• Published 23rd Apr 2017
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Magic School Days - Dogger807

When the CMC asked Discord to help them attend magic school, he pulled an owl out of his hat. Only he didn't exactly have a hat. Which was okay, since their new school had a singing one laying around. Where the hay was Hogwarts anyway?

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Chapter 91: Names Not Known

The countdown to the official start of festivities was in full swing in the streets of Canterlot. Ponies were packed flank to flank, nose to tail, as they hurried to make their last-minute purchases. It was just past high noon, and everything had to be ready by sunset, when the Hearth's Warming Eve celebrations would begin.

It was a scene that happened once each year. Despite the burgeoning crowds, the prevailing mood mirrored the merry decorations that dressed the streets and storefronts. Everything played out as it had since the founding of the city, almost as if a slice of time had been unwrapped just for the occasion.

This year, however, there was more "almost" than normal. As if by magic, the crowd had parted for a unicorn and her entourage. To the typical pony, there was nothing exceptional about the mint-green unicorn who walked in the middle of the pool of bright light. Her companions, however, were another matter.

Both were two-legged things, much like minotaurs without horns. The one in front was dressed in warm pants and long jacket that seemed to have been made from a down comforter. Over these garments, it wore a harness that held a frame to the middle of its body. From that frame, a box with a bright light pointed unerringly at the unicorn, regardless of the strange being's gait.

The details of the other companion were much easier to see. Judging by the voice, it was a mare, with somewhat gruesome taste in clothing. The woolen trousers over its legs seemed normal enough, but the jacket it wore was made from the fur of some unfortunate rodents, while its paws were covered in the skins of dead animals. Underneath its straw-colored mane, it sported bright blue eyes and an expression that exuded almost equine intelligence.

Stopping in front of a gaily-decorated pine tree, the unicorn said, "This is a good place to rest our hooves for a minute, Heather. I always loved the way we get all three tribes together to put on this display."

The fur-clad companion replied, "It's beautiful, Lyra. It would fit in perfectly with the Christmas decorations in downtown London."

Lyra said, "I still can't get over the similarities between our worlds. It's uncanny how we celebrate the same things."

“Mommy!” cried a high-pitched voice. “What are those?”

“I have no idea Passion Fruit,” replied a mare. “Don’t draw attention to yourself; they may be dangerous.”

The light tracked Heather's movements as she turned toward the voice. A turquoise unicorn mare quickly sheltered a yellow filly between her legs. The two tried to back away as Heather walked toward them, but the crowd did not cooperate. Stopping an arm's length away, Heather said, "Excuse me, ma'am, might I talk with you and your daughter?"

Hastily, Lyra trotted over. "It's all right. They're with me."

"Who are you?" asked the mare.

"Lyra Heartstrings. I'm Princess Celestia's ambassador to the human world."

Looking up at Heather, the mare asked, "What are you?"

“My name is Heather, I’m a human. We’re here to offer a glimpse of pony culture to our viewers.”

Passion Fruit poked her head out between her mother's legs. "Nuh uh! Humans are just make-believe. What are you really?"

Chuckling, Heather replied, "You got me there, dear. I'm a cub reporter. This could be my big break."

Wide-eyed, Passion Fruit said, "You write news stories about baby timberwolves?"

"No, dear. Not that kind of cub."

"What about lions?"

"No, dear."

"Or tigers?"

"No, dear."

"Or bears?"

"No, dear."

"Silly, a baby deer is a fawn."

Heather cast a helpless glance at the mother. The mare simply shrugged. Hastily, Lyra said, "So, Passion Fruit, what do you want for Hearth's Warming?"

The filly bounced in anticipation. “A Red Range Runner Repeating Revolving Replica Crank-Cocked Crossbow.” She paused to take a breath. "With real simulated tungsten core bolts!"

Heather blinked for a moment before blurting, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

“I’m not a baby goat, either! I'm a pony!”

Sighing, Heather addressed the mother. “You do realize, your husband has probably already bought her one.”

The mare shook her head. “Her father thinks they are far too dangerous and is appalled by the very notion.”

Heather blinked before she remembered her research on pony culture. “You got her one, didn’t you?”

The mare angrily raised a hoof and gave an unmistakable shushing motion. “I had one when I was a filly,” she asserted.

