• Published 6th Dec 2012
  • 33,885 Views, 1,351 Comments

The Unicorn at Hogwarts. - Saphroneth

Chrysalis sent Twilight somewhere she could never return... just outside Hogwarts, in fact.

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(revised 12/05/13)

The next morning, at breakfast, the two Equestrians ate much of their food in silence. At first it was simple tiredness from the dimensional equivalent of jet-lag, but as they awoke more fully it became something else. Neither really wanted to think about where they were eating, but eventually Spike broached the subject.

“Hey… Twi?” Spike asked, toying with a fork.

Twilight swallowed her mouthful of toast. “Yes?”

“Think we’ll ever get home?”

The unicorn started to speak, paused, and then reached a hoof across to Spike’s opposite shoulder. “I don’t know. But I hope we do.”

“Because, I… I don’t know.” Spike’s voice turned slightly husky. “Maybe it’s finally got to me, you know?”

Twilight did. She’d thrown herself into the new world yesterday, and slept too deeply to think about it last night, but everything was coming back to her this morning.

Maybe waking up made it more real.

She squeezed his shoulder a little. “Come on, Spike, don’t worry. I’ll get us back.”

Spike hugged her. “I know you will.”

“If it helps…” Twilight waited until Spike was looking at her before continuing. “What helped me yesterday was that I was thinking about how much this is like some magic fiction story.”

While Twilight would read just about anything, Spike wasn’t so general in his tastes. Magic fiction, speculation on what could be, was one of the things he enjoyed. Perhaps it was being a dragon, brought up amongst ponies.

The dragon chuckled. “Yeah, I know what you mean. We are in a parallel universe, aren’t we?”

“Exactly!” Twilight said, before frowning. “Hmmm… we’d better look up what the laws are, today. I don’t want to find out something simple by being arrested.”

“I see what you mean. But let me finish first!”

“All right…” Twilight said teasingly, “This once.”

Spike was already diving into his own toast, much more enthusiastically than before. “You don’t mean that. Would you starve a cute little dragon?”

“Nope. But a number one assistant is tough enough to take it!”

Spike chewed for a moment, trying to think of a way out of that. “Alright, you got me.”

“And don’t you forget it.” Twilight chuckled.

After breakfast, it was straight to the library. This time, Madam Pince was ready for them, and simply nodded to greet them. She did make it clear that the ‘Restricted Section’ deserved the name, though.

In all honesty, given the name of the section and the rope blocking it off, it was already fairly clear.

“The first thing is to get more information on what unicorns and dragons legally are, here.” Twilight said, nodding to one of the desks. “We’ll sit over here. You read Fantastic Beasts, I’ll look for an introductory legal book.” She passed over a library copy of one of the textbooks they’d got at Flourish and Blott’s yesterday.

“I have to say, I don’t think all that much of this.” Spike said, looking at the slim red volume. “I mean, I remember your textbooks from the later years of the academy, at least. Were they this small in the early years?”

“No.” Twilight shook her head, paging through the library’s index book. “About the same size throughout, really… though the words were usually simpler in earlier books and there were more diagrams.”

“Diagrams would help.” The young dragon grumbled, flipping through the first half before opening it at the beginning again. “Or at least some kind of table. What’s the point of making a book short if it’s all dense text?”

Twilight shrugged awkwardly. “Beats me. Maybe their printing skills aren’t great? Or perhaps it’s just the custom.” There had to be some reason why the book was so badly laid out… but for the life of her she couldn’t think of a good one.

Accepting that there wasn’t an easy answer, Spike set the book down on a table and got to reading. It was only a few minutes before he looked up. “Twilight?”

“Yes?” Twilight replied, having finally deciphered the library’s reference system enough to locate the legal material. Ooh, that looks like a good primer…

“I found something. Apparently every magical creature is categorized into Spirit, Being or Beast.”

“Go on.” Twilight said, floating a weighty tome on the basics of wizarding common law with her out of the stacks.

“The definition of a being is, er…” Spike read aloud. “Any creature that has sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community, and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws.”

