Blooming Romance

by Enigmatic Otaku

A Rose By Any Other Name

"And that, class, concludes how the three tribes established the Document of Rights shortly after their unification. Now, if we turn to page seventy three of our history books, we'll see how and when the princesses became Equestria's de facto rulers shortly after."

At Ms. Nurture's queue, the whole classroom cascaded with the sound of twenty or so students turning their books to the aforementioned page. Right when the older mare at the front of the class continued on with the lesson, pointing, underlining, and circling events and dates on the chalkboard, that's when she unknowingly lost the attention of the sole batpony in the room.

Aside from certain interesting tidbits, Ebony Star wasn't very much into history, especially when it revolved around political topics like today's lesson. He was more interested in the more romanticized aspects. Regardless, he was certain he'd pass the upcoming test at the end of the week, so he instead chose to spend his time discreetly jotting down ideas on how exactly he'd change up his Hearts and Hooves secret admirer-thing for Cinnamon Bun tomorrow.

He didn't mean to, he really didn't, but he continued to be her secret admirer for the past three years, leaving her a white rose to be found at her doorstep every Hearts and Hooves day morning. Cinnamon Bun was just so happy the first time, and Ebony couldn't bear to see her down if her secret admirer were to suddenly disappear or seemingly lose interest. The rose evidently became the admirer's calling card, and Ebony began cultivating his own white roses specifically for her, growing them just outside his room's window sill so they'd be out of sight whenever Cinnamon and Sweet Tooth would be over.

Speaking of the two fillies, they were sitting right next to Ebony (Cinnamon on his left and Sweets sitting directly behind him), and had grown much over the years.

Sweet Tooth had gotten a bit taller, still taller than Ebony, which irked him just a bit, and her pink fur had become noticeably fluffier. She had also long outgrew her retainer, leaving a set of eye-catchingly straight teeth in its place. Lastly, displayed proudly on her flanks, and acquired after she ate the entire class's candy on a dare, rested her recently-earned cutie mark: a lollipop with a hearty bite taken out of it.

The killer stomachache she got afterwards made her groan for days, but she still says it was worth it in the end.

Cinnamon Bun also grew. She still retained a bit of her younger years' pudge, which was a given since she lived in a candy shop with her parents, though her fur had become glossy smooth as if to make up for it. Just like Sweet Tooth, she had also earned her cutie mark, which was a cinnamon roll with a pink bow behind it. Either very proud of her cutie mark, or simply wishing to draw further attention away from her slightly crooked horn, Cinnamon Bun started wearing a pin resembling it in her mane.

Ebony thought it looked nice on her; really helps to bring out her eyes.

Minutes into Ms. Nurture's lecture, Ebony became aware that Sweet Tooth was sneakily trying to pass him something. He didn't have to turn back and she didn't have to utter a sound for him to know that, as the teacher's consistent voice was reverberating around the room enough for him to form a mental picture of her outstretched hoof.

Giving a fake yawn and outstretching his wings to disguise his actions, Ebony snaked his foreleg behind himself. There, while concealed behind his wing, Sweets carefully placed a folded piece of paper onto the flat of his hoof, then returned to her natural demeanor. Finishing up his yawn, Ebony then scratched his chin with his wing's thumb, allowing him the perfect opportunity to shift the note forward and onto his lap.

With that done, Ebony waited a minute, pretending to be listening in on the lesson before eventually subtlety directing his eyes downward to get to the note. After carefully unfolding it with a hoof, Ebony discovered the paper to be a crumpled leaflet that Sweet Tooth had scribbled onto the back of.

Hey, think you're gonna get another of those roses from your sekret admirer tomorrow?

-Ebony, pass this to Cinabon

Of course. Seeing as Ebony was closer to Cinnamon Bun than Sweet Tooth was, it'd make sense that he'd be the middle-pony for them, as always.

Producing a sigh, Ebony picked up his pencil with his mouth and placed its tip onto the paper.

Jeez, Sweets. Somepony misspells 'secret' once a few years back and you still refuse to let it down.
Cut the colt some slack, why don't ya?

With that done, Ebony folded the paper, then flicked it onto Cinnamon Bun's desk when Ms. Nurture had her back turned to write something new on the chalkboard.

