• Published 6th Dec 2012
  • 33,888 Views, 1,351 Comments

The Unicorn at Hogwarts. - Saphroneth

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

  • ...

Unscheduled Excitement

Unscheduled excitement

The Great Hall was full of pumpkins and pumpkin motifs. And other things, as well, but the pumpkins weren’t usually there – so when Twilight walked in, they were what she noticed first.

She and the other Gryffindors were relatively late to the feast, and it was already in full swing. Most of the humans were too busy eating to look up, but some did. And Twilight had to swallow a giggle when she saw their reactions.

After all, she was clad in layers of glamour and magic which made her look a little taller, a lot darker, rather more bewinged, made her mane flow like the stars, and generally caused her to be the spitting image of Princess Luna last Nightmare Night. Comparatively speaking, Spike next to her was barely noticeable.

The conversations bubbling around the tables started to falter as people alerted their friends to the unusual sight and others turned to look. Confusion was mixed with a faint hint of fear from some, though others had started to look back and forth between her disguised cutie mark and the crescent moon visible through the roof.

That had been pure luck, actually. Halloween happened to fall on a one-third full crescent moon, which fit Luna’s cutie mark closely enough that Twilight had tweaked her illusion to make it an exact copy. Artistic license.

Dumbledore looked over his glasses at her, then through them, then nodded amicably to the others at the high table (which Twilight noticed was almost full – there were only two empty seats, one for the perennially-absent Divination teacher and one for Quirinus Quirrell) and began cutting himself some pumpkin pie. Twilight suspected he’d worked out what was going on one way or another.

Not saying anything yet, Twilight trotted smartly over to the Gryffindor table and sat down, with Spike following her. By now almost every eye was on this strange apparition, and many of the Gryffindors who knew what was going on were barely containing their laughter.

She pointed across the table at some potatoes, and addressed Lavender Brown. “Couldst thou pass me the roast potatoes?”

A credible imitation of the Royal Canterlot Voice boomed out – not nearly so loud as Luna herself routinely did, but with the kind of force that echoed in the large hall.

“S-sure…” Lavender said, timidly, and lifted them over to her.

Twilight took the dish in a magical grip, lifted one onto a fork, and delicately ate it. “Marvellous.”

Dumbledore stood up and began to applaud, surprising most of the room. “Excellent costume, Twilight Sparkle. Wonderful display of detailed illusion magic. I confess, at first I thought another of your countryfolk had joined us.”

Twilight toggled the costume off, producing an intake of breath as she confirmed what Dumbledore was saying. “Thank you, Professor. I’m afraid I forgot to research the customs on Halloween here, and assumed they were like they are in Equestria.”

“Entirely understandable,” he replied, across the silent hall. “I must say, were that part of our own Halloween traditions then the feast would be rather more colourful. Perhaps it would be good to give consideration to such an idea… but don’t let me keep you from your food. Eat up!”

Twilight put the illusion back on, and started getting herself a proper meal – noticing that, as usual, the elves had delivered Spike’s special dinner right where it had to go.

“Who’s that you’re dressed as?” Sally-Anne Perks asked. “Why do they have wings?”

“Well, I made myself look like Princess Luna.” Twilight decided not to keep up the Royal Canterlot Voice, because she was just having a private conversation. Besides, she’d spent a fair amount of effort helping Luna to stop using it… “She’s one of the rulers of Equestria, and she’s in control of the moon.”

Cormac McLaggen looked up from his own meal. “What, the whole moon?”

“Yes.” Twilight nodded, simply. “Princess Luna is one of the alicorns, who have wings and horns – they have equal parts unicorn, pegasus and earth pony magic, and they’re very powerful. Celestia and Luna, the Royal Sisters, are over a thousand years old – Celestia controls the sun, and Luna controls the moon.”

“Wait a second.” Seamus said, frowning. “Aren’t princesses the daughters of queens? Or have I forgotten something?”

“Not in Equestria. There’s no queen – or king – there. I think the reason Celestia uses the term princess is because it makes more sense to have more than one princess than it does to have more than one queen, and she didn’t want to exclude her sister.”

Twilight winced slightly, suddenly reminded of the situation in Equestria when she left. She’d been running herself ragged trying not to ever since they’d first materialized here, but it did hurt.

