Stormbolt Strike, a dark grey Pegasus colt, was bidding a final goodbye to his parents just outside the entrance to Cloudsdale junior flight camp.
' Be good, and work hard!' his mother said.
' I will mum, I'm going to win the competition for sure!'
' Don't forget to have fun as well son.' his father added.
Stormbolt grinned 'I'll do both at the same time!'
And before he could evade her, his mother hugged him; planting a kiss on his forehead.
'Mum!' he whined, blushing.
At that moment, the call for all campers to report for induction came.
'Well son, sounds like that's your call.' said his father.
Stormbolt cantered towards the gate, and looked back one last time. He saw his parents waving goodbye with their wings, he waved back and flew into the camp.
Stormbolt was quick to learn he wasn't the best flyer there, learning second hoof about a race that had been held from his new friend Gearforth.
'Yeah, some filly called Rainbow Dash managed a sonic rainboom man! '
Stormbolt frowned, 'I'm going to do it too!'
Gearforth laughed, 'A sonic rainboom? You're mad, you're just not fast enough!'
'I'll figure out a way to get faster.' Stormbolt replied, eyes blazing with determination.
It had been an exciting first two weeks and now he was headed somewhere he could get some peace and quiet. As he made his way he began to hear loud, mocking voices. Curious, he followed them to their source. What he saw and heard filled him with indignant anger. There was a young filly with bubbles as her cutie mark and a dirty blonde mane and tail surrounded by about five or six other foals.
'Dumb Derpy! Bubbles for the bubble brain!' They chanted, as she cowered with tears streaming down her face.
Stormbolt flew over and landed between them, 'Hey! Why don't you try picking on me?!' he shouted, planting his hooves wide and flaring his wings as he glared at them.
'And who are you?' asked a large brown colt .
'My name is Stormbolt Strike! And if you don't leave her alone, you'll remember me every time you look in the mirror!' he answered defiantly.
'Oh, I'm so scared! What's your special talent? Oh, it seems you don't have one - blank flank!' the brown colt jeered.
'I'll show you my talent!' yelled Stormbolt, preparing to tackle him. But at that moment a coach came by.
'Hey, you foals! What's going on here?' she asked stridently.
'These foals were picking on this poor filly, coach.' Stormbolt said quickly.
'I see, and you thought you would solve the problem by fighting instead of calling for a staff member did you?' she asked him.
'I - but.... No, sorry coach.' he said, faltering seeing the severe look on her face.
'So you should be, count yourself lucky I'm not punishing you.'
'Yes coach, thank you coach!' Stormbolt replied.
' As for you lot, come with me.', she said firmly to the bullies.
As she led the abashed looking bullies away, Stormbolt turned to the still sobbing filly.
'It's okay now, they're gone.'
She raised her head and sniffled, 'T-thank you.' she gasped, through the sobs still wracking her body.
'So, do you have a name?', he asked her gently.
Getting to her hooves, she said, 'Derpy Hooves.'
'Well Derpy, you won't have to worry about them any more.'
It was the second to last week, and Stormbolt was determined to perform a sonic rainboom
'Think, Stormbolt, think!' he said aloud as he pondered how to increase his speed.
'I told you, you're just not fast enough.', said Gearforth.
'All I need is something to boost my take off speed!'
After a few moments of intense thought, he still had nothing.
'Argh! It's hopeless!' he shouted, throwing himself down in frustration.
To his surprise, instead of hitting the cloud solidly or even passing through it - he bounced.
'Wha-? Hey, this cloud is pretty rubbery!' he said, examining it. 'I wonder what type it is?'
Taking a bite, he chewed for a bit before spitting it out, 'Cumulus', he said thoughtfully.
'Gearforth! I've got an idea!', he shouted.
Without another word, he began making the cloud into long strips.
'Stormbolt, what are you doing?' asked Gearforth.
Stormbolt paused, 'See I figure this cloud's pretty bouncy right?'
'So, all I have to do is weave them together to maximise bounciness, then I can use it to build momentum!' he explained.
Soon he had a tightly woven lattice of cloud prepared.
'Get ready, Gearforth! Soon Rainbow Dash won't be the only one to be able to perform the sonic rainboom!'
He began bouncing, getting higher and higher every time.
'Okay, this is it!', he shouted to Gearforth.
He jumped one last time, and came down fast. The cloud stretched and then bounced back.
Stormbolt was catapulted high into the air and began beating his wings as fast as he could.
'This is it! I'm going to do it!', he thought to himself as the world became a blur.
Suddenly, the air seemed to become thicker; and then it was like he had been bounced backwards.
Stormbolt tried to right himself, but his wing muscles burned with pain.
'Help!' he shouted as he hurtled towards the ground.
But no help came, and the last thing he saw was a large tree quickly getting closer.
Stormbolt opened his eyes wearily.
