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Bramble Rose

[Ponyville] Flying Lessons for Royalty [closed - ask for invite]

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The stars of the night sky swirled overhead, the moon glowing over the landscape below, but with the sky just beginning to lighten in the first hints of morning - the sky could not even be said to be colouring yet, but the darkness was just slightly less dark to one side. The first tiny spark of light appeared over that lightening horizon, but it was not the sun - no, it was just Rainbow Dash, flying along swiftly with a lantern clamped in her jaw. Her mane was just a little bit mussed, for she hadn't taken even her usual minimal care to groom that morning. As far as she was concerned, she'd overslept!

Ugh, this was going to be brutal. She'd gone to bed early, but she'd barely had nine and a half hours of sleep. Still, she'd gone on less at the Wonderbolts Acadamy, she could do this.

She landed lightly on the upper balcony of Twilight's home, where the purple unicorn could often be seen reading in the warm sunlight, and took a deep breath to ready herself. Well. Unicorn no more. That was the whole point of this, wasn't it?

She burst in through the balcony doors and into Twilight's bedroom, that gathered breath already bellowing in her best imitation Spitfire drill sergeant voice. [colour=#0000cd]"ALLLLLL RIGHT, YOU LAZY PILES! CELESTIA'S HAVING BREAKFAST AND I DON'T SEE WHY YOU SHOULD SLEEP ANY LONGER THAN HER!"[/colour] Mmmmm, sleep sounded SO good... [colour=#0000cd]"UP YOU GET, TIME TO GET GOING!"[/colour] She gave a good solid *kick* at the frame of Twilight's bed to emphasize her words.

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After a long night of reading there were few things that Twi loved more than her warm bed. It had only been a few hours since she went to bed and even less since she managed to fall asleep. Sleeping with wings was weird and new for Twi, who was very much used to having her back free of appendages and very comfortable to sleep on.

Twilight's peaceful sleep was suddenly interrupted by Dash flying through her balcony and yelling like a crazy drill sergeant.

She screamed, flailed and then fell out of her bed. Her wings briefly flapping around spraying a few feathers before she realized it was only Rainbow Dash. [colour=#800080]"Ohmygosh Dash! you scared me."[/colour] Twi said sleepily while rubbing her eyes. The purple pony carefully got herself up from the pile of books that she landed in (which had been a nice neat stack, before). A quick, absentminded bit of magic and the books were restored to their previous positions and Twi was feeling a little more awake.

Today was going to be her first flying lesson! She definitely needed some coaching. Suddenly growing new limbs and trying to learn how to use them was not very easy. Also, there were no books about how to be an alicorn. This princess stuff was going to be tricky.

[colour=#800080]"Okay"[/colour] she yawned [colour=#800080]"I guess I'm ready whenever you are, Dash."[/colour]

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[colour=#ff4080]Fluttershy fought hard to avoid yawning as she trotted toward the library. She didn't know why Rainbow Dash had insisted on meeting quite this early in the morning, but Fluttershy was used to odd working hours; not all animals were awake during the daytime, after all. But she was carrying a basket in her mouth, and didn't want to drop it by accident.

As she neared the tree that housed Ponyville's library, as well as Equestria's newest Princess, Fluttershy heard shouting coming from the balcony above. Then, there was a sudden crash, and then sound of somepony falling to the floor? Concerned, Fluttershy knocked at the front door, but got no answer. Nervously, the pegasus flew up to the balcony outside Twilight's bed room. Normally, she was too polite to just drop in, but the noises had her worried.

Poking her head around the door, Fluttershy saw Rainbow Dash confronting a sleepy-looking Twilight. Uncertainly, Fluttershy put down the basket and squeaked out, "Um, good morning? I-is everything OK in here? I, um, brought tea, and muffins..." [/colour]

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Rainbow Dash blinked as Twilight just blearily got out of bed and treated this like any other day. Didn't she understand? This wasn't any other day! This was the most Awesome day of her life! Learning to FLY! Was there any more important day?

Of course, Dash's first morning at the Wonderbolts Academy wasn't much better. She'd actually woken up only when Spitfire had thrown ice-water over her. Apparantly, she'd slept right through two minutes worth of Spitfire's best drill-sergeant voice right in her ear. Spitfire had given the whole group fifty laps around the mountaintop before breakfast for that one. Dash wasn't sure if Twilight was up to fifty laps - or even five laps round the Library, for that matter. And she had to make sure Twilight learned properly, or else she'd never know the awesomeness of being an awesome flier! She had to be hard!

