Sunset Shimmer and the Boy Who Lived

by cullexoh

The Hogwarts Express

Chapter 5: The Hogwarts Express.

“Good morning Princess.” Kibitz greeted as he entered Celestia’s personal chambers, Raven levitating a tray of steaming tea alongside him.

“Good morning Kibitz, Raven.” Celestia returned, smiling pleasantly at the pair as she trotted in from the balcony using her hoof to suppress a yawn “Busy schedule today?”

“As always, Ma’am.” Kibitz confirmed, smiling subtly at the flash of irritation in the Alicorn’s eyes that she quickly covered up as Raven poured her a steaming pot of tea “Though if it’s any consolation, I’ve set aside an entire hour for you and Miss Sparkle after Luncheon.”

“Bless you, Kibitz.” Celestia sighed, smiling gratefully at not having to deal with the trappings of court for another hour. It was times like this she truly regretted not forming a council to help delegate such matters after being forced to banish Luna. The problem with such an action, however, was that she’d already lived through the headache such a decision would result in.

Half the problems faced during the formation of Equestria had been the result of nopony being able to agree with what was best for the nation. The Earth Ponies wanted a Democracy with elected Leaders, the Militaristic Pegasi wanted an Stratocracy that prioritized the Armed Forces and the Unicorns…well the less said about their views on how things should be run the better.

“I trust Twilight has been settling in well?” the Princess inquired, hoping to taker her mind of the past by focusing on the future, namely a certain filly's role in it.

“Almost too well.” Kibitz admitted with a chuckle “I’ve received several complaints from the Head Librarian of her sneaking in after hours and building book forts to sleep in…several times a night in fact.”

“She does love her books…” Celestia chuckled, taking a sip of her tea just as a burst of flame startled Raven, the Princess’ catching the teapot with her magic before it could shatter on the ground before smiling at the new arrival “And good morning to you Fawkes, I trust Albus is doing well?”

“I’ll never get used to that…” Kibitz sighed as he helped Raven to her hooves, the startled unicorn glaring up at the male phoenix, years of dealing with Philomena’s antics letting her know he’d done that on purpose “Another report from Professor Dumbledore I take it? I trust Sunset Shimmer is doing well?”

“Very well, thankfully.” Celestia confirmed with a relieved sigh, though Kibitz didn’t miss the troubled look in her eyes “Albus tells me she’s made herself quite at home in the castle Library, despite the best efforts of the Librarian.”

“Ah, situation normal then.” Kibitz didn’t quite snark, it wouldn’t be proper and he was above such things, but it was strangely comforting to know that Celestia’s errant student hadn’t changed that much, though he quickly changed his tune at sight of her concerned frown “I understand your concern, Princess, but it has only been just over a month since she arrived in their world.” He reminded her while checking his pocket watch “If memory serves, the other students won’t be arriving until…later today actually.”

“I understand that, Kibitz.” Celestia assured him with a weary sigh “I just can’t help but worry about her. Sunset has a brilliant mind and is an excellent student…but that talent led to her being isolated from her peers. While I blame myself for pushing her away, I wouldn’t have been forced to take such action if she’d just opened up and made friends.”

Normally this would be the point where Kibitz would offer some sage words of advice, to remind his Princess that nopony could predict the future, but such platitudes fell dismally short when it came to Celestia, whom at times had seemingly predicted the worst catastrophes to ever befall Equestria over the course of her thousand-year reign, to the point many believed her to be all-seeing and omnipotent.

Indeed, early into his career Kibitz had been of the same mind, it wasn’t until he’d served as her Advisor for several years that he realized, as all his predecessors before him had, that at the end of the day his Princess wasn’t the infallible deity that many a laypony believed her to be. She was simply a sad, lonely mare who had the reins of power thrust onto her far too early with the loss of her mentor, and with the loss of her sister had been forced to mature before she ever got the chance to enjoy life, in order to ensure her subjects could enjoy theirs.

It was a humbling thought, but one that had galvanized the then young Kibitz into becoming the Stallion he was today. While there was very little he, or anypony really, could do to relieve the burdens Celestia had born for so long, he would always be there to provide moral support, if nothing else.

