The Dragon Who Would Not Sleep

by TheMessenger

Chapter 1: Two More Minutes

The Dragon Who Would Not Sleep

Expect the unexpected.

That's what the guard from the last shift had said, and it was perhaps the worst piece of advice the corporal had ever received in his entire life. How exactly was one supposed to expect something that could not be expected? If such a thing could be expected, would it still and truly be unexpected? And it was at this point the young guard would remind himself that he had not chosen the path of a scholar for a reason. Perhaps the eggheads at whichever university could justify the phrase, but not he. Heck, the filly currently residing in the room he was now guarding was far more qualified in taking part in this philosophical discourse than him.

The corporal was no veteran. He was a young stallion, full of energy and desire to serve his country and its most esteemed leader. This was only his second assignment, but it was a most definite step up from protecting the barrack latrines. It was an honor to stand guard over the princess's personal student, to be chosen by the princess herself (through a series of middlemen, mind you), and the young corporal was eager to prove to the rest of the world just how great a guard he was.

A goofy foolish grin spread across his face, as the guard thought of a dozen scenarios where he would play the hero, risking life and limb to protect the young innocent filly. In his mind, he fought off cloaked assassins with curved knives dipped in poison, using only his hooves and the broken shaft of a spear. In his daydreams, the corporal dived in front of the filly, saving her from a barrage of arrows with his armored body. His delusions brought forth a legion of demonic creatures, and he'd scream to the filly and the other guards to run, and he would do his best to hold the monsters off.

He would be awarded soon afterwards. He would kneel before the grateful princess, who would bestow upon him medals of valor, of honor, of bravery, for performing beyond the call of duty and for the great sacrifices he had made.

The door flung open, and out ran on all fours a small screaming purple creature with jagged green fins sticking out of its back. A trail of soapy water and bubbles trailed behind the creature, as it disappeared behind the corner.

The corporal had time to let his mouth fall open before a young purple unicorn popped out of the room and tore past him, following the trail the screaming creature had left.

"Get back here, Spike!" the filly had shouted and soon the corporal lost sight of her as well.

The young soldier turned to his fellow, several years his senior. During the entire event the older guard raised not a brow, a display of the stallion's impressive experience. "Was that...Twilight Sparkle?" the corporal asked hesitantly.

The older guard answered with a curt nod.

"Twilight Sparkle, as in the princess's own personal student?"

The veteran gave another short nod.

"And the thing she was chasing after was what exactly?"

"A baby dragon."

The corporal blinked. "A-a baby dragon? D-did you say a d-dragon? That was a d-dragon?"

It took every cell of discipline in the older guard's body not to break into a smirk at the sight of the stuttering youngster.

"Expect the unexpected, kid."


"Get back here, Spike! You haven't finish your bath yet!"

The filly received only bright giggles for an answer, as the little wet dragon continued to run. She groaned in a mix of frustration and anger as she chased after the baby dragon, slowing down every so often to avoid slipping in a puddle of bath water. She sure hoped it was bath water.

The giggles and shrieks grew louder, signaling that the distance between her and the dragon was shrinking. Progress spurred the filly, and she redoubled her efforts, ignoring the burning sensation in her legs.

"Now I've got you!" she screamed, pivoting as she turned on the last corner. "Ha ha, I've got- Princess Celestia!"

The filly tried to brake, but all attempts to slow down failed as she slid into a pool of suds and dirty water, stopping only when she had collided with the majestic body of her majesty.

"Princess, I'm so, so sorry!" the filly cried, struggling to her feet, her hooves fighting for what steady ground there was amidst the soapy and slippery floor. "I didn't mean-"

"It's quite alright, Twilight," the princess said softly, warmly. "No harm done, whatsoever."

When the young filly finally found the courage to look up at her new teacher's face, all trace of panic was washed away in the presence of that radiant and reassuring smile the princess wore. The filly began to smile as well, in spite of herself.

A scaly purple head popped out of the princess's mane. The baby dragon cheered and waved its stubby little arms excitedly before setting them around Princess Celestia's neck and pulling himself closer to her.

"Looking for someone, perhaps?" the alicorn giggled.

"S-sorry. I was trying to give Spike a bath and, well, he got away." The filly threw her best disapproving scowl at the little dragon. He answered with unrepentant babbles and giggles. All young Twilight could do was watch in horror as the little dragon she had brought into this world climbed onto her mentor's head and gummed furiously on the princess's golden crown.

"Spike, stop that at once!"

