"Hey, Twilight, do you have any books on dragons?"
Twilight Sparkle barely glanced up from the book she had open on the book stand. All around her in the library, books lay in stacks, waiting to be put back on the shelves. "Sure, fourth shelf in the bookcase on the east wall, under D. I'll have Spike get a ladder for-" She blinked, finally registering who had asked the question. "Spike, you are a dragon. What could you possibly need a book on them for?"
"That's just it, Twilight!" said Spike. "I don't know anything about other dragons! Well, except for the one you saved me from in the Everfree Forest. And that other one everyone was talking about. They just sound so...mean. Are all dragons like that?"
Twilight closed her book and turned around. "Actually, I know just the book you need. A Pony's Guide to Dragon Companions. It's a white book with a gold binding. It's on the fourth shelf..."
"...of the east bookcase, under D," finished Spike. "I heard you the first time." Spike pulled the book down and dusted off the top. It was fairly large, and embossed with Princess Celestia's seal. The gold leaf had flaked off in a few places and one corner looked a little sooty, but otherwise the book was in good shape.
Twilight levitated the book out of Spike's grasp onto her book stand, knocking the other book carelessly out of the way. "This is an excellent resource! It's the very first textbook I ever got after enrolling at Princess Celestia's school. It told me everything I needed to know about raising you. I still pull it out from time to time." She smiled, and opened the cover. "So, where do you want to start?"
Spike pulled up a stool and looked over Twilight's shoulder at the illustration on the title page of a green, winged dragon raising his claws and breathing fire. "Well, for starters...am I gonna look like that when I grow up?"
Twilight giggled and began flipping pages. "Not exactly, Spike. You're not that kind of dragon." She stopped a few pages in, and began reading.
“Congratulations, student, on receiving your very own dragon, and beginning your education at Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns! A dragon will prove quite useful to you in your lessons, as its nature as a creature of magic and thick scales make it ideal for practicing magic with. In order to build a good relationship between you and the dragon, it is crucial to know what kind of dragon you possess. The demeanor, abilities, and needs of each dragon are unique, but knowledge of their gender and breed will start you off on the right hoof. To begin, determine whether your new baby dragon is male or female. Be gentle, as hatchlings are delicate and can be unpredictable if handled roughly. First, using both hooves, lift your dragon-”
Twilight flipped the page. "Let's just get to the breed part," she said. Blushing, she continued, “A dragon's breed can be determined by looking at a few key elements. First, note whether they have wings or not. Dragons which possess fully-fledged wings tend to be more aggressive, as they are most closely related to their wild cousins, the wyverns. Other domestic breeds may possess flightless or vestigial wings, which can be difficult to spot on a young hatchling. Second, check for gills or fins. These dragons are related to water serpents, and tend not to breathe fire or smoke. Finally, observe the color of the scales and underbelly for information on some specific breeds. Refer to the chart in figure 8.”
Spike yawned. "You don't need to read the whole thing. Just the important parts."
"Sorry," said Twilight. "You're a domesticated, wingless northern fire dragon with a fairly high amount of dragon magic, mainly in pyrokinetic transfer."
"You didn't say anything about dragon magic," said Spike.
"I skipped to the important part, like you asked," replied Twilight. “Besides, I’ve read this book from cover to cover. Dragon magic is in another chapter later on.”
"Okay, fine," said Spike. "But what about being domesticated? Am I like a pet?"
Twilight looked at the worry on Spike's face, searching for the words. She hadn't counted on this being...awkward. "Not...a pet. No. You're a companion, and I don't own you. But I did raise you to be an assistant for ponies. So I guess you're my personal secretary."
"I see," said Spike. "So what about the dragon you saved me from? And the other one you banished from Equestria?"
"I didn't banish him, Spike," said Twilight. "We just had to ask him to find another place to sleep, that’s all. Besides, you have Fluttershy to thank for that. I'm no hero."
"Yeah, yeah, but what kind of dragons were they? I mean, they were wild dragons, right?"
“Yes, exactly! I've got another book, Dealing With Wild Dragons, if you'd like to know more about them. It's on the fourth shelf..."
Spike cut her off. "No, this is interesting. You never did tell me about what I was like as a hatchling. How did my egg end up at the School for Gifted Unicorns, anyway?"
Twilight turned a few chapters ahead. "Well, the school has only ever gotten a few eggs. A couple of them were found in abandoned nests by the royal guard on patrol, and a few-"
"I'm an orphan?!" exclaimed Spike.
Twilight grimaced. "...And a few were given to the school by their parents, like you were..."
"...maybe I should just read you this paragraph," said Twilight, having found the page she was looking for.
"As you learned in the previous chapter, wild dragon eggs face a long and difficult incubation. As a natural defense, the mother surrounds each egg with a magical barrier of protection, to the best of her ability. The stronger the barrier, the more likely her offspring are to survive, so the species maintains its high magical nature. Domesticated dragons also perform this instinctive task, although since they possess a conscious control of their magic, they can create quite elaborate barriers for their eggs. Due to the strong alliance between the draconian and unicorn races, some dragons have offered their eggs to the school as a showcase of their magic-weaving talent and as a test for young unicorns. Often, it takes several young unicorns to completely hatch an egg."
Spike sat forward. "And you hatched me all on your own, Twilight! That's amazing!" Then he sat back, furrowing his brow. "So...I am adopted?"
Twilight sat thinking for a moment as well. "When you look at it that way, I guess you are. I had Princess Celestia and your mother to help me in the beginning, though.” Twilight idly flipped a page back and forth as she strove to find a way to break the tension. She glanced at the illustration of a dragon carefully placing a large, spotted egg before the princess. “I’ve got an idea, Spike! The next time I write to the princess, I'll ask if we can arrange a meeting with your mother."
Spike grinned. "Do you really think you can do that?"
"Well," said Twilight, "I can try. Dragons, even domestic ones, can be quite elusive. It all depends on the princess being able to get in touch with her."
"Can't she just write her a letter?" asked Spike. "She writes us notes all the time. I never know when I’m gonna burp parchment."
"You're a special case, Spike," said Twilight. "That's your unique form of dragon magic. It's turned out to be quite handy for the princess and I. Each dragon has a different magical talent, just like us unicorns."
"Can you tell me about that? What can other dragons do?" asked Spike.
"Oh, gosh, Spike, there's so much to talk about! There are dragons who can see things happening miles away, dragons who can move the wind and water, dragons that can always tell if someone is speaking the truth, dragons that can turn rock into gemstones...but maybe we should save that for another day." Twilight closed the book and floated it back onto the bookcase. "But if you're really interested, you can read about it yourself. It's in chapter twelve. If you ever need to find the book, it's..."
"On the fourth shelf of the east bookcase, under D. I got it, Twilight," said Spike. "And thank you."
Twilight smiled. "Any time, Spike."