Lost in the Woods

Lost in the Woods

by Meluch


  • 1. Chapter 1
  • 2. Chapter 2
  • 3. Chapter 3
  • 1. Chapter 1

    Big Macintosh had never felt so helpless before in his life. It was a deserved feeling, he couldn't help but think to himself as he bit his lip to keep from screaming from the bolts of fire that raced through his body. He should have listened to Applejack. He shouldn't have been so stubborn. He should have stayed an extra day in Hoofington instead of trying to make it back to Ponyville before morning.

    There were a lot of things that he should have done, but that was all in the past now. He couldn't do anything to change his situation, and no amount of rage, fear, pain, or stubbornness was going to help with that.

    The day had certainly started well enough. The sky was cloudless, the sun comfortably warm even as the chilly air nipped at his nose. From all appearances, it had been a picturesque winter morning, and Big Mac was more than certain that he would be able to make it back Sweet Apple Acres before the sun set.

    There was no reason to ever think otherwise. He was a stallion, as big and as strong as his name implied. What reason did he have to fear the forest that stretched from Hoofington to Canterlot. He was from Ponyville, and his own farm bordered one of the most dangerous places in all of Equestria, the Everfree Forest. What reason did he have to fear the gentle winding roads that led over the gentle hills. They were well maintained, and he had never had a problem making the trip in the past.

    As he lay still in the ever deepening snow, Big Mac pondered on whether living in Ponyville itself had given him a false sense of superiority. After all, what did he have to fear from a sleepy forest when he regularly fought Timberwolves from the farm? What did he have to fear from the winter when he lived in a town that survived destruction time and time again. Nightmare Moon, Discord, Tirek. None of them had brought about Ponyville's downfall, nor did they crush the ponies who called it home. They always got back on their hooves.

    They always rebuilt what had been destroyed.

    Maybe that constant danger had made him forget how dangerous the world could sometimes be all on its own.

    Gathering his courage, Big Mac looked down at his hind-leg. He immediately regretted doing so and spent the next few moments struggling to keep down the remnants of the pie he had had for lunch.

    He was worse off than he had thought.

    The trip back to Ponyville had started off easy enough. No snow was falling, and the snow already on the ground had been carefully plowed from the streets and paths through Hoofington. That gradually changed the further from civilization that he had travelled, but he wasn't worried. He easily pulled his cart through the snow, as any proud Earth Pony should have been able. He payed no mind to the ever thickening clouds, or the light fluff of snow that began to fall as each hour passed.

    Big Mac had been walking for hours when he finally noticed how cold it had gotten. The sun had disappeared entirely behind dark storm clouds, and the temperature had accordingly plummeted. Shivering, he paused on his journey to retrieve his scarf from his cart before continuing on.

    Even as he walked, the forest around grew somber and quiet, the trees looming above him as all signs of the path home quickly began to disappear under the thickening snow. Soon after that, he had lost all sense of the earth itself as his hooves found themselves only ever touching more snow, never reaching the frozen ground beneath.

    Another stabbing of pain raced through his body as he twitched unconsciously, making him hiss in agitation. His leg was in absolutely no shape for him to be walking, but Big Mac didn't have a lot of choice in the matter. If he stayed where he was, he knew that he was dead. At least if he tried to find shelter, there was the ever so slim chance that he could hang on long enough for somepony else to stumble across him and get help.

    He was lost. It had only taken him an hour to admit that to himself. The path was long gone and he had simply been walking in what he had assumed was the way. Deep down in his heart, Big Mac knew that he should have known better. He had watched Applejack nearly kill herself harvesting the farm because she had refused to ask for help. As soon as snow started falling, as soon as he left the weather carefully controlled by the weather pegasi, he should have returned to Hoofington and waited for the next day.

    Instead of doing the smart thing though, he had kept on trudging onwards until he had lost all sight of the path and had no hope of ever tracing his way back. The snow had seen to that, filling in his hoof-prints nearly as soon as he had made them.

    So Big Mac had kept on walking, hoping that he would come across anything that he would be able to use as shelter. Everything looked bad, but if he was careful, he would get through the night just fine and have a new lesson to teach to Applebloom.

    That had been his plan, at least until he had seen the hat.

    It was an innocuous little thing just lying there half buried under the snow, but Big Mac had felt a chill of worry run through his heart when he first saw it. Tall, pointy, and purple, the once proud thing drooped low and the gold and blue stars that looked to have been sewn on with an ever loving stitch looked dull and stained. He felt like he had seen it somewhere before, but he couldn't quite recall where. Maybe his sister, or one of her friends would know.

    Either way, Big Mac had known that there was a very big chance whoever the hat belonged to was in trouble. Never let it be said that Big Mac wouldn't rush to the aid of anypony who needed it. His ma and pa had raised him that way, and if somepony was just as lost in the forest as him there was a much higher chance of the two surviving the growing blizzard together.

    Grabbing the hat up out of the snow, Big Mac carefully stowed it away in his cart. He was sure that whoever was out in the storm with him would greatly appreciate its safe return.

    "Hello!" Big Mac had shouted into the forest, loud enough to be heard over the howling wind. "Is anypony out there?"

    There had been no response, but that didn't stop Big Mac. "You don't have to be afraid!

    It was in that moment that Big Mac made his greatest mistake. As he took a step forward, the ground crumbled away from beneath him. For just a second, he felt his heart in his throat, but gravity took hold and he fell.

    He woke up in terrible pain, feeling like molten lead had been poured into his hind leg. He screamed. He screamed until his throat felt like it was tearing itself apart, and then he screamed some more.

    Being a farm pony, Big Mac was not a stranger to pain. He had hurt himself countless times on the farm before, had broken limbs, torn his skin and burned himself more times than he could count. This pain though, was completely different. It was unlike anything he had ever experienced, and the little part of his mind that could still think wished for death.

    By the time Big Mac came to his senses, night had fallen and the snow fell even heavier than before. His body was covered in a thin sheet of snow, and he felt a deadly chill along with the mind-numbing pain.

    With a groan, Big Mac tried to roll over, immediately coming to regret that decision. The pain returned as harshly as it could, and Big Mac almost lost consciousness for a second time. Darkness tinged his vision, and each breath that he took was a struggle.

    After what felt like an eternity, he let out a long, breathy, "Nope."

    Looking back at his leg, Big Mac almost threw up, quickly looking away. It was almost completely unrecognizable, bending in ways that it was never meant to bed, bone sticking straight up through his skin. Blood had soaked through the snow around him, freezing into his coat. Dark patches of red against much lighter red.

    "Oh, Celestia," he murmured, wondering how he hadn't bit his tongue off when he had blacked out.

    He dropped his head back down into the snow, taking deep, steady breaths.

    Looking out, Big Mac looked over to see the hat he had found lying a few feet away, upside down and partly covered in snow. He hoped that whoever it belonged to would be safe. Maybe they would make it out when he wasn't able to.

    His heart felt strange, beating irregularly in his chest. He could feel his blood spurting out from his leg at each beat, almost lazily trickling down to the snow underneath him.

    As he literally felt the life pouring out from his body, Big Mac wondered how Applejack and Apple Bloom would take the news of his death. Granny would be sad he was sure, but she had experienced so much in her long life and they would see each other soon. He couldn't imagine that she would spend much time mourning, instead being the rock that his sisters would so desperately need. Just like she had been for him when Ma and Pa had died.

    Big Mac was glad for that.

    He took a shuddering breath, his ribs aching as his lungs struggled for air.

    "Ah love ya, AJ," Big Mac whispered, drawing his final breath. "Bloom."

