• Published 3rd Jun 2019
  • 1,638 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 Understandings

Rarity took in a deep breath of frigid morning air. The magic sunlight emanating from the cave entrance seemed even more out of place after spending half the previous night traipsing around in near-total darkness. Eternal night still scourged everything beyond The Pit’s artificial sky, a fact that this little world she currently called home made easy to overlook.

“Home,” she mused. Could that truly be where she was? She’d inadvertently said as much last night, and rightly so: she didn’t belong anywhere else. Ponyville was a childhood memory, Canterlot a poor substitute, and the palace a waking nightmare veiled in what she'd once considered happiness. All those places were lost to her now, as were all the ponies that she'd known.

“Home.” she whispered again, trying the word on for size. “It's certainly not fancy, fashionable, or even comfortable. Really, Rarity, why would you ever call someplace so cold, hard, and dirty your—”

Spike twitched next to her, sleepily murmuring something.

Her ears folded back as she regarded the small dragon curled up precious few inches away, the reason she’d been able to sleep without relighting the fire. Calling Spike warm was a tremendous understatement; he radiated more heat than a hot water bottle.

Still she shifted further away for dignity's sake. Their needing to keep warm after an exhausting hike eased the general uncouthness of this impromptu communal sleeping arrangement, but only just. Today they'd get a proper fire going again and reestablish normalcy. His jacket wasn't going to decrease by fifty or more sizes all by itself, after all.

Standing, she made her way to the back of the cave where Spike’s enormous jacket lay in a heap. It would’ve made an excellent blanket, if either she or Spike had thought of it last night. No matter. Today she’d begin transforming this oversized mess into a new jacket, followed by a pair of scarves, and then perhaps a series of hats. Saving a few scraps for actual blankets wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

“Morning, Rarity!”

She gave Spike a warm smile, and then returned her attention to the project at hoof. “Good morning, Spike.”

“Hey, so…”

The unfinished sentence hung in the air, finally demanding the whole of Rarity’s attention. She turned and regarded his textbook nervousness: arms clasped behind his back, gaze fixed on the ground, and reddening cheeks. Apparently his confidence had gone the way of his greed. “Yes?”

“Could you come help me with the chores? I know you want to sew and stuff, and I hate pulling you away from that, but—” he held out his arms “—I kind of need some help, now that I’m… you know.”

“Not a hulking, fire-breathing, colossus?”

“Heh heh. Yeah.”

After giving the fabric one final appraising look, she trotted to the cave entrance with Spike following closely behind. “Shall we start with breakfast?”

“Perfect!”

Rarity stepped into the sun, blinking away its brightness while the snow chilled her hooves. A little exercise would soon warm her up and, with any luck, get the proverbial creative juices flowing. If they worked quickly, she’d be sewing again by lunchtime.

Assuming, of course, that her companion would start moving. So far he’d done nothing more than glance from the valley to her and back again. “Well?”

Spike shrugged. “Aren’t you going to go first?”

“What? Why should I push my way through potentially neck-deep snow when I could just follow in your enormous footstep—” the realization hit her like an icy wind. She stared at the pristine valley before them, as picturesque as it was snowbound. Gone were the days of walking down a path carved by his huge tail. “This is going to take all day, isn’t it?”

“Not all of it, but…”

Sighing, Rarity started forward with her ears low. “And I suppose melting a path is out of the question?”

“Not unless you want to carry everything back yourself. Breathing fire gets really tiring.”

“Lovely.”

Spike pressed ahead, the tip of his short tail flicking through the air behind him rather than dragging on the ground. “How about I go first for now, and you can take over later?”

Nodding, she fell into step behind him. “I suppose that’s only fair.”

“And when we get to the garden, we can try gathering enough food for a couple days instead of just one.”

“How will we carry that much?”

Spike came to a stop and Rarity nearly ran into him. “Oh. Can’t you just levitate everything with your unicorn magic?”

“Certainly not everything! My magic has its limits too, just like your fire.”

