The scents of lemon and ginger wafted through the air and the faculty approached the workshop's door. Snape raised an eyebrow. Perhaps they were overreacting. He pushed open the door and froze when he saw what lay within. The former workshop was a complete and utter disaster area. It could be said, without much exaggeration, that the room was chaos given form. As one would expect, shrapnel and scorch marks were on the walls, floor, and ceiling, but, fantastically, these formed outlandish patterns, inconsistent with the sphere of destruction from a normal explosion. They made for a pleasant mural, if one could get past the fact that they obviously were burn marks.
Despite the chaos, there seemed to be some pattern to the destruction in the rest of the room. If one were to hold their head sideways and squint, it looked like reality decided to study under Pablo Picasso and leave behind a cubist nightmare. What was left of the work tables was a jumbled mess of creation under the influence of things best not mentioned. It looked as though the furniture had originally been made of toy bricks, smashed by a two-year-old with a sledgehammer, and then put back together by the very same child, but instead of settling on the original pieces, the child had gotten creative and added parts of other toys, candy, and whatever else he could get his grubby paws on. In some places, the transformed furniture resembled clouds of crimson cotton candy, in others, it seemed more like a grey slimy mess.
Predictably, when the professors of Hogwarts saw the results of the deflagration, they promptly waved their wands to cast diagnostic spells. Soon, they were all frowning as they examined their wands. The diagnostics yielded inconsistent and contradictory results. Dumbledore, however, had much more serious concerns. His analyses yielded nothing because his wand now refused to cooperate.
In the damp and drafty caverns under the bank, the goblins were in an uproar. An archaic covenant had been invoked by a young witch. The pact was so old that what little was known of its origins was cloudy at best. There were no benefits in the deal for the goblins; they were bound to it by some very ancient magics, some very ancient soul magics. They would not and could not charge this witch any fees or penalties. Their efforts would yield neither profit nor recompense. This was the least of their worries. The girl had invoked something worse than a bad business deal. She had, through powers that now seemed to rest inside her, implemented a most ancient and feared binding on their very people. They had to do whatever she commanded, even though she hadn’t yet seemed to realize she had that effect on them.
The whispers ran wild. There were screams of outrage as the news traveled. The very idea should have been lost to time. No one should even know such a possibility existed. The magics involved should have been lost. It was inconceivable that such a thing even existed. Nevertheless, in the very core of their being they felt the truth of the matter.
After time unspoken, and despite the best efforts of generations of their kind, it had happened.
A new Goblin Lord had arisen.
Emma and Dan watched the herd crowd around the display in the electronics store. Like children everywhere, they were enthralled by the game console currently being presented.
“This is so much smaller than the ones in the arcade,” Lavender said as she hogged the controller.
“There is a noticeable decrease in quality though,” Parvati noted, watching the sprite of a red-suited man jump around.
“I still like it,” Lavender insisted.
“We can tell.” Seamus snickered, losing any hope that he’d get a turn.
“Are these common?” Neville asked Hermione, taking his eyes off the game long enough to observe her response.
“These just came out recently,” Hermione answered, “but the previous version has been out for years.”
“Well,” Sweetie said holding a new bag with a distinctive box sticking half way out, “they were reasonably priced.”
“How are you planning to get that to work at school?” Hermione asked, eyeing the latest purchase.
“Don’t know.” Sweetie shrugged, “a letter to Twilight will probably be all we need.”
“Still.” Dean commented, “You’d need a telly for that to work at all.”
“Apple Bloom’s got one,” Sweetie said, pointing to where the mentioned redhead was easily balancing a large box on her shoulder.
“Bloody!” Dan started after turning to look; he quickly rushed over to help the small girl with the heavy load.
Almost absently, Apple Bloom let him take the awkward box. “Thank you kindly,” she said once he had managed to stabilize the load.
Dumbfounded, the store attendant asked, “What have you been feeding her? I'd get a hernia if I tried lifting that by myself.”
“She’ll eat anything within arm’s reach that’s not moving,” Parvati said, not taking her eyes off Lavender’s game. “Give her a fork and even that’s fair game.”
“Hey!” Apple Bloom said indignantly.
“That’s it,” the attendant stated. “I’m getting a gym membership. Can’t have the little girls showing me up, now can I?”
The room was a riot of colors. Whoever had painted the walls must have been colorblind. The furniture wasn’t any better. Beanbags chairs in a shocking array of pigmentation littered the floor. Hidden lighting accentuated the brightly painted walls, chromatic beanbags, and the mercifully white door.
