All for the Best

by TheTwientist

Chapter 1

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It was a cold, dark night in Cloudsdale. The wind was not blowing very hard, but the strongest gusts were still enough to cut through a pony's hide, straight down to the bone. It was the kind of night that nopony should have been out in.

But it would have to do, because there was no other option.

There was nopony in sight - unless you counted the Mare in the Moon, who stared out over all Equestria and had done so for nigh on a thousand years. The thought that she might be up there watching them was not a very comforting one.

The two pegasi drifted slowly over their high-altitude hometown. They knew that it had to be done, but they were still filled with dread, trying to put off the inevitable for as long as possible.

The town seemed more beautiful in the moonlight. The clouds have strange reflective qualities that refract the moonlight, giving them a ghostly, etheral quality. The effect was not well known by non-pegasi, which was just the way they wanted it.

It was all so lovely, in a bleak sort of way. It made the two still more reluctant to keep going, as if they hadn't been already.

But at last their destination drew near. It was a large two-story building, but with a rather heavy look to it, by Cloudsdale standards. By rights it could have been much taller and airier, but buildings of this type all seemed to be gloomy, no matter where they were.

A solitary light shone through the window in one of the first-story rooms, but it was far from the front door, where the two pegasi alighted.

"We're here," said the first, a male. The words had a deafening finality to them. The moonlight revealed his scarlet mane and lithe but muscular frame. His legs, which were still a bit too long in proportion to his body, betrayed his age; he was certainly too old to be a colt, but wasn't quite a full-grown stallion yet.

His companion trotted slowly up next to him. It was smaller, with the delicate lines of a mare. Her eyes were red from crying, and her purple mane was dishevelled. She was just as young as the stallion. Standing beside him, she leaned her head against his neck and sniffled.

"It's the only way," he said, but his voice cracked slightly. The treacherous moonlight betrayed the glint of a tear in his eye.

The mare sniffed and nodded. Standing up as tall as she could, she reached her head back and retrieved her package.

It was strapped to her back like a saddlebag, but what she bore was much more fragile. She nuzzled the small, warm bundle. Gently, she grasped the edge with her mouth and lifted it.

Bringing it back around, she trotted slowly towards the door. The stallion followed her. The door seemed just as imposing as the rest of the building. It was a gaping maw, ready to scoop up anything in its reach.

But the cloud beneath it was soft. The mare focused at the doorstep. It was cushy, and it wouldn't be too cold. It would do. It would have to do. She concentrated hard on it, pushing all thoughts out of her mind.

She was only a few feet away when she felt the bundle begin to shake and rustle. She tried to ignore it.

A small squeak came from wthin the cloth. That was enough to break what little composure the mare retained.

"She's waking up!" the mare whispered urgently through the cloth. The stallion stopped abruptly and stood beside her.

The mare gently lowered the bundle to the ground. Pulling away the cloth, she gazed at the bundle's contents.

The filly shook its head and blinked its eyes, surveying its new surroundings. This cold, dark place was far different from the soft, warm home that it had known for all of its brief life. It squeaked in confusion, straining to lift its head and peer around.

It was young, extremely young. Its head had the typical non-proportionality of fillies a few weeks old, and its wings were less than useless for flying. Its fur was so insubstantial that it wouldn't have kept a mouse warm. Its mane, longer than the norm, just made it look even more delicate. It was completely and utterly defenseless.

Most fillies' visions aren't very good in the daylight, let alone the night. Its eyes widened as it searched in vain for somepony, anypony, to provide comfort in this strange place. A tear blossomed in its eye. Its front legs flailed at nothing, and its long mane flopped over its eyes.

The mare's heart practically broke. She leaned in close, nudging the filly's mane away. "Shhhhh," she whispered. "It's okay, Mommy's here." She nuzzled it gently.

The filly took several moments to process what it saw, but soon the panic in the filly's eyes was washed away as it saw its mother leaning over it. It squeaked once more, this time in relief, and reached its front legs out, trying to grab her mother's face.

The stallion leaned in close, checking to see that the filly was alright. He tried his best to keep his eyes emotionless as he gazed at the tiny thing.

