The Sugar Quill
Author: Queenie  Story: By Chiron's Light  Chapter: Default
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By Chiron's Light

By Chiron's Light


Note: All characters and settings belong to JKR.

This is dedicated to all the Sagittarians out there.  We ROX!


I looked up at the sky.  Scattered clouds obscured the stars.  I would just have to do without Sagittarius, then.

            I trotted through the forest, hearing a nightingale call, smelling the leaves, and feeling the breeze of the night on my body.  I came to a clearing with a fairly large pool, and much of my herd was bathing there.  On one side, all the male centaurs were gamboling and laughing heartily.  On the other side, the female centaurs were whispering amongst themselves and combing their thick hair.  Ronan was not there.  He was possibly off somewhere with his mate.  Again, I looked up at the sky.  The clouds had shifted now, and I saw Sagittarius shining in the sky.  He had given me strength in the past, and he strengthened me now.

            I took a deep breath.  "Friends," I said.

            The centaurs all looked up, and smiled at me.  "Come on, Firenze, join the party!" called Magorian. 

I smiled weakly and shook my head.  "I have come to make an announcement."

I hesitated.  'It's now or never,' I told myself.  Finally, I said, "Dumbledore has offered me the position of Divination teacher up at the school, and I have accepted."

            There was silence.  Then one bay female laughed out loud.

            "Surely you jest?" she asked incredulously.  The rest of the centaurs also started chortling, except for Bane.

            I shook my head.  "No, Macha," I said.  "I'm serious."

            Bane came up to me and looked me straight in the eye.  "You are not lying?" he asked.

            "No," I said, trying to make myself sound final.

            Then Bane reared up and struck me down by the shoulder.  I fell to the earth, and heard myself crying, "Aah, aah," like a helpless foal.

            "You pathetic scum!" Bane cried.  "Do you see what you are doing?  You are betraying us, betraying all of our kind. You are reducing yourself to a common slave!"

            I tried to bring myself up again, but Bane's hoof pressed down on my injured shoulder, and I cried out again in pain.  I heard the centaurs crying out in anger, whether at me or Bane I could not tell.

            "Do not help him!" Bane roared.  "He deserves what he is getting, and more…"

            "Bane," I said weakly, "Bane, listen to me.  I divined that I would meet the Potter boy again.  And the stars -- you know that they speak of a great battle to come.  The humans…"

            "The humans can fend for themselves!" Bane shouted.  "You do not need to disgrace yourself, and your herd, in this … " Bane stuttered with rage, and before he could finish his sentence I wrenched his hoof from my shoulder, turned around, and savagely kicked him with my hind legs.

            "I know what you feel of me now," I said, "and I wish things were different.  But they are not.  You have seen what the planets foretell.  How Orion has risen in the sky opposite the Dragon, and of the battle that shall sweep all of the stars into its pull.  The humans are strong, but they do not know how to use their strengths, and I am going to help them however I can."

            There was complete silence.  Then Magorian charged out the pool and attacked.

            Before I knew what was happening, all of the males and most of the females had surrounded themselves and were kicking at me, and someone delivered a terrifyingly strong kick to my chest, and the wind was knocked out of me -- I was dying, dying  -- I cried aloud, and I heard a thunderous noise shake the ground, and the cries of other centaurs, and then a deep voice yelling over the noise, "STOP!"

Everything froze.  The herd leader, Cimbaith, an old, immensely large chestnut with white socks and a creamy tail, was standing there, breathing hard.  I recognized his daughter, Epona, standing beside him, panting heavily as though she had been racing, and wringing her hands.  The centaurs parted as Cimbaith approached the center.  He pulled me to my feet, and then asked me, "What happened?"

At once shouts came from the entire herd, telling what they had seen.

  "Silence!" Cimbaith roared.  "Why are they attacking you, Firenze?"

I took a deep breath, and told him that Dumbledore had offered me a teaching position at the school, and that I had accepted.  When I was done he stared at me, and then stooped down so that we were eye level.

"Firenze," he said, "son of Vosegus, you are in earnest about what you have just told me?

"Yes," I said.

"You understand what must be done?"

"Yes, sir."

He sighed, and was silent for a long time.  "Then," he said, "I have no choice but to banish you from our herd.  Go.  Go, now, and never return."

I nodded, cast one last glance at my former friends, and then turned and ran.  Many times before I had run through the forest, rejoicing in being one with nature, one with the wind and the stars and the shadows.  Now I was a stranger to it, and it was strange to me.  I broke through the edge of the forest, and caught my breath.  I was alone now.

I looked first to the school lights -- it was so domestic, so warm, so… safe.  Behind me, the forest was wild and cold and free.  It was my home.

Next half-moon would be the Ceremony of Bonding, in which all the centaurs who were old enough would mate.  This year, I could participate.  I could find my mate for life.

I could turn back, beg forgiveness, and continue as before.

I could.

A cloud obscured the moon, and my eyes made the familiar trek to Sagittarius the Archer.  'No,' I finally decided.  'If I do not help the humans, then every hope and dream may be lost, every centaur be made a slave.  If one must be broken so that all others may be free, then so be it.' With that in mind, and with Sagittarius watching me, I raced toward the school.

So be it.

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