Twilight's eyes snapped open at the voice, knowing in an instant exactly who it belonged to. She chanced a glance over the edge of the cloud and withdrew as she spied Princess Luna frantically scanning the the skies and land, her fury giving off strange magic waves as her body glowed a deep blue. Cerulean noted this as well, and cast an imploring glance at Twilight.
"I have no idea who that is, but something tells me she's not here for a friendly chat," he worried aloud. Twilight shook her head, sensing just how dire a position he was in.
"That's Princess Luna, Cerulean. Celestia's sister. Come on, we better get down there and see what's wrong." With a groan he summoned his wings and descended swiftly with Twilight held close, hoping to glean some confidence from her during their short trip to the surface. Luna was instantly upon him, thrusting her face to his leaving nary a hairsbreadth between them.
"GIVE US ONE GOOD REASON TO LET YOU LIVE, WASTREL!" she bellowed, her volume nearly deafening Cerulean on the spot. He dropped to the ground, covering both ears. He waited until the ringing in his head had died down before making his defense.
"Firstly, I have no idea what's going on, your highness. Secondly, we've never met. What exactly am I being charged of?" he inquired, slowly withdrawing his hooves from his ears and attempting to stand.
"Luna, what's wrong? What did he do?" Twilight drew close and set a hoof on Luna's shoulder, who was visibly shaking under the strain of containing her anger. Spike poked his head out of the where the front door had been to watch from the relative safety of the library.
"Cerulean, did you or did you not send my sister a box of cupcakes. Cupcakes that were made with some kind of foul drug?" At the mention of cupcakes Twilight and Cerulean exchanged worried glances which Luna interpreted to mean they were both in on it. "Twilight, you too? I never would have thought he would corrupt you so! Hast thou any idea what kind of trouble thine prank hath wrought? Why I... I..!" she stammered, a notable flush rising to her cheeks.
"Princess, I assure you neither I nor Cerulean had any part in that," Twilight asserted confidently, Cerulean nodding vigorously beside her.
"Then how wouldst thou explain this, Twilight Sparkle?" she snapped, holding up the now empty cupcake box, Cerulean's supposed signature clearly displayed. Cerulean stared at it dumbfounded, speechless as Twilight slowly turned, giving him the evil eye.
"Cerulean, is there something I should know about?" she said, narrowing her eyes into a piercing stare.
"No, there isn't, I didn't do that! Look, I can prove it." he shouted, generating an icicle and scribbling furiously in the dirt. His writing looked nothing like the writing on the box. Twilight suddenly realized she recognized the writing and shot a withering glare at Spike. He turned to retreat but found himself face to face with a very angry Twilight, her teleportation working much more quickly than his legs and landing him directly in front of her.
"Spike, this is your writing. What did you do?" she said slowly, making sure he understood just how much trouble he was in if he lied.
"Rainbow Dash stopped me on the way over here and asked me to send a few items to Princess Celestia. She was really pushy, and I didn't really pay attention to what she had me write in the letter 'cause I just wanted to go home. I didn't know what was in the box, honest!" he said firmly, crossing his arms. "As much as I'd love to see Cerulean suffer a bit," he muttered under his breath. Twilight heard the statement but ignored it, heaving an exasperated sigh as she turned back to Luna.
"So Rainbow Dash is the true culprit then?" Luna inquired, her voice surprisingly calm.
"It sure seems that way," Twilight said, knowing exactly how much of a prankster she was.
"SHE SHALL PAY FOR HER TREACHERY!" Luna suddenly howled as her voice regressed to her royal Canterlot voice, causing everypony to grimace as she took flight towards Cloudsdale. Twilight watched her for a brief moment before heading back inside and flopping into bed, the fatigue of everything that had happened that day finally catching up to her; she didn't even bother chiding Spike further for his part in the ordeal. Cerulean followed and tucked her in, planting a kiss on her cheek before heading back downstairs. Spike was getting ready for bed as well, too shaken by being on trial before a furious Luna to feel much like cleaning, and it wasn't long before the only light left was the small lantern by Cerulean's side as he sat in the center of the main room.
