It was early morning in the cottage. Most of the forest's inhabitants were still sleeping, and that included the animals in the cottage. It was one of those lazy mornings where no one wanted to come out from under their warm, cozy comforter.
Well, all but one that is.
Accompanied by the warm, soft fibers of her quilt and the rays from the sun, Fluttershy let out a happy sigh of contentment—up until a freezing cold, totally not comforting tidal wave of water drenched her. Fluttershy bolted up in her bed with a shriek of surprise and stumbled over the mattress. She darted up her angry eyes at the hysterically laughing spirit above her.
"Ohohoho, Fluttershy! You look like one of those wet, shaggy dogs you see at the salon! Or Rarity's cat after I used a fire hose on its face."
The pegasus pursed her lips and shook off the freezing water droplets, which caused them to fly into the laughing draconequus's face. His squeal of surprise at least made her feel a little better about everything. "Discord, have you at least set the table for breakfast? Angel's turn was yesterday, and today it's your turn."
"Oh yes, Angel...about him..." the spirit drawled. His talon pointed lazily over towards a fairly...bunny sized roll of toilet paper. At her horrified look he shrugged. "What? I haven't even gone to the bathroom yet! Oh, don't give me that look. That stupid fuzz ball kept poking and even biting at me to get me up!"
"Because it was your turn to set the table!" Fluttershy exclaimed, trying to give the spirit a purposeful glare. "Now please turn him back!" Discord was already attached to the ceiling and swinging the wooden rails like monkey bars. One look at her pleading face and his face seemed to soften. He loved tormenting the girl, but he knew that doing things to her animals was taking it too far, so he never did it for long. With a snap, Angel was once again a fluffy, miffed little bunny.
Well, that was at least a small victory anyway. "Now please set the table." She gave an uncomfortable blink and sighed in exasperation as the spirit transformed the plates into pizza and tossed them on the table. "Discord, please...?" He was completely ignoring her.
Oh, to get that brat to listen. A brat, that's what he was. He may be old enough to be her great (times infinity) grandfather, but he was a spoiled, childish brat. He'd probably remain that way forever. The pegasus just wished that maybe for once he'd behave. Fat chance.
The problem was that he couldn't take her seriously and she couldn't either. She remembered the time she was fed up with being a doormat and sought out a - quite frankly – monster to teach her how to be more tough. Thankfully, this was during a week Discord was with his palace family. Fluttershy was quite certain that if Discord had been with her she probably would have beaten him up.
The aftermath of it all, (after having to apologize to nearly the entire town for her appalling behavior) was that the pegasus did learn how to be assertive without being unpleasant. She knew how to be stern and could say a firm "no". With Discord, however, being stern was not enough. You needed to shout, you needed to snap, and you'd probably have to get physical to get his attention, but Fluttershy could never do that.
And so the pegasus would always be Discord's doormat.
"Discord, it's breakfast," she said quietly. "It's time for eggs and toast, and oat-" She was cut off as a random bowl of oatmeal was poofed up, and slammed right into her face.
"-meal?" the spirit finished for her and rolled back in the air with an obnoxious cackle.
One might wonder why Fluttershy put up with all this abuse; getting doused by things daily, and having her animals turned into a menagerie of props, but the simple answer was that she loved him. Sure, he was the draconequus that made life chaos, but he was also the draconequus that rescued her from a basilisk, protected her when she stumbled into a bee hive in the woods, and frequently helped her cope with nightmares. Of course he pranked constantly—he was chaos!
"Well, I guess I was hungry," the pegasus muttered as she mopped the goo from her face and ate a few hoof-fulls of it. "Wash up your face, because we have to be at Applejack's in less than a half hour." She groaned as the spirit splashed cream soda onto his face. "Not with pop!"
Arriving at Sweet Apple Acres, Fluttershy needed to stop several times on the way to give Discord a tug on his tail as he bothered some hapless ponies, and turned the leaves on trees into pieces of construction paper. Fluttershy's face flushed with embarrassment as the golden mare waiting by the barn gave a distant frown, and the pegasus desperately tugged again at Discord's tail.
At last, the impish spirit complied and obediently followed his guardian up the path. Hear ears back, Fluttershy approached Applejack (who was busy glaring as Discord pet Winnona, certain he would do something to her).
"Morning, Hon. How are y'all doing?" Applejack fondly slipped a hoof around the pegasus's back and giggled as the girl happily leaned against her. Yet, despite the smile on Fluttershy's face, Applejack noticed...something. Before she could ask though, Fluttershy had slipped away from the hug.
