I know, okay? I know this isn't "Son-In-Law of Discord" or any of the other fics, but Christmas is coming and I've been planning this story as a Holiday Special all year! I should be studying for finals, but after a three-hour study session, my mind needed some leisure. Then I started work on this again. This, I hope, won't take as long as most of my multi-chapter fics and I'll only be working on this to fit the holiday season.
This is an MLP version of "The Nutcracker," with my own twist to the story but some inspiration from other versions, most notably the Barbie version and the film "The Nutcracker Prince."
Disclaimer: I do not own MLP or "The Nutcracker."
It was Hearth's Warming Eve and the streets of Ponyville were quiet. The snow fell silently on the sidewalk as the light in every shop window went out. Ponies had gone home to their families to prepare for tomorrow's festivities.
The only living soul out tonight was a tall, dark mare draped in a black hooded cape. The crunch of her hooves in the snow was the only sound to be heard; unless you had a good enough ear to hear the snowflakes touch the ground.
Her dark blue face was serene, her eyes focused on the path ahead of her, making occasional glances to the brightly wrapped packages tucked under her foreleg.
She stopped in front of a house that was small, yet sophisticated. The windows were still lit and laughter could be heard inside. The mare smiled softly and looked back at her baggage.
"Worry not, your highness," she whispered. "Everything will fall into place."
Inside the little house, a colt and a filly were putting the finishing touches on their Hearth's Warming tree. The colt was brown with brown eyes and a reddish brown mane. He was the younger of the two at the age of eight. His sister was a yellow pegasus with teal eyes and a long, flowing pink mane. She was sixteen, that age between filly and mare, where no pony, not even the girl, could tell which was the case.
She was lighting the candles when she noticed her brother fiddling with the matches.
"Button!" she exclaimed, taking the matchbox from his hooves. "Don't play with those!"
The colt, Button, rolled his eyes. "Calm down, Fluttershy, I wasn't gonna burn myself!"
"Maybe not on purpose," Fluttershy said softly as she set the matchbox on the mantle where he couldn't reach it, "but if you aren't careful when handling dangerous objects, you could get hurt!"
A cream-colored mare with long brown hair walked in on the foals and gazed up at the tree.
"Beautiful job, children," she marveled. "Are we ready to put the star up now?"
"Almost, Mother," Fluttershy replied. "Just a few more candles."
The mare frowned at her son. "Oh, Button! I told you to fix your bowtie!"
"Aw, Mom!" Button complained as his mother started fiddling with the loose tie around his neck.
"None of that now! Don't you want to look nice when your godmother arrives?"
"But this suit itches!"
His mother gave him a stern look as she smoothed out his blue jacket. Then she looked up and smiled at her daughter's simple green dress. Many had complimented the family on how pretty their daughter was. Fluttershy had a natural, delicate beauty that made her look radiant no matter what she wore.
Ponies had also commended Fluttershy on her kindness towards others. Ever since she was a little filly, she would care for the stray animals in the streets and the meadow. Sometimes she would even bring a sick bird or rabbit home and spend the next few weeks nursing it back to health.
It was hard for Mrs. Mash to believe that her daughter was growing up and would soon be ready for marriage. With her beauty and gentleness, she would make a fine bride.
She shook the thought out of her head. Her daughter was still young and didn't have to worry about such things quite yet.
"There," Fluttershy announced, blowing out her match. "That's the last one."
"My, my, my," said a stallion who looked like an older version of Button, except he had wings. "This has to be the loveliest tree we've ever had!"
Mrs. Mash smiled and nuzzled her husband. "It's certainly the tallest."
"But it's not finished yet," Fluttershy pointed out.
She reached into a cardboard box and took out a silver star with six points.
"Can I put it on?!" Button pleaded, reaching for the star. "Can I, can I, can I?!"
"No!" Fluttershy exclaimed, hovering above him. "You might break it!"
"Hey, no fair using your wings!"
"Enough!" their mother commanded. "You can do it together."
The siblings looked at each other and nodded. Fluttershy gave Button the star and took him in his hooves. She flew him up to the tree and held him steady as he placed the star on top.
"Oh, it's gorgeous!" Fluttershy marveled as she put her brother down. "It really is the loveliest tree we've ever had!"
"It is indeed a lovely sight."
Every pony turned in surprise at the sound of a deep, female voice and jumped when they saw a tall, hooded figure in the doorway. The mare threw back her head, allowing her hood to fall. She had a dark blue face with blue eyes to match, a long horn growing from her forehead and a sparkling, flowing mane resembling the night sky.
The children grinned brightly at the sight of her.
A small smile appeared on the dark mare's face as they rushed to embrace her. She set down her packages to welcome them into her hooves.
"Fluttershy, Button!" she sighed. "My dearest godchildren! My, my! Button, how you've grown since last I saw you! And Fluttershy, you've become quite the young lady!"
Fluttershy blushed. "Did you have a safe journey?"
"Did you bring us presents?" Button asked excitedly.
