Twilight stared at Moonlight/Dawn. Dawn/Moonlight stared at Twilight. Spike was on the side with the other guys watching this exchange with interest. The staring contest had been going on for nearly five minutes.
Finally Twilight blinked.
"Ha! I win!" said Dawn.
"What just happened?" asked Spike.
"Boredom and Marauders don't mix. Even if they are adopted. And Dawn really hates being stuck in hospitals, so she got bored rather quickly," stated Sirius.
"So what was with the 'Ha, I win' thing?" asked Shining. To be honest it was rather funny.
"Dawn sometimes gets into random staring contests...and always wins. The current record holder is Hedwig, and that's because she figured out what Dawn was doing first. Twilight here just happens to be in second place...most ponies can't handle five minutes without blinking," explained Sirius.
"Whatever it is, that was hilarious!" said Spike.
Dawn suddenly focused on him...and hissed. Spike blinked, before he said something Twilight didn't understand back.
"What the heck is that?" asked Shining.
"Parseltongue. Snake language. No idea where she got it, but Dawn can talk to snakes and certain species of dragons."
"Whatever it is, it's weird," said Twilight flatly. She dealt with Spike's snoring on a nightly basis. She could handle snake language...so long as none came near her.
"You don't like snakes do you?" asked Dawn.
"They're okay, but I can't stand spiders...talk about annoying."
"So what sort of books do you like?"
"Astronomy, astrology, mythology and magic. You?"
And with that, the two just clicked, over a love of star-gazing and books. Shining was actually rather relieved, since it meant the two would at least try to bond.
Dawn's last visitor before being released was Princess Celestia.
"Hello Moonlight Sparkle. Or should I call you Dawn?"
"Moonlight is fine miss," said Moonlight. To be honest she wasn't a morning person, and she loved the moon. She once considered becoming a Wiccan because one of the things they worshiped was the moon.
Too bad Petunia hated anything considered abnormal and kept destroying the books. She finally got a set, but it was a real pain trying to learn the old ways from the other students with Ron and Hermione hanging off her all the time.
Eventually she had to give up until she had the time to do it without them around. Maybe here she could actually convert to Wicca.
Celestia made some small talk before she left, having gotten a good idea of the filly's character. Moonlight knew that the Princess was just making sure she could trust the filly with her apprentice.
Just because Moonlight was her twin didn't mean that she wouldn't harm Twilight.
When Twilight Velvet saw her missing daughter, she started bawling and put the girl in a death grip of a hug.
Twilight would have been jealous...had Moonlight not had words like "Help!" "NEED AIR!" "Seriously, help please!" floating above her head.
"Mom, I think Moonlight needs to breath again sometime," said Shining carefully, trying not to laugh at the messages Moonlight had above her head. Even Night Light found it amusing.
Once Velvet got over Moonlight's return, she finally got to see the shared room with Twilight.
In order to keep the peace between sisters, Moonlight put a simple translation spell on the books she bought and let Twilight read them first.
It was pretty clear to her that Twilight was Equestria's version of Hermione Granger, or close to it.
Twilight and Spike didn't notice that Moonlight had cast several silencing charms around her bed.
Moonlight's first stop in Canterlot wasn't the library, or the school she would attend in a few weeks once she got used to her home, but to visit Sirius and Shining.
Sirius, once his role in Moonlight's return had been explained to Velvet and Night Light, had been adopted by the family as a surrogate uncle.
Now if only he could reign in his pet dog Padfoot...
"Moony!" said Shining. Sirius let out a bark of laughter when he heard the nickname.
"Shining, you might want to try another nickname for me..." said Moonlight embarrassed. Every time she heard the name Moony she immediately searched for Remus.
Sirius snickered, but went on his way.
"So how did you get mom to agree to let you out?" asked Shining while he took her on a tour of the Guard.
"Told her I was visiting you. It was that or go stir crazy from being locked in the house for hours. And I don't want her to find out I have means to escape the second floor just yet," said Moonlight easily.
"How do you plan to do that?"
"I brought my Firebolt with me, and I've flown in pony form before. Difficult, but quite doable."
