My name was Razorbeam, and I am retired.
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Luna waited patiently in her room. She kept it a little darker than most places, forever finding enjoyment in the dimmer light. Not that she disliked sunlight, but it eliminated one of her favorite views; the stars of night. Her ceiling was enchanted to show only the stars beyond, displacing the sunlight outside and revealing the vastness of space beyond the glow of day.
She smiled as she considered her sister's earlier request. A meeting, here, in Luna's room, could only mean one thing. Her sister desired privacy, a place to hide where nopony would look for her; or perhaps no dragon, unless she missed her guess.
She was much like her sister, deep down. Though less accustomed to recent times, it had been many years since her return from the moon. Luna had adapted well, quickly learning the flow of the world around her all over again. She, like her sister, was now entertaining ideas of love. She, like Celestia, had once loved long ago, and so could share in her woes. But she assumed Celestia would want to talk about Spike, and Luna was concerned.
Celestia was her idol, every bit the model alicorn she wanted to be. She didn't understand how she could be of help to her older sister, who was more experienced than her in most every way. She hoped it was just a simple case of needing to be heard, else she wondered if she could possibly support the sister she so loved.
The doors swung open lightly, Celestia poking her head inside, having trouble adjusting to the dark. "Luna, are you in here?" she asked, trotting inside and shutting the door behind her.
Luna smiled, forgetting how well her starlit mane blended in with the darkness. Using her magic, she willed the images of the stars on her ceiling to shine brighter, lighting the room. "Yes, I'm here, sister. I suppose I lost track of time. Please, come sit," Luna said, sliding over on her bed to make room.
Celestia climbed up gratefully, smiling to her sister. "I suppose you can guess why I'm here... It's not often we use your room for conversation," Celestia said sadly, looking at the deep blue comforter of Luna's mattress.
Luna only smiled in support. "It's about Spike, isn't it? I know it's strange, to have to come to me for help, but even if all you need is to be heard, you are always welcome here," Luna said, hugging her sister tightly.
Celestia didn't break that embrace, but only hugged Luna tighter. "Oh Luna... I'm tired of being strong," Celestia sighed, and Luna felt her diaphragm twitch as if suppressing a lump in her throat.
It was worse than Luna had feared. She had seen her sister break down before, but she was never prepared for such things. If something ever brought Celestia to tears, it was usually because she had suppressed something sorrowful for far too long, in the efforts of being strong for those around her. "Let it come, sister. Nothing good will come of holding back," Luna said quietly, urging her to speak her mind, and her heart.
Celestia let the tears come on in full, sobbing without words for a few moments. "Why did it have to be him? Why did it have to be me?" she asked through her pain, wiping her teary eyes in Luna's starry mane. "And now I'm going to lose him, like I always lose them! Is it forbidden for me to love anything in this world?" she asked in despair.
Luna stroked her mane gently, making soft hushing noises to try and calm her. "You must not think like that, Tia. Nothing is stopping you from loving Spike. Why are you saying such things?" Luna pulled away, looking at her with a comforting smile, trying to stem the flow of tears and get her thinking more positively.
"I am stopping me," Celestia sniffed, looking away from Luna. "He loves me, yet he loves Rarity. My duty is to both of them, not my own heart. To be strong, for both of them, I must let her have him," Celestia said, choking on her words, a strange hiccupping sound. "To be strong, I would have to let him go."
"Then be weak!" Luna said, shaking her gently, but just enough to convey how much she meant her words. "Go after what you desire, don't let it pass you by. You and Spike could be happy for an eternity together, yet you would let this chance at bliss float by for the sake of duty? Dear sister, it's time you learned to love yourself as much as you love all else." Luna said with a sad smile. "If you can't learn to follow your own heart, you will watch this world turn with empty eyes."
Celestia looked at her sister in confusion. "How? All my life, my duty has been to those around me. How can I do this thing, without destroying their love?" she asked sadly, afraid to tear Spike and Rarity apart.
"If you do nothing, the love you share will fade!" Luna said in frustration, desperate to make her sister see. "I am not saying you should destroy their love, but neither should you let yours die off. Continue loving him, as you have been, as you always wish to. Tia, the longing in his heart is torn. Surely you of all the mares in this world could mend it?" she encouraged, rubbing cheeks with her sister.
Tia smiled sadly, but it was a smile. "Perhaps I could. But he already feels obligated to me, and I don't want to make up his mind for him in that way. When I agreed to be his mare, I had hoped he might be over Rarity. If I had known it would come to this, I never would have... I mean..." Celestia trailed off, realizing that she would have denied her feelings for Spike for the sake of convenience.
"Tia, snap out of this!" Luna pleaded. "Your love for Spike must never come second to anything. Even if it had to happen this way, be glad you agreed to be his mare, and act like you are! Rarity saw you both kissing, yet would you have ever taken that kiss back?"
Celestia shook her head, having told Rarity exactly that. "You're right, of course... But this was my first chance at love in ages, Luna. I have been so afraid to love again, and I was right to be. What if he chooses Rarity, despite my love? What if I am left alone again? Oh, Luna, I cannot be alone again!" Celestia sniffled, tears welling in her eyes once more.
"He needs to know you need him, Tia. That you are not so strong as you pretend to be. Even your heart needs a solid place to rest. You have let him see what you are like, so why hide your fear or pain? Why lie to him?" Luna asked, sounding confused.
That hit Celestia hard. If she denied her heart, if she hid her pain and worry from Spike, she would only be putting another mask between them. She knew how Spike felt about her daily duties, how she was acting in front of everypony, and she knew the pain that caused him. She knew that if she let him go, he would certainly side with Rarity, the mare who wanted him openly, needed him completely.
Celestia needed him, too, but she was afraid to tell him that. It was bad enough that he felt tied down to her, but then to reinforce that by practically begging him to pick her... That would serve only to make things harder between them, she knew. "What should I do?" Celestia asked, her mind more confused than it had been since her youth. "How do I show him how I feel, how I need him, without demanding his love?"
Luna smiled, as if the answer were obvious. "Don't let him go. Be with him, near him, show your love and appreciation for him. If you allow yourselves to fall apart, he will feel unneeded, or unwanted. But if you spend time with him, show that you desire his company and his love through your actions, he will see it clearly without a word being spoken," Luna said with a smile.
Celestia smiled also, feeling certain this made sense. She wasn't much for the idea of yanking Spike off on a date so soon after everything had fallen apart. But she had another idea, one she had been pondering ever since that talk, before their first kiss together. "I'll do it," she whispered quietly, determination igniting her tone like wildfire.
"What do you mean?" Luna asked, afraid that her sister meant something lewd.
"Not whatever you are thinking," Celestia said with a scowl, the tears in her eyes all but dried up. The only sign remaining of her breakdown were the streaks of wetness staining her coat below her eyes. "Spike mentioned to me that he is afraid of growing larger as he grows older. Already he is too tall for most buildings, and he is troubled by it. He once asked if there was a way, by magic, to keep him from growing. But perhaps I could do even one better; I may actually be able to make him smaller, if he so desires," she said, pondering her magical prowess, all but certain it was equal to the task.
Luna smiled, feeling that was a perfect idea. "A fine way to show you love and need him. If he wants to keep from growing so that he may love you better, granting his wish will only show that you wish to love him better as well," she congratulated, glad to see her sister taking an active approach.
Celestia smiled, glad there was something she could do for him. Even if he did not choose her, this gift would benefit him. "This will give him time to think tonight, while I create the spell. It will not be easy, but I am certain it can be done. When it is finished, I will break the news to him; both about the spell, and how I feel," she promised, and Luna nodded, hopping off the bed.
Celestia followed, her determination and eagerness to do this task flooding her mind and body with energy. She embraced her sister a final time that evening, smiling widely. "Thank you Luna. Without you, I don't know what I would do. In some ways, you're more wise than I will ever be," she praised, rubbing cheeks.
Luna flushed with happiness, glad that her sister so respected her advice. "It's nothing, dear sister. Now go! The sooner you finish this spell, the closer you will be to the greatest happiness of your life," she said with a smile, shooing her older sister along.
Celestia went willingly, glad to be on her way. She made her way to the library at once, and her private study within. Here she practiced her spellcraft. And though it had been ages since she had last created a magical spell, few could even be considered on her level of magical knowledge and power. It would likely take her all night, but she would not find the task beyond her.
With the sun rolling along the world's edge, Celestia lit her reading lamp, and opened a tome she had not touched in centuries; her spellbook.
Her work was not simple. With each magical flicker of her horn, the room was lit with golden runes. She was no novice to the ways of the world, particularly the growth and decay of things living. Numerous spells existed already to shrink various objects, but they had never been tested on living things. And she could recall no spell in all the history of pony kind used to keep anything from growing larger ever again.
If she simply shrank him, that would be enough for a while. But eventually Spike would grow again, and so she would have to cast it on him again, and she was not sure how shrinking a dragon multiple times would affect him. She refused to settle for anything less than a spell that would do the unimaginable.
She needed a spell that would turn Spike's growth back a few years, and then trap it there. It was not long ago he had been her own size, nearly seven feet tall, only a few years at most. She practiced her magic over and over, with little success. There was a potted oak sapling in her study that was the target of her progressively changing spellwork. It was not much older than a few years either, and her goal was simple; to turn it back, until it was nothing more than an acorn.
After five attempts using variations of a spell she was certain would eventually adapt to do what she desired, she had no results to show, other than that a few leaves had disappeared. This, she assumed, was the result of being turned back a few weeks, not a few years. Frustrated, she focused on a different, more powerful version of the previous runic pattern she had used to cast her spell.
The plant shuddered, and quite suddenly vanished, much to her excitement. She quickly trotted to her spellbook, jotting a note of her spellcasting method before she confirmed the results. Sure as she was master of the sun, there lay the acorn, nestled in the pocket left by its now non-existent roots.
This was only part of the spell, she knew, though it was a vital part; she could use it to test whether or not the age was locked by casting the spell with the opposite effect in mind; to age the acorn. Though even if it never aged physically again, once it had reached its lifespan, acorn or not, it would perish as if it had been fully grown.
She need not worry about such things with Spike, but the spell could never be used to allow a mortal to live forever. Their lives were finite, no matter the bodies they held. Still, it would accomplish her goals. She began new spells, focusing on halting the physical aging process of the acorn.
She would cast each variation, and then try to age the acorn. Her first three attempts failed, her aging spell returning the acorn to its original sapling form. Her fourth, however, had no effect on the nut. It remained a small, round seed, despite her numerous castings to get it to age.
It would never grow again, she was certain; no matter how much water it received or years passed, it would never sprout. Exhausted from her spellcasting, but well pleased with herself, she jotted down her latest spell, confident this was the gift Spike desired. With these two spells, he could once again live among ponies with ease, sharing their homes and their lives.
She lay her head on the desk, blowing the lamp out and letting her exhaustion take her. It was late now, the moon more than half through its cycle, so she took her well deserved rest.
Come morning, she would be standing eye to eye with her love.
Spike wandered Tia's private gardens, still puzzled by the recent turn of events. His heart yearned for an answer to his imbalance, flitting between the realms of love where his mares held dominion. It tired of travel, desiring only to settle on one, and be happy in its destination.
Spike stared upon the cherry tree, now a symbol of his love for Tia. He had wandered to it knowingly, unwilling to let beautiful thoughts of his princess flow unanswered. Here he had first caught her singing, alone and fragile, unknowing that he gazed upon her. Here, he had first seen past her mask, and into the true beauty of her life.
He sighed, realizing how unlikely it was. With Rarity here, it only reminded him of his worries before; that Tia might not truly love him, might have simply been waiting for this chance for Rarity to reclaim Spike's heart. Spike shook his head, realizing that was foolish. He knew her too well to let that thought settle. She would never do something so cruel, to toy with Spike's heart like that.
He thought back to their first kiss, the first true kiss he had shared with anypony. Then, she had been his mare. Things had changed, he feared. She had told him not to feel bound to her, to pursue his own heart. Did that mean, then, that she did not want to be bound to him?
Mares were too complicated.
With a defeated groan, Spike curled on the ground under the tree. There was too much going on for him to even pretend he understood. He wasn't used to having to make up his mind on his own; though always mature for his age, he had always been surrounded by wise and powerful friends, always willing to help. The few times he had made drastic decisions on his own, they had not ended well, Twilight often having to save him from himself.
His brooding was interrupted by soft hoofsteps behind him. His heart soared when he wrapped his neck about, turning to see Tia standing there behind him. It answered so many questions, relieved him of so many doubts now that she had come after him. He smiled at her warmly, glad to see her beautiful face.
"I thought I might find you here," she said with a warm smile of her own. Her tone, the way she held herself, all put Spike's heart at ease. Nothing had changed since he had seen her last; held her last. The light was still in her eyes when she looked at him, the reluctance in her steps only equal to Spike's own uncertainty. He could certainly accept that.