[colour=#0000cd]"Oh, sure,"[/colour] Dash drawled sardonically to Fluttershy. [colour=#0000cd]"We'll have a lovely little tea-party and talk all about what colts we like and put bows in each other's manes ... JUST AS SOON AS TWILIGHT CAN BEAT ME TO CLOUDSDALE WHERE WE'LL HAVE THE TABLE SET UP!"[/colour] She spun around and faced Twilight, pointing a hoof at her and blowing the whistle around her neck. [colour=#0000cd]"NOW DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY WING-UPS! EARN THAT BREAKFAST!"[/colour]

Conversationally, then, suddenly losing the attitude, she smiled to Fluttershy and merrily chirped,[colour=#0000cd] "Good mornin'! I think I'll have a cup of that! Did you bring my favorite Apple Mint Tea?"[/colour]
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Twilight waved to Fluttershy as she poked her head into the bedroom. Twi wasn't entirely used to anypony dropping in on her balcony. Although, now that she had wings it would be a totally viable new entrance to the house for her... once she actually learned how to use them. Being a princess did have it's perks.

Just as soon as everything got quiet, Dash started yelling again. Twi was sure she could hear some birds flying out of the nearby trees, she had a feeling that they didn't like the noise either.

With a bit of an exasperated look on her face she turned to Dash and said [colour=#800080]"Okay, okay! wing-ups... but do you have to yell like that?"[/colour] Twi was sure that yelling was some kind of motivational tactic for Dash, but it was really just throwing her off. Mornings were not usually very loud around the library. Thankfully Spike was already out, if he had gotten woken up like this he'd be a grumpy dragon all day.

After a sigh, Twilight dropped to the wooden floor and started doing the most pathetic wing-ups ever.

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[colour=#ff4080]Fluttershy looked at Rainbow Dash in confusion. "But, Rainbow, I thought you didn't like putting bows in your..." she began, but was interrupted by Rainbow's shout. Fluttershy felt her mane being blown back from the force of her friend's voice. She stood, stunned for a moment, as Rainbow began yelling orders at Twilight. Then, suddenly, Rainbow changed again, asking about the tea. Still stunned, Fluttershy stammered out "W-w-well, y-yes, I did bring apple mint, b-but..."[/colour]

[colour=#ff4080]She paused, suddenly realizing what Rainbow was doing. She'd seen Rainbow coach other ponies like this before, but she was somehow louder now. Maybe she'd picked that up from the Wonderbolts camp? Either way, it didn't sit right with Fluttershy. "Now Rainbow Dash, you shouldn't shout at Twilight like that!" she said firmly, "She's our friend, and she's a Princess! And..." Fluttershy looked at Twilight, feebly trying to lift herself off the ground with her wingtips. Fluttershy was reminded of herself, not-so long ago, when she had started training for Tornado Duty. "Oh my..." she said, sympathetically. "Um, Twilight, have you done any exercises with your wings before?" Turning to Rainbow, Fluttershy said, "Maybe we should go outside and do some warm ups first? I would hate for Twilight to get herself hurt during her first lesson!"[/colour]

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Rainbow Dash groaned softly, watching those wing-ups. That was pathetic! Those were the worst - she glanced at Fluttershy. Almost the worst wing-ups she'd ever seen! And neither of them were acting the way she'd thought they'd act. This was supposed to be awesome! She was gonna train Twilight to be the second-best flier in Equestria!

She cringed before Fluttershy's reproving glare, her hoof twisting, pressing at the floor. She glanced away... [colour=#0000cd]"But Fluttershy,"[/colour] she tried to argue, [colour=#0000cd]"This is how-"[/colour] she glanced up again, and the words stopped in her throat. Argh! [colour=#0000cd]"B-but..."[/colour] she tried again, unable to meet Fluttershy's gaze.

Her hoof scraped over the floor nervously, and she groaned. [colour=#0000cd] "Awwww, comon! I had this all planned out! You guys ..."[/colour] She let out a sigh, deflating, her wings drooping to the floor. [colour=#0000cd]"This is what training's supposed to be like! It's part of the fun of it ... she never got the chance to do it up in Cloudsdale, like we got to! I just wanted to make sure she got some of what it means to be a pegasus ..."[/colour]

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Twilight wasn't the most physically gifted of mares in any circumstance, even if becoming an Alicorn had given her a leg-up (literally) on most others her age. This went double for her wings, which she had only flown on a grand total of once and that was in some sort of joy-filled stupor. Her wings were regal but weak, and her wing-ups were evidence of that. She strained at every one, her body shaking with effort as she let out a grunt. Around her Rainbow Dash was blasting her frame with all the vocal power that seemed to be her greatest motivational tool and Fluttershy came to Twilight's defense with her soft, kind tones and desires. Only that approach could calm Rainbow Dash and the headstrong, strong-winged pegasus came down several octaves.

