CLOUDSDALE - NIGHT LIGHT (AGE 10)
"We're really going to spend all day together, right Sir?" Night buzzed his wings excitedly clinging tight to his father's deep royal purple mane, his hooves holding the cropped cut along the back of his neck. Seated upon his father's back he glanced eagerly from side to side.
Below them was Cloudsdale. His father, a soft white pegasus, flew on over the ornate white city. He was resplendent in his armor as the rays of the morning sun played across the enameled plating. Noble Light smiled warmly at his son's excited voice "I promised you, Son, the whole day. I've something very special planned."
Night's grin spread from ear to ear as he hugged tighter. His Dad was home so rarely, always on duty. But now he was here just in time for the Winter Kick Off. And more importantly to Night, he had set aside an entire day to spend with him. Night's wings buzzed again, hardly able to contain his excitement.
Soon enough, they set down along the entrance to the weather factory on the far end of the city. Night hopped off his Dad's back, jumping up and down upon the fluffy clouds that made up the city's expansive base. The massive structure sat as a permanent fixture in Cloudsdale, every pegasus living there would visit it at some point in their life. For Night, this would be his first time seeing it this close. The factory was enormous, water and rainbow pouring upon the cloudy foundations, and up above, a flotilla of snow clouds being prepared for distribution from the factory to towns all across Equestria. Taking it all in, Night's eyes were wide, and his face wore an expression of delight.
Noble glanced back at his son with a smile, turning to trot to the factory entrance. Two Royal Guards stood flanking the entrance. In similar armor to his own, these were the personal entourage of Princess Celestia, stoic and silent guardians of her majesty. With a simple motion Noble presented several documents, and with little preamble the guards stepped aside to let the two pegasi past. Noble returned their expressionless vigil with a nod, while Night looked on in awe, scrambling to throw the two a serious salute.
Moving through the halls to the central factory, Noble gave his son a grin, "You recognize their armor?"
Night nodded excitedly, "That was the Royal Guard! Does that mean Princess Celestia is here, Sir?"
"She is indeed, Son. We're going to have a great place to see her as well."
Night's eyes went wide and his mouth set into an awestruck O. He quickly nodded in anticipation and resumed his own attempt at a stoic, professional expression. Trotting alongside his father while doing his best to maintain a similar parade march, he struggled to hold himself back from simply sprinting through the hall.
They entered the large central amphitheater through a side door, and Night suddenly became acutely aware of himself. Standing to his right was a crowd of hundreds, weather workers and officials as well as lookers-on just there to celebrate the Winter Kick-Off. But far more intimidating, standing to his left atop a raised stage was the Princess. She was taller then he'd imagined even despite his father's stories, somehow more regal then he could have believed. As they stepped into the room Noble cut a sharp turn towards the Princess, throwing her a salute. Seconds later he let out a soft chuckle as Night rushed to follow suit next to him.
As the two moved through the crowd, Night could feel a growing unease. He shrank in close to his Dad to escape the hundreds of eyes upon him. This isn't want he'd wanted to do today. He tuned out the speakers, looking down as he simply struggled to stay at his father's side. And then, like a bolt of lightning, he heard his name echo across the room. "Night Light, will you please come on stage." Blinking, he raised his head up to see the Princess looking down at him. And despite all his nervousness and all his panic there was something in her face that told him it would all be okay. He shakily nodded his head and stepped forward, a quick look back at his Dad was met with a gentle nod, confirming it'd all be fine.
Forcing himself up on stage one hoof at a time, the Princess stood, silent but not judging, rather, she seemed like the ideal of patience. As he set a hoof atop the stage, she smiled softly down at him. With a deep breath, Night brought himself before her, "Y-your... m-m-Majesty?"
Addressing the crowd, Celestia's voice rang across the amphitheater to all the ponies who gathered below, "As you all know, we give the special honor of kicking the first snow of the year to a local youth here in Cloudsdale. This year, that honor has been given to young Night Light, a very special young colt. Night, this duty is yours to accept, are you ready?"
Night began to stammer, but something about the way the Princess had asked, she already knew he could do it. "I... I'm r-ready, Princess." He dropped his head into a bow, stealing a glance into the audience, to see his Dad smiling and nodding along, beaming up at him. "I'm ready."
CLOUDSDALE - WEATHER AMPHITHEATER
The assembly of ponies moved quickly out of the amphitheater to head toward the ceremony location. With Night and his father now in the Royal entourage, they arrived first at the cloud dais which had been set above the snow clouds. Only one gap remained in the cloud cover and soon, once Night ceremoniously kicked the first cloud, it too would be lowered into place. As they waited, some pony who Night had never met began to describe exactly what he was supposed to do. Night's eyes, however, were glued to Celestia. Watching her closely as they waited to begin the ceremony he slowly built the nerve, and at last cleared his throat in a tiny squeak, "Um... P-Princess?"