    He closed his eyes, his heart at peace and ready to die.

    The only sound he could hear was the snow falling to the ground and the wind whistling through the trees.

    "You found Trixie's hat!"

    Big Mac cracked an eye open at the sound of the happy voice.

    A unicorn mare with light blue fur and a purple cape to match the hat he found was standing triumphantly over him, smiling as she held the hat in her magic. She looked down at him with a gleam in her eye. "Trixie thought she would never see it again!"

    With a flourish, the mare, Trixie apparently, placed the hat on her head. For a moment, Big Mac could have sworn that he saw fireworks erupting behind her, but it was at that moment that he lost consciousness.


    Big Mac never expected to wake again. He thought that when he opened his eyes he would find himself surrounded by all of those that he had lost in his relatively short life, beginning a quiet watch that wouldn't end until all those they had left behind returned to them. There would be a celebration then, and it wouldn't end. He expected to see Faust's Paradise.

    Instead, he found himself lying in front of a warm fire, Trixie sitting a few feet away with her hat suspended by her magic. She was humming a happy tune as she patched up the rather sorry piece of cloth.

    "You are awake." She turned to look at him, a pleased smile on her face. "Trixie is glad. It would have been a shame for the savior of Trixie's hat to die. You have my thanks, kind stallion."

    Big Mac blinked, confused. He didn't feel like was in as much pain, and glancing back at his leg showed that Trixie had seen to bandage it up as best as she was able, splinting it up.

    "Ya... thank you." Big Mac felt that words would never be enough for the gratitude that welled up in his heart. He ignored the raw feeling of his throat, instead trying to pour as much gratitude as possible into his thanks. "Ya saved my life."

    "It was not a problem." Trixie sniffed proudly, inspecting the work she had done on the hat. She gave a proud nod of approval before setting it down beside her and standing on all four hooves. She stretched like a cat before trotting over to Big Mac's side. "Trixie would never let a potential fan perish when she could render assistance."

    Big Mac couldn't think of anything to say to that, feeling incredibly light headed. His vision spun ever so lightly, and he had trouble focusing on Trixie as she inspected his bandaging.

    "There is no need to be alarmed," Trixie murmured comfortingly. "Trixie has given you quite potent medicine. You should be proud. It was the last that Trixie had in her cart. She shall have to get more when she passes through a town again."

    "Thank you," Big Mac murmured, truly thankful.

    "It is not a problem," Trixie said with a flick of her hair, apparently pleased with her work. "Trixie believes that you shall live."

    She stepped back over to the fire, sitting down in such a way that she could easily watch him and the forest surrounding them with minimal effort. They sat together in silence for a few moments, neither knowing quite what to say.

    "What is your name?" Trixie asked, her voice quiet. "You already know Trixie's name. It is only fair to know yours."

    "Big Macintosh," he spoke quietly, trying not to do anything to aggravate his voice than he had to.

    "Big Macintosh," Trixie repeated to herself. "Are you a member of the Apple family?"

    He gave a quick nod of his head.

    "Hmm." Trixie frowned, ducking her head in what looked like shame to Big Mac. "Trixie is acquaintances with a few members of the Apple family. She is regretful that she has hurt more than a few in her travels."

    He didn't say anything, keeping his gaze on the mare. Whatever Trixie had done, she had also saved him. That meant a lot in his book. Apple's could be stubborn, but they also knew how to forgive. Saving him, Trixie had wiped away whatever little sin she had committed against his family.

    Meeting his eyes, Trixie frowned, biting her bottom lip. "Trixie is sorry, but she doesn't have any food. If she did, she would offer you some."

    "It's alright," Big Mac whispered. "Ya've done enough."

    "That is kind of you." Trixie blushed, ducking her head. "Trixie wishes that she could do more though."

    Big Mac looked around at his surroundings for the first time. High above, he could see the ledge that he had fallen off of. He had fallen into a small clearing, dotted with large mounds of snow. His cart lay in a pile of timber and torch-wood behind him, partly covered in snow. Trixie's cape lay over his side, covering him as much as possible, giving him as much warmth as it could. Big Mac felt a pang of thankfulness run through his heart, thanking Celestia, Luna, and Faust for his luck. Trixie finding him in his time of need was the absolute best possible thing that could have happened.

    "Ya've done more than enough," Big Mac murmured. He gave her a shaky smile, watching as the flames danced magically across Trixie's face. "Thank you, Trixie."

    "You are welcome, Big Macintosh." Trixie smiled, a true thing that made Big Mac's heart race.

    "Ya' can call me, Big Mac."

    "Big Mac." Trixie tested the name out, giving a short nod. "That is a good nickname. It fits you."

    Glancing back at the remains of Big Mac's cart, Trixie frowned. "It is a shame. I lost my trailer in these woods."

    "Ya can replace things," Big Mac said. "Ya can't replace ponies. We both were lucky to only lose our carts."

    "Yes." An unreadable expression passed over Trixie's face for just a moment, but it was gone just as quickly as it had come and Big Mac wasn't sure what it had meant. "Only our carts."

    Trixie stood again, looking at her hat. She smiled nostalgically at it, before lifting it with her magic and walking back over to Big Mac. "Trixie would like you to have this."

    Big Mac looked at her hat, than back at Trixie. "Are ya sure?"

    "Yes." Trixie gave a quick bob of her head, smiling gratefully at him. "Trixie is... I am sure."

    She placed the hat down next to him, running a loving hoof across its fabric one last time before sitting down next to the stallion with a little sigh. "There is a lot that I regret in my life. There is a lot that I wish I could atone for."

    "Ya still have a chance." His throat was still sore, but Big Mac felt like this mare deserved his thoughts. "It is never too late."

    "It is for me." Trixie sighed. "I am afraid that Trixie has passed the point of no return."

    "It is never too late," Big Mac repeated, firmer this time. As firm as he could with such a hoarse voice.

    "You are a sweet stallion, Big Macintosh." Trixie smiled at him, reaching a hoof out and running it along his jaw. "What were you doing in the middle of nowhere during such a horrible storm? Why aren't you safe asleep in a bed somewhere, waiting out this storm with the rest of the ponies?"

    Ducking his head, Big Mac frowned. "I was stupid and stubborn. Thought I could make it home to Ponyville before nightfall."

    "So you didn't have a death wish?" Trixie raised an eyebrow, giving him a little smirk. "You are just stubborn then."

    "Eyup." Big Mac felt his cheeks flush in shame. "It's an Apple thing."

    "It is nothing to be ashamed of," Trixie murmured comfortingly. "Every pony has their flaws. You are alive. You will learn and grow. It is the way the world works."

    "I was stupid." Big Mac rested his head on his arms, looking deep into the flames of the fire. "I should have stayed at the hotel."

    "Probably." Trixie agreed. "I should have done the same. Every pony always forgets that the large majority of the weather in Equestria is still wild. If there isn't a town nearby, then it's really just a waste of bits to have weather pegasi managing every square inch of land every day of the year. The Everfree isn't the only unmanageable bastion out there."

    "Hmmm." Big Mac hadn't known that. You learned something new everyday. "Never knew that."

    "As I said," Trixie grinned. "Every pony forgets."

    They fell silent, letting the crackling of the fire fill the quiet, a comfortable feeling.

    Big Mac turned his head to look at Trixie, a soft smile on his muzzle. "What are ya doing out in forest in such a terrible storm? Why aren't [i]you[/i] safe asleep in your bed?"

    "The storm snuck up on me." Trixie blushed, giving a quiet cough of embarrassment. "I was lucky to find this overhang."

    "We both were."

