The Growing Years

This story is a sequel to A Different Perspective
Both the House of Path and Herd Path enjoy strong growth in the years following their establishment. Like all such things though, they both have their highlights and lowlights. These are vignettes in the lives of the children of Twilight, Path, Free, & Roseclaw, from foals to young adults.
This is a series of stand-alone stories of events that occur after the events of A Different Perspective, which I strongly recommend that you read first.
My collaborator, AlaskaIsCold, has written some of these and I mostly just edited them.


4. Treasured Part 2

Eventually Blue broke the silence. “So, what’s the score, Cinder?”

“Hmm? Score?”

“Yeah, you said I won the date yesterday. What about today?”

Cinder snorted in amusement. “Let’s call it a tie.”

Blue grinned. “Works for me.”

“So what have you in mind for the third date?”

Blue shrugged. “We’ve got classes for the next few days. I’ll think of something by Friday and let you know. Try to endure until then.”

Cinder rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at him. “You think I can’t?”

“No, I think you can. I just don’t want you dying of frustration of not being on a date with me for so long,” he replied with a smirk.

“WHAT?! You smug hatchling! I’ll show you who’s frustrated!” she said as she lunged at him.

Of course Blue easily dodged, but he stayed tantalizingly almost within reach. Cinder continued to chase him down the road while he playfully skipped away, chuckling all the while.

Cinder was exhausted by the time they reached the House dormitory and collapsed onto her bed. She thought about the day that she had spent with the infuriating pony, and a tiny smile curled the corner of her mouth.

“I was wrong, Blue Streak,” she murmured. “Looks like I was today’s winner after all. I look forward to seeing what you have in mind for the tie-breaker.”

# # #

Cinder was so determined to prove to Blue that she could ‘endure’ the week that she actually stopped sulking and started paying more attention to classes. It helped that the last one on the first day was unarmed combat taught by an old griffon named Warfist. She vaguely recalled the pegasus at the stadium mentioning him as Blue’s teacher, although the colt had not brought up the subject at either of their dates. Not exactly the stuff of date talk, she assumed, although this encounter might be something to share with him on their next date. Blue was not in this class, which she found curious until she recalled the part about being his special student. Probably had private lessons. Well, he wasn’t the only one to have combat training from a master. Maybe she could show the old griff a thing or two.

# # #

Cinder collapsed on her bunk with a groan.

“Note to self,” she mumbled. “Dear idiot – never ever do something that stupid again. Your battered and bruised self, Shaikhan-Gal.”

Cinder groaned again, thinking of the ‘encouragement’ that Warfist had assigned her.

“Shards! Blue Streak is going to laugh his arse off if I’m too wrecked to make it to our date.” She tried to get up off the bed to have a shower, but her body refused to cooperate. “I hate that old catbird,” she murmured into her pillow before succumbing to fatigue.

# # #

Fortunately for Cinder, she did manage to recover after a good night’s sleep, although she still ached a bit in the morning. She had missed dinner the previous night, so she ate an enormous breakfast to compensate. She was going to need the energy!

Between Warfist’s assignments and the new studies, Cinder was kept so preoccupied that the week flew by, and before she knew it, it was Friday evening and the usual informal social was happening. She hadn’t had much opportunity to do much more than exchange greetings with Blue for most of the week. He sought her out deliberately this time though.

“Hi, Cinder. You haven’t made any plans for tomorrow, have you?”

“No. I figured you would want that third date. What have you planned?”

“A picnic.”

“A what?” That word was not in her vocabulary.

“You know – pack food in a basket, walk out into the countryside, share the food with the ants, and talk.”

“Oh. Sounds dull. I kind of thought you’d come up with something to top the festival.”

Blue grinned. “Depends on what you expect to get out of it. I heard you had your first lesson with Master Warfist. I bet you didn’t expect that, did you?”

Cinder shuddered. “Point taken. Okay, I’ll give this picnic thing of yours a try. Not like I have a choice.”

“Come on, Goldie, do you think I’d let you down by now? I’ve managed to surprise you on both occasions so far.”

“Stop calling me Goldie!” she growled, rising to the bait as always.

“Stop making the dates sound like such a bad thing, and I will,” he shot back with a smirk.

Cinder snorted, and then gave him her biggest grin, one full of sharp teeth. “I’m smiling – see!”