The baby dragon moaned in protest, as light wrapped around him and pulled him away from the crown. Carefully, Celestia raised him to eye level. The dragon's wild struggles ceased and he stared back into the princess's magenta eyes. Slowly, the dragon raised a tiny claw and placed it on her majesty's nose. The giggling soon commenced again.

The princess smiled and nuzzled the little whelp under his chin, then gestured her student forward. When the unicorn was close, Celestia set the dragon on her back.

"I'm glad to see the both of you getting along."

"That's-" The filly winced as the dragon tangled his claws in her mane. "That's one way to look at it."

"Oh? Am I wrong?"

"N-no, of course not," Twilight quickly corrected herself. "We're having the times of our lives, aren't we Spike?"

The baby gurgled in response and clapped his claws together.

"That's good." With a single wing, the princess blanketed both her student and the dragon. "Try to finish bathing your little dragon quickly. We will begin your private lessons with me tomorrow morning so I want the two of you to have a full night's rest."

"What about the mess?" The filly pointed to the numerous puddles that covered the castle floors. Celestia in turn pointed to an approaching young guard who had traded his spear for a mop. A corporal, she believed.

"Don't worry about the mess. Just make sure you keep the door locked next time."

Giving both her blushing student and the squirming dragon a gentle pat on the head, the princess left. Twilight watched the princess leave up until she disappeared behind the corner. A sharp tug of her mane from behind stole her attention, and the filly scowled at the dragon pulling on her hair.

"Alright mister, let's finish that bath-hey! Get back here! Stop that dragon!"

The corporal wisely stepped out of the way.


The baby dragon shivered as the filly dried him with a towel. He shivered, as she fought to retrieve the warm fuzzy cloth from him. He shivered all the way to his crib.

"Here you go," the filly whispered, setting the dragon into his little basket. "Bedtime."

The long day was finally over. Twilight released an exhausted sigh which was interrupted by a wide yawn. "Bedtime," she said again, turning.

Something held her in place. Two tiny, insignificant claws grasped her leg, the two combined barely large enough to encompass her hoof. Two emerald eyes stared back at her, pleadingly. With great reluctance, the filly tore away from the baby dragon.

The baby dragon broke into tears immediately. His shrieks filled their shared private quarters. His claws grabbed the air furiously. One caught hold of the hoof the filly had extended.

"It's alright, I'm here. Shh, I'm here Spike, I'm here."

The brawling subsided, replaced by short hiccups. The dragon scooted closer to the edge of the crib, closer to the filly on the other side.

"It's alright, I'm here."

The dragon smiled. Twilight tried to smile back but another yawn defeated her attempts. "Get some sleep," she whispered and removed herself from the little dragon.

He broke into tears immediately and began to shiver violently.

The dam was broken; the filly's temper flared. "What do you want?" she cried angrily. "Why won't you just go to sleep, you stupid-"

The baby grew louder.

Twilight took a deep breath to calm herself. She was a student, she reminded herself, a thinker and a planner. If she was to be under the tutorage of the wisest being in Equestria, she had better act like it. Shouting and screaming at the dragon would solve nothing.


The dragon looked up as a hoof gently prodded his cheek. His cries lessened.

"Listen, Spike, you want me to stay with you but I really need to get some sleep. There's only one solution."

Slowly, the dragon was lifted out of the crib and set onto the filly's back. He grabbed hold of her as tightly as he could, fearful of being separated once more.

They were moving away from the crib now, he and the filly, and approached instead the large bed in the room. The filly's bed, not his, the dragon understood that much.

The dragon continued to cling to the unicorn, even as young Twilight lowered herself under the covers and turned the bed stand lamp off, flooding the room with darkness. The dragon clung closer.

"There," the filly muttered, fighting back yet another yawn. "You get to stay with me and now I finally get some sleep. Everypony wins and everypony's happy, right?"

She received a snore in response. Slowly, she disentangled herself from the infant and turned herself over, so that she could now face the snoozing baby dragon. Her baby dragon.

She set her forelegs around him and snuggled closer. His skin was cool against her fur but beneath those layers of scales the filly felt a warmth, like a little fire inside.

The dragon had stopped shivering.

* *


Like towering buildings in a thriving metropolis sat a series of stacks of books. Hidden behind these stacks sat the once little filly, now having grown into the beginnings of a young mare. Her eyes were glued to the pages of a tome with a parchment filled with notes beside her on one side and a young baby dragon on the other. A waning candle served as her light.

"You know, you don't have to stay up with me. "

"That's okay, I'm not tired anyways."

"Then what was with all that yawning a second earlier?"

The dragon would have scowled if he hadn't just yawned.

"Why are you still up?" he asked, deftly deflecting the question of his current condition. "Don't you have a lesson with Princess Celestia tomorrow? Shouldn't you be getting some sleep right now?"

