The Unicorn at Hogwarts.

by Saphroneth

No time like the presents.

Before too much longer, it was the end of term, and the halls were much emptier with over half the student body back at their homes.

Much like Equestria, the school year was broken up into three long terms (Twilight would have called them trimesters, but they were the same thing) with about a month between them, and a longer holiday in the summer. Each school holiday was centred on a more general holiday, and for the winter one it was 'Christmas' – which sounded a lot like Hearth's Warming.

Well, in some ways. There were presents, at least.

The question of what to do about presents had occupied Twilight for some time. She and Spike had little money while they were here, and she didn't want to spend some of that sparse resource – but, then again, it wouldn't have been right to avoid giving presents, either.

So she'd discussed it with Spike, and they'd decided to make some joint presents.

A quick talk with Hagrid had secured them some small pieces of wood, like down-scaled logs, suitable for whittling or crafting with. Spike had then used his claws to carefully remove bits of wood, to make a shape that was at least... well, crafted. (Though not well crafted. But they did look alright.)

Twilight then cast some spells she'd researched on them, including her first attempt at mixing together Equestrian and Earth magic to make the spell last longer.

At the end of a weekend's work, they had several baton-shaped magical objects which would keep the person carrying them warm in cold weather – or, Twilight was fairly sure, cool in hot weather.

It wasn't much, but hopefully they would be useful for the people who got given them.

With the holidays, Twilight found herself with a substantial amount of extra free time on her hooves.

It wasn't until the round of lessons and homework stopped that she really realized just how much time they'd been taking up, and even with her continuing research aimed at finding a way home there were still several hours of the day she had an open schedule.

The unicorn did consider expanding her research to fill the gap, but after giving it a second thought (and a mental conversation about dusty old books and making some friends) she decided to just enjoy the time instead.

Some days, she sat on the lakeside, a heating spell wrapped around her and a mug of cocoa beside her, watching as the forest slumbered in her first entirely natural winter.

More often, there was some kind of snowball fight. She and Spike joined in with most of those, along with the younger three Weaselys, Harry, most of the remaining Quidditch team and whoever else was passing by.

Strangely, though, she and Spike were both much-sought-after team members. Or perhaps it wasn't so strange... very few humans could throw a snowball the size of a hoofball, much less dozens at a time, and Spike enjoyed showing off by melting snowballs clear out of the air.

That hadn't been enough, however, to secure them victory on the snowball fight two days before Christmas Day. Everyone else had ganged up on the two Equestrians, demonstrating excellent tactical sense and terrible manners at exactly the same time.

Twilight and Spike had held out for quite a long time, with Twilight throwing snowballs in all directions and with Spike riding on Twilight's back, melting any coming from behind her she couldn't catch herself.

But, eventually, time and exhaustion wore the gallant dragon down, and he flopped into a snowdrift. Twilight followed him only a few minutes later, and they shared a shrug (as the humans cheered their victory) before breaking out into a fit of giggles.

The next day, Christmas Eve, a blizzard howled around the castle.

No-one was particularly willing to go out into the below-freezing weather, driving snow, and gale-force winds of the Scottish blizzard howling east off the Cuillin, so it was a day for sleeping late, staying indoors, and lots of warm drinks.

And, of course, games.

Neville's chess set had gone home with him on the train, but the Weaselys – specifically Ron – had one, and one of the fourth years had another. Someone also dug out a set of Gobstones (Twilight took one look at the rules and decided it wasn't for her), three Exploding Snap decks were made available, and there was even a magical version of Skittles dragged out of the corners of a student's trunk.

“Okay...” Twilight tapped a hoof on the floor. “I think... queen's knight's pawn forward one.”

The piece moved obligingly, and her opponent nodded. “Very nice. Now... I think I'll move my bishop. Forwards and right two spaces.”

Twilight frowned. “Hmmm... okay, king's knight left two and back one.”

“Rook forward to capture,” Percy replied, and his castle trundled forward. When it reached Twilight's other knight, it creaked, then fell forwards with a thump, smashing the piece to bits.

“You're good at this,” Twilight commented.

“Why do you think Ron got so good?” Percy replied, smiling briefly. “He can beat me a little more than half of the time, now.”

“I see.” Twilight thought hard. She was quite out of position, now. But perhaps she could turn it around...

“King's pawn forward one.”

“Bishop forward and left three,” Percy replied smugly, moving his bishop between her knight and rook and forking them.

After that (she sacrificed the knight), Twilight didn't have much chance. She played on a few more moves, then surrendered when she was fairly sure it wasn't possible to win any longer.

“Good game,” Percy complimented her. “Another?”

“Don't think so,” Twilight replied. “It's getting late, and I don't want to be too tired on Hearth's Warming – sorry,” she smiled, shaking her head. “Forgot where I was again. Christmas, of course.”

“Actually,” Percy interjected, “what is Hearth's Warming like? I'm fascinated by all these parallels between our worlds...”

Twilight nodded. “I know what you mean. Okay, the basic idea behind Hearth's Warming is that it's a celebration of the foundation of Equestria.”

She pondered how best to explain it. While her friends had rather exaggerated the real personalities of the various ponies involved in the Founding – Puddinghead had been silly, but not that silly, and was usually referred to as 'eccentric' in history books – their performance had also gotten across most of the salient points.

“Okay, this is going to be a short version. Originally, the tribes – unicorn, pegasus and earth pony – that would make up Equestria were separate. They lived far to the north of where Equestria stands now, and they... didn't get on.” Twilight paused, pondering whether to air her civilization's thousand-years-dead grievances, then mentally shrugged and pressed on. “The earth ponies' food was extorted out of them by the pegasi who controlled the weather, and the unicorns who moved the sun. They weren't treated well, and the pegasi and unicorns kept plotting against one another as well.”

She took a sip of water. “And all that hatred and mistrust resulted in the attack of creatures called Windigoes. They're... they were... spirits of air and ice, who fed on dissent and disharmony, and made a terrible blizzard spring up. The earth ponies could grow no crops, and not even the pegasi could turn the snow aside, nor did raising the sun help. So all three tribes moved south, to find a new home.”

Twilight noticed that Percy was frowning as he listened. “What is it?”

“Sorry?” The boy shook his head. “Oh, right. No, I was wondering about those windigoes. They make it cold and feed on bad memories?”

“Yes.” Twilight glanced involuntarily at the window, and shivered. Then nodded. “Yes, if you're thinking of dementors – I wondered about that as well, back when I first arrived.”

“Right.” Percy scratched his nose, seemingly without noticing. “And – sorry, do go on.”

Twilight reviewed where she'd got to. “Okay. Well, they all ended up in the same place, and got right back into the same old argument – even though the snow began to thicken again, even covering them as they stood shouting at one another.”

Pausing again for a moment, Twilight cast a warmth spell on herself. It was quite pleasant in the common room, but this story always made her feel cold.

Especially after Discord.

“And what happened then?”

“Then...” Twilight smiled, as another memory drove back the chills. “Then three young mares – one unicorn, one pegasus and one earth pony – actually made friends. And that, alone, was enough to drive the monsters away and thaw the whole of the Canterlot Vale.”

Percy looked surprised.

“Friendship is magic,” she explained, or rather elaborated. “Literally. And the result was that the three leaders of the tribes made up their differences and agreed to share power. That's how Equestria was founded.”

“I see.” Percy smiled. “That's a nice story.”

Twilight returned the smile. “I've read Clover the Clever's diary and Pansy's action report. It happened, all right.”

The Prefect seemed to not know quite how to take that.

“Well...” he stopped, and tried again. “I see. And it's somehow comforting to know that the kind of mistakes Pure Bloods like the Malfoys make aren't something only humans can do...”

She shrugged. “It never really makes sense, though.”

Dawn broke over Hogwarts castle, revealing a landscape of blinding white. The blizzard had blown itself out overnight, and the whole vale was cloaked in over a foot of fresh snow.

Of course, everyone in the castle wasn't much bothered with that. There were more important things to deal with.

“Look, Twi!” Spike enthused, holding up a large stocking. “We got presents!”

Twilight grinned, enjoying watching her sort-of-brother happy. “I'm sure you've got more than me.”

“I hope-” Spike began, then stopped, frowning. “Uh... is it okay if I hope I have got more than you?”

“Sure.” She chuckled. “I won't mind.”

“Cool. Thanks!” He rummaged in the stocking as Twilight got out of bed. “Hey... uh, how did these get delivered?”

“The House-Elves, I think,” Twilight replied with a shrug. “I was going to give the presents we made out today, but they're gone.”

“Okay.” Spike lifted up an oblong object wrapped in colourful paper – paper with flying dragons on it. “I kind of want to keep the paper now...”

“Just open it on the flaps where it was stuck together,” Twilight advised, picking up her own stocking. “Should we go into the common room, do you think?”

“Yeah, good idea.”

As it transpired, they weren't the first up. Various Weaselys were already in various armchairs wearing various jumpers, along with Harry, and were showing off the presents they found most interesting.

For Percy, it was a set of writing materials, including a quill which could write in six different colours. (He was strangely reluctant to talk about who'd got it for him.)

Fred and George enthused over the batons Twilight and Spike had made, saying that it was a nice idea that would make it much easier to sneak out at night (Percy looked disapproving at that), and that they'd love to know how to make more.

Ron had a book about Quidditch, one which Spike almost immediately asked to borrow once Ron was done with it. The lanky first year had seemed almost surprised by the question, but agreed quickly.

Spike, for his part, had a book of his own to read through. It was a very old but interesting book about phoenixes, which seemed to Twilight to look both rare and valuable. (She had her suspicions about where it had come from, but just smiled about it.) He also got a lot of sweets, including one box from Neville which was to share with Twilight.

Harry had something silvery and clothlike, and seemingly so normal to Twilight's well-honed magic sense that she did a double take. Then he swept it onto his shoulders and vanished, and her jaw dropped.

It was a cloak of invisibility, apparently – but Twilight couldn't feel any magic from it. She couldn't see it with mage sense, either. And when he walked across the room to test it, she couldn't even hear his footsteps.

Somehow, that cloak was making him... well, almost not even there at all.

As for Twilight, the thing she was most excited about was a letter from Professor Kettleburn.


Flitwick and I are finished. We've enchanted a broom with a cushioning charm that should take your weight and distribute it safely, and modified all the other charms on it as well to make it properly safe.

I'm afraid you'll have to wait until Rolanda gets back for proper lessons, but if you've got a moment on the 27th we can go over those charms together.

-Silvanus Kettleburn.

“What's that, Twi?” Spike asked, peering over at the paper. “Oh, cool! Hey, maybe I can teach you how to fly!”

“That'd be lovely.” Twilight smiled at him. “Thank you for the offer, that'll help me a lot.”

Apart from the letter, Twilight mostly got books. There was one nearly as old as the one Spike had, which was about the basics of wand-making, and a much newer one about the latest advances in Arithmancy, one about Greek mythology and which of the myths had actually happened... she had reading material for a month.

Well, two weeks. Maybe three.

“That was a good haul!” Fred announced, as the last of the wrapping paper settled to the floor.

“Now, let's put it all away,” George continued,

“Or as away as things ever get with us,”

“And go get breakfast,” they finished together.

George raised his wand. “Tempus. Good, we can probably be first to the dining hall.”

As she rose to leave, Twilight noticed Fred was checking some parchment – probably a list of who to send thank-you notes too, she thought, remembering how she'd used to remember it. (Nowadays she just kept the gift tags.)

“You go on,” Fred said, frowning down at the parchment. “I'll take our stuff up, Fred.”

“Alright, Fred,” George replied. Twilight blinked, trying to work out if her guess as to which was which had been correct. “See you downstairs. I'll save you some cheese.”

“Marmalade!” the stay-behind twin called, already heading upstairs.

There was a lot of breakfast laid on, given how few people were in the castle – sausages, beans, toast, hash browns, tomatoes... all kinds of fried food, along with a salad for Twilight and the rare treat of a small diamond for Spike.

George, however, didn't seem to be able to keep his mind on the meal at first. When Fred finally appeared about ten minutes in, he relaxed noticeably and the two of them started trying to decide which crackers to pull first.

“Er... can I just ask, who got you that cloak?” Twilight asked Harry, after her curiosity overcame her. “I've never seen anything like it.”

“Oh.” Harry swallowed his toast. “Er... I don't know, actually. It didn't have a name. But it said it was my father's.”

“Oh, right.” Twilight nodded to herself. “I see. Well, keep it safe. I'd love to study it, but it's yours so it's your choice.”

“I think you could, actually...” Harry frowned. “I'm not sure. I... I'll think about it.”

“That'd be nice, thank you.” Twilight smiled. “Hold on. Spike!”

Spike turned, halfway through putting a third helping of eggs onto his plate. “What?”

“You might want to save room for the Christmas dinner....”

Spike blinked, nodded, and put the eggs back. “Sorry.”

Twilight chuckled. “Well, it'd be Future Spike's problem if he didn't have room for dinner, not mine.”

He shared her chuckle.

“...was that funny?” Ron asked. “Am I missing something here?”

“Sorry, it's an old joke with us.”

The rest of the day passed in the warm glow of a holiday, and of large numbers of new presents to try out.

Twilight spent a good few hours reading through her book on Greek mythology, wondering at how many of the creatures from Equestria seemed to also be around in this world. She also had to help Spike out with reading the phoenix book, some of which was in quite spidery ...handwriting, and she decided to try writing it all out in a neater hornscript when she had the time.

Peewee seemed as interested as Spike was in the contents of the book, too.

But the clear winner was Harry's cloak. Twilight was no closer to working out just how it functioned, or even what the limits were, but when she had a few minutes to examine it... she couldn't detect her own leg when it was under the cloak, by any means except feel. And yet she could look out of it with no difficulty whatsoever.

It was clearly very magical. Perhaps as magical as the Elements of Harmony were.

Twilight had all her thank-you notes written by bedtime, and had Spike add his name to them before handing them out (for the ones to people in the house) or giving them to Owlowiscious (to take to people like Neville or Hagrid, who weren't there to thank in person).

He'd moaned a bit, but she'd insisted – reminding him gently that it had to be done, and that it was better to get it done quickly before they forgot to. After a while, he relented, and the chore was out of the way before the end of Christmas Day.

As she lay awake, Twilight couldn't help but think about Equestria again. She'd been gone for months, now, and though she knew that it wouldn't be that long on the Equestrian end... she missed her friends. And her family.

She moved slightly, looking over at Spike (already asleep), and felt a smile creep over her lips. At least some of her family was with her.

Harry was very excited about something, the next morning.

“I went out last night,” he explained. “In my invisibility cloak – just to test it... and I found a mirror which...”

He paused, then continued more quietly. “It showed me my parents.”

“Really?” Ron asked. “A mirror did that? Not a painting?”

“Yeah,” Harry confirmed. “I must have looked at it for-” he yawned. “I must have spent hours looking at it.”

He turned to Twilight. “Have you heard of something like that?”

“A magic mirror?” Twilight frowned. “Not in Equestria... I know there's magic mirrors which talk about your appearance, here, but to show other people...” She shrugged. “Why don't we go have a look?”

Harry looked at her dubiously. “I don't think we'd all fit under the cloak...”

“I can go on Twilight's back, if that helps,” Spike suggested.

“No, I mean now.” Twilight gestured with her head towards the windows, which showed an overcast sky. “It's daytime – we can just go there. It wasn't anywhere we're not allowed to go, was it?”

“No, just an old classroom...” Harry thought about it. “Sure. Follow me.”

The two Equestrians and Ron followed Harry out the portrait door – he'd spoken only to them because there weren't many other people he knew still in the castle, and of the Weaselys Fred and George were somewhere else.

And mentioning his midnight jaunt to Percy wouldn't have been a good idea. After all, Percy was a Prefect.

It wasn't far – a five or ten minute walk – before they reached the door to the old classroom Harry had been in last night.

“Here,” he said, pushing the door open. “It's in the middle of the room – there's a cover on it.”

“I'll get it,” Twilight volunteered, and used her telekinesis to lift the sheet off the mirror.

And saw... Equestria.

All five of her friends from Ponyville where there with her, smiling, and Celestia and Luna stood patiently behind them. Her family were there as well, including Shining, and Cadence – the real one, not the fake she'd discovered just before coming here.

Further back, also smiling, were Trixie and Gilda, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders – with Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, all happy together – and past that more and more ponies and other Equestrians, smaller with distance... and all of them content.

“Wow...” Spike breathed. “I look awesome.”

Twilight blinked, at that, and looked for Spike in the reflection. There he was... the same as normal, perhaps a little taller, though Peewee was fully grown and resting on his arm.

“Er...” Twilight began. “Spike? What can you see?”

“I must be five times bigger!” Spike said, grinning. “And...” his breath caught. “Rarity...”

Twilight closed her eyes, tearing them away from the sight in the mirror, and shook her head. “Guys – I think this mirror might be dangerous.”

“How can it be dangerous?” Ron asked. “Look! I'm Head Boy – and Quidditch captain!”

The Element of Magic tried to put her concern into words. “Everyone's seeing something different – something they want to see, something they want more than anything else in the world.”

“What do you see, then?” Harry asked.

“Home,” she replied, with a little catch in her voice. “I can see home, and my friends.”

She shook her head. “But that's not the important bit. The important bit is that Harry spent hours staring at this mirror last night. I think it's some kind of... trap.”

Twilight opened her eyes again, not focusing on the reflection, and noticed some words at the top of the mirror. “Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi...”

“Pardon?” Spike asked.

“It's an inscription, look.” She pointed. “Hmmm... Erised... ah! I show not your face but your heart's desire.

“What?” Ron squinted. “Where's that?”

“It's backwards. Erised-Desire, see?”

“So... what now?” Harry asked.

Twilight grimaced. “I don't think it's safe to keep looking. Sorry. I just... I could imagine spending hours looking at it – days, even weeks – and I don't think that's healthy.”

An example came to mind from the mythology book. “Maybe this is where the story of Narcissus came from.”

Seeing their confusion, she elaborated. “In the story, Narcissus was a nymph in Ancient Greece, and he was cursed to fall in love with his own reflection. He stayed staring into a pool of clear water at his own reflection, not moving for anything, and eventually... when he realized that he could never have his reflection, only look at it... he killed himself.”

Twilight shivered. “I wouldn't be surprised if this was where that came from, like I say.”

“...yeah, I understand.” Ron gulped. “Still...”

“What was yours, again?” Twilight asked.

“I was Head Boy and Quidditch Captain,” Ron replied.

“You know...” Twilight looked him up and down. “That's not really a bad heart's desire. You could actually manage that.”

“I could?” Ron asked, eyes wide.

“Yes.” Twilight held up a hoof. “But – it takes a lot of effort to do either of them. You need to be good at schoolwork to be able to be head boy, because it's a lot of work, and especially if you're Quidditch captain as well because that means you'd be spending a lot of time at practise. And, of course, you'd need to be good at keeping to the rules and good at making sure others don't break them.”

The boy had gone a bit pale.

Twilight smiled, restraining a giggle. “But being just one of them isn't as much work – though it still is work. I suppose what I'm saying is, your dream is one you need to work towards. Sort of like mine is, really.”

“And me?” Spike asked.

“Well.” Twilight began to answer, but paused. “Actually, your one isn't impossible either.”


“Really.” Twilight clapped him on the shoulder with a hoof. “Remember what I said – back in Equestria, time isn't passing for them. That means that, if it does take four years for us to get back, you'll be four years older when we get back.”

Spike nodded, still not seeing it.

“And that means you'll be four years closer in age to Rarity,” Twilight finished. She chuckled as his eyes widened. “That doesn't mean she'll fall in love with you, though – just that you'd have a better chance.”


“As for you, Harry...” Twilight sighed. “I don't know. I really don't. But... it's still possible you could get a family. A proper family, I mean. It all depends what you call a family.”

Harry shrugged. “I do know my parents are dead – I've had ten years to get used to that. I just... I don't even have any pictures of them.” Twilight winced in sympathy. “But... anything's better than the Dursleys, and at least I'm at Hogwarts now.”

“Yeah.” Twilight frowned. “Maybe you could stay at Neville's house over the summer? It couldn't hurt to ask.”

“Yeah, good point.” Harry sighed, making to look back at the mirror, but stopped and turned for the door. “Let's go.”

Twilight took the time to replace the sheet over the mirror, then followed, closing the door securely behind her.