Blue chuckled. “Close enough. Have a good sleep-in. I’ll pick you up about eleven tomorrow.”

# # #

Cinder was glad to be able to sleep in and rest up from the training regimen that Warfist had assigned her. Thus she was feeling pretty fit and ready for the date when Blue turned up. She was surprised to see him carrying two large saddle packs though. He shrugged off one of them and pointed at it with a hoof.

“You get to carry that one. It has all the food and drink.”

“What’s in the other?” Cinder asked as she grabbed it and slung it over her back.

“That’s a surprise for later.”

Cinder shrugged. “Okay. Lead on.”

Although she suspected that Blue would take off at his normal headlong pace, he surprised her by matching her walking gait, leading the way across the grounds of the mansion.

“You told me that you did some hunting in the forest on our grounds, but have you had the opportunity to explore anywhere else?” Blue asked.

“Not really. A bit of scouting of the area is about all I’ve had the time to do.”

“Great! Then this will be even better. I’ll take you up to the gorge.”

They left the carefully tended gardens and lawn surrounding the mansion and crossed an open field after traversing a boundary fence. Blue kept them heading towards the low ranges on the far side of the fields, which is where Cinder presumed the gorge was.

“Are these fields part of House Path?” she asked.

“Yep. The House owns all the land between the mansion and the foothills of the ranges, plus the forest to the east. The forest to the west belongs to another House, so that’s where the boundary is.”

“What are these fields for?”

“That steak you had last week has to come from somewhere. Like the other Houses, we have herds of non-sapient animals that are grown for food.”

“Oh, right. We’re nomadic hunters, so herding is a bit strange to me. Actually it seems a bit odd for griffons also.”

“I know what you mean, but there are still herders among the griffons, although there are a lot of earth ponies who do that job these days.”

“Are we going to walk all the way across these fields?”

“I thought you just said that your tribe was nomadic?”

“We are, but everything is designed to be carried while flying. We don’t walk that much.”

“Considering that you’re training as a warrior, you’ll have to toughen up a bit, so consider this a bit of voluntary training,” Blue said with a grin.

Cinder scowled. “I’m still waiting for the fun to begin.”

“Sometimes you have to make an effort before the pay-off.”

Cinder just grumbled under her breath, but kept marching on regardless.

Eventually they reached the foothills and encountered a small river. Blue started following it uphill, and the going got more difficult. There was no path, so they had to climb over boulders and push through vegetation quite frequently. The effort required kept Cinder from noticing the walls of rock rising on either side until they started casting a shadow over them.

“Is this the gorge you mentioned?” Cinder asked.

“Yep. We have just a little further to go.”

Ten minutes later, the rock walls opened out and Cinder found herself walking out onto a small meadow on one side of the stream. On the far side of the meadow, the rock walls closed in again and ended the gorge with a steep cliff over which the river poured in a waterfall. The sun reflecting off the light-colored rock gave strong indirect lighting that made the meadow bright but cooler than the countryside that they had tramped through. Between the light, water, and temperature that stayed fairly consistent throughout the year, the gorged virtually exploded with lush vegetation highlighted by a myriad of flowers.

“We’re here,” Blue announced. “I hope you find the location suitable.”

Cinder was almost speechless as she gazed in awe. “I… approve. I admit that I would not have thought you would be so… attuned to natural beauty.”

“Why? Because I’m a warrior? One of my dads is an artist; don’t you think I could learn a thing or two from him also? He found this place and took the family here. It’s kind of special to us.”

“Then thank you. I feel privileged.”

“No worries. I think you’ve earned a meal. Let’s see what the cooks have packed for us, hey?”

Blue spread out a blanket first before they unpacked the contents of the picnic basket. The House staff had done a fine job of preparing a selection of food and drink suitable for the two of them, and both had a big appetite after the hike. It didn’t take long for them to consume everything, and they both laid back on the blanket with contented sighs.

“So, this is a picnic,” Cinder said. “I’m disappointed.”

Blue looked at her in puzzlement. “Why?”

“You promised me ants, and I didn’t see a single one.”

Blue chuckled. “Nobody’s perfect. I did promise you something else though, and that was some excitement afterwards. Ready for that yet?”

“Just give me a few minutes. After the hectic week, I’d like to enjoy a bit of doing absolutely nothing for a while but listening to the waterfall and the birds while lazing in the sunshine.”

