• Published 21st Dec 2012
  • 6,346 Views, 200 Comments

Doctor Whooves - A Hearth's Warming Tale - Loyal2Luna

Alone for the holidays, Scootaloo is drawn into a strange adventure with Spike and the Doctor as cheer and goodwill disappear from Ponyville's residents. Can they uncover the cause and fix the problem in time to save Hearth's Warming?

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Prologue: A Story Told Only Once

Prologue: A Story Told Only Once

Canterlot Palace
Canterlot, Royal Province of Equestria
24th of Winter

“Twas the night before Hearth’s Warming, and all through the city, not a pony was stirring, save three little fillies.”

“Shhhhh!” two of said fillies hissed through their teeth, rushing out in front of their overly talkative, bouncing friend as she continued to move forward unabated.

“We are trying to be quiet! That means no self-narration!” the unicorn of the group muttered, glaring back at her friend with an annoyed expression.

“Especially not if you’re going to do it in verse,” the third one, a pegasus, followed up before turning back around and flicking her long bangs out of her eyes.

“You’re going to get us caught!” the unicorn started again before pulling herself from their hiding place, attempting to sneak on the tips of her hooves.

“Oh, don’t be silly.” The small earth filly shook her head, clearly amused. “It’s the middle of the night. Everypony is fast asleep by now.”

We’re not. And don’t forget about the Night Guard.” The pegasus moved quickly, putting her back to one wall before peeking around the corner. “They could be anywhere out there in the darkness, ready to take on any enemy of the crown that would be stupid enough to attack.”

“You’ve been reading too many of those pulp action-adventure stories,” the young unicorn shook her head, rolling her eyes. “And besides, the guards don’t patrol the resident towers.”

“They don’t?” the pegasus perked, darting out from the deep shadows with a mischievous grin. “Well then, what are we waiting for? Come on, last one to the main hall gets--oomph!”

The winged filly was cut short as she impacted what felt like a wall of velvety dark blue fur.

The other two fillies barely had a chance to gasp in surprise before having to turn away, wincing as a brilliant white light illuminated the halls and banished the obscuring darkness. Blinking for a moment against the light, the three foals allowed their eyes a moment to adjust before, with a single word, their fate was sealed.

“Busted.” The regal blue alicorn smiled as she looked over the three blank-flanked fillies, her eyes running over each of them in the glow of her horn. “And who do we have here?”

“Cream...” she said, nodding to the bubbly beige earth pony with the frizzy caramel mane.

“Daring...” The princess’s eyes fell over the aquamarine pegasus with the blue and green striped mane.

“...and of course, the ringleader: Dawn.” She finally brought her attention to the orange furred, golden-maned unicorn with brilliant purple eyes. “The Cutie Mark Crusaders.” Princess Luna shook her head, attempting not to let her amusement show.

“Uhhh... Happy Hearth’s Warming, Auntie Lu,” Dawn said in greeting to the pony who stood at least four times larger than herself. “Nice night for a stroll, isn’t it?”

“Somehow, I am not surprised,” Luna sighed. “What are you three doing out of bed at this hour?”

“What are you doing out of bed at this hour!?” Daring shot back, attempting to take an offended tone as she pointed a hoof up towards the alicorn.

“She’s the Princess of the Night, Daring. She’s nocturnal,” Dawn deadpanned, taking some of the wind out of her friend’s sails.

“Oh, right.”

“Well, we’re definitely not trying to get to the main hall to take a peek at our presents before everypony else gets up,” the earth filly offered with a forced smile, a bead of cold sweat running down the side of her face.

“CREAM!” Daring and Dawn turned as one and glared.

“And even if we were, it absolutely wasn’t Daring’s idea.”

Luna couldn’t help but smirk as the pegasus filly buried her face in her hooves.

“And Dawn certainly didn’t charm the door to our room so that anypony walking by would hear snoring.” Cream’s continuing oblivious confessions became inaudible as a faint golden glow appeared over her muzzle, which was the same color as the aura in place around the small unicorn’s horn.

“What she means is that we were having some trouble sleeping and, well... a walk around the castle seemed like a good idea just to wear ourselves out, you know?” Dawn attempted to cover, giving the Princess a wide smile. “Aaaaaand you know what? We’ve taken up enough of your time, so we’ll just find our way back to our room and--”


“--get... to... bed?” Dawn finished haltingly as she looked around, realizing that the three of them, along with a grinning Princess of the Night, were now standing back where they had started: in the palace guest room the three fillies had been sharing while their families were staying for the holidays. The bed was still unmade from their earlier sneaking out and a roaring magical fire warmed the room, warding away the chill of the marble and stone corridors.

“There we go, my little ponies. Saved you the walk,” Luna nodded, clearly taking some satisfaction in foiling the foalish caper.

So taken off guard was she by the change of venue, that Dawn neglected to maintain her sound-muffling charm on Cream’s motormouth.

“Oooohhhh, that’s a neat trick! Hey, maybe we should ask if the Princess could use that to get us into the main hall to see our presents! That would be so much faster than sneaking around in the dark.”

Daring moaned softly and Dawn’s shoulders slumped as the Princess chuckled, shaking her head.

“Now, are you three going to be trying anything else tonight?” the Princess inquired, giving the trio an appraising look.

“Nope,” Cream spoke up quickly, although likely her response was driven by the glare she was still receiving from Dawn.

“Of course not, Auntie Lu,” the unicorn offered.


