• 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 94: Winter Wonderland Wanderings

Failure was not an option; it was a fact of life. Queen Shimmering Wing grumbled to herself as she limped through the labyrinth of tunnels that she had not traversed in over seven years. Her cover as a wealthy socialite had been a testament to the comfort and security that she had enjoyed since eradicating the rival swarms from her territory. Scout after scout, spy after spy, rival after rival, all who might challenge her position had been summarily dispatched. She had thought she was invulnerable. She now knew she was wrong.

The evening had served to underscore that her position was in mortal peril. As humiliating as her defeat had been, it was not her food that concerned her. Everypony would be on the lookout for the yellow unicorn. Nopony would suspect the pony she would become. After all, "trusting" was synonymous with "ponykind".

The real threat was the rival hive that clearly had aspirations on her territory. There could be no other explanation for the imposter. It sickened her to see that an innocent child had been displaced. Only the most desperate would attempt an act so reprehensible, or so risky. While she respected the boldness Chrysalis had shown to plant an agent so close to the Princess of Food, such villainy cried out for justice.

Silently, she berated herself for letting her emotions get the better of her. She should have realized that the foalnapped princess was not the only victim. The stallion had no way of knowing that his own flesh and blood had been replaced by an imposter. The same could be said for the Princess of Food.

Despite the disastrous outcome, the queen still counted her blessings. The alicorn's spell had shattered her shield, but instead of vaporizing her, it had flung her well outside the vicinity of the capital. The resulting landing had been far from gentle; spiderwebs of cracks on her carapace bore mute witness to the strength of the impact.

The fallout from those few minutes of discomposure would leave its marks, and not just the matching pair of horseshoe-shaped indentations on the carapace covering her rump. She could count on the typical pony to forget all about the incident in a few months. The elder princesses, however, were another matter entirely. They would not forget who had been the cause of the death of one of their subjects; they would not care that the incident had cost three of her own children.

Now was the time to cut her losses before this misunderstanding escalated into something even worse. Sacrificing one pony to eliminate the spy was an acceptable, if dear, cost. Further jeopardizing the entire food supply was unacceptable. It was time to withdraw and regroup before dealing with the threat.

Her path was clear. Her first priority was to locate and return the real princess. Surely, even Chrysalis would not have been so dastardly as to have eaten the original. In the meantime, the imposter would be dispatched and replaced with one of her own.

Her next priority was to contact the family of the fallen pony and to ease them through the grieving process. Her blunder was sure to slow food production, and there was little nourishment to be gained from mourning ponies. A little kindness and compassion were a small price to pay to ensure that her children did not starve.

Her most important job, however, was to beat her plowshares into swords. She could already foresee a siege. With their agent in place, a clash with the rival hive was simply a matter of time. Noling craved conflict, but the survival of the hive outweighed the desires of any individual, even the queen. Happiness meant nothing to a dead hive.

The whole situation was an unmitigated cluster buck.

Still, she was grateful that their shroud of secrecy was still intact, for the most part. Her spies had heard no mention of a changeling attack among the general populous. The night princess, however, was already aware that her hive was operating in the area. When she had accused Princess Luna of being Chrysalis in disguise, the response had been both swift and embarrassing. She had slunk away after the princess had smacked her in the muzzle with a pillow and demanded, "What color is my magic?" No further proof was needed.

For a moment, she contemplated explaining the situation to the elder princesses. It would be trivial for them to dispel the magic that the impostor was using to appear to be their niece. On further reflection, she decided that it simply wasn't worth the risk. It was far safer to work from the shadows as they had done from time immemorial. While the reward of the direct approach was great, the risk was greater. It was far better to risk losing a few agents than it was to ante up the entire hive.

Grim determination marked her steps as she strode toward the heart of her hive’s tunnels. Now was the time to prepare for war.

So focused on the mechanics was she that she somehow missed the telltale noises of hooves coming up behind her.

The voice that accompanied those hooves would not be denied, though. “Hello mother," it hissed. “We need to talk.”

Failure was not an option; it was an inevitability. Human lore was rife with stories of how a unicorn could be approached only by an innocent or a virgin. The gaggle of men on broomsticks and the large red stallion on the ground whom they followed did not qualify on either count. What was supposed to be a simple tracking exercise was doomed before it began, no matter how much the hunters would blame the fading light.

After passing what appeared to be the same tree for the umpteenth time, Severus deadpanned, "One would think that an overgrown canine would produce better results.”

“Unicorn magic makes them almost impossible to track,” Sirius countered. “Big Mac is doing just fine.”

“Lost 'im,” Big Mac said.

“If it were easy, muggles would stumble across them all the time,” Charlie said. “Unlike dragons, they're unaffected by wards meant to keep them contained. The only way to find one who doesn't want to be found is to collapse a cordon around them and hope you see it before it knows you're there. Even then, if you take your eyes off it, it'll vanish."

“They are wickedly fast,” Bill added.

“You could have told us before we started all this,” Dan said.

“Sorry, I thought everyone knew that,” Charlie replied.

“We really should have gotten Hagrid,” Remus grumbled.

“It’ll keep until morning,” Sirius said. “They aren’t exactly known for being nocturnal. We should be with our families for the holiday.”

“A grand display of responsibility,” Severus noted. “I can’t see it, so it’s not my problem.”

“Do you have a better idea?” Sirius snapped.

“Systematically search, as Mr. Weasley alluded,” Severus said dryly.

“Great idea. Let’s traipse around somewhere the locals say is dangerous in the dark looking for a creature known for being elusive and is currently on high alert,” Sirius growled.

“He could hurt somepony.” Big Mac insisted.

“He’d have to head back to civilization for that,” Dan said. “Sirius is right; we’ll be more useful back at the farm. This is wasted effort.”

“He’s just being a lazy mutt,” Severus said.

“Give me just one reason not to hex you,” Sirius snarled.

“I’ve spent more than enough time suffering under your hexes,” Severus declared, brandishing his wand.

“Bring it!” Sirius brandished his own.

“Enough!” Dan barked.

The two men glared at the dentist.

“He started it” Sirius said.

“This is no time for a wand-measuring contest.” Dan gritted his teeth. “Both of you, give them to me before something is cast that we’ll all regret.”

“I don’t think . . .” Severus started.

“No, you don’t!” Dan snapped. “Wands! Now!”

After confiscating the two deadly weapons from their man-children, Dan pointed toward the ground. “All right, land there.”

“Are you going to make them stand in the corner?” Remus asked. “Because we are in the middle of a forest, and we’re notably lacking in corners.”

“I wasn’t joking about taking them out behind the barn and letting them go bare knuckles on each other,” Dan said.

“We’re lacking a barn as well,” Charlie stated.

Big Mac stared at the humans but said nothing. He had already depleted his monthly word allowance.

“Th . . . this is barbaric,” Severus stuttered. “You cannot be serious.”

“Of course, not; I am.”

“That tears it!” Severus yelled before taking Dan’s advice.

“I knew that joke would get him in trouble one day,” Remus said.

“There’s low-hanging fruit, and then there’s rotting on the ground,” Bill said, watching the fists fly.

“I need to get my hands on a pensieve,” Charlie said. “If I can sell this memory to some Hogwarts alumni; I’ll make a small fortune.”

“What happens in the forest, stays in the forest,” Dan chided.

“Aren’t you going to stop them?” demanded a female voice.

As one, the watchers turned and beheld a pair of slitted grey pupils.

“Where’d you come from?” Charlie ventured.

“I’ve been keeping an eye on you foals.” A shadow resolved itself into a pony with bat wings. “Whatever possessed you to go into the Everfree at dusk?”

“Are you here to kidnap Snape again?” Remus asked, ignoring her question.

“We haven’t figured out how to stop him from teleporting yet,” the mare admitted. “Plus, Princess Luna wasn’t too happy with us.” She raised a hoof and pointed at the combatants. “Aren’t you going to stop them?” she repeated.

Dan shrugged. “They need to get it out of their systems. Their wives are best friends, and they need to learn to get along.”

“Wives?” the mare asked, narrowing her eyes.

“Yup,” Bill confirmed.

“Buck,” the mare cursed. “That complicates things. It’s bad enough those two fillies are already in a herd.”

“Don’t even think about it,” Dan warned.

“We can play the long game,” the mare said. “How many more human thestrals are there? And are any of them unattached?”

“I think I’m missing something here,” Bill said.

“The batpony gene pool is rather shallow,” Remus said. “They are looking to add some new water, so to speak. They already kidnapped Severus once with that aim in mind.”

The mare blinked and fixed her attention on Remus. “You humans really are blasé on the subject. I suppose I should have suspected that after Severus Snape refused to press charges.”

“Sirius!” Dan snapped. “No animal forms! You’ll leave scars with those teeth and claws! That goes for you too Severus! Those hooves can cause some real damage!”

“You aren’t going to stop them, are you?” the mare asked again.

“They’re winding down,” Charlie said. “I would have guessed they had more pent up anger than this.”

“Shouldn’t we be more wary of the pony spying on us?” Bill asked.

“I’m not the one letting another human pound on him,” the mare snapped. “I’m only here to observe and protect in case something happens.”

“What could possibly happen?” Charlie asked.

“We are in Monster Central after sunset,” the mare retorted.

“We had to find a unicorn,” Dan explained. “He’s a potential danger to foals.”

The mare snapped her attention to Dan. “You don’t mean that large stallion that headed back towards town a while back?”

The others stared at the mare in shock. “Wrap it up you two!” Charlie yelled. “We got a lead!”

As he shifted uncomfortably, Percy could scarcely believe that four short months ago, he was absolutely certain of the path his life would take. He had just become a prefect, and from there, it was an easy step to becoming Head Boy. He had been sure he could follow his father's footsteps into the Ministry and work his way up to the lofty heights of middle management. Never in a million years would he have dreamed that a visit by three little girls with colorful hair would eventually leave him a little horse. Never in a million years would he have dreamed that Cupid's arrow would leave three wound channels through his heart. Never in a million years would he have believed that he would be spending this Christmas Eve away from his parents and siblings.

He had first come as a stranger in a strange land, wearing the skin of a native. He had found himself in a world of beasts and beings. He had been surprised to learn that the visitors to the Burrow were among the latter. He had been surprised to find that their kind were lavishing him with the attention that their human counterparts withheld with prejudice. He had been uncomfortable with the attention. However, Gryffindor sensibilities had demanded that he jump in feet first and make the most of his opportunities. To his surprise, he had found he was now truly one of them; he was husband to three wives.

He had expected his father to berate him for thinking with the wrong head, despite the fact that the senior Weasley had, thankfully, taught him a contraceptive charm. Percy counted himself fortunate that he wouldn't have to worry about diaper changes and midnight feedings anytime soon. His father had been strangely understanding, telling him that hormones were a powerful influence. Regardless of the motivation, Percy had surprised himself with the realization that he had no regrets about his current status. Each of his wives had a distinct and engaging personality.

Marriage was supposed to be something in the far future. It was supposed to happen after he graduated. It was supposed to happen after he had established himself in the Ministry. It was supposed to happen after a long courtship. Now, he could feel the weight of the world on his shoulders. All of the details that were supposed to have been settled before the wedding had to be settled immediately, if not sooner. What plans he had for his life would have to be put on hold.

By wizarding law, he was now the head of a household. It was now his responsibility to see to its needs. He had to keep them fed. He had to keep them clothed. He had to keep them housed. He had to keep them happy.

Fortunately, money was not an issue. The stipend the Burrow's visitors had granted him would be more than enough for his basic needs. After all, his father's annual household budget was not that much more. Housing was a more immediate concern. He and his wives had been living as children on the cusp of adulthood, each living with their own families. They each had rooms that could not accommodate any more people. Besides, to live as newlyweds, they would need privacy that had to be found elsewhere. Somehow, he would have to find a way to accommodate his wives before the holidays ended.

He blinked. Wives. That word had come to the forefront of his mind more times in the last hour than he had thought possible. That also reminded him of his most immediate concern. Now that he was spending Hearth's Warming Eve at Dainty Lace's place, he had to do his best to impress her parents. After all, they were now his in-laws.

Her mother, Summer Melt, had welcomed him immediately. She had been immensely proud that her daughter had secured the future of the family line at such an early age, despite the fact that Dainty Lace and Percy were both still a few years from reaching legal majority. On the other hand, Dainty's father, Quick Stomp had been singularly unimpressed. Percy could swear he had already been called "leech", "deadbeat", and "aluminum digger".

Gryffindors did not back down. He would stand up to Quick Stomp. He would show that his wife made a good decision.

His wife.

He was married.

Sweet Merlin! He was married!

The culprits had made the mistake of exposing themselves. The unknown was impossible to remedy. Magical food poisoning, on the other hand, was no mystery to a wizarding nurse, a witch with many children, or a magical prodigy. Between Molly's assortment of elimination spells, Andi's medical skills, and Twilight's magical talent, a cure for the pastry parasites was quickly created and administered. With what seemed like a combination of supercharged ipecac and bisacodyl, the afflicted ponies quickly, colorfully, and embarrassingly rid themselves of the parasites while Molly dispatched the pests with prejudice.

Dean exclaimed, "Now that was a technicolor yawn!"

Hermione deadpanned, "That batch didn't come from the mouth."

One of the younger patients asked, "Is . . . is it over?"

Andi cast a quick diagnostic scan. "There's not a trace of cake to be found."

Dr. Horse said, "I guess that means you're all free to go home for the holidays."

The cheer that followed could be heard throughout Ponyville.

Once the other patients had left, a small army trooped from Ponyville General to Sweet Apple Acres. They crossed the threshold not long after night had fallen.

“We’re back.” Applejack called out from the front of the procession. “Problem’s taken care of.”

“Good ta hear,” Granny said from her rocker. Rosie and Eva sat next to her, wide-eyed.

Rosie begged, "Another story, Granny? Please?"

The old green mare gave a chuckle. "You know the rules." She took a sip from her mug of hot cocoa. "It's your kin's turn to tell a story."

Ron trotted from behind Applejack and placed a furry ball on a side table before moving forward again. “That was a nightmare. Cupcakes and tentacles are a horrid combination.”

“I don’t know,” Dean said. “Some of them were cute, in an ugly sort of way.”

“And the evening wasn’t a complete loss,” Parvati said. “The town got us each a present.”

“Yeah,” Ron agreed. “You’ll never guess what they got us.”

“Owl treats?” Dean’s father guessed.

“No.” Ginny giggled. “They got us puffskein.”

“Same difference, Ah reckon,” Granny said. “Y'all best keep 'em close if’n ya want 'em to last.”

“Huh?” Lavender asked, raising her own puffskein to examine it closer.

“Um,” said Sweetie looking behind herself. “Just how long is an owl’s tongue supposed to be?”

“What are you talking about?” Ron said, turning in Sweetie was looking. On the side table where he had left his new pet, Lodestone was perched, doing an impression of an owl slurping up a strand of pink spaghetti.

“No! Bad Lodestone!” Applejack cried out. “Give 'er back!”

“Hoo?” came the guilty reply.

Ron looked like he was about to explode for four seconds before deflating and letting out a sad sigh. “I’m pants at keeping pets.” He said dejectedly, “First Scabbers goes missing, and now my puffskein didn’t last long enough for me to give it a good name.”

“I think Owl Treat would be appropriate,” Seamus opined.

“Not funny,” Apple Bloom said. “Don’t ya worry none, Ron. Ah’ll get you something special like.”

“Scabbers wasn’t your fault either,” Ginny said. “He was really old.”

“Where are the boys?” Emma asked, noticing a distinct shortage of testosterone.

“They said they had some business to attend,” Dean’s mother said. “Promised they’d be back before it got too late.”

“Perhaps we should look behind the barn,” Andi suggested. “I don’t think Dan was joking when he mentioned that earlier.”

“They wouldn’t reeeeeally do that,” Pinkie said.

The females in the room all shared a look. “Rainbow, be a dear and go have a look,” Emma said into the silence.

“Kids!” Nissy called out, stuffing one last present into an owl’s pouch. “We’re running late as it is. I’m sure everyone else is already at the gathering.”

Spike and Draco rushed into the room as Nymphadora sedately followed. “Dad said he’ll be down in a few,” she said.

Nissy sighed and said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Where’s your feathered gentleman?”

Nymphadora went red. “He went back to Canterlot. Why does everyone keep insisting that he’s my boyfriend? I told you we're just friends.”

“We don’t think he’s your boyfriend,” Draco said. “He told us he should be your c . . .”

“If you finish that sentence -- I don’t care if it’s proper or not -- I’m going to introduce your mouth to a bar of soap,” Nymphadora snapped.

“Don’t threaten your cousin,” Nissy admonished. “Besides, I think you two seem perfect together.”

“You're as bad as my mother.” Nymphadora pouted. “Honestly, what do you have against me being single?”

“We want you to be happy, and we can spot a good match when we see one,” Nissy said.

“We. Are. Just. Friends.” Nymphadora punctuated each word.

“If you say so, dear,” Nissy replied.

The large red stallion who floated above the dejected hunters was not amused. Earth ponies were meant to feel the ground under their hooves, not bob about like a child's balloon. Still, Big Macintosh had to admit that being towed after being struck by a levicorpus charm was a lot easier and quicker than trudging through the deep snow of the forest.

The other erstwhile hunters flew beneath him on brooms, line abreast, except for Dan, who was still struggling to control his broom fully. He gasped when his broom went inverted, but before he could fall, he was righted by what felt like a giant hand. An amused voice beside him said, "There you are."

"A dragon!" Dan exclaimed, staring at the source of the voice.

The figure beside him snorted. "There's no need to be insulting. No mere dragon could match my magnificence. I am a draconequus." Gesturing with his eagle's talon, he wrote in the air with burning purple letters. "Dra . . . con . . . equ . . . us."

Looking down, Big Macintosh said politely, "Howdy, Discord."

"You're Mr. Discord?" Dan yelped. "I should have recognized the voice. I never got to thank you for helping Hermione."

“Hello Dan,” said Discord. “We were late to the party, but, you know, distractions and all that. Anyways, your wife wanted me to check up on you. Soooo, are we out for drinks or maybe a round of knock-down, drag-out, rolling through the dirt good fun, like the girls are worrying over?”
He dropped a horseshoe in each boxing glove before donning them and taking a few jabs at the innocent air in front of him.

“Sorry, you missed the fisticuffs,” Bill said as his brother Charlie examined the dragon-like appearance of their new friend. “Right now, we’re trying to prevent a unicorn from causing bodily harm to children.”

“Somepony is lacking the Hearth's Warming spirit.” Discord tsked. “Ah well, I might still get my chance at giving what for in that case.”

“It’s an innocent animal with some destructive instincts,” Charlie broke in. “We want to capture it with as little damage as possible.”

“Oh.” Discord deflated, letting out a hissing sound as his body wrinkled. “One of those unicorn wannabes from your world. It would appear that we are playing at being glorified dog catchers, then.”

“Can we hurry?” Sirius asked. “We're really late to the party, and I’m sure Big Mac wants his feet back on the ground.”


“Ponyville isn’t that small,” Severus said as they approached the outskirts of civilization. “How do you propose we go about this?”

“Listen for screaming?” Sirius suggested. “If that fails, ask the locals if they’ve seen a large white stallion doing an impression of a mime, minus the makeup.”

“He’s over there,” A mare appeared from the umbra of Discord's shadow.

“How can you tell?” Charlie asked.

“The horn sticking through the thatched roof is a dead giveaway.” The speaker melted back into the darkness.

“Impressive.” Discord donned a thermal imaging headset and began surveying the spot the mare had just vacated. “I did not realize she was there until she spoke up. Midair, no less.”

“Let’s get this over with,” Sirius said, swooping down to the building the batpony had pointed out. “It’s a pub,” he added, pointing at the sign hanging above the door.

“Eeyup,” Big Mac said, looking grateful that his hooves were once again on solid ground. The building itself was shorter than its neighbors. “Rat’s Nest.”

“I hate it already.” Sirius growled.

“I guess every town needs a low-class drinking hole,” Remus said as Sirius opened the door, exposing the dingy interior.

An earth pony mare who dwarfed Big Macintosh stopped them. "What do you want?"

Remus said, "We're come to take that stallion whose head is stuck in the ceiling."

In a corner of the room a pair of mares were plying the stallion in question with drinks. One snarled, "Hey! We saw him first!"

Sirius said, "You don't understand, he's an Earth unicorn."

The other mare said, "He's still a stallion, and he's ours."

Discord held up his lion's paw. "You know, I could just . . ."

Sirius shook his head. "He's a human world unicorn, so he's a human responsibility."

Discord shrugged. "If you say so." He snapped his fingers. The men now found themselves alone with the crowd.

The bouncer said, "Wait. Are you human stallions?"

Charlie replied, "Yes, but . . ."

The bartender screamed, "Fresh meat! Every mare for herself!"

Outside the bar, Discord buffed his claws while the thestral mare and Big Macintosh looked at the window, concerned. The sounds of struggle were clearly audible, and they were even more so when the window was smashed open by flying furniture. After several minutes, flashes of light were followed by unnatural stillness. The hunters, walked out, bruised, battered, but triumphant. Behind them, they floated a stupefied unicorn stallion. Discord smirked as he looked down. The men were conspicuously pantless.

“I can’t believe you managed to stun a unicorn with one spell.” Bill said. “I think you broke a record with that shot.”

“He’s thoroughly pissed; easy target.” Remus shrugged.

Sirius growled, at Discord as he passed. "Not a word. Not one word."

“I have just got to say something about you being seriously exposed.” Discord said.

“I have only met you,” Remus said. “but I can already tell that you are marauders material.”

Severus suppressed a groan at the thought.

“Wait!” Sirius exclaimed. “Molly only banned us from owling mares, doesn’t Discord have another method of transport available?”

“I sense an intriguing idea forming.” Discord smiled.

“Save the pranks for later.” Dan said. “Right now it’s family time.”

“Agreed.” Discord’s smile turned wicked. “Family now, pranks later. I can hardly wait.”

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