“I can agree with that,” Blue said as he folded his forelegs behind his head, crossed his hind legs, and gazed up at the sky. There was a long moment of quiet before he spoke up again. “Cinder, why do you so dislike being here? At the House, I mean – not this spot.”

Cinder considered her words. “I suppose it’s not that I’m here, but that I’m not back home. I feel so out of place here. These lands are so different from my mine, and the customs are strange. Almost everything that your family does as normal goes against what I learned back in the Dragon Lands. But the worst thing was that I wasn’t given a choice. I had to leave behind my family and friends and stay with griffons and ponies, with not another dragon around except Alac.”

“Yeah, that’s a bit harsh.”

“My turn. Why have you been going so out of your way to make such great effort to make me enjoy these dates – dates that you weren’t under any obligation to accept in the first place?”

“Some of it is because I thought it would be fun. Some of it is because one of my moms is the Princess of Friendship, and I thought you could use a friend.”

“You seem to look up to your parents a lot.”

“They’re the best thing that happened to me after my birth parents died. One day I hope to be a great warrior like Warfist, but I’m going to take with me lessons that all my parents have taught me. Papa Path tries to teach me to see all sides of a problem. Mama Roseclaw teaches me honor and diplomacy. Papa Free teaches me to see the beauty in things. And of course Mama Twilight leads by example in making friends whenever she can. When I have to fight, I fight for them and what they represent.”

“That is awesome, Blue Streak. I mean it. You are blessed.”

“I know, and I want you to know that you can feel like you belong here among us also. Give House Path a chance, and I swear your life will be as fulfilling.”

“I can try.”

“That’s all I can ask. Now, how about a change of pace?”

“What did you have in mind? Something to do with what’s in your pack?”

“Yep,” Blue said as he got to his hooves and walked over to his backpack. He opened it and started pulling out its contents.

Cinder quickly recognized the apparatus. “Are those artificial wings like your father wore when he met us the first day?”

“Tek-wings, and yeah they are, except these are mine. I’ve taken you on a ground journey to get here, so how about we take to the skies for a while?”

Cinder grinned. “I would love to stretch my wings, and my feet thank you.”

“Great!” Blue said as he started shrugging on the harness. “You can help me tighten the straps so I don’t add to the excitement by plummeting from the skies.”

Blue Streak was soon securely fastened into his flight harness, and a mental command spread the wings.

“Ready?” Cinder asked.

“Lead the way!” Blue replied with a grin.

With a small roar, Cinder leaped into the air and thrust hard with her wings, rapidly gaining altitude. Looking back, she saw Blue virtually copy her motions, and quickly follow. He was not quite as fast nor as graceful, but the fact that an earth pony flew at all was amazing to Cinder, and she was fascinated. They climbed further into the sky, rapidly leaving the gorge below, and then they leveled out.

“What do you want to do?” Cinder asked.

Blue’s smile grew, and without a word of warning, he dove at her and tapped her tail. “Tag! You’re it!”

Cinder blinked in surprise before she grinned and took off after him. What followed was half an hour of diving and dodging, climbing and hiding in clouds, and laughter – laughing with all the joy and love of life of two youths despite their differences.

Eventually Blue brought them back to earth. “The mana pack was being depleted very quickly by what I was making the wings do. I don’t want to run out of power up there.”

“I would catch you… probably,” Cinder said with a smirk.

Blue chuckled. “It’s good for a few more minutes. Gather your empty pack and I’ll grab mine. We’ll fly out to the beginning of the fields and I’ll go on by hoof from there.”

Cinder groaned. “More walking.”

“Nope; not for you anyway. You can fly and try to keep up with me.”

“Ha! Just because you’re faster than me when I’m in unfamiliar territory and trying to make altitude, doesn’t mean that you’re going to show me up on those level open fields.”

“Have you forgotten how fast I said I can go?”

“I dismissed that as boasting right away.”

Blue grinned a little evilly. “Well then, you’re going to get your chance to rub it in my muzzle, aren’t you?”

Cinder matched his grin with a really toothy one. “And I’ll love doing it.”

“Let’s get going then!”

They took off and rapidly retraced their course up the gorge until they reached the bottom of the foothills where the plains opened up. They landed and Blue stowed his wings in the pack which he then started securing firmly to his back.

