Chapter Nine: Chenoa
Squeals of bliss leaped from the child, delighting in the warmth of the water and the reaction the griffon received from it as she wriggled around. Splashing was fun! Her adoptive male guardian seemed to enjoy it, too. Why else would he be smiling and snickering every now and again?
The pink-maned pony settled back on the bed, rolling flat on her back and snuggled under the blanket. Closing her eyes lightly, she listened in as the sounds of the baby washing up drifted in from the adjacent room. The precious sounds emitting from the chick plastered a large smile on the equine throughout the duration of bath time.
Pulling the baby griffin out of the sink, Smokey reached underneath the cabinet underneath to acquire a towel. Wrapping her up in a cocoon of soft fabric, his scaly hands rubbed it into the little one's body, absorbing the water from her pelt. Of course, the dragon would also need to dry off the portion of his body that fell victim to her splashing. Not to mention the smooth granite surrounding the sink and the floor beneath his feet. His toes could feel some of the water that had made it onto the floor.
"You were such a good girl," Smokey praised the little chick, his voice at a much higher pitch. "Yes, you were. Yes, you were!"
Cradling the still wrapped up child in one arm, Smokey got to work preparing Fluttershy's tea. Opening up one of the overhead cabinets, he scanned the various types of tea he had. He was an active tea drinker himself and naturally possessed quite a collection to choose from. Stepping away from the shelves, he peered over at the pegasus. He should probably ask her what kind of tea she liked.
"Miss Fluttershy? What kind of tea would you like? I have green, red, black chai, ginger, raspberry, peach, mango, and lemon."
Muffling a squeaking sound as her attention was suddenly called, she rolled over to face into his direction. Eyes fluttering open, she was silent for a few seconds as she considered her options.
I would like some ginger and lemon, if possible. Though, what ever you think would be nice is
fine," she ultimately decided. She didn't really care, though she knew lemon and ginger--even green tea--were good options to help combat a cold due to their natural effectiveness.
Brain processing the mare's choice, the dragon tossed a playful smirk at her. "Ginger and lemon mixed together? You are quite daring, aren't you?" As he turned away, his mind was hit with another option that could be introduced into Fluttershy's tea. Re-positioning his body into her direction again, he opened his mouth to ask, "Honey?"
Fluttershy blinked once, staring up at the ceiling with some confusion. What did he just say?
" she began, looking over at the kitchenette with a glance of confusion. He certainly was affectionate, but she didn't expect him to be this affectionate. They hadn't even known each other for two days! "
What did you call me
As Smokey realized that Fluttershy thought he had called her 'honey', he barked out a laugh and shook his head. Finding the dragon's laughter contagious, the little griffon even emitted a couple strings of giggles. Once his laughter slowed to a few huffs, he shook his head again. "No, no. I meant would you like honey in your tea?"
The mare shrank back, feeling embarrassed and ashamed for jumping to the wrong conclusion. How could she have been so silly? It was obvious!
yes, I would like that." The honey also had some additional properties. Battling a sore throat, for instance. Even though she didn't have one, she knew the sweet, syrupy substance mixed in her tea wouldn't hurt matters at all.
Feeling the young griffon squirming in his arm, Smokey figured he should put her down while he worked. Whirling back around and departing from the kitchenette, the dragon strode back over to Fluttershy and held the infant out to her. "Would you like to take her while I make your tea?"
"Of course." Smiling, the mare extended her forelegs to take the young griffon from him. Pulling her into an embrace, she nuzzled the baby, the fresh scent of clean down and fur tickling her nostrils. "Such a sweet little baby," she mumbled, and nuzzled her again.
Chirping and babbling in an incoherent speech, the griffon snuggled into Fluttershy's forelegs, her little beak attempting to preen her new mother's fur.
Cooing, Fluttershy held the baby close, her chest filling with warmth as she realized what the little one was doing. Closing her eyes partially, she returned the favor, going through the down on top of her head first.
Smokey couldn't leave the pair just yet. Eyelids dropping halfway over his emerald green pools as he smiled down at them in an endeared trance. The sight of them together sparked a pleasant glow in his heart.
"You two are just too sweet together. I just might wake up tomorrow morning with a mouthful of cavities."
Glancing up at the dragon, the pony giggled, ending with an audible squeak.
"I'll leave you two to bond while I make your tea." After receiving an acknowledging nod from the pegasus, the winged reptile reluctantly left his charges and directed himself back into the kitchen. Reaching into the open cabinet, he removed the small boxes of ginger and lemon tea then rummaged through his kitchenware for the tea kettle. Filling the metallic kettle with water, he placed it upon one of the stove's burners.
Now that the water was in the process of heating up, Smokey shifted to the section of counter where he had deserted his groceries. He eyed the bottle of medicine for a few seconds, ultimately deciding he would give Fluttershy a proper dosage once she had something to drink. He didn't want to leave her waiting for her tea with the awful taste of medicine in her mouth.
