• Published 15th Feb 2012
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Tears in the Snow - Wintergreen Diaries

Twilight sees a vision after casting a spell to see the future and ends up saving a mysterious colt.

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The Rift

Chapter 13: The Rift

When your primary love interest suddenly appears to find your lips locked on those of another, three distinct options come to mind. One may choose to flee the scene, hoping that time and distance apart will allow the anger to dissipate to a point that rational discussion is possible. Another viable course of action would be to throw yourself at their mercy, begging for forgiveness. The third, and admittedly most risky course of action, would be to try to alleviate the situation with humor. Should the attempt at levity fail, the results would be none too pretty.

Cerulean, ever the optimist and unable to even consider running as an option, wracked his brain for something to say that would extinguish the flames that seemed to have replaced Twilight's mane. He didn't feel much like groveling as he didn't regret what had just happened, considering the moment he had just shared with Applejack to be of great importance not just for himself, but for Applejack as well. Applejack had receded from her place atop his chest and was now sitting on the floor, not daring to make eye contact with either of them and trying desperately not to think about how her cheeks were likely the same temperature as Twilight's mane.

"Gee Twilight that's... an interesting spell?" Cerulean said hesitantly, not entirely sure what to make of her condition.

"This... isn't... a... spell!" she gritted out through clenched teeth. After a night spent alone, longing just for you to be near, I come in and find you kissing one of my best friends? And one that I thought for sure you’d never... Cerulean, while fairly good at being able to read others, was prone to temporary lapses in judgement, normally at the worst possible times.

"So... your turn next?"

Big Mac had just finished attaching the wagon's harness to himself and was starting towards the fields when a very distraught Applebloom approached at full speed.

"Big Mac! If somepony suddenly explodes into flames an' changes color, what does it mean? Are they mad? Should we call a doctor?" He was about to respond when an explosion blew away a good portion of the roof.

"Eeeyup," he nodded sagely before setting the wagon aside and fetching a pail of water.

Cerulean quickly withdrew his welcoming hooves as a column of flame blasted through the roof, sending pieces of smoldering debris everywhere. Cerulean's expression turned grim as he realized that if something wasn't done soon, the whole house was going to burn.

"Twilight, get a hold of yourself! Look at what you're doing!" he pleaded to no avail.

"How can you expect me to calm down after I find you ki... ki... Grraaaaa!" she howled, sending out even stronger flames, lighting the area underneath her hooves. Cerulean could tell she was beyond reasoning, and attempted to generate a pile of snow atop her to cool her down. The result was a billowing cloud of steam, her rage too great for simple snow to quench. As desperation sank in he used his magic to launch himself bodily onto Twilight. The flames seared his body, and he cried out in pain as he slammed his hoof into Twilight's chest, sealing her in a thick layer of ice and extinguishing the flames around. He waited a couple of seconds for her to color to return to normal before tapping the ice lightly, causing the frost to shatter and allowing her to breathe once more.

Cerulean's vision began to blur as he suddenly found himself looking at the ceiling, before a dark cloud obscured his sight completely. He fought to retain consciousness as every fiber of his being screamed in agony, a good portion of his body now badly burned on top of his overall muscle fatigue. He could vaguely hear voices but they were completely indecipherable to his ears.

"Applejack, what possible reason could you have for doing that?" Twilight asked, barely managing to keep her voice level.

"I can explain, Twi, but there are more important things to worry about right now. Cerulean's in bad shape, and we need to tend t' those burns," she shouted as she rushed over to where Cerulean lay. Twilight cast a glance at Cerulean and blanched, horrified. The strain he had put on his muscles already delicate condition had turned into deep bruising over much of his body, and there were large stretches of his coat that had been seared black by her immolating anger. The area around his hooves were inflamed deep red as minor infections from the splinters flared.

"Cerulean, I'm sorry, I didn't mean..." she said softly, gingerly placing a hoof on his chest. It caused just enough pain to send him over the edge, and he struggled to roll to one side as his stomach emptied itself of half its contents. He began quaking uncontrollably, and forced out the only words he could think of.

I should have stopped her, I know it was wrong to let her kiss me like that. I just... wanted to help her, too. I’m sorry, Twilight. The fault is mine, and I can bare this punishment. So, please... "Twilight... please don't be angry... with Applejack." His mind forcibly shut itself down as the trauma became too much for his nerves to handle. Twilight's eyes filled with tears as he went limp, his feeble breathing and constant shiver the only signs that he was still alive. Applejack lay a hoof on Twilight's shoulder and drew her close.

"I'm sure you have questions, and I'm really sure you're mad, but let's set that aside and take care o' Cerulean first, ok Twilight?" She nodded, and together they lifted him into the bed. Twilight cleaned up the remnants of Cerulean's meal while Applejack searched through the first aid kit for burn cream.

"Nothing could be worth this kind of abuse. What did you do to him, Applejack?" Twilight pondered, glancing back at him. Applejack walked over and handed Twilight a jar of ointment as she finished cleaning up, and together they began treating his burns.

