• Published 2nd Mar 2015
  • 2,578 Views, 62 Comments

Lightning Struck Home - MyHobby



Winter falls on Ponyville, leaving Spike to cope with a recent tragedy alone. While nightmares darken his sleep, Apple Bloom offers a bit of light. Will he step into that light, or allow fear to devour him?

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The Rarity of Happy Endings

The sun cast a yellow pallor over a barren Ponyville. A hot breeze tore at the dry grass, turning it to dust and ashes. Spike’s short leg fell into a pothole in the dirt road. He collapsed to his knees and cradled the sprain.

The baby dragon hefted himself to his feet, careful to keep his weight off his tender ankle. He reached his hand out to lean against a nearby house, as pale and bland as the rest of the town.

“Twilight?” he called into the dust-blown air. “Rarity? Anypony!”

His voice echoed far and wide, but received no answer.

He rounded a corner, bringing a familiar building into view. It was the old Golden Oaks Library. It stood tall, its branches full of the many-colored leaves of fall. Firelight spilled from the open door, warm and welcoming, a heavy contrast to his bleak surroundings.

He smiled and reached out for the library. “Twilight?”

A shock ran through the earth, knocking him to his knees. Downtown, the clock tower shuddered, the bell inside giving a mournful peal. The breeze died completely, leaving the dust to hang in the air like harsh fog.

Spike clenched his claws in the loose soil. He pushed himself up, ignoring the throb in his ankle. He crawled on all fours towards the light in the tree. Each step took an hour, but he reached the door in less than a moment.

The claw of a strong teenage dragon gripped the handle. Spike looked down at himself to see sinew, muscles, hard scales, everything he knew his body to have. He nodded to himself and strode inside.

The warm, inviting fire was gone. In its place was a dark library, full of undisturbed cobwebs and unopened books. His ears fell. “Twilight?”

He waddled across the foyer and came to the staircase. He strained for any sign of anypony. His eyes widened at the sound of a faint cough. His claws scraped against the stairs as he hauled himself upward, the pain in his leg long forgotten. He burst into the upstairs loft, the place where Twilight kept her personal, private library. A short climb up a ladder later, he was beside her bed.

An alicorn did not lie before him, but a small, unsure unicorn mare. She was as covered with dust and grime as the rest of the town. Her mane was tossed around the pillow, her cheeks damp with tears and her flanks bereft of cutie marks.

The earth shook again, followed by the same loud clang of the clock tower bell.

“Twilight?” Spike said. “Are you okay?”

“It’s over,” she croaked. “They’re gone. Forever.”

“W-what?” Spike reached for Twilight, but stopped short of resting his hand on her shoulder. “Who?”

“Everypony. All of them. Gone.” Twilight stared out the window into the yellowed world beyond. “No magic. No friendship. It’s gone.”

“W-wait, that doesn’t make sense!” Spike rounded the bed and placed himself between the window and Twilight. She looked straight through him. “We’re all fine! We’re all here! Well…” He looked to the side. “R-Rainbow’s with the Wonderbolts and Rarity lives in Canterlot… But we’re all still friends. It’s all okay, Twilight.”

Her violet eye leaped up to meet his green. “If everything is okay, why are you hiding?”

The tree wobbled in the wake of another quake. The town bell rang once, then twice.

Spike gripped the edge of her bed. “I’m not hiding! I’m… I’m here to help you! Like I always do! It’s what I’m here for. It’s what I’ve always been here for.”

She shook her head. “But you can’t help me, Spike. It’s already too late.”

The earth shuddered and did not stop. The bell pealed loud and long, over and over again. The dust churned outside the window. Houses collapsed and carts were overturned.

“You could never help me,” Twilight whispered. “There wasn’t anything you could do.”

No!” Spike roared. “I’ll always be there for you!”

“No.” Twilight raised a weak hoof. “He’s already here.”

Spike turned to the window. Through the shattered town, past the clanging bell, over the dust hills, a silhouette within the swirling dust, walked a massive, mountainous centaur. “No… Tirek…”

But it was not Tirek.

