Night had fallen in Equestria. Sweet, cool air drifted in through the windows, carrying with it the sound of crickets. The soft glow of moonlight muted the normally bright colors of the cushions and blankets that decorated the little house. Brick red rugs covered the wooden floors, and various tiny animal beds and cages cluttered the room.
A yellow pegasus with pink hair gently set a tiny box onto a table next to a window. “Good evening, sleepyhead,” Fluttershy cooed. “Come on out.”
A beetle crawled up onto the edge of the box and blinked a green light at her from its abdomen.
“You’re welcome!” When she had found the firefly that morning, it had been exhausted and droopy, its light flashing rapidly in distress. Now it looked hale and healthy, much to Fluttershy’s delight. “See? A little rest and some good, nutritious nectar fixed you right up. Go on, little one, it’s night now. Time to go join your friends!”
With one more little flash of thanks, the tiny creature opened up its wings and buzzed away. It quickly became lost among the rest of the blinking green lights that danced in the night outside.
Fluttershy stifled a yawn, but stayed at the window for a moment longer, taking in the beauty of the evening. She smiled up at the moon. “Another perfect night. I’ll have to remember to thank Princess Luna the next time I see her.”
Finally, she closed the window and walked towards her bed, wings folded tight at her sides. She paused to tuck a blanket in around the little white bunny already asleep. “Goodnight, Angel.” Another yawn, and Fluttershy flew upstairs to bed, ready to drift off and experience sweet dreams.
A knock on the door roused her.
“Who in Equestria could that be?” She frowned and checked her cutie mark. No glow, so there was no emergency summons from the Cutie Map to follow. What else could be so important as to come by so late?
She made it downstairs to the living room when the front door burst open, backwards, as if the doorknob were a hinge and the hinges didn’t exist. In the doorway stood a creature with a long, furry body, the head of a goat, the tail of a dragon, and various mismatched limbs. “Why, Fluttershy, it’s meee!” Discord posed with a touch of flair before he waltzed into the house.
In fact, Discord literally waltzed. Phantom music rang out in 3/4 time while he sashayed around with an invisible partner. Once he reached Fluttershy, he swept her up and danced a few spins with her. She squeaked in surprise.
Discord released her and Fluttershy dropped dizzily into an overstuffed chair. “Goodness! Discord, you know I’m always happy to see you, but—”
Discord beamed in a toothy grin, his mismatched dracoequus body curling up, serpentine, on another chair. “Of course you’re happy to see me! I’ve been gone for nearly two weeks, I can only imagine that you missed me terribly . Why, I—” He paused, his face frozen, and then his eyes narrowed at her. “ But? ”
Fluttershy shrunk down in a vain attempt to meld into her chair. “But. Um. Well.” She paused, looking for the words. “It is a bit, um...” Her voice got very tiny. “...late?”
Discord blinked. He tapped the side of his mouth with one talon, then reached into nothingness and pulled out a giant gold pocket watch with six hands. The hands spun around several times, and then a cuckoo burst out of it with its signature cry. The device exploded into springs and the cuckoo flew into a window, bounced off the glass, then opened a piece of the wall and disappeared into the night. The wall closed behind it and sealed back up neatly.
“So it is!” cried Discord. “Oh, my dear, dear Fluttershy, my deepest apologies.” He wrung the paw of his right hand together with the talons of his left. “You’re quite right. I just got back from vacation and had no idea what time it was! But I simply couldn’t wait to give you your gift.”
Fluttershy always strove to give Discord the benefit of the doubt, really she did. He was, after all, her friend. But sometimes his idea of what constituted a good idea was a bit different from that of anypony else. So she had to modulate her voice carefully to make sure that no hint of skepticism entered it at all. “My gift?”
“Oh, yes! Of course. It’s tradition, you know.” A puff of smoke surrounded him, and when it cleared he was dressed in a snappy black tuxedo, complete with top hat. He whisked the hat off of his head, turned it upside down, and reached inside. “Voila!” He pulled a large brown rabbit out of his hat.
Oh, dear. Angel is going to be jealous of a new bunny. Wait, does that rabbit have...antlers?
Discord set the creature down on the floor. “It’s called a jackalope, according to the very nice man I got him from.”
Fluttershy couldn’t help herself; excitement rose in her heart. Was this a new type of animal she had never seen before? “Oh! Thank you, Discord!” She hopped off of her chair, wings spread in an unconscious display of energy, and leaned in to inspect it.
It didn’t move, not a muscle. Even its eyes seemed still, staring glassily in front of it.
Fluttershy tilted her head, a flash of concern taking hold. “Is...is he okay?”
“Oh! My goodness.” Discord peered down at the jackalope. “I almost forgot.” He tapped it lightly, and Fluttershy could almost swear she saw a flash of magic burst for just a second. “He’s tired from the trip. But as you can see, he’s just fine!”
The jackalope blinked twice and shook its head.
Fluttershy sighed as relief filled her. For a moment, she had been afraid that the poor thing might have been ill, or worse. “Hello there, little guy! My name is Fluttershy. Welcome to my home.”
The jackalope stared at her with one eye while the other’s gaze meandered around the room. “Meeeh!” it said.
“Fabulous, you’re already getting acquainted.” Discord clicked his front claws together with glee. “Now, I know you must be terribly tired, so I shan’t keep you up any longer. I have more gifts to deliver. See you later, bestie!” He waggled his fingers in a good-bye gesture and disappeared.
“Oh! Um. Okay. Good...good night,” said Fluttershy.
“Meeeeh,” said the jackalope.