Resources management was a struggle. Asgore imagined that was true for every nation, but it was especially true when a people were forced to build their lives in a small underground cavern.
It was fortunate for them that Hotland existed, and that their scientists had been able to harness the geothermal energy the land produced. Asgore recognized that, and made sure to never underestimate or undervalue his scientists. But while abundant energy was a blessing it could not solve all of their problems. There were very few places in the Underground that could produce food, for example.
That was the problem that kept Asgore up so late this night. His wife and all of the children had already gone to bed, but he remained in the den. He was looking over a report sent to him by the agricultural branch of the royal science department, which detailed their concerns about declining harvest over the years. The decline was gradual, so there was no need to panic yet, but it was best to tend to these things as soon as possible.
The scientists believed that the decline was due to the stress being placed on the soil. Having so many monsters to feed meant that they had to put their arable land to full use, and the soil only had so many nutrients to give. The report included several proposals on what could be done to combat this, ranging from rationing food to magical methods of restoring soil nutrients. Asgore had spent the night looking them over.
The King rubbed at his tired eyes. He'd read the report several times, gotten his wife's thoughts on the matter, and thought over all the pros and cons of proposals. He'd decided on the ones that sounded the most reasonable, and would have to wait until morning to discuss their implementation. With that thought in mind, Asgore gathered up the report pages and headed for his room.
As he approached Mary's door though, he paused. It sounded like there were noises coming from inside. Was Mary still up? That wasn't good, it was very late and a growing child needed plenty of rest. He would have to give her a firm talking to if she was keeping herself, or either of the others, awake. Moving as quietly as he could, Asgore stepped in front of Mary's door and listened. He could only hear Mary's voice and she sounded distressed.
"Mary?" He called through the door. He knocked and asked for her again, but the noises did not cease or waver. The King's concern deepened, so after knocking one more time, he opened the door and entered the room.
Mary stood in a field of flowers. It was mainly yellow roses and buttercups that surrounded her, but she could see a sprinkling of other flowers. They were all sorts of different kinds and colors and none of them existed in the gallery, so how did she know them?
The girl gasped and whirled to face the voice. In the distance stood a human man, one that was more familiar to her than anyone else in the world.
"Daddy?" she asked, hardly daring to hope that it was actually him. The man gazed at her longingly, and smiled at her with all the adoration of the world.
'There you are. My little Mary, you're finally here.'
"Daddy!" Tears ran down Mary's face, and she raced toward him through the flowers. "It's been so long! I can't believe-"
Mary's joyous shouts cut off when her father's smile turned into a grimace. He clutched at the front of his chest and nearly fell. Then Mary realized she could see through him to the flowers on the other side. He was falling and fading and-
"No! Don't go! Hang on, please!"
Mary tried to run faster, but the rose thorns pulled at her skirt, and the plant stems wrapped her ankles.
"Daddy! Daddy please I'm right here! I'm right here Daddy, please don't go!"
Mary struggled to move forward. The thorns grew longer, and reached higher. They shredded Mary's sleeves and dug into skin. Vines snared her wrists. Her father's image was almost gone.
Mary strained against the plants with all her strength.
"Don't leave me! Not again! Don't leave me alone!"
She finally managed to free her right wrist. She lunged forward-
And her hand met something furry.
In an instant the world around her vanished. She opened her eyes and found Asgore staring down at her. In that moment, it didn't matter that her small hand was gripping his fingers. She didn't care that his fuzzy face was frowning, and that his dark eyes were filled with concern. All she knew was that this face was not the one she had been calling for. Tears sprang anew from her eyes, and Mary wept.
The bed dipped as Asgore sat down on it. Mary allowed herself to be moved onto his lap, keeping hold of his fingers the whole time. As she cried, she let her head rest against Asgore's chest, and the King rubbed circles into her back.
She wasn't sure how long it took, but eventually her sobs quieted. Her breathing evened out, until it was only interrupted by the occasional hiccup.
"How- hic- did you know to come in." Mary finally addressed the King of Monsters.
"I was passing your door, and heard your voice. You sounded upset, and didn't respond when I knocked, so I came in to check on you. I hope I have not overstepped a boundary."
"No, no, it's okay."
"Were you having a nightmare? I heard you calling for your father." Asgore broached the subject hesitantly, and Mary nodded slowly.
"I saw him, and I tried to get to him, but I wasn't fast enough and he was fading away and -" Mary cut of with a shuddering sob. Asgore soothed her until she calmed once again.
"Mary, I am sorry for the pain you've experienced. I can't replace your father, nor would I presume to. But as long as I am able, I will take care of you, and I know Tori is willing to do the same. So if you ever wish to talk about this, or anything else, we will listen. We will be there for you."
"Thank you." Mary whispered. And she was truly thankful; no one had ever held her like this before. Though others had promised to help her and be with her, none had followed through with it like the royal family had. She could not bring herself to call Asgore 'Daddy', she could not give that title to another. But maybe she could call him 'Papa' instead.
Mary fell asleep in Asgore's arms, and he was still with her when she woke the next morning.
Mary's dream was inspired by a fanime compilation I watched on youtube. If you type "ib fanime" into the youtube search bar a playlist of the fanime should be the first result. The specific scene is found in the third video at 13:18.