They had led him to this room and asked him to wait inside. Not really having a choice, he complied. Choosing a fluorescent orange beanbag that clashed horribly with his new blue coat, Harry sat and waited.
Peering at his new appendages, he could truly empathize with Scootaloo’s desire to fly. What he really wanted to do was to get out and try out his new wings. Instead, he had to wait. Waiting was making him edgy.
After what seemed like forever, the door opened and admitted a crimson earth pony with a yellow mane done up in a bun. “Hello Harry Potter,” she said cheerfully, closing the door behind herself and plopping onto the lime green beanbag next to his own.
Harry saw that a picture of a brain surrounded by a stethoscope graced her flank. “Hello,” he said tentatively.
“My name is Mending Psyche,” she enlightened him. “We two are going to be spending some time together.”
“Okay.” Harry said warily.
“You don’t seem to trust me very much,” the mare observed.
Harry elected not to answer as he continued to eye her warily.
After getting no reply, Mending asked, “Are there any adults that you trust?”
Harry stopped to consider the question. Were there any adults he trusted? Sure, Hagrid was a friend, his first even. Honestly, Hagrid reminded him of an overgrown kid more than anything else. Other than that giant, were there any adults he actually trusted?
Noting Harry’s lack of a ready response, Mending prompted, “What about Rarity?”
“I just met her today,” Harry revealed. “She says she’ll help me get away from the Dursleys, so I guess I trust her.”
“Mmmmmm.” Mending nodded her head knowingly. “That’s some interesting criteria for trusting somepony.”
“Where is she?” Harry asked. “She said that I just had to have an exam before she returned me to my friends.”
“Your exam isn’t over with yet,” Mending stated. “Besides, Rarity and her friends will have to talk to the Princess before she is allowed to take custody of you.”
Harry tilted his head questioningly.
“Tell me about the Dursleys,” Mending said, getting the conversation back on topic. She did not miss the way the foal withdrew in on himself when she made the demand.
“There they are,” Neville said, pointing out the twins
Emma followed his finger and sure enough, there were the two wandering chaperones. She wasn’t sure exactly when they had slipped away after the movie, but, predictably, they had found a group of girls to strike up a conversation with.
“Fred, George!” Apple Bloom shouted. “It’s time to head back; we’re carrying half the stores here.”
“Coming!” one of the twins returned as they both backed away from the girls, waving.
“You two should be ashamed, getting lost like that,” Parvati berated them once they had rejoined the group.
“We couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” one twin said.
“Besides, you were with Hermione’s parents,” the other finished.
“Speaking of home,” Emma said, “Hermione, wouldn’t you like to invite your friends over instead of heading back to the school so soon?”
“We wouldn’t all fit in the car,” Hermione said, “especially, not with all of our purchases.”
“Isn’t there a floo point closer to home?” Dan inquired, as he struggled with the television.
“We can meet you at your house after we get this stuff where it belongs,” Sweetie suggested, “if that’s okay with you.”
“Yes, that will do nicely.” Emma said watching her husband hand his burden off to the twins.
“What do you have in here?” Fred asked, splitting the load with his twin.
“Rocks?” George asked, “or a miniature dragon maybe?”
The twins staggered under their loads. Sighing, Apple Bloom strolled up and relieved them of their burdens, “Come on then,” she said leading the herd out the doors and aiming for the alley where they had arrived. "Ah want to get this stuff put away.”
The two responsible adults followed the children into the empty alleyway.
“Is there a hidden magical shop back here?” Emma asked, determined to see the students safely on their way.
“Um, no,” Dean said.
“Then how?” Dan asked.
“Philomena!” Sweetie called and with a burst of flames an elegant bird glided onto her shoulder.
“Bye Mum! Dad!” Hermione waved. “We’ll see you back at the house in a bit.”
The rest of the children said their goodbyes. More flames came, and they were gone.
“I really want to know what they are feeding that girl.” Dan rubbed his sore arms and grumbled once he and his wife were alone.
For over a decade, Safe Haven had been a guard pony. Too crass to be stationed in the palace itself, he had spent those years patrolling the streets of Canterlot. Together with his partner, he had seen just about every crisis the city could produce. He still shuddered at the thought of the Great Food Fight that had ravaged the restaurant district just three years prior. There had been guacamole everywhere!