Twilight nodded. She was perfectly willing to be responsible – in as much as she would vote, and pay full attention to the candidates – and was fairly sure that the law wasn’t too complex for her to eventually get the grasp of. If not, she’d find out as soon as she was into the book. “So, hopefully, we qualify. What about ‘magical creature’?”

“Uh… not got there yet.” Spike shrugged. “Apparently there are some they consider magical creatures which don’t have any actual magic, though. And there’s a creature called a werewolf which transforms from a human on the full moon.”

“Right.” Twilight put her own book down on the table and began scanning through it. “Let me know if you find anything else.”

“Will do.” Spike turned a page with his claw, avoiding damage to the paper by long practice.

“So.” Twilight summarized. “We have to remain concealed from the entire non-magical population of this country. Well, that makes sense… I suppose if these wizards did have to go into hiding, there must have been good justification.” There was a niggling feeling at the back of her mind, the same as with the book layout. While there had to be a good explanation, she couldn’t think of one offhand. Unless it was based on prejudice, which would be fair enough.

“And while the names are the same,” Spike continued, “I sound nothing like the dragons in here. If I was, I’d weigh well over a tonne by now.”

“You’re still a baby dragon, aren’t you?” Twilight asked, thrown off track. “How big are they?”

“No, they grow up a lot quicker here. To be my size, a dragon would have to be a month or two old at most. Anyway.” Spike flicked through the book to near the end. “They have both unicorns and pegasi here, but they refer to pegasi as ‘winged horses’ and unicorns are described as a type of horse. I assume this means horses are a larger type of pony.”

“I agree with you there.” Twilight turned back to her own book. “There is some good news. Laws on wands exist, and while they’re banned for most magical races for reasons that this book doesn’t go into… they’re all specific bans. We’re fine unless a law is specifically passed. And there’s precedent to prevent that, as well… there are at least two magical races which are not human which get wands in addition to innate magic.” Summarizing material was a good way to be sure she’d understood it, so she was at least partly organizing her own thoughts by explaining to Spike.

“Who are those?” Spike asked.

Twilight tapped her hoof thoughtfully. “Veela are one, though they’re apparently able to cross-breed with humans – it was one of the cases mentioned from other cultures’ laws in this book’s example section. I haven’t found mention of the other or others, yet. The gist of it seems to be that there has to be evidence that a given race is both able to use wands, and not willing to misuse them.”

“Wonder how they work that out…” Spike muttered.

“I’ll see if there’s anything in here about why races which don’t have wands were banned.” Twilight said, moving to the index. What would it be under? W?

“Okay. I’ll go and find a history book.” The young dragon jumped down from his chair and went over to the index Twilight had used. He looked through it as surely as she did – having stacked things for Twilight back at the Books and Branches often enough.

Twilight glanced around at him. “Good thinking. That way we can correlate.”

As Twilight scanned through the law book, Spike came back with a basic overview of history. “I know it’s not very detailed, but I didn’t feel like carrying back something as big as the Decline and Fall of the Romane Empire.”

“That’s alright.” Twilight chuckled, remembering the almost ridiculously large tomes of Edgar the Griffin’s greatest work. It weighed in at a million and a half words, and Spike had ended up fire-sending it to her when she asked for it rather than carrying it. “We just need the basic details.”

“Of course, I’d feel a bit happier about it if I knew how to levitate things…” the dragon trailed off, hopefully.

“I’ll help you do it when we learn it here.” Twilight said. “Or, if they do something different, I’ll teach you how unicorns do it as soon as I’ve worked out how to convert it.”

Around half an hour later, Twilight was cross-relating the history of the goblin rebellions with legal bills relating to goblin rights and privileges. The general sense she got was that the wars were brutal, on both sides, and that the wizards tended to hold the advantage only because of their wands – since it seemed an economic crash accompanied the start of each war.

Her train of thought was broken by a shocked exclamation. “Merlin.”

She looked around, and Spike peered past her at the doorway to the library. “Who is it?”

What she saw was a very small human – he looked like he was barely the same size as Spike, in fact, though rather differently proportioned.

On seeing her looking at him, and hearing her speak, he gave a little start. “Goodness. Well, I didn’t expect to see a unicorn indoors, let alone a talking one. Please forgive my poor manners. I am Filius Flitwick, Professor of Charms at Hogwarts.”