She was right, though. Twilight lacked more than just experience and wing muscles that were barely functional, let alone the experience with them that any pegasus had. Twilight believed that Rainbow Dash had hit the nail on the head- she didn't have the upbringing, the comfort that came with a lifetime of feeling the wings at your side or using muscles that to Twilight seemed unnatural and awkward. She was a rare breed who dealt with problems that nopony else dealt with, and it would require solutions that nopony else could come up with besides Twilight and her friends...and probably Celestia as well, but she was busy enough. Besides, you didn't want to steal the thunder from creatures who could cause lightning, did you?

Twilight gave a final grunt and fell to the ground with a thud, sweating.

[colour=#4B0082]"Ahh, no- I haven't done anything with my wings at all, Fluttershy. I was actually waiting for you two to help teach me...everything I can find about learning to fly regards teaching foals, fillies, and colts how to fly, and my wings-" [/colour]Twilight emphasized, flapping ineffectually her unpreened wings, [colour=#4b0082]"are too large for the majority of what they suggest. Besides,"[/colour] She smiled, picking herself up and smiling at her friends,[colour=#4b0082] "I have the two best flight instructors in all of Equestria, so I'm not worried. No, not worried at all,"[/colour]She trotted up to them, wings slowly folding behind a forced smile as sweat started to dampen her forehead. Next topic was chosen by the stomach.

[colour=#4b0082]"About that breakfast?"[/colour]

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[colour=#ff4080]Fluttershy watched as Rainbow Dash seemed to deflate. Part of her felt guilty for that; she didn't want to ruin Rainbow's fun. But the greater part of her remembered her own flight training. Rainbow had been a natural flyer, of course. Fluttershy... wasn't. She shivered inwardly at the memories; The drills, the shouting, the laughter of the other foals, the times when she'd been pushed off of a cloud...

Fluttershy put her hoof on Rainbow's shoulder and said, soothingly, "Don't worry, Rainbow, I'm sure you can make Twilight into a good flyer! But, just, lets take it easy, ok?"

Fluttershy turned back to Twilight, noting the sweat that was already forming on the unicorn... alicorn's brow. In the growing morning light, Fluttershy could also now see how unkempt her friend's feathers were. Most pegusii grew up learning how to preen and maintain their feathered wings. Twilight had had none of that, and it showed. A pegasus would be, well, rather embarrassed to have their feathers in that condition, not to mention the dangers of flying with feathers out of place. Thankfully, the basket that Fluttershy had brought with her contained more than just muffins and tea leaves. "Yes, I think we should all get a good breakfast before we get started!" she said. Turning to Rainbow Dash, she continued. "Then, I think we need to teach Twilight some stretches and exercises. I'd hate to think of what might happen if she got a cramp in the air! After that, um," Fluttershy paused, and began pulling brushes and oils from the basket, and putting them on Twilight's night table. "After that, I think we need to to cover, um, basic feather care. I'm sorry, Twilight, but your wings look terr... um, I mean, they don't look very good..."[/colour]

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Rainbow Dash let out another little sigh ... apparantly, neither of them realized that being yelled at could be fun. But then, Fluttershy never had quite 'fit in' up in the competitive atmosphere of Cloudsdale ... Dash had needed to really, really work to figure out how to motivate Fluttershy properly. And she still felt like she often failed her oldest friend.

But still. It wasn't like Dash had ever been a natural flyer. All the times she'd crashed, all the constant jibes and jeers of classmates at 'Rainbow Crash,' as she'd been working through the awkward years where she couldn't control herself very well ... late bloomer, she'd been tempted to give up so many times, but that 'can do' competitive spirit of Cloudsdale had kept her going out of pride!

And she was pretty sure that under that egghead exterior, Twilight had some of that competitive spirit, too - whatever had driven her to study hard enough to become the most magical unicorn ever, could probably also drive her to master flying and pegasus sports and give as well as she got!

But with Fluttershy there ready to be all ... Fluttershy ...

Dash clutched her hooves to the side of her head and let out a frustrated [colour=#0000cd]'Argh'[/colour] as her thoughts started circling too fast through all the possibilities and what-ifs and mental loops, branching off in way too many directions. Focus on the now, just the now! [colour=#0000cd]"Right, yeah, can't fly without well-kept wings!"[/colour] The only pride she had, her neatly groomed wings - she flared them out to either side and gave them a flap, demonstrating how neatly kept they were. [colour=#0000cd]"Fluttershy, I'll let you teach her about wing-care." [/colour] She sat down at the table digging out an apple muffin from Fluttershy's basket and taking a big bite. How to engage Twilight if she couldn't use the usual approach? [colour=#0000cd]"So, Twi, what interests you the most about being part pegasus now?"[/colour] she asked, a few crumbs flying from her mouth.

