• 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 81: Preening Pony Preparations

The windows of the snow-covered farmhouse rattled as resounding retching announced the arrival of visitors. A large, taciturn red stallion watched with amusement as a unicorn mare tumbled out of a much-too-small pouch, followed by a pegasus colt. The youngster looked up at the snowy owl who had borne them and said, "Hedwig, this isn't home."

The owl shrugged. "Bark!"

Shaking himself as he stood, Harry said. "Thanks for letting us out, Big Mac. Where's Mum? I thought she'd be the one to let us out."

The large stallion shrugged, needing no words to communicate his lack of news.

Harry shrugged in return. "Thanks again, but we need to hurry home and get these oranges to Mum."

As the pair approached Ponyville proper, they could see a small column of smoke. Anxiously, they moved closer to investigate. It wasn't long before the magic of the music drew them in, soon they joined in the somber chorus as they and a gathering of townsponies circled a bonfire.

"Daughter of the soil, rising to the sky, with the magic of creation around,

The seeds you have planted have borne fertile fruit,

And the daughters of your daughters pay heed to the ground.

Daughter of the soil, rising to the sky, let nopony to your spirit naysay.

Your battle is over; the day has been won.

Go now to rest eternal in fields far away.

Daughter of the soil, rising to the sky, we grant the blessing of earth and its lore.

Go proud farmer, go brave warrior, answer your call.

To home shall you go evermore."

With a final surge, the bonfire flared and reduced its fuel to ash.

After the last note had died, Twilight Velvet gathered her charge and led him over to where she had spotted Bon Bon standing, looking dejected. "What in Equestria is going on?"

"I keep telling them that it's a misunderstanding," Bon Bon growled.

Lily Valley interjected, "It was terrible."

Roseluck added, "It nearly made everypony sick."

"The horror, the horror," added Daisy.

Turning to Carrot Top, Twilight Velvet asked, "Do you have any idea what they're talking about?"

The yellow earth pony answered. "It was horrible. We followed the smell to Bon Bon's shop and found some monster had been cooking its victim in there."

Junebug added, "There wasn't enough of her to identify, so we gave her the traditional sendoff for an earth pony hero."

Bon Bon said, "That was . . ."

Quickly, Harry put his hoof in her mouth and shook his head. He continued. ". . . very kind of you. My people do not know such kindness."

Twilight Velvet sighed and said, "Come on, you two. We'll have to see what we can do for supper."

As the three entered Bon Bon's shop, the scent of smudging hung heavy in the air. Harry asked, "Who has the thyme?"

Bon Bon wrinkled her nose. "I guess we'll have to let things air out overnight. Why didn't you let me explain?"

"I don't think they would have understood, Mum. That reminds me, how did you wash the chitterlings?"

Puzzled, Bon Bon asked, "Wash?"

"Aaaaand that's all of the explanation needed," Harry commented.

"Um, not that I don't appreciate you looking after Harry," Bon Bon said, eyeing the other mare. "But, where's Lyra?"

"She got called into work." Harry said.

"Called into work?" Bon Bon narrowed her eyes. "Lyra is a freelance, she doesn't have a job that would call her in."

"She does now," Twilight Velvet said. "So, are we going to ride your owl back to the human world and get take out?"

In the sanctuary of his private chambers, occlumency had calmed the storms of his troubled mind. With all the conflicting thoughts and feelings sorted and filed, the heart of the matter was crystal clear. Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread, and he was no fool. His choice was a mistake, the very definition of folly. What was he thinking? Why could he not change course?

There had been far more urgent matters that he had been obligated to attend. Over the last two days, the revelation of magic had not just poked the proverbial hornet's nest; it had torn the thing down and used it as a football. It seemed as though the entire world was abuzz. With all the hubbub, something should have blown up. Something should have been melted to goo. Someone should have been burned at the stake, or worse. Miraculously, none of that had come to pass. The majority of muggles were treating it like a holiday where long-lost relatives arrived out of the blue to the welcoming arms of family. The revelation had come not with a bang, but a whimper.

There was a vocal and well-armed minority, however. They shouted and screamed that magic was the work of evil. They demanded that the heretics be purified with fire. They ran into the full force of reason; the majority shunned them as undesirables. They ran into the full force of law; their threats of harm against the magical were treated as serious crimes, just as such threats would have been had they been leveled at the muggles. The governments of the world were insisting on extending the same rights, privileges, and expectations on the magical that they would on any citizen.

