• Published 13th Sep 2013
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A Daughter and her Dragon - Level Dasher



Spike longed for years to have a family of his own. With Twilight's help, he applies for adoption. But what is it like to be raised by royalty?

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Chapter One - An Afternoon in the Park

“Which dress would you like to wear tomorrow?” Mother Matron asked as she laid several dresses on the bed for Cotton to choose from, while the filly bounced around the room.

“Which one do you think he’ll like the best?” Cotton looked over her three favorite dresses. They’d been donated to the orphanage, and as Cotton had been the only foal old enough to fit into them, she had been given all three. “What about this one?”

“I think you’ll look beautiful in that.” Matron nodded her approval, putting the small, white summer dress to the side. She gently brushed the filly’s mane and went over her wings, preening the feathers with her teeth. Despite being an earth pony, she had unicorn and pegasus children to care for, and had learned more about preening and horn care than most earth ponies ever did.

“There, you look perfect.” Mother Matron smiled as the two walked towards the mirror. Cotton shifted awkwardly as she tried to hide her scars behind her forelocks. Matron sighed, placing a hoof on her shoulder. “You don’t need to hide, sweetie. Don’t ever feel you have to hide.”

“But—but what if he sees…” Cotton motioned her hoof towards the mirror. “…a-and doesn’t want me anymore? Can’t I just wear it like this until he takes me home?”

“Oh, sweetie…” Matron smiled warmly. “You can’t trick a pony into adoption. Don’t worry, he already knows. He’s seen your photo—do you remember the one with the pale green dress?” Cotton nodded. “He told me that he would be proud to have a pretty little daughter like you, if you wanted.”

“M’not pretty…” the filly mumbled.

“Yes you are.” Mother Matron smiled, poking the filly in a particularly ticklish spot, eliciting a giggle. “Especially when you smile and laugh. Now, come sit next to Matron.” She crossed the room, sitting on Cotton’s bed. She patted a hoof next to her, and Cotton diligently sat next to the old mare.

“Now, I need to tell you something before we go to meet Mister Spike tomorrow. You know it’s up to you to decide if you want to live with him. If you don’t feel comfortable, nopony will force you. And you are always welcome here.

“The thing is, well…” Matron struggled. She had tried to think of a way to broach the subject without terrifying the foal. “The thing is, Spike isn’t actually a pony.”

Cotton looked up at Mother Matron. “So he’s like, a griffon or something?”

“No, he’s not a griffon.”

Eww! He’s not a bug, is he?”

“Cotton Candy!” Matron scolded her. “You do not call Changelings ‘bugs’, I’ve raised you better than that.”

“Sorry, Mother Matron.” Cotton rubbed her front fetlock, padding at the bed nervously.

“But no, sweetie. He’s not a Changeling. You see…” Matron took a deep breath. “Spike, is a dragon.”

Matron turned to the silent filly sitting next to her. All anxious movement had stopped; the filly held her breath.

“I’msorryforbeingabadfillypleasedon’tletthedragoneatme—”

Ssh, ssh, ssh.” Mother Matron draped a forearm over the trembling filly. “Spike does not want to eat you, and you certainly aren’t a bad filly. He’s just like you, in a way; he was an orphan, too. Do you remember the stories you were taught in kindergarten? About the dragon who lived with Princess Twilight?”

“He’s the Dragon of Ponyville?!

“Yes, well, apparently he’s the Dragon of the Canterlot Archives these days,” Matron chuckled, “and now he would like to have a family.”

“But why doesn’t he want a dragon family?” As only a foal’s could, Cotton Candy’s fear had been quickly replaced with curiosity.

Mother Matron had asked Spike something similar, but decided to leave out the more colorful explanation of his distaste towards dragon family values. “Well, you see, he grew up in a pony family. So he wants to have a pony family himself.”

“Well, why doesn’t he have a foal with a pony?”

While Cotton Candy was fascinated by the discussion, the incompatibility of mammalian-reptile relations was not a discussion Matron wanted to have. The birds and the bees were one thing, but a thirty-foot dragon with a four-foot mare brought questions to mind the older mare did not want to contemplate, nor explain to a filly of twelve.

Luna forgive me, she thought, as she came up with her own explanation. “Well, Spike did have a pony wife, but she passed away before they could have a foal of their own… th-though you probably shouldn’t ask him about it unless he talks about it first,” she added hastily. “So, do you think you would still like to meet Mister Spike tomorrow?”

Cotton looked across the room, into the mirror. She breathed a heavy sigh, and nodded her head.

“That’s a good girl,” Matron said as she nuzzled the filly. “Now, let’s get you into bed; you ought to be well-rested when you meet Mister Spike.”

Mother Matron helped the filly out of the dress and tucked her in.

“♫Hush now, quiet now. It’s time to lay your sleepy head.♫” Matron sang the same song she’d sung for Cotton every night since arriving at the orphanage. As the filly closed her eyes, Matron blew out the candle lighting the small room.

Closing the door, Mother Matron looked back at the little filly. She’d spent more time here than any other foal Matron had cared for, and she felt a mixture of excitement and sorrow. She was glad Cotton might finally have a real family, but at the same time, the filly she had come to love over the years might soon leave her; the filly had become very much like family to Matron herself.

“Good luck tomorrow, my precious little filly. I hope he is everything you ever dreamed of.”

Ж

“Settle down, Spikey,” Sweetie Belle chided him. “You’re making everypony nervous.”

The two sat together in a park, where he and Mother Matron had agreed to meet. Or at least Sweetie Belle sat; the dragon paced in the tight corners of Canterlot Memorial Gardens. Ponies were gathering around to see the commotion, viewing the fidgeting dragon from the safety of the decorative wrought-iron fence.

“Do you think the bow-tie is too much?” he mumbled as he tugged at the red bow-tie around his neck. While he had outgrown the first jewel-encrusted one Rarity had made for him, every year she had gifted him a new one. “Dash always said it makes me look like a dork.”

The old mare chuckled, “Spikey, you know my sister loved seeing you in that tie. Don’t listen to what Dash said.” Her horn lit green as she straightened the tie again. “You look as handsome as the day you got married.”

Spike blushed at the compliment.

“I only wish I’d aged so well.” She winked at him as she patted the grass next to her. “Now I’m just an old nag.”

“Oh come off it, Sweetie Belle.” Spike grinned, knowing when she was fishing for compliments. “You know that’s a load of horse—”

“I hope you don’t plan on speaking that way around my soon-to-be niece! Now, come. Lay down and relax. They’ll be here soon.”

Spike gently lowered himself to the ground, resting his jaw on the soft grass, trying to ignore the parasprite swarm buzzing in his stomach. Celestia’s sun sat high in the sky, warming his scales. The fragrance of the well-tended flower gardens threatened to overwhelm his draconic senses as his mind was awash with pleasant memories.

Rarity had loved flowers, and he’d made sure to have a fresh bouquet sent to her boutique every day.

The vibrant life of this garden reminded him of her. Even though she was gone, while beauty still existed in the world, she would be there with him.

“I said to settle down, not to fall asleep,” Sweetie Belle laughed, pinching the dragon’s cheek with her magic. “Open your eyes, I think they’re here.”

Spike opened his eyes, and indeed, walking towards them was Mother Matron and a small filly walking closely behind her. They passed through the gates, where Sergeant Nova and another guard let them through.

She was a diminutive little filly, with a vibrant raspberry mane that reminded him of a particular party pony in her younger days. Spike smiled broadly when he saw the little summer dress she wore. It was a simple, white cotton dress, with small lemon chiffon flowers embroidered around the hem. They had been popular amongst the fashion-conscious fillies about eleven years earlier, when Rarity had first designed them.

Spike chuckled, feeling a warmth in his chest. You see that, my love? Doesn’t she just look so pretty?

The filly cowered behind the older mare, and at first he was concerned that she was cowering from him. As he watched, he could see her eyes darting back and forth, trying to hide from the crowd peering into the park.

Now that they were closer, he could see the scarring across the right side of her face and neck, presumably going further down her body, though it was hidden by the summer dress. Cotton walked close to Matron’s left side; it dawned on Spike that the filly might think ponies were staring at her, not the thirty-foot dragon sitting in a public park.

“Sweetie Belle,” Spike whispered as the two approached, “could you go speak with Novamac, and see if he can’t get some of these ponies to clear out? I think they’re making our little guest nervous.”

Sweetie Belle nodded, getting back up to her hooves. She nodded to Matron as she walked by, Matron’s jaw dropping at the sight of her. “I’ll just be a moment or two; please don’t wait on my behalf.”

“T-that was M-Miss Belle, wasn’t it?” Matron stopped in front of Spike, still craning her neck to watch the mare walking away. “Oh my gosh, I was such a fan of hers when I was a little filly. I bought all her records. Oh I know this is unprofessional, but do you think I might be able to ask for her autograph?”

“I’m certain she would happily oblige.” Spike suppressed a chuckle. He looked around to the little filly. “Hello, my little pony. My name is Spike, it’s nice to meet you.”

“Say hello, Cotton.” Matron smiled as she nudged the filly towards Spike.

“Hello, Mister Spike,” Cotton muttered, hiding behind her mane.

Spike gently moved a claw and patted the lawn in front of them, and he noted that Matron flinched more than Cotton had. “Please, sit. My sister will be back soon.”

“Oh?” Matron craned her neck, looking around. “I didn’t think the Princess was coming today.”

“Sorry, no, I meant Sweetie Belle. Sister-in-law, really.” Spike chuckled at Matron’s expression. “We’re a bit of an eclectic family, I guess.”

“Well, Novamac said he should be able to get most of the ponies to move on.” Sweetie Belle gracefully laid down next to Spike. “You know, if you left that dusty old library more often, this wouldn’t happen. Now, are you going to introduce me?”

“Oh, sorry. Of course. Sweetie Belle, this is Mother Matron, and this little filly here is Cotton Candy.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Mother Matron.” Sweetie Belle nodded to the mare. “And it is very lovely to meet you, Cotton—may we call you Cotton?” The filly nodded. “Have you had a nice day so far?”

“Yes, Miss Belle.”

“Oh, please call me Sweetie Belle… Miss Belle was my mother.”

Spike rolled his eyes; the warranty on that line expired on her fortieth birthday, as far as he was concerned. He wisely kept those opinions to himself.

“So Cotton, why don’t you tell Mister Spike and Miss Belle a little about yourself?” Matron hoped starting off with some small talk would help the filly open up a little.

Cotton pawed anxiously at the ground in silence. Matron could understand; most of the foals who were adopted were much younger than her, and many of them had to sit in meetings like this more than once. She hoped she could coax the filly out of her shell.

“Why don’t you tell them what your favorite foods to cook are?”

“Umm…”

“What do you like making for the other foals, sweetie?” Matron nudged Cotton gently.

“Oh, ummm, we bake cookies for the other foals.” Cotton smiled. “Oh, and sometimes I make cupcakes.”

“Oh, our good friend Pinkie Pie loves cupcakes, too,” Spike responded. “What is your favorite cupcake flavor?”

“Chocolate!”

“That’s my second favorite flavor cupcake! My favorite is sapphire cupcakes.”

“What’s sapphire flavor?” Cotton looked at the dragon with curiosity. Matron matched her expression.

“Do you know the blue gems, the ones called sapphires?” Spike asked, to which Cotton nodded. “Well, that’s sapphire flavored.” At her continued confusion, he questioned what schools were teaching foals these days. “Well, you see, dragons can eat gems, as well as vegetables and plants.”

“What do they taste like?”

“Hmmm, it’s kind of hard to describe. Some gems—like sapphires—taste sweet, while some are savory. In fact, fire rubies are very, very spicy. Spicier than liquid rainbow.”

“Is there anything you’d like to ask Mister Spike, Cotton?” Matron smiled, Cotton’s foalish curiosity seemed to be drawing her out of her shell.

“Did you really ride Princess Celestia into a fight with giant cockatricks? Some ponies at school say that’s what their parents told them, but Miss Antiquitee said that didn’t happen.”

“Oh, you mean the giant mutant cockatrices that attacked during the Secretariat Comet Crisis?” Spike smiled at the memory. “Yes, I did, actually. I even had a trident. And a really cool eyepatch.”

Sweetie Belle tittered, holding a hoof to her mouth. “I still remember that silly eyepatch; you refused to take that thing off for a month.”