Dawn’s glare changed targets as Daring’s eyes went wide in realization of what she had said.

“Oh! Uh, I meant definitely! Yeah, that’s totally what I meant.”

Dawn set her head to her hoof as Daring had to pause again.

“Wait, what was the question?”

The trio felt a sudden surge of magic wash over them, lifting each filly up into the air and to the large bed where the covers were drawn back to accept the little ponies before tucking in tightly around them.

“Well then, I suppose I’ll just have to keep an eye on you three while your parents get some well-deserved rest,” Princess Luna stated in a factual tone, her horn alight as a chaise lounge was conjured from thin air with a sharp zing. “And to keep you foals from getting into trouble. It’s the least I can do for my three favorite fillies.”

“Oh, yeah. Just what I wanted for Hearth’s Warming: royal supervision.” Daring crossed her forelegs, a pout on her snout. “Thanks a lot, Dawn.”

“Eheh...” the orangish gold filly chuckled a bit, looking up towards the alicorn as she pulled herself up into her seat. “Really, that’s not necessary, Auntie Lu. I mean, we don’t want to keep you from your royal duties.”

“The stars and moon are up and on their paths. I won’t need to tend to them again until morning,” Luna explained, making herself comfortable. “And as the Night Court is officially closed for the holiday, I have some free time. Now, it seems to me that you three aren't even remotely tired.”

“I don’t think I like where this is going...” Daring brought up, suddenly concerned.

“Oh! OH! Do you have a special dream spell? Or some sort of sleepy sand? Or maybe some tax audit papers? Those’d do the trick,” Cream asked, sounding far too excited at the prospect of being charmed by some form of magical slumber.

“Tax papers?” Dawn inquired.

“Hey, they knock my dad out in ten seconds flat,” Cream answered.

“Now now, my dear fillies. I said you had to stay out of trouble and be in bed, but I never said anything about going to sleep,” Luna shook her head, smiling softly. “I was thinking something more along the lines of a story. Let’s see, how does it go...?”

The Princess of the Night cleared her throat as her audience drew closer in anticipation.

“Once upon a time... long before the peaceful rule of Celestia...” Luna paused for a moment, a somewhat sour look coming over her expression before she decided to ad-lib. “...and myself... Before Ponykind discovered our beautiful land of Equestria--”

“Auntie Lu?” Dawn sighed. “Do we have to hear the Tale of the Three Tribes?”

Luna drew back in a moment of surprise at the filly’s bored-sounding tone.

“Well, it is the traditional, quintessential Hearth’s Warming tale.”

“I know, and it’s a good one, but...” Dawn looked to one side towards Daring. “...but we did just see the pageant earlier today. I mean, even the best stories can feel kinda stale if they’re told over and over again.”

“Yeah, stale like the cookies I was saving from the Summer Sun Celebration,” Cream commented, munching away at a flower-shaped sugar cookie.

“You mean that cookie?” Daring asked. ”Wait, where have you been hiding that?”

“Cream, you’re getting crumbs all over the blankets!” Dawn piped up.

Luna, who learned long ago not to question some things where certain families were concerned, set a hoof to her lips as she considered.

“Alright, well, what sort of story would you three like to hear?”

“OH! OH! How about something about seaponies!?” Cream’s eyes widened as she tossed the cookie away.

“Well, Auntie Lu, I would love to hear about the Uprising... Straight from the mare’s mouth, so to speak.” Dawn gave her best pleading expression. “I mean, nopony ever talks about it.”

“There’s a good reason for that, little one. It was a dark time... Thankfully before your time.” Luna shook her head, preferring not to think about it.

“Oh! How about something about Nightmare Moon then?”

Cream and Dawn both turned to Daring, who happened to be situated between them, with accusing eyes. Each proceeded to give her a harsh jab in the ribs.

“Uh, did I say Nightmare Moon? I meant the Changeling Incursion. Yeah.”

“Well, hold on, these sound like stories you three are already quite familiar with,” Luna chuckled, allowing the reminder of what was far from her brightest moment slide by. “Let’s try this: What kind of story would you like to hear about?”

“Something we’ve never heard before,” Dawn offered.

“Something with monsters!” Daring threw her forelegs up in a looming position.

“Something amazing!” Cream followed up, smiling wide.

Princess Luna nodded, a small smile gracing her lips as she considered her admittedly large reserve of tales from a long and eventful life.

“I’ve got just the thing,” the Princess of the Night nodded, leaning forward as her horn came alight, extinguishing the flickering orange glow of the nearby fireplace and replacing it with ethereal blue flames that sent a beautiful soft glow across the room.

“Oooohhhh, mood lighting! Classic!” Cream commented, smiling as she brushed some cookie crumbs off of the blanket.

“Now, this is a tale I will only tell once. The tale of a Hearth’s Warming that took place many years ago, before any of you were born, in a small town that you might have heard of. A town known as Ponyville.”

The three fillies’ eyes went wide as they listened, snuggling into the covers next to one another.

“This is a story about one brave little filly, not too different from any of you. It is a story about a dragon, a bitter old stallion, swarms of terrible creatures, and a very special pony who had no name, who was simply known as ‘The Doctor.’”

“Oh, I’m getting goosebumps...” Cream whispered. “Pay attention everypony, this is gonna be good.”


*Opening Theme*

The Doctor
Spike the Dragon

Doctor Whooves: The Series
“A Hearth’s Warming Tale”