The Sugar Quill
Author: Cendrillon (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Forest of Death  Chapter: Default
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Untitled Document The cold gray charred remains of the Forbidden Forest stood in dark contrast to its surroundings. This forest which had once been so wild and full of life that it was off limits to students was now forbidden for another reason entirely. It had become a cursed place, a place of death and despair. Rules were no longer necessary to keep the students out. The forest's own tragic history kept out everything and everyone.

Everyone, that is, except Harry. And now it was up to Ron to find him. Ron hesitated only moments before following his son into the forest. Harry had taken after his late namesake and had the same curiosity and thirst for adventure. So he barely paused that afternoon before chasing after Crookshanks. The cat had run into the forest for no apparent reason when they were returning from a visit to Hogwarts.

"Harry!" Ron shouted repeatedly through the mist, looking frantically through the blackened trees for his son.

There was a low throbbing cry that sprang up from the trees in the distance. Ron's heart flew up into his throat. "HARRY!" Ron screamed as he plunged into the heart of the forest. "Crookshanks, you bloody cat," Ron cursed, "you won't be living another twenty years when I get my hands on you."

"Dad, I'm right here," Harry said calmly. Ron whirled around to see his son rolling his eyes and struggling to hold onto a very cranky Crookshanks.

"Thank Merlin you're alright. Don't you ever chase after that stupid cat again!" Ron reproached as he hugged his eight-year-old son.

"Dad, I'm fine," said Harry exasperated.

"But what was that noise?"

"Oh, that was just the bird Crookshanks was chasing."

"What bird? That's impossible, nothing lives here anymore."

"Dad, it's sitting right there," Harry said pointing to the area he had just emerged from. "Come on, I'll show you,"

Ron followed his son into a small clearing. Nesting in a thicket, there was indeed a bird - a thin, ugly greenish-black bird.

Ron suddenly felt a cold shiver through his body as he recognized the bird.

"Dad, what is it?"

"Harry, let's get out of this place," Ron said quickly, taking his son's hand.

"But what was that bird, Dad?"

"An Augurey, some call it an Irish Phoenix." Ron knew that the Augurey sang before rain, but his heart couldn't help but remember, particularly in this place, the other thing their cry was said to foretell - death.

"Dad, why doesn't anything live here? Why is it forbidden?"

"When your Mum and I went to school here, the forest was forbidden because there were all sorts of magical creatures that lived here - centaurs, unicorns, thestrals, giant spiders…"

"Spiders? Yuck!" Harry said with disgust as he crinkled his nose. Ron smiled, at least there was something he shared with his son other than his red hair.

"So, in our fifth year at Hogwarts, the centaurs turned against wizards and wouldn't let any humans in the forest."

"But if the forest was forbidden, no one would go in anyway, right?"

Ron grinned as he continued, "Well, rules never stopped your Uncle Harry, and neither did the centaurs. He and your Mum went into the forest-"

"Mum broke the rules?!" Harry asked with astonishment.

Ron laughed. "Yes, your mother was known to break the rules once in awhile too. But don't ever tell her I told you that," Ron added, seriously afraid of what Hermione would do to him if she found out about this conversation.

"Anyways, they led one of our teachers, a horrible old woman, into the forest and she was kidnapped by the centaurs. She was rescued safely later, but that started the war between the Ministry and the forest. You see, You-Know-Who had just returned to power and everyone was afraid. He had taken control of the Dementors from Azkaban and there was speculation that they were hiding in the Forbidden Forest. To make matters worse, the Ministry thought You-Know-Who would make allies of the creatures in the forest. The Ministry decided to take immediate action, even though they had no proof," Ron said somberly. "And they won, if you can call it a victory. They burned down the forest and everything in it."

"But what about all of the animals?" Harry said in a worried voice while hugging Crookshanks more tightly in his arms.

Ron hesitated, wondering if his son was old enough to know the whole tragic story. History had long taught him though that the truth was usually best. Finally Ron continued bitterly, "The animals died, every last one of them, the Ministry made sure of that. There were a lot of innocent creatures who died here, a lot of rare and endangered creatures that will never be seen again. That's why nothing lives here anymore, Harry. There's death in the air."

"Wait, Dad, what about that bird? It was living here in the forest."

"Well, yes, but…" Ron was about to explain why an Augurey might be the only animal that would visit the Forbidden Forest when he started to feel cold wet drops on his head. "So it really does predict rain," Ron muttered to himself with wonder.

Then out of the corner of his eye, Ron saw something moving through the trees in the distance. He blinked, it couldn't possibly be. Ron squinted his eyes to see farther through the sheets of rain that were now coming down. It was a large animal, one that he thought he might never see again - it was a stag.

"What is it, Dad?" Harry asked anxiously.

Ron looked at his son with amazement and a sense of hope that he hadn't felt since his best friend was killed. Here was the very spirit of Harry Potter himself in his own son and he had never truly appreciated it until this moment. Ron smiled and answered, "Maybe some things never die after all."

//
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