"Button!" Mrs. Mash scowled.
Luna chuckled. "No, that's quite alright." She took out a flat, rectangular package wrapped in red and decorated with green ribbon. "Happy Hearth's Warming, Button, dear."
"Yay!" Button exclaimed as he began tearing the wrapping off the present.
"Button!" his mother hollered, taking the package from his hooves. "Wait until morning!"
"He can open it now, dear," Luna assured her. "I think children are entitled to open at least one present on Hearth's Warming Eve."
Mrs. Mash sighed and handed Button back his gift so he could finish unwrapping it.
"How was your trip, Luna?" Mr. Mash asked as he took their guest's cloak.
"Long," Luna bluntly stated, shaking the cold off her wings.
The stallion glanced around. "Didn't say you were bringing your niece with you?"
"She was delayed and won't arrive until morning."
"Where did you go this time?" Fluttershy asked, for she was always eager to hear of her godmother's travels.
"Oh, the usual places: Germaneigh, Prance, Hosstralia. Then I picked up your gifts."
"Oh, wow!" Button said in awe as he held up a tin soldier. "New soldiers for my collection!"
He rushed to the glass cabinet, opened it and took out an orange winged pony soldier with blue eyes and hair.
"General Flash!" Button exclaimed. "You have some new recruits! We need to put them through training right away!"
His family chuckled at his behavior.
"These are for you, my friends," Luna said, handing two packages to Mr. and Mrs. Mash.
"Oh, thank you!" Mrs. Mash said in gratitude as she opened her tiny box.
"Oh my!" Mr. Mash marveled, lifting a watch out of his package. "Is this real gold?"
Luna nodded. "I got it in Germaneigh."
"Oh, Luna, it's lovely!" Mrs. Mash exclaimed as she put on a diamond necklace.
"That was from Maris."
"You really shouldn't have! I mean these must've cost…"
Luna lifted her hoof. "Money is no object when it comes to friendship." She smiled down at her goddaughter. "I actually have two gifts for you, Fluttershy, and you must treat them both with care."
Fluttershy's eyes widened in interest. "What are they?"
Luna led her to the couch and handed her a small, pink package wrapped in yellow ribbon. Fluttershy opened it and gasped. Inside was the prettiest necklace she had ever seen! It had a silver chain with a pink, jeweled butterfly pendant.
"It's beautiful!" she said in wonder. "What kind of jewel is this?"
Luna smirked as she put the necklace around her goddaughter's neck. "I'm afraid it's no jewel, just some costume jewelry. But I saw it and thought it would look lovely on you."
Mrs. Mash raised an eyebrow and glanced down at her diamond necklace. "Why not get a real jewel for Fluttershy?"
"I don't mind, Mother," Fluttershy said, touching the butterfly pendant. "It does suit me."
"Now for my second gift," Luna said, giving her a blue package.
"Hey!" Button scowled. "How come she gets two presents?"
"I gave you five soldiers. By simple arithmetic, you received the most."
That didn't wipe the jealousy off the young colt's face.
Fluttershy peeled back the wrapping and opened the box. Lying inside was the wooden figure of a unicorn stallion. He wore a red coat with gold buttons, a tall blue hat, blue trousers, black boots and a belt with a miniature sword. His face was white with blue eyes and a long blue mane streaked with light blue. His mouth was huge with bright white teeth painted on it. Fluttershy carefully lifted the toy stallion from the box.
"Oh, Aunt Luna," she whispered, "he's so handsome!" She blushed. "I mean…"
Luna chuckled. "It's alright. He was carved rather well, I think."
"What is it?" Button asked curiously.
"It's a nutcracker. Here. I'll show you how it works."
"Luna, isn't Fluttershy a little old for dolls?" Mrs. Mash inquired.
The alicorn ignored her question and took a nut from the bowl on the table beside them. She placed it inside the nutcracker's mouth, pulled down the lever sticking out of his back and the shell cracked inside the wooden jaw. Luna took out the nut and popped it in her mouth. Fluttershy excitedly grabbed another nut and tried the same thing. The parents decided to leave the children with their godmother and set the table for dinner.
"Hey, I wanna try, I wanna try!" Button insisted.
"No!" Fluttershy protested, pulling the nutcracker away protectively. "You might break it!"
"Fluttershy, let your brother have a turn," Luna said gently.
"But Aunt Luna…"
"Hush now," Luna uttered as she removed the nutcracker from Fluttershy's hooves and gave him to Button.
"But he'll break it!"
While the two of them argued, Button placed his hoof in the nut bowl but frowned when he found it empty. Then he spied one of his miniature cannonballs on the floor and mistook it for a nut. As soon as he tried to crack it in the nutcracker's mouth, the lever snapped, leaving the nutcracker with half a jaw.
"Oops," Button squeaked.
Fluttershy gasped and snatched the nutcracker. "Button! What did you do?!"
His lip quivered. "I'm sorry…"
"Oh, I knew you'd break it! You're never careful with anything!"
"Fluttershy, don't be so hard on your brother," Luna said sternly. "He's only a child."
"Whatever," Button huffed, standing up. "That thing is ugly anyway. I'm gonna play with some real soldiers!"
Fluttershy scowled at her brother and then looked sadly at her nutcracker. "Poor thing."
She took the yellow ribbon from her first gift and wrapped it around the nutcracker's head, holding his jaw in place.
"There," she said with a smile. "All better."
Luna grinned softly at her goddaughter's capacity for kindness towards others, even to her toys.
"You know, there's a story behind that nutcracker. Would you like to hear it?"
Fluttershy, who always loved a good story, nodded and sat beside her godmother.
"Believe it or not," Luna began, "this nutcracker wasn't always a nutcracker. He used to be a stallion."
Fluttershy glanced down at her toy with wide eyes. "Really? Was he a prince?"
"No, but he was going to be. He was engaged to the Sugar Plum Princess."
"Sugar Plum Princess?"
"The ruler of the Land of Sweets, and the most beautiful mare in all the land. She could've had any stallion she wanted."
Fluttershy smiled and cradled the nutcracker. "But she chose him."
Luna nodded. "Yes. He was her Captain of the Guard. She loved him and he loved her. Unfortunately, they loved each other so much that the princess' royal advisor became jealous. He wanted to marry the princess and become king, but he was such a hideous creature that no pony, not even the princess, would want him. So, using dark magic, he cast a spell on the princess, making her as hideous as he was."
Fluttershy gasped. "Oh, how awful!"
"Despite it all, the captain still loved her. Still, her curse caused distress amongst the citizens, so he set out to look for a cure. The only thing that could break the spell was the Crackatook Nut, the most powerful nut in the world. The captain managed to crack the nut and feed it to the princess, turning her beautiful again. But that didn't stop the princess' advisor. He cast another spell on the captain, turning him to wood, and banished him from the land. The advisor then took over the kingdom and crowned himself the Chaos King."
"Oh my," Fluttershy said, glancing down at the nutcracker. "So the Chaos King turned the princess' fiancé into a nutcracker? This nutcracker?"
Luna nodded. "Yes, the very same. And the only way to break the curse is a kiss of true love, which was why the Chaos King banished him, so he could never kiss his princess."
"This Chaos King sounds horrible!"
The alicorn shrugged. "Indeed, but any pony would act horrible if they had not been shown any kindness in their life." She put her hoof on her goddaughter's. "You must protect this nutcracker at all costs, Fluttershy. The Chaos King won't let him live like this forever."
Fluttershy smirked. "That's a nice story, Aunt Luna, but you don't expect me to believe all that, do you?"
Luna sighed and smiled softly. "No, I don't. Still, you'll take care of him, won't you?"
"But of course," Fluttershy replied as she rose and flew over to the toy cabinet. "I'll even introduce him to my other dolls."
Fluttershy didn't play much with her dolls anymore, but she kept them for sentimental reasons. She opened the glass cabinet and took out a white unicorn doll with a curly purple mane in a blue dress.
"This is Rarity," Fluttershy told the nutcracker. "She was my first doll. She loves nothing more than making herself look pretty, but she's not vain, mind you. She's actually a very kind and loving pony."
She set Rarity down and picked up the doll in a next to her. This one wore a pink dress and was also a white unicorn, but smaller, and with green eyes instead of blue. Her mane was also curly, with pink and purple stripes.
"This is her little sister, Sweetie Belle," Fluttershy explained. "She loves to sing. Like her sister, she may seem fragile, but when these two put their heads together, there's nothing they can't overcome."
Luna watched with a smile as Fluttershy interacted with her dolls. Her smile faded for a moment as her eyes fell upon the nutcracker.
"Soon, your highness," she whispered. "She's the one. I know it."
After dinner, Fluttershy was so tired that she passed out on the couch, the nutcracker tucked tightly under her foreleg. Her mother and godmother smiled as they watched her slumber peacefully.
"We should put her to bed," Mrs. Mash declared.
Luna shook her head. "I'd hate to wake her and interrupt her dreams."
The earth pony sighed and nodded in agreement. Still, she wasn't going to let her daughter freeze. She took the afghan from the couch and draped it over the sleeping filly.
As Mrs. Mash left the room, Luna stayed behind and used her magic to carefully remove the nutcracker from Fluttershy's grasp. She closed her eyes as she cast her spell and removed the yellow ribbon. Then she moved the nutcracker's jaw to check that it was back in place.
As she gently returned the nutcracker to Fluttershy, Luna glanced at her goddaughter's sleeping face. Her horn glowed again and her blue aura engulfed the butterfly pendant.
For added measure, she thought.
When the light dimmed, she leaned forward and whispered to the nutcracker:
"Keep her safe."
First chapter's short, but the next chapter's mostly done (I've been working on this for a while). But keep in mind, I still have exams.
Cover art by Forest-Lark.