stared intently through the burning ball of fire, almost able to see the outlines of her mother's beautiful face beaming down on her through the warm rays of the sun.
The pegasus blinked as a pair of large dark sunglasses suddenly fell over her eyes, and she smiled up at the spirit who was laying down over her head, his beard dangling into her face.
"Don't want to burn your eyes out like a light bulb now, do we~?"
"Thank you," Fluttershy whispered, to which Discord absently returned a "you're welcome." Fluttershy smiled and turned around, shaking her head as she advanced closer to him. "No, I don't mean for the sun glasses." She lowered the lens, focusing her ever grateful, compassionate blue eyes on his confused and slightly nervous red ones.
"Thank you for everything these past few days, and for always being there for me. Thank you for putting a smile on my face when I need it the most, and even doing things to try and annoy me just so you won't see me cry and get my mind off the pain I'm in." He fell silent, face emotionless as her joyful, tearful, heartfelt speech went on.
She gave a soft, teary laugh as she continued. "Thank you for the fun and even the chaos you put into my life, making sure it's never boring." She trotted closer to him, not minding that he was backing away with every step she took. "Thank you for being someone I can trust and love."
He froze, utterly baffled, slowly descending to the ground and staring at her. It was all he could do as the unsettling warmth entwined with his indifferent heart, and coated it with a soft ruby hue.
"Fluttershy!" Pinkie Pie shouted through the open library door. "Come on – we're cutting the holiday cake I made!"
Fluttershy turned from him without a word, happily galloping back to the library and through the open door before it quietly shut.
Discord leaned back against the tree, shaking his head and dispelling those blue eyes and the kind face from his thoughts. He forced a sneer to cross across his snout, but found there were no longer enough shards of ice to coat his heart anymore. Fluttershy had melted most of them. He sighed and allowed his body to slide into the snow, holding his chest and staring off into the distance with a look of bewilderment.
"You did a good thing, you know." The spirit's heart jumped into his throat when Twilight spoke softly from his side. He didn't look at her, focusing a hard glare at the clouds; evidently careful to keep it off the sun.
"Don't you have some..I don't know, partying to do?" the spirit grouched, contemplating whether or not to smash another pie into her face. She seemed unfazed by his painfully bored and annoyed tone as she stood.
"I'm proud of you." That finally did get her a pie in the face, slamming harder than usual. She didn't look disheartened in the slightest, even as the cream dripped crudely down her mane and chest. She beckoned a welcoming hoof to him, opening the door for them both.
Discord stared at the open door for a few seconds, then back at the warm smile through the layers of coconut cream.
He started to turn his back and give her the cold shoulder, up until he heard Fluttershy's laughter as she was spun around, blindfolded in front of the 'Pin The Star On The Holiday Tree' game, and the spirit watched her for a few moments, before quietly following the unicorn through the open door.
The laughter filled the library, drifting through the windows and carrying through Ponyville; through the wind; the sky; the joyful sounds met with the warm rays through the open window, shining down and illuminating Fluttershy's happy face and her laughing smile.
(The end~ Wasn't as satisfying as I wanted it to be, and I had to cut out a few parts, but now that I look at them they're irrelevant. Before shippers go on a squealing march, Fluttershy's speech and implied love for Discord was not meant to be interpreted as a romance. There is more than one kind of love, ya know? Ah, Discord, your douchebaggery and kindness was so contradicting in this chapter~ Lemmie know of any mistakes, especially in the death scene, as I was in tears writing that part, and therefore my vision was compromised. XD (Lastly, I do love the name "Derpy Hooves" MUCH better than Ditzy Doo, but really...it sounds weird in a fic.)
Wasn't as satisfying as I wanted it to be, and I had to cut out a few parts, but now that I look at them they're irrelevant.
Before shippers go on a squealing march, Fluttershy's speech and implied love for Discord was not meant to be interpreted as a romance. There is more than one kind of love, ya know?
Ah, Discord, your douchebaggery and kindness was so contradicting in this chapter~
Lemmie know of any mistakes, especially in the death scene, as I was in tears writing that part, and therefore my vision was compromised. XD
(Lastly, I do love the name "Derpy Hooves" MUCH better than Ditzy Doo, but really...it sounds weird in a fic.)