    "Indeed." Trixie laughed. "It was lucky for you to fall and break your leg."

    "It was lucky for me to find your hat." Big Mac countered back.

    "Yes." Trixie conceded the point. "Yes, it really was."

    She fell quiet for a moment, but Big Mac could see the gears spinning in her head. She chewed on her bottom lip, and he was quickly coming to think that it was her way of chewing over a thought.

    "I am a magician." She gave a hollow laugh, looking pointedly at her hat and cape. "The Great and Powerful Trixie, traveling showmare."

    She stood up at that, holding her head proudly high, but Big Mac could see the shame running through her.

    "If there was one thing that I could change," Trixie whispered, her eyes large as they filled with tears. "I would never have become a magician. It was that single decision that ruined my life. It made me arrogant and prideful, and I spent so much time focussing on getting ponies to love and adore me that I ignored everything important in life."

    She looked mournfully down at the attentive stallion, a sad smile on her face. "I never made any friends. I ran from my family. I shunned love. All that it ever got me in return was a pile full of bits or a mob running me out of town. I wasted my life."

    "You still have time." Big Mac felt a stirring in his heart that he hadn't felt since his school crush. Looking at the small blue mare, he felt nothing but contentment at his situation. He might have struck out on his own and gotten himself completely lost, but it had led to him meeting this beautiful mare. Looking around, he saw no sign of the cart she had spoken of, and he had a feeling deep in his stomach that she was in as dire a situation as he was. There was only one thing he could do.

    "Trixie," Big Mac spoke, following the stirrings of his heart. "I don't know what ya did before, and I don't really care. What I see is a mare who is eager to start over."

    With a grunt of pain, he shifted gingerly to face her, ignoring her quiet protests. He put a hoof on hers, looking into her eyes.

    "If you would like," Big Mac said. "There is always a room at Sweet Apple Acres for you. My family would love to meet you, and we'd treat you like one of our own."

    "You are a wonderful stallion, Big Macintosh." Trixie stood. "Never let anypony tell you otherwise."

    "I was being just as stubborn as you, apparently." Trixie admitted in a sad voice. "I was actually making my way to Ponyville, to meet someone and try and amends. I got lost, and then you fell into my hooves."

    Glancing at the fire, Trixie looked up at the night sky above them, still filled with storm clouds. "We should get some sleep. Hopefully the storm will have let up by morning. We can get you to help."

    After helping Big Mac get closer to the fire, Trixie curled up close to him. They would need every bit of warmth to get through the night.


    Trixie woke Big Mac up a couple of hours after dawn.

    "You've been busy," Big Mac noted. He took in the contraption that Trixie had wheeled before him with a critical eye. "How long did it take you to build that thing?"

    "Well..." Trixie blushed, glancing away. "Most of the night, actually."

    She held her head up proudly though at his disbelieving gaze. "It was worth it, Big Mac."

    Turning his gaze back to what amounted to the world's strangest looking wheel-sling, Big Mac felt that stirring in his heart grow. There was absolutely no way that he would have been able to make it back to Hoofington on his own, and they had both known it. His leg was in such a state that he wouldn't have been able to take more than a single step without collapsing.

    Trixie had known that and instead of waiting till the morning to deal with the problem, she had instead spent the entire night making him a wheel-sling for him to use.

    At it's most basic level, a wheel-sling functioned as a fifth leg for a disabled pony. It worked by using a saddle and sling to hold the ponies weight on a wheel-bound fifth "leg", allowing a pony to get around with much more ease than would otherwise have been possible. The fact that Trixie had been able to construct even such a crude one in only a few hours was nothing short of miraculous.

    "Thank you." Big Mac gave her a smile from the bottom of his heart, and she blushed, looking away in embarrassment.

    It took both them quite a bit of effort, even with Trixie's magic, to get Big Mac situated as comfortably in the wheel-sling as possible. After almost an hour of fiddling though, both were certain that they weren't going to be able to get it any better. With a last sorrowful look at the remains of his cart, Big Mac set off, following Trixie as she led him through the forest.

    They walked in silence for the first part of their journey, a comfortable thing that neither felt the need to break. Big Mac was pleased to find that he still enjoyed the mare's company, and that whatever drugs he had been on last night had not been the reason for his infatuation. His leg still roared in pain, but he did his best to ignore it, only giving off the occasional whimper when the wheel sling jostled against it.

    The sun cleared its way through the storm clouds around noon by Big Mac's estimation, and the forest was slowly falling away, the trees further and further apart the longer they travelled. It wasn't until he noticed that he had just passed a lone sapling growing out of what looked like an unending expanse of white that he realized they were free from the forest.

    Trixie gave a cry of triumph that startled Big Mac, nearly causing him to topple over. It was only thanks to her rushing up to his side to steady him that he managed to stay upright.

    "Trixie has... I found the path." Trixie spoke sheepishly, pointing a hoof down at a patch of bare earth peeking out from the snow covering everything around it. She hopped forward, sweeping away more snow with her tail to reveal that it indeed was the path that he had lost yesterday.

    Taking a moment to orient himself in terms of the path, Big Mac placed one of his forehoofs on the bare earth, closing his eyes. There were times that he really appreciated being an earth pony. As long as he could feel the earth under him, he always knew which was north. It only took him a few seconds to pick the rough direction of Ponyville. "We need to go that way."

    Trixie gave a short nod of her head.

    Big Mac started walking, but paused when he didn't hear Trixie's hoofsteps behind him. Stopping, he glanced over his shoulder to find the mare smiling gratefully at him.

    With an almost melancholic bounce to her step, she trotted up to his side, nuzzling him thankfully. "Trixie is glad... I am glad that you found me. I wish that we could have met before all of this. Maybe things would have been different."

    "Ya have a chance now." Big Mac wondered to himself how long he could convince her to stay in Ponyville. He would like the chance to get to know her, on many different levels.

    "Thank you, Big Macintosh." With a flourish, Trixie's horn lit up and she carefully placed her hat on Big Mac's head. "I want you to have this. I made it myself after I got my cutie mark, when I was just filly."

    Glancing up at the brim of the hat, just hanging into the edge of his vision, Big Mac gave Trixie a warm smile. "I'll take good care of it, Trixie."

    "Thank you."

    They fell back into silence, continuing on towards home.


    Twilight Sparkle awoke to frantic knocking at her door. The purple unicorn shot up straight in her bed with a startled cry as somepony broke down her door.


    Jumping out of her bed, Twilight instantly recognized the voice of Applejack, one her closest friends. "I'm up here-"

    Before she could even finish her sentence Applejack had already bounded up the stairs and into her bedroom, plowing into Twilight and sending both of them sprawling to the floor.

    "Twilight, ya have to come quick!" Applejack ignored the fact that she had broken into her friends house without invitation, and the moment that Twilight saw her panicked eyes she felt that it was definitely excusable. "It's Big Mac! He's hurt!"

    Almost without a thought, Twilight teleported the two of them upright, focussed and ready to help. "Where is he, Applejack?"

    "The hospital!" Applejack looked on the verge of tears. "We have to hurr-"

    Before she could finish, Twilight had already cast her teleportation spell. In a flash of blinding purple light, the two of them appeared in the lobby of Ponyville's only hospital. The nurse at the front desk fell out of her chair in surprise at their sudden appearance, and a baby started wailing in its parent's hooves, but Twilight ignored all of that.

    "Applejack, which room?" Twilight demanded from her orange earth pony friend.

    "Twelve!" Applejack pulled her hat on tighter to her head, bouncing on her hooves in worry.