Shaken from her own bored stupor, Cinnamon Bun eyed the note, then turned to Ebony before opening it. Sneaking her a few sideways glances, Ebony watched Cinnamon skim its words. After seeming to ponder her response for a bit, Cinnamon wrote her reply beneath the previous one, then levitated the note back onto Ebony's desk.

How do we know it's a colt? Could be a filly.

Repeating his earlier motion in reverse, Ebony stretched his wings and passed the note back to Sweets. Almost a minute later, she passed it back to him.

Nope, no slack cutting.
A dab speller is a bad speller.
And yeah, I guess it could be a filly. I mean, your parents are both mares, so...

What happened afterwards was a correspondence between the three.

Hah, funny how you forgot that.
What, do you just eat their candy and not even look them in the face?

I didn't forget that. How could I?

Also, you misspelled 'bad'.
Seems that you're the bad speller here.

Wow Cinny! Cut me some slack!
My brain flopped for just a second when I wrote that, alright!?
And of course I look them in the face! You and them are like my second family.
Eh, first, actually.

What? What are you talking about?
I'm confused.

Wait... Ebony, are you writing stuff down on this note too?
I thought I told you to pass it, not to write in it.

Yeah I'm writing stuff. If you're gonna have me passing this back and forth between you two, I might as well be included in the conversation.

Fine. But just to be clear, which one of you said that 'not looking them in the face' thing?

I did.

Not me.

Who's 'I'!?


Me Ebony, or me Cinnabun!?
You know what, let's just end out messages with our initials. Make things easier on ourselves.
Here, I'll even start.

There, now you two try.



I meant continue the conversation using the... Whatever.
Anyway, as I was saying earlier, do you think you're getting another rose from your sekret admirer, Cinny?

Maybe. They've been coming for the last few years, so why would he or she stop now?

I guess. But still, I'd be a little worried if I were you.


Well, you said yourself that you've been getting the roses--and only the roses, right?
No letter to go with them like the first time?

Yeah, and?

Well don't you think that's a little strange?
You're getting the roses, but not so much as a howdy-do from this mystery pony?

What are you saying?

Cinnabun, I like you--love you even; you're like the sister I never had! (And Ebony, I guess you're like the pet canary I never had.) But I don't want to see you get hurt, so I'm gonna be straight with you.
This whole secret admirer thing feels iffy to me.
We don't know who this pony is, and for all we know, it could be Begonia playing some trick just to mess with you.
I mean look at her! She's been turning back just to give us the stink eye every now and then.
I definitely wouldn't put something like that past her.

Having read Sweet's reply, Ebony looked to Cinnamon Bun with worry. She already believed that nopony would like her because of her horn, so it'd hurt her greatly if she thought the one pony who did was only doing it all for a joke. He had to intervene somehow, steer the conversation away from that, at least for a bit, lest Cinnamon would begin to harbor doubts on her admirer.

Picking up his pencil again, he made such an attempt.

You could be right, Sweets, but there's also the possibility that the pony is just still too shy to do anything else at the moment.
Might take all of this pony's courage to get to her door, for all we know. I know I'd be that nervous if I liked a pony that much.
(Also, a canary? Really Sweets?)

After passing it to Cinnamon, he waited with baited breath for her reply. Almost a minute later, time Cinnamon Bun spent with a pensive expression, he got just that.

Thank you Sweet Tooth. I'll be careful from now on.

Hey, I'm not saying for you to give up on this pony or anything, just for you to be mindful.
Distance yourself in case it's not legit, and unless he or she proves otherwise, I'll continue to say the same.
I'm only looking out for you.
(Well I can upgrade you to parakeet, but I don't think you've earned that title just yet.)

Hey, I am at least parrot material!

And again Sweets, thank you.

Hey, you know what? Instead of waiting around for this scared-y pony to grow some nerve, why don't we look for them instead!?

Wait, what?

I don't know, Sweets...

Hey, if you don't want to ruin the whole mystique of the secret admirer thing, then that's fine.
Ebony and I will find them just to make sure they're the real deal.
Nopony's messing with our Cinnabun if we can help it.
This pony, at least for right now, wants to obviously remain anonymous.