“Want me to carry those for you? Don’t want to slow you down,” Cinder said snarkily.

Blue shook his head. “You might as well head off while I finish strapping this on. You’re going to need the head-start.”

“Still boasting. Okay, I’m not above rubbing it in a bit. See you back at the House!”

Cinder took off, but didn’t waste time and energy by gaining too much altitude. Instead she concentrated on speed, and she was quickly zooming over the fields. She took a moment to glance back and saw that Blue still had not started, and she grinned. She did not slack off one bit though. The second time that she glanced back, Blue had started galloping after her, but she was now halfway back to the way to the House. No way was he going to beat her there!

She was concentrating on her goal when a boom of thunder and a shockwave made her tumble in the air. By the time she recovered control, Blue Streak was well ahead of her, and moving at a pace she could not hope to match. She chased after him at her best speed, and finally landed beside him at the door of the mansion where they had started that day.

“What was that thunderclap?” she demanded.

“It’s called a sonic boom. That’s what happens when I exceed the speed of sound. The shockwave could hurt you if I ran too close to you.”

“You weren’t boasting at all, were you? How can you do that?!”

“It’s my special talent.” He lifted up one foreleg. “These custom shoes help me get enough traction to break the sound barrier. I had them in my pack with the wings.”

“I’ve underestimated you again, Blue Streak.”

“Could you just call me Blue, or even Streak, but not both. You sound like my moms when you use my full name.”

“As long as you never call me Goldie again.”

“Deal. Well, I hope you enjoyed the third date, Cinder?”

“I did. I really did. So when do you want to go on the fourth?”

Blue gave her a quizzical look. “I thought that you only had to ask for three?”

“Is there any reason why I have to stop at just three?” she responded.

“None that I can think of.”

“Then meet me here tomorrow at the same time, and I’ll try to show you as much fun as you showed me today.”

Blue’s smile grew wide. “You’re on!”

Cinder dropped her pack, gave him a wink, and took off.

Blue watched her leave and chuckled. “Well, how about that?” he murmured as he bent to grab the pack to take it inside.

# # #

Cinder lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling. Why had she asked for a fourth date? Why hadn’t she just asked if he wanted to hang out as friends? She couldn’t like a pony that much, could she? After a long moment of confused feelings, there was inevitably one other question she had to ask herself – could a pony like a dragonthat much?

# # #

Moira Skytalon slammed her plate down on the dining hall table, startling her friends. They stared at the griffoness in a mixture of concern and annoyance.

“What’s got your tail in a twist this time, Moira?” one asked.

“What else? That she-dragon just won’t leave Blue Streak alone. What’s a reptile doing monopolizing a pony’s affections anyway?” Moira sulked, ignoring the food that she had just brought over from the food counter. She stared back that way at the blue earth pony and dragoness who were getting their food, laughing about something.

Gail Redfeather snorted a bit contemptuously. “I don’t know why you’re so obsessed with the pony anyway. Stop worrying about Cinder and start paying attention to the griffs who keep asking you for a date.”

“Why should I pay any attention to them? I don’t need them, but think of the status I’d gain if I could hook the son of Lord Path.”

“You don’t like the idea of a pony and a dragon being an item, but you have no problem with a griff and a pony?”

“Lord Path married Lady Roseclaw and had a child, so it’s obvious we two species belong together. Who ever heard of a dragon-pony relationship?”

“And that’s your problem, not the dragon,” Gail replied. “House Path is all about working with other races, while all you’re interested in is building status. Those two obviously don’t care about their difference in species. It’s evident after a few months together that they’re more than just friends, but you can’t accept that.”

“I can be a better partner than her! Lady Roseclaw is Lord Path’s strong right talon. Blue Streak should have the same. I come from one of the highest ranked Noble Houses in Griffonia; we would make a great pairing!” She scowled as she watched the two heading towards a table with their food, and she got up to her feet.

“Let it go, Moira,” another griffoness urged.

“No! Fortune favors the bold! I’m going over there and asking him for a date.” She started to march determinedly towards the couple.

Gail called out, “Moira! Don’t be an idiot!” However, she was ignored, and the griffoness sighed in resignation. “Everygriff take cover – this isn’t going to be pretty.”

Blue and Cinder had just put their food on a free table when Moira marched up to them.