It’s alright, Twilight, she told herself. They didn’t see what you did, and you’ve got worked up over nothing before. And when we go back, you can go back the moment after we left. You won’t miss anything.

“What’s Halloween like where you come from?” someone asked. She hadn’t learned his name yet, because he was in one of the upper years and she didn’t run into him nearly as often.

Twilight looked up, grateful for the distraction. “Well, we actually call it Nightmare Night. It’s based on the story of Nightmare Moon, and…”

The food, as usual, was excellent, and delivering a semi-lecture as part of a meal suited Twilight very well. Spike was more involved with chatting with humans of around his age – boys, mostly, though girls on occasion – about topics like flying and… well, mainly flying.

Around an hour in, the feast was interrupted by a loud bang as the doors slammed open. Everyone looked around to see the Defence against the Dark Arts teacher staggering in, clothes torn and in a panic.

“Troll in the dungeons!” he shouted. “Big one! I…I… thought it was important.” And with those words, he collapsed forwards.

Almost before people had started to panic, Dumbledore set off an explosion from his wand.

“Excuse me, everyone!” he said, his voice magically amplified by some spell. “Please remain calm. Prefects, please make sure students of your houses remain in the Great Hall. Half of the professors will remain in here to keep them safe, the other half will search for the troll!” He cancelled his spell and began speaking more normally to the various teachers.

Normally Twilight would have started analyzing how that wizarding spell compared with the Equestrian equivalent, but things weren’t quite calm enough for that and neither was she.

Someone ran over to Quirrell and helped him up, supporting him with their arm. He still looked dazed, but a student in the upper years had cast a spell on him and he was clearly recovering.

Twilight looked around, thoughts whirling. There was a dangerous creature in the school? Why was there a dangerous creature in the school? It was a school, not the Everfree Forest! This was terrible!

Unless it was some kind of Halloween scare, like Luna did on Nightmare Night? But no, that didn’t make sense, since the older students were all as panicked as the younger ones. They’d be used to it if it was, and-

Oh no.

“What about Harry?” she asked urgently.

Her partners in mischief looked back at her, realizing what she meant.

“But… he’s in the Tower, right?” Fred asked.

George nodded. “That should be safe.”

“No, no, he said he might come down!” Twilight fought down the beginnings of a panic attack. “If he’s coming down and he thinks it’s all fine, he might run into the troll on his own!”

Spike gulped beneath his costume. “Trolls are bad news. They’re very resistant to magic… that’s all I remember, really, except that they’re also very strong and tough.”

Twilight fretted for a moment, then made a decision. “Right. I’ll go make sure he’s alright.”

“You can’t go!” Spike said. “It might not be safe!”

“If Harry’s on the way down and the troll’s there, I can help him. If he’s on the way down and the troll’s not there, I can warn him. And if he’s not on the way down, then at least he’ll know not to come down.” Twilight listed off the possibilities, and made for the door. “Percy, I’m going to make sure Harry’s okay.”

“You’re what? Wait!” The red-headed prefect turned in shock.

“I’m going too.” Ron said. “I’m the one who was stupid about it, and he’s my friend.”

Neville got up to go as well, along with Spike and the twins. Percy gaped, shook his head, and explained the situation tersely to his counterpart prefect from the girls’ dorm before following with his wand drawn.

What’s the way we always take from the Gryffindor Tower to the Great Hall? Twilight asked herself, galloping for the main steps. It’s a Thursday, so… Trying to remember how the stairs worked, she hurried up as fast as she could. It was still slightly awkward, but the main stairs were a much gentler slope than the spiral ones leading up to the Headmaster’s office and she’d got fairly used to them. Er… oh! The only good route to the fifth floor and up is the other stairs, and this one’s the only one to get to the fourth floor.

That meant a connecting corridor along the fourth floor.

Reaching the third floor, Twilight felt her legs starting to burn and paused, panting. A flicker of movement caught her eye, and she flinched back for a moment before realizing it was a robe, not a troll – and moving away from her.

Twilight weighed the advantages of calling out, and decided against it. Presumably the teachers had worked out a way of efficiently quartering the building already.