"She's . . . shivering," he said quietly, almost afraid to let himself hear the words. Indeed, the filly, without her protective blanket, was feeling the effects of the wind. She shook uncontrollably, pulling its wings in close in an effort to keep warm and reaching for the protection of her mother.

The mare sat down and scooped the filly into her forelimbs. She cradled her child like all mothers have since the beginning of Equestria, hugging it close, trying to keep it warm.

Gradually it stopped shaking, and cuddled up against the warmth of its mother's hide, gazing into her eyes with the purest of affection. This was its world, warmth against her fur and the protective cradle of her mother's body. This was the only truly safe place anywhere for it.

The mare looked at the stallion. She spoke no words, but her eyes said all.

"We should . . . try to get her back to sleep," said the stallion, averting his gaze.

The mare looked down at the filly, which was still looking up at her with its big, dark eyes.

"Shhh . . ." she murmured.

"Hush now, quiet now,
it's time to lay your sleepy head.
Hush now, quiet now,
it's time to go to bed."

There was more to the song, she knew, but she hadn't heard it in years, so she just kept repeating the same verse. The filly blinked its eyes, staring at her with complete trust. It fluttered its tiny wings and gave a great squeaky yawn, before its eyes closed and its head drooped.

The mare continued singing, quieter, for a bit longer, then gently lowered the filly back onto her blanket and bundled it up. It slumbered on, undisturbed by the motion.

"We can't do this," said the mare.

"Do what?" asked the stallion.

"Give her up. We can't. I can't, at least."

The stallion sat down beside her. "We have to. I don't like it any more than you do, but it's what we have to do."

"We could keep it!" insisted the mare, tears glistening in her eyes. "We can take it back, and raise it."

"No we can't!" said the stallion. "Our parents are furious as is! Just think what they'll do if we decide to keep it! Besides, neither of us has a job, and I'm in the middle of flight school. There's no way we could raise it. This is a good place. The mare who runs it is a kind pony. It will be fine."

"She," snarled the mare. "She, not it! This is a filly! Our filly! We can't toss it aside like some piece of garbage."

"We have to do this," said the stallion obstinately, looking the mare straight in the eyes.

"I'm not putting this filly on that doorstep," said the mare. "You want it done so badly, you do it yourself."

The stallion looked at the ground. A single tear ran down his face. Then he picked up the bundle with his daughter inside it, trotted over to the doorstep, and gently deposited it on the ground.

The mare, shocked, said nothing for quite a while.

At last she got up and walked up next to the stallion, who was still staring at the bundle.

"I hate you," she spat through tears.

"Me too," said the stallion mournfully, putting one leg over her shoulders as she broke down sobbing.

After several minutes, the mare wiped her eyes and looked around. The filly had not been disturbed by their argument, and was still sleeping peacefully.

"We should go," said the mare quietly. "Dawn's not far off."

The stallion nodded imperceptibly. He bent down and kissed the filly on her forehead, murmuring, "Goodbye, little one."

The mare followed suit. She looked down at her daughter, small, defenseless, and delicate. Unable to protect herself. Completely dependent on just two ponies.

Who were now abandoning her.

"It's the best for everyone this way," called the stallion.

The mare knew, in her heart of hearts, that he was right. But that didn't make it any easier.

She gently stroked the filly's mane. "I love you so much," she whispered.

The filly stretched and made a single sound.

"Mmmaaammaa." A gentle sigh, barely even a word.

The mare smiled just a tiny bit. She stood up to leave, but as she did so, she was struck by an idea. But how could she do it? She had no pen, no parchment, not even ink! She glanced down at the cloud beneath her hooves. It would have to do.

She scratched out some markings into the ground. The cloud was surprisingly pliable, and she managed to complete her task fairly quickly. She stepped back to judge her work. It was crude, but certainly legible. And nigh-impossible to miss.

"Farewell, my darling," she said, and trotted off to join the stallion. They looked at each other, then took off back into the night.

The mare allowed herself one last look back at the orphanage. The bundle with a filly in it was just a beige dot, but even from a distance, she could still make out the word.


Author's Note: This is an example of what happens when I try too hard to be dramatic. It's completely different from my oher fic. I just wanted to make people sad about a cute little filly. Yeah.

So what do you think?

Next Chapter: Epilogue Estimated time remaining: 7 Minutes
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