• Published 29th Mar 2019
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A Hearth's Warming Story; Limestone Daphne Pie Saves Hearth's Warming - Jay Watson



Twilight has invited her all her close friends and families to her castle for a big Hearth's Warming celebration

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%Closer to the Heart%

“I’ll go check.” Spike hopped off his seat at the lunch table at hearing the postal pony’s whistle.

“Check to see if we have any responses to the invitations we sent out.” Twilight called to him as he exited the room and ran down the hallway.

“Will do!” His voice echoed off the crystal walls as he charged out the front doors of the castle. Spike got to the mailbox quick, wanting to bring Twilight good news. The postal pony was waiting for him.

“Here’s the mail for the princess.” The mailbag hit the ground with a dull thud as he dropped the satchel he was carrying off his back.

“All of this? Geez, that’s a lot!”

“I’ll stop back tomorrow to pick up the carry bag.” The delivery pony tipped his hat to Spike and continued on his route. Spike literally dove into the mail bag to fish out anything that looked even remotely interesting. After a few seconds of searching, he popped back up to the top of the pile so as to read more carefully what he’d picked.

“Let’s see now; advertisement, advertisement, subscription offer to Trot & Canter magazine, timeshare offer in Las Pegasus for no bits down… a-ha!” Spike had struck gold. Buried in the mess of fan mail, catalogs and other stuff was an RSVP Twilight had been waiting for.

He was about to make a beeline back to the castle but remembered he had to actually bring in all the mail. As best as he could, Spike struggled to drag the heavy mail bag up the long walkway to the front doors and then inside. He huffed and puffed, dragging his burden all the way back to the dining hall, finally plopping it by the doorway.

“You got one.” Spike rejoined Twilight and Starlight at the table, handing off the RSVP and flopping into his seat.

“Let’s see who this one is from.” Twilight was eager to see which pony had responded. Twilight had all the RSVPs from her close friends saying they and their families would be in attendance but she was still missing two responses. She had made sure to send invitations to both Scootaloo and Apple Jack’s cousin Babs in Manehattan, making sure all the CMC members were in attendance.

Using her magic, Twilight held up the envelope to read who it was from. “It’s from Firelight Glimmer; your dad up in Sire’s Hollow.” Twilight was glad to finally get a response. Starlight suddenly had an anxious look on her face that didn’t go unnoticed by Spike.

“Hey, what’s up, Starlight?”

The unicorn gave a weak smile, trying not to let on. “Oh uh, it’s nothing, Spike.”

Twilight opened the envelope eagerly and read aloud. “Dear Princess Twilight, thank you for the gracious invitation to the coming Hearth’s Warming holiday celebration at your castle. I regret to inform you,” Twilight’s tone took a noticeable down turn as she continued. Starlight bit her lower lip, ready for the crash and burn.

“That I will be unable to attend due to a prior commitment. My most sincere apologies for disappointing you and your guests.” Twilight was almost not sure if she’d read the letter correctly. She looked up at her protégée, sitting with a sheepish look.

“Starlight, your father had somewhere else to go? But, you’d be here with us. Why would he turn down the chance to spend the holiday with you and all of us here?”

Starlight had dreaded that question. It would just lead to more uncomfortable questions she really didn’t feel like answering right then. She was caught in a bind and really didn’t know what to say.

“Well it’s… really… kinda hard to explain. I mean, it’s partially why it was hard for me to get back into the holiday spirit again. It’s not been the happiest season for my family, that’s all.” Starlight hoped that would be enough. Of course Spike pressed on, curious to a fault.

“In, like, what way?”

Twilight could instantly see Starlight’s expression harden.

“You don’t have to say if it bothers you, Starlight. There’s no reason for us to pry. Right, Spike?”

“Oh, sure.” Spike was thankfully quick on the uptake.

Starlight was grateful for Twilight’s understanding but was disappointed by her father’s answer that he chose not to join them. She had a good idea why he didn’t want to, though she wished he had chosen to attend.

