• Published 19th Feb 2013
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The Lion and the Lamb - CrazyChickenLady

After following a baby griffon into a dangerous situation, Fluttershy finds herself rescued by a kind-hearted dragon and ends up befriending him.

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Chapter Sixteen: The Intruder Returns

Chapter Sixteen: The Intruder Returns

As the cool evening swept in, Fluttershy stretched and yawned, rolling over… and squeaking lightly as she felt a large source of warmth beside her. Turning her head, she giggled softly. She had felt quite cozy as she slept, but she had thought it was thanks to the blanket. Seeing that Smokey had climbed in with her and Chenoa to further keep them safe and warm caused her to feel an even greater sense of gratitude and affection for him.

Her chest rising with warmth and heart beating a bit harder than usual, she leaned in to give him a light kiss on his cheek.

A wide grin spread itself across the sleeping dragon’s face at the touch of Fluttershy’s lips, a soft purr vibrating in his throat. His free ear frill twitched a couple times before he snuggled in closer with another purr.

Pulled out of her slumber, the baby griffon shifted between them, rolling onto her back with a high-pitched yawn.

Chuckling, the pegasus slipped a foreleg around Chenoa. Snuggling back on her side, she watched the two of them sleep--but did not go back to sleep right away.

The fire had since burned out, leaving a smoldering pile of charred logs, and Fluttershy became aware that it was now significantly colder. Sighing, she cuddled in closer to the dragon, keeping their daughter between them.

She was just about to drift back off to sleep when she heard a howl outside--one that didn’t sound too far away. Eyes popping open, she sat upright with a gasp.

The dragon jolted awake, leaning closer to his bedmates protectively. Swinging his head around into the direction of the bedroom where the howl originated from, his eyes grew larger than normal, pupils dilating in terror at what they beheld. Standing approximately ten feet away was a werewolf--the same werewolf that had invaded the dragon’s peaceful abode the night before.

Smokey curled his arms around Fluttershy and Chenoa, his gaze locked on the furry beast. He let his eyes leave him only to swiftly search the room for his rabbit and doves.

They were nowhere in sight…

His anxiety skyrocketed, chest clenching in fear for what may have happened to them. Did they find a safe hiding place on time?

Fluttershy squeaked, turning around… and gasped again, louder this time. How did the creature break in?! Her eyes went to the busted door, which hadn’t been properly fastened, but merely propped up by a stack of boxes. Apparently the werewolf had summoned the strength to push them and the door back enough to slip in.

“Smokey,” she whimpered. “What are we going to do?”

“It’s okay, Miss Fluttershy. I won’t let him harm you or Chenoa,” he said in hopes of reassuring the mare as he pulled her and their daughter closer, shielding them in his arms. His injuries inflicted by the werewolf were now noticeably hurting. Apparently, his painkiller had worn off and his body was due for another.

Chenoa whimpered, her body trembling in sheer terror at the sight of the battle-scarred and grotesquely skinny canine. Her whines tugged at his parental instinct, emboldening the dragon, his gaze steeling as he attempted to pierce into, and obliterate the intruder’s will for a fight. However, the werewolf did not seem hostile this time.

Fluttershy clutched Chenoa tightly, pressing into Smokey’s strong embrace with wide eyes. The beast was right there, standing before them. Fear gripping her heart, she was convinced that it had come back to finish them off when…

… It suddenly turned around and casually steered himself into the kitchenette. His nose led him to the still half full pot of soup, it's smell enticing his hungry jaws closer. Studying the stove in explicit detail, he felt the searing heat radiating from it. Intending on receiving no burns, he rose up onto his hind legs and using teeth to grasp one of the pot’s handles he dragged it to the counter connected to the stove before burying his head into it. The slurping sounds he made as he devoured the food were loud enough to be heard across the room.

Fluttershy blinked once, watching. After a few seconds, upon hearing the slurping sounds, she tilted her head up to Smokey, quite puzzled.

“He’s… not going to attack us?”

“I… suppose not.” Smokey was just as confused, but he was willing to accept that the werewolf came by just for food that he made and not their flesh. Still, he held Fluttershy close and in turn she kept Chenoa in a safe embrace of her own.

