Chapter Ninety-Six: Blessed

Animals of all diversities flocked the pale yellow pegasus as she struggled to haul the industrial-sized bag of pellet feed. Ever since Smokey had started helping her feed the animals, she had made a habit of purchasing the largest bags on the market since the dragon took it upon himself to lift them for her. And so effortlessly he did. It only made her appreciate him-and his natural strength-even more. The feathered equine did not even bother dragging the full bag towards the feeding stations belonging to the smaller animals; as it emptied, she would make her way to the larger beasts.

At least, that is what she planned. She found herself befuddled as the bag suddenly became a lot lighter. The reason why came in the form of a familiar orange furred Earth pony bearing a pair of saddlebags upon her back. The pegasus smiled, pleased to see her dear friend as she was assisted with transporting the feed. As the bag lost its overbearing mass as its contents were dispensed to the hungry critters, the pink-maned mare no longer had any issues hoisting it herself and finish feeding the pellet-eating animals before moving onto the creatures that consumed different varieties.

As soon as every last animal was satisfied, both mares traversed into the cottage. Before hiking the staircase to check on Smokey and the children, Fluttershy made an additional bowl of oatmeal and toast. Considering that he possessed a larger appetite, she wanted to make sure he got enough to eat.

"Mornin', sugar cube!" Applejack chimed. "Glad ta see yer up here inna proper bed. Fluttershy was jus' tellin' me 'bout ya. Ya holdin' up any better, darlin'?"

"I-I f-feel worse, a-actually," the draconian responded, offering the best smile he could muster through his clattering teeth. Stuttering a quick 'thank you' to Fluttershy, he placed the chick in his arms onto his lap and happily accepted the supplementary oatmeal and toast.

"Fluttershy was saying as such." The farmer turned her vision to her rosy-haired friend. "Didn't y'all take his temperature?"

"Well… no," she admitted. "Honestly, I don't know the average temperature dragons are at."

"Ah recall Twilight saying Spike's normal body temperature was around a hundred an' ten degrees cuz' of his being able to breathe fire. Y'think maybe Smokey's is similar?"

"Maybe, but we should wait until he's finished eating. The warm meal could alter his temperature." The pegasus pressed a hoof to his forehead. "You should at least cover up a little more."

Nodding, the reptilian utilized his tail in order to pull up the sheets and quilt around his body. Yet, despite the coverage, he continued to quiver. Chenoa, however, found amusement in being blanketed and pawed at the fabric.

"Ohhhh, you poor sweetheart." Fluttershy stroked her hoof over the bridge of his snout. "I should grab the blanket from downstairs…"

Drawing back, the pale yellow equine turned on her hooves to do just that.

"Well, good news!" Applejack announced upon Fluttershy's return. "Twilight wrote of to Princess Celestia of the situation and she actually sent back a little of th' herb we're lookin' for! It seems ta be getting cultivated something right badly. There doesn't seem ta be a whole lot left anywhere! We're just gonna have ta wait fer some more ta grow, but what she sent should hopefully help ya out a LOT. Got enough here in mah bags fer at least a day or two!"

The red-scaled reptile's sea green eyes lit up, a wide berth adorning his countenance. Fluttershy was equally elated.

"Th-that's wonderful!" He turned to Terra Cotta. "Y-you h-hear that, T-Terra? D-Daddy's g-going to g-get b-better!"

"Yaaay!" the filly squealed, wrapping her forelegs around his side and pressing her head against his arm.

"Ah'm hoping this here will be enough," Applejack said, gesturing at one of her saddlebags. "From what Twi told me, yer supposed to take this herb and brew it in a tea and drink it at least twice a day until ya git better, and sprinkle a little of the rest over whatcha eat. Problem is, you only got enough fer two days. So after that, unless we git some more…"

"I'm sure after two days Smokey will recover enough," Fluttershy theorized, draping the extra blanket over Smokey and Chenoa. "To where conventional medicines should help… I hope."

"Y-yes, I-I'll b-be f-fine." Nodding his thanks to the pegasus as she wrapped the blanket around him, he shifted back to Applejack with a grateful expression. "Th-thank y-you, A-Applejack for b-bringing it. W-would y-you p-please th-thank P-Princess C-Celestia for m-me?"

"Of course! Twilight's writing a letter of gratitude, but Ah'll be sure to pen one as well."

"So will I," Fluttershy contributed. "I knew she would be able to help us… but why is the herb so…?"

"Looks like there's an epidemic goin' 'round up north," the blonde mare explained. "So lots of the herb 'round Equestria was cultivated. Ah think that's why that meadow was stripped bare-somebody just got to it already."

"Oh, my. Must be serious if they need THAT much…" the pegasus mumbled.

"I h-hope every-pony up n-north w-will b-be a-all r-right…" the dragon said, frowning in concern. Heaving a sigh, he spooned the rest of his breakfast into his mouth.

"Ah'm sure they will," the orange-coated mare assured confidently, removing her saddlebags. "Well, Ah should git back to th' farm. Jus' wanted ta drop on by an' drop this off. Y'all git better now, y'hear? Pinkie's plannin' on throwin' a surprise party for ya when ya do!"

Applejack sheepishly raised a hoof to her mouth, feeling foolish for having spoiled the surprise.

"Ulp, well, Ah guess it ain't a surprise no more."

