First thing Sunday Morning, all the first years were rousted out of bed and made to line up in the main hall so that Filch could identify the culprits that had gotten away. Many were in their night robes as they’d been rousted from bed, it being Sunday few had gotten up yet. The doors were open to let the fresh morning air in, and it was a bit on the cool side. If Nova and Scootaloo looked nervous, it was because they weren’t Nova and Scootaloo. Other students just shivered in the cold. Otherwise, most of the first years looked confused and dismayed by the early morning. Hermione and Harry had a pretty good idea of what was going on. Both looked like they hadn’t had much sleep either.
All four house heads were there, and Filch slowly walked the line eyeballing each person. He stopped at Harry.
“Harry Potter.” Filch said dryly. “Did you really think you’d get away with it?”
“Please, sir it was my fault.” Hermione pleaded. “I drug him up there because I’d heard we might see dragons flying by. That is I heard we could see dragons, but there had to be a boy, and just the two of us, or there’d be no...” Hermione slapped her hands over her mouth, her eyes growing wide. She’d been had. What kind of lame excuse was that? The other first years burst into laughter.
“I’ve changed my mind,” Draco announced. “I must have misheard, and want nothing further to do with Harry’s dragon.” More laughter.
“Oh, you naive little girl,” Snape said in his usual condescending tone.
“Miss Granger,” McGonagall said sounding very disappointed, and then announced that she was very disappointed. “Twenty points from each of you, detention, and when we find that invisibility cloak it will be confiscated.” Her words were not punctuated by any complaint from the students, but the clip-clop of tiny hooves. A small golden pegasus with a mane and tail the color of wine was now standing a few paces away from the Nova changeling. The colt was also wearing a nappy. Goldwine had only just left his mother, and was wondering how she’d gotten down here so fast? And for that matter, what was she doing, and why was she pretending not to know him? Apple Bloom and Sweetie bell had half panicked looks on their faces, and the two changelings were at a complete loss as to how to handle the present situation. Most of the girls coed at the sight of the impossibly cute colt, the boys were interested but dared not betray whatever thoughts they might have, and the instructors looked like they were hoping it’d leave without any incidents. Snape was looking very nervous.
A moment later the real Nova, in her pegacorn form, came gliding into the hall, Goldwine saw her coming in, and dashed to hid behind the girls.
“Don’t anyone move.” Flitwick cautioned.
“Come here,” Nova whispered in old ponish. Goldwine pressed against Sweetie Belle and smiled.
“Goldwine, behave.” Sweetie Belle hissed. He looked up at her, hesitant, she smiled and motioned where he needed to go with her head. Sweetie watched as his face filled with fear and pain accompanied by a loud crack! He bolted to his mama, who wasted no time in scooping him up under a wing and locating the wand that had produced the hex that had hit Goldwine. Nova channeled a devastating amount of magic into the offending wand.
Slytherin students who a moment before had been giggling now cried out in dismay. A black haired heavy set girl named Millicent Bulstrode cried out in agony. Her hand now a mangled mess.
“Stupid girl!” Snape shouted even as Mama and colt teleported away. Snape, to his credit, scooped her up and rushed her to the school's infirmary.
“As for the rest of you, care of magical creatures class. Eight O’clock.” McGonagall said in nearly a shout. “Dismissed,” McGonagall uttered a frustrated sound, and stormed off.
“I didn’t even know who did it.” Draco offered in his defense moments after the other teachers had left the students. Girls from the other houses were converging on the Slytherins. “I doubt even Crabbe and Goyle would be dumb enough to cheese off a pegacorn.”
“Hey… yes, that’s right.” Crabbe replied. He and Goyle weren't entirely sure if they should be insulted or not. “My Gramps has Pegasi, and they’ll shit bomb people they are mad at.”
“Well, then you’d better stay indoors.” Apple Bloom suggested in a cold voice as she and the other Gryffindor girls walked past. From there they rushed upstairs, not just to get ready but to find out how Goldwine was.