"I'm not sure if I've ever told ya, but I'm frightened of colts." Twilight stopped long enough to fix her with a quizzical stare, though Applejack paid it no heed and continued. "Remember how I mentioned awhile back that I went to Manehatten when I was a filly to visit my uncle an' aunt?" Twilight vaguely recalled something to that effect, it was shortly before she received her cutie mark. "On my way back to the train station to head home I was... stopped by some colt in an alley. I knew better than t' talk to strangers so I tried to walk right past. He..." she faltered, stopping her application of the cream and staring at her hooves. "He covered my mouth an' started t' drag me away. I managed to get out a single scream before he gagged me." Applejack rubbed her moist eyes, careful not to get any ointment in them. "I've never been so frightened in m' life, Twilight. Fortunately, somepony heard my scream, and the moment he was spotted he took off runnin'. I can't tell ya how relieved I was when I arrived in Ponyville. But ever since that time..."

What a horrible thing to happen to a child, no wonder she was so apprehensive of Cerulean. "Applejack, why didn't you tell any of your friends about this?" Applejack glanced Twilight, whose face conveyed a mix of compassion for her situation and frustration for being left in the dark.

"It's not something you'd jus' bring up on a whim, now is it?" Applejack responded, slightly annoyed. Twilight had to admit that it wasn't really the best topic of conversation. "Anyhow, that's why I was convinced that Cerulean was just takin' advantage of yer good nature, but did he ever prove me wrong," she said pausing to smile. "He worked from sunup to sundown with me in the orchard, pushing his body far beyond its limits and never once resorting to magic. By the last hour, I could see he was sufferin' somethin' awful, but he never once complained, never stopped. An' you know why, Twilight? It was all for you."

"For me..? But, you two were... I don't understand," she stammered.

"When I saw you two kiss, I felt somethin' strange inside o' myself. Romance is somethin' I've steered clear of, but seeing the passion you two shared... Twilight, I wanted to feel what it was like. Cerulean is the only colt that I've ever come to truly accept, his stubbornness an’ dedication yesterday bein' exactly what I needed t' see. I can't explain it Twi, but I think I'm startin' t’ warm to him too. I wasn't plannin' this, honest."

Twilight watched as Applejack's shoulders started to shake as she awaited her fury. Her mind unraveled as Applejack's words lanced through the stitches of her assumptions. How could she possibly have doubted Cerulean so easily? And why didn't she see any of this before? Shame churned the rising nausea in her stomach. For the first time in her life, Twilight saw tears fall from Applejack's eyes, and any remnants of her anger were put to flight as the strongest pony she knew began to weep softly. "I didn't mean for nopony to get hurt... I'm not trying to take 'im away from ya Twilight, I just... Wanted to feel a fraction of what he feels for you." Applejack opened her eyes half way as Twilight's arms encircled her, squeezing gently.

"Shhh, it's all right Applejack. It's gonna be all right," Twilight murmured, holding her close. Applejack hesitated a moment before giving in, burying her face into Twilight's neck, who shivered slightly as a tear traced a path down her back. They sat there a long time, unaware that Applebloom was watching wide eyed from the door, seeing a side of her sister that she'd never imagined existed; weakness. Applebloom added her own tears to the mix as she threw her arms around her sister, not understanding the situation but offering what comfort she could. Upon realizing that her sister was watching, Applejack immediately fought to stem the tides.

"Hush now, Applebloom. Everything's all right, y'hear? No need fer that," she smiled, sniffing a little. "Now, be a good little filly and grab us some tissues." Applebloom nodded once and sped off. "I sure hope you can deal with that one, Twi. He's gonna be a handful, if this last week is gonna be the norm," she said, turning back to Twilight. Twilight's feeble laugh sounded hollow, and Cerulean's brutalized body gave her every reason to forsake any ideas of mirth.

“I know he should probably be taken to the clinic, but this is all my fault... I want to take care of him personally, so could I borrow some of that ointment?”

“Sure thing, Twi. I'll 'elp you get him back to your place, but he probably shouldn't be moved fer a while, so come back later this evenin', all right?” She nodded and was about to return home when she noticed the gaping hole in the roof. She spent the next hour helping repair it, accelerating the process considerably with her magic while her mind was working furiously to find a way to show Cerulean just how truly sorry she was.

Her studies were the farthest thing from her mind, and as evening finally came, she entered Applejack's room to find Cerulean was still sleeping, his shallow breaths seeming to echo in the silence. Applejack drew up beside her and placed a hoof on her shoulder briefly before approaching Cerulean on the right. Twilight followed and they gently eased him onto their backs. He groaned softly but didn't awaken, and they made the trip back to the library in silence. Spike opened the door and stepped aside, gasping as he saw the burns all over Cerulean's frame. Twilight lifted him into bed with her magic, drawing the blankets up to his chin and sitting beside him.

I can’t... possibly hold what he’s done against him. I felt betrayed when I saw him kissing another mare, and he couldn’t have known, but I... have always thought Applejack was prettier than me. I’ve never felt such jealousy in my life, but this... I didn’t want this to happen. “He's going to hate me when he wakes up, isn't he...” she whispered as she hung her head, fighting back tears.

