A Jagged Gorgeous Winter
Written By Closer-To-The-Sun (Joseph Noblit)
I was in the market when it all started. It was the evening before Hearth's Warming Eve and I managed to get to the market before it closed. I was there to pick up a few things, I can barely remember why now. Anyway, while I was trotting the aisles, it seemed as if I was being watched. This really isn’t anything all that new, being Ponyville’s very own local princess and all. But out of nowhere, I was lightly tapped on my back.
“Excuse me?” a voice spoke out softly.
Being lost in my own little world, I was suddenly brought back to reality by the contact, causing me to jump up. I turned to look at the pony that startled me; a dark blue unicorn stallion with light blue eyes and black mane and tail, wrapped in a green scarf.
He spoke again, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to alarm you.”
“It’s fine, no harm done,” I replied with a chuckle, placing a hoof over my still racing heart. Even through my coat, I could feel it beating fast.
“Pardon me for asking, but are you, Twilight Spar- I’m sorry, Princess Twilight Sparkle?” he asked.
I nodded, “Yes, that’s me.”
“Do you happen to remember me? Way back from Celestia’s School of Magic?”
Shaking my head, I admitted that I did not, “I’m sorry, I can’t say that I do.” After I finished my statement, it hit me, “Wait, Orion Radiance? Is that really you?”
With a smile, he nodded, “The one and the same.”
I wrapped my front hooves around him instantly, giving my old friend a hug, “Oh my goodness, I haven’t seen you in ages!” I felt him return the hug slightly. After our quick embrace, I spoke, “What brings you to Ponyville? This is the last place I’d ever expect you.”
“Just passing through. I needed to change trains here and I figured I could stop in get something to eat,” Orion stated. I saw he was holding on to a bag of sunflower seeds.
“What about you? It’s very unprincess-like to be shopping the night before Hearth's Warming Eve,” he pointed to my hoof-basket on the floor.
I gave a nervous laugh as I picked it up with my magic, “Well, there is sort of a good reason for that….”
The two of us continued to talk as we reached the checkout. Mostly it was small talk and how I was having difficulty finding my money in my saddlebag. I felt so embarrassed while I was digging through the saddlebag and my coat pockets trying to find the bits. Nevertheless, it was all paid up, loaded into my bag, and Orion and I exited the market into the cold world outside.
“Brrr….” Orion rubbed his limbs against his body as we entered where the snow was falling, “Sure is cold here. I thought Ponyville was a nice and warm area.”
“During three of the four seasons, it’s heavenly. But when winter comes around, it pays to bundle up,” I pointed to my fluffy pink coat.
“Would of expected weather like this back home in Manehatten, not here.”
“You still live in the city?” I asked as we started to trot through the freshly fallen snow.
Orion nodded, “Yup. After all I was born and raised there. I’ll never trade that place for anyplace in Equestria.”
I chuckled, “I understand how you feel. That’s how I feel about Ponyville now, my adopted home.”
Orion looked around at the town before making a comment, “Sorry, but it looks a little dead for my taste, Princess.”
“Well, it is late on the night before Hearth's Warming Eve, Orion. Everypony is inside keeping warm. And with the holiday tomorrow, I’m sure there are plenty who are visiting family elsewhere, like my friend Rarity.”
“Alright, alright, maybe I was a bit mean judging your town like that,” he gave a warm smile to me. I smiled back as we continued to the train station.
The light flurry continued to fall and it seemed as if no end was in sight. There was a gentle breeze causing the snow to slightly sway as it made it’s way to the ground. Coupled with the stillness of the town, which was lit up by the various gas-powered streetlamps and a few lights that poured out of homes, it was a magical scene that one could say was painted by Tersk Kinkade. The snow concealed the entire town, hiding everything underneath it's white blanket. Only our hoofsteps and soft chatter broke the tranquil painting that was Ponyville.
We neared the rail station. Like the rest of the town, it seemed deserted.
“Was it this empty when you arrived?” I asked.