He rather suspected that it was a collective effort to impress the newly unveiled ponies. The muggles seemed determined to prove they were ready to sit at the grown-ups table. Then again, there was also something to be said about cuddling with a colorful bundle of happiness.

The muggleborn had taken to the situation without so much as skipping a beat. After the first display of broom riding by a first-year, the floodgates had opened. Those not brought up in the magical world had been all too willing to show off what they had been learning. Now, seeing children flying around had lost some of its novelty. It was becoming increasingly common to see sixth-year and seventh-year Hufflepuffs zipping about from place to place. They had formed a delivery service that rivaled anything the muggles could provide. The name of their business was perplexing, though; why had they chosen a name reminiscent of locksmithing? What was the significance of keys?

Not everything had gone smoothly. To say that the muggle's gold market collapsed overnight would be greatly understating the time it took for that commodity to lose the bulk of its value. Who would have thought the economists had already considered the implications of suddenly being confronted by a society wielding a surplus of the metal? They already had a plan in reserve just in case it ever happened. Instead of the values of galleons and bits following the market of gold, the market of gold had crashed to the value of galleons and bits. Fortunes were lost in a literal blink of an eye. Luckily, despite the common misunderstanding, minted monies did not rely solely on their composition for their monetary value. Still, it was disconcerting to equate a piece of once-precious metal to a piece of paper.

The tumult, however, seemed to be a side note to the discovery of ponies. The muggle world could not get enough of them. The equines seemed as reclusive as the Loch Ness Monster, and, in desperation, the press had taken to reporting rumors and speculation. So little information was surfacing that any that even seemed like fact had been eagerly devoured by a rabid public.

But certain facts still remained. One was staring him in the face; ponies were polygamous. This very evening, he was going on a date with two of them -- at their invitation.

Minerva had insisted that he purchase new robes for the occasion.

She had told him to relax and have a good time.

Filius had told him to use cologne after bathing, not instead of bathing.

. . .

This was a bad idea.

Carousel Boutique abounded with alien forms. It seemed not so long ago that their appearance would have had the pony in the street fleeing in terror. Time had proven that those born in the form were, for all practical purposes, ponies, except for their shape.

"I don't know, Rarity." Rainbow Dash ran her hands down the shimmering cyan A-line dress she wore. "Froufrou is not my style."

"Darling, I don't know why you are fixated on that term." Rarity sniffed. "I'll have you know that what you are wearing doesn't come close to embodying that phrase in the least."

"I don't know, Rarity." Rainbow complained. "It just seems to scream, 'Look, I'm a filly!'."

"Rainbow, darling, in case it escaped your notice, you are a mare. When you wear an ensemble flattering your form, that point is going to come across."

"I know, but. . . but . . . but . . ." Rainbow sputtered.

"I could always add some lace," Rarity suggested.

"On second thought, my body is awesome. Why hide behind lace?"

"Ah think y'all are bound to make the right impression with that thar outfit," Applejack said supportively as she eyed her own dress in a triptych mirror. "At least y'all didn't let Rarity talk you into lace, like Ah did."

"Says the mare who is bringing her stallion to Canterlot for their date," Rainbow groused. "Twilight is dragging me and Pinkie to the human world since Sirius can't take pony form."

"I think we look super wonderiffically yummy," Pinkie said, bouncing around, showing off her dress and her human form. She hopped up and down as well.

"I'm not sure 'yummy' is a term I want to be using when your date happens to like consuming meat," Rarity stated, turning her attention to Zecora. "How about you? Could I interest you in some last-minute lacey additions?"

Zecora looked at herself in the mirror next to Applejack before saying. "Perhaps, to ensure our catch, it would be better if we match."

"That's a 'yes' if I ever heard one." Rarity said, floating some lace and thread in her magic. "Ooooh, I'm so excited for you."

"It's not like you don't have your own date tonight," Twilight said, adjusting her own dress.

"True, but that doesn't mean I can't be excited for all of you as well," Rarity said.

"We are going to make this a night the stallions won't soon forget," Pinkie declared passionately.

"Y'all can be sure of that," Applejack agreed.

"Just remember to act like proper ladies," Rarity cautioned.

"Ah don't have nuthin' to prove," Applejack said. "Ah'm not a prissy noble."

Twilight chuckled. "And what kind of noble are you, then?"

"Tha kind with no title," Applejack stated.

