The Sugar Quill
Author: Meg (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Forbidden Forest, A History  Chapter: Default
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The Forbidden Forest, A History

The Forbidden Forest, A History

 

Upon 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. . .

“Ahem.”

And ancient yews, perhaps as old as Hogwarts itself.  Standing in the midst of this living history, one feels overwhelmingly young and small.

“Madam Smethwyck?”

“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.

A 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.

Leopoldina 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.

The wildlife of the forest is wonderfully diverse, consisting of creatures such as birds, whose chirps pierce the forest stillness. . .

“Oof!”

Bowtruckles, gentle tree-guardians that gaze at passersby through their soft brown eyes. . .

“Ow!”

And centaurs, although they are wary of wizards and keep to themselves, making sightings rare.

“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.

Numerous 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 menacingly.

“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 them.

“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.

“Stupefy!” 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 castle.

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.

And 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.

//
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