“Charms?” Twilight asked, interested. “I’m afraid I only got hold of my books yesterday – I’ve not read enough to know what that category covers. What does it refer to specifically? Is it mental spells?”

“What? Oh, no, nothing so specific.” Flitwick walked over, excitedly. “You’re one of the transfer students Albus told us about? It’s just like him to forget to mention something like that.”

“Well, transfer is pushing it…” Twilight said, shrugging her forelegs awkwardly. “We didn’t exactly intend to end up here. But we may as well make the best of a bad situation.”

“We? Ah, the reptile behind you. Pleased to meet you as well, young… sir?”

Either Flitwick had seen the young dragon when he first entered the library, or he was much better at not being shocked when he was prepared. Twilight wondered which it was, then decided it didn’t matter.

Spike nodded, standing a little straighter. “The pleasure is mutual, Professor.”

Twilight gave him a miniscule nod of approval for remembering Canterlot court manners. “My apologies, but the field of charms?”

“Ah, sorry.” The professor tapped his chin. “It’s all spells which are neither directly offensive nor transmutative – they layer over an object’s properties or otherwise affect it, such as cheering someone up or moving something.”

Twilight and Spike shared a glance. “Well, I’m sure Spike in particular will want to learn that aspect of charms. I wonder, though, Professor, is there a specific spell for telekinesis?”

“Not for some years.” Flitwick looked upwards, as if trying to remember something. “There’s a series of spells for applications of telekinesis – from moving certain objects to making any object do certain things, but nothing below NEWT level more specific.”

“Interesting.” Twilight lit her horn, and brought her wand out. It still felt strange, but less so than yesterday. “My own natural form of magic – the magic of unicorns in my home plane in general – has telekinetic control as the most basic form. Every unicorn can do it, though to varying degrees of skill, power and finesse. Spells apart from that tend to depend on the unicorn’s special talent.”

“How so?” Flitwick asked. “I know there are students here who are talented in charms or transfiguration, but your use of the term bespeaks a more definite meaning.”

Spike saw Twilight take a deep breath, and rolled his eyes.

“On Equestria, every pony has a cutie mark – or emblem. The term depends on gender, though emblem is a bit archaic and not many stallions bother making the distinction. The mark is a representation of something at which the unicorn, or pegasus or earth pony, is especially talented. It appears when they realize that talent.” Twilight, not wanting to boast, cast around for a more specific and illustrative example. “So, my friend Rarity has a cutie mark which is three blue diamonds. It represents her skill in being creative, and her affinity for gemstones – one of her specially developed spells is a gem divining one.”

Flitwick smiled. “Remarkable. And most serendipitous, as well – many I know would likely have led less confusing lives were we humans to have a similar property.”

Which made Twilight really realize, for the first time, that humans didn’t have that guiding star in their lives. What that meant for them was difficult to imagine, but Flitwick had already hinted it meant many humans just never found what they were good at.

The idea of trying to live as a, a dressmaker like Rarity… she didn’t think she’d be able to cope. Trying to muddle through at something she had neither passion nor talent for…

“I’m in the same boat you are.” Spike said, shrugging. “Dragons don’t get cutie marks – it’s something only ponies have.”

“And zebras.” Twilight clarified, thankful for the distraction. “Equine races in general.”

“Then, might I enquire – what does your own, ah, cutie mark mean?” Flitwick took a look at the one on her left flank, leaning a little closer and peering at it.

“Magic in general.” Twilight said awkwardly, moving slightly so he could see it better. “I’m not as efficient with any given spell as another unicorn at their speciality, but I’ve got a pool several times the size of them and can learn just about any spell which doesn’t require some kind of knowledge I don’t have.”

“She’s the best unicorn at magic in Equestria.” Spike stated.

Twilight blushed. “Don’t say that! I can’t do weather magic yet, and my shields don’t have nearly as much power as Shining’s, and…”

“You showed up that Trixie without even having to face her directly, Twilight.” Spike said, confidently, and gave her a thumb-claw up. “You’re the best.”

“I just don’t feel comfortable with that much… attention, I suppose.” Twilight said nervously. “Please drop it, okay?”

“Alright.” Spike allowed. “But you’ve not changed my mind.”