“Blue Streak! I, Moira Skytalon, wish to have a date with you! We’re both high nobles and would make a fine couple!”

Gail faceclawed. “It’s going to be worse than I thought,” she groaned.

Blue just stared at Moira, stunned by her bold and totally unexpected statement.

Cinder glared balefully at the upstart griffoness. “Back off, catbird. He’s not interested.”

Moira ignored the dragoness and advanced on Blue. “Come on, Blue Streak, I’ll make it worth your while.” She reached up and pulled his face to hers to nuzzle him.

Cinder growled and pulled Moira away from Blue. She then enfolded Blue in her forearms, one clawed appendage roughly cupping his stallionhood. “I said back off! He’s my treasure!”

Blue blushed fiercely. While their relationship had grown a lot over the past few weeks, neither had admitted to more than a strong friendship up until now, and while he could empathize with her urges, having them displayed so blatantly in front of the lunchtime crowd was more than a little embarrassing. “Quit groping me in public, will you?” he hissed urgently, but Cinder didn’t appear to notice.

“He doesn’t belong to you!” snarled Moira. “Let him choose a real potential mate, just like his dad.”

“He already has me, hoard thief!”

“He’s not gold or gems to add to your collection, lizard!”

“He’s not a status-seeking spoiled noble brat like you!”

Blue just looked back and forth between the bickering rivals. He had two females fighting over him? What the heck?!

“I can offer him more than you can. We would make an awesome couple and bring great honor to our Houses!” Moira proclaimed.

“I am the heir to Matriarchy, and we would bring great glory with our union!” Cinder shouted.

Blue’s mind was beginning to lock up. These two were getting deadly serious about what they wanted of him, but he hadn’t even started thinking that far ahead yet.

“Let him go so he can choose,” the griffoness said, tugging on Blue’s foreleg.

“No! He’s MINE!” Cinder bellowed, tightening her grip on the pony.

Blue’s eyes bulged as the air was forced from his lungs. “Can’t… breathe…” he gasped.

Cinder finally noticed what she was doing to him and released her grasp, but Moira’s tugging made him fall away from both of them. He lay panting on the floor, mortified by all the attention caused by the ruckus. All conversation had ceased as everyone watched dumbstruck by the confrontation.

By this time though, neither of the rival females was paying any attention to those around them. Moira let out a screech of challenge, and Cinder roared in defiance. Then, before anyone could blink, they lunged at each other. Talons and claws raked at each other. They grappled and chairs went flying. Blue hastily crawled out of the way just before they crashed into a table, smashing it in half. Cinder threw Moira off, but the griffoness checked her momentum with her wings and lunged back at her. The crowd started cheering on their favorites as the fight progressed.

Inevitably the commotion drew the attention of the faculty, and Free Agent was one of the first to arrive on the scene. He spotted Blue staring at the battling females and went up to him.

“Why is Cinder fighting with that she-griff, Blue?”

Without taking his eyes from the battle, Blue replied in an incredulous tone, “They’re fighting over me!”

Free Looked at Blue with pleased surprise. “Really? That’s awesome!”

Blue was surprised enough to tear his eyes away from the fight. “Awesome? You’re cool with them fighting over me? I thought you’d want to try to break it up.”

Free chuckled. “If there’s one thing that I learned early, it’s that you never get involved in a cat-fight. It’s a great way to get maimed.”

“Okay, but what’s so awesome about it?”

“Oh, come on, Blue – I’ve known how Cinder and you really feel about each other for a while now, but neither of you have been willing to admit it out loud to each other. This finally brings it out into the open.”

Blue knew it was impossible to hide emotions from his changeling dad, and yet he still was surprised that Free knew what he had not been able to even admit to himself. Despite the many nights he’d been unable to get to sleep due to his state of arousal after a date with Cinder, he had been unable to convince himself that a dragoness could feel that way about him too. Only some less-than-satisfying self-relief had let him finally relax enough to find slumber. Now Free was telling him that Cinder felt the same way? *{see Author's Note}

The battle spilled out the doorway and into the grounds. That only gave the duo more room to maneuver, and both took to the air. They circled each other and then charged at their opponent, coming together with a crash, feathers and claws flying. They parted and grappled again several times until Cinder got some altitude on Moira. With an unholy screech, she dived on the griffoness, unleashing a torrent of dragonfire. Moira barely dodged, getting away with only a few singed feathers, and they grappled again.