Besides, she technically wasn’t supposed to be here. So she didn’t say anything, and got right back to climbing stairs again.

Stupid castle and its stupid anti-teleportation wards…

When she finally reached the fourth floor, she paused for a second to work out the quickest route to the other staircase – and heard a crash from one of the corridors, followed by a slightly panicky “Impedimenta!”

That’s not going to work, she thought to herself as she started following the sound. A lot of magical creatures in this world have thick skin, and an inherent magical resistance – a lot like Equestrian dragons. Perhaps that means-

Twilight’s train of thought derailed as she cantered around a corner and saw a boy – clearly Harry, from his black hair and his short stature – backing away from an oncoming troll as fast as he could. He was launching what looked like all the jinxes and curses he knew at the creature, but the list wasn’t exactly a long one.

Focusing, Twilight channelled magic into her horn as she ran forward. Trolls are resistant to magic – but I don’t need to hurt it, just make sure-

Harry heard her coming, and was just turning to look as she skidded to a halt beside him. A blazing pink dome materialized around them, and the troll’s club bounced off it with a loud thwack and a shower of sparks.

“Thank you, Shiny…” she muttered to herself. “Thank you.” Then she looked back up at the troll, which was frowning in puzzlement at the pink sphere and poking it with a finger.

“W-what just happened?” Harry asked.

“Professor Quirrell warned us there was a troll in the castle. I don’t know how it got up here, but I realized you might be in trouble.” Twilight explained, wincing as the troll hit her shield again. Looking down, she realized she was still wearing her Nightmare Night costume, and dispelled it to clear her core in case she needed to channel lots of magic at once. “Looks like I got here just in time.”

“Harry!” Ron shouted from behind them. “You alright, mate?”

“Y-yeah, thanks Ron.” Harry replied. “So far.”

“Nice work, Twilight!” Spike grinned, before shouting over the sound of the troll resuming its assault. “How long can you keep that up?”

“Quite a long time, I think!” Twilight replied, monitoring her mana expenditure. Thankfully Shining’s shields were well optimized, even if she never could get quite the same performance out of them that he did. This particular one was designed for purely physical impact resistance.

“Well, we do have a predicament.” The twins said simultaneously.

“Why did all of you follow me?” Twilight asked. “Is that Neville as well?”

“Yeah.” Neville said quietly. “You’re our friend.”

As if it was that simple. And… it really was.

“There you are!” Percy said, hurrying around the corner. “What do you all think – oh.”

To give Percy credit, he recovered quickly from the shock of seeing a glowing pink shield protecting a unicorn from a troll on the fourth floor of Hogwarts.

“Right. Er…” he pointed his wand at the troll. “Expelliarmus!”

A jet of light flashed from his wand, hit the troll, and did nothing much.

Twilight glanced back, interested. “What was that spell?” There was another thud and shower of sparks from her shield.

“It’s a disarming spell,” Percy answered, looking vaguely put out. “I’d hoped it wouldn’t resist it because it affects the club, not the troll…”

“Of course!” Feeling stupid for not seeing that solution, Twilight split her attention between the shield and her telekinesis and began trying to pull the club out of the troll’s hand. “And… there!”

The club went flying into the air, bounced off the roof, and landed somewhere past the troll, which looked at its hand in confusion.

“Right.” Percy said. “Well done. Ronald, can you go and get one of the professors, please? I saw Professor Snape on the third floor when I came up.”

“Why does it have to be me?” Ron asked, annoyed.

“Random chance, Ronald. Now hurry up.” Percy turned back towards the troll. “Twilight, do you have any spells that might work on it? I’m afraid that penetrating spell resistance is NEWT level and I’ve not read ahead on Defence Against the Dark Arts.”

“Spell resistance…” Twilight shuffled through her Equestrian magic repertoire. “Most of my spells are more utility or straight-combat, and I’m rusty on many of those. Is spell resistance absolute?”

“No, it’s a relative factor.” Percy’s eyes wandered up as he tried to remember the exact wording of his textbook. “Spells below power level A are absorbed to no effect, spells between A and B are partially absorbed with their power increasing non-linearly compared to the original spell, spells above B…”

Fred, George, Harry, Spike and Neville watched with some bemusement as Percy gave Twilight a quick rundown on how spell resistance operated, punctuated by thracks as the troll tried an experimental fist blow to the shield.