“This seems something of a sore point with you?” Flitwick asked. “I won’t enquire further, then. Well, I must get on with my preparation for the coming year. I hope to see you in Ravenclaw.”

“Ravenclaw?” Twilight repeated.

“I’m the head of house. But you’ll hear about all that at the welcoming feast!”

Reminded of that, she changed topics to something that might be an issue. “If you’ve got a moment, actually – what are the arrangements?”

Flitwick paused, tapping his chin. “Hm. Normally, students come to platform 9¾ at King’s Cross station and travel up from London, but I suppose if you’re already here… well. There are two possibilities. You could either Floo to King’s Cross station and take the train, which will let you meet people before the Sorting, or you could join them at the station in Hogsmeade.”

Twilight hummed. In all honesty, she didn’t have much of an opinion one way or the other. “Spike? Any preference?”

“I’d feel more comfortable with the train ride, actually.” Spike said. “Apart from anything, trains are familiar.”

“You’re right, they are.” Twilight nodded. “Might help settle us – and we can bring enough books for the ride.” She looked back to Flitwick. “Since Spike wants to, we’ll take the train.”

“I’ll let Albus know.” Flitwick said. “I assume that you’ll be most often found in here?”

“Yes, that’s right.” Twilight gestured at the shelves. “I’m a librarian as my normal job, so it’s fairly familiar. It’s helping us adjust.”

It was barely twenty minutes later that Dumbledore entered the library. “Miss Twilight Sparkle? Professor Flitwick has pointed out to me that your appearance and that of mister Spike may shock other members of the faculty if they run into you before the welcoming feast.” His eyes twinkled. “While I don’t see what he means at all, he was most insistent. If you have the time, the staff are gathering in the Great Hall for lunch at twelve sharp and it will be possible to meet them all there.”

Twilight nodded. “That sounds like a good idea.” It’d be nice to be on good terms with the teachers, since she was probably going to rely on their expertise for some time.

“And I approve of your decision to take the train. It’s important to have good friends to support you.”

“I wish my friends from Equestria were here.” Twilight admitted. “Hopefully I’ll make new ones for the time I’m here.”

“An admirable goal. Now, I have one more matter. There’s a corridor on the third floor which is out of bounds – there’s some powerful defences in place. I must ask that you not attempt to bypass them.”

“Of course.” Twilight said, slightly surprised. “Which one?”

“The door is locked, so it should be no problem in identifying it. Simply make sure not to unlock any door on the third floor – not that you would, of course.”

Twilight and Spike both nodded.

“Very good. Carry on doing whatever it was you were doing, I have to look up something about quills.”

Spike started slightly. “Oh, don’t talk to me about quills…”

“A bad experience, mister Spike?”

“The shop where we live keeps selling out of quills. The only other thing he sells is sofas.” Twilight tossed her head. “Never made sense to me.”

“A most interesting shop. Were it possible, I might peruse his wares. I find myself in need of a sofa more often than one might think.” With that last remark, Dumbledore walked on into the stacks.

When Twilight and Spike entered the Great Hall at ten minutes to twelve, around a dozen humans in robes of varied styles were already standing near the entrance and making conversation.

Dumbledore noticed them first. “Ah, Miss Twilight Sparkle. It would seem you are early.”

“Yes, sorry.” Twilight said, and began to explain. “I was worried about the moving staircases – I don’t know yet how much time they add to trips, and-”

“It’s no problem.” Dumbledore said, to a background of surprised exclamations. “I fear not all the faculty has arrived yet, but we may as well begin – after all, the sooner we finish, the sooner we can have lunch.”

A rather awkward silence fell after that. Looking around, Twilight saw that none of the other humans she’d met were yet present. “Er… I suppose I should introduce myself?”

“Do speak up.” A bored-sounding voice said, apparently belonging to the… male? human who moved to the front of the crowd. “I cannot stand mumblers.”

