Chapter Three: Bonding
The dragon returned shortly after putting his medical supplies away, ambling into the kitchenette to wash his hands. As the mixture of warm water and soap coated his hands, splashing away any traces of bodily fluids, he turned his head towards the yellow pegasus, offering her a gregarious grin. The mare half-turned her head away from him shyly.
Finding the pony's bashfulness positively adorable, the reptile couldn't help but give a soft chuckle. After drying off his hands, he grabbed a ladle and a bowl from the overhead cabinet--though it wasn't much of an "overhead" cabinet considering the dragon's stature--and proceeded to fill it. After all, one has to remember that the home was built with ponies in mind.
He directed himself towards Fluttershy, taking great care to not spill the chowder as it swished about in the bowl with every movement he made. He slowly knelt in front of her and blew into the bowl just as he had done for the baby griffon. "Here we are," the dragon finally said after a few minutes and held it out in front of the pony's nose, enticing smell wafting through the air.
Still, Fluttershy gazed down into the bowl, unsure, then tilted her head back to meet the dragon's eyes. "Um… Thank you… But… you really didn't have to… Um… Maybe you should eat it." A loud rumble erupted from the equine's stomach and a faint tint of pink tinged her cheeks in embarrassment. Being imprisoned in the well, she had missed lunch, and it was drawing close to dinnertime. She really did want the warm chowder--however, she didn't like being a burden.
"No, no. This is your meal, my dear," he insisted, continuing to hold the bowl under the pony's nose, its tantalizing aroma tempting the equine and aggravating her empty belly further. "Besides, what sort of a host would I be if I didn't feed my honored guests first? Not a very polite one, that is certain. And there is no need to worry, I made more than enough for us all."
"Oh, well… um, alright." Fluttershy caved in, offering the dragon a grateful smile and lowered her muzzle into the bowl, blowing just a tiny bit before taking that first slurp of its creamy contents. 'Oh my goodness! This is delicious!' she thought, lifting her head back up and licking her lips, her expression clearly showing how pleased she was with the chowder's taste.
The dragon beamed and his tail gave a happy flick. Since he never had any visitors over for a meal before, it was exciting to him to see someone enjoy his cooking. He watched the pony, as she lowered her snout back into the bowl for more of the warm food, and became transfixed by her--by how she slurped up the creamy mixture, softly nibbled at a chunk of potato, or cutely lapped at a slice of a carrot. It was all quite charming to him somehow. Between intervals of the pegasus lifting her head to chew and swallow or lick her lips clean, he locked eyes with her, an even wider smile tugging at the corners of his mouth and one thought echoing in his mind.
'How is it possible for someone to be so cute while eating?'
As Fluttershy lapped up the remains of the chowder, the dragon set the bowl down beside him. She tried to lick up as much as she could around the circumference of her mouth, but a little remained on her chin. The large reptile laughed, then balled up his fist in front of him. Burrowing a free finger into the curve of his crooked index finger, he pulled out a rolled up cloth napkin from his fist, leaving the pony completely and utterly bewildered. Letting out another laugh at how her jaw literally dropped, he quickly wiped her chin clean. "I suppose you are wondering how I did that?"
Nodding slowly, the pegasus watched him intently, eyes wide with wonder and anticipation for his answer. The dragon bundled up the used napkin and concealed it into the same fist. Seconds later, he unrolled his hand to reveal the napkin had disappeared.
"Magic," he said, his voice a theatrical whisper, for exaggerated emphasis. "I am a traveling magician," he added in his normal tone.
Awe had descended upon the pegasus and outweighed most of her shyness, as well as lighting her eyes up at such revelation. She had never heard of a dragon magician before, nor had that concept--a dragon using magic in this fashion for entertainment purposes--even cross her mind. After a brief moment of astonished silence, she opened her mouth to voice those thoughts. "I have never heard of a dragon magician before."
The scaly creature regarded Fluttershy with understanding. "Well, besides myself, nor have I," he confessed, picking up the empty bowl and pushing himself upon his feet and wandering over to the sink to place it inside. After he had retrieved a clean one for himself, he filled it up, and went back over to the pony, seating himself on the other end of the couch. Before taking his first sip, he turned to the pegasus beside him, filled with curiosity. "So, how did you end up in that hole?"
Fluttershy lowered her eyes to the floor as the events replayed in her head. "Um, well…" she started, attention shifting back to the face of the dragon. "Earlier this morning, I found that tiny griffon with my chickens," she paused, gesturing with her head into the direction of the baby--who was now watching them from her spot in front of the fireplace--,"and I followed her into the Everfree Forest. I was, um, hoping to catch and take care of her… Like you did." Ceasing again for another moment, she gave the dragon a warm, approving smile. "Um… Then we both fell in the hole."
"I see." The dragon nodded in acknowledgment as his brain processed the story. "No shame in that. I would have done the same thing." He smiled at the pony once more before digging into his own dinner.
The yellow pegasus remained silent for the duration of the meal. 'Such a nice dragon,' she mused in her thoughts as she watched the winged reptile eat. Now that she had been able to settle down, had her primary questions answered, and needs taken care of, she could observe the dragon in greater detail. She was fascinated by the cunning mechanics of his body at work, she studied the ropes and slabs of flexing muscle as well as the jawbone that glided ever so delicately beneath his scales as he chewed and swallowed. She had read many books and seen a lot of films on dragons, and most of those included their eating habits--but this particular specimen ate more like a pony than a dragon.
