Standard disclaimer: This is a not for profit fan work. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is copyright Hasbro, Inc. I make no claim to any copyrighted material mentioned herein.
Chapter 9: Brother and Sister
Blue Seas stared out the window as the train descended from the lofty heights of Canterlot. As the train rounded a curve, he saw the first sign of home, the sun gleaming off the highest spire of the Castle of Friendship. Living under the sea had been an interesting experience, one that he wanted to revisit in the future, but for now, he wanted to go home.
And Ponyville was home.
Twenty minutes later, the train pulled to a stop. Blue Seas grabbed his bag and stepped out, expecting to see his family there. They were, and they immediately mobbed him in a group hug.
“Um, Mom, Dad? Can we let the other ponies off the train first?”
They stepped to the side, allowing Golden Harvest a chance to smother her son with even more hugs. “I missed, you, son,” she said.
“I missed you too. Now, I just want to get home.”
“How does it feel to be out of the water?” Golden Grain asked.
“I’m used to having four legs again. But I think I still have water in my ear.”
“Let’s all get home,” Golden Harvest said. “I’ll make your favorite dinner, and you can tell us all about Atlantis!”
Back at home, over a plate of fried carrots and potatoes, Blue Seas regaled his family with stories from his two months underwater. Just like him, they found the differences in everyday life to be curious, all those mundane details that were completely different under the sea. And when he talked about the work he was doing, he just got blank stares.
“I guess that’s hard to visualize if you’ve never been underwater,” Blue Seas said. “By the way, I brought souvenirs.”
“Can we see them?” Juniper asked.
Blue Seas found his bag, still packed from his trip, and carried it into the kitchen. He first pulled out a necklace, a string of carefully arranged shells, larger in the middle and smaller near the ends. “This is for you, Cirrus!”
“Pretty!” the pegasus filly chirped. She slipped it on, laughing as the shells rattled.
“And for you, Red Streak, I saved some seapony coins to add to your coin collection.”
Red Streak looked at the coins curiously. “Are these made of shell?”
“Yeah. They won’t tarnish!”
“Makes sense,” he said.
“Juniper, I brought you samples of some of the plants seaponies use for flavoring their food. Maybe you can brew something unique with them.”
Juniper smiled. “I’ll certainly try.”
“As for you, Junebug, I thought about bringing you a pet, but then Mom would kick me out of the house.”
“Darn straight I would,” Golden Harvest interjected. While she supported all her children’s search for their special talent, she drew the line at creepy crawly things in the house.
“Instead, here’s a fossil with an impression of... well, something.”
“Ooh! A remipede!”
“I think we’ll take your word on that.”
“Did you keep anything for yourself?” Golden Grain asked.
“An aquaball. It’s used in some seapony games. I bet Scootaloo could find some way to use it in one of our games.”
“It sounds like you had an eventful two months,” Golden Harvest said. “Are you going to go back?”
“Maybe. I feel like two months wasn’t enough time to learn in which of two worlds I belong. But enough about me. How are things around the farm?” Blue Seas asked.
“We’re getting things ready for spring, and I’ve got a few more spirits distilling,” Golden Grain said. “Don’t worry, there’s plenty for you to do.”
“I didn’t expect otherwise. I still need to visit all the friends I haven’t seen in two months.”
“Like Pumpkin Cake?” Cirrus said.
“Yeah,” he replied with a blush.
The next morning, Blue Seas headed to Sugarcube Corner. It was mid-morning, past the breakfast rush, so Blue Seas entered the side door, opening directly into the kitchen. Pumpkin Cake and her mother were there, kneading dough and stirring batter for the treats to be enjoyed by that afternoon’s customers.
“Blue Seas!” Pumpkin Cake exclaimed, letting her bowl fall to the counter. She rushed up and embraced her coltfriend, and, conscious of her mother being in the room, they shared a quick nuzzle.
“How are you?” Blue Seas asked.
“Stressed. Mom and Dad are leaving the store to my care for two weeks,” she replied.
“But haven’t you run Sugarcube Corner by yourself lots of times?”
“Yes, but never for Hearts and Hooves Day!”
“You’ll do fine, sweetie,” Cup Cake said. “Remember, you’ll have Aunt Pinkie to help.”
“And maybe I could help, too,” Blue Seas suggested.