Heather sighed. “Just remember to get her some safety goggles as well.”

With a less than subtle nudge, Lyra pushed Heather away from the mare. "Time to continue the tour. I'm sure there'll be plenty of ponies who will want to be interviewed."

James Tilley sighed as he gave his wand a gentle flick. The sign over his podium now read, "Now Serving 97". The Records Department in the Ministry of Magic was supposed to be quiet as a church on Christmas Eve. He had looked forward to savoring the holiday cheer nestled in a large flask in the folds of his robe. Given what had happened over the past week, he realized that he should have expected the unexpected.

The room had, at times, been filled to capacity, with the line snaking through the room. He had been on duty since 8 o'clock that morning, and he desperately wanted to take his lunch break. In truth, he would have welcomed any sort of break, but he was working alone. He already had to scourgify his robes five times that day in lieu of his normal breaks, and he was only ten hours into his twelve-hour shift. Now, there was only one small family left, and they were at one of the standing desks, navigating their way through the forms.

Tilley closed his eyes, massaging the bridge of his nose, promising himself that he’d close down the office after he had dealt with their issue.

A familiar male voice announced the arrival of more citizens coming to request his aid, "Are you sure this couldn't wait until after the holidays?"

A stern female voice replied as two blasts from his recent past filed through the doorway, "This is of the utmost urgency, Severus."

Startled, Tilley widened his eyes. "Professor McGonagall? Professor Snape? What can I do for you?"

Snape replied, "Professor McGonagall insists that I must examine my vital records immediately. I fail to understand what could be so urgent."

Tilley could almost have sworn the hint of a smile crossed the features of his former transfiguration professor.

Turning to McGonagall, Snape said, "I'm positive there have been no births, deaths, or marriages in the time I've been away."

McGonagall took a fat galleon from her robe and placed it on the counter. "Expedited service would be appreciated, Mr. Tilley."

Tilley went to the stacks and returned a moment later with a manila envelope. Placing it in front of Snape, he said, "Congratulations, Professor."

Bemused, Snape replied, "I'm sure I do not know what you are talking about."

McGonagall opened the folder. "It says you are now married to a Jacqueline Apple and a Zakariyya Mstari."

Snape snatched the folder and read the contents. "How.” Only his rapid acquisition of the paperwork betrayed his utter disbelief. "That's bigamy."

Shrugging, McGonagall replied, "Taking on two sets of in-laws is very big of you."

“I hardly think now is the time for jesting,” Severus said as he confirmed Tilley’s words. “According to this, my magic has bound itself to both Applejack and Zecora well above the levels that the Ministry recognizes as marriage. The matrix almost perfectly mimics the ancient druids' matrimony rituals. How did that happen?”

With a barely suppressed smirk, McGonagall replied, "You see, when a mare and a stallion love each other very much . . ."

Tilley wasn’t as successful at containing his mirth. “It’s all legal and above board. There have even been talks with the Equestrians to get their government to recognize its legitimacy. It’s not like there is any known way of breaking such a bond, anyway.”

“You seem rather well-versed on the subject,” Severus observed, still reading.

“These cases are rather conspicuous, since a new folder appears for each new wife. Unfortunately, it is up to the junior clerk to go through both the Ministry's and the muggles' records to confirm their status as aliens before we can send the immigration paperwork.” Tilley shrugged. “You’re not even that noteworthy having two. So far, Peter Pettigrew has the record, and I don’t see anyone catching up anytime soon, although I've heard rumors of someone named Wilton who had been busier.”

“Peter Pettigrew?” Minerva said in surprise. “May I see those records?”

“I am sorry Professor.” Tilley sounded remorseful. “As he’s not one of your current students, I cannot help you there.”

“Excuse me for intruding,” said a woman wearing muggle clothes, holding a fistful of paperwork and leading a ten-year-old boy. “I couldn’t help overhearing, and was wondering if this may relate to me.” She sent a quick glance toward the boy at her side. “When I was young and dumb, I did some things that had permanent consequences and I didn’t get the name of my partner.”

The other adults in the room nodded in understanding.

“I came here hoping that since Matt here is magical, there might be a way to track down . . . someone.” She bit her lip. “Does this mean I’m legally married to his father?”