Spike followed the towering horse legs up to the broad minotaur’s chest. Rather than Tirek’s yellow eyes lying in the midst of the horned head, there were two greedy green eyes glowing through the fog.

Mine.

Ka-clang

Spike grabbed Twilight in his strong arms and carried her across the loft. The tree shivered and sent him to the floor. Twilight yelped as she rolled away from him. He reached for her, but could not grasp her.

Ka-clang

Spike looked through the window to see a wall of fire bearing down on the Golden Oaks Library. He made one last desperate attempt to drag Twilight from the house.

Ka-clang

Wood splintered. Fabric burned. Chairs became toothpicks. Books became ash.

Ka-clang

***

“No!”

Spike tore through his sheets in his desperation to escape the dream. His nightstand crashed when an errant tail-swipe knocked it over. He clenched his fists and slammed them down, cracking the floorboards.

He heaved in deep breaths, resting in the ruined remains of his nest. A faint smell of acrid smoke touched his nose. He looked up at the minor blaze that was licking at his drapes. He reached up and tore the fabric away from the window, where he could stomp out the flames.

The door opened behind him. His muscles tensed as he stood ramrod straight. He spent a moment steadying his pulse from its rapid fire pace.

“Spike?” Apple Bloom said. “Are you—are you hurt? Ah heard… shoutin’ an’ thought you might need—”

“I’m fine,” he said, his voice hoarse. “It was just a nightmare. A bad dream.”

She looked from the smoldering curtains to the shredded sheets to the collapsed nightstand. “This happen often?”

The low temperature of the room caught up with Spike’s senses. He knelt down, his arms wrapped around his torso. He gathered up the remains of his blankets and wrapped them around his shoulders. “Every night.”

Apple Bloom’s legs shuddered. She laid her hooves on Spike’s shoulders and edged him to the door. “Come on, let’s get you someplace warm.” She sent a quick glare at the window. She slapped a hoof to her forehead. “No wonder it’s so cold in here, the linin’ of the window’s come away. Don’t worry, ah’ll get that fixed up first thing t’morrow.”

“Th-thanks.”

Apple Bloom followed behind the slowly lumbering dragon. “If it’s so dadgum cold in here, why don’t yah sleep in a different room?”

Spike blinked the dampness from his eyes. “I can see the palace from here.”

The storm was long gone, replaced by clear skies and gentle snowfall. Ponyville’s castle glimmered in the moonlight, reflecting the stars. The town slept below it, as if it was lying safe beneath its wings. The smooth snowdrifts shone like diamonds in the streets.

“How long’s it been since you went to see her?” Apple Bloom asked quietly.

“Last week,” Spike muttered. “I never stopped visiting.”

Apple Bloom rested her cheek against his shoulder, following his gaze to the silvery palace. “But you never stayed?”

“Mmrph.” Spike bit his tongue and stumbled into the hallway. He took the stairs at a slow, even pace. “I can’t help her. I’m no use. I can’t heal her, or take the pain away, or bring her voice back…”

He stopped once he reached the ground floor. He looked around at the towering bookshelves, filled to the brim with knowledge new and ancient. Wisdom both timeless and memorable. Full of laughter and tears and longing and hope. He spread his arms. “All this, and I have nothing to offer.”

Apple Bloom tiptoed behind him. “But maybe you don’t—”

“What good am I,” Spike cried out, “if I can’t help?

Apple Bloom stomped a hoof. “Helpin’ don’t always mean fixin’!”

He jerked his head around. “Wha—?”

“When Granny Smith took ill, ah stuck around.” Apple Bloom sat down hard. She brushed her wild, slept-on mane with the tips of her hooves, but it sprung back up all the same. “Ah couldn’t cure her, and nopony else could, neither. She’d just… done run out of steam.” She shook her head and met Spike’s gaze. “Ah couldn’t leave her, wouldn’t be right. So ah just tried to be the best darn granddaughter ever. An’ just—”

She pressed her lips tight. A snuffle later, she continued. “An’ just b’fore she died, she took me close an’ said ‘Apple Bloom, you three were what made life worth livin’. Now live yours.’”

