• 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 3

Twilight quickly shook her head and blinked a few times, the blinding flash of light slowly fading away as the world around her came into view. The sun was shining and the breeze was light yet crisp. Ponies trotted back and forth down the street around her, some engulfed in their own conversations, others giving the alicorn blank stares as if they were lost in a dream. Twilight took a few steps forward as thoughts raced through her head, everything the Princess had just instructed her to do being memorized for the time being. After about ten steps, she began to take closer note as to where exactly she was. The saddlebags upon her back still contained the quills and scroll she had carried along with her to Canterlot, but this was no time to take note of the scenery. The Princess herself was the only pony managing to keep her here, and as strong as she was, everypony needs to rest their magic eventually. Twilight took off down a smaller, less busy street, making mental observations as she went.

Cloudsdale, at least as she knew it, looked very different from this place. Nearly everything here was in shades of grey, from the houses and shops that lined the street to the tables sitting empty outside a small café. However, the clouds on which she walked felt similar to those she knew from past excursions to the cloud city – soft, puffy, and very weak. Much like trotting through fresh snow, it was hard to tell how far down each hoof would fall as you took every step. Everypony she passed was a Pegasus, so this place certainly was up in the sky. Twilight quickly glanced up and around in a circle, looking for the rainbow waterfall which fell from the highest point in the city, finding only a tall pillar of cloud rising upward with a few brightly-colored pegasi dashing around it. Could they still be building the weather factory here? Was this just some part of Cloudsdale she had never seen before? She’d only been here a few times; surely Rainbow Dash hadn’t given the tour of everything.

Twilight ducked her head back down and kept a steady pace down the street as she continued. In a city of only pegasi, her horn only helped to make her stick out even more than she did back home. At the very least, though, she no longer had to cast her cloud-walking spell! It was never a particularly difficult one, sure, but every little bit of saved energy was probably for the best. Twilight turned left at a crossing, finding herself on a street of only small homes now. Avoiding awkward eye contact with the occasional passerby, she tried to remember anything she had ever been told about the little filly or her story. Snowdrop’s tale, unfortunately, was never something that made its way into writing… everypony knew of it from their parents, but only as a mental recollection from the generation before them. As each retelling continued, more and more details were skewed or lost in time.

Celestia and Luna, of course, were probably the best to ask about the tale. They might have forgotten some details over all the years since, but at least they were there to observe things as they happened. The Princesses had been here! How long ago was this? Had Luna not been sent to the moon at this point in time? Twilight sighed and tried to think harder, focusing on what might be helpful for the situation. Luna, Luna… That’s it! Luna had told her once about the cloud where Snowdrop had come up with her idea about the stars. It was right by the filly’s house, she said… incredibly small, no larger than the size of two ponies. The house had been the last one on the street, and this cloud sat past it as a warning for anypony not paying attention that the edge of the city was right there. Many Cloudsdale streets had something of this nature, even today. Those trotting past would best have fairly good flying skills, because otherwise they’d be taking a quick fall back to the ground.

Peeking up once more, Twilight found nopony in front of her, nor anypony approaching. In fact, she didn’t find a whole lot in terms of the street in front of her either… there was a small cloud floating just above and over the edge of the street itself, no more than seven or eight steps in front of her. Everything still seemed quite grey here… when did Cloudsdale’s clouds become white? No matter. This had to have been the place she was looking for. With a turn to her right, Twilight approached the small, single-level cloud home which sat right before the edge of the city, reaching a hoof up to the door and knocking lightly upon the wood a few times, hoping somepony would be home.

Primrose pulled the door to her home open after a surprise knock, not expecting anypony to be coming by today. She peeked her head out curiously, spotting a unic-- no, wait, she had wings too… an alicorn standing before her? As far as she knew, only the Princesses were alicorns, and this lavender-colored pony sure didn’t appear to be either of them. “Hello…” Primrose gave a cordial smile to the mare, trying as best she could to hide the questions she was nearly ready to blurt out. This might have been a princess from somewhere far away, and it would be best to be respectful. “…Can I help you, miss..? I’m Primrose.”

