• 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 44: Pro Forma

Saul Croaker surveyed his living room. If muggle fire codes on occupancy were to be believed, he was staring down the business end of a major infraction. Everywhere he looked, there were women congregating in groups. Every Unspeakable had answered the call for assistance, interviewing the immigrants and entering them into the system for proper processing. Upstairs, his second spare bedroom had been repurposed as an impromptu infirmary where twenty of the women received urgent care from the healers. The rest of the newcomers, however, were happily talking and answering the interview questions as best they could.

Croaker briefly shut his eyes and massaged the bridge of his nose. To say things were not going according to plan was an understatement. The Ministry had a budding crisis on its hands, and Saul had already identified three major issues.

The most immediate concern was the threat to personnel. A mere ten minutes into the response, he had lost one of his healers. Silently, he chastised himself. He should have recognized the threat long before it appeared. The young lad had been practically dragged upstairs by a quartet of healthier-looking Equestrians. There was no mistaking his smile, leaving Croaker to hold no illusions that he'd be seeing the lad any time in the next twenty-four hours. With any luck, the child gate at the base of the stairwell would prevent further loss of personnel.

The next major issue was the heredity of the women. This was sure to enrage the pureblood faction; the Equestrians were not even human. While he would normally not look a gift horse in the mouth, the effects of a sudden influx of ponies into the wizarding gene pool were completely unpredictable. Despite dealing with bizarre and counterintuitive matters for all of his professional life, this situation taxed his credulity to its limit. Dimensional travel was supposed to be impossible, but the stories from the women were chillingly consistent. Equestria was not an island nation; it was a country in an entirely different dimension.

The means by which the ponies cum women's arrivied underscored the third issue. They had all been brought by Discord. His ability to completely bypass wards already spoke of an immensely powerful wizard. The fact that he could traverse dimensions with a large number of passengers put that ability to shame. He was even able to perform what appeared to be a permanent transfiguration in the process without even looking the least bit fatigued. Mentally, Croaker did a quick bit of arithmancy. The picture that came to the fore was so bizarre that he was sure that he had made a mistake. He recalculated and derived an even more outrageous result. He gave up after the fourth iteration. There was simply no quantifying the potential menace. He firmly placed Discord at the top of his list of wizards not to upset, pony or not.

Without a doubt, the upheaval of the Wizengamot was going to be nothing but a footnote compared to the changes about to come.

The observation level of the astronomy tower had been converted into an intimate dining room. That is to say, everything had been removed except for one small table, two chairs, and an absurd number of floating candles. There had been one small incident which resulted in the practical application of the aguamenti charm followed by some fire resistance charms, but otherwise, the preparations had gone off without a hitch.

The occupant of one chair looked across the table at her escort and said, “With form and artistry your students have a knack, but when it comes to subtlety, there is a lack.”

"Yes, they are being rather exuberant,” Snape said. “I was not even aware that Mr. Godfrey could play a violin, let alone that well.”

“We seem to have caused quite the stir.” Zecora grinned. “Tell me, often does this occur?”

“No, this is a singular incident,” Snape replied. “I hope it’s not ruining the meal for you. I still don't know which Weasley twin sang 'Salut, Demeure Chaste et Pure'.”

Zecora chuckled and said, “Relax, their spirit I do not find at all rude. For truly, I enjoy the company and food.”

The air of competition lay thick in the air as Elisa and her guards sat around the butcher block table in the well-appointed kitchen. Each was aware of the stakes of the struggle and not one of them was willing to back down. According to the very nature of the goblins, there could be no quarter given. When a contest was presented every effort was exerted to win. Victory was to be had or shame was to be borne.

Across from the lone human, her goblin opponent carefully studied the rectangular pieces of stiff paper he held. Then with a triumphed grin, he looked directly at Elisa and demanded, “Do you have any threes?”

“No,” she replied with a shark's smile, “go fish.”

Heather had commandeered the library to treat the three worst cases that she had been presented with that evening. The majority of her patients, despite initial appearances, could be treated with potions and some rest. In contrast, the three she now faced had been traumatized to the point she had almost mistaken them for victims of Azkaban. Only one of them showed any hint of independent thought. The others would barely go beyond answering with a "yes" or a "no". Sadly, they were truly broken. Heather could only see one viable option.

“Cutie Bee,” she said to the one lucid woman, “I am going to have to remove memories of the last nine years from you and your friends.”

The emaciated woman with sparse brown hair looked back at her without any comprehension. Heather could very well have told her that she had to remove all the meat from her bones for all the difference it would have made.

With a sigh, Heather cast a few silencing charms to keep in the ruckus that was sure to follow, and her assistant carefully poured out three servings of a calming draught. With determination, Heather pointed her wand at the worst of the lot and intoned, “Obliviate!”

Over the years she had witnessed the spell cast more times than she could remember. Every time before, she could see the light in the target’s eyes dim slightly as the effects took hold. This time it was drastically different. Eyes widened, and what was dull became once again filled with sapience. The woman with striking white hair took one look at Heather and scrabbled backwards over the back of the couch in which she had been sitting. She landed with a thud before rolling awkwardly onto her stomach. This was when she noticed her own hands and the screaming commenced.

“Shhh. Shhh,” Heather soothed, trying to get the woman’s attention. “Silversong, I need you to calm down and listen.”

Somehow hearing her own name over her screaming, Silversong snapped her gaze toward the strange creature and howled, “What have you done to me?!”

“I know this is alarming.” Heather said, keeping her hands in front of herself to show she meant no harm, “My name is Heather and I am a healer. I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.”

“What have you done to me!?” Silversong demanded again, all but curling up into a shaking ball.

“I know this is hard. I just removed the last nine years of your memories. It’s going to take you a little while to adjust.”

“Why would you do that? What did you do to my hooves? Where is my beautiful tail?”

Heather’s assistant came around the other side of the couch with a cup of calming draught in his hands.

“Here, Silversong,” Heather said gesturing to her assistant. “We have something to help you adjust. This is a lot to take in, but I’m asking you to trust us.”

Silversong looked at the proffered cup but did not take it. “What are you?” she asked shakily.

“My name is Heather. and I am a witch. I need you to drink this potion. The stress for losing almost a decade is bad enough; I cannot have you going into a coma because of informational shock.”

Silversong weighed her options for a second before reaching out to take the cup. When she saw that it wasn’t her hoof she was reaching with, she snatched her hand back toward her body and whimpered.

“Here, let me help,” Heather’s assistant said kneeling and holding the receptacle for the terrified woman to drink.

“Mr. Discord,” Croaker said upon the arrival of the wizard and fourteen more women, “I need to have a word with you before you continue.”

“Can it wait?” Discord asked impatiently. “I’m working on the last of the oldest cases.

“I must insist.” Croaker said, leading Discord into his kitchen for some privacy.

“What is so important that it cannot wait?” Discord asked.

“I need some critical details,” Croaker said, “like, if and when we can expect them to revert to being ponies. I’m afraid to say that there are members of my society who will not take kindly to non-humans being introduced into our culture.”

“You needn't worry about that,” Discord said dismissively. “They are now one hundred percent human.”

“Are you telling me that you cast a spell to permanently transfigure these women?” Croaker asked, his respect for Discord’s power rising.

“Not exactly,” Discord said. “Is now really the time for Dimensional Travel 101?”

“I’m afraid it is,” Croaker said. “I have to protect the wellbeing of my people.”

“Very well,” Discord said, sitting in an overstuffed lounge chair that had not been there a second ago, “I suppose that I can take some time to allay your fears. How much do you know about dimensional travel?”

“Not much I’m afraid.” Croaker, not to be out done, conjured a matching chair. “Just theories stating that there are other worlds out there, mere inches away but forever out of reach.”

“I suppose that, in a nutshell, is accurate.” Discord produced a large meerschaum pipe. “But that is like saying there are a few drops of water in the ocean. Why, just in the few inches you mentioned, there are a multitude of directions you can travel. I am not talking up, down, left or right. There are yunko or renad, lounfly or dranly, yesterday or tomorrow, gasno or espeic, just to name a few. The thing to remember is that there is cross contamination due to, for lack of a word you’d understand, movement.”

“Movement?” Croaker questioned as he watched Discord blow a few bubbles out the nose of his expensive-looking pipe.

“Weather patterns would be a better description.” Discord shrugged. “The point is stuff from spot A moves to spot B all the time. Well, actually, that is relative. It happens all the time on the macrodimensional scale, not so often on the microdimensional scale. For the most part, this is harmless. A cup of air from one place deposited on another, water from a stream mixing with a foreign ocean, etcetera. Sometimes it is more noticeable: a truck load of bread suddenly falling on desert nomads desperately in need of a meal or your planet’s moon deciding to take a jaunt three seconds over, leaving your planet without a tidal system. And then there are the major occurrences like a zombie population suddenly on a world that doesn’t have a clue about magic or maybe the dreaded cubic meter of antimatter from nowhere.”

“What does that have to do with the women not reverting back to ponies?” Croaker asked, making sure they didn’t get off subject.

“You see, some beings don’t like the idea of the recipient worlds being stripped of life as a result of a transfer, so they set up a network to regulate the minor naturally-occurring transfers from causing too much damage. In short, antimatter now gets shunted to worlds that are made of antimatter. Zombies meet with zombie eating plants, more often than not. You get the idea. What is most relevant here is that the infrequent sapient being gets rewritten on a quantum level to match the populous of the destination, not that it is hard to override these safeguards. Why, just the act of traveling back and forth makes them assume you know what you are doing, and they will ignore you. You can also send a message to be left alone, or a different one to target and concentrate the effect. Do this and, voila, no more ponies; you have conveniently normal witches instead.”

“That does sound a little too convenient to be true,” Croaker opined.

“You would not say that if you were suddenly confronted by a cubic meter of antimatter. Trust me when I say that such a situation is uniquely motivating.”

They were happily gathered in a normal-looking muggle family room. It had been ages since Andi had her closest family members so close. Now she had Sirius and Nissy nearby sharing family time with her husband, Edward, and their daughter, Nymphadora. Making the occasion even more memorable, Nissy had brought her beau. Needless to say, Nymphadora had been ecstatic to be reacquainted with these people she had not seen since she was a little girl. Though, in truth, Andi was sure that Nissy was more than a little jealous of the attention Nymphadora was lavishing on Remus.

“Who’s a pretty, pretty pony?” Nymphadora cooed as she brushed out his mane and tail. “You’re a pretty, pretty pony. Yes, you are, oh yes you are. Mum, would you transfigure a few more pink bows for his hair please?”

Sullenly, Remus looked at his best friend and said, “You could stop laughing and help me you know.”

“Can’t . . . breathe.” Sirius gasped holding his sides. “By . . . Merlin . . . I . . . can’t . . . breathe . . .”

“I’m starting to think we should have gotten her that pony she wanted when she was ten,” Andi’s husband Ted commented, enjoying the show.

“This is the last of them,” Discord announced, popping into existence with three women. “The rest are happy where they are and refused my offer.”

After putting down the scroll on which he had been recording all he had learned that evening, Croaker walked over to inspect the newest arrivals. Two looked to be in their mid-forties and the third looked to be barely out of her teens.

“Good evening, ladies.” Croaker said, “Please allow me to be the first to welcome you to Britain, your new home.”

The two older women beamed with happiness at the announcement while the younger looked around warily. She set her aqua eyes on Croaker and asked, “Discord said he was collecting mares who had been banished. Though I wasn’t in Equestria, I wasn’t banished. Is that going to be a problem?”

“No,” Croaker grinned at the leery young woman, reassuringly. “We are happy to have you here. Miss . . .” he trailed off, fishing for a name.

The woman studied him for a second as she seemed to debate on how to answer the question, “Fizzlepop. My name is Fizzlepop Berrytwist.”

“What a lovely name.” Croaker said, holding out his hand in greeting, “If you give us a chance, I’m sure you’ll be happy here.”

Fizzlepop contemplated the extended appendage for a few seconds before gently placing her own hand in his, “I haven’t been happy in a very long time.”

The Slytherin dormitory was supposed to be a sanctuary, providing comfort for its members. However, what had been a haven was now a charnel house. The physical comforts were still there, but the last two weeks had brought tragedy, catastrophe, and disaster. Draco Malfoy was no longer sure how he should feel. One seemingly-innocuous event had triggered a chain reaction that had collapsed the very foundation of his existence like a house of cards. The bedrock of his beliefs had been smashed to smithereens. The letter that lay on his bedspread was a mere pinprick compared to everything else that had happened. There was no denying that he had every right to hate the world.

He was not supposed to be the head of House Malfoy, not yet. Without warning, his father had been taken from him, murdered by that woman who had stolen the Malfoy fortune. He hadn't even been given the chance to say goodbye; there wasn't even a body left to bury. How could the wizarding world even consider that goblin's spawn to be a hero? Lucius had been a fine, upstanding citizen, champion of the purebloods in their quest to promote their obvious superiority over the mudbloods. His father was the real hero. Now, there was no one to protect the undeniable rights of the purebloods. Now, there was no one to keep the upstart mudbloods in their place.

It wasn't enough that the Ritter harlot had taken his father from him. She uprooted his mother from her rightful place and pawned her off to some mudblood for who knows what. His father hadn't even been dead for a month, and his sainted mother was now doomed to be defiled, forever tainted by a man who did not deserve to even be in her presence. The was no justice in this world.

He raged at his impotence. He could do nothing to save his mother. Fortunately, he was able to avoid her fate. That harlot had tried to turn him over to the mudblood as well, but Draco had protections. While he was the last of a disgraced noble house, he was still a member of a noble house. He had rights, and he intended to exercise them to the fullest extent possible.

He knew he would not be the last of the Malfoys. Wizarding law forced that slag to find him a proper woman to marry. With a proper pureblood witch at his side, he would return the Malfoy name to prominence. He would carry on his father's great work, as would his sons, and his sons' sons. The law was clear on this matter; there was no possible way for even her to fail.

Surely, the universe must be laughing behind his back. There was absolutely no way this should have been possible. It started off so well. He had a new marriage contract. His betrothed was a rich young girl. Things went downhill from there. There was no way her family could be respectable; who in their right mind would name their daughter after gaudy jewelry? There was no way the girl could be a pureblood; her family simply did not appear in any of the wizarding directories. There was no way the girl could even be aristocracy; there was not even the hint of a title. If he interpreted the clues correctly, that lame excuse for a witch was trying to fob off some poor peasant on him. There was no way the girl could be even remotely attractive; the universe was far too cruel.

“Something is obviously bothering you,” Parvati said from Hermione’s right side. She and the rest of the herd had parked themselves in the library, trying to get Hermione to open up. “Tell us what’s wrong.”

“I,” Hermione was sitting at one of the tables, surrounded by her friends, “I just have to find an answer.”

Sweetie Belle flipped the cover of the book Hermione had been reading and said, “'Magical Maladies'? This sounds serious.”

“If I don’t find something by Saturday, I’ll see the school nurse,” Hermione promised.

“I think you’ve been sitting on this too long as it is,” Lavender said. “We can see that it's eating at you.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make you worry.”

“Well, we are,” Dean insisted. “Whatever it is, it's stopping you from ponying up.”

Hermione sighed, unshed tears filling her eyes, "I’m going to get in trouble for this, maybe even expelled. It's best if you all don’t get involved.”

“Nonsense.” Apple Bloom hissed, “We told yah we’re in this together."

Hermione frowned and wilted, “Please, just give me until Saturday. That’s all I ask.”

“Hermione,” Sweetie Belle started.

“Please,” Hermione said again.

“All right,” Apple Bloom said, “ya have until Saturday.”

Scootaloo added, "Then, we all go. We're a herd."

Amelia Bones sat in a comfortable wingback chair as she basked in the warmth of the hearth and listened to the report from her second in command. It was yet another late night, and bags were clearly visible under Rufus Scrimgeour's eyes as green flames wreathed his head. This time, the floo system was serving double duty for both communications and heat.

“According to the Unspeakables, there are no traces of magic in the remains. They said if they didn’t know better that they’d swear the doll had been nothing more than a muggle’s toy. Even the residue from the spells we used to destroy it is mis . . ..”

Right in the middle of the sentence, the floo fire died out, leaving behind a perfectly ordinary, cheery fire. Amelia threw aside her blanket and grabbed a scoop of powder from the box on the mantle. When she tossed the floo powder into the flames, there was a brief green flash before the flames reverted to normal.

Sighing, Amelia cast a patronus and said, “Rufus, detain everyone who is in the floo department as well as everyone who has visited within the past hour." With that, she rose and gestured for others to follow. Eight aurors perfectly hidden by disillusionment charms followed their leader out the door.

Dolores Umbridge cocked her head as she heard a cuckoo call thrice, hiccup, and call thirteen more times. Now was the time. The farce that the Ministry had become was going to learn the error of its ways. It was with good reason that purebloods had additional rights. Anyone who tried to change that was an enemy to the wizarding world. Greg Miller had put himself on the top of that list; his criminal actions to strip purebloods of their birthrights at the last gathering of the Wizengamot made him the perfect target to show the wizarding world the consequences of such a travesty. His death would be nasty, messy, and prolonged.

Silently, Dolores signaled her strike team. The first step was to erect the anti-apparition wards. The signal had shown that their contact had already disabled the floo. There would be no help for the heretics. There would be no escape. It was now time for Miller and his family to pay the price for his transgressions.

Like angels of death, Dolores and her team silently glided across the front lawn, setting down in formation in front of the door. With a nod and a smirk behind his mask, the lead attacker banished the front door, tearing it to toothpicks as the frame vainly tried to hold it back. Wordlessly, the small army poured into the waiting family room, bent on havoc and homicide. Intoxicated with anticipation, Dolores hadn’t noticed that the man in front of her had stopped dead in his tracks until after she had bumped into him and knocked him to the ground.

With a gasp, Dolores beheld the head of the DMLE standing behind a shield, which had easily deflected the shrapnel from the door. With a smirk, Madam Bones said, “I’m sorry, but the Millers are in another castle. I’m sure that I can keep you entertained.”

“H . . . how?” one of Dolores’ team stuttered, raising his wand into an attack position.

“And you,” Bones said, looking right at Dolores. “You do know that the Death Eaters never wore pink?”

Dolores snarled behind her mask and raised her own wand threateningly.

“Regardless, you are here to do harm to a member of the Wizengamot for political reasons. That’s treason; it will be the veil for the lot of you,” Bones continued, unimpressed by the wands pointed at her.

“Ava . . .” one of Dolores’ group started, and the spells started flying. There were aurors obscured by disillusionment charms on either side! Showing an unprecedented flash of insight, Dolores threw herself at the front picture window. For most people, this would have been an act of futility; the polymer pane could stop small arms fire, and an ordinary person would have bounced off and rolled back into the room. As advertised, the pane stayed intact as Dolores stuck with the force of a stormy sow. The frame, however, was not up to the task. Dolores flopped onto the front lawn even as spells sailed over her head.

From the supine position, she whipped her wand toward the house and screeched, “Bombarda!” The spell collapsed the facade and threw up a choking cloud of dust. Dolores waddled toward the ward line as fast her plump legs would allow, her pink-clad posterior waving obscenely. Behind her, she heard someone banish the wall to get a clean shot, but it was already too late. Wheezing, Dolores gasped the trigger for her portkey, and she was gone.

Madam Pomfrey left the back room as the wards informed her that she had a visitor in her clinic. Putting on a motherly smile, she strolled over to the sixth-year Hufflepuff prefect who had entered. “Hello Mr. Mayfield, is something the matter?”

“There is a good chance,” the prefect answered. “A member of my house overheard the first-year Gryffindors in the library earlier. Apparently one of them has something wrong with her that’s worrying her enough to read a book on magical maladies, but she’s afraid of getting in trouble and is putting off visiting you.”

A frown chased the smile from Madam Pomfrey’s face. “Thank you for coming to me. I will not abide such nonsense. Please go to the Gryffindor prefects and have one bring her right here without delay.”

No one was paying attention when the portrait opened to admit a visitor. All eyes were glued on the drama unfolding before them. The tension permeating the room was thick enough for a pegasus to walk on.

“Go on, listen to the bloody crab.” George growled.

“Too right, you’re worse than Snape; kiss the girl already!” Fred added.

“You have a telly?!” The shout echoed through the common room and the occupants turned to see the Hufflepuff prefect storm into the chamber, “How can you have a working telly? We can’t have a telly. Muggle stuff doesn’t wor . . . Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee you’re sooooooo cute!”

“Hey!” Dean complained from his new position in the prefect’s arms. “No grabbing ponies!”

“Would you guys please keep it down!” Terisa barked. “We’re missing the song!”

Fay maneuvered a sullen-looking Hermione into the castle’s healing ward. The younger girl cringed with every step, certain of her doom. There was no way they would let her stay on as a student. Next to her were Harry and Scootaloo; apparently, they were not going to let her face danger alone

“Don’t look so down,” Fay said. “She’s not going to hurt you.”

“I know,” Hermione whispered.

“Well, it’s about time you showed up,” Madam Pomfrey said casually walking up to the group. “Thank you, Miss Dunbar. You may leave. Take these two with you.”

“We’re staying,” Scootaloo said and Harry nodded.

“Not tonight,” Madam Pomfrey said. “Respect your friend’s privacy.”

“She needs us with her.” Scootaloo insisted.

“I can see that you care for her. Good. In the future you will do well to remember that sometimes you have to betray your friend’s trust if you suspect that their health may be in danger. Tonight, you have forfeited the right to be by her side; you should have brought her to me as soon as you thought there was a problem. Return to your dorms and let me do my job.”

‘But.” Harry started.

“This is not open for discussion.” Madam Pomfrey said before addressing Fay, “Miss Dunbar, please see that these children make it back to where they belong.”

Hermione stammered, "I . . . I'll b . . . be all right."

Fay formally curtseyed before leaving and dragging her two reluctant charges with her. Tearily, Hermione watched as her friends mouthed, "All for one."

"Well then, behind that curtain with you.” The nurse looked down at the remaining girl. “I expect you’ll be wanting some privacy.”

“Yes ma’am,” Hermione said glumly before hurrying to comply.

After pulling the divider closed once again, Madam Pomfrey turned to Hermione and demanded, “What could possibly make you think it was all right not to come to me when you have a medical problem? Books are no substitute for experience.”

Hermione hung her head in shame and said nothing.

“Well, you’re here now; out with it,” Madam Pomfrey said.

“Um.” Hermione fidgeted from where she sat on the exam table. "I . . . I have a problem. I'm not sure what to do about it."

“I am going to have to ask you to be a little more specific,” Pomfrey said to the distraught youngster. “Miss?”

“Granger,” the girl replied sheepishly. “I seem to have acquired a couple of unusual marks.”

“Oh?” Madam Pomfrey moved forward to wave her wand over her newest patient. “What kind of marks?”

“They look like books, crossed by a pair of wands,” Miss Granger said.

“And, where are they?” Pomfrey asked. A frown passed her lips when she recognized an anomaly in her scanning.

Miss Granger replied in a whisper.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you,” Pomfrey said, backing up a step. “You’re going to have to speak up.”

“They’re on my bottom,” Miss Granger repeated a little louder.

“That makes our next course of action rather obvious, wouldn’t you say?” Pomfrey asked.

In short order, she had the girl lying on the table with the marks exposed. “I can’t say that I’ve seen their like before,” she commented, once again scanning with her wand. “How did you get them?”

“I don’t know,” Miss Granger admitted. “They just appeared.”


“Beginning of the week.”

“What were you doing when it happened?” The girl visibly flinched at the question, so Madam Pomfrey said, “Listen, we cannot have students hesitate to get help when they need it because they are afraid of getting in trouble. That is why anything you say stays between us, unless it is a danger to others. I neither give nor take away points. Understand?”

Miss Granger nodded her head and said, “I was getting a book in the library when it happened.”

“Getting a book?” Pomfrey asked. “I assume you were wearing your robes at the time. How do you know that’s when they appeared?”

“Um,” Miss Granger said. “There were these lights.”

“Lights?” Pomfrey said with a frown, “Were you near the restricted section when this happened? Maybe at the time of the incident?”

“Yes,” Miss Granger admitted.

“Were you, perhaps, in the restricted section when it happened?”

“Maybe?” Miss Granger admitted.

“Were you in contact with any books when the glowing started?”

"'Possessed Items and Where to Find Them'," the girl said.

“That book seems to be missing. It has our dear librarian a trifle annoyed presently.”

“It’s in my bookbag.” The admission came in a whisper.

“I’ll see that it is returned.” Pomfrey nodded. “Now, did you cast any spells to get into the restricted section? Take a potion of some kind maybe?”

“I climbed in through the vent.” Miss Granger said, tearing up.

“Of course, you did.” Pomfrey muttered, “Change forms for me. I thought that Filius had brought me all of the ponies for a checkup. How was it that you were left out?”

“It’s a new skill,” Miss Granger said and shrunk into the form of an adorable unicorn filly. “I’ve only been able to change for a couple days now.”

“Born human?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Were you a pony at the time of the light?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I see the marks are on your pony form as well, but they don’t appear to be causing any complications.”

Hermione let out a sigh of relief at that news.

“You know, I dare say that you would probably glow in the dark. You are a much more striking shade of orange than our Miss Aloo,” Madam Pomfrey said, running her hand over the marks to look for irregularities. “And these seem to be part of your coat, not at all like the tattoo appearance they have in your human form.”

“What are they?” Miss Granger asked with a small shudder.

“I’m not sure, but all my scans show that they are not malignant. They seem to be blending perfectly with your own magic. In fact, I think they were caused by your magic, maybe triggered by something in the book you mentioned. I’m afraid that I will have to review the tome myself and maybe consult with some colleagues of mine. The good news is you are not in any danger. If I were to make an educated guess, I’d say these are beneficial.”

“I’m not going to be expelled?” Miss Granger asked.

“Not for this,” Madam Pomfrey said, “but don’t expect to be able to enter the restricted section in the same manner again.”

“Awww,” Hermione groaned

“And keep these marks just between us for the time being.” Madam Pomfrey ordered, “I want to do some research on them first before you start giving your housemates ideas.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Hermione said. As she hopped from the table, the spring in her step was unmistakable; the weight of the world had been taken from her shoulders.

This was no place for the faint of heart. Rumors were that even hardened criminals were eaten alive here. The large man strode purposefully through the darkened streets, daring all who might attack. Although he was not truly a giant, he towered over the Asian natives; his size alone would dissuade all but the most foolhardy. The aura of menace that he projected, however, was enough to stop all but the most determined. Although all eyes were on him, he seemed to disappear as he ducked into a small shop. Most of the locals didn't even notice the tiny storefront; they just seemed to ignore it for some reason.

The interior was the polar opposite of what the facade had promised. The room seemed larger than the building itself. Curios from the Orient and beyond were neatly displayed in glass-faced cabinets, with ample room to view from all angles. In a corner of the shop, an ancient oriental woman sat at a loom, methodically weaving the finest silk cloth. She looked like a character from a picture book, complete with elaborate silk kimono and cloudy, sightless eyes. Without turning, she called out in perfect English, “What you seek shall be the death of you.” Then, as if she had said nothing important, she returned to her task.

The man, looked at her back and sneered, showing half the teeth in his mouth. Before he could reply, a voice next to him said, “You should listen to what she says.”

Looking down, he saw a small Asian girl staring up at him. She eyed him with as much concern as one would give an ant.

“Girl, I don’t have time for games. I was told that this store has a certain item I require. My gold is good, so show me whom I have to see to make my purchase.”

“It would not be wise to ignore words of wisdom,” the girl replied without shifting her stance.

The large man took a step toward her, looming with his impressive height. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw one of the stone gargoyles lining the walls crouch as if to pounce, and he definitely heard something chitter in the rafters above him. Wisely halting his advance, he growled, “What I do with my property is my own business. Do you have the item or not?”

The girl pulled a necklace out of her pocket and examined it with emotionless eyes, “A pendent that can force a phoenix to obey your commands for a limited amount of time. No good can come from this.”

“The phoenix won’t be harmed; his presence is needed for a ritual, nothing more,” the man said, acutely aware that there were four more gargoyles taking up threating poses.

The girl deposited the pendent on a table before turning to walk away, “The world will be a better place without you, I think. Place my gold on the table, then leave. The pendant brings only death to those who would use it.”

The large man casually completed the transaction. "That is where you are wrong. This time it will take death away."

Author's Note:

This chapter ended up being longer than I had planned. I admit to getting a little carried away. Still, I'm happy at how it turned out.

On another note, this is where I put in a plug for my other story on FIMFICTION. I invite you all to peruse Make it Unti You Fake it.

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