He felt the equine's gaze upon him, but he didn't mind. After he had lapped up the last of the chowder in his bowl, he licked his chops, satisfied with the meal, and headed to the kitchenette to deposit it into the sink. He would wash the dishes later.
The baby griffon had her eyes on Fluttershy while the pony was absorbed with the dragon. The pegasus didn't shown any signs of hostility for the entire time she had been watching her, so she came to the conclusion that she was not the predator she had prejudged her to be. After the scaly creature had gotten up, she cautiously rose to her feet as well. With catlike caution, she slunk over toward Fluttershy. With each slow, hesitant step, she watched for any sudden indications that the pony would spring forth and devour her.
When Fluttershy tore her eyes away from the dragon towards her, she stopped and then took an unsure step back. The pony smiled at her and spoke in a soothing voice. "Hello there, little griffon."
The words fell upon the baby griffon's ears with sweetness. It was deeply reassuring, and combined with the peaceful vibes radiating from the mare, it became irresistible. She walked the rest of the distance towards Fluttershy with a calm and confident stride. The delighted pony reached out with her good foreleg, gently touching her hoof to the baby griffon's fluffy head. The griffon recoiled a little at the unexpected touch, but then allowed herself to be stroked.
"You're so soft and cute." Fluttershy let out a quiet, yet ecstatic giggle as she delighted in the fluffy texture of the baby griffon's down.
Though strange and new, the little creature found the sensations delivered by the head rubs quite pleasant, so she reveled in those feelings and pressed her head against the touches. Her next action made the pony's heart melt--she opened her tiny black beak and spoke to her in short phrases of baby babbles.
The cuteness was too much for Fluttershy and she simply couldn't contain the squeal that bubbled up in her throat. Startled, the griffon perked and jumped back at the strange noise, but returned to her previous position, her large amber eyes silently pleading for more head caresses, which the pony gladly gave.
The dragon watched the pair at a respectful distance, allowing them to bond. He too, found the chick's babbling precious, as well as the pony's squeal of enjoyment. A few minutes had passed and the dragon reluctantly ripped his eyes away from them and headed towards the house's restroom. After rummaging through the medicine cabinet, he withdrew with a bottle of painkillers. Popping off the top, he tilted it to let one of the pills fall into his hand before placing the bottle back in its rightful place. Next, he went back into the kitchen for a glass of water. Finally, having the items he needed, he directed himself to the couch, kneeling beside the pony and the baby griffon. Both regarded him, and the objects in his hands with questioning stares.
Turning his head to face the pegasus, he extended the hand holding the white pill to her. "Here's something to help take that pain away."
"Oh, um… thank you." Fluttershy reached out to take the large capsule into her mouth. The dragon touched the rim of the water glass to her bottom lip, tilted it up ever so slightly and she felt the liquid wash the pill down her throat. After the reptile took the empty glass away, she smiled up at him. She was grateful for all that he had done for her, and for the baby griffon. They sure had been fortunate that he had come to their rescue. "Thank you so much for… everything."
The dragon grinned, setting the glass aside he ran his fingers over the downy head of the baby griffon. "Well, I couldn't allow you two lovely ladies to drown now, could I?" The small head pressed into his hand, encouraging him to continue petting her. He complied, rubbing and massaging the balls of his fingers into the scalp.
Fluttershy's cheeks were tinged with a light shade of pink after receiving such kind words. The pony's shyness returned and she lowered her eyes to the dressing on her hoof. "W-well, I… Um… Thank you… Mr. Dragon…"
The reptilian chuckled softly at her bashfulness. He couldn't help it. It was too adorable. Putting on a positively mischievous smirk, he opened his mouth, intent on flattering her further and indulging himself in the results. "You are welcome, my dear. You know, I believe an introduction is in order. My name is Smokey." He paused for a moment, taking his hand away from the baby griffon's head to scoop Fluttershy's good hoof.
"And what would be the name of this goddess-like beauty, whose eyes are like pools with a hue of purest of the sapphires?" He pressed a quick kiss to the top of pony's hoof and eyed her, awaiting her reaction.
Fluttershy's cheeks burned a bright, flustered pink. This was just too much for her to bare. Ducking her head into her shoulders, she half-turned her head, hiding one side of her face behind a messy forelock. She quietly squeaked her name, but it was incomprehensible to the dragon.
"Hm? What was that, my dear?" Smokey queried, very much pleased with his work. He simply adored the pegasus' behavior. He leaned his head in, ear frills flaring slightly in hopes of catching her name.
She couldn't back away any further from him. Not that she wanted to get away from him--it was simply a natural reaction. She was smiling a little shy smile, and again, she told him her name, this time in a quiet voice instead of a squeak.
Smokey still didn't hear it and he leaned in further, his snout only a foot away from
Fluttershy's head. "Once more, please. I didn't quite hear that."
"Flu… Flutter… shy…" she answered. Her voice was still quiet, but the dragon finally heard her.
"Fluttershy, huh? Well, it certainly is a pleasure to meet you, Lady Fluttershy." Smokey released the mare's hoof and pulled his head back to where it should be. The dragon offered her a slightly toothy grin as he continued to enjoy the pony's cute shyness. She returned the gesture with a small nod and shy smile, too flustered for words at the moment.