She turned gently, lowering her head down towards the young colt, "What is it, Night Light?"
"Y-your Majesty? I um... I..." He swallowed, trying desperately to get the lump out of his throat.
Celestia's smile interrupted him. "It's quite alright to be nervous, Night." Leaning closer, she whispered, "In fact, I get a little scared being watched by this many ponies too. Just remember, it's not about them. This is your moment. Just pretend they're not even here."
Night tilted his head, staring at the Princess, "You get scared... but... how? You're the Princess... I'm just-"
Her laughter broke through, not mocking him, but interrupting him yet again, "I may be the Princess, but everypony gets scared sometimes." And then... something crossed over her face, a look of sadness that Night could feel in his heart, "In fact, I've always been scared of the dark. Funny, isn't it? It's why somepony once raised the moon for me. It was my Night Light, growing up." She poked a hoof at the colt tenderly. "A bit like you will be someday."
Night shook his head dramatically, "I'm changing my name. I don't wanna be a Night Light." The gravity of who he was talking to suddenly struck Night once again, "I um... I mean... y-your Majesty."
She gave another gentle laugh and rose back up, "We shall see, Night. Your future has yet to be written. But for now, let's start winter, if you please?"
The crowd was teeming now, filled with cheering pegasi as the weather team bring forth the last of the clouds into place. A boisterous shout of "YEEAAAH!" rose above the rest as a big, ornate cloud was lowered into place next to the small cloud dais.
Night's breath caught in his throat as he looked up at the cloud. Stepping forward to the edge of the dais, he raised his hoof, touching the cloud. It was cold against his hoof. Turning back to look at the Princess, Night nervously mouthed 'Now?'. She nodded slightly in response, her smile still giving him that calming warm glow.
He finished his turn away, now looking out at the crowd, he did his best to ignore the stares. Stepping backwards to get closer to the cloud, Night brought his head down, closing his eyes as he tried to focus. With a measured breath and a moment that felt like forever, he lashed his back legs up to strike the cloud, giving it the best buck he could manage.
He barely made contact, feeling his hooves skim against the cloud. His wings spread out instinctively as his legs fell back, Night struggling to regain some balance. He quickly spun back to look at the cloud, watching it closely. Nothing. Nothing happened. Night's face began to drop, suddenly unsure what to do. Thoughts of failure spun through his head, 'Would Dad be disappointed? The Princess would be so ashamed. Why had they picked him for this? Why had they be-' his thoughts were interrupted as his eyes focused upon the cloud. A single, brilliant snowflake slipped out, beginning its descent.
Behind him, somewhere far off in the distance, he could hear the crowd's cheers, but in that moment, Night's eyes were wholly focused upon the flake. A single, six pointed crystal, drifting down gracefully from the cloud. He reached out his hoof, carefully letting the tiny flake settle upon it. Slowly, tentatively, he brought it closer to his face to look upon it in absolute awe at the sheer beauty of it. His heart strove to memorize every corner, every nuance. As he subconsciously turned around the cloud behind him began to snow in earnest. The Pegasi of the weather team swooped down to move the cloud into it's final place in formation. The rest of the team took the cue and within moments they began the snowfall at large.
Night stepped down carefully from the dais, several of the nearby officials guiding the somewhat vacant colt. "I knew you could do it Night." He looked up, finding his father's smiling face before him. Night held forth the single snowflake as if it were the most important object in Equestria and simply smiled back. Some part of him cried out that somehow, if he spoke, if he moved, the moment would be lost. His father's voice comes to him again, a loving chuckle behind his voice as he reaches a hoof forward, "Why don't you hand it here Night? We can save it forever." Noble laughs, "Although, I don't think you'll ever forget."
Night looked up at his Dad as Noble guided the snowflake into a small glass-like container, careful not to touch it himself. His father smiled, pointing back at Night's flank, "You might want to take a look, Son."
He blinked, the words not processing at first. Slowly he turned his head back to look towards his flank as best he could. There, still glowing faintly with Night's natural magic, was the very snowflake he had just so carefully memorized, sitting atop a blue star. With only a sharp intake of breath, Night turned back towards his father, jumping forward to hug the elder Light. Noble simply laughed, holding his son tight while Night cried softly, not out of fear or sorrow, but simply overcome with the joy of the moment.