Yes, I am calling "Derpy Hooves" Bright Eyes in this fic. Apparently, that was a name that was considered for her before she got saddled with Derpy. Which, c'mon...which sounds more like what a parent would name their kid? I know Pony language is a bit different from ours', since they don't know to be suspicious when two people named the "Flimflam Brothers" blow into town, but the fact that a parent might name their kid "Derpy Hooves" is kind of a stretch.
Despite this, I've tried to include all the common fandom elements - her being a mail pony, her liking muffins, her being happy-go-lucky and friendly and bright. I have, however, given her brain damage in place of the mental illness that most everyone seems to think she has. I felt that it explained rather a lot, without raising issues of albeism.
Flying was not as easy as most Pegasus made it look. There was a reason Ponyville had even the few that it did, away from Cloudsdale's arching rainbows and dizzying heights, so close to the safe barrier of the ground. It took time and effort from birth to learn to keep up with the herd and a bit of bad luck at the start could disqualify you forever.
Of course, Pegasus did share some natural abilities with one another. One of these was the ability to walk on clouds as easily as one did the ground, and a knack for making clouds go where you wanted them to go and do what you wanted to do. A sense of weather systems that was near instinctual also helped.
Despite her weak wings and other such damage, Bright Eyes did have this. She was one of the best weather controllers in all of Ponyville, barring Rainbow Dash herself, and despite her occasional…or not so occasional…tendency to trip over herself, she was invaluable for it. She always had a place on the team during Winter Wrap Up. She always had a place in the village.
Or so she'd thought.
It was night time. The celebrations had ended a very long time ago, and Apple Jack was long gone off to her conquest and victory. Only the owls and a few other night creatures were around the town hall at this time of night.
The owls, the night creatures, and one very thoughtful, very depressed pony.
She managed to fly high enough and close enough to look down into the gaping hole in the roof, and see just how ruined the roof was. Okay, they hardly ever had meetings in the great structure, but even so it stood out like a sore thumb and she felt the squirming of guilt in her chest. She'd thought in the dizziness of the moment that she'd only cracked the walls a bit, and most of Ponyville was used to that sort of damage, but this was something else. To make matters worse, when she landed gratefully, Bright Eyes nearly fell into the hole in the verandah all over again because it was so hard to see in the dark.
"A-Ah! Bright Eyes, are you okay?"
Of course, the voice from the darkness was startling enough that Bright Eyes whipped round to see who had addressed her before she could even recognize it and the world…went…blurry.
Fluttershy, of course, realized her mistake, even if she realized it a second too late. "I'm so sorry!" she cried, closing the distance between them in a whoosh of air to lean down next to her friend, where Bright Eyes had pressed her head quite firmly into the ground with her face screwed up. "I know I should have remembered not to startle you, but you looked like you were about to fall, only I made you fall anyway…oh, I'm so sorry!"
"It's okay, Fluttershy," Bright Eyes murmured. She kept her eyes tight shut against the dizziness, but she didn't feel terribly nauseous. The potential crises seemed to be averted. "You were just worried. But I'm okay. I mean…even I couldn't fall in the same hole twice, right?"
But she could, and Fluttershy knew it. Bright Eyes knew it as well. Turn too fast, focus too sharply, fly too long, and the world would suddenly become a sharp nightmare of overly bright colors and no sense of which way was up or down. As long as she had a solid surface to orient herself against, like the wood of the porch, then it could pass quickly enough. The headaches that followed were a bit more persistent, however.
Fluttershy waited next to her, scarcely daring to breathe. Bright Eyes could feel her gaze, however, and knew just where Fluttershy was looking. She was looking at the base of the other pony's skull, where a long and jagged scar was only just hidden by her straw blonde hair. Not all the Pegasus forced to leave Cloudsdale did so without gaining a few permanent reminders of just why they had to.
Finally, feeling the beginnings of a migraine but no more nausea, Bright Eyes lifted her head from the porch to beam reassuringly at Fluttershy. "Not a problem," she said, taking a cautious step away from the pit just in case and deciding very quickly to change the subject. "So why're you up so late, Fluttershy?"
"Oh, Applejack asked me to take a look the south fields, just to make sure the trees are all right. I had to move a few wasps back into the Everfree forest, but everything's just fine now!"
"Oh, that's good. It'd be a shame if Applejack came back and saw that things were even more of a mess."
Her bright smile didn't falter, but Fluttershy didn't fail to notice that Bright Eyes' gaze flickered very slightly up towards to the roof of the town hall. And she couldn't help but look herself.
"It's okay, Fluttershy. Apple Jack will win the rodeo and the town hall will get fixed good as new! And Rainbow Dash already said I can't be on the Weather Team next Winter Wrap Up, so I know everyone will be okay for that."
She saw the warning expression growing on Fluttershy's face just in time, and promptly pressed her forehead against the floor again.
"Rainbow Dash did what? Oh, that big…oh, Bright Eyes, I'm so sorry, I'm just making everything worse!"
Her shout had echoed for several yards around – Fluttershy had quite the voice, when sufficiently provoked. But then she was back to her usual soft self again. It would have been scary, how quickly she could do that, to anyone that wasn't Bright Eyes. She looked back up at her friend, grateful for the look of regal annoyance on Fluttershy's face that was the closest she had ever seen the other come to true anger.