“It’s not that. It’s just my dad, he… he’s just not into the holiday for different reasons. I enjoyed spending the previous holiday with Trixie. We got to do a magic show together and celebrate Hearth’s Warming. I’d like to spend this year here with you and your family but I’m just not sure I can convince my dad to show.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Spike offered eagerly.

“That’s sweet of you to offer, but no, there’s nothing you or Twilight could do to help me. But I will promise Twilight this.” Starlight faced her mentor, a bit of determination shining in her eyes. “I’ll do everything I can to get him to be here.”

“I know you’ll try your hardest to convince him. Just tell him how much we all want to meet him and share in the festivities. Mention that Ponyville is going to put on a Hearth’s Warming Day show; that might entice him.” Twilight wanted all her friends and families to celebrate together. They had faced a lot of challenges as friends recently and she had hoped to get everyone together like a big family reunion, even if most of the ponies weren’t actually related.

There were still a few weeks’ time before Hearth’s Warming and Starlight had a few things to take care of in the school before she could go visit her dad again. She could take her time and organize her thoughts beforehand without falling into her old faults of yelling or tears when they disagreed. She had to show her maturity in dealing with this subject. She didn’t want to let Twilight down.

The day before Hearth’s Warming, Starlight took an early morning train ride to her old home town of Sire’s Hollow with a bouquet of flowers and a second invitation Twilight had given to her to deliver in person. She had a brief visit to make before heading to her foalhood home, something she’d neglected to do for a while. Right on the outskirts of the town was the local cemetery. Starlight headed back the quarter-mile or so down the road to it.

Walking up to the gateway, Starlight saw that several plots already had holiday wreaths or flowers adorning the headstones of loved ones in remembrance. After a few minutes of searching, she found the spot and sat down next to the marker, placing the flowers beside it. Starlight looked down at the cold granite slab in quiet reflection of times not long ago before finally saying something.

“Hi mom,” Starlight quietly began what she’d planned to say. “Sorry for being away for so long. Things got… you know… a little crazy in my life for a while there. But I wanted to tell you that I actually made some new friends who helped me out a lot when I was in trouble. I think you’d like the place where I’m at now. I actually have the position of a student counselor. Can you believe that?”
Starlight could still recall her mom’s voice, all of them sitting together at the dinner table as a family. Even though she missed and longed for those times, she knew it wasn’t going to happen. She had a purpose for this visit. Rather than linger on the past’s pain and gloom, this year she was going to show her dad the good time he deserved.

“I know you loved dad a lot, I remember seeing you two carrying on like teenagers. How you two would dance around living room to one of your old records playing on the phonograph; those thoughts really make me smile. But dad… he’s still not… adjusting so well, mom,” she confided.
“I made a promise to my friend, Twilight, that I would convince dad to visit her castle for the holiday. If there ever was a time I wanted him to enjoy himself, it’s now. He’s been by himself for a while and needs to start living again.”
She gave a small kiss to a forehoof and then touched the headstone. “Happy Hearth’s Warming, mom. I love you.” She got to her hooves, giving the stone marker a last look before departing.

Wish me luck. She sighed a little, ready to take on this next challenge, no matter how hard it was going to be.
Starlight headed back to town, relieved to find that horrible steel gate with the annoying pre-recorded greeting at the town’s main entry way was gone and replaced by something more appropriate. She paused to look at a bronze plaque affixed to a large rock with the greeting: ‘Welcome to historic Sire’s Hollow’ emblazoned on it. Maybe this was the ‘sign’ she needed. Her dad and Sunburst’s mom must have come to some amicable agreement to accomplish this. Perhaps her dad was going to be more amenable to her request.

She passed by her old foalhood school and some of the local businesses that were still hanging on that hadn’t yet been gentrified by the Sire’s Hollow Development Committee. At one small corner store, she picked up a nice wreath for the front door of her dad’s house, sure his abode could use some seasonal touches. Down two streets and a left onto Sycamore Lane to her foalhood home, same as it ever was. The only difference between it and the neighbor’s homes was that her dad’s home had no green wreath on the door or holiday accoutrements adorning the building at all. It was as if the holiday didn’t exist here. Starlight was going to fix that straightaway.

