Starlight woke first, bright and early as she always does. She stretched out her legs and found that Snow was still sleeping beside her. Starlight tucks him in a bit more and wanders outside to find the village in a dim orange haze from the sunrise. It looked beautiful and peaceful, like the starry skies had done for her when she journeyed out from her home. The sight was a marvel to behold, despite not being a city of wonder or a mountain of glorious geographies. This simple pleasure of a sunrise on her new home, made her heart flutter. It was an ineffable thing.
She smiled for a moment. Then her mind became overwhelmed by thoughts of raising Snow here. The friends he could make and the life he could live. The life he should've lived. Snow's time was coming up. Either today or the next, he would pass away and Starlight lost hope that he would live any longer than that. Her feelings were becoming desperate and nagging. All she wanted was for Snow to live longer.
She sighed and looked toward the roadway that lead into the village. She spotted an all too familiar face, Twilight Sparkle, whose walking was brisk and careful. Starlight called her over, pushing away her depressing thoughts. They merrily greeted one another, before moving into the igloo to keep out of the wind. Starlight blocks off Snow's ears with a bit of magic and asks Twilight what she found out about Snow's illness and the stars that seemed to communicate with him.
Twilight begins with issue of his magic well and his heart. A charm that pushes, or nullifies magic from reaching him in the first place would solve the magic problem. However, it wouldn't get rid of whatever latent magic was still in his body and instead, it would backfire if he tried doing anything with it. Starlight described her experience with the magic drain spell, how it kept her fired up throughout the night, unable to contain it. The second time, it was like it had embraced her. Coddled and wrapped her like a mother and child. Twilight ensured her that the first time was normal, but the second was not. A perplexing thing that many would be opposed to testing.
Snow's heart on the other hand, was a problem that couldn't be solved to their knowledge. Surgeries had taken place to try a heart transplant, but the idea was new and their understanding of how ponies and how their hearts worked was still something being heavily studied. The topic was up in the air and wildly undetermined. The procedure itself is a high risk. Starlight understood her explanation but had the itching thought that Grey Heart may have had a shot at it once. May be it was a reason for his bitterness.
As for the stars, Twilight said she had to dig through her books for a long while. She compared many other legends that told tales of a small constellation of stars that would appear and disappear some years later. Eventually, the legends turned into a mythos about death and rebirth and celebrations were held on their behalf for when they came and for when they left. The mythos faded away with the cultures that held to it, as they all slowly began to forget the reason. Some believed that stars were waiting for someone, others thought it was purely magic. Why they were starting to glimmer now was still a mystery.
Finally, Starlight asked Twilight, her voice troubled. “Do you think there may still be a way to save him?” She had the sinking feeling that if his heart didn't quit first, the stars would.
“I'm sorry, Starlight. I know you wanted this to last longer, I do too. I believe everyone did. I'm truly, truly sorry.” Twilight answered regrettably. The truth was better than lying or making excuses to get around a problem.
Starlight hugged Twilight as tight as she could, her sadness unbearable. “Starlight...” Twilight whispered. “I...” Twilight's voice trailed off as she hugged Starlight back. “If it helps, I can stay.”
“No, Twilight.” Starlight refused. “I'll come to you when this is over. I think it'll be for the best and... I'll tell him about his heart.”
“I understand, Starlight, but please don't abandon him. Show him what his life can be like.”
“I'll figure something out, Twilight. Go, I know you have more important matters to tend to.” Starlight spoke harshly, and coldly.
Taken aback, Twilight answered, “Very well, Starlight. Stop by Ponyville sometime, there's been something we've wanted to show you.”
Starlight simply nodded and watched Twilight crawl her way out of the igloo. Starlight sighed as she removed the spell from Snow's ears. Then she nestled under the blanket with Snow, his oddly warm body becoming more and more like a hearth. She held onto him, tightly, refusing to let him go.
“Starlight...” Snow grumbled through his teeth. “she's the best..” His voice trailed away in a mumble. Starlight wondered who he could be possibly talking to in his sleep. She found it cute and silly. One day she could use it to embarrass him if she really wanted to. Only, that moment may never come like all of the others she's dreamt of. Then, with a heavy gasp, Snow twisted around and shot up, breaking free of her grasp. He took a moment to drink the newest interior of snow bricks, then put a hoof to his head. “Starlight,” he groaned, “I know why the stars were... talking to me.” Confusion and a sense of despair began to settle in for him. “I don't want to leave, Starlight. I don't want to run anymore.”
“What did they say?”