Twilight’s ears perked up at the mention of the name, recalling it from the tale she had been told so long ago. She smiled sheepishly, giggling under her own breath before replying, “Good afternoon.” Was it afternoon? Hopefully. “My name is Twilight Sparkle, and if you’re Primrose… it appears I’ve found the correct place!” Her giggle rose up for a moment, quite noticeable. “I’m here regarding your daughter, Snowdrop. Do you have a few minutes?”

Primrose nodded, really unsure what exactly this pony was doing here now. It wasn’t just some lost passerby, and the horn sure made it seem like this mare was here for something important. “Snowdrop, yes… my daughter. She’s at school right now, but she should be getting back here shortly. Would it be best if you came inside?” Primrose took a step back from the door, motioning towards the inside of her small home with a welcoming hoof.

Twilight took a few steps inside, quickly looking around the small home before being motioned to a cloud chair by the mare that lived here. “I, erm… I apologize for the lack of notice, this… this is quite a peculiar situation. This is all going to sound quite absurd, but the fate of Equestria is dependent on what we need to discuss. I’ve been sent by Princess Celestia… on this assignment, my… my first as a princess… from the future…”

Half convinced this pony was telling some kind of absurd joke and half convinced this was some truth she just didn’t understand, Primrose nodded again and gave a small bow. Regardless of what the mare was saying, the fact that she was an alicorn and claiming to be a princess did make sense. “Can I get you anything, Princess? Some tea, or a hay sandwich? I’m sorry, it’s all I have…” She looked away, hoping the royal figure wouldn’t be angry at the lack of offerings.

With a sheepish chuckle and shake of her head, Twilight sat up in the chair, returning a friendly smile. “Please, Primrose, don’t worry about such things. ‘Princess’ is simply a title! Don’t spend your time treating me like royalty… I can't say how long I have here, and this is far too important. Like I said earlier when I introduced myself, I’m just... Twilight Sparkle!” She sighed lightly, finding even the ponies here wanting to treat her differently. There was no time for lengthy explanations about how such things were silly, inefficient wastes of time. “Aaannyway, as I was saying… Princess Celestia sent me here because of a serious problem being faced in the future. As you know, your daughter’s creation of her special ‘stars’ are something that the Princesses find highly useful. Where I’ve been sent from… we’ve run out, and Equestria’s winters risk going to an uncontrolled state once again. Snowdrop is the only pony who can make those stars… and…” Twilight’s words faded away quickly, knowing the next portion of what she would need to say was going to be difficult.

Primrose took a deep breath, listening closely to the words of this future princess and taking a seat of her own. She did happily find herself feeling slightly less on edge as she was instructed as to not act as if the alicorn was royalty, and even managed to smile upon hearing that Snowdrop’s unique talent was important enough to require somepony coming to talk with her. “Okay, Prin-er, Twilight, this sounds like an issue, no doubt. I might be insane, but I can actually believe your story. Snowdrop… Snowdrop is something special.” The prideful mother beamed for a moment. “She could certainly make you a few of her stars when she arrives home from school. It should be any minute now.”

Twilight gave a deep sigh, looking up at the ceiling of the small cloud home and beginning to speak once more. “That’s just it… the problem is, she can only make so many. The Princess’ magic is the only thing keeping me here talking to you, Primrose, and I don’t know how long that will last. I might disappear at any moment… I just don’t know.” Twilight looked across the room at the mother, doing her best to tread lightly over the topic which undoubtedly change the entire mood. “Princess Celestia has tasked me with getting Snowdrop… and bringing her back with me. To the future. I don’t know how long she’ll be gone, Primrose… but I’m going to be honest… Snowdrop might never come back. The Princesses know that she is crucial to the ongoing fate of Equestria, and I don’t feel comfortable making any promises.”

