The Warmth of Winter
Chapter Two: Secrets
Not long after Celestia’s sun had graced the land, Twilight had found herself lost in the first book that peaked her interest. Spike, on the other hand, was busy organizing the library’s numerous shelves; thankfully though, his task was almost complete.
“There,” said a young dragon as he slid the last of his books in place.
Twilight looked up to him with surprise. “You’re done already?”
He nodded. “Yeah, there wasn’t too much that needed organizing.”
Twilight magically creased the page in her book before closing it and making her way to her assistant. “Well then, what did you plan on doing today?”
Spike looked up momentarily in thought. “Hm, honestly I hadn’t really thought about it.”
Expecting this, Twilight perked up excitedly. “Oh, maybe we could go-“ She was quickly cut off by a knocking at the door.
“I got it!” declared Spike as he raced for it.
The unicorn sighed once her assistant was out of earshot. “Go to Sugar Cube Corner and get some coco,” she mumbled to herself.
Upon opening the door, Spike was greeted by an orange filly adorning a blue scarf.
“Oh, hey Scootaloo. What’s up?”
“Oh nothing, I just wanted to thank you for letting me borrow the blanket.”
Spike threw out a claw. “Don’t worry about it. I just didn’t want you freezing to death out there.”
Scootaloo smiled. “And I wanted to give this back,” she said as she offered her scarf. “You should keep it, it’s yours after all.”
Spike was about to protest, but upon recollecting how difficult it was to give Scootaloo the scarf in the first place; he came up with a second plan. “Hey, wait here,” he replied before running off into the library.
Scootaloo raised her brow, trying to guess what the dragon was doing, but before she could come up with a theory, he had returned. In his claw laid an older green scarf.
“Here,” he said, holding out the cloth. “It’s my old one.”
Scootaloo smiled and gladly took it. As she wrapped it around her neck, it was apparent that it wasn’t as warm as the one Rarity had given him, but this one was actually hers. “Thank you, Spike.”
The young dragon was about to reply, but was cut off by Scootaloo wrapping her hooves around him. The embrace caused his cheeks to turn a light crimson, but after a second it was over.
“Hey,” began Scootaloo. “Me and the other Cutie Mark Crusaders were about to go make some snow ponies at Sweet Apple Acres. You in?”
Spike grinned. “Of course I’m in. I’ll be over in a little while.”
As the young dragon walked down the path to Sweet Apple Acres, he couldn’t help but take note of the magnificent scenery; the snow topped trees, the perfectly clear ice sickles, and the blanket of white across the land. Winter was most certainly a beautiful time of year; however it was also a time for play. Spike discovered this when he was greeted by a snowball to the face.
“Ha! I got you!” declared a young unicorn.
Spike wiped away the freezing slush from his eyes to reveal Sweetie Belle, grinning as she sat atop a log. He shot her a glare, but her only reply was briefly sticking out her tongue. The young dragon rolled his eyes at this childish display, but as he did this he was secretly formulating a plan of revenge from behind his back. Once he was complete he began to smile.
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh nothing,” replied Spike.
Just then, he quickly spun around, whipping his tail forward and launched three snowballs directly into Sweetie Belle’s face. The startled filly instantly came tumbling face first into the snow, earning a victorious laugh from Spike.
Sweetie Belle looked up, her face covered with snow in such a way it resembled a beard. “You may have won this battle dragon, but you have yet to win the war.”
Once Spike had finished enjoying his minor victory he walked over to the young filly and offered her his claw. She gladly took it.
“So where is everyone else?”
Sweetie Belle, who was still brushing the snow off, lifted a hoof. “Over there.”
It was at that moment, Spike had hatched a devious plan. Grinning slightly, he bent down and began to form a snowball.
“Say Sweetie Belle, what do you say we pay our friends a little visit?”
The unicorn gasped. “Are you really suggesting that I betray the Crusader pact and attack my friends for no reason?”
Spike put a claw to his chin, thinking for a moment. “Yeah, pretty much.”
Sweetie Belle made a clearly faked, but still evil, grin. “I’m in.”
Cautiously, the pair made their way over to their unsuspecting friends. They found Scootaloo and Applebloom hard at work rolling large snowballs in the snow so they could be crafted into a snow pony.
Spike knew he could easily hit both of them before either could react, but he wanted to have a little fun with it, particularly with Scootaloo. Making sure not a noise was made, he crept ever closer until Spike was only inches from the Pegasus. Then in one swift motion, he brought the snowball down right on top of Scootaloo’s head. The sudden shock and chill sent her lunging forward in a yelp.
At that moment, Sweetie Belle unleashed a barrage of snow unto Applebloom. Instantly, she fell onto her back, looking up at Spike. She sighed, blowing a piece of her mane out of her face.
“What the hay happened to making snow ponies?”
Spike let out a laugh before helping the filly up. “Don’t worry. No more attacks for today.”
Over the next few hours, the four would go on to build a few snow forts, several snow ponies, and have an occasional snowball fight. Though, as the sun began to make its decent for the horizon, the foals all began to go their separate ways, starting with Sweetie Belle, then Applebloom. Soon enough Spike and Scootaloo found themselves alone once again as they walked the path back to Ponyville.
“So no hard feelings about me pelting you with a snowball then?” joked Spike.
Scootaloo chuckled. “No, it’s okay. I’ll just get you back later.”
“We’ll see about that,” he taunted.
The filly shot him a smirk before looking over to the trees and back. “Well, I’ll see you later.”
Spike raised an eyebrow. “What do you-“ It was at that moment, Spike had realized that they were standing before the Cutie Mark Crusaders’ clubhouse.
He crossed his arms. “You’re not seriously staying there, are you?”
Scootaloo nodded. “Yeah, I’m still camping.”
Sighing, Spike replied “Listen Scoots, I know you’re not camping; just tell me why you’re really out here and maybe I can help.”
“No!” she exclaimed a little more forcefully than she meant. “No, I’m okay. Don’t worry about me.”
Spike was a little shocked by her response, but he could easily tell that something was indeed wrong, perhaps more than he had considered. So, in good nature, he walked over to the filly and placed his hand onto her shoulder.
“Scootaloo, please tell me what’s wrong.”
The filly shied away from his comforting grasp. “It’s nothing. I just need some space. Now go home. It’s getting dark.”
Spike was beginning to see that his tactic of acquiring information was proving to be useless, so he set forth another plan into action. “Fine, I’ll go home, only to tell Twilight that I’m staying the night with you.”
Judging by the look on Scootaloo’s face, he knew she was about to protest, so he quickly lifted a claw to silence her. “If you’re not going to tell me what’s really wrong, the least I can do is make sure you’re not out here by yourself.”
At that Scootaloo withdrew, feeling a little more convinced. “Okay, but only for tonight.”
Spike nodded. “Just for tonight.”
As Scootaloo awaited the return of her draconic friend, she assumed that it would be at least another few minutes before his arrival. So she went over to a small board in the back of the room. It was a panel for the wall, one that she had discovered loose not too long ago; it was also the perfect hiding spot.
Carefully, she moved the board until she could see a small white object. With her teeth, she pulled it out and rested it upon the floor. It was a picture of her as a younger foal, only of the age of five. Behind her were two ponies. The nearest was a mare with an orange coat and a blond mane, the other was a stallion, his fur blue and his mane black.
Looking at the picture brought back many happy memories; memories of her birthday on which it was taken. That year was special for it was the year that she had received her first scooter. Thinking about how happy it made her brought a smile to her face.
“What’s that?” asked a particular dragon.
Scootaloo almost jumped out of her fur at the sudden question, but she quickly collected herself.
“It’s nothing,” she replied as she hid the photo behind her back.
Spike shot her a look. “Scootaloo, why are you so secretive? I know you’re obviously not camping and that’s not just nothing. What’s really going on here?”
Scootaloo sighed. “You’re never going to give up are you?”
Spike shook his head, his expression unchanging. “Not until I know that you’re really okay.”
Slowly, she presented the photo to Spike. “This is my parents.”
Instantly he formed a hypothesis. “Is that why you’re out here, did they kick you out?”
Scootaloo shook her head, her expression growing ever grimmer. “No, they’re dead.”
Spike stood shocked, unable to believe what he’d been told. He felt absolutely horrible for pressing such a delicate issue, for now it was clear why she had been avoiding answers. Despite that, he thought it best to at least attempt to comfort her.
“Scootaloo, I’m so sorry,” he consoled as he took a seat next to her.
The filly waved a dismissive hoof. “Don’t worry about it. My parents have been dead for two years now. I mean yeah it still hurts, but I’m better now.”
His eyes widened in shock. “You mean you’ve been out here for two years.”
Scootaloo smiled at Spike’s reaction. “No, I wish I was though.”
“What do you mean?”
The Pegasus sighed before continuing. “Spike, my parents dying wasn’t the worst of it. They put me in this orphanage. It was horrible. None of the staff cared about you, they just wanted their bits and to have you out of their sight. The other foals were no better, especially the older ones.”
Spike could easily tell by the tone of her voice, that Scootaloo was having a tough time thinking about the memories, so he rested a comforting arm around her. To his surprise, she actually leaned into him, rather than pull away as expected.
“The older foals would always beat me up for fun, but to be honest I don’t really blame them. Many of them were in that place longer than I was. I guess that was their way of staying sane.”
“Well, you’re obviously not in there anymore so you must be doing better.”
Scootaloo smiled briefly. “Yeah, I managed to sneak of there about six months after I got there. Since then I’ve been staying the nights at Sweetie Belle’s, Applebloom’s, Fluttershy’s, even Snips and Snails’ houses. But some nights I have to stay here.”
“You mean they didn’t even look for you?”
She nodded. “Like I said, they just want the bits.”
“That’s bull crap! Listen Scoots, you could always come stay with me and Twilight at the library whenever you want. I’m sure she wouldn’t-“
“No!” she shouted, her eyes full of tears. “You can’t do that.”
“Because I’ll get sent back there.”
Suddenly, every piece of Spike’s mental puzzle fell in place. “Is that why you were so afraid of me knowing?”
Seeing the first of Scootaloo’s tears begin to roll down her cheek, Spike leaned forward and pulled her into a tight embrace.
“Scootaloo, I promise I won’t let that happen. And until we can figure something out, I’ll take care of you.”