    Twilight rushed down the hall, Applejack following close behind her. One, two, three, four, five, Twilight counted in her head as she passed each door. "Twelve!"

    She skidded to a stop, taking half a second to catch her breath. She glanced at Applejack, who was practically vibrating in nervousness. "Are you ready, Applejack?"

    "Yeah." Applejack nodded firmly, worrying away at her lip. "Apple Bloom is getting Granny."

    With a nod, Twilight opened the door and stepped into the hospital room. She gasped in shock at the sight that greeted her. Glancing back at Applejack, she watched as tears filled the mare's eyes. She looked back into the hospital room to see Big Mac laying still on the bed, his hind leg suspended from a sling above the bed. He was either asleep or unconscious, and Twilight couldn't rightly tell which.

    She stepped aside to let Applejack move to stand beside her.

    "What happened, Applejack?" Twilight scrunched her brow up in confusion. "How did Big Mac get hurt?"

    "I don't know!" Applejack sat back on her hind-legs, taking her hat in her forehooves and worrying at its brim. "I was at the market when Lyra and Bon Bon found him. Lyra rushed him to the hospital and Bon Bon ran to tell me. Said that he had stumbled into town half delirious, with a bandage on his leg soaked through in blood."

    Twilight stepped closer to Big Mac, studying the binding of his leg before lifting his chart from its pin at the end of the bed. As she read over it, her eyes widened in astonishment. "Oh Faust! Big Mac is a very luck stallion."

    "What?" Applejack tried to read over Twilight's shoulder but the chart was practically indecipherable. "What's wrong?"

    "He..." Before Twilight even started to explain, she caught sight of the extremely familiar sight of Trixie Lulamoon's hat on the small bedside table. "Trixie..."

    "Did Bon Bon say anything about Trixie being with him?" She turned to Applejack.

    "No!" Applejack shook her head, honestly not caring about some cruel magician who had done her best to show her up at every chance she had had. "What's wrong with Big Mac?"

    Twilight shook her head, looking back at the chart in her magic. "He's suffering from exposure to the elements, frostbite, extreme blood loss, and his leg is suffering from a compound fracture. It's a miracle that he even made it back to Ponyville."

    "What happened to him?" Applejack put a hoof lovingly on her older brother's cheek. "How did he get so hurt?"

    "I don't know." Twilight shrugged. "We'll have to wait until he can tell us."

    2. Chapter 2

    For the second time in as many days, Big Mac woke up with no clue where he was. Cracking an eye open, all he saw was a big blurry nothing, a void of white that filled his entire vision.

    With a huff, Big Mac idly noted that he was warm, though the occasional shiver passed over his body. He could feel soft sheets under him, a warm blanket laid over him and tucked in comfortably. The leg he had broken felt slightly scratchy and immobile, and it was suspended in the air above him. The occasional soft beep alerted him to the fact that he really wasn't out in the forest anymore.

    He tried his best to remember how it was that he had come to be here (wherever here was), but his memories betrayed him. He remembered thanking Trixie for her gift, then continuing on towards home but nothing after that. They just faded away, snowy hold giving Way to him waking up in some hospital bed from what his senses were telling him.

    He opened an eye, trying again. He gave a sigh of relief as this time he could actually make out vague shapes of the room around him. The room was a generally green blur, with the occasional smaller blur that he assumed was either artwork or a window to break up a patients monotonous stay. He saw the red blur of his body disappearing into the yellow blur of what must have been the blanket. On one side of the bed was an off white blur with a large black blur in its center that he could only assume was some sort of medical device.

    Turning his head, Big Mac smiled as he laid eyes on the blurry form of Trixie's hat, purple and proud within ever so slight wilt at the top.

    Big Mac blinked his eyes, trying to get his eyes to focus. It didn't really work but it made him feel better to be actively doing something to help his situation, whatever that might be.

    The sound of the door opening made him pause in his efforts, and he quickly found the source of the noise. There was a brighter blur of green in what used to be a solid expanse (a door obviously, he thought to himself), and a pony shaped blur standing there. An orange pony shaped blur.

    "Big Brother?"

    Big Mac smiled at the sound of Applejack's voice. She might have sounded unsure and scared, but the fact that she was nearby put most of his fears to rest. Applejack was there, which meant he was with family.

    "Applejack." He hoped she could hear how thankful he was to hear her. He had the feeling that she did.

    "Ah, Big Mac." Applejack's voice lost its nervousness, a hint of warmth filling her happy tones. "You were being stubborn again, weren't ya?"


    "Tried to get home against the warnings of everypony you met?"


    "Ya got lost and broke your leg?"


    "Through your pain and anguish you managed to make a wheel-sling and get home on your own?"

    That drew Big Mac up for a pause. Normally when he and Applejack had a conversation they were both on the same wavelength, able to fairly accurately guess what the other was going through. This was a first, at least in his memory, that Applejack missed something so vital to his life.

    "Nope." Big Mac shook his head.

    "Say what?" The confusion that Applejack had to be feeling was certainly audible in her voice. "What happened then?"

    "I fell, and I would have died if weren't for Trixie." Big Mac blinked again, thankful that his vision was finally clearing up. He could make out Applejack's worry written on her face as clearly as could be. He looked around, seeing that he was the only patient in the room before turning his attention back to his younger sister. "Where is Trixie?"

    The expression on Applejack's face was certainly telling. It was a familiar look that she would always give him when she had no idea what he was talking about. He didn't see it often, but it was instantly recognizable. It was in the way that she cocked her head to the side, dropped one of her ears and raised the opposite eyebrow.

    "What?" Applejack shook her head, trying to follow that shift of thinking. "Trixie? The magician? Trixie as in [i]The Great and Powerful[/i]?"

    "Eyup." Big Mac gave a firm nod. "Trixie. Where is she?"

    Silence fell over the room for a moment, broken only by the occasional beep from what turned out to be heart monitor.

    "What... Why are ya talking about Trixie, Mac?" Applejack trotted forward to stand next to his bedside. She placed a hoof on the covers, looking at him in concern. "What does she have to do with any of this?"

    "I found her hat." Big Mac gestured at the aforementioned object on the bedside table. "Then I fell. I broke my leg. Passed out."

    Big Mac paused as a fit of coughs came over him. Applejack waited patiently for him to stop, getting a glass of water which he gratefully took and downed.

    "I woke up with my leg bandaged, next to a fire." Big Mac continued after taking a few deep breaths. "Trixie had found me. I would have died without her. Frozen to death in the middle of the night. The next morning, she made the wheel-sling and we both made our way back to Ponyville."

    Big Mac caught Applejack's gaze. "Now, Applejack. Where is Trixie?"

    Applejack was silent for a long moment, looking at Big Mac like he was speaking a completely different language. She opened her mouth to speak, but closed it again, unsure.

    "Ah don't know what to say, Big Mac." Applejack tried again. "Lyra and Bon Bon found you stumbling into town. They never said anything about Trixie being with you. You were all alone."

    Big Mac glanced over at Trixie's hat before turning back to Applejack, confusion roiling within him.

    "I was alone?"

    "Yup." Applejack gave a firm nod.

    "Delirious and out of my mind?"

    "Yup." Another nod.

    Big Mac settled back against his pillow, unsure of himself and his own memories. A small part of him couldn't help but wonder whether or not he had hallucinated the entire thing. He had only seen the mare once after all, when he was watching over the Apple Stand in the market that day. Everything that he had known about her had come from the stories that his sister and her friends had related back to him after chasing the showmare out of town. He had honestly never expected to see her again.