Oh come on, Ebony, it'll be fun.
Maybe you'll get your cutie mark in investigation if we manage to track them down!

Laying the note flat on his desk, Ebony sighed quietly. Yes, Ebony was the only one in his class who has yet to get his cutie mark, but he didn't really care. He figured that he'll get it when he gets it, so there was no real rush for it. The last thing he needed was for Sweets to drag him and Cinnabun on some crusade to get it.

Sweets, we're not doing this again.
The last time you tried to force a cutie mark out of me, we all ended up getting kicked off the Apple property for trespassing.

Hey, I still say an apple-bucking mark would have looked great on your keister!

It is a cute keister...

Can we not talk about my butt!?
Listen, when my cutie mark comes in, then we'll do all that song and dance.
And as for the secret admirer, we will not be doing any investigations whatsoever!
This is Cinnamon Bun's love life, not ours; looking too deeply into this would be prying.
Besides, it's obvious that Cinnabun is uncomfortable with the thought of us doing so, so we'll leave it be for now, alright?

"Ms. Nurture."

"Yes, Begonia? Do you have a question?"

"No. But Ebony's sharing notes."

"...Oh, is he now?"

His eyes going wide and unblinking, Ebony met Ms. Nurture's gaze and froze.

"Is this true, Ebony?" Ms. Nurture asked in a contained, chiding tone. "Are you sharing notes during class?"

Ebony couldn't help but swallow dryly when every eye in the room focused on him. He knew that was a rhetorical question, as she no doubt saw Ebony accept the note when Sweets passed it back to him with her new response. He remained silent, and the only sound that could be briefly heard in the classroom was that of the hanging clock's ticking and Begonia's jovial snickering.

Eventually, the silence was broken when Ms. Nurture gave a downward sigh before speaking.

"Alright Ebony, you know the rules: if a student is caught passing notes during class time, then that student must read it in front of the class. Now up, Ebony, up."

Ebony felt his body suddenly rise to a sweltering degree, enough to draw a few beads of sweat from his brow. He wanted to look desperately to Sweets and Cinnamon Bun for help, but refrained himself from doing so, not wanting to expose them as well. After a few seconds, Ebony made a long, cleansing breath, then hesitantly rose from his seat with the note in tow.

He didn't want to read it out loud, especially in front of everypony. It wasn't bad enough that the sheet was nearly filled to capacity with their scribbles, which would make reading it a real chore, but he'd also unwillingly reveal the fact to the class that Cinnamon Bun had a secret admirer. Never mind the fact that it was actually him, she'd be teased for weeks, and it'd be all Ebony's fault.

When he made it to the front of the class and turned to the students, Ebony could see that his friends were just as fearful as he was.

"Well?" Ms. Nurture urged patiently, her hoof tapping the floor.

This was it, Ebony was in for it now. As he began to unfurl the note, he prayed for some higher power to intervene.

"H-Hey, think you're gonna--"


Thankfully, and much to Ebony's relief, that divine interference came in the form of the school bell ringing, signifying that class was over for the day.

"Huh," Ms. Nurture uttered, looking to the clock on the wall. "Guess my lecture must have gone longer than I thought. Alright Ebony, seeing as we're out of time, I suppose I'll allow this instance to pass just this once."

"Oh thank Celestia..." he muttered under his breath to himself.

Clearing her throat, Ms. Nurture faced her students, who were all already busily packing their belongings.

"Alright children, class is dismissed. Homework is at the end of chapter 12 of your history books. Lastly, I'm sure you've all already seen the flyers around school, but I'd just like to remind you that Princess Cadance is hosting the first ever Hearts and Hooves--"

Ebony didn't hear what she had to say, as he had tuned her out. He was at his desk, shoveling everything of his into his book bag, note that nearly landed him in so much trouble included. He just wanted to leave as soon as possible, to forget the close call he nearly had.

"You alright, Ebony?" Cinnamon Bun asked worriedly.

Ebony nodded shakily.

"Y-Yeah... Just...phew..."

"Thank goodness for the school bell, huh?" said Sweet Tooth. She then turned to Begonia a few desks away, who was chortling in their direction. "What's your deal, you butt!? Why'd you out us like that!?"

