"EH?! You want me to go to Ponyville to help restore their library to proper standards?" said Moonlight. Princess Celestia had shown up a few hours ago to speak to Twilight about something, but had cornered Moonlight shortly after.
"None of the ponies in Ponyville can handle that sort of workload, plus it will give you a chance to interact with others. You haven't been the most social pony of late," Celestia said.
Actually it had been a concern of Shield and Rain that Moonlight spent too much time training and could use time off. Ponyville was their first choice, because that was where Rain lived before he moved in with Shield.
Hence why Celestia was sending her, not Twilight.
"I suppose it's alright. I do need a break. What sort of budget am I looking at, and are there any specifics I need to know about the town itself?"
"The book budget is roughly 100,000 bits. Considering how many use it, I felt a bit generous," said Celestia. That and she knew her younger sister would be showing up very soon indeed, and wanted her student to feel comfortable.
"As for the specifics, the librarian in charge might have some ponies over, so be sure to add a few bedroom for others to stay."
"When do I leave?"
"In a week. That gives you enough time to prepare and warn your mother you're going to be gone a while," said Celestia.
"Any idea who the librarian will be?"
"I was planning on sending Twilight there... She needs to make some friends, and I'm worried she has burned too many bridges here," said Celestia.
"Got it. To be honest I think she needs a change of pace too. Studying constantly is good and all, but she needs to have a social life in the meantime."
Hermione had been just as bad until the troll incident. If Moonlight hadn't heard about it before the feast, she might have been in the Great Hall when the news was set out.
As it was, several teachers managed to get there before the troll found them, though it was terrifying being near that thing.
Moonlight was still up in the air as to whether that had been a set up.
"You're leaving?" said Velvet.
"Princess Celestia said that the ponies in charge of such things were busy, so she wanted to give me something to do other than train. Apparently the library is in disrepair so the Mayor asked for help from the Princess. It will only be a few months, and I'll have Hedwig send letters every week. She needs exercise anyway," said Moonlight calmly, eating her pancakes.
Hedwig hooted indignantly from her perch. Moonlight would swear that her beloved owl and mother had teamed up to conspire against her.
Twilight Velvet was mothering, but thankfully wasn't as bad as Mrs. Weasley. That was a headache she never needed. Then again Shining had said something to her a week in about giving her some space, as Moonlight wasn't exactly used to having parents.
"You promise to write every week?" said Night Light.
"I'll tell you all about the ponies I meet and what I've done," promised Moonlight.
"I suppose I can let this go. Are Sirius and Remus going with you?"
"Remus is. He'll help me update the library catalog once I get the building itself in proper repair."
Unlike Sirius, Remus had gotten a job in the Canterlot library. He wasn't that comfortable fighting, and preferred the scholarly route. To his relief, his werewolf side had yet to act up, even during full moons.
A change of species seemed to do him a great deal of good. Though the strangeness of his cutie mark did warrant some interest at first.
Moonlight was very close to panicking when she first entered the house of the pony who agreed to let her stay there while she renovated the library for the town. Rarity was a very...pushy...pony on par with Hermione in homework mode, but that was tempered by her generosity.
Of course Moonlight still paid her for the outfit she came up with, as she rather liked it. Rarity had a real eye for color and form.
That was the main reason why she was going to enlist the unicorn's help when it came time to paint the library itself. Not to paint of course, but to pick the colors and where the furniture would go.
Now if only she could get over the near heart attack Pinkie Pie had nearly caused with her surprise party!
The second she spotted the apple topped cupcakes she honed in on them like Hermione would a rare book.
"Glad to see someone appreciates mah apples," said a voice behind her.
It was an orange Earth pony with a stetson hat and blonde hair. Her eyes were as green as the ones Moonlight used to have before her metamorphamagi ability managed to break through whatever glamour Dumbledore had put on her to make her look like a combination of James and Lily. She had three red apples on her flank.
