• 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 92: Taking a Step Back

Well before Arthur had managed to track down the Minister, Severus Snape had acquired the services of an owl with a pouch. From the dark confines of the conveyance, he found himself alone with his most vicious tormentor. He found himself alone with his thoughts.

Despite his calm outward appearance, his mind was a tumultuous jumble. Though he would never voice the words, he was well and truly out of his depth. He was no longer alone. He was bonded to others. Others were bonded to him. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, they were joined until death did them part. They were now as close as any beings could be. He was terrified.

Bitter experience had taught him that the road ahead was fraught with peril. He had once held someone in his heart. She had been his everything, and he had cast her out. He had witnessed a scene beyond horror. He had seen that she had died at the hands of the one to whom he had pledged his loyalty. Ten years had passed, and the pain was still as fresh as it had been on that first night.

He knew there was no escaping the past. He knew he would forever be the child of the broken woman who had been his mother and the monster who had taken everything worth living for from her, his father. That waste of breath held the title only through a technicality of biology. Snape wouldn't even dignify that thing by calling it a bastard; that would be a grave insult to all those unfortunate enough to have been born out of wedlock.

Bitterly, he thought back to the time he was a frightened whelp forced to seek refuge from a home that had been shattered from within. As improbable as it now seemed, Lily had befriended him. She had been his only true friend. As he entered Hogwarts, he had applied that term to his fellow Slytherins, but that was a mere courtesy. To them, he would always be the half-blood marginally respectable enough to be an associate. Lily, on the other hand, had not cared about such things. Lilly had accepted him for who he was.

Throughout his childhood, Lily had been the bedrock that had kept his head above the quicksand of a home life that threatened to suffocate him. She had given the love his mother could not. She had provided the comfort that the monster had taken pains to deny him. For that, Snape would be forever grateful.

Lily was his one true love. His peers at the time would have thought it to be mere hormone-soaked eros. While Snape would admit to himself that it was there, he knew that philia and storge were at the forefront of what he felt. He simply was not complete without her. It was she who had made him whole. It was she who left his soul with a hole. It was she who still gave him hope that there might be something truly worth living for.

It had become painfully obvious that she did not reciprocate. He still could not understand how she could have pledged herself to the one who had dedicated his existence to making Snape's life a living nightmare. He had done everything humanly possible to guide her to the light. It had all been for naught.

The day had come. The day had left a scar on his soul. The day had haunted all his dreams. The day kept finding a way to claw its way to the front of his mind.

He had called her that word.

Enraged and embarrassed, the now-master of occlumency had vented his anger on his only friend.

He had called her that word.

She had returned his rage in equal measure.

He had called her that word.

In his lifetime of regrets, two far outstripped the rest. Of the two, the worse was that he had told his master what he knew of the prophecy. That mistake had cost him any chance of atonement. That mistake had cost him any chance of forgiveness. There was nothing he wouldn't give to have Lily alive and happy, even if it forever cost him her friendship, even if it cost him his life.

He had called her that word.

The guilt and self-loathing had festered for years. It had not taken a genius to foresee what would happen, and Snape was no fool. The product of Lily and the usurper had arrived. The avatar of his love and his hatred would be there to remind him of his greatest mistake for every working day for the next seven years. The result of the unholy bond would be there to underscore the misery that was now his life.

Snape had realized that the only thing that had shielded the innocent child from his wrath was the boy's unlikely friendship with the three young girls whom Snape had been forbidden to antagonize. He had stared into the abyss where his vengeance would have led. The three smiling faces that had looked back had saved him from the fall.

Still, it hurt.

The progeny had the face of his greatest foe. The smile he had grown to hate had come back to haunt him.

Still, it hurt.

The progeny had the eyes of his only love. The piercing green eyes still seemed to bore through his very soul.

How could it hurt so much to look at a mere child? Why did it feel like it was shredding his very essence? Why did it look like the darkness that was his life would consume all that he was?

A single point of light had pierced the darkness. Sprung from the pouch of a messenger owl, it had taken the shape of a woman. The woman had spoken exclusively in rhymes. The woman had no preconceptions about Snape. The woman had looked past the mask that Snape had used as his shield.

She had left him speechless.

She was the patch for the hole in his soul.

She was the one to tip the balance of his life, be it toward the heights of ecstasy or the depths of despair.

She terrified him.

A second point of light had pierced the darkness. Sprung from the pouch of a messenger owl, it had taken the shape of a woman. The woman had no pomp. The woman had no pretense. The woman had huge tracts of land.

She was the embodiment of one of the virtues of her world.

She was the antithesis of what he had become.

She was Knight Elemental, Honesty.

She terrified him.

What is it that she could possibly have seen in him? He had survived on lies. He had lied to others to keep them at bay. He had lied to himself to keep himself sane.

It simply made no sense. There was no reason for any woman to be interested in him, let alone two. Why had he agreed to that date? Why had he waited so long to agree? Why had the special something been thrust into his hands for the taking?

This was something that went beyond the mere physical.

This was something he could not bear to lose.

This was something he would defend with his life, his magic, his soul.

Green eyes were forever lost to him. That he could not deny.

Eyes of green and eyes of blue waited for him at the end of his ride.

Was it too much to hope that they would accept the mass of imperfection now bound to them?

The flames faded away. He was free! Was this better? It looked, smelled, and felt like big fire had died here not long ago. Surely, the fire birds could not have done this. There were many foals around moving bits of dead tree with their mouths. Was this her herd?

A orange foal with purple mane and tail babbled like a two-legger. "'About time you got back, Sweetie. Big Mac hasn’t been too happy with you disappering like that." She had no horn. Was she a cripple?

The white foal seemed to play along. "It's not my fault that Philomena decided to grab Magah and me. We have a lost Earth unicorn stallion here."

From somewhere in the herd, another foal babbled. "Just pop him over to the Forbidden Forest."

The white one continued to sound like a two-legger. "I don't think he's from there."

"You can only have one pet at school," He turned to the sound of the voice coming toward him. This foal was not quite white, and his mane was the color of dry sand. A colt? From another stallion? He must be destroyed!

With a snort, he leapt, bringing his forehooves down where the colt had been a heartbeat earlier. He spun around and located the retreating colt. There was no way he could miss this time.

As he tensed for his next leap, he saw a blur of red from the corner of his eye. Before he could react, a blow struck him in the side, lifting him bodily from the ground and sending him tumbling.


The colt’s father had arrived.

Quickly, he found his hooves. The bulky rival stood a distance away with muscles tensed. He was not looking for a fight, but he had to show that he was not afraid before he left. Just as he started to trade glares with the red stallion, a lavender filly galloped toward him, screaming. She seemed to stumble as she reached him. The two-hooved buck that snapped his head back showed it was no accident. A second blow caught his chest and sent him back several steps.

That was more than enough! A familiar blanket of white lay beyond the dead trees. He could see the beginnings of a more heavily forested area in the distance. With a whinny, he bolted for safety at a full gallop with the little lavender filly in hot pursuit. With his longer stride and taller stance, he easily outdistanced his pursuer. The soft snow would only magnify his advantage.

When he reached the tree line, he risked a look back. The mare who had come to him in the prison was prancing in place irritably while the large red stallion was holding the filly off the ground by her brown tail.

The filly was wildly swinging her limbs while spouting like an angry two-legger.

It was time to leave. With a snort, he rushed deeper into the forest.

Cucumber Crisps' bad day had just gotten worse. She had endured a twelve-hour non-stop train ride stuffed with ponies who cared not a whit about personal space or personal hygiene. To make matters worse, the club car had been running an all-you-can-drink promotion while all of the toilets were backed up. Despite the relief she had found before stowing her luggage at her parents' house, she had still been in a foul mood when she arrived at the house of her little sister, Mellow Yolk. She had not been surprised to find the dwelling unoccupied; that simply dictated that the next destination was the market square, where the egg broker was sure to be peddling her wares. The scene that she had stumbled upon was obscene beyond belief, and her darling little sister was in the middle of it.

Mellow Yolk and what seemed like every mare at the market had trapped a pair of young stallions. The mob was making suggestions that would be unacceptable except among married ponies. This was just the sort of behavior the laws had been enacted to prevent. Those two were ponies, not some merchandise to be fought over. This had to stop, or she would call the guard herself and have the lot of them thrown into stocks until they cooled off. Even though the stallions had yet to break into panic, they looked decidedly uncomfortable at their treatment.

“Hey!” Cucumber bellowed, her voice full of rage. “What are you ponies doing?!”

Startled by the sudden shout, everypony stopped and turned to face her.

"That's our cue," said the yellow stallion. "Exit, stage right!"

Cucumber watched, incredulous, as the stallion rushed to a group that had several colts laughing at the pair's mistreatment.

The green colt followed hastily and said, "Let's make like a tree and get back to the farm!"

The yellow stallion said, "Race you!"

Several mares took that as an invitation before Cucumber bellowed, "Don't even think about it!"

“But!” came a voice from the middle of the crowd.

“Don’t even think of it!” Cucumber repeated. “Your behavior is despicable. That’s no way to court a stallion.”

“But, they’re humans!” another mare declared.

Cucumber snapped, "That's no excuse! Are you all mindless succubae? Where's the respect your mothers taught you to give all stallions?" She growled. "They're not some mythological creatures; they're ponies!"

“You don’t understand,” called out Cherry Blush.

“Yeah!” Taro Root agreed. “They really are humans! They can just take pony form.”

“I don’t care!” Cucumber raged. “Everypony here deserves a night in the stocks for your crude behavior. Couldn't you see how miserable you were making those stallions?"”

“They didn’t look miserable to me,” Taro Root muttered.

“Minuette!” called Cheerilee as she appeared from down the street. “I’m glad I found you! I need your help.”

Glad for the interruption, Minuette said, “Sure, what do you need?”

Cheerilee rushed up to the blue mare and shoved a pouch with five small bottles at her. “Here, I need you to hold on to these for me and don’t give them back in the next couple days no matter how much I ask.”

“What are they?” Minuette asked, examining her new charges.

“Pepper-up potions,” Cheerilee replied. “I can’t stop to talk. Berry has passed out, and I’m not sure how long Carrot can handle Barnaby by herself. I need to get back.”

“Passed out?” Minuette asked.

“Yes,” Cheerilee called over her withers as she rushed back the way she came. “I’m starting to think three mares are not enough for one human stallion. There’s no way I’m going to be able to walk straight for a week after this.”

Cucumber blinked before addressing the spot her little sister had been standing. “You said they were human stallions?”

She needn’t have wasted her breath; her sister, as well as the other mares in the crowd were already in hot pursuit of the retreating stallions.

“Wait for me!” Minuette cried out, levitating the bottles alongside herself as she started to gallop. She only got about ten pony lengths before skidding to a halt and reversing course. As she passed Cucumber, she levitated the bottles to her. “Here, hold on to these for me,” she commanded before dashing after Cheerilee.

The slamming of the farmhouse door accomplished what a pink party pony had failed to do for the past half hour. It dispelled the suffocating despair that had hung heavily in the air. Everypony breathed a sigh of relief.

“Welcome back, boys,” Molly said, walking over to hug the two stallions responsible for the disruption. “Did you get the yeast?”

“Percy has it,” Bill said. “He and the twins should be coming along shortly.”

“They didn’t have to run for it,” Charlie added as he barred the door.

“Are the local mares giving you some trouble?” Twilight asked. “There has been some ‘human stallion’ mania going around lately with all the rumors of how accommodating Barnaby Lee is being.”

"Do you suppose we could owl the lot of them to my work site in Egypt?" asked Bill. "After all, there are seven seriously lonely lads working over the break, and they did say they were desperate."

“If you do that, you need to figure out a way to get pictures,” Sirius said. “I may have a few ideas.”

“Don’t encourage him,” Molly scolded.

“I think it’s a marvelous idea,” Sirius countered.

“You will not be owling any mares,” Molly sternly said.

“Spoilsport,” Sirius muttered.

The sound of muffled wings announced Hedwig's arrival from an orthogonal dimension. "You're right on time," said Twilight. "Thank you for bringing the other guests." Turning to her husband, she said, "Sirius, would you mind casting the expansion charm before I let them out? I'm still having problems with the failsafes."

"No problem." He waved his wand. "Capacious extremis!" Walls, floor, and ceiling seemed to stretch, quintupling the room's size."

Twilight tapped the clasp on the pouch with her horn and said, "Ex dimittere."

The windows of the farmhouse rattled as the pouch noisily disgorged its contents. The nearest neighbors started gossiping about baked bads.

Eva and Rosie flew out in the their pegasus forms while their parents and grandparents, Seamus's parents, and Elisa tumbled to the floor.

As the adults picked themselves up, Twilight said, "Happy Hearth's Warming, everypony! I'm so glad you could all make it."

After the others gave their greetings, Elisa said, "Happy Christmas." Looking over to a corner, she asked, "Is something wrong with Applejack? It looks like that cloud over her head is about to dump on her."

“Don’t mind her none,” Granny said. “She’s had a shock, though that’s no excuse to fergit her manners.”

“Sorry Granny,” Applejack said, stepping forward. “And sorry everypony fer not being all hospitable-like.”

Twilight absently unbarred the front door with her telekinesis in response to the knocking. The Crusaders trouped in. looking like refugees from a minstrel show. From the front of the pack, Scootaloo said, "Did you know there's a whole mess of wet mares heading into town? They sure looked disappointed for some reason."

Charlie shrugged. "I guess breaking the ice here is the same as a cold shower back home."

From behind Scootaloo, a formerly fuchsia foal piped up. "Looked like the twins and Percy were right behind us. They should be here in a few."

In a sharp voice, Granny said, "Hold it right there, young uns." The Crusaders froze. "There's a tub in the barn. Go clean yourselves off before you track any more soot into the house."

Giving his wand a quick twirl, Sirius said, "I got this." He started casting scourgify, fanning his wand like a gunslinger before each target. He had scarcely vanished the last of the soot when the next group entered.

With surprising agility, Molly vaulted over Harry. “It’s about time you got back,” she said, getting on her knees to hug the first unicorn within reach. “I’ve missed the lot of you. The house is much too quiet with you all off at Hogwarts.”

“Aaaaw mum!” George complained as he was cuddled.

Molly let him go to administer a hug to his twin before turning her attention to Percy. “Now, Percy, don’t you think it’s time to introduce me to these three young ladies?”

“Father told you?” Percy guessed.

“Granny let it slip,” Molly said. “You’re much too young, but what is done is done. I’ve had time to cool down; we’ll have a talk later.”

Percy was just starting the introductions when another owl appeared.

“Who’s this?” Twilight asked reaching for the pouch. “Rarity, Bon Bon and Lyra aren't due for another half hour.” She touched her horn to the clasp. "Ex dimittere."

In an odd parody of a scene from a fraternity party, the pouch noisily retched and regurgitated its contents.

“It bears repeating,” the man said, picking himself off the ground. “We need a more dignified method of travel.”

“Severus Snape!” Applejack shuddered, immediately turning her back and lowering her head in shame.

“Applejack,” Severus whispered, hurrying over to her. “I am sorry. I didn’t mean to cause you distress.”

“Ah . . . Ah didn’t know.” Applejack’s voice was almost imperceptible. “Y'all must think Ah’m a bad pony fer . . .”

“I do not think you are a bad pony,” Severus interrupted. “From what I can gather, this took you by surprise, just as it did me.”

Applejack nodded, neither saying a word nor opening her eyes.

“Then no one is to blame,” Severus said.

Applejack raised glistening eyes to meet his. “Yer not mad?”

“Even if I were, I’ve learned not to direct my anger at those I care about."

Applejack gave a wan smile. “Even if’n a part of me is happy that it happened?”

Severus started to move to hug her, hesitated with indecision, then finished the maneuver. “I am overjoyed and proud that you are my wife. I only hope I can live up to being a worthy husband.”

Startled, Applejack stood like a statue for a few seconds, then she returned the hug.

“What’s happening here?” Scootaloo whispered to the oldest mare in the room.

“Apple Bloom got herself a new brother-in-law.”

“What!” squeaked the Crusaders. As one, they turned with everyone else to look in shock at the largest red stallion in the room. Somehow, he'd managed to harmonize with them one octave higher.

Christmas Eve was a special time in the tiny studio apartment. It was a time for friends. It was a time for family. It was a time for holiday cheer. It was time for everything that was missing from that drab room.

Smoke curled lazily from the cigarette in her left hand as she struggled with the evil spirits that had ruined her life. The mongrel mix in the waxed paper cup in her right hand was a small sample of the beast. She had thought it had made her invincible. With its power, she had thought that she could do anything. She had thought that she could say anything. She had been wrong. She had caused so much pain and hurt so many people that even her family would have nothing to do with her; they had left the state just to get away from her.

It had been four years since she had broken free of its grasp; the lure of forced euphoria had cost her everything -- friends, family, dignity. Digging her way out had not been easy. Even now, she would allow herself a taste on the bad days -- one taste, and no more. She would not let herself be a slave again.

She contemplated the cup in her right hand. As bad days went, this was one of the worst. Surely, there was no better time to ease the pain. The cup was half way to her lips when she stopped. Snarling, she hurled the cup in the general direction of the sink, untasted. Growling, she backhanded the open bottle of rotgut, splashing a malodorous trail from the table to the floor.

Deliberately, she touched the smoldering butt in her left hand to the spill. She had been too fast; the liquid snuffed it out before it could burn. With a sigh, she crushed the sodden mess in the ashtray before letting her head fall onto her crossed arms on the table. It was time for another holiday tradition, the cry of the forsaken.

She had scarcely heard the sound of snapping fingers when the sound of a gasp and an almost-forgotten voice broke her out of her reverie. Could it really have been a decade since she last heard it?

“Samantha! Is that you? Oh my god! Samantha!”

She raised her head, no longer at the table she had dropped it on. She was no longer in her run-down apartment. Instead, she was in a modest home, and there was someone she never thought to see again. “Amanda?”

“Sam!” Her arms where filled, as was her heart. The building tears finally came, though without the expected grief.

Nearby, three individuals watched, slightly out of phase with the reality, unseen and unheard by the reunited sisters.

“Voila!” Discord spread his arms wide triumphantly. “Random act of kindness number twelve.”

Alice beamed while Fluttershy rather predictably leapt into his open arms. “This is the best Hearth's Warming present I have ever received.” She sobbed at him. “Thank you.”

“Only the best for you my dear,” Discord said. “Now, I do believe that your friends are having an impromptu gathering; what do you say we crash the party?” With another snap of his fingers, they were gone.

The grand ballroom in Canterlot Palace was abuzz with excitement. One very fake pony had been declared one very real princess, and this was her debut to Canterlot's nobility. As she politely greeted pony after pony, Clouded Hope could not have been happier at what her life had become. What had started as a routine infiltration mission had evolved into a dream come true. She was not impersonating a princess of Equestria at this party. With her aunts and mother in high-level discussions with the humans, it fell upon her to be the official host of the Hearth's Warming Eve party. She was Princess Clouded Hope, adoptive daughter of Princess (and Queen pro tempore) Mi Amore Candenza and Prince Shining Armor.

When the truth of her identity had come out, she had expected to lose everything she had stolen with her lies. Pony title, pony mother, pony father, and pony family, by all rights should have been taken from her; they were never really her own. At least that was the case until they had accepted her into their hearts. The senior princesses had blessed the adoption. She would never be a hive queen; she was now and forever more a princess.

She was from a species where fatherhood was meaningless. Among her kind, she alone could honestly boast that she had a father of her own. He stood proudly beside her, helping her welcome the guests. It was sheer bliss soaking in his love.

The ponies were lining up to meet her, lining up to give her their love.

The night was going perfectly, but habits from a life of danger never go away. Habits from a life of danger were the only things that kept her alive.

Others had seen a yellow unicorn. Clouded had seen death incarnate. The mare had pushed past the queued ponies; her horn had been glowing with the promise of lethal force. Clouded had recognized the threat and vaulted away before any of her guardians could react.

“What are you doing in my territory!” the mare had bellowed, releasing pent up death in the form of a glowing sphere. It would have been the end of Clouded if not for an attentive guard who had yanked the young Princess out of the way with a burst of aqua magic. The spell had left a nasty track in her fur before blasting a hole through the wall.

Suddenly, Clouded's world took on a magenta tint. Her father's magic formed around her, unwavering and unbreakable.

“I will not be denied!” the yellow mare yelled, charging her horn for a second strike. Guard after guard leapt on top of her, burying her in a pile of muscle and armor. An eerie silence fell over the room before a flash erupted from underneath, flinging the guards well away. Once more, the horn began to charge.

“You . . . Do . . . NOT . . . BELONG . . . HEEEEERE!”

The hatred of a queen shot from her horn. The love of a father sprang from Shining's. The two met in the middle. The world went white.

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