Snow kept silent, thinking deeply, trying make sense of everything that was in his dream-like conversation. “I'm not sure...” Snow answered wearily. All the words he thought he could remember, became muddled and distant. There was one thing that remained, that he felt deep within his heart that sprung out into his throat, “Tonight... They're taking me tonight.” Snow stared down at the blanket and his hooves began to shake. “Starlight, I don't want to go.”
“I don't want you to go either, Snow. There's still so much for you here.” Starlight reached over and hugged him, pulling him in closer. “There, there.” Snow didn't realize that he had started to cry. What began as a quiet sobbing grew into a loud cry and drifted away into stifled sniffling. “Let's get some breakfast, dear Snow.”
“Yea.” Snow pulled away lightly and found his way outside the igloo. Soon he was followed by Starlight, who had the blanket folded twice, draped over her back. “So, what's for breakfast, Mom?”
Starlight smiled, “Have you ever had pancakes?” Snow shook his head. “C'mon, let's head home and I'll fix some up.”
The two didn't talk much on the way back, only commenting on how still the wind was that day. Only the winter birds desired to make any sort of noise. However, in the distance, Twilight remained to watch over Starlight and Snow. She wanted an answer for the legends her books spoke of. She had time, more than Starlight could know.
Snow and Starlight entered their home and took their roles. Snow sat at the dining table and waited patiently for Starlight to make breakfast. She tossed her magic about, grabbing the things she needed and tossed a small amount of wood into the stove and began the fire. She mixed the flour, eggs, milk, sugar, and the baking powder, muddying it with water. Threw a wide frying pan on to the stove top and let it warm. While she waited, she asked Snow grab a few pieces of firewood and throw them into the fire and get it started. Snow complained for a moment, but realized that conflict wasn't the best idea now. He tinkered with a starter and a small bit of wool until the fire began to slowly cook the logs. The popping of the flames ensured that it was there to stay.
The smell drifted throughout the house and the sizzling sound of the butter once it was thrown on the pan almost echoed. “Starl- Mom, so... what happens when I go?”
“There's a lot of theories about that. In your case, I think you'll actually be living amongst the stars. And that would be great, but I'd rather have you here, with me.” Starlight placed a pancake onto a large plate. Then poured the batter into the pan for another.
“I wonder what it's like.” Snow commented.
“Vast and endless. You'd have all the space in the world to fly around. You could explore so much more than we ever could.”
“That sounds like fun.” Snow said with mild joy.
The conversation awkwardly ended there until Starlight finished cooking the pancakes. She grabbed the syrup and the butter, placing them on the center of the table; the pancakes beside them. Starlight then called Snow over to the table, who leaped off the couch and trotted over to the table and took a seat in the other chair. Starlight handed him a plate and waited for him to grab as many as he thought he could eat. He grabbed three pancakes and doused them lightly in syrup. With a fork, he sectioned off a piece, pierced it and then slowly, he placed it in his mouth. He let the flavor set in, his mind deciding whether or not it was good. His eyes closed and a soft smile drew across his face. He happily took another bite. Starlight joined in, taking the remaining two.
Their quiet breakfast drew to a close and as luck would have it, a knock came at the front door. Starlight hopped from the chair, curious as to who it might be. She hadn't invited anyone nor had she told anyone that the adoption went through. Then it clicked, maybe it was Clerky. She opened the door slightly and peered through. It was Sugar Belle, Clerky, Party Favor, Double Diamond, and Night Glider. Starlight gently smiled and threw the door open. All of her friends, save for Clerky walked inside and shook what snow they could off their hooves and backs.
“I only told Sugar Belle.” Clerky whispered to Starlight.
“And she told those three, right?” Starlight jested. Clerky simply nodded. “I figured.” Her eyes shifted from Snow and back to Clerky, “Thank you, he needs this.”
“I think you both do, Starlight.” Clerky walked in and closed the door behind him. “You've been spacing out ever since Snow got here, are you okay?”
“Maybe later, Clerky. Now is really not the best time to be discussing it.”
“Pretty serious then?” Starlight nodded. “Right, then.”
Starlight went over to the table as Clerky stayed by the door, watching from afar, though there wasn't much distance. Sugar Belle sneaked a question into Starlight's ear and with a quick answer and stepping away, Starlight walked over to the counter. Sugar Belle continued to entertain Snow and the others with silly, nonsense stories that sounded almost unbelievable. She almost mirrored Pinkie Pie to an extent, which at times, was rather amusing. Snow was quiet but listened intensely. Stories meant something to him, it seems. He asked questions about what happened until Sugar ran out of things to say which was a rarity.
Starlight prepared the cake and set candles into the frosting, their wicks upright and ready to burn. She then made her way to the table and set the cake down, while removing all the wares that their breakfast had entailed. With another flick of magic, she grabbed a spark from the fireplace and set it to the candles, holding it to each one until their wicks ignited in a soft golden glow. Today, however, all of them noticed how Starlight's magic seemed to sparkle and shimmer as she cast it. As if little stars had taken refuge in it.
Starlight sat down and everybody stared at her. “What?” she said as her face turned red.
“Has your magic always done that?” Sugar piped up.
Starlight took a look at it and saw what they were bewildered by. “I... honestly don't know.” She pulled her magic away from the spark as it caught the final candle. “Anyways, Snow, since the adoption went through, this is a cake celebrating your first day as my new son.”
“Um, what do I do?” Snow asked innocently.
Sugar Belle snorted a laugh and delightfully answered, “You blow out the candles and make a wish, silly! Were your raised in a barn?”
“Several.” He answered quickly and matter-of-factly. Sugar immediately hushed.
Starlight smiled while Party favor softly snickered. “Go ahead, Snow. Make a wish and blow out the candles. Remember, just don't tell anyone.” Snow nodded.
Snow thoughts rambled for a moment, his eyes shifting side to side and then back to the candles. His eyes became determined, he inhaled and softly blew out the small flames. Their orange glow snuffed out. The reward was a light applause by the party and the candles pulled from the frosting. Then the cake was cute into eight equal pieces, enough if someone wanted seconds. Something that might be difficult with the delicious ice cream Party brought along. He always knew which kind to get, vanilla and fudge swirled.
The party went on for a while, Snow enjoyed as much as he could. The balloon animals from Party Favor, a small set of skis from Double Diamond, a delicious chocolate candy bar from Sugar Belle, and a Wonderbolts calendar from Night Glider. Clerky had pretty much already given him the gift of family, the adoption certificate was proof of that.
Tuckered out, Sugar Belle collapsed into one of her usual sugar comas and had to be carried out by Party Favor. Double Diamond soon followed suit, leaving for a ski lesson he had to teach. Night Glider had a few cloud duties to attend to and Clerky stayed. Snow took to sleeping on Starlight's bed with her permission and lightly snored. “Well, Starlight?”
“Tonight might be his final night here.” Starlight answered briskly.
“Starlight! You can't just leave him-” Clerky's mouth was forced shut by Starlight's hoof.
“I'm not leaving him!” She cut in boldly. “I'm not like that anymore.” She let her hoof down. “There's a constellation of stars that have apparently chosen him. There's something more to it, I'm sure, but I have no idea. Snow's not even sure what's going to happen. All I wanted was for him to have something before he left. Something in his mind to hold on to. He's done enough running as it is and his parents left him on my doorstep”
Starlight continued to babble on until Clerky shushed her with his hoof. “I understand. It's okay, just don't blame yourself, okay?”
Starlight nodded and lowered his hoof. “Thank you. I think all this has been getting to me.”
“It has, but you'll be fine. You're strong, you know that.” He hugged her and then glanced at his watch, “I'd stay longer, but I have some paperwork to finish up before the Hall closes. I'll see you around, Star.” He pulled away after slyly sneaking the adoption certificate onto the table. Then he headed for the door.
“See you later, Clerky.” Star replied as he headed out, his response a short stare and a wave goodbye. There was one thing missing around his front ankle, a watch to be looked at. Star huffed, knowing that he was leaving her to talk to Snow alone. That the two of them needed all the space in the world to be alone together.
By the time she got her thoughts together, night had rolled around. Starlight went to her small room and hefted Snow onto her back once more. She put out the fire and headed outside, locking the door as she did so. She found that Snow was still wearing the scarf that she'd given him. Without much thought, they wound up by the tree. Gently, she set Snow up against its gnarled roots and she sat beside him. She looked at the sky and saw the constellation peeking over the mountains on the other side of town.
Suddenly, she could feel her magic begin to move without her command, twitching and fluttering about. Snow woke up to this and instinctively knew that it was almost time. “Snow,” Starlight spoke softly. “There's a reason I've been taking you to this tree.” She sighed, “It was the first real party I've ever had with friends of my own. So every now and then I come back here and reminisce about it. Mostly during the night, of course.”
Snow yawned and stretched out. “If I come back, let's meet here.” He faintly smiled.
“I'll be waiting.” She looked at him, bittersweet feelings setting in.
“You look better when you smile.” Starlight silently thanked him with a playful nudge. Snow rubbed his nose and looked at the starry sky. “The stars, in the dream I had last night, they spoke to me. Said I belong with them, to help guide the stars across the winter sky. They said I could keep the scarf.” he giggled.
