The Forbidden Forest, A History
entering the forest, one is struck by the magnificence of the trees, these
ancient giants that stand guard over the woods like sentinels. There are grand birch trees, the descendants
of the original seedlings planted for their healing properties by Gunhilda of
Gorsemoor in the sixteenth century. . .
ancient yews, perhaps as old as Hogwarts itself. Standing in the midst of this living history,
one feels overwhelmingly young and small.
“Oh!” Leopoldina Smethwyck’s quill froze over her
parchment as she looked up to see Phineas Nigellus’s irritated expression. “I’m sorry, Professor Nigellus. I was absorbed in my notes.”
“Obviously.” He sighed as he eyed the edge of the forest
behind them. “Correct me if I’m wrong,
Madam, but your assignment is to gather information on the entire forest for Hogwarts, A
History, is it not? Unless I’m
mistaken, that would require going more than ten feet into it.”
“Oh yes, of course.” Leopoldina looked around, gathering her
thoughts. “Let’s go in that direction, shall we?” The stout woman pointed to an overgrown path leading
into the trees and strode off along it.
With another sigh, Phineas followed.
path leads from the edge of the forest into the trees—all that is left of what
was once a medieval road. Since the
construction of the Hogsmeade railroad, it has fallen into disuse and has
consequently become quite overgrown.
wrote as she walked, pausing only to brush aside any low branches in her way. What she didn’t realize was that every time
she did so, the limbs came back around to whip Phineas squarely in the face.
wildlife of the forest is wonderfully diverse, consisting of creatures such as birds,
whose chirps pierce the forest stillness. . .
gentle tree-guardians that gaze at passersby through their soft brown eyes. . .
centaurs, although they are wary of wizards and keep to themselves, making
“STOP!” Phineas cried as a pine
branch smacked his forehead.
Leopoldina whirled around. “Really, Headmaster, I don’t know how you
expect me to get any work done if you keep interrupting!”
Phineas tried to glare at her, but
because a clump of sap had just glued one of his eyes shut, he failed miserably. “I’m sorry to inconvenience you,” he said
through clenched teeth. “Perhaps next
time my groundskeeper won’t have a broken leg and he can accompany you, or the other professors won’t all be in the
hospital wing with Dragon Pox and they can escort you on this merry outing.”
Leopoldina tried to look apologetic. “Of course.
I had forgotten about all of that.
I’m sorry you had to come with me.”
“Not nearly as sorry as I am.”
“Let’s stop and rest for a
while. I’d like to take a closer look at
that clearing over there.” Leopoldina
nodded toward a break in the trees.
“Fine. I’ll lead the way,” Phineas said before
Leopoldina could step in front of him again.
stumps dot a clearing just off the path, most likely dating back to the 104th
Triwizard Tournament when trees from the Hogwarts forest were used to construct
large stands and guest quarters. Unfortunately,
the trees were cut down far faster than nature could replenish them, and this
part of the forest was left scared and barren.
Leopoldina froze as the sound of
cracking twigs emerged from the forest behind her. She looked over to see Phineas staring into
the trees, his eyes wide.
“What is it?” She spun around, reaching into her pocket for
her wand. Rushing toward them was a
large, grayish purple beast with two of the longest, sharpest horns Leopoldina
had ever seen. “Oh, my! A Graphorn!
It’s a mountain dweller, how on earth did it wind up here? What a marvelous discovery!” Breathless, Leopoldina turned to look at
Phineas, but he had disappeared.
Glancing around, she saw him sprinting toward the opposite side of the
clearing. She raced after him, and not a
moment too soon. In an explosion of bark
and branches, the Graphorn burst into the clearing, its horns lowered
“Professor Nigellus!” Leopoldina panted after him. “That was—puff,
not a very—puff, puff, gentlemanly
thing—puff, to do, leaving me there—puff, puff, like that!”
“Forgive me if I think staying
alive is more important than being a gentleman in this situation!” Phineas
called over his shoulder. The Graphorn’s
footsteps thundered nearer.
Spying a large juniper tree up
ahead, Phineas dashed toward it and Leopoldina followed. The two dove into the tree and began to
scurry into the highest branches, but it proved more difficult than they
thought. As they climbed higher, dry
twigs tore at their clothing and scratched their faces until they looked as
though they had been attacked by the Graphorn after all. At last, they reached the highest branch, and
they clung to it as the Graphorn thrust his horns up into the tree to try to reach
“Well, he should get tired in a
while and leave,” Phineas tried to regain his composure, “and then we can climb
down and Ahh!” Phineas screamed as a
bowtruckle jumped onto his face and tried to gouge out his eyes with its long
fingers. Shrieking, Leopoldina tried to
pull it away, so it rounded on her.
Phineas shouted. The bowtruckle dropped to
a lower branch, unconscious.
“Thank you,” Leopoldina gasped.
Nodding, Phineas clutched the tree. “Now all we have to do is sit and wait.”
Four hours later, as dusk settled
over Hogwarts, two very scratched, bruised, and tattered versions of Phineas
and Leopoldina emerged from the forest.
“Never again. I am never going back there again,” Phineas
said, dabbing a trickle of blood from his forehead with a silk handkerchief. “From this day on, the forest is forbidden to
all pupils, just so I won’t ever have to go in there and rescue one of them.” He straightened his cuffs, but it did little
to improve his disheveled appearance. “I’m
going back to my office where there are no mad beasts that want to kill
me. Are you coming?”
“In a moment, Professor. I need to finish my notes.”
“Suit yourself.” Phineas turned and marched back to the
forest was declared forbidden to students by Headmaster Phineas Nigellus in 1884
after a rather unfortunate encounter with a Graphorn, and I can’t say that I
blame him. While the forest is a fascinating and beautiful place, it is also
very dangerous and should not be taken lightly by anyone, for their own good. .
Leopoldina thought for a moment
about the clearing strewn with stumps.
for the good of the forest.
She folded the parchment neatly in
half and slipped it into her pocket. “Enough
of this historian business,” she muttered as she strode toward the castle. “Far too dangerous, if you asked me. From now on, I’m doing something safer. I wonder if I could get a job as a Quidditch
referee. . .” Behind her, night closed
around the Forbidden Forest.