"I couldn't stay cooped up in the study," he admitted, smiling sheepishly. "I felt cramped and alone there. At least out here I have the company of the sun... and its keeper," he finished with a wink.
Celestia blushed, finding his metaphor fittingly poetic. "My, such a way with words," she teased, trotting a bit closer. That little exchange seemed have dissolved her doubts as well, Spike realized, helping her to see as he had that things between them remained. He had not seen her all the night before, an uncommon thing since he had come to the castle. He had been worried, afraid she might be avoiding him.
If it had been the case, it no longer was, and that was enough for him. With her stepping closer, he noticed a strange thing about her complexion; she looked more pale, as if she were sick or tired, and she was not as well groomed as she usually was, though still certainly beautiful. "Are you feeling alright? You don't look yourself today..." Spike said, not meaning to be rude about it.
"I had a late night," Celestia said with a slight chuckle, as if laughing off Spike's concerns.
"Because of me?" Spike asked, his tone betraying nothing. Whether he expected a preferred answer or not, Tia couldn't tell.
"In a way, though completely by choice," Tia replied calmly, with a smile that put Spike's heart at ease. "I know you're troubled, trying to make up your mind about your heart. But even though I am a part of that trouble, I wanted to prove that I am here for you," Celestia said quietly, her tone reluctant. She had reached the part of her confession she felt was dangerous.
"What do you mean, Tia? You've always been here for me, and even if you are involved that will never change," Spike said, as if he could imagine no situation where he could not depend on her, even if she had caused it all. His eyes conveyed only sincerity.
That bolstered Celestia for what she had to do next, so she smiled and continued. "I remember you said you were afraid... to grow larger, as you grow older. Already, your size inconveniences you, doesn't it?" she asked gently, not wanting to incite any kind of negative emotion with her words.
Spike sighed, but didn't react past that. "Yeah, it's not easy being this size. And it worries me, knowing that no matter who I love, I will eventually outgrow them... physically, not emotionally," he clarified hastily.
Celestia only laughed, pawing at the air to show she understood. "I was up all night, working on a spell for you, Spike. You remember I said I might be able to find a way to keep you from growing... Well, I have."
Spike's jaw dropped in shock. So soon? He had expected it would take her much longer, if she ever did it at all. Even he had forgotten about that little discussion in the heat of things, so it came as a shock to him that he might have one of the greatest worries of his young life laid to rest. "Really?" he asked, almost skeptical.
"Of course, why would I lie?" she asked, her tone teasing. "But I can even do one better, if you so wish," she added lightly, as if as an afterthought.
Spike tilted his head, confused. "What could be better than staying this size?" Spike asked, puzzling it over.
Celestia only grinned, anticipating his reaction. "Staying my size, of course," she replied, her tone slightly more excited than she had meant it to be.
To be her size? That would be amazing! Spike shuddered with pleasure at the thought, excited at the mere possibility that he might be able to live normally again, like he hadn't been able to for years. Sure his size had a few perks, but for the most part it was only inconvenient. And Celestia's tone; she had thought of this course because it was not only something she thought Spike would desire, but something that she was also excited about.
"I would love that," Spike admitted, but before he agreed to it, he wanted to know. "Would you?" he asked, eyeing her carefully, gauging her response.
"Would I what?" she asked, not quite following, too caught up in his agreement to be resized.
"Would you like it more, if I were your size?" he asked, still making complete eye contact with her.
She faltered, lost in his green eyes as she realized she was now trapped into doing the one thing she had not wanted to; telling Spike blatantly that she wanted him, needed him, didn't want him to leave. There was a slight chance she might not have to, and that was enough to try on.
"Of course I would Spike," she answered simply, trying to avoid the fearful question...
"Why?" Spike asked, not relenting in his gaze.
Tia couldn't look away. The longing in his eyes, the sheer need for an answer, a real answer, drove her to respond. "Because I love you, Spike. And I never want you to outgrow me," she said quietly, her admission coming more fluidly than she had expected, and feeling a thousand more times right than she had ever dreamed. Luna was right, hiding how she felt from Spike would only hurt them both, and it felt so great to tell him that. Like an iron chain wrapped about her own heart had been shattered.
Spike smiled, a watery and weak grin that was shaken by emotions of various degrees. He stepped closer, picking her off the ground in his arms, and hugging her gently. "Then change me; but don't do it because it will make me happy. Do it because you love me," Spike said, cradling her gently.