"I've always have a love of apples, particularly the green kind. My name is Moonlight Sparkle."
"Applejack," said the Earth pony, holding out her hoof. Moonlight shook it without hesitation.
"So what exactly does everypony do here?" asked Moonlight.
"Well Rarity runs the clothing salon and is always giving out free consults when asked. Rainbow over here runs the weather, so you might want to check with her if you aren't sure of the forecast. Fluttershy is the one people go to for a pet or for health concerns, she's a part time veterinarian in the hospital. And Pinkie...well, nopony is sure what she does, but she helps out at Cupcake Corner with the Cakes and is the primary party planner in Ponyville. I'm the one ponies go to for most of the foods, particularly apples," said Applejack.
"I might just become your best customer. Good quality apples are hard to find in Canterlot for some reason," said Moonlight. Applejack shared her grin.
Moonlight looked at the recently refurbished library with a critical eye. So far the repairs had gone smoothly, including the rather minor additions that no one asked about.
Then again the library had originally been a one bedroom home inside a tree. Moonlight didn't want to harm the original structure seeing as how it was built around the tree to begin with.
Needless to say expansion-spells and some subtle spellwork were involved. Including a portal spell that linked doors to rooms that were built linked to the tree, but weren't actually built into the tree itself.
She had to get specialists from Canterlot for that one. Even Celestia was rather interested in the idea.
Today she was cataloging every book in the library that had been removed. Remus was going to help her by checking off which book was there and what wasn't, whether it had been checked out or not.
It took them two days to get through what was there and what wasn't, and if it had been damaged or ruined beyond repair. So far only three needed to be replaced because of damages, and four had been destroyed in accidents. Two were still being borrowed, but were brought to Moonlight so she could check their condition.
Since the construction was pretty much done, she started on the ordering part. But first she had some research to conduct.
Moonlight went to each house and shop and asked the ponies there what they would like to read. Some were similar enough that she was able to put a check next to it indicating more than one pony wanted to read what subject. Others she had to write down as they were different.
Rarity wanted some new design books to work with, Applejack wanted more farming tips, Pinkie wanted books on pranks and jokes, Rainbow wanted more action-adventure, and Fluttershy wanted some new books on recently discovered animals...the list went on!
It took her a week to come up with a list of books, and a day to narrow it down to fit the budget Celestia had given her. Since the library was a central part of the town, she had been given free reign over repairs within reason. This included repairs to the books already there.
Finally she had a decent list of books to order, and had managed to stay within budget. A week later the books came in and she was able to get them organized.
"I'm actually going to miss this place," said Moonlight.
"You're leaving?" said Pinkie disappointed.
"From what Celestia said, there's a good chance I'll be coming back anyway. My twin sister is a bit of a bookworm who doesn't socialize, and Princess Celestia said that Twilight might be coming here for a change of scenery," said Moonlight.
"You have a sister?"
"Identical twin sister," said Moonlight.
"That sounds like a lot of fun! You could switch places and everything!" said Pinkie.
"Yeah, but we're still getting used to each other. Because of something that happened when we were really little, I was separated from my sister for a long time," said Moonlight, shelving another book.
"That sounds really lonely," said Pinkie.
"It was. But since I found my family again it's gotten a lot better!" said Moonlight cheerfully.
The good bye party was held in the library, and was being held for two reasons. One was a celebration for the recently renovated library, the other was to say goodbye to Moonlight for a while.
The filly had quickly become friends with most of the town, having gone to each and every pony, old and young, to fit their needs. She had taken the rejuvenation of the library seriously and had even fixed several books that most had deemed a lost cause at that point.
Rainbow was already raving about the fiction books Moonlight had added for her.
The fact Moonlight hinted that next time she would be there to stay with her twin sister was the only reason most of them weren't sad.
"Welcome back. I've already heard good things about your trip to Ponyville," said Princess Celestia.
