• Published 20th Dec 2014
  • 17,665 Views, 1,494 Comments

Tears of a Foal - Rocinante

In the winter snow, a lost foal cries.

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A New Name

- - - day 1 pt 3 - - -

The lengthy walk from the guest rooms to the clinic did the foal good. His stride had evened out, and curiosity of the world around him overtook any immediate fears. The evening hour had left the halls thankfully unpopulated. He shuffled closer to Celestia when they passed anypony in the hall, but he kept moving despite his trepidation.

When they reached the clinic, he either didn’t recognize what the office was, or didn’t care. He perked up at the sight of toys piled in a corner of the waiting room, and left her side to rummage through them as she spoke to the nurse.

The nurse fidgeted, looking back to the examination rooms. “The doctor is with somepony right now, he’ll be out in a few minutes... Unless of course you need him now, then I can pull him out of the room for you.”

“It is not an emergency. Take all the time you need,” she said, signing the paper the nurse had given her.

Taking a seat on one of the cushions, Celestia watched the colt search for something in the foals’ corner. Bright toys were shoved aside as he made his way for something at the bottom of the clutter. A second later she saw his prey, a little stack of books that had been forgotten beneath the toys. He fumbled with them for a moment, before managing to pick one up in his fetlock.

‘Why didn’t he just pick it up with his hooves or teeth?’ she wondered as he hobbled on three legs back to her. Laying the book on the edge of the cushion, he looked up at her with a mixture of embarrassment and expectation.

Celestia smiled. Taking the book in her magic, she patted the cushion for him to sit between her forelegs. The floating book dazzled him for a moment, but soon he took the offered spot, and settled in.

The book was more appropriate for a foal half his age. Big pictures with simple subject-verb sentences. The kind of thing used to teach the language, more so than reading…

‘Clever colt.’

Laying the book in front of him, she carefully read each page. Pointing to the parts of the picture that were relevant to each word. Occasionally he would stop her to point at something and repeat whatever she had just said. His voice was forced, the words pronounced mechanically. She had to coach him through some of the finer phonetics, but he seemed to catch on fast. By the time they were halfway through the book, he seemed to have a firm grasp on the words: dog, pony, filly, colt, and run.

“The doctor is ready for you now, Princess,” the nurse announced.

The colt, seeming to understand what was going on. Standing, he took a few steps towards the nurse before checking to make sure Celestia was following him. He stayed close to her as they went into the examination room, but showed no other signs of being nervous.

“Who do we have here?” the doctor asked, following them into the room.

“The guards found him alone this morning. We can’t find his parents, and I have come to suspect he may have been abused. He speaks no language I’ve ever heard, and I don’t think he has ever been allowed to interact with other ponies.”

The doctor’s happy manner wilted. “Poor guy. He doesn't understand Equestrian?” he asked, looking to Celestia.

“No, but he seems pretty sharp on understanding body language.”

Moving over to the examination table, the doctor’s magic pulled a stepping stool next to it. Recovering his smile, he met the colt’s eyes, and patted the table. “Can you come up here on your own?”

The doctor watched him attempt the steps. His movements were clumsy, the colt having to look at each of his four hooves to get them to go where he wanted. With a few moments’ struggle, he managed to sit atop the table.

The doctor’s horn lit up, its magic pooling across the foal’s coat. The colt twitched and fidgeted with nerves, occasionally giggling at an accidental tickle, but he took the examination as well as he could have hoped. “Do you know his name?”

Celestia perked up at the question, then deflated a bit. “No.”

“I need a name for his medical records.” The light of his horn went out. Moving a little to be in the center of the colt’s vision, he tapped a hoof to his chest. “Doctor Glow,” he said, then pointed to Celestia. “Princess Celestia.” Then he pointed to the colt, and waited for him to answer.

He got a confused look before the spark of realization lit up his eyes. He pointed to Celestia and recited a butchered pronunciation of her name, then did the same for the doctor. Placing his hoof against his own chest, he growled out a sound Celestia was certain she could not reproduce without magic. The doctor looked equally confused, but tried anyway. He gave up when the foal motioned for him to stop.

Looking to Celestia, he pointed to her and repeated her name, then pointed the hoof back at himself, but instead of making a sound, he raised both hooves and motioned for her to come closer. Perplexed, Celestia rose to her hooves and came closer, but the foal shook his head.

Doctor Glow scratched his chin. “Maybe he wants you to give him a name.”

Celestia looked at the foal in amazement. Her mind raced to find a name for him. He deserved a good one, something from the heart. That stallion from long ago, and his song of sunny days filtered back into her mind.

“Clover,” she said, a smile returning to her face.

The two stared at each other for a moment, before Celestia pointed at herself, and started the ceremony again. “Princess Celestia,” she said with careful diction, enunciating her name like she had the words in the book.

The foal repeated her name, this time with remarkable improvement.

Touching her hoof to the colt’s chest, she paused a moment. “Clover.”

Clover smiled. Pointing to himself, he repeated his new name.

“Well, Clover it is,” Doctor Glow said, scribbling the name into his notes. “Now let’s get you checked out.”

Clover frowned when a needle came floating towards him. He chirped something before stretching a foreleg out for the doctor, and hiding his eyes by pressing his face against Celestia.

“He’s a brave little one,” Doctor Glow said, taping Clover’s median vein, and filling a vial with his blood as quickly as he could. “There, all done.”

Celestia patted Clover on the back, letting him know it was over. She had to smile at the embarrassed look he gave her. The smile faded to concern when the doctor offered up a sucker to Clover. Instead of taking it in hoof like a normal foal, he gently clapped it between his hooves, before pulling the wrapper away with his teeth.

“I have yet to see him use his hooves to pick something up. He either does that, or uses his fetlock.”

Clover struggled with the sucker for a moment. When he finally got it in his mouth, he seemed unsure if he liked the sorghum pop, but after a second, the confused look changed to a satisfied smile.

With his magic, Glow pulled out a tongue depressor, and laid it on the table by Clover’s hooves. Reaching out with a hoof, Glow touched it with the bottom of his hoof. Clover’s face wrinkled in confusion as Doctor Glow lifted his foreleg, showing him the wooden stick stuck to his hoof. Setting the stick back down, he motioned for Clover to do the same.

Still confused, Clover mashed the stick against the table with his hoof. When he lifted his hoof, the stick remained on the table. Clover shrugged, not seeming surprised.

Again, Glow took the tongue depressor in his hoof. This time passing it to his other hoof before setting it back down.

Clover looked up to Celestia, confusion on his face. Slipping her shoe off, she held her own hoof up for him to see. Clover lifted his own hoof up, and pressed it to hers. She could see the focus in his eyes, willing his hoof to stick to hers, but nothing happened.

Celestia gripped his hoof, hoping he would understand better if he felt it. This was something yearlings taught themselves. Surely her clever colt could learn it; if he only knew he could do it.

Clover tugged lightly at her hold on his hoof. Not to try and escape it, but to test its feel and strength. When she released him, he looked at his own hoof, now in frustration instead of confusion. Again, he touched the stick, and lifted his hoof. Still, the stick lay on the table. Again and again he repeated the motion, his frustration building with each attempt.

Stopping, Clover closed his eyes and breathed. It was the same exercise she had watched him do earlier. Slowly, gently, he rested his hoof on the stick. His eyes still shut, he lifted his hoof and the stick with it. Opening his eyes, he grinned; and the stick fell to the ground.

Celestia laughed. She couldn’t help but hug the grumpy little colt.