• Published 3rd Jun 2019
  • 1,639 Views, 215 Comments

Where We Belong - BlazzingInferno



Eternal night shrouds Equestria, and an even worse fate awaits Rarity. Or so she’s been led to believe.

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Special Dances

Snowflakes stung Rarity’s wet eyes. The cave’s firelight flickered somewhere behind her, and ahead awaited nothing but darkness. The Pit’s perpetually cloudy sky, which shone brightly during the day, offered no moon or starlight. Naked tree limbs reached for her out of the blackness, and the snow swallowed more of her legs with each step. “Where are you, Spike? Please come out.”

The exit leapt to the forefront of her mind, the foreboding passage back to the normal world. If only she’d strode down it immediately without a thought or backward glance. Doing so might’ve gotten her eaten by a monster, but at least she wouldn’t be stuck wandering around in the frozen dark with her heart aching for so many unbearable reasons.

“It’s your fault.” she muttered to herself. “You’re a horrible, egotistical, selfish pony who doesn’t deserve anything at all, much less a friend! You, Rarity, are the real beast!”

Her steps slowed until she was still, save for the shivers brought on by the snow collecting on her back. “Beast or no, you need to find him. You need to find him before he freezes. You are to find him, apologize, and plead for forgiveness. Oh please let me find him! Please let me help him!”

A tiny, flickering light answered her. Gasping, she charged forward through the snow, not worried in the slightest about maintaining a sure footing. If she ended up hopelessly buried in a snowdrift, then perhaps that’s what she deserved.

Minutes sailed by and, little by little, the tiny flicker grew into a tower of flame. From the looks of things, Spike had set a whole tree on fire to keep warm, rather than take the time to cut it down.

She paused at the edge of the firelight, panting hard yet unwilling to wait to catch her breath. “Spike!”

A massive shadow shifted across the trees opposite the fire, and Spike’s tearful reply carried through the cold. “Go away!”

Gritting her teeth so they wouldn’t chatter, she pressed on through the snow. “I’m sorry for what I said. I—”

“I said go away!”

She stuck up her nose, having finally found a productive outlet for classic Canterlot snobbery. “Absolutely not. I intend to apologize to you for my awful behavior, and to see you back to the warmth and safety of the cave before you freeze. And after that—” her face fell “—perhaps I’ll take your place out here in the cold. You should’ve left me chained up when you first found me. Doing so would’ve saved you so much trouble and heartache.”

When he didn’t reply, she took another step toward the fire, thankful for its abundant heat. “Please forgive me for treating your feelings so shamefully. I’ll walk through the exit this very night and never trouble you again, if that’s what you want. Then you can go back to being… whatever kind of dragon you wish to be.”

“I don’t want to be a dragon,” a surprisingly small voice said, devoid of Spike’s normal, rumbling depth.

Rarity pressed forward again, glancing around. Was this another trick of The Pit? “Where are you?”

“I hate being a dragon. I hate being greedy, and tough, and… and everything else dragons are supposed to be.”

“But… surely that isn’t all there is to being a—”

The massive shadow moving across the trees shrank as he came closer, and the creature that finally stepped into the light wasn’t the dragon she knew. This dragon was no bigger than she was, despite retaining every pound of woe that he’d left the cave with. “Look at me! I’m a runt! I—” he turned away and sat in the snow, hugging his tail “—I’m an insult to dragons everywhere. That’s what they told me.”

She blinked again and again, unable to equate this strange little being with the immense dragon she’d grown so accustomed to. “Is that really you?”

“Yes!” he shouted, throwing up his hands. “Now you know. I thought I was keeping things together too, sleeping on gold, hoarding gems, reminding myself how big and tough and greedy I was… I guess I couldn't even do that right.”

“But… why keep this from me? Why keep yourself larger than—”

He turned his head just enough to glare at her, and in that brilliant green eye she saw the dragon she knew, or rather the darker side of him that she'd done her best to avoid. “Because real dragons aren’t tiny, or generous, or kind! I found that out over and over when I got to the Dragon Lands. I worked hard to fit in, to be just greedy and mean enough to stay the right size, so they’d stop treating like… like a pony.”

“And what’s wrong with being a pony?” She’d drawn close enough to whisper now, and possibly to rest a hoof on his shoulder should the inspiration strike.

“I’m supposed to be a dragon! That’s what I am… except I’m not.”

Her gaze dropped to her hooves, her chipped, dirty hooves. How many hours a day had she once devoted to polishing them to a mirror shine, all in pursuit of the next rung on the social ladder? “I know all too well what it’s like to not fit in, even in the place you expect to be welcomed. That’s why you’re in here, isn’t it?”

“I’m not greedy and mean enough. That’s why they dumped me in here. That’s why I’m never leaving.”

“Even though you could fit through the exit, in your current state?”

He hunched forward, sulking. “You know where I learned about The Pit? Princess Celestia had tons of books on ancient dragon history and culture, but that’s not how things work anymore. Greedy dragons get put in charge now, and the worthless ones get thrown in The Pit if they cause trouble. Why should I leave, if I’m good for nothing?”

After drawing in a deep breath, Rarity stepped in front of him and held out a foreleg. “May I have this dance?”

He didn’t move. She couldn’t tell if he was even looking at her offered hoof or just at the ground.

And so she asked again, this time with a proper Canterlot affectation. “May I have this dance, Lord Spike the Gentledragon?”

“Why?”

“I believe you studied under royalty, did you not? Surely you wouldn’t deny a lady.”

She took in his every move, from a slight quiver of his claws, to rising to his feet, to finally meeting her gaze. He bowed, she beamed, and, at long last, claw met hoof.

Staying on four legs was a must, given his new, diminutive stature. Perhaps doing so wasn’t proper ballroom form, but that hardly mattered on a snowy night in the woods. Her magic directed his hands to her sides, but that was all. Giant or no, he led the way left, right, forward, and back with such fluidity and finesse that she could almost hear music. All the while his gaze drifted across her smiling visage, as if he was seeing her for the first time. In a way they both were: all pretense had gone, leaving nothing but two imperfect creatures waltzing in the snow. “You’re a wonderful dancer, Spike. You're wonderful in so many ways.”

He gulped audibly and glanced at his feet. “Even when I’m… uh… not as tall?”

“Because you’re being you, inside and out.”

“But I’m bad at everything that’s important.”

She cocked an eyebrow. “Oh? Is dancing really that trivial?“

His hands tensed, but didn’t leave her sides. At least this dance mattered to him, much to her relief. “I’m just bad at being a dragon, okay? That’s why they threw me in here. That’s why I don’t fit in anywhere else.”

Rarity nodded. “Neither do I. Ponyville was always too simple for my worldly ambitions, and I was too simple for the big city. If I’d stayed home a few years longer…”

She bit her lip and joined him in staring at the ground. This was supposed to be a rescue mission, not an excuse to burden him with even more of her personal failures. “What I meant to say is this: I'm sorry for being so insensitive and rude. Dragon or pony, you’re the friend I didn’t even know I needed, and certainly not one I deserve. Princess Celestia would be so proud.”

Spike blushed. “Thanks.”

When they came to a halt, Rarity leaned down and kissed his trembling hand. “Thank you, Spike. Thank you for being you.”

His arms folded around her neck in a hug, which felt every bit as gentle and soft as a pony’s embrace would, scales and claws notwithstanding.

She held up her foreleg, ready to return the embrace and yet unsure if that was wise, given the line of spikes running down his back. Merely standing here while Spike did all the hugging wasn’t an option either, considering all she’d just said about friendship.

Biting her lip, she touched the edge of her hoof to his scales and gently prodded the nearest spike.

“They’re not sharp, if that’s what you’re worried about,” Spike whispered.

Blushing furiously, Rarity threw her foreleg around him, nestling it between two spikes which did indeed prove to be completely blunt and pleasantly soft. “I-I wasn’t worried. I was merely… considering how much I need to take your jacket in.”

“You mean ‘a lot’ ?”

As they shared a quiet laugh, the warmth of his scales seemed to chase the night’s chill away.

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