• Published 21st Dec 2012
  • 9,506 Views, 290 Comments

Our Gifts - The Descendant

You know that feeling? You know, the feeling that you've forgotten something important? It is 10:32 p.m. on Hearth's Warming Eve, and Twilight just got that feeling...

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Chapter 1: Hearth's Warming Eve

Our Gifts

Written by The Descendant

Cover Art by AnneHairball

Chapter 1: Hearth’s Warming Eve

Twilight Sparkle was feeling, in all honesty, just a little bit giddy.

Just a little bit though. Say, just giddy enough to go bounding into her childhood bedroom, and spring herself upon the bed.

Seeing as how she was now no longer a little filly, she tumbled straight across it and landed on the floor in a heap.

Within moments there were the familiar sounds of clawed feet at her doorway, and as she tossed amid the pile of her sheets and comforter, Twilight heard a little voice call for her.

“Twi?” called the familiar tone. “Twi, you came in here, right?”

She peeked over the edge of the bed. Spike stood at the door, panning his eyes back and forth across the room.

His eyebrow arched when he saw her peeking back at him from amid the mess.

“What’d you do, Twi? How’d ya’ end up over there?”

The little dragon jogged across the room. As he jumped up on the bed he carefully balanced his candy cane so that its sticky sweetness didn’t touch her sheets.

He reached down with his free hand, offering it to help her out of the pile.

Twilight Sparkle though was feeling, in all honesty, just a little bit giddy.

She reached her neck forward, towards his other hand, and stuck her tongue out towards his candy cane…

“Twi!” he called, drawing it back as her tongue came closer. “Hey, if you want some just…”

She jumped upon the bed, fixing him with a mischievous smirk.

“I’m gonna get your candy cane, Spike,” she whispered.

“Uh oh!” he called, and in one smooth motion he rolled off the bed and began to pelt across the room.

“Gonna get it!” she called, barely hiding the laughter in her voice.

Even as Spike scampered away his voice too began to betray giggles. He knew Twilight. He knew her better than perhaps anyone else in the world. If she were truly trying to take his peppermint prize then a snap of her magic would already have claimed it.

No, he realized as he began to laugh, she was just playing at a little chase game. She was just happy, just playing with him…

...and that made him happy.

So, around her childhood bedroom they went, their laughter only interrupted by her calls of falsified greed and his replies to the contrary.

They went past the rocking chair where her nana had sat and rocked her when she’d first come home from the hospital as a newborn. They went past the toy chest where Shining had hid her when one of her first magic spells had gone wrong. She remembered listening as he had taken the blame for the fires, cataclysms, and invasions of small rodents. They went pelting past the old wind-up alarm clock that had awoken her each morning. Immediately she’d begin practicing her spells so that she could enter magic kindergarten at the School for Gifted Unicorns.

They went past a little crib, the one where she had laid a dragon whelp. As they pelted past she recalled the first time that her family had brought him to stay with them on the weekends, when she was home from school.

They went past all of these things that spoke of her childhood… and then they went past them again. And again. And yet again.

“Twi! Twi!” he called through a fit of giggles, trying to get her to end their long elliptical orbits of the room.

At once she was upon him, and as she pressed him gently against the windowsill she snapped her teeth first on one side of his head and then the other, making large comical biting sounds.

“Nom!” she said, leaning against his back. Her face touched against his right cheek, and then his left, playfully trying to claim the candy cane, and carefully keeping from doing just that.

“Twi!” he called through his giggles, moving the candy cane from side to side to keep it out of her reach. “If... if ya’ want some of my candy cane, just ask! Just ask!”

She sat there, giving a few chuckles, and simply rested her head against his.

Twilight Sparkle was feeling, in all honesty, just a little bit giddy.

And who wouldn’t? It was Hearth’s Warming Eve, and her childhood home was now filled with those she loved the most.

From the hallway came the sounds of her parents, her brother, and her sister-in-law all wishing one another a good night. Before her the little dragon sat scrunched up in a happy ball as she held him close.

Twilight Sparkle was just a little bit giddy. Just like a little filly that had once lived in this room had been on Hearth’s Warming’s more than a decade ago when she prepared her little dragon fingerling for bed.

“Spike?” she asked as a broad smile fell over her face. She lifted her head and peered down at him from above. “May I have a lick of your candy cane, please?”

“Sure, Twi,” he said as he leapt up to the broad windowsill. He patted it, motioning for her to come near, and she too sat in the wide window.

Together they sat there as Spike munched and crunched happily on the candy cane, lifting it to her so that she could take little licks. As they did they looked out the window to Canterlot beyond.

The city was bathed in Hearth’s Warming colors. The tall spires of the palace were highlighted in floodlights, and beneath them the city itself seemed to glow in a peaceful light as thousands upon thousands of buildings sat bestrewn with lights and candles, each one adding to the radiance of the night. A gentle snow sat drifting about the royal city as the pegasi made sure that it was all picturesque and tranquil.

Spike scooted across the sill and leaned against her. He settled against her flank as he fought to undo the rest of the wrapping from the cane. Her magic came alight, undoing the rest for him, stealing another lick, and then placing it back in his claws.

He smiled up to her in thanks, and the two looked out of her window at the city for quite some time. The taste of peppermint lingered on her tongue as the snow drifted in the tiny currents and their breaths steamed the window, making the lights beyond disappear into a misty blend of color.

Spike suddenly felt a soft feeling go through him, and then there was a noise that made him jump.

“C’mon, Spike,” she said, “let’s get washed up for bed.”

In mere moments another raspberry fell through him, and he leapt from the windowsill as Twilight shepherded him along towards the bathroom. He leapt with a small laugh with each one that she placed against his neck and cheeks.

“Twi!” he called again, giggling as he sped up to stay ahead of her. “What in the world’s gotten into you tonight?”

Twilight Sparkle was giddy. She was happy. Why shouldn’t she be? It was Hearth’s Warming Eve, and those who meant the most to her were gathered here in the home where she had grown up.

A short time later she flopped back on the bed, this time being careful to avoid the plunge off of the other side. She had washed the candy cane’s stickiness from her little dragon. Now, he sorted through their belongings in the saddlebags nearby, returning toiletries that they had brought from Ponyville.

The taste of her toothpaste battled with the remains of the candy cane’s flavor in her mouth, and she smacked her lips to try to be rid of it.

Her eyes fell across her dresser. A ceramic Hearth’s Warming tree stood there, the little crystal ornaments catching the magical light from within.

The colors that rose from it danced across her ceiling, and once again Twilight felt like a little filly. She remembered her nana giving her that tree, one that the talented mare had made herself. Now she once more lay in this bed, and once more she felt the colors of it aiding her anticipation for the day to come.

“Spike,” she said, softly, as she heard him trying to lie in his old crib, “I have the most unusual feeling. I feel like I’m a foal again. I feel like it’s old times…”

There was a momentary silence.

“Yeah,” he said, his voice a shadow of sardonicism, “I suppose I can see why you’d feel that way. I can’t really say that I feel the same, I guess…”

Twilight lifted her head and peered towards where he lay at the foot of her bed. The sight of him brought another giggle from the unicorn.

Spike’s arms and legs lay splayed out over the edges of the crib. His tail swished back and forth, denoting how uncomfortable he was, and his head hung over the head of the bed as well. In short, the dragon was entirely too big for a crib he had used last a few scant years before.

Twilight chuckled to herself and lit her horn. Very well, if they couldn’t go back to when Spike was old enough to sleep in his own crib, then they’d have to go back to a time just slightly before that…

At once Spike and his blanket were lifted from the crib. He was only momentarily startled, as there were few feelings in the world as familiar to him as Twilight’s magic. To him, it was as comfortable and familiar as the blanket she now wrapped him in, his old one that they’d brought up from Ponyville.

The whelp was only slightly surprised when he realized where it was bringing her.

“Really, Twi?” he asked, looking on as she guided him towards her. “Are you gonna have enough room?”

“It’s going to be a little cozy,” she said, shifting to the side as she settled the little dragon atop the bed, wrapping him tighter. “But, well… heh, it will be cozy!”

“Happy Hearth’s Warming Eve, Twi,” he said, reaching an arm out to her.

“Happy Hearth’s Warming Eve, Spike,” she said, reaching out to him through the top of her sheets and comforter, pressing a hug into him from above. “Are you happy we came home for it?”

She lifted her forelegs off of him, and as she did she looked down to see his emerald eyes looking back up to her. He blinked a few times, and then simply said, “Home?”

Twilight arched an eyebrow and watched as he pulled the blanket back over himself. He muttered something under his breath as he did, and she failed to catch it.

Still, he soon disappeared into the blanket. There was the slight feel of him leaning closer to her, and then he was asleep. She looked down at him, or at least the blanket-covered lump that he was, until the shallow breathing started.

Twilight smiled. She turned her body gently so that it would not disturb the sleeper who rested on the other side of her comforter. After a moment she found a position that let her rest comfortably, more or less.

She found that she could still see the ceramic Hearth’s Warming tree that her nana had made her. As she studies the colors she felt that giddy, happy sensation one more time…

Twilight snuggled down into her blankets, as happily anticipating awaking to Hearth’s Warming Day as she had when she was still a foal.

No, that wasn’t quite right. She was still giddy with the thought of waking up tomorrow, but it was for other reasons.

She was a young adult now, mostly, and her reasons for anticipating tomorrow were rather different. She and Spike had planned everything so carefully, and their long lists of all of their friends had carefully been filled with the best presents that they could find.

She felt a smile cross her face as she imagined the girls awakening in Ponyville far below and out across the valley. She imagined the delighted squeals of Rarity and Pinkie Pie, the small gasp of appreciation that Fluttershy would give, and the hearty cheers of Dash and Applejack.

Their gifts had been perfect. They were sure of it.

She imagined the princesses giving their greetings to their courts as they made for their private chambers. There, before the great Hearth’s Warming tree that only they and their closest confidants ever gazed upon, they would find the silver packages that she and Spike had left for them.

Twilight giggled at the thought of the princesses marveling at the gifts, and was very proud that she and her little dragon had found the perfect presents for supposedly immortal beings… something that they alone in all Equestria knew that the sisters did not own.

They had found the perfect gifts for ponies that owned, and had seen, essentially everything. She giggled once again, silencing herself to keep from waking Spike.

She was an adult now, sort of, and her joy was in seeing her closest loved ones be filled with happiness as their presents were revealed to them.

Oh, how they had listened! How they had picked up on every little detail in every note for months! Together, she and Spike had found gifts for her parents, for Cadence and Shining. They had literally danced together up and down store aisles as the ideal present lay sitting there before them.

Now these presents lay under the Hearth’s Warming tree in the living room below, sparkling beneath the magical lights that were left blazing as they all retired for the night.

More presents lay there, too.

She could just barely make out the lump on the bed, the blanket still rising and falling with the deep breaths of her little dragon.

Her face was starting to hurt from all of the smiling, but this last one was worth it. How secretive and sneaky she’d been, providing all of her friends with hint after hint… or even outright information, about all of the things he could have.

How careful she’d been to gauge each against the part that dwelt inside of him.

Yes, she’d planned it perfectly. She’d made up a list of things that she knew beyond a doubt would not launch him into another fit of greed-growth. It was essentially perfect. Yes, the list had been very short, but in the end, her family and friends were each going to give Spike a very happy day tomorrow. How he’d be so astounded to finally have a Hearth’s Warming where they could all give him presents, where they were free to give him more than just candies and books!

How amazed he’d be by her own gift, the one that she…

That she…


Oh, buck!

Twilight bolted straight up in bed.

Her eyes flew to the saddlebags, and at once she leapt from the bed, sending the sleeping whelp tumbling from it with a surprised cry.

“Jeez, Twi!” he said as he spun about in the blanket. When he freed himself, Spike looked up to see her digging through the saddlebags. She tossed items to the floor, searching for something deep within.

“Aww,” he moaned, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “I’m gonna hafta clean all of that up again, aren’t I?”

Twilight barely heard him. Instead she dug out a ledger, one that she had been using to keep careful tabs on all that they had done as they prepared for the holiday.

Her magic flipped through the ledger. She turned past pages where they had scientifically accounted for the exact amount of eggnog necessary to obtain merriment, and where they had studiously accounted for the right amount of snow-white berries necessary in a sprig of mistletoe to induce a kiss.

Rarity had been happy to volunteer, despite Spike passing out after the third, fifth, and seventh attempts to obtain a control level.

“Twi?” Spike said, holding a finger in the air. “Is everything okay?”

One of Twilight’s bangs sprang upon her head, springing into the air with a metallic twang.

“Uh oh,” said Spike as he wrapped himself in his blanket, hiding in it so that only his emerald eyes shone out from beneath. “That’s not good! That’s never good!”

Peering over the ledger, Twilight stopped at the long list of names, each written in her secret encryption. There, each one sat crossed out, and a tally of number of presents provided, cost, and location of the return receipt sat next to each one.

All except one.

All except one that she, it seemed, had forgotten.

Twilight danced her hooves, and she spun to face the alarm clock that stood on the bed stand.

It was 10:32 p.m. on Hearth’s Warming Eve, and she had no present for…

“Twi? What’s up? What’s the matter, Twi? Are you okay?” Spike said, peeking out from beneath his blanket. Spike, perhaps better than any living creature in the world, knew what it meant when she was like this. In his head he was already imagining where her hysterics would lead… explosions, fires, perhaps she’d even keep with the festive season and deluge the city with fruitcakes.

But as she turned to him, Spike saw something that he had not expected. What he saw was not his caregiver about to go off into another one of her fits of hysteria. Instead, in many ways what he saw was worse.

“Twi!” he exclaimed, leaping out of his blanket, the dragon trying to reach up to her…

… to wipe away the tears that were forming in the corner of her eyes.

Suddenly, Twilight was no longer giddy. She was no longer happy. She drew her face along his, and then wrapped him in her magic.

In an instant they were pelting down the hallway.

In all honesty, Twilight’s parents were thrilled to know that their children were in the house.

They loved knowing that Twilight and Shining were back in their bedrooms, and that the ghosts of Hearth’s Warming Eve’s they’d thought gone from their lives was once more sitting around their charming home.

They were very glad that all of their children were here… all four of them.

That Cadence was here meant that their world was somehow more complete. Yes, having an alicorn princess in one’s home was unusual, but that was mitigated by family photo albums that showed the aforementioned alicorn as a foalsitter, one bestrewn with peanut butter and jelly as she attempted to give a little filly and dragon fingerling a bath. She was their daughter by law now, just as their son was that of the neighbors who they honored… and they were very happy for it.

That Spike was here completed it. He was the last of the children to enter this home, and at first they had been dubious. They had spent the first weekends just trying to figure out what he ate and reminding each other not to scold him like a puppy when he was naughty. Years later, they could barely picture a time without him. When the time came for Twilight to take him to live with her at her new apartment at the school they had bawled almost as hard as they had when Shining and Twilight had left their home.

Yes, it felt good to have the kids all home. It felt wonderful, and they had begged that the fates would let it happen.

They did their best to remind themselves of that as one of their children sat banging on their bedroom door, jarring them out of their sleep and making Twilight’s father fall from the bed.

As he grumpily stood he mumbled something indelicate, and then opened the door.

He immediately had a very surprised looking dragon whelp pressed into his face.

“Dad! Talk with Spike for a little bit!” called his daughter, rushing past him, dropping Spike across his visage.

“Mom! Mom! Mommy! Mom! Mom! Mommy! Mom!” Twilight called, bouncing up and down at her mother’s side of the bed.

“Twilight?” answered her mother blearily. “Dear, what’s wrong?”

Twilight’s mother had very little time to ponder any of this as her daughter shoved her towards the door so forcibly and powerfully that her rear legs came off the ground.

“We’re getting too old for this,” she whispered to her husband with a sigh, and with that their daughter slammed the door shut behind them.

Spike blinked and rubbed his hands across his frills. He then looked up into the impassive glare of the stallion.

“Hi, Mr. Dad!” called Spike in a tone that was far too cheerful to match the hour.

“She’s right,” the stallion answered, “we are getting too old for this.”

“Yeah,” answered Spike in an innocent tone, “you are starting to get some grey in your mane, especially at the temples…”

The stallion arched an eye at the little dragon that he held in his foreleg.


Outside, a whispered conversation drew towards an obvious conclusion.

“I’m sorry, dear,” Twilight’s mother told her, looking down into the watering eyes of her little filly, “but with how strict and clear your list was, we had difficulty finding the one gift at all. I’m so sorry, dear, but we only have the one. Do, do you want…”

“No!” brayed Twilight as quietly as she could. “I don’t want what you and dad got for him. You deserve to give it to him. I-I want something to give him myself! Oh, how could I have forgotten?”

She leaned her head across her mother’s shoulders. Two large sniffles arose from the unicorn as her mother held her and the two swayed back and forth.

“You’ll just have to be honest with him, that’s all that there is to it, Twilight,” her mother said. “Though, I’d check with Cadence and Shiny, first…”

Twilight stood upright, and a sudden look of hope shot across her. Yes, yes, maybe her brother and…

The two mares suddenly bolted in place, and their faces turned back towards the door of the master bedroom.

Loud voices arose from within. With surprise on their faces they threw the door open, not knowing what to expect, neither guessing what could cause such a ruckus.

Seeing as they had left two males in a room together, it very clearly became clear what they were arguing about.

“Hay Ton Maneing?!” exclaimed Spike, driving his finger into the palm of his other hand. “He’s just gonna bolt from the Broncos like he did from the Colts!”

Her father pounded his hoof on the bed. “Yea? Like your colt Drew Breeze is some kind of saint! Who…”

“Are you two really arguing about hoofball at eleven o’clock on Hearth’s Warming Eve?” interrupted Twilight as both she and her mother looked upon them with falsified judgment.

The two males looked at one another, back to the mares, and shrugged their shoulders.

“C’mon, Spike,” Twilight said as her voice deflated again and she raised her hoof to him, “we… we have to make another stop.”

Spike raised his hand again, but before he could ask what this was all about he felt himself gathered into a strong set of forelegs, probably the only stallion’s forelegs in the world where he felt truly comfortable. It began as a noogie, but soon it became a bear hug, one he tried to return.

“Good night, Spike. Happy Hearth’s Warming Eve.”

“Good night, Mr. Dad! Happy Hearth’s Warming!”

He was passed to Twilight’s mother, and he lingered in her gentle hug for a long moment before she softly kissed the top of his head.

“Happy Hearth’s Warming, Spike, dear.”

“Happy Hearth’s Warming, Mrs. Mom!”

He had expected Twilight to grab him with a waft of her magic. To his surprise they departed the room with Twilight carrying him in one of her forelegs, a way she’d not carried him for years, perhaps nearly a decade.

“Twi?” he asked in confusion. The word and the question it implied lingered around the hallway before fading away.

Twilight’s mother quietly closed the door.

“What was all of that about?” asked her father, reaching up his hoof to guide his mare back into the close, warm folds of their bed.

When she told him, he sighed heavily. There was a momentary silence as they settled together once again.

“You sent her off to Shining’s room, right?”

“Of course,” she said, tucking herself closer to him. “Why should we have all the fun of being awoken at this time of night?”

“That’s my girl,” he said, and with that he wrapped her in his forelegs, kissed her ears, and settled around her as the snow fell gently outside their window.

Shining Armor wasn’t a complicated stallion. He wasn’t that deep, and intellectually speaking he knew he wasn’t the top shelf model. He had always known what he wanted though, and his single-minded drive had won him many things.

He had wanted to be a dutiful soldier. He wanted to achieve all that he was meant for… and, since the day he’d first realized his feelings for his baby sister’s foalsitter, he’d wanted her in this bed.

Now, a decade later and their marriage all properly arranged and behind them, he completed the trifecta.

It wasn’t exactly as he’d imagined it. In fact, it was ridiculous.

The bed was so small that the two grown ponies, a large stallion and the alicorn mare, had to press close to one another.

She had to tuck herself deep into the crux of his body, and she had to lay her head upon his neck, making it so that every little movement of the two drew their faces along that of the other.

Thank Celestia for ridiculousness.

Ever on the alert, the captain and prince raised his head as sounds lifted from the end of the hallway beyond his bedroom door. He listened as a door slammed, and the familiar voices of Twilight and his mother came down the hall to him in muffled tones.

“Pillow?” asked Cadence in a tired tone. “Would you please rest your head once more? You make a wonderful Shining Armor.”

He put a soft kiss upon her forehead and then lifted his ears once again. It was definitely a conversation, and not a happy one. He wondered what the two in the hallway could be talking about at this hour.

He was distracted as a certain alicorn princess began to nibble softly upon his neck.

“I’m sorry that you got woken, Babe,” he said as her tender administrations continued. “There’s something up in the hallway. I’m just listening to see if they are gonna need my help or not. Heh, if I hear dad get up and fetch his toolbox from under the sink…”

“Tomorrow night, when we stay with my parents, I suggest that we will have no such issues to deal with,” she said, wiping her face along his neck.

“Tomorrow we’ll have the exact same situation,” he said with a laugh, “except that it will be in your foalhood bed instead of mine.”

Cadence wasn’t a complicated mare. She wasn’t that deep, and intellectually speaking she knew she wasn’t the top shelf model. She had always known what she wanted though, and her single-minded drive had won her many things.

She had wanted to be a dutiful princess. She wanted to achieve all that she was meant for… and, since the day she’d first realized her feelings for the brother of her favorite filly, she’d wanted him in her bed in the house next door.

It seemed, to some small carnal part of her, that she would now be completing the trifecta.

“Babe,” he said with a small laugh, “if you don’t stop wiggling like that, then we’re going to have another guest in this bed, one who’ll need a nice warm place to spend the night.”

Cadence giggled, shifted her hips...

… and with that their door flung open, and Spike was dropped between them.

“My,” said Cadence in a rather disappointed tone, “this is not what I thought you were referring to at all.”

“It wasn’t!” hissed Shining as only a male who was just interrupted at the very edge of some rather sweaty snuggle-bunnies could be. “Twilly! What’s up with that?”

Shining looked up to see that Twilight’s hair was a mess, and a look of subdued hysteria was sitting across her face.

“Uh oh!” he said, looking down at Spike with startled alarm. “That is never good, dude! That is never good!”

“I know, right!?” replied Spike, staring from one of the Sovereigns of the Crystal Empire to the other as confusion swept over them. “Somethin’s really got her tail in a twist tonight… dunno what, though.”

“Twilly, what in the Well is…” began the older brother. At once a great arc of her magic settled over him. All in the room were suddenly reminded of which of the two siblings had once impressed a supposedly immortal and seemingly divine alicorn with her massive, raw magical abilities.

Twilight began to drag Shining from the bed, and as she did he turned around and tried to gather the sheets into his hooves.

“Not good, dude! Not good!” he said, looking up to Spike with noticeable concern as he was dragged away.

“I know, bro! Believe me, I know!” Spike called, dancing upon the bed and waving his arms about frantically. “Oh, uh… try to go limp, bro, go limp!”

“Tell my wife I love her, dude!” Shining called, reaching his foreleg towards the bed and its occupants. At once the moonlight showed him spin around to look upon the form of his younger sister. A single cry escaped him as the door slammed shut.