    Being saved by the Great and Powerful Trixie in the woods was not something that ever would have occurred to him. He wasn't a creative stallion, never had been and never would be. He was a farmer through and through. It simply wasn't like him to come up with such a strange hallucination.

    If he had been completely out of his mind and seeing things in the wild to keep himself alive, Big Mac was sure that he would have dreamed up someone he knew far better. Somepony like Applejack, or Twilight Sparkle, or even Rainbow Dash. If he had truly been hallucinating, he knew that they would have been far more useful than a boastful magician with very little actual magical talent to speak of.

    "It was not a dream." Big Mac spoke firmly, having made up his mind on the matter. "Trixie saved my life."

    "Alright." Applejack held up a hoof in surrender. She wouldn't argue with him on the point. She was far too happy that he was alive to want to fight with him over such a small matter. "Trixie saved ya out in the forest."

    She smiled, pushing herself up to give him a happy nuzzle. "I'm just happy you're okay. Ah don't know what ah would've done if you... if you never came home."

    "AJ." Big Mac placed his larger hoof over hers, smiling at his sister. "There's no reason to think about that. I am safe."

    He glanced down at his leg with a frown.

    Applejack had always been good at telling Big mac's mood and that hadn't changed with his brush with death. She could see that he was rapidly retreating into himself, pulling away. She would have to do something about that.

    "The doctor says you'll only need to be here for a week." Maybe she could get him to take his mind off of his hallucination. She had never seen him so affected by a mare before. "He says that you should be able to come home, though ya won't be able to do much more than stay in bed."

    Big Mac simply nodded. He didn't have anything more to say.


    Applejack was right about his hospital stay. The week passed slowly, but Big Mac suffered patiently through it without complaint. He wondered silently to himself where Trixie had disappeared to.

    A few times in the darkest hours of the night, he would wonder about whether he had dreamed the entire encounter, but as soon as the day would break he would find himself reassured. It hadn't been a dream. Trixie's hat became a touchstone for him, something physical that he could touch.

    He mulled over the conversation that they had had together, and as he thought on her more the stirring in his heart grew. As the days passed, he realized that it had grown into a small flame. The unicorn mare had captured his heart, and he knew that he would find her again, even if he had to search the entirety of Equestria itself to find her.

    At the end of the week, Applejack brought Twilight Sparkle by. Together, the two of them managed to transport him to Sweet Apple Acres. Midway through the rather short journey the Cutie Mark Crusaders had joined them, loud and boisterous. It hd certainly been good for Big Mac to see his youngest sister again, happy with her friends surrounding her.

    A room had been prepared for him on the first floor, and he found a much nicer wheel- sling waiting for him at the door. There wasn't a lot that he could do and he quickly found that he felt rather useless sitting around with nothing to do. By the end of his first week back at the farm, he had taken to helping Granny cook the meals. He relished the opportunity to be useful again.

    Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. Big Mac focussed on resting and healing his leg as best he could. There was no sign of Trixie, but he held out hope. She was a traveller after all, and she very well might have chosen to continue on instead of taking him up on his offer.

    It was at the end of the sixth month that the doctor was happy with the healing process and removed the cast.

    Having spent so long practically immobile, Big Macs powerful hind legs weren't anywhere near as strong as he used to be. Muscles that used to have to be restrained to keep from shattering trees now struggled to carry him up a simple flight stairs. His bone might have been healed, but he wasn't done and out of the woods yet.

    Big Mac worked hard every day, exercising the atrophied muscles, pushing himself to his limit, then pushing just a little bit more. He was an Apple after all, and he didn't do anything by half measure.

    Little by little, day by day, Big Mac could feel his strength returning to him. Soon enough he could make the short journey from the farm to Ponyville and he eagerly took over the shopping at the markets from Granny.

    It was during one of those trips that Big Mac had a run in with Twilight Sparkle. As he had gone about purchasing the non-Apple related foods (a necessary evil in his eyes), she had come bounding up to him with a look of infinite curiosity.

    "Big Macintosh!" She shouted from across the marketplace. Before he had a chance to respond, she had already teleported to his use. "I've been meaning to talk to you! I've been so busy though... But now you're here, and I'm here and that's good!"

    Big Mac didn't say anything, waiting for the energetic mare to explain. The residents of Ponyville were well versed with his quiet nature, and thus she wasn't offended by his silence.

    "Applejack told me all about your journey." Teilight continued, falling in step with the larger stallion as he continued his shopping. "She said you said Trixie saved you?"

    "Eyup." Big Mac's response was simple, but apparently it was enough for Twilight.

    "Lyra said that you had Trixie's hat." Twilight waited patiently for him to purchase several tomatoes before continuing with their conversation. "I saw you had it at the hospital."

    "Eyup." Big Mac gave a single nod as he placed his purchases in his saddle-bags. "She gave it to me."

    "She did?" Twilight's eyebrows rose, impressed. "She must have really liked you. That hat means everything to her!"

    Twilight frowned, her muzzle scrunching up in concentration before she continued.

    "Big Macintosh," Twilight said, her voice quiet, as if she was unsure of herself. "How did Trixie look?"

    Raising an eyebrow of his own, Big Mac stared at the librarian. Casting his mind back to that time, Big Mac tried to recall the answer to Twilight's question. "She looked fine."

    "Good." Twilight breathed a sigh of relief. "I know that she was boastful and lied about a lot of her actual skills, but I never wished her harm. I had heard that she was having a hard time finding work a year or so ago. It's good to hear that's she alright."

    She smiled up at Big Mac and he couldn't help but return it, the mare's face bright and exuberant.

    "I hope that when I see her again, we'll be able to be friends." Twilight gave Big Mac one final smile before trotting away, leaving him alone with his thoughts.


    That night after dinner Big Mac sat on his porch, staring up at the stars twinkling so high above. He couldn't help but wonder if Princess Luna was happy about something, because the night sky looked like an artist has outdone themselves in their exuberance.

    "You're thinking of her, aren't ya?"

    Big Mac didn't have to look to see that Applejack had sat down next to him. He didn't reply. She already knew the answer.

    "I thought so." Applejack sighed. She knew her brother well. "If she did actually save you, and I'm not saying she did mind you, Trixie was definitely no help getting you back to Ponyville. You stumbled back like you were dream walking!"

    Big Mac didn't have an answer for that. He didn't know what happened after they had left the forest together. He simply couldn't remember, no matter how hard he tried.

    They sat together in their silence for a few minutes, simply enjoying the others presence and the great arms of the stars above. It was a magical sight.

    "You're goin' to try and find her." It wasn't a question. They both knew it, it was just the first time that either had spoken it aloud.


    "How?" Applejack didn't argue, though he could hear in her voice how much she wanted to. "She could be anywhere."

    "Hoofington." Big Mac had a gut feeling that he would find all of his answers there. If not there, than in the path between Ponyville and Hoofington.

    "I can't talk us out of this."


    "When do you think you're going to leave?" Applejack put a hoof against his barrel, desiring some form of physical contact with her older brother.

    "Tomorrow." It was best Big Mac had decided, to leave as soon as possible.

    "Tomorrow?!" The hoof fell away from his side as Applejack jumped up on all four of her hooves, surprised and worried. "You're still not back to one hundred percent! You should wait at least another month."

    "Nope." Big Mac gave a firm shake of his head. "I need to do t
    Applejack growl through gritted teeth, though she didn't say anything else in protest. It was useless to argue with an Apple after their mind was made up.

    3. Chapter 3

    Big Mac started his journey to Hoofington early the next morning, before Princess Celestia had even raised the sun. There was something about the early morning chill in the air that made the red stallion feel alive.