"I'll a-act s-surprised," he said, lowering his eyes as he felt the chick shift in his lap. Chenoa chirped with mirth as she wiggled around beneath the blankets and proceeded an attempt to bundle herself up in them by rolling, evoking a chuckle from her father.

"Knowing Pinkie, is it really any surprise she's planning this?" Fluttershy spoke up.

"Heck naw." Applejack shook her head, smirk curling at her lips. "If anything', I'd be surprised if she WASN'T. In any case, y'all take care now!"

With that, she turned around on her hooves and headed out.

"Take care, Applejack!" Fluttershy called after her.

"See ya!"

"Th-thank y-you again, M-Miss A-Applejack!" Smokey followed, briefly removing his gaze from the lump under the covers. Once the Earth pony was gone, he brought Chenoa's antic's to attention. "Ch-Chenoa is b-being a-a d-darling a-again."

Fluttershy released a giggle at the chick's antics

"Are you still cold, honey?" she asked, turning her eyes back to Smokey.

"U-unfortunatel-ly, y-yes." Setting the cleared dishes aside, he bundled up tighter. "T-Terra? D-do y-you want t-to help k-keep D-Daddy w-warm?"

"Uh-huh!" the filly chirped, moving to slip underneath the covers next to him.

Fluttershy gave a light smirk, pulling down a portion of the quilt to climb into bed herself, taking great care not to bump into Chenoa as she did so.

"I think Terra might need a little help," the pegasus stated, lips tipping into a wistful smile as she curled up alongside the dragon. "What do you think, Terra?"

"Uh-huh! Wam Dadi up!"

"Y-you l-ladies a-are the b-best… H-how d-did I g-get s-so l-lucky?" he questioned, nuzzling Fluttershy with a loving purr.

"I've been asking myself that every day since I met you, Smokey," she replied, cuddling up against him and slipping her forelegs around him. "Now, shhh… Lie back and let us warm you up."

Complying, the dragon leaned back, sighing at the softness of the bed. It really was far better than the couch.

"Th-thank you…"

Curling up slightly against him, she rested her head against his chest with a warm smile.

"You're very welcome, Smokey." She gave pause, feeling Chenoa still scuffle around underneath the covers. "Chenoa… Chenoa, sweetie, come up here and rest with Mommy and Daddy and your big sister."

Hearing her name called, the chick popped her head out from beneath the blankets. Letting out a burble, she romped right up to her family and plopped down next to Terra Cotta to cuddle up against her. Giggling, the filly snuck out a foreleg from the portion of blanket draped over her to curl it around her younger adoptive sibling.

"Hmmm… I got my dragon, and both my girls are here. My family's together… as it should be," the pegasus mumbled, blissful drowsiness taking over her.

"I-I've n-never b-been s-so h-happy…" Smokey murred, touching a kiss to his beloved's forehead.

Slowly, she opened one eye to gaze up at him.

"I've never been happier, either. Being here. Being in your arms. I don't think I've ever felt more comfortable. More… safe."

The draconian sighed delightfully, wrapping his covered arm around his children.

"W-what a-about the o-other o-occasions w-where I h-held y-you?"

Fluttershy closed her eye again, her silky pink forelock falling to splay over his scaly chest.

"I meant every time I was in your arms. It's… one of the most wonderful feelings. Just… being held, by you."

The reptilian smirked playfully, craning his neck to press his lips to her forehead once more.

"Th-the m-most w-wonderful f-feeling I've e-ever f-felt is k-kissing y-you…"

The pale yellow equine's eyes slid back open, a pink blush tinting her cheeks.

"What do you mean by that? Do you mean just planting a kiss on me… or… did you mean…" she trailed off. There was a normally uncharacteristically devious glint in her eyes and a matching smirk. Shifting her weight onto her belly and forelegs extended her neck to press her lips to her dragon's, holding it for a sweet moment.

Smokey moaned softly, ending the moan with a lengthy purr as he melted into the kiss. Just like whenever they shared a kiss, the world dissolved around him. Applying pressure to the mare's lips in an attempt to deepen the kiss, he was drawn further away from reality. Now it was Fluttershy's turn to let out a moan. Breaking it after several drawn out moments, her nostrils quivered in a nicker. Tucking her head underneath his lower jaw to nuzzle against his soft, smooth neck, she made her self comfortable again, idly doodling a heart pattern on his chest.

The large male felt his heart melt all over again as his brain registered the heart pattern. Sighing blissfully-yet, still shivering-, he nuzzled his chin against his companion's head.

"M-my s-sweet F-Fluttersh-shy…"

Feeling him shiver, the mare shifted even closer to him, hoof ditching the heart tracings to sway and twirl random patterns across his chest.

"My darling Smokey," she sighed, brushing her lips over his chest in a tender kiss. "I hope you feel better soon."

Terra Cotta, also picking up Smokey's shuddering followed her adoptive mother's example to try to warm him up to the best of her ability. The ever impressionable griffon infant imitated both mare and filly, curling up against her sibling and paternal figure's side.

"I… s-still c-can h-hardly b-believe I h-have such a-a w-wonderful f-family…" he murmured, tears of bliss pooling in his sea green orbs.

"So can I. We're so blessed to have each other. You. Me. Our two lovely little daughters…" A mirthful grin played at the winged equine's lips. "Can life get any better than this?"

"I th-think it c-can…" the scaly male murred, sliding his long, strong arms around all three of them to draw them into one close cluster. "W-we'll h-have to w-wait and s-see."