The sound of rain reverberated through the back office of Sugarcube Corner, punctuated by the occasional crash of thunder. A figure sat before the desk in the center of the darkened room, her identity carefully hidden by her cloak. On the other side, a high-backed swivel chair faced the window. Its occupant addressed her in a businesslike fashion. She was all business when it came to the subject they were discussing.
“So, you’ve come to me on this day, the eve of the greatest pranking day of the year, and you ask of me a favor. Tell me, why should I do this for you?” The chair swiveled around, revealing a pink earth pony sitting with her legs crossed. She stroked a small alligator in her lap. It tried to squirm away, but the she held it in place.
“They say you’re the best.” The cloaked pony said, being careful not to let her face become visible.
“They speak the truth.” Pinkie Pie said with a sly smile, “But you didn’t answer my question. Why should I do this for you?”
“Please please please please!” Spike begged, clinging to Twilight’s leg.
“It’s too dangerous, Spike.” she replied, attempting to shake him off, “I’ve never seen this book in my library before, and I don’t know what side affects these spells might have.” She looked at the stylized dragon on the cover of the mysterious book. It was a symbol of powerful magic, and not something she was prepared to trifle with. “Why are you suddenly so obsessed with flying, anyway?”
Spike slid down onto the library floor with a sigh. “I’ve been having that dream again.”
Twilight looked down at the small dragon affectionately. “Oh, Spike. You know you’ll get your wings eventually. It takes dragons a long, long time to grow up. You just have to wait.”
“I’ve waited too long for my retribution already.” the veiled pony said, “My plan is already in place. The suggestions have been planted in the subject’s mind. I just need someone with access that I do not have, to put the final piece in place. All you need to do is sneak a book into the library.”
Pinkie Pie eyed the stranger carefully. “You know that this ‘subject’ is a friend of mine, don’t you?”
“I do.” she replied, “I also know that you have ‘pranked’ him before.”
“Of course.” Pinkie Pie said testily, “That’s why I’m even entertaining your proposal to begin with. But again I ask you: what’s in it for me?”
“I’ll clean the library every day!” pleaded Spike.
“You’re supposed to do that anyway.” Twilight retorted.
“Yeah, but I won’t complain about it!”
Twilight rolled her eyes. “You’re really obsessed with this, aren’t you?” She looked at the spell again, furrowing her brow in thought. This was dragon magic, something she wasn’t completely familiar with. She had no idea how the book had found its way into her library. Despite her concerns, however, she was awfully tempted to try out the new spell. “I guess it does say that the spell’s effects are temporary. And you know I can’t resist learning something new about magic…”
“I know you have certain… weaknesses.” the mysterious pony told Pinkie Pie. “I can offer you payment.”
Pinkie raised an eyebrow. “Let me see this… payment.”
The stranger produced a briefcase, set it on the desk, and clicked it open. Pinkie Pie’s eyes went wide as she stared at its contents. She started to drool.
The strange pony smirked. “Butter Cream Bakery’s finest creations. And these aren’t just plain vanilla, either. This is the full deluxe cupcake assortment.”
Pinkie’s eyes boggled at the riches before her. “I… I can’t even get on the waiting list for… for…”
The briefcase snapped shut. “I’ll give you one case now and one when the job is finished.”
Pinkie shook her head, trying to think straight. Now that the temptation was out of sight, a thought occurred to her. “Wait a minute. Those cupcakes are supposed to have jimmies! What kinda scam are you running here?”
“Oh, you mean these?” The pony shook a small plastic bag in front of Pinkie before hiding it away again in her cloak. “My insurance. I can’t have you going soft on me before the job is done, can I?”
Pinkie narrowed her eyes. “You drive a hard bargain, Missy.” she said with grudging respect. She extended a hoof to seal the deal. “This prank had better be worth it.”
Sparks faded from Twilight’s horn.
“Nothing happened…” Spike said in frustration.
