Twilight heard the door swing shut behind her, and carefully reviewed her options. Yesterday, Scootaloo had made it perfectly clear that she wanted as little as possible to do with Twilight. The last thing she’d expected was for the young mare to be waiting for her in the library, barely controlled animosity visible in every line of her face.
“What, are you ignoring me too now? I said we need to talk and I’m not going anywhere until we have,” said Scootaloo. Twilight could tell that the pegasus was on the verge of losing her temper. Carefully, Twilight dropped off her saddlebags and answered.
“Okay, Scootaloo. We can talk as long as you like. Have I- I mean, did I let you down at some point? I know I’ve been a bit overfocused on my work,” said the unicorn. Scootaloo snorted and started to reply with an extremely level, controlled voice.
“This is not about me. You’ve never been a big part of my life. That’s fine, nopony has a problem with that. I’m here to talk about Spike.”
“Spike?” Twilight answered, genuinely confused. She’d spoken to Spike just this morning- they weren’t as close as they used to be, but he was growing up now. It was only to be expected that his interests would diverge from the library’s at some point, and in fairness to him he’d not let his new responsibilities and connections limit his role as Twilight’s assistant in any way.
“Yeah. He said you were coming to his party tomorrow,” Scootaloo said, and Twilight nodded in response. Scootaloo shook her head, frowning.
“Why would you do that to him? Look, letting him down is one thing, we’re all used to that. But you’re building his hopes up and it’s not fair. You can’t let him down again tomorrow and I’m not going to be the pony who watches it happen.”
“I said I was coming to the party, Scootaloo. I’m not really sure what more you want from me,” said Twilight, genuinely confused.
“You don’t get it, do you?” Scootaloo said, almost sadly. “I don’t want you at the party. It’s Spike who wants you there- wants you at every damn thing he’s ever done- and you’re never there.”
“If Spike needs me then all he has to do is ask, Scootaloo. He knows he can come to me about anything.”
“Does he?” Scootaloo said coldly, and then all of a sudden she was inches away from Twilights face, shouting .
“He worships you, you stupid mare! He thinks you’re so great and everything you do is so bucking important- he actually thinks he’s less important than your research. Not that you think it, we all know YOU think it, but he actually agrees with you! He defends you every time you come up and you don’t see what’s going on, do you? When Sweetie Belle moved away to Canterlot, she and Spike were so bummed about having to call it a day. Applebloom and I were the ones who found him crying, did you know that?”
“I didn’t- I mean, Spike didn’t say-” Twilight stuttered.
“You should have been paying bucking attention! Rarity was the one who got him to open up about Sweetie Belle! She fixed his heart, not you! She took him out to lunch every day- every single day- for two weeks until he was ready to talk, her best gems every time, and then she listened. They still have their little lunch date every Thursday! Do you know what you did? You know what you did the week his heart got broken? You sat him down and told him you’d made a fancy new dragonfire spell! You told him you didn’t need him any more!”
Scootaloo backed off, her chest heaving, and sat on the floor. She rubbed her eyes hard with a hoof, and pretended not to notice it came away wet.
“This isn’t how I wanted this to go. I didn’t just show up to shout. I’m sorry I swore,” said Scootaloo, breathing unsteadily. Twilight wanted to interrupt, to try and calm Scootaloo down, but she couldn’t find the words. The pegasus took a slow breath in through her nose and out through her mouth, and when she spoke the brashness had completely fled her voice.
“I came to tell you to please, please show up at the party tomorrow, no matter what. I don’t want to see him waiting the whole time, half his mind on you. He deserves a good day.”
“I’ll be there, Scootaloo. I promise, okay?” Twilight said softly, but the younger mare just nodded and held up a hoof.
“I’m not quite done yet, Sparkle. I have to tell you something. After the party tomorrow, I’m going to- I mean, Spike and I have talked about it, and he’s coming back to mine instead of to here. To stay overnight. With me. He wanted me to make sure you knew.”
Twilight took a moment or two to understand what the pegasus was implying, and when she realised it she was a little taken aback. Scootaloo and Spike? She’d been fairly sure Spike and Sweetie Belle had stopped seeing each other when the little unicorn had moved to Canterlot to train her singing voice in Madame Soprano’s conservatory, but she’d honestly had no idea that Spike had started seeing the dishevelled, angry young pegasus in front of her.
“Are you asking for my permission? Because I’m not sure that-” Scootaloo cut Twilight off with a loud snort, all vulnerability gone from her voice.
“As if! Nah, we’ve already talked to Applejack and Fluttershy together about it and they said we’d clearly thought it through, you know? Big Mac had a discussion with Spike about being a gentlecolt and Rarity designed me a new dress. And told me she’d bite my face off if I hurt him. So everypony who counts is covered. You’re not a big part of his life, Sparkle.”
“That’s not fair, Scootaloo. I raised Spike from an egg. I’m his big sister,” said Twilight, defensively. “We’ve drifted apart and I get that that’s been a problem, I’ve been talking to Pinkie, but I don’t think Spike would like you to speak to me like that.”