Well, that and ensure idiots like Blueblood were kept as far away from the throne room as possible. Seriously, take your eyes off the idiot for too long and he’d have all the paintings replaced with portraits of himself.

“Have faith, milady.” He offered solemnly, earning a look of surprise from the Princess and Raven “While I confess to not possessing the best opinion of Miss Shimmer,” he pressed on despite Celestia’s frown “I at the very least can acknowledge she isn’t a fool. If she hopes to survive in this new world without the benefit of your patronage, then she will need to at least make connections outside the school.”

“That is true…” Celestia acknowledged, some of the worry fading from her features “And Albus did mention that she was getting along well with one of the Professors.”

“Oh? Albus is it?” Kibitz noted, smiling coyly as he caught the telltale look of alarm in Celestia’s eyes before she averted her gaze to sip her tea “Far be it from me to comment on your private life, Princess, but I feel I must advise caution if you seek to start a long-distance relationship with a…younger Stallion.”

The ensuing spit-take, and the deliciously scandalized look on Raven’s face, was one of the many happy memories that would warm Kibitz’ heart until his dying day.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy - Muggle Studies Classroom.

“And…time!” a cheery voice called out, Sunset sighing as she put down her quill and sat back, using her free hand to massage the one that had been writing for the past hour.

“Glad that’s over…” she grumbled, wincing as her joints popped before glancing up as her parchment was collected for evaluation “So how do you think I did?”

“Well if the quality of your penmanship is any indication then at the very least you’ve greatly improved from when we started Sunset.” Her examiner chuckled “Then again, if penmanship were all one needed to get ahead in this world we wouldn’t need wands.”

“I suppose that’s true.” Sunset chuckled, unable to help smiling at the older woman as she returned to her desk to mark the former Unicorn's efforts, said Unicorn releasing a sigh as she glanced out the classroom window.

It had been over a month since Sunset arrived in this strange, alien world with it’s strange variation of Magic. Needless to say, she hadn’t been idle during that time, pouring over every piece of text she could get her hands on, and a few she technically shouldn’t have had access to, from both her own collection and the Hogwarts Library.

As you might imagine, this hadn’t endeared her any to the Hogwarts Librarian, Madam Pince, who like many a Librarian before her was possessed of the belief that Books, as a whole, belonged on a shelf, preferably hers, and was thus predisposed to despise anyone, student, faculty or otherwise, who committed the sacrilege of taking them off said shelves and wearing out the words by reading them.

Fortunately for Sunset, there wasn’t a lot the old vulture could actually do to stop her from doing so provided she followed the, admittedly impressive, list of rules pertaining to the borrowing of said books, several of which she suspected to be of Madam Pince’s own design.

Unfortunately for Madam Pince, with the exception of the incident with the Mirror, Sunset was more than used to finding and abusing loopholes in Celestia’s many, many rules, and it had only taken a single conversation with Professor McGonagall before Pince was reduced to glaring impotently at the former unicorn due to her informing the Deputy Headmistress that looming over her like the vulture she resembled bordered on harassment.

‘I can’t believe I actually had to dig up a book of law to explain that being the same gender wasn’t a credible defense.’ Sunset marveled, shaking her head at how backwards this society could be, as she knew from experience that Mares were just as capable, if not more so, of harassing their fellow Mares as any Stallion ‘Good grief, it’s almost as if they’re stuck in the dark ages!’

“Well the results are in Miss Shimmer.” Her examiner chirped, drawing Sunset’s attention back to the classroom only to be faced with a kind smile “I’m pleased to say you’ve passed your Eleven-Plus exam with flying colors, congratulations.”

“Thank you, Professor Burbage.” Sunset returned, smiling gratefully at the older woman tiredly “I couldn’t have done it without your help.”

“Oh, think nothing of it my dear.” Professor Burbage assured her with a wave and a kind smile “I’m just grateful that the Headmaster gave me this opportunity.”

Charity Burbage was one of the younger Professors at Hogwarts, though by no means did this mean she was a spring chicken. If Sunset was pressed to place her age, she’d wager the woman was middle-aged at best, pushing forty at the very most. Then again, from what she’d read Wizards and Witches tended to live longer lives than their non-magical cousins, something she could easily believe considering how spry Dumbledore acted given his own impressive age.