“Great.”

Rarity took a forlorn look at the cave mouth behind them. “Of all the days to be stuck in a world without tea.”

With a heavy sigh, Spike started forward again. “I was always more into hot chocolate. Hot chocolate and donuts.”

She kept as close as she could, relishing the modicum of his body heat that survived the trip through the chilly air between them. His tail was no help at all; the tip of it flicked back and forth just below her eye level, whisking cold air her way and capturing her attention like a hypnotist’s swaying pocket watch. There was a certain beauty to his scales when observed this closely, like seams stitched with an impossibly fine needle. Such lovely precision merited further study.

“Did you ever go to Pony Joes?”

She jolted back the present, blushing first for her incredibly inappropriate staring, and then for realizing what view awaited Spike when she took the lead in their march across the valley. No doubt her filthy, unkempt coat and tail had never looked worse. Not that she needed to look her best for him, of course; the very idea defied reason. “Um… pardon?”

“There was this little donut place called Pony Joes. I guess you probably wouldn’t have ever gone there, since it wasn’t artsy or exclusive.”

The diner’s name flashed through her mind, plastered on an otherwise respectable-looking street corner in the uptown near the castle, followed by oft-repeated gossip that Princess Celestia herself had been seen there on multiple occasions. “I… might have heard of it.”

“Well Pony Joe—he’s the stallion that owned the place—he made the most amazing donuts. The hot chocolate was pretty good too, so long as you put in a bunch of marshmallows.”

Now that she’d fixed her gaze, and her mind, on the trees in the distance, Rarity managed a good-natured chuckle. “I can’t recall having hot chocolate since I was a filly. In my adult years I’ve been determined to eat and drink whatever my, shall we say, preferred social class is known to consume.”

“I’m shocked.”

“It wasn’t all bad! I’ll have you know I discovered a great many delicacies that would have otherwise escaped my notice. Words can’t describe the exquisite taste and texture of a well-made risotto, or a persimmon-glazed rice pudding.”

“Or a fresh donut covered in chocolate and rainbow sprinkles.”

An undignified snort escaped her lips, followed by a small smile in spite of herself. “Clearly we were never meant to cross paths, at least not in polite society.”

Spike snapped his fingers in mock disappointment. “Darn. Does that mean I should stop pulling you out of snow drifts?”

“Oh?” She looked his diminutive frame up and down and stifled a laugh. “I think those days are long past us, considering your… current stature.”

Hopefully that wasn’t too harsh. She couldn’t presume such subjects were fair game after one brief heart-to-heart chat.

Spike flexed his short arms and threw out his chest. “Pfft. I’m not that little. I bet I could still lift your whole ego.”

Indignation shot through her like a lightning bolt, and all at once her jaw clenched and her hair bristled. “Why I never! You… You insufferable—” a better thought crossed her mind, and she promptly threw herself sideways into the snow.

Suddenly she was swathed in near-darkness with only her hooves protruding into the open air. Affecting her best Damsel in Distress voice, she flicked a foreleg ineffectually and cried out. “Oh, woe is me! I’ve tripped and fallen! If only an oversized, musclebound gentle-stallion or dragon was here to assist me! Whatever shall I do?”

“My ego indeed,” she whispered to herself. “I suppose we’re done tip-hoofing around any and all subjects, if this is what we’ve descended to—”

And then she was back in the sunlight, staring into Spike’s eyes while he held her aloft, each arm curving around her back with a gentle strength that he’d lacked before. Or perhaps she’d merely overlooked it in the past, given her reticence to nearly all physical contact with an enormous dragon. In any case, she regarded her unlikely champion’s self-satisfied smile, felt the warm, steady press of his hands upon her coat, and realized she was blushing. So much for trading barbs over his being tiny and weak; he was neither, by her current reckoning. In all the right ways, he’d always be a giant.

Spike’s smile faded a bit as he met her gaze. “Aren’t you going to say… I don’t know… Unhand me, vile beast?”

