Still perplexed by what Evergreen had said, Glory tried to speak up, but was quickly interrupted by the sound of excited laughter. Pink Berry had been returning to the nest to check up on them and overheard what he had said, the pink unicorn nearly galloping towards the pair and joining in their hug and supposed jubilations.
“Gwowy am soon mummah?! Dat am dah bestest ting evah! Gwowy an’ Ebah’gween am gowna hab babbehs!”
Following close behind, Angel peered first towards the hugging fluffies, then towards the downed red earthie, his eyes starting to tear up.
“Am…am Wascaww otay?”
Shaken from her nervous stupor by the scarred pegasus’ question, Glory pulled away slightly from the others, cutting their hugpile short. Trotting aside Angel as the pegasus looked down towards Rascal, Glory gently put her hoof around him, wiping away his falling tears.
“Wascaww’s huwties wewe weawwy ba’…Wascaww shud be otay nao…Jus’ nee’ sweepies tu feew bettah.”
“Angew hewd Wascaww maek huwty scweams…Su wowd an’ scawy…Nu wike…”
“Gwowy kno Angew…buh dah wowstest am obah nao…”
“…Can Angew gib huggies nao?”
“Gwowy tink dat wud be otay…an’ kno Wascaww wud wuv huggies…”
Curling up against Rascal, Angel gently nuzzled against the sleeping earthie before laying his head against his.
“Feew bettah soon Wascaww…wuv yu…”
It was clear that the scarred pegasus was unused to Rascal being in danger, the sight of him desperately cuddled against the earthie somehow both endearing and disheartening all at once. Taking a moment to recover from the stressful events of the day thus far, Glory sighed, looking towards Evergreen and Pink Berry. Now that their leader was calm and on the mend, the pair were ecstatic, discussing the brood that they thought the lithe pegasus would soon birth.
“Ebah’gween am gowna hab babbehs an’ be a daddeh! An’ wen babbehs nu am tu widdew, den Pink Bewwy wiww wun an’ pway wiff Ebah’gween an’ Gwowy’s babbehs!”
“Cawm down Pink Bewwy, cawm down…Babbehs nu come fow wong time…”
Glory found it so strange that they thought she was a soon mother. True, she and Evergreen were special friends, a term still new to the lithe pegasus. And they had special huggies, which was how babies were made. But Glory didn’t have the sensation in her tummy, the unusual feeling that she knew would let her know that she was with foals. With her old breeding friend Bartholomew , they had only bred once, and her human mother had been so happy when she got home, giving the lithe mare lots of praise and attention, which Glory was slowly coming to realize had been uncommon. It was only a few days later that they’d gone to the vet, with her mother getting so angry, and calling her…
Barren…she’d called her barren after the trip to the vet. And it was hard to remember, with all the screaming and mean words she’d been saying, but her mother had been talking about babies too. It was almost like she was upset that Glory wasn’t pregnant. Was that what barren meant? Was that how Glory was broken? Maybe the reason that Evergreen thought she was a soon mamma was that she should have been. That a normal fluffy would have been.
Lost in thought, it took Glory several moments to realize that the pair had stopped talking and were now smiling as they stared towards her.
“…Am dat wite Gwowy?”
“Pink Bewwy am teww’n dah twuth Ebah’gween. Sum soon mummahs hab mowe den thwee an’ thwee babbehs! Sum’times eben mowe! Wite Gwowy?”
“Gwowy…Gwowy nu kno…Gwowy nu am…Gwowy nu can…”
“Wat am wong speciaw fwend?”
“…Nuthin’…Gwowy jus’ am tiwed…”
Leaving the pair, Glory made her way a healthy distance from the nest, not wanting Evergreen to see her cry. Everything had been going so well before, but now the lithe pegasus lamented as she fell to the forest floor and sobbed. It was only a matter of time before the others realized that she wasn’t pregnant. Then they’d know she was broken and hate her, just like her human mother. The mere thought of her friends abandoning her broke Glory’s heart, especially Evergreen.
And now she was trapped! Too scared to tell the others before, the lithe pegsus had basically lied to them when she hadn’t corrected the misunderstanding right away. Already the scenario played in her head, as any attempt to explain herself would be dismissed outright, the herd branding her a broken, untrustworthy, non-fluffy.