Blinking quickly in a hope that she was going to wake up from some sort of horrific dream, Primrose began to shake lightly side to side. Snowdrop was all she had. The little filly was her pride and joy, and caring for her encompassed a large portion of her own time. Imagining what could happen here was too much to handle, and tears began to well in her eyes as she softly spoke, “I… Snowdrop… my… my baby Snowdrop…” Primrose sniffled weakly and tried to think a few clear thoughts through the rising emotions. She was stuck, helpless, in a scenario that seemed nothing but surreal. No loving mother would ever willingly give up their daughter, especially without knowing what their future might hold. But the mare before her said that the fate of Equestria relied on this being allowed to happen. How could she live with herself if she denied this, knowing that it would be her own doing that one day might topple the future of the wonderful place where she lived? Primrose sniffled again before speaking up. “…C-can you at least tell me what Snowdrop’s life will be..? I… I need to be strong, for Equestria… but sh-she’s all I’ve got. Do you at least know she will be safe, happy, and loved? P-Please…”

Twilight nodded once, knowing this point in the conversation was bound to happen at some point. The Princess was right so far, at least… she was learning something here. Primrose, a loving mother, sat across the room from her, being told that the pony closest to her heart was being essentially taken away, with no promise of return. Twilight tried her best to imagine this scenario, but she had never been a mother, and the closest thing imaginable was still quite far off. Loss. She herself began to feel a few tears welling up in empathy, yet managed a weak, gentle smile. “Yes. Snowdrop will be living with me, in my Library. It’s in a town called Ponyville… which probably doesn’t exist yet... but it’s a small town near the end of the hills atop which Canterlot is built.” Twilight sighed somewhat remorsefully, “But I can certainly know Snowdrop will be safe. I will make her my top priority, Primrose… and do my best to keep her happy. Anything she wants or needs to learn, questions she asks, any experiences she should have at her age… everything… She will be a pony that will always make you proud, Primrose. I promise that to you.” Twilight looked back at the mother across from her, quite obviously and undoubtedly conflicted.

Primrose only nodded in return, unable to say much else. She muttered weakly through her sobs, “Th-tha… Thank y-you…” At that moment, the latch on the door clicked open. A small breeze of the cool spring air wisped through the room while the door opened partway. A little filly stepped into the small room, nudging the door shut behind her.

Snowdrop let her coat fall onto the floor after she closed the door, arriving home from school just like nearly any other day. She listened for the noise of pots and pans from the kitchen, but heard nothing of the sort. “M-mommy? Where are you?” The soft-spoken filly called out for her mother, staying in her spot right near the door and waiting for a response. Primrose hopped up immediately from her chair as her filly called her name, flying over to her daughter and scooping her up in her forehooves, nuzzling the young mare’s cheek lovingly. Snowdrop stayed silent for a minute, returning the affectionate nuzzle and reaching up her small hooves for a hug, but noticing something peculiar. “Mommy..? Have you… h-have you been crying? Y-your cheek… it’s wet…”

Primrose sniffled weakly, holding her daughter close and taking a deep breath. The filly might have not been able to see, but she wasn’t one to miss even the most minute of details. It couldn’t have taken her more than ten seconds after closing the door to notice that her mother had been crying. She leaned her head forward and talked in her daughter’s ear just above a whisper, “Y-yes, Snowdrop… there’s somepony here for you. She’s a Princess… and she needs you to help her. I’ve always told you that you were something special, my Snowdrop…”

The unknowing filly grinned at the mention of the Princesses, and nearly flew out of her mother’s grasp with excitement. Since her presentation last year, she had discovered that they were both nice ponies, especially the one that liked to talk about the stars at night. “Princess!? Which one, mommy? It is Princess Luna?”

Twilight stayed silent through this entire period, knowing it would be better for the filly’s mother to explain this to her. She watched closely as they spoke, noting certain signs of affection and love, determined to stay true to her word later on. It was clear that Primrose wanted only the best for her daughter, as any mother understandably would, and Twilight was determined to make that the case for Snowdrop.

Primrose replied softly, shaking her head while rubbing her chin against Snowdrop’s mane so she would feel the body-language answer. “It’s not a princess you know, Snowdrop… but she knows both of the Princesses you do. She was sent here by one of them, too. Her name is Twilight Sparkle. But, maybe, if you ask nicely, she’ll let you go visit Princess Luna sometime.” Primrose took a deep breath, honestly surprised she was handling the news to her daughter as well as she was. Twilight’s promise was comforting in a way far stronger than she was expecting. “Twilight needs to take you with her for a while, Snowdrop. She needs to take you back where she came from, so you can help her… and Equestria. Everypony knows your special talent is something unique, Snowdrop, and only you can help them.”