Comparatively speaking, he was a bit taller than the average, and his hair was black. It seemed – from what she could see here – that most humans had hair colours in the range of blonde-red-brown-black, with white also being present for some. It was much less varied than the manes she was used to…

“Ah, sorry!” Twilight blushed at her hesitation. “I’m a little nervous, that’s all. Erm…” She fell back on her old court etiquette training, from the times she’d been introduced as the protégé of Celestia. “I am Twilight Sparkle, of the Canterlot court, and…” she trailed off for a moment, thinking what her current prime title might be. “Bearer of the Element of Magic.”

It was grandiose, perhaps, but it was better than describing herself as the personal pupil of Celestia, which she formally wasn’t any more; or the princesses’ special envoy, since she had no current diplomatic status.

Seeing their slight confusion, she ushered Spike forward. “This is my assistant, Spykoranuvellitar, fosterling of the court – he normally goes by Spike.”

“Canterlot?” Several wizards and witches asked the question at the same time.

“In Equestria.” Twilight tried to clarify. “We’re here thanks to, well, a spell I can’t currently replicate. It seems to be a different world entirely.”

“Do introduce yourself, Severus.” Dumbledore said, gesturing forward. “Our guests have no more idea who you all are than you do of who she is.”

“Very well, headmaster.” The human – Severus – turned more fully to face her. “I am Professor Severus Snape, Potions instructor and head of Slytherin House. I hope you understand that your uniqueness will earn you no leeway with me.”

“No chance of that.” Twilight said. “I hate people making questions easier. Actually, there’s a form of potion making that I studied back in Equestria, which I’d like to compare with potions here.”

“Comparative studies is NEWT level.” Professor Snape said abruptly, and turned to walk away.

“Don’t worry about him.” The next wizard said, walking heavily forward with the aid of what seemed to be a wooden leg. “Severus is a brilliant man, but he’s not one to suffer fools. Kettleburn’s the name, professor of Care of Magical Creatures. I’d love to write something about you two – entirely new forms of unicorn and dragon – but I know it’s impolite to ask.”

“Oh, don’t worry.” Twilight hastened to say. “I think I could give you some information.”

Spike chuckled. “Hey, maybe you could just explain the basic biology classes you had to him.”

“Of course.” Kettleburn nodded, seeming to realize something. “Albus said you had an education where you came from. There’s no rush, just something in your spare time – it might help, in case either of you get injured.”

“That is true.” Twilight tilted her head in agreement. “It was hard enough to get Spike medical treatment in Equestria. Nobody knew enough about dragons.”

“You do now, though.” Spike pointed out. “After I shrunk again, you read half the books on dragon physiology in the Canterlot library.”

“And then I read the psychology books after we got back from the migration.” Twilight added.

“Marvellous.” Kettleburn pronounced.

Twilight was introduced to Aurora Sinistra (Astronomy, and she was puzzled but interested that that was a required course), Pomona Sprout (Herbology, and head of Hufflepuff) and Septima Vector (Arithmancy, a class Twilight was looking forward to eagerly… though Spike was less keen and was glad it was optional) before she realized something and raised a hoof.

“Er… sorry to interrupt, but… are any of your names new ones?”

“Whatever do you mean?” the Arithmancy teacher asked. “I was born a Vector, like my father.”

“Well, in Equestria there’s a tendency for ponies’ names to relate to what their talent will eventually be in some way – though it’s not a rule, and ponies often take new names when their talent is revealed. But since people here use… inherited second names and… parentally chosen first names?” She received a nod to confirm her guess. “I don’t know how it is so many people have talents matching names.”

“She has a point.” Pomona Sprout said, snapping her fingers. “Newt Scamander comes to mind, as well.”

“How curious.” Dumbledore said.

At that point the remaining professors arrived, along with the librarian and a somewhat unpleasant individual who was apparently the caretaker.

All told, the introductions took nearly half an hour. It seemed like all the professors aside from Snape wanted an outsider’s perspective on their subject one way or another, and Charity Burbage (Muggle Studies) went so far as to suggest she make an anthropological report on wizarding society at some point.

The last professor the two Equestrians were introduced to was Quirinus Quirrell, a nervous man with a fragrant turban who taught Defence against the Dark Arts.

“Oh, does that involve combat magic?” Twilight asked, interested. “I assume it does, because there’s no real better place for it in the curriculum. My brother’s focus is mainly defensive and shielding spells, so I suppose that’s his speciality.” Shining had taught her several shields, from minor to major, though she could never wring the same performance out of them as he could.