In spite of all the chaos he’d seen, there were things ponies just didn’t do. Some things were just unthinkable. The current situation would be giving him nightmares for the rest of his life. He didn’t have all the details but the three mares he was herding to the Princess herself were somehow involved. They claimed that they were trying to help the foal, and given their demeanor, Safe Haven was inclined to believe them. The fact that they were the bearers of the Elements pointed to them being innocent. Still, no chances were being taken. As a result, a small mob was nearing the palace to request an audience with the rulers of the land. That the mob consisted of just over half of the staff of the hospital only underscored the seriousness of the situation.
As they approached the main entrance to the palace, one of the castle guard ponies strolled forward to address the angry mob. “Halt!” he commanded. “What seems to be the problem here?”
“Hello, Solid Foundation,” the lavender unicorn that Safe Haven knew was related to the captain, said. “There seems to be a minor misunderstanding and some misdirected anger. These ponies are insisting that we be presented to Princess Celestia without delay.”
“Some misdirected anger?” Solid Foundation surveyed the impassioned ponies clustered around the three Element Bearers. There was no word in the pony language for ‘lynching’, but it was apparent that this group was willing to invent one. “Does this happen to have anything to do with that last letter you sent the princess?”
“Maybe?” the lavender unicorn admitted. “Somewhat? . . .Okay, there might just be an undeniable connection.”
Solid Foundation had stopped listening at the word "maybe" and was already sending runners to alert the rest of the guards.
Comfortable in their car, the couple made their way home. Once again, Dan got directly to the point. “You realize that the twins weren’t in the mall when we got there. That’s why they sent Sweetie to go get them.”
“Let them think they’re getting away with something.” Emma smirked. “We don’t want them to learn that they are so transparent, yet. If we try reining them in, they are only going to get sneakier about it. I can think of worse things they could do than spending the afternoon at the mall.”
“How long before they start thinking of them, too?”
“Dan, despite your wishes, our daughter is growing up.” Emma comfortingly patted him on his knee. “We have to trust her having a ridiculous level of mobility. Besides, the witches obviously have a way to keep track of them. Discord had no problem tracking them down.”
“She’s too young,” Dan complained.
“She is,” Emma agreed. “She also has access to resources a normal almost twelve-year-old wouldn’t have.”
“There are blokes out there just waiting to snatch up unsuspecting little girls,” Dan insisted.
“They don’t attack groups and besides, I’d like to see one have a go at Apple. She’d put him in his place.”
“What are they feeding that girl?” A frown crossed Dan’s face. “That telly was bloody heavy and she barely registered its weight at all.”
“I’m sure magic is involved somehow.” Emma shrugged. “It just proves my point; young or not, those children are not targets. I know you want to keep them safe, but clipping their wings is only going to make them rebel.”
“They have a bird that can whisk them hundreds of miles in a blink of the eye,” Dan lamented.
“In a few years, they are going to be able to pop all over the country with just a thought,” Emma countered. “It's best to just get used to the notion now.”
“Pop all over the country?” Dan glanced at his wife before returning his attention back to the road.
“Professor McGonagall stopped by at a moment’s notice, without a second thought,” Emma said. “Apparently, it’s a thing witches and wizards do.”
Dan sighed at the news. “I suppose getting her a pocket phone would be the best idea then.”
“Magic and electricity aren’t supposed to mix well,” Emma said.
“They just bought a gaming console,” Dan countered. “They’ve got some way around that.”
Their feet scarcely touched the floor of the dormitory before Magah was all over them. The large unicorn started with Sweetie Belle, sniffing her all over and nudging her roughly to test for injuries. Then she moved to Seamus, rudely knocking him on his back in her haste to do a once over. Scootaloo’s attempt to make a break for the nearest trunk was interrupted as Magah snapped her neck out to capture the girl’s blouse in her teeth.
“Mad unicorn! Mad unicorn!” Lavender squealed when she was next.
“Yeah, she does seem irate,” George said, backing up to the wall.
“I think she knows you weren’t in your trunks.” Fred chortled.
“Halp!” came Parvati’s muffle cry as she received a face full of white fur.
The equine quickly inspected each of the herd, then checked them a second time. When she was done she pranced around the room franticly looking at each child in turn.
“What’s her problem?” Dean asked. “None of us are hurt.”
“Well it’s obvious,” Fred said.
“Harry’s not here,” George finished.
The foal was starting to get irritated by Mending’s constant barrage of personal questions. His attitude clearly asked, "Why won’t she just leave me alone?" Still reclining on his beanbag, Harry had unconsciously ruffled his feathers and his ears lay flat against his skull.
