The day had left a drifting wave of snow over the village and gave way to bitter wind. Lights strung up in celebration of the upcoming holiday, Hearth's Warming. Created to remember the bond of friendship and family and their importance. The air smelled faintly of pines and holly. Ginger overpowered that, as the village baker was staying up all night to create a buffet of treats. The echo of a chorus rang out, singing a cheerful chorus.
Those weren't the only folks who were up, however. Among the shadows, a pair of ponies moved carefully, cautiously. Ensuring that eyes would not catch them sneaking about in the night. They stopped at a house, they choose it with a reason. A reason that remains unknown to this day. They left behind a colt, alone on a doorstep. Sleeping and bundled in the thickest of wool blankets. Still yet he shivered under the glimmering stars. The colt coughed, lightly. A strain for the sick colt, whose body was inherently weak and fragile. His parents stuffed a note into his mane, trapping it behind his ear.
Swiftly and quickly, then knocked on the door and fled into the night, unseen. What hope did they have in leaving their child there? Perhaps they thought they would come back or that some sort of curse was befalling their kin. The door creaked open, a mare cracked open the door, a stream of candlelight breaking through the gap. She glanced around and before turning away, she spotted the colt and brought him inside. “This cold is no good for you.” The colt coughed again, harder this time. “Oh dear.” The note thrusted out from the loose entrapment and fell onto his snout before landing on the floor. A quick flick of teal-colored magic brought the parchment up and unfolded it. Her eyes ran back and forth, scanning the letters written in rough ink.
“Dear kind and gentle stallion/mare,
We hope that you are well, as our child is not. Please take care of him.
The pink mare set the letter down and brushed aside her vivid purple mane, disheveled by her uncomfortable sleep. She brought the colt over to the couch and unfurled the blanket and placed it upon the floor, beside the couch. As it collapsed, another blanket came into the firelight, warm and soft. Gently, she tucked the blanket around the young, “That's better.” She whispered.
She carried herself lightly back to her own bed, grabbing the letter once more. Sitting on the edge, she placed the letter in the drawer of the nightstand. Without much thought, she threw herself under her own blankets. Her eyes closed and instantly her dreams came to. Introductions would have to wait.
As soon as one dream ended, her eyes flew open, meeting the fresh orange sunrise that transformed the snow into a mirror. Closing the curtains, she rolled into her daily morning routine: a shower, breakfast, stretches, and a book. She had taken after her teacher's habits after spending a year in her tutelage. After open the book, she remembered the colt whose faint breathing could still be heard. She wandered over, the fire now like a lantern instead of a warm fire. It's ashen heat still filled the room, however. Peering over the back of the couch, she saw the colt was still asleep but he appeared to struggle with that alone.
“I suppose I'll call a doctor.” She wrote a short message and sent it off with her trustworthy pet, a snowy barn owl she'd received from Fluttershy. She took to the empty chair, a companion piece to the couch. Their woodwork, cloth, and shape all the same. She read for a while, occasionally glancing up from the pages of her novel and watching the child. His breathing had not calmed, nor had it increased. It stayed at a point of weariness and aching. She surmised that the problem was with the colt's lungs but anatomy wasn't her forte.
It seemed like an eternity before the doctor arrived. Who greeted the house with three knocks on the door. A pause, then a squeaking of the hinges filled the air. “Doctor Grey Heart, thank you for coming.” She invited him in, stepping out of his way with a smile.
“It's not often I make house calls, especially from you, Miss Glimmer.” The doctor's character fit his namesake. Grey, short mane and tail, and his most striking feature, a pair of dark red eyes. “You say a colt came upon your doorstep, abandoned?”
“Correct. His breathing has me worried the most. He's on the couch.” Glimmer replied, quietly. Closing the door behind him. “I feel some strange fluctuations with his magic as well. When I'm near him, it feels as if he's being strangled.”
Grey hummed a thought, pulling off his scarf and setting it on a coat hook. He towered over the colt, blocking any light that the fire gave off. He stared a while, inspecting him. Slowly his mane raised up like wind over a plain. In a moment, a flash shattered outward from his crooked horn. The room was aglow, every corner untouched by shadow. His mane settled. “His magic is... inversed. Instead of holding, it leaks and at an alarming rate.” Grey's magic subsided and the fire was at full bloom once more. “His heart can't handle the strain. I'm sorry, Starlight.”
“There's no spell to stop it?”
“Already tried it. It simply gets eaten up. I know you understand this, Starlight.” Grey spoke sternly. Denying her any chance of rebuttal. Grey lowered his shoulders, “He's got three or four days left at least. Six at most. Make them last for him.”