Grin hidden behind her hoof, Begonia rolled her eyes and shrugged amusingly before answering.

"What, I was just trying to help Bald-wings there. Maybe he could have gotten a cutie mark in public speaking." All three of them just glared at her, unamused.

After rolling their eyes almost simultaneously, they ignored her and turned back to each other.

"You wanna go to Sugarcube Corner, Ebony? Get what almost happened out of your mind?" Sweet Tooth asked. "Ms. Pinkie should be working today, so she can probably set us up with those special floats you like. My treat."

As tempting as that was, Ebony had other plans in mind. For instance, coming up with a new thing to do for Cinnamon Bun tomorrow. Sweets was right: her admirer would have to show more effort if they were to seem more convincing to Cinnamon to Sweets as well, apparently.

Zipping up his book bag, Ebony softly shook his head.

"Eh, sorry girls. Mom asked me to help her out in the store today since tomorrow's gonna be pretty hectic. Maybe some other time."

"Oh, well...alright then," Sweets said. Tossing her own bags onto her back, she then made for the door. "C'mon, Cinny; more floats for us."

"Alright," Cinnamon Bun answered with a nod. Once she had her bags secured to her person, she, and much to Ebony's shock, turned to him and lunged forward in an unexpected and tight hug.

"I'm sorry for what Begonia did," she said over his shoulder. "But I guess, heh, butts will be butts."

His body gone rigid in her embrace, Ebony stared wide-eyedly forward. Once again, he felt his body go warm, only more so around his face, particularly in his cheeks. He had never noticed it before, but Cinnamon Bun gave off a sweet fragrance that reminded him so much of her namesake. He supposed that was only natural, seeing as her special talent was baking the pastries, after all.

After forcing a lump down his throat, Ebony opened his mouth and croaked before being able to speak properly.

"Eh, y--ahem...y-yeah..."

Realizing that he had yet to hug her back, Ebony sent the signal for his forearms to wrap around her. However, it was too late, as once he made an attempt, Cinnamon separated.

"Well, good luck at your mother's shop, and thanks for getting Sweets to lay off my secret admirer. I know she's just looking out for me, but somehow...somehow I just know that his or her feelings are real. You know what I mean?"

Ebony just sat there, staring at her, almost as if for the first time. The sun was shining in on her from the window at that moment, making her rose eyes and caramel coat seem to glisten in its rays. This had never happened to him before, but Ebony found himself lacking words when speaking with Cinnamon Bun.

Noticing that he had failed to reply, he muttered the first words his mind was able to get a grasp on.

"Uh...yeah... Yeah, I do. Eh...know what you mean, that is."

"Well alright, I'll see you tomorrow, Ebbey. Bye."


And like that, she had left the classroom in pursuit of Sweets, leaving the young bat colt curious as to what the brimming feeling in his chest was.

It didn't use to be this difficult. Ebony would just de-thorn and prepare one of his white roses, then set it on Cinnamon Bun's doorstep the next morning at the crack of dawn. This time around, however, he found himself inexplicably compelled to do so much more.

Ebony didn't understand the reasoning behind this new feeling of his, but he decided to see if he could tap into it. So far, he wasn't very successful. He'd been sitting in his room's desk, staring down at a blank sheet of paper, almost as if trying to will heartfelt words onto it for Cinnamon Bun.

Minutes went by, and all he happened to do was tap his hooves atop his desk...

"Ugh," he then groaned in frustration, messing up his mane with his hooves. He was drawing a blank, and was exasperated by that fact.

Realizing that he needed to take a short break, Ebony leaned to his side for his book bag and decided to do what most colts his age wouldn't do when looking to unwind: Get started on his homework.

Grasping his textbook with both hooves, Ebony worked to withdraw it from his bag. One of its corners snagged against the interior fabric, however, irritating him as it became more of a hassle for him to pull it out. As he began to struggle with it, he brought the bag over his desk, shaking it almost violently in his effort to get the book free from it. After a few good shakes, though, he ceased when something other than the book, as well as a few pencils, fell out of it.

It was the note he had shared with his friends earlier. The very same, crumbled one he was caught with and nearly forced to read in front of the whole class. Curious, Ebony set his bag aside and began to unfold the note. He wondered what was so important that Sweets sent a reply when he was positive he'd settled the matter. What he read caused him to produce a half sigh, half groan.


