The Sugar Quill
Author: zzzFF Illyria Pffyffin  Story: The Fight for the Fir Trees  Chapter: Default
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THE FIGHT FOR THE FIR TREES

THE FIGHT FOR THE FIR TREES          

by Illyria Pffyffin

 

“You are right, Hagrid,” said Firenze, his eyes fixed on the object on Hagrid’s lap.  “This is a picture message.”

            “I figured as much, Firenze,” said Hagrid.  “I’ve made sure nothing is changed or moved.”

            They both stared at the object again.  It was a round patch of earth, freshly dug.  Grass roots peeked from under it and an earthworm was wriggling its way between Hagrid’s massive fingers.  On top of the soil there were three fir cones, a cracked beech acorn, two sycamore leaves, a tiny ball of amber and an ash twig.  They were coated with thin, hard, honey-colored film.

            “What is this, Hagrid?  It looks like glass, but it has the color of amber,” said Firenze, touching the smooth, clear surface.

            Hagrid chuckled.  “It’s rock candy.  I was making ‘em when I saw this.  I figured rock candy’s as good as amber to save these kinds of things.  Set beautifully, ain’t it?   Hard enough to keep everything in place, and clear enough to see through.”

            “As long as the ants do not find it,” said Firenze smiling.

            “Well, now,” said Hagrid.  “What does it say?”

            “The amber means that a tree has been wounded to the core.  It can also mean that The Forbidden Forest has been violated, right in its very heart.  The acorn speaks of strong evil mind.  The ash twig means a wizard, so we know there is a strong evil wizard in the forest now.  The sycamore leaves can mean fire or come in a hurry.  Then the fir cones…”  Firenze paused.  “They sometimes mean mountains, or snow.  But it’s summer now.  And there are no mountains around here.  They can only mean…  But it can’t be…”

            “What Firenze?” pressed Hagrid.

            Firenze looked at Hagrid with fear in his eyes.  “I hope I read this wrongly, Hagrid. But there is nothing here to dispel my worry.  I am afraid we have to do something.”

            “Come on. Firenze?  What do the fir cones mean?” asked Hagrid. 

            “Deep in the heart of Forbidden Forest there is a cluster of fir trees, very old, much older than anything that grow and live in the forest, older even than the forest itself.  They contain great powers, because they have endured many crises in their life; ice, fire, earthquake, claw, teeth, beak, magic.  They hold the balance of the whole forest in their powers.  If anything should happen to them, the whole forest will crumble.  Trees and beasts will kill each other needlessly, and magical powers, stranger and deadlier than anything known to wizards and witches, will be unleashed, to the ruin of all.”

            Hagrid frowned.  “And yer saying that these fir trees are in danger?”

            “If we act quickly,” answered Firenze with quiet apprehension, “we may still have hope.”

 

            The forest was oddly silent. 

            “They knew we are here for the fir trees,” said Firenze.  “No one is going to stand in our way tonight.”

            “Perhaps they don’t want to be in the way when whatever it is kill us?” offered Snape.

            “Firenze’s right, Severus,” said Lupin.  He was looking up at the canopy, the thin light from his wand illuminating the huge branches of a beech tree.  “This is the Bludgeon Beech.  In different circumstances, it would’ve crushed you to the ground.”

            Snape looked doubtfully at the tree, but he moved a few steps away.

            “Are you sure we’re going the right way, Firenze?” he asked.

            “Yes,” said the centaur.  “Normally the trees don’t let wizards go this far.  They will cover the tracks and lead you out, if they haven’t killed you yet.  We are near the heart of the forest now.”

            Hagrid who walked in front, slinging his crossbow, suddenly stopped.  “Look,” he said, lifting his lantern.  In front of him there was a patch of scorched earth.  There were remnants of trees and vines, coal black and dead, lying in smoky, ugly heaps. 

            “This is where they broke into the forest, most probably from above, on broomsticks,” muttered Lupin.  “Look.”  He pointed at the barely identifiable human remains on the ground.  “Not all of them made it.  The trees fought them.”

            Snape ran the light from his wand around, his large nose puckering in disgust.  “Doesn’t look like a fair fight to me.”

            Firenze looked sadly around at the charred and broken trees, the trailing blackened vines and the brittle skeletons of bushes.  “This used to be a very serene and beautiful place.  The trees will remember this wound for a long, long time.”

            A loud screech, followed by a furious roar and a sudden blaze of light jolted them all.  Soon, a curtain of fire was raging in front of them, the reek of burning resin stinging their noses.  Amid the noise of fire they saw the huge looming shadow of a dragon above them. 

            The trees seemed to bristle in anger and fear, their leaves rustling and their branches creaking.

            “They will not be able to hold this much longer,” said Firenze.  “We have to help!”

            They rushed forward, ducking under fallen burning branches and blinding, suffocating smoke.  Finally they arrived in the outskirt of a tree-less, fire gutted clearing.  In the middle of the clearing a cloaked, hooded man stood alone, his back to them, his hands stretched up, speaking in harsh hisses and barking commands.

            “He’s talking to the dragon!” hissed Lupin.

            “Look!” said Firenze, pointing at a row of fir trees standing like fiery pillars across the clearing.  “Do something!”

            Lupin looked at Snape.  Snape closed his eyes and took a deep, shuddering breath, then looked up at the dragon, still whirling above them.  He pointed his wand at it and whispered, “Magna legilimens!

            Firenze and Lupin, his wand ready, rushed to the man in the middle of the clearing.  The wizard whirled and loked at them, his eyes burning with insanity, reflecting the flickering fire.  “You think you can stop me?” he screeched and raised his wand.  “How dare you attack Rolf Byrnisson!  Take this!”

            A flood of liquid fire spouted from the end of his wand.  Lupin, frowning with concentration, waved his and cried, “Deflect!” and the flow was scattered as though it had hit an unseen umbrella.  But Lupin turned pale and staggered back.  Hagrid  raised his crossbow. 

            “Ye got no righ’ to be here, yer not,” he said.

            “Hagrid, no,” whispered Lupin, raising an arm. 

            The wizard laughed shrilly, “Too true, filthy giant.  You can’t stop me.  And when I get the heart of the fir tree for my wand, no one can stand in my way!”

            “If it’s the wood you want, why do you burn them?” demanded Lupin, he was trembling, but his voice was firm. 

            “They’re refusing to yield,” spat the wizard.  “But they won’t be for long.  Once I got to their saplings, they will have to give in!”

            But just at that moment his face was contorted in pain and anger.  He looked up in panic and saw his dragon staring malevolently down at him.

            He tried talking to it again, but the dragon didn’t seem to listen.  “What did you do?” he screamed.

            “Go now,” said Lupin quietly.  “Leave and take your dragon away, or we will turn it against you.” 

            “You can’t!” screeched the wizard.  He waved his wand and…  Suddenly a shaft of glowing, fiery air shot down from above and engulfed the wizard in flames.  He howled in pain, flailing his arms, moving in a demented death dance, before crumbling down, dead.  The dragon reared up, roared and flew ponderously away.

            Lupin whirled around and saw Snape sprawled on the ground with Hagrid by his side.  Lupin and Firenze ran toward them.  

            “Is he all right?” asked Firenze.  Snape looked very pale and worn out, his eyes were shut.  His wand had fallen, his hand was shaking. 

Lupin knelt beside him and called him.  Snape slowly opened his eyes and managed a hoarse, dry whisper, “I can’t stop it.  Sorry.  It was too angry, too confused.”

“It’s all right,” said Lupin.  “It’s gone now.  He’s gone.  It’s all over.”

Hagrid looked around at the burning trees.  The fire was mirrored in the tears in his eyes.  Firenze stood beside him and touched his arm. 

“At least we saved the saplings, Hagrid.  We still have hope,” he said.

           

 

           

           

 

           

 

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