"So where are they?" the tired pegasus asked. Applejack hesitated, but she decided to ask what was wrong later.
"Well, they're over here. Ah chased away a few of the varmints eating at my lettuce plants only a few minutes ago." She trotted towards the garden, where plenty of vegetables seemed to have been considerably gnawed at to their very core.
"Oh, they really have done a number to your garden," Fluttershy sighed, watching as close by, fuzzy heads that thought were so perfectly concealed from the vegetables bobbed about as they continued feasting.
"Yes, they have. This time of the year is when we get crows and insects, but never bunnies!"
"Bunnies go where there is food," Fluttershy said, "And if these bunnies have been born close to the farm then the farm is where they'll go to feast." She smiled at her friend. "Don't worry though, I have plenty of Angel's favorite food with me, and they'll definitely want this over your vegetables."
Fluttershy slipped a container out of her saddlebag and let it plop into the grass beside her. Instantly, about five bunny ears perked up at the sound, and their noses raised at the scent wafting from inside the plastic.
"Come here, you sweet little bunnies," Fluttershy purred softly, bending her neck down to the dirt and crouching to seem less intimidating. "I have some delicious, Parmesan sprinkled cucumbers and spinach here!"
At that, snow white and smokey gray heads poked out through the bushes, and the hungry creatures immediately galloped up to the plastic container. Applejack and Fluttershy's mouths hung agape at the sheer number of bunnies they're really were. After about thirty seconds there were at least fifteen bunnies feasting away at the container.
"Alright, you cute little bunnies," Fluttershy crooned lovingly, giving one of the bunnies a gentle nudge against his tiny little snout. "Now I'm gonna take you back to my cottage, okay? There's lots of vegetables, and places to nap and play." She smiled and rubbed her cheek against one of the fluffy creatures. "And it's really qui-"
BANG! BANG! Discord slammed two cymbals together, inadvertently causing the panicked creatures to take off, into the forest. "THUNDER! THUNDER! A STORM IS COMING—RUN FOR COVER!" With a flash, he was gone.
The pegasus stared blankly for a few moments, watching as the little cotton tails immediately disappeared into the distant forest. Fluttershy only stood there for a few seconds, and then gave a furious whinny and bucked the container back several feet.
Shocked, Applejack stared at her. "Hon...are you alright?" She laid a gentle hoof over the pegasus's back, but Fluttershy furiously shrugged it off.
"Ohhhh, he just makes me so mad at times!" Fluttershy cried. "I just can't take anymore of this! He's such...a...BRAT!"
Applejack only stared at her, not understanding this. "So do something then!" she exclaimed. "I don't see you laying down the law with him!"
"Well...what am I supposed to do?"
"You're supposed to lay down the law!" the country mare growled, "I don't see you ever giving him any consequences! You're his guardian, and you allow him to do so much!"
"Applejack, he's chaos," Fluttershy sighed, "I can't just ask him to not do chaos...it would make him miserable. He might even get depressed because of it."
She had a point, but even Applejack knew that some things he did he could stand to keep to a minimum. "Well...some of what he does he needs to stop; like what he just did right now."
Fluttershy nodded in agreement with a sigh. "Well, I suppose..."
"If ya want, Ah can teach ya how to be more assertive. Now, it ain't gonna be anything like the kind of training that darn Iron Will gave you, but Ah can promise it'll be effective. He won't be stepping all over ya after it."
The pegasus hesitated for a few moments. On one hoof, if she took this training perhaps she would have better control of this miscreant. However, every time she thought of "assertive training", she thought of Iron Will. Inner turmoil written all over her face, she vigorously shook her head. "I-I really need to get back to the cottage, actually. Later today I need to get more groceries for my animals...and Discord will be looking after them." She shuddered.
Applejack frowned. She trusted that Discord would never harm any of the pegasus's animals, but she still worried that he'd torment them and prank them to their limits. Still, there wasn't much she could do. "Well, alright. If ya change yer mind just give me a holler." She laughed lightly. "It ain't like Ah'm gonna turn you into a killing machine or anythin'."
"No, I know," Fluttershy responded with her own awkward giggle. "I'm just...well, you know me." She gave what looked like a sheepish smile and a look of shame as she slowly trotted away from a very worried Applejack.
Discord was probably already at the cottage, doing...oh, Celestia knows what. The pegasus pondered over Applejack's offer. Perhaps things wouldn't end up a complete disaster like she feared. Maybe Discord might actually respect her by the end of it (fat chance). The last thing she wanted to do was make him fear her. Of course, this was an ancient spirit—he probably wasn't afraid of very much.
It wasn't as if she'd become a monster after Applejack's training. Iron Will was just an unpleasant beast, and Applejack was a gentle pony raising her younger sister. She'd keep the country mare's offer in mind.
Finally reaching the cottage, Fluttershy pushed open the doors. It bumped into something, and she heard a gelatinous, wobbling sound. Her eyes widened and she shoved against the door as hard as she could. The bottom of the door sliced through the goop, and eventually, Fluttershy managed to squeeze in through the very small opening.
Jiggling, transparent, gelatinous furniture gummies were everywhere, taking the place of where her couch and chairs used to be; her lamps, her ornaments...and one certain fluffy bunny.
"Oh, Fluttershy!" Discord sniggered, "Don't you adore the way I spruced up the place~? Everything is so delicious!"
Running a hoof slowly down her face, the pegasus heaved out a shuddering sigh. Yep. She needed Applejack's help. Without saying anything, glaring, or getting out the duster, Fluttershy walked up to Discord and gave him a slight nuzzle. "I'll be longer than I originally planned in town today. In addition to shopping, I need to go back to Sweet Apple Acres for a while. Please look after the animals until I come back, and make sure they get their lunch."
The spirit scowled, disappointed that he didn't manage to rile her like he wanted to. "Yeah, sure, whatever," he muttered, crossing his arms petulantly over his chest and watching with a raised eyebrow as she exited back through the now-gooey doors.
"Applejack? Um...is it too late to take you up on your offer?"
The southern pony turned, absolutely delighted to see her friend standing there again with a look of determination on her face. She grinned and happily bounded over to her friend and took her hoof. "Heck naw! It ain't too late! So what did he do now?"
"Turned all of my furniture into gummy candy; my bunny included."
Applejack rolled her eyes and muttered obscene things about the pesky varmint as she lead Fluttershy to the back. "Well, ya have mah word, he'll be a little more bearable if ya try some of mah tactics on him."
Fluttershy timidly followed Applejack out into the orchards, where she finished the rest of her day's harvesting and joined the girl under one of the trees.
"Alright, Fluttershy! Pretend Ah'm Discord, and Ah just grabbed a large cheese grater and shredded yer couch cushions. What would ya say to me?"
"He's actually done that once," the pegasus said miserably, but snapped to attention with a squeak as Applejack slammed her hoof.
"Oh, right! Um..." The pegasus took a deep breath, swelled out her chest, and started to 'shout.' "Discord, you naughty thing...! Those were brand new couch cushions...!"
"Those were brand new couch cushionsss...!"
"Ah'll do what Ah want, when Ah want," Applecord responded. She then took a taunting step towards the pegasus and gave the most smug smirk she could muster. "What are you going to do about it?"
At a loss for consequences, Fluttershy backed off.
Applejack shook her head. "This ain't workin'. We need a guinea pig." That got a weird look from Fluttershy.
"Well...umm...guinea pigs are the one animals I don't have. I have a few mice if that will help." Blinking her perplexed, cyan eyes, Fluttershy watched as Applejack rounded up Applebloom and brought her next to the two.
"Applebloom, we're doing some hypothetical discipline situations, and we need ta test them on ya!" The filly was more than confused, but she gave an awkward nod. Instantly, Applejack flew into a rage at her. "Now Ah thought Ah told ya ta eat your alfalfa! Y'all best do what Ah say or ya ain't goin' ta crusade with yer friends tomorrow!"
The little foal was taken aback, her sunset eyes wide and blinking. "But Ah did, sis! Just an hour ago—Ah ate it all!"
"And don't y'all sass me either!" Applejack barked, glaring at her trembling sister right in the eye. Judging by the look of anguish on the kid's face, something was up. "...Um, Hon, do ya know what 'hypothetical' means?" Applebloom shook her head. "Ah! Sorry, Hon—it means...uh...a 'what if' situation, and it means none of this is really real. I ain't mad at ya for nothin'." She gave her sister a gentle poke in the tummy.
Applebloom nodded in understanding and gave a giggle. "Oh, alright then." She cleared her throat. "No, Ah didn't eat mah alfalfa! And ya can't make me!"
"Oh, Ah darn well can!" Applejack growled, finding it very hard to keep from giggling. "Get your little hinders up stairs! There'll be no dessert for ya tonight, and no friends tomorrow! Got it? Now git a move on!"
Applebloom was laughing and snorting from behind her hoof, but it didn't ruin it for Fluttershy, who was incredibly impressed with the display. "What would you have done if she refused to go to her room?"
"Oh, no way would she have then," Applejack assured, "But if she did...well, that's another lesson entirely. Now, you give 'er a shot! Applebloom is Discord and she's just refused to go ta' bed!" That had the little filly fall to the ground laughing, while Fluttershy screwed up her face.
"Applejack, he isn't five! You...you need to think up an actual Discord scenario."
"Hm..." Applebloom tapped her chin thoughtfully. With a grin, she abruptly swiped some sand at Fluttershy. Right when her sister was about to actually scold her, she grinned. "That was strawberry syrup! Ah'm Discord and Ah just flung syrup at ya, and yer expensive coffee table!"
The pegasus found it hard to be serious when Applebloom had dissolved into giggles again, and Applejack's lips were twitching, but she forced on a purposeful frown. "Discord, I told you...not to mess with expensive things...!"
The two southern sisters exchanged awkward looks and shook their heads. "Louder, Fluttershy," Applejack told her. The pegasus said it again, but it was extremely quiet. Applejack tapped her chin thoughtfully and then changed the scenario. "Alright, instead of the syrup thing, Discord has just turned one of yer birds into a feather boa."
That seemed to flare up rage in the saffron pony, and she gave an impressive shout. "Discord! What have I told you about messing with my animals?"
"Well, Ah'll be!" Happily, Applejack hugged her friend. "Seems like ya don't have a problem being firm when it has to do with yer animals! Now that we've mastered the voice, it's time for what you're best at: the stare!" Demonstrating, she gave Applebloom a fierce, wide eyed glare. The filly stared at her for a few moments, before doubling back in laughter. Closing her eyes with a sigh, the older sister started laughing too. "Ya knuckle head! Ya ain't supposed ta make me laugh!"
"Pfft-hehehe-Ah'm sorry, Sis!" Applebloom giggled. "It's just so hard ta take ya seriously when Ah know ya ain't really mad!"
With a chuckle, Applejack rolled her eyes and turned back to the quiet Fluttershy. "Alright, yer good enough at the stare so we don't have to work on that. Time fer threats! What normal threat would ya give Discord?"
"Oh...um...usually the duster," Fluttershy said quietly, shifting her hooves in the dirt. "He hates being tickled..."
The mare shook her head. "Wrong! Ya don't give tickles as punishment! Well, sometimes, but it really depends on the scenario. For what he's done to yer animals, he needs an actual punishment. Think of one!"
"W-well," Fluttershy stammered. Noticing the sisters were waiting expectantly, Fluttershy straightened with another breath. "Discord, I'm not taking you to town with me today! I-I've told you to keep my animals out of your chaos! You can just stay here...and clean up the mess you made with the syrup!"
Applejack stared at her, agape. After a few seconds, she gave her sister a huge grin. "Whoa nelly! Ah think she's got it! That was perfect, Fluttershy! See? Ya can be assertive without bein', well, dangerous! Now, Ah think it's time for the last part of our assertiveness training." She looked at her younger sister. "Ya can go in for this, Applebloom."
When the little foal was back in the house, Applejack led her friend over to one of the trees and targeted one of the lowest branches. Fluttershy felt her stomach doing flip flops when she realized what this last part was.
With a powerful kick, Applejack had bucked off a fair sized, thick branch and swished it through the air a few times. "Sometimes, rarely, y'all need to resort to the last thing you'll want to resort to in order ta get yer point across." She gave the switch a grim look. "This is something Ah have rarely needed to use."
The thought of physically harming Discord made Fluttershy feel sick. Other than a smack or two maybe once or twice in warning, Fluttershy had never raised a hoof or an implement on the draconequus. "Applejack, he isn't a kid," she practically whispered.
"Now that don't matter! Whatever the age, a crime is a crime. It needs an appropriate punishment, and if that punishment is a firm whipping then so be it! You're his guardian, and the deal ya made with Celestia is that ya'd keep him in line. He has ta listen to ya, and he has to accept whatever fate ya give him. Those were the rules that allowed him to live in Equestria. He has ta listen to us."
"But I couldn't!" Fluttershy whimpered. "Yelling at him is one thing, but beating him—I just couldn't!"
"It ain't a beatin'. Applebloom has felt this on her hindquarters twice, and Big Mac and I got our hides tanned for all sorts of things when we were foals. And as ya can see, Discord has been a little more cautious around mah farm."
"I don't have it in me," Fluttershy said quietly.
"That's what y'all will think for a while," Applejack said, and anger seemed to have leaked into her tone. "At least until your five year old sister decides to make sparklers in the barn with matches, and tree branches." As Fluttershy stared at her, mouth hanging, Applejack nodded. "That's right. Oh, Ah'll never forget that day..."
It hadn't taken long for Applejack to realize the matches were gone, since she had placed them right beside the fire logs that night. She knew her sister was upset that they had run out of sparklers, and even more upset that her older siblings had refused to go out and buy some more this late at night.
"Applebloom, where in Celestia's name are ya? Get out here this minute, young lady!" The younger Applejack darted around frantically, while her brother went to search in the house, and their Granny checked in the gardens.
Sighting a strange, dim orange glow emanating from the open barn doors, Applejack very cautiously approached. "Applebloom?" Her jaw dropped and she would never forget the sight before her.
A flaming stick in her mouth, the five year old grinned up at her big sister. "Hi, A'bble'vap!" she mumbled around the stick. "Ah vade s'varklers!" At that second, a wind drifted through the barn and caught an ember. The two emitted startled gasps and watched as the bale went up in flames.
"By Celestia!" With a loud curse, Applejack grabbed her sister in her mouth and pulled her to safety. A gawking Big Macintosh ran in, while his sister desperately shouted, "Git some water!"
Buckets of water doused the flames as the older mare darted out of the smoking barn with her crying little sister. The fire was out within moments, and with only damage to one hay bale, but the fear was still anew.
"APPLEBLOOM! WHAT IN TARNATION DID Y'ALL THINK YA WERE DOING?!" Applejack roared at the shaking little foal. "WERE YA TRYIN' TA SET THE FARM ON FIRE?!"
"Ah-Ah was tryin' ta' make sparklers," the five year old sniffled, cowering from the absolute rage on her older sister's face.
"We told ya no!" Applejack snarled.
"No buts! Go and git yourself a switch right now! And meet me in yer bedroom!"
The terrified foal stared up with a look of tearful confusion. She had no idea what a switch was, but she figured it wouldn't be very pleasant. Wasn't it...a piece of wood? Giving her older sister a meek nod, she miserably walked away to do the task.
Applejack waited upstairs, angrily pacing away on the floors and waiting for the little filly to come into the bedroom. At last, the door slowly opened, and Applejack could only gape at the sight. "Dear Celestia!"
Little, sniffling Applebloom stood at the doorway with a giant piece of firewood draped over her back.
Recovering from the laughter, Fluttershy and Applejack gave a few more guffaws before stopping completely.
"Applebloom would kill me if she knew Ah told that story," Applejack laughed. "Ah had to fight with all Ah had in me ta keep from laughin'. Ah didn't want her thinking any of it was a joke, but gosh, that was too darn funny! Ah waited until after she had left to laugh. Ah really have no idea what she thought Ah planned on doing with a piece of firewood."
The seriousness taking back over, Fluttershy cleared her throat. "So...that was the first time you used..."
"Yep... Now, tell me honestly...if Discord had accidentally set your animal dens on fire what would you have done?"
Fluttershy completely stiffened and felt her body grow ice cold. Eyes glazed over with a cool look, they narrowed. "I...I'm not sure." But she did know he'd probably be a pile of animal parts.
"Anyway, Ah think we've done enough of your discipline training for now," Applejack said, leading her friend away. "How about we take a break and have some fresh, just picked strawberries and lemonade?"
Making their way back to the garden, the two skidded to a halt as they watched a swarm of fluff crowd the table. The fluff turned to them, and the hoard of fuzzy bunnies quickly scurried off with strawberries in their mouths.
"Or," Applejack tutted, "maybe we outta take care of them varmints first."
(I just couldn't shake this idea from my head for some reason. When an idea nags me enough, I have to write it. That's what happened with "Broken Spirit". I always wondered in my time of writing "Broken Spirit" if Fluttershy ever would finally get officially fed up with Discord, so I got this idea in mind. Heh, I dunno. It might be a while before I post the last part, since I'm trying to decide how to write it.
Little Applebloom is just so cuteohmahgod. I love writing her and Applejack-especially her as a young, young filly. I'll probably do more of that. Ah yes, and the whole flashback with the sparklers was not an idea from the top of my head, it was from my own personal experience as a kid (minus the barn).)