"You're so cute." Fluttershy sighed, before a thought expression passed over her face. "I can only wonder what happened to your parents
The gears in her head began to turn as she contemplated on various possibilities. She may have found the chick on her property, but the trail of footprints made it obvious she came from the Everfree Forest. Though, that didn't make any sense. Wasn't the Griffon Kingdom to the north, past Canterlot? What had a small baby be doing so distanced from there?
It was possible that her parents simply moved into the forest, much like Zecora had. The zebra made her home here in the woods not too far from her cottage, and she hailed from a far-off, exotic location herself. Still, that had left Fluttershy pondering what exactly the child's biological parents were doing here--if they even lived here at all. Perhaps they were just heading home and got lost? Or maybe they had to rest and they were attacked, or possibly
The yellow-coated mare winced, a hoof rising to her temple as her headache flared up from trying to envision all of the possibilities. There were too many questions and not enough information. She figured, for her sake, it would be best to not think about it.
After he finished going through the jars of baby food, Smokey's attention then went to the stuffed panda, a smile tipping his lips. Grabbing the plush animal, the draconian went back to the pony and griffon, presenting it as he sat down on the floor beside the mattress. "I got our little girl a toy to play with."
Lifting her head up, the mare smiled at the dragon as he sat back down next to them, and then to the toy he held in his claws.
"Oh, it's so cute!" she exclaimed. "Look, sweetie! Look what Daddy has!"
As the pegasus gestured for her to look behind her, the baby griffon glanced back to see the dragon holding something that appeared very cuddly and all around appealing to the eyes. Smiling as she exclaimed a single syllable in her high pitched baby voice, she wriggled out of Fluttershy's hold to inspect the object. The mare's smile couldn't possibly grow any wider at the happiness the chick expressed. She liked it!
"This is a panda, sweetheart. It's one of the cutest creatures in the world. Besides yourself," he said, pausing as he glanced over at his animals, "and bunnies and birdies." He went quiet again, his eyes sliding back to Fluttershy with a teasing smirk spreading across his maw. "And your mommy."
Fluttershy nodded along with Smokey. She loved bunnies and birdies, too! She opened her mouth to begin to explain she had a pet rabbit and had often conducted a bird choir, when she suddenly went rosy in her face all over again. The winged equine remained bashfully silent with the blush staining her cheeks for a moment or two, then was suddenly hit with concern.
"Oh! Bunnies! Bunny! Angel bunny!" She met the dragon with alarmed eyes. "I completely forgot about Angel bunny back at home!" She gasped. "If I'm here, then who's going to take care of him?!"
Smokey blinked for a second before his face contorted to share Fluttershy's concern. "You have a rabbit as well? Do you have any friends near where you live who may notice you are missing and take care of him?"
While he hated the thought of an animal possibly being neglected, the pony wasn't in any condition to just go out into the relentless cold, even if it was to check on any creatures she may have. She might get even worse if she did so. If anything happened to her as a result of that, he wouldn't be able to forgive himself for quite a while.
Fluttershy's large, panicked eyes shrank down lightly as she realized that, yes, she did. Her friends--of course they wouldn't let anything happen to her animals, provided she
Her eyes went wide again. "Yes
yes, I have friends, but I live near the edge of the forest, away from town. I usually have to ask them if they wouldn't mind keeping an eye on my animal friends and my sweet little Angel bunny. And if I haven't
" she whimpered, ears pressing flat against her head.
"My friends most likely don't even know I've gone missing! Oh, they're probably worried! I've got to--I need--" Despite her weakened and sick state, she tried climbing off the mattress.
Smokey shook his head, bringing his palm to her shoulder in order to hold her back into bed. There was no way she was well enough to safely traverse through the harsh cold that awaited them outside.
"No, my dear. I'm afraid I won't allow you to leave while you are still sick
" He paused for a moment or two while a thought presented itself in his mind. "Why don't I check on them and tend to them for you after you and our little one's needs are taken care of? I can make a list while you tell me what I'll need to do for your animals."
The pegasus looked up at him with wide, slightly teary eyes. Her panic had grown to a point her motherly instincts had kicked in, and she was mentally screaming at herself how could she have neglected her babies. Hearing she wasn't allowed to leave almost made her start crying
and a tear actually did slip from her eye as he made his proposition.
you'd do that for me?" she whispered, settling back onto the mattress and turning her head briefly to check on the baby cuddling her stuffed panda. "Oh, no, I
I don't want to be a burden. You've
done so much for me already
I couldn't possibly
"You're not going to talk me out of it, my dear. I will not allow your animals to go hungry. We are friends, aren't we? This wouldn't be a burden, just another favor." Smokey offered a gentle, reassuring smile as he brought his hand to her cheek to wipe away the tear that had escaped her eye with a quick brush with the back of his index finger.
The mare was his first official pony friend, and he wanted to do everything he could to make her happy. Cupping her cheek in his palm, helping him keep her head in the same position, he lowered his head the tiniest fraction to lock his eyes with hers. "You will never have to worry about burdening me. If there is anything at all you need, don't be afraid to ask, because I will never turn you down.