Spike tapped his clawtips together. “I’m sorry.”

“Thanks.” Apple Bloom wiped her nose. “But—but do you see what ah’m gettin’ at? Do you understand what sorta difference you can make just by bein’ there? Ah couldn’t make Granny better, but I made her happier.”

Spike clutched the edges of his makeshift shawl. “Yeah.”

“It’s gotta count for somethin’.” Apple Bloom scrunched her muzzle. “It does too count for somethin’!”

She let her head droop. “Don’t it?”

Spike reached out. He touched a clawtip to the bottom of Apple Bloom’s chin and lifted her eyes to his. He gave her the best smile that he had available. “It sure does.”

She reached up. She rested her hoof on the side of his hand. She conjured up a small smile just for him. “Ah’ll be your friend, too, Spike. For as long as ah’m able.”

“Thank you,” he said. “That means a lot to me. It’s just”—he gritted his teeth—“it’s not fair.”

“That’s life, ain’t it?” She pulled him towards the den. “Come on, time we both got some real rest.”

A flutter of wings preceded Owloysius’ arrival. He perched atop Spike’s head and blinked at Apple Bloom. “Hoo, hoo, hoo?”

“We’re fine,” Spike said. He scratched the old owl behind the ears. “Is it okay if we sleep in the reading nook? It’s kinda cold upstairs.”

Owloysius gave them a lively “Hoot!” and soared off between the shelves.

Apple Bloom lifted an inquisitive eyebrow. “Can you really speak bird?”

“I can get the gist of it.” Spike watched her lower herself gently into the same couch. He sucked in a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”

She nestled her head into the crook of the armrest. “Ah am, too. But ah meant what ah said about bein’ your friend.”

He lay down before the hearth. He watched the dim embers glow beneath the ashes. “I meant what I said, too.”

She snuggled herself into the cushions. “Good night, Spike.”

His eyelids dipped down. “Good night, Apple Bloom.”

***

Spike stood at the foot of the castle gates. The doors rose high enough to admit a full-grown dragon, though the hallway just inside wasn’t nearly wide enough to be comfortable. Some would call it a design flaw, and some would call it obnoxious.

Spike would call it intimidating.

“So what’s the holdup?” Apple Bloom said. She stood beside him, her checkered coat zipped tight and her trapper cap warming her ears. Her cart sat some distance away, uncovered but immobile in the deep snow. “Y’ wanna see Twilight, don’t yah?”

“Yeah…” Spike shifted his weight from the left to the right. “I’m just not sure what to say.”

“Easiest thing would be to just tell her how you feel.” Apple Bloom hooked his elbow in her foreleg and gave him a tug. “Once that’s on the table, y’all can figure out where to take it from there.”

Spike grimaced. “Talking about feelings is never easy. Mostly because the other person rarely gets it.”

“But this isn’t just any ol’ person. It’s Twilight.” Apple Bloom jerked her head to the door. “You and she kinda know each other. Just a little.”

A sly smile spread across her face. “You want mah advice? Take th’ plunge.”

Spike turned beady eyes to the tall mare. “Oh, you are devious.”

“Ah have moments.” She released him and took a step towards her cart. “You go for it. Ah’ll be here when you’re finished. If you need somepony to talk to.”

Spike gave her a casual salute. “Thanks.”

He pushed the doors open and entered the long hallway. He crawled on all fours, moving at a quick walk, giving the stained-crystal windows half a glance. He’d seen those symbols a hundred times, not only as windows, but as gemstones on the Elements of Harmony. Relics from a time that seemed so long ago.

Ten years was a long, long time, he decided.

He passed through the throne room, moving between the seven thrones placed in an equidistant circle. Equidistant, save for the small throne he once held beside Twilight’s spangled chair. Each pony’s sigil lay atop the back of their respective seat. A butterfly for Fluttershy, a lightning bolt for Rainbow Dash, an apple for Applejack, a balloon for Pinkie Pie, a star for Twilight, and a diamond for—

“Hello, Precious Scales.”

Spike turned his head. Walking in the other direction, around the edge of the thrones, was a soft, white mare in a warm, fuzzy coat. “Rarity?”

He skittered up to her. He looked down with a smile and reached for her hoof, but held himself back from actually making contact. “Rarity! I didn’t expect to see you in Ponyville! How are you doing?”

A flash of her horn adjusted the tiny spectacles sitting on her nose. She tossed her curled mane with practiced ease. “I would be doing a great deal better had I not decided to visit during an uncontrollable monster of a blizzard. My train was delayed a total of five times, got stuck an hour after we actually got rolling, and then allowed itself to be waylaid by a storm I haven’t seen the likes of since…” She tilted her head to stare at the ceiling. “Well…”

“The Crystal Empire?” Spike asked.

“My thought exactly!” She rubbed his arm with the side of her hoof. “But enough about my woes with the railroad, what about you? Catching the eye of any lady-dragons lately?”

“Uh…” Spike’s inward wince managed to make its way to his face. “Not exactly.”

Rarity’s smile shrunk into a small frown. She sat alongside her throne and raised a hoof to his cheek. “Are you alright, Spike? Do you want to talk about it?”

He sat against the throne beside hers. He scratched his claw into the crystalline floor. “It’s… really, really complicated.”

“Matters of the heart, darling, are never a small, simple matter.” Rarity sat with her eyes trained on his and her ears perked.

Spike clutched his tail. “I’ve been having nightmares since Twilight got hurt.”

Rarity’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “But that’s been nearly five months! Have you spoken with Luna about them?”

“Yes, and she can’t intervene. Not directly.” Spike nibbled the side of his lip. “They’re my nightmares, and they’re given power by my own… issues.”

“Hmm.” Rarity smirked halfheartedly. “Not all demons are from Hell, it seems. Do you know what’s causing the nightmares? Anything at all?”

“In all of them,” Spike said, “every single one, I’m helpless to save Twilight from something.”

“Oh.” Rarity touched her lip. “Oh my. Spike, you know there was nothing you could have done to—”

“Yes. Yes, Rarity, I do.” Spike kept his voice level and even. “That’s the problem.”

“Of course,” Rarity said in a hushed voice. “Of course it is. Do—” She paused a moment to collect her thoughts. “Do you know what to do about it?”

“No.” Spike scratched dead scales loose from his forearm. He held one between his clawtips to give himself something to fiddle with. “But I’m here to talk to Twilight about it. Maybe we can figure something out together.”

“A wise thought,” Rarity said, her smile returning at last.

“But… there’s another thing.” Spike felt the muscles on his back tense one by one. “Last night, somepony told me that they care about me. Like, really care.”

“And by ‘really care,’ you mean—”

“She kissed me.”

Rarity opened her mouth with a pop. “Ah.”

She fidgeted with the hem of her fuzzy coat. “You… I suppose you told her the same thing—?”

“The same thing that I told you.” Spike struggled to swallow down the lump in his throat. “Yeah,” he squeaked out.

Rarity’s pale face turned a pretty shade of pink. She pressed her lips tight before replying. “I’m sorry, Spike. It wasn’t any easier this time, was it?”

“No.” Spike clenched his hands tight. “It was awful. For her, too.”

Rarity gasped. “Oh dear, how did she take it?”

“About as well as you did. Maybe even better.” Spike shrugged. “She’s already on speaking terms with me.”

“A stronger mare than I was, indeed.” Rarity chuckled dryly.

Spike noted the slack expression overtaking the curly-maned mare’s face. “She reminds me a lot of you.”

Rarity raised her chin. “Hmm?”

“She doesn’t want to be carried on the backs of others. She wants to forge her own path.”

Rarity leaned back and patted her curl. “Then the pretty face is just window dressing, is it?”

“Pretty mares, handsome stallions, they’re a bit a dozen,” Spike said. “It’s rare to find someone with a beautiful heart.”

Rarity laughed with a touch more humor than before. “Always the flatterer. How will you handle the situation?”

“Like a lot of things, the same way we did. We’re friends.” He held his open palms out. “And nothing’s gonna change that now.”

“Well then.” Rarity stood up and straightened her coat. “One problem from the pile is being adjusted, another is on its way…” Her eyes sparkled in the light of the glowing crystal. “It sounds like you at the very least know what you’re doing.”

She stood on her hind legs, resting her forehooves on his arm. She placed a soft kiss on his cheek. “I love you, Spike. Don’t forget it.”

He gave her a sad smile. “I love you, too, Rarity.”

She dropped to the floor and set off at a brisk trot. “I’ll be staying in Ponyville for a few days, so expect me to visit for real at least once. Perhaps we should catch a Ponytones concert together! I hear Featherweight is making waves with that voice of his.”

She peered over her shoulder, her mane bouncing with life. “And Spike, Twilight will be very happy to see you. Ta-ta.”

“Ta-ta.”

Spike flicked the dislocated scale into the shadows, where it would be either be picked up by a broom or remain hidden for as long as the castle stood. One of the two.

Twilight was where he usually found her: Perusing the library. Her newly-expanded personal library. She sat in the middle of a grand pile of books, reading and taking notes and cross-referencing all at once. Pens flew in her magic grip. Ink sank into the fibers of the paper. Words took shape and pictures took form.

Twilight looked up. She straightened her long legs and hurried across the room to greet him. Her face lit up in an explosion of unsung laughter. She wrapped her wings around him in a joyous greeting, squeezing him tight for a wonderful moment.

When she pulled back, she smiled at him. She did her best not to draw attention to the scarf she always wore around her neck. She adjusted it with a quick spell, covering the horrifying scar that ran across her throat.

Spike noticed it, of course, but he pretended he didn’t.

She pulled him along to the center of her parade of tomes and scrolls. She lifted a small, purple book in her magic and held it open to a specific page.

He squinted at it before recognition touched his mind. “Sunset Shimmer’s diary? You got it to work again?”

Twilight bobbed her head. She scribbled on a piece of scrap paper and handed it to him. He took it and eyed the text.

I’ve been working on it since the Hurricane incident last year. We’re officially getting messages back and forth from the mirror world again. Sunset finally landed that teaching job, so life’s good for her.

Spike laughed and set the message down. “That’s great, Twilight. I was pretty worried about her. But…”

Twilight shifted an ear in his direction.

“But… can we talk about something?”

Twilight raised a wry eyebrow.

Spike sucked in a breath. He rubbed the bridge of his nose and let out a deep huff. “You know what I mean.”

She giggled silently. She scribbled out a quick sentence: I have to keep my humor about it, you know.

“Yeah, I know.” Spike’s mouth grew into a predatory grin. “I’m just glad you’re such a good listener.”

She blew a raspberry at him.

“Yeah.” Spike popped a knuckle and regretted it a moment later. He rubbed his hand to ease the pain. “You… you remember the nightmares I had after the attack?”

Twilight’s research project stopped swirling around the room. The individual items flitted to their assigned places, packing themselves away, guided by a lavender glow. She grabbed his hand with a hoof and leaned forward, her face attentive.

“Th-they never went away.” He set his jaw against the sting behind his eyes. “I decided to move to the library because… because I thought it might help. Or at least… wouldn’t bug you…”

Twilight sat beside Spike and wrapped her wing around the much larger creature. Unlike her excited hug of greeting, this was a slower, firmer embrace.

“But… they’re always the same.” Spike’s hands trembled. “You’re always in trouble, and I’m always powerless to help you. It never changes.”

Spike looked down, and Twilight looked up. “I don’t know what to do,” he said.

Twilight Sparkle frowned deep and dim. She leaned the side of her head against his arm and summoned a page and quill to her side. She scribed a letter to him with swift pen strokes. Spike watched her write it from over her shoulder.

Spike, you have always been there for me. Even when we were far apart, we were never far from each other’s heart. There is no task, no job, no trial that I cannot trust you to complete to the best of your ability. And truly, I have come across no better than your best. Even in my darkest hours, you have always been a light in the shadows, bringing me hope. I wish I could take away your pain, but what I have, I give to you.

I impart the knowledge that you are, and always will be, my Number One Assistant, and that is above and beyond what I could ever ask for.

She gave him a lopsided grin.

Sappy enough for yah?

Spike exhaled a giggling explosion of relaxing muscles and eased nerves. The merriment continued like aftershocks of an earthquake. “Twi, for you, I think that’s exactly the right amount of sap.”

She turned the page over and added a note. So does this mean you’re moving back into the castle?

“Would I even be able to find my room anymore?” Spike looked around. The library alone had ten entrances from various hallways. “Nah. I think it’s best if I stay at the library.”

Twilight’s face fell, but she nodded all the same. Ponyville needs its librarian, after all.

Spike pulled his lips back in a false grin. “Hay, it’s a living. I still wanna start helping you again.”

Twilight lifted her research project, all twenty volumes of it, in a ready bubble of magic. She smiled brightly, her eyes shining.

“But I can’t today.” Spike shrugged. “I’ve got things I need to take care of. At the library.”

She puckered her lips and dropped the books en masse.

Spike stood up on his hind legs and stretched. “But the library’s closed tomorrow. How’s that sound? I’ll just jaunt over here and we’ll figure out what’s up in Sunset’s universe.”

Twilight clomped her hooves together even as she wrote her reply. Most excellent! It’s good to have you back, Spike.

Spike took the feather pen in his claws. He dipped it in ink and answered on the same page. It’s good to be back.

***

Apple Bloom smiled when he walked back through the front doors. She’d spent his time in the castle clearing the snow around her pie cart, giving it a space to sit, if not a road to travel. “How’d it go?”

“Pretty good,” he said. He tapped his toes on the icy ground while she slid into her yoke. “I’m gonna be spending more time around here, at least.”

“Good. Ah think that’s what you needed.” She pulled against her yoke, edging the cart forward. “Little help? Ah ought to be good once ah hit Mane Street.”

“Sure.” He took one long step around to the back. He pressed his shoulder against it, which gave Apple Bloom the leverage needed to move the cart across the snowdrifts. “And thanks.”

She slammed powerful legs into the snow, all but dragging herself along. She tossed her head and blew a hefty snort though her nostrils. “For what?” she grunted.

“For—” Spike heaved a wagon wheel over a stubborn hump in the road. “For the vote of confidence. For the moral support. For the—heaugh!—understanding ear.”

“What was ah supposed to do? Let you wallow in self-depreciation?” She kicked at the snow that was building up in front of the wheels. “You’re too important tah let yourself get in a mood like that.”

They reached the largest street of the town. It turned into a road that lead out of Ponyville, towards the farm that had started it all. The plow-ponies had already cleared it of fluffy whiteness, leaving it a slick layer of packed ice.

Spike crossed his forelegs. “If Rainbow Dash was still captain, they would have already gritted the road with sand.”

“Nah. Clogs up the storm drains.” Apple Bloom lifted her chin and pulled her cheek back. “So… See you around?”

“Yeah. Definitely.” Spike lightly wrung the tip of his tail in his hands. “You sure you don’t need me to walk you home?”

She clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes. “Gosh, could you stop bein’ charmin’ for just a minute?”

Spike sucked in his lips. He shivered as a cold breeze blew over his scales. He thought about a reply, but only came up with a shrug.

Apple Bloom’s ears dipped below the edge of her hat. “Y’know, actually… Aw heck, don’t ever stop bein’ charmin’, Spike. It’s who you are. Or it should be.” She shuffled her hooves as the happy laughter of children playing on an unexpected snow day grew in strength. “Just don’t be a stranger, okay?”

Spike gripped his fist tight. He bared his teeth. “There aren’t many stranger than me.”

“You live in the same town as Discord. He’s always got you beat.” She stretched her neck back, taking a gander at the white clouds being moved around by weatherponies. She rolled her shoulders and glared straight ahead. She rolled along at a brisk pace through the equally brisk air. “Take care.”

Spike waved halfheartedly. He turned around to head back to the library, but paused. He set his jaw and slapped his tail against the ground. “‘Take the plunge,’ huh?”

He spun on his heel and ran to catch up with the retreating cart. “Apple Bloom! Wait!”

Her ears stood straight up. She gave him her attention, her brow low and her mouth a grim line. He skidded on the ice, sliding a few meters past her and only stopping once he stabbed his toe-tips into the road. He leaned against her cart, his heart racing, his knees knocking.

“Y—you, um…” He tugged at the collar of his poofy coat. “I just wanted you to know that if you need anything, all you have to do is ask.”

She gave him a curt nod. “That’s very kind of you.”

“And—and whenever… however…” He gestured at his body. “If we ever get this mess figured out, or—or figure out how to… if it would be safe… if you—’cuz you’re… I’d want to—you’re super—um…”

Apple Bloom ducked her head down, bringing it below Spike’s. She hunched her shoulders in a lackluster effort to hide her blush. “So… you’re sayin’ there’s a chance?”

“I’m saying I’d take the chance. Once we find it. You know?” He looked down at his intertwined fingers. “It’s… easy to see that you’re worth the wait.”

Apple Bloom brought her hoof to his cheek. Her amber eyes blinked away a snowflake. “You are, too.”

She placed a tiny kiss on his nose. It was with a higher head that she rolled down the road to Sweet Apple Acres.

Spike rubbed the spot her lips had touched. He waddled his way back to the Seeds of Friendship Public Library, a goofy grin across his face.

***

Spike jolted awake. There was no chill crawling its way across his skin. There was no clawing sense of evil in the darkness. Apple Bloom’s seal on the window held firm, trapping the heat from the hearth within the house.

Spike brought his hands up to wipe his damp cheeks. Afterimages of his latest nightmare flickered in the shadows cast by the moonlight. An invasion, a legion of monsters, Twilight sealed away where she could never be found.

And him. Alone.

His heart skipped a beat. He drew his linens tight around his shoulders and reached for the candle. A quick huff brought the flame to life. It danced over the book he’d set beside his nest in preparation for a long night’s read.

He breathed a sigh of relief that he hadn’t destroyed his bedspread this time.

Fire in the Mountain,” he muttered, “by Twilight Sparkle.”

He supposed it was true that he’d already read the book several times. Twice in the last week, in fact. He was actually pretty close to memorizing it. If not word for word, then at least scene by scene. There was something about it. Something that touched close to home. Something to brighten the fire in his heart.

In hindsight, Lilliput wasn’t cut out for farming potatoes. She hated dirt, and potatoes just so happened to spend a lot of time around it. They were planted in dirt, they grew in dirt, and they were harvested from dirt. It matted her mane. It dirtied her tail. It muddied her hooves. She threw her head back and asked just why she subjected herself to it.

Spike gave the book a familiar wink as he reached the answer. “‘Because misery loves company,’ chuckled Swiftly. Lilliput swatted the pegasus and pulled up the next tuber in line.

Spike traced the words as the story continued. The friends playfully harvested the crop. But then the earth shook. The sky darkened as they headed back to the farmhouse. The world turned upside down when a vicious beast charged across the landscape and scooped Swiftly up in its mighty jaws. Lilliput could do no less than set out on a heroic quest to rescue the kidnapped pony. She grew along the way, until the final confrontation had her stand up tall against the beastly creature and cow it. To downright impress it.

Spike rubbed his eyes free of crust. He blinked at the melting candle with a faint frown.

Twilight Sparkle loved happy endings.

He blew the fire out and brought the covers over his head.

“Mine's coming. I know it is.”

Author's Note:

Expect the next update (le Epilogue) next week Tuesday. We'll be seeing the Crusaders, some colts, and a very special guest star.

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