The minutes passed agonizingly slowly, the tension in the air as thick as the soup the werewolf was devouring. Eventually, the canine lapped up the large pot spotless, licking his chops as he withdrew his head and lowered himself back on all fours. Slinking out of the kitchenette in a slow and cautious stride, he pinned his gaze upon the house’s visible inhabitants.

Fluttershy just sat there, curled up in Smokey’s arms, whimpering as she didn’t know whether or not the beast would still come after them, even after having been fed. Upon him reappearing from the kitchenette, her heart leaped into her throat… only for her to swallow it again when he left without any further incident. Sitting there for a moment, she took a deep breath. He was hungry… nothing more.

“That…” she breathed out, finding her voice. “… was the second night he’s been by.” Her reeling mind came to a conclusion, and she looked up at Smokey. “You don’t think he views this place as a viable source of food, don’t you?”

Smokey did not relent his hold on Fluttershy and Chenoa, even though the werewolf was long gone. Heart still hammering in his chest, he tilted his head downward to meet the winged pony’s eyes. If it weren’t for the intensity of the situation, the dragon would have properly processed just how close their faces were.

“I… believe so… But I’ll put food out for him so he doesn’t hurt any of you or my animals.”

Fluttershy, either, didn’t realize--nor did she care--that their faces were incredibly close. Blinking a single time, she gave a small nod. “Uh-huh. That… that’s a good idea.”

She had faced several major dangers before, but anything that was larger than her, with incredibly sharp teeth, and also had actively attempted to eat her? That sounded like something from her nightmares. She didn’t feel safe--or even comfortable--around something with a taste for pony meat.

A moment passed, before she realized something. The werewolf just wanted something to eat. That was all it had come for, and that was all it wanted. Maybe… he wasn’t a bad creature? She was, after all, friends with a bear--and bears were said to be quite vicious when angered or hungry. That one dragon that used to reside up in the mountains had been aggressive, but he had only resorted to such behavior when Rainbow Dash kicked him in the snout. On top of that, Smokey had allayed some fears she had about dragons.

Of course, this could be due to his pony upbringing, but she didn’t want to over-think things now. The fact of the matter was the danger had passed. Chenoa was safe. They were safe. That was all that mattered.

“Are you all right, though?” Smokey asked as he brought a hand to Fluttershy’s cheek, his eyes brimming with a mixture of concern for her and Chenoa, and fear for the lives of his animals. He wanted to pull away and search the house from top to bottom for them, but he also wanted to make sure his friend and daughter were okay, too.

Stroking his palm down her cheek, his eyes flickered to the white bundle of fur and down between himself and the pegasus. Her tiny body was shaking from the earlier scare with the werewolf’s appearance.

“Oh…You poor little one… It’s all right, sweetheart. Daddy won’t let anything hurt you,” he spoke to her in a soft and soothing voice.

“Y-yes. I’m fine. We’re fine. We’re both fine,” Fluttershy finally answered, cuddling Chenoa and rocking her gently. Giving a quick glance around, she felt something was still off, and noticed none of Smokey’s critters were anywhere in sight.

“Where…?” she began, before returning her attention back to him. “I can take care of Chenoa. Go… look for the others. We’ll be fine here.”

Nodding, Smokey drew away to pull himself to his feet and turned around--only to find all six of his animals poking their heads out from underneath the couch. Letting out a tremendous sigh of relief, all of the starch tension inhabiting the dragon ebbed away, and his chest and stomach were free from a cold vice-like grip.

Dropping back onto the floor, he beckoned them over. They all complied, fluttering and scampering over to their caretaker--birds landing on his legs and shoulders while the rabbit plopped into his lap. Turning around on his haunches to face Fluttershy and Chenoa again, the dragon smirked, deciding to offer a simple pun in order to further ease the atmosphere.

“I suppose I should clean underneath that couch. This is the biggest dust bunny I had ever seen,” he said, pointing his snout down at the little brown rabbit in his lap.

The pegasus couldn’t help but grin, letting out a chuckle that quickly grew into a laugh. She wasn’t really able to stop herself--not that she wanted--the emotional strain having built up so much, she really couldn’t do anything but just start laughing in an effort to feel better.

Her laughter was contagious, spreading to both Smokey and Chenoa--especially to the little griffon. Their shared peals of mirth did wonders to break down the tension and return the atmosphere into its original warm and welcoming state. As the laughter died down to light pants, Smokey reached his bird-burdened hand out to the pegasus.

“I haven’t introduced you to my little family, haven’t I?”

“No, you haven’t.” She smiled, reaching out with a hoof for the bird to perch on. “Not formally.”

Smiling at the small bird, she giggled. “Hello there. My name is Fluttershy.” Gazing to the others, she felt warmth build up in her chest. “They’re all just… so cute! Do they all live with you, Smokey?”

With a friendly coo, the pudgy white dove hopped off Smokey’s finger and landed upon Fluttershy’s pastern. All five doves had distinct features. This particular one was the fattest of the bunch.

“Yes, they all have lived with me since they were babies… They were orphans… Just like I was.” The dragon’s last words brought back unwanted memories of his childhood. In an effort to push them away, he gestured to the bird on Fluttershy’s hoof. “That little lady is Pearl.”

Fluttershy’s ears drooped at that fact from Smokey's past and she pursed her lips. “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that…”

Turning her attention back to the dove, she smiled to her. “Hello, Pearl.” Bringing her closer to her face, she began to softly nuzzle her. “Such a pretty birdie.”

“It’s… all right. At least I found them, so I’m not all alone.” Smokey grinned, his heart succumbing to the all too familiar pleasant warmth as Pearl cooed and attempted to preen the hairs on the pegasus’ face as she was nuzzled. “Aw… She adores you already. Though, I cannot really blame her for that,” he said with a playful wink.

Blushing and giggling, Fluttershy allowed the dove to cuddle up and attempt to preen her, feeling the bird’s feathers and beak brush across her cheek. “Well, I… I always did have a way with animals.” She sighed as she gazed upon the others. “And who are the others? And your bunny is so cute--he reminds me so much of Angel.”

“Thank you. I’m sure he appreciates the compliment. Don’t you, Ross?” he asked as he lowered his gaze to his rabbit. The small mammal nodded, elongated ears dropping as a bashful smile tipped his furry mouth. “Ross is a little shy sometimes, especially around sweet talkers.”

Smirking, Smokey turned his head to one of the more slender doves perched on his left shoulder. “This is Gracie.” Then the one on his right shoulder--a dove of a medium build with an untamed tuft of feathers jutting from the top of her cranium. “That is Petals.” A smaller one with the most well-groomed feathers. “Her name is Lacy, and finally…” The dragon gestured at a larger bird possessing split ends on her tail feathers. “This is Raindrops.”

“It’s so very nice to meet all of you.” She paused, before turning back to Smokey. “Um… If you don’t mind my asking… how… how did you meet all of them? I mean, that is… you… don’t have to if… you don’t want to tell me.”

Chenoa was mesmerized by the feathered creatures and didn't pay any attention to the conversation, her amber eyes wide in childlike wonder as she observed them from her spot in Fluttershy’s lap. She was sorely tempted to walk over to one of the doves and play with her, but she was a little unsure of herself at the moment.

“Well… a couple years ago, when I was on the road, en route to another town I was scheduled to perform at--there had been a huge storm that did quite a bit of damage. I came across a tree that had been knocked over and I noticed the remains of a few nests and eggs scattered across the ground. Unfortunately, a couple were cracked and couldn’t be saved, but I picked the remaining ones up and found a suitable shelter to make camp and warm them up.

“When I left them at a safe distance from the campfire, to gather some materials for a makeshift mobile nest, I found Ross curled up on the ground, wet and shivering from the cold. He was still a baby then--he hadn’t even opened his eyes yet.” Smokey halted, smiling down at the rabbit and stroking a hand over his head and ears. “I believe it was no coincidence I found them on the same night. Fate must have decided to bless me with a little family.”

The pegasus frowned as her heart went out to the poor creatures. They really were orphans, just like Smokey said.

“Oh my. Poor little things… I’m sorry to hear you weren’t able to save all of them… Though at least you were able to rescue whoever you could.” She gave the plump dove on her hoof a smile, nuzzling her again. “And you all seem very happy together.”

Pearl cooed again, dragging her beak over the fur on Fluttershy’s face, resuming her attempt to preen her. She was the friendliest and most openly affectionate of the clutch. Attracted by the gentle and benevolent aura radiating from the winged pony, it was only natural she would take an immediate liking to her.

“Yes, I make sure they are happy. It was a lot of work raising them from babies. Many sleepless nights and long hours of devotion, but they were worth it. More than worth it.”

“I feel the same way about my animals,” Fluttershy stated. “It’s hard work taking care of the little ones, but it feels so rewarding. It all really reminds me of my own little bunny.

“It was about five years ago when I found Angel… or, actually, I should say Angel found me. You wouldn’t know it, but when I was a little filly, I was very, very shy… and a very weak flyer. Even as I grew, my skills at flying weren’t always the best--I’m… okay, nowadays, but ever since I first got my cutie mark, I’ve always felt a closer connection with the ground than with the sky.”

She paused for a second. “Do you ever think… ever feel that maybe… perhaps… you were born in the wrong body? I sometimes think I should have been born as an earth pony... but I digress. Anyway, as I was saying, five years ago, I was wandering around in the woods, looking for new animal friends… I… always got along better with animals than I did with other ponies, you see.

“Well, during my search, I got lost. I didn’t know my way around the woods by the Everfree Forest, and without meaning to, I had actually blundered deep inside. I was so scared… I thought I would be lost forever. I curled up and started crying, when I felt a furry paw on my face. I opened my eyes, and I saw this tiny little white bunny rabbit. He looked concerned… and he wasn’t scared of the forest at all!

“I introduced myself, and I told him of my plight… and he showed me a way out. It was like an angel had descended to show me a path. I was so grateful to my little Angel, that I rewarded him with as much food as I could offer. The two of us have been together since.”

Smokey listened with intent interest, idly massaging the ball of his index finger into the patch of fur behind Ross’ ear. The rabbit melted at the touch, leaning his body into the dragon’s hand. When Fluttershy asked if he ever felt he had been born in the wrong body, he nodded, but he didn’t speak until she finished her story.

“I feel that way all the time. Since I’ve been conditioned into pony society from the day I was born, I don’t think I’d ever fit in with other dragons… And ponies… tend to stay away from me or treat me badly wherever I went, so… making friends… wasn’t really an option.”

The pegasus frowned, moving closer to him. “Well, you don’t have to feel that way anymore. I’m your friend… and my friends will gladly accept you, too! We have a zebra friend that lives here in the Everfree Forest. She was feared just as badly, up until it was shown she was friendly and meant no harm.” A pause. “Say… what if we did the same thing? Maybe if you were seen with us, maybe others wouldn’t be so scared of you!”

The reptilian’s eyes lit up, the top fringes of his ear frills perking straight at the idea.

“You… really think that will work? I… do admit I’ve been close to making new friends in the past, but… something bad always happened.” His frills dropped in apprehension. “What if it happens again?”

Fluttershy reached out with a wing--since both her forelegs were occupied--and rested it against Smokey’s side.

“My friends,” she began. “Are the best friends anypony could ever ask for.” Closing her eyes and tilting her head off to one side, she giggled. “I’m sure they’ll accept you for who you are. They’ve done so in the past with others… and I see absolutely no reason they wouldn’t do it for you.”

The touch of Fluttershy’s wing was comforting, but the dragon still held his doubts. It wasn’t his fault he was the way he was--a large, strong beast with razor sharp teeth, and the ability to breath fire, even though he wasn’t really much of a firebreather himself. Sighing, he gazed into her eyes for several moments. Her eyes… They held so much honesty and confidence in her friends… He just couldn’t resist… He just had to trust her. After all, she trusted him.

Smiling, he nodded once, deciding to allow himself to believe her. “Alright… I’ll try. We are scheduled to have lunch together, so I might as well.”

“Thank you, Smokey. You won’t regret it. Just give it some time… and before you know it, you’ll be considering yourself one of us.”

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