Thinking about that reminded her of the strange enemy wearing Cadence’ face back in Equestria, and she focused on the conversation instead.

Quirrel’s hands trembled. “Ah, y-yes. Defensive m-magic includes some limited c-capability for offense, though o-of c-course there’s little m-more than stunning s-spells until OWLs.”

“Really?” Twilight frowned, remembering lessons on battle magic at the Academy. “But I thought that most battle spells were simply more powerful and refactored forms of… oh, of course, different world. Well, I’ll look forward to discovering these differences.”

The turbaned teacher gave a convulsive nod. “Of c-course. Ah, w-what was your n-name again?”

“Twilight Sparkle.” Twilight repeated.

“And… you’re s-sure you’re not a v-vampire?” he pressed.

Twilight quickly matched vampire with vampony, which made sense of a reference or two in the preamble to Fantastic Beasts, and realized he must be afraid of them. “Oh, no, strictly herbivore. Spike’s an obligate silicivore who aside from that is an extreme omnivore.”

Quirrell glanced down at his feet, noticed he’d been gradually sidling away, and forced himself to stop. “A-alright. For s-some reason your n-names make me n-nervous.”

Spike shrugged. “I’m used to ponies being nervous of me. One unicorn delegation from Manehattan tried to call the guard on me, before they found out that, well…”

Twilight giggled with the memory. “That was hilarious. Fourteen experienced mages, cowering behind a guard as the ‘fearsome dragon’ entered the room, and then they saw he was about four years old, came up to their knees, and had a lollipop.”

“Yeah.” Spike shrugged, fatalistically. “There’ll always be people who are scared of me.” Then he brightened, looking much more his age. “But none of them in Ponyville, and hopefully very few here.”

After a quick lunch – fortunately the concept of “sandwich” was universal – Twilight went straight back to work on the legal structure of the Wizarding World.

“This actually has some close parallels with the Equestrian system.” She said, frowning. “Oh, they don’t have a monarch, or a pair of diarchs or so on because they’re a technical subset of the government… but this ‘Wizengamot’ does use a combination of hereditary and life seats.”

“That’s like the advisory parliament, isn’t it?” Spike checked. “What about elected members?”

“None of them, and because they don’t have any direct royal ruler there’s no distinction between royally appointed life seats and council appointed life seats. But it’s a taste of home.” As it happened, she’d only voted once for the advisory parliament, and it hadn’t been a particularly close election either. Democracy and devolved power were sometimes seen as unnecessary with a ruler like Celestia, but Twilight – having got said princess’s opinion on it from her personally – was best convinced by when she’d told Twilight ‘no one pony can think of everything’.

“Yeah.” Spike said. “What does that mean for scandals and stuff? I loved watching Blueblood scramble to explain why he’d done what he did to Rarity the week after the Gala.”

Rarity had by that time already got to know a few members of high society. Hoity Toity and Sapphire Shores, in particular, had not been pleased with an up and coming fashion designer being put down so harshly, and had spread the word. Blueblood was still trying to make up for the fallout, as other ponies like Fleur de Lis or Fancy Pants connected his boorish behaviour with their new acquaintance.

Twilight bobbed her head from side to side, uncertain how to put it. “Scandals… well, since the population is relatively small it’s quite common for popular backlash to heavily impact a Minister. The current one, Cornelius Fudge, came to power when someone called Millicent Bagnold retired. It looks like he was a compromise candidate to me, there’s some nasty currents I’m spotting by reading between the lines.”

“What kind?”

Twilight made a face. “Take the old attitudes of unicorns from before Hearth’s Warming and mix them with those ridiculous ponies who think that earth pony or pegasus genes dilute magical potential.”

“Ouch.” Spike winced, remembering how spectacularly a lecturer had dispelled those myths during the first year he’d been mature enough to join Twilight in the academy. Lodestone, a relatively young professor, had attended a garden party put on by the Unicorn Geneticists Association… and had invited his parents, an earth pony builder and a pegasus who specialized in rainbows.

Since Lodestone was the faculty member who taught battle magic, it had been a humiliating lesson for the UGA, and the body had disbanded shortly afterwards.