“Aren’t you going to do anything about this?” Blue asked a little desperately. They had all followed the combatants outside to continue to watch them.

Free shrugged. “I could get us some popcorn while we watch.”

“Seriously, Dad?”

Just then Path arrived with Roseclaw, and he went up to Free and asked, “What’s going on?”

Free replied, “Apparently that griffoness challenged Cinder for Blue. Cinder’s possessive dragon instincts kicked in, and the griff’s stubborn fighting instincts did too. They are currently fighting for dominance, and it’s dangerous to intervene.”

Blue blinked in surprise at Free’s serious and concisely accurate assessment of the situation. Despite the changeling’s lighthearted responses earlier, apparently he had not been taking it quite that lightly after all.

“So, Cinder has finally admitted her feelings for Blue, has she?” Roseclaw asked.

“It would seem so, and quite spectacularly,” Free replied.

Blue stared at them with shock. Did all his parents know what he hadn’t?

Path said, “While that’s good, we can’t have them fighting like that. Any ideas about how to break it up without either them or us getting hurt?”

“That’s the tricky bit,” Free admitted as Moira had her tail tuft burned off after failing to completely dodge another stream of dragonfire.

They grappled again, and after a few long moments, Cinder suddenly had Moira’s limbs captured and helpless. “I HAVE YOU NOW, TREASURE-STEALER!” Cinder bellowed. She drew a deep breath in preparation for breathing fire on the terrified griffoness.

A griffon burst out of the crowd and slammed into them. Warfist reached out with his forelegs, grasping the head of each of the combatants in one of them, and slammed them together. Stunned, Cinder released her grip and both started dropping to the ground, their wings hardly slowing their fall.

Blue gasped and raced out onto the grounds and under Cinder. He reared up on his hind legs and caught the dragoness, breaking her fall. They were brought to the ground by her momentum, but they were both unscathed. Meanwhile, Moira fell into a hedge, saving her from a more painful meeting with the lawn.

“There, the dumb-arse colt picked one of them,” Warfist declared. “‘Encouragement’ in ten minutes for all you slackers here who let this get out of control!”

There was a groan from everyone present as the crowd broke up.

Path walked over to the three remaining. Cinder and Moira were both recovering their wits after the mutual head-butt, and he glared at them. “You two – my office now!

“Yes, sir,” they both said meekly.

“Can I come with Cinder, Dad?” Blue asked.

Path considered it for a moment, and then nodded. He then headed off to the office, with Free, Roseclaw, and Warfist falling in with him. As Cinder, Blue, and Moira followed, they encountered Twilight in the hallway. After a quick, quiet word to her from Path, she fell in with them. The trio was told to wait outside the office while the others went inside and closed the door behind them. While they waited nervously, Blue reached out and put an arm around Cinder. She leaned into the hug and they quietly enjoyed being together, ignoring the angry looks from the griffoness.

After a few minutes, the office door opened and Twilight stepped out. “Moira Skytalon – please come inside.”

The griffoness got up and followed the alicorn inside, and the door closed once more.

Blue took the opportunity of the moment of privacy to ask, “Why didn’t you tell me how you felt about me?”

Cinder snorted deprecatingly. “Why would you want a dragon marefriend?”

Blue grimaced. “Funny – all this time I’ve been wondering how a dragoness could possibly want a coltfriend.”

She stared at him with surprise and not a little hope. “Really? You think we could have a future together?”

Blue felt a little bit of his usual self-confidence returning now that their feelings were out in the open. “Why not? Stranger things have happened in my family. Besides, haven’t you already claimed me?” he asked with a smirk.

Cinder blushed in embarrassment. “I… I’m sorry about that.”

“I’m not. I think I like being treasured by you.”

Cinder smiled shyly. “I think you’re the most valuable item in my hoard.”

Blue matched her smile. “And nobody will steal me from my dragon,” he said and leaned in to kiss her.

Cinder met his lips with hers, and they kissed fervently. Eventually they parted and gazed at each other lovingly.

They were still doing so when the office door was flung open, and a weeping Moira ran out and disappeared down the hallway.

Twilight came out again and said, “Cinder, please come in now.”

Blue said, “Mama – can I come in with Cinder?”

Twilight nodded. “This involves you both, so it would be a good idea.”