“Sorry,” said Twilight, panting from the exertion. “I guess the spell was too hard for me.”
“Aw, what a gyp!” the little dragon crossed his arms glumly.
“You need to get to bed anyway.” she said, “Tomorrow’s the first of the month, and we need to get up bright and early to sort through the new book deliveries.”
“Fine.” Spike said in resignation. He was feeling worn out from begging anyway, and the crushing disappointment didn’t help, either. He crawled into the basket that served as his bed and pulled his blanket over himself. Twilight gave him a pat on the head on her way to her own bed.
“Goodnight, Spike.” she said, blowing out the lamps.
“Goodnight.” he yawned. He listened to the rain tapping on the roof. The storm from earlier in the day was starting to die down. Eventually, he fell asleep.
He dreamed of the wind rushing across his face. He beat his wings, reveling in the freedom of flight. The ponies below him were so small. They looked like ants.
Twilight woke up panicking, unable to breathe. Something heavy was lying across her chest. She struggled out from under it, her breath returning in ragged gulps. When she finally recovered, she looked around to see what had happened.
The library was gray with the dim light of early morning. She could make out strange lumpy shapes around her, but she couldn’t identify them. She got out of bed, stepping over something the size of a tree trunk, and lit a candle. As light flooded the room she still couldn’t make out what the shapes were, but she recognized their color. It was a familiar combination of purple and green.
“Spike?!” she gasped. The dragon had grown huge during the night, almost as big as the dragon they had met on top of the mountain a few months before. His body twisted around through the library, practically filling it up. The thing on her chest had been his tail, and the object she had stepped over was one of his legs. The only part of him that still fit in his bed was his snout, now long and pointed, and still under his blanket. It rustled as he snored.
“Spike, wake up! Something’s gone wrong!” She shoved her hooves against his head, desperately trying to wake the sleeping dragon.
His eyes blinked open. “Wuh?” he said blearily, his head snapping up and banging against the ceiling. “Ow! What the…?” He looked down at himself, his face going from confusion to shock, and finally settling on delight. “Holy guacamole!” he said, “Look at me! I must have had one heck of a growth spurt!”
“This isn’t a growth spurt and you know it!” Twilight shouted angrily, “It has to have something to do with that spell we tried last night!”
“Really? I thought it was supposed to make me grow wings.” He flexed his shoulders, feeling unfamiliar muscles moving. A pair of green, scaly wings unfolded from his back, knocking books off of the shelves around him. “Oh, there they are. Sweeeeet!”
“This isn’t funny, Spike!” Twilight shouted as she climbed over him, making her way to her writing desk, “We have no idea what kind of side effects this spell has. We have to contact Princess Celestia. She’ll know what to do.” She picked up a pen in her mouth and started writing.
“Aw, come on!” pleaded Spike, “The book said this was temporary. Can’t I just enjoy it?”
“Meyah, buh weh…” Twilight started, then remembered to spit out the pen, “Yeah, but we don’t know how long it lasts. And it can’t be good for your body to grow this fast.” She rolled up the parchment and handed it to Spike. “Now, send the letter!”
“But Twilight…” he started.
“Send it!” she scolded.
The dragon gave a resigned shrug. He picked up the scroll in his claws and took a deep breath. Before he could exhale, the door to the library opened with a bang, startling him.
Pinkie Pie bounced through the door. “APRIL FOOOOO…” A jet of fire erupted from the dragon’s mouth, engulfing her. When it stopped, the doorway was empty.
Twilight’s jaw dropped. “Spike,” she said, horrified, “you just incinerated Pinkie Pie!”
Princess Celestia stared thoughtfully at the chessboard before her. She had been playing by post with the Sultan of Camelroon for the past several weeks, and he was a tricky opponent. Normally she led with her knights, but he was doing a good job neutralizing them this time around. He was leaving his queen wide open, but the princess wasn’t falling for the obvious trap. She just needed to bide her time until…
Magic sparked around the room as a pink pony appeared in front of Celestia, landing on the chessboard and sending the pieces flying. The princess stared in shock as the unexpected intruder looked around in confusion.
