A sound of hoof steps in the doorway caused the group of ponies to look up and see a tired looking Nurse Redheart, standing with Granny Smith at her side. The ancient mare was dabbing her eyes with the hem of her shawl and grinning from ear to ear. The white medical pony smiled at Applejack. "Cabbage Leaf was wondering if the Apple family would like to come in and meet their newest member."
The blonde earth pony drew herself up and caught her breath, tears welling in her eyes. Her voice trembled as she answered. "Why yes, I surely would, Nurse Redheart. I s-surely would."
With that she traded some quick hugs with Twilight, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash, and hurried up the steps, pausing and giving Pinkie a hug as well, and then fell into step beside Granny Smith, helping the Apple family's matriarch make her way back inside. Apple Bloom came bounding excitedly down the stairs with a towel draped over her withers, a beaming, disheveled Zecora in tow. The younger sister took up her position on the other side of her grandmother, and the three mares headed back the hall toward their brother and sister in law's bedroom, while the white earth pony nurse and the zebra herbalist leaned on one another in happy exhaustion.
A short time later the parlor was full of happy chatter from contented ponies. Pinkie and Twilight had ventured into the kitchen and brought out a selection of apple pies, apple tarts, apple cider, and fresh bread with apple butter, spreading the delicious, home cooked food on the rustic coffee table for the gathering of friends to enjoy, while Rarity served tea to Zecora and Nurse Redheart and made light conversation. Caramel had been moved to the love seat, where he dozed peacefully with his head propped up on the foreleg rest.
As Rainbow Dash removed her jumpsuit to get more comfortable, the lumpy little paper wrapped bundle she'd acquired at Madison Mare Garden tumbled out. She chuckled to herself as she picked it up off of the floor and began to unwrap it.
Pinkie Pie smiled, managing a little bounce despite her exhaustion. "Ooh! You brought a present! What is it? What is it?"
The pegasus grinned self consciously. "Just a little thing. Check it out."
She set a little stuffed pegasus pony figure on the coffee table, its tiny cyan blue snout and wings poking out of a yellow and blue bodysuit, a felt mane and tail printed with red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple stripes.
Dash glanced up at her friends with a wry smile and cocked ears. "Okay, so I know what you're thinking. There goes Rainbow floating her own cloud again, but it's not like that." She rubbed the back of her head with a shrug. "Okay, it IS a little like that. Can you believe they made a doll of me? Oh... My... Gosh..."
She reached out and gave her tiny duplicate a poke with her hoof, causing it to flop onto its side. "When I was a little fledgeling someone gave me a Fire Fly doll, back before I even had any idea what a Wonderbolt was. I carried that thing with me everywhere I went, and I mean everywhere. Even after she'd turned all gray and her mane and tail fell out and Mom had to find a new button to replace one of her eyes. She was my buddy and my good luck charm. I've still got her stashed in my steamer trunk while I tour."
The pegasus mare reached out and righted it, casting a fond smile toward the hallway where the Apple family had retreated, before meeting her friends' eyes again. "I figure if I'm really lucky, Fluttershy's foal will maybe do the same, which will be great because then it'll be like we're hangin' out all the time, even though I'm out touring the world with the team." She gave a shrug with a slight blush on her face. "I guess that's kinda silly..."
Rarity gave her a warm smile. "Not at all darling. I think it's a wonderful gift, and a fine sentiment."
Pinkie Pie picked up the doll and made it hop along the table, her eyes furrowed in playful concentration. "You realize, of course, that I will now proceed to pester you until we all have our very own little Dashie." She pointed the tiny figure at Rainbow Dash and made it mime as she spoke in a squeaky little imitation of her friend's voice. "That's right!"
Twilight chuckled. "I might have to ask for an extra one for Spike. I hope you don't mind being teamed up with Thunderpony."
Rarity was looking thoughtful, and she chimed in. "Darlings, I think we all could follow Rainbow Dash's example here, and I think I have a good idea how we might do it."
Pinkie set the doll down gently and grinned "Y'know, we never did have a foal shower for Fluttershy." The pink mare lapsed into such a perfect imitation of her yellow pegasus friend that they could have been considered the same mare. "She was always like 'oh no, don't bother' 'no need to make a fuss over me' and 'that's okay'." She gave another little hop and reverted to her normal cheery tone. "But now I bet we could talk her into it, 'cos it wouldn't be a party for her so much as a party for her foal!"
Before anypony else could respond, they heard hoof steps in the hallway. All heads turned at the sound of Applejack's gentle voice. "Speakin' o' which, how'd you all like to come n' see my n-niece?"
With a broad grin, Rainbow Dash was instantly on her hooves. Rarity and Twilight stood, giving polite nods to Zecora and Nurse Redheart as the two mares beamed up at them over their tea cups. Pinkie glanced at the slumbering Caramel and kissed him on the cheek. He stirred gently and muttered "puppy nuggets" under his breath. She smiled warmly down at him before giving a little hop and following after her friends.
Applejack led them quietly into the stillness of the rustic, farmhouse bedroom, the warm light of the lamps turning the air to soft gold.
In one corner, Apple Bloom and Granny Smith sat on a soft throw rug leaned against one another, sharing a joyous moment as grandmother and granddaughter. The stocky figure of Cabbage Leaf busied herself folding towels and repacking her saddle bags, a wide grin on her face as she hummed softly to herself.
On the large, soft bed in the center of the room they saw Fluttershy, nestled against Big Macintosh with a quilt laid over her back and wings, both ponies looking thoroughly exhausted with their legs tucked under them.
The butter colored pegasus' coat was rough and matted with sweat, and her long pink mane was frayed and hanging limply on either side of her face, but despite that she seemed to almost glow with an inner light, her bearing as graceful as a deer from the deep glens of Whitetail Wood. Her eyes were closed, as she dozed peacefully.
Her husband's orange mane was frazzled as well, with sweat on his brow and a different sort of moisture glistening on his freckled cheeks. His gaze was locked on a tiny rounded shape curled up against his massive chest atop his tree trunk thick, muscular forelegs.
The little bundle was the color and texture of a rosy peach, with a pair of impossibly delicate, downy wings folded against the curve of her back. These stretched out and refolded themselves as the foal squirmed in her father's lap and rolled over with a yawn followed by a tiny whisper of a sigh, revealing a sweetly sleeping face with even rosier cheeks and a wisp of silky pink mane falling across the filly's untroubled forehead.
At this feather light stirring, Big Macintosh's lower lip and chin started to tremble, a look of such profound love etched upon his normally impassive features that it was clear for all to see that not even the Princess's who moved Equestria's very sun and moon could ever hope to dislodge his tiny daughter from her seat on the throne of the giant earth pony's heart.
Pinkie Pie drew in a huge gasp of breath, causing the others to glance sharply over at her, expecting some sort of raucous outburst, but instead the pink mare gave a small hop and let out a soft little "yay".
At her side, Rainbow Dash was intoning a very faint chant of "ohmygoshohmygoshohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh", her sandy voice cracking slightly as tears came to her eyes.
Twilight Sparkle was at a loss for words, and was uncertain that she would be able to express what she was feeling at that moment in one of her letters to the Princess even if she had the rest of her life to compose it.
Applejack spoke up with a voice thick with emotion. "Ain't that just a sight? I'm so proud I'm fit t' burst right now."
Rarity's voice came hushed and trembling. "Oh, she's ever so beautiful..."
Big Macintosh nodded haltingly, his own deep voice faltering as he forced his reply over the stumbling blocks of his own emotions. "E-eyup."
At the sound of her husband's voice Fluttershy stirred and opened her eyes, which sparkled like emeralds in the dim light. She craned her neck and planted a tender kiss on her massive stallion's cheek.
She turned and looked up at her dearest friends with a smile, her mellow voice soft but clear in the stillness. "Girls, I'd like you to meet my daughter, Windfall Apple."
She inclined her head and nuzzled the little filly's cheek, prompting another tiny sigh."Windfall, I'd like to introduce you to your Aunt Rainbow, your Aunt Rarity, your Aunt Pinkie, and your Aunt Twilight."
She raised her shining eyes to meet her friends' gaze. "I know that's a lot of names to remember, but don't worry, you'll learn them all. I've got a lot of stories to tell you about them."
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.