HARRY POTTER AND THE CRUMPLE-HORNED SNORKACKS
Luna Lovegood glanced at her map. "This is it, Dad."
Luna and her father Joseph were standing in a spacious valley in the center of the Forbidden Forest, where they hoped to catch a glimpse of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack. Originally this trip had been to Sweden, but a sudden outbreak of Snorkack sightings had brought them here instead. The forest had been a challenge to sneak through, fraught with bloodthirsty centaurs looking for a wizard to kill.
Behind them came a tiptoeing Harry Potter, invited because the sale of his interview had made this trip possible, and his friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, whose tickets Harry had paid for.
"Look! That's them!" Luna yelped as three creatures stumped from the forest across the valley. They were hulking beasts, with enormous fists forcing their muscular arms to hang low. The creatures were shaped like up-scaled Neantherthals, although their ears protruded upwards into long horns that were bent at the top. Their faces were dominated by enormous mouths, with two beady eyes just above. Blue bristly fur covered most of their bodies. They didn't give their visitors a second glance...they merely began reaching to the tops of long, reddish-purple trees.
"They exist," breathed Hermione, eyes wide as tennis balls. Luna grinned triumphantly.
"Those are crimsome trees," she explained. "The Snorkacks depend on them."
As Harry watched, the Snorkacks ate the very wood of the branches. As they chewed, splintery cracks resounded across the valley, now full of hungry Snorkacks.
Ron, wonder-struck, opened his mouth to speak...however, a sudden deafening buzz drowned his comment out. Suddenly Harry felt Joseph Lovegood yank him back.
"WHAT...IS...THAT?" Harry shouted, trying to muster enough energy to overpower the roar.
Mr. Lovegood shook his head. "GET DOWN!"
Harry crouched behind a black-leafed bush just as over a dozen acromantulas crawled into the valley. Ron gasped.
In a stiff, orderly fashion, the desk-sized spiders proceeded to tear down crimsome trees with buzzing blades covering their lower legs. These were not your average acromantulas. Harry was surprised that creatures who lived in the forest were destroying it, but it suddenly made much more sense.
In the center of the valley had Apparated a Death Eater. Harry recognized the evil Walden Macnair, and he also recognized the way Macnair moved his wand. It was the Imperius Curse, and thus he was the one chopping down the trees, and he was of course doing the bidding of...
"Voldemort?" Harry shouted. Hermione nodded, clearly having reached the same conclusion.
The Snorkacks began to race around the valley, bashing acromantulas with cinderblock fists. Harry also noticed arrows flitting from the forest...Macnair's activities had alerted the centaurs.
Macnair Disapparated, and the remaining acromantulas suddenly stopped and scuttled back into the forest. The tense silence was broken by the unpleasant sound of arrows equipping bows not too far behind them.
"Stand up, all of you," ordered an unfriendly voice, "or the girls die."
* * *
"But it wasn't us!" Joseph Lovegood repeated to their centaur captors. "It was a Death Eater!"
"The Dark Lord cares not for trees," spat the leader, a slender black centaur named Scintero. "We centaurs do not tolerate such pathetic attempts at deception."
"But think!" Hermione cried desperately. "If Lord Voldemort destroys the crimsome trees, the Snorkacks will become extinct!"
"Why would he care for the obscure Snorkacks?" Scintero demanded.
"They're big and powerful!" Ron replied. "Imagine if they went up against Voldemort!"
"And if Voldemort had the only crimsome trees," added Harry, "the Snorkacks would have to join him!"
Scintero's harsh features suddenly softened into thoughtfulness. He studied them momentarily... then his sharp eyes turned to the cloudless skies.
"Unbind them," he ordered his subordinates. "And summon Hagrid."
* * *
The next day, all five of them and Scintero waited at the valley's edge for Hagrid. Soon the large man came lumbering through the Forbidden Forest, beard fraught with twigs and leaves.
"Hagrid!" Harry, Ron and Hermione cheered, rushing to embrace him.
"How are yeh?" Hagrid asked warmly, wrapping his big arms around them. "Good ter see yeh...but we gotta concentrate, eh, Scintero?"
Scintero nodded curtly and blew on a wooden whistle. Hagrid turned his head to the sky and gave a birdlike shriek. Scarcely a minute after they gave these signals, Macnair Apparated into the valley and the deafening buzz began.
There were hundreds of acromantulas today, many of them probably for defense. Macnair raised his wand and they began to rip down the crimsome trees.
The skies suddenly darkened angrily and dozens of thestrals flocked in to defend their forest. Harry could feel the rumbling of thousands of centaur hooves pounding on the forest floor.
The acromantulas presented a far more formidable presence today. "Guard acromantulas" flanked Macnair. The thestrals were fighting a losing battle...it took them dangerously long to kill a single acromantula, and usually that was enough time for another acromantula to attack.
Suddenly Aragog, a free acromantula the size of a house, smashed through the treeline and reluctantly began killing his possessed brothers and sisters. His eight eyes were contorted with a frightfully powerful rage. Macnair looked fearful, but Mr. Lovegood managed to cast the Disapparus Hex, which prevented Disapparating. Macnair's only choice was to continue the assault.
Twenty spiders had launched themselves onto Aragog, who, failing at calling them to their senses, had no choice but to eat them. Ron vomited. Harry suddenly noticed that Macnair's guard now consisted of two arrow-riddled acromantulas, and that no one had seemed to notice. Harry leaped into the valley, pointed his wand and bellowed, "Stupefy!"
Macnair suddenly froze, his face a mask of pale terror. His skyward-pointed hand dropped his wand, and his curse was instantly obliterated.
The acromantulas stopped moving, then marched into a line and followed a sobbing Aragog back into the forest. Scintero began a tearful body count, and Hagrid recalled the thestrals, then turned to Mr. Lovegood.
"Go get Dumbledore," he said, observing the mournfully furious centaurs and disgruntled Snorkacks. "Tell 'im we've made some new friends."