Disclaimer: This story is based on the Harry Potter universe as
created by J.K. Rowling. This is not an authorized recreation of that
universe. All rights to the characters, creatures, and settings mentioned by
Ms. Rowling in her books remain her intellectual and financial property.
“Right here,” whispered Greninger. He bent down and
pulled away encroaching weeds; Something small and glassy glinted on the
ground. Greninger grazed it with his finger. In truth, to me, it only looked
like a shard of glass, the remnants of a bottle, perhaps, from the age of
“What are we looking at, Greninger?” I asked.
“Oh, this is a treasure,” he said softly. “It’s a bit
of debris from that old wizard school used to be around these parts.”
I stared at it in silence.
“How can you be sure of that?’ I said after a few
Greninger pulled out a long black wand from his
travel-pack. He waved it over the shard. Nothing appeared to happen.
“Ya,” grunted Greninger. “That’s what it is,
alright. Soaked through. Just about drenched with magic, this treasure is.”
I stared at Greninger in bewilderment.
“Are you one—are you a wizard?” I asked. “Dad never
told me that!”
“Nah,” said Greninger. “No such thing. Don’t know
any spells, and this wand don’t even work half the time.”
“Where did you get it?” I asked.
“Oh, back a piece in the forest,” said Greninger.
“Found it years ago, in the abandoned hole of a Red Cap, of all places. Whole
upper Northeast side’s infested with Red Caps. Must have been some kind of nonsense
I said nothing. Greninger shook his head sadly.
“Damn nonsense,” he said. “Now there’s Red Caps
“Oh,” I said. I had no idea what a Red Cap was, much
less why they should cause Greninger to get so riled up.
“Could even be old Harry Potter’s old wand, for all I
know,” continued Greninger, going back to the wand in his hand.
“Who’s old Harry Potter?”
“What do you mean, who’s Harry Potter?” said Greninger.
“Just that,” I said, shrugging. “Never heard of
“No one remembers the greats,” Greninger said grimly.
He looked up at me in disbelief. “You mean to tell me you’ve never heard of
Harry Potter at all?”
“I’m not much of a historian,” I admitted.
“Especially not for such a remote setting as this.”
“Ever heard of Albus Dumbledore?”
“Hermione Granger? Hagrid the great? Draco Malfoy? Gregory
Goyle, for God’s sake?”
“Now him I’ve heard of,” I laughed.
“Huh,” said Greninger. “At least you know your
I strained my memory back to my school days.
“They stood, the sires, with secrets and spells,” I
quoted. “When wealth, not wisdom, brought war, and dark--”
“Ya, ya,” said Greninger impatiently. “Nice poet,
him. Wasn’t much of a person, but a fine poet, anyway.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
The wind gusted through the trees surrounding us. In
front of us stood the heart of a dark forest: grim, silent, and overcrowded.
“What is this place?” I whispered.
“Forbidden Forest, wizards used to call it. Wouldn’t
recommend getting to far into the heart of it.”
Dusk was settling around us. The air was getting
crisper; I could feel it on my nose and fingertips. There were no birds. They
were not settled on the heavy branches around us. There was no sound other
than the wind through the trees.
“It feels…” I struggled to describe the haunted aura
coursing through me. “It feels…almost as if the trees were alive. And they’re
watching us. They can hear every word we’re saying.”
I turned around to look Greninger in the eye.
“Doesn’t it feel that way to you, too?” I said.
He stared at me enigmatically.
“You’re not too far off at that, Tom,” he said. “That
wind you feel? Ghosts. I can see ‘em. Hundreds of ‘em. They’re
“Ghosts,” I repeated. I narrowed my eyes at Greninger.
Another gust of wind shrieked past us. My hair blew
“Ghosts,” said Greninger, nodding. “Most days when I
come all I hear is the sound of their wailing. They long to return to the
school. Course it don’t even exist anymore. But these ghosts can’t understand
that. Been haunting this forest so long I guess they forgot about the past.”
Greninger sighed and looked around.
“Come on,” he said. “I’ll show you more.”
I walked behind him as he pointed out fascinating
relics all around us. After a time, a humming noise started up in the
distance. Greninger pointed off towards the sound.
“They’re building into the west side,” said Greninger.
“Hogsmeade Central West,” said Greninger. “Putting in
the new power distributor for the launch pad.”
“Why would they want to do that?” I asked.
“Why,” said Greninger. “For the tax money they’ll
collect, I reckon. They still need money bad, after that last drought and
“Have any of the residents protested?”
Greninger paid no attention to me. He was listening
to the sound of the wind. The sun had long set. Beside him, the long, black,
emaciated trees stood against the gray of early evening.
“Ghosts know something is up,” said Greninger
finally. “They keep mourning for the lost woods tonight.”
My nose dripped from the chill.
“Greninger,” I said. “We need to get back, or I’ll
catch cold, you know.”
“I know,” said Greninger.
We trudged back towards the entrance of the forest.
Behind us, the whirring sound of the tree-cutter droned on. The ghosts sang
out in the wind. We walked through leaves. We smelled decay. We walked,
silently, towards civilization, away from the forbidden forest. Tomorrow, Greninger
would be back; he would have a day very much like today. His days were near
identical. As for me, there was an old man and his forest to save. Time was