• 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 Three - Fit for a Princess

Mother Matron grimaced as Cotton bounced about the chariot. “Cotton, dear…” Matron felt her stomach shift unnaturally. “Please sit still.”

“Wow, I’ve never seen everything from up this high!” Cotton leaned her hooves against the side of the chariot, peering over the roofline of Canterlot. She squealed with delight as the chariot banked right, allowing her to see further over the side. “Mother Matron, Mother Matron! Which one do you think is my school?”

“Cotton, please sit down,” Matron whimpered. When Spike said he would organize transport for them, she gratefully accepted. Upper Canterlot was a fair walk from the orphanage, and she appreciated the dragon’s offer of a taxi.

When the pegasus-drawn chariot arrived, she reconsidered walking, but one of the pegasi had already helped Cotton into the chariot and secured their luggage. Before long, they were in the air.

Flying is for the birds, Matron thought, as she forced herself to remain upright and keep her eyes on her charge.

Earth ponies weren’t just named so for their lack of wings or horns. They held an intrinsic connection with the earth, giving them great strength and fortitude. When one was separated from the earth by say, several hundred feet of air, it caused a peculiar reaction in the sturdy ponies: acute fears of falling, terrible contemplative thoughts impending mortality, deep understandings of the forces of gravity, butterflies in stomachs…

No such reactions existed in the joyous filly next to her, who smiled as the breeze blew through her mane. Her smile changed to a look of shock when she saw where they headed. The carriage descended, circling the palace towards the rear gardens.

Matron wasted no time clambering over the side, legs shaking as she collapsed to the ground, attempting to hug the source of her race’s strength.

“I think we should probably organize a different carriage for Mother Matron’s way home, Spike.”

Matron looked up to find the smiling faces of Spike and Princess Twilight. Spike bit his cheek to hold in a snigger, as the mare tried to get to her hooves and bow to the Princess at the same time. Looking past Matron, Spike could see the guards helping a stunned filly out of the carriage.

A unicorn porter collected Cotton’s luggage, and Twilight directed him to take it to the filly’s new room.

“Y-you live in the castle?” Cotton’s eyes widened. She’d never seen it from close up; the castle looked far more imposing when standing in front of it. The tall marble turrets topped with golden spires towered above the filly; no matter how far she strained her neck, she couldn’t see the tops of the towers. She brought her eyes back down when she heard the sound of the dragon laughing.

As her eyes drifted down towards the laughter, her mouth dropped open when she found Princess Twilight Sparkle standing right in front of her, smiling widely. “Good afternoon, my little pony.”

Cotton slowly blinked her eyes. Once; twice; three times.

Nope, there was still a princess standing in front of her.

“Cotton,” Mother Matron whispered behind a cough. Cotton’s mind wandered to fancy dances and royal functions while Matron tried to get her attention. “Cotton. Remember your manners, and bow.” When Cotton made no move to bow, Matron apologized. “I’m sorry, Your Highness. In her excitement, Cotton seems to have forgotten her place.” Cotton’s pupils continued to dilate.

“It’s okay,” Twilight beamed as she knelt on the ground. She prefered being eye level with the filly. “My name is Princess Twilight Sparkle, what’s yours?”

It was merely a formality, as Twilight was well aware of the filly’s name; she had helped Spike with most of the paperwork, spoken at length with Matron about her, and even ordered a thorough background check of Cotton’s family history by Canterlot’s finest.

Though she kept that last part from Spike; he’d just complain that it was ‘creepy’.

“M-my name’s Cotton Candy, Y-Your Highness,” Cotton stammered.

Spike stepped forward. “Good morning, Cotton!” He chuckled when she finally noticed him. Only when standing next to his big sister, the Princess, would the thirty-foot dragon go unnoticed. “Excited to come and see your new room? Princess Twilight helped me get it ready for you.”

A wry grin spread across Twilight’s face as she turned her head to look at him. She silently mouthed ‘help?’ with an eyebrow raised. Spike felt the sudden urge to playfully nudge his big sister a few miles, but the commoners seemed to get a little freaked out when they didn’t rein in their personal strength.

Cotton Candy beamed, nodding vigorously.

Twilight grabbed the little filly in her magic field, and levitated Cotton onto her back. “Hold on, sweetie! Spike, we’ll race you there.”

Spike laughed as the gigging school-filly, with his hopeful-daughter on her back, spread her wings and took flight.

“I’m sorry, Matron,” he chuckled, “the Princesses are all rather excited about Cotton coming to stay with us. It took quite a bit to convince Princess Celestia to not cancel Day Court just to come and greet her, else she’d probably be racing with Twilight and Cotton right now.”

“It’s quite alright, Sir Spike.” Matron smiled. Even as she recovered from the shellshock from the unexpected royal presence and the subsequent foalnapping by said royalty, it warmed her heart to know Cotton would be amongst such loving family. Seeing this welcome had her hoping the next part would merely be a formality. “We still have some things to discuss anyway.”

“This way, then.”

Spike led Matron through the grounds to his chambers. Matron gaped at the sight of the ‘bedroom’.

“It used to be a disused ballroom before I moved in.” Spike lowered himself to the carpets, and set a large cushion for Matron to sit on. “I’m sorry I don’t have any pony-sized furniture; I don’t often entertain guests in here.”

Matron nodded, pulling out a stack of forms from her saddlebag.

“I have a few documents I need you to sign…” Matron stopped as she saw the nearly four-foot-long, phoenix-feather quill Spike was holding. “Some… documents?” She stopped completely. “Do phoenixes grow that large?”

Spike looked at the quill in his claw, and shook his head. “No, I get them enchanted. Speaking of, may I have those documents?”

Matron passed him the stack. He held them aloft delicately between his thumb and foreclaw, then gently breathed fire across the papers. They evaporated into wisps of green smoke.

“Sir Spike!” Matron barked, forgetting with whom she was talking. “You might be related to royalty, but that does not mean you are exempt from—”

“Excuse me a moment,” Spike interrupted, before turning his head. Opening his jaws wide, he belched out large sheets of paper and grabbed them from the air. When he put them down on the ground in front of the mare, she saw they were the same sheets she had just given him, only now they were seven feet in length and a little over five feet wide. They looked far less comical in his claws now.

“Sorry, I just had to get my aide, Papyrus Script, to enchant these so I could sign them. He’s a terrific enchanter; terrible horn-writing though. Now, what were you saying?”

“I… ummm…” Matron stuttered.

Spike let out a boisterous laugh. When it subsided, he smiled at her. “I’m sorry, Matron; I shouldn’t tease. Everypony around here is so used to how I have to work with my… ahhh… physical disadvantages, I forget that those outside the palace don’t really interact with dragons all that often. I’ll try to remember and warn you next time I’m going to do something that might seem odd. But please, do go on.”

Mother Matron took a few seconds to compose her admittedly frazzled state, then continued, “Sir Spike, once you have signed these documents, Cotton will be passed into your care. You must understand that there is a ninety-day trial period, in which either you or Cotton can decide if the adoption will not work out.”

“I would never—” Spike started, but Matron interrupted him.

“I’ve had many parents say that to me, Sir Spike, but sometimes the foals and their new parents just do not work out. This isn’t a failing on either side; some ponies just aren’t suited for each other…” She let herself smile. “But please, do not treat her any differently. Welcome her into your family; too many would-be parents are frightened of falling in love and then losing the child. This usually leads to the child not feeling wanted.

“Cotton is very important to me, Spike.” Matron looked Spike in the eyes, wearing her love for the filly on her shoulder. “I genuinely hope the two of you get along. She deserves a family, and I truly hope this is the one for her.” Her features became more solemn, as she continued her practiced spiel.

“During the next ninety days I—or one of my assistants—will be visiting you and Cotton, to see how you’re getting along. While I don’t suspect she‘ll want for anything, given your station, I will still need to ensure she’s being properly cared for.”

Spike nodded; Twilight had already explained most of this to him. He uncapped the cider-barrel-sized inkwell, and dipped the quill in. Initialing where Matron told him, it took them a little under an hour to complete the paperwork, then he finally signed on the dotted line.

“Excuse me,” Spike said as he balanced on his hind legs. “I’ll need to send these back to Papyrus to have him reverse the enchantments; I doubt you’d want to carry them back this size,” he added with a chuckle. After another quick breath of fire and an equally quick belch several seconds later, Spike passed the sheaves back to the mare.

“Now, shall we go see where that troublesome sister of mine has taken Cotton?”

Ж

Spike knocked on the door to Cotton’s new room, the giggling inside ceasing as he did.

“C-come in,” Cotton’s tiny voice called out, unsure.

Spike pushed the door open, and ushered Matron in first. He positioned himself in the hall so that he could reach his head into Cotton’s bedroom, but when he tried, his nose was met with the raised rump of Mother Matron mid-bow.

Both yelped in surprise, Matron tripping as Spike yanked his head out of the doorway. Aware of the red tinge across his face, he waited until the slew of giggles had subsided. After muttering a quick apology to Rarity under his breath, he called out, “Is it safe to come in now?”

“You may enter, Sir Spike.”

Celestia. Spike rolled his eyes, well aware that her permission to enter by no means meant it was safe. He bent over cautiously, attempting to peer into the room without looking, lest he embarrass himself and Mother Matron again. When he found her standing in the corner of the room, tail firmly between her legs, he cautiously stuck his head inside the room. Neither made eye contact with the other.

Twilight and Celestia both sat, lounging on the bed with Cotton sitting between them. In front of Cotton lay a book, one of Twilight’s favorites, and he knew immediately why Cotton had been giggling before they entered the room. It was a book that Celestia had read to Twilight when she was a filly, and as Spike had grown, Twilight and Celestia had started reading it together for him.

Over the years they’d started with silly voices for each character, adding more to it every time, to the point where now it was a full pantomime of magical puppet spells Twilight had learned from Trixie’s show several decades ago.

Spike worried his bedtime stories would be woefully inadequate compared to the show these two could put on.

“Cotton, did you want to come and say goodbye to Mother Matron?” Spike asked. “She’ll have to leave soon. Then we can organize some dinner.”

Ж

All five walked back to the garden. Matron’s belongings were loaded back into the chariot, though Twilight assured the worried mare they would not be flying her back to the orphanage.

Cotton stood next to the older mare, sniffling. Matron pulled her into a tight hug. “I’ll still come and see you, my sweet little Cotton. I promise.” She dried Cotton’s eyes with a hoof, and kissed her lightly on the forehead. “You be a good girl for Sir Spike and the Princesses. I’m only a letter away if you ever need me, okay?”

Twilight, Celestia, and Spike watched the farewell, not wanting to interrupt the moment. Cotton returned to Spike’s side, watching the chariot as it vanished through the garden gates and into the streets.

Ж

“Huzzah! They have finally left.”

The moment the last servant shuffled out of the awkwardly silent dinner hall at Celestia’s request, Luna teleported from her seat next to Twilight to the empty space next to Cotton.

“‘Tis joyous to finally meet thee, Cotton Candy.” Luna nuzzled her cheek against the startled filly’s own.

“P-Princess?” Cotton attempted to shy away, but the strong wings of the alicorn held the filly tight.

“Please, call Us Luna.”

Cotton looked towards Spike, unsure what to do. Spike nodded.

“When it is just us, you can call us by our names.” Celestia smiled. “When others are around, such as before when the servants were here, you should call us by our titles. If you would like, you may call me Tia, and my sister Lulu.”

“Please, call Us Luna,” Luna repeated. Under her breath, she muttered, “We hate that nickname.” With a flash of light, she was back at her normal seat.

Spike draped his gargantuan wing over the filly, hiding both of them from view. He whispered in her ear, “When others are around, even I’m supposed to call them ‘Princess’, even though I don’t. When it’s just us, think of them like family. They are kind of my family, after all.”

“F-family?”

“Yes.” Spike nodded, removing the large wing.

“Ummm, Prin… ummm, I mean, Luna?”

“Yes, Cotton?”

“Why are you eating cereal for dinner?”

Spike chuckled as Celestia answered. “You see, Cotton, Lulu is what you would call a delinqu–”

“Tia!” Luna stomped her hoof on the table, spilling the contents of her bowl.

Twilight giggled as she put a gentle hoof on Luna’s. “The reason is because Luna has only just gotten up. Celestia runs the Day Court, I run the Dusk Court, and Luna briefly runs the Night Court before going on Dream Patrol. Luna has to stay up very late, so she wakes up just before she has to raise the moon.

“Speaking of Dusk Court…” Twilight sighed. “I’d better get going.” She stood, walked around the table, and gave both Spike and Cotton a nuzzle. “Good night, you two. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Ж

Celestia and Luna invited Cotton and Spike out into the garden, where the filly watched the two princesses raise and lower their celestial bodies. Celestia excused herself, as she was waking early the next morning. Luna played with Cotton, engaging in a rousing game of hide-and-go-seek with the filly in the garden.

Spike watched with a small twinge of jealousy, as Luna counted to one hundred in the Royal Canterlot Voice. The filly madly dashed about, trying to find a new hiding spot. He wished he could join in on the game, but his size made that implausible, both in that he would likely not be able to find somewhere to hide, nor could he safely stalk through the garden looking for his prey without crushing the local flora.

His thoughts were interrupted when Cotton stood in front of him, panicking. “Mister Spike, where should I hide? Luna is almost to one hundred!”

Smiling, Spike stretched out his wing, and allowed her to climb under. He pulled her to his side and tried to regain a comfortable position. Cotton was completely hidden underneath his wing, and he wondered if this was her way of letting him play, too.

“Ninety-nine! One-hundred!”

Spike could feel the filly beneath his wing shaking, likely attempting to muffle her soft giggles. The game was inherently biased in favor of the Princess, an alicorn’s hearing being only slightly less sensitive than a dragon’s. As soon as she turned around from her counting, she looked directly at Spike and winked.

“O Cotton, where art thou?” Luna made a play at looking around some of the more obvious hiding places, pouncing over bushes declaring she had found the filly, only to add an overacted harumph when the filly was not in each ‘suspected’ hiding spot. Each time she thought Luna could not see her, Cotton would poke her head out to watch the princess’s antics, only to dive back under when the princess looked around.

After several minutes, Luna approached Spike.

“Sir Spike, We have a report most grave.” Spike chuckled as Luna spoke with overly dramatic flair. “Thy daughter is far too adept at stealth, and has eluded even the Princess of the Night.”

Spike held his breath. Nopony had said the ‘D’ word as of yet. Was she his daughter? She called him Spike. Not dad. Was he allowed to think of her as a daughter? Did he dare?

Luna continued her praise of the filly and her masterful performance in the art of stealth, completely unaware of the tumultuous thoughts crashing through the dragon’s mind.

“I’m here!” Cotton climbed out from underneath Spike’s wing, seeming oblivious to what had been said.

“Huzzah!” Luna clapped her hooves together. “Through Our trickery, We have found thee!”

“Nu-uh!” Cotton stomped. “You gave up!”

“Very well, be that way!” Luna turned away, pretending to be upset, before turning back and pouncing at the filly. Both rolled on the grass, laughing.

“I think it’s about time for Luna to go to court…” Spike ignored the pout from the Princess of the Night. “And it’s about time for little fillies to go to sleep, yes?”

Ж

Spike sat in the hall, clumsily helping Cotton get into her pajamas. They both had trouble with the wing holes; Spike realized he would have to get some tips from Twilight. Once Cotton was dressed and she climbed into bed, Spike was able to stretch his neck far enough to pull the covers over her gently with his mouth.

“S-Spike?” she asked as he began to pull his head back through the door. “C-could you read me a bedtime story?”

“Of course.” Spike smiled, resting his head on the carpet. “Would you like to hear my favorite one from when I was a baby?”

When she nodded, he started the story from memory.

“Once upon a time, there was a stallion who had three beautiful daughters. At his departure, he asked each of them what they would like when he returned.

“The eldest daughter, a strong earth pony, asked for strong steel, with which to make new tools. The second daughter was a beautiful unicorn, who asked for diamonds and pearls, with which to make a beautiful dress. His youngest daughter was a pretty little pegasus, who asked for a singing, springing lark, with which to sing and make music with.

“The pony travelled far, from Dodge City to Appaloosa; from Las Pegasus to Van Hoover. On his return to Canterlot, he passed White Tail Woods. There, he heard the most beautiful singing, springing lark. When his servant captured the bird, a lion jumped down from the tree.

“‘What pony prowls my forest after dark? I will capture anypony who tries to steal my lark!’ he roared. The stallion apologized, saying he did not know the lark belonged to the lion and was trying to catch it for his daughter.

“‘Nothing can save you unless you will swear; give me that which upon home first greets you well. If you are true to this promise, I will be fair; I will grant you your freedom, and you shall have the bird for your little belle.’ The stallion did not want to agree, because his youngest daughter loved him the most, and he knew she would come to greet him first.

“‘Why must it be your daughter that meets you? It could also be a cat or a dog.’ The servant did not want to be caught by the lion, and convinced the stallion to agree.

“When he reached home and entered his house, the first one who met him was none other than his youngest and dearest daughter. She came running up, kissed and hugged him, and when she saw that he had brought with him a singing, springing lark, she was beside herself with joy.

“The father, however, could not be glad, but instead began to cry, saying, ‘My dearest child, I paid dearly for that little bird. To get it I had to promise you to a wild lion, and when he has you he will keep you forever.’ Then he told her everything that had happened, and begged her not to go there, come what may.

“But she consoled him, saying, ‘Dearest father, your promise must be kept. I will go there and appease the lion, so that I can return safely to you.’

“Now, the lion was in fact an enchanted Zebran prince. By day he was a lion, and all his ponies became lions with him, but by night they returned to their zebra form. On her arrival, the daughter was kindly received and led into the castle. When night came, the lion was a handsome zebra, and their wedding was celebrated with splendor. They lived happily together, remaining awake by night, and sleeping by day.”

A small yawn interrupted Spike’s story. “Are you falling asleep? Did you want me to stop here?”

“C-can you stay until I fall asleep?” she asked.

“Of course.” He continued the story in a softer voice, her rhythmic breathing slowing as she drifted off into slumber.

Ж

Cotton awoke, her warm duvet wrapped around her. The sound of breathing woke her; across the room Spike still laid on the floor. Cotton climbed out from under her covers, and crossed the room.

“Spike?” she called gently. “Spike, are you awake?”

Rhythmic breathing was her only response. Moving back to her bed, she picked a small blanket up in her teeth and dragged it back to the sleeping dragon. With a flutter of her tiny wings, she was able to lift the blanket, and gently place it over his neck, or what little of it could be covered.

She looked at her bed, unsure, then turned back to the sleeping dragon, and placed a small kiss on his nose.

“Good night, D-Daddy.”

Author's Note:

Yes, I do read Erstwhile, how did you guess? (decided against ponifying the entire story, though lions and zebras work, and there is the griffon as well. Would be interesting...)

In case you were wondering: when Twilight would read this story to Spike, it was a dragon and his three sons, a beautiful unicorn princess, and a singing stone. It's Equestria right? It could happen...

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