Well-versed in blatantly obvious pony body language, Mending Psyche changed her tactics. “Are you hungry? You haven’t eaten since you got here.”
“No,” Harry said, “I had sushi before I came here; I’m still full.”
“Hermione thought we should expand our horizons.” Harry nodded. “She took us to a restaurant that served sushi.”
“Hermione is one of your classmates at Hogwarts?” Mending prodded.
“So?” Mending blinked. “Sushi?”
“Yeah, it’s fancy raw fish with rice, seaweed, and other things.”
“Raw fish?” Mending asked. “You ate raw fish? I know some pegasi are partial to fish, but they normally cook it first.”
“Well, it isn’t steak, but it’s actually rather good,” Harry conceded. “I hadn’t tried it before today. I’m glad Hermione thought to suggest it.”
“Steak?” Mending inquired.
“What’s steak?” Mending urged.
“I’m not sure exactly what cuts of meat are steak,” Harry said.
“Meat?” Mending ears perked up as she analyzed the foal before her. “You regularly eat meat? Of what animal?”
“I’m pretty sure that steak is normally cow,” Harry disclosed.
“Cow?!” Mending’s professionalism broke, as did her voice, “You’ve eaten the flesh of cows?!”
“Is there something wrong with eating cows?” Startled, the foal shrunk back. He didn’t appear to be goading her to get a reaction. He sincerely saw nothing wrong with eating cows. The already abominable situation had just jumped up the scale of gruesome to achieve previously unheard-of levels of horror.
The herd had stashed their purchases in Scootaloo’s trunk. The task was made harder by an overprotective unicorn trying to stay close, including several more attempts to squeeze herself into the trunk.
“What are we going to do?” Hermione fretted. “There’s no way she’s going to be happy with us leaving again, and my parents are going to be waiting for us.”
“We could just take her with us,” Scootaloo suggested.
“A unicorn in a muggle neighborhood wouldn’t go over well,” Parvati asserted.
“We’re just going into the house,” Neville said. “It couldn’t be that bad.”
“That has the potential of going so pear-shaped that it’s not even funny,” Dean said.
“Wait.” Ginny spoke up. “I have an idea.”
Princess Celestia was holding court later than was her norm. Recent events had created a backlog. Sighing, she glanced at the ponies in line still patiently waiting to be heard. Soon, she would be lowering the sun and it would be her sister’s turn.
Without warning, a host of guard ponies marched into the room. “Attention everypony,” the captain of her guard announced. “We regret to inform you that court is closed for the day. Take the ticket that the guard gives you, and you will have the same place in line tomorrow.”
Celestia was as surprised as the other ponies in the room, but raised no objections. Curiously, she watched the guards herd the petitioners from the room, ignoring every complaint and challenge. They weren’t taking "no" for an answer. When a minor noble started to raise a fuss, a unicorn guard just bodily hauled her into the air, going so far as to wrap magic around her muzzle to keep her quiet.
“Is there something the matter?” Celestia asked, unsure what to make of the unusual behavior. “I assure you I’m capable of seeing the rest of the petitioners today.”
“Yes,” the captain said, “something has come up.”
Outside the throne room, the guards were mustering. Every available hoof was in attendance, including the reservists.
“Listen up!” an officer ordered. “We have a potential situation unfolding. Prepare for a code ‘Tempest” and possibly a code ‘Nightshade’ as well. Also, a code . . . Have we decided what to call it yet?”
“Code ‘Heart Attack’?” one guard suggested.
“’Heart Breaker,” another offered.
“Broken Heart” was suggested.
“Code ‘Da buck just happened?’”
“Code ‘liquid tears’?”
“Idiot, all tears are liquid.”
“Code ‘Walking Nightmare’.”
“I vote ‘Passion Pout’.”
“Are you serious?”
“Now you’re just getting absurd.”
Albus Dumbledore sat behind his desk and glared at the wand sitting on it. It had been his most prized possession ever since he had won it from Grindelwald. It was much more than just another wand. It was safe to say that it was "the wand", a powerful artifact in its own right. It was said to be the most powerful wand ever to exist. Fickle, it was a wand that accepted only one master.
The only way to become its owner was to beat the previous holder. It would resist being used in any manner by anyone else. For years, Dumbledore had been its wizard, confident in his stewardship of the relic.
Now, it spurned his call.
“Twilight?” Princess Celestia said as her student and her friends led a mass of ponies into the throne room. Unless Celestia missed her guess, a lot of those ponies were upset.