That was it. Ebony was done. He'd just forget what could have happened and return to his task at hoof with his admirer business. He was sure that something would come to him at any second now.

He balled the note, ready to toss it into his wastebasket. However, right as he was about to do so, Ebony paused.

He uncrumpled it, then placed it flat on his desk and tried to smooth it with a hoof. With that done, he then flipped the paper onto its other side, the side him and his friends have been ignoring the entire time.

It was a flyer, the same kind that have been put up around the school for about a week now. It depicted the minimalist image of Princess Candace, hanging over a just as featureless couple with hearts strewn about near their heads. Bellow it all was text that read:

Princess Cadance would like to invite you to the first ever annual romantic poetry contest.
Show your special somepony how much you really feel this Hearts and Hooves day.

"Poetry, huh?" Ebony said silently to himself.

While he had no actual interest in competing in the contest, the flyer did give him an idea on something to try with Cinnamon Bun, so he figured that he might as well try his hoof at it.

After all, now that he had an inkling on what to go with, how much harder could it be?

*Thump! Thump! Thump!*

"Whoa, what's going on in here?" Ebony's mother asked, walking into his room and catching her son seemingly trying to bludgeon himself to death against his desk.

Ceasing his head pounding, Ebony laid flat against his desk and sighed.

"Nothing, Mom. Just...working through a lot of stuff right now."

"I can see that," she answered, noticing a mound of crumpled papers surrounding his desk and chair. Picking one of them up, she unfurled it and began to look through it. "Is this some sort of homework you probably want me to help you with? Wait... 'Roses are red, violets of blue. Hey, you'? Is this poetry? Are you trying to write poetry?"

With the cat out of the bag, Ebony turned to her.

"Yeah...yeah, it is. See, there's this romantic poetry thing I'm kind of interested in competing in," he lied. Honestly, he didn't want to explain the whole secret admirer thing to his mother. He also happened to have the flyer with him, despite it being completely scribbled on one side and crumpled, so he thought he might as well roll with it.

"Heard the prize is a spree at Sugarcube's, and, know me. So, any pointers?"

"I don't know, son," she said, the corner of her mouth creasing upwards as she skimmed what he had written. "This is...pfft, pretty bad. I swear, even your father wasn't this terrible."

Wanting to hide his embaressed blush, Ebony turned away from her.

"H-Hey, don't laugh! ...I just started."

"Sorry, sorry," she said, trying to force her chortles at bay. Almost a minute later, she regained her composure and coughed into her hoof. "Ahem. Sorry about that, got to be supportive. Anyway, um, what do you need help with?"

"Oh I don't about making it good?"

"Hmm," she hummed, sitting down on his bed and looking through his other papers. "You know, Sweetie, a poem doesn't always have to rhyme. You can drop the whole 'roses are red' thing; just write from the heart. Simple."

Suddenly, their ears perks, as a growing whistle could be heard downstairs.

"Uph, got to go. Left the kettle on." Right as she got up, she said one last thing before leaving his room. "Just...take it slow and think of how you want this pony to know how you feel. The rest should come naturally to you."

With her closing the door on her way out, Ebony turned back to his new sheet of paper.

"How I want her to feel, huh?"

Once again on Hearts and Hooves day morning, Ebony woke up at an ungodly hour. He flew low over the empty streets of Ponyville on his silent wings, carrying with him his book bag containing the white rose and finished poem. He had to make it to Cinnamon Bun's place before sunrise, lest somepony spot him.

Landing before her house minutes later, Ebony took out the rose and folded poem, then placed them on her doorstep. Rather than flying away, however, he took the added time to make sure the two items were arranged just right. Everything had to be perfect for Cinnamon Bun.

Seconds later, though, Ebony's ears perked and his heart jumped in his chest. He could hear approaching movement from the other side of the door, and it was coming quick!

Ebony panicked. He couldn't be caught--not now! Thinking quickly, he turned for the still-darkened alley and dashed into it.

There, within the safety of its shadows, he observed as the home's front door opened.

"Hello?" Cinnamon Bun--much to Ebony's surprise--called as she stepped out.

