The Sugar Quill
Author: Chocolate Frog Card  Story: Recovering  Chapter: Default
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            Albus Dumbledore hummed quietly to himself as he walked resolutely towards the Forbidden Forest. His outward demeanor had all the signs of a content man who was living the last years of his life in peace, but anyone who knew him would not describe his life as peaceful. Albus suddenly stopped walking. There was no one here watching…no students that depended on him and no colleagues that relied on him for strength. For a moment, the real Albus was visible as he sighed quietly and stroked his long white beard with a shaking hand. Realizing that he still had a mission to complete, Albus continued marching deeper into the Forest, no longer humming or smiling to himself.


            For he was thinking of a boy, a boy whom was suffering at this very moment, mourning over a loss that he, Albus Dumbledore, was responsible for. Sirius Black was dead and Harry Potter would never be the same. Don’t think that way, Albus thought to himself. He will bounce back, the boy always has. But was that true? Or was there a point in someone’s life where they no longer had the energy or the purpose to recover from such a loss? Albus didn’t know the answer.


            But Harry Potter had to recuperate…he had to go on. The fate of the world rested on his unready shoulders. He finally knew about the prophecy and Albus had wept long after their short meeting, thinking of the innocence the boy had lost, and the obstacles that were still to come. Would he be up to the challenge? Only time would tell.


            Albus had come to a dense thicket of trees and knew he had reached his destination. “Bane?” he called out. “I wish to speak with you!” There was no response. Albus resumed his trudge through the thick woods.


            He walked until he heard shouts and hooves clopping against the forest floor. Bane was standing in front of a tree trunk, addressing his fellow centaurs. Hagrid had already arrived and calmed Grawp down. All of the centaurs seemed to have survived the Giant attack. “This human claims we are half-breeds, and are only allowed in our home thanks to its Ministry!” The centaurs laughed jovially. Albus saw Dolores Umbridge, lying still on a slab of wood, apparently unconscious. Some of the fifty or so centaurs were shouting and laughing at everything Bane said. Others were not so enthusiastic. Albus recognized a centaur named Ronan, whispering in the back with a group of his fellows.


            “The human then used its magic weapon on us! This human insulted our intelligence! We do not help humans or allow them to insult us freely! Action must be taken against this pitiful species and it starts with this one!” There were several shouts of agreement.


            “Perhaps, I may interrupt, Bane?” Albus said steadily. The centaurs all looked at him, not aware of his presence until that moment. “It seems to me that humans and centaurs have a long history of disrespect towards each other. I do not know what Dolores Umbridge said to you, but if she had called you a ‘pitiful species’ I would say that you have the right to be angry.”


            Bane sneered at him. “I will call humans what I wish. If they do not respect centaurs, how can we be asked to treat them kindly?”


            Albus sighed. “It must begin with someone, I’m afraid. And right now you have been presented with the perfect opportunity! Release Dolores Umbridge, and show the magical community that you can show mercy on a human.”


            “We do not exist to do your bidding, human!” Bane snarled angrily.


            “Then I am afraid you are no better than the woman you are about to have killed,” Albus said quietly. Several of the centaurs started whispering again.


            Bane let out a yell that seemed to echo across the forest. “We shall see what the rest of the herd thinks,” he said loudly.


            “Tell me, brothers, friends!” Bane shouted. “Who thinks we should let the human free?”


            Many of the centaurs raised their hands. It looked to be more than half, but Albus wasn’t sure. Bane counted and looked shaken. “Very well…then…this piece of filth can go,” he said muttering with barely suppressed rage.


            “Take your human,” Bane spat, kicking Dolores, “and get out of our home.”


            “Thank you,” Albus said with a smile. “Mobilicorpus,” he said softly. Dolores Umbridge’s unconscious form rose. “You may not agree with the decision of your herd, Bane, but a time may come when human and centaur must join together to fight a worse evil, and you have taken the first step.” Bane said nothing.


            Albus kept Dolores hovering along in front of him. Would a time come when centaur and human had to come together, to understand each other, or be eliminated together? Most likely, yes, and Albus wasn’t sure that the magical community was ready.


            As they usually did when thinking of the war to come, Albus’ thoughts drifted back to Harry Potter. They would all have to ready themselves for the conflict to come, but none more than Harry. Would he be able to do, what no other wizard could accomplish, and defeat the Dark Lord once and for all, while recovering from losses suffered along the way? In some dark, absurd corner of his mind, Albus believed he could. But he didn’t think it was because the boy had saved the Sorcerer’s Stone in first year. It wasn’t because he had rescued Ginny Weasley, or saved Sirius Black from an unfortunate fate. It wasn’t even because he had dueled with Lord Voldemort and had come out of it alive. No, it was simply a love that he had for the boy and the faith that that love caused. But first, Harry Potter would have to recover from the loss of Sirius Black.


            And Albus Dumbledore would have to recover from his mistakes.  

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