Pumpkin Cake tried very hard to stifle her laughter. Cup Cake, on the other hoof, didn’t.
“Come on. I could do something,” he protested.
“Blue Seas, last time you tried baking here, you mixed up a batch of cookies with powdered sugar instead of flour, you burned your hoof, and one of the ovens started spouting fire,” Pumpkin Cake said. “I appreciate the offer, but you’re better off giving me moral support.”
“Pumpkin Cake, I’ve got everything handled here,” Cup Cake said. “Why don’t you take an hour off and catch up?”
“Thanks, Mom,” she said, untying her apron with her magic and throwing it in the hamper.
Pumpkin Cake and Blue Seas retreated to her bedroom, where they took a seat on the bed. She leaned in, and they shared a passionate kiss.
“I missed you so much,” Pumpkin Cake said.
“Me too,” Blue Seas said.
“You missed you?” Pumpkin Cake said with a smile.
Blue Seas lightly bopped her muzzle. “You know what I mean.”
“Other than missing me, what did you do underwater?”
Blue Seas recounted his time in the seapony kingdom, describing the family he stayed with, the work he did, and the sometimes familiar, sometimes bizarre seapony society.
“Those dances sound interesting, and the music,” Pumpkin Cake said. “But you haven’t mentioned anything about the other reason you went there.”
“I didn’t find my natural mother,” he replied, shaking his head. “Maybe on another trip.”
“You want to go back?”
“I don’t know. I liked the work, and, well... I can’t stay on the farm forever. Azure Spark told me about the training he did when he was my age. From spring to fall, he lived in a dormitory, and worked with a coach. He spent some time teaching young foals how to swim, but really, his full time job was swimming. And then he worked underwater in the off season.”
“Does that mean you’re leaving?” Pumpkin Cake asked.
“I... I don’t know. I haven’t decided. It’s what my cutie mark is telling me, but my heart is saying something different.”
“I understand,” Pumpkin Cake said, looking away.
“You understand? What is it?” Blue Seas asked.
“Culinary school. The Royal Institute of the Culinary Arts in Canterlot, to be specific. I never thought about it before; I know Mom and Dad could never afford it. But Aunt Pinkie said she saved every bit she earned here so that I could go, if I wanted to.”
“Are you going to go?”
“Just like you, I don’t know. I still have to apply, and pass admissions. I don’t need a culinary degree to run Sugarcube Corner, but I’ve always wanted to be a master chef. But three years in Canterlot....”
Blue Seas sighed. “This is what growing up means. Hard decisions.”
“It sounds like we both have some time before we decide,” Pumpkin Cake said.
Blue Seas pulled Pumpkin Cake close and nuzzled her. “Then let’s enjoy the time we have.”
Walking down the streets of Ponyville, Blue Seas felt a wing slap his withers. Only one pony greeted him like that. “Hey, Scootaloo,” he said, without turning around.
“Hey, Blue Seas. Haven’t seen you around much,” she said.
“I’ve been out of town.”
“You could say that,” Blue Seas replied, smiling. Apparently, not everypony knew where he had been.
“I want you to come to Sports Day this year. Can you come?”
“Hey, you’re an Equestria Games athlete. Not many ponies can claim that.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever tried to teach anything,” Blue Seas said.
“All I want is for the foals to get excited about trying sports. All you need to know is a few basics. And it’s really important to show them that unicorns can be athletes, too.”
Blue Seas was reminded of his natural father’s quest to promote athletics, and the difficulty his efforts found in Canterlot. “Okay. I’ll do it.”
“Great!” Scootaloo exclaimed. “Sports Day is the 12th. But meet at school Saturday at dawn for practice.”
Blue Seas groaned.
Following a day of repairs around the farm, Blue Seas returned to the farmhouse. He picked up the aroma of his mother’s favorite stew and his father’s honey wheat bread. But if there was one meal he would choose serve to a guest, that was it.
Even if the guest were a young Canterlot noble and a blood relation.
Blue Seas headed into the kitchen, where he saw his mother tending to the stew and a pan of glazed carrots. She took a wooden spoon in her mouth and shook it in his direction. “Out!” she said.
“I just wanted to see if I could help,” Blue Seas said.
“The stew requires my full attention. You can help by cleaning up the mess in the living room.”