Celestia only smiled, completely comfortable in the unexpected embrace. "To me Spike, they are one and the same," she replied. "But before I do... stay like this with me a while," she said softly, closing her eyes and cuddling closer to his chest.
Overwhelmed with feelings for her, Spike craned his neck down to her, kissing her gently on the cheek. "Whatever you wish, Tia," he whispered quietly, holding his princess in his arms. His heart, so turbulent with feelings even now, could not deny the rightness of this love. Once the two had hidden in one another's shadows, but now this love glowed with a light of its own.
For this moment, Spike was in love with Tia and nopony else. Here, with her in his arms, he was separated from all troubles. He knew that sometime, maybe even soon, his worries would return, the conflict of his heart would resume. He would one day again wonder if he could be this happy with Rarity.
One day... one different day.
He curled back on the ground, still holding her tightly. It was only the afternoon, yet it felt like the evening, everything around them dim in comparison to one another. Spike smiled gently at Tia, her eyes coming open a slit as she sensed his gaze. The two shared a wordless exchange of smiles, until Spike had a thought.
"Tia?" he asked, looking from her to the cherry tree.
"Yes Spike?" she asked, closing her eyes again, still exhausted from the night before and more than comfortable in his arms.
"Would you... sing for me?" he asked sheepishly. She had once told him she did not sing for anypony often, but ever since the first time he had heard her perfect voice raised in song, he had wanted to hear it again.
Celestia opened her eyes and smiled, surprised by the question, and flattered by his request. "Spike... for you, I would sing any day," she replied quietly.
Spike smiled and curled his neck around her, laying his head on the ground and waiting for her to begin her wonderful melody, the one he had heard not so long ago.
"Winter and spring, they softly fade,
Under the brightening dawn,
Summer comes but cannot stay,
For the road ahead is long..."
Spike was awakened by something moving about in his arms. His sleepy mind noted that it was still light out, probably late in the afternoon. Looking down, he saw Celestia nestled in his embrace, still sound asleep. He recalled her saying she had been up late. He recalled asking her to sing.
He had been tired too; emotionally drained and stressed. The soothing notes of her song had put him at ease, allowing him to slip into unexpected sleep. She must have also taken a nap, comfortable and unwilling to leave his side in light of their exchange that afternoon. He smiled gently, thinking her beautiful even in sleep; perhaps especially so.
Her breathing was slower, her motions slight and gentle. It gave her an almost fragile appearance; a white mare, her face serene, little more than a perfect sculpture of smooth clay. Seeing her this way, Spike felt protective of her. He had never caught her sleeping before, had never seen her in this way. Whenever she was awake she was graceful and strong, but in rest she was just like anypony else. Weak, vulnerable, and in need of a protector.
Spike had little trouble picturing that, his young mind easily converting him into a heroic figure. Here, he kept vigil over his mare, ready to repel any and all dangers. There were none, of course, but that did little diminish his sense of purpose as he watched over her, proud of the role he was able to play.
"For a time," he muttered quietly, his words bittersweet. The charade would end soon; when she woke, she would make him smaller, and he would no longer be able to protect her like this. It wouldn't change his mind, he knew, but he longed to be her strong and shining knight, even after the change.
They would protect each other then, he figured. He would be able to look out for her, and she him. They would stand as equals, eye to eye.
She murmured something in her sleep, and Spike smiled to himself. Even if he were her size, as long as she was like this, he could protect her. From what, he didn't know, but he could be content even if all he could save her from was the chill breeze of the afternoon. He kissed her on the cheek gently, feeling drawn to do so. Even through his scales she felt warm, radiating the extra heat all creatures seemed to create when sleeping. Her coat was soft and pleasant, and he couldn't help but smile as he pulled away.
She reacted slightly in her sleep, rubbing against him as he kissed her, alleviating Spike's slight fear that kissing her without permission had been taboo. After a moment, her eyes flickered open slightly, as if at last her body had realized that her living mattress was awake.
"What time is it?" she asked, shutting her eyes tight again against the sunlight, clearly not quite awake.
Spike chuckled lightly, having been exactly that kind of awake himself on numerous occasions. "If I had to guess, I would say about five o' clock," Spike said quietly, nuzzling her gently. "That means it's time to get up, your highness," he teased.
Celestia simply giggled and nuzzled him back, wriggling around until she was facing him. She let her eyes adjust in the shade of his body, then gently climbed out of his arms. Her legs felt wobbly, having been tucked under her at various points in her tumbling act of a nap. Still, she felt wonderful, as if she had slept on a feather mattress and not Spike's scaled hide.
She knew that her nap had been unexpected, but it was for the best. Rewinding an oak tree was one thing, but a dragon might require more energy. They were more complex by far, so in the end it would only serve her purposes; and Spike's. She didn't want to launch directly back into that topic just yet, figuring it would be best to let herself wake up a bit before trying to perform any kind of dramatic spellwork.
The two talked for a time, until at last Celestia felt she was up to the challenge. She began steering the conversation that way again, and finally they arrived at the moment of truth.
"Are you feeling well enough to cast it?" Spike asked, giving her a quizzical look.
"Better than I was when I first offered to, in fact," she insisted. "By the way, I'm not sure if it hurts or not; acorns don't complain much," she teased.
Spike scowled. "You tested this on an acorn?" he asked, now slightly nervous.
Celestia just laughed. "Relax, Spike. I know what I'm doing, and you're in good hooves," she said, with a smile that dared him to doubt her.
With a resigned sigh, Spike stood where she had asked him too, and awaited his fate. He half expected to be an acorn, by the end of it all.
Celestia closed her eyes and focused on Spike, clenching her jaw in strain. Spike began to glow gold, runes showing against his purple scales, as if painted on with pure energy. Despite her concerns, the spell didn't hurt him at all, at least not yet. Celestia continued, expending energy and opening her eyes to gauge her progress. She could visibly watch Spike shrinking as she peeled the years off him, the runes glowing brighter and seeming larger by comparison with each passing second. At last she stopped, confident that she had reached her goal, and Spike's.
She approached him slowly as the runes faded. She was glad to see that, though his wings were a new addition to his form in recent years, somehow the spell had kept them intact. She had been nervous at first, afraid that his wings would vanish in the process, like the leaves had on the oak sapling. But somehow his draconic form had resisted such change, giving up only his height and weight, and not the aspects of his form. Dragons were naturally resistant to magic, which was why she had had to strain so hard to even reach this point, and so there was no telling what kind of strange phenomenon had allowed his form to remain stable. Whether luck or fate, Celestia was not about to complain.
He stood now at seven feet instead of twelve, his wings, tail, snout, and claws all in prefect proportion. It truly was as if he had simply been shrunk, and not aged in reverse. Celestia was certain she had used the proper spell, but was glad to see that it had at least accomplished its primary function with no ill side effects.
Spike looked at her as if he was unsure what was going on at first. As his mind finally adjusted to the sudden five-foot-drop in his height, he smiled, realizing that it had worked. He padded over to Celestia, feeling lighter on his hind legs than he had in years, and holding a claw up to her face to compare size. Where once it would have engulfed her entire head, he could now lightly cup her jaw, without fear of hurting her.
She allowed him to do just that, resting her head gently in his clawed hand, smiling softly. He was the same dragon he had been minutes ago; her dragon. But now, he could touch her, embrace her, follow her no matter where she might go. She used her magic to pull his other claw up to her face too, cupping her jaw on both sides.
Spike smiled back, holding her gently like that for a moment, looking from her to his claws and back again, as if he couldn't believe it. He stopped their gentle touch suddenly, swinging his arms around her, laughing like a hyena. Even at his lesser size, he was remarkably strong, easily able to pluck her from her hooves and spin her about. She laughed too, and together they danced across the grassy expanse under that cherry tree.
"This is amazing!" Spike practically roared. It was the first she had heard him speak since the spell, yet his voice remained much unchanged, like his wings. A little higher pitched, perhaps, though not by much, and certainly no less attractive. He stopped their mad spin gently, pleased with the way his smaller form still felt natural. He paused in front of her, arms spread wide and wings flared out, showing off. "What do you think?" he asked.
"You look marvelous, Spike. Growing smaller certainly hasn't changed how handsome you are," she said with a little laugh. "Or how carefree. It's been a while since I've seen you this happy," she admitted, her smile somewhat bittersweet at that realization.
"Thank you so much!" he practically cried, hugging her again. He backed off immediately, smiling in her face. "I can finally feel normal again. This is such a blessing, I don't know what to say," he said quietly, his excitement dying down as he realized he had nothing to offer in return.
Celestia smiled, thinking of the perfect way to stem his guilty thoughts. "There's no need to thank me Spike. After all, I didn't do it to make you happy," she said, her tone smugly teasing. "I did it because I love you."