"Libraries were always safe havens for me. Besides, whenever I'm given a task I want to do it right."
"The Mayor was very impressed with the new library... she said you went to each and ever pony and asked what they wanted in it."
"They're the ones who are going to be borrowing from the library the most. Why not ask what they want first instead of filling it with random books?"
"You understand others better than Twilight does," said Celestia.
Twilight might have restored the library to peak condition, but she wouldn't have tried to get to know what the townspeople wanted.
Celestia actually felt relieved after hearing the report her analyst had given her on Moonlight's actions in Ponyville. The idea that Moonlight would become a Princess in a few years no longer worried her as much as it had when she learned of the filly's sparring sessions.
She had feared that the girl was still preparing for a war she no longer had any part in. clearly that fear was misplaced.
Moonlight was taking her usual run outside the borders of Canterlot when she heard something odd in the distance. It was similar to the sound that was heard when Remus showed up that she grew concerned.
Then there was something that had her heart almost stop cold. The sound of phoenix song was right next to the thunder.
In the palace, Philomena was going ballistic. The intruder had shown up again!
Moonlight didn't hesitate. If Fawkes truly was here, then they could drag her back to that nightmare world and she'd never see her family again. She bolted for the gates, which were a decent distance away.
Fawkes appeared above her with a cry. Dumbledore had ordered him to return Dawn to their world, after he figured out she had left theirs.
She was scant feet from the edge of the wards (which would alert the guard something was very wrong once she passed through it) when she heard a snide voice behind her.
"Going somewhere Potter?"
It was Ron and Ginny.
Ron had always been under the mistaken impression that once they graduated Dawn would become his wife. This wasn't helped by the fact that Molly insisted that they made an adorable couple whenever they were within earshot.
Anyone with half a brain could tell that Dawn, now Moonlight, barely tolerated his presence and was always disgusted by his eating habits.
Ginny always acted like her best friend, but Moonlight had barely tolerated her presence. She preferred Percy to those two. She paused and stood her ground.
"What do you two thieves want?" she demanded. She had not been happy to hear about the betrothal contract Dumbledore had set up between her and Ron.
"We're here to take you back, Potter. You're going to kill Voldemort," sneered Ron. His guise of being her friend had fallen off, now he was acting like the Slytherin he should have been.
"I am never going back!" shouted Moonlight. She could vaguely hear the Royal Guards coming, but if they might be too late. She had to stall for time.
Ron's sneer widened as he used his magic to pull her away from the wards. She used hers to anchor her body to the most solid thing she could find, which happened to be a tree.
Ginny put her power into his, and they began to pull her towards a portal that had appeared behind them. Thanks to the fact her magic was alread up and running, she could sense the spells waiting for her on the other side.
Spells of binding and enforced loyalty. There was no way she was going near that portal now. She started to edge closer to the opening, with Ron and Ginny already past the barrier. Hearing the cry of alarm from the guards, she put extra effort into her anchor spell. Her back hoof touched the edge of the portal, and for a scant second she feared that would be dragged away from her home. Her family.
She sent out a 'ping' of magic to find Twilight, hoping to use their bond to keep herself in Equestria long enough for someone to end the spell dragging her back.
Instead her mind went blank the second her magic touched Twilight's, and she felt herself teleport to her sister.
She crashed into the shelves, shivering at how close she had come to being forced to live in a world she hated.
"Moonlight, what in Equestria...?" exclaimed Twilight. The second she realized her twin was shivering from fear, she dropped her book and went to her sister.
Feeling Twilight's hooves around her neck helped a little with the fear, but the shivering still hadn't abated.
"Twilly, Moonlight's..." shouted Shining, when he realized Moonlight was with Twilight.
It took several days before Moonlight was able tell Celestia why the wards had been tripped. When the Princess heard what they had attempted to do, she was furious.
So in response to this new threat, she extended the wards. It took Philomena nearly a week before her anger abated.