The dragon tapped the table idly with a claw. “Any evidence it’s true?”

“Nothing conclusive one way or the other.” Twilight said. “I’d like to check leaving examination results, but even those could be skewed by the effect of having parents who know magic.”

Spike nodded. “Like Dinky?”

“Yes. Though she has Sparkler, at least, and Ditzy is doing an admirable job of teaching them the theory.” Twilight had helped give the young filly her magical aptitude tests, and if anything Dinky was above average so far. No actual spells as of yet, though, just telekinesis, which suggested her talent might not be pure spellcasting.

Twilight then laughed. “This is funny. Their definition of ‘pure blood’ – well, the official one – is that you have to have all four grandparents magically capable. How much doesn’t matter.”

“Even if they only mean unicorns, you qualify – just.” Spike nodded, looking up as he remembered. Twilight’s grandparents were all unicorns, but past that there were two pegasi and one earth pony just in the next generation up. “And if they mean any magic, there isn’t a pony in Equestria who isn’t ‘pure blood’ by their reasoning.”

“Yes.” Twilight frowned again, looking at the book. “But occasionally the books seem to be skirting an unpleasant topic. They keep mentioning a ‘pureblood supremacist’ group, but they don’t want to name them, most of the members or the leader.”

“Most?” Spike looked askance at Twilight.

“Yes, it’s mentioned that two members of the ‘Black’ family, who are as pure as it gets, are in a place called Azkaban. I think I’ll look it up once I’m finished.” Twilight made a note to.

“Alright.” Spike said. “I’ll see if I can get any cultural information from this book on Quidditch.”

Twilight laughed. “You mean you want to read about flying.”

“Yes. That’s what I said.”

Spike was halfway through the Quidditch book (which seemed to suggest that the main rulebook of the sport consisted largely of a list of fouls, and that for some decades the sport had involved killing small birds) when Twilight dropped her book with a bang.

“Twi?” he asked, startled. “Are you alright?”

“Spike.” Twilight’s voice was as icily precise as a diamond. “Do you remember reading about those creatures called ‘Dementors’? The ones which are essentially windigoes?”

“Yeah.” Spike shivered. “They eat positive emotion, wasn’t it? And make it cold?”

“Yes.” Twilight turned her gaze back to the book on the floor, and after a moment it lifted shakily into the air wrapped in lavender magic. “Further more, they do not require conflict to catalyze them, merely negative emotion of any kind. And the Wizarding Government of Great Britain uses them as prison guards – as far as I can tell, simply to make it worse to be there, since you could easily just magically seal a cage and deny the person inside a wand to shut down their casting.”

“They what?” Spike asked blankly. He’d never seen Twilight quite like this, and it was almost as scary as what she was describing.

“They subject people to something almost as bad as the greatest torment in our history. And it’s not the equivalent of a life sentence, either – some people get short terms there.”

Spike gulped. “I… wow.”

“Yeah.” Twilight picked up three books, and started for the library desk. “I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to go back to our room, and... try not to think about windigoes.”

“I’m with you.” Spike said, hurrying to take out an account of the ridiculously foul-heavy Transylvania-Flanders game of 1473. “This should be good for a laugh, at least.”

The dragon and the unicorn spent most of the rest of the afternoon trying to cheer one another up. Twilight managed an early lead by speculating about how Trixie would have battled Nightmare Moon – complete with Luna’s dark side giving up from exasperation in the face of a steady stream of fireworks to the nose – but Spike rallied by reading from the Quidditch book the commentator’s words when the goalkeeper was transfigured into a polecat.

The irony was that said keeper had actually done slightly better.

Peewee turned up in a spectacular flash of fire in late afternoon, and landed beak-first on the carpet. It seemed like he’d already learned a lot from the elder phoenix, Fawkes – though not how to land.

That started both of them giggling, and Peewee’s indignant chirrup followed by an ‘I-meant-to-do-that’ strut finally pushed them both over into laughing.

“Ah, phew. We need to do that more often.” Spike said, picking his familiar off the floor and giving him a quick stroke. “Must be why Pinkie always greets new people.”