Spike smiled sheepishly, realizing he should have known better. "You're right, of course. But I swear, I'll find a way to make it up to you," he promised, crossing his heart. "Though I'm no good with magic."
Celestia shook her head, and scoffed. "I disagree. In fact, you know one of the most powerful magics there is," she said, looking slyly at him.
"What's that?" Spike asked, expecting some kind of ruse. Near as he knew, the only magic he could do was burp up letters, and he hardly found that to be spectacular.
She smiled, drawing closer to him. "How to make a mare truly feel like a princess," she replied quietly, winking slyly.
They hovered mere inches apart, Spike's lips hardly more than a gust of wind away from hers. The tension settled between them, neither sure that this was what they truly desired, too full of doubts and worries. Spike fretted over Rarity, and Celestia worried about crushing his love for her.
But that was neither here nor there, Spike realized suddenly. Now, there was only Tia. For now, this could be right. Before he could allow his mind to second guess his heart, he pressed into her, kissing her gently. It was better than that first kiss they had shared, for he no longer had to wrestle with his size. He was lost again in a timeless moment of pure bliss, all troubles forgotten.
This was how it was, he realized. How it would always be. No matter where or when, so long as he could be near her, his troubles would dissolve, leaving only her behind.
Celestia kissed him back, her heart soaring. She had been afraid to initiate that kiss, to steal him away with her lips. But he had come to her, bridging the gap her duty could not allow her to. It had been his decision, his yearning, not just hers. She had stolen nothing, but had earned it fairly.
At last the kiss faded, both realizing they had closed their eyes in their passion. Celestia blushed, embarrassed that she had no words with which to follow that loving engagement.
Spike smiled at her knowingly, clearly seeing her trouble. "I think I've found a way to repay you," he said quietly.
She smiled more solidly then, glad he had broken that silence. "If you only knew, Spike... you would find that I'm in your debt, now," she said, her voice barely a whisper.
He looked at her, puzzled. "How do you mean?"
She sighed, but her smile didn't fade; it merely saddened. "I was afraid to lose you to her. To Rarity. I know nothing can erase her from your heart. And I am still afraid to be alone. But before now I was afraid to tell you. Afraid you would feel guilty, afraid I would force your decision... Even if you haven't made up your mind just yet, you gave me the courage to tell you that I need you. Even if only for a moment, you chose me," she said, her tone warm and full of gratitude.
Spike smiled sadly. He could understand that fear; the fear of rejection, or of being overbearing and demanding. But he didn't see her like that, and never could have. "You're right; love can't be erased. She can't be, but neither can you. And Tia, make no mistake... I love you dearly," he said, taking her hoof in his clawed hands and going down on a knee.
"But I don't have to forget her to love you. All you need to know, and all I need to show you, is that I want and need you, too. Everything has been so turned upside down, but one thing is still for certain. Celestia, I still want to be your drake, and I want you to be my mare," he said, looking up to her from his kneeling position with longing in his eyes. She had told him he didn't need to feel bound to her, and shouldn't. But this was different; he had decided to stay by her through this storm, and all the storms to come.
Celestia smiled, tears coming to her eyes as they had the first time he had asked her. She only nodded, unsure what to say until the words escaped her lips on their own. "Of course, Spike. We never fell apart," she said, patting his head with her other front hoof.
Spike smiled, content that, at last, his heart could rest on its decision. He would see this through, no matter where it took him.
Twilight paced in front of Spike, shocked by his new appearance. She couldn't stop looking from him to Celestia. She'd already been at it a few minutes, but had yet to say anything.
"Um, Twi...?" Spike prompted, clearing his throat.
She jumped, and stopped staring, shaking her head. "What happened to you?" she asked, her voice loud and concerned.
"Only what I asked for," Spike said, holding up a claw, and gesturing for her to keep her voice down. They had convened in the study, but it was now getting late, and it certainly wasn't time for yelling. "Celestia said that as a dragon I would grow forever, unless something was done about it."
"But... you're small!" Twilight pressed, clearly not understanding.
"She found a way to roll my age back a couple years, so that I would be able to live life normally again. Think about it Twi, this is a good thing. Now I can go into buildings, actually follow you up the library stairs... I know it doesn't sound like much, but you can't begin to understand how much that affects my life. I wanted this, so don't worry so much," he pleaded.