It wasn’t long before Glory heard footsteps approaching, the pegasus quickly wiping her eyes as she stood to face the encroaching fluffy.
“Gwowy?! Deww yu am! Ebah’gween wus wowwy’d boutchu! Am Gwowy otay?”
She was tempted to come clean right then and there. But as Glory struggled to work up the nerve, her thoughts were flooded with the angry screams of her human mother. The pegasus had been sure that her mother would love her forever, despite how little time the two actually spent together. But once she had learned that Glory was broken, her mother had quickly turned on her, loathing her for her inability to create offspring. And just as her mother had once loved her, here was her special friend Evergreen, who seemingly adored her without limit. But the last few days had taught the lithe pegasus much, and the cruelest of those lessons was that love can fade, especially if you failed to meet expectations.
Forcing a nervous smile, Glory wrapped her hooves around Evergreen, stifling a sob as she held him close.
“…Gwowy am fine Ebah’gween…An’ Gwowy wuvs Ebah’gween su manies…”
His worry dispelled, Evergreen lightly nuzzled the lithe pegasus before the pair headed back to the makeshift camp. While the mood was still slightly somber, with Rascal unconscious and Angel hesitant to leave his side, Evergreen and Pink Berry tried to start an impromptu game of huggy tag. It quickly fell through as when Glory was asked to join, she politely declined, using the excuse of not feeling well to obfuscate her dwindling mood. As the afternoon stretched on, the fluffies that were able collected more leaves to replenish what they had already eaten, as well as refilling the water bucket. Soon it was approaching the evening, with the fluffies making a pile near Rascal and Angel. As the others drifted off peacefully, Glory sat awake, eventually wiggling free from underneath her special friend’s hoof. It wasn’t nearly as chilly as the previous night but the pegasus still could feel the lack of the fluffpile’s warmth as she stood upright and began to walk, unable to clear her mind.
Sighing to herself, the pegasus leaned against a small tree, her head in her hooves as she tried to work out what she might say to Evergreen the following morning, with each and every idea quickly sending her into a bout of sobs. No matter what Glory said, she wasn’t having Evergreen’s babies, and that was what he clearly expected of her. Lost in thought, the pegasus scarcely noticed the loud steps that were steadily approaching.
“Wat am Gwowy du’n aww dah wai ow’t hewe?!”
Gasping slightly, Glory’s head rose to see Rascal, upright and well. As he questioned the lithe pegasus, it was clear that the earthie was on edge, his eyes peering back and forth as he awaited an answer.
“Gwowy…Gwowy wus jus’ taek’n wawkies…Wate…wai am Wascaww ow’t hewe?”
“…Nebah yu mind Gwowy…An’ nu wawkies tu faw fwom nestie…Nu am safe…”
“Otay. Gwowy am sowwy Wascaww…wiww hed back soons…”
Snorting slightly as he nodded, the red earthie more like a small bull than a fluffy, Rascal turned to walk away before turning his head back towards the pegasus.
This was it, thought Glory. His tone, the fact that it was just the two of them, it was the perfect time for Rascal’s revenge. Wincing as she prepared to flee, her legs trembling like gelatin, the pegasus gulped audibly.
“…Tank yu fow wook’n ow’t for bwu fwen…Tank yu fow wook’n ow’t fow Angew…”
And with that the earthie began a slow stride back to camp, leaving the pegasus to catch her breath. It felt so surreal, with Glory fearing the worst from the titan of a fluff. Eyes wide as she finally calmed, her thoughts went to the scarred pegasus, and just how much Rascal clearly cared for him. Protecting him, caring for him, even calming him after his awful attacks, it had to weigh on the earthie, no matter how strong he was. And all of this was for Angel after all, the entire plan to find this mysterious place that could fix the scarred pegasus, that could possibly fix Glory…
That was it! The feel better place! It was so simple, that Glory was surprised that she hadn’t thought of it sooner. If the destination could fix a broken fluffy, then all she had to do was get there before the others! If she got there first, then they’d never even need to know how she was broken. Smiling to herself, the lithe pegasus remembered the vague directions that the group had been following: namely walking aside the river. With newfound vigor and renewed since of purpose, Glory strode bravely towards the river, unaware that in the poorly lit woods, she was heading the wrong direction.