The Sugar Quill
Author: zzzFF R1&R2  Story: Detention and Discovery  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Dark

Detention and Discovery

A/N: This author humbly acknowledges that all accolades should be solely directed to JKR.

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The thick canopy of the trees intertwined far above, blocking all but a few stray moonbeams. She could only see a few feet in front of her. Trees pressed in from every side. Night creatures scuffled in the underbrush, small furtive sounds of creepy crawlies making their way to burrow or den. A soft breeze rustled the leaves like a sinister sigh. A quick, shrill screech pierced the night as a nocturnal predator caught its dinner. Fear magnified all sounds, made the dark more black. Her heart pounded in her ears.

Whatís that?

Through the trees in the distance a small point of light was winking in and out behind the trees. Loud crashing came from that part of the woods as the light grew closer. She struggled to move, unable to free herself from her entrapment.

Let me go! Let me go! Papa!

"Papa!"

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"Great, just great," Ginny Weasley fumed to herself as she stomped through the Forbidden Forest, light from the tip of her wand illuminating the forest floor. "Thank you so much, Colin Creevey, for getting me into this stupid situation!"

It was all Colinís fault. They had been partners in todayís Potions class assigned to make a batch of Pepper Up Potion. Instead of adding crushed Echinacea leaves, Colin had added crushed plantain leaves. The resulting oozing, foul smelling, sticky mess had cost Gryffindor 40 points and detention for both Ginny and Colin. ĎAnd it wasnít even my fault!í Ginny grumped, kicking at dead branches in her path. Snape had just wanted an excuse to send a couple of students into the forest to harvest Lunae Fungii mushrooms used in dreamless sleep and mood-enhancing potions. They were actually most potent at the time of the full moon, but with werewolves in the forest, the safest time for harvest was the night prior, which was tonight. Not even Snape would send someone in the Forbidden Forest at the full moon.

"Just my luck," muttered Ginny, trudging down the path, the sack full of mushrooms banging into her leg. "Colin is such a prat! And thereís a D.A. meeting tonight! Iím going to get you for this, Colin Creevey!" she shouted, swinging around to give Colin the full blast of her ire.

Ginny stopped dead still. No one was behind her. Not a light shone except her own wand.

"Colin?" she called.

Silence.

"This isnít funny, Colin Creevey!" Ginny shouted. She turned, looking around her. In her anger she hadnít noticed where she was going. The wide path they had started out on had narrowed, now just wide enough for one person. It was littered with dead twigs, branches, and bunches of dead grass as if it hadnít been used lately.

The darkness intensified. Ginny could hear the scurrying of little feet in the underbrush, hear the faint sinister rustle of the leaves above. Her heartbeat and breathing quickened.

"Calm down, Ginny," she told herself. She tried not to think about the creatures that inhabited the forest. Like acromantulasÖ

"Breathe, Ginny."

Hippogriffs, werewolves, and really mean trollsÖ

"Thatís IT!" Ginny told herself. She took a deep breath and looked around again. Did the path look more used ahead or behind? Flipping a mental coin, she set out, the light from her wand casting a narrow beam on the path.

"Colin is so dead when I get back to school," she scowled.

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"Papa!"

Ginny heard the plaintive cry and hurried forward. In the clearing she saw a young female centaur. Her body was chestnut red, with long gold hair and striking tawny eyes that were wide, fearful, and crying. A garland of battered flowers drooped around her neck.

"I want my Papa!" the young one cried. She noticed Ginnyís wand and screamed, trying to back away but unable to because her hind leg was caught.

"Sshh, sshh," Ginny tried to soothe her. "I want to help. I wonít hurt you," she said.

"No, youíre a witch! Youíll hurt me!" the young one wailed.

"No, no. I want to help you! Please, itís OK," Ginny pleaded. She walked slowly toward the foal, hands outstretched.

"My name is Ginny. I can help you get free. Itís OK."

Ginny moved slowly forward, making soothing noises. She noticed the centaurís left hind leg was trapped in a hole, wedged with fallen debris and rocks.

"I can get you out. Youíll be OK. Whatís your name?"

"Rowan."

"Thatís a pretty name, Rowan. Easy, now." Ginny raised her wand, pointed at one of the large rocks pinning Rowanís hoof and said "Reducto." The rock shrank and Rowan was able to pull free. She stumbled forward and looked around fearfully.

"Itís all right. Youíre fine now. Whereís your family?" Ginny asked kindly. She approached the young centaur slowly, wary of scaring Rowan more. Rowanís head reached only to Ginnyís chin as Ginny sidled closer.

"M-m-my Mama sent me with P-P-Papa into the Forest, but h-he sent me back to Mama but I saw a unicorn and wanted to pet it and and it r-r-ran away and I ch-chased it and my foot got st-st-stuck and I w-w-want my P-P-Papa!" Rowan sobbed.

Ginnyís heart melted. Carefully she pulled the apparently very young centaur into her arms.

"There, now, itíll be all right," Ginny soothed. "Iíll help you get back to your Papa." Ginny continued to make crooning noises and stroked the foalís hair. Gradually the sobbing slowed to soft hiccoughs.

Suddenly Ginny became aware they werenít alone in the clearing any longer. Torch light illuminated the area as a large male centaur came into the clearing. Rowan looked up at the golden brown centaur and ran toward him.

"Papa! I got stuck and Ginny Witch unstucked me! You said witches were mean but sheís nice!"


"Quiet!" her father ordered sternly, a soft look in his eyes. "You and I will have a little talk about what happens to foolish little foals who donít do what theyíre told."

He turned his gaze to Ginny, who swallowed nervously. The only centaur she had ever seen was Professor Firenze, and that was only in the hallways. He was so big!

"I am Cathair, Rowanís father," he said. "You have given aid to my daughter. Not all of your kind would do this."

"I couldnít just leave her there," Ginny explained.

"And for that, I thank you. I will repay you for your kindness and escort you back to the edge of the forest," said Cathair.

Rowan kept up a steady stream of chatter on the way to the forestís boundary. Ginny was glad of it, feeling very uneasy in the male centaursí presence. When it came time to part, Ginny gave Rowan a final hug good bye, feeling she had made a friend.

"Good bye, Ginny. You will always have welcome from me and my family in this forest," declared Cathair, "no matter what others of my kind may say. Humans and centaurs must learn to cooperate with each other in these dark times."

Ginny made her solitary way back to Hogwarts, certain she would be seeing Rowan again.

~ Finis ~

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