• Published 4th Jan 2015
  • 9,153 Views, 1,049 Comments

Dark Horse — A Five Score Tale From The Dresden Files - Lord Of Dorkness



One strange day, Harry Dresden turned into a tiny pastel horse. Weird, but what else is new, right? Except now, months later, this country with a silly name wonders what became of one of their lost heroes and just why she never returned...

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01 — The Snark Whisperer

“Let me get this straight, ma’am… you’re telling me that I was a crazy cat-lady in my previous life, but with bears?”

The extremely purple winged unicorn on the other end of my desk all but had her jaw fall off. Making the....whatever it was, she’d turned her hair into, bob and waver around her head like seaweed. Imagine purple neon lights, but in strands and on somebody’s scalp. It wasn’t a bad look, per say, but it really screamed: ‘Hey, this person has more magic than fashion sense!’

The a bit too vivid colors aside, the girl was weapons-grade adorable. The slightly bigger size than me aside, she just had this ‘hot-librarian that doesn’t realize how hot she is’ vibe thing going that was just way too strong for me not to believe it intentional. I guess there are less classy baits for a honey-trap, but still, I’d have preferred some professional courtesy…

Or failing that, a cheerleading outfit and pom-poms.

You know, might as well hang for the cow, right?

Probably some damage from all that crap with Winter, but plain nudity just barely registered with me nowadays. Heck, it wasn’t even as if this Twilight gal had as much as rhinestones on. By supernatural heavy-weight clearly trying to seduce me, standards?

Stars and stones, she was all but plain.

Hey, man, or mare, a grown person has needs, and the trickle of partners willing to share my bed? Partners’ mortal, willing of their own free-will and not so evil they by all rights should have had cloven hooves?

Let me tell you, that trickle had not been strengthened by spontaneously growing teats. Perhaps I was just haunting the wrong avenues since I kept getting comments about how mind-meltingly adorable my new face apparently is…

But I just couldn’t say I was in a hurry to go a courtin’ at Anthrocon, or whatever. Even an ex-man with the awesome mutant power of turning into an adorable pegasus once needs to have standards, after all.

While my ‘client’ stuttered and searched for words, I fidgeted slightly in my seat and loosened my collar slightly using my canary-yellow hoof. I’d paid my Swartalf contacts’ a surprisingly small price to have my entire wardrobe (and then some) ponified, but I could still see why quite a few fellows afflicted by this had taken up nudism. Personally I had both too many enemies and too much dignity to go that route, but the somewhat sweaty price of it was most certainly worth thinking about.

No idea why the Svartalves wanted me to stare into a runed jar for five minutes using ‘all the hate from the bottom of my heart,’ but whatever. Hardly the worst price anybody has paid them.

Hardly my fault the jar melted.

Or screamed.

Or how the melted glass kept trying to run away.

Still, some weirdness I’d probably should look into sooner or later aside, a ‘free’ Swartalf tailoring was hardly something to sneeze at. The irritating warmth of it aside, even I had to admit the stuff fit like a fireball in a ghoul's face.

I fidgeted slightly again. Sadly about twice as hot as well, from the feel of things, but still.

(Although that bit of sweat probably had more to do with sitting within a few feet of a winged unicorn I didn't know. Sure, Twilight had been polite so far, but old habits die hard.)

Personally I felt a bit more worried about the bowing, the scraping and the chanting of: ‘Please pass us by, oh mistress of the Gaze of Doom!’

Probably nothing to worry about… and if I spent long enough at Mac’s that my body starts remembering how to become drunk I might actually believe that myself.

Finally had enough, I spread my hooves and still somewhat unfamiliar wings into a large shrug. “Please, Mrs. Twilight, I’m a busy ma- mare.” I pointed towards the small line outside my office, trying not to smile wide-enough to squeak at that rare sight. “This whole pony thing has given me more business than in years, and it seems you have some more thinking to do.”

The crestfallen look on the ‘princess’ near broke my heart on the spot, so I quickly leaned forward and gave my best smile. “Look, I didn’t mean it like that, but surely you can get that I don’t want to keep all those people waiting?”

It was slightly hesitant and she did bite her lip while doing so, but Twilight gave me a brief nod.

“How about this?” I said, reaching for my brand-spanking new stack of business cards.

Alas, spending about a year dead-ish? And one more out on Demonreach for medical reasons? Not what I’d call good for business itself, but man was it hell on wheels for wizard street cred. I’d been worried about all my assets being frozen slash gone, but apparently at least the Wardens had some type of precedent for this type of stuff. Some rather invasive and embarrassing spells to make certain I was indeed who I said I was, hadn’t come back through necromancy, and that the Winter Knight’s mantle was really gone, aside?