Rarity gasped and nodded as she remembered her faded indignation. “Oh, yes, yes. Our repartee. Um…”

The slight tickle of his breath on her cheek seemed to sweep all words from her mind, save two. Tilting her head towards his, she touched her lips to his cheek. “My hero.”

For a moment she felt weightless, and a moment after that she landed at Spike’s feet.

Spitting out a mouthful of snowflakes, she shot him a glare while he rubbed his cheek where she’d kissed him. “Do you make a habit of dropping appreciative ladies, or am I the first lucky recipient?”

At least she’d regained her wits. Spike seemed to be lost in the trance she’d just escaped from. He stared off into space while she righted herself and dusted the snow from her jacket.

“Why’d you do that?” he finally asked.

Rarity sighed and pressed ahead through the snow. She didn’t care what he stared at; so long as her own view remained clear. Perhaps that would help clear her head, too. “Why indeed. I for one would rather not dwell on it, especially on an empty stomach. Let’s pick up the pace, shall we?”

Whole seconds passed before she heard him hurrying to catch up with her.

---

Of all the things Rarity could’ve been cursed with, it had to be a dragon. Nightmare Moon couldn’t lock her in a dungeon, or send her off to a labor camp; she’d sentenced her to an eternity with a mindless, pony-eating beast who’d actually proven himself more noble and kind than a great many ‘civilized’ ponies. Of all the creatures Rarity could’ve been given as a cellmate, it had to be Spike.

She dared to glance up from her own hooves, spotted his swaying tail, and bit her lip. And of course now she was smitten with him. She was smitten with Spike, a miniature dragon. How absurd and sickeningly inevitable. Given exactly one possible choice for a mate, she’d found something to admire, to long for in spite of all reason and good taste. Ponies didn’t spend their time among dragons, much less court them. Not in Canterlot. Not in Ponyville. Not in all of Equestria if she had to guess.

“What if we make breakfast into a picnic?”

Startled by Spike’s voice, she cleared her throat and nodded. “Very well.”

“Then we don’t have to walk all the way back until later.”

“Indeed.”

His voice sounded far too pleasant. Ignoring these base impulses of hers would be so much easier if he was more of an oafish brute.

“I”m sorry I don’t have any salt with me. Oh! I could still cook stuff with my fire breath. That’ll help, right?”

And he was far too considerate and accommodating! “Thank you.”

“Whoa, is that a huge pile of silk?”

Rarity jumped a foot in the air, her gaze dashing across every inch of their surroundings while her heart did backflips. “Silk? Where? Did—”

At last she caught sight of his smirk, which she met with a withering glare. “Spike! Must you… play with my desires, so?”

His casual shrug lacked the soul-searching contrition she’d secretly hoped for. “Sorry. You’re just being so quiet.”

“Is that a crime? Must I entertain you every hour of the—” she took in a deep breath, which promised to be the first of many. “Please excuse that outburst. I… That was uncalled for.”

Spike didn’t resume walking. Instead he crossed his arms and stared her down, thankfully with raised eyebrows instead of a glare. “What’s bugging you?”

Rarity looked from Spike, to clearing ahead of them, to the ground. “We’ve almost reached the garden. Would you mind terribly if we ate first? That should give me time to collect my thoughts.”

Dreaming up more reasonable thoughts was of far greater importance, something bland and in no way embarrassing. She could rise above this awful cliché: developing feelings for her one and only companion on a proverbial desert island.

The final minutes of their journey passed in silence, both in the physical world and within Rarity’s mind. No fresh thoughts would come, bland or otherwise. If she did stoop to telling the truth, which seemed more likely with each hoofstep, how could she possibly word it? Inquiring if there was a Mrs. Spike sounded on par with asking for a bucket of ice water to dunk her head in.

She couldn’t do this. She wouldn’t. But she had to say something. They were seated at the garden now, and Spike was facing away from her, dutifully roasting one of her favorite kinds of flowers.

“Is it so wrong to desire companionship?” she blurted. That was it, then. She’d chosen the truth. The cliché-riddled, baser-instincts truth.

Spike tossed her the flower and plucked another, fully focused on his work. “What do you mean?”

“I mean… What do you imagine happening between the two of us? We’re a pony and a dragon, yes, but we’re also two creatures trapped with no one but each other for conceivably the rest of our lives.”

Jets of flame turned Spike’s next flower into a cinder. After coughing a few times, he glanced at her over his shoulder, eyebrows up in surprise. “You mean… you and me… like together? Together together?”

She studied her toasted flower’s curled petals, nodding softly. “Yes. I suppose I do.”

At last Spike turned to her, looking just as shocked as when she’d asked him to dance the previous night. He stared at his hands, as if he didn't know what to do with them now that he wasn't cooking, and finally set them at his sides. “Have you… um… ever been… together together with someone before?”

“I fail to see what that has to do with—” she blushed and bit her lip. It had everything to do with everything. “I’ve… had prospective suitors, none of whom caught my eye. It wasn’t that they weren’t good, honest ponies. One was quite handsome, actually, but…”

“He wasn’t a prince?” Spike’s nonchalant, unsurprised tone stung worse than the words.

Rarity winced, then nodded. “Just say it. Say I’m an awful pony for choosing social ambition over family, friends, and love.”

“I wasn’t going to say—”

“Well you're thinking it!” Her voice cracked, and her façade of composure wasn’t far behind.

He stood, which thanks to her sitting meant he could once again tower over her. “No I’m not! I’m thinking you chose Canterlot over you.”

Rarity thought back to her recent moments of quiet revelation with a sewing needle and a few scraps of fabric, moments that eclipsed her old life’s greatest triumphs. “I suppose that’s fair.”

“And I’m thinking that the real you isn’t so bad! I like the Rarity that sews, and jokes around with me, and makes pretty stuff because that’s what she loves doing. And I really like that that’s the pony I get to spend forever with. You're even… um—” he looked away amid a deep blush “—you’re beautiful. Like, Celestia beautiful.”

All Rarity could think of were the legions of twigs and dirt clods lodged in her mane.

Spike took another deep breath and started to pace. Apparently he wasn’t finished. “And I’m sorry I asked about if you’ve ever had anypony before. I just asked because… because I haven’t, okay? I don’t know what I’m doing, and the couple times I tried getting close with other dragons it turned out really, really badly. You're beautiful, and I'm just… me. A little dragon like me isn’t supposed to have chance with a pony like you, or… or anyone.”

“Do you really think I’m beautiful?” Somehow she’d stumbled even further into a cliché, and couldn’t care less.

He paused, mid step. “Well yeah. Who wouldn’t?”

Canterlot, for one. To be beautiful by its standards would require a week in a shower and more clothing, accessories, and beauty products than the Queen’s treasury could buy.

Clearing her throat, she stood and fixed her eyes on his, her cheeks reddening and her heart pounding. “I'll ask again: is it so wrong to desire companionship, to want to belong somewhere… with someone? I think… I think we’ve both spent a good portion of our lives attempting that, in one way or another.”

Spike gulped audibly and nodded. “And in all the wrong places. And with all the wrong ponies and dragons.”

She could feel his warm, rapid breaths. He smelled like a freshly used hearth. “But this place is safe, isn’t it? We’re not being pressured to be anything other than ourselves. We could decide together what, when, and how our relationship should be. There isn’t a single dragon or aristocrat to tell us otherwise.”

He nodded again, and then again. “Right. Right, we can. So—” he turned away, took a deep breath, and turned back with a slight bow and an outstretched hand “—would you care to dance, Miss Rarity?”

Giggling, she offered him her hoof and a warm smile. “Why my dear Spike, I thought you’d never ask.”

---

Happiness could be entirely relative, Rarity concluded. She sat at the back of the cave gathering up Spike’s enormous jacket while he got a fire going and prepared their lunch. Nothing about the current situation met with the standards of happiness she’d once prescribed to, and yet everything felt so extraordinarily perfect.