Starlight lowered her head as he made his leave, helping himself out the door. “I understand, Grey.” She whispered solemnly after his departure. She sat down beside the couch, resting her head on the cushion. “Could you wake up already?”
A groan followed, “I'm up, Mom...” he yawned, stretching and snuggled back into the blankets.
She kind of liked that, so she played along. “Breakfast is ready, dear.” She nudged his chin with her hoof. “It's really good.”
The colt's eyes opened up, quickly he glance around the room before landing his eyes on Starlight. “You're... not my Mom.” He frowned. “They abandoned me...”
“They left you on my doorstep, covered in that worn out blanket. I brought you in. I don't think they'll be coming back.”
The colt's eyes dropped and sadness covered his face. He sniffed, trying to hold back his tears. Starlight reached around and lightly held him. The colt hugged her back, tightly as he cold and began to sob. She let him cry it all out; when the eyes became red and dry. After his crying stopped, he slowly fell asleep once more. She let him go slowly, his body heavy and limp. Summoning Pepper, she wrote another letter to Twilight Sparkle. Her teacher of magics and friendship. From her she seeks help in finding some sort of cure for the colt. Starlight had her doubts of a cure for this illness the colt had, but the best she could do was hope that her teacher had something in her grand library. Starlight still had a lot to learn, after all.
She returned to the den, the colt awake and sitting up, his chest in obvious strain. “What's your name, miss?” he asked.
“Starlight Glimmer. What is yours?”
“That's such a wonderful name.”
“I know...” the colt replied solemnly, lowering his head. “Would you happen to have anything to drink, Starlight?”
“How does hot chocolate sound?”
“I haven't had that in a long time. I would love it.” Snow Star replied with a faint smile. It couldn't hide his pain but the drink alone would help ease it.
“That sounds excellent. I'll have some up in a jiffy!” Starlight whipped her magic around the kitchen, tossing it to and fro. She warmed the kettle over the fire until the water was almost boiling. Then poured it into two thick mugs containing just the right amount of cocoa powder. She handed one to Snow and kept the other to herself. The colt stared into the mug, the steam warming his nose. “Say, after this, you wanna go outside and play for a bit?”
“Sure, I guess...”
“We can make igloos and snow ponies.”
“That does sound like fun.” he mumbled. “But I don't know.” He kept his eyes down, thinking that any sort of effort might make him collapse again. Something that's already happened several times before. The last time was when his parents finally decided to abandon him.
They drank their hot chocolate for a bit, silently. Waiting for the other to make a move. Starlight finally got up from the couch and set her mug down on the counter. She gathered up a scarf and a light jacket, which she dangled in front of Snow. “Come on, I can make some more after we come back in. There's something I want to show you.”
“Will these fit?”
“If they don't, I can make them.” Starlight ensured with a slight smile.
They headed outside, the cold refreshing on her cheeks. She drew a deep breath, looking around and making sure Snow was walking okay. He was having trouble with it, his legs were still to weak for walking, the most he could do was stand. Starlight lifted him up with magic and carried him upon her back. Unexpectedly light, she thought. She marched atop the hardened snow that crunched under her hooves. She came to a stop at a tree, large and withered. It's branches appeared to barely live. She turned and sat at tree's base. The colt slid off her back and sat beside her, taking in the view. From here, they could see the town in its entirety. The school's bell tower, the town hall and it's clock tower, and the thin smoke rising from the bakery. Faintly they could hear the birds and the townsfolk, the drifting smell of cookies.
It was lively, yes, but to the Colt, it felt incredibly empty. He had no say, no heart, nor thought in this village. The feeling was nothing new, his family had traveled for years, avoiding something he'll never know. But this sight, it stirred something within the colt, the desire to learn more about the village. To be welcomed by peers and family. Laugh and love as they do. “Can we take a walk to the bakery? I'd love to try some cookies.”
“Oh sure! You'll love them.” Starlight said, merrily. She stood up and wiped the snow off her legs and tail. She lifted him up and placed him on her back again. She trotted along with Snow's forelegs around her collar. “Sugar Belle was one of my first friends when I came here. Her cooking is always so good. Best stuff around, besides Pinkie Pie.”
The name rung a faint and distant bell in Snow's head, yet he couldn't recall how. “What all does she make?”