“That's good. Do they let you take breaks?” Starlight humored.
Snow paused, tilting his head as if he was already hearing their voices again. “They do. They... work on a rotation, I guess?”
“Good, good.” Starlight pulled him in closely. “I wish you could've stayed longer, Snow.”
“I wish I could've to.” Snow replied quickly. After a moment of silence, Snow had a thought pop into his head and reached at something tied around the base of his tail. He unraveled the bandage-like wrapping to reveal a large amber stone with an engraving that dimly glowed a yellow hue. “Here, there's this stone that my dad gave to me. Had it since the day I was born.” Snow set it on her outstretched hoof, “Said it was to keep bad omens away.”
Starlight knew the engraving, it wasn't a good luck charm. It was to nullifying magic and the power to make one last this long is immense. The fact that Snow's body was still a sinkhole for magic meant that the stone wasn't strong enough. There were so many questions now, yet no answers for them. Snow wouldn't know anything about it after being kept in the dark for so long. His heritage, might be rather frightening if she ever finds out. “Snow... are you sure?”
“It'll be fine, I won't be needing it, it seems.” Snow ensured her.
Starlight pulled the stone to her chest and looked at it for a bit, “Thank you.”
“Starlight, the stars, use your magic on them. Make them brighter.”
Starlight, confused, did as he said. The spell came with ease and the stars shined brighter. Lines of light connected the stars together and showed the snowflake constellation in full. Snow's cutie mark began to glow. “I guess this is goodbye.” Starlight frowned.
“It won't be forever, Starlight.”
“I really hope so.” She embraced him in a tight hug and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I love you, son. Don't you forget that.”
Snow's cheeks turned red, “I won't forget. I love you too, Mom.” He hugged just as tightly as she did. A single tear leaked from his eye as he smiled.
Then all of the magic that Starlight had pulled out from Snow, returned to him like a waterfall. The air around them crackled and shined a myriad of colors and melted the snow all around them. The leaves on the tree even sprung back to life, things that should've waited until Winter Wrap-up. In the next instant, a blinding light, followed by her forelegs collapsing to her stomach. The constellations glimmered in a variety of colors before returning back to normal. Starlight felt her eyes begin to shake and well up. She wiped the tears away and sniffled as she looked at the stars. Now her heart sank violently, a feeling she had hoped would never return.
Little did she notice, that her cutie mark was glowing as well. She peered over her shoulder, looking at the pulsing glow which slowly died out. With a final effort of her magic, through grief and tears, she made all the stars in the night sky glimmer beautifully. Their colors bright and vivid. When her initial sobbing rage finished, she withdrew her magic only to have it surround her and comforted her. As she continued her crying, the stars dimmed one by one. Save for Snow's constellation.
When her eyes dried, she rose from the roots of the tree and her magic seeped back into her. With her first step, the snow beneath her hoof melted and her second step did the same. In the midst of the coldest night thus far, Starlight felt comfortably warm. Forward she marched on home, knowing that staying under the tree wouldn't bring him back. She kept her eyes on the stars and understood why Snow's birth mother never wanted him to look at them. If he never looked, then he may have never left, but his weak heart would've taken him away.
Once inside her home, Starlight took to the couch and reignited the fireplace like wind through a field. The house felt empty now, more so now than before. Certainly, she had the house to herself before Snow's arrival but now, in the short amount of time she had spent with the colt showed her how lively it had made her. A feeling stirred within her heart and with it, she decided to add a room for Snow onto the house. He was her son now, after all.
Though she wondered, how long would it be before he would return? 5, 10, 20, or 40 years. Perhaps he'll tell her sometime. She watched the fire crack and burst, listened to its snapping.
Suddenly, the front door swung open, “Starlight,” a voice called out. “What in the world just happened to you and Snow?” Starlight explained that stars had taken Snow and that some day, they would let him visit. She showed her the engraved stone too, which had caught them both by surprise. “So what are you going to now?” Twilight asked.
“Give him a room to sleep in, at least.” Starlight jested “It's a start.”
Twilight agreed and talked with her a bit longer about what else she could do to help. Starlight ensured her that she would be okay and only that she visit more often. When the conversation ran dry, Twilight said her farewell and departed for Ponyville once again. The fire took Starlight's attention once more, holding her gaze until the flames died down.
When drowsiness finally struck her, Starlight snuffed out the fire and went to her room. A before rolling into bed, she looked out the window, giving Snow's constellation one last look for the night. Suddenly, she was reminded of an old lullaby meant to put children to bed, and so she sang, lowly and sweetly:
Twinkle, Twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are