“Yeah, I think you’re right.” Twilight said, musing. “It stops people feeling too stressed about moving if they’re able to laugh.”

“Definitely something we should do more of.” Spike put Peewee on his perch, and checked the food and water were both still full enough.

Twilight nodded. “It’s almost dinner. What should we do afterwards?”

Spike considered, tapping the floor with a claw. “I feel more like having a walk. Spend the evening watching the sun go down.”

“Sounds like a good idea.” Twilight said. Fresh air would do her good. “And we can put the project on hold, and spend the next couple of days practicing a few simple spells.”

Spike nodded eagerly.

“What do I have to say?” Spike asked, looking at the pile of grass. “And I have to move my wand for this one?”

“Yes.” Twilight read the description again, carefully. The Scottish sunlight shone down on the grassy slope near the Black Lake, and she was glad to have found a tree to sit under. “You move your wand from one side to the other holding it loosely – a swish – and then you bring it back to centre with an upwards flick which takes place while pointing at the object. The incantation is ‘wingardium’ on the swish, and ‘leviosa’ on the flick. The first bit sort of tells the spell you want the target to weigh less, and the second tells it you want to gently push it upwards.” She activated an Equestrian magic-viewing spell as she finished, watching her assistant.

Spike complied, waving his wand as best he could. “I don’t think it worked then.”

“No, you put the emphasis on the wrong syllable in the first word, so the spell matrix was disrupted.” Twilight created an illusion of what she’d seen. The spell never really got formed thanks to the mistake, and the magic fizzled out before leaving the wand.

“Oh, alright. Win-gar-di-um, right?” Spike pronounced the words slowly and exaggeratedly.

Twilight nodded her approval of the pronunciation. “Yes, and remember to also focus on what you want the spell to do – just like you focus on where you want a scroll to go when you’re not sending it to Celestia. Now, give it another try.”

Spike concentrated, remembering to hold the hawthorn wand loosely, and attempted the spell again. This time, the pile of grass fountained up into the air and went everywhere.

“Good!” Twilight said, absently nibbling on a piece of grass which had gotten into her mouth. “That’s a case of overpowering the spell, which is still a slight problem but much better than a miscast. We’d better work on power next.”

“Was it this hard for you?” Spike asked. “When you learned. I mean, you didn’t have to wave the wand or say anything.”

“No, but I overpowered every spell for about the first six months of the academy. Believe you me, I know how to control my power output with any spell I’ve cast enough times to get a handle on the matrix.” It’d taken rather longer than six months for the teachers to stop putting on goggles whenever they were asking her to cast a spell, though. Since she’d managed to overload a food-heating spell enough to melt the pan, she didn’t blame them…

“Well, at least we have the same problem.” Spike said. “How does this compare to unicorn levitation, by the way?”

“It’s more specific, but possibly slightly more energy efficient.” Twilight answered; she’d been thinking about that herself. “Though it can’t handle more than one or two things at a time.”

Spike took that on board. “Right. Okay, how do we work on power?”

“We start with a rock.” Using her own natural telekinesis, Twilight brought a rock about six inches across over to them. “Try to lift this. That’ll give you some idea of how much power you need to do a given task.”

Spike nodded determinedly. “Here goes. Wingardium Leviosa!”

At six A.M. precisely on September 1, 1991, a flash of purple light resolved itself on Platform 9¾ into a studious unicorn, a young dragon, a younger phoenix and an owl with a secretarial degree.

“No-one else is here, Twi.” Spike complained, looking around the deserted platform. “We’re early.”

“Better to be early than late.” Twilight replied. “I wasn’t sure that a teleport that far would work properly.” She tried to see differences with Canterlot or Ponyville stations, but mostly ended up disappointed. Same big clock, same high platform… there was slightly more clearance between train and platform, but nothing important. And the rolling stock was just… less interesting.

“Whatever.” Spike picked up the bag with reading material, a good lunch for each of them and their familiars, and one of Twilight’s new collection of notebooks. “Let’s get some good seats. Celestia knows nobody else should have one yet…”

Author's Note:

And here's chapter two. Chapter one has been modified - removing the section in Equestria, and changing Twilight's wand to ash - so don't be surprised if she's got an ash wand rather than an oak one in later chapters.

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