“Oh, hey, princess. Um, April Fools?”
Twilight trudged through the forest path. Spike flew overhead, yelping with glee.
“Twilight, look! I’m gonna do a flip!” He swooped clumsily over the treetops, recovering just before he could crash into them. “Dang it, wait. That didn’t count!”
“Stop messing around, Spike.” Twilight shouted up at him. “We have to get to Zecora’s! She’s the only one who might know something about dragon magic that we can get to by foot. I don’t trust you to send another letter!”
“Hey, I didn’t do that on purpose! Besides, you have to admit it was funny. I wish I could have seen the look on Celestia’s face.” Spike chuckled as he tried another swoop. “Or Pinkie’s, for that matter!”
Twilight grumbled to herself as she walked up to Zecora’s tree house and knocked hard on the door. After a few minutes the zebra answered, her mane looking a little frazzled. She looked like she had only just woken up.
“Pony with a face so dour,” she said in her usual rhyming couplets, “What brings you here at such an hour?”
“Sorry, but it’s an emergency!” Twilight gestured upwards.
Spike hovered unsteadily overhead. “Check it out, Zecora! I’m awesome now!”
The zebra sputtered a few words in her native language. They sounded like swear words, but Twilight couldn’t blame her. She gestured to them both. “By the fur upon my stripy hide! Quickly, both of you, come inside!”
Twilight entered the house, pulling the book with the dragon cover out of her saddlebags as she did. Spike stuck his head through a window, almost knocking some important-looking clay vessels off of a shelf.
“This place is smaller than I remember.” he said, giggling.
“That’s hilarious. You’re hilarious, Spike.” Twilight said dryly before she turned to Zecora. She flipped to the appropriate page in the book and showed it to her. “This is the spell that caused all this. It’s supposed to be temporary, but I can’t figure out how long it lasts.”
Zecora examined the book. “Indeed, the spell is brief, young mage,” she said eventually, “So long as you used the adjoining page…” She pointed to the book’s spine. Looking closely, Twilight could see where a page had been carefully cut out.
“Someone sabotaged the spell?” she said as her face fell. She couldn’t believe she had missed it. Her cheeks burned with shame. This was all her fault.
Zecora nodded solemnly. “Without the half of the spell you needed, his growth will continue unimpeded!”
Twilight blanched. “H… how big do dragons get?”
“This is more than you can ask of me,” the zebra apologized, “I know little of dragon biology.”
Twilight sighed. “Thanks anyway. I think I know someone who can help us with that.” She turned back to Spike, “Come on, big guy, let’s go.”
“Hold on a second,” Spike said, a grin spreading across his face, “Hey Zecora, I’m a little hungry. Can I have an orange?”
The zebra raised an eyebrow. “Why do you ask me for an orange? Do you… uh… um…” she faltered as she realized what she had done.
Spike laughed raucously, shaking the walls. Several clay pots shattered as they hit the floor.
“Sorry!” said Twilight, shooing him out before he could cause any more damage.
“Thanks for grooming Winona for me, Fluttershy.” said Applejack, scritching the collie playfully behind her ear. “She gets so darned mangy ‘round this time of year.”
“Oh, it’s no problem at all, Applejack.” the yellow pegasus said cheerfully, “Feel free to bring her back whenever…” There was a knock on the cottage’s door. It sounded urgent. “Oh dear, let me get that.” She opened the door, revealing a haggard looking unicorn on the other side.
“Fluttershy… huff… I need your… huff… help!” Twilight gasped.
“Land sakes, Twilight, you look awful!” Applejack said with concern.
“Ran here… huff… from Zecora’s… huff… it’s… huff… emergency!” Twilight continued.
“What’s wro…?” Fluttershy started, but she was cut off as Spike shoved his enormous head through the door.
“Guys, look how big I am!” he said with a grin that showed off teeth the size of railroad spikes.
Fluttershy’s scream was so high-pitched that only Winona could hear it. She dove behind the couch, cowering. Applejack froze in place, her face going white.
“Is that… Spike?” she said, unable to believe her eyes.
“There was an accident,” said Twilight, finally catching her breath. “We need help reversing the spell!”
Spike clicked his gargantuan tongue. “I keep telling you I like being like this, Twilight!” he said, looking at her crossly, “I don’t wanna go back to being small!”
“You heard Zecora.” Twilight said back to him, “If we don’t do something, you’ll just keep getting bigger until you’re a full-grown dragon!”
“So?” he said, “Maybe I want to be full-grown. And maybe I don’t have to keep following you around while you try to shrink me.”
“Don’t you dare!”
“Or you’ll do what, exactly?” he said cockily, “If you haven’t noticed, I’m way bigger than you are. I don’t think I have to listen to you anymore.”
Twilight gaped at him as he pulled his head out of the cottage and stretched his wings.
“Later ‘toots! Gotta fly!” he shouted down at them as he took off.
“This is bad.” Twilight paced back and forth. “This is really bad!”
“How were we supposed to help, by the way?” said Applejack, “Magic’s your department, remember?”
“I need to know how big dragons get,” said Twilight, “So we know the scope of what we’re dealing with.”
“Well, I don’t have the foggiest…”
“Tortoises.” said a small voice from behind the couch.
Twilight blinked. “What do you mean by that, Fluttershy?”
The pegasus poked her head into view. “I mean,” she said, “Dragons never stop growing. They just keep getting bigger and bigger. Like tortoises.” she coughed, “Well, like some tortoises. Sort of.”
There was a pause as they all took this in.
“That’s not the worst of it, I’m afraid,” Fluttershy continued timidly, “He went from a baby to an adult overnight. He’ll be dealing with some… feelings… that he’s not used to having.”
“What kind of feelings?” asked Applejack, anxiously.
“Well, he’ll instinctively want to start building a nest. He’ll steal jewels, gold, anything shiny, really.” Fluttershy gulped. “But, then he’ll want to find someone to share the nest with…”
Applejack and Twilight exchanged a look. They were both thinking the same thing.
Rarity walked out of the spa, feeling refreshed. She ran into an old client on the way out.
“Oh hello Lyra!” she said, “Love the new necklace!”
“Thank you Rarity!” the unicorn blushed, “That means a lot, coming from you. I got a bonus at work and thought, ‘what the hey, I’ll treat myself!’”
“It looks perfect on you, darling.” Rarity gushed, “It really brings out the color of your…”
There was a sudden, purple blur, and the necklace was gone.
Rarity blinked. “What was…?”
There was another blur, and she was gone as well. Lyra was alone.
Twilight, Applejack, and Fluttershy galloped into town.
“There he is!” shouted Twilight. He was impossible to miss. Not only had he continued to grow in the time they were separated, but he had started to build a nest on the roof of Carousel Boutique. It wasn’t much of a dragon’s horde, mostly consisting of silverware and old mirrors, but it wasn’t bad for less than an hour’s work. Spike toiled away at it, fitting shiny objects into place to form a rough bowl shape. Powerful hormones coursing through his veins made him oblivious to the world around him. Rarity screamed down at them from her precarious position on the edge of the roof.
“Help! Help me!” she shouted hoarsely, “Don’t let him eat me!”
“He’s not going to eat you!” Fluttershy shouted back, “He’s just following his mating instincts!”
Rarity’s screams increased in pitch by a few octaves.
“I don’t think that’s helping, Fluttershy.” said Twilight, “Applejack, see if you can find Dash. We need someone who can get her down from there!”
“Why can’t Fluttersh…?” Applejack looked over at the quivering pegasus, “Oh, right. I’ll be right back!” She ran off to look for her friend.
A horse-drawn taxi pulled up outside the boutique and Pinkie Pie hopped out.
“Hey, guys! I’m back! What did I mi…?” A spurt of green fire engulfed her from above, and she was gone again.
Celestia lifted the final two cards from the deck carefully. Her house-of-cards recreation of Canterlot was nearly complete, and she hadn’t even had to use her unicorn magic to keep it from collapsing. She held her breath as she added the final spire…
There was a whooshing noise and Pinkie appeared out of thin air, sending the cards flying in all directions.
“Darn it, he got me again!” she said, brushing herself off, “Sorry to interrupt your game, princess. Can I borrow some more cab fare?”
Celestia sighed, dropping the two cards she was holding. She looked at the pink pony quizzically. “Pinkie, maybe you should tell me what’s going on.”
“I’m not sure,” she said, “but Spike’s gotten really big for some reason.”
The princess’s face suddenly became serious. “How big?”
Rainbow Dash flew in formation, leading the other volunteers from the weather team. Their saddlebags bulged with apples donated by Applejack, serving as improvised ammunition.
“Okay, guys, we have a hostage situation!” she shouted through the rushing wind, “We need to distract Spike long enough to get Rarity out of harm’s way. Watch out for those claws, he doesn’t know his own strength! Stay frosty, ponies!” They broke formation and dove toward the boutique.
Spike roared incoherently at the pegasii buzzing around him like flies. His only thoughts were to protect his territory. Apples splattered ineffectually against his scales, only managing to irritate him. Fire shot from his muzzle, barely missing a few members of the team.
“Watch that fire!” Dash shouted, “Dang it, we can’t get close enough!”
At this moment, a mysterious cloaked pony decided to make her grand entrance. She cackled maniacally, throwing off her cloak to reveal a familiar blue unicorn.
“Behold, pathetic citizens of Ponyville!” she shouted to the heavens, “The perfect revenge of the Great and Powerful Tri…” An errant burst of green flames overwhelmed her, and she disappeared.
Celestia’s royal chariot flew through the sky, pulled by her pegasus servants. Pinkie Pie sat beside her, explaining the situation as best as she could. Sparks appeared in the sky just ahead of them.
“…ixieeeEEEEEEEE!” Trixie screeched as she plunged through the clouds. Celestia leapt out of the chariot, diving after her.
“Hey princess!” Pinkie shouted, leaning over the side, “When you catch her, tell her she owes me jimmies!”
Dash and the other pegasii continued to buzz around Spike, still unable to get close enough to save Rarity. Spike was getting bigger by the minute. He perched awkwardly on top of the boutique, its structure creaking under his weight.
“It’s no good, Twilight!” Applejack shouted, running up to her, “It’s a stalemate!”
“This is hopeless.” wailed Twilight, “Even if we get him down we don’t have any way of…” She trailed off as the sky suddenly went dark. She looked up. “Oh no, what is it now?”
A massive grey shape drifted over the town, blotting out the sun. At first, Twilight thought it was a storm cloud, but as she stared at it she could make out a familiar shape.
“It can’t be…” she gasped, her jaw dropping, “It’s a… a…”
“Big dragon!” Fluttershy finished for her, her fear overwhelmed by her amazement.
It was bigger than anything either of them had ever seen before, at least as big compared to Spike as he was compared to the ponies. Its wings stretched over Ponyville, their tips brushing the mountaintops on their down stokes. It seemed to move glacially slowly, as its body parts had to cover so much more ground. Twilight could only stare at it. Her ears popped as it passed overhead, its wing beats increasing the barometric pressure noticeably.
“That’s… impossible!” she sputtered, doing the math in her head, “It shouldn’t be able to support its own weight, much less fl… fl…”
“Oh, he can fly just fine.” said Celestia, appearing beside her. In the confusion, Twilight hadn’t seen her chariot land. The enormous dragon settled gingerly over the town, careful not to damage any of the buildings. It raked its claws deftly over a field.
