Sunset Shimmer and the Boy Who Lived

by cullexoh

The Boy Who Lived

And here's the last chapter for a while.

Rest assured I'll get her to Hogwarts, but this is the last concrete Chapter I'll be putting out, as I have other issues that require my attention, like getting a job.

On a side note, I'll be trying to address several Plot Holes that appear during the course of the series (The Troll in the Dungeon scene in particular), but feel free to let me know if I miss anything.

That said, let's see how things go eh?

Chapter 3: The Boy Who Lived.

After a decidedly more thorough check-up from an overzealous matron than she would have preferred, followed by a hearty breakfast of porridge, toast and as much bacon as she could handle in one sitting, Sunset felt like a new mare…girl…whatever the hay she was supposed to be at the moment.

Despite her earlier apprehensions, it seemed she was well on the way to achieving her destiny if the faculty of Hogwarts (seriously, who named their school after a skin affliction?) were even half as qualified in their respective fields as Dumbledore claimed. If they were even half as dedicated as Madam Pomfrey had been, she was definitely in good hooves...Hands rather.

“Miss Shimmer?” a stern female voice called out as she finished her breakfast, drawing her attention to a tall, though by no means as tall as Dumbledore, older mare dressed as a stereotypical witch, though given the name of the school, that was most likely what she was “I am Professor Minerva McGonagall,” she introduced primly, though not unkindly “Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts, Head of Gryffindor House and the Transfiguration Professor.”

“Good morning, Professor McGonagall.” Sunset greeted, falling back on her foal-hood training under Celestia as she rose from her bed, spending a perilous moment to find her balance before offering an awkward bow to what was essentially Dumbledore’s Second-in-command “A pleasure to meet you.”

“Yes, quite.” McGonagall returned, looking oddly flustered for some reason “Though in future, Miss Shimmer, there will be no need to bow when greeting someone. While Students are expected to show the proper respect to both the Faculty and their peers, such practices fell out of favor along with Corporal Punishment some time ago.”

“Understood, Professor.” Sunset acknowledged, internally sighing in relief, as she had always hated kowtowing to certain lecturers that thought highly of themselves simply because of pedigree. Well, up until she showed them up that is “Did you need me for something?”

“Professor Dumbledore has tasked me with assisting you with the acquisition of your school necessities.” The older mare explained, some of her sternness giving way in the face of Sunset’s politeness “If you have been cleared by Madam Pomfrey, we can begin as soon as you are ready.”

“I’m ready as I’ll ever be.” Sunset reasoned, moving to pass McGonagall only to pause as the Professor cleared her throat “Is something wrong?”

“It might behoove you to change your attire, Miss Shimmer.” McGonagall suggested primly, though not without an undertone of good humor “While I confess to not particularly caring for the latest fashion trends, parading around Diagon Alley in your pajamas would attract far more attention than I think you’d care for at the moment.”

“Oh, right.” Sunset mused, glancing down at the clothes she’d woken up in, having completely forgotten about them, far more focused on trying to figure out how her new appendages worked. Thankfully, the buttons of her current attire had proven most useful in that regard “Do I really need to change into something else? I’m not really comfortable with the whole ‘clothes’ thing.”

“Be that as it may.” McGonagall pressed with the ease of long patience, levelling a stare at the suddenly nervous Shimmer that nailed her to the spot “As a student you will be expected to wear your uniform at all times during school hours, and proper attire at all other times. Do I make myself clear?”

“C-Crystal.” Sunset assured the suddenly intimidating Professor, breathing a sigh of relief as McGonagall finally eased up the pressure, leaving her to get changed out of her clothes and into the new set that had been provided for her “Wow, and I thought Kibitz’ glares could cut to the bone…”

After getting properly dressed to McGonagall’s specifications, including the underwear that the woman had insisted she wear, Sunset found herself making her way through the halls of Hogwarts towards the Deputy Headmistress’ office. At first she’d deemed the school’s interior decidedly drab and lacking compared to the Palace or Celestia’s School, which had both been designed to be aesthetically pleasing by the finest architects of their time, but she had to admit the moving paintings were a novel bit of charm-work.