Twilight got up from her chair and slowly trotted over to where the mother and daughter hovered in mid-air. She decided to speak up as Primrose finished explaining everything to the filly, making sure to stay quiet and attempting to be calm. “Snowdrop?” The loving mother slowly placed her daughter back on the ground next to her coat. Twilight responded to this by leaning down on her forehooves until her belly touched the soft cloud floor, remaining quiet and trying her best to appear friendly to the young, presumably confused filly she was looking at. “I’m Twilight Sparkle…”

The blind filly blinked a weak tear from her own eye, not understanding much of the situation. She was confused, and expectedly scared… but her mother always told her she was something special. The Princess that had just said her name sounded like a nice pony, at least… and Snowdrop was proud of what she had presented last year at the Spring Sunrise. When it had given her her very own cutie mark, her mother’s words seemed true. If a real princess had come to her house, just for her, she must have really been something special. Twilight Sparkle’s words were pretty loud… she must have been close by. Snowdrop stepped forward only two tiny steps, reaching out her neck and feeling the soft warmth of what unknowingly was Twilight’s horn. She smiled softly and rubbed her cheek against it in an attempt to determine how friendly this pony truly was.

Primrose watched as her daughter made her own type of introduction, her sniffles slowly subsiding as the scene played out before her. From what she had seen of Princess Twilight Sparkle, the mare seemed very trustworthy and determined to keep her words. Hopefully, she thought, this pony also knew fairly well what it was going to take to care for a young filly.

Twilight giggled and gave a small smile towards Primrose while she gently nuzzled the filly’s cheek back, weakly blushing. For just a moment, she made her horn glow its typical magenta aura, figuring that the young one would surely feel the soft warmth which radiated off of it. Snowdrop was young, and Twilight knew that she had a lot in store for herself, but starting off like that somehow made things seem exponentially easier. She took a calm breath before speaking once more, “Hi, Snowdrop! Looks like you found me pretty quick!” She went to quickly giggle, hoping that her response wasn’t something too out of the ordinary, but froze after spotting something on her own hoof. Her entire body began to occasionally spark in yellow magical scatter. The spell was breaking up. It was time. Twilight looked up at Primrose and pulled Snowdrop close to her own side with a hoof, returning a nod and a supportive smile as best she could to the young filly’s mother.

Primrose immediately knew what the nod was intended to mean. She landed back on the ground and dashed over to her daughter as fast as she could, giving the blind filly one final hug and a soft kiss. She didn’t know if her daughter was ever going to come back to her, and the only thought on her mind was remaining strong. The situation for Snowdrop was something incomprehensible – the young mind of the filly probably had no clue what was going on, but Twilight was going to need to explain it to her soon enough. She wasn’t going to be there to support her own daughter. The tears began to well up at the bottom of her eyes once more, and with misty vision, she placed Snowdrop down at Twilight’s side once more, noticing the golden surges rapidly becoming more frequent.

Snowdrop remained silent, comforted by her mother and calm, knowing that the princess that had come for her was pretty nice. She had even managed a light giggle upon feeling the warmth that the princess somehow made grow stronger, but faded back to a confused state once her mother suddenly grabbed her and gave her another hug. She was crying again, and Snowdrop still had no understanding as to why. Before she could ask even a single question, she was placed back at the side of the princess. Confused, Snowdrop started to softly cry as well. She tried to be supportive to her mother as the older mare had always been to her, and weakly called out, “I… I love you, mommy…”

Twilight was focusing at this point on making sure Snowdrop remained at her side until the spell broke completely. The fact that she had to hold a confused seven year-old away from her crying mother was not one she particularly enjoyed, and the understanding that it was her who was splitting up the two that were so close to one another only made it worse. She tried her best to comfort the filly by tucking her under her wing, but she could only look down and try to hold back tears of her own otherwise. She wished that the spell would just break, now, because every second seemed a lifetime.

Primrose watched as the lavender alicorn held her daughter under her wing, unable to do anything in the way of holding back tears any longer. She knew she couldn’t be too close to the others when the spell broke, and struggled to keep herself from diving between them to pull her special filly away. She whispered back between sobs, “I love you too, Snowdrop… Show everypony how special you truly are…” A blinding flash of light shot through the small house. Primrose wiped her tears with a hoof and looked around the room. Twilight and Snowdrop were gone.