“I… uh… I think he just plowed my fields…” Applejack said blankly, “All in one go…”
“He’s an old friend of mine.” Celestia said with a benevolent smile, “Very old, in fact. And very, very kind.”
Spike stared up at the dragon, frozen in fear and wonder. It scooped him up, being careful not to disturb Rarity, and clutched him like an infant. A deep rumbling came from its chest. Twilight realized that it was laughing.
“What’s he going to do?” she asked the princess beside her apprehensively.
“He’s an expert on dragon magic.” said Celestia, “I called him in as soon as I heard what had happened. He usually doesn’t like leaving his valley, but he was willing to come by and help. Don’t worry,” she reassured her fretful student, “he’ll bring Spike back when the spell has been reversed.”
The gigantic dragon beat his wings, whirlwinds spinning away from them as he lifted off the ground. He flew toward the horizon, the unresisting purple dragon held tightly, but gently, in his arms.
Twilight answered the door of her library. Pinkie stood there on the stoop, looking sheepish.
“Hey Twilight.” she said, not looking her in the eye, “How’s Spike doing?”
“Back to normal.” Twilight said with palpable relief, “He’s in a time-out, thinking about what he’s done.”
Pinkie looked up guiltily, “Oh no, it’s all my fault! If I hadn’t agreed to go along with that stupid old prank…”
“I know, you’ve already apologized, Pinkie.” Twilight stopped her, “But that doesn’t excuse the way he acted.”
“Yeah, well, that’s why I came over.” Pinkie said as she set a briefcase down in Twilight’s doorway, “I feel awful about what happened. I’ve never had a prank go so wrong before! So, I’ve decided that I don’t deserve Trixie’s blood-cupcakes. I want you to have them instead.”
“No, no, I insist!” said Pinkie, effusively, “Besides, I never even got my jimmies!”
Twilight shrugged, deciding not to press the issue. “Thanks, I guess. Oh, by the way, did Celestia ever tell you what she did with Trixie?”
“I think she banished her from Equestria.” the pink pony said, “Or threw her in the dungeon, or something. I wasn’t really listening.”
Spike sat on a stool, facing the corner. Rainbow Dash flew up to the open window next to him and stuck her head through.
“Hey there, little guy. How’s it going?” she said, trying to cheer him up. “I just want to make sure there’s no hard feelings about yesterday. I know you weren’t yourself.”
He shrugged noncommittally.
She decided to change her tactics. “You know, if you wanted to fly, all you had to do was ask. We could go for a ride now, if you…”
“I can’t,” the little dragon said sourly, “I’m grounded.”
“Oh, right.” said Dash, “In more ways than one, huh?”
Spike glared at her.
“Sorry. Too soon?” she chuckled weakly.
Twilight walked into the room, carrying Pinkie’s briefcase. She had heard the whole conversation. She looked down at her little friend, her expression softening. “You know, I think you’ve learned your lesson by now, Spike.” she told him, warmly.
“Really?” he said, bursting with excitement and hopping off of the stool, “I can go with Dash?”
Twilight nodded. “Just be back in an hour. I need to write my report for Celestia, and I want you to send it to her before sunset.”
Spike thanked her profusely and clambered out the window onto Dash’s back. Twilight smiled as she watched them go. She sat down at her writing desk, preparing to start her letter. She had lots of good material this week: about not growing up too fast, about knowing your own strength, about how there’s always someone bigger out there, and how to treat those smaller than you with kindness. She didn’t know where to begin. She unwrapped one of Pinkie’s cupcakes as she thought, giving it an experimental nibble. Her eyes went wide.
“Holy cow!” she said, licking her lips, “These are amazing!”
The wind rushed across Spike’s face as he and Dash soared through the clouds together. He closed his eyes and stretched out his arms. He imagined his wing tips brushing the mountaintops.