I'm looking forward to meeting your little friends. How many do you have?"
Fluttershy relaxed, smiling as she teared up a second time. He really was a nice, sweet gentledragon. Letting her head relaxing in his palm, she brought her good hoof up to brush it against his wrist.
"Thank you, Smokey." She closed her eyes for a second, her stress slowly ebbing away. "You're sweet."
Opening her eyes again, she took a deep breath.
"I've already told you about Angel bunny. I like to make sure he's got plenty of food and water. I try to make sure he eats a varied diet, but sometimes he doesn't like to listen to me so I hope he doesn't give you any trouble since he usually doesn't like outsiders very much. I have a lot of birds--most of them have migrated, but I have several chickens that need to also be fed, and their eggs collected from time to time. Make sure the coop is secure, because I've noticed the wiring around the fence might be getting damaged and I don't want any of them getting out. I nearly lost Elizabeak that way. Hummingway also eats nectar which I have a special jar in the kitchen for and Featherdancer only likes nuts and berries, she won't eat the regular birdseed. I'm also late getting the Mousie family their weakly cheeses, and make sure you give them the low-fat non-dairy kind because the father is getting overweight and I believe the children might be lactose intolerant."
Fluttershy ceased for a little bit before speaking again. "But, um, so long as they're all fed is
"I should probably write all of that down since there is no way I am going to remember it all," the dragon chuckled. Stroking her cheek with his thumb, he pondered over the various cheeses he had stored away in his refrigerator. "I have a few low-fat cheeses, but nothing non-dairy. I can pick some up for your mice the next time after I finish feeding all your pets. Do you have any animals with specific needs?"
Still feeling red and warm in her face, she slowly blinked once.
"I'm sorry," she softly spoke. "I can repeat all of that for you if you want
no. I can't think of anything else. Just those."
Ear frills perking at a soft squeak that came from the plush panda as the baby griffon pounced on its belly, Smokey removed his attention from Fluttershy momentarily to bestow it upon her. He smiled warmly and removed his hand from the pony's face. "You like your panda bear?"
The dragon was answered when the infant let out a mirthful squeal, curling her forelegs around the plush's neck and snuggling into the soft texture. She was then pried from her new toy by the shriek of the tea kettle, startling her into making a leap into Fluttershy's lap to hide.
The mare lightly jumped at the squeak, not having expected it. Her eyes sharply cast at its origins, she smiled with a nervous chuckle as she just realized it was the toy. She felt a surge of warmth and happiness build within her at seeing the baby's joy
Though she, too, let out a gasp and jumped again at the high pitched whistling of the steam. Throwing her forelegs around the baby protectively, she sat there for a second, before laughing.
"Oh, it's just the water," she giggled, rubbing her head. "It just means it's ready. Nothing to worry about
Though I have to admit, I wasn't expecting it either."
"It's all right, sweetheart," the dragon assured gently, reaching to stroke his fingers over the baby griffon's downy head. "Mommy and Daddy won't let anything hurt you."
The infant seemed to have settled down now that she was surrounded by the comfort and security of her guardians. Though, she gave a concerned squawk as Smokey drew away from her and Fluttershy to tend to the kettle and finish making the mare's tea.
"He's right," Fluttershy said, petting her and leaning down to nuzzle her. "We'll protect you no matter what.
She sighed, looking up and towards the door, recalling that the werewolf that had attacked them earlier was still out there.
It was behind that door, but that didn't mean that the werewolf was still in there. In her hazy, feverish memory, she hadn't remembered that the beast had effectively smashed its way in from outside and therefore could have left the same way it got in.
"I just hope nothing comes after us
" she mumbled, more to herself than anything. Despite the adventures she had been on with her friends, she didn't particularly consider herself the adventurous type--generally preferring to stay at home with her animal friends.
Pouring the hot water into a tall mug, steam rising profusely from the hot liquid, Smokey dipped the tea bags into the mug. Now, all he needed to do was wait. As he turned back around, his eyes caught the baby names book. Smiling broadly, he snagged it and went right back to his charges.
"While we wait for you tea, why don't we look at some of these names?"
"That sounds like a good idea." Fluttershy smiled, turning back to the chick. "You're going to get a name! Oh, I wonder what would be a good name for you
Brianna? Skye? Aria?"
Gazing up at Smoky, she wondered what suggestions he would extract from the book.
"Let's see." He cracked open the book and thumbed through the pages as his eyes scanned through the various names. Most of them were quite wonderful names, but none of them fit their little bundle of joy. A few minutes passed before he stopped at one specific name.
a Native Buffalonian name meaning white dove'." As he finished reading the text on the page, he lifted his eyes to Fluttershy to see what she thought about it.
Fluttershy blinked, gazing down at the small chick. It certainly sounded apt--considering her white as snow coloration. Smiling, she closed her eyes halfway. It didn't take her long to come to a conclusive opinion.