Shining snickered. Sirius had mentioned Moonlight loved to fly and that in the other world they did so on brooms. He noticed when Moonlight took an interest in the hoof-to-hoof combat area.
"You like to fight?"
"Hard to do in small areas. A nice old pony in Surrey said that if I had to run to avoid my so called cousin, then I needed to learn how to fight back. According to him I'm a Brown belt fighting wise, but I rarely got a chance to actually use it."
"If you want, I can see if some of the older guards would teach you more. Good fighters who don't lose their head in a fight are hard to come by."
"It would be a nice break from my magic studies," said Moonlight.
Velvet and Twilight were determined to get her up to speed magic wise, so she could join Twilight in school. Fortunately for Moonlight, aside from some control issues she had little trouble using magic like a unicorn.
This was mostly due to the fact that ever since she figured out that there was a reason her magic felt...wrong, for lack of a better word...when she used her wand, she just went through the motions and cast without casting it, unless the effect needed to be seen from the wand's tip.
Boy had her teachers been surprised when they figured out she was a natural at wandless magic. Only a select few knew, and Dumbledore wasn't one of them.
Shining chuckled again. Twilight's compulsive need to go to school and do homework even on break was by now legendary in Canterlot to those who knew who she was.
"Has Twilight stopped reading those books you let her borrow?"
"Apparently they were so fascinating that...Mom...had to order her to put them down to eat. She kept bumping into things outside the house!"
Shining was about to reply when a sudden crack of thunder was heard. One they had heard nearly two months ago.
Moonlight raced with Shining (outpacing him, to his shock) to find a tawny haired pony with a howling wolf with a moon in the background laying unconscious on the ground. Beside him was a book bag, frayed at the edges.
He groaned once before remaining silent.
"Moony!" said Moonlight, racing to his side.
"You know him?" asked Shining.
"Left him a note before we left. He must have either found the same spell I did or he found a way to follow us!"
A week later...and much teasing on the part of Sirius and Moonlight when they heard Dr. Practice clucking like a mother hen at Remus for overusing his core so badly...they got an answer.
Apparently he had used the same spell to find them, because Home in Remus' mind was living with the Marauders and his cub.
He had also brought the scroll with him, and covered up their tracks, seeing as how he knew Moonlight and Sirius well enough for them not to want to come back.
Aside from learning that he was now a werewolf animagus and in full control of Moony (no humans and having Celestia around=no more fearing for his wolf side) he actually liked being a horse.
Moonlight was staring at her flank with some confusion. About an hour ago while she was researching some spells that might have been labeled dark, she noticed her back shining slightly.
When she left the library she found a mark on her flank.
"I wonder what this means?"
"It means you have found your cutie mark. I suppose it took a while for your magic to realize that you're home," spoke a by now familiar voice.
"Princess Celestia," said Moonlight, bowing briefly. Unlike the other ponies, Moonlight preferred to treat her as if she were Buckbeak. With respect, but not so much that she was on the ground like practically every other pony tended to do.
From what she could tell, Princess Celestia preferred her way to seeing every pony nearly parallel to the ground.
"Wait, you mean like the marks on practically everypony in Canterlot except the young ones? I wonder what mine means?"
Moonlight's cutie mark was a circle lined by stars. Inside the lines there were two scenes. One was the setting sun with a sun shining bright. in the center of the round part. The other was a rising sun with a full moon shining bright in the round half. It looked like a familiar symbol, one that currently escaped her.
"I must admit, that cutie mark is very unique. I have never seen one like that in all my time as Princess. I will be watching with interest to see what you make of it, Moonlight Sparkle," said Celestia.
"You and me both," said Moonlight.
It took exactly a day for her to remember what that symbol was...of course Twilight helped because she happened to be reading about Tai Chi at the moment.
"I don't believe it... I have a yin/yang symbol on my flank! No wonder it looked so familiar!" said Moonlight.
"Yin/yang?" said Velvet.
"Twilight, can I borrow that book for a moment?" asked Moonlight.
Moonlight flipped through the pages to find a familiar symbol.