The two had met when Dumbledore had happened across Sunset voicing her confusion on the lack of information pertaining to the non-magical world in the library, one of the few differences between this world and her own, as even in Canterlot, where the population consisted mostly of unicorn elitists, there existed texts from all three pony tribes, as well as a few other species that Celestia had acquired over the course of her thousand year reign.

Needless to say, the revelation that the Wizarding World had distanced themselves from their non-magical brethren, to the point the latter believed the existence of magic itself to be a work of fiction, had floored Sunset even more than Celestia’s dismissal had. Not even the fact they had done so for survival, and boy had the night terrors she’d had endured after learning about that particularly dark period of history been fun, did anything to help her come to terms with such a discrepancy.

In Equestria, Magic was synonymous with life itself. It didn’t matter what species of Pony you were, or even if you were a Pony at all, Magic existed in all shapes and forms, whether it was Celestia moving the Sun and Moon, to the simple magic of helping crops grow or making a child laugh. For an entire subset of a species to be forced to go to such extremes simply to ensure their survival…had Dumbledore not stepped in to correct her assumptions by introducing her to Professor Burbage, Sunset could have very easily written off the entire ‘Muggle’ World as a lost cause.

A Muggleborn herself, Professor Burbage was all too eager to enlighten Sunset of the truth of the Non-Wizarding World, providing her with books, newspaper articles and the occasional trip to non-magical London to let her expand her world view and watch several educational films that had been enough to blow Sunset’s preconceived notions completely out of the water.

It was like looking at two sides of the same coin. On the one hand you had the Wizards and Witches, with their spells that defied all the known laws of physics and a menagerie of beasts, creatures and beings that differed from their Equestrian counterparts just enough yet were also close enough that Sunset still felt pangs of homesickness every time she opened New Scamander’s Magnum Opus.

On the other hand, you had the Muggles, or Non-Wizarding folk as Sunset preferred to call them, having determined some time ago that the term was derogatory in nature, and while she would freely admit to being arrogant, in her opinion it was well-placed, she wasn’t a damned racist. Regardless of her sentiments however, there was no denying that, for all their Phenomenal Cosmic Powers, the Wizarding world simply couldn’t hold a candle to the achievements of their Non-Magical brethren.

‘I mean for Faust’s sake they’ve landed on the Moon!’ she exclaimed, shaking her head at the memory of Neil Armstrong’s iconic first step ‘And then there’s the internet thing…I can’t even imagine a spell that could do something like that!’

Make no mistake, Sunset had no desire to go native. She had every intention of mastering this world’s magic so she could achieve her destiny of Alicornhood, but while she may have disagreed with Celestia on many things, the one thing the Princess had never faulted her on had been her work ethic…save for the fact it prevented her from making friends of course.

And so, when she wasn’t taunting Madam Pince by flagrantly reading her precious magical texts in front of her, she often found herself in the company of Professor Burbage, learning about the various historical events, both the bad and the good, of what she’d come to regard as the ‘Sunlit World’.

It was during one of these conversations that Professor Burbage brought up her life prior to Hogwarts, more specifically her education. Like all first Years, Charity had received her acceptance letter at the age of Eleven, sometime after she had completed her eleven plus examinations.

At first, she’d been thrilled at the chance to go to Magic School, and indeed, she maintained those had been the best years of her life. However, upon graduating from Hogwarts, she noticed a trend among her fellow Muggleborns, namely that they had a hard time re-integrating back into non-magical society, especially whenever it came to finding a job without any indication of having completed a formal, non-magical education.

Needless to say, Charity hadn’t taken that lying down, and with a little help from her parents, who supported her beliefs to this day, she managed to not only complete her Secondary and Higher Education, actually earning a Teaching Degree from a credible University, she actively sought out the post of Muggle Studies Professor, despite it being one of Hogwarts less-popular elective courses.

“Not that it always was, mind you.” She’d informed Sunset one day while they were listening to Muggle Music, this world’s incarnation of Beaten Hooves apparently “Most people don’t know this, but back during the time of the Founders, Muggle Studies was compulsory for all Students, in order to help them blend in better with their neighbors.” She scoffed “Of course, things went downhill after Godric and Salazar fell out, so by the time the witch-hunts started most Wizards and Witches were more than content to just go into hiding. I won’t lie, it’s not like we had a choice, but I can’t help but wonder what our societies would’ve been like if we hadn’t cut ourselves off.”

‘Probably a lot more like Equestria.’ Sunset mused wryly. While the divide between the three tribes had lessened to the point of non-existence under Celestia’s reign, there were still pockets of resistance here and there that refused to give up their traditions. Earth Ponies in particular were notably hard headed when it came to any form of innovation that threatened their traditions, hence why the Canterlot Express required a full team of draw-horses despite having a perfectly good steam engine, and the less said about Pegasi Weather Management the better.

No, seriously, don’t ever bring up Weather Management Spells around Pegasi. Sunset learnt that lesson the hard way and had no desire to go an entire week without sleep due to freak thunder storms.

“Ah, here you are.” A kindly voice noted, snapping Sunset out of her thoughts as Albus Dumbledore strode into Professor Burbage’s office with a kind smile and his trademark twinkle in his eye “Still burning the candle at both ends I see, Sunset?”

“More like burning two separate candles, Professor.” Sunset quipped, not even bothered by his casual use of her name, more than used to Celestia doing the same “Have to do something to keep myself from getting cabin-fever until term begins.”

“Ah, I remember when I had such passion for learning.” Dumbledore mused, his eyes twinkling with merry approval “My brother Aberforth used to believe I was mentally damaged…still does come to think of it. To this day we still can’t agree on the matter.”

“O-kay?” Sunset mused, wondering if the old man was going anywhere with this, half expecting him to break into a lecture about making friends only for him to surprise her by pulling out a familiar looking wrapped package “Is that-?!”

“Mr. Ollivander sends his regards, along with his sincerest apologies for the delay.” Albus chuckled as she all but snatched the parcel from his hands “And not a moment too-soon it would seem, your fellow Students should be arriving tomorrow Night.” He smiled knowingly “Which reminds me, have you packed your things for the trip?”

“No point, since they’re already in the castle.” Sunset countered, ripping the paper off the package to reveal a wand case “I mean, is there even any point to me going on the train? All my stuff is already here, you could just sort me into my house and I’ll wait for everyone else.”

“As expedient and forward thinking as that may be, there are some traditions, sadly, that cannot be avoided.” Dumbledore admitted with a twinkle in his eye “And while the Hogwarts Express is, admittedly, one of our more recent ones, it is a rite of passage that all Students must go through.”

“If you say so…” Sunset sighed, rising from her chair and placing her backpack on her desk “I packed some things in here already, mostly books to read on the trip. The rest are in my trunk.”

“Then they shall be moved to your designated common room after the sorting this evening.” Dumbledore assured her “Now then, unless Professor Burbage needs you for anything else?” he smiled as the Professor shook her head “Then if you’ll come this way, Sunset, I shall escort you myself.”

“Whatever.” Sunset sighed, slinging her backpack over her shoulder as she waved farewell to Professor Burbage “See you later Professor.”

“Sooner than you’d think, Miss Shimmer.” Professor Burbage assured her, smiling cryptically at the confused redhead as Dumbledore led her out of the classroom.

Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.

Harry grimaced as he dragged his trunk through the corridor of the Hogwarts Express, trying his best to ignore the multitude of students crammed into the other compartments, partially out of shyness, as he wasn’t used to being around children his own age due to Dudley’s gang scaring them off, and partially to avoid them saying goodbye to their families, yet another reminder of something he didn’t have.

With that in mind, he stubbornly made his way down to the back of the train, looking for an empty compartment where he’d be able to enjoy the trip to Hogwarts in peace, only to blink as he opened the last door, only to find it occupied by a familiar face, currently nose deep in a book.

“Oh, hello there.” Sunset greeted, her frown of irritation giving way to pleasant surprise at the sight of the Boy-Who-Lived standing in the doorway “Harry right? Come on in.”

“Thanks…” Harry stammered, setting down the cage containing Hedwig, the snowy owl Hagrid had bought for him in Diagon Alley, before struggling to shove and heave his trunk into the luggage rack, only to blink as it suddenly lifted off the ground and hovered into the compartment.

“Here, let me help you with that.” Sunset offered, her wand held out as she silently guided the trunk until it was tucked away before turning back to the boy “You gonna come in?”

“R-Right, sorry.” Harry stammered, shutting the door to the compartment behind him before taking the seat across from the redhead by the window “Um…nice to see you again…Sunset Shimmer, right?”

“That’s me.” The redhead replied with a nod before turning back to her book “And you’re Harry Potter…though clearly not the same Harry Potter everyone goes on about.” She smirked at his look of confusion “I mean, you don’t look like you’ve been going around slaying evil wizards and dragons all summer.”

“What?” Harry blinked, only to groan as he recalled the infamous ‘Harry Potter’ Shelf back at Flourish and Blotts, a collection of popular wizarding children’s books that depicted him going on countless ‘Adventures’ over the years “I’d forgotten about that…who comes up with this stuff?”

“I don’t know, but if I were you I’d start looking for a good lawyer.” Sunset advised, turning her attention back to her book “I mean, if I found out someone was making money off my name and image without my permission, I’d have them for every penny they had.”

“I think I’ve got enough money as it is.” Harry sweat-dropped, recalling the mounds of golden Galleons in his vault at Gringotts, and that was just his trust fund! “I’d be happy enough if they just stopped writing those books to be honest.”

“Not gonna happen.” Sunset shot that hope down in flames “Trust me, a…friend…of my old teacher is in a similar situation.” She shook her head with a scoff “Things got so bad she can’t even go outdoors anymore without donning a disguise and changing her name these days.”

“Ouch…” Harry grimaced, unable to help relating to the poor woman despite only learning of his fame over a month ago “So where’d you learn to do that thing with the trunk?”

“What? Levitation?” Sunset wondered, blinking at him in surprise over the rim of her book “It’s one of the spells in the charms textbook. What, did you leave them at the bottom of your trunk until now?”

“My relatives…don’t like Magic.” Harry reminded her with a grimace, recalling the mocking laughter of the Dursleys as they left him at the station with no clue how to find the Platform “They tried everything to keep me from finding out about it, if Hagrid hadn’t tracked them down I’d probably never have gotten my Hogwarts letter.”

He flinched as Sunset looked up from her book to regard him with an unreadable expression “They didn’t…hurt you, did they?” she asked, her tone a mixture of anger and some foreign emotion that he realized might have been concern.

“Uh, no…” he stammered, only to backpedal in the face of her stare “Well, not anymore…ever since Hagrid…” he paused as if remembering something before changing tracks “Well they pretty much left me alone for the last month, but I figured it’d be better to avoid making them angry by reading books on Magic where they could see them.”

“I see…” Sunset noted, though Harry could tell from her expression that the redhead didn’t quite believe him, something he’d gotten more than used to thanks to the Dursleys framing him as some sort of hooligan to everyone on Privet Drive.

“S-so I-uh…I see you got your wand…” He noted desperately in an attempt to steer their conversation away from his personal life, or lack thereof “What type is it?”

“Holly and Phoenix Feather, just like yours.” Sunset revealed, holding it up with a smirk “Mine’s thirteen inches though, so no worries getting them confused.”

“O-kay?” Harry noted, wondering why on earth she was smirking at him like that, only to jolt as the Express whistle sounded, glancing out the window in time to see the parents stepping back from the platform as the train began to move “Looks like we’re moving.”

“About time…” Sunset sighed, turning as if to return to her book, only to pull up short as her eyes met Harry’s “You want to learn how to use the levitation charm?” she asked, smiling at his look of shock “I mean, you don’t want to be the only one lagging a month behind everyone else, right?”

“No-I mean sure, I mean-!” Harry stammered, taking a moment to settle himself before nodding in confirmation “I’d like that, thank you Sunset.”

The next hour or so was spent simply going over Harry’s First-Year Textbooks with the exception of A History of Magic and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, both of which Sunset assured him he could read on his own time, since they were mostly theory anyway.

Normally Harry would’ve gotten bored long before this, for while he wasn’t as bad as Dudley, he was still a ten-year-old boy, and thus predisposed to finding lectures boring, even if the subject matter was something as fascinating as Magic. But there was something about the way Sunset explained each spell, guiding him through the basic wand movements whilst making suggestions for improvement, that held him riveted to her every word, so much so, in fact, that he didn’t notice the compartment door sliding open until Sunset turned to glare at the culprit.

“Can you be helped?” she demanded, startling to Harry out of his thoughts, the Boy Who Lived turning to follow her gaze, only to blink at the sight of the youngest of the redheaded boys he'd followed onto the platform.

“Oh! Um, sorry?” the poor boy stammered, gaping at Sunset in surprise before pointing at the seat beside Harry with a shy, hopeful smile “I don’t suppose anyone’s sitting there? Only everywhere else is full.”

“Really?” Sunset demanded, quirking a brow at the ginger disbelievingly “You’re telling me you’ve been walking up and down the train for…” she glanced down at her watch “An hour and a Half since we left the station, looking for a place to sit?”

“Um…yes?” the ginger stammered, glancing furtively between Harry and Sunset, as if hoping to garner sympathy from his fellow male “I mean, there were other places, sure but most of the people in them already knew each other and I didn’t want to-!”

“Hey, Ron.” Another voice called out, heralding the arrival of the boy’s twin older brothers, Fred and George if Harry recalled, though for the life of him he couldn’t remember which twin was who “You find a seat yet? If not c’mon with us, we’re going down the middle of the train, Lee Jordan’s got a giant tarantula down there.”

“Right,” mumbled Ron, sending one last imploring glance towards the compartment, only to be met with Sunset’s piercing stare and Harry’s apologetic shrug “I’m coming.”

“Did you really need to scare him off?” Harry asked after the compartment door shut behind the departing ginger “I mean, there’s plenty of room in here.”

“He’s got nobody but himself to blame for not grabbing a seat before the train left the station.” Sunset insisted with a wave of her hand “Besides, it was obvious he was looking for you.” She scoffed at Harry’s shocked expression “Oh don’t look so surprised, whether you like it or not you’re a celebrity to these people. Trust me, the sooner you get used to spotting potential brown-nosing gold-diggers, the less stress you’ll have to deal with down the line, though for now I’d settle for just not giving them your last name.”

“Um…alright then…” Harry stammered, wondering what on earth a ‘brown-nosing gold-digger’ was, deciding to put off asking for now as Sunset returned to instructing him on the nuances of transfiguration, the rest of the trip passing in silence until the arrival of the Trolley Lady, whereupon Harry purchased enough treats off the cart to give an entire orphanage diabetes, and two instances when a hapless looking boy and a bossy looking girl entered the compartment looking for the former’s lost toad.

“We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes’ time.” A voice suddenly echoed through the train, snapping them out of their review on Potion Ingredients, a field Sunset herself found to be fascinating, having not had much experience with them in Canterlot “Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately.”

“Huh, how about that…” Sunset mused, glancing down at her watch in surprise “guess time really does fly when you’re having fun. You’d better get changed into your robes.”

“Um…right…” Harry stammered, reaching into his trunk for his robes, only to pause awkwardly as he turned to find Sunset remaining in her seat, nose buried in a book once more “Um…do you wan’t me to leave or-?”

“Huh? Whatever for?” Sunset wondered, eyeing him like he’d grown another head “Just go ahead and get changed, it’s not like you’ve got anything I haven’t seen before.”

“Uh…right…” Harry stammered, flushing furiously as he turned his back to the girl, fully aware of her presence as he quickly undressed, slipping into his uniform as quick as possible only to stumble slightly when it came to his tie.

“Here, let me help with that.” Sunset offered, startling Harry, who hadn’t heard her move, as she reached over to undo his tie, the Boy-Who-Lived flushing as she fixed it correctly “There you go, if it makes it easier, just don’t undo it all the way when you take it off, they don’t need washing as much as your shirts will.”

“T-Thanks…” Harry offered, flushing slightly at her closeness, taking a moment to settle himself as he pulled on his long black robes “Um, where’d you learn to fix a tie?”

“Taught myself.” Sunset admitted with a shrug as she returned to her seat “I personally don’t see the appeal of them, or clothes at all for that matter. We never had to bother with that kind of stuff back home except on special occasions.”

“Wait what-?” Harry began, only to trail off as the train jerked to a halt, the two of them rising from their seats to join the crowd of students old and new thronging the corridor.