Ebony didn't understand what was she doing up so early. This had never happened before on the other Hearts and Hooves days. Biting his bottom lip nervously, Ebony watched as Cinnamon Bun hurriedly looked down one side of the street, then the other.

"Hello?" she repeated, her voice slightly echoing off the empty streets. "I...I heard you at the front. I know it's you. I know you're there...somewhere."

She knew it was him?

"Idiot!" Ebony silently berated himself, lightly bonking himself upside the head for being so careless. He'd now have to explain that he didn't want to hurt her. That his intentions were purely good.

Those thoughts were put at ease, however, when Cinnamon Bun continued.

"My friends were talking about looking for you yesterday...well, one of them was."

So wait, then she didn't know it was actually him? Ebony couldn't describe how relieved he was to hear that.

"My friend says that you're probably just playing a trick, but...but I know better," she said. "Somehow, I just feel that we have a connection. Well...that's all I wanted to say to you, really. And...and if you're still shy, then...then that's ok. I'll wait."

Looking down to her doorstep, Cinnamon Bun finally decided to pay attention to her gift from her sekret admirer.

"Thank you for the roses. I love them. ...Oh, what's this?"

Using her magic, she picked up the folded sheet of paper, then brought it closer to herself so she could read it. Hoping she'd like it, Ebony closed his eyes and pictured what he had written.

Even from a distance I could tell you were beautiful.
The way the sun shined on your mane, so musical.
Like a bouquet of butterfly wings.
It’s sight made me want to sing.
As it danced like silvery strings.
Then flew away.
Not even a view of the stars could have made it a greater day.

Reopening his eyes, Ebony couldn't help but smile at the sight of Cinnamon Bun holding the piece of paper so near and dear to her chest.

"Thank you," she whispered, a single joyful tear tuning down her cheek.

Seeing her smile, Ebony felt his chest resurge with that same strange feeling from before.


Actually, wait a second. That wasn't the only thing he was feeling. There was something else coupled with the previous feeling, it felt strange, it felt--

Suddenly, Ebony's body began to glow, as well as rise several inches off the ground without him using his wings. Ebony was scared and confused, as he didn't know what was going on. He wasn't in control of his extremities, and it felt like lightning was coursing throughout his body, only it wasn't painful, just an overwhelming tingling sensation.

Right when he thought it couldn't get any stranger, his body suddenly gave off a burst of blinding light, illuminating the darkened alley for just a split second.

Watching the scene unfold, Cinnamon Bun used her hoof to shield her eyes from the unexplained light. She first thought it to be the sun, but knew that wasn't the case when the light then went out just as quickly as it came. Confused by what just happened, she then ran into the alley, as she was sure she saw a the silhouette of a figure in the center of it all.

"Hello!?" she called out. The filly's only response came in the form of her own voice bouncing off the enclosed space.

Feeling brave, she opposed the alley's darkness and walked in. After delving a few feet in, she, much to her confusion, was surprised find it completely empty.

"Huh?" she uttered, blindly feeling around and touching only brick.

Nothing. There was nopony in the alley. Just her, and only her.

Shaking her head, Cinnamon Bun figured it was time to return to bed. However, before returning to her home, she said one last thing in case her sekret admirer was listening.

"Happy Hearts and Hooves day...whoever you are."

And at that, the door soon closed as she reentered.

"Phew," sounded Ebony, laying on his back atop one of the buildings. He was thankful that she didn't look up, as she might have spotted his tail hanging off the edge.

Getting onto his hooves, Ebony inspected himself.

"What was that?" he asked no one in particular. "Some kind of magic?" After looking back to his raised wing, Ebony folded it, then noticed something that wasn't there before on his flank.

Ebony sat down and faced forward in shock, as he couldn't believe what just happened.

His cutie mark. He had just gotten his cutie mark...

He kept mentally repeating that to himself, as it was difficult for it to sink in.

It was that of a red rose, surrounded by seven stars. As to what it was supposed to represent, he hadn't the faintest idea. Still, as he extended his wings for the flight home, there was two things he was thankful for.

One: It's a good thing he lived in a flower shop.

And two: At least the rose wasn't white, as that would have been a dead giveaway...