The pegasus stood up and held Twilight’s gaze for a long moment before shrugging. She seemed to have come to some conclusion.
“Fine, whatever you say. Look, I’ve been seeing Spike for eight months now and we’re not just rushing into this, okay? So Spike can talk to you about it at the party, and if you’ve got a problem with it let him know then and we can all discuss it together. We’re not being stupid about this.”
Twilight nodded cautiously.
“You really care for him?” she asked quietly.
“Somepony should,” Scootaloo snapped, and then immediately backtracked. “Sorry, sorry, I shouldn’t shout at you. Your research saves lives, it’s super important, I should cut you a break.”
That last sentence was said with almost a sing-song voice, and Twilight realised that Scootaloo was repeating something Spike had said.
“Thank you,” said Twilight to herself, and when Scootaloo raised an eyebrow she cleared her throat and spoke again, this time louder, more sure of herself.
“Thank you, Scootaloo. It’s good Spike has somepony special in his life. I’m glad it’s a pony who’s willing to stand up for him when she thinks he needs it.”
Scootaloo seemed a bit confused. She was still braced for an argument, hooves planted. Twilight could tell she hadn’t expected her approval, however grudgingly it had been given.
“I have some things to prepare for the party tomorrow. For Spike. So unless there’s anything else?”
“No, you get back to your research. I mean, party preparations.” Scootaloo rolled her eyes pointedly as she left the library, speeding off into the sky and leaving the door ajar.
Twilight watched her leave- watched Spike’s lover leave, she reminded herself- and she could feel a weight on her chest. Scootaloo wasn’t the pony she’d expected Spike to pick, but that wasn’t the problem. She’d said that Twilight had rejected Spike in the same week as he’d lost his first marefriend. Twilight pulled three books off the shelf, and placed them on the table in front of her next to the party scrapbook Pinkie had made her.
Twilight had made some additions to the library after Spike’s greed-growth spurt, years ago now, in case of any other draconic surprises. “Thee Almanac of thee terrible Dragonne” was the most outdated, but also the most extensive. It was a big book, rebound by Twilight in silk after she’d hastily removed the original dragonskin, and it took up half the table. The other two books were much smaller- one was in Equestrian and the other in Draconic. “My year with Razorfang”, a first-hoof account of living with a dragon as part of his hoard, was written by Horizons New, a renowned explorer with a pearlescent coat. The other roughly translated to “Memories”, and was produced by a group of kobolds who had worshipped a great, dying dragon for many years, writing down her rambling stories about her youth as scripture.
Opening all four books, Twilight levitated over a quill and parchment. This was going to be a long night.
Spike crept into the house a few minutes before midnight, moving on all fours to stay as quiet as possible. He was also trying to ignore the dull ache in his shoulders- his wings were coming soon, he was sure of it, and he honestly had no idea whether working a hammer at the forge all evening had made it hurt more or less. He padded into the main room of the library and sighed at what he saw. Twilight had fallen asleep at her work table again, snoring quietly into her parchment. Spike rolled his eyes and set about tidying up. It didn't take him long to realise she was researching something about him, not about the coriolis effect as he'd expected. That was strange, Spike thought to himself. She's not looked up anything about dragons in years.
As far as Spike could tell, Twilight's theories were already reshaping equestrian science. She'd developed a way to store unicorn magic in its rawest form, and then it could be used to power all sorts of things, even if the storage devices did run kinda hot. Now she was supposed to be finding out if she could trap magic as it swirled around the everfree forest, or at least use it to power things as it moved, and instead of that she'd got four books on dragons open. Spike couldn't help but catch a paragraph or two as he marked Twilight's places and put the books back on their proper shelves.
"And thee dragonne's growth, we have determined, ys notte a function of thee dragonne's age but a function of his or her coursing emotionne. Thee dragonne feels more powerfully than anye pony, and these feelings are thee basis of anye dragonne's ascent to adulthood."
Page 214, Spike noted, putting the big book back on its shelf. He should really look through these at some point, he reminded himself. They had a lot of information in, even if it was from a pony's point of view.
"While Razorfang seemed to delight at the concept of a talking posession, there were areas I quickly learned were not up for any type of discussion. Any question about his formative years, for example, were bluntly refused- and should I press the matter further, my formerly gracious host was liable to fly into a rage, and I would have to hide from him until his wrath was spent."
Page 32, and this should be in biographies, not research. Spike altered the numbers Twilight had inked onto the little slip inside the book and put the book back on the little cart- he could reshelve it tomorrow.
The third book was in draconic, which Spike had never gotten the hang of reading, but Twilight's translation was underneath it. Spike gave it a quick look as he put the book back on the shelf by the big dragon encyclopedia
"12And so the Godhead's children were driven from the nest, with mighty flame and hurtful word. 13The Godhead was sad, and rent her scales, and wept rivers, for she feared her children would never return. 14Of the seven children she had driven out, four returned, grown to seven cubits, and asked to be reunited with her, and the Godhead was glad. 15Two did not return, and were seen at a height of twenty-seven cubits, with wings of their own, and the Godhead was also glad that they had survived, and wary of the challenge they would present unto her. 16One did not return, and the Godhead wept, and she ate the fragments of his eggshell that he might be born again should the Godhead wish for another clutch of children."