‘It’s almost as if they’re alive.’ She mused, reaching out to touch a nearby portrait of a mare in impressive garb, only to yelp and draw her hand back as something slapped her “What the-?!”

“Such impertinence!” the painting scolded, opening the fan she’d used to ward off Sunset’s questing hand to conceal her face with a haughty glare “In my day children new better than to lay their hands on their betters!”

“You’re…alive?!” Sunset stammered, gaping at the painting in shock, noting with dawning wonderment that several of the others had paused in what they were doing to watch the show “But…how…?!”

“Come along Miss Shimmer.” Professor McGonagall called out from down the hall, snapping sunset out of her daze, the former unicorn hurrying after the tall witch, more than happy to escape from those prying eyes “And for future reference, please avoid touching any of the Paintings without permission.”

“But…they’re alive!” Sunset exclaimed, unable to wrap her mind around the impossibility before her “How did you manage to bring them to life?”

“I am afraid that is not my field of expertise.” McGonagall admitted with surprising humility “If you wish to learn more, I believe Professor Flitwick, our Charms Professor, would be more than willing to accommodate you, provided it doesn’t interfere with his duties.” She paused in front of a door “That said, do come along Miss Shimmer, we have a busy day ahead of us.”

“Yes ma’am…but I thought we were going to purchase my school things?” Sunset queried, looking around the neat, strangely cozy looking office with a hint of approval. Say what you like about the Deputy Headmistress, she new how keep her office in order “Wait, is that my bag?”

“I believe so.” McGonagall confirmed, gesturing towards a backpack on her desk which bore Sunset’s Cutie Mark on the cover “Professor Dumbledore asked me to return it to you. Please feel free to check that nothing is missing before we set out.”

‘At least I have something familiar with me…’ Sunset sighed as she picked up the backpack that was once her saddlebags to check the contents, suppressing a grimace as she espied the journal Celestia had given her in order to keep in contact, ignoring it in favor of her bag of bits, which she thrust into one of the pockets of her borrowed leggings, jeans she believed McGonagall called them.

“If you’re quite ready miss Shimmer?" Professor McGonagall called out, drawing the former unicorn’s attention to the fireplace, removing a handful of powder from a pot on the mantle, which she promptly tossed into the flames, Sunset’s eyes widening as they shifted to a bright green, the Fireplace itself expanding so that it towered over the Deputy Headmistress “Now then, if you would kindly join me in the fireplace-”

“You want me to what?!” Sunset exclaimed, eyeing the woman in alarm as she backed up against the door, wondering if she’d perhaps made a mistake in accepting Dumbledore’s offer only to blink as McGonagall gaped at her in surprise, which quickly shifted to a look of understanding.

“Ah, forgive me, Miss Shimmer.” She offered, inclining her head in apology, “Given the means by which you arrived in Hogwarts and the Headmaster’s assurances of your magical knowledge, I had assumed you would be familiar with the existence of Floo Powder.” She gestured to the pot on her mantle “While Apparition is blocked by the Hogwarts Wards, it is possible for Faculty members to communicate and travel via the Floo Network to designated locations.”

‘So it’s kind of like spell Dragons use to send messages, only customized for transportation?’ Sunset deduced, recalling her lectures on the various uses of Dragon Fire, aside from their trademark setting of Extra Crispy “So I just toss some powder in the fire and it’ll take me where I need to go?”

“Yes, but only to and from fireplaces connected to the Floo Network.” McGonagall elaborated “For future reference, I must also stress the importance of clearly pronouncing your destination before entering. Many a Witch and Wizard have made the mistake of stuttering or slurring their words, only to find themselves trapped behind a walled-up fire-place with no means of escape.”

“Understood.” Sunset acknowledged, shivering at the very idea as she slung her backpack over her shoulder, some of her old confidence returning along with her desire to learn more about this new means of travel. After all, while teleportation existed in Equestria, only the most powerful of Unicorns could accomplish such a feat and never over long distances. If Sunset could reverse engineer or even improve upon whatever magics allowed for such a convenient mode of transportation, the patents alone would be enough to have her name recorded for all of time “Okay…how do we do this?”

“Simply step into the Fire with me.” McGonagall instructed patiently, offering her hand to the former unicorn with a kind smile that Sunset accepted after a moment’s hesitation, bracing herself instinctively for the heat as she allowed McGonagall to guide her into the fireplace, only to gasp as, rather than the heat she was expecting, she felt a cool, almost ticklish sensation.

“Yes, it is rather ticklish isn’t it?” McGonagall noted, and Sunset was shocked to see a hint of amusement in her normally stern features “Now then, make sure to keep your elbows tucked in, yes, that’s good. Now, shut your eyes and don’t let go of my hand no matter what.”

“Okay.” Sunset whispered, unable to help the hint of uncertainty in her voice as she followed the older mare’s instruction, more than a little grateful for the comforting squeeze McGonagall gave her hand before clearing her throat and calling out

“The Leaky Cauldron, London.”

Almost immediately after, Sunset gasped in alarm as the bottom dropped out of her stomach, the former Unicorn gripping onto McGonagall’s hand for dear life as the floor vanished beneath her, her ears filling with a deafening roar that reminded her of that one time she’d fallen into a river as a foal, only without the feeling of being wet.

Then, just as soon as it started, the feeling of falling vanished and she was stumbling out of the fireplace, only McGonagall’s strong grip on her hand keeping her from falling flat on her face. “Easy there, Miss Shimmer.” The elder Mare assured her, patting her comfortingly on her trembling shoulders, bringing up her wand to banish the dust and soot coating her frame “You handled yourself very well, far better than most do their first time.”

“Blimey, issat you Professor McGonagall?” a loud voice boomed, cutting off whatever Sunset was about to say and drawing her attention to her surroundings. A first glance it reminded her of an old Trottingham style pub she’d visited once during her student days, the kind of place that advertised itself as ‘rustic’ and ‘charming’ in order to draw in those Canterlotians interested in the simple life of Earth Ponies.

However, not even the most ‘down to earth’ of Canterlot’s clientele could have described the pub before her as anything less than ‘shabby’, not helped at all by the low lighting making it appear out of something from the old days before the first Hearths Warming.

However, all of that paled in comparison to the small crowd of what was likely the pub’s patrons clustered around what she first assumed to be a bear in an overcoat, only for her eyes to widen as she realized she was gazing upon the most massive stallion, or whatever they called males around here, she was ever likely to see, towering over even Dumbledore, who was himself taller than McGonagall.

“Good morning, Hagrid, Quirinius.” McGonagall greeted primly, yet with a touch of fondness that hadn’t escaped Sunset, putting the former Unicorn at ease as she approached the walking mountain and a smaller figure clad in a purple turban, “I was unaware you would be here, Quirinius, did Albus send you?”

“J-j-j-just passing th-th-through M-M-Minerva.” the turbaned stallion assured the older mare with a nervous smile and a stutter so fake it raised several flags in Sunset’s mind, though nowhere near as many as the sudden brush she felt against her mental barriers as the man glanced her way “I was p-p-p-planning to pick up a n-n-n-new book on v-v-vampires. Yourself?”

“I am assisting a First-Year with their shopping.” McGonagall explained, gesturing towards Sunset, who stood up straighter at the sudden attention “Miss Shimmer, allow me to present Professor Quirinius Quirrel, our Defense against the Dark Arts Professor.”

“Nice to meet you, Professor Quirrel.” Sunset lied through her teeth, thankful for her years of court-training that allowed her to keep her true emotions hidden. As Celestia’s protégé, Sunset had lost count of the times somepony had tried to take advantage of her to either elevate their status or push forward some agenda that needed Celestia’s approval. While the number proficient enough in mental magics had been thankfully few and far between, mostly due to many not wanting to associate with what was rightfully considered a ‘dark’ magic, there had been enough, both during Sunset’s tenure and long since prior, for Celestia to make it compulsory that all of her students have at least enough fore-knowledge to be able to protect themselves.

‘I’ll have to keep my eyes on that one.’ She noted, eyeing the turban-sporting professor warily as he chatted with McGonagall, still using that fake stutter ‘It could simply be he’s the paranoid type given his profession, but something about him doesn’t feel right.’

“And this is Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of the Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts.” McGonagall introduced, gesturing to the walking mountain before regarding Sunset with a stern expression that reminded her all-too-much of Celestia “While he is not a Professor, you will afford him the same respect you would any other member of the faculty, is that clear?”

“Crystal, Professor.” Sunset assured her, and she honestly meant it. While normally she’d have rolled her eyes at the concept of showing deference to what was ostensibly a gardener, it was a different matter entirely with a ‘Keeper of the Keys’, which was one of Kibitz’ lesser discussed but by no means unimportant duties as Celestia’s Advisor, and essentially granted the old Stallion the exclusive authority to go wherever he pleased within Canterlot, even Celestia’s private chambers if need be, without having to get permission from the Princess first.

It was for this reason, among countless others, that had encouraged Sunset to avoid getting on Kibitz’ bad side, the old Stallion having more than earned the respect he was due. It was for this same reason, and the fact he looked like he could crush her with one massive hand, that she vowed to avoid crossing this Rubeus Hagrid at any cost “Nice to meet you, Mr. Hagrid.”

“’ere now, none o’ tha’” Hagrid chuckled “Mr. Hagrid was my Da. Yeh can jus’ call me Hagrid iff’n yeh like.” He then reached behind him, drawing Sunset’s attention to a small figure that had been completely hidden behind the Stallion’s massive bulk “An’ this ere’s Harry, c’mon say ‘ello Harry.”

“H-Hello.” Harry greeted nervously, his shockingly emerald eyes blinking at Sunset shyly from behind a messy black mane and cheap-looking spectacles that had clearly been broken several times. This, combined with his over-sized, baggy clothes, which made him seem smaller than he probably was, though given how he was half a head shorter than Sunset that wasn’t really saying much, quickly raised several red flags in Sunset’s eyes “I’m Harry Potter.”

“Nice to meet you Harry.” Sunset greeted, offering the boy a confident smile, her eyes narrowing slightly as she caught several of the patrons’ mutter something about her being a ‘Muggleborn’ “I’m Sunset Shimmer, this is Professor McGonagall.” She smiled cheekily, deciding to test the waters “Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite.”

“Quite.” McGonagall noted primly even as Sunset’s quip earned a barking laugh from Hagrid and a few scandalized whispers from the bar’s patrons, though Sunset was pleased to note a hint of humor in the older mare’s otherwise stern glare, a genuine smile adorning her face as she reached out to shake the colt’s hand “A pleasure to meet you again Mr. Potter.”

“Have we met before, Professor?” Harry wondered, blinking in confusion as he withdrew his hand, Sunset noting McGonagall’s sudden scowl with interest.

“I had the…pleasure…of ensuring you were delivered to your relatives after the unfortunate death of your parents.” McGonagall admitted, her expression saying all that needed to be said in regards to her opinion on the matter “I trust you still have your Hogwarts letter, Mr. Potter?” she nodded as Harry pulled it out of his pocket “Very well, Miss Shimmer and I shall accompany you as we purchase your school things. Will you be joining us, Quirinius?”

“Ah, no…” the turbaned Professor faux-stuttered apologetically, insisting that he was only here to pick up his book “I r-r-r-really must be g-g-going…”

“I understand.” Minerva assured him kindly, earning a quirked brow from Sunset as they watched the man depart through the back door of the pub “Perhaps he should have taken more time off after all…”

“Is he always that nervous?” Harry asked Hagrid, much to Sunset’s relief, as she was curious as to how to broach the subject without coming off as invasive.

“Oh, yeah.” The giant stallion confirmed with a nod “Poor bloke. Brilliant mind. He was fine while he was studyin’ outta books but then he took a year off ter get some firsthand experience. They say he met vampires in the Black Forest and there was a nasty bit o’ trouble with a hag...” he shuddered, and he wasn’t the only one, several of the bars patrons looking decidedly uncomfortable, heck even Sunset was feeling more than a little wary at the confirmation of such creatures existing “Never been the same since. Scared of the students, scared of his own subject…”

“That will be quite enough, Hagrid.” Professor McGonagall chastised primly, impressing Sunset once again with how easily she silenced the walking mountain without raising her voice “You know as well as I that Albus would not have granted Quirinius his post if he possessed any doubts as to his ability to teach.”

“Righ, sorry Professor.” The Groundskeeper rumbled apologetically, looking for all the world like a foal caught with his hoof in the cookie-jar that Sunset honestly couldn’t help smiling as they exited the Pub via the same door Quirrel had left, only to find themselves standing in an alley behind the pub, empty save for a trashcan lying against the far wall.

“Watch closely, Mr. Potter, Miss Shimmer.” McGonagall instructed, pulling out her wand as she approached the wall, raising her wand to a spot three bricks above and two bricks across from the top of the trashcan lid “You will need to do this yourselves one day.”

“Do what?” Harry wondered, only to look on in wonderment along with an equally startled Sunset as the brick the Professor tapped quivered, wriggled, and then began to shift, a small a small hole appearing, growing steadily wider until, less than a second later, they found themselves facing an archway large enough for even Hagrid to stride through unhindered.

“Mr. Potter, Miss Shimmer.” McGonagall called out, smiling fondly at the pair as she turned to face them in the archway “It gives me great pleasure to be the first to welcome you to Diagon Alley.”

Beyond the archway lay a cobbled street that twisted out of sight, revealing a bustling market street, lined on all sides by an assortment of restaurants, shops and various traders peddling their wares to the crowds milling around them.

However, while Harry was gaping at his surroundings in wonderment, Sunset couldn’t help but flinch, as the scene was so similar to her own foal-hood memories, both before and after her time as Celestia’s student, that despite the lack of ponies she couldn’t help but feel a pang of homesickness.

‘Stop thinking about it.’ She glowered, clamping down on such her emotions before they could get out of hand ‘I knew what we were getting into when we jumped into the mirror…such feelings will just hold me back.’

“Hey…are you okay?” a voice asked hesitantly, snapping Sunset out of her thoughts to find the colt, Harry, eyeing her nervously as they followed behind McGonagall with Hagrid bringing up the rear.

“I’m fine.” She snapped back, only to grimace as he flinched at her tone “Sorry…just…this place reminds me of my hometown.” she admitted, pointedly ignoring a sign offering Dragon’s Liver for sale “I haven’t been back in years…didn’t think it would hurt so much.”

“It’s okay.” Harry assured her, the colt’s understanding expression stunning Sunset for a moment until she recalled what McGonagall had mentioned earlier regarding his parents.

“It’s not that my parents are dead!” she countered hurriedly “It’s just…we don’t get along very well…and it doesn’t look like I’ll be seeing them any time soon either.”

Before Harry could ask her what she meant, they were forced to pull up short as McGonagall stopped at the foot of a set of stone stairs that led up to a snowy white building that towered over the other little shops, not unlike how Canterlot Palace towered over the rest of the city. Standing beside its burnished bronze doors, wearing a uniform of scarlet and gold, was a creature about a foot shorter than Harry with evil little eyes set in a swarthy, clever face tipped by a pointed beard.

“Yeah, that’s a goblin,” Hagrid whispered to Harry as they walked up the steps toward him, having apparently mentioned them to the boy at some point. Sunset, having never seen such a creature before, couldn’t help but stare at it as they drew closer, an action the goblin was more than willing to reciprocate, narrowing his evil little eyes at her even as he bowed as they walked inside the bronze doors, only to be met with two more goblins guarding a second set of silver doors engraved with words that sent a shiver down Sunset’s spine.

“Like I said, yeh’d be mad ter try an’ rob it,” Hagrid whispered to Harry as the second set of goblins bowed them through the silver doors into a vast marble hall where at least a hundred more of their race sat behind long counters, scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass scales or examining precious stones through eyeglasses. There were too many doors to count leading off the hall, and yet more goblins were showing people in and out of these.

“Do you have Mr. Potter’s Vault Key with you, Hagrid?” Professor McGonagall asked, waiting patiently as the giant stallion rummaged through his coat pockets before holding up a tiny gold key “Excellent, I shall see to Mr. Potter and Miss Shimmer, while you see to more pressing matters.”

“Wha-? Oh! Righ’, righ’…” Hagrid exclaimed after a moment's confusion, the Keeper of the Keys, ironically, handing the key over to the Deputy Headmistress before nodding at Harry “I’ll catch yeh later Harry, you listen to Professor McGonagall, she won’t steer you wrong.”

“Why does Hagrid have the key to Harry’s vault?” Sunset wondered aloud as the Groundskeeper lumbered off to join one of the queues, a question that Harry himself seemed to be wondering as he finished waving at his escort “Shouldn’t it be with his caretakers?”

“Normally, yes.” McGonagall admitted with a grim frown “However, Mr. Potter’s…relatives…could not be trusted with his finances, so it has been held in trust for him until he could attend Hogwarts.” She turned to level a stern look at Harry “That does not, however, mean that you have access to all your parents’ money. A Trust fund has been set aside to cover your education, I advise you avoid any needless expenditure, as you will not be able to access the rest of your account until you come of age at seventeen.”

“Makes sense.” Sunset reasoned, as she was more than used to managing her stipend even before she became Celestia’s student, though admittedly her savings had grown considerably due to her not really wanting for anything living in the palace “By the way Professor, I know the Headmaster mentioned a trust fund, but I actually have some money on me.” she held up her bag of bits “You think I could exchange it here? Maybe get some spending money?”

“Yes, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up Miss Shimmer.” McGonagall insisted apologetically as they joined a cue of their own “The current exchange rate for Non-Wizarding currency is…less than inspiring.”

“If you have a problem with our rates, you’re free to take your business elsewhere.” A voice snarked, startling the children, who looked up to find themselves gazing up at a sneering goblin.

“Good morning.” McGonagall greeted primly, the goblin’s sneer devolving into a scowl at her unflappable nature “I am here to make a withdrawal from Mr. Harry Potter’s safe.”

“You have his key?” the Goblin demanded, scowling as the Professor deftly handed the key over for his inspection, turning it over several times in his hands, as if trying to detect a forgery “That seems to be in order.” He grudgingly admitted at last “I will have someone take you down to the vault. Griphook!” he barked, another goblin hurrying over “A withdrawal for Vault Six-Hundred and Eighty-Seven.”

“I would also like to exchange some money for my student here.” McGonagall noted primly “Miss Shimmer, if you would kindly accompany Mr. Potter to his vault, I will see about opening an account for you.”

“You really don’t need to do that.” Sunset assured her, more out of a desire to avoid leaving a paper-trail than any fear the woman was going to cheat her out of her savings. Though their time together had been short, Sunset considered herself very good at reading people and from what little she’d seen McGonagall appeared to be the strict yet fair kind of instructor who valued the rules and would no-sooner allow harm to befall her charges than Celestia would turn down cake.

In the end, however, McGonagall’s insistence won out in the end, the Deputy-Headmistress asking Griphook to ‘take it slow’ as he led Sunset and Harry away, though judging from the Goblin’s leer, it wasn’t likely he intended to honor her request.

“Exchanges are the next till over.” the Goblin manning the till instructed, tilting his head towards one of his colleagues, who was weighing several rubies the size of glowing coals, only to snarl as McGonagall politely thanked him and moved over to the till in question.

“Good Morning.” She greeted, waiting patiently for the Goblin to finish jotting down the current gem’s value “I would like to exchange some foreign currency.”

“Exchange rates are non-negotiable.” The Goblin quipped, not even bothering to look up from his ledger as he reached for another ruby “Please check the value against the official list.”

“I’m afraid that will be impossible.” McGonagall countered primly, opening up Sunset’s bag and depositing a single gold coin on the table “I’m afraid this currency is not on the list.”

The Goblin glared at her, opening his mouth as if to tell her off, only to pause, his eyes narrowing as he reached down to pick up the coin with his long fingers, the Professor’s back shivering as she suddenly noticed the entire bank had fallen silent, every single Goblin looking up from their ledgers to peer at the coin.

“Where…” the goblin demanded, and at first Minerva thought the tremble in his voice might be anger, but on closer inspection she realized the Goblin was physically restraining himself “did you say this coin came from?”

“I have a letter from Professor Dumbledore that can better explain the matter.” McGonagall replied primly, refusing to allow the smugness she felt internally from showing on her face as the Goblins, as one, began to swear in gobbledygook.

After all, it wasn’t often that a Witch or Wizard managed to pull one over the Goblins, even by proxy.