Blue Seas nodded and left the kitchen. His mother could get very particular when cooking. He went to the living room, which he was sure had been clean that morning, only to see that Cirrus and Red Streak had made a huge mess. Toys and books were spread out on the floor and furniture, in such quantities that it appeared the room hadn’t been cleaned in a month. He sighed as he tended to the clutter.
Afterward, Blue Seas washed up, finishing just in time to hear a knock at the door. He rushed to the door and opened it.
“Blue Seas,” the filly standing outside stated.
“You must be Bluebell,” Blue Seas said. “Er, Princess Bluebell.”
“Just Bluebell is fine. This isn’t a formal occasion.”
“I can see that,” Blue Seas replied. Bluebell raised an eyebrow. “I mean, I expected you would be wearing some fancy gown.”
Bluebell removed the only article of clothing she was wearing, a scarf, and hung it on the rack by the door. “I have several such gowns, of course. But with Princess Twilight Sparkle’s idea of a royal banquet being a hayburger and fries, I suspect my formal attire will remain safely stored in my trunks. Suffice to say, I’ve been getting used to the more casual ponies of Ponyville.”
“I assure you, there’s nothing casual about our dinners, especially when it comes to second helpings,” Blue Seas warned.
“I’m not a big eater. But it smells delicious.”
“Dinner’s ready! Come and get it!” Golden Harvest shouted from the kitchen.
Upon hearing those words, the farmhouse erupted in activity. The foals converged on the kitchen, crowding around the cozy table. Amidst their jockeying for position, Juniper stumbled and collided with Bluebell. The middle colt apologized, but it didn’t stop him from claiming the seat closest to the stew pot.
With two adults seated at the table, it felt even more crowded than it had on Bluebell’s previous visit. Forelegs collided as the ponies loaded up their plates. She listened as the Goldens made small talk, sharing the day’s events with each other. It was amazing how much they said, given how much they were eating at the same time.
“Aren’t you going to have some more?” Golden Harvest asked Bluebell.
“I really can’t. It was so good, but I’ve already eaten much more than I normally do.” Princess Twilight Sparkle’s cooking left something to be desired, she mused, but kept that comment to herself.
“That’s too bad,” she replied. “We still have dessert.”
Bluebell stared hungrily as Golden Harvest placed a large carrot cake on the table. “Well, maybe a little piece.”
Once dessert was finished, Bluebell was well and truly stuffed. She wanted to lean back, but she was sitting on a bench, not a proper dining room chair.
“I think it’s time to clear the table,” Golden Grain announced. “Blue Seas, please escort our guest to the living room. The rest of you, clean the kitchen.”
Blue Seas noticed the dirty looks he got from his siblings; he always hated it when somepony got out of doing the chores. But he did want some time to talk with Bluebell, alone, and he suspected she wanted the same.
As they left the kitchen, Juniper again bumped into Bluebell, but this time, Blue Seas saw that Cirrus had gotten underhoof to cause the stumble. “Let me apologize in advance for my little sister,” he said to Bluebell.
“Why? She was well-behaved,” Bluebell said.
“Well, you know, Hearts and Hooves Day is coming up, and I think she’s determined to make you Juniper’s special somepony.”
“That’s sweet of her,” Bluebell said.
“I had to deal with her attention for two years,” Blue Seas said. “She harnessed the power of her unbearable cuteness and placed me in dozens of uncomfortable situations, because she thought big brother needed a special somepony.”
“Did it work?”
“No. It didn’t stop until I found a marefriend, and it wasn’t any of the fillies Cirrus found.”
“I’ll keep an eye out for her trouble,” Bluebell said. “Nopony can beat the heir to House Platinum when it comes to dealing with other ponies.”
“What do you normally do for Hearts and Hooves Day back in Canterlot?” Blue Seas asked.
“There’s a formal ball at my school,” she replied.
“That sounds nice.”
“It’s kind of awkward,” Bluebell admitted. “Most younger fillies aren’t as eager as your little sister. And fillies my age aren’t much better. It would be better without all the trappings of Hearts and Hooves Day.”
“You don’t have to worry about that here. Mrs. Cheerilee is your teacher, right?”
“She just does cards and candies. And Princess Twilight Sparkle keeps the book with the love poison recipe locked up.”
Bluebell raised an eyebrow. “You mean love potion, right?”