"This is a yin/yang circle. It symbolizes balance in all things. In order for light to exist, darkness must also be present. For darkness to thrive, light must exist within it. Together they represent balance and harmony in all things," said Moonlight.
"So what's with your cutie mark?" asked Twilight.
"The setting and rising sun, with the sun and moon in the wrong scene. I can only guess that the setting sun is darkness, the rising one is light. And the two satellites are reverse to represent the light and darkness in opposite form."
"It's rather...unique..." said Velvet.
"I ran into Princess Celestia and she said the exact same thing. Personally I would rather have one like Twilight's...at least hers is easier to understand," said Moonlight.
Moonlight deliberately withheld the part where Celestia said she would be watching her with interest. She didn't want her sister to be jealous because of her getting even more attention than she already was.
She had enough of that nonsense with Ron and Hermione last year.
Moonlight blocked the older Guard with her back hoof and parried with the front. He chuckled a little.
"I have trained many ponies, Miss Sparkle, but you are by far the most interesting. Not many would consider twisting themselves up to block before they parried," said Shield.
"I had a good instructor and a very good reason to learn. Power is meant to protect and help others, not to lord over and harm them. Especially when it comes to magic," said Moonlight, panting.
Now that she was at a proper body weight (and no longer had to stomach disgusting potions) she had started to put on some muscle on her bones.
It was very obvious to everypony that Moonlight was the fastest thing on hooves, having outpaced even the Wonder Bolts while they flew. It was only a little bit ahead of them, but the fact she beat them in a race spoke volumes about her speed.
Then there was the fact she was learning martial arts from the older guard ponies who had retired. They were pleased with such an enthusiastic student, especially since she already had prior training so they could skip most of the basics.
She showed up once a week, more if she could manage it. Usually she could, since the school work wasn't nearly as trying as the ones Hogwarts gave out.
Then again, according to Remus that was because she was using the wrong sort of magic to begin with. Something he had noted when he showed her the Patronus charm.
Moonlight still had no idea who that alicorn in the armor was.
"Take a five minute breather, and then we can do forms practice."
Shield went to chat with his old friends while Moonlight took a break.
"She has to be the most enthusiastic filly I've ever met. She soaks up lessons like a dry sponge in water," he chuckled.
"Her cutie mark is curious. According to her it represents a balance of opposites," said Rain Dancer. He was a pegasus pony who took great interest in Moonlight's maneuvers while on a broom.
He was rather eager to see how she would handle real wings, having heard from a friend that there was a spell to give unicorns fake wings for a small amount of time.
"According to her, she prefers physical exercise when her brains full of too many thoughts. A smart practice," chuckled Shield.
"She takes instruction rather well. At the rate she's going she'll be a black belt before next Hearth's Warming," said Rain.
"I can't wait to see how strong she becomes once she started to learn how to use magic with her strikes," said Shield eagerly. That happened to be his specialty, and one of the reasons Shining Armor had asked him to teach his sister. Very few ponies could manage that sort of concentration while fighting. It was the reason he had been a former Captain of the guard many years ago before an injury forced him to retire.
"Break's over! Time for form practice!"
"Yes sir!" said Moonlight eagerly. She loved forms practice. She tended to try them every time she went to bed because it cut down on the nightmares.
As she followed his soft instructions, she thought back on her nightmares.
Sirius and Remus knew she had them, her voice had been loud enough back on Earth for everyone to know about them. At least here she was able to put a silencing charm without anypony knowing about them.
Out of everyone in the house, only Spike knew and that was because he had woken up one night to get a drink of water. He had agreed not to talk about it with Twilight or their mother because she had asked him not to.
About the only good thing this time was that she had something to squeeze to death in the middle of them. Shining had made her a rather patchy looking owl for her to cuddle with in place of the unicorn one he had made Twilight when she was a filly.
Considering how well it had stayed together, despite being made of patchwork, it was good work. Especially since Shining really didn't have the talent for it.
Even if she did have to mend Smarty Pants a little because the strings had started to come loose.
"I think that's enough for today. You've progressed rather well for a filly," said Shield.
"Thank you sir," said Moonlight. She enjoyed this sort of practice. She had always felt so disjointed when she did it as a human.