Twilight chuckled, looking to Celestia. "Oh, I'm not worried. Actually, I'm intrigued. I thought dragons were supposed to be resistant to magic?" Twilight asked.
Now it was Celestia who chuckled. "He never said it was easy on me. In fact, it was one of the most complicated magical feats I've ever had to perform. But besides that, Spike and I are here to tell you something else..." she trailed off, letting Spike take the floor.
"Twilight, understand this wasn't easy for me... But I want to stay with Celestia," he said quietly, as if he expected to be reprimanded for making up his mind so soon after Rarity's arrival.
Twilight looked at him with a puzzled expression, but didn't give him the scolding he expected. "Spike, you're sure? This is your heart we're talking about..." she started, but Spike cut her off with an upraised claw.
"I know Twilight. And it wasn't my mind doing the thinking. I followed my heart, like I should have from the start of all this. And this is what it lead me to. I know Rarity will be hurt, and I don't want to tell her tonight... But this is my choice," he said quietly.
Twilight smiled knowingly, nodding in appreciation. "It sounds like you've made the right choice, then. You're right, it's your decision, and I'm not going to doubt you. I just want you to be happy," she said, trotting up to him and hugging him gently. "And you know, I kind of like having you smaller. It makes it easier to look out for you," she said, reaching up and rubbing a hoof on top of his head. Spike lowered his head to oblige the rough treatment, which did nothing through his scales. But it was one of the few things he and Twilight shared that nopony else did, so he let her have her fun.
Once that had passed, Twilight looked to Celestia, her eyes alight. "I'm not going to lie, this is still really weird to me. But you two seem happy together, and I just can't find anything wrong with it. So what are you going to do next? Now that this mess has finally been resolved, I mean," she asked.
Spike and Celestia looked at each other, clearly clueless. Spike just shrugged, and Celestia giggled as Twilight's face went from hopeful and excited to scowling disappointment. "Ugh, Spike, you are hopeless," she grumbled. "There's got to be something you would like to do together to celebrate, right?"
Celestia smiled, an idea coming to her. "It's been a while since I got to take a break from Canterlot. It would be nice to get out, maybe take a little trip across Equestria?" she asked. "No business of course; just a vacation," she promised as Spike started to scowl. He had been assuming she would want to stop in all the cities or something, and they would bombard her with requests. But those thoughts were shattered in an instant. "Maybe a trip into the wild, like camping. It's been ages since I've gone camping," she said with a laugh.
"You? Camping?" Spike asked, clearly finding it impossible to picture. She was still the princess, after all.
"Well it's not like I've never been," she said, rolling her eyes and bopping him on the shoulder. "Come on, it will be fun. Get us away from all these other ponies for a while," she said, winking.
Spike rolled his eyes, knowing better than to expect that the wink meant anything. Their relationship was still far too new for such thoughts, and he knew she was yanking his chain. "Alright, I never said I was against it. And you're right, it does sound like a good time. But I've got to warn you, I'm a professional camper... I even know how to start my own fires," he teased. Celestia laugh, and Spike joined her.
Twilight snapped her gaping jaw shut and shook her head. "You even act like a couple; bickering one minute and laughing the next," she groaned. "I can't keep up with this..."
"Oh come on Twilight, we were just having fun," Spike said with a chuckle.
"And that's all well and good, but before you guys go on this trip, you need to break the news to Rarity. She can't hear it from me, Spike," Twilight said, scowling. The look in her eyes said he would do this thing, or she would begin finding out just how magic resistant dragons really were.
Spike sighed, hoping to avoid that topic, but he eventually agreed. "I know I have to. I'll tell her in the morning, since I don't think we'll be able to escape Canterlot without Tia cancelling a few appointments. I'll make sure I meet up with her," he said, his tone forlorn. Despite his happiness with his decision, he knew that conversation would be sour, and prayed it would not cost him a friend.
Twilight smiled, and put a gentle hoof on his arm. "It will be fine, as long as it comes from you. Anyways, I need to go take care of a few things at the library before it gets too dark. You two enjoy your evening," she said with a laugh, turning to leave.
"Take care!" Celestia called back, trying to keep her tone light to help lift Spike's spirits. It worked for the most part, and the 'new' couple reveled in one another's company until the hour grew late. Celestia returned to her room once she was certain Spike was sound asleep. He would need his strength, and she wasn't going to let him stay up all night.
He would have a rough time of it, come morning.