Surely some of that was the wonderful dance she and Spike had shared, followed by brunch, followed by a surprisingly enjoyable time collecting firewood. They’d done all of those activities before, but not like this. Not with the notion that something besides a shared interest in survival bonded them together. Perhaps this feeling wouldn’t last the week. Perhaps she’d wake up tomorrow filled with revulsion for even entertaining the notion of a relationship with a dragon. Perhaps Spike would somehow turn into the possessive brute she’d once presumed him to be. Or perhaps this sense of bliss would last forever. For the moment, she’d gladly take that chance.

She lifted the enormous jacket with her magic and trotted to Spike’s treasure-laden nest. “Undoing this mess can wait. At least I’ll finally have enough fabric to make myself a hat, and perhaps a…”

Her train of thought came to a crashing halt.

The fabric bundle wouldn’t fit. Confused, she folded the jacket nicely rather than balling it up, and gave the nest a long stare. The gold and jewels covering the ground seemed to mock her; here was treasure enough to cement her place in high society or to bankroll a dressmaking business, and the most it would ever be used for was feeding and entertaining a small dragon.

She gave the folded jacket a much firmer shove, first laying it on the treasure and then folding the excess material over again and again until it all laid flat, just as it had been before she’d sewn it all together.

Except it looked nothing like before. The layer of folded over fabric was nearly as tall as she was; it looked like she’d put twice as much material into the nest as she’d originally removed.

“Spike?”

This couldn’t be real. She felt for the neckline of her own jacket, half-expecting to find a fancy ballroom gown or something else equally impossible. The same dirt and sweat-stained stitches that she’d worn ceaselessly for days met her hoof.

“Spike!” she spoke his name at a shout, as if she was reprimanding a palace servant. All the while she backpedaled through the cave, never taking her eyes off the paradoxically plentiful fabric until sunlight hid the cave’s interior from sight and snow coated her hooves.

“Hey Rarity, what’s wrong?” Spike ran towards her from the forest, holding a handful of small tree limbs. “I figured I’d grab a little more firewood to keep the cave extra warm, and—”

Rarity directed an accusatory foreleg at the cave. “There’s something wrong in there!”

“Huh?”

“The cave! Y-your nest! I tried to put all the fabric I removed back, and—” suddenly she thought of her long hours sewing, of pulling blanket after blanket from the nest to complete her gift to Spike, only to run out when she turned her attention to making herself a scarf. Then she thought of his finding a lump of salt to liven up their meals and cotton to save her craft, and her finding his favorite kind of mushroom immediately after setting her own wants aside.

“Rarity?” The firewood lay on the ground, and Spike’s hand rested on her shoulder.

She took in a deep breath, her mind buzzing and heart thundering. “What was the first thing you ever wished for me?”

“Huh?”

“You said you found the salt while thinking about making dinner special for me, didn’t you? That was true, wasn’t it?”

Spike stared at her, his eyes clearly searching her expression for some clue as to what she was on about. Finally he nodded. “Yeah… so?”

“Have you wished anything else for me? Anything at all?”

“Well…”

Rarity placed a hoof to his shoulder and shook him as gently as she could manage, given the torrent of excitement rushing through her. “Well? Out with it!”

“A s-safe landing! When I saw you falling into The Pit I-I hoped and wished you’d land on something soft, so you’d be okay.” He’d started trembling under her interrogative stare. “Why are you acting like this? What’d I do?”

Smiling, Rarity pulled him into a hug, squeezing hard and savoring the press of his claws as he did the same. It was the least should do for sending him into a panic. “You, my thoughtful and generous dragon, might have just explained why I found mushrooms, and you found salt.”

When she pulled away, Spike stared at her, dreamy-eyed and clearly more interested in a second hug than an explanation. She’d oblige him later. For now she leaned in close to whisper in his ear. “I know how The Pit works! And I know how we can make it the home we’ve always dreamed of!”

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