Don't Grow Up Too Fast, My Child

by Flutterpriest

Chapter 1: A Snapshot in Time

A piercing wail rang out through the Crystal Castle. Princess Cadance's eyes opened warily, hearing the sound of her crying foal. She did not move at first, she only listened to the ebb and flow of the wails. Loud then soft. Then loud again.

She turned to the alarm clock beside the bed and checked the time. It was still only 5AM, she registered. She would need to be awake in an hour to prepare for a summit. Or a conference. Or a meeting with foreign dignitaries. What the event really was mattered little to Princess Cadance, as it would to anypony else who had already had little sleep from frequent wakings during the night. All that registered was that there was work to be done today, even if the days often blurred together.

Cadance turned to her husband, still fast asleep beside her. His breathing came out in steady and even strokes, unhindered by the sound of a screaming child down the hall. Cadance groaned to herself and nudged him gently.

"Shining," she said flatly, but he did not stir. "Shining. It's your turn."

Shining Armor tensed and a moan left his lips.

"Wha?" he whispered. "I don't have potatoes."

Princess Cadance grew impatient. Instead of a nudge to the shoulder, her hoof moved to his face, slowly applying pressure to his cheek.

"Shining, it's your turn to take care of Flurry," she said.

Shining nodded his head and rolled over towards the edge of the bed.

"Right. Baby. Got it. Mission," he murmured as his words slowed.

Cadance lay in bed, waiting for her husband to rise and take care of the baby. She imagined the way he would rise from bed, as handsome and young as the day she first met him, to go and let her sleep, dealing with the crying child. She fawned over this idea, cherishing it, relishing it.

Shining snored, marking his return to the land of rest.

With a sigh, Cadance tore the covers off her bed and rose to her hooves. Her hair was a total disaster, but it mattered little in the pitch-black morning. She knew her way to the door out of habit and stepped into the hall.

Candles sat on sconces lining the walls of the hall, lighting the way to Princess Flurry Heart's bedroom. Cadance's tired eyes did their best to readjust to the light, but she couldn't stifle a yawn that emanated from her lips.

"Equestria's Best Mom," she muttered under her lips, as if the words gave her additional strength. "The only Princess that is a Mom. A mom Princess. The Princess of Mom."

The words held little meaning as she tried to rouse herself somewhat awake. One of these days, Flurry would be able to sleep through the whole night peacefully. Then, she would finally be able to get some decent sleep. Oh, how she clung to this thought. An involuntary smile crept along her features as she reached the door at the end of the hallway.

Her horn lit a bright cyan, pulling a candle off the wall and placing it into a candleholder that would catch the wax. Carrying the gentle flame with her, she opened the door to the nursery and stepped inside.

Flurry's wails doubled over at the sign of a parent's approach. Cadance closed the door behind her and made her way to her child.

"Shhhh," she whispered to the baby, approaching the crib in the center of the room. "Mama's here, Flurry."

It wasn't long ago that in place of this crib was a cradle, now pushed into a corner of the room and growing a fine layer of dust. Cadance's eyes fell across the relic as she moved through the room. She stopped when she drew near the crib, feeling something soft against her hoof. Her eyes moved down to see a small doll on the floor. Smarty-Pants, was the name given by its original owner. Twilight had passed it down to Flurry, feeling it fitting that it belongs to the foal of the original giver. Twilight had never known that the doll had originally belonged to Cadance, and passed it down to the tiny purple filly as a way of trying to grow into a proper Princess. 'Princesses don't need dolls,' she remembered telling herself as a pre-teen, clutching a pillow in the night.

Cadance picked up the doll and held it in her mouth as she moved over to the crib. Flurry Heart's eyes locked onto hers, and then the baby's gaze moved to the doll in Cadance's grasp. Her hooves waggled intensely, outstretched for her friend that had fallen out of reach. One end of Cadance's lip turned up and she craned her neck low, letting Flurry take Smarty Pants from her grasp.

"There," she said gently to Flurry. "Is that all better?"

Flurry pulled the tiny fabric horse close to her and wrapped it tightly in her embrace. Cadance stood; smiling down at her little Flurry, thankful the resolution to her cries was so simple. Cadance knew that a day would come that a hug from a doll would not be a cure-all remedy to her child's troubles. However, that day was long in the distance and she pushed that thought away.