She used her magic to hang the wreath on the front door, giving a little splash of holiday color to the dwelling. Just as she remembered, the extra key to the front door was still in the same hiding spot; under the red painted rock in the small flower bed.

“Dad? Are you home?” Starlight slowly opened the door and called out, not sure if he was awake yet. It was almost nine in the morning and he was an early riser as well so he should have been awake. Suddenly, there was a thunderous crash of metal pots and pans from the kitchen, followed by some muffled grumblings about not being able to find the baking tray. Starlight called again.

“Dad? I’m home.” Another crash of pots and pans came from the kitchen as her father’s head poked out from around the corner.

“Starlight? Sweetie, is that you?” The glare from the bay window in the living room blurred his sight. Starlight got her jacket off and closed the door behind her, wanting to help him in the kitchen.

He laughed with joy at her unexpected early arrival. “Hey, this is a nice surprise! You’re early!” He got to his hooves and eagerly embraced his daughter, giving her a small peck on her cheek as he hugged her. Starlight, too, was glad to see her dad.

“Sorry for not visiting more often, dad. The school had me tied up for most of the semester and-”

“Say no more. I understand completely.” Firelight stopped her, smiling. He didn’t need to hear reasons why, only that his daughter was busy with her career and doing her job was all that mattered. “You are working for the Princess of Friendship now in her school. There’s nothing more important than that.”

“Well, today was the last day for the students as they’re heading off for home. Twilight didn’t need me hanging around today so I got to come see you earlier than expected.” Starlight started collecting up the pots and pans off the kitchen floor, finding the baking trays he was looking for in the back of the cabinet. She used her magic to pass them up to him, sensing him take them from her with his magic to place the trays on the counter above her. She stood back up.

“Oh, getting to play a little hooky with the headmare’s permission, eh?” Firelight gave her a joking little jab in the ribs, getting her to smile a little more.

“Not likely. Twilight’s a good friend and knows how hard I’ve been working at the school so she thought I deserved a little ‘me’ time.” Starlight moved the last pots off the counter and put them back on the stove.

“Well, this is great! We’ll celebrate the holiday together like always plus we’ll have a whole extra day together to talk!” Firelight was happy to have his daughter come for an extended visit. She always had interesting stories to tell about the students of the school.

“Actually,” Starlight began slowly, not sure how he might react to the subject matter, “there was something I did want to talk with you about.”

“Sure, sweetie, we can talk away while we make those spiced cookies you like so much.” Firelight was in mood to bake, even more so now that Starlight was here. Before Firelight could get his apron on, Starlight presented him with the gilded invitation from Twilight to spend both Hearth’s Warming Eve and Day as guests at her castle along with Twilight’s family. He was unprepared for this. Clearly his daughter had an ulterior motive to see him today.

“Dad,” She spoke slowly and gently, wanting to broach the subject carefully. “Why did you turn down Twilight’s invitation to spend the holiday with her and her family?”

“Oh, it’s very generous of Princess Twilight to invite me but I wouldn’t feel right intruding in that new life you’ve created. I love hearing of it and how well it’s going for you when you visit. It’s not really-”

“Dad, it would mean the world to me if you said yes. You don’t even have to stay overnight if you don’t want to. But I’d like it very much for you to stay for dinner and meet my friends and their families,” Starlight began. Firelight knew where this conversation was going. He wasn’t comfortable with it and was maybe a little exasperated by it. He got busy getting his apron on.

“Sweetie, the best holiday celebration for me is getting to see you and spend time with you. Like we always do.” Firelight got the eggs and milk out of the refrigerator, planning his next steps.

“Right. That’s why I want us to join Twilight and her family. I’m sure we’ll have some time together but we can also share the holiday in one big group too. All of my friends’ families are going to be there. They haven’t met each other either, so it’ll be like first introduction all around. You’d have so much fun getting to know everypony there. Trust me.”

That did make it a bit more bearable for him. Firelight had first thought everypony there knew one another and he would the odd pony out. But since it would be first introductions for all, then it might not feel so awkward to attend. Starlight could see just by his facial expression that he was wrestling with this idea of attending. She added an incentive she knew he could not resist.

