She should have been terrified. She should have been curled into a gangly little ball of whimpering, trembling fear and defeat on the ground. This was the sort of thing pegasus foals usually had nightmares about, to have dropped out of the nest like a baby bird.
But she wasn't afraid, and it was as much from being on the ground as anything that made everything feel righter than it had ever felt in her entire young life. The earth was solid beneath her hooves, not insubstantial like the clouds she'd grown up on, but there was still a welcoming softness beneath her tread.
All around her there was music, the songs of birds and the gentle hush of the breeze rustling the leaves of the trees, so different than the harsh whistle or the empty roar of the winds of her lofty home in the sky.
And the colors! The cloud of butterflies that had miraculously cushioned her fall had dispersed like a thousand pastel colored jewels, fluttering to and fro among the countless flowers adorning the sweet blend of greens, browns, and golds of the meadow and forests like the lights on an immense Hearth's Warming tree. It was nothing like the antiseptic whites and harsh hues of the rainbow fountains of Cloudsdale.
The soft yellow filly felt as if she could blend in here. Like she could settle happily in among the blossoms and bloom quietly rather than stick out like a cramped wing under the scornful gaze of her fellow pegasi, who constantly judged her for her weak flying and timid demeanor.
Highly attuned to scrutiny since an early growth spurt left her awkward both inside and out, she knew a thousand eyes were watching her. But this audience only looked on with the innocent curiosity of the creatures of the forest, birds and animals she'd only seen before in her favorite picture books.
Seeing them in the fur and feather was completely different, all of them so soft and cute and busy and timid and adorable and oh how she could feel her heart unfurling in a way her wings had never had the strength to up in the lofty clouds.
She began to sing, a sweet love song to this new world she'd fallen into. For the first time she wanted to be seen, to be known, to be welcomed. And she was, feeling a sense of belonging that flooded up through her hooves from the ground as the trees and the flowers and the squirrels and birds and bunnies and all of earthbound nature shimmered and danced and frolicked around her.
A thunderous boom split the sky above, snapping her out of her joyous reverie and sending the little animals scattering for shelter into countless nooks and crannies of the forest. She looked up, more amazed than frightened, as a rapidly expanding disc of coruscating colors burned its way across the firmament. A sparkling rainbow ascended from the epicenter of the blast, spiking toward the dazzling heights of the stratosphere over the distant, billowing towers of Cloudsdale.
Somehow, despite the panicked desertion of all the little forest creatures, she felt an even deeper feeling of belonging, as as if a connection had somehow been formed within her with something she had only the barest inkling of.
As the echoes faded, her consciousness returned to the here and now, and she became aware of a fearful hush that had fallen over the forest. She could feel all the tiny hearts beating with uncomprehending terror, the little bodies trembling beneath the leaves.
Her love at first sight turned instantly to compassion. She knew what it was to cringe, to flee in panic, to want to burrow out of sight and shut away the harsh, scary parts of the world. Almost without thought, she also knew she adored these little ones so much that she wanted those bad feelings to go away for them and never come back, and knew it was her duty to make it all better.
With soft beats of her wings, she began to flit to and fro, ever deeper into the woods as she cooed gentle reassurance to the little creatures and coaxed them from their hiding places. Her wandering ministrations eventually brought her to a peaceful clearing, where the animals and birds gathered around her, happy and at ease once more in her presence.
She felt a tingle on her flanks, and looked back with a smile to see a trio of pink and blue butterflies had appeared there in a sparkle of magic, confirming once and for all what she already knew.
This place was where she was meant to be.
The pale yellow filly didn't know how long she'd been sitting there, abiding with the little creatures of the forest after calming them down from the strange rainbow explosion. Time didn't matter, she could just stay here and commune with the natural world forever.
She became aware of another hush falling over her companions in the lengthening shadows of the afternoon. This time the mood was different, however. Not fearful, but... quiet... respectful almost, kind of like she always got around her grandsire.
The filly cocked an ear and glanced around the perimeter of the clearing, her aquamarine eyes going wide as she spotted what was doubtless the cause of the sudden stillness.
Watching from among the trees was a giant mare, fully twice as tall as the largest pony the young pegasus had ever seen in her life. Her coat was a pale pinkish white, like clouds brightly lit by the morning sun, but shaggy and unkempt as if it had never been brushed. Vast white wings lay folded across her back, and a long, shimmering horn rose from her forehead.
Her mane was an ethereal cloud of swirling colors, spiraling and twisting but never mixing, pale pinks and purples and faded greens and blues, and her tail was like a drifting aurora trailing from a body marked with a golden sun on each flank. Bits of twig and small leaves floated in the disheveled corona among motes of twinkling magical light. Save for this natural detritus, she was unadorned as any normal pony would be.
