• Published 24th Mar 2013
  • 3,800 Views, 65 Comments

Listen For a Sparkle - Clarice

Snowdrop's final snowflake "star" has fallen with last winter's final snow. Twilight Sparkle is ready to begin the next level of her studies -- starting with bringing the blind filly back to the present and experiencing some new t

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Chapter 2

The wheels of the train squealed a high note against the track as the train left the station in Canterlot. Twilight stepped off the platform and into the bustling midday streets of Equestria’s capital city and her former home. She looked up at the spires of the royal castle perched high atop the sprawling hills into which Canterlot was built, and once again gave herself a nod of determination. She sure had no idea what the Princess would have in store for her, but undoubtedly it would be better than the respite of nothing that she had left behind at the Library.

With a few carefully-placed steps into the bustle of the city streets, she crossed the main road in front of the train station, fading towards the side of the street and eventually trotting through a few alleys, taking an old shortcut she remembered back from when she was a filly. No more than a minute later, she stepped across the wooden bridge and into the castle, taking the familiar path down dark halls and up sets of marble stairs, looping around and around the building before she reached the hall to Canterlot Tower.

Princess Celestia immediately turned around as she heard the hoofsteps echo through the long hall, amplified as the steps on gleaming tile reverberated off the giant stained-glass windows. Spotting her teacher, Twilight impulsively dashed over, calling her name. “Princess Celestia!”, the curious bookworm exclaimed, reaching up to give a quick, affectionate hug to the Princess of the Sun. “I came as quick as I could… I’m not too late, am I? I know this was something urgent!”

Celestia chuckled weakly and shook her head, surprised that her student managed to get to Canterlot as quick as she did on such short notice. “No, no, Twilight… you’ve arrived at a perfect time. I was actually not expecting you until much later tonight, in fact. Princess Luna had wanted to be here for this, but she’s not going to be awake for hours…”

Twilight smirked sheepishly, somewhat confused how ‘urgent’ translated to arriving at a leisurely pace, but she wasn’t about to question the ruler of Equestria on something so trivial. “I… um, well…” Twilight folded her ears down and took a step backwards, softly sighing. “Princess… would you like me to… to… come back later? I’m sure I can just take the train back at some point this evening, if that’s what you wanted…”

“It’s perfectly alright, my student… that won’t be necessary. Luna can be filled in on what she wanted to know by myself later. I just don’t expect everypony to be quite as… precisely punctual as yourself.” Celestia turned around and slowly trotted over to her throne at the far end of the hall, giving another quick chuckle. “Come, Twilight, follow me, and pay close attention… this might sound like a strange plan, but I know it is nothing you can’t handle.”

Twilight obediently followed her trusted teacher, practically bursting with curiosity at this point. She diligently waited for the Princess to begin to explain, politely remaining quiet and refraining from the flood of questions which already plagued her mind regarding this new assignment.

“As you know, Twilight, it’s been over a thousand years since Luna and I have been raising the sun and moon. With this new spring, we’ve encountered a problem we knew would catch up with us someday… and until we can find a solution, we will never be able to control the storms of winter again. Unplanned, stray storm clouds will fill the winter skies, blocking out the sun and dumping snow wherever and whenever they desire. The Cloudsdale weather teams will have no control over this, and Winter Wrap-Up would need to be pushed back weeks.” Celestia sighed softly, “Bitterness and chaos. For the first hundred years my sister and I ruled Equestria, this is how winter always was. Ponies stayed inside, fearful that venturing out during the winter months would cause them to be caught in a dreadful storm. Harvests were late nearly every year, for the storms of these harsh winters refused to subside until a month into what is supposed to be spring. But one year, that all changed…” The Princess of the Sun turned around and looked at her faithful student with a smile, “Tell me, Twilight… did anypony ever tell you the tale of a little filly named Snowdrop?”

Twilight listened closely to the story of the past as the Princess reminisced, wondering what this would all mean to her while Celestia went on. Was she going to teach her how to control these clouds? Why would something that wouldn’t matter for nearly nine months be so urgent? Something didn’t quite make sense here… until her teacher asked a question at the end of her short speech.

“Erm… why, yes, Princess… I think I remember…” Twilight’s brow arched in uncertain curiosity as to why an old tale for foals would matter in such a situation. She thought back to her distant past hard, focusing as best she could, and slowly began to smile as more memories began to flood back into her mind.

