Harry sighed as he looked about the Great Hall. It was already being set up for the Yule Ball that night. And to be honest it was looking more and more like it would not be just a simple ball for everyone to have fun and relax. But rather a large social event which some families outside the school, like the Malfoys and the Bones would also be attending. Something that was making Harry hate this idea more, as it meant he could not just slip out unless he got lucky, though he was going to do it anyway.
As such the Great Hall went from five large tables set up to hold the school and Professors during meal times to what looked to be a room three times its former size, containing a great many small round tables, with a large dancing area off to the side. At the head of the hall was a large table set up for the guests and people of honor, as well as their dates if they had one. The Champions and Judges would be sitting up there, making sure they got a lot of spotlight.
Harry glared up at the stand, "They are going to get it for forcing me to partake in this. Just because I am a Champion does not mean I don't have free will."
"Oh give up, Harry! You have been annoyed at this for long enough," Hermione said, walking up to him.
"You know I don't like to go back on my word, even if they only want me there to keep up Hogwarts' image," Harry said semi-annoyed.
"Sure, and that is why you found such a nice set of clothes to wear for you and Dash," Hermione said chuckling, using Rainbow's new nickname for while she was in human form.
"I didn't really have that much of a choice, McGonagall would have killed me had I not done so, or for that matter brought her naked. Not that Dash would have cared," Harry pointed out.
Hermione rolled her eyes and led Harry back towards the guest wing where she was going to be helping Rainbow get ready for the Ball. Like the other guests for the Yule Ball she'd been given a room there.
Harry was happy that they got the room as Rainbow did not like her new need for clothes and much preferred walking around naked. That had led to more than one embarrassing situation for Harry; Night and Luna had enough blackmail to last a lifetime. He could only imagine the trouble she would have caused had she been living in the Gryffindor tower, let alone the headache that would have followed. Luckily she had always remembered to wear clothes when going out.
And after the fifth time of Harry walking in on her when she was not wearing anything, Twilight and Applejack decided to stay with her to make sure she kept her clothes on at all times. None of the other students or guests had seen her yet, and while this was a good thing they also knew they would not be able to keep her lack of magical skills hidden for long.
That did not mean she was helpless, in the unlikely case that a fight would break out. In less than a day she had gotten the hang of walking, jogging and running around, and by the end of the next three, she was able to dance and fight almost normally. It had surprised everyone just how well Rainbow could actually dance, making Night wonder out loud if Rainbow had not been some sort of human in disguise in Equestria to begin with. Which had earned Night a pillow to the face from an annoyed Rainbow.
As for Harry's current behavior though, Hermione was very sure she could place it down to stress. After all, it takes just as much, or even more, courage to face down a crowd full of people judging how you dance and act, versus trying to grab something and run from a dragon. Not to mention Hermione was also sure he was hoping to impress both Night and Rainbow with how he could dance and act during the Ball. It was rather silly to be honest, but not something overly surprising.
As they finally reached the guest room, they heard a loud bang then some yelling. Harry blinked and quickly opened the door and looked in on what had to have been a battle of some sort. On one side of the room lay Applejack glaring over at something the door was still hiding. She was currently tied up with her own rope, with her hat covering her mouth keeping her from yelling. Harry opened the door the rest of the way and saw Rainbow in a blue sleeping robe, reading a book on a nearby couch, looking very, very pleased with herself, but also annoyed.
Hermione looked at the scene and sighed, "Okay, what happened?"
Luna and Night, Harry's guards for the day, appeared and could not help but wonder the same thing as they untied Applejack who quickly put her hat back on and trotted out of the room, all while glaring at Rainbow.
"Dash, what happened?" Harry asked, walking over to the pony turned human.
Rainbow kept reading her book, but did not reply right away till Harry took and closed it with a sharp snap. She sighed and looked up, "Yes?"
"What happened?" Harry asked again.
"We… we had a fight," Rainbow said, looking away.
"About?" Harry asked.
"Well… it kind of goes back a long way, but, well, we have been competing about who is the better pony for a long time. Since I became human Applejack has been beginning to wonder if I started losing edge a little bit. I know she is only worried over me and I tried not caring too much about it. In the end it turned into a yelling match, and then I challenged her to a small competition, her versus me to prove I could more than take care of myself," Rainbow explained.
"So that is why she was tied up then," Harry said.
"Yep, I said when she was ready to admit she was wrong I would untie her, but well… yeah. I did not mean to make her mad, but she had gotten me rather angry as well," Rainbow said, sighing and looking a little down.
Harry nodded in understanding, "Are you going to go and say sorry to her? Or even try and talk this out?"
"Well… yeah," Rainbow said before getting up to go after Applejack.
Harry nodded as Rainbow left the room to make up with her friend. He turned back to his other friends, "Well, that was interesting. Hermione, I am going to head back to the dorm rooms and get dressed. I'll come back to get the both of you in about an hour."
Hermione nodded as Harry left the room, Luna and Night following him as they turned invisible again.
It did not take long before Harry was ready and dressed in some rather fancy robes for the Ball; he still had a while to go before he was to return to pick up Hermione and Rainbow. Looking around the room, he noticed Ron was also ready to go, but in terrible dress robes. Deciding a game of chess would not be too bad of a way to spend time, he sat down and soon was taking on Ron in a game. After losing in a rather vicious battle on the chess field, he checked his watch and noticed there was only a little time left before he had to leave. Deciding at this point it would not really matter if he waited any longer, he got up and left after thanking Ron for the game.
Harry quickly headed back to the guest wing. After knocking and receiving a 'come in' from Hermione, he opened the door and was met with a nice sight. Unlike the male dress robes which were basically nice suits or tuxes, the female dress robes were actual dresses and a lot more revealing. Though Harry would be among the many males denying ever wondering what was underneath them. He valued his life after all.
The first person he saw was Hermione with her hair up in a tight bun, wearing a long and pink dress that showed off her figure, pointing out she was truly turning into a lovely young lady. Unlike normal though, her hair was straight and there were small hints of make-up. She looked very lovely, and Harry was sure her date for the night would be a very happy man.
Harry then looked at Rainbow Dash and blushed a little bit at seeing her for the first time in the dress Hermione had helped her and him choose. Unlike Hermione though, she let her hair hang down, letting it reach nearly the middle of her back. She was currently wearing a rather simple dress that was dark blue in color. She was wearing no makeup, but her reddish eyes more than stood out. Her hair had lost most of its vibrant colors and was now a much lighter shade of its former rainbow-colored self. She looked slightly annoyed, but that might have been because of the fact she was in formal wear.
"You are both very beautiful," Harry said.
Rainbow blushed at this and turned away, hiding her smile some, "Thanks."
Hermione smiled as well, "Yes, thank you."
Harry smiled and gave both of them a kiss on the cheek before taking Rainbow's hand in his, "So, you both ready for a night of dancing, and dealing with people?"
"Yep, though maybe not the dealing with people," Rainbow said with a small frown.
"Now, Dash, we all have to put on a show, not just you," Harry said as he led the small group out of the room.
While making small talk as they navigated their way down to the main doors outside the Great Hall, Harry could sense Night and Luna making a small mental connection with him. This was done with all the others in the group, as this night it would be the only way to keep track of Harry, Hermione and Dash in the large mass of people when the dancing began.
When they reached the Great Hall's doors, even though they were early, a large crowd had already gathered. Some people were already with their dates, while others were still waiting for theirs, though most were by this point just waiting to get into the Great Hall so the Yule Ball could begin. The other Champions had already arrived and were waiting with Professor McGonagall by the doors.
Professor McGonagall looked up and smiled, seeing Harry show up nice and early with his date. And with Hermione, Krum's date, the Champions and their dates were complete now. Looking around, she quickly checked her list to make sure the champions now had their date. Fleur was talking to Roger Davies, or trying to at least, clearly a mismatch for the part-Veela. And Cedric was talking to Cho Chang. So if they all had their dates, she could now open the doors to the Great Hall. She quickly directed them in, telling them where they would be seated. Harry nodded and led the other Champions and their dates up to the main table before sitting down and looking about the room as it rapidly began to fill with people.
To say it looked the same as earlier when he had looked into the room would be dead wrong. The light level in the room was different and the walls had been covered with fine silk drapes and wall coverings. Each one was made to show one of the three different schools symbols. There were a hundred or so small round tables around the room, covered with purple table cloths and with eight chairs around each of them. On the table in place of the normal dishes were fine china dishes. The only thing that looked like it had not been changed was the cups. Lastly, the open area that had been made for dancing had a small stage added to it, upon which a few instruments were already playing background music. Overall, it set a very, very different feel to it, even to the point that Harry was not completely sure this was the same room anymore.
Harry then looked at his own table. It looked to be the same one that was normally there, but longer than usual. Sitting at it currently were the Judges and the Champions with their dates, with the Judges on one side and the Champions on the other. Finally though, as everyone was seated, Dumbledore stood up and the room fell quiet.
"Students, dear guests, Champions, and fellow schools, I am pleased to welcome you to the Yule Ball!" Dumbledore said, getting some polite clapping.
"Now, before we enjoy the fine meal that will soon be before us, I would like to let you know that, as a gift to the many couples here tonight, Professor Flitwick and Professor Sprout have set up a lovely garden for you to visit and walk through, or sit and rest in if the dancing becomes too much. It is located outside and to the left of the Entrance Hall," Dumbledore said, causing some murmuring at this little surprise.
Dumbledore then spoke up again, "Now please enjoy the feast!"
With this said, Dumbledore sat down and rolls of parchment appeared in front of everyone. Harry picked his up and unrolled it some, before realizing it was a menu. But this left him wondering how they would be getting what they wanted to eat from the menu. He looked down the table at Dumbledore, who touched a spot on the menu and spoke the name of one of the food items. His plate vanished only to return a second later with the food he asked for.
Harry took this as what he should do as well to get what he wanted to eat. Rainbow was looking rather taken aback about what to order. Sure, she could read, but she had no idea which of the options contained meat. She had tried meat once, but she hadn't liked the taste at all and after that the smell alone already made her queasy. Luckily, Harry quickly came to her aid through the bond and suggested a few items she could pick.
Rainbow's food appeared, and people around the Great Hall began eating and talking. Up at the main table Harry only listened with half an ear to the conversations around him, concentrating on his food for now, not really caring to talk just yet with anyone not in the bond. Rainbow was the same way, but she was listening in a little closer. Then Dumbledore turned and spoke to Harry.
"So Harry, you never cared to explain where your date is from, or her name for that matter," Dumbledore said, causing much of the table to quiet down as they tried to listen in.
"Her name is Diane, Diane Revese, she is a Muggle student at the school I went to before I started to come here," Harry explained, before adding, "I thought Professor McGonagall already told you."
At this though, the table fell completely silent as Barty Crouch spoke up, "What in the world is a Muggle doing here?"
Harry glared at Crouch, "Calm down. She knew about magic well before I came here, so you cannot blame her or me for her knowing about it. This is because I was running from someone at the time trying to get away, she happened to be with me at the time and well, I teleported very close to my house with her. We could never figure out quite what had happened, but we could only guess it was magic, which was then later confirmed."
"And you never told anyone about this?" Crouch said rather angry.
"Tell me why I should have! Betray my friend, have her memory wiped, just because your rules forbid any Muggle to know about this world outside the families of the Muggleborn? No, I did not want to hurt her that way, besides," Harry turned and smiled and gave Rainbow a kiss on the cheek, "who would believe her?"
Crouch looked ready to explode and tell Harry off for his rather upstart attitude about the rules, before Dumbledore spoke, "It is quite okay, Barty. It was well before Harry or even Diane could have known fully about our world and its rules. Besides if they intend to remain together, even if you wipe her mind now, Harry will likely just tell her again."
Harry nodded in agreement, "That I would, I don't keep many secrets from my closest friends."
"So Diane, what classes do you take at your school?" Dumbledore asked.
"Well, besides the normal classes, which I find rather dull, I have taken up running and martial arts. I plan to become a professional when I get older if I can," Rainbow said.
"That is possible in the Muggle world?" Fleur asked surprised.
"It is just like any other professional sport. And with how the world is changing, looks to be paying really well," Rainbow said, leaning forward a little bit to look over at Fleur.
"How good?" Krum asked.
"Well, about a hundred thousand a year for some of the better ones, the best earn a lot more," Rainbow said, thinking what the conversion would be from Pounds to Galleons.
"That much!" Ludo said in surprise.
"That is more than I earn in a year," Krum said, catching quite a few by surprise.
"Well if I remember correctly, the British have a multimillion-pound industry involved in sports, the Americans' on the other hand ranges almost into the hundreds of millions," Rainbow said, listing off the facts that Hermione had helped her work out.
"That is… amazing," Fleur said.
"Well… seeing how old-fashioned your world seems to be, your world could reach this point sometime in the future," Rainbow said.
"So sports are that big," Ludo said thoughtfully.
"Before you think that's big, you should look at Fashion and Electronics," Harry said.
"Just how big are they then?" Ludo asked.
"Fashion has always been big and is pushing into the multibillion-pound range and Electronics, while still in its early stages and having a lot of room for improvement, is already looking to be in trillion pound range in less than ten or so years," Harry explained.
"Trillion," Fleur said in surprise, she like many knew the Muggles had a good amount of money in some locations, just not this much.
"Yep, what rumors I have heard say we could talk face to face across the world by computer, send mass amounts of data, show live news anywhere in the world, even travel to Mars and back, though that is still at least ten to twenty years off," Harry said.
"So amazing," Fleur said rather surprised.
"Please, we have been doing stuff like that with magic for a while. Well, other than traveling to Mars," Fleur's date said.
"Yes, all of which involve big and rather bulky devices to do so. The things Harry is talking about would be completely portable," Hermione explained, "In many ways; the Muggle world is ages more advanced than the magical world. Yes, it took longer than the magical world, but they have more than caught up and have now surpassed many of the magical world's greatest achievements outside those things like the rumored Elixir of Life. And that is in just normal things."
"Surely you joke. I had to take the Knight Bus once and saw them standing there in their cars while we were zipping past. Even if they invented cars, we easily improved them. If anyone wanted to, I'm sure we already would have been on the Moon too. Whatever they do, we easily surpass them."
"Not in war," Hermione said simply.
"War?" Crouch said confused.
"The Muggle armies… they are dangerous beyond anything even any magical group could handle. With enough power to wipe Hogwarts, wards and other defenses, clean off the map with one device," Hermione explained.
"Surely you must be joking," Ludo said.
"Joking?" Harry said, looking around the group with expression that caused a hush, "I wish I could say she was joking about this. Most don't realize just how dangerous the Muggles have become in this world. Realize all the bombs dropped the entirety of the World War Two don't even equal the fire power that one bomb now holds. Instead of destroying cities the biggest weapons are made to wipe out multiple cities if fired, or even a small country. To be honest I almost wish the Muggles had come into the war between Voldemort's forces and your own. They would have ended that war quickly, and killed the enemy forces in seconds."
"That's a little harsh," Rainbow said.
Harry nodded, looking a little saddened at this thought, before speaking, "Yes… but from what I understand it was very much kill or be killed at that point. Plus if you look at the death toll Voldemort's followers were raising it wouldn't have been surprising if powerful weapons would've been used against them if the Muggles had joined."
The older wizards and witches at the table nodded in agreement. Dumbledore spoke though, changing the mood, "Yes, but those times are over and now it is time to improve our world and ways of life. For example, this tournament, while it has not gone perfectly, is a step towards our kind working together again."
Harry nodded, "Yes, besides, we are not at war with the Muggle world. If anything, we should try and start making better contact with them. Slowly bring our world and theirs back together. If we could, then we could bring about a world so connected and safe that we could truly begin working towards the stars."
Crouch rolled his eyes, while many of the others at the table nodded in agreement at this idea. True it was a long shot, and more of a crazy dream. But that did not mean one could not help but hope for something this crazy and good for the world. Even if it would take more than one speech to get them to that point.
"Well if you ever want to try that, look me up," Ludo said.
"Oh, why?" Harry asked.
"While I'm not the biggest person in the Ministry, I do have some possible ideas that might help you with that idea to get it going," Ludo explained.
"It would also mean that it would not be wrong or hard for a wizard and Muggle to be together," Rainbow said, smiling.
"That it would," Hermione said, giving Rainbow a small wink.
But at this point they began to split off into more quiet thoughts and discussions. Rainbow smiled, more than happy to let this happen, as while she normally like to be the center of attention, too much attention could start having people realize that she was not who she seemed. Harry smiled and let Rainbow keep her silence for now. They could talk later when it would be less likely for someone to overhear them.
Finally though, the time came for them to stop eating, and for the Champions to open the Ball. Harry nervously led Rainbow out onto the dance floor. Not because he thought he could not dance, but more because he was afraid of messing up and making a fool of himself and Rainbow. But hopefully the hard work they had put into dance practice would pay off.
Soon the music began and the four Champions and their dates began moving around the dance floor in nearly perfect sync with the music and each other. Rainbow smiled as they moved about the floor. It nearly felt like she was flying again, even if she was stuck on the ground.
Harry smiled, seeing Rainbow looking so happy. He was not quite sure why, but he was not about to ruin her mood with questions. As they danced he noticed that others were beginning to join them on the dance floor. Soon much of the hall was filled with dancing people.
"Thanks, Harry," Rainbow said as they moved about, dancing on the floor.
"Oh, what for?" Harry asked.
"Just showing me a good time and being a good dancer," Rainbow said, smiling.
"I would not try to do any less for anyone else," Harry pointed out.
"Maybe, but it is still nice," Rainbow said, leaning over as they danced to kiss his cheek.
Harry smiled and blushed a little bit at this, "Well then, you're welcome."
They slowly kept dancing through the different songs. It was not until the fifth song that they moved off the main dance floor to the side tables to get some refreshments and take a small breather. Hermione was standing at one of the tables, so they made their way over to her. As they got close they could see she was looking rather happy with herself.
"Well, enjoying the party it seems," Rainbow said teasingly as they got within talking distance.
Hermione nodded, "Yes, I am having a good time dancing and spending time with Krum. He is a lot different than he makes himself out to be."
Rainbow smiled, "Oh, do you like him now?"
"What? No, I don't like him like that, but I am enjoying being his date to the Ball," Hermione said, quickly defending herself.
Rainbow just giggled to herself. Seeing this, Harry spoke, "Oh calm down, Dash, no need to tease Hermione. If she falls in love with someone then let her and praise her; don't tease her… too much."
"Harry, don't encourage her," Hermione said, sounding a little annoyed at his willingness to tease her.
"I am not encouraging her, just telling her to not push the limits too much," Harry said, giving Rainbow a small wink.
Hermione just rolled her eyes as Krum came back carrying two drinks. Noticing Hermione's two friends, he greeted them, "Oh, hello, Mr. Potter, Miss Revese. Enjoying the night?"
"Why yes we are, thank you for asking. And just call us Harry, and Dash," Rainbow said.
"Dash? I thought your name was Diane," Krum said a little confused.
"It's my nickname. I kind of earned it because I was always running about as a kid," Rainbow said, faking a small blush.
"Ah, I see," Krum said in understanding.
"Yes," Harry said smiling, "So are you enjoying the night so far?"
"Yes, though the night is still very young," Krum pointed out.
"Yes, that it is," Harry said, before being hit with a rather sudden thought, "Dash, would you care to join me in a look at this garden outside, and see what they have set up?"
Rainbow tilted her head; she was not really into gardening as that wasn't really considered cool. Besides, with her living in a cloud house, growing plants was an even more unlikely hobby for her. But she guessed it might be something worth seeing.
"I think it would be a good idea to at least see it once," Krum said.
"Oh, why's that?" Rainbow asked.
"Well, I am not into gardens myself, but from what I saw of it on the way up here it is truly a sight to behold," Krum said.
"Well, if you say so, then I guess we'll have a look," Rainbow said smiling.
"Okay, I guess we'll see you two later," Harry said, before leading the way off to the garden.
Rainbow followed, holding Harry's hand as they walked out of the Great Hall and then out of the Entrance Hall to the garden that had been set up just outside. To be honest, it was huge, and had a very magical feel to it, even for a place like Hogwarts. The air for one was just slightly warm, with fairy lights twinkling over the whole area. A faint glow also covered the entire area, setting a romantic mood over it all. In the air hung the scent of flowers that seemed to slowly change from one kind to the next.
"Well, he was right, this truly is a sight," Rainbow said, staring out over the garden. There were some large hedges that made a set of paths through the whole thing, while also blocking the view so they could not see the entire garden from where they were currently standing.
"So you want to enter and look about a little bit?" Harry asked.
"Yes, I think I would like that," Rainbow said, smiling.
Harry nodded as they moved forward into the large garden. Above them, hidden from view, was Night. She had decided that she would keep an eye on them while they were outside. She had told Luna not to worry, but to enjoy the music while it was still calm. Or better yet, to get some stargazing in while she still had a chance to look at them in this world.
While walking through the garden and talking with Rainbow, Harry looked happy and content with life for once. He even admitted he was glad he ended up coming to the Ball, even though he was forced to. Rainbow agreed, particularly happy because of the time they could spend with each other.
But then Night noticed there were a few other people making their way along the same path towards Harry and Rainbow, and not ones that would be kind enough to behave themselves either, she was sure. Her warning over the link came too late and when Harry and Rainbow rounded the next bend, they came face to face with Draco Malfoy and his normal Wizard thugs Crabbe and Goyle. Harry stopped in his tracks, seeing they had their wands out and were sending a spell out every now and again to destroy something of the garden.
"Well Potter, it seems we meet again, and look, it is your… girlfriend," Draco said, though it seemed like he wanted to use something else in place of girlfriend.
"Hello Draco, would you mind letting us pass, I don't feel like dealing with you right now," Harry said.
Draco shook his head as Crabbe and Goyle flanked him, making it impossible to move by them, "I don't think I want to do that."
Harry just sighed, he really did not want to fight nor deal with these three right now, just when the night was going so good, "Fine, come Dash, we'll find another way."
But before Harry or Dash could even turn around a spell flew by them from Draco's wand, "Now now, neither of you are leaving. You see, Potter, you did something most terrible and brought a Muggle into this school. And now we are going to punish you and her for this."
Harry was about to reply when Rainbow spoke up, "Punish… what have we done wrong that you think you have any right to cause us harm?"
"You're a Muggle. That's all the reason I need. Besides, with all this cover no one will be able to see you," Draco said, taking a few steps forward.
But before he could even begin his next spell, Rainbow moved forward and spun around, her leg connecting with Draco's head, sending him hard into one of the hedges. She then lunged forward and caught both Crabbe and Goyle hard in the chest, bringing them down hard into the ground, knocking the wind right out of them. She then stood up and smirked, looking at Harry then at Draco.
"Next time you think to try something, don't give me a chance to react, you will pay dearly for it," Rainbow said, before walking back over to Harry.
Draco groaned as he pulled himself out of the hedge, his dress robes looking a good deal worse off than before. He then turned and glared at Harry and Rainbow, yelling, "How dare you attack me, a Pureblood! I'm going to make you pay!"
But before he could even point his wand at the pair of them, Rainbow was moving forward and hit his arm hard, causing him to drop his wand in pain before she punched his stomach just as hard, causing him to lose his breath. She then spun and sent him hard into the hedge again. Rainbow then motioned Harry over.
As they began walking away Rainbow called back one time, "I said don't give me a chance to respond."
Draco could only groan as he tried to stand, but his wand had been knocked away from him, so any chance of him attacking them again was rather slim till he found it. He would make the girl pay one way or another when he got a chance. He knew he could not tell his dad about this. After all, if anyone ever found out about this, it would be a huge mark of shame on the Malfoy family name, not to mention his own for many days to come. No, this was something he would do secretly, so no one would ever realize what happened. Little did he know that the five of them were not the only people to witness what just had happened.
As Harry and Rainbow rounded the corner of the hedges Harry could not help but chuckle a little bit, "Well, when you said you knew how to fight, I did not think it would be anything like that."
Rainbow smiled, looking rather proud, "Well, a Pony has to know how to defend herself."
"Even in a world as safe as your own?" Harry asked.
"Even our world has dangers, though none nearly as scary as yours are," Rainbow said as they walked on.
"Yes, I can kind of imagine," Harry said. They soon came across a bench and sat down.
"Yes, thankfully the world is a lot calmer than when Luna was still young," Night said, appearing near them.
Harry smiled at her, "It's nice to see you. Are you enjoying the night as well?"
"Yes I am, it was also pretty nice watching Rainbow deal with those fools," Night said, before walking over and nuzzling Harry's shoulder.
"What are you doing out here?" Harry asked, giving her a small hug.
"Oh, just keeping an eye on you two," Night said, stepping back.
"Yes, I know, but here, in the open?" Harry pointed out.
"Fine, I am a little bored just watching you two," Night admitted.
"Was Luna not with you?" Harry asked.
"I said I could keep an eye on you two all by myself, so she could spend some time stargazing, though she might still be watching," Night said.
Rainbow smiled, though she felt like someone was putting a knife through her heart as she watched Night get a hug from Harry. She knew that Night had only shown up to say hi, though her motives did not seem like she was just bored. Rainbow felt a question enter her mind and she could not get rid of it, she just needed to know the answer.
"Harry?" Rainbow said, her voice a little more flat-toned than before.
"Yes?" Harry asked, looking over at Rainbow, noticing the sudden change in mood.
"Who… who do you like more, me or Night?" Rainbow said.
"I, well," Harry shifted a little bit not sure how to answer that.
He knew he loved Night dearly, more than he had ever loved any other person or pony, but as he looked at Rainbow he could not help but acknowledge that the same love was forming for her. Sure she was not Night, but he still could feel love for her, and by her question she loved him as well. Each of the ponies was grabbing his heart in one way or another and he knew that at least Luna might return those feelings. But, even if he left her out, how could he just pick between Night and Rainbow as choosing one would hurt the other?
Night remained quiet, annoyed at Rainbow for forcing Harry's hand like that. But she could not lay all the blame on the pony turned human. Her own appearance had probably pushed Rainbow to this. Night could sense Harry's thoughts racing as he tried to make up his mind. Night too considered their options, before sighing to herself, maybe it wouldn't be so bad for Harry to have a second marefriend. So for the second time since meeting Harry she put a thought into his mind.
Harry didn't notice Night slip the idea into his head, but the moment it did enter his mind he stopped moving and focused on that one idea. It was the answer, or at least a possible one. But it would take a good deal of effort on his part to make it work, and even more from the others. Taking a few calming breaths, he looked at Night then Rainbow and smiled a little.
"Harry?" Rainbow said, putting her hand on Harry's own, her heart hammering in her chest, her stomach feeling filled with lead by now, "You… you don't have to tell us."
Harry shook his head, "No… I should, because to be honest, I have made a choice."
"So, who then?" Rainbow asked, trying to prepare herself mentally for what could be the biggest loss of her life, and possibly ruin what was left of her night.
"Well… I love each one of you ponies," Harry said, much to Rainbow's surprise and confusion, but just like Night had expected.
"That is not an answer," Night pointed out.
"Yes it is, because I am not going to choose one; I choose all of you rather than just one. Even if that should mean being with all five of you," Harry said, "I will have it no other way, unless you all ask me not to."
"But how, that's not possible! We cannot share our lives with more than one pony," Rainbow said.
"Well, actually, yes we can," Harry said, before explaining, "Do you not have friends or family that you love all equally and yet spend time with, without fighting over who means more? Or for that matter, who is closer to your heart? For me it's the same. I love you Rainbow, but I also love Luna and Night equally, and I don't want to be without any of you ever."
Rainbow blinked in surprise, while Night laughed a little to herself at this. Harry had basically tried to apply the concept of sharing toys between kids, or having a lot of friends to that of a harem. It was not that he loved them any less; he loved them all equally and could never choose just one of them.
"So… you love all of us… even Twilight and AJ?" Rainbow asked, her mind still trying to process what she was hearing.
"To be honest, yes, that's what I'm saying. But I know that cannot always be the case. Some people want to keep their lover to themselves, and if that is what you both want, I will stay with just the two of you. Or if you really want, just one of you," Harry said, looking at the ground.
"Harry, what about the others' love for you?" Night asked.
"Luna is still unsure of her own love for me, I have noticed that much. and I'm not sure if Twilight or Applejack even like me that way, let alone love me," Harry said, sighing a little bit.
"Well, either way I am willing to let them join if they are willing to try," Night said, before looking at Rainbow, "what about you, dear?"
Rainbow blinked, "I… I don't know, I need time to think about this."
Harry nodded before giving Rainbow a hug and a small kiss on the cheek, "I understand, just remember, no matter what happens, we'll always be friends even if we aren't lovers."
Rainbow smiled and nodded, her worry was fading. Sure, this was not what she had wanted, but then again, no one ever got everything they wanted. Looking at Harry, she could not help but want him all to herself. But… but she could not bring herself to deny Night his love, let alone the others if it came down to it.
"Harry," Rainbow said, speaking again after a few minutes as they sat on the bench in the growing quiet of the night.
"Yes?" Harry said.
"I am willing to give this a try, but on two conditions," Rainbow said.
"What would those be?" Harry asked.
"First, I am the first mare you're going to marry, and second, you kiss me right now," Rainbow said, blushing.
Night nearly laughed at this, but was able to contain herself. This was what she had hoped and wished for in some way, as while she did not admit it, she wanted Harry and herself to have people that cared about the both of them on that level. And as Harry leaned over and kissed Rainbow she could not help but think of the craziness and headaches this would soon cause in Equestria for those Nobles that had been bugging Luna since her return, as they had been trying to get her to marry, like they had Celestia, though still completely unsuccessfully.
As Harry pulled back from the kiss he pulled something out of his pocket. It was a small box. He opened it, revealing a rather interesting necklace . It was a five-pointed star with the cutie mark of each of the five ponies at the corners and blank in the middle.
"What's this?" Rainbow asked in surprise, noticing her cutie mark was at the top.
Harry then pulled out a second one. It was the same, except with Night's own cutie mark at the top. He looked at them, smiling, "Well this is your Christmas present. I was waiting to give them out till tomorrow when we'd all be together again without all the hubbub of the Ball, but I'm going to give yours tonight already."
Harry then carefully placed each of the necklaces on their new owners as he spoke again, "These were to represent this time and the fun we had here, as well as those memories and ones to come. But now, maybe they can help us remember our love for each other instead. The empty space is for my cutie mark when we discover it."
Rainbow blinked, staring at the pendant on the necklace in shock. Harry wanted them always to remember this time. A few tears began flowing from her eyes and she pulled Harry into a deep hug, much to Harry's joy.
As Rainbow held him close, she whispered into his ear, "I love you."
Harry smiled as he returned the hug, and Night joined in, "I love you too, the both of you."
It was sometime later that the three of them made their way back to the castle. Luna who had been watching the whole thing from a castle window could not help but smile to herself. Harry was amazing in so many ways, and had just proved it again. She told Night that it would be best to avoid the Great Hall as the music group "The Weird Sisters" were now performing and the music was grating at best. As such, Night and her group made their way towards Rainbow's bedroom where they would be spending the night, just enjoying each other's company.
Luna decided that rather than heading to sleep already, she could spend some time thinking and collecting her thoughts. Today had been a long day, and tomorrow was looking to be longer. As such she made her way to the top of the highest tower in Hogwarts and began stargazing. It was one of her favorite places to be before she had returned to Equestria.
As Luna looked at the stars twinkling high above her, she could not help it as her smile turned to a small frown as it reminded her of her own loss of control over some of her abilities since her return. Luna had long ago been the Princess of the Night, like her sister had been Princess of the Day. But now this wasn't true anymore. While she had enough magical power to rival Celestia in a test of strength, as did Night, she lacked some elements of control over the Night to hold that title: The power over Dreams and over the stars.
Luna had never really noticed the loss of these two powers before, for a few reasons. The biggest being that she still could communicate with Night through thought. And the other being the amount of time she spent trying to find a way back to Harry and Night, rather than focused on what should have been her normal night time duties. The last being Celestia wanting her to take a little time getting used to the world before she really took up her duties again. And it was not until she was reading up on what little history they had on the events that led up to her being sealed into the Moon, did she stumble across this fact.
What had caught Luna's attention was that the legend stated that it would be the stars that would aid in her escape. But she knew that the stars did not move around just randomly, nor had she controlled them while she'd been sealed in the Moon as much of her and Night's magical might had been sealed off from them, leaving them as weak as a normal Unicorn. Which had meant, unlike what Luna had thought, it was not Celestia's spell ending that had brought them back, but rather something else entirely.
It worried Luna as whatever or whoever controlled the stars seemed to possess a great deal of magical power as well. Because, not only had Night and herself been pulled from one world and into the next fully, but Celestia had been trapped in some sort of magical three-sided pyramid cage. And without Celestia around to help them get Harry, they'd had to come up with a new plan, the one she had told Twilight about.
Very very few creatures had the power to take on an Alicorn and win. She tried to list off the known ponies in that category who could have even close to that amount of power, both past and present, but she knew it was likely a lost cause without more clues. Still, as it was she continued, but a few minutes into this her thoughts were interrupted as she heard another pony climb the stairs.
Luna turned and saw Twilight come out onto the top of the tower. She looked at Luna and smiled, "Sorry, did I disturb you?"
"No, not at all. I was just looking at the stars. Care to join me?" Luna asked.
"Sure, Applejack said she wanted to talk with me in a little while, but it would be nice to have some company while I wait for her," Twilight said, walking over and lying down by Luna.
Together they looked at the sky for a good while before Luna finally broke the silence with a long sigh. She couldn't figure out what had caused the events of their release. The whole situation with Night and her return was just too confusing to figure out, without some solid information behind what had happened. It did not help that Luna and Night had to make a hasty plan to return to Harry, so anything they could have checked to give them clues had been lost in their haste.
Twilight, hearing the sigh, looked over at Luna and asked, "What's wrong?"
"Well, it is something that has been bugging me for a while, but till recently I never had a lot of time to put much thought into it," Luna said.
"Is this about that problem you're going to be telling us about tomorrow?" Twilight asked.
"No, this is something different. You see, I am no longer as I once was, since I am now just the Princess of the Moon" Luna said.
"I'm a little confused, what do you mean by that?" Twilight asked.
"Well, I can control the Moon as you know very well, but since Night and I split I have lost some of my powers over the night. Night got the ability to control dreams and wields it better now than I once did. But I also lost the ability to control the stars," Luna explained.
"But who would now have that power then?" Twilight asked.
"That is what I am wondering myself. I did not even realize I had lost control of the stars till I had read the prophecy and thought to check," Luna said.
"And nothing happened," Twilight said, finishing the statement.
"Yes, nothing happened," Luna said, looking up at the sky again, "I am slightly worried. If my powers over the Night were split up into three main parts, and if two of them were placed into Night and myself, then there might be anther pony that was created to house the final power, and a very powerful pony at that."
"Why do you think powerful," Twilight asked.
Luna looked up at the stars before explaining what had happened on their return trip. This filled in a lot of the blanks in the information Twilight had about that night's events. Why Celestia vanished without a trace or fight, and why Night's plan was flawed at best. Twilight then began to carefully put all the details together as she had time to think about it all. Still, some small details were needed.
"Luna… may I ask, how did Night come into being? Was she made by the Elements or was she always there?" Twilight asked.
Luna sighed, looking away, "I did many things before I turned fully against Celestia. Some of it was dark magic, and not all of it worked. Night was made during one of those failed tests. I was trying to make someone that I could spend time with. I did succeed but the spell made the spirit inside of me rather than making another pony. I never realized the spell had worked till I was sealed on the Moon and she first appeared."
"And she fed of your hate," Twilight said.
Luna nodded, "Yes, that was why she was so mean when she first came into being."
Twilight nodded, thinking about this new information. But it was still not enough. After all, Night nor Luna had met any other creature on the Moon, so it was unlikely that the power was with another creature made that night. She very much doubted that Harry had the power over the stars, let alone that he would use it to send his two closest friends away. Then there was Celestia, who had been the one to banish them, but like Harry there was no proof or signs that she had gained that power. This left Night, who could still have the power, but not likely as with Luna why would she tear herself and Luna away from Harry.
So, with the main list of possible people or ponies not being of use, Twilight switched tactics, to focus on the event itself and what happened. She knew that Celestia had been forced to banish Luna to the Moon, using the Elements of Harmony. It was at this point Twilight stopped to smash her head into the tower's stone floor, much to Luna's surprise and concern. It was so simple even Pinkie Pie could figure it out. For that matter, Pinkie would have probably pointed it out to begin with.
"Are you okay, Twilight?" Luna asked, looking at Twilight as she sat back up.
"Yes, I'm fine, just feeling a little like an idiot at the moment," Twilight said.
"Why is that?" Luna asked.
"Because I realized your powers weren't taken by any pony, but rather by something, powerful magical objects to be precise," Twilight said.
"The Elements of Harmony," Luna said.
"Yes, of course this is just guesswork still. But if they took your power over the stars as a means to keep you sealed on the Moon, and then later used it to force your return to the world, it would explain a few things," Twilight pointed out.
"That still leaves us with the question of why they did not return my power over the stars," Luna said.
"Well, if they stole your power when they were last used, that might mean that when I used them with my friends, we gave the power back. Though it is likely that Night now holds the power since she was the target of the magic," Twilight pointed out.
"It would make sense, but what happens if you are wrong and she does not have the power?" Luna asked.
"What makes you think she doesn't?" Twilight asked.
"When she used the magic of the Elements you unwittingly provided her, she created a wormhole or portal to disappear back to this world. Rather interesting, using sheer magical force to do what you want, but the magic never actually affected her in any noticeable way. But there are six ponies that have been affected by the Elements recently as you know," Luna said.
"My friends and I," Twilight said, realizing where Luna was going with this line of thinking.
"It is possible that one of you now holds the power to control the stars. And if I was to make a guess as to which one of you is actually the holder of the power, it would be you Twilight," Luna said.
"Why me?" Twilight asked.
"Your cutie mark, Celestia told me once it stood for magic, yet it could also mean control over the stars," Luna explained.
"That is a little bit of a stretch," Twilight pointed out.
"Yes I know, but realize our cutie marks may not always mean just one thing. Yours after all stands for the magic you wish to learn, but could also represent the Elements of Harmony, or your five friends which you did not know till recently," Luna said.
Twilight nodded in understanding, "I get what you mean."
"There is only a few ways to check for sure if you do indeed now control the stars," Luna said.
"What are those?" Twilight asked.
"The first would be to simply check once we get back to our homeworld. The second would be to see if your total magical reserves have increased. The last, but least likely, would be if you were to become an Alicorn," Luna explained.
"Well, my control over my magic has gone down since I used the Elements of Harmony. If I got a sudden growth of power it would make sense that my control got worse. Though why would I become an Alicorn?" Twilight asked.
"Alicorns hold a great deal of magical power. This is because they are able to control things most normal ponies would find impossible to even try. Raising and lowering the Moon and Sun used to take hundreds of Unicorns to do, now my sister and I raise them by ourselves. It is why we are not sure if Harry will become an Alicorn as it is hard to tell just how much magical power is needed to become an Alicorn," Luna said.
"So if I do control the stars I would become an Alicorn," Twilight said.
"Maybe, just realize we are still playing a guessing game," Luna said.
"True," Twilight said, before they fell silent, but then about two minutes later Twilight spoke again, "I hope I don't have those powers."
"What, why not?" Luna asked, a little hurt.
"Well, if what you say is true, then… I might become an Alicorn and I'd really rather not," Twilight said.
"What is wrong with being an Alicorn?" Luna asked a little confused, though she could guess.
"Your life span," Twilight said.
Luna nodded and looked over to the castle grounds, "I understand, all too well actually."
"How many?" Twilight asked.
"Twelve friends, and unless I am lucky a close loved one," Luna said, closing her eyes taking a few breaths forcing those thoughts down.
"And I would lose my own friends. I am not sure what I would do if I had to watch each one of them grow old and die, while I remained young. It would…" Twilight said but was not able to finish speaking.
"Be the worst," Luna finished, "Though, that does not mean you cannot try and keep them alive forever."
"How… I did not think that was possible," Twilight said.
"Well there are a few ways, and many, many crazy ideas that Night has come up with," Luna said chuckling, "As it is don't worry too much about it okay. After all this is still guess work."
Twilight nodded as she thought about what they had been talking about as she heard the sound of hooves coming up the stairs. Twilight got up and walked over to welcome Applejack as she came into view, carrying a few flowers, probably from the garden. Luna smiled seeing this. It seemed that love was forming between more than just a few today.
Luna bid them both a good night, before leaving for Rainbow's room where Harry and the others were sleeping. She had some explaining to do tomorrow, and with what Night had decided it was going to be in more ways than one.