“It was, but they said the train will be on time,” Orion stated as he trotted up to the platform. He looked both ways to see nothing but the rails stretching out both ways. “Well, no sense in just standing around to wait for the train,” he spoke as he took a seat at a bench underneath the awning.
I took the seat next to him on the bench.
“You don’t need to wait with me, Princess. I’m sure the train will get here,” Orion insisted.
I blushed slightly at him calling me by my new title, “You don’t have to keep calling me ‘Princess’. I’m your old friend from school, Twilight is just fine. Besides, I don’t mind waiting with you, we can catch up a bit. It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other.”
Orion smiled, “Okay then, Twilight. I was just trying to be formal.”
“Besides, what kind of Princess of Friendship would I be if I didn’t stay around to keep an old friend company?” I joked. We both shared in the laughter.
Taking in a deep breath of the cold air, Orion spoke, “Well then, what have you been up to? Last time I saw you, you were Celestia’s start student and hiding yourself in the library with tons of books.”
“Eh heh,” I was embarrassed to admit that what he just said was still true, “well, I moved out here and….I live in a library now….”
He laughed. Hard. “That is so like you, Twilight!”
I couldn’t help but blush as he laughed.
He must of seen how I was reacting because he stopped laughing, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to make it sound mean or anything. It just….seems to suit you.”
“My brother said the same thing when he found out,” I was a bit sour with that statement.
“You like it, right?”
“Huh?” I turned back to face him.
“You like living in the local library?”
“Of course, being within those walls filled with knowledge, it’s just so amazing.”
“Then who cares what other ponies say, you’re happy with your life. That’s the goal of our existence; to be able to die with a smile our face and being able to say you enjoyed your life,” Orion’s words seemed to be backed with his own belief.
“Isn’t that from a song?” I asked.
“Yeah, I just paraphrased it,” he admitted. We both laughed. “What about becoming a princess? Want to tell me how you got those wings?”
I sighed, “Please, all of Equestria knows how it happened. It’s not everyday somepony becomes a princess.”
He chuckled, “Alright, alright.”
“How about you tell me about what you’ve been doing since school?” I asked as I watched the snow flurries fall.
“About what I’ve been up to?”
Orion was silent for a bit, but he then agreed, “Okay, but on one condition: you give me a bottle of that hard cider you got back at the market.”
“Deal,” I opened up the saddlebag and took two bottles out. I passed one to Orion, who opened the bottle and took a small sniff of the liquid within. “This is cider is made by my friend’s family.”
“I love the aroma that it has,” he stated.
I opened my bottle and raised it up for a toast, “To old friends reconnecting, and to Hearth's Warming Eve.”
“Hear, hear,” Orion raised his bottle up and clacked it against mine.
We both took a drink of our cider. The taste was what I was expecting; sweet yet harsh.
“Whoa,” Orion was surprised, “was not expecting such a kick.”
I tried my best to hide my laughter, “So, tell me, what has been going on in your life since school?”
Taking another sip, he started, “Nowadays I’m a biologist, on the forefront of a number of different fields. Published and going all over Equestria.”
He nodded, “In a number of different science journals.”
“I thought I saw a familiar name in those publications. You must be doing pretty well for yourself then.”
“Yeah, I’m doing great, but it’s the traveling that’s a nightmare. All of those guest lectures at schools, conferences, and all sorts of stuff. If it were up to me, I’d just be buried in my research,” Orion admitted.
“Sounds like me when I first arrived in Ponyville.”
“I’m actually on my way home after speaking at a conference out in Las Pegasus. I really wish they would just let me focus on my work, I’m not cut out to be a teacher.”
The topic seemed a bit awkward for Orion, so I decided to change it for him, “How is your family?”
Orion took another drink of the cider, “My parents are doing fine, my dad is finally retired and started working on a boat that he claims he’ll sail around the world in. It's driving my mom crazy."
I chuckled at the thought, remembering when the day his parents came to visit him at the school.
"I also got married, if you can believe that.”
“Married? Oh my! Who is she, what’s she like?” To be honest completely honest, I wasn’t expecting him to get married, seeing how we both were about 25 years old.
“Her name is Lily. Really enjoys working with flowers and other plants. She really is quite lively.”
I was trying to picture this mare in my mind. I was starting to see her as a pony with a long and flowing blonde mane and with a special talent to make just about any flower to blossom. That's what I imagined she would be anyway.
"Nah, it's a bit of a long story," Orion said with a bit of a laugh in his voice. I could see his breath as he exhaled.
“Well, she sounds like a wonderful mare." I gave a smile to Orion, "Well, do let her know that I wish you both a wonderful holidays."
"I certainly will," he nodded at me.
"And I hope that the two of you are very happy together.”
“She's really happy.” he smiled back, but something seemed odd about it, like it was forced. Before I could put my hoof on it, he spoke again, “Does it always snow this much in Ponyville? It seems uncharacteristic for this region.”
“Well, it is true we aren’t as far north as, say, Vanhoover, but we are always expected to get plenty of snow this season,” I informed.
“Hm, alright. Still, it certainly is a gorgeous sight,” he took another drink of the cider.
I also took drink from my bottle. My lips where starting to get chapped from staying out in the cold and talking, but I didn’t mind. I looked straight out into the snow and watched the flurries continue to fall against the dark grey clouds and the frozen winter scenery.
“It truly is. A beautiful sight.”
Silence returned after my statement. The stillness and peacefulness of it all was something I couldn’t put into words. Even now, I can’t describe it. It was as if time had stopped in place, leaving Orion and myself at a train station, drinking cider and talking about anything and everything that would pop into our minds. The only thing that reminded me that we were not stuck in time was the gentle breeze that would blow every so often, causing us to shiver.
In the distance, there was sound that broke through the calm winter night. It repeated itself. It was the train approaching the station. We both turned to the source but it was still not visible. But it was enough to have Orion stand up to his hooves.
“Looks like my ride has arrived,” he spoke, “Thanks for keeping me company.” He disposed of his empty cider bottle.
“Of course. I’m sorry I wasn’t that great with conversation,” I laughed slightly as I stood up to throw my bottle as well.
He stretched his limbs as he turned to look at the train that was coming into view, “Please, it was great running into you and chatting. We should do this again sometime. Maybe when you’re in Manehatten.”
“Perhaps I’ll take you up on that offer,” I smiled.
The train arrived at the station. We both could feel the warmth from the steam-powered machine. It was a welcome change from the icy cold.
A stallion stepped off from one of the cars and announced, “Now at Ponyville! This train will continue on to Manehattan, all aboard!”
“Guess this is it, I’ll see you sometime soon,” I said to him.
“I’d like that, and thanks again, Twilight.”
Before I could say anything in reply, I felt something against my cheek. It took me a moment to realize that Orion was giving me a light kiss on my right cheek in a single fluid motion. With that, he hopped up onto the train car. He turned to look at me back on the platform and said, “See ya around, Princess.”
Blushing fiercely, all I could do was wave bye to him.
The train came to life and rolled out of the station. I watched as it moved down the tracks into the snowy night until it disappeared from my sight.
I raised my hoof to my cheek, right where he kissed me. I felt bashful, hesitant even, to think about what just happened. Was he just being polite with that kiss, as a form of goodbye? Or could it have been that Orion Radiance, one of my friends from school, felt something for me? Did he possibly see me more than just a friend? I looked back to the train tracks where the train went as if it would give me some sort of answer. Perhaps, I was just over thinking it, I do have a tendency to do that.
I got my saddlebag from the bench and placed it back on my back. I started to trot back to the library. I thought about my time back at school, with Orion and my friends back then. It seems like ages ago, but I can remember how much I enjoyed my time there, and the friends I had made. And all of a sudden, I realize just how much I missed all of it.
As I continued to make my way back home, the snow turned into rain.