Author's Notes: This fic was originally written as one-shot. It will be posted in two parts, and yes, it is completely written so you don't have to worry about updates.
Thanks to HauntedMemories for beta-reading!
AU Fic: A Post Harry Potter Fairy Tale
Legend of the Black Stag
"More than five hundred years ago there was a boy named Harry James Potter who had to vanquish a dark lord who called himself Lord Voldemort. The world was divided into two: the Wizarding world and the Muggle world. During that time the Wizarding world was aware of the Muggle world, but the non magical world was not aware of its magical counterpart.
"Harry Potter was a young wizard and he went through many hardships as he grew up, and at the young age of seventeen he bravely fought Lord Voldemort to save both the magical and non magical worlds from being enslaved in a realm of darkness. The young wizard was able to win, but the evil dark lord had been ready for something like that to happen. He had placed a curse upon himself and when he died he cursed young Harry, turning him into a black stag while a terrible plague was released from within Lord Voldemort's evil tainted soul throughout the planet, killing many and changing the world, driving it to an obscure era. The released plague was to wipe the world of all Muggles, while destroying every standing building, only sparing the magical folk when it came to humans. All animals, magical and non magical, were to be spared. Even after having been turned into a black stag Harry tried everything he could to stop the dark magic that had been spread around the world and with the power that still resided in him even as a creature of the wild, Harry absorbed the evil, sealing it inside his new body, but it was too late. The wizards and witches had been able to survive because of their magic, but millions of Muggles had died. The black stag fled and wanted to perish for what it had caused, but as the years passed it discovered that it was immortal so it remained hidden in an enchanted forest forever, never to be seen again by any man. That's how the world became as it is with Muggles and wizards living together in harmony. They say that if the curse of the black stag is removed then humanity will be able to progress yet again and the non magical humans will be able to develop what was used to be called technology, but no one knows where the stag is. Young Harry is to remain a stag for all time."
"What is immortal, great grandpa?" a six year old little girl named Freya Weasley asked.
"It means that you can never die," a bald and very old man with a long white beard replied. "Now Freya, it's time to sleep."
"But great grandpa! Is it true? Is the black stag still alive? Can anyone find it and rescue poor Harry?" The little girl was in tears.
"It's only a fairy tale passed in our family for generations, little one," the very old man replied with a smile. He then placed a tender kiss on his great granddaughter's forehead, turned off the lamp, and left the room.
Freya, a little girl with short medium brown hair and dark blue eyes, stared at the shadowed ceiling of her bedroom thinking about the strange bedtime story her great grandpa had narrated to her that night. She sniffed several times and spoke in the stillness of her bedroom. "Poor Harry. I hope someone saves him." Little Freya pulled the covers over herself and buried her body in their warmth before falling asleep.
As Freya Weasley grew up she never forgot about the tale and sometimes she made her great grandpa Ronald tell her the story over and over again. Her great grandpa had been named after one of their ancestors, or so she had been told. She had inquired about her name too, and she had discovered that she had been named after the Norse Goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. Freya didn't like her name much, but as the years passed, she wasn't as bothered by it as she used to be. By the age of thirteen Freya was good in taking care of the land. She loved planting and cultivating different kinds of vegetables and fruits. She enjoyed the sun rays on her as she worked on the fields and her skin tanned from the prolonged exposure. Freya kept her straight brown hair very short because it was easier to deal with. The longest she would allow it to grow was to her shoulders, but she currently had it boyishly short.
Freya was not an only child. She had ten brothers and two sisters. Her great grandpa Ron always joked, saying that it was a Weasley family tradition to have many children and Freya didn't mind having many siblings, for she loved them all.
One day, Freya was picking up strawberries on the field and gazed into the distance, but she shook her head. It wasn't time yet. Freya had plans to explore the world around her. She couldn't leave the country, but there was an overwhelming sense of adventure nagging inside her and she wanted to explore all the enchanted forests of the land. She never told anyone because she was sure they would laugh at her, but she believed the story of the black stag was true and she wanted to satisfy her curiosity and confirm by herself whether the tale was true or not.
"Freya? What are you looking at?" her mother asked.
"Nothing, mum. Mum?" the kind looking woman with long brown hair in two braids, a straw hat over her head, and dressed in a heavily patched long gray dress with a brown apron over it glanced at her daughter inquisitively. "Is the forest where the black stag is supposed to be close by?"
"From where did you get an idea like that, Freya?" the mother said with a small laugh.
"Great grandpa told me. He told me that there is a particularly magical forest that no one enters and that in that forest roams the black stag from the legend."
"It's just a fairy tale, Freya. Do you really believe a stag could live forever? There are no black stags, dear."
"But we're witches, mother! We are from the magical folk! We know that curses are real and we know vampires are immortal, even if so few remain..."
"Vampires are not really immortal, Freya. Wouldn't it be better to ask your great grandpa about that? I will have a talk with him later about telling stories to you and making you believe them," her mother spoke, smiling.
Freya remained silent while she dug some potