The Steel-Hearted Pegasus
Chapter 5: Clarity
Crickets chirped off in the distance, creating a beautiful melody despite the eerie occasion on this particular evening. It was Nightmare Night in Ponyville and the entire town was buzzing with active ponies. The town square was decorated for the annual Nightmare Night festival, with streamers, balloons, and confetti around every corner. There were a few game stands set up, such as the spider toss, bobbing for apples and the pumpkin catapults. Princess Luna had even arrived for her yearly visit and traditional scaring, which everybody grew accustomed to over the years. For it seemed to be the only time of year when she could spend time among her subjects. Trick-or-treaters roamed the streets, dressed in their best costumes and going door to door for sugary sweets or playing pranks on other ponies.
On the outskirts of Ponyville, near the Everfree forest, a group of trick-or-treaters approached a cottage with fewer decorations than the rest of the town. Fluttershy was standing outside the front of the cottage and was wearing her dangerous mission outfit that Rarity made for her when Trixie came back. While it was only meant to be a one-time only outfit, Fluttershy thought it was cute and decided to have it repaired and used as her Nightmare Night costume. Normally around this time of year she would hide herself in her home until the sunrise came, but over the years her friends had helped her see her fears as nothing more than simple costumes and surprises. Fluttershy still held a bit of fear in her heart, but knew that her friends would be there for her.
Seeing the colts and fillies walk up to her home, the pink haired Pegasus grabbed her bowl of candy and approached the trick-or-treaters.
“Nightmare Night, what a fright, give us something sweet to bite!” They all shouted, eager to receive some candy.
“Hello everypony, Happy Nightmare Night to all of you.” Fluttershy giggled as she passed out candy to the foals.
“Thank you.” They all replied as they made their way to next house on their route.
Not many foals came by her house, considering she lived on the edge of the Everfree forest, so this gave Fluttershy time to herself to think. Part of her thoughts were brought to recent events. It had been over a month since the wedding between Jack Reels and Hotpop, yet to her it seemed like it was only yesterday. This was due to her short time spent with her friend Caster Forge. A week before the wedding, the blacksmith had gotten himself into a bit of a mishap and Fluttershy had to use her Stare to get him under control. She had feared that this might have led to him holding a grudge against her. But a moment at the reception between them had dispelled her belief.
Caster had asked her to dance with him and she graciously accepted with butterflies in her stomach, metaphorically speaking. Curiosity got the better of her and Fluttershy straight up asked him how he felt about what she did. He had told her that not only did he appreciate the act, but he also considered her to be his best friend above everyone else he knew. Since then her mind had become plagued with thoughts of the Pegasus stallion. Fluttershy kept wondering why Caster thought of her like that and never seemed to hold anything against her. Meanwhile new feelings started to form in her heart as these thoughts progressed.
Before the yellow Pegasus could continue on these thoughts, something caught her eye. Fluttershy turned to see a squirrel running up to her house. As the little creature got closer she soon realized it was Nina, Caster’s pet squirrel, who seemed to be in a panic.
“Nina, what are you doing here, what’s wrong?” Fluttershy asked in a concerned voice.
The red-coated squirrel proceeded to squeak and make gestures that would normally be lost to any other pony. But Fluttershy understood them almost perfectly and translated Nina’s message. When she finished, the pink haired mare gasped in shock.
“Oh my goodness, Caster’s in trouble?!” She asked. The squirrel squeaked in confirmation. “Please Nina, take me to him right away!”
With great speed, the energetic pet squirrel bolted toward the woods where Caster’s home lay, with Fluttershy in tow. The two of them dodged trees and maneuvered around the greenery of the forest, galloping and sprinting as fast as they could. The density of the forest became thinner as the Pegasus and the squirrel ran. Eventually the trees opened to the familiar open plain and house that rested in the center. Caster’s home was covered in Nightmare Night decorations such as cobwebs with fake spiders, jack-o-lanterns, and spooky lights which gave it an ominous presence. Despite the scenery, Fluttershy moved past that and burst into the house.
What she saw inside made her gasp in fright. The shelves surrounding the counter had been toppled over and the contents were spilled out across the room. As she got a closer look Fluttershy found what she was looking for. Underneath the pile of armor, weapons, and other assortments was Caster Forge himself. He appeared to be unconscious with a few small cuts adorning his face but his breathing was steady. The frightened yellow Pegasus did not bother to think about how the events occurred as her mind was solely focused on getting the stallion out of this situation. Fluttershy rushed to his side in the blink of an eye as she started moving the gear out of her way.
“Please come over here Nina, I need your help getting Caster out of here!” She said frantically.
The red squirrel did not need to be told twice what to do as the both of them set to work on getting rid of the debris. Nina did her part to move the armor and weapons, even with her small stature. Once they had enough room, Fluttershy started to pull him out but found him to be stuck. The shelves, along with a few other pieces of the blacksmith’s work, kept his back legs wedged in. The worried mare was unsure of what to do, knowing she could not lift the shelves or fit herself in between them to reach behind the stallion. That last thought sparked an idea as she turned to Casters pet squirrel.
“Nina, go under the shelves and try to move some of the armor out of the way.” Fluttershy said calmly, getting a better handle on the situation.
The small mammal nodded as she squeezed into the tight space. Nina started moving bits and pieces to the side as best she could with her tiny frame. Eventually she made a minimal amount of room for Fluttershy to pull Caster out. The yellow Pegasus continued pulling the stallions’ front hooves, using as much strength as she could muster. Her efforts soon paid off as the light brown Pegasus slipped out from beneath the shelves and Fluttershy took a moment to catch her breath. She also took a quick second to look at the costume Caster was wearing. It was a large black trench coat with a small gray chain on the chest area and had matching boots that covered his hooves. It seemed a bit odd but the nearly worn out mare paid it no mind as she brought her focus back to the current situation.
Fluttershy saw that Casters body was pretty beaten up from what had transpired and knew that she had to get him to the hospital as soon as possible. So she quickly moved the stallion onto her back and tried to get out of the house. But Caster was heavier than the yellow Pegasus anticipated, which hindered her movement. Once Fluttershy exited the building her strength was already failing her with every passing moment. But she felt something tap her right front hoof and looked down to see Nina pointing to the side of the house. The squirrel led her to what appeared to be a large empty cart, which Fluttershy remembered it was used for transporting Caster’s armory to the castle. Realizing it was her best option at this point, she quickly made her way to the cart and carefully slipped Caster onto it and turned to Nina.
“Nina, I need you to go and get the others while I take Caster to the hospital. Do you think you can do it?” She asked.
The red coated mammal nodded and made her way back into town to find their friends. Once she got herself strapped in, Fluttershy galloped straight for Ponyville, the extra friction from the wheels giving her greater results.
The townsfolk were enjoying the last moments of the festival before they had to pack up, as a storm appeared to be brewing in the distance. While the merriment continued a few ponies heard something galloping toward them. Before they could turn their heads to see, something fast went right past the crowd, carrying a large cart behind it. Fluttershy ran as fast her legs could carry her towards Ponyville hospital, still worried for her friend’s current condition. Caster still laid in the cart, knocked out cold. While she ran, the yellow Pegasus felt her chest tighten from the strain of pulling the cart. But Fluttershy was determined not to stop until she reached her destination. Minutes later with her breathing getting heavier, the hospital came within the pink haired pony’s’ view as she used her wings to help her gain a little momentum.
Inside the hospital lobby Nurse Redheart was sitting at the front desk filing away some patients’ notes when something caught her peripheral vision. She looked up to see outside the door was a frantic looking Fluttershy who was unloading an unconscious and banged up Caster Forge onto her back. Not wasting any time, the white earth pony hit the intercom button and called for aid.
“Attention, attention please. I need a team of medics and a stretcher in the lobby stat!” She said with ease.
As the nurse finished relaying her message, Fluttershy opened the glass doors and tried to get her attention.
“Please, you have to help, my friend is injured and he needs medical aid!” The yellow Pegasus stated.
“Don’t worry Miss Fluttershy, I’ve already called the paramedics. They should be here any second now.” Nurse Redheart said, trying to calm her down.
Just like the nurse said, a team of paramedics came in, rolling a large stretcher in the direction of the three ponies. They carefully slid Caster off of Fluttershy and onto the gurney and then wheeled him through the doors to the emergency room.
“Don’t fret, your friend is with professionals. They’ll know what to do.” The earth pony said, reassuring the frantic Pegasus.
Regardless, Fluttershy was still worried about Caster, almost to the point of tears. She wanted to ask Nurse Redheart more about what would happen, but she heard the doors burst open and turned to see who it was. To the yellow mares delight she saw all of her friends, including Spike and Nina, standing in the doorway. Each of them with concerned looks on their faces. Fluttershy ran up to them and they shared a quick hug before they all started asking questions about what happened.
An hour later, the six ponies and one dragon were still in the lobby, wearing their costumes as they all waited for Caster’s results. Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash walked around the room nervous of what the outcome might be. Applejack and Twilight sat down on one of the couches, keeping their composure but still worrying on the inside. On another couch Rarity sat next to Spike while holding his claw, trying to find some comfort in this whole situation. Fluttershy just sat away from everyone else, wanting to be alone with her thoughts. She had removed her costume since it made her feel somewhat uncomfortable as she waited. Nina rested next to her as the Pegasus pet the squirrel, trying to take her mind off of what had transpired. It did little to help as the thoughts kept flooding her mind.
As she continued her thinking, Fluttershy looked up to see Nurse Redheart exiting into the lobby with a chart in her mouth. Everyone in the room gathered around to hear the news, hoping that it would turn out well.
“Well Nurse Redheart, how is he?” Twilight asked.
“He’s resting comfortably for now, he won’t be waking up for a few hours though.” The white earth pony said, trying to relax everybody. “He’s suffered a mild concussion on the back of his head and some cuts and bruises, but they’ll heal easily.”
They were all about to breathe a sigh of relief, before the nurse continued.
“However… his legs are the more major issue. Both his hind legs have suffered hairline fractures and one of them was dislocated. We managed to pop it back into the socket but his condition remains the same. He’ll have to stay here for the next few weeks before he can walk properly again.”
The group let out a collective gasp when they got the bad half of the news. Fluttershy seemed to take it the worst as she dropped to the floor. She was ready to cry when she felt a hoof on her shoulder and looked up to see Nurse Redheart giving her a comforting smile.
“You’re lucky you got him to us when you did.” She said, keeping her smile up. “If he had been in that situation any longer his condition might have worsened. He may never have been able to walk again for all we know. I’m not saying this to make you feel bad, I’m just trying to let you know what a good deed it is you’ve done.”
And it appeared to work. While she wasn’t too pleased to have heard the possible outcome, Fluttershy was happy to know that she basically saved Caster’s life. The thought was more than enough to dry her tears and perk up her mood. The yellow Pegasus was about to thank Nurse Redheart when the front doors opened to someone they were not expecting to see. Standing in the doorway was none other than Princess Luna. As soon as they saw the dark blue alicorn, everyone in the room gave a quick bow before they spoke.
“Princess Luna, what are you doing here?” Twilight said, a faint blush upon her cheeks.
“Hello again Twilight Sparkle.” Princess Luna said with a smile. “I was looking for you and your friends so I could say goodbye before I left but I could not find any of you. I asked somepony if they had seen you and they told me that you all went to the hospital an hour ago. But they did not say what for though. So I came by to see what all the commotion was about; so pray tell, what is the matter?”
“I am afraid that Caster Forge has been in an accident your highness. The results are right here if you wish to look them over.” Nurse Redheart said as she showed her the clipboard in her hooves.
The lunar princess used her magic to bring it to her as she quickly scanned the papers attached to the clipboard. When she finished reading the results Luna brought her attention back to the group in front of her.
“I see, this is most unfortunate, I do hope he gets better soon. When Caster awakes please let him know that he won’t have to worry about his duties, I will let my sister know that he will not be able to work until he recovers. I will also notify his family of this dilemma, they deserve to know what has transpired.” She said as she gave the clipboard back to the nurse.
“Thank you ever so much your highness. We are most grateful for your kindness.” Rarity said as she and the rest of the ponies and Spike gave another respective bow.
“Think nothing of it Rarity. I am simply doing what is right. With that said I wish you all a fond farewell, I hope to see you all again soon.” The alicorn stated as she lit up her horn and with a flash of magic she was gone.
As the light from the transportation spell dissipated, Fluttershy turned to Nurse Redheart to ask her a question.
“Um, Nurse Redheart. If it’s not too much trouble, would it be all right if I could see Caster? I thought I’d drop off Nina so she can be with him when he wakes up.” Fluttershy said, nervously.
The earth pony mare thought it over for a moment before coming to a decision.
“Well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. Just be sure to keep your voice down, he needs his rest. His room is 125B” She said.
“Thank you very much. Come on Nina, let’s go see your ‘big brother’.” The red squirrel responded with a squeak and Fluttershy let out a giggle. “I’ll be back in a few minutes’ girls.”
Her friends all gave her a nod as she left to go find Caster’s room.
Every step that Fluttershy took seemed to echo throughout the hallways as she went to see Caster. She was nervous, mostly because she did not know how to handle seeing her friend in such a damaged state. Although Nurse Redhearts words of encouragement helped to cheer the Pegasus up, Fluttershy still felt a pang of guilt in her heart. For what she wasn’t sure, but it still seemed to eat away at her. In her state of deep thought she had suddenly found herself in front of room 125B, where Caster resided. Taking a moment to compose herself, Fluttershy let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding and opened the door.
The light from the hallway provided minimal light inside the room as the Pegasus mare tried her best to discern the features of the room. The room had light green colored walls, a black and white tiled floor, and a single open window to the side. She also noticed his costume was on a coat hanger on the other side of the room. Remembering what Nurse Redheart said about not waking Caster up, Fluttershy slowly walked in and closed the door behind her. With the only light in the room coming from the window, she had to wait for her eyes to adjust to the darkness around her. When the interior of the room became more visible, Fluttershy was able to make out the outline of the bed inside and silently trotted up to it. Arriving at the bedside, the yellow Pegasus, along with Nina, found Caster lying beneath the sheets; broken and bruised.
He had a few IV cords strapped to his left front hoof which led to some complicated machinery, transferring fluid to and from his body. A heart monitor stood by, giving off a steady rhythm of beeps every few seconds. A thin layer of bandages was wrapped around Casters forehead and his hind legs were put into large casts. While it was not as bad as she thought it would be, Fluttershy still found the stallions condition to be quite distressful.
“Oh Caster, look at you, you’re a mess right now.” Fluttershy said, barely above a whisper.
Nina quickly jumped off of Fluttershy’s back and onto the bed, curling up next to Caster’s face. The Pegasus caretaker thought it was adorable, the red coated squirrel didn’t need to say anything, she just went to where she knew she was needed. Before Fluttershy could think any more on this, she noticed that Caster was starting to fidget around as a cold sweat started to develop on his fur.
“No, no get away from me.” The stallion said, weakly.
The heart monitor went up slightly, but not to the point of cardiac arrest. Fluttershy could only assume that he was having a nightmare of some kind. Nina looked worried, seeing her owner like this. Feeling her kindness take over, the yellow Pegasus leaned her head forward and began singing a calming melody.
“Hush now, quiet now it’s time to lay your sleepy head. Hush now, quiet now it’s time to go to bed. Drifting off to sleep leave exciting day behind you. Drifting off to sleep let the joy of dreamland find you. Hush now, quiet now it’s time to lay your sleepy head. Hush now, quiet now it’s time to go to bed.”
As the song ended, Caster started to relax. His heart rate went down as was shown on the monitor and he fell into a more restful slumber. Fluttershy let out a quiet sigh of relief, seeing the stallion more at ease. Nina went back to cuddling up to his face as the pink haired mare simply watched in amusement.
Fluttershy liked Caster that much was clear to her at this point. In fact she has for a long time now. At first she was merely curious about whether or not he was the singing pony she saw in the woods the day they met. During that time she had learned more about him and what kind of pony he was. Fluttershy did indeed find out that it was him in those woods, but at that point it did not really matter to her anymore. Now she was more focused on getting to know the real Caster Forge.
Since then, the yellow Pegasus has seen the blacksmith pony befriend nearly everyone in Ponyville. He was kind, caring, always hardworking in both his duties as well as helping others, and being supportive for all of his friends. Sometimes Caster may have been a bit brash and would lose his temper on occasion. But he would always apologize, remembering how important his friendships with others were. Even though Caster had a high position in Equestria, both in the work force and popularity from his lucky mark, it never kept him from being who he truly was.
Fluttershy developed her crush on the stallion because he was there for everyone and never thought of himself better than anybody else. She liked Caster, just for being himself. With those thoughts in mind, the Pegasus mare leaned in once more and placed a delicate kiss on his forehead. Her face turned dark crimson as she pulled away. Fluttershy didn’t know whether or not the light brown Pegasus liked her back or not and decided to keep her feelings hidden. But with this opportunity she decided to let her feelings out a bit, even though he may never know about them in the future. With her work done Fluttershy slowly made her way back to the door to leave.