It had been a stormy summer night, the first time she had been told the tale as a little filly. Twilight remembered laying in her bed within her parent’s Canterlot home, tucked in up to her chin and with her forehooves holding the edge of the blanket to pull over her head to protect herself if any more loud bangs of thunder shook through the house. Her mother sat in a chair beside her, levitating a dim lantern above them both while she told the story to Twilight from memory. Snowdrop was a young filly from Cloudsdale… her mother claimed that she was no more than six years old – the same age as Twilight, at the time. Snowdrop had been forced to deal with being blind for her entire life, a fact which led to her being bullied in her class at school and never making many friends. Snowdrop’s teacher had given all the fillies and colts a big project that year, for the Princesses would be visiting Cloudsdale at the beginning of spring to see if the cloud city could offer weather services to Equestria. As it was the 100th anniversary of their rule, Snowdrop’s class was required to partner up and make something to show the Princesses that would display how Cloudsdale’s future workers would be able to manage the difficulty, often-unruly weather of the time. Just two days prior to the project being due, Snowdrop’s teacher came to realize that the blind filly had no partner, and probably no project either, though the embarrassed filly claimed she was working on something real special.

Snowdrop’s mother, Primrose, found her daughter sitting alone on a tiny cloud later that night, discouraged and unsure of herself. How could she possibly make something to show the Princesses when she couldn’t even see? Her mother knew that Snowdrop could offer something special, for the little filly had mastered her listening abilities to get around the cloud city independently. If she would just listen for the twinkle of a star, she could make a wish, like many ponies would when they saw these twinkles in the sky. But stars don’t make noise, so how could Snowdrop hear a twinkle? Primrose left her daughter alone to think, and Snowdrop began to cry. On the cool, late winter night, a single tear rolled off Snowdrop’s cheek, freezing to ice in the cold winter air and bouncing off her foreleg before stopping on the cloud. A small crystal sound caused Snowdrop’s ear to perk up, a new sound, a sound that she had never heard before… it must have been a twinkle! Her mother was right. But every star was unique, so how would she make sure her star was as well?

Snowdrop used a feather to etch a pattern in her “star”, a fantastic idea growing in her head the entire time as well. She could make more of these icy stars, with every one being unique, and they could be dropped all over Equestria for everypony to wish on. Shooting stars were the ones that could carry your wish to come true… so surely her falling ones could do the same. The following day, Snowdrop missed class, too busy working on her special project to come to school. She nearly missed the Princesses the day after that as well, though her mother made sure her daughter got there to make her presentation both safe and on time.

Snowdrop showed her idea to Celestia and Luna, nearly shivering in fear before what she assumed to be great and powerful ponies that could crush her with a single stomp of their hoof. Both the Princesses were stunned by the idea presented by the blind little filly, and agreed to let her work with that idea the following winter. Snowdrop’s “stars” eventually became known as “snowflakes”, the little wonders which blanketed Equestria’s skies in winter and offered a special wish to anypony who wanted it. The happiness everypony found in the snowflakes grew to combat the relentless storms, eventually making winter manageable for the pegasi weather teams. Every year from then until now, Snowdrop’s stars fell with each snowstorm, calling little fillies and colts outside to come and play, and even comforting them that it would be safe. Ponies began to enjoy the special change in climate that winter brought forth, venturing outside into the snowdrifts and enjoying the cool air.

Twilight looked back to her teacher, finding the Princess simply watching her student with a warm smile. After recalling the story from her fillyhood, Twilight’s own smile reflected back just the same. She giggled softly after a few seconds, “…okay, but what does that mean now? Snowdrop’s snowflakes are always falling over Equestria in the winter! Why would things ever become like they were before her again, Princess?”

Celestia returned a small nod, her smile falling to a more serious look as she explained further. “Luna and I had to release the final one of Snowdrop’s stars with the final storm this past year… she was only able to make so many, Twilight…” Celestia sighed weakly, saddened that the filly from all those years ago was no longer with her. She felt especially sorrowful for her own sister. Snowdrop had become one of Luna’s favorite ponies all those years ago, and was probably the closest thing that she has ever had to what Twilight was to herself. Luna used to claim that Snowdrop was the only pony who ever truly understood the night. “If we cannot devise some plan to create more of Snowdrop’s creations, Twilight, those horrible storms will surely return. This is where you come in, my faithful student. Are you ready for your assignment?”

Twilight gave a quick nod, ready to finally find out why she truly had been summoned here. This seemed like a problem, no doubt… but how was she to possibly solve it? Figuring Celestia would have the answer, she waited for her teacher to proceed.

“I’m going to be sending you to Cloudsdale, back in that time all those years ago. Snowdrop will have already made her discovery, so everything you know from the old tale will have already happened. Your task is to find the home of her mother, Primrose, and explain everything I’ve just said to you.” Celestia smirked slightly, knowing the next part of the task seemed somewhat absurd, but confident that everything would work out. “Explain to Primrose that I have sent you from the future, and that Snowdrop is needed for a mission that would harm the fate of Equestria should she not come with you. You’ll then need to talk to Snowdrop herself, and keep her calm as best you can, my student. She’s only going to be seven years old, so please, be ready. She must return back to the present with you.”

Twilight sat down on her flank and blinked for a moment, her mouth hanging open in shock and disbelief. “P-Princess Celestia…” She chuckled sheepishly, “…is that even ethical?!? You want me to go back who knows how many years and return with a blind seven year-old filly?! How would any mother agree to that? What am I even supposed to do with her if I somehow manage to get her back?” She groaned under her breath. “Not to mention… how is that even possible? Going back in time like that… I know I’ve used time spells before, but nothing that powerful!

Celestia nodded again, looking down in thought and sorrow. “Twilight… I told you this task was going to be very different from anything you’ve ever done before. You’ve moved on to a whole new level of your studies, my student. You’re a princess now… I know you can handle it. And it’s not the best scenario we could have… but it’s the only way. The future fate of Equestria lies in this assignment, Twilight.” The Princess slowly trotted around the hall once again, looking up at the scenes depicted on the stained glass windows, continuing her explanation. “Don’t worry about the spell to get you there… I’ll be handling that myself. It’s the same one you used when trying to warn yourself not to worry, however much stronger. You won’t have a long time there, Twilight… so make sure you don’t get distracted. I’ll hold the spell as long as I can, but when I run out of magic, you need to make sure Snowdrop is with you.”

Twilight gave her teacher a blank stare, finding nothing but a loss of words at what she was going to do. After nearly a minute of silence, the lavender alicorn spoke up, repeating an unanswered portion of her question, “And once Snowdrop is here? Should I bring her to you and Princess Luna?”

“No,” Celestia quickly returned, answering the question before elaborating, “You’ve mastered friendship, Twilight Sparkle. It’s time you took a different role, and experience friendship on a different level. Snowdrop will be living with you in Ponyville. You’re going to need to watch over her, make sure she is safe, and teach her anything she might need to know. She’s going to be your responsibility… almost as a student, but learning is not the only thing she will need to do. Snowdrop is going to teach you, too, Twilight… in ways you’ve never before experienced… indirectly, of course. She’s just a filly.” Celestia finished her explanation with a quick chuckle. “Are you ready to begin, my student?”

Twilight paced in a small circle around the room a few times, murmuring nonsense to herself as she thought through everything she had just been told. It all seemed like some absurd dream, like something that never would even be possible. But Celestia was never incorrect in her assumptions. Never before, anyways. If becoming a princess was her destiny, than completing this task was hers as well. If everything went successful, at the very least, she would have something to do at the Library, right? With no other choice, Twilight looked up at her teacher and returned a determined nod. “Yes, Princess. I understand my assignment completely. I am ready to begin… as soon as you are.”

Celestia made her way over towards Twilight in the center of the hall, her long horn beginning to faintly glow with the golden aura of her magic. Celestia focused closely on her student, closing her eyes and recalling Cloudsdale all those years ago. She took a few deep breaths, the magic of her long horn increasing in intensity as it shot out and hit her student, creating a flash as bright as the sun she raised every morning. Celestia breathed out slowly, opening her eyes and looking around the room, once again finding herself alone. She weakly trotted over to her throne, taking a seat and making sure she could keep up the spell as long as possible. With a weak whisper, she closed her eyes once more to focus, calling out, “Good luck, my student. I know you’ll be able to do it…”