"Well that is ironically erroneous," Twilight said. "Knight Elemental, Honesty is a substantial title to hold, after all."

"Doesn't make me no noble though," Applejack insisted.

"Actually, it does," Twilight rebutted. "Didn't you read the proclamation I gave you?"

"Proclamation?" Rarity asked.

"Yes, Celestia sent one for each of us not too long after I started staying in Ponyville," Twilight said. "Didn't you read yours?"

"It's not like Twilight got distracted trying to get Applejack to accept our help harvesting all the apples because her brother was injured and she maintained that she could do it all herself only it left her really tired resulting in all kinds of happenstances not the least of which was the baked bads or Rainbow crashing through the library or bunnies everywhere! Twilight couldn't have stuffed the proclamations in her desk drawer, completely forgetting about them."

"Even knowing the answer is Pinkie being Pinkie, I must contend that leap of logic is far from dinky," said the zebra in the room.

Rarity gurgled her agreement.

"Are y'all saying we are all noble-like ponies now?" Applejack asked cautiously.

"Yes. Did you think ponies were calling you Lady Applejack for no reason?" Twilight said. "I'm so sure I passed out the official proclamations."

"Nope, you dropped the ball on that one." Rainbow looked down at the dress she was wearing. "Lady Rainbow Dash, huh? I guess I should go for some lace after all."

"Coming right up, Darling!"

"Woah! Woah! I was joking. You hear me! Joking!"

"Just a little. To commemorate learning about our titles." Rarity insisted, distracted by an elusive goal.

"You keep that pink lace away from me!"

Rarity sighed, "Pink has been getting such a bad rap this season. How would you feel about magenta?"

"That's still pink!"


"Rarity, cool it with the lace!"

"Charcoal grey? It would really frame your form." Rarity suggested.

"Jus' out of curiosity. How many shades of lace do y'all have in stock?" Applejack asked.

"The patterns are more important for classification, but I have four hundred and forty-two shades on hoof, not counting my fifty shades of gray," Rarity said.

Pinkie stopped hopping, suspended in mid-air in surprise. "Wait? There are four hundred and forty-two different shades of color?" she asked before she continued to bounce.

Twilight shrugged. "I suppose it's possible; I've never committed to learning all the names of the different shades."

"Rarity knows something Twilight doesn't?" Rainbow asked.

Twilight snorted. "A book on theoretical seven-dimensional spell matrixes by Composite Mosaic came out when I reached the shelves in the library dealing with chromatic differentiation. I just haven't had the inclination or time to revisit the subject."

"Woah, Twilight admitting that she decided not to read a book." Rainbow whistled. "We need to mark that on the calendar."

"Surely, I must have misheard. What you want to mark is absurd. News of nobility and dates abounds. Yet word of ignoring a book astounds?" Zecora asked.

"Ah'm going to have to side with Dash on this one," Applejack said. "The thought of our Twilight not reading a book is right out thar."

"Yeah, get a load of this." With those words Rainbow sauntered over and snatched a book off a counter before rushing over and opening a window."

"Don't you dare!" Twilight rumbled menacingly.

"Look! A book on froufrou!" Rainbow declared, tossing the tome out the window.

"Rainbow!" Rarity gasped.

"Book! Book! Don't mistreat the book!" Twilight rushed to the window, whipping out her wand.

"See!" Rainbow said smugly.

Zecora said, "While that did have a style and was daring. I fear that in your action you are erring."

"What?" Rainbow asked, turning to look at Twilight who was now levitating a snow-covered book and several bolts of lace.

"Just remember, you brought this upon yourself." Twilight said with a smirk.

"I suggest you start with the Phancy rose," Rarity advised, taking her book from Twilight.

Peter slept the sleep of the righteous. It was a fitting reward for a righteous victory. If he were one to brag, he would have said that he had nailed it. While things had not gone as planned, it was no exaggeration to say that the result was sweeter than he'd ever dreamed possible. He could not remember the last time he had the luxury of sleeping in his birth form before this win; now, he no longer had to wear the guise of a lowly rodent. The only thing it had cost was his freedom. In truth, it wasn't something he really missed. Having spent years as a pet, he had grown accustomed to having others provide for his every need.

He realized in hindsight that he should have been more careful. After all, Murphy was an optimist. It had seemed that everything had been going according to plan. The town he had selected was perfect. It was so small as to lack the resources for vector control, yet it was still large enough to have a respectable selection of potential beauties. Best of all, the natives had neither horns nor wings. They had promised to be easy prey.

Years of pent-up desire had fueled his impatience. Still, he should have taken more time in learning the locals' routines. His first mark had taken a deserted alleyway on her way home from work. She was a lovely mare with a smoky grey coat that was highlighted by a flaming auburn mane and tail. In his rat form, he had entered the alley, unnoticed. When he switched back to human, he had cast a simple Disillusionment Charm and had lain in wait. He had the mare enthralled with the Imperious Curse before she had even realized he was there. To his delight, she had the flatness in her eyes that indicated being under his complete control, despite also showing the terror that threatened to break through.

Having decided the exhibitionism was not to his liking, he had transfigured back into his rat form and had hidden himself in his victim's mane. From there, he had commanded her to take him to her boudoir. The room had screamed so loudly with femininity that in his mounting excitement, he had almost forgotten to cast the silencing and privacy charms. Impatiently, he had torn a handful of transfiguration rings out of his pocket and slammed them onto an end table. Snatching one, he had held it out to her and had directed her to put it in her mouth. He could almost have sworn that her eyes had widened once she had complied.

His next command was to have her concentrate on taking on his image. He had found the results to be stunning. While she had not been the perfect blonde that he had encountered in Ponyville, she had proven to be an undeniably healthy specimen. Best of all, the Imperious Curse had made her his for the taking. With a lecherous grin, he had told her to place the ring on her finger; the grin had only faded slightly when had discovered that he had needed to explain what a finger was. Compared to that, vanishing the pink abomination that she had worn had been child's play.

He had lost track of time as he savored his conquest. He could have sworn that she had actually been enjoying the experience more than he. He had finally found a receptacle for years of frustration. Like all good things, however, this had come to an end all too quickly; years of living as a pet rat had sapped his endurance. He had slept with a smile that had left no doubt as to what had transpired.

He had discovered that years of living as a pet rat had also led to developing a bad habit. He had learned to tune out conversations as he slept. After all, the droning of his former benefactor, Percy, had proven to be the perfect soporific; the classes the boy had been taking had been boring enough when Peter had suffered through them. Talk had meant study. Study had meant neglect. Neglect had meant nap time.

Quavering, an airy voice had asked, "Will that really hold it?"

"The buffalos claim it will grant control over anything from a different plane of existence," a firmer voice had said. "It should keep it corralled and stop it from changing its shape."

"It looks dangerous," the airy voice had said. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"

"I have to admit, when he took control of my body, I thought I was a goner," a tight third voice had said. "But, almost as soon as he had me in my room, he relinquished dominance and gave me a ring that lets me take a form he finds appealing. After that, he got real friendly."

"We can smell," the airy voice had said with an audible pout. "You should have left some for us!"

The third voice replied, "It's not like I had a say in the matter; besides, he was . . . prompt."

"You'll get your turn," the firm second voice had said soothingly. "We've captured an incubus. Are you pondering what I'm pondering?"

The airy voice had replied, "I think so, but let's see if those rings really work." After a brief pause, the voice exclaimed, "Oh!"

The firm second voice had said, "I think there are a few kinks we have to consider."

Excitedly, the airy voice had said, "We can make this work. It will be the perfect therapy pet for our hospice."

"Just don't forget to get his stick," the third voice had said. "I'm sure that's what he used to control me."

"Won't it hurt to break off his stick?" the airy voice had asked.

"His other stick," the firm second voice had said. "And all of the rings, too."

Peter had continued to ignore them; he had snuggled deeper into the covers, blissfully unaware of what was to come, and unaware of the coming bliss.

The light of day faded early, as was its custom during the winter months. The darkness it had illuminated discovered an unexpected windfall. The rarity of treasure such as this was beyond measure. Along the deserted back road, trudging through ankle-deep snow, was a waif. No more than eleven, she was dressed in tattered clothing not suited for such cold. Since they were many miles from the nearest dwelling, this could only mean one thing.

The man pulled their nondescript hatchback to a stop alongside her. Even before the car had come to a complete stop, his wife rolled down her window and stuck her head out. In a tone of motherly concern, she said, "Dear, what are you doing out here so late?"

The young girl had stopped walking as soon as they had appeared and was now peering at them with eyes full of hope. "I got lost."

The wife tsked. "Where are your parents?"

At that, the girl seemed to deflate. "I don't have any." She said with unshed tears, "They died when I was a baby."

"That's just awful." The wife's voice oozed with compassion. "Well, we sure aren't leaving you to your own devices out here in the middle of nowhere. You just climb into the back seat. We'll be taking you home and getting you a nice hot meal."

The girl stared suspiciously for a few seconds before relenting. "Thank you," she said as she squeezed past the older woman. Just like, that their collection had grown. It was almost too easy.

"We've got four girls about your age back on our farm," the wife informed the child as the girl buckled her seatbelt.

The man chuckled at the thought of training their newest acquisition. "I'm sure they will welcome you with open arms.

"I can't wait to meet them." The girl smiled brightly, settling into the back seat.

"So, what are we to call you?" his wife asked, keeping the conversation going.

"My friends call me OB."

With Azkaban now a distant memory and again being in the company of friends and family, Sirius finally found contentment. There was no denying that the last few days had been tumultuous, but he could honestly say that they had been exhilarating as well. It had hardly seemed possible that so many events could be crammed into such a short timeframe. Meeting his mother-in-law had kicked off the bedlam that had snowballed from there. Luckily, the perfect excuse to escape that awkward situation had been dropped in his lap. The foundation of their society had collapsed with the revocation of the Statute of Secrecy, and he was obligated to lend his aid to the Ministry.

Sirius had arrived at the Ministry, confident that they had made provisions for every contingency. The Unspeakables were supposed to have access to every prophecy, every seer. The second he had surrendered his wand; he had discovered their secret plan was that there was no plan. Witches and wizards had been running every which way, like chickens with their heads cut off. More than a few Reparo spells had been cast as people had run into decorations, plants, walls, and anything else in the path of panicked escape.

It had taken a half hour before Sirius had come to the conclusion that there was nothing he could do to help. At that point, he had decided to wade through the sea of panicked bodies to visit the Hall of Records. When he had helped himself to the Black family records, it had come as no surprise that his days of bachelorhood were officially at an end. Whatever had convinced the Black family tapestry to recognize Twilight as his wife had been picked up by the self-updating records at the Ministry as well. Someone had pranked him hard. Somehow, he had missed his own wedding, something that took some serious skill, no pun intended.

That night had been memorable as well. Twilight had brought over her family, cementing the fact that ponies did not have family names. Sirius was half-convinced that her older brother had been adopted. The blue-haired slab of muscle could not possibly be the offspring of the unimposing man Twilight had introduced as her father. Shining Armor's subsequent attempts at brotherly intimidation would have been comical if not for the fact that Sirius was positive the pony-turned-man could quite literally snap him in half without breaking a sweat.

Sirius would not soon forget the following morning. Arthur Weasley had stopped by on his way to the Ministry. The crisis had forced Arthur to cut short his vacation, but he had taken the time to ask a favor of Sirius. He had asked for his son Charlie to be invited over for breakfast so that the lad might be introduced to Sirius's stepson. So, it had come to pass that a noticeably stocky Weasley spawn had sat at the table, smelling of hellfire and brimstone, and had made acquaintance with a certain purple-scaled, fire-breathing lithovore who had yet to call Sirius "father". Sirius had been sure that causality had been ruptured. There was no other logical explanation for the girlish squeals of delight that had permeated the room.

It was so hard to believe that those events had occurred only a few days earlier. To Sirius, it had seemed that a lifetime had passed already. He could not help but smile. This was to be a special night. He had taken pains to procure muggle formal wear. His wife had done her part by using her connections to secure reservations at the fanciest three-star restaurant in London. Dressed to the nines, Sirius, his cousins, and their men waited for the rest of the party. Twilight had mentioned that she would be arriving with two of her friends.

Sirius could only smile when Owlowiscious flew into the room, hooting a greeting. Andi brandished her wand and did the honors. To the dismay of the executive chef, the restaurant momentarily lost a half star from its rating as the bag loudly announced the arrival of three beautiful ladies. Two lay in a heap on the floor while the third had managed to stay on her feet and bounce around with unrestrained enthusiasm.

"Hello! I'm Pinkie Pie, and you must be Sirius Black; Twilight has told us so much about you, because we are her friends and she wants us to be friends with you because that's what friends do and I'm friends with everypony in Ponyville because that's what I do so you wanna be friends?"

Ted did his best to focus only on the shock of pink hair in front of him. "Hello, Miss Pie, my name is Ted Tonks. This is my wife Andromeda." He pointed at the head of house Black. "He's Sirius."

Pinkie noted that the other man's eyes seemed to be following something moving back and forth. "Nah, I'd say he's tracking."

"I can see that the first thing we need to do is introduce you to the concept of support," Andi noted with a smirk. "Your human form is going to need it."

"Okay, my family has a mine, so I know all about trusses and trestles, but I'm always happy to learn something new. Maybe I can teach you how to bake vanilla cherry swirl cupcakes later."

"You look beautiful tonight." Sirius greeted Twilight as she and her other friend picked themselves off the floor. The final new arrival had the most ponyish hair he had yet to come across. Her pert, petite form was wrapped in layers of colorful lace, making it hard for Sirius to think of her as a grown woman instead of a little girl.

"Thank you, Sirius." Twilight beamed. "I'd like to introduce you to Rainbow Dash, one of my best friends. You've already met Pinkie. Girls, this is my husband Sirius Black, his cousins Andromeda Tonks and Narcissa Black, as well as their stallions Edward Tonks and Remus Lupin."

"It is nice to meet two such lovely ladies," Sirius said. "I must say your dresses are gorgeous."

"Do you really think so?" Pinkie said, hopping over to stand next to the other ponies. "Rarity put so much effort into them. She even made it so I can slip it to the side and easily show off my cutie marks. See, here it is; do you like?"

Sirius gawked and staged whispered to his fellow Marauder. "Help me here, Remus."

"There is no safe answer." Remus said as he shifted away.

Sharply, Narcissa said, "Sit! Stay!" Remus sighed as he complied.

"She did the same thing for me. Here's my cutie mark; isn't it awesome?" Rainbow Dash beamed. "It also lets me do a wicked tenshokyaku."

"It's going to be a long night." Ted opined.

Andi broke out laughing. "I think what they're trying to say is, 'welcome to the herd'."

The consensus among Equestria's travel magazines was that this suite was one of the finest available for rent. Its accommodations were surpassed only by the homes of the richest of the rich and by the suites of the princesses themselves. The two mares who waited within were far too nervous to appreciate the lavish décor. The room had not even been their choice; the hotel staff had insisted that the two have the best once they discovered that the pair consisted of a close friend and a sister of one of the new owners. The fact that the sister was also Knight Elemental, Honesty only added to management's determination that the two have nothing but praise for the accommodations.

Somehow, the tension in the room doubled when an owl bearing a pouch arrived. After taking several deep breaths to prepare herself, Applejack placed her hoof on the satchel and said the command phrase. The effects were immediate and dramatic. A set of polite taps came from the door as a stallion said, "Concierge. Does anypony need assistance?"

Applejack spared a glance a a decidedly red-faced Snape before replying, "False alarm. I left my lunch in San Franciscolt."

With what little dignity he could muster, Snape accepted Applejack's hand. He suppressed a gasp as she bodily lifted him to his feet.

Stepping back, Applejack whistled appreciatively before saying, "Yer lookin' mighty fine in them thar duds."

"Thank you," Severus said, using his occlumency to mask his stage fright. He glanced down at his sleeve as he straightened his robes. "I find I must return the compliment; you are looking absolutely ravishing this evening." Looking over, he added, "As are you, my dear Zecora." With those words, he completed the first two items from the mental checklist that Minerva had made him memorize.

"Your courteous words, I admit, leave me contented." Zecora blushed. "Matched with your appearance, the feeling is cemented."

"Well, now, we have a mighty fine evening planned fer y'all," Applejack said. "Rarity helped us plan it with all sorts of things guaranteed to impress a stallion."

"I am certain whatever you have planned will be marvelous" Severus said, releasing some of his tension as he realized the two women were just as jittery as he was. "It is your company that I look forward to the most."

"Before our attention starts to drift," Zecora said, producing a small velvet-covered box. "We have for you this small and simple gift."

"Thank you," Severus said, thinking of the flowers he had stowed in the owl's pouch but hadn't retrieved yet. "You shouldn't have." Inside the box was a simple copper ring that Severus recognized immediately. "I see. So, this evening shall be done as ponies."

"Yah; y'all have seen us as human. Ah can't wait to see what kind of pony y'all make."

With a flourish, Severus donned the ring and shrank to his pony form. His coat was midnight blue, bordering on black while his mane maintained its sheer ebony shade. The leather wings he folded against his side meant only one thing; his winning streak in the school's pony betting pool was still intact.

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