' Huh?' he said thickly, 'Where am I?'
'Ponyville Hospital, son.', He heard his fathers' voice say, and he tried to turn his head.
'I Owch!', he said, wincing at the pain. He looked himself over. His wings were bound, he had a neck brace; and here and there he had dressings stuck to his body.
'Ah, you're awake,' said the doctor, walking into the room.
'I must say, it was lucky you landed in the tree. If you had hit the ground - well, I'm not sure you'd have survived.'
'So doctor, is he going to be okay?', asked his mother.
The doctor sighed,
'Well, your son has torn some ligaments and there's some damage to the muscles themselves.' he said.
'But will he ever fly again?', his father asked urgently.
'Oh yes, I should think so.', the doctor answered, 'It will take a while to heal though.'
Stormbolts' parents breathed a sigh of relief.
'How soon can we take him home?', asked his mother.
'Oh we'll keep him in here for a week or so - just to be on the safe side.'
A few days later, Stormbolt was staring out of the window, reflecting on his situation when a nurse walked in.
'You've got some visitors, honey.', she said gently.
Stormbolt was surprised, but happy to see Gearforth and Derpy enter the room.
'Hey guys, I'd get up, but-.' he said, smiling.
'Mate, that was the craziest thing I've ever seen!' Gearforth said.
Stormbolt laughed, 'Yeah, I'm paying for it now though, aren't I?'
'Hi Stormbolt,' Derpy said softly, 'I brought you some muffins from our bakery.
'Thanks Derpy, they'll save me from the food here.' he said.
It was his last night, and the doctor was giving him one last check-over.
'You know, from what I hear; you're a pretty good flyer.', he told him as he checked Stormbolts' wings.
'But not the best, I'm slower than a lot of ponies - especially Rainbow Dash.' he said sullenly.
'Nopony can be "the best" at everything, my colt.' the doctor replied.
'Now this Rainbow Dash, she's probably the fastest - but everypony has different skills. You should focus on yours.'
Stormbolt thought for moment, 'I guess you're right.', he said somewhat reluctantly.
'Well then, that's all in order, so tomorrow morning you'll be going home.', the doctor said before leaving Stormbolt alone with his thoughts.
Stormbolt sat on a cloud, looking up silently at the evening sky with a pensive look on his face.
'What are you doing here Derpy?' he asked abruptly.
'Watching you think,' replied the wall-eyed mare brightly.
'I know that, but why? Surely it's boring just watching me sit here.' Derpy looked down before answering.
'I enjoy watching you.'
'You enjoy watching me think?'
'I'm not sure why I enjoy it. Maybe it's because I'm not a smart pony, I enjoy seeing you think about things Stormbolt.'
He smiled, 'All right then, I suppose it is nice to have company from time to time when I'm thinking.', he said, even though "from time to time" was practically every time.
'So what were you thinking of ?', she asked eagerly.
'I was thinking of how you and I met, all those years ago.' Stormbolt replied, turning to face her.
'Some of those foals were so much bigger than me, but I couldn't stand by and do nothing. Teasing somepony about their cutie mark is bad enough, but making fun of you for being a little different was the final straw!'
Derpy smiled, 'You were so brave, taking on all those bullies.'
Stormbolt grinned and flared his wings, 'I guess I was, wasn't I?'
'Hey Stormbolt?', Derpy asked timidly.
'Yeah, Derpy?', he answered hazily, still lost in his memories.
'Well, next week is Hearts and Hooves day, I was wondering if you had somepony in mind. You know, a special somepony?'
'Me? No, I don't have a special somepony at the moment.'
Derpys' eyes widened, 'Really? I thought maybe you and Rainbow Dash...I mean you're both really good fliers.'
Stormbolt laughed, 'Her?! She's way too hyper for me, and competitive - we would never make a good couple.'
'Oh, okay then.', Derpy said simply; and unseen by Stormbolt she beamed.
The bells of the clock-tower below rang out the hour of 7 o'clock.
'Hey Derpy, I have to go now, I'm on weather duty tonight, so you might want to get home quickly, there's a big storm planned for tonight.', he told her, flexing his wings.
'All right then! See you later Stormbolt.', she called out cheerfully
'Goodnight Derpy, take care of yourself!'
And with that, Stormbolt flew off to help the rest of the team collect and arrange the thunder clouds.
But that night, Stormbolt couldn't stop thinking about it.
'Why did she ask me about my plans for Hearts and Hooves day?', he kept on asking himself.
'Hey, Stormbolt! Is that cloud ready?' called out Thunderlane, bringing Stormbolt out of his reverie.
It was his job to position what they termed the "A" cloud in the exact right spot to trigger all the others to start producing thunder and lightning in the right order.
'Huh? Oh, right, yes ready!', he said; and preparing to buck it, he shouted 'CLEAR!' Once everypony was a safe distance away, he kicked the cloud with his hind legs, causing it to shoot a lightning bolt which set off a chain reaction in the others.
The next day, Stormbolt met his older sister, Sun Shower as he strolled through Ponyville.
'Hey little bro, how's it going?', she called out to him.
'Not, bad, except...', he said guardedly, knowing his sister to be an habitual meddler and gossip.
'Except what?', she asked, scenting something interesting.
Stormbolt shifted uncomfortably, he wasn't sure he wanted to confide in her. But he figured as a mare she might know what was up with Derpy.
'Except, well lately I've been feeling these weird vibes from Derpy. You know last night she asked me about Hearts and Hooves day? I just don't know what's going on.', He said, wondering what her reaction would be.
'Sweet Celestia, but you're dense sometimes Stormy!', She said, knowing the use of his pet name would push his buttons.
'I am not!', Stormbolt retorted sharply.
'If you have something useful to tell me, why not just say so?!'
Grinning widely, Sun Shower replied calmly, "Okay, little bro, I'll tell you what's going on.'
'Really!?', he said eagerly. Stormbolt cleared his throat 'I mean, thanks.'
'It's simple, Derpy likes you. She was trying to ask you to be her special somepony.'
'A-are you sure? I mean, we've been friends for years, but I never thought...', he said, trailing off as he tried to comprehend the situation.
'Oh, I'm sure. I mean if somepony saved me from bullies he'd be my hero for life!', she said.
Stormbolt thought it over, remembering all the times he had defended her as a colt, and how she always hung out with him, even sitting for hours in silence as he thought about things.
'Well, now that I think about it, all the signs were there all along. I was dense not to notice!' he cried and face hoofed.'But why not just say so? Why be so subtle?'
'Because she's a mare, we don't really do the direct approach. More to the point, she probably feels that you wouldn't want her. The real question is, how do you feel about her ?', his sister asked him seriously.
'Derpy is very dear to me, I've known her for many years and well, I love her.', he said baldly.
'I think you know what you have to do now then.', Sun Shower replied, smiling.
Stormbolt smiled, 'Thanks sis, you're not so bad after all!', he said as he took off.
The next few days passed in a blur, so that before Stormbolt knew it, the night before Hearts and Hooves day had arrived. He had everything ready in order to give Derpy a very special day, because he would be announcing his feelings for the first time. Setting his alarm clock, he blew out his lamp and went to sleep.
The next day was beautiful, just as planned by the weather committee. Couples were using the day to renew their relationships, and mares and stallions were declaring their love to each other on this most romantic of days. Derpy walked thorough Ponyville dejectedly, she had hoped that Stormbolt might have picked up on her feelings by now, but she supposed he wouldn't be interested in somepony like herself.
Of a sudden ponies began looking up and gasping. Derpy turned and looked up too, and what she saw made her heart soar. Somepony had sky-written in highly ornate writing "Derpy, be my special somepony". Derpy felt sure she knew who it was, there was only one pony who could fly so precisely! And sure enough, a grey blur was moving toward the town centre.
Stormbolt swooped low over the town and spotted Derpy standing mouth agape, and with tears welling in her eyes. He stopped in mid-air, did a somersault and landed in front of her.
'Derpy?', he said, pulling a heart-shaped box of chocolates out of his saddle bag, 'Will you be my special somepony?', he asked, holding the ribbon in his teeth.
Tears were now streaming down Derpys' face, 'Of course I will!', She cried out before breaking into tears in earnest. Stormbolt dropped the chocolates and began rubbing his neck against hers
'Hush now, please don't cry.', he said soothingly.
'I'm sorry, I'm just so happy.', Derpy said, trying to gain control of herself.
Stormbolt nuzzled her and looked into her eyes, 'I'm happy too, and I'm sorry I didn't realise that you loved me sooner.'
Derpy sniffed and said, "It's OK, even you can't be clever all the time.'
Stormbolt smiled weakly, 'Come on, lets you and me go somewhere special today.'
And with the watching ponies stamping their hooves in support, they flew off together.
Stormbolt led Derpy to a high cloud that he had positioned earlier to give a spectacular view of Ponyville. He had set up a picnic with all the best food and drink.
'Derpy, we started out as friends, but now we have come to love each other. I hope that we always remember this day even when we're old and grey.' he said solemnly.
Derpy smiled broadly and said, 'I hope so too, This is the happiest I've ever been.'
And for the first time, they kissed - tentatively at first, but by degrees, it became more passionate, as they both tried to put what words could not say into it.
After what seemed like an eternity, they broke apart and just stared deep into each others eyes.
They spent the day eating, talking and enjoying having a special somepony. As the sun set, they just sat, leaning against each other in silence, for their love needed no words, for none could fully describe it. It was enough for them that they had found love and that they were together on Hearts and Hooves day.