“No, love poison. It’s one of many stories I heard from Scootaloo,” Blue Seas said. “Oh, you’ll meet her, and me, for Sports Day.”
“Basically, you get to spend the entire day trying out various sports and games, like the ones in the Equestria Games.” Blue Seas glanced at Bluebell, confirming that she was without her cutie mark. “I’m sure your father would be thrilled if your special talent was in athletics.”
Bluebell shrugged. “Me? Not likely.” After a pause, she changed the subject. “So, you were really in the seapony kingdom?”
“Yeah, I was there for two months.”
“Working. And taking the chance to learn about my seapony heritage.”
“What was it like?”
Once again, Blue Seas found himself recounting his recent stint underwater. Curiously, Bluebell was most interested in what he thought was the least interesting aspect of his stay, the work he did.
“So, these currents are like roads?” Bluebell asked.
“Roads and... I don’t know how to explain it. They bring in heat. So, something like irrigation channels bringing water?”
Bluebell sighed. “You really are your father’s son, Blue Seas.”
“What do you mean?”
“Father’s special talent is surveying. He worked in city planning before taking that position on the athletics council. You both swim. And you look so much like him.”
“So do you,” Blue Seas said. Then he saw Bluebell look at him crossly. “I mean your mane and coat color!”
“Yes. Well, it’s a mark of House Platinum. Some ponies say that Princess Platinum was so vain that she created a ritual spell so that her descendents would look like her. And given that you have the darkest coat color I’ve seen amongst my blood relations, I don’t doubt it.”
Blue Seas looked at his pale silver coat; he certainly had never thought of himself as having a dark coat. “I’m sure my mane is different, too.”
“Yeah.” Bluebell realized she was staring and blushing.
Bluebell looked away, embarrassed. “Sorry. Just remembering these cute stallions I saw at that party in Baltimare. They had manes like yours.”
Realization dawned on Blue Seas. “You probably saw some of my fellow swimmers. One of them was Azure Spark, the pony I worked with.” He smiled. “You know, there’s a good way to see them again. Qualify for the Equestria Games. So, how does that Sports Day sound?”
“Okay. I’ll give my best effort.”
His parents arrived with drinks and more food, and Blue Seas and Bluebell were joined by the rest of his family. They talked and shared stories, just like a visit from any of the family’s distant relatives from across Equestria. And Bluebell was laughing and smiling the whole time.
“It’s getting late, and most of you have school tomorrow,” Golden Grain finally said. “Blue Seas, would you escort our guest out?”
Blue Seas nodded, and took Bluebell to the door. “I’m glad we could meet,” he said.
“Thank you for inviting me over. Your family is just so lively!”
“That they are,” Blue Seas replied with a chuckle. “Good night, um... my secret half-sister by blood.”
Bluebell gave him a fraternal hug. “Good night, big brother.” She departed, but turned her head. “Off the record, of course,” she added with a smile.
Blue Seas, still feeling groggy, arrived at the schoolhouse just after dawn. Scootaloo was zipping around several stations, setting up athletic equipment. There were seven other volunteers, three pegasi and four earth ponies, all older than him, none of whom Blue Seas could name.
Scootaloo blew a whistle, and everypony gathered around her. “Thank you, everypony, for giving up your morning, and a day next week, to help Ponyville’s foals appreciate sports and athletics. I’d give you the whole speech about the importance of physical fitness and the spirit of competition, but one, you already know that, and two, you’re going to have to listen to it Thursday. After that, I want all of you to talk to the students and tell them about your own athletic experiences. Alula, Blue Seas, I especially want you to do this.
“After we get the speeches out of the way, we’re going to split the foals up by class, and introduce them to a bunch of sports. There’s no way you can get good at all of these. What we’re doing here is introducing you to the basics. The equipment, how to use it safely, basic rules and strategy, that sort of thing. Remember that there will be foals of all ages, so keep that in mind when you talk to them.
“Some of this equipment is more dangerous than others, especially the ice bows. These are going to be stationed further from the building, and they must be monitored by somepony at all time. Trust me; you do not want to see an errant ice arrow!
“If anypony shows interest in a particular sport or activity, send them to me. Some of the coaches from the high school will be here, and I’ll make sure to introduce the older foals to them. Now, are there any questions?”