"Oh, just some last minute review." Twilight laughed nervously. "After all, you'd never know what could be on the test, right?"

"I thought Princess Celestia said it was gonna be simple."

"Yes, simple, but did she mean simple as in not difficult, every day stuff, or simple as in simple for somepony like her to do but for anypony else it'd be impossible."

The dragon frowned and crossed his arms. "I dunno. It sounded like she just meant simple."

"Yes, but was that simple simple or simple simple?"

"What's the difference?"

"There's a world of difference between the two. Try to keep up, Spike."

Spike simply groaned and shook his head. He leaned against Twilight and watched the candle, as its little flame burned on stubbornly. It flickered and danced about, and as he watched, his eyelids grew heavier and heavier. Maybe he would close his eyes just for a second, no longer than a second. Yes, just rest his eyes for a little while, and he would be fine. Not to sleep, just to rest his eyes, just a little bit.


The dragon jolted forward, knocking down one of the nearby pillars of literature. "Sorry," he muttered, rubbing his face.

The young mare stared at the wobbling little dragon before declaring, "Bedtime."

"I'm not tired."

"Yes you are."

"No, I'm not."

"I'm pretty sure you definitely are."

"No, really, I'm not-"

The last of the little dragon's protest was swept away by another inopportune yawn. He did his best to glare ineffectively at the smugly grinning unicorn.

"Well, what about you?" he demanded. "Aren't you tired?"

"Maybe a little," she admitted. "But I really want to finish these last few sections first. Besides, you're still a baby. You need sleep more than me."

"I'm not that much younger than you," he grumbled. "If you're gonna stay up so am I. Yeah, that's right, I'm not going to bed until you do," the dragon declared proudly, placing his claws on his hips in triumph.


The dragon had expected to hear the quick exasperated response. He had hoped for it. He had not expected to hear the loud thud of a shutting book or to see the young unicorn pushing aside the piles of papers as she got up.

"Wait, where are you going?"

"Bed. Guess I'll just have to finish reading in the morning," she sighed. "Come on, Spike," she said, pushing him toward his basket.

"Wait, I'm not tired!"

"Too bad. You said you wouldn't go to bed until I did so now I am."

"Don't you want to keep studying? I mean, heh, who knows what'll be on that test, right?"

"Well, if I don't get enough rest and end up falling asleep in the middle of the exam, I'll definitely fail. Come on, Spike, bedtime."

After carefully removing a few texts hiding beneath the comforter, Twilight settled herself down, plopping her head against the soft pillow. "Good night Spike," she said.

She waited for the usual response. There was silence instead.

Her eyes fluttered open and she slowly flipped herself over. The basket at the foot of her bed was vacant. The dragon who should have occupied it stood just in front of her, his claws folded on top of each other, his little feet kicking at the ground nervously, a habit he had learned from her.

"Spike, is something wrong?"

"I don't want to go to sleep."

"Why not? Aren't you tired."

"Maybe a little."

"Then what's wrong?" Twilight asked.

"I'm..." The dragon rocked back and forth on his heels. "I'm..." He leaned forward and lowered his voice to a whisper. "I'm scared."

"Scared? Scared of what?"

"You know that story you read to me earlier today? The one about the sleeping princess who wouldn't wake up for, like, a thousand years?"


"Well, I'm scared that when I go to sleep, I won't be able to wake up. What if...what if I close my eyes and then I can't open them again? Twilight, I don't want to sleep forever! Please, I-"

Twilight cut the little crying dragon off with an embrace. Her forelegs wrapped around his small little shoulders and over his little back.

"It's alright," she whispered. "It's just a fairytale, nothing more. There's nothing to be afraid of, okay?"

"I'm scared, Twilight."

"It's alright Spike, I promise you, you won't sleep forever. Just until morning, when the sun comes up."

"C-can I...can I sleep with you tonight? Please? Like we used to when we were younger?"

Twilight pulled back the covers, patted the space next to her, and nodded. "Like we used to."

He hesitated only for second, before leaping into the bed. "Thanks, Twilight," he said, giving the mare a hug around her middle. She returned it before throwing the blanket over them, making sure both had adequate protection from the cold.

"No problem," she said. "Say, do you remember the end of that story? Do you remember how the princess finally woke up?"

"She got a kiss from a prince."

Twilight leaned forward and brushed her lips against the dragon's forehead. "Don't worry. I'll always be there to wake you up."


"I promise."

"That's good. Good night, Twilight. I love you."

Ah, now there was the usual response.

* * *

* *


"What's so funny?"