...Well, this was me and The Council we are talking about so I’d hardly call it with open arms, but at least I’d gotten what amounted to a sour nod and a reluctant admittance that the black sheep had done the impossible again.

That back pay, some favors, checking the walls for asbestos and ‘asbestos’ later, and I had both a home and an office again.

I felt a pang of sad nostalgia as I wrote out my small note on the back of one of my business cards. Neither this office nor the new place was even near as nice as my old ones, but eh, them's the breaks when life hands you lemons.

What can I say? The memory of seeing Mab’s shocked expression as she realized me turning into a pony was making me unfit for her carefully orchestrated mantle inch by inch? And that it wasn’t my doing?

If it would ever not make me smile, It would probably be due to me being dead again.

I felt a slight blush start up as the squeak from my cheeks cut the air, but I hid it by passing Twilight the card. “I usually don’t do this, but if what you’re telling me is true we’ve got quite a bit to talk about.”

I saw something not fit for such a cute face flitter over her features for a moment at the suggestion I doubted her word, but to the mare’s credit Twilight fought it down.

I pointed a hoof at the small scrap of paper. “I plan to eat lunch and then dinner there later today. As I said, I usually don’t do this, but from the sound of things you need a few hours to think anyway.” I gave another ruffling shrug. “If that is not of interest to you, you may also reach me through the numbers on the card at a later date.”

Twilight’s brow furrowed slightly after having read my card. “...No parties?”

“Real magic is not a toy,” I almost reflexively told her, “if you aren’t careful it will eat you. Mind, body and soul.”

Twilight let out a small gasp, as if the very idea was horrific. She even almost dropped the card, but she just barely snagged it with a hoof before it fell to the ground.

I made my voice slightly less stern before pressing on. “Now, that particular misuse? More about my own pride, than any corruption from the act.” I straightened out to my —to be fair, not quite as impressive as it once had been, height and continued much more sternly. “But would you care to spend an entire life-time to learn how to channel the forces of life itself, only to be expected to pop balloons for screaming children with it? I think not.”

“And no pony rides…?” Twilight’s brow furred again. “Why would you want to do that, anyway?”

I felt the slight blush return again as my mind drifted back to one of the best days of my life. “Sorry, but there’s a young Lady and Gentleman that has called dibs.”

‘Forever, and ever, and ever, and ever...’

And I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

A pang of pain flashed through the happiness. Still, coming clean about that for the Lady in question would be a later thing, no matter how it may go. For now, the biggest concern was that my eldest daughter was safe and happy.

If that was not in my arms or home… so be it.

I vaguely felt the pen I’d still been holding turn to splinters in my magical grip as Twilight’s ears perked slightly.

The ‘mare’ froze as I glared her straight in the eyes and leaned over the desk with my wings spread in challenge. “If that was more than compassionate curiosity for my friend’s children, Mrs. Twilight?” I leaned in and did my best attempt at snarling low enough the line outside wouldn’t hear. “Then I will do worse to you, all you call kin, all you call home and all you have ever done, than I did to the fucking Red Court. Have I made myself fucking clear?”

To my considerable surprise, I actually felt the slight tugging of a soulgaze beginning. I had to force myself to fold my wings in again and sink down onto the cushion I used for a chair, but I just barely managed.

In front of me, Twilight Sparkle started breathing again.

She looked as if she was moments near both puking and crying, but she at least started breathing again.

“...Please forgive that outburst, Mrs. Twilight,” I tartly said as I forced my feathers all the way down with a small effort of will, “but several ex-monsters have tried to send me ‘cute’ little messages over the years using my friends, lovers or pets.”

I had to take a deep breath and close my eyes for a few moments as Susan’s face flashed through my mind, before pressing on.

“If you meant nothing by that ear-perk, I truly apologize...” I opened my eyes again, and I swear I saw the purple winged unicorn’s pelt crumble slightly from the resulting glare I gave her. “But I have found that a warning and then feeding monsters their own entrails work far better as a deterrent against future fools, than just that last act.”

Twilight turned slightly green and had to swallow something I’m rather certain I don’t want to know about, but aside from looking as if she was moments away from running away screaming? She just remained still.

Her hooves wouldn’t quite stop shaking, though.

“I’m sorry for the hard-ass routine, especially if you’ve told me the truth...”

Something hot flashed in Twilight’s eyes at the word ‘hard-ass’ for some reason. “Honesty is very important to us Equestrians.”

I ignored both that flash of anger and her words, pausing only to let her speak. “...but frankly? The land you are describing sounds like this ludicrously perfect utopia. If it truly exists, I would probably cause the very grass to wilt with every hoof-fall, from the sound of it.”

I made damn sure my voice and face was as kind as I could make both before continuing. “I’m not this Fluttershy girl. The meek animal handler you talked about? I’m truly sorry, but I’m simply not her, and none of what you’ve told me really makes me want to be that person ‘again,’ either.”

I barely heard it even with my new ears, but I did catch Twilight whimper out: “...Oh, Fluttershy… what has this world done to you?”

I rolled my eyes at her. “The dramatics and how I wouldn’t mind… reconnecting aside, you aren’t giving me many reasons to pack my stuff and follow you down the rabbit hole, kid.” I swept a hoof slowly over the office’s white walls. There wasn’t much there aside from the furniture and my pile of paperbacks, but damn it, it was my barely furnished room. “I have a home and property in this reality. Things like that, friends and family aside, why would I give up my life for the sake of a cottage that’s probably rotted down to the ground by now, and piles of animal bones?”

Twilight looked as if I’d bucked her in the stomach. She just kept opening and closing her mouth like a fish air-drowning.

“Is there a lover?” This tiny hope I thought I’d stomped out decades ago winked to life. Barely an amber, but still flaring enough to burn the corner of my heart it rested in. “Any… foals? Any… family, of any description?”

That tiny ember died as Twilight hesitated and looked away. Gone like a politician's promises after your vote has entered the ballot.

“I’m… sorry, but… Fluttershy never talked about her family.” Twilight’s gaze drifted down and got locked onto the floor. “I didn’t want to pry… and suddenly it was just too late to ask. I’m sorry, but I just don’t know.”

I raised an unamused eyebrow at her. I was trying not to sound like an ass but this girl, power rising off her like a mist aside, was just so naive. It was as if she really expected everything to work out as long as every’pony’ did their best and worked together.

I couldn’t even remember being this… young. Not mentally, at least.

I let out a sigh that even to my ears sounded old. Then again, my type of life will do that to a person.

I folded my hooves on top of my desk —making the runed hipposandals I’d redesigned my force-rings into give out a soft clink— and tried to sound reasonable. “And it didn’t occur to you, that that type of info might make or break trying to get an amnesiac to come with you? An amnesiac that has been without those memories for so long they’ve built a whole other life, at that?” Some of my bafflement broke through my mask of professionalism, but I think it actually helped from the slight red to Twilight’s cheeks. “Hell’s bells, girl, what part of ‘curse that causes rebirth’ passed you by?”

Twilight did her guppy impression again.

“Consensus data? Interviews with any other ‘surviving’ friends? Searching her home for family photos?” I pointed a hoof at my staff as it rested in the corner of the room. “Come on. None of those non-magical means of finding that out occurred to you? Let alone all the myriad ways magic might have helped?”

Twilight got this gleam in her eye I didn’t really care for. “I’ve got this spell that lets me share memories. If you just l-”

“NO!”

Twilight actually toppled over backwards in surprise from the force in my voice.

I took a deep breath and forced my wings down again. “Twilight, mind magic is highly regulated in this realm.”

“...Why?” the mare said meekly, as she pulled herself upright again.

“Because one wrong move and it drives you and the person you are using it on insane.” I reached over my desk, and passed her one of the small brochures I’d printed primarily about the Laws of Magic. ‘Common Dangers of Magic - Harry Dresden.’ For anybody actually in the know before this pony thing it was near insultingly basic stuff, but for all the poor bastards without a background in the freakier side of things that had suddenly sprouted a focus on their foreheads, in their legs or on their backs? Didn’t want to brag, but I’d probably saved quite a few people's sanity and lives with that small pamphlet.

Twilight took the thing in her magic and started reading. Frankly, the way her brow furrowed in concentration would have been utterly adorable in any other circumstances.

Well, until her eyes widened and her face paled at the part about the punishment for breaking the Laws, at least.

“Black magic twists the user in this realm, Twilight,” I told her in a kind voice, “extremely rarely you can get to them in time…” I had to pause and let out another thousand year old sigh. “...But most of the time, they’ll laugh and spit in your face while planning their next atrocity. The only kindness you can give somebody that far gone?”

Twilight’s ears perked all the way up as I used the ‘k’ word. To my growing horror, there was even a tiny smile tugging at her lips.

“It is to sharpen your blade before you let it fall on their necks.” I’m rather jaded even by wizard standards, but I still had to suppress a wince as Twilight’s ears fell and all the air seemed to rush out of her. There are certain things no man (or mare) should ever need to tell a winged unicorn that cute, and I felt like an utter bastard for needing to tear at her innocence like this. “I’m sorry, Twilight, but it’s how this world is.”

Still, better her innocence dead, then her and who knows how many innocents.

To my surprise however, Twilight both continued reading, and looked confused again. “...What’s this about Names…? And why the capital letter?”

I vaguely felt my jaw hit my chest before I got my face under control again. “Are you telling me that earlier wasn’t a naive but kind gesture for proving that long lost friend thing?!” I forced myself to continue in a less audible voice. “This is very important, Twilight, have you given that same introduction to anybody else in this realm?!”

Something in my voice or expression must have punched through that almost bullet-proof naivety of hers, because Twilight actually thought it over. “...Don’t think so…?”

I let out a breath I hadn’t even realized I’d been holding and sank down into my seat again. “If you don’t remember a thing other about this meeting, Twilight? Names have capital P Power. You say your full name, of your own will, from your own lips?” I couldn’t quite stop a shudder. “There are people and things out there that will use that against you in horrible ways.”

Twilight actually thought it over for a few moments.

Then she laughed in my face.

Now, I’ve got it under quite decent control, nowadays… but I do have a temper.

And this spoiled brat with more power than brains, no matter how nice she was, clearly needed a lesson. And as a bonus? I could give one she’d actually survive.

Twilight Sparkle,” I proclaimed in a low voice, pouring enough power into the simple words that they rang slightly as the passed through the air, “I command you to punch yourself in the face hard.”

For a moment, Twilight just looked confused.

Then her hoof moving of its ‘own’ accord and whistling through the air, impacted cleanly with her cheek. I had to give the girl credit for taking care of her body, because the impact was so strong she actually fell sideways off her seat.

“I’m sorry,” I told the shocked and betrayed looking mare as she dragged herself upright on shaking hooves, “but I’ve seen far too many promising young kids turn up dead or worse than dead, just because they didn’t guard their Name as well as they should have.”

She clearly didn’t like it, but Twilight took a few shuddering breaths with her eyes closed, seemingly trying to center herself. “...I’m sorry for having doubted your word, Fluttershy, but there is no way it is th-”

Twilight Sparkle, I forbid you from ever using magic again.”

The moment before she realized I hadn’t put any magic into the words this time, Twilight’s face paled and she let out a small urk. It actually took until she noticed how the small pamphlet and card she’d been given earlier were still floating in her aura before she started breathing again. “...I see, so it is that bad,” she finally said in a tiny voice, barely above a whimper.

My nose wrinkled as this particular pungent odor started stinging it.

A blushing Twilight wouldn’t look me in the eye. “...I’m sorry, I…” She looked down. her gaze locked on what I was certain was now my old pillow for pony clients. “...Magic is really important for me, and for a moment I thought…”

I let out a sigh and decided the girl deserved a break. I pointed a hoof at the door to the small bathroom attached to my office. “You go clean up, ‘kay?” I forced down a deep sigh as my wallet screamed in incoherent rage at me. “I’ll close the office for today and we can… I don’t even know- Talk things over a lunch, or something?”

Twilight, still blushing so hard she’d partially turned crimson (however that works with fur) darted for the bathroom without hesitation.

I got up, trotted over and stuck my head through the doorway, trying not to wince at how much revenue I was about to lose. “I’m sorry, but my current client has had a small accident. Would you all please come back tomorrow after I’ve cleaned the office?”

A few of the line —a worried looking white unicorn mare with a frazzled purple mane I would have bet gold against rotted cheese was here for the ‘magic 101’ breakdown especially— looked like they were about to protest until they smelled the rather distinct whiff of horse urine.

“The ambulance is on its way,” I smoothly lied to save some face for Twilight, “but please make room and give the poor girl some privacy.” I did my best to memorize the faces of them all. “I’m sorry for wasting your time, but if you return tomorrow I’ll make sure you get a small discount for the sake of this inconvenience.”

To the people's credit, they barely hesitated. (Even if a small bit of me huffed rather loudly that the promise of a discount probably did most of that.)

I waited until the white, well-shaped rump and its three jewels had followed its owner around the corner. Cute girl, even if the way she kept frowning and looking at her horn distracted from that a bit. Probably one of the ex-humans —in a decent line I’d done so already with, that wanted to know just what the limits and price of the reality warping bone on her forehead would be.

Still, unlike my current ‘client,’ that would probably be easy enough to deal with.

With a slight shrug I closed and locked the door.

I’d gotten an office with a balcony to make practicing with slash commuting using my new favorite appendages easier, so at least disposing of the pillow would be easy.

Even so, I couldn’t quite stop a groan as I lifted the dripping thing away to be burned. “Ugh, and it just had to be the silk one…”

By the time Twilight was done and had come trotting out, I had a decently lease breaking mini-bonfire going in my metal-wastebasket.

Twilight blinked at the flames licking the red silk, the small blaze happily eating away at the cloth and hay-stuffing. “Uhh, what are you doing, Fluttershy...?”

I winced slightly as that name made something made from razor-wire and lemon-juice rake across the inside of my skull. “Please don’t call me that name, it hurts.”

The mare hesitated, but to her credit she actually peeked at the card I’d given her earlier. “Ha-rry Dre-ssden, right?” she politely asked as she sank down onto her haunches on the other side of the fire.

“Har-ry Dress-den,” I corrected her. “And for the obvious follow-up? I’ve got a few middle-names I’m not going to divulge. It’s so much less efficient without the whole name that it’s almost harmless.”

“...Almost?”

I felt a shudder race down my back at the memory of the one damn time I’d ever met a dragon… to my knowledge. “If you have to ask, you don’t want to know.” I gave her wings a nod. “Power does not equal goodness around here, kid. Almost the opposite, even.”

She clearly didn’t like it given how deep she was frowning, but it seemed Twilight was willing to take my word on things after the first demonstration.

“...So why are you burning that?”

I genuinely had to facepalm. “Really? You guys don’t even have thaumaturgy and you still consider yourself a magical superpower?”

“...What’s thaumaturgy?” Twilight looked irritated, but she clearly wanted to know more than voice that. “And just what has that with burning a perfectly fine pillow instead of just cleaning it?”

“Actually, that was silk,” I said, not quite keeping the irritation out of my voice, “it stains really easily, and is near impossible to get those stains out.”

A flicker of embarrassment passed over Twilight’s face.

I ignored it, and pressed on. “Thaumaturgy is the magic of like seeking like. Do it right, and you can make small things influence, or even seek out, the larger things they once came from.” I saw that gleam again, so I went for the kill. “Like say, magically freezing that urine and the kidneys that made it.”

For a moment Twilight just sat there still… then I saw her mind actually decipher my words. The mare made a small hulking noise and her cheeks once more filled with something I’d prefer not to think about as she turned green.

I pointed to the small fire. “Don’t leave hair, hoof-clippings or body-fluids lying around. It isn’t quite as bad as your Name getting out since any samples like that need to be used while fresh… but not by much.”

Twilight forced herself to swallow, before speaking in a pained voice. “...Is this what magic is in this realm? Just… ways to hurt or destroy?”

Even with the weapons of mass destruction level puppy-dog eyes aimed at me, I couldn’t stop the snort if I’d been paid to. “Of course not.” I ignored the relieved sigh from Twilight. “It’s just that you keep trying to hug the pretty flames and wonder why your fur is getting so uncomfortably warm.”

I got a weak nod from Twilight as confirmation.

I gave a shrug, and went back to keeping a close eye on the small fire. Call me paranoid, but I’ve burned down enough buildings over the years.

“...May I ask something?” Twilight said after about a minutes or so.

“Shoot.”

“...Doesn’t… making me punch myself like that…” Twilight’s voice dropped to a concerned whisper. “Doesn’t that break one of those laws? The ones with the… you know, as punishment?”

“Of course it does.”

You could have heard the proverbial needle even through the city noises and the crackling of the flames.

“That particular example, though? Traditionally OK loophole.” I told the wide-eyed mare in a calm voice. “Do you really think you're the first person that thought they’re so badass that Name magic can’t touch them?” I ignored the shocked little gasp at ‘badass’ and shrugged instead. “A single punch like that? It’s quick, causes minor enough wounds both spiritually and physically they’ll actually heal…” I gave Twilight a slight glare. “...and still make sure the know-it-all apprentice gets a taste of just what a bad idea screaming your Name from the rooftops happens to be.”

Twilight’s wings fluttered slightly in annoyance.

“So, yes, I did just give you the wizard equivalent of a spanking for playing with matches near the tar-pit.” I raised an eyebrow at the slightly fuming mare. “Of course, if you’d prefer to have your free will all but stripped from you, and become turned into some psycho's combined enforcer, weapon of mass destruction and sex toy..:”

Without hesitation, Twilight leaned forward and puked in one smooth motion. Hard and long enough to actually completely quench the flames. Eww.

“...Perhaps you should just go home,” I said kindly after she’d stopped trying to seemingly dislodge all her internal organs through her mouth. I put a hoof on Twilight’s back, just between her wings, as an added bit of kindness. “No offence, but if you're this grizzled veteran of many great horrors by your world’s standards?” I shook my head slowly before continuing. “I could probably make the heart of a grown Equestrian stallion stop just by describing some of my spells, let alone by saying some of the shit I’ve had to do or see over the years.”

Strangely, given the shocking level, variety and depth of depravity I've borne witness to over the years I’ve never actually seen a person kick a puppy.

Kidnap and try burning to death, yes, but not actually kick as such.

Still, I’m fairly certain the soul crushingly haunting look Twilight actually managed to give me despite hanging onto a bin of her own fluids would have been a contender for that title of ‘most pitiful thing ever.’

With a sigh, I pointed again towards the bathroom. “You go clean up again, and we’ll try to continue this with slightly less dark subject matters over lunch, ‘kay?” I poked the waste-bin with a hoof, making the contents slosh around slightly. “I’ll make sure this can’t be used against you in the meantime.”

“H-how?” Twilight stuttered out, her near boundless curiosity seemingly overpowering her queasiness.

In answer, I reached into my duster and pulled out my blasting rod. “Freeze it all.” I wiggled the runed rod at the wide-eyed mare, before aiming it and uttering my spell. “Arctis!”

Almost immediately, the waste-bin frosted over and froze. The metal crumbling slightly even at the sudden difference in temperature.

I let out a small huff of exertion before putting my blasting rod back under my duster. The skills I’d gained as the Winter Knight might remain but the affinity for cold had not. That and the power boost had departed with the mantle. Don’t get me wrong, I could still do all those ice-spells of mine, but on the same token I wouldn’t be making icebergs from nowhere anytime soon again.

I was more concerned with how something in Twilight’s head had apparently gone ‘tilt.’ Honestly, she even let out this tittering laugh and bangs of her mane popped out from her head with cartoonish ‘sproing’ sounds.

Not even kidding. Sounded just like Bugs Bunny’s idea of the sound a breaking clock does. I don’t even know if I should have been terrified or amused by it.

Luckily for me, the city-block and Twilight herself, the mare in question apparently knew some type of breathing technique for just these occasions. The gusto she did it with was slightly disturbing in its own right, but half a minute of breathing in tandem with moving her hoof back and forth later, and she looked almost sane again.

“...Twilight,” I wearily told the slightly unhinged demi-god in a kind but firm voice, “you don’t seem to be taking the differences in my realm compared to yours well. Perhaps it would be better for you to go home, just a day or so, until you’ve wrapped your head around things?” Twilight looked as if she was about to start protesting, but she fell silent as I lifted her hoof with mine and held it to my chest. “I realize that this probably isn’t what you hoped for when you came here, but this is my home, warts and all.”

Twilight gave me that quivering look again, but I squeezed her hoof gently and pressed on. “Look, I’ll be honest. Looking up from my desk and seeing you and that cloud of magic around you coming through the door over there? I nearly ran and screamed on the spot.”

The look went from quivering to outright misty. “...Oh, Fluttershy…”

I ignored the jab of pain. “Twilight, so far? You’ve been a very, very rare thing for me to meet: a person with tons of power that isn’t a bastard, let alone an outright monster.” I felt like an utter bastard myself, but there really wasn’t anything to do but continue digging my little hole. “I’d like to get to know you better…”

I swear something good and pure within me just died as my words managed to make somebody as cute as Twilight start crying. Ye Gods and little fishes, nobody should ever need to make a winged unicorn do that.

“...or relearn, or whatever the right word is,” I reluctantly added before squeezing her hoof again. “But I can’t do that if you snap and try to ‘fix’ how my world’s magic works, or whatever. Please, just go home and let things settle mentally for a few days.” I jerked my head slightly towards my office. “Believe it or not, but at thirty-nine? I can actually take care of myself, you know.”

As I talked Twilight had looked more and more uncertain… straight to the point when I said how old I am. At that mention, it looked as if the bottom of her stomach just fell out. “...But… the curse was for twenty-five years…?”

I had to tilt my head and think it over for a few moments before it clicked what she was referring to. “That ‘five score divided by four’ crap everypony heard in their dreams as they changed?”

“...Yeah?”

“No offence, Twilight,” I held her hoof slightly harder before continuing as kindly as possible, “but did you really expect a chaos god to follow math? Even his own?”

I gently reached up with my free hoof and closed Twilight’s less than fragrant mouth. “Or how about this?” I told her instead. “You swear to follow the laws of hospitality, and you can stay at my place for a bit.”

“...You’ve got a house here?” Twilight meekly asked.

I realized she was somewhat at her wits-end, but still, certain lines you just have to snark at. “No, I'm bumming it out in this red dog-house that’s somehow bigger on the inside. Apparently the previous owner got shot-down by the Red Baron.”

Twilight just sat there and blinked at me for a few moments.

“It was a joke, Twilight,” I kindly told her with a gentle poke in the side for emphasis. “Actually, I’ve got this small house a few friends of mine helped rebuild on this bit of land that likes me.” I flared my wings for emphasis. “Isn’t that far by wing, if you… heh, follow?”

“...Bit of land that likes you..?” Twilight asked, eyebrows all but trying to pierce the heavens.

I knew it was rather pushing it. but I simply couldn’t stop myself from smiling wide. “We punched each other in the face, so now we’re friends!”

“Friendship does not work like that!” Twilight’s mane did that ‘broken clockwork’ impression again.

“What, and you're supposed to be the Princess of Friendship, or something?” I quipped with my tongue slightly sticking out.

A few more strands went sproing as Twilight’s left eye started twitching uncontrollably. “And neither does earth pony magic, geology or even bucking manners!”

I let go of her hoof as I rolled my eyes at her. “Yes, and surely we haven’t had any problems at all already because magic in this place is different than what you’re used to…” I poked the ruined wastebasket for emphasis. “Right, Mrs. Twilight?”

Me pronouncing the first part of her Name apparently spooked her enough that Twilight all but twitched out of her little spot of insanity.

I went over and sat down next to her, trying to pretend I wasn’t bothered by how familiar sitting on my freakin’ haunches had started to feel to me. “Look, if nothing else there’s four other Very Important Ponies you’re looking for, right?” I put one hoof on her back, and swept the other over the view…

The view mostly blocked by the railing for me, but whatever. It’s not as if I’m the slightest bit bitter about having gone from scraping the sky with my nose to needing to hold ninety percent of my conversations with people's crotches, or anything.

Luckily, Towering Twilight apparently mistook the flicker of irritation as a pause for dramatic effect. Small favors.

“I’m not going to pretend the spots of this world that are dark aren’t, but there’s far more to it than monsters and magic you need to be careful with. We’ve got wine, women and song, and all that jazz as well.”

Instincts that had proven slightly problematic in this brave new world where everything non-human moving fast suddenly wasn’t going for your throat made me twitch as a flying pegasus passed just a few feet away from my balcony, but I fought it down and forced myself to relax again.

Twilight clearly noticed and gave me a worried look, but thankfully she made no comment.

“Sorry, something of an occupational hazard,” I softly explained to her. “Until a few months ago, thi-” I cleared my throat apologetically, not quite dispelling the worried frown on Twilight’s face. “Non-humans moving quickly around you weren’t a healthy sight in these parts. Especially if the fuckers did so while flying around.”

Twilight twitched again, seemingly at the swear. Really? The kid’s that sheltered? Ye Gods and little fishes, how had this girl gotten this strong?

“I haven’t managed to get ponies and similar on my mental whitelist quite yet,” I continued smoothly. “Just see it as a friendly warning against dive-tackling any of the others, just in case they turn up to have had a similar history to me.”

Ever so slowly, as if she was worried I’d explode if moved too quickly (or break, for that matter) Twilight pulled me into a hug.

It was honestly… weird. Nice, but weird.

Imagine this cross between a giant teddy made from the smoothest of velvet, a high-voltage line humming in the background, and the strange smell of people type ponies.

Even with my own ‘condition’ I simply wasn't used to that last one yet. It just had this clear and sharp equine undertone to it. but tempered by a lifetime of bathing, it had turned into something that was actually not half-way unpleasant.

I took a deep breath, trying to ignore how my nose kept insisting it already knew and liked the smell of the mare in front of me. “Look, Twilight? I usually don’t do missing person cases this old, but even with magic out of the p-”

“Wha...?!”

“The fresher, the better, remember?” I gently kicked the bucket behind us, making it clatter. “I’m good, but I’m fairly certain nobody is ‘twenty-five year old personal effects from a previous life,’ good.”

“Oh…”

A thought came over me. “Just how did you find me?” I vaguely pointed a wing towards my front door. “Because my guess was that you’ve just gone for the only wizard in the phonebook and gotten lucky, but I’m not getting that vibe right now.”

I’d apparently poked one of Twilight’s ‘The world doesn’t work like that!’ buttons again, because her ear started twitching like a thing possessed and she sprouted a slasher-grin that would have done Freddy Krueger proud.

Have to admit, I’ve seen some shit, but there was just something in that horrible pin-prick eyed grin I’m decently sure would have made Mab herself hesitate.

Genius and madness are two sides of the same coin… and man, was this Twilight a clever girl from the current looks of things.

You can’t be a wizard, silly Fluttershy!” Twilight trilled at me in a completely sane voice, poking my in the chest for emphasis. Normally I’d at least glared at somebody for that line…

But frankly, the girl was just… sad. Slightly scary, yes, but mostly sad. Even in the whole ‘For Science!’ mood that seemed to have gripped her as a coping mechanism, she just had this little girl lost at sea without a life-jacket vibe to her.

“You’re a pegasus, not a unicorn!”

I waited for the stinger.

Twilight just kept staring at me. As if she’d needed to tell me ‘water is wet,’ and I still hadn't gotten it.

“...And?” I reluctantly added, mostly from morbid curiosity.

Twilight’s eye started twitching in almost perfect tandem with her ear. “...And pegasi have pegasi magic, while unicorns have unicorn magic.”

I decided there was some cultural thing I simply wasn’t getting going on —and frankly wasn’t nearly drunk enough to sit and listen to explained.

“Twilight, you are in a completely different dimension. By your own admittance, at that.” I tried in a voice that was starting to sound strained even in my own ears. “Isn’t it rather arrogant of you to proclaim that you know everything about magic for even your home, let alone all dimensions?”

Twilight was so clearly about to blow-up so hard, that Earth all but got another landmark — however briefly, that one could have seen from space.

So instead of that happening, I reached up and pushed her jaw gently but firmly closed. “Twilight? Shut up.”

The mare in question froze. She didn’t quite stop twitching, but on the whole? She seemed to be listening, at least.

“Now, I’m going to remove my hoof in a few moments, and we can either sit here like a lemon and a plum arguing with circular logic all night… or we can go have a lunch that might even be pleasant despite the clear culture-clash going on. What future would you rather be a part of?”

Twilight’s ears stopped twitching… even if I am unsure if them becoming plastered to her skull as she just stared down at me mournfully was much of an improvement.

“...Well?” I said, lowering my hoof.

I think it cost her something, but with misty eyes, Twilight gave me a nod.

“Good, good,” I naturally mumbled out, as I gathered a tiny bit of power, and floated my keys out of my pocket.

And man, oh man, was I glad I’d figured out that spell. Normally I was utterly rubbish at the low-powered, gentler side of magic, but this levitation spell, that to unicorns apparently was near instinctive?

Honestly, you just jammed some magic into your aura, made it drift over and picked stuff up! An apprentice could probably do it!

Truly, it was one of those ‘ye gods, how the hell didn’t I think of that?’ type tricks.

So why had Twilight gone back to gibbering again, on seeing my keys float…?

“I’m-sorry, but-I-need-to-think-things-over,” she blurted out in a single breath, and simply vanished with a purple flash of light, and a ‘zap’ sound.

I stared at my keys as they floated in that blue nimbus, at the spot Twilight had been sitting, and back again. “...Oh fun,” I sighed, as I went ahead and locked my door, “one of those days, huh?”

I mean, seriously, is it simply too much to ask? For a wizard/private eye/warden/pizza lord/pegasus/ex-winter knight to have a normal day, for once?

Don’t answer that.

Still, I hadn’t gotten a bad vibe from Twilight.

A polka-dotted one with assorted nuts and broken springs baked in, yes, but not a bad one as such.

Honestly, the mist of power thing aside?

If that hadn’t been a slightly off-kilter but mostly well-meaning young lady…

Well in the case of that type of acting talent, why then go after a single wizard with more hang-ups and scruples than chest-hair, when Hollywood was just there on the same continent? I mean, now that the five headed mutant cat with really big fangs was mostly out of the bag regarding magic, surely there must be easier and more pleasant ways to conquer the world?

Heck, a van, some snacks, a few busty cultists, and you could make an evil road-trip out of it!

I paused half-way over the banister I sadly wasn’t allowed to remove or even lower by law.

I mean… by now everybody had commented on how adorable I was, even by equine-American standards, and I did technically have contacts in the movie industry…

I just sat there for a bit, staring at the reflection in the windows on the other side of the street, what seemed to be the most darling little canary-yellow burglar.

“...Nah,” I snarked as I threw myself off my balcony, “peanut butter goes straight to my hips, anyway.”

And laughing like a mad-man, and with the wind tearing through my hair and coat, I fell head first down towards the pavement twenty stories below.

Author's Note:

Happy holidays! :twilightsmile:

And admit it, Harry as the reincarnation of Fluttershy?

Far too kind, a thing for animals, strange magical powers the average pony/human doesn't posses...

Oh, and yeah. Unholy horror once actually angered! It all rather fits, doesn't it?

That, and I'm a bit tied of seeing every darn Dresden slash MLP fic having him turn into an unicorn. There are two other tribes of highly magical creatures, people, even not counting alicorns!

Still, I hope you enjoy this latest bout of madness from the darkest corners of my mind! :pinkiecrazy: