The Warmth of Winter
Chapter One: An Unexpected Visit
Winter. It’s the time of year when you admire the beauty a snowfall and the uniqueness of each glass covered lake. It’s the time of year to celebrate with gifts on Hearts Warming Eve and to hold your very special somepony close on Hearts and Hooves day. However, for some, it’s the time of year for great hardship and misery; like for young Scootaloo. Little did she know that this fact would soon change.
“Do I have to go?” asked a young purple dragon, currently fidgeting with his scarf.
Twilight nodded as she magically tightened the cloth. “Yes Spike, I would have done it myself, but you saw how much work Celestia assigned me.”
He sighed in frustration. “But it’s so cold outside.”
The lavender mare shot him an unamused expression. “It’s just below forty degrees and the more we argue, the colder it gets.”
Spike groaned and picked up the basket of books at his feet. “Fine.”
Twilight smiled. “Thank you Spike,” she said as she opened the door.
Reluctantly, the young dragon stepped out into the cold and was immediately assaulted with a blast of artic air. Feeling as though the wind had slapped him across his face, Spike was about to turn around to protest once again, however he was only met with Twilight closing the door in his face.
“Thanks for mentioning the wind chill,” he mumbled angrily.
Knowing there was no going back, Spike lifted the scarf to cover half of his face and began the long walk to Sweet Apple Acres. At first, the cold felt unbearable, but as time went on and his body temperature adjusted it began to feel more and more tolerable. Despite this, there was absolutely no chance of him lowering his scarf.
It wasn’t long until Spike had reached Sweet Apple Acres. Upon knocking on the door, he was greeted by an orange cowpony and a smile. However, his nose was also greeted with the aroma of sweet apple pies and fritters.
“Howdy Spike! Thank ya for the cookbooks, we were just wanting to try something a little different.” welcomed Applejack as she took the books from his basket.
Spike grinned under his scarf. “I don’t see why you would; whatever you guys are cooking in there smells delicious.”
Applejack smiled at the compliment. “Oh thanks, I hope you and Twi think it tastes as good as it smells.”
Confused, Spike was about to ask what she was talking about, but before he could do so the cowpony trotted into the kitchen. She came back seconds later with a steaming sack, emanating a dreamlike scent. As she rested it in his basket, Spike tried his best to resist the urge to drool.
“Thank you so much, Applejack!” he squealed, already reaching for an apple fritter.
The orange pony chuckled. “Hey, just make sure there’s still some left for Twilight when you get to the library.”
“No promises,” he joked, a mouth full of pastry obscuring his speech.
As the dragon made his way back to the library, the ever present cold that previously filled his thoughts was no longer a bother, for the aroma of his basket was far more attention worthy.
‘Maybe I can have one more,’ he thought, trying to limit himself to only eating three of the delicious treats. But as he reached for another, he heard a noise somewhere in the orchard.
Slowly he withdrew his claw and began looking around. The thought of saying “hello” crossed his mind, but the eerie shadows of the trees made him rethink that plan. After all, he’d seen way to many horror movies where one of the characters did this, and let’s just say it didn’t end too well.
Suddenly, there was another thud. But this time, with his attention focused on the noise, he was able to pinpoint its exact location.
Spike looked up to see that he was standing in front of the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ club house. He let out a small sigh of relief, assuming that it must be one of the fillies trying to scare him.
‘Well two can play at that game,’ he thought.
Quietly, Spike crept over to the steps and started to ascend. He began to grin thinking about the look on one of their faces when he snuck up behind them. Making sure not a noise was made, he opened the door and prepared to pounce. However, the sight that met him wasn’t at all what he had expected to see.
There before him was Scootaloo. She lay shivering, curled up in the corner of the clubhouse. Instantly, Spike’s malevolent thoughts turned to those of sympathy and concern.
“Scootaloo?” he asked.
In that moment, the orange filly let out a horrified yelp, shot up so high she looked to be flying before she hit a nearby wall, and landed back in the corner. Except this time she had landed facing Spike.
It was exactly the reaction he had been hoping for, but Spike’s thoughts were so full of concern that besides a blink in shock his expression was completely unwavering.
“Oh hey, Spike,” she said nervously, her cheeks sporting a bright crimson.
Spike made a rather confused expression. “Uh, hey. Are you okay?”
The filly threw a hoof forward. “Yeah, I’m fine. Never better! Why do you ask?”
“Um, for starters you were curled up on the floor shivering,” it was at that moment Spike realized that he had left the door open, so he turned and shut it.
Scootaloo’s blush intensified. “Oh, well you see… Um, I’m camping.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Camping? By yourself, with no blanket, in what will soon be twenty degree weather?”
She quickly nodded. “Yeah, you know extreme camping, like what Rainbow Dash would do.”
“Uh huh… Well, you want some of these?” Spike asked as he opened the sack to reveal several tarts, fritters, cupcakes, and even a pie.
Scootaloo could feel her mouth begin to fill with drool. “A-Are you sure?” she stuttered.
The young dragon nodded with a smile, finding her reaction rather amusing. “Of course. Here,” he said offering the basket.
She immediately took it out of his claws and began scarfing down fritter after fritter, cupcake after cupcake, and tart after tart. Spike’s mouth dropped at the display before him.
