There she was. The most beautiful mare that he had ever lay his eyes on. She rarely visited the farm, but when she did the sun seemed to shine a little brighter and the birds sing a little louder. It was the way that she would brush her hair from her eyes when talking with Applejack, or when she raised a hoof to cover one of those beautiful, melodic giggles.
He remembered the first time he had seen her. Applejack had brought her to the farm during that whole mess with the Flim Flam Brothers. He hadn’t taken the time to truly notice any of his sister’s friends during the struggle to keep his farm but when he saw her, truly saw her, it was something he had never experienced before. A small, beautiful, smile on her face, and a mug of cider in her right hoof. Macintosh was left completely speechless, like his heart had jumped into his throat and was stopping any words from exiting his body.
So naturally the only logical thing to do was to pretend like he had never noticed her to begin with.
He still kicked himself about that choice every time he thought about it and kicked himself a little harder every time he made it again. He had always been a shy stallion, but around her it felt like he was walking on eggshells. Any little slip up and she would never want to even know he existed, though he doubted she knew he existed anyways.
Of course, Applejack knew nothing about his feelings towards her friend, and he hoped she never found out. He could only determine two outcomes from the confrontation. One, she would tell him that she was off-limits, that he could never be around her, and give him a scolding until the cows came home. Or two, she would support it, in her own brother-sister relationship kind of way. That is, she would poke, and lead, and tease him to act on his feelings until he did. He still hadn’t determined which of the two the greater evil was.
Almost every time he had looked at her were from stolen glances. A quick look over the shoulder, only a second to soak in the beauty before his eyes returned to their task at hoof. Any kind of a prolonged gaze and she may catch him. He might scare her. And then anything that could have been was ruined. So far he had been lucky. As far as he could tell she never looked his way. Ever.
And why should she? Who was he to her but her friend’s older brother? To say he was nobody to her would be accurate. She was pretty, she had a life outside of her work in the Everfree forest, she had friends, and she was a bearer of the Element of Kindness and had helped save Equestria multiple times.
Who was he? An apple farmer. Plain and simple. He had nothing special about himself to offer. Just a sweaty, dirty, drop-out workhorse with to his name but the yoke around his neck and the shaft of wheat hanging from the corner of his mouth. He was nothing.
He had meant to seize an opportunity to tell her his feelings on that Hearts and Hooves Day only a month ago. To stop being a nobody to her, and even if he was to be rejected he would at least have some closure to his feelings. He had had a bundle of roses sent anonymously to her house that morning with a note saying that he’d meet her for lunch that afternoon. He had never held up to the note. With his sister and her friends having him drink love poison and spend the day with Miss. Cheerilee it had left his mind completely. It was later that night, right as he lay his head on his pillow to sleep he remembered. And for the first time in a long time tears fell from his eyes, down his cheeks, and into his pillow. He was doomed to never be acknowledged by her.
He wrestled with those feelings for a week. Silently following his routine day after day, trying to force himself to forget. But some invisible force in the universe wanted him to suffer. She had come to the farm that week. He remembered it clear as day because it was the only time she had ever talked to him. Ever acknowledged his existence
She had come to collect apples promised to her by Applejack for the animals that she had cared for at home. “I’m sorry to be a bother.” Had been her first words, as if she could ever have been a bother to him. Like a mute colt he had gone to collect the apples silently, never speaking a single word to her, not even his usual Eeyups and Nopes. And he had handed the sack over to her just as silently. When he let it go, though, the weight of the bag caused her to stumble forward and she gently collide with his foreleg.
There was a sort of shock that ran up his leg from where she touched it. He remembered just how soft her fur was against his and the feeling of trying to pick her back up. But she had gotten up quickly by herself, whimpered something that sounded like “Sorry” and bolted from the farm as fast as she could dragging a bag of apples.
When she was well out of ear shot Macintosh looked down at the leg she had just collided with, looked back up, and whispered “Ah love you”.
That had been two weeks ago, and she had probably forgotten all about it by now. All about him too. And that was what he was destined too. To toil on the farm, alone, until his bones gave out from under him and he was finally buried on its property.
He dared one last look over his shoulder. Just to catch a glimpse of her again. She wasn’t looking at him. She never was. And never would. Turning back to his work he pulled his plow, and lost himself in daydreams of what may have been.
Fluttershy gave a small sigh. There he was. The strong red workhorse of Sweet Apple Acres. Pulling his plow behind him, the muscles straining in his neck and legs. How handsome he looked with the sun reflecting off of his sweat covered body. She wondered what it would be like to be held by those legs. To nestle into his broad chest and just fall asleep.
Blinking, Fluttershy looked away. She had been staring again. Staring at him. Staring at him the same way she wished that he would stare at her. Or at least look at her. He never was looking her way when she looked his. She just wanted to catch a small glimpse of those sparkling green eyes.
She remembered the first time she had seen him before. She had been picking up Applebloom and the other Crusaders to sleep over at her house that night when she had seen him. Laying down on the floor. Looking into a fire that burned in the hearth. His eyes seemed to gleam out from the living room towards her, though they never made contact with hers. Her heart had skipped a beat and then fluttered happily in her chest.
Of course that had been months ago. Something she had chalked up to being tired, or nervous at the time. But when she had come to help save Sweet Apple Acres from the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 2000 and its mean inventors she saw him again, and her heart responded in the exact same way. Oh, how she wished she had been athletic enough to have been running on the wheel with him instead of Rainbow Dash.
From there on she took every opportunity she could to visit Applejack on the farm for any multitude of reasons. Just to get a glance of him again. To see the fire in his hair, and the confidence in his strong walk, and the gleam in his eye.
She knew why she felt the way she did about him. He was everything she wasn’t. He was tall, strong, had stunning good looks,…confident. She wanted to tell him but she was too scared. Just like she always was of everything else in Equestria.
She remembered the pangs of hope she had felt last month when waking up to find a bouquet of roses sitting on her front porch with a note to meet somepony for lunch later that day. She had laughed and sang and danced herself around her cottage. Maybe it was him. Maybe he felt the same way she did. “Today is the day.” She had told herself a hundred times, “The day you finally find your special somepony.”
When she arrived at the restaurant they were to meet at, she sat down, full of confidence and joy, and waited, and waited, and waited. Every passing minute that nopony arrived her smile faded a little more until he had seen her. For a second her smile returned, only to fall once more as he bounced past her, saying something about going to meet Miss. Cheerilee. It had been half an hour and nopony had shown up. It had been a trick. A cruel, mean trick that somepony had played on her. She walked home alone silently, small trickles of tears splashing the ground in front of her as small rivers of tears flowed from her eyes.
She had tried to forget about him from there. They simply weren’t meant to be. Then it had happened.
She had gone to Sweet Apple Acres to pick up some apples for her animals, hoping against hope that she could avoid seeing him so that her heart wouldn’t try and fly from her chest again. But there had been no Applejack to help her, only him. Him in his strong, silent aura. Looking down at her with those beautiful emerald eyes.
Fluttershy had used as few words as possible to tell him what she needed and followed him into the barn to get the apples. When he handed the bag to her she fell forward, not expecting apples to weight that much. She remembered colliding with his leg. Feeling the strong, solid muscle beneath his soft red fur. The kind of body she could fall in love with. Looking up at him she wanted to leap up and press herself against him and never let go. To never stop confessing until he understood how she felt.
But she knew she couldn’t. And she hadn’t. She had just whimpered a quiet apology and ran away as quick as she could. When she knew she was far enough from the farm she had stopped to catch her breath. When it was back she screamed. Screamed her frustration at her cowardice into the empty air until she couldn’t anymore.
That had been two, and he had probably forgotten all about it by now. All about her too. And that was what she was destined too. To live as a lonely spinster on the edge of the Everfree forest. With no one but her animals to keep her company until the end of her days.
“Are you OK, Sugercube?”
Fluttershy looked at Appplejack and gave her a fake smile. “Yes, I’m fine. Just a little tired today I suppose.” She followed her friend towards Ponyville, daring one more glance back at the farm horse. Still pulling his plow with a soft look on his face. Not looking at her. Maybe one day.
As Fluttershy left the farm and Macintosh worked the Earth only one thought was lost between the two of them. Only one feeling that the chose not to acknowledge. Because it was the worst question that could be asked.
What if they had said what they needed to? What if they had opened their mouths and spoken their passions, their feelings? What exactly was it that they had lost…in silence?