Again, the pegasus filly probably should have been afraid. She'd always been uncomfortable around ponies and this was far more pony than she'd ever encountered.
But when her wide, staring, aquamarine eyes met the mysterious apparition's glistening rose ones, her fear vanished, and a welling of what could only be called pity filled the space it left behind. An almost imperceptible smile flitted across the towering creature's face, but there was nothing in the depths of those eyes except an almost bottomless well of sadness and loneliness.
As the white giantess turned to vanish into the depths of the forest the filly clambered to her feet and called out to her. "W-wait! You... um... It's okay. You don't have to go!"
This caused the willowy creature to pause, and she looked back at the butter yellow filly with an ear cocked. After a moment's consideration, she turned to face the young pony once more with an inscrutable expression furrowing her brow.
After a long period of silence the pale mare spoke, her voice rough and low. "Nay, child. In faith I do not have to do aught but what I deem be done."
The young pegasus pawed nervously at the ground, deep ingrained anxieties urgently trying to worm their way to the surface and make her fall silent. "I... I mean... I'm not doing anything such... such that you'd be interrupting me. Just... just enjoying how beautiful it is down here and getting to know some new friends, and if you... um... you wanted to join us I wouldn't... I... I wouldn't mind if you did."
Another long stare, and the mysterious creature's faint smile returned with a bit of twinkle in the eyes as well. A gently chiding note stole into her ragged voice. "Surpassing glad I am, O young one, to be granted thy most kindly leave to tarry."
The filly blushed hotly, her ears and wings drooping as she hung her head with tears pooling at the corners of her eyes. "Oh... oh... I'm... I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that either. You're ob... obviously a very big and important pony around here and I'm trespassing. I'm so sorry. I didn't know. I've never been to the ground b-before and I just got so carried away by how wonderful it is down here and... I-I'm sorry. I'll... I'll go."
The towering apparition approached her, and she felt the vibrations of the pale stranger's hoof falls up through her shaking legs all the way to her rapidly beating heart. The delicate, searching touch of a wing tip dried the tears on her cheeks, and gently raised her chin to look in the gleaming creature's rose colored eyes. "Tell me, child. By what name art thou called?"
She averted her gaze behind her drooping pink forelock. "I'm... Fluttershy."
The giantess cocked an ear. "Pardon?"
The filly's voice came out even quieter. "I'm Fluttershy."
The towering pony bent down. "Prithee, child, speak louder. I can scarce hear thee at all."
The little pegasus let out a pitiable squeak.
The huge mare tsked and gave a slight shake of her head as she turned to walk away again. The filly bunched up her withers, spread her wings and shouted at the top of her lungs. "MY NAME IS FLUTTERSHY!"
The mysterious creature gave a start, then turned to face her with a bit more of a smirk slyly creeping across her features. She loomed over the young pegasus and extended a hoof. "'Tis a rare pleasure, Fluttershy."
The slender filly took her hoof, her own little hoof tiny by comparison. "N-nice to... to m-m-meet you. What... what's your name, if... if you don't mind my asking?"
A distant look came to the giantess' eyes. "My name had meaning once, but through the long centuries it has doubtless passed beyond the ken of e'en thine ancestors, child."
Fluttershy peeked warily from behind her forelock. "S... so you do mind my asking, then?"
The looming mare covered her mouth with a hoof as a strained coughing sound came from the back of her throat. A look of concern passed across the pegasus filly's face. "Are... are you okay?"
The giant winged pony threw back her head and let out a peal of laughter, the bright reflection of the afternoon sun traveling down the length of her horn like a lightning bolt. She sat heavily on her rump with a thud that nearly knocked Fluttershy off of her dainty hooves. The canopy of trees above them shook with the booming mirth that poured from her throat.
The pale giantess reached up with a wing to wipe one of her own tears away, although others welled to replace them. "Forsooth, child, I am quite well indeed, save for having kept so long from the company of ponies that I speak at once with the vain gravitas of a philosopher and the profound foolishness of a madmare."
She laid a wide hoof on the filly's narrow shoulder. "Thou art brave enough to tell me thy name, dear Fluttershy, 'tis meet I pluck up my own courage and tell thee mine."
She drew herself up ever so slightly. "My name was Celestia, and I suppose 'twill suffice."
Fluttershy let a tentative smile bloom on her face. "It's nice to meet you, Celestia."
The mysterious giantess smiled back, a genuine smile that pushed bravely against the sadness the filly still saw in her eyes. "Well met indeed, dear child. Well met indeed."
With that, Celestia settled down in the clearing beside the pegasus filly, as a warm breeze rustled the leaves around them and caused the butterflies to dance among the motes of sunlit pollen in the air.
The characters depicted in this fiction are copyright and trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. This is a work of fan fiction, and the author makes no claim on Hasbro's copyright or trademarks.