Tilly warily eyed the boy as he replied. “No ma’am, normally . . . um that act does not result in an automatic marriage. There has, however, been a perfect record of pony-human relations being, er, steadfast due to a yet to be explained magical bonding.”

“So . . .” The woman’s eyes were downcast. “This is going to be a dead end?”

“Quite the opposite,” Tilly said. “Regardless of circumstances, Matt’s file will have the name you seek, whether the individual is magical or not. It’s built into the system. We keep meticulous records of anyone magical born to the isles.”

“Most of it updates automatically,” Minerva stated. “Which is why my friend here is just finding out about his own change in status.”

“As calmly as he’s taking it, I’m going to assume it’s not too uncommon. I suspect divorces are just as easy to obtain,” the woman said.

“There is no such thing as a magical divorce,” Minerva replied. “Professor Snape here is just accomplished at hiding his feelings. Those of us who know him recognize that he’s panicking right now.”

“I am not panicking.”

“You also haven’t blinked in near on a minute,” Minerva retorted.

“I hardly think that is significant.”

“For you, that’s the equivalent of running around with your arms in the air screaming.” Tilly could only nod his head in agreement with Professor McGonagall’s assessment.

“You’re taking entirely too much pleasure from this,” Severus stated.

“You have no idea,” Minerva returned.

“Well, imagine finding you here,” Arthur Weasley said, walking into the room, followed closely by Remus Lupin.

“Arthur,” Minerva said in greeting. “Good timing, you’ll want to order Mr. Tilly here to get you all the records on Peter Pettigrew and his wives,”

Arthur hesitated before throwing a glance and a nod toward the records keeper.

“I’ll be right back,” Tilly said, leaving the counter.

“Severus.” Remus acknowledged the other man in the room.

“Remus,” Severus returned; ice would have been warmer.

“I assume you are here for the same reason we are,” Remus said.

“That’s a safe bet,” Severus replied.

Remus paused. “Your wife was in shock when I left.”

“Then I shall go to her, posthaste.” Severus made to push past the ex-werewolf.

“Severus,” Remus said again.

“What?” came the impatient request.

“She is best friends with Sirius’s wife.”

“That is unfortunate.”

“You can’t avoid him forever,” Remus continued.

“He tried to kill me.”

“It was a childish prank. I was in just as much danger as you, and I forgave him.”

“That is your prerogative.”

“You can’t hate him forever.”

“That is my prerogative.”

Minerva pursed her lips, but said nothing.

“It is,” Remus sighed. “I can’t blame you, but I think it would be best for everyone involved if . . .”

“You have no right to ask that of me,” Severus snapped.

“It has to be asked,” Minerva said. “Lily would have wanted you to be in Harry’s life in more than just a professional manner.”

“She told me she never wanted to talk to me again.” Severus could not contain the hurt behind his occlumency shields.

“Children say things that they foolishly think they cannot take back, no matter how much they might wish to,” Minerva stated. “She was devastated and felt betrayed.”

Severus looked Minerva in the eyes, then looked away. “I need to go. The past is the past. The present needs me right now.”

“Then let the past be the past,” Minerva called after the potions master as he stalked from the room. “You received forgiveness; is it too much to ask that you give it?”

Severus stopped, mid-step, but did not turn around.

“For Lily,” Minerva said when no words were forthcoming.

“For Lily,” Severus said as he left.

“He doesn’t seem that emotionless to me,” the muggle woman stated.

“Lily is his weak spot,” Remus said. Turning to Professor McGonagall, he added, “That was ruthless.”

“Yet necessary and long overdue,” Minerva responded.

“There’s a story here,” the woman said.

“Unfortunately, not a pleasant one,” Minerva acknowledged.

“It has a happy ending, I hope.”

“That remains to be seen,” Minerva said. “But, recently, it has taken a marked turn for the better.”

Tilly choose that time to return to the counter; without a word, he placed a sizable pile of files on the surface. Minerva’s weren’t the only eyes to widen sharply at the number.

“What’s this?” Remus asked curiously.

“Peter Pettigrew's and his wives’ folders,” Tilly said with a nod in Arthur’s direction. “Heads of department have access to most records.”

“Peter?” Remus proved he could still growl like a wolf.

“Yes, didn’t you pay any attention to Minerva when we got here?” Arthur asked, reaching for the top folder. “She told me to ask for Peter’s file and those of his wives.”

“I was focused on Severus.” He eyed the thick stack of paper. “The traitor has been busy.” Anger and awe warred in Remus’s voice.

“That’s an understatement,” Arthur replied in agreement.

“I think it’s safe to say that he found his way to Equestria.” Minerva announced the obvious.

Arthur put the file he had been perusing back onto the counter and gave it a slight pat. “Looks like he’s had some tragedy; this one is deceased.” The next folder was soon in his hands. He frowned after just a few seconds before returning that folder as well and reaching for the next. This ritual repeated itself an uncomfortable number of times. He hadn't gotten half way through the pile before he stacked them neatly and waved his wand over it. With a few words, he generated a duplicate set.

“Well?” Minerva asked.

Arthur looked at her with a haunted look and shook his head. “Remus, could you tell Molly that I won’t be making it back for supper tonight?”

“Of course,” Remus said. "What has the rat done now?”

“I’ll fill you in later,” Arthur said, snatching up the duplicate pile. “Right now, I need to go find Xenophilius. We need to stop Peter before he does any more damage to our relations with the ponies.” With those words he rushed from the room at a speed that fell just short of a sprint.

“And here, Arthur came with me just to get away from a chewing out,” Remus said. “I’ll wager he wishes he was still getting yelled at by his wife.”

“Why was Molly so angry?” Minerva asked.

“Percy managed to go and get himself married.” Remus said.

Minerva let out an exasperated sigh.

“You people are bloody bonkers with your marriages, aren’t you?” said the muggle woman.

It had been several minutes since the last human auror had left the room. They had left the office much as they had found it. The only real changes were the absences of a pile of rocks and one lone potted plant. Silence had reigned after the door had been shut. Long after the last footstep had faded, a ring of green flames surrounded the table embedded in the ceiling.

"Really?" said a deadpan voice. "A table? In the ceiling?"

"More plausible than a pile of rocks." The words came from where the table had been just a few seconds past.

"Better a talking rock than a talking plant." Noted another voice.

Yet another voice had a barely suppressed sigh. "Now we have to rescue these idiots." Loudly, it said, "Grapple, do you still have our target?"

"Neatly packed in a shrunken trunk. I still can't believe that we managed to get along without them before."

The inquisitor replied, "You and Snatches need to make the drop." It groaned. "And don't be seen."

Grapple replied, "We're not amateurs."

There was a brief scuffling sound from the ceiling. "Not to put too fine a point on things, but GET ME DOWN FROM HERE!"

It was the most unusual of circumstances that had brought Mystic Books to the palace. She was in possession of two promissory notes for a substantial number of bits. Both were apparently worthless. The bank had refused to honor them because they lacked a cutie mark indicator. The second had come from a strange creature who had referred her to a well-known pony. Unfortunately, she could not remember who the guarantor was. The first had been from a repeat customer who had an impeccable reference. It was time to look that reference up.

Those familiar with the workings of the palace knew that for business matters that required Princess Celestia's authorization but did not involve the princess personally, the pony to contact was Raven Inkwell, her top administrator. It was for that reason that Mystic found herself at the office of the biggest paper pusher in the land.

Mystic could not help but notice the scowl that marred the other mare's face. She had obviously come at a bad time.

In a professional tone, Raven asked, "May I help you?"

“J’espere.” Mystic nodded. “I was told to talk to you if I had any problems with this.” She levitated the writ over to the still-scowling mare.

Raven barely glanced at it before saying “Yes, I can see to it that this is honored.” This time, it was Raven's magic that opened a drawer of the desk to levitate a signet stamp and a quill. "I apologize for the inconvenience this caused." As she affixed the royal seal and added her signature, she said, "May I ask how long it will be before we receive the order that we placed with you?"

“Je demande votre patience,” Mystic said. “The requested crystals have very exigeante specifications. I needed to retune those I had on hoof to meet the demands, but they are ready for delivery.”

“I can have a guard escort you back and retrieve the goods,” Raven offered.

“Oui,” Mystic said. “That would be appreciated.” She paused before saying, “Pardon, would you perhaps know how I can get this redeemed?” Another paper floated toward Raven.

The new paper caused Raven to blink in surprise. “The crown will be pleased to cover this one. The humans have lent us one of their best healers without a fuss; it would be the least we can do.” She levitated a royal voucher from her drawer and added her authorization.

“Merci.” Mystic happily beamed. “I was at a lose”

“Loss.” Raven absentmindedly corrected. “I hate to cut this short,” Raven floated the voucher to the waiting mare. “But I was just made aware of something that needs to be brought before the princess’s immediate attention.” A thick sheaf of papers left her desk and found its way into a waiting saddle bag. “I beg your pardon for my rudeness.”

“Non, you were most helpful,” Mystic assured her. “My worries have been taken care of. Merci, your time is much appreciated.”

“Have a Happy Hearth's Warming,” Raven said before leaving instructions for a guard. A few inquiries placed the two elder princesses in the same location. Picking up the pace, Raven hurried to the room in question, only to be disappointed to find she was entering on the heels of a pair of humans, a fact that guaranteed there would be a delay in bringing her news to the princesses’ attentions. Still, as a trusted advisor, she could enter and observe until the humans left. She found a quiet corner to stand in while the humans went through their greetings with Celestia warmly welcoming them.

The human’s mannerisms were not so different from ponies that Raven missed the signs that both were distressed. Anger and worry were evident in both of their features. Whatever they were here for was not going to be good for the holiday atmosphere.

“Your highness.” The human that Raven knew to be Xenophilius Lovegood brought the encounter over to the serious side of the court. “I regret I have bad tidings, and I hope that we can continue with good relations once everything is revealed.”

“I assure you that every effort shall be made to see that it is so,” Celestia said. “I’m sure we can work out whatever concerns you may have.”

Xenophilius waved for the other human to hoof him a stack of folders. “I have here the records of one Peter Pettigrew and his wives.”

Raven could not keep in the small gasp that escaped her lips. The limits of the humans’ ability to disregard the exploitation of stallions had finally been reached. The poor male in question probably couldn’t walk straight anymore.

“Minister Lovegood,” Celestia said, eyeing the stack. “I assure you that we most certainly do not condone any stallion being married to so many mares. Please do not see this as an insult as we were not aware of such activity.”

“What?” The human actually blinked in surprise. “The number of women is not something we take issue with.” It was the ponies in the room turn to blink in surprise. “Rather it’s the status of the majority that is our concern. We fear Peter’s actions are most heinous.”

“What meanest thou?” Princess Luna asked as she used her magic to retrieve the folders in question. “Surely the sheer number of mares involved must raise some disquiet.”

“It raises much disquiet,” Xenophilius admitted.

“This is awkward,” Celestia said. “I am ashamed of the actions of my ponies. Please have a seat and we shall discuss how to . . .”

“Sister,” Princess Luna interrupted. “Most of these mares art deceased. 'Twould seem that Peter Pettigrew is preying on the weak and infirmed. We can only assume he seeks the worldly possessions left behind.”

Raven started. The ball of blame was now firmly in the human’s side of the court.

“Weak and infirmed?” Celestia asked.

“The ages of those involved point in that direction,” Xenophilius said. “We are most appalled at the actions of this individual and will immediatly make a team of aurors available to aid in bringing the scoundrel to justice.”

“Thy offer of assistance is most gratefully accepted.” Princess Luna levitated the pile of folders over to Raven. “Know that we do not hold thy human government responsible for the actions of one depraved individual.”

“Know also that any who dare prey on our ponies will be dealt with most harshly,” Celestia said. “We reserve the right to administer punishment up to and including permanent solutions.”

“I would expect nothing less.” Xenophilius said. “You will not hear a word of protest from us in this matter. Peter is already wanted for his participation in the murder of the Potters. We would consider it a boon if you were to find it necessary to employ such permanent solutions.”

“The subject is most foul,” Luna said. “We are of accord that this Peter Pettigrew is to be held in contempt.”

“Excuse me, your highness.” Raven had scanned the names on the folders and was now checking them against a list she had retrieved from her saddle bags. “The situation may not be as dire as it first appears, and I know where Peter Pettigrew is.” She blushed. "I had to look up 'hyperpareunia'."

Ponyville General was the last place where one would expect a holiday celebration. Anypony would expect that the sterile white walls, hushed tones, and the threat of the inevitable would suck out any vestige of joy like a parched vampire. It was the best Hearth's Warming ever.

For one undersized blue pegasus colt, this was the first time he was allowed to celebrate the season. In years past, he had been relegated to the role of a despised scullery maid, being forced to do all the menial tasks while being denied even the smallest crumb from the holiday table.

In this ward, behind a protective magical barrier, ponies young and old reveled while friends and family outside the barrier celebrated at a distance. Every scrap that went inside had to be inspected and tested to make sure it could cause no harm. The walls outside were also bare, lest some pathogen find refuge, only to wreak havoc when defenses were lowered.

He smiled as he watched those on the inside devour the bounty that he and his herd had brought. Two of his herdmates, the ones everyone else mistook for redheaded twins, were among the afflicted. He could practically taste the joy that they and the other patients exuded.

He could hardly believe how much things had changed in a few short months. He had gone from an outcast to one of a group of friends who would stand up for each other, regardless of the cost. He had gained parents who gave him the love and guidance he had been denied for years. He had gained a form and abilities that he, as a mere boy, would never have imagined.

He could scarcely believe the bliss of feeling the wind beneath his wings. The spirits of the air had beckoned, and he had answered their call. Instincts that he never imagined came to the fore when he needed them most. The wind was his servant, and the skies his playground.

He scowled when he thought back on his introduction into the magical world. People he didn't know had come up to him and insisted that he was fated to do great things. Everyone seemed to think his future was immutably cast in stone.

He smiled triumphantly.

Fate be damned; he would be his own pony.

The celebration was in full swing. Bright lights, cheerful colors, and merry ponies were all around. It was the worst Hearth's Warming ever.

Everypony knew that misery loved company, and she was denied even that. Though she was in a crowd of ponies enjoying the hospitality of the palace, she was alone. The unfairness of her life had been hammered home in the last week. Before that week, she had almost given up. For a pegasus, losing the ability to fly was like losing the very thing that made life worth living. What made it more devastating was that hope had been dangled in her face. The human doctor had performed miracles. Her therapy group had found common ground in their grounding. Now, almost all of them had broken free of the bonds of earth, once again feeling the rush of air beneath their wings.

She was not meant for miracles. The human could not grow back a wing that had been completely lost.

She wasn't the only one in the group so afflicted. That, however, did nothing to ease the pain; what good was a pegasus who could not fly?

She had all of half of one wing left.

It would have been far kinder if the accident had just taken her life.

The human had told her there were other ways they could fly. There were even stories of earth pony foals doing it.

It wasn't the same. She would forever be a cripple.

The pity in the eyes of her family was almost unbearable.

They understood.

They knew there was nothing they could do for her.

Hugs would not see her flying under her own power once again.

Words were useless.

Empathy was appreciated, but ultimately meaningless.

She had lost the sky.

Forever gone.

The merriment of the ponies surrounding her had refused to let her in.

She had hoped that being at the annual party might bring a sliver of the cheer it had before.

She had been wrong.

Everything was a reminder of what she had lost.

Her mood could not get any darker.

Her world was a meager shadow of what it once was.

Colors were dulled.

Sounds were muted.

Joy was obliterated.

. . .

She did not see how it happened.

An explosion rocked the ground, and the screams started.

One of the ancient pillars was slowly falling.

Everypony was running away, everypony, except one colt, frozen in terror.

He was dead.

She refused to believe.

He was dead.

She was in a gallop before she had realized that she was moving.

He was dead.

How could his mother have abandoned him? He was no more than five! Pegasus magic reduced her weight and sliced through the air in front of her.

He was dead.

Not on her watch. Simple physics dictated that she would stop just a bit further than where he stood. She could accept that.

He was dead.

She leapt, once again feeling the familiar rush of wind beneath her. Her forehooves connected, sending the little earth pony flying.

She saw him land, out of danger.

He would live.

She knew the price would not be paid with aluminum.

Darkness fell.

She smiled.

Death be not proud; she had won.

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