Before the shy mare reached the door knob, a bolt of lightning struck the earth outside as thunder boomed through the hospital. In a flash Fluttershy hid herself under a nearby table, cowering in fear and shaking uncontrollably. The yellow Pegasus had always hated thunder storms and even now was no exception. She soon found herself facing quite a predicament. Fluttershy would never be able to make it home in this weather, as she heard the rain starting to pour against the glass of the window. Even then the thunder and lightning was too much for her to handle, she’d never be able to get any sleep. She kept trying to think of what to do in this situation until she felt something nudge at her side.
Fluttershy opened one of her eyes to see it was Nina by her side. The squirrel was trying to tell her something but Fluttershy was having a hard time figuring out what it was, with the weather outside overriding her senses. Cutting straight to the point Nina simply pointed a claw towards Caster, hoping the Pegasus mare would get the idea. When she did, Fluttershy’s whole face turned nearly as red as a tomato.
“I-I can’t s-share the bed with h-him Nina!” The yellow mare exclaimed quietly, letting her nervousness cloud her rationality. “I mean, what if when he wakes up he thinks I’m creepy for doing something like that. He’d probably never speak to me again either.”
Nina rolled her eyes. She had heard Caster talk about Fluttershy almost every day, something like this would probably make him happier than ever. And from what the red coated squirrel saw earlier, she could tell that the Pegasus mare would enjoy spending the night in the stallion’s embrace. So, giving her a little motivation, Nina tried pulling Fluttershy out from under the desk.
Pointless as the physical meaning was, Fluttershy understood what the tiny mammal was trying to say. It may have seemed odd to both ponies, but really they would have both understood that it was just one friend helping another. Fluttershy would keep him company throughout the night and Caster would indirectly calm her nerves from the storm. So with her resolve set, the yellow Pegasus got out from under the table and made her way to the only bed in the room.
Careful not to wake Caster up, Fluttershy climbed onto the mattress, staying above the sheets, as she tried to make herself comfortable with what little room there was. Nina quickly followed suit and made her way to her previous resting spot by the stallions head. The nervous feeling from both the weather and being so close to Caster kept gnawing at Fluttershy’s mind as time went on. Deciding that this was a huge mistake, she was about to climb off the bed and leave again when she felt something warm and soft wrap over her shoulder.
Fluttershy looked to see it was Caster’s wing, wrapped around her in a tender embrace. She looked up to his face but saw that his eyes were still closed. She was confused by what was going on until she heard him speak.
“Don’t worry, I will always keep you safe.” Caster said, his voice soothing and calm.
Fluttershy let out a silent gasp. In that moment all her nervous apprehensions vanished and she felt more at ease. She knew that the stallion was obviously talking in his sleep. But those words shook her at her core as if he was actually speaking to Fluttershy’s inner self. With her fears dissipated, the yellow Pegasus laid herself down and cuddled up closer to Caster. Letting both the blacksmith’s body and wing warm her slightly chilled frame as she fell into her own deep slumber.
It was only a few minutes later when the door to the room opened, letting the hallway light in. Twilight Sparkle popped her head in to see where Fluttershy was.
“Fluttershy, where are you? Nurse Redheart said it’s time to-” The lavender unicorn stopped when she saw where the Pegasus was. Fluttershy was snuggling up to Caster, sound asleep with a warm smile adorning her face. Twilight simply gave an understanding nod and smiled as she closed the door. “I’ll just tell the nurse you’ll be staying here tonight.”
Darkness was the first thing that registered in his mind. Caster felt a small throbbing pain in the back of his head as he drifted back to reality. The stallion tried opening his eyes, but they felt too heavy to lift for some reason. Pushing past the strain, Caster slowly managed to open them and see where he was. He turned his neck slightly from side to side and saw that he was in what appeared to be a hospital room. The sound of the heart monitor gave off a faint beat in his ears, but it was drowned out mostly by the pouring rain outside which he noticed a moment later.
Gaining his senses again, he heard the distinct sound of light snoring coming from nearby. In his peripheral vision, Caster saw the unmistakable red coat of Nina. The blacksmith turned his head and saw his pet squirrel resting by his head. He gave a small inaudible chuckle, seeing her sleeping always seemed adorable to him. However the stallions hearing was drawn away as he realized there were two snoring voices in the room. He looked around but could not find anything that is until he felt something soft brush against his right side.
Caster looked down to see his right wing was unfolded and had something wrapped underneath it. He lifted his wing up slightly and his face instantly turned bright red. There, laying right next to his body, was none other than Fluttershy. She was fast asleep and cuddling up to him, making the injured stallion blush even more at where he found himself. For a moment Caster couldn’t, or rather wouldn’t, believe that he would find himself in this situation. The light brown Pegasus tried to get up to a better view for clarification but he felt the throbbing pain again, surging from his head throughout the rest of his body as he let out a pained groan.
Both the sudden movement and noise awoke the sleeping mare beneath him. Fluttershy looked up to see the sleeping stallion next to her. Only to find that he was not asleep at all. Needless to say, both ponies were startled to meet each other’s gaze.
“Caster?” The mare asked.
“Fluttershy?” The stallion asked.
Seeing as there was no denying their current occupation, they both did the only rational thing: they freaked out. Fluttershy quickly jumped off the bed and muttered frantic apologies over and over again. While Caster was busy asking questions about the whole situation and backing up into the bed. Or at least he would have if his injuries had not prevented him from doing so. The injured pony let out another pain filled groan as he felt the pain course through him again. Fluttershy quickly noticed this and tried to calm both herself and her friend.
“Caster please be careful, or else you’ll only worsen your injuries!” The yellow Pegasus said, getting a handle on the situation.
When Caster had calmed down slightly from his mental freak out he spoke. “I-I’m sorry Fluttershy. I just didn’t expect you, or really anypony in general, to be sharing a bed with me.”
“It’s all right Caster, I figured something like this might happen.” Fluttershy said, hiding a blush on her cheeks. “I-it’s just that, well I.”
The mare began mumbling her explanation to the point where Caster could barely register her words. He was going to ask her to speak up when a bolt of lightning made its presence known as the thunderous boom rang in the room. Fluttershy instantly rolled up into a ball and cowered in fear. It didn’t take even a moment for Caster to put two and two together and just smiled at the realization.
“The lightning was just scaring you right?” He asked, trying not to be too blunt.
The cowering Pegasus ceased her shaking for a moment before looking back up at Caster. When she met his gaze once more she started to relax. It was that simple, understanding look he gave that always reminded the shy mare of how much he cared. Slowly Fluttershy nodded her head, so as not to leave his question unanswered.
“I see, that makes sense I suppose.” Caster said, waving his hoof back and forth to tell Fluttershy to stand up. “You don’t have to be embarrassed Fluttershy, when I was a foal lightning used to scare me too and I went to my parents almost every time.”
They both shared a quick laugh, imagining a younger Caster Forge being scared. When that was out of the way, the blacksmith pony got back to the question he tried asking earlier.
“So, what happened to me anyway?”
“Well um, your shelves seemed to collapse on top of you. Nurse Redheart said you had a mild concussion and suffered hairline fractures on both of your hind legs.” Fluttershy said, hoping the stallion would not panic.
At those last words, Caster turned his attention to his aforementioned injuries. He quickly pulled away the blanket to see his hind legs wrapped in large bandage casts. He simply stared at them, his expression never changing from the realization. Nina had awoken earlier from all the havoc and was trying to comfort her owner by rubbing her cheek against his front hoof. Fluttershy just stood by the bed waiting for a response. Although what she got was not what she had expected.
“Well, it seems I’m not as invincible as I thought I was.” Caster said, with a goofy grin.
“I’m sorry, what?” Fluttershy asked, completely bewildered by his comment.
“I guess I should elaborate. For the longest time I’ve thought that I was impervious to injury or something. I mean I got the occasional scrapes and bruises in the past, but I’ve never truly been to the point where I needed medical attention before. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to be a patient here, I suppose now I’ll finally get that chance.” The stallion said, never letting his smile vanish.
“Wow, um, when you put it like that I can see how somepony could take this so well.” The pink haired pony said.
“Yeah, don’t get me wrong though. I am a little worked up by this whole situation. I don’t even know how my family will handle the news, let alone how I’m going to tell them myself.”
“You don’t have to worry about that Caster. Princess Luna was here and she said she’ll let them know of your dilemma. She also said your duties will be postponed until you’re fully recovered.” Fluttershy said, trying to relieve the tension in the air.
“Thanks for sharing that with me Fluttershy. Now all I have to worry about is how my family will react when they see me like this.” Caster said, letting another laugh come out.
Fluttershy soon joined him and the mood of the moment was changed almost instantly. As soon as everything died down both ponies just remained where they were, not knowing what to say. With awkwardness filling the air, the light brown Pegasus decided to break the silence.
“So I take it Princess Luna was the one that brought me here?” He asked.
“Oh, um, actually… I-I was the one who brought you to the hospital.” Fluttershy said, plainly.
Caster felt his eyes widen and his jaw nearly go limp. “R-really?”
“Mm-hm.” She said, not looking directly at him. “Nina came to me shortly after your accident and led me right to you. She even helped dig you out of the rubble from the mess. After that I-I loaded you onto your cart and ran all the way over here.”
The stallion was nearly speechless. Out of all possibilities, it was Fluttershy, the one he had confused feelings for that stuck her neck out to save him of all ponies. For a moment he turned to Nina and gave her a quick petting. Thanking her for going to Fluttershy first. His attention was brought back to the yellow Pegasus, who was now looking at him directly.
“Thank you, Fluttershy. I-I don’t know what to say.” Caster said, feeling his heart swell with gratitude.
“It was nothing Caster. I was just being there for my friend.” Fluttershy said, letting a cheerful smile play across her lips.
She walked up next to the stallion and quickly wrapped him in a caring hug, which he graciously returned. In the past it had felt awkward when the two ponies hugged. But the time Fluttershy spent cheering Caster up from his date failures had made them both more comfortable with the action. They stayed like this for a while longer before Fluttershy broke the contact. She turned toward the clock by the door and saw that it was half past one in the morning.
“Well, I suppose I should be going now. You need your rest after all.” With that Fluttershy turned around and made her way to the door.
Caster merely watched as the yellow Pegasus kept walking further and further away. To him, time seemed to have slowed down as something felt off. He felt that when she left, something would be missing. Realizing that this feeling would not subside, the stallion quickly spoke up.
“Yes Caster?” She said, turning her head back.
“Um, well you can stay here for tonight, if you want.” Caster said, his cheeks tinted red. “I mean it doesn’t look like the weather will be clearing up any time soon and I wouldn’t want you to be scared all night.”
The mare just stood there, still as a statue. “Are you sure Caster? I-I wouldn’t want to impose.”
“It’s fine Fluttershy. Besides, it would be nice to have some company.” He said, smiling meekly.
Needing no more incentive, Fluttershy walked back to the bed. Caster moved over a bit to make more room, even though it hurt trying to move his hind legs. When there was enough room the shy mare stepped onto the bed and took her place by Caster’s right side again, as did Nina. It was only now that Fluttershy realized how toned his body really was. Most likely from all the work he’s done as a blacksmith. She cuddled into his chest, which the stallion didn’t seem to mind at all as he wrapped his wing around her once more as well as his hoof, drawing her closer. He laid his head down upon Fluttershy’s mane, letting his beard tickle the top of her head, as they all got settled in.
“Goodnight Fluttershy.” Caster whispered into her ear.
“Goodnight Caster.” Fluttershy whispered back.
And with that they both let sleep overtake them. Wondering what the future had in store for them.
A cold breeze rode on the passing wind. Snowflakes of infinite shapes dropped down from the sky to the world below. Winter time had arrived in Equestria and covered the land in a blanket of snow and ice. A certain town of Ponyville was faring well from the weather as most of the residents were relieved of their normal duties. Some spent their time indoors to warm up as the temperature was considerably freezing. Others were seen shopping around the market to stock up on foods and to grab supplies for the approaching Hearth’s Warming Eve. Foals of all ages were scattered across Ponyville, spending their time with friends having snowball fights, making snow ponies, ice-skating, and whatever else they could think of.
Three fillies in particular, outfitted with thick layered coats and pairs of snow boots, were making their way across town to check up on their incapacitated friend.
“Do you think Caster will be surprised to see us?” Scootaloo asked her fellow crusaders.
“Maybe, Ah’m not sure.” Applebloom answered, unassured.
“Well we haven’t seen him since the wedding. So I guess he wouldn’t be expecting us.” Sweetie Belle added on.
“Ah reckon you’re right Sweetie. Ah just hope that he’s gotten bett’r since tha accident.” The yellow earth pony said.
“Don’t sweat it Bloom. Knowing Cast I’m pretty sure he’s making progress.” The Pegasus filly said reaffirming her.
“You’re right Scoots. If anything he should be out of the hospital in no time.” The unicorn filly said.
With their worries gone, the three crusaders proceeded forward to their destination. The piles of snow crunched beneath their hooves as they got closer to the hospital. When they reached the medical facility they were about to walk in when something caught their attention. Caster’s friend, who they recognized as Bard, was walking up the road toward them. However he had two other ponies with him that did not appear familiar to them.
Back inside the hospital, two ponies were found going through the other’s daily routine of physical therapy. Fluttershy had Caster Forge’s front right hoof draped over her neck as she helped him to walk back to his bed. In the past month the yellow Pegasus had spent nearly every day by the stallion’s side assisting in his recovery. Caster had made steady progress returning to his normal vigor. He was lucky that some unicorns decided to become doctors, otherwise without their healing magic it would’ve taken him longer to recover.
“Just a few more steps Caster, you’re almost there.” Fluttershy said, encouraging him to keep going.
“You got it Flutters.” Caster said, eager to end today’s grueling session.
As soon as they reached the bed post, the light brown Pegasus clambered onto the bed. Fluttershy helped him back up by lifting his hind legs onto the mattress. Caster soon settled in as he covered himself in the blanket.
“Glad that’s finally over.” The stallion huffed out.
“Oh don’t be such a baby Caster.” Fluttershy said, playfully pulling his ear with her hoof. She then turned her attention to his face. “You know you could really use a shave.”
Caster agreed with that, putting a hoof to his cheek. With no particular reason for shaving he had let his facial hair grow out in his down time. Caster’s goatee had grown to the point where it connected with a newly formed mustache. The whole thing wasn’t overly bushy but it still made its appearance known. Even his mane grew, letting a few bangs drape over his eyes.
“You can say that again. I must look ridiculous.” Caster said, laughing at how he must’ve looked.
Fluttershy let out a soft giggle. “A bit I guess. But if you ask me you look kind of cute like this.”
“Um, t-thanks Fluttershy.” The blacksmith pony said, face turning red.
The yellow Pegasus joined in as her cheeks blushed, realizing her choice of words. They both gazed into each other’s eyes, neither of them daring to look away. Fluttershy hesitantly reached her left front hoof out and placed it on Caster’s right hoof, which he hesitantly took hold of. The ponies did not know what to say after that and just took to staring at one another. They soon felt something inside move them forward, not really sure what was occurring between them. Their faces were mere inches away before they suddenly heard a knocking at the door.
The abrupt noise knocked the two of them out of their trance. They realized what was happening and quickly pulled away, blushing even harder than before.
“I-I should p-probably get the door.” Fluttershy said, a nervous mess.
“Yeah, y-you do that.” Caster said, feeling a bit stupid about the whole thing.
The yellow Pegasus walked over to the door and opened it to see who was there. To her surprise it was the Cutie Mark Crusaders as well as a few extra guests.
“Caster, it looks like you have guests.” Fluttershy said, cheerfully.
Caster looked up saw who had arrived. The first ponies who came in were Sweetie Belle, Applebloom, and Scootaloo, but his attention was drawn to the other three behind them. The first one was of course Bard, his longtime friend and the one who helped him get over his crush on Hotpop. The second pony was Ratchet Wrench, his class mate from Princess Celestia’s school for artistic ponies. He was an earth pony with deep blue fur and had a messy red and black mane and tail. His eyes were a shade of red that complimented his cutie mark depicting a wrench. He was a blacksmith like Caster who shared the same skills they learned in school. Although in Ratchet’s case, smithing weapons and armor was a family trademark so he had a little more experience than Caster.
The last pony that walked in was Alesha Zee, one of Caster’s many former crushes. She was a unicorn that had alabaster white fur and taffy like hair with two different shades of pink. She wore a small pair of light blue framed glasses that covered her bright green eyes. Her cutie mark showed a simple red and black camera. Unlike most of the mares in Canterlot, Alesha was one of the few ponies that remained friends with him. Even after he revealed his feelings to her. They had been friends ever since Caster and his family moved to the city and have always made sure the other was happy. His feelings for Alesha were gently turned down, her saying he was a bit too immature at the time. The stallion took it a bit harshly at first, but he quickly got over it and they soon became the best of friends from then on.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Caster’s friends rushed over to his side.
“Caster!” They all shouted as they wrapped the incapacitated stallion in a big group hug.
“Hey you guys! It’s good to see you all again.” Caster responded, trying his best to hug them all at once. “How’ve you all been?”
“We’ve been doing great Cast.” Alesha said, in a giddy tone. She made a quick poke at his belly. “Though I can’t really say the same for you.”
“Hey, I haven’t gotten that fat.” The blacksmith pony retaliated with a smirk. “Besides you try losing weight when you’re legs are fractured.
“C’mon Caster, you know she’s just teasing you.” Ratchet said, as he and the others quickly got off of him.
“Though if anything here is overgrown it’s your hair.” Bard added.
“Yeah, Fluttershy and I kind of established that before you guys arrived.” Caster said, not wanting to bring back up what happened earlier. “So what have you guys been up to?”
Ratchet was the first to start off. “Well my parents have me working the forge every day. Keeping my skills sharp and ready.”
“I got some new pictures from a fashion show that will be added to the magazine I work for.” Alesha said.
“I’m just about ready to publish my newest novel. It should be out sometime next spring.” Bard continues.
“And our classes have been going excellently!” Sweetie Belle finished as she and the other crusaders walked up to Caster.
“That’s very good to hear Sweetie.” Caster said, doing a quick hoof bump with the three fillies then turning to his friends. “And it’s nice to see all of you are doing so well.”
“Well enough about us, what about you? How are you faring Cast?” Alesha asked.
“Okay I suppose. The doctors say I should be out of here by next week if my therapy sessions go well. My family stopped by a while ago, I thought my mother was going to have a heart attack when she saw me like this. But other than that they all took it pretty well. It’s a little lonely around here since Nina went into hibernation.” The light brown Pegasus said, feeling down from missing his pet. He quickly changed the subject. “But Fluttershy here has been kind enough to stop by and help out.”
His three friends turned to see the yellow mare off to the side, giving a timid wave to the group. The unicorn mare gave a quick look back and forth between the two ponies. She soon had a know it all grin cross her face.
“I see. So Caster, is this your new marefriend?” Alesha said, causing both ponies to blush furiously.
“I-it’s not l-like that! We’re j-just friends!” Fluttershy and Caster said, simultaneously.
The photographer mare quickly fell into a fit of giggles, along with the crusaders. “I’m just joking Caster. I’m just glad to see you have somepony to keep you company while you’re here.”
“I’m surprised nothing’s changed between you two at all.” Scootaloo said, slyly. “Especially since what happened at the wedding.”
“Scoots! Don’t go messin’ inta their personal lives.” Applebloom reprimanded her friend.
“What? I’m just saying.” The orange Pegasus said.
Most of the ponies in the room watched as the three fillies continued to argue. But Alesha had turned her focus on Caster. In recent years she had started to notice how mature he’s become as well as caring for others. She had begun developing feelings for him which he did not seem to notice, believing that things between them would always remain the same. She wanted to tell Caster about her new feelings, but that all changed when she saw the connection he and Fluttershy seemed to share. Alesha could tell that both ponies were infatuated with one another, even if they didn’t know it yet, and the last thing she wanted was to be in their way. So she decided to let her friendship with Caster continue as it was. But he would always have a special place in her heart.
“Well whoever you want to be with is totally up to you Cast.” Alesha spoke up, after the argument had ended.
“Uh, thanks Alesha.” Caster said, regaining his composure. “So what else do you guys want to talk about?”
“Actually Caster we have to get going.” Ratchet said. “We have much to do in our schedules and we only stopped by to see how you were doing.”
“That’s all right. I just hope you’ll all be able to make it to the party my friends are throwing on Hearth’s Warming Eve.” The light brown Pegasus said, hoping they’d say yes.
“We’ll see, but we can’t make any promises.” Bard said.
“Well before we leave I’d like to do one last thing for us.” The unicorn mare said.
Remembering what she planned earlier, the three ponies gathered around Caster as Alesha levitated a camera in front of them. The group gave a round of smiles and with a flash of the device the photo was taken.
“Just a little something to remember the first time you’ve been here as a patient.” She said.
“Cool, I can’t wait to see it once it’s developed.” Caster said, wondering how he’ll look in the picture with a larger goatee.
“See ya latter buddy.” The blue earth pony said, waving his friend goodbye.
Caster’s three friends said their goodbyes as they left the room before the crusaders were about to leave.
“We’ve gotta git goin’ too Cast’r. We got some majer crusasidin’ ta do.” Applebloom said, her friends nodding in affirmation.
“I wouldn’t want to keep you waiting then would I? You fillies go on and have fun I’ll be fine here.” The blacksmith pony said.
“All right then, we’ll see you around Cast.” Scootaloo said, she and Caster sharing one last quick hoof bump. “C’mon Sweetie, we’ve got some sledding to do.”
“Right behind you Scootie.” Sweetie Belle said, as the two fillies shared a quick kiss.
“Ugh, will ya two please save it for when Ah’m not around?” Applebloom asked, as they all they left the room with Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle giggling at her statement.
“Those two are just so cute together.” Fluttershy said, remembering when the two fillies made their relationship known.
“Yeah, I think Applebloom’s only acting like that because she doesn’t have her own special somepony yet.” Caster said.
“I’m sure she’ll find somepony. I think I’ve seen her give a few glances at that Snails kid before.”
“Huh, I didn’t know that. I hope things might work out between those two, it’d be nice to seem either one of them happy.”
The two ponies suddenly felt an awkward moment creep upon them, not knowing what to say.
“I guess I should be heading out as well. So I’ll see you tomorrow right?” Fluttershy spoke up.
“I won’t be going anywhere so I suppose so.” Caster said, with a cheeky grin.
The yellow Pegasus couldn’t help but giggle. Feeling something build in her heart, she had an idea that might let the stallion know just how much she cared about him. Before he could respond, Fluttershy leaned in and gave Caster a peck on the cheek. She then wrapped him in a hug which the stallion returned, confused by the situation.
“Consider that an early Hearth’s Warming present for all the effort you’ve put into getting better.” Fluttershy said. “And remember Caster, I’ll always be here if you need me.”
Caster’s heart felt like it had leapt into his throat at her words. “Thank you Fluttershy, that means a lot to me.”
Nothing more needed to be said as both of them separated. The pink haired mare went to the door, closing it behind her and leaving the stallion alone with his thoughts. Caster’s heart rate was going wild thinking about everything that had happened. He stared out the window, the falling snow seeming to calm his nerves. Ever since the night Fluttershy helped him get to the hospital, the stallion’s feelings for her began to grow even stronger. He didn’t know why this was happening and felt that he might be letting himself go too far with these feelings. So he decided to retrace his steps and figure out why his feelings were getting stronger each day.
The first day Caster met her, Fluttershy allowed him to stay at her home for the night, since his home was yet to be built. The next day she and Rarity helped him to get back to his dating life, though if Fluttershy hadn’t given him a little push forward he might’ve kept his mouth shut about it. After that she and the rest of her friends helped to build his home and Fluttershy extended his stay with her, which he was eternally grateful for.
In the time afterward she kept his spirits up whenever he seemed a bit down, whether it was from bad dates or just life in general. And every visit from her always seemed special. Fluttershy even used her stare to help Caster go home during his drunken fiasco. He repaid her kindness with a dance at the reception, to which she appreciated, feeling a bit of guilt for what transpired that night. And finally she went through so much trouble and effort, by herself no less, to get him to the hospital to heal his injuries. He could not think on anything beyond that, yet his confusion and feelings still lingered. Sure Fluttershy was always there to help him out and cared about him, but, he.
In that moment it all became clear to Caster: she was always there for him. In nearly every situation he found himself in need of help, whether it was physical or emotional, Fluttershy was always there to lend him a helping hand. Her caring nature and the way she wanted to help others seemed to be what drew him to her. Even now he started to realize just how cute she was, her beauty nearly unsurpassed by other mares. It all soon came flooding into his mind, every thought, memory, and feeling for the yellow Pegasus came together and brought Caster to his conclusion. He finally had the courage to admit the truth that he was afraid to all this time. He liked, no.
Caster Forge was in love with Fluttershy.
A week later, like he said, Caster was being released from the hospital. His fractures had fully healed and his therapy was complete. The doctors warned him to not stress himself or he may find himself back here again. He was in his room getting ready to leave and all his friends were right there with him, congratulating him on his recovery.
“I’m so happy you’re all better Caster, especially in time for the party.” Pinkie Pie said, bouncing giddily.
“It certainly is nice to see you at good physical health again.” Rarity added.
“Well not entirely Rarity. I still need to get back into shape.” Caster said, realizing the small amount of weight he put on.
“I’m sure you’ll be able to get fit again in no time Caster. Just don’t push yourself too hard.” Twilight said.
“And if ya ever need some help with that, Ah’ve got some work around tha farm ya could help with.” Applejack said.
“I’ll keep that in mind AJ.” The stallion said.
Fluttershy didn’t say anything and neither did him, knowing they had said all they needed to these past few weeks. Eventually they all said their goodbyes and left to let him get ready to leave. However Rainbow Dash stayed behind to have a private word with Caster.
“What did you need Dash?” He asked.
“I just wanted to say, thanks.” Rainbow said.
“For being a good friend for Fluttershy. Ever since you came to Ponyville she’s been way happier than I’ve seen her in the past. We’ve been friends since we were fillies and it means a lot to me to know she has another friend who can cheer her up other than me.”
Caster slightly blushed. “Uh, no problem Rainbow. I’m just trying to do what any friend would for another.”
“I know, I just wish my old friends would act like you do. Especially Gilda, I don’t know what her deal was that day.” The cyan Pegasus said, looking somewhat irritated at remembering her friend.
“Gilda, was she that Griffon you mentioned that came here a few years ago.” The stallion asked, remembering that story when he moved to Ponyville. Rainbow Dash simply nodded. “So what happened to her after that anyway?”
“Last I heard she moved into a Griffon settlement a few miles away from here. Probably still waiting for an apology or something.” She said, still irked. Then her expression softened. “You know she wasn’t always like that though. When we were in school together Gilda was actually a nice griffon to be around. She still gave attitude at time but not like this. I don’t know what changed after we graduated but I guess she’ll never learn how to be her old self again.”
Those last couple of words piqued Caster’s interest. He had always wondered what would compel someone to act so mean to others out of the blue, especially Fluttershy. Now he learned that she acted much differently in the past yet something happened which changed all that. Feeling a bit of compassion in him, Caster decided to get down to the bottom of this. Not only that but he also wanted to repay Fluttershy for all the time she spent by his side in the hospital. And what better way than to make someone apologize for their outlandish behavior towards them and perhaps help them to become friends.
“Say Dash, the party isn’t for another four days right? Are you planning anything before then?” The light brown Pegasus asked.
“Actually I’ve already done all my holiday shopping and everything else I needed so I’m free till then. Why do you ask?” Rainbow Dash inquired.
“I was wondering if you would assist me with a personal matter that involves a leave of absence. Not to say we’d miss the party otherwise, we’ll be back in time of course. So do you think you’re up for it?”
The rainbow maned pony thought it over for a moment. Realizing she had nothing else going on she thought it would be all right
“Sure, I’ll help out. So when are we starting?” She asked.
“Meet me at my house tomorrow morning and I’ll explain everything.” Caster said as the two of them proceeded to the door. “Also see if you can convince Twilight Sparkle to join us.”
“You’ll see.” The stallion said, closing the door behind him and opening a new one for what awaited them.