Cinder and Blue followed Twilight into the office, and the alicorn seated herself beside the four others.

Path was seated behind his desk, with Roseclaw and Warfist to his left, and Free and Twilight to his right. He looked gravely at Cinder. “We have just expelled Moira Skytalon from the House Path school.”

Cinder slumped in resignation. “I see. I’ll start packing.”

“No! You can’t send her away!” Blue protested.

Path shook his head. “No, you’re not expelled, Cinder. I’m telling you this though to impress upon you the seriousness of the situation. Whenever a candidate comes to the school, they are assessed for suitability. Not every candidate meets the requirements of House Path. Griffons especially need to let go of their desire to seek status above all. However, Moira managed to get past our weeding-out process, but she was already on our watch list for her poor attitude. The fight was just the final straw, although admittedly that was more like a baleof straw. Moira was expelled because she could not live up to the ideals of House Path. You, however, gained admittance under different circumstances. Nevertheless you are still required to live up to our ideals. For your part in the fight, you will be receiving a severe punishment. Master Warfist will be seeing to most of that. We will expect you to curb your dragon instincts better in future. However, it is our assessment that you are otherwise adapting well to our customs, and you still have a great future at House Path.”

Both Cinder and Blue heaved a sigh of relief.

Free added with a grin, “Besides, I don’t think our wives would forgive us if we broke you two up now that you’ve finally admitted your feelings for each other.”

Blue and Cinder blushed fiercely, even as they hugged each happily.

Twilight did her best to look stern as she spoke up. “Now, my young stallion and dragoness, I believe you’re late for your classes.”

“Yes, ma’am!” they both cried as they jumped to their feet and hooves.

Warfist said, “Report to me straight after classes, Cinder.”

“Yes, sir!” Cinder replied, and she and Blue hastily exited the office.

“Ah, young love!” Free declared happily when the pair had left.

“With some more discipline, she will help balance out his recklessness,” Roseclaw agreed with satisfaction. “She will make a fine mate for our son one day.”

# # #

Cinder wearily landed at the front door of the House Path mansion and she pressed the doorbell. Soon it was answered by Goldenquill who smiled in recognition.

“Can I come in and see Blue?” Cinder asked.

“Master Blue Streak said that he hoped to see you this evening, Miss Cinder. Please come in.” He stood aside to allow Cinder inside before continuing, “I believe you know where his room is.”

“Thanks, Goldenquill.” Cinder headed to Blue’s room where they had planned several of their outings. This time though, she had something else in mind. She tapped on his door and entered when he replied. She smiled shyly. “Hi, Blue.”

“Hey, Cinder,” Blue replied from where he was seated behind a desk. “I was wondering when Warfist would be finished with you.”

She snorted. “He’s barely started, but we’re done for the night. I’m tired, but I wanted to see you again before I head back to the dorm.”

“I’m glad you did,” he said, coming over to her and giving her a kiss.

She kissed him back happily.

He stepped back with a smile on his muzzle. “Don’t go back to the dorm tonight.”

“Where am I going to sleep?” she replied coyly.

Blue inclined his head towards his large bed. “This has always been way too big for me alone. It’s been seeming a bit too empty also lately. Care to help fix that?”

Cinder smiled. “I’ll give it a try, my Treasure.”



The next morning, Blue joined the family for breakfast, walking with a bit of a limp. Free hid a grin behind his mug of coffee when he noticed. Twilight frowned in concern.

“Is something wrong, hon?” the alicorn asked.

Blue groaned as he sat himself down at the table. “I think I strained a muscle yesterday.”

“How did that happen?” Roseclaw asked.

Just then, Cinder entered the room, also walking a little oddly. “Um, good morning,” she said with a little trepidation as Blue waved her over to sit next to him.

Roseclaw’s brow rose a little before she said, “Never mind. I think I can guess.”

Twilight’s eyes widened and her mouth went into a silent ‘Oh’.

Path smiled and asked, “Can we expect you for breakfast on a frequent basis from now on?”

Cinder looked down with a blush coloring her cheeks. “I really hope so, sir.”

“Then welcome to House Path, my dear.”

Author's Note:

The tale of how Cinder came to be Blue's girlfriend had to be told.

* I have some art by Keihound which is relevant, but as it is NSFW, I am only allowed to say that you should look for it on my Fur Affinity account.

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