Starlight rounded a corner, heading toward an open plaza with a single building in the middle. A structure made to look like a plain, unfrosted cake with a bag of sugar at its side. The entrance was shaped like a muffin and the front door had an arched top with clear crystal windows. Starlight opened the door, carefully to keep the cold out as much as she could. She squeezed in through the door and gently closed it. She shivered as her body felt the differences in temperature.
“Sugar Belle?” Starlight called out, letting Snow climb down.
A voice called back from the kitchen, a room gated by a single two-way door. “Starlight! It's so good to see you!” A pale purple pony with darker hair came through the door, carrying a plate of cake. A slice of it was tugged out to reveal the color, a red velvet with chunks of white chocolate scattered throughout. A thin brown line divided the two layers, showing off the craftsmanship of the thing. How perfect the fluff was. Snow's eyes remained locked to it.
Starlight noticed his gaze with a quick glance and smiled. She turned her attention back to Sugar, “Sugar, dear, It's great to see you too!” Starlight relieved Sugar of the plate and hugged her. “It's been a while, I know. Would you happen to have any cookies?” She asked, setting the plate on the counter.
“Cookies? Aren't you usually a cake goer?” Sugar eyed her suspiciously. “Is there someone new?”
“Yes, but not in the way you're thinking.” Starlight answered.
“Oh?” Sugar peered around Starlight. “When did you have a colt?”
“Last night, he was abandoned on my doorstep.”
Sugar's eyes darted back and forth between the two of them, comparing their makeup. “What kind of cookies does he like?” Starlight gave a small, unknowing shrug. “Ah, I think I've just the thing, a cookie sampler. Best way to find out!” She squeaked joyously before retreating back into the kitchen.
Starlight and Snow took a seat at one of the few tables in the bakery, waiting for her return. An awkward silence befell the two. A few moments later she brought out a large platter of cookies of many flavors. Placing it upon the table, the colt reached for a cookie. Starlight grabbed his hoof, “Snow, say thank you, first.”
Snow looked up and stuttered, “T-t-thank you..” Starlight let go of his hoof and Snow reached for the most inviting cookie of the platter; a dark chocolate, chocolate chip cookie. He raised it to his mouth and took a bite. His eyes lit up and he devoured the rest of the cookie. He reached for another and tried it, enjoyed it. Eventually he had gone through the entire plate, separating what cookies he enjoyed the most and which ones left a bad taste in his mouth. Starlight was smiling the entire time, taking a cookie here and there, teasing Snow about how good they were.
Snow grew tired of eating them after a while, his jaw beginning to ache, as well as his stomach. His sugar high, however, told him to run around the bakery and play with everything. Starlight quickly put a stop to it using her magic and holding him midair. Sugar told her it was fine, but Starlight didn't want something broke because of it. Sugar understood and packed up the rest of the cookies in a simple and easy to go box. Snow kicked his legs around trying to break free of Starlight's magic until he ran out of breath and began to feel woozy.
“That cake,” Starlight whispered to Sugar, “Do you think you can put it on hold for me?”
“Snow was eyeballing it earlier. I'll pay full price.”
Sugar gave it some thought, a hoof to her chin and eyes rolled up. “I can do that. When do you want it, dear?”
“I'll come by tomorrow morning and pick it up. I have a few short errands to run so I'll be stopping by.” Starlight answered, her thoughts weighing her down.
“Gotcha. Just don't forgot or I'll deliver it personally.” Sugar smirked evilly. “You know what happens when I do that.”
Starlight recalled a forsaken memory where Sugar had broke down her door and left a note beside a cake she ordered some time ago. All the books and rugs were rearranged.“Yes.”
“Good!” Sugar exclaimed, hopping away.
Starlight set Snow on her back once more and carried the cookies out the door. She walked a little ways before asking what kind of cookies Snow enjoyed the most. To which he pondered long and curiously, answering with “All of them.” before falling asleep once more.
Starlight walked home, keeping her steps soft to avoid waking Snow. When she reached home, she set Snow down on the couch once more, covering him up with the cozy blanket once more. She sat the box down on the kitchen counter and sat down by the couch, repeating how the morning had started. She thought over the errands that she had to run tomorrow and worried about how long it be before Twilight would arrive, if she did. In hindsight she could've easily teleported the letter. Either way, she wouldn't know if or when she would come across it.
Then a knocking came to the door. A familiar one, too. She stood and walked over to the door, opened it just enough to peek through to see Twilight Sparkle, Princess and Element of Friendship. “Hey Twilight, did you get my letter?”
“I did. What you've described, is very peculiar. Can I take a look at him?” Twilight inquired.