“Hello Princess,” Twilight said, lacking her normal cheer.
“Hello Princess Celestia.” Rarity waved. “I apologize for bothering you so late, but things seem to have gotten out of hoof.”
Fluttershy seemed to share a greeting as well, but it was lost behind her mane and trampled by the muttering of the trailing mob.
“A little out of hoof?” one grey pony wearing a stethoscope called out. “I have never been so angry in my life.”
This started a flood of yelling as ponies tried to top each previous call of outrage.
“EVERYPONY PLEASE!” Celestia demanded, gaining instant silence. “Give me a moment; we will get to the bottom of this.” Turning to Twilight she asked, “What is this all about?”
“Well,” Twilight said, “to make a long story short, we decided to get a second opinion and brought Harry Potter to Canterlot General.”
Twilight must have blinked. Celestia had been reclining on her cushion; now she was standing in front of Twilight with no transition in between. “You brought the foal to Equestria?”
“Yes, we wanted to confirm the results of the previous medical report,” Twilight said to her mentor.
“What were the results?”
“We don’t know,” Rarity said. “These ponies were understandably worried that we might somehow be involved and refused to share the report with us.”
Celestia looked at her and then shifted her focus to the group of medical personnel who had accompanied the horde. A yellow unicorn nurse was floating a thick folder. Without a word, Celestia reached out and claimed the paperwork as her own.
Onlookers watched a look claim her face, which they would be telling their foals about for generations to come . . . in quiet voices . . . trying not to wet themselves in the process.
There must have been a silent signal given, some sort of nonverbal cue, because suddenly there were guard ponies everywhere. Each one grabbed the nearest civilian and hauled ass
. . .
or pony . . .
. . .
or whatever equine happened to be within reach.
There wasn’t much time left in the day when Applejack put away the last of her tools. Work on the farm was never complete, but work for the day was finite. She had done all her chores for the day. Happily, one of the most time-consuming tasks had been taken up by the farm’s newest resident.
With scarcely a sound, that resident landed on the fence next to the orange mare.
“Howdy Lodestone,” she greeted with a smile; Big Mac’s new pet more than paid for his upkeep. “Did the deliver go off without a hitch?”
“What? Again?” Applejack frowned slightly, looking at the glowing rune on the owl’s pouch.
Sighing, Applejack reached out a hoof and said, “Ex dimittere” in a firm voice.
Resigned, Applejack looked at the plum mare then called over her shoulder, “Big Mac! Potent Potpourri is here ta see ya again!”
In the Hufflepuff common room an unusual conversation was taking place.
“Is it safe to let him sit on your head like that?” a fifth-year boy asked.
“He’s already eaten today,” the third-year girl in question answered. “Besides, head wounds just bleed a lot without much damage.”
“You’re not afraid he might decide on a late-night snack?”
“It’s no skin off my back if he does.” The girl shrugged.
“No, it’s off your head,” the boy countered.
“Oh good,” a seventh-year girl said entering the common room, “you’ve got Mouse; saves me the hassle of hunting him down.”
“Got a pimple?” the fifth-year girl asked.
“No,” the seventh year shook her head, “I just wanted to see how well he works on yeast infections.”
There was a noticeable pause.
“What!?” the first two speakers chorused.
“I said I wanted to see how well he works on yeast infections.” The eldest girl repeated.
“We heard you the first time.” The third-year girl growled.
“Then why’d you ask?”
“That there is some mental imagery I could have done without.” The fifth-year boy stated turning slightly green.
“Oh, grow up.”
“We have potions for that, you know.” The younger girl exclaimed.
“Technically, Mouse is a potion.”
Flames filled the Granger’s backyard. Where there had been no one, there was now a gaggle of children.
Confidently, one of them led the rest to the backdoor. “Mum! We’re here!” she called instead of knocking.
“Hermione, we were just starting to get worried that you weren’t going to make it,” Emma said as her kitchen started to fill with guests.
“We had a small difficulty that needed an immediate resolution,” Hermione said.
“It was kind of humorous,” Lavender added.
“I see you brought your phoenix,” Dan said eyeing the avian on Sweetie Belle’s shoulder. “I just have one question.”
“We kind of expected you would,” Neville said.
“Good,” Dan said getting to the heart of the matter, “Then would you kindly explain why you have a grown woman with you dressed as Lady Godiva?”
Seamus snorted and said, “Obviously, because, a five-hundred-pound unicorn would have caused too much of a spectacle.”