It came rushing back as she looked down at her baby. She noticed something about her child, something small and insignificant. Something that was common knowledge to everypony around her but suddenly crashed upon her like high tide against the shore.

Flurry Heart had grown. Not a lot, mind you. Her growth wasn't unusual for a foal her age, but Cadance found herself wondering when the last time they measured her. The royal family used a measuring post, sitting in the corner of the room, to track how tall the foal was getting. Little pencil marks littered the stick, showing the progress over time. Nevertheless, Cadance did not need that in order to notice the change. She only needed to look to the doll that used to be nearly Flurry's own size.

Flurry held the doll closely to her, cradling it in her arms like a mother to their child. Cadance's eyes moved back up to the cradle in the corner of the room. She could remember Flurry's birthday as clear as a cloudless sky. She remembered her child's Crystalling as if it were yesterday, but that wasn't what troubled her.

The lines of Cadance's face contoured. While she knew that the Crystalling wasn't yesterday, she didn't realize that it was months ago. In fact, she didn't realize that the day of Flurry's first birthday was closer than the day her baby was born. This wave of realization held her tightly as her mind raced.

Cadance placed a hoof on the edge of the crib as her thoughts wandered, staring down at her contented child. Flurry's eyes closed, slowly easing back to a land of slumber. Soon, a day would come that Flurry would say her first words. It could be 'Mama', or 'Dada'. She almost said either of those two the other day, much to the surprise and giddy joy of Shining, but it was quickly muted by a small trace of spit-up from the laughing baby.

Cadance was tired and her task was done, but she couldn't move from the spot as she just kept thinking.

Soon a day would come, that, like her mother, she wouldn't need Smarty Pants any more. She would be in school, socializing with other children her age. Whether explicitly, or implied, she will learn that it's not 'cool' to sleep with dolls any more. Then, Flurry would hide the doll deep inside a toy chest, for when it would be ready for a new owner.

Cadance could feel a tear come to her eye as she looked down at her still young baby in front of her. If time could move this fast, before she knew it, her little baby could be a teenager herself. Finding love. Cadance had met Shining as a young teen. She knew she was an exception in the world of love, not everypony is able to find a suitable life partner on their first try, but Flurry would enter the world of boys.

She could see her baby-- No, little girl now, being escorted to prom by some boy that Shining would likely interrogate to the point of torture, polishing his spear in front of the boy and wearing his guard helmet. Cadance could already see her, grown up to be a young mare now, setting her parents together at table to say she had been proposed to.

Cadance blinked and a tear ran down her cheek as she sniffed to herself. One day, in the far future, that very crib in the corner would reemerge from storage, the dust wiped away, and reused. Her daughter would stand right where she is right now, staring down at her own child, thinking these very same thoughts. Realizing that one day soon, her baby would not be so little any more.

She knew that these days were still far off in the future. But as the sun began to rise on the horizon, letting a gentle red glow into the bedroom, the days felt as if they would be tomorrow and that this night, this very memory, would soon feel as if it were only yesterday.

Flurry Heart rested peacefully, her back rising and falling with each breath. Her hoof moved down to Flurry's cheek, feeling the gentle warmth of her body and the softness of her fur. Cadance smiled, relishing the moment silently as the tear fell to the floor.

She smiled, because a thought came to mind. A thought that eased her troubled nerves. Time could perform its wicked deeds. It could let Cadance and Shining grow old and grey. It could allow these days to come, one-step at a time. Flurry Heart could grow up strong, and eventually become the ruler of the Crystal Empire, or surpass all of them into something entirely new. It did not matter now.

It did not matter, because to Cadance, Flurry would always be her baby. She caressed her child's cheek, sniffing to herself.

"I love you," she whispered to ears that did not understand the words, but could feel their meaning. "My little angel."

As the sun rose and time began to perform its duty, Cadance stood there, watching her child. She relished the moment long after the room had no longer the need for a candle, and did not stir until her husband trotted in. In the light of the new morning, Cadance did notice one other thing. One last thought that made her smile, and ache happily for the next time she saw her daughter.

She did not feel very tired any more. Instead, she was happy. Renewed. Ready for all of the wonderful things that were yet to come.

Author's Notes:

This story is contained in my book "Dash Tries to Win Your Heart and Other Short Pony Stories"

If you have interest in purchasing this non-profit book, check out my online store at this link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?contributorId=1662371

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