    His whole family saw him off, and he was grateful. He had learned his lesson in the woods, and he would never take a goodbye so flippantly again. There was every bit the chance that he might never see them again. It was a dangerous thing, after all, stepping out the front door. If by chance his time was done, he didn't want his family wishing that they had parted on better terms.

    He was just making his way trough Ponyville, passing by Golden Oaks Library when the sun began to peek over the horizon. It's Rays warmed his face as he passed the outskirts of the town, onto a path he had walked six months before, back to find the mare who had saved his life and whom his heart had grown to love.

    Everything looked different from how he had first seen it, and that was thanks to the fact it was now summer. Where it had seemed that he had once been walking through an endless field of white, Big Mac could now appreciate the wild flowers and scrub that covered the gently rolling hills surrounding the path to Hoofington. He enjoyed the warmth, breathing in the fresh air.

    It felt good to be away from the ever careful watch of his family. It felt good to be moving again, to have a purpose. He loved his family, but he would be the first to admit that there were times where they could beat called obstinate. Protecting a wounded member of the clan was certain to bring that side out of them. It had only been thanks to his own stubborn streak that Applejack hadn't put up more of a fight to his journey.

    The trip to Hoofington took two days at a steady trot, and the first night he had made camp at the edge of the forest. It had only been mid-afternoon, the sun just beginning to descend through the sky, but Big Mac had no desire to sleep in the forest that had nearly been his death. It was bad enough that he would have to trek though it.

    He knew that his fear was ridiculous. The woods were friendly and full of all manner of life. The trees were green and the path easy, but the memory of freezing, and the echoing throb in his leg was more than enough to make him pause and wait to continue until the next morning.

    For dinner, he had a simple meal of apples and cool water from a nearby spring. As the sun disappeared behind the horizon and the moon began to climb into the sky, Big Mac sat with his back to his campfire, watching the forest with a careful eye.

    When he finally managed to lay done to sleep, his dreams were cold and a deep sense of pervading loss filled his soul.

    He made the trip through the forest the next morning at the quickest trot he could, almost a gallop. He made it to Hoofington just as the sun was reaching its peak, the path easy to follow now that it wasn't hidden under a blanket of snow.

    Big Mac recognized a few ponies in town, nodding at their friendly waves. As a town, Hoofington was larger than Ponyville. As such, it had a larger population, large enough that you couldn't hope to know everypony, not like back home. Still, he had been to Hoofington enough times making deliveries that he had a small group of friends that he was always sure to spend time with in the town. It was those ponies that Big Mac sought out.

    "Star Twinkle!" Big Mac called out to the blue coated mare as he caught sight of her leaving the local observatory. "Star!"

    Star Twinkle paused when she heard her name, head swiveling as she tried to find the owner of the stallion's voice. The unicorn mare's face lit up in a smile when her eyes landed on the large red earth pony.

    "Big Mac!" Star cantered over to him, giving him a quick nuzzle. "You're here early. I thought you didn't normally make deliveries until next month."

    "I don't." Big Mac smiled at his friend, thankful that he had found her so quickly. "I'm trying to find somepony. I thought that you might have seen her."

    Big Mac had met Star Twinkle when he had first started making delivieries for Sweet Apple Acres. He had been just barely out of colt good then, then she just growing out of fillyhood.

    She had bought apples from him every day he was selling, and on the last day, had kissed his cheek before scurrying off as fast as she could, a massive blush on her face. He had to wait a few months until his next trip to Hoofington to figure out what she meant by that.

    It had turned out that she liked him, and tentatively, he agrees to be her special somepony. It had proven to be difficult to hold down a long distance relationship, and the both of them had agreed that they would work better off as friends. He still wrote to her as often as he could, and she responded in kind.

    "Well, I'll try and help you." She smiled suggestively at him, her voice taking a teasing note as she leaned forward on all four of her hooves. "Did you find someone you fancy? Is there love in Big Macintosh's eyes?"

    Big Mac huffed and rolled his eyes but he didn't ask his friend to stop. She didn't mean anything by it, and he was glad that she didn't have any harsh thoughts at the idea of him dating again. Neither of them had had much luck in the romantic department, and if he could find Trixie, she would be the first pony he would ask out in over two years.

    "Maybe," he admitted, a tinged embarrassed but not enough to try and hide how he felt. "I'm looking for a unicorn named Trixie, she's a ma-"

    "A magician." Star Twinkle stole the word out of Big Mac's mouth. Her face turned annoyed at the name. "As in the Great and Powerful Trixie?"

    "Eyup." Big Mac nodded, recognizing her look as the same one Applejack got whenever he spoke about Trixie.

    "You're wasting your time, Mac." Star Twinkle spoke gently, but firm. She had evidently had a run in with the show are before. "She's a two bit hussy with no magical talent."

    "She saved my life."

    That took the look right off of Star's face. She looked at him with surprise and concern. "She what?"

    "Trixie saved my life," Big Mac repeated. "Last winter, I was heading back to Ponyville. I got lost in the snow and broke my leg. I would have died if it weren't for her."

    Star stared at him for a long time in amazement, as if she was seeing him for the first time.

    "You almost died?" She asked in a hushed whisper. "You don't say anything about that in any of your letters."

    "I didn't want to worry ha," Big Mac tried to reassure her. "There was nothing you could have done."

    "I would have come to visit!" Star protested, stomping a hoof against the ground. "I'm your friend, mac. I would have come, and I would just like it if you told me these things."

    Big Mac blushed in embarrassment and a little bit of shame. She was right. Just another instance of his stubbornness getting him in trouble. "You're right, Star. I should'a told you."

    "Buckin' right you should have told me." She glared at him a moment longer before sighing and giving him a relieved nuzzle, lingering longer than she normally would have. Learning that somepony you knew had almost died was enough to make anypony thankful to see them again.

    "Trixie came to town a year and half ago," Star said with a sigh. "The whole town drove her off after she burned the mayors office to the ground."

    "She what?!" Big Mac felt a jolt in his chest to hear that. Maybe the mare he had been pining after wasn't the one for him after all...

    "No." Star shook her head, looking a little grumpy as she stared just to the right of Bog Mac, into nothing. "I admit, we may have acted a bit rashly, and she might not have deserved all of it, but emotions were running hot."

    "She burned down the mayor's office?" Big Mac asked carefully?

    "It wasn't totally her fault." Star admitted that through clenched teeth and Big Mac figured she wasn't telling him everything. "She was making a fool of the entire town. She tried to save face with a fireworks show, but somepony threw a tomato at her. The fireworks hit her trailer, which caught on fire and rolled down the hill into the mayors office, where it exploded."

    "Exploded?" Big Mac had to wonder what she had been keeping in her trailer to explode.

    "Boom!" Star mimed an explosion with her hooves. "Took out the entire building. The whole town for so mad that they ran her out of town."

    "Do you have any idea of where she was traveling next?" Big Mac knew it was a longshot, and he couldn't come up with a single idea on why she had been so close to the town that he run her off almost a year later, in the right place to save him.

    "Nope." Star shrugged, an apologetic look on her face. "I'm sorry, Mac."

    "It's alright, Star." Big Mac waved off her apology. "Do you remember which way you all ran her out?"

    Star nodded at that, glad to have an answer to his question. She pointed with a fire hoof. "Yep! That way."

    Big Mac followed the direction of her hoof, right back the way he had come. Back through the forest. It figured.

    "Thanks, Star." He spoke softly, but his gratefulness was no less for it. "You should come to Ponyville sometime. You're always welcome at the farm."