‘Holy crap,’ he thought. ‘When was the last time she’d eaten?’
Realizing that she must be appearing as a glutton, Scootaloo slowed her pace and finally slid the basket back over to Spike. It looked as though she had eaten almost a dozen of the pastries. Secretly trying to protect what little he had left, Spike tied the sack shut and sat the basket beside him.
‘Aaaaand Twilight’s going to kill me,’ he thought.
Scootaloo looked down at the wooden floor, feeling somewhat embarrassed. “I’m sorry,” she said, not making eye contact. “It’s just, I haven’t eaten all day.”
Spike tilted his head. “Huh? Why?”
“Oh nothing, don’t worry about it.”
“Scootaloo,” he began as he went over to sit next to her, “Is everything okay?”
She let out a sigh and looked over to Spike. “It’s nothing; I’m just a little cold.”
“Well, why didn’t you bring anything?”
“Remember? Extreme camping.”
Spike rolled his eyes at the obvious lie, but avoider her from seeing. “Oh yeah, right.”
At that moment, something occurred to him. He looked down at his scarf, it was a light blue and made by the pony he cared about more than anything; Rarity. But despite his emotional attachment to it, he knew Scootaloo needed the warmth more. So he began to unravel it before gently laying the scarf on the back of her neck.
The filly quickly looked up in surprise. “What are you doing?”
“I’m giving you my scarf.”
Scootaloo shook her head and began to take it off. “No Spike, I don’t need it.”
“Nonsense, I don’t want you freezing to death out here.”
“Please Spike. I don’t want it.”
Spike just shook his head. “You’re keeping it and that’s final.”
Scootaloo sighed in defeat. “Fine.”
Despite her outward appearance, she was actually quite overjoyed with the gift. However, a sudden realization dawned on her, for the room had become much dimmer than it was when Spike had first entered.
“Hey, you better go back to the library before Twilight starts getting worried.”
Spike looked up to a nearby window and saw that almost no light was being cast in from outside. Quickly he realized that Scootaloo was indeed right, causing his mind to focus less on her and more on the impending scolding he would receive.
“Oh crap! Yeah, I do need to head home,” he exclaimed as he took his basket, but before he could leave the clubhouse he felt Scootaloo wrap her hooves around him.
Spike was a little surprised by the sudden embrace, but still managed to return one. Though as he did this, he found it to be rather odd, after all Scootaloo isn’t one to usually give out free hugs.
“You’re welcome Scoots. I’ll see you later okay?” he replied as he broke the embrace and began for the door.
Scootaloo smiled. “Okay.”
As soon as Spike opened the door to the library, he came face to face with Twilight, currently adorning a scarf of her own.
“Spike, where were you? I was just about to start looking.”
The young dragon sighed. “Sorry Twi, I ran into Scootaloo and we started talking.”
“Oh?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah, I offered her some of the pastries and we started chatting. That’s about it,” explained Spike as he held out the basket.
Twilight gladly took it, but upon opening the sack, her expression quickly changed. “That’s it? How many did you two eat?”
Spike put on a fake grin as he rubbed the back of his neck with a claw. “Well, you see I didn’t know until today just how big of an appetite Scootaloo had.”
Her gaze narrowed. “Do you really expect me to think that little filly ate a dozen of these?”
His jaw dropped. “What!? I’m telling you the truth, I only had three!”
“Uh huh,” she replied, obviously not believing him.
Spike was about to protest, but before he could do so, Twilight had already began trotting into the kitchen with the basket of sweets in her mouth. Sighing, he turned away and was beginning upstairs when something outside had caught his attention. Amidst the black of night, a white powdery substance was beginning to fall from the heavens.
“Hey Twilight!” he called. “It’s snowing!”
“What!? It is!?” she chirped.
Hastily, the mare came out of the kitchen and looked to the same window as her assistant. The two always loved to sit and watch the winter’s first snowfall. They had always found it so peaceful and relaxing, but this year Spike’s mind couldn’t relax, he couldn’t help but let it drift back to Scootaloo and how cold she was. He just hoped his scarf would be enough for now.
Long after Twilight had fallen asleep, Spike still laid wide awake. No matter what he did he couldn’t get his thoughts off of Scootaloo. He kept trying to tell himself that she was fine, but he knew this was a lie.
After a long inner debate, he arose from his bed and went over to a large chest in the back of his and Twilight’s room. Upon opening it, he saw several blankets, some belonging to him others belonging to Twilight. He looked through his own blankets for the warmest one he could find and once he had found it, he set out into the night.
With only Twilight’s violet scarf for warmth and the light of Luna’s moon to guide him the young dragon walked through the freshly snow covered streets of Ponyville to Sweet Apple Acres. He thanked the goddesses that the wind had died down significantly, however the air still felt as though it were in the upper twenties. This only made him try harder to reach Scootaloo, quite scared that she may have already fallen to hypothermia.
After a few minutes, Spike reached the club house. As soon as he opened the door, he let out a sigh of relief seeing that she was still shivering. Not wanting to wake her, he carefully wrapped the blanket around her sleeping form; almost immediately after her shivering ceased.