“You know, we’ll get to make something to bring so everypony can enjoy it. Part of the invitation states we have to bring something we traditionally had for Hearth’s Warming Eve dinner.” That was it. She could see the light go on above his head, his mind snapping to attention at the prospect of baking for others.

“Really? How many ponies do you believe will be there?” He was already thinking of what he wanted to make, shining on to the idea of going more with each passing second.

Gotcha! She knew she had him on the hook but played it cool, not letting on that she was pleased. “Oh, something like forty ponies if everypony shows up.” Her dad suddenly looked alarmed.

Baking enough for forty ponies? That’s a lot to make! Firelight felt momentarily overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of ingredients and time it would take to do any of his recipes. Starlight gave him the final nudge he needed, sure to gently tweak his sensibilities.
“Oh, that is, if you think you couldn’t make enough for everypony, I guess we could go to the market and buy some-”

“Are you suggesting that the three time champion cake baker of Sire’s Hollow’s Summer Sun Festival’s bake-off is incapable of making enough to feed a party?” Firelight cut her off, aghast that she would even suggest something so gauche. Buying something was out of the question, certainly not for a party at Princess Twilight’s castle. Starlight played up to his indignation, narrowing her eyes and went for the drama to playfully mock him.

“Oh no I’m not suggesting, I’m telling the three time champion cake baker of Sire’s Hollow’s Summer Sun Festival’s bake-off he’s incapable of making enough for this party.” She pointed a forehoof at him, as if daring her dad to pick up the gauntlet being thrown down.

“Well then, Ms. Glimmer,” He reared back a bit, playing off her drama as if insulted by her insinuation. “That sounds like a challenge. I think I and my rolling pin are up to the task.” Starlight laughed a little in relief at their silly familial role-playing.

“I’m sure you are. That’s partially why I came home early. You’re going to need help getting it all done.” Starlight was relieved that it didn’t take too much time to get him to attend Twilight’s party. The harder subject she wanted to talk about with him could wait till later. She had gotten him to agree to accompany her so that would do for now.

“Bring something we traditionally eat at Hearth’s Warming dinner, eh?” Firelight tapped his chin with a forehoof, contemplating what would be appropriate to bring to such an auspicious occasion.

“Actually, I have something suggested for us to make.” Starlight retrieved the recipe given to her from her carry bag, altering his culinary plans. “We are contributing to the second course of the dinner. My friend Pinkie Pie is bringing something called ‘rock soup’ that she and her family traditionally have every year. She gave me the recipe for ‘rock bread’ for us to make, it’s supposed to be a bread like what was eaten a long time ago.”

He took the recipe from her, magically holding it up to his face to read the ingredients. It wasn’t complicated to make, only the volume required would make it difficult. He made some quick mental calculations on how much was going to be necessary.
“We need to get to the market and get a whole cart-load of ingredients if we’re going to do this.”

Starlight was ready and excited to help him. “I have a whole purse full of bits to pay for it so let’s not waste any more time.”

Firelight saw the gleam in his daughter’s eyes; the joy of the holiday season shining in them like he remembered when she was a little filly. It brought warmth back to Firelight’s heart to have her here and get to work together. He felt reinvigorated. He would make her proud and wouldn’t disappoint the princess; it obviously meant everything to his daughter.

“Then I suggest we get moving. We’ve got one day to get it done and there’s lots to get ready. The sooner the dough gets made, the sooner it’ll rise and be ready for baking.” He hurried off to his bedroom to get his jacket and wallet.
Starlight was so relieved to have her dad coming with her to Twilight’s party. She would make sure to show him the best time he’d had in a very long while. She couldn’t wait to get started.

Author's Note:

Like a lot of fans of MLP, I had a bit of hard time with Starlight Glimmer's backstory. I felt it needed some other catalyst; another reason why she went down the path she did. Just hating cutie marks and the loss of one friend just didn't 'feel' like enough so I came up with an idea with this first chapter. This is all purely my Head-Cannon but I thought it might add some weight to Starlight's history.