"I'll talk to her," Fluttershy said, her voice steady as a rock with conviction. "You're the best cloud wrangler we have, Bright Eyes, and even with Twilight's help we'd never get done in time without you!"
Bright Eyes nodded back up towards the hole in the roof. "I'm not that great," she reminded the other.
"Y-You just get turned around! You get dizzy! It's not your fault, a-and when no one startles you…"
"Nobody startled me today, Fluttershy." Bright Eyes turned her back on the ruined town hall – just looking at its ruined silhouette made her eyes hurt – and began the long walk back home. There would still be post to be delivered in the morning. She still had that, at least.
Even so, at long last, under the shadow of her clumsiness and her dizziness and her, her brokenness, Bright Eyes' smile finally faded from her face. "And I still messed it all up. I just wanted to help, and I broke everything. Just like always. If, if it's not clouds, or mail, or muffins…"
Without being asked, or needing to be asked, Fluttershy fell in beside her. "I'm just glad I didn't hurt somepony," Bright Eyes continued miserably. "Rainbow Dash probably hates me for being so clumsy and making Apple Jack give up her money. No wonder she always calls me Derpy Hooves."
"She shouldn't call you that," Fluttershy insisted. "You should tell her! It's mean, and, and I don't mean that Rainbow Dash wants to be mean. Sometimes she just doesn't understand!"
"Nobody calls me Bright Eyes but you, Fluttershy."
"Well, they should! Bright Eyes is your name, and it's a wonderful name!"
"It's a silly name. I mean, come on, Fluttershy!" She looked up at Fluttershy, caught her gaze so that the other would have to see her mismatched eyes. "You've gotta admit, I look way more like Derpy. Or Ditzy. Or Bubbles."
Fluttershy frowned, her forehead creasing in concern and her mouth forming the most delicate frown Bright Eyes had ever seen on a pony. She really was the most beautiful Pegasus in Ponyville…maybe even the most beautiful pony. Bright Eyes had always thought so, and envied her just as much as she loved her for it.
Then the other looked away, staring at the path ahead, staring up at the fat, bright moon lighting their way.
"Y-You are…kind of like bubbles, you know," she finally said timorously.
The words hurt, even if they were said by Fluttershy. Bright Eyes' head drooped a little further, and she went back to paying attention to where she was going. "I know that," she said, unable to keep the sudden, irrational irritability out of her voice. She hadn't thought she'd done such a good job of convincing Fluttershy, of course. "Come on, I just said that, Fluttershy!"
She didn't have terribly good peripheral vision, and so Bright Eyes missed the smile on Fluttershy's face. "Other ponies might think you're fragile," she said. "And sometimes they like to step on you, just because it makes them feel good. But you're stronger than you look, and even if you aren't the fastest, you can still fly. Anyone who thinks you don't notice anything doesn't know how much goes on inside. And there should always be more like you." She stopped walking, and nodded, and added: "Good night, Bright Eyes."
Bright Eyes blinked, and the world came back, and she realized that the two of them were standing in front of her house. She stared at her front door as though she didn't recognize it before remembering herself, and looking back at Fluttershy. "Thank you so much, Fluttershy," she said, surprised at the sound of her own voice. "You're a very good friend. I'm so lucky I know you!"
"Aw, it's nothing," said Fluttershy, and suddenly she was her normal shy self again. The pretty Pegasus scuffed the ground with a hoof, looking just as peaceful and content as could be. "I'm only being as good a friend to you as you have been to me. We've always stuck together, after all. This shouldn't be any different. Right?"
Looking into Fluttershy's uncrossed eyes, Bright Eyes could even believe her. She smiled – the smile that everyone always told her made her look so pretty – and nodded, carefully. "You're right," she said. "That's what friends are for. And once I explain things to Rainbow Dash, I'm sure we'll be good friends, too. Do you think so, too, Fluttershy?"
"I think so, too," Fluttershy agreed without hesitation. "Why don't you talk to her tomorrow?"
"You really think she'll want to talk to me so soon?"
Bright Eyes did not have very good vision in general, and so missed the gleam in Fluttershy's eye that appeared at this question. "I'm sure of it. But now you'd better get some sleep. The Ponyville Express is never late, right?"
"That's right! Good night, Fluttershy! Thanks a lot."
"Good night, Bright Eyes. You're welcome."
With one last smile and a nod of acknowledgement, Fluttershy turned away and started off down the path back to her own home. She walked on the ground, not trusting her wings to carry her that far when any other Pegasus might have taken to the sky without a second thought.
Bright Eyes could sympathize.
She watched until the shadow of her friend blurred into the general darkness. Then she unlocked her front door, stepped inside, and locked it behind her. She slept, exhausted, head aching, but Bright Eyes slept, and dreamed of Fluttershy floating in the sky on a giant soap bubble, laughing as she climbed higher and higher and Cloudsdale fell away beneath her.
She awoke with no headache. And even if she overslept, Bright Eyes still got the mail delivered on time. And even if she suspected that it was only because Fluttershy had tactfully spoken to them, three ponies – Miss Cherilee, Pinkie Pie, and Granny Smith – all greeted her with a smile and the words "Thank you, Bright Eyes!"
It was a good start, and a good day.