“Is one of the ponds going to be melted?” Blue Seas asked. Because of the upcoming Hearts and Hooves Day, he knew from experience that the weather team would bring in warmer weather to melt the snow, but he didn’t think that included clearing the ice from the ponds.
“No. But we will have use of the high school’s gymnasium for part of the day. That includes the pool and track. Blue Seas, I want you to take any foals interested in swimming there. Okay?”
Blue Seas nodded.
“Alula, can you handle the runners?”
“Sure thing, coach!” the pale yellow pegasus mare chirped.
“Okay, most everything else will be done right here. Now let’s get to practicing!”
Blue Seas spent the next several hours practicing various sports and athletics. Most practices went okay, but he was soon reminded why he never got into polo and hoofball.
Scootaloo called a break. Blue Seas opened his saddlebags to get a granola bar, and remembered he brought something to show the coach.
“Catch!” Blue Seas shouted as he tossed his aquaball to Scootaloo.
Scootaloo flew into the air and caught the small, squishy ball. “Neat! So, what is it?”
“It’s an aquaball. I picked it up when I was working in the seapony kingdom.”
Scootaloo blinked. “That’s where you were?”
Blue Seas smiled. “Yep.”
“Cool!” Scootaloo bounced the ball on her head. “So, this is the same density as water?”
“I guess; that makes sense.”
She moved the ball to her back, rolling it between her wings. “So how do you play?”
“You kick the ball with your tail. Kick? There’s probably a better word, but the seaponies move the ball using only their powerful tails, trying to get it into the goal.”
Scootaloo tried moving the ball with her tail; it fell to the ground. “Well, that won’t work for us. Maybe Apple Bloom could, with her freakishly strong tail. Why don’t you take the ball to the pool for Sports Day? See what the foals try with it.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“Ready to get back to work?”
Blue Seas groaned. “Sure thing, Coach.”
Princess Bluebell arrived at the schoolhouse. Across the schoolyard, foals were running around, eager to spend the day having fun. She entered the classroom. Though she was going to spend this Sports Day outside, she needed to drop off her lunch.
She found a note on her desk. Unfolding it in her magic, she read the note:
You will be meeting at the north field for your first Sports Day Activity.
Bluebell frowned. She thought she remembered Cheerilee saying they would meet outside the classroom. She examined the note. It was on Ponyville Elementary stationery, and the mouthwriting was neat and precise.
Recalling her conversation with her half-brother, she had a suspicion about what was going on. She checked the clock. With plenty of time, she decided to indulge the mystery note.
Most of the foals were playing near the schoolhouse. The north field, if she recalled correctly, was the furthest away. She trotted there, enjoying the brisk air and the feel of the grassy field under her hooves, a field that was finally cleared of snow. Sure enough, there was one colt there, stretching and warming up.
“Hi, Bluebell,” Juniper said. “Let me guess. There was a note on your desk?”
Bluebell nodded. “Your little sister has excellent mouthwriting.”
“I’m more interested in knowing how she got that paper from the office.”
“Yeah.” Bluebell thought about this little encounter; as far as tricks go, it wasn’t anything bad, but Blue Seas suggested it may very well escalate. She thought about what she could do, and smiled. “Say, where can I find the little scamp?”
“She’s in Miss Honeybee’s class. I know we’re supposed to stay with our class, but you should be able to spot her once we’ve broken up into smaller groups.”
“I’ll keep an eye out.”
Bluebell and Juniper joined their class as they gathered around the visitors, noticing Blue Seas among them. Scootaloo stepped to the front, and waved her hoof. The crowd quieted.
“Good morning,” she started. “I’m Scootaloo, but you can call me Coach. And I’m the reason you don’t have class today!” The foals in the crowd cheered and stomped their hooves. “You’re here for Sports Day, where you can try out all sorts of sports, games, and athletic activities. Everypony should be active and stay active all their lives, and enjoy friendly competition with their fellow ponies. What we’re hoping is that you can find an activity you enjoy. Who knows? You might even discover your special talent.
“Now, I brought a lot of other ponies to help me today. All of them are experienced in at least one sport, even if it isn’t their special talent.” Scootaloo turned to the others. “Now, introduce yourselves!”
Blue Seas listened as the others introduced themselves. He wasn’t familiar with these ponies, and he was surprised at how many had participated in past Equestria Games. After each introduction, the foals stomped their hooves in applause.
“Alula?” Scootaloo said. Blue Seas leaned in, curious as to her story.
“Hi! I’m Alula. I work as a flight instructor, helping young pegasi learn to fly. But I didn’t know that was my special talent when I was your age. I was always full of energy, so I did a lot of running and jumping. And I liked it so much, I even competed in the Equestria Games! I’m not as strong as an earth pony, but I found some events where being nimble helped me compete. So I competed in hurdles and the high jump. And later today, I’ll take anypony that’s interested to the high school, where you can run and jump on a real track!”
After the applause faded, Blue Seas heard Scootaloo call his name. He stepped forward, and spoke. “My name is Blue Seas. I’m a swimmer. I always loved the water, and soon discovered that swimming was my special talent. I participated in my first Equestria Games last year in Baltimare. There, I learned that even somepony with a special talent in athletics can always learn more.”
“All right, that’s everypony,” Scootaloo said. “Now, let’s get started! We’re going to split up by class. Mrs. Cheerilee’s class, you’ll be with me and Alula.”
Bluebell stuck close to Juniper and Junebug as the class headed to one field. There were targets set up in a row, some distance from a row of bows, set into flexible bases.
“Only the older classes get to try out ice archery,” Scootaloo announced. “The goal is simple. You fire the enchanted arrows until the target is completely coated with ice. Fastest to finish wins.
“Let me show you the proper technique for using the bow.” Scootaloo took an arrow in her mouth and nocked it. Again using her mouth, she pulled back the bowstring and let the arrow fire. It impacted the target, spreading a rough circle of ice.
“It is important that you don’t try to pull the bows with your hoof or with your magic,” Scootaloo warned. “Because if you lose control of the bow, bad things can happen. Trust me, I know from personal experience. Alula, if you would?”
The pale yellow pegasus nodded and flew into the cloudy sky. She returned with a small cloud in her hooves, which she positioned over the open field.
“Like this!” Scootaloo shouted, and fired a bow into the cloud. The arrow pierced the cloud, and its magic went out of control, the water vapor in the cloud quickly changing to ice. The chunk of ice fell to the ground with a thud.
“Cool!” Juniper said.
Scootaloo looked right at Juniper. “That was a demonstration of what NOT to do,” she said sternly. “Now, everypony line up. You’ll each get a chance to practice.
Bluebell hung back as the class got in line. She was watching Cirrus and the rest of Miss Honeybee’s class as they raced through an obstacle course. It reminded her of one of the pegasus events at the Equestria Games, but the obstacles were on the ground, allowing the unicorns, earth ponies, and pegasi who couldn’t fly to race. After observing the class in action, she smiled.
“Bluebell? Are you going to try?” Juniper asked.
Bluebell looked back, and saw that most of the class was finished. “Oh, sure.” She stepped up to the bow, and took an arrow.
“Now nock it, and make sure it’s level,” Scootaloo said in guidance. “Now pull. A little further. Check that the arrow remains level, and release.”
Bluebell released the arrow, and it struck the bottom of the target.
“Good. Now keep going, changing the pull on the bow slightly each time. Pay attention to how the bow is set in the base.”
Bluebell fired again, hitting the target again, but too close to her previous shot. It wasn’t the most efficient shot she could have made.
“This event is both speed and accuracy,” Scootaloo said. “You need some inspiration. I like to think about somepony I don’t like talking, and the ice blocking the sound of her voice.”
Bluebell immediately thought of the pompous windbag son of Baron Hightree, who loved the sound of his own voice. She pulled an arrow, fired, and kept firing until the fool finally shut up.
“Pretty good!” Scootaloo said.
After lunch, Scootaloo announced the classes would split. “Anypony interested in track and field or swimming will now walk to the high school. Track and field, you’re with Alula. Swimming, Blue Seas.”
Around twenty foals broke off to join this group. Blue Seas spotted Bluebell run towards the group. “Hey, kid!” she called to a young pegasus. He then watched as she whispered something to the foal, who got a goofy smile on his face.
Blue Seas hurried over to his sister. “What was that?” he asked.
“Oh, just a solution to a problem,” she replied cryptically. She then turned and rejoined her class, smiling all the while.
“Blue Seas, let’s go!” Alula said.
With some difficulty, the two older ponies escorted the group of foals to the high school. One of the school’s teachers greeted them, taking them to the gymnasium.
Once the two groups split off, Blue Seas found himself with eight foals, five earth ponies and three unicorns. He didn’t expect any pegasi in his group, due to how the water affected their wings, but he was happy to see the unicorns interested in swimming.
And then he realized he didn’t know what to do. He hadn’t really thought of a lesson plan.
“So, um, let’s start by getting into the pool,” Blue Seas said. Once he joined them in the pool, he felt at ease. He knew what to do in the water. “So, I’m going to demonstrate each of the swimming strokes, and then help you as you practice them.”
And so he did, introducing the ponies to the basics of swimming. Afterward, he levitated his aquaball out of his saddlebags, and dropped it in the pool. Unsurprisingly, the foals raced to get it. A unicorn filly emerged from the scrum holding the ball, a big smile on her face.
“You got the ball first, so you’re the first coach,” Blue Seas told the filly. “What I want you to do is throw the ball, then call out somepony’s name, and one of the strokes we practiced. That pony will swim to the ball, using only that stroke, and then he or she will be the new captain. Understand?”
The foals nodded, and then began. Blue Seas watched them play, only stepping in to correct one of the foal’s strokes.
Finally, the end of his time at the pool neared. He headed to the lockers, returning with a stack of towels. “Everypony, out of the pool,” he announced.
“Awwww,” they replied.
“Be sure to dry off well. It’s chilly outside!”
Blue Seas rejoined Alula, escorting a group of sweaty and tired foals. “You really wore them out, didn’t you?” he said.
“Hey, they’ve got to learn the basics before they even have a chance of keeping up with me!” she replied. “Don’t forget those sprints I taught you!” she called to the foals.
“Now, let’s get back to school,” Blue Seas said.
Walking home from school with his brothers and sisters was something Blue Seas hadn’t done in nearly two years. They all chatted about the day’s fun activities, with Cirrus cutely pouting about not getting to do any of the real flying races.
Back at home, Blue Seas went to his room. Sitting at his desk, he took out a blank sheet of paper and a quill. He searched through his old letters, looking for an address. He located it, but then found himself rereading old letters from his half-seapony friends.
Some time later, Blue Seas was interrupted by a knock on his door. “Blue Seas?” Juniper called.
“Come in,” he replied.
Juniper entered. “What are you working on?” he asked.
Juniper glanced at the blank paper on the desk. “Not going well?”
“I know what to write, it’s just.... You know how I introduced some foals to swimming today?”
“It was fun. There’s a swimming coach in Fillydelphia who has trained some of the best swimmers in the world. I know he takes on students, and then these students teach foals how to swim.”
“Sounds perfect for you,” Juniper said.
“I know. It’s just that, if I write this letter, that’s it. That’s me leaving home, for a lot more than two months.”
“It sounds like you still need to think about it,” Juniper said. “Now come on. There’s something you need to see.”
“I don’t know. But before we left school, Bluebell told me to be at home at 5:00.”
“She told me something about a solution to a problem.” Blue Seas glanced at the clock; it was almost 5:00. “Now I’m curious.”
The brothers headed to the living room, sitting with a clear view of the front door. Soon, they heard a knock on the door.
Juniper got up and opened the door. A pegasus colt, around Cirrus’ age, stood there. Blue Seas looked at him, recognizing him as the colt Bluebell had talked to.
“Yes?” Juniper said.
“Is Cirrus home?” he asked.
Juniper turned and yelled up the stairs. “Cirrus! One of your friends from school is here!”
Hooves clattered on the wooden floor upstairs as the young filly ran to greet her friend. But her fast pace skidded to a halt halfway down the stairs when she saw her guest.
“Hi, Cirrus,” the colt said, a dopey expression on his face.
“Hi, Cloudy,” she replied. She started back down the stairs, cautiously. “What’s up?”
“A nice filly at school told me you want everypony to have a special somepony for Hearts and Hooves Day. So, uh....” The colt nervously traced a circle with his hoof. “Will you be my special somepony?” he blurted, before producing a bundle of roses.
Cirrus stared at him, eyes wide, jaw hanging open.
“Of course she does!” Juniper said.
“Oh, thank you, thank you!” he said, pushing the bouquet forward again.
“Cirrus, what did we teach you about accepting gifts?” Blue Seas said.
Cirrus slowly nodded, and took the bouquet in her mouth.”
“Thanksseeyouatschoolbye!” Cloudy uttered quickly before he dashed away.
Juniper and Blue Seas looked at each other and smiled. “Cirrus and Cloudy sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G,” Juniper sang.
“EWWW! COOTIES!” Cirrus screamed, as the roses fell to the floor. She turned and ran up the stairs.
Blue Seas caught the bouquet with his magic. He looked at his brother, and they both started laughing.
“That was the funniest thing I’ve seen all year!” Blue Seas exclaimed.
“Totally!” Juniper replied. “And nice catch, Blue Seas.”
“It’s been months since I’ve had fresh flowers,” Blue Seas said. “I’m not letting these go to waste. They’re going straight to the dinner table!”
Blue Seas’s own Hearts and Hooves Day was without drama, spending the evening before with his marefriend, enjoying the calm before the storm. Sugarcube Corner was strangely quiet with Pumpkin Cake’s parents gone. If Pinkie Pie was in her room, she wasn’t making any sound.
Blue Seas was awakened the next morning by the movement of the bed. It was still pitch black. “Mmmm... five more hours,” he mumbled.
Pumpkin Cake lightly kissed his muzzle. “You sleep as long as you want, sweetie. Just leave the baking to me and Pinkie.”
“Save some for me,” he said, just before drifting back to sleep.
Blue Seas woke up for the second time at dawn, the bakery’s delectable aromas seeping into the room. After showering, he went downstairs. Already, the glass case was three-quarters filled with delicious pastries, all decorated for the holiday. As he looked over them hungrily, Pumpkin Cake entered, another tray of muffins held in her magical aura.
“Good morning,” Blue Seas said.
“Good morning to you, and thanks for staying out of the kitchen,” Pumpkin Cake said.
“Can I at least help get the dining room ready?”
Blue Seas started taking the chairs off the table. He noticed all the tables were separated, making every seating for two ponies. Once finished, he found a cloth and wiped down the glass cases.
Pumpkin Cake returned with a tray of scones. She levitated them into the case, and then wiped her brow. “Phew. That should be enough for the first hour.”
Blue Seas’s eyes opened wide. “First hour?”
“It is Hearts and Hooves Day,” she replied wearily.
Pinkie Pie poked her head out of the kitchen. “Itchy ear! That means there are ponies hungry for something sweet!”
Blue Seas looked outside. Still a few minutes from opening, there were nonetheless dozens of ponies milling around, mostly in pairs.
Pumpkin Cake sat at one of the tables, motioning for Blue Seas to join her. “We have four minutes to ourselves. Let’s enjoy it.”
Blue Seas sat down, taking Pumpkin Cake’s hooves in his own. “I love you so much,” he said.
“I love you too,” she replied, adding a passionate kiss.
Their lips parted, and Blue Seas looked away. “I did it,” he said.
“What?” Pumpkin Cake asked.
“I wrote to Coach Open Water in Fillydelphia, asking about training under him,” he said quietly.
“I decided as well. I’m applying to culinary school,” she replied. She reached over and placed a hoof on his cheek, turning his head and looking him in the eye. “I understand what you’re feeling.”
“It’s what my cutie mark is telling me. I just wish it didn’t fight what my heart is telling me.”
“You said that before,” Pumpkin Cake said with a smile. “Nothing’s set in stone yet, right? We both have to be accepted first.” She paused. “For now, let’s enjoy the time we have.”
“Wise words,” Blue Seas said. “I wonder where you heard that before?” he added while smirking.
They shared one more kiss before Pumpkin Cake stood up. “Time to welcome everypony to Sugarcube Corner,” she said.
“I hope you sell everything,” Blue Seas said.
“We’ll sell more than everything!” Pinkie Pie shouted from the kitchen.
Blue Seas blushed. “Did she hear everything?”
“It’s just Pinkie being Pinkie,” Pumpkin Cake replied. “I think.”
They headed to the door. She unlocked the door, and Blue Seas opened it, holding the door for the first of many customers that morning. With a final wave, he departed.
Celestia’s sun warmed Blue Seas as he headed home. It might not be his home forever, but like Pumpkin Cake said, he was determined to enjoy the time he had.