The first thing he attended was the front door, the damages not being very severe and easily fixed with magic. Finishing quickly he pulled out a parchment and began planning the following day. What would be a good first date? He didn't really have any money and he wasn't very familiar with Ponyville yet. It seemed like a simple town with little by way of attractions, so what could he do? He tapped his hoof on the desk, releasing a bit of magic that formed a small puff of snow. He stared at it intently, an idea beginning to grow in his mind.
With care he crafted the perfect checklist, and set it aside as he began making preparations. The first thing he wanted to take care of was cataloging all of the books that had become too waterlogged to be of use. When he finished the list he wrote a short message at the bottom and sealed it before setting it, along with most of his remaining money, next to Spike's bed so he'd see it when he awoke. After adding an additional note instructing Spike to send it to the listed address when he awoke, Cerulean then set about finishing the cleaning, the perspiration from the evaporating moisture having reached into every nook and cranny. He stopped as he heard Luna's voice echo quite clearly through the night, shaking his head and truly feeling sorry for Rainbow Dash.
Twilight awoke at Luna's shout, disturbed that Cerulean wasn't beside her. As she approached the stairs she found him quietly cleaning, humming softly to himself as he smiled. Even though it was a simple action, she knew that it was for her alone that he remained awake, even though he was likely every bit as drained as she was. And yet, it made her feel inadequate, like she wasn't doing nearly enough to compensate for his kindness. Cerulean gave a start as he felt Twilight's arms wrap around his chest, holding him tightly.
"I thought you were asleep," he said gently, setting down the towel.
"Why?" she whispered. Cerulean slowly turned to face her. "Why are you so..?" Cerulean put his hoof to her mouth, his adoring smile only making her feel worse. When she thought back to everything that had happened between them, he had done infinitely more for her than she had for him. Her eyes filled with tears as she traced a hoof over the burn scars she had given him as her shoulders began to shake, feeling as blessed as she did unworthy of such devotion. The tears began to fall as he sang softly, caressing her mane with a hoof and drawing her close.
"You're worth this,
every scar and every pain -
every time I see your smiling face.
You gave me all I've wanted,
A heart to call my own,
A shelter from the raging storm,
A place I don't feel so alone."
The last notes lingered in the air and he held her as she tried to comprehend his words. "Twilight, I act this way because it's not nearly enough..." he said quietly, himself close to losing the fight to bar the floodgates. "I can't find the words to express the depth of what you've given me, but someday... someday I'll find a way." He squeezed tighter, closing his eyes as the tears seeped out anyways. "But, until then you'll just have to deal with my less clear ways."
"Like cleaning?" Twilight asked, trying to smile.
"Yes Twilight, like cleaning," he replied, both sharing a weak laugh. "Now get some rest, I've got big plans for tomorrow. I'll be up in a bit, all right?" he said, releasing her and motioned towards the stairs. Spike, who had also awoken from Luna's shout, had watched the scene unfold. He waited for Twilight to climb back into bed before creeping downstairs and staring at Cerulean as he finished up. Cerulean noticed Spike and slowly approached. "Spike? Look, I know..."
"I'm sorry." Spike interjected, causing Cerulean to cock his head to one side. "I know I haven't really been giving you a chance, and it's not fair to you. I just..."
"You were worried about being ignored, or replaced." Spike's mouth opened a little at this, Cerulean being spot on in his assessment. Cerulean shook his head, continuing. "Spike, I know since I came here things have been chaotic at best, disasterous at worst. But I'm not here to take Twilight away from you. I don't want to come between anypony and their friends, I just... I'd like to make some of my own." Cerulean grinned as Spike wrapped his arms around a leg, hugging it tightly before dashing back upstairs. Cerulean abandoned the cleaning, realizing it would take far longer than it would be worth, and set about prepping dinner for the following evening. Having finished some thirty minutes later, he ascended the steps and sidled in behind Twilight, drawing her close and quickly drifting off to sleep, his mind filled with thoughts of his plan for the following day.
Waking an hour before dawn, Cerulean eased himself out of bed and into the shower. It would at least two hours before Spike or Twilight awoke, which he hoped would be enough time to put his plan into action. Drying himself and stepping outside he summoned his wings and made for Cloudsdale, making good time and lighting on the steps to Rainbow Dash's cloud home. He knocked a few times, and he heard a groan and some shuffling before a thoroughly disgruntled Rainbow Dash greeted him with a mumble. The dark bags under her eyes showed that she clearly hadn't gotten much sleep after her little run in with Princess Luna, and she looked like she was in no condition to help.
"Whaddaya want, Cerulean? Leave me to be miserable in peace, I beg you," she implored, the dejection in her voice causing Cerulean to cringe. Any other day he would have complied, but he was determined to follow through with his scheme. He explained the situation to Rainbow Dash who eyed him curiously. "Snow? But it's still a month until winter."
"Rainbow Dash, please? You're the best flier in Ponyville, and you're likely the only one who can help me get this ready in time." Cerulean noticed the hesitation and as badly as he wanted to point out that he nearly lost his head on account of her prank, manipulation was something he tried to steer clear of. She finally caved, and stretched her wings experimentally before taking flight and gathering a large mass of clouds over Ponyville. Cerulean began applying his own magic to the mix after Rainbow Dash had finished, and then they proceed to hop cloud to cloud, causing showers of white powder to fall, floating gently down to the ground.
Twilight awoke with a shiver, her hooves seeking Cerulean's warmth but failing to find it. She slowly opened her eyes and found her bed empty, much to her dismay. Opening her closet she pulled out her favorite pair of magenta and violet striped socks, slipping them on and wandering towards the window. Her breath caught as she saw the snow falling all around the house, a good two inches already blanketing the ground. She dashed downstairs and threw open the door, staring in wonder at Cerulean who was standing a field of roses, carved from the ice all around the house. As his eyes locked on Twilight his face began to flush, not from the cold but the overwhelming adorableness of the way Twilight looked in socks.
"Cerulean, did you..?" she started to speak as she approached, but was unable to finish the sentence as she took in the beautiful scene. Cerulean was similarly speechless, though the beauty he beheld wasn't that of his own creation. Winter was always his favorite time of year, and Twilight's mode of dress only cemented the fact. Shaking his head and attempting to repel his growing obsession, he bowed low.
"Welcome to our first date, Twilight. Complete with checklist," he declared, pulling the scroll from where it had been buried in the snow, beaming ear to ear. Twilight was filled with anticipation as she read the contents.
"First Date Checklist:
[X] make it snow
[X] craft field of roses
[ ] make sure Spike sent the letter
[ ] make a snow pony
[ ] snow ball fight
[ ] make ice cream together
[ ] gather friends and share the ice cream
[ ] have fun! (even if that means studying)
[ ] surprise package
[ ] dinner reservations"
"Well done Cerulean, it seems you've learned some respect," Twilight giggled, turning back to him. Spike wandered outside in a daze, walking towards Cerulean as he waved.
"Spike, did you send the things like I asked?" Cerulean inquired. Spike nodded once, alternately staring at the sky and the field of roses that surrounded the library. Cerulean checked off the item from the list before turning to Twilight. "Well then, shall we?" he said with a flourish, motioning to the expanse of white powder stretching out before them. As Twilight nodded, Cerulean gave a short whistle and suddenly sunlight broke through the clouds as Rainbow Dash dispatched them with speed and grace. The light set the whole scene aglow, the snow remaining cool and intact due to Cerulean having imbued the clouds with his magic before the first flake started to fall.
"Can I go home now?" Rainbow Dash whined, flopping down wearily in the snow.
"Not just yet. Can you go tell Rarity, Applejack, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie to meet us here around twelve? Then you may sleep. Oh, and you're invited too." Cerulean replied, shooting her a sympathetic glance before she wordlessly took flight, heading towards the center of town.
"She must have had a rough night," Twilight said sagely, watching her go. Her mind soon returned to happier places as she romped through the snow with Cerulean, and one by one they proceeded down the list. Cerulean's snow pony looked like no pony at all, but rather a malformed lump of pudding that was desperately making an attempt at sentience. He compensated by creating a perfect statue of himself with magic, and when Twilight called him out for cheating he simply flashed her a smile... and made a statue of her kissing his likeness.
This in turn began the snowball fight, though Twilight was hopelessly outmatched under the onslaught of Cerulean's skill at the game. After burying her for the third time he eased up a bit, not wanting the battle to be entirely one sided. Spike lent her his aid, and Cerulean allowed himself to be overwhelmed by the duo. The ice cream was a huge success, though Twilight enjoyed the process of making it much more than the treat itself. Rainbow Dash didn't partake, herself choosing instead to try to catch up on the lost hours of sleep. Cerulean thoroughly enjoyed feeling actively involved with her friends, even if Pinkie Pie did try to "clean" his face the moment Twilight mashed her cone into it, his comment just prior clearly being deemed as unnecessary. The day passed much more quickly than Cerulean would have liked, and the sun was beginning to set as they came to the last two items on the list.
"I was really hoping that he could get it here today..." he muttered with a sigh as he gazed off into the distance towards Canterlot.
"You could just tell me what it was, you know," Twilight said eagerly. Her anticipation had been building all day, and it was almost too much to bear. She frowned as Cerulean shook his head stubbornly.
"No, you'll just have to wait. However, I think dinner shall help ease your mind away from the subject," he asserted confidently, ignoring her pouting and beckoning her to follow.
"I've been meaning to ask, what do you mean by 'reservations?' There aren't really any high class restaurants around here." Cerulean offered only a grin as an explanation and continued walking until they had moved a good distance away from town, the merry noises of the townsfolk enjoying the strange weather barely audible. They stopped at the outer edges of the where snow had fallen, a plane of white stretching back towards town.
"Close your eyes. And don't open them until I say!" Cerulean instructed, and she reluctantly obeyed. When Cerulean was convinced she was no longer looking, he braced himself and gathered his magic, fashioning a small castle out of ice. It had a single room with a table set for two, and a final dash of magic enchanted the structure so it wouldn't melt for several hours. "All right, you can open your eyes Twilight." Twilight's breath caught in her throat as she stared at the magnificent sculpture, the architecture very much reminiscent of the royal castle. The sun's rays caused it to gleam, sending dancing lights all around the meadow. "I prepared the meal up to the final stages last night, so just wait here for me a moment, all right?" Twilight nodded slowly, too amazed to speak.
Cerulean returned not ten minutes later, food in tow and beaming proudly. He had pulled out all the stops, and the spread was fantastic. However, the food wasn't what Twilight would remember for the years to follow but the love she felt from every action he took that day, a day he had crafted solely for her enjoyment. As they reveled in each other's company, the sun dipped below the horizon and Twilight vowed to herself that she would find some way to do the same for him - a way to thank him for filling her heart with immeasurable gratitude.
Night had fallen over Canterlot as Bangles walked the streets, her cloak hiding her face. She made no attempt to stave off the loathing she felt at seeing Cerulean again, and ponies gave her wide berth, her hatred sending off waves of magic. She had been convinced he had long since passed, but somehow he had managed to ward off the hex she had placed on him four years ago, or at least keep it from activating. She moved a few of her jade bracelets aside to reveal a number of archaic letters, proof that the spell had yet to take effect. Her father wasn't home from the academy yet, and she entered his private study to begin her search for the combination to the safe in the library, which had been used as a store house for forbidden tomes for centuries.
"There you are," she cooed sweetly as she picked up the report detailing how to open it safely and without setting off the alarm. "Oh Cerulean, it will be so fun to play with you again. We'll see each other soon, I'm sure."