“Okay, so enough power should get through it, thanks.” Twilight turned, powered up an Equestrian non-lethal blasting spell, and fired.

Everyone was at least a bit surprised when the troll went even further down the corridor than its club had, and hit the opposite wall upside down.

“I thought you said they were highly resistant to magic!” Twilight said, staring at her hoofwork.

Percy gulped. “I thought you had a lot less magic than that.”

Spike was grinning, vindicated in his resolute belief that Twilight was the best unicorn there was at magic. Everyone else just looked a bit scared.

Then the twins grinned. “That was-”


Neville raised a hand. “Er… what do we do now?”

“Oh, yes, sorry,” Percy shook his head. “Right. Anyone hurt at all?”

“I’m not,” Twilight began. “But I don’t know about Harry.”

“No, I’m fine.” Harry said, in a slightly uncertain voice.

“Good.” Percy said awkwardly. “Er, why was Harry not at the Feast?”

“It’s the anniversary of the death of his parents.” Neville explained. “He wasn’t sure if he wanted to come down at all.”

“Oh, goodness.” Percy flushed. “Sorry for asking, I hadn’t realized.”

“Nobody does.” Harry said bitterly, and then hiccupped a bit. “I…”

“You alright?” Twilight asked. “It’s always frightening after something big happens. I know what it’s like.”

Harry looked up. “Like what?”

“You start to realize everything that could have gone wrong. You start second-guessing yourself over what you could have done better.” Twilight swallowed. “While you’re in danger, you don’t have time to be afraid, but once it’s over all that hits you at once. I… don’t like it.”

Spike grinned weakly. “At least you’ve got practice at it by now.”

“I’d rather not have had to.” Twilight flicked her ears and tail.

“Hey, where’d the troll go?” Ron asked, returning with Dumbledore and Flitwick.

Fred and George spun to face their younger brother. “It was-”

“-amazing! Twilight-”

“-blasted it right down the-”


“My word.” Flitwick peered around Twilight, seeing the concussed troll up against the wall. “How much power did you put into that spell?”

Twilight looked awkward. “I didn’t know how much the spell resistance would stop, so I erred on the high side.”

“Well, you did say you have trouble lowering your power…” Flitwick said, half to himself. “Most impressive.”

“Now, we should get all this sorted out.” Dumbledore said. “Why were you all up here?”

“It’s my fault,” Harry began. “I wasn’t at the feast, and I was on my way down when the troll-”

“Oh, of course.” Dumbledore mused. “I thought someone was missing. And you wouldn’t have heard Professor Quirrell’s warning, of course. Do explain how it was your fault that a troll got into Hogwarts, though. I’m sure it’ll be quite the tale…”

“Er, no,” the boy mumbled. “I didn’t let it in.”

“Well, it’s the only part of this you could be at fault over. Now, Twilight Sparkle. Why are you up here?”

Twilight looked down, feeling rotten. “…I panicked. Sorry. I know you said to stay in the Great Hall, and I could have told one of the professors, but… I just didn’t think.”

“I see.” Dumbledore looked over his glasses at her. “I understand from what you have told me of your past that you are used to handling emergencies yourself, but it is better to rely on the staff in situations like this.”

You didn’t make it in time!” Ron said suddenly.

Twilight shook her head at him, frustrated that people were making excuses for her. She knew how important it was to accept fault. “No, he’s right. If I’d told the teachers, they could have got here in time. They didn’t even know.”

“You ran all the way here.” Neville pointed out quietly. “And you can’t apparate in Hogwarts.”

“Please.” Her voice stilled them. “I appreciate you trying to find ways that I’m not to blame, but… I feel I’ve done something wrong, somehow. Maybe I’m wrong. But I still feel that way. I didn’t think – and that’s what I’m supposed to be good at.”

She sounded more bitter than she meant to.

After a moment, Flitwick excused himself and headed over to the troll, to try and remove it from the castle humanely.

Dumbledore stroked his beard, considering. “It is true that your assistance prevented a potential catastrophe, Twilight Sparkle. Perhaps this will suffice. You will be given a detention for leaving an area of safety during a crisis-” he held up his hand to quiet the other pupils, “and you will receive twenty points for successfully protecting your schoolmate. Does that seem acceptable?”

Twilight nodded jerkily, as the aftereffects of the adrenaline rush started to bite.

“Very well, then. Please report to Hagrid this Saturday evening, after dinner. I believe he has a number of tasks that may suit you.”

Once they got back to Gryffindor Tower, Twilight ignored the others and made straight for their room. Spike followed, concerned, and winced as she collapsed onto the bed.

“You alright, Twi?” he asked.

“No.” Twilight answered, a hitch in her voice. “That was… terrifying.

“But…” Spike waved a claw. “You’ve faced Discord! And Nightmare Moon! And… and… me!”

“Yeah.” Twilight shuddered. “But I was… I got there just in time. I can’t stop thinking about what might have happened if I was just a second later.” Spike noticed that she was breathing deeply and evenly, presumably to try to avoid panicking. “It… seems more real, when there’s just one person.”

“…alright.” Spike walked over to the growing stack of books Twilight had taken out of the library, sorted through it for a minute or so, and picked out a book on spell theory. “Just so you know, I probably won’t understand most of this, but it’ll do you good.”

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he flipped from the contents page to a chapter about enchanting. “Right. Uh… a number of forms of enchantment exist. The simplest, known as the Persistent Spell, is simply a magical charm or transfiguration that is temporary but long lived, such as the Cushioning Charm. Many forms of magical… uh… I don’t even know what that word is.”

Twilight giggled, and looked up. “Are you trying to read a book to me at bedtime?”

“Yeah.” Spike said, running his claw along the word. “But it’s not working. Hmm… male-ism?”

“Let me see.” Twilight peered over Spike’s shoulder. “Oh. Malison. It’s a really archaic way of saying curse.”

“Then why don’t they just say curse?” Spike asked, throwing his claws up. Twilight caught the book as it began to slide. “I mean, do they get points for using more obscure words?”

“You didn’t mind archaic,” Twilight pointed out.

Spike shook his head. “That’s a nice word. I like that word. Anyway, should I keep going?”

Twilight waved the book slightly, and he took it again. “Go ahead.”

“Right. Many forms of magical… malison… are simply long-lived… detrimental spells, hence meaning that they are an enchantment either on an object or a person. The more specific forms of enchantment include runic enchantments, where a spell formula is inscribed by way of runes that define an effect – such as were used in… antiquity, I think?” Twilight nodded. “And more modern arithmantic enchantments, where the spell is converted to a single diagram and mapped onto an object. Certain types of subtractive enchantment also exist, where an object with innate magical properties is refined by removing undesirable traits.”

Spike stopped. “I don’t think I can go much further, it gets into equations in another couple of sentences.”

“Thanks, though. I do feel better.” Twilight put a hoof on his shoulder for a moment. “Now, you’d better go clean your teeth.”

“Do I have to?” Spike asked. “I mean, they mentioned something about bringing some of the feast up here.”

“All right.” Twilight said. “Go on, then. Oh, what happened to your costume armour?”

“I took it off halfway up the stairs, it was getting in the way. I’ll get it tomorrow.” Spike answered, already half way to the door.

“Make sure you remember!” she called after him.

The final lesson the next day was an hour long Defence Against the Dark Arts session, which was inevitably focused on magical creatures. It turned out that Quirrell was in fact quite well qualified to handle trolls, though he admitted that he’d much prefer to handle them with the assistance of a number of other wizards.

As everyone was leaving, however, he raised his voice.

“E-excuse me? Miss S-Sparkle?”

Twilight turned, surprised. “Yes, Professor?”

“A w-word, if i-i-it’s not too m-much trouble,” he said, forcing the words through his stutter as normal.

She nodded, and stepped aside to let Dean and Lavender through. “Of course not. This is my last class of the day.”

“T-thank you.” He waited until everyone else had left, then closed the door and sat down. “Now, M-Miss Sparkle, I was w-wondering if you had n-noticed how strange that t-troll was.”

“Not really.” Twilight admitted. “I’m looking forward to Care of Magical Creatures, of course, but that’s third year-”

“N-not in that s-sense, M-Miss Sparkle. It all s-seemed very… convenient.” Twilight looked lost, and he elaborated. “Y-you are aware of the t-third-floor corridor?”

“Yes, Professor Dumbledore mentioned it.” Twilight nodded.

“I t-think that s-someone may be trying to s-steal what is concealed in the c-corridor.” At her surprise, he gave a tense smile. “H-Hogwarts has been called the s-safest p-place in Britain, though it m-may not seem like it a-after Halloween. D-D-Dumbledore asked for my h-help in p-protecting something.”

“Oh, okay…” Twilight frowned. “Wouldn’t that goblin bank… Gringotts?” Quirrell nodded an affirmative. “Wouldn’t that be a safer place?”

“P-possibly. But D-Dumbledore thinks differently.” Quirrell shrugged. “He is a g-great w-wizard.”

“I suppose…” Twilight said, troubled. “But what do you want me to do?”

“J-just let me know if you s-see anything s-suspicious,” the Defence professor said. He probably couldn’t be more specific, because almost anything might qualify

“Oh!” Twilight gasped. “I did see something when I was running up to try and find Harry. There was someone going into the third-floor corridor. I… didn’t think anything of it, really,” she finished, a little guiltily.

That wasn’t entirely true, after all. And hadn’t Percy said he saw someone on that floor? Who was it? She couldn’t remember…

“M-most troubling. I w-was with P-Professor K-Kettleburn, so it c-can’t have been him… if it w-was someone who w-was s-supposed to be here at all.” Quirrell looked grim.

“You think someone might have snuck in?” Twilight asked.

“I c-can’t rule it out.” Quirrell raised his hands, in a gesture Twilight was almost certain indicated his uncertainty over what to do.

Twilight nodded. “Alright, I’ll keep an eye out.”

“I c-can’t ask for m-more than that.” Quirrell got up, and opened the door. “T-thank you for your t-time, Miss S-Sparkle.”

“Alright, then, Hagrid,” Twilight said, as the last natural light of the second of November faded. “What are we doing? I don’t think I’ve ever actually had a detention before.”

“Well, I can’t speak for the Professors,” Hagrid replied, hefting a crossbow in one hand and holding the leash of his huge dog Fang in the other, “But I’ve always believed in practical work. See, I’ve got to go into the Forbidden Forest to patrol it anyway, and you may as well come along.”

“Er, okay.” Twilight cast a pair of light spells, one from her horn and the other a local lumos from her wand. “Does that help?”

“Well, if you aren’t a prize!” Hagrid chuckled. “Most people I have to ask to do that. Right, there’s only three of us, so we should stay in one group. Come on.”

Hagrid set off with great strides towards the forest perimeter, leaving Twilight having to do an awkward trot-canter to keep up.

“Is there a particular reason you have to patrol?” Twilight asked as they reached the trees, keeping her eyes on the ground to be sure she didn’t trip over branches or roots. “It must eat up a lot of time.”

“Well, kinda.” Hagrid admitted. “Normally I’d do it only a couple times a week, but recently there’s been somethin’ nasty in the forest at night.” He looked worried. “This isn’t takin’ time you need to do essays, is it?”

“Oh, no.” Twilight shook her head. “I made sure I was caught up with classwork. I’m going to start researching shield spells tomorrow. Did you say something nasty was in the forest?”

“Yeh. Somethin’s been killin’ unicorns,” the big man said grimly.

Twilight tripped, stumbled, and only Hagrid grabbing her across the back saved her from falling over. “Something’s been what?

“…oh. Sorry.” Hagrid winced. “Should have remembered. Sorry, I’m just used teh… never mind.”

Breathing fast, Twilight put her hooves back on firm ground, and Hagrid let go. “Killing unicorns? Something in here is killing unicorns?”

“Yeh. I don’t know what it is. At first I thought it could be a werewolf or summat, but there was an attack two weeks ago, and that weren’t a full moon.” Hagrid gestured with his crossbow. “Don’t worry, you’ll be all right with me and Fang.”

“…have you been taking other students on these trips?” Concentrating, Twilight formed a contingent shield spell – almost but not quite cast, so she could throw it up on reflex. It was magically costly, but she didn’t care right now.

“Well, yeah.” Hagrid said, puzzled.

“That’s… probably not safe.” Twilight felt proud of having restrained herself into merely calling it unsafe. “Right, we’re in here now, let’s get this done so I can go back inside.”

After several experiences in the Everfree forest, the idea of walking around where a potentially hostile creature might be was very upsetting.

Twilight jumped at every creak or animal noise, imagining everything from a hostile dragon to a cockatrice lurking in the darkness, but nothing materialized until, half an hour after they entered the forest, Hagrid pointed at some shimmering material in a clearing.

“That’s probably unicorn blood,” he said, grimly. “Nasty business.”

By the time they were in the clearing, Twilight was feeling faint. She took one look at the large, white animal stretched out on its side-



-and was noisily sick into a bush.

“You alright?” Hagrid said, crouching down. “An’ I thought horses couldn’t be sick…”

“No, I’m not alright.” Twilight said, through tears. “I… one of my best friends has a white coat. And my teacher – she’s even about the same size. I just saw… them. Not just…” She coughed, and spat to get the taste out of her mouth. “Urrrgh… ponies can, but it’s harder for the occasional pony who’s larger than normal. I didn’t study biology much, I don’t know why…”

“Huh.” Hagrid was silent for a moment. “Tell yeh what, just stay over there. I’ll keep an eye on yeh, and so will Fang. Mind passin’ me yer wand, so I can see what I’m doin, though?”

Twilight levitated the ash wand over, and Hagrid took it between two fingers.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be careful with it,” he added.

Twilight heard the rustling of undergrowth as Hagrid moved over to the dead unicorn. Don’t think about it, don’t think about it…

“Well, this isn’t good.” Hagrid said. “This poor mare has been dead a good couple of days… and nothing’s been eaten. Weren’t a predator, unless it was after blood.”

Gulping, Twilight worked up the confidence to ask a question. “Why hasn’t it been eaten by other predators?”

“Unicorns – well, the unicorns we have here – are pure creatures. Nothin’ will eat ‘em, pretty much. As for the blood, it’s supposed to be powerfully magic, but there’s a cost to it.” Hagrid said distractedly. “I don’t understand it myself. Never was interested in that sorta subject. Some sort of curse?”

“Right.” Twilight swallowed convulsively. “Can we go? I still feel a bit ill.”

Hagrid walked back over. “Yeh, alright. I’ll come back and pick ‘er up later. Fang! Home, boy.”

Fang turned and started pulling on the leash. Hagrid followed, and Twilight started moving after him. She picked up her wand from him a moment later, and started focusing on the ground again.

This has not been a fun week…

The next day, Twilight threw herself into research again. She started with the local version of shield spells, but after a while found herself wondering where a book mentioning the nature of unicorn blood could be found.

Doggedly sticking to shield spells, she managed to get the most basic one – protego, a shield bubble which could stop most low powered spells – working, before the temptation grew too much and she went after a book on uses of magical creatures.

It wasn’t encouraging. Unicorn blood was full of magic, enough that it could stabilize a creature which would otherwise be about to die – it could even reverse aging if taken in enough quantity – but the curse Hagrid mentioned was there all right. It doomed the subject to feel less and less enjoyment in life, because they had killed such a pure creature for such base reasons.

Twilight turned the pages with mounting disgust. Not only was this a repellent subject anyway, it wasn’t even a sensible way to go about extending life. She could see that much. Sheer magical overload would cause the natural magical production of the body to atrophy, and the user would become increasingly reliant on the magical substance – and after a while, if they stopped it would be fatal.

There was a small flash of fire next to her, and Peewee dropped out of the air to land on the table.

“Oh, hi, Peewee…” Twilight said. “Sorry, I’ve been feeling a bit off the last few days.”

Peewee chirped something disapproving, then started to sing.

It wasn’t very complex, as bird song went, but it was lovely to listen to. Twilight could feel her mood lifting.

“I see you’ve learned something new,” she said, as he finished. “Thanks. I needed that.”

The little phoenix chirruped self-importantly, and flew off as Madam Pince came to see what the noise was.

Author's Note:

Phew. That one took a bit of effort.

Poor Twilight. She's had quite the nasty few days...

And I have to admit, I like the image of Twilight charging through Hogwarts while wearing that Halloween costume...

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