On seeing Sweetie Belle, Goldwine began to cry and hid under Nova’s wing. The two were presently in the big shared bed in Nova’s primary bedroom. “Goldwine, it wasn’t me.” Sweetie pleaded. Sweetie remembered to transform into a pony, and tried again. “Goldwine, it wasn’t me.” Sweetie dropped her head on the edge of the bed with a frown and looked like she was ready to cry.
“That hex ripped a hole in his tender hide,” Nova informed them trying to stay calm. “It’s probably going to leave a scar. Loki stitched it up as best he could. Afraid I was too emotional to do anything.”
“How did you know who did it?” Apple Bloom asked.
“I didn’t. I looked for a hot wand. One that had been recently used, and then I overloaded it. I really wasn’t paying attention to who it was. All I could see was red.”
“I know that trick, it’s a unicorn thing. They want us in Care of Magical creatures at eight.” Sweetie Belle announced.
“Can Cornicle cover for me?” Nova offered as Alalme came in with Alya right behind her. Alya went straight to Goldwine. “Gently, Alya, he’s been hurt.”
“What happened?” Scootaloo asked as she came in behind Alalme with Rose hot on her heals. Rose climbed up on the bed too.
“Millicent Bulstrode hexed Goldwine.” Apple Bloom announced.
“She did what?!” Scootaloo exclaimed. “I’ll kill her!”
“Nova blew up her wand and half her hand.” Sweetie offered.
“Killing is too good for her anyway.” Nova offered, her tone giving witness to the rage simmering underneath. “Her and every Slytherin who laughed.”
“Stupid Slytherin’s” Rose said softly. Rose had been learning to talk far faster than would have been normal and seemed to have a far better grasp of what was going on around her than other fillies her age. Well except for the flight thing. Rose still wanted desperately to fly and could only manage with the assist of a unicorn, or Scootaloo who would use a levitation spell to compensate.
“So what happened?” Alalme asked once more, her tone was soft and sympathetic. She gave Rose a pat on the head.
“The front doors were open, and he saw the girls standing in the hall.” Nova offered.
“I thought you weren’t going to let him out?” Apple Bloom offered.
“A group of us took our foals out to show them around the grounds.” Alalme offered. “I’m to understand the locals have been doing that for a while now. The foals need to get out and exercise their wings so that they’ll be strong enough to leave the area. And they need to know their way around. Flying around inside our park isn’t enough.”
“Where do they go?” Sweetie Belle asked.
“I’m to understand that a large number of the tribe has been migrating around late spring to early summer to a number of small islands north of the northern most tip of Scotland located within a triangle of which the northern tip is the Shetland Islands, and the furthest westward reach is the Faroe islands. There is grazing, plenty of fish, and sod house shelters they can use to shelter from storms.” Alalme offered. “It was a move they made after the forest became unsafe, I’m to understand.” She paused a moment. “Originally it was only the strongest who’d go up there, and the local wizard farms can only take in so many pegasi. They’d fish, smoke what they caught, and bring the catch back before the weather got too bad to fly.”
“So what you are saying is they winter here, and then move up there in the summer?” Apple Bloom asked. “They are living like refugees.”
“Princess Luna has told them they can believe what they want to believe, but they don’t have to live like refugees. No, they don’t have to live like refugees.” Nova offered. “She’s invited them to come back to Equestria.”
“Any takers?” Apple Bloom asked.
“Quite a few have shown an interest.” Scootaloo offered.
“Can’t say as I blame them.” Apple Bloom admitted.
“Suppose I better get dressed, and go get something to eat.” Sweetie Belle offered. “Scootaloo, they want all the first years in Care of Magical creatures at eight. You coming?”
“I’m not leaving Goldwine till he’s had a chance to calm down.” Nova informed them.
“You mean till you’ve calmed down, don’t you?” Apple bloom asked.
“That too.” Nova replied. "The way I feel about the Slytherins right now, one person says something inappropriate, I might kill them on the spot."
“I’ll go.” Scootaloo replied, her tone cold and devoid of expression.
When Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Cornicle disguised as Nova arrived in the dinning hall it became obvious that the house elves were upset about what had happened as well. The only thing the Slytherin Students were being given for breakfast was a gray lumpy gruel.
“So where’s Millicent Bulstrode?” Scootaloo asked, her tone anything but kind, just as someone came marching in with horse dung smeared all over them.
“Who cheesed off the Pegasi!” the boy shouted.
“First year Slytherin’s.” Someone called from the Ravenclaw table.
“It was the girls.” Goyle offered as he picked at his gruel. “Even the house elves are mad at us now.”
The Care of Magical creatures class room was standing room only. All four house heads were waiting along with Madam Hooch and Professor Dumbledore. In the front of the class was a number of black and white photos of boys with welts, in the center of which was an old pair of scorched and shattered shutters. On a table in front was a silver tray on which looked to be the scorched remains of a wand.
“I don’t think I have to explain why you are here.” Dumbledore said coldly.
“There will be a hundred points taken from Slytherin house.” Snape announced.
“Not fair!” Protested a Slytherin girl. “It was just a stupid little foal.”
“His name is Goldwine Sparkle, son of Freawine Chief of the pegasi of the Silver wood.” Scootaloo exclaimed in nearly a shout. “Who’s sire was Frea son of Aldor, who was the son of Brego, son of Eorl, son of Leod, son of Gotha.” There was shocked silence. “His ancestry goes back more then a thousand years, can any of you say as much?”
“Miss Magnus, I think you’ve made your point.” Madam Hooch offered. Dumbledore and the other instructors gave her an odd look. “There will be no Quidditch until such time as peace can be reestablished.”
“Do you think that will be necessary?” McGonagall asked.
“Despite appearances and common held misconceptions the English Pegasi have a society that is every bit as sophisticated as our own." Madam Hooch informed everyone. "I’m to understand they had a large settlement in the forbidden forest in a place known only as the silver wood. Someone released acromantulas into the forest, and the infestation devastated their community. They were forced out of their homes. I know this because many can speak our language when they care to speak to us, and have a language of their own. The pegacorns are liken to the nobility, and are powerful users of magic.” Madam further Hooch explained. “The sky is all they have left they can call their own, and we are but intruders.” She let that sink in. “I’m afraid a cooling off period is going to be needed.”
“Well why are they even allowed to stay at Hogwarts?” asked another Slytherin.
“And why do we trust House elves?” Dumbledore asked. “And who do you think it was that introduced acromantulas to the forest? Judging by the breakfast served to the Slytherins this morning it should be fairly clear how easy it would be for our house elves to poison us all. And no they were not told to serve anyone gruel. Least wise not that I’m aware of. They did that on their own.” He let that sink in for a bit. “Pegasi are much sought after by wizards. Allowing a wild heard to stay here at Hogwarts was my predecessor's decision, and it’s one I support. Furthermore, if you wish to stay here at Hogwarts you must, no you will, respect the animals.” He have them a moment to think. “The pictures you see are the Gryffindor boys back in 1903 who invaded the nest of a pegacorn. The shutters give us an idea of what that pegacorn was truly capable of.” Professor Dumbledore took a few steps, and picked up the tray. The pieces had been fixed in place allowing him to turn the tray so everyone could see it. The blackened remains stood out in sharp contrast, and gave testimony as to why antagonizing such a creature was a bad idea.
“Wow, she really did do a number on that wand.” Scootaloo said softly. Dumbledore gave her a calculating look. By the girl’s reaction this was the first time she was seeing what had happened as though she hadn’t been there, and was expressing a familiarity with the pegacorn that had been responsible.
“Miss Magnus, does this pegacorn have a name?” Dumbledore asked.
“Her name is Kitzumi.” Scootaloo offered giving the fox pony name. “She’s the daughter of the Princess of the night.”
“The princess of the night?” Snape asked.
“She’s a tall Night Mare.” Madam Hooch offered. “I understand a lesser, or perhaps younger Night Mare took on and killed a Wyrm back in the 1903 – 04 school year.”
“Entirely possible I’ve met her.” Snape replied and shuddered.
“You’ve met her?” Dumbledore asked.
“And yet I live.” Snape offered in a dry tone. “I made the mistake of pulling my wand. Though in hind sight I believe I know what she was hunting, and I’ll say no more on the mater now.”
“You fared far better then Millicent Bulstrode.” Dumbledore offered.
“Miss Bulstrode was sent to St Mungo’s to get her hand rebuilt.” Professor McGonagall informed everyone.
“Is she going to be alright?” Scootaloo asked. She and the others had switched from being mad at Millicent to honest concern. True if anyone hurt Rose, she’d be furious too, but once that anger has died down every pony is usually able to forgive, even if the forgetting might be a bit difficult.
“What she did is no different then what unicorns do to each other.” Sweetie Belle offered. “It generally doesn’t result in anything more than a headache. That being because the individual being targeted can resist the effect.”
“Ah, yes of course. Where as a wand user won’t know there’s an over charge being sent.” Madam Hooch surmised.
“Since when is she an expert on unicorns?” Crabbe asked.
“She grew up around unicorns.” Madam Hooch informed everyone.
“In which case I’d say it’s fair to say that Miss Sweetie Belle might just know a thing or two about the animals.” Dumbledore remarked. A thought struck him, and it occurred to him that a talented witch or wizard might be able to disable a wand in much the same way. Looking back through his earlier days he was suspicious that Miss Moon had done just that. “At least we can be sure the attack wasn’t directed directly at Miss Bulstrode, but at her wand. It’s also fairly clear to see the action was one intended to neutralize a threat. Now, I want a report to be presented to your heads of house first thing Monday Morning explaining why you should never mistreat animals. And I’m not just talking about the ones that can kill you if you make the mistake of angering them. I’m talking all animals. - You may go now.” He waited until the students had all left.
“Severus?” Dumbledore asked. “You never talked about your little misadventure. Why is that?”
“I believe that Quirrel is working for the dark lord.” Snape announced. “And I also believe that the Night Mare I encountered was after Quirrel.”
“After Quirinus?” McGonagall asked.
“I met with him out on the edge of the forest, and he seemed to know the night mare was coming before I did, and I watched him fly away using a spell the Dark Lord himself knew, but Professor Quirrel would never have been able to do on his own. Not that I don’t blame him for running, the nightmare was ripping up the forest with muggle made multi barreled boom sticks. Somehow she was able to levitate the devices, and activated them at the same time.”
“So the night mare is after the servant of the dark lord.” Dumbledore mused. “Perhaps Professor Phineus Black had been right, and I am too black and white in my thinking. He once told me that nightmares are not our enemies, and that all we have to do to befriend one is to not be afraid of it.”
“What are we to do?” Madam Pomona Sprout asked.
“Do? Why we do nothing.” Dumbledore offered. “He either walks into the trap I laid for him, or the night mare will get him. Confronting him in the school is out of the question, as we can not elevate the level of risk for the students. Something that night mare seems to be aware of."
“Doesn’t this put us in a rather dangerous position?” McGonagall asked. "I was aware that there was perhaps an agent of the Dark Lord if not the Dark Lord himself skulking about, but this means he's trapped between a rock and a hard place."
“I’m afraid it does.” Dumbledore replied.
“Trap? I thought we were trying to protect the stone?” Snape asked. When Dumbledore had acknowledged the protections around the stone to be nothing more then an elaborate trap, Snape had been at something of a loss.
“I had to have some kind of bait that the dark lord would want badly enough it would distract him from Harry Potter, and with luck be enough to get him to walk into the trap thinking he’d be able to get out again.” Dumbledore explained. “I must say that Fluffy has proven a far greater deterrent then I’d imagined he would.”
When Nova heard that she’d blown apart Millicent Bulstrode’s hand she too felt bad for the girl. Not so much that she’d call off the general strike by the animals of Britain's wizarding world. As word spread, otherwise obedient animals decided to simply refuse to cooperate, and a few were downright aggressive towards witches, and wizards they didn’t like. Horse spit can be difficult to clean.
Millicent Bulstrode returned to school a week later, but still had her hand wrapped. She along with Draco, Harry, and Hermione were to do detention together the week after that, and the ponies had the break they’d been longing for. Troll Fart had been overheard having a monologue with himself. He’d be going out again, and this time the ponies would be ready.
Harry and Hermione went down to meet Mr Filch at eleven on Tuesday. In all the teasing Hermione and Harry had been getting about their alleged midnight get together he’d forgotten that Draco, and that girl would also be there. He at least had some solace that Slytherin was now dead last for the house cup. Granted that Gryffindor was second to last, but at least they were beating Slytherin. Millicent Bulstrode was looking far more humble then any Slytherin ever had, and Draco just looked the way he always did.
“Follow me.” Filch said sharply, and directed the four out the front door of the entry hall. “It’s a pity they don’t use the old punishments anymore.” Filch said as they went out into the dark. He closed, and locked the door. “I hear they showed you the pictures of what that pegacorn did to those boys back in oh three. My father was one of them. They used a cane on him I hear. Any time that sort of punishment proved insufficient they’d hang the students up with chains around the wrists. Sometimes for days.” He lit a lamp, and continued on down the steps. “I bet you’ll think twice about breaking school rules again after tonight, won’t you. And if you don’t I’ve chains in my office just in case I get the opportunity to use them.”
The small group continued on through the dark, but Harry wasn’t so disoriented he didn’t know where he was going. After all he’d been that way himself plenty of times. The light from the windows of Hagrid’s hut filled him with both hope, and dread. On the one hand they’d be with Hagrid. On the other hand they’d be with Hagrid. What could they possibly have in mind for them to do out here in the middle of the night? Whatever it was it wasn’t likely to be very pleasant.
“Is that you Filch?” Hagrid called from the dark. “Hurry up, I want to get started. I’ve been waiting a half hour.”
“I’ve only just fetched them, why on earth would you be waiting out here so long?” Filch called back. Filch turned back to the students, “Don’t be too hopeful, Hagrid has a most unpleasant task for you this night.” He informed them in a low warning tone.
Hagrid came striding out of the dark, fang his dog at his heal. He was carrying a large crossbow, a quiver of crossbow bolts hung over his shoulder, and a lamp was held in his left hand. “It’s about time.” Hagrid said as he approached.
“What’s the ballista for?” Draco asked.
“That’s in case one of you decides to make a break for it.” Filch offered, laughed, and returned to the school. Hagrid watched the man go wondering if he actually had a sense of humor, or if he was serious?
“I was supposed to have you lot clean out the Thestral caves, but something else has come up.” Hagrid informed them. “Were going into the forest.”
“I I’m not going into the forest.” Draco protested. His bravado was gone, and sounded a bit like Neville had on many occasions when faced with a task he dreaded.
“You will if you want to stay at Hogwarts.” Hagrid said as the sound of wings flapping somewhere overhead could be heard. Millicent Bulstrode cringed down.
“But we’re first years, I thought we’d be copying lines, if my father hears about this...” Draco protested.
“He’ll tell ya that’s how it’s done at Hogwarts.” Hagrid said crossly. “If you think your father would rather have you expelled then get back to the castle and start packing. What good is copying lines anyway? Go on.”
Malfoy didn’t move, he knew a trap when he saw it. All Hagrid had to do was say he’d refused to do his assigned detention, and he’d be gone. “I’m not going anywhere. You’ll not be rid of me that easily.” Draco said as anger began to boil up.
Harry found himself having to reassess Malfoy. In a way, Draco was right, they really had no business going into the forest, especially at night. And yet here they were, and they’d no choice in the matter. They had to do whatever it was Hagrid had dreamed up. No matter how dangerous. Harry couldn't help but feel a little resentment as well. After all, he’d gotten into trouble helping Hagrid.
“Listen up, if there’s no more argument,” Hagrid said giving Draco a look. “What we are going to do is dangerous, do as yer told, and no one need get hurt. Now follow me.”
They followed Hagrid somewhat reluctantly as he marched into the forest. Silently they went, the only sounds being their own footsteps, and Fang’s panting. Moonlight shown down through the trees here and there illuminating misshapen old snags. Some of the trees even looked like they’d been ripped apart by some irresistible force, and the forest floor was all mounded and cratered with the trunks of trees laying every which direction. Some even looked charred.
“See there?” Hagrid asked coming to a stop at a cross trail that looked to be little more than an animal track. Small pools of dark liquid that shown silvery in the pale moonlight could be seen. “That there is unicorn blood. They’re been hurt badly by someth'n. This is the second time in a week. I found one dead last Wednesday. We’re going to try to find the poor thing, and put it out of its misery.”
“Are we not even going to try to give it aid?” Hermione asked sounding appalled.
“There’s blood all up and down this trail,” Hagrid stated flatly. “Not like it’s a dragon or an acromantula, or something else cool like that.” Hermione felt a cold shiver run down her spine. “Now listen up, we are going to split up.”
“Um, what if whatever hurt the unicorn comes after us?” Draco asked hesitantly.
“There’s nothing in the forest that’ll hurt cha if yer with me or Fang,” Hagrid informed them.
“I want Fang then.” Draco requested.
“Fine, but I should warn you, he’s a brazen coward,” Hagrid informed him. “I’m going to take Hermione and Millicent on the left path, Harry, you go with Draco. If you see the Unicorn send up green sparks. If you get into trouble send up red sparks. Now get your wands out, you’re going to need them.” Hagrid handed Fang’s leash over to Harry, and then went down the left path. “Stay on the path.” He instructed as he made his way through the forest.
Harry and Draco stood there in the dark as they watched Hagrid and the girls disappear into the forest. Draco lit up the end of his wand, reached into his pocket, pulled out a letter, and offered it to Harry. “Ron’s letter. - For what it’s worth, I never showed it to anyone.” Harry took the letter, and put it in his pocket.
“Thanks. Everyone thinks Hermione and I were up there snogging. Why… that is to say, why didn’t you give this to Professor McGonagall?”
“Don’t know really.” Draco offered. “You first.”
“Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart who’s daring nerve and chivalry, set them apart,” Draco replied in a teas. “I’m just a Slytherin.”
“Aren't Slytherins supposed to be strong leaders?” Harry asked, and then lit up his wand.
“I’m more the shrewd cunning type.”
“Which explains why you kept that letter to your self,” Harry replied, as he started out on the trail. “Now I owe you one, and have to be nice to you.”
“Don’t be too nice, it might get weird.” Draco quipped.
The two continued on in silence, their wands illuminating the occasional spots of blood.
“Might a werewolf have gone after the unicorn?” Harry asked after a while.
“You’d have to ask Hermione, she seems like she’s really book smart.” Draco offered. “I doubt it though. Unicorns are fast, and have magic.”
Fang suddenly dropped to the ground and whimpered. The two boys waited quietly, their ears pricking at the sound of something slithering through the underbrush.
“What was that?” Draco asked in a whisper once it had gone.
“Something tells me it wasn’t a werewolf.” Harry offered.
“So now what?”
“I guess we go on.” Harry offered.
“This has got to be the stupidest thing ever,” Draco replied.
“As much as I like Hagrid, I can’t help but agree. Now come on. Come on Fang, get up. Fang up.”
Fang didn’t want to budge at first, but with a bit of pulling by Harry, and gentle coaxing by Draco, they managed to get the dog moving again. Harry was surprised that Draco could actually be nice, but then again, maybe he was just more comfortable with dogs. They hadn’t gone much further when a figure approached from a moonlit clearing.
“You shouldn't be out here.” Called the voice of a man. Harry and Draco looked on in shocked bewilderment. From the waist up a man with red hair, but below that a chestnut horse. “I see you’ve got Fang with you.”
“D-detention.” Harry managed to say. “Hagrid’s back that way.”
The centaur looked up into the sky and announced that Mars is bright tonight.
“A unicorn was hurt. We’re trying to find it.” Draco offered.
“Always the innocent are the first victims.” The centaur said after a long pause. He looked the two over. “I will talk to Hagrid. He should not be bringing foals into the forest.” And with that, the centaur cantered off.
“Well, that was interesting.” Draco offered.
“He agreed with you,” Harry commented.
“Half beast and he’s more common sense.”
“Wouldn't be a bit surprised if this is Hagrid’s thanks for getting rid of that dragon, and keeping him out of Azkaban.” Draco offered in his usual smarmy tone. Harry said nothing. What could he say? Draco was probably right.
The two continued on, plunging once more into the trees. “Mars is bright tonight.” Draco mimicked as they walked deeper and deeper into the forest.
“Mars is the fourth planet, and represents the god of war.” Harry recited.
“And?” Draco asked.
“I’m wondering if Mars being bright might be important,” Harry said. He also had the odd feeling they were being watched.
“By the looks of this forest I’d say it probably means we are about to walk into a war and die.”
“Now that you mention it, this place reminds me of a documentary I saw on the Ardennes and the battle of the bulge.” Harry offered and then pointed out a large patch of blood. As they progressed further they began to see blood splattered everywhere as though the animal had been thrashing about. There, in a clearing ahead of them, lay a gleaming white lump illuminated by the moon. It was both a sad sight and oddly beautiful site. As they cautiously drew forward they could make out the shape of the animal. Its mane was spread out in the grass of the clearing, and its legs were haphazardly splayed about. Harry took another step forward when the sound of something slithering through the grass caused him to freeze from fear. Harry, Malfoy, and Fang stood transfixed as a hooded shape slithered towards the unicorn. The creature leaned over the unicorn and began to suck its blood. Fang let out a yelp and bolted. The creature stopped what it was doing, looked up, and looked right at Harry, blood dribbling down its front. The creature rose up and made straight for Harry. Blinding pain shot through Harry’s scar, he staggered back, hooves could be heard galloping, and Draco did something that seemed totally out of character. Draco did something both incredibly brave, and incredibly stupid.
“Incendio!” Draco shouted pointing his wand right at the fiend's oncoming face. The condition of the forest had been plenty of motivation for Draco to think of a good attack spell, and now seemed the best time to use it.
It did little more than enrage the beast, but it also blinded it to the approach of Rockhoof. Draco wasn’t quite sure what he was seeing when the shovel came flashing past him wielded by a massive draft horse of all things.
A mighty clang gave witness to spade hitting head even as pegasi swooped in, and airlifted the stricken unicorn. Rockhoof struck, again and again, driving the fiend back. Now came powerful beams of magic wielded by five pegacorns, one white, two that looked to be black, and two that were golden in color with fiery manes. More pegasi rushed in, some with riders, powerful magical artifacts began to glow, light beams struck out enveloping the fiend. Draco had no way to know he was witnessing Nova, Luna, Twilight, Scootaloo, and Sunset Shimmer all teaming up on the fiend. Fluttershy, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Starswirl, and Flash Magnus were all part of the gathering as well. Those who could fly were in pony form, the others were in human form riding on the backs of Wonderbolts. Luna’s seven Shadowbolts were there as well, and the power of multiple elements of harmony lit the forest brighter than the sun.
Draco Malfoy watched in utter astonishment as a rainbow of magical light ripped a hole in the very fabric of time, space, and relative dimension. They cast the fiend into the rift and slammed it shut.
The light was gone, and everything had gone black. Draco could hear Harry crying out in pain, lit a light on the end of his wand, and found Harry clutching at his head while curled up on the ground.
“Help, Harry’s hurt!” Draco called. He watched helplessly as pegasi swooped in, snatched Harry up, and flew away with him.
“Don’t just stand there a jaw’n, mount up!” Called a woman with a heavy southwest American accent. Draco turned to find himself face to face with a Night Mare. The woman who'd spoken to him astride another Pegasus nearby. Oh, and that night mare wasn't just any Night Mare, but The Night Mare. Princess bucking Luna in full battle mode.
Draco had hung back to listen into what the teachers were saying in the Care of magical creatures class on the morning they’d all been drug to the main hall so Filtch could identify Harry as having been wondering about at night. He’d heard much of what had been discussed, and the words of Albus Dumbledore came to mind concerning what Phineus Black had said about Night Mares. Just don’t be afraid of it. He approached cautiously, found himself lifted up onto the Night Mare’s back, and rocketed heavenward on the wings of the night.
It only took a moment to clear the forest. Draco looked about at the night sky, in places clouds could be seen illuminated by the light of the moon, and the stars were brighter then he’d ever seen them before. “Beautiful,” Draco whispered.
“The sky or the pony?” Asked the American woman.
“Both! - He called back. “Is Harry going to be alright?”
“I don’t know? - I sure hope so.”
“Who are you?”
“What about Hagrid?”
“He had no businesses taking you into that forest chasing after somethin’ he didn’t have clue one about. Let him stew.”
The Night Mare nickered her approval, and then they landed in front of the main door of Hogwarts. The night mare cast her magic on the doors, and they swung open. She then lifted Draco off and set him down.
“I’m still in detention,” Draco said not quite sure what to do. He turned to discover Nova’s mom, Luna Moon, standing there. “Is Harry going to be alright?”
“Detention canceled.” Luna offered. “If anyone asks why? Tell them you wondered right into the middle of a military action and nearly got killed. I believe the muggles call it a firefight." That explanation was going to sound strange being wizard kind didn’t technically have a military. Just Aurors. They were bound to understand what a fire fight was though. “As for Harry, I’m sure he’ll be alright.”
Draco blinked, and they were gone. He stood there looking out at the night sky, for how long he couldn't be sure, turned and entered the open doors and decided to just leave them that way. A strange feeling came over him like a wave of hope had washed past, and returned to his dorm headless of whether or not he should happen upon anyone or not.
A moment before that wave of energy had washed past, Dumbledore had been quietly sitting in his bedroom adjacent to his office reading when numerous loud alarms began to go off. Startled out of his repose, he took a moment to collect his thoughts and rushed to see the cause of the alarms.
“Oh no, oh no!” Dumbledore said as a cold dread sank to the pit of his gut. These were the monitors on Harry Potter. He watched in horror as every last one of them, stopped their racket, and went dark. Dumbledore threw on his night robe and rushed down to the cave where the Thestrals were boarded. All the monitors going dark could only mean one thing, the unthinkable had happened, and in his panic, he missed that gentle wave of hope.
No one was there. Why were they not there? All they had to do was clean out a creepy old cave at night. Why were they not there?”
The Thestrals themselves were there and were looking oddly plump as they happily munched away on a strange fruit with yellow flesh he’d never seen the likes of. What did it matter though? Dumbledore rushed back up to find Filch. Filch confirmed that he had indeed left Harry and the others with Hagrid. Dumbledore rushed downstairs where he found the main doors wide open. Why were the doors wide open? Filch having followed after Dumbledore, rushed out into the night to see if he might locate Hagrid to find out what he was about?
Draco climbed into his bed unaware of the boiling panic of Dumbledore.
Dumbledore apparated to the chamber where he’d left the philosopher’s stone. The mirror was still there. At least it looked like the mirror of Erised, but there was no sign of his detection spells nor could he feel the presence of the stone.
Dumbledore sank to the floor. He’d been totally defeated.
Voldemort was now unstoppable.