“I haven't known Cerulean very long, Twi. But I think it'll take more 'n that to break 'is love fer you.” Twilight snapped her head up at the words, fixing Applejack with hopeful eyes. “Twilight, he's only got one mare on his mind, an' that's you. Nopony would go through what he has fer a simple crush. Remember that.” She tipped her hat and left, leaving Twilight alone to her thoughts.

“Cerulean... is this... longing for acceptance, for assurance... is this what you felt, that day when you nearly died? I hit you for being so stupid, but now... I can’t help but feel I’ve gone and done something very much the same.”

When Cerulean finally did awaken the next day, Twilight tried to greet him cheerfully but the guilt weighed heavily on her soul, making it difficult to even look at him. Every burn and bruise were a reminder to a fact she desperately wanted to forget but couldn't; it was her fault he was in this condition. He spoke very little, choosing to use write his responses with magic rather than speak.

“I’m sorry, Cerulean.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Twilight stared at the words for a moment before shaking her head in disbelief.

“How can you tell me not to worry about it? Look at yourself! Every burn... everything, is all my fault.”

“You were pretty hot, Twi. Though, I must say, I prefer avoiding conflagration as thanks for a hug.”

How can he be joking at a time like this? I deserve his punishment, not his sympathy...

“Twilight...” Just the sound of his voice, laden with pain, was enough to move her to tears. But what followed after... “You’re... worth this... to me.”

Cerulean spent the next week recovering, largely unable to move without lancing pains shooting through his body. The physical pain was merely a distraction as the distance between Twilight and himself grew gradually greater. She may have thought she was acting normal, but Cerulean could see the signs that something was very wrong.

I have to wonder... if she’s still upset about what happened with me and Applejack. I’ve said I’m sorry, but she denies that the kiss is what’s bothering her. I can see the vacant look in her eyes, hear the hesitancy in her replies... With the amount of time she spends away from me, upstairs reading her books... What else could it be? Where he once had the strength to put his fears to flight with the confidence in his bond with Twilight, doubt had crept in and was slowly but surely sinking its claws into his heart. He closed his eyes, hoping to find some solace in sleep.

Upstairs, Twilight was dutifully plowing through as many relationship advice books as she could get her hooves on, as she had since the first day she had brought Cerulean back. None of her friends had special somepony’s, and she was too ashamed of what had happened to try to ask. I never... want to endanger Cerulean again like I did at Sweet Apple Acres. I don’t know anything about relationships, but if I can just learn... how to act, what to say... Then maybe I can repay him for the pain I’ve caused. Until then, Cerulean, please be patient with me. I’m scared of messing things up. She glanced at the gift that Rarity had made at her request, sitting on top of her dresser. It was a mere trinket, in her mind, compared to the chasm she had to bridge, but she hoped that it would bring at least a small happiness to the stallion a floor below.

Cerulean watched in terror as the sky around him turned blood red, tainting the snow that whipped all around him. The ground at the edges of his vision cracked and fell away, devoured by an encroaching black miasma. Cerulean whirled around to run but found himself trapped on all sides. He closed his eyes as the shadows reached up to take him, holding the withering blue spark above his head. Cerulean grimaced as the invaders clawed their way up his chest, reaching for the flame held aloft.

"Awww, are we having fun yet?" The voice echoed all around him. Even after four years, there was no mistaking it. Cerulean fell to the ground and covered his ears, screaming for it to stop. "Don't worry, I'm sure we'll play together again soon."

Twilight heard Cerulean wake with a shout and came racing down from her room to find a massive pile of snow surrounding Cerulean's bed. A quick gland and she knew it must have been a terrible nightmare, as there were at least three inches down where none had been just fifteen minutes earlier. She approached quietly, clutching a small box to her chest.

Rationality fled from Cerulean as fear and rage consumed his mind. He sat bolt upright, thoughts of his failure dancing before his eyes as Bangle's words echoed in his mind. In his wrath, he could feel the magic brimming inside, preparing him for battle when something descended gently upon his shoulder. He swung his hoof wildly, making connection with something soft and summoning a blade of ice around his other hoof as he brought it around for a follow through, stopping just short of Twilight's neck. Cerulean's unbridled hatred etched itself into Twilight's mind, as her absolute terror etched itself into his. His hoof had connected solidly with her cheek, which was already starting to change color, and the realization of his error came full force as she back away from him. The ice around his hoof shattered as gut wrenching guilt conquered his anger.

"I just wanted... to say I'm sorry..." she whispered. Cerulean stretched out his arm, but she flinched and backed further away, cowering. I... I know I deserved that, but I... I can't...

"Twilight, I didn't mean to..." he started, but she dashed outside before he could finish, tears flowing unchecked and the treasure in her hooves cast aside. Ignoring the cries of protest from his limbs, he ran outside to give chase but she quickly teleported away, leaving no trace to follow. Desperate, he summoned his wings and began flying low, searching the town. He didn't stop until the last of his magic drained and he fell to the ground, chest heaving. Somehow, even then he knew she was gone, no longer in Ponyville. The door to her heart had closed, and he was left on the outside. As that final thought drained the will power from his limbs, he closed his eyes and wished for the end, his soft cries fading unheard into the starry sky.