Sunday was only two days away. She'd been waiting already: three days, two hours and one minute. What would two more days do? No one would think anything of it if she stayed inside for two more days, would they? She'd never been the most social of the group anyway. It was rare for her to seek out their attention, save every Thursday at the spa with Rarity. She had to cancel this Thursday and the only reason she didn't break down under the scrutinizing gaze of her best friend was because she really had been feeling under the weather. It wasn't a lie. She could hide behind that excuse for two more days. Right?
It was already mid-morning when a knock came to her door. Fluttershy got unsteadily to her hooves and tried to ignore the churning in her stomach as she walked the few feet from the couch to the door. Pulling it open just a crack, she saw Applejack on the other side wearing her beloved cowboy hat and a concerned expression. "Hey there, sugarcube. Rarity said you were feelin' a mite queasy yesterday. Came by to see if you were feelin' any better an' to drop off some of Granny's special soup. It's guaranteed to perk you right up!"
The thought of food was not appealing at all and Fluttershy felt the bile rise in her throat. She hesitated in answering in hopes that her stomach would calm, but ultimately had to turn and run for the bathroom. With a sympathetic smile, Applejack let herself into the cottage and shut the door behind her, setting the soup on a nearby table. As usual there were any number of critters about, including a rather disgruntled looking Angel who sat with his bowl in his paws, tapping his foot.
"I reckon Fluttershy's been too sick to take care of ya'll properly," said Applejack, glancing around. When her green-eyed gaze settled on the rabbit, she offered a confident smile. "Well all right then. I'll just have to help her out while I'm here." The earth pony took Angel's bowl from him and headed into the kitchen. There was already a large bag of mixed greens and veggies in the icebox and it was with those that Angel's dish was filled. Feeling accomplished, she brought the bowl back out to the the bunny and set it down in front of him. And then the others came.
Birds from bird houses, squirrels and chipmunks up into the open windows, mice in through holes, and they just kept coming. Applejack took a startled step back. "Uh, Fluttershy. When was the last time you fed your animals?"
In the bathroom, the pale yellow pegasus slumped against the wall. Applejack's question went unanswered as tears filled Fluttershy's eyes. She covered her face with her hooves and sobbed, unable to keep herself quiet or to even bring herself to care about Applejack overhearing her. It didn't take long for the door to open, or for her friend to find her on the floor.
"Fluttershy," said Applejack softly. She lowered herself to the ground and nudged her friend with her muzzle. "What's goin' on, sugarcube. Talk to me."
"I made a mistake," replied the pegasus in between sobs. "Applejack, I am a terrible pony!"
Applejack's brows came together. "What are you talkin' about? You're not a terrible pony, Fluttershy. You're the kindest pony I've ever known an' you know that's the truth. C'mon. Let's get out of this bathroom." With a nuzzle of encouragement, Applejack helped Fluttershy to her hooves and let her back out into the main part of the cottage. The animals all sat in wait, but upon seeing Fluttershy so upset, took off in realization that a meal would not be soon in coming.
"Are you scared about the weddin'?" asked Applejack as Fluttershy plopped unceremoniously down on the couch. But the question only served in making her cry harder. "It's perfectly normal to get cold hooves," continued Applejack. "But you an' Big Macintosh love each other. You got nothin' to worry about. There's no mistake in followin' your heart."
"It's not-" Hiccup. "-that."
"Then what is it? You know you can tell me."
There was another knock at the door that stole both of their attention. Fluttershy grabbed a pillow from beside the couch and covered her head with it while Applejack went to the door. She blinked her surprise upon seeing Rainbow Dash, Twilight, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity. "Hey, ya'll. What're you doin' here?"
"Probably the same thing you are," laughed Twilight. "How is Fluttershy doing?"
Without waiting for an invitation, all four ponies trotted inside and nearly froze upon seeing a headless Fluttershy on the couch. Rarity was instantly at her side, crooning, "Darling, what's the matter?"
"I think she's nervous about next week," offered Applejack.
"What's to be nervous about?" scoffed Rainbow Dash. "You're getting married, not auditioning to be a Wonderbolt."
Twilight looked at the blue pegasus with a raised eyebrow. "Not everypony is as cool and confidant as you are, Rainbow Dash." Her voice softened as she turned her attention to Fluttershy. "It's perfectly normal to be nervous, Fluttershy. I mean, I've only been to one wedding in my life and it just so happened that the groom was under a spell and the bride was sort of an evil queen who almost got away with destroying Canterlot and probably, eventually, all of Equestria, but if Shining Armor had been himself I'm sure he would have been nervous, too."
All of them, including Fluttershy, just looked at her. Twilight blinked. "What?"
"What I think our over-articulate friend is trying to say," said Rarity, "is that everypony gets jittery before their big day. It's an enormous change for you, darling, and you've never been one to deal well with change. But we're all so happy for you and so very much looking forward to your big day."
"It's not that." Fluttershy wiped her face with a hoof and sighed heavily. "I just really need to talk to Big Macintosh."
Dash mimed puking. "This is why I never want to get married. All the lovey-dovey, can't stand to be away from each other stuff. It's gross and would put a serious cramp in my lifestyle."
"Not all of us are allergic to relationships," Rarity hissed. Her expression smoothed into a smile and she patted Fluttershy's hoof gently. "Your beau be home in two days."
"MMMMM, this soup smells GOOD!"
In the corner of the room, Pinkie Pie had lifted the lid of the soup container Applejack had brought and was practically drooling over it. The scent of it wafted through the air and almost as soon as it hit Fluttershy she was rushing to the bathroom once again.
Applejack slapped the lid down with a look to Pinkie.
"I wonder how long she's been like this," Twilight said softly.
Rarity frowned. "Strange. When she said she wasn't feeling well yesterday she said all of the different perfumes at the spa would just make it worse. She's never been bothered by them before."
"Her animals seemed pretty neglected when I got here so it's had to have been a couple of days at least."
"Do you think her nerves are making her sick?" asked Dash. "I know some ponies who throw up right before a performance or auditions..."
Applejack smirked. "What pony do you know that's ever auditioned for somethin'? 'Less you're talkin' about the last time you went out for one of them Wonderbolts spots."
"No," said Dash defensively. "I know...other... ponies. You guys aren't my only friends you know!"
"Even if it was just her nerves," Twilight said, bringing the attention back to the situation at hand, "I don't think smell would effect it."
"Girls." They all looked at Rarity, who had a pensive look about her. She glanced at the closed bathroom door and lowered her voice to just above a whisper. "You don't think...I mean, is it possible that she's...you know..."
"Sick?" asked Pinkie, turning her head upside down to give Rarity a strange look. "Well duh!"
"What're you hintin' at," Applejack asked, ignoring Pinkie Pie.
Rarity lowered her voice even more. "Throwing up for days, affected by certain smells and scents. Tell me it doesn't make sense."
"Maybe it's food poisoning," suggested Dash.
"Or," said Twilight, "she's just, you know, sick."
But Applejack's eyes were narrowed and focused on Rarity. "Are you suggestin' my brother took advantage of Fluttershy before they're even hitched?!"
"He didn't take advantage of me."
They all looked up to see Fluttershy standing impishly before the open bathroom door. She looked down, cheeks flushed and tears once more in her eyes. "It wasn't Big Mac's fault. It wasn't either of our fault. It just...sort of...happened." She looked up and at Applejack specifically. "I'm so sorry, Applejack. I'm sorry I let it happen, and that I didn't tell you. Or any of you. And now with a baby..."
"You're pregnant?" Applejack gasped. "How in the hay could this have happened?"
"THEY HAD SEX AND SEX MAKES BABEIS!"
It was with a slow turn that everyone looked at Pinkie. She was bouncing but upon realizing all the attention was on her she stopped and blinked. "What?"
"I wanted to wait," Fluttershy whispered in shame. "I know you're supposed to wait and we both tried. But something happened."
"Like what?" Dash asked. "Did he slip and fall?"
"Rainbow Dash!" Rarity glared daggers at the pegasus, moving to wrap a hoof protectively around her mortified best friend. "There is no need to be crass. Can't you see how upset Fluttershy is?"
Twilight moved to the other side of Fluttershy and gave her an encouraging smile. "Fluttershy, I think it's really sweet that you and Big Macintosh wanted to wait until you were married. Not a lot of ponies do that anymore and I think it kind of, I don't know, makes it less special when you don't."
"But we didn't wait," Fluttershy cried.
Twilight nuzzled her gently. "Because you're not perfect. None of us are. We all have standards we set for ourselves and sometimes we fail because we're imperfect creatures. That doesn't mean we love you any less or that you should beat yourself up about it. Besides...you're going to have a baby with the stallion you love and who will be your husband in just one week. In my book, that's a beautiful thing."
"I'm gonna be an Auntie! I'm gonna be an Auntie!" cried Pinkie Pie, bouncing over to throw her hooves around Fluttershy as well.
Rarity squealed in excitement. "I have had a patten for baby blankets I have been dying to try. Fluttershy, have no fear! Your child will be the best dressed, most spoiled in all of Ponyville!"
"If it's a pegasus I totally get to teach it to fly," enthused Rainbow Dash, hugging Fluttershy. "No offense, pal."
"None taken," she whispered, a small smile on her face. The five of them as one all looked at Applejack, who shuffled her hooves and looked at the floor. "Applejack," said Fluttershy, extracting herself from the embrace of her friends. "I'm so sorry that you're upset."
"I ain't upset that you and my brother...well, you know." The earth pony looked up and grimaced. "I guess I'm just upset because you didn't tell us. That makes it feel like you think you can't trust us."
Fluttershy's eyes went wide and she shook her head. "Oh, no! Applejack, I do trust you. I trust all of you more than anypony I've ever known!"
"Then why didn't you say anythin' about it?"
"I was just so embarrassed," Fluttershy meebled. "I was so afraid you would think less of me. Or even worse, less of Big Macintosh."
"Well I don't," said Applejack. "Truth is, I'm real happy for both of you. I can't think of two ponies better suited to be parents than you two. An' I know once you're married things're gonna change. You an' my brother will have stuff you wanna keep just between the two of you an' that's fine. But with somethin' big like this? Don't forget you're friends, okay?"
"I won't," Fluttershy promised, accepting a hug from Applejack.
"Now we just gotta wait two more days for him to get back from Appleloosa. Boy is he gonna be in for a real surprise!"
Six friends stood in wait at the train station late Sunday afternoon. Fluttershy, in reminiscing, said that it had been an exact year ago today when Big Macintosh first told her he loved her. When the whistle sounded in the distance she flew up into the air only to come back down a second later, trembling with excitement. "I see the train!"
"Fluttershy, before my brother gets here there's somethin' I've been wantin' to say to you." She turned to look at Applejack, who gave her a big smile. "I'm real lucky to be able to call you my friend, and I'm proud to soon be able to call you my sister."
"Oh, Applejack!" Fluttershy hugged her tightly and let go only when the front of the train began to pull into the station.
Black smoke poured from the locomotive's chimney and steam hissed from the wheels as the train came to a stop. Ponies milled about, either greeting someone who'd been away or waiting to board the train themselves. It was hard to miss the big red stallion waiting in the line of ponies disembarking, and as soon as his hooves were on the ground Fluttershy ran forward and threw her forelegs around his neck in a tight embrace. Not at all embarrassed or ignorant or anyone watching, Big Macintosh kissed her deeply.
Once more, Rainbow Dash mimed puking but this time it earned her an elbow in the ribs from Applejack.
"Boy did I miss you," Big Mac said softly, nuzzling against Fluttershy's cheek.
She blushed and looked up at him. "I...I have something to tell you." Leaning up on tip-hooves, she whispered quietly into his ear. It only took a second for his jaw to slacken and his eyes to widen.
"Pregnant? How in the hay did that happen?"
Pinkie Pie took a deep breath in and told him exactly how it happened.