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With Rainbow Dash no longer pulling off her best drillpony routine, Twilight's nerves came fluttering back into place like feathers falling in a race. Thank Celestia that Fluttershy could work her way through Dash's immense, storm-like bluster, or Twilight would have ended the day without an ounce of strength left. Or she would have flipped out and hurt their friendship for a little while. In lieu of that, apple muffins were great. Twilight attacked hers slightly more ravenously than usual, the mix of nerves, a firm workout, and a break in routine providing her with a more devastating consumption onslaught. She listened as her friends came up with a schedule for her- stretches, pruning, then flying. While she was excited to learn how to fly, she was dreading Rainbow's excited methods of teaching. Oh well- she had agreed to this, no point in making a foal of herself now. Besides, it sounded like Dash was having a blast.

[colour=#4b0082]"Well, I don't really know," [/colour]Twilight started, stopping eating as she considered Dash's question. It was such a huge subject- flight and all the aerial artistry of the pegasi inherent in their kind. And now she had a fine pair of wings and with proper training, who knew what she could do? Wouldn't it be amazing if she turned out to be as talented in flight as in magic? No. No it would not, because Rainbow Dash would be heartbroken. And amazed, but heartbroken.

[colour=#4b0082]"I think just the sensation of flight. I've felt it a few times with these wings, but it's always been this...uncontrolled high, euphoric but it felt like it had a time limit. And that would be when I crashed into a spire or the floor or the ceiling..." [/colour]she trailed off, laughing nervously, [colour=#4b0082]"so, uhh, being able to fly without hurting myself or others is probably what I'm most excited about. And then learning how to make it rain!"[/colour]

Her attention turned to Fluttershy, who more or less insulted Twilight's wings. The Princess' wings shot out a bit as she inspected them, revealing that her attempts at pruning had gone over very poorly. It looked like a flying forest. Twilight blushed, the wings folding back in as snugly as she could.

[colour=#4b0082]"Yes, well...I think learning how to keep them clean would be a nice way to start, if that's what you want, Fluttershy," [/colour]Twilight sheepishly agreed, finishing her apple muffin with no great hurry. Eventually though she had to finish, and she stood up and opened up her regal, but unkempt wings.

[colour=#4b0082]"I'm ready to learn!"[/colour]

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[colour=#ff4080]As Rainbow and Twilight talked, Fluttershy zipped down the stairs to Twilight's kitchen to put on a kettle for the tea. She was grateful that Spike wasn't here this morning; she would have felt terrible if they had awoken the baby dragon, but it meant that Fluttershy had to get everything ready herself.[/colour]

[colour=#ff4080]After a few minutes she climbed back up to Twilight's bedroom, a tray balanced on her out-stretched wing. As she set the tray down, she heard Twilight announce[/colour]

[colour=#4b0082]"I'm ready to learn!"[/colour]

[colour=#ff4080]Fluttershy smiled widely. She rarely got a chance to take care of another pony's wing likes this. Goodness knows Rainbow Dash didn't allow her to primp and preen her wings. Soon, she was a pink and yellow blur buzzing around Twilight. As she worked, she explained all about the correct names for feathers; primaries, coverts, downy, blood feathers, etc. She went on about the importance of proper oiling, and how to properly dry out when the feathers got too wet. They'd have to go over things like imping and feather repair later, as Fluttershy could tell Rainbow was getting impatient.[/colour]

[colour=#ff4080]Finally, Fluttershy stood back, admiring Twilight's large purple wings. "There," Fluttershy announced with a satisfied smile, "That looks much better now!" After a moment though, the smile fell, and she realized what she had done. "Oh... Oh my, I'm so sorry," she began, her eyes wide, "I... I should have asked first... Its just... I never get to help with another pony's wings like that. Most of the birds already know how, and Rainbow takes care of her own feathers, and..." Fluttershy shuffled her hoof across the floor. "I didn't mean to be so rude..."[/colour]

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Dash grinned at shook her head, quite used to Fluttershy's eager delight in stuff like this, munching away at her muffin eagerly. "mmm... well, yeah," she said at the end, [colour=#0000cd]"Course I take care of my own! Look at these babies!"[/colour] She turned her back to Fluttershy and Dash and spread her wings wide, gave them a couple flaps, and then held them displayed for them. [colour=#0000cd] "Just so, just right. If you want to be the best at flying, your number one concern has to be your wings! S'why I'm so picky about them."[/colour] As if to demonstrate, she pulled her wings forward, peering suspiciously at them, and then nosed into the feathers to get a few of them settled just a little more perfectly, then flapped them again and settled them back against her side. [colour=#0000cd]"Course, usually you don't do this in public. It's considered a bit rude. But since we're teaching you about this stuff... just us pegasi."[/colour]

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Twilight had always thought Rainbow was the fastest Pegasi in all of Equestria. If not destroyed, that belief had at least been shaken as she experienced Fluttershy move like a blur around her, tugging and pulling at Twilight like a force of nature that she couldn't hope to stop. She started to protest multiple times as seemingly thousands of small jets of pain crackled into her and then left as quickly as they came, followed by her cleaning and then making them simply look better. She was also a fountain of knowledge, and though twilight had learned the vast majority of basic facts regarding wings and what made them up, hearing it was something entirely different. Plus books, as heretical as it was to think, sometimes weren't the best method of learning- not when you had access to two of Equestria's finest pegasi, at least. after Fluttershy was done, she started apologizing excessively, which meant that at least one thing was playing to script today. Twilight flapped a few times to test them out- they were amazing.

[colour=#4b0082]"Fluttershy, it's fine. You did a great job!"[/colour] She said patting Fluttershy in the back with her wing, a self-assured gesture if she could think of one, [colour=#4b0082]"my wings haven't felt this nice since...well...ever! They feel lighter and when I flap, I don't feel like I'm getting anything caught. Thank you, Fluttershy!"[/colour] She finished, hopefully lifting her friend's spirit. After all, Twilight knew she'd need an ally when drill instructor Dash made her return, which was coming up hard and fast and wasn't exactly an enticing prospect in any scenario. Speaking of, Dash did have gorgeous wings. She did care about them and it showed- not nearly as much as how fast she could go with them, but Twilight understood that as a pegasi it was all part of one grand picture. Like a machine or a spell, one gear turned the next, mind and matter becoming one- it was all the same, the Equestrian experience.

[colour=#4b0082]"Yeah, us pegasi,"[/colour] She gave a weak chuckle, "[colour=#4b0082]still getting used to that! But you're right, I've never seen anypony preen themselves in public. I never gave it thought- is it widely taught as a rule or is it more of a social construct?" [/colour]Twilight directed her question at Rainbow Dash without really meaning to.

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Fluttershy relaxed when she saw that Twilight was not upset. She knew she really shouldn't have worried; Twilight and Rainbow were some of her closest friends, after all. She wouldn't have felt nearly confident enough to groom somepony-else's wings like that. But, sometimes her nervousness still got the better of her. She was getting better though!

Speaking of that, Fluttershy recalled Rainbow's disappointment when she'd been asked to tone down her coaching. Looking around, Fluttershy saw that all three of them had gotten some tea and some breakfast. Maybe now it was time to let her brightly-colored friend take over.

She smiled at Twilight, taking pleasure in her complement. "You're welcome Twilight," she said, "I'm sorry if I rushed through things though. Maybe we can go over it again later. But now..." Fluttershy turned to Rainbow Dash. "... I think it's time for some training. Right, 'Coach?'"

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Rainbow Dash just let out an incomprehending 'uhhhhh' as she stared at Twilight, one eye smaller than the other. "I dunno!" she cried out at last, "We just... don't!" She shrugged helplessly, and popped the last bite of muffin into her mouth.

Just in time to get caught by Fluttershy's suggestion. "Mmmph, righ'!" she responded, a few crumbs spraying out. "Uh..."

Shoot! Her whole momentum had been totally blown. She swallowed and then blew an exasperated breath up at her overhanging red lock of mane. "Right, well ... I suppose that while we let our food settle, I could go over safety. Safety first! Being awesome comes later, and we'll totally get you to the 'being awesome' phase of things, but have you found anything in your books about safety procedures while flying?"

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Twilight nodded at Fluttershy as she pensively took the compliment from Twilight, one aspect of their friendship and her friend's personality remaining steadfast among a sea of change. Twilight flapped her wings a few more times, pleased with the results. Not only did it look better and feel better, but feathers weren't falling off of her like it was a bad comedy show. The first time that happened had been rather embarrassing as she had been part of a delegation, and admittedly she had kept her wings snug to her body ever since. She had quickly gotten over it- or thought she had, at least. Now that she could operate without any shame (at least on the ground), it made her acutely aware that she had missed out on such a vital experience due to it. She'd have to wrote a letter to...herself? Ah, she supposed not. Maybe she'd write a book instead? Yes, that'd be a perfect substitute! A book of her lessons. Back on topic, time for Danger Dash too not be so dangerous.