“He's sleeping at the moment, but you're free to stay, of course. I'd rather you take a look at him while he's awake.” Starlight opened the door completely so Twilight could get out of the cold.
“Understandable.” Twilight acknowledge as she entered, taking in the warmth and smell of the Starlight's home. “You've been keeping a fire going?”
“I have, mostly to keep this guy warm.” She smiled. “Anyways, how have you been?”
“I've been well.”
The two chatted quietly for a while, catching up on things that they've missed. It was hard for Twilight not to talk about political matters, considering her royal status. It seemed that a lot of things that she does now with her friends ties into it and has slowly become hard to avoid. No new villains wished to cause trouble and no greedy corporate figureheads wanting to take property that didn't belong to them. All the problems they have run into have been small and boring. Talks of this or that. Twilight grew tired of it.
Starlight, on the other hand, had started replaying her role as a leader type in the village. A place that still held no name to bare, primarily because no one has bothered. Everyone just kind of lived there and if anyone ever asked, they said it was just “our village.”. Starlight recalled her return after her final bout with Twilight, a frustrating event that could've been avoided had it not been for her own selfish reasons. She had taken time to find her childhood friend once more they too, caught up with each other but they'd grown so far apart now. Any communication between the two of them was rare.
Time passed and the sun had set and the moon had taken it's place. Shining as bright as it always had. Twilight's attention kept turning to the couch, the colt she had originally came to see had slowly become an aching itch at the back of her mind. “Starlight, the colt, what's his name?”
“Snow Star.” Starlight answered. “I figured out his name after I had sent the letter.”
“That's a lovely name. A doctor said there was something wrong with his heart?”
“Weak heart and that he can't use magic in any way but his body is eating it up like we breathe air. Even if we used a barrier, it wouldn't work. The only thing I can think of doing is drawing magic from him but where would we even put it?”
Twilight recalled what Tirek had done to Equestria some time ago. As much as she hated the thought, it was the only solution she could think of. “I've got just the thing, but I think I'm going to let you cast the spell.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“It might not help his heart, but it can help the magic problem.” Twilight answered her somewhat regretfully. “We don't know enough yet about those kinds of things, I'm afraid.”
“Grey Heart reinforced that earlier.”
“A bit of a stick in the mud, isn't he?”
Starlight snickered, “Yea, he is.”
Twilight pulled out a small book of notes that she kept with her. A thing filled to the brim with spells that she had created anew or were variations built atop of known spells. Starswirl the Bearded was the basis for a majority of them. She flipped to the last page which was practically untouched save for a few scratches of ink at the top. “This is something I've been working on for you, Starlight. The last page is for you to fill out.”
Starlight stared at the empty page for a moment. “I suppose you made so it would record my spell cast?” Twilight nodded. “You're always thinking ahead, Twilight. I wonder why you haven't succeeded Celestia yet.” Starlight mused.
“Because I still have a great many things to learn.” Twilight answered. “Let's see if this works.”
Starlight lead Twilight over to the couch, seeing the colt sleeping peacefully and short of breath. He appeared to be plagued by a nightmare, his hooves kicking ever so slightly. As if all he knew was running. Twilight told Starlight how to cast the spell and would guide her along. Starlight calmed her nerves and worked up a small wisp of magic from her horn that connected to Snow. Following Twilight's words, she tugged back on it and suddenly the flow of magic began to reverse. Magic of varying colors burst out from Snow's head and coursed its way up to Starlight's horn where it forced its way into her. Starlight felt as if she was burning up on the inside, feverish, and overcome with fire. Then the magic stopped, fizzling away once the spell was complete. Snow's eyes and hooves appeared rested and a faint smile showed itself.
“This is wrong, Twilight.” Starlight whispered fearfully. The new surges of magic became nearly uncontrollable. Starlight fought to calm it, as small sparks darted out from her horn and body. “How did he have this much?”
“His body is a sinkhole of magic. Anything that goes in doesn't escape and Equestria has magic flowing freely through the air. He's a time bomb.” Twilight's shoulders dropped. “If you can do this at least once a day, then he should be okay.” She closed her book and set it aside.
“About that, Twilight. Grey Heart said that he only has a few days left to live.”
Twilight gasped. “Oh no...” She held onto Starlight's jittering shoulders. “Does Snow know that?”
“I don't know. The best I can do for him now is just give him the most enjoyment he can get. I think he'll know when it's time to go. He already seems so weary.”
“Starlight...” Twilight gave her a hug. “Your heart's in the right place. Do the best you can. I'll see if I can find some sort of solution to this. ”
“Thank you, Twilight.”