    "You know what," Star said, nodding her head. "I just might take you up in that offer, Mac."

    With that final bit of conversation, the two ponies went their separate ways, Star Twinkle to go back to her apartment, and Big Mac to head back into the forest.

    Maybe she had left some clue to where she had disappeared off to, all those months ago.


    The forest was completely different. Green leaves, chirping birds, and a warm summer breeze filled the air. Big Mac could remember the chill, the panic that he pushed down as he stubbornly trudged onward towards what he hoped was home.

    Now that he had already made his way through the first once on the return to Hoofington, the second time of heading back into it didn't loom so large in his mind. He still stepped lightly along the path, keeping a careful lookout for anything that looked out of place.

    Big Mac had no idea on how he would recognize a sign, nor how he would even go about finding one. There wasn't anything that stood out to him and he idly wondered if that adventure mare his sister and some of her friends read about would be able to see things he was just plain missing. Daring Doo. If she was here, he was sure that she would have already found Trixie.

    Sadly, he was not Daring Doo, nor did he know her (not that that was possible, she was fictional after all he reminded himself). He would just have to make do on his own.

    With no idea of where to even start his search, Big Mac sat down on the ground. He closed his eyes, letting the relative peace of the forest wash over him, listening to the ever small voice inside his head.

    He had been lost the last time he was here. He had been lost, and cold, and afraid.

    Opening his eyes, Big Mac stood. He knew what he needed to do. He needed to find the ledge that had almost killed him. Maybe there would be clues to wherever Trixie had taken off to.

    There had to be.

    Big Mac wasn't sure what he would do if there was nothing to be found. He had no idea where to go from there.

    Finding the ledge proved to be harder than he had first thought it would be. He had no reference points to where it might have been (he was lost the first time he had stumbled across it after all), and he was starting to think that the whole search of his was going to take much longer than he had expected.

    He found the ledge just as the sun was beginning to disappear behind the horizon. Big Mac had long since lost all of his fears for the forest. It wasn't the forest that had almost killed him after all, it had been his own stubbornness that had brought him so close to the edge.

    It looked completely different without its winters covering, just a simple thing of dirt and sparse grass, but Big Mac knew. This had almost been the death of him. The earth crumbled away at the edge as easily as rain fell from the sky, and he made sure to stay as far away from it as he possibly could. It was easy now that he was there to see that many before him had narrowly avoided the same mistake.

    Standing where he was away from the edge, Big Mac could see why it was so dangerous. It created the illusion that it continued onwards, a hill covered in trees, a deadly fall hidden just over the rise.

    Finding a way down to the clearing he knew lay beneath the ledge proved to be more difficult than he had imagined once he had found it. There wasn't an easy path down, and following the edge of the cliff in either direction didn't help. It was practically a sheer drop of forty or so feet, and he had no desire to have a second brush with death.

    By the time he had found a way down, the sun had disappeared and Luna's moon was rising into the sky full and bright, giving just enough light for Big Mac to find his way. It was almost a mile away from the ledge he had taken a tumble over, and he had to follow the cliff face all the way back, taking it slow and steady. He didn't have the best vision in the night.

    "It has been a long time since Trixie has seen another pony."

    Big Mac startled, barely keeping himself from shouting in surprise. The voice had come from right behind him.

    Spinning around, Big Mac found Trixie standing behind him. She looked at him with no sign of recognition, but the childlike smile on her face and the way her eyes lit up made him think she probably didn't see him as a threat.

    "Trixie," he said, a pang of relief shooting through him at the sight of her. "What are you doing out here all on your own?"

    She was all on her own. Trixie stood as naked as any other pony, without the garb that his sister and her friends had assured him she wore everywhere. Her light blue mane curled perfectly, and her coat gleamed in the moonlight, making it appear as if she almost glowed.

    "Trixie is not alone!" She clapped her hooves together, edging closer to the stallion. An innocent look of relief on her face, she looked genuinely pleased to see him. "Trixie is with you!"

    Big Mac's heart skipped a beat at that, and he couldn't help but return her smile with one of his own.

    "What happened, Trixie?" Big Mac asked softly. He wanted to know, why had she not come with him the whole way to Ponyville? Why had she left him on his own, injured and half delirious, to make the rest of the journey on his own through the freezing cold. "Why didn't you come with me?"

    "Trixie does not know what you are talking about," she said, flicking her mane as if to punctuate the point. "Trixie has never met you before in her entire life."

    That stopped whatever Big Mac was going to say right in its tracks. How was he supposed to respond to a statement like that?

    "You..." Big Mac looked into her eyes, trying to find any sign of deception. "You saved my life. Why are you saying that?"

    "Trixie did no such thing!" She wasn't harsh about it. The way she spoke made Big Mac want to believe that no, she had never met him before and he had gotten himself back to Ponyville all on his own.

    He didn't believe that, but as each moment passed he certainly believed that Trixie did.

    Big Mac sat back on his haunches, watching the showmare carefully.

    "What is your name, kind stallion?" She asked, eying him over carefully, not lustfully, but there was a hint of desperation to her voice. "Trixie wishes to know."

    "Big Macintosh." He didn't know why he was humoring her, but he didn't have it in him to try and fight against whatever madness had fallen over Trixie. It was entirely possible that she would reveal what had befallen herself just through normal conversation. If he just knew what was wrong, he could go to his sister and she and the rest of the Elements of Harmony could magic it all better. It was what they did after all. "You can call me Big Mac."

    "Big Macintosh." Trixie seemed to ponder over his name, as if she was rolling it about in her mouth like a fine wine. "Trixie likes it. It suits you. You are indeed big!"

    Big Mac blushed, but he felt an anger filling up inside his chest. Whatever was going on, he had a feeling that it was not Trixie's fault. He couldn't help but think that she was the victim of whatever this was, and he wanted to do nothing more than help her.

    She deserved it after all. She saved his life.

    "Trixie," Big Mac had the feeling that if he could make her listen to what he had to say, everything would be alright. She would snap back to normal, and he could take her back to Ponyville to help her just like she had helped him. His heart went out to the confused mare, and he fell just a little bit more in love. "Trixie, please listen to me."

    "Trixie shall listen to you, Big Macintosh." She focused her ears forward at him and watched him as if he might disappear if she didn't keep an eye on him.

    "Last winter, you saved my life." He had absolutely no clue on how to go about getting her to believe him, but he had to start somewhere. "I fell from the ledge above us and broke my leg. If you hadn't been here, I would have died, be it from blood loss or freezing."

    Trixie watched him and looked as he pointed a good at the ledge. She looked back down at him, scrunching her muzzle up in confusion.

    "Trixie..." She gave a small frustrated huff. "Trixie must confess that she does not remember. Trixie has been having a hard time remembering much after..."

    "After what?" Big Mac asked, trying to urge her to continue.

    "Trixie does not remember, Big Macintosh." She gave him a small shrug. "Trixie has accepted this."

    "You shouldn't have to." Big Mac shuffled forward, putting a gentle hoof on Trixie's shoulder.

    Trixie leaned into his touch, a blush forming on her cheeks. "Trixie does not know what is wrong. Trixie simply cannot remember. Trixie forgets and forgets and forgets!"

    She slammed a forehoof against the ground in anger, tears welling in her eyes.

    "You told me that you wished that you'd done things differently. You said that you wished you had made more friends instead of trying to drive everyone away." Big Mac watched her carefully, hoping to see some form of recognition in her face. "I invited you to come stay at my farm."

    Trixie stared at him for the longest time, as if there was something deep inside her that knew all of this was true, she just couldn't view outside of her subconscious.