"Safety would be a good topic to learn, coach," a friendly giggle escaped as she kept her wings spread, "and if I'd trust anypony with knowing what is safe or not in the skies, it'd be you," Twilight ended with a compliment, even if the reason had more to do with her many accidents teaching her harsh lessons in the school of hard knocks. Luckily, Twilight wouldn't have to learn the same way- if she did, she was sure that everypony in authority would beg her to hire some fancy instructor and fly in some fancy course designed for it, but she didn't have the inclination nor desire to learn such skilld from anypony aside from the kindest pony she knew and the most effective flier in all of Equestria.

"So, what is the first safety lesson that every pegasus has to learn?"

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Rainbow Dash's chest puffed up with pride at the compliment. "Well," she said thoughtfully, "First thing we'll be teaching you once we start flying is how to fall correctly. But! First safety lesson we've actually sorta already covered - you can't fly properly without your wings. Keep your wings well-maintained at all times. Second: you can't fly if you don't know where you are. Keep aware of your surroundings at all times! That means that, especially as you're starting out - no night flying! You're going to be clumsy enough without having to try to figure out where everything is at night. An experienced flier can fly blind entirely by feeling how the wind currents are moving around the stuff around them, but you're not up to that yet!"

Dash paused a moment... trying to think back far enough. What was that list she'd been taught when she was a little kid? Ugh. "Never fly on an empty stomach if you can help it, avoid distractions ... ummm ... oh! No hauling loads or carrying saddlebags, when you're starting. Flying with a load is way different than flying by yourself. When you're starting off, always wear proper protection - and for flying, that means a flight helmet and flight goggles. Nothing bulky, make sure it fits!"

And with that, she reached back under her wings and pulled out an old leather helmet and a pair of battered goggles. "Tada! This is an old pair that I used to use back in the Weather Academy! I've kept hold of it for sentimental reasons... for today only, I thought you could use it! Sometime today we'll stop off and get you your very own pair."

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Twilight thought of life as a checklist of research or action items, a constant organizational task being updated and revised as new facts started to flow into her. Flying would be no different and as Rainbow Dash started to discuss safety with Twilight, her mind went into checklist mode.

Fall correctly? Not checked. Did not know yet, but then again that was perhaps a more advanced lesson that Twilight would learn later. It was important, or it seemed so, so it was at the top of her list- things that evaded her tended to take special stock of her attention.

Maintain wings? Checked! Thanks to Fluttershy, her wings were absolutely beautiful and she knew what to do. Properly maintained wings would keep her aerodynamic performance just right.

Keep aware of your surroundings, no night flying? Check and double check! She prided herself on being rather cognizant of her surroundings at all times anyway, so she wasn't too worried about that. And she'd have to be a grade A loony to have these new wings and go around flying at night- something she knew she'd never do. Rainbow Dash's knowledge of the intricacies of flight were welcome insights, and somewhat surprising. She had struck Twilight as the sort of pony who learned by doing and would be equally at a loss teaching as explaining mechanics, but she was doing a very thorough job of giving it to Twilight accurately and quickly.

Don't fly on an empty stomach? Check! That advice also went for studying, which made Twilight wonder if she would also have an increased appetite as an alicorn. She'd have to look up the nutritional requirements of a pegasus, earth pony, and her own experience as a unicorn and formulate a diet plan for maximum nutritional growth.

No hauling or flying with saddlebags? Check! Common sense told her that it would throw her aerodynamics into a tizzy, and she'd need experience to know how to compensate.

Proper protection? Check, thanks to Rainbow Dash! She hoofed Twilight her old pair of goggles and helmet, and Twilight held them in her hoof for a few seconds. Definitely a bit small for Twilight, but it would have to do.

"Wow, Rainbow Dash. Thank you so much- you kept them all these years? You don't strike me as the most sentimental of all ponies," She said as he put the helmet on, strapping it in and feeling the leather straps dig into her. It was a hard fit because if the horn forcing the base of the helmet back, but it was what it was. Then the goggles came on and after a few moments she was strapped in. It was tight and constricting- she could feel the blood pumping past in hurried, large beats and she could feel a migraine in her future- but it would suffice for now.

"Wings? Check. Aware of my surroundings? Check. I'm fed, so check there. No saddlebags, check. Proper protection? Check. Okay, what's next?"

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Rainbow Dash blushed just a little bit at Twilight's mild teasing. Images of a certain instructor at the Weather Academy ... so handsome ... his energetic encouragements had never included the usual snide jabs that many other instructors had used, and he'd had endless patience for a certain clumsy and constantly crashing young mare, too fast to control her own flight... staying after class for sometimes hours on end to goad and yell and drive her to practice and improve. And the memories of a rapidly pounding heart, a cold sweat, that stammering young mare confessing her feelings ... to what turned out to be a married stallion with a foal of his own ... but his reassurance that she'd find someone, and she had a great future, and a pressing of his own helmet into her hooves...

Oh, horse apples. And then flying to a friend's home to cry desperately into her shoulder for the next few hours. "Bah, it's nothing special!" she blustered, "Just always fit the best! Never could find a helmet that fit as well as that one! Keep it around to give shopkeeps to see if they can find something half as nice!" She shot a quick glare at Fluttershy to warn her not to contradict this.

She shook her head. "Why are we even talking about that?! Comon, we don't want to embarass you by having you practice in front of everyone... I know the perfect place just outside of town for us to start practicing your take-offs! Hey, Fluttershy, you're good with following Twi around with a cloud to catch her when she falls, right?"
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Fluttershy took it upon herself to clean up a little as Rainbow and Twilight talked about flight safety. She packed away the remains of the breakfast, and took a moment to smooth out the covers on Twilight's bed a bit. As could be expected for Twilight's room, books dotted every available surface, many of them open at various points. Fluttershy took care not to disturb the pages as she tidied up.

Rainbow Dash seemed to be settling into her role as instructor, and not as a drill sergeant; something Fluttershy was very glad for. And Rainbow really did know the ins and outs of flying like the back of her hoof. It was just her... exuberance that got in the way. Fluttershy did speak up once during Rainbow's lecture, when she mentioned flying with a load. "Oh, yes," she added, "And no flying with a cart or chariot. Not by yourself, at least. That takes practice." Fluttershy paused, looking at Twilight's wings and horn. "But, um, I guess you'd be riding in a chariot anyway," she said with bit of a giggle.

Fluttershy continued flitting around the room, straightening and tidying things so Twilight or Spike wouldn't have to do it later. She was picking up a framed picture that had somehow gotten knocked over, when Rainbow produced the flying helmet. Fluttershy nearly dropped the picture in shock, as her hooves went to cover her mouth. She recognized the headgear only too well. She also remembered comforting a heart-sick Rainbow Dash on the day she had received that helmet.

Rainbow Dash shot Fluttershy a glare that clearly said 'Don't say a word.' Fluttershy fought to lower her hooves, and put a smile back on her face. But she had seen the look in Rainbow's eyes. After all this time, she still...?

"Why are we even talking about that?! Comon, we don't want to embarass you by having you practice in front of everyone... I know the perfect place just outside of town for us to start practicing your take-offs! Hey, Fluttershy, you're good with following Twilight around with a cloud to catch her when she falls, right?"

Fluttershy fought to get her composure back. "Oh!, Um, ok, I can do that," she said in answer to Rainbow's question. She knew how that worked well enough. She'd had an instructor do the same for her when she'd been learning to fly. Well, several instructors. And her dad... and her mom... So many falls into so many clouds... Anyway... Fluttershy faced both of her friends, her smile a little forced. "Let's go stretch those wings, Twilight!" she called out.

As the trio exited, Fluttershy glanced over at Rainbow Dash with a sympathetic look. Maybe she could get Rainbow to talk, but that could wait for later.
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Fluttershy gave some more common sense information. No flying as a part of a chariot team until she was a truly capable flier. Even then, Twi imagined she'd stay away from it and not just because she could ride. Few chariot jobs and many operators looking for work! And she didn't really trust herself with a cart in the air. Seemed like a recipe for disaster.

It was a huge relief that the helmet wasn't anything of great symbolism to Rainbow Dash. As a new flyer it wasn't entirely too unlikely that she was going to have a few nasty spills and the helmet was bound to come off at some point. It would likely be seen by one of her friends and saved, but there was always the risk they'd miss where it went and it would land in a river. It might then float in the calm waters, frogs mating on top of it, cut by logs, and finally sink beneath the water to the riverbed where it would lay for years as a stiff reminder of what flew above. Eventually beavers would find it and it would be made a part of their beautiful dams, a vital linchpin in their natural engineering. Then it would be in the sun and eventually it would lose it's stiffness, and the whole dam would collapse. It would rage downriver until it was snapped in twain by a tree branch hanging near a waterfall, where it would rest for all time.

Luckily, it was just a helmet that fit.

And speaking of fit, this was a good team. Rainbow Dash had a flight plan and was just the mare to push Twilight far enough without going too far, and Fluttershy was a wonderfully kind support who wanted her to succeed but whose approach certainly didn't make Twilight feel nearly as stressed as she could have been otherwise. Twilight couldn't help but smile. Sure she was nervous- very nervous, in fact. But there was no pair of ponies she'd rather have help her and what nervousness she felt was pathetic compared to the overwhelming excitement she felt. Soon she would learn how to fly, and fly well. They both were ready to have her stretch her wings out and practice takeoffs, which was just fine by her. Time to get this show in the sky!

