• 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 51: Resource Gathering

The ostentatious dining room had been expanded well beyond its normal capacity. The ornate Victorian dining set had been replaced by four long rustic dining tables, each lined with matching benches. Ordinarily, a group of this size would have been accommodated buffet-style, but ordinarily, the diners would have been familiar with the food and the customs.

By and large, the diners were recent immigrants, as foreign as one could imagine. Interspersed among them were an assortment of Ministry personnel doing their utmost to facilitate their assimilation into the culture of Magical Britain. For the immigrants, however, this was the stuff of nightmares. Dinner was served family-style with platters of artfully-arranged dishes. Everypony was expected to sample everything despite their misgivings. The flesh of what would have been friends or neighbors in their former home was to be part of their diet. It was enough to bring bile up to the backs of their throats. They could no longer deny the truth. They were now monsters in a world of monsters. There was no going home.

Cutie Bee sighed and transferred some unidentifiable meat to her plate. She could not fathom what she could have done to deserve such punishment. Her last memory was having a sleepover with her two closest friends, her herdmates, Silversong and Silent Wish. She was sitting on Silent Wish's oversized bed, discussing plans for the morning with her herdmates, and then she somehow found herself in a strange library, ten years older, surrounded by bizarre and frightening beasts. She had no inkling as to what had happened in the intervening time. She was an earth pony, proud and strong; how could she be so feeble, wearing the skin of the monstrosities that surrounded her? If it weren't for one of the creatures talking to her in Silversong's soothing voice, Cutie Bee was positive she would have started screaming.

The creature with Silversong's voice had explained that the unthinkable had happened. They had been banished from Equestria. Whatever had happened during those ten years away from civilization had been so traumatic that their hosts had deemed it necessary to remove the memories of their exile. Cutie had decided she did not even want to imagine what could have been so horrible to make a decade of amnesia preferable. If her guess were accurate, she and her herdmates were all in the same horrendous physical condition, even discounting the bodies in which they were now imprisoned. Their once-beautiful manes and coats were now in ruins. Even a feeble unicorn would have more strength than they did. They had lost ten years of their lives. They had lost everything that made them feel special about themselves. It was almost enough to make her start crying again.

There was a glimmer of hope. All of the "humans", both professed former ponies and natives, had hovered around her presumed herd, offering encouragement despite their looks of worry. The persistent healers had forced a multitude of potions on them three times a day, between the lessons that everypony received regarding the nuances of living in this new world. They might be banished, but they were getting a second chance, a chance at normal lives, a chance to actually raise a family. Nopony was going to waste an opportunity to fulfill what had been a nigh-impossible dream in their homeland. Cutie Bee and her herd might not remember how they had lost everything, but they were not willing to risk being exiled again -- even if it meant eating meat.

The office of Gryffindor's head of house was unexpectedly crowded. Professor McGonagall stood behind her desk looking sternly at the students gathered before it. “I only recall asking for Miss Belle to attend me,” she said after a moment.

“Yes ma'am,” the entirety of her house's first year class replied in unison.

McGonagall studied the unified front that fidgeted at her gaze. “Miss Belle is solely responsible for her own outburst. Those of you who do not wish to share in her punishment would be well advised to leave now.”

The first-years continued to fidget, but not a one made a movement towards the door. In fact, they seemed to move closer to their wayward member.

McGonagall pursed her lips to hide her pride. “Am I to understand that you all wish to out-loyal the Hufflepuffs?”

“Ba kon!” came the only reply.

“I see.” McGonagall maintained her scrutiny. “Very well, Miss Belle; what have you to say for yourself?”

“I'm sorry, Professor.” Sweetie Belle looked down and scuffed her foot on the floor. “It's just that getting away from Diamond Tiara was a major reason why we came here in the first place.”

“Be that as it may,” McGonagall said, “that was no excuse for disrupting the sorting ceremony. On Monday, at supper, you shall issue a formal apology for your unacceptable behavior. We each only get one sorting; marring the experience for another shall not be tolerated. I expect better from the members of my house.”

“Yes ma'am.” Sweetie wilted.

“Furthermore,” said McGonagall as she peered at the everyone in the room, individually, “each of you shall write a foot on the importance of manners, due on my desk by this coming Friday.”

Seamus snickered and quickly lifted his hands to hide his smirk.

“Is there something you find amusing, Mr. Finnigan?” McGonagall asked brusquely, shifting her glare to him.

“Sorry Professor,” Seamus said still trying to hold back laughter. “I just imagined Magah handing in a scroll with the word 'bacon' scrawled all over it.”

Several of the herd fought to hide their own grins at that scenario.

McGonagall let her firm gaze fall on the group until they regained their composure. “I trust none of you shall disappoint me in such a manner again?”

“No ma'am.” the first years chorused and Philomena trilled her agreement as well.

“Very well, you are dismissed.”

In a dusty storage room, somewhere in a respectable museum, sat a box. It contained a curious artifact, the purpose of which had never been divined. The fact that it was made of gold and gems had categorized it as art, albeit art that was atypical for the region and time frame of its creation. Too valuable to dispose of and too abnormal to display, it sat in storage, seeing the light of day only when curious academics unearthed it to marvel at its uniqueness.

For some time now, the gems on its surface had been flashing in a sequence whose significance had been long forgotten. The warning it screamed had been duly ignored. Then, as abruptly as it started, the flashing stopped and the relic started to glow with an eerie red light. Unfortunately, this quantum state could not be observed outside of the sealed container. Schrödinger would not be pleased.

The Gryffindor common room was more crowded than normal. The portrait swung open and the first-years were greeted by the telly exclaiming, “Waka, waka!” followed by a horrendous joke.

“Can't you go for one week without getting in trouble?” the seventh-year male prefect asked, not taking his eyes off the telly.

“We're trying.” Lavender said, seeing that the entire Hufflepuff house was once again in attendance. In fact, the first-year Hufflepuffs had been grouped up in front of the telly, surrounding their newest member. As one, they turned to smile at their year mates. It was at this point that Apple Bloom saw that Clouded Hope was holding something blue. With a gasp, the Crusader planted her feet firmly on the floor and easily took the weight on her shoulders.

“Oww!” Ginny complained once she bonked her head on the ceiling.

“Okay,” Fay said, looking up. “Now you're just being silly.”

“That looks like fun,” Luna said. She started to climb up Apple Bloom while Abagail and Parvati looked on in wonder.

“How do they manage to do that without tipping over?” Terisa asked, tearing her gaze away from the telly.


“Never mind; I spoke to soon.”

“Don't tell me that you brave Gryffindors are afraid of a harmless little slime,” Susan Bones taunted, taking the blue object from Clouded's hands and holding it out invitingly.

“That thing is vicious,” Ron declared from the heaped herd.

“Lavender, could you get your knee out of my liver?” Dean asked.

'Sorry,” Neville said. “That's mine.”

“I didn't know phoenixes could laugh,” a Hufflepuff upper-year commented.

Meanwhile, Abagail and Parvati had wandered over to the Hufflepuff first years and were examining the other house's pet.

“So, this is Mouse,” Parvati said, not attempting to take him into her hands.

“May I hold him?” Abagail asked holding out her own.

“He smells like cough potions,” Luna noted, sidling up next to Parvati.

“He's really very loving,” Hanna offered as she watched Abagail and Luna stroke Mouse.

“That is, if you don't take in to account his daily diet,” Euan of the Hufflepuffs said.

“You're just upset that he snuck into your shower for breakfast,” another Hufflepuff boy countered.

“Do you know where he bit me?” Euan practically shrieked.

“Yes,” the other boy chortled, “you won't shut up about it.”

“I vote we change the subject,” a fifth-year Gryffindor boy said. “Besides, it's time for me to win the pool.”

“That's a good idea,” Fay said. “The commercials have just started; now's a perfect time to see what's what. Lovegood? Do you want to go first, since Bates is playing with Mouse?”

“Okay.” Luna agreed and hopped over to stand in front of the telly.

“Wait a minute,” Ernie MacMillian, a first-year Hufflepuff, complained. “Are you telling me all first-year Gryffindors get to be ponies? How is that fair?”

“Clouded Hope can change forms too,” Hermione offered helpfully.

“I don't like changing in front of witnesses.” Clouded shrunk visibly at the thought.

“Oooh,” Susan cooed. “We have our own pony!”

“Guys!” Percy interjected. “Pay attention to Luna. The commercials aren't going to last forever.”

The room turned to the little blonde expectantly.

Smiling at all of the attention, Luna shrank.

“Well that's disturbing.” Fred said.

“Still cute as heck.” George added.

“But disturbing.” Fred concluded.

“Wow,” Apple Bloom stated, “she's a thestral.”

“She's got fangs,” Katie Bell noted as a fourth-year Gryffindor girl scooped Luna up into her arms and took in the texture of the velvety wings.

“So, who guessed light grey coat and a purple mane with a blond stripe?” the girl who claimed Luna asked.

Checking a scroll, George said. “Believe it or not, a different person guessed grey coat with a purple mane for each of the three tribes we were aware of.”

Fred mused, “I would guess thestrals are closest to pegasi.”

“No,” Scootaloo corrected. “They take pride in being their own tribe. They just aren't very common.”

“Split the winning three ways then.” Fay judged. “Bates it's your turn.”

Abagail handed Mouse back to Susan before skipping to her spot in front of the telly with a big grin. “I've been wanting to do this all week,” she declared and morphed without another word.

“Another thestral,” Fay proclaimed, “and look, Hermione isn't the only one who glows in the dark.”

“Yeah,” Ginny said, “but she's black on black; why is she glowing red?”

Dog bowls sized for Fluffy would have required custom fabrication. Ever the practical mare, Applejack improvised with three bushel baskets from their surfeit and added a canvas liner to allow them to hold water. She lined them up before tearing open a twenty-five kilogram bag with her mouth and evenly distributed the kibble among the three. Standing on her hind legs, she raised her forehooves to her mouth and whistled. Settling back down, she called out, “Here boy! Fluffy! Come an' get your vittles!”

She was rewarded by a small localized earthquake as the farm's newest inhabitant rushed to obey.

Unsure of the canine's temperament, Applejack took several steps backwards as she watched Fluffy sink one head into each basket and begin his meal. Satisfied that all was well, she turned and started trotting towards Winona's bowl. She only took a few steps before a loud whine drifted through the air.

Curiosity aroused, she pivoted to see Fluffy's rightmost head looking at her with big mournful eyes. Letting her eyes drift downwards she saw that Winona had climbed into that head's basket and was happily munching away.

Fixing Fluffy with a mirth filled look, Applejack said, “Yer just a big ol' baby. Ain't cha.”

In beautiful Blue Lake Cave, a lone entity was tirelessly walking toward his goal. Nothing was going to stand in the way of his objective. Those who had come before had anticipated that his quarry might emerge anywhere, so they had planned accordingly. Hidden in the lake was a portal to places in between, allowing him to emerge anywhere on the planet. Each step left ripples in the water as he walked along the surface. The laws of physics were no obstacle to him; fluid or solid made no difference to him.

Without warning, he ceased his forward motion and tilted his head as if listening, gauging range and bearing.

Then, he allowed himself a smirk before continuing on his way, descending as if he were using stairs.

In the darkness of the Hufflepuff first-year girls' dormitory, Clouded Hope finally realized what was missing. The gnawing pain that she had felt every waking moment was gone. Every changeling, from the time they were nymphs, knew the feeling. There was never enough to go around. Even if one found enough for their fill, it was their duty to take just what they needed and to bring the rest back to share.

The night had been an unmitigated success. Never had she imagined a place where food was so abundant. Never before had she been so stuffed. She couldn't help herself, even after she'd had her fill; there was still so much more. She had to find some way to send the excess back to her family. This unforeseen circumstance could be the salvation of her hive. Clouded Hope was finally living up to her name.

The term "telly" was new to Clouded, but she knew exactly what the device was; it was an emotion manipulator. The humans had hunkered around and had their passions conveniently dictated by the clever glowing box. They had grown angry en masse. They had found humor en masse. Most importantly, they had loved en masse. There had been more of the emotion than even an adult infiltrator could handle, all for the taking. She had collected what would normally have been a week's harvest in a few minutes.

The meal had made her sluggish with contentment. It was all she could manage to amble into the bathroom and rid herself of half of what she had collected. Such waste was unimaginable, yet she had no choice if she wanted to remain mobile.

In a haze, she had wandered back into the Hufflepuff dorm room, wearing her pony disguise. This led to Susan scooping her up and insisting that she would be treated as a stuffed animal all night long. Clouded spent the slumber time cherished by the larger, affectionate female and absently soaking up even more love.

Hunger was a thing of the past.

In the darkened bed room, Abagail gave a wide yawn and loosened the cocoon her wings had made around her body. Blearily, she discovered she had gained a new perspective as she opened her eyes. She could see quite clearly in the dim light, picking out every detail of those on the bed below. Eleven little ponies lay around a pseudo-woman and one little girl. Why Parvati had refused to change was beyond her; she had distinctly remembered Apple Bloom asking. After the experience with Hermione, the rest of the herd wanted to be absolutely sure that there was nothing bothering the girl, and they were ready to jump in to help as the first hint of trouble. Parvati, however, insisted that nothing was wrong and that she was simply not in the mood to change at that time.

There was nothing in Parvati's demeanor that indicated any sort of anxiety. Abagail was quite familiar with the comfort of sleeping while cuddling the transfigured Magah and having her pony herdmates snuggled against her. She watched the girl with a touch of envy.

Abagail sensed that, despite her isolation, she was not alone. Looking over, she found Luna pressed to her side. Perhaps this was normal for thestrals. Would she have to stay human if she wanted to indulge in sleeping with the herd? Also, how in the world was she hanging upside down from the ceiling?

Daphne Greengrass was confused by the mixed signals she was receiving from the two new girls. They clearly were foreigners. However, it was clear that they were quite familiar with social status. After the prior evening's briefing on the Slytherin house structure, the girls, in perfect pureblood fashion, had started asking questions about the social hierarchy among the adults. There was now no doubt the two truly belonged in House Slytherin.

Despite their social awareness, the girls displayed no sign of the wealth they claimed their families had. They had arrived with not even the clothes on their backs; the tags on their clothing showed they were from the school's emergency wardrobe. As hard as she tried, Daphne could not envision how a pair of such standing could be traveling with no personal possessions. Even though their enrollment had been a last-minute affair, any normal person would have taken at least a few essentials. Still, spending the day shopping did have its appeal; Daphne would have to convince the two to take her with them to Diagon Alley.

No one would deny that Diamond Tiara was at the top of the pecking order. She had been declared Primus; for all practical purposes, she was the heiress of Salazar Slytherin himself. Not even a direct descendant could claim that level of prestige. In less than twenty-four hours, she had laid claim to more power than most of the house would see in a lifetime. Only her apparent ignorance of the extent of her power left the others any hope of avoiding complete subjugation. There was still time to get into her good graces. The benefits of having such an influential ally could not be ignored.

Silver Spoon, on the other hand, was a complete mystery. If she were to be believed, she had wealth, but she had no formal standing in the wizarding world. There was no trace of her family in any registry available to House Slytherin. The girl claimed that her family had used magic from time immemorial, but there was no way to verify that claim. Even if that were true, it mattered little to Daphne; her family had no interest in the pureblood agenda. Time would tell whether the girl had any aptitude for magic.

That Silver was subservient to Diamond was also obvious. Daphne suspected the white-haired girl was in Slytherin more for her connection to Diamond than anything else. Her prestige would, most likely, be a reflection of Diamond's own.

The most shocking revelation, so far, was the marriage contract between Diamond and Draco. The new girl had wasted no time in claiming the last Malfoy as her own. There was no doubt she was the dominant personality in that relationship. Poor Draco spent the evening with a lost expression painted on his face, completing his fall from grace. He would still be a prince in Slytherin, but only as the chattel of a dominating queen.

The oddities had cumulated when Daphne had lent the newcomers some night clothes. The two had ignored one of the extra beds added to the room and had climbed into the same one, sharing their warmth instead.

Draco felt adrift. Nothing was how it was supposed to be. His rightful position among his house had been usurped. Just two weeks ago, it would have been he that his peers had looked to for guidance. That prestige had died with his father. Now, the Malfoy name was in disgrace. If it were not for the girl, who currently walked on his arm, he, too, would be. His stature had changed back and forth so drastically that he was sure he was suffering from whiplash.

The damnable Ritter had been strangely successful in her choice of Draco's wife to be. The Primus for House Slytherin was an acquisition that had been beyond his wildest dreams. The downside was the girl did not seem to know her place. She expected Draco to follow where she pointed, instead of being the proper pureblood partner he deserved. He would need to train her.

Somehow, he found himself guiding Diamond in the general direction of the Gryffindor tower. The girl had latched onto one of his arms while her friend had seized the other. This left Crabbe and Goyle to trail several steps behind. Rather than allowing him to escort them to the Great Hall for breakfast, Diamond had urged him to intercept the Gryffindors. She had claimed that now was the time to acquire allies, and breakfast could wait.

Draco had tried correcting her; allies were in their house and maybe Ravenclaw. Gryffindors were not to be courted. Diamond had laughed and explained that Slytherins were lackeys. Allies were something else entirely. Despondent, Draco had no choice but to see the doomed enterprise through to the end. However, if he were lucky, he'd have the opportunity to torment some lowlifes.

“There you are,” Diamond suddenly called out cheerfully.

Shaken out of his thoughts, Draco peered down the hall and saw the entirety of the first-year Gryffindor class staring back in turn. The bewilderment plastered on most of the faces was a sight to be savored.

“What do you want, Diamond Tiara?” the absurdly purple-haired Aloo demanded with a frown. She had the attitude that Draco anticipated from Gryffindors.

“Don't be like that,” Diamond said, letting go of Draco's arm and approaching the opposing cluster of students. “I just want to talk.”

Draco felt Crabbe and Goyle tense behind him. The Gryffindors outnumbered them by an uncomfortable margin. This was not an encounter that Draco normally would have sought. The way that Bloom moved forward, as if to guard her friends, did nothing to make the proceedings any more pleasant.

“Are y'all here to cause trouble?” Bloom growled, leaving no doubt to how that would be received.

“Don't be silly,” Diamond waved a dismissive hand and looked toward the ceiling with a roll of her eyes. “That was sooooo last year. Why don't you grow up some?”

Bloom rocked back on her hind foot, both figuratively and literally, displaying her confusion openly.

“What?” Belle gasped, the surprise apparent on her face and in her voice.

“I'm here to formalize our alliance,” Diamond continued unperturbed. “After all, we come from the same hometown and need to stick together.”

“That does sound like a good idea,” the Granger mudblood said thoughtfully as the remaining Gryffindors gaped soundlessly or watched curiously. “What do you have in mind?”

“Daddy was right,” Diamond said, unsurprised. “You are the Twilight Sparkle of this group.”

“Thanks.” Hermione gave a pleased smile at the comparison.

“For starters,” Diamond said as she skirted around the still-stunned Bloom and began examining the boys in the other group, “if we are in trouble, you come to our aid. The reverse holds true as well.”

“I don't see how that would be fair.” Hermione shifted her feet. “We have more help to offer than you do. There are more of us.”

“Of course, you have more to offer in terms of pure physical force. You have Apple Bloom after all.” Diamond said scrutinizing Thomas but making a point of not touching. “However, I think your resemblance to Twilight is more than just a love for books. I'm willing to wager that you and the rest of your herd are as subtle as a hydra wearing jingle bells. Don't underestimate the value of somepony with a different way of handling problems.”

Hermione eyed the girl skeptically. Diamond added, " Apple Bloom's family and mine already have an arrangement back home; just ask her."

“Besides,” Draco spoke up, not wanting to be overshadowed, “we have Crabbe and Goyle with us. Either of them counts as two or three Blooms.”

“Draco,” Silver said from where she had yet to let go of his arm, “don't pick fights with Apples. A brawl with one of them always results in three or four hits.”

“How do you figure?” Goyle said, unhappy that his boss was being contradicted and wanting to defend his own worth.

Silver sighed before answering, “You hit them. They hit you. You hit the ground and don't get up.”

“I count to four real good,” Goyle sneered. “That's only three hits.”

“Sometimes there is something between where they hit you and where you hit the ground,” Silver clarified in a soothing voice, as if explaining to a small child, “like a wall or maybe a tree.”

“Yer telling me they like to bounce people off trees?” Goyle asked, clearly impressed.

“You need to work on your definition of 'between',” Diamond said, moving to examine Potter. Draco made a mental note not to antagonize any of the Gryffindors in view of Bloom.

“What good are Gryffindors as allies?” Draco spoke up again. “All they know how to do is butt heads.”

“I'll show you butting heads, you wanna be.” Aloo said and took a menacing step forward.

“Scootaloo!” Bloom barked and Diamond snapped her gaze onto Scootaloo.

“Are you threatening my Draco?” Diamond asked, a previously absent steel in her voice.

“She ain't,” Bloom said, looking as if she were sucking on a lemon. “Scootaloo, apologize all proper like, then head to the back of the herd.”

Draco couldn't enjoy the sight of the girl stammering apology since Silver had moved to stand between him and the unfolding scene.

“Can we do this after breakfast?” Draco heard the pig masquerading as a Weasley ask.

“Hush, Ron.” Bloom said. “Breakfast can wait.”

Mournfully Magah asked, "Ba kon?"

“Apple Bloom.” Diamond said, “Thank you for controlling your attack dog. We are going to give you some time so her temper can cool. Before we go, I am pledging our support for your colts. They have a bed at our houses if they ever find the need and each can claim two hundred bits at anytime if they find themselves without money.”

Draco peeked around Silver in time to see Bloom stagger in surprise before saying. “Ah pledge that Draco shall have a place to lay his head an' he may have two hundred galleons... no wait... one thousand galleons if'n he but asks.”

Diamond scooted out from the grouped Gryffindors and reclaimed Draco's arm. “It's a start. Remember, our families have been partners for generations. This is going to be the beginning of a profitable friendship.”

With that Diamond firmly lead Draco in the direction of the Great Hall and as they left he heard the youngest Weasley ask, “What just happened?”

The reply came from Granger. “Apple Bloom just wrongly assumed that a bit was equal in value to a galleon.”

“That could have gone better.” Diamond frowned, once they were out of earshot. “Is there any reason you tried to sabotage everything?”

“They are a bunch of worthless blood traitors.” Draco grumbled unconvincingly.

“They are blank flanks,” Diamond agreed. “but Daphne has told me that they are already a political force waiting to happen. Two of the colts will have seats on your government after they grow up and Sweetie Belle has one already. That's not even counting the connections they have on the Equestrian side.” Diamond sighed before continuing. “My Daddy told me yesterday that my mom was being blind to the value they have and that I was to be civil with them from now on. That and he promised I would be going home if he found out I wasn't. So, if I have to treat them nice, you have to treat them nice.”

“I don't like it.” Draco confided.

“Neither do I,” Diamond agreed. “but Daddy says we will benefit in the long gallop.”

He lay still, lacking the power to even lift his head. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. She should have died long ago. He should of had his influx before now.

Instead, he was trapped in this vessel, unable to move. His true body was decaying even more rapidly. Worse, the link to the child was almost gone; he would receive no more from that source.

By all rights, he should have already suffered the true death, yet somehow he persisted.

In darkness, he lay and wondered why nothing was going according to plan.

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