    "You..." She spoke slowly, her face scrunched together as she tried as hard as possible to remember. She believed him, but it just wasn't there."you invited Trixie to stay... At your farm?"

    Big Mac nodded, giving her a small smile. "The offer still stands. You're welcome to come with me. You can get help for your memories. Twilight Sparkle will be able to help."

    "Twilight..." Trixie almost seemed to recognize the name, but there was no recognize. She formed herself, shaking her head. "Nopony can help Trixie. Nopony can help me."

    "Yes!" Big Mac stood, nodding to her. "Yes we can."

    "No." Trixie gave him a sad smile, full of regret and things that could have been. "No you can't."

    Dipping her head, Trixie sighed. "I remember. I am glad you are alright Big Mac, but you can't help me. Twilight Sparkle can't help. Princess Celestia herself wouldn't be able to help me."

    "I think you're wrong, Trixie." He hated to see any mare in such a conflicted state of mind. Seeing one whom he could see himself loving was even worse. "Please, come with me back to Ponyville. We can help you."

    "I can help you." Big Mac have her a reassuring smile, leaning forward to nuzzle against her cheek. She closed her eyes at his nuzzle, clenching them painfully as he pulled away.

    "No, Big Mac." She took a step back from him, and he could see regret written across her face. "I remember. I don't need help."

    "Yes you do!" Big Mac could see that he was losing her. "There is nothing to be ashamed of. Everypony needs help from time to time. You helped me, it's only fair that I do the same for you!"

    She smiled, a sad look that filled her eyes. "I'm sorry that we couldn't have met sooner."

    "Just..." Trixie let out a breath, hanging her head low. "Just take me somewhere nice."

    Before Big Mac could even ask what she had meant by that, Trixie had turned around disappeared into the darkness of the forest around them.

    "Trixie!" Big Mac called out to the mare, rushing after her. "Trixie, come back!"

    He ran fast, but even though Trixie had been only moving at a slow walk, he could find no sign of her.


    There was no sign of the magician, and Big Mac felt lost and confused. He just wanted to help.

    He slowed, then came to a stop, his heart racing in his chest. "Trixie..."

    Dropping back onto his haunches, Big Mac stared out into forest around, unable to see more than a few feet thanks to the meager light from the moon.

    What was he supposed to do now? He had tried his best, but she didn't want to go with him. There was nothing he could do. He supposed that he needed to return to Hoofington to get a room for the night. He would try to find her one more time to convince her to come with him before returning to Ponyville. Trixie might need someone to help her, but his family needed him too.


    The next morning did not bring any clarity to Big Mac. He was still as confused as he had been the night before and he wondered what had gone so wrong. What had made Trixie so afraid, so forgetful?

    He had barely slept at all during the night, and he had tossed and turned in the bed until the sun rose. It wasn't the first time that he had gone several days without sleep, and he was sure it wouldn't be the last.

    When he had returned from the forest, Big Mac had found that all of the hotels were full. Instead, he spent the night crashing on Star's couch. He had shared a quiet cup of coffee with her before she left for work and he headed back out into the forest.

    Finding the ledge was much easier the second time. It only took him a little over half an hour, and another ten minutes or so to make it down into the clearing.

    In the morning's light, Big Mac found no sign of Trixie. He only found his own hoofprints from the night before.

    Sitting back on his haunches, Big Mac sat still, letting the world move on without him, even just for a little while. The birds flitted through the branches, the bugs buzzed through the underbrush, and the rabbits and mice hopped about. They paid him no mind, but they were careful to avoid entering the clearing themselves.

    Raising an eyebrow, Big Mac felt curiosity rising in him, even through the sadness that filled him. What was special about this clearing? What made it so that no creature to even step inside?

    Looking for what felt like the first time, Big Mac studied the clearing around him. A thin layer of undergrowth covered everything, centered around the old fire pit that Trixie had built six months ago. Small outcropping a of rocks dotted the edge at uneven intervals.

    Big Mac paused, looking harder at a strange lump, partially covered by moss and dirt. It didn't fit with the rest of the clearing, out of place.

    Standing, Big Mac stepped forward, wanting to get a closer look at whatever it was.

    As a farm pony, Big Mac was no stranger to death. His parents had died shortly after Apple Bloom's birth, a freak accident with the Everfree forest. As the stallion of the farm, he had buried the families previous dog after it had died in its sleep. He had been the first to discover that Daisy the cow had perished in a Timberwolf attack, and he had to be strong for sisters.

    Even having lived through all of that, Big Mac had never actually seen a dead pony.

    A dead pony like the one that he now found before him.

    The 'lump' that he had spotted, so incongruous to the clearing around it, was the skeletal remains of a pony. A unicorn by the look of the shattered horn remnant on its skull.

    He wanted to run. He wanted to shout, he wanted to vomit. Big Mac instead did none of those thing s, staring down at the tattered remains of a violet cloak with yellow and blue stars wrapped around the skeleton's neck, clumped and stained bits of blue fur scattered around the body.

    He didn't want it to be true, but he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the body before him had once been the pony named Trixie Lulamoon.


    After he had found the skeleton, Big Mac did not think about what that had meant for his encounters with Trixie. He had instead mindlessly returned to Hoofington, where he rented a cart and bought fine silk sheets before searching out for Star Twinkle.

    "Star!" Big Mac found her going over her work in the observatory.

    "Big Mac?" She looked at him in confusion. "What are you doing here?"

    He couldn't speak. I found the mare I might have loved, and she's dead. He didn't say that. He couldn't open his mouth. He couldn't say anything.

    "Mac?" She noticed the stallion's expression for the first time. "Are you alright? Is something wrong?"

    He nodded, hating how the ball of emotions that had appeared in his chest made him fell. "I... I need..."

    "What, Mac?" Star asked softly, stepping forward to nuzzle her friend supportively. "What do you need?"

    Big Mac nodded again. It pained him slightly that he couldn't take care of everything on his own, but he couldn't, and Star Twinkle was good folk. He could trust her with this.

    "I..." He struggled against himself. "Please, just come with me."

    Star studied him carefully for a moment. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she gave a short nod. "Alright."

    Big Mac led Star Twinkle out the clearing. They walked in silence, him unable to speak, and her somehow sensing his mood. She reacted worse than him when he showed her Trixie's body, having to run out of the clearing to empty her stomach of the meager breakfast she had eaten. Big Mac had rubbed soothing circles on her back until she got all four of her hooves firmly back under her.

    With Star Twinkle's help, Big Mac got all of Trixie's remains gently wrapped in the silk sheet that he had bought. They walked back to town together, where they went to the town's morgue. The rest of the day turned into a blur for Big Mac, with only the vague memory of filling out reams of paperwork and being interviewed by some pony or ponies.

    The one thing that had stood out for him was the moment when they had wanted to bury Trixie in the community graveyard. That would simply not do. She had saved his life, even if she had somehow returned from the beyond to do so. He had brokered no argument from the stuffy mayor and morticians.

    It took nearly a week, but in the end, they gave in to Big Mac. Why wouldn't they? Trixie Lulamoon had no living relatives, no will, and nothing to her name.

    Big Mac buried her under the first tree he had planted at Sweet Apple Acres. There was no better place he could think of for the mare whose life had gone so wrong. It overlooked the east orchard, with the prettiest view of the farm. The sun rises cast beautiful colors across the sky.

    Big Mac spent a lot of his days sitting next to Trixie's grave, thinking or reading. Sometimes out of the corner of his eyes, he could swear that he saw her sitting next to him, but whenever her turned to look there would be nothing there. He often wondered on what might have been.

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