The last book was one Spike hadn't seen before. He tilted up the cover to get a look at the front page- Twilight's Party Book- and with a look of interest turned back to where Twilight had left it. There was a little picture of him there in felt, looking all skinny and gangly, like just after his first growth spurt, and the page's title proclaimed it as a record of one of the birthday parties Pinkie had thrown him. He unfolded a scrap of paper and read it to himself, squinting past the distortion in the ink- it looked like somepony had dripped water over the note, and the letters ran and swirled in places.
Spike Didn't Have The Best Time
I asked Luna about this and she said I should be totally honest so I'm going to be. Spike had a good time at the party, I mean there was cake and gems and good friends and music and balloons so who wouldn't have a good time? But he wasn't really all there and I think he was waiting for you. So I asked him and he said yeah, it would be a perfect party if you showed up, but you were busy and he understood. But I don't think he liked understanding because sometimes he didn't smile all the way up to his eyes, and that's not a proper smile at all. I think he had a good time but not the best time.
Spike snorted quietly as he read the note, carefully folded it back up and closed the book, leaving it on the table. Personal books didn't get shelved in the main library. He was a little annoyed at Pinkie writing that down, though- he'd always promised himself he wouldn't be a bother to Twilight and mess up her research. He was her number one assistant, and as far as he was concerned that did not include getting all teary at her over a couple of missed parties.
Before heading upstairs to catch a couple of hours sleep, Spike remembered about the elixirs, and picked the last one out of the crate. It was inky black, thick and swirling with a faint shine to part of it, and it was heavy in his hand. he put it on Twilight's desk and unfurled the third scroll- he was halfway through reading it before his eyes widened in horror. He looked at the clock, let out a yelp and started to shake Twilight roughly awake.
"Twilight! Wake up! You're going to be late!"
Twilight blearily opened her eyes and sat up, glancing over at the clock.
"Late? Spike, it's nearly midnight! Why in Equestria would you wake me?" asked Twilight petulantly, before taking in her surroundings properly.
"Oh, did I fall asleep at my desk? I guess I am late for bed, I suppose," she murmured with a sheepish grin.
"No, that's not what I meant. Look, would you just read this?" Spike pleaded, shoving the third lettter from Celestia under Twilight's snout.
The third of your tutors is going to teach you about unicorn magic. Drink the third elixir just before midnight, in a calm and
"Ah! Where is it!" Twilight looked around for the elixir and saw it on the table, popping the top off the bottle with her magic and downing the contents as fast as possible while she stared at the clock. She was seconds away from missing her deadline. As soon as she'd finished the elixir, her eyes fluttered, and Spike was luckily fast enough to catch her as she fainted dead away.
Placing her carefully on the floor, Spike read through the letter again, double-checking its contents.
The third of your tutors is going to teach you about unicorn magic. Drink the third elixir just before midnight, in a calm and comfortable place. The elixir will have an immediate soporific effect, sending you to sleep. Your tutor, the most skilled practitioner of unicorn magic in the realm, is going to travel to you through oneiromancy and your studies should take you through to the sunrise. My little pony, please write back to me after you have completed your studies of magic. I dearly wish to hear how you are.
Spike reached absently up to one of the shelves, his worried gaze fixed on Twilight. Pulling down a large dictionary, he flipped through it with practiced claws until he came to the entry he wanted.
1) Magic spells of or pertaining to dreams or dreaming
2) Practice of those spells
Spike breathed a great sigh of relief, and put the dictionary back on the shelf.
He carefully picked up the sleeping pony, ignoring the protests from his shoulders, and carried her up the stairs to her room. After laying Twilight on the bed and pulling the covers over her, he opened the curtains so a beam of moonlight would enter the room. Twilight always slept better with a little light, he thought to himself, and suddenly had an idea. Quietly, he opened the bedside cabinet and pulled out a large, light purple candle. He set it on the cabinet and pursed his lips, igniting the wick with a tiny burst of flame.
As the scent of lavender slowly filled the room, Spike slid a pillow under Twilight's head. Her eyelids flickered occasionally, her hooves twitching. Spike could tell she was in a deep slumber. Abandoning the idea of sleep for the night, he decided to get back to the farm. There was work to be done in the forge, and he wasn't going to get any rest tonight sitting and worrying about Twilight in the other room. Making a mental note to return at five to make Twilight some coffee and her favourite blueberry pancakes, he left the library, locking the door as silently as he was able and walking towards the outskirts.
As he did, he realised what midnight had meant- it was his birthday, now. He smiled to himself a little at the thought.
"Happy birthday, Spike," he whispered to himself, and his smile didn't quite reach his eyes.