Nopony ever understood why Fluttershy lived near the Everfree Forest. The forest was, in many respects, the embodiment of everything that the timid pegasus feared. It was full of monsters and mayhem, ghosts and goblins, a near endless menagerie of things that went bump in the night. Rainbow Dash had questioned Fluttershy the very day that Fluttershy had bought her cottage, but Fluttershy had only smiled and shook her head.
It would be all right, she’d said. She had Angel to protect her, after all.
Dash hadn’t thought that Angel could protect anyone from stubbing their hoof, let alone from any of the creatures that lurked in the Everfree, but she’d held her tongue. She knew better than to argue with her friend about that particular bunny.
Just as nopony ever understood why Fluttershy lived where she lived, nopony ever went to visit Fluttershy after dark. It was nothing personal, her friends would explain, with nervous smiles. They loved seeing Fluttershy. They just preferred seeing her during the day.
Fluttershy always said she understood. She was a very understanding pony, after all. It was part of her kindness.
And just as nopony ever visited Fluttershy after dark, nopony ever really knew what Fluttershy did with her evenings. Twilight, ever the curious mare, had asked about it, once. Fluttershy had laughed her quiet little laugh and offered that, in the evenings, she usually nestled into her favorite armchair with a good book. Sometimes she drank herbal tea while reading. Sometimes she didn’t. Once in a while, she’d read aloud to Angel or to the blue jays.
All of them had grinned. That was just like Fluttershy, yes. That was exactly what they’d imagined her doing in her cozy little cottage.
And just as nopony ever really knew what Fluttershy did with her evenings, Fluttershy never really talked about it. Everypony assumed that she just stayed home and drank her tea and read. And usually Fluttershy did. But sometimes … sometimes, Fluttershy didn’t.
On Nightmare Night, a nervous bunny waited on the porch of a cottage that stood on the edge of a deep, dark woods. His ears twitched at the slightest sound, and his ears darted around the empty expanse in front of the house. He didn’t know exactly how long he’d been waiting, but he knew it had been too long.
His ears stopped mid-twitch when he heard the piercing scream come from the direction of the forest.
Every instinct told him to turn, to run, to flee. But he forced himself to stay put. To wait.
He leaned forward, straining to hear. It only took a few minutes before he heard the soft crunching of tree branches that announced something approaching, something large and something fast. The bunny could feel his heart beating wildly within his breast, so quick he thought it just might explode.
Finally, the trees parted, to reveal a pair of glowing red eyes.
The creature approached languidly, almost tauntingly, its massive jaws dripping blood with every step. The bunny had to turn his head away. Instead of watching, he gazed up at the sky, at the silvery clouds which hid the moon that belonged to the Princess of the Night. He stared at the clouds with all of his might, almost as though he could force them to move through sheer willpower alone.
He could hear growling, now.
He felt cold and sick to his stomach. But he dared not turn his head. He dared not look. Instead, he kept his eyes firmly fixed on the moon, and just as the growling grew loud enough that it ruffled his fur, he received his miracle. The wind blew, and the clouds moved.
As pale moonlight flooded the cozy cottage and its surrounding land, he finally turned around.
Fluttershy was standing there and smiling at him. Her teeth gleamed white under the moon. “Oh, hello, Angel Bunny. Why don’t you come inside with me? It’s much too cold to be outside tonight, don’t you think?”
He nodded in reply.
“I should ask if Rarity could make you a hat and scarf,” the pegasus added, in a thoughtful tone.
She moved toward the front door but then paused, a look of confusion twisting her face. She licked her lips, frowned, and then licked her lips again. Something flickered in her normally gentle eyes—something strange, something dark—but it was gone almost as soon as it had appeared.
Angel said nothing.
With a little shrug, Fluttershy opened the door and walked into the warm, bright light of the cottage. Angel followed after and, with a heavy sigh, shut the door behind him.
Nopony ever really knew why Fluttershy lived near the Everfree Forest, and nopony ever really knew what Fluttershy did with her evenings. But one bunny did know.
Norse Pony’s comments: Lovely pacing here. The tension ratcheted up as the wereFlutter was closing on Angel, and the release of that tension was like a bowstring breaking. The introductory vignette was equally good, establishing a sense of mystery that made me rush to keep reading. Great stuff all around.