Spike stood upon the bed, running his clawed hand through his frills.

He sat upon a pillow, watching the door. When no blood-curdling cries of horror reached out from behind it, he turned to face the Crystal Princess.

“Hey, Cadence?” he said.

She smiled down at him, remembering the little dragon fingerling that had fallen asleep in her lap time and time again as Twilight had studied nearby.

“Yes, Spike?” she answered.

“Shining said… well, kinda screamed… that he loves ya’, just so you know,” he said, “just in case you missed it or somethin’.”

She gave a single giggle, and then looked back down at him.

“Yes,” she said, lifting her forelegs, “I love him, too. I love him so very much.”

With that she wrapped her forelegs around the little dragon, embracing him closely as she giggled. Together they lay there upon the bed, Cadence simply giggling happily at the absurdity of it all as Spike’s eyes sat wide.

“Whoa,” he breathed.

When Shining had been dragged into the hallway, he either expected to find Twilight wrapped in currents of black magic or grinning maniacally.

He wasn’t sure which he’d rather have faced.

In reality, he stood up to discover himself looking down into the watering eyes of his little sister. At once all of his upset washed away, and that part of him that was a big brother came marching up to the forefront, set up base camp, and began launching catapults full of love and concern.

“Twilly, what’s wrong? Why are you so upset, sis? It’s almost eleven o’clock and you are…”

Twilight interrupted him with a few whispered remarks. He shook his head, and looked down to her once again.


She shook her head. More whispered words fell from his little sister, and as they did Shining did his best to think tactically, like a real captain of the guard.

In short, he ended up saying practically the same thing that his mother had.

“No, Twilly, we don’t. We only have the one gift, the one you suggested. I’m sorry. It wasn’t easy to find anything else. You know, what with how strict your list was of what he could and couldn’t have. I’m sorry, Twilly.”

He watched her head sink. As it did his mind raced to find a way to help his baby sister.

“I… I could send a message to the quartermaster depot. Somepony should be on duty. We could search through a catalog and I could start the requisition process.”

“Process?” she said her eyes coming alight. “H-How long would that take?”

Shining’s head sank low. “Four to six weeks. It’s a bureaucracy, after all.”

Twilight cursed. He lifted her head and placed it across his shoulder.

“Just… just tell him the truth, Twi,” he implored her. “He’ll understand. He’s always been a great little guy about stuff like that.”

“I shouldn’t have to tell him anything,” she whimpered. “I should have checked twice. I just got so wrapped up. He’s been through so much this year. I-I’ve…”

“Shhhh,” he whispered as he rocked his baby sister. “Twilly, shhhh, it’ll be okay. Everything’s gonna be fine...”

The door came open, and Shining walked back towards his bed.

“Dude,” he said, hovering his face over the little dragon, pretending to be incensed by what he discovered there, “love ya’ like a bro, but get up out of my bed and away from my mare.”

“He’s sleeping, Shiny!” Cadence exhorted. The return of words to the darkened bedroom brought Spike out of his slumber. As it did he lifted his arms, searching through the darkness. In an instant he was caught in that familiar magic, and soon he felt himself settle across Twilight’s back. Her familiar scent caught in his nose, and the soft wafts of her mane rested beneath his cheek.

He brushed his hand through her mane once, and in an instant he was slumbering against her.

Twilight craned her neck to look at him. He looked extraordinarily peaceful, what with the way his little breaths were catching amid her mane.

She lifted her head with a tiny smirk, and as she did she imparted her meaning to the two who were attempting to make room for one another upon the little bed.

And how long before you two have a little one, or little ones, to carry around? her smirk told them.

You’d be an aunt a lot sooner, their smirks replied, if you’d close that bucking door!

“Good night, you two,” she said with a giggle, closing the door in a waft of her magic. “Sorry to wake you. Happy Hearth’s Warming.”

“Happy Hearth’s Warming, Twilight.”

“Happy Hearth’s Warming, sis.”