The dragon shook his massive head. "Nothing," he said, his grin betraying him. "Just reminiscing."

"Ah, the good old days." The purple alicorn laying next to him began to smile as well. "Let me guess, something about Pinkie Pie?"

"Ha, not even close."

"Then perhaps Rarity?" she ventured, poking at the dragon's soft underbelly and giving him a teasing smile.

"Good guess, but you're still nowhere near."

"Does it have to do with ice cream or gems?"


"Well, I'm stumped," the princess conceded. "Tell me, which memory was it?"

The dragon's grin merely grew wider.

"Tell me tell me tell me tell me!"

"Hey, Twilight! Stop poking me, that tickles!"

"Not until you tell me," she sang.

"Alright, alright, just cut it out!"

Princess Twilight gave her dragon one last prod, then waited. "Well?" she prompted.

The dragon shut his dull green eyes, each one larger than a plump watermelon. "Do you remember the last time we were like this?" he asked. "Just the two of us, a book, and a blanket?"

"Oh gosh, it must have been years ago."

"Centuries actually, but sometimes I suppose we forget the difference." He tended to the small campfire with a claw. "I've missed you."

"I'm sorry, Spike. Truly, I am."

"I'm not blaming you, Twi, I could never blame you. Equestria needs you, I understand that. I'd be a monster to try and hoard you away from the rest of the world."

"That doesn't mean I couldn't come a visit more often. I haven't been a very good friend lately, have I?"

"You're here now, that's what matters. Can you keep reading Twilight? I'd like to finish this story before I sleep."

"Of course." The Alicorn stifled a giggle. The dragon heard it anyways.

"What's so funny?"

"Oh, nothing," she said, her grin betraying her. "Just remembering our first night together, before the coronation and the Elements and Ponyville. Do you remember how you'd snuggle next to me so tightly I thought I'd suffocate?"

"Yes, but tell me anyways."

"You weren't even half my size but you had one powerful grip, even as a baby. It's a little funny how the roles are kind of reversed now, with me being the little one and you the big one."

"You're still the one who's reading. That hasn't changed."

"I said kind of reversed, not completely," the princess huffed. "Now, where were we?"

"Start from the beginning."

"Are you sure? We might not be able to finish it by tonight."

"That's fine."

The princess turned back to the start of the book and began to read. The dragon paid no mind to the narrative the author had created. He did not hear the rich descriptions of characters and settings. The plot did not hold his interest. All that mattered was hearing her voice.

A mighty yawn escaped him and he shivered, despite his proximity to the flames. He hoped the princess would not notice. She did.

She had stopped in the middle of a sentence, the last word hanging awkwardly in the air. "Bedtime," she said, breaking the silence.

"I'm not tired," the dragon protested.

"Yes, you are."

"No, I'm not."

"Oh, I'm pretty sure you are, mister."

"Honestly, I'm-"

She had placed a hoof gently on his chest, putting a stopper to the last of the dragon's childish assertions. "Spike, what's wrong?"

The dragon sighed. "I'm afraid."

"Afraid, you? Mister big strong dragon afraid?"


"Afraid of what?"

"I'm afraid because of what I know. I know that if I close my eyes tonight they will never open again. And I'm scared."

"Oh, Spike." The princess tried to extend her wings over and around the dragon's neck, to provide some physical comfort and support. His size proved too great, and she too small.

"Spike, you don't have to be afraid. You're going to a new, beautiful place. You'll be able to be with Rarity again, and Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash and all those tens of thousands of friends you've made over all these centuries. Don't you want to see them all again?"

"You won't be there."

Four words cut through the princess's forced cheeriness like a blade through warm butter.

"No, no I won't. I'm sorry."

"I don't want to leave you, Twilight."

"And I don't want you to leave," she whispered back. "But if you don't sleep you'll just end up hurting yourself. Please, Spike, it's bedtime."

"I can't leave you here all alone."

"You have to. I'm sorry. Don't worry, I still have the princesses and all my subjects. They'll never replace my little baby dragon but you won't have to worry about me being alone." The Alicorn nuzzled her old friend under his chin and tightened her embrace around him. His skin was cool against her fur and she could feel the warmth beneath all those layers of scales slowly die.


"I'm here, Spike. Don't worry, I'll be with you until the very end."


The dragon raised a claw weakly and carefully dashed away the tears that threatened to fall from the princess's eyes. She grabbed hold of the claw and placed her cheek against it.


Slowly, those emerald eyes closed shut, hidden behind amethyst lids.

In the morning, Princess Twilight would lean forward and press her lips against his. And the dragon would not stir.

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