“It was a really, really cool eyepatch,” Spike laughed, winking at Cotton Candy.

Cotton stared wide-eyed at the dragon. She’d seen the Princesses before, and while they were tall, Spike was a dragon—way taller than all of them, even Princess Celestia.

BUT YOU’RE SO HUGE!

As Spike lifted his head to the sky and bellowed out a boisterous laugh, the last vestiges of the onlookers took this time to take Sergeant Nova’s advice to move on.

Spike laid his head back down on the grass, wiping a tear from his eye.

Mother Matron wrung her hooves nervously. “I am ever so sorry, Spike. Cotton, that is not a very nice thing to say to somepony.”

Spike continued laughing, holding up a claw to stop her. “It’s alright, I am pretty huge these days.” He turned to address Cotton. “No, you see I was still a young dragon when that happened. I was about the same size as you are. Dragons start pretty small, but they can grow really big. In about one-hundred-and-twenty years, I’ll have to take a nap for a hundred years, and when I wake up, I’ll be even bigger.”

Conversation continued for an hour or so, Matron relaxing silently as Cotton’s nervousness completely dissipated. Cotton assaulted the dragon with questions about all of his adventures. She did ask a bit about his job at the archives, but he couldn’t blame her for finding that boring. He found it boring, but growing up in Ponyville, with a princess for a sister and the Elements as friends, sometimes boring was fine with him.

“Actually, the Princess did get ‘revenge’ on me for riding on her back. Have they taught you at school about the last Changeling invasion, before the capitulation treaty?” Cotton nodded. “Well, by that time I was sixty-nine years old, and only a little smaller than I was now. You see, being a Knight-Protector of Equestria, I was called to join the army in defence of the realm. As we took the Changeling capital from Queen Chrysalis, Ti—sorry, Princess Celestia climbed on my back and rode me into the castle.” Spike chuckled. “Princess Luna wasn’t very happy with that. ‘Royalty should conduct themselves with dignity and poise on the battlefield’,” Spike said, parodying Princess Luna’s voice.

Sweetie Belle tittered. “I still think she was just mad she didn’t have a dragon to ride into the enemy stronghold. I still remember the front-line photo Featherweight took; it was very impressive.”

“‘t’s what drove me ta recruit,” Sergeant Nova trotted to the group. “The battle-hardened Princess atop one’a Equestria’s greatest heroes, valiantly striding into the belly of the beast. Ma ‘n Pa was furious Ah didn’t go into farmin’.” He turned to Spike. “Sir, just informin’ y’all it’s just gone noon.”

“Oh, it has?” Spike craned his neck around, the cafés around the park were filled with patrons eating lunch. He breathed a deep sigh. The meeting was only scheduled until noon; he had appointments to keep, as did Mother Matron, he could assume. But truth be told, he didn’t want to leave just yet. “Could I interest the two of you in lunch? We could get something here in the park.”

“I’m very sorry, Spike,” Matron answered. She could see through what he was trying to do, and it lifted her spirits. “We must get back to the orphanage; I have other foals in my care, and my assistant will need to leave soon.”

The look of disappointment on Cotton’s face heartened Matron further. “Come, Cotton, let’s get back. Maybe we can bake some cookies for the others tonight?”

“Yes, Mother Matron.” Cotton got to her hooves. “It was very nice meeting you, Mister Spike.”

“I hope we get to meet again, Cotton. You’re lovely company.” Spike grinned, eliciting a shy smile from the little filly.

Spike and Sweetie Belle watched as the two left. Cotton paused at the gate, turning around to wave. Both Sweetie and Spike returned the wave, smiling. Spike kept his smile on, only faltering when they rounded the corner.

A gentle hoof laid on his cheek. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, it’s just going to be a long week, waiting.” Spike slumped hard to the ground. “What if she doesn’t want to come and live with me? What if she doesn’t want a dragon for a dad? What if—”

“You were charming, witty, and she loved listening to your stories. You saw her face lighting up as you shared the tales of your adventures.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean she’d want me as a dad.” Spike stood on his hind legs, stretching out his back before landing on all fours again. “Let’s go, Sweetie Belle, we should get you back to Shady, before he sends out a search party for you.”

Author's Note:
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