"I've got to admit, I'm very excited about this. How long did it take you two to learn how to fly properly?" Twilight asked almost breathlessly, giddiness overriding her momentarily. She trotted outside and started stretching her wings out, bending her body down and the wings out right, bending in a few times, flapping for good measure. Ahhh, it felt so good! A nice breeze meant so much more when you could feel as though you could control it!

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Rainbow Dash's grin gave a slight little falter. Wooo, what a question. "Wellllll," she hemmed, "That kinda de*pends* on what you consider *properly*." Her voice cracked a bit as she delayed answer, and she stepped up to Twilight to adjust the helmet a bit, cinching the strap under her chin and snugging it firmly on Twilight's head. "there!" she said brightly, and punched her hoof into Twilight's shoulder.

"Anyway, it took a long time for me, but that's because I was always pushing my limits! I ended up kinda crashing a lot, back in the day. More determination than skill, somepony once said to me! Not that I wasn't *awesome* even back then!" she declared firmly, her voice cracking again, "But I wasn't as awesome as I am now! I've stopped crashing almost entirely by this point!" And she wholly meant it, too, despite the five times she'd crashed into the Library just in the past month ...

"ANYway! Come on, we'll trot to the field, where I've got the clouds all stored up and a nice soft fog laid out for you." She eagerly darted out the balcony door and took to the sky ... then sheepishly came back in, landed, and walked down the stairs, so as not to leave her friends behind... though she only got a third of the way down before her wings flared and she glided the rest of the ways. Stairs were for chumps and poor unicorns and earth ponies that don't know any better!

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Descending the stairs, Fluttershy was stopped short by Twilight's innocent question. Blushing, she shared a look with Rainbow Dash. Both of them had had... difficulties... when learning to fly. Dash's issues were about control. Fluttershy's issues stemmed from her timidity. Again she thought of the innumerable falls into a cloud safety net when her wings would lock up in fear...

"Um, uh, well..." Fluttershy began, still feeling the embarrassment. "I started kind of, um, late... I was older than most of the foals when I finally started flight training." She shivered with remembered fear. "And, well, it took me a while... I only really learned to fly after I got my cutie mark. I had to learn then, so I could get down to the ground, where all my animal friends lived." Even then, Fluttershy preferred keeping her hooves on the ground much of the time. It was... safer that way.

Fluttershy giggled as an overly-enthusiastic Rainbow Dash flew out of the upper balcony, before coming back in to join their alicorn companion. Rainbow was still the first one out of the door though. Fluttershy followed, but stayed on the ground next to Twilight as they trotted to the field.

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Even when describing a pace of flight that was anything and everything that Rainbow wasn't now she still displayed the full and incredible power of being awesome. Mostly in her mind, but there was truth to it- even if it had taken her a while to get to where she was, it had been because she sought to excel rather than simply do the job satisfactorily. Sure, she still crashed into Twilight's Library with more regularity than Applejack took books out regarding crop rotation bordering the Everfree, but success was measured differently for everypony. For Twilight, she'd be happy just to fly straight and not crash into anything and everything above and below the clouds. Overly excited Rainbow Dash took off, came back, and then started gliding. Yes, she was excited.

Less excited but still on the same field was Fluttershy. Her desire to fly was more closely matched with what Twilight was aiming for- functionality, not perfection. Not now, anyway. She would have time for the rest of the wide wide world of flying strategy after she had got the basics down. Of course Twilight didn't have the butterflies in the stomach(or as a cutie mark) that Fluttershy had, nor the flutters that would have made her nervous, pun unintended. She would likely not have as many issues relating to confidence, but in a way that was what made Fluttershy even more endearing- fear didn't stop her from doing what needed to be done despite it being a huge obstacle for her. Always there to lend a helping a hoof, and in this case, willing to learn the art of flying so she could come down to the ground to help her animal friends.

The trio trotted or glided out of the library and towards the area that had been set aside. As they trotted, a passersby bowed, one poor pony in particular going down so fast in his reverence that a bag of onions he had been holding stayed in mid-air for a moment before it fell on top of his head. Twilight waved at those who bowed awkwardly, not really wanting the attention. In any case, after a few minutes they found the prepared field, which as Rainbow promised was set up. A nice, gentle fog rolled in and Twilight could actually feel it's soft cushion around her hooves. The clouds were arranged beautifully, but not for the artistic splendor of it- each one was put in a location that fit into Rainbow's game plan, or so it seemed from Twilight's feeble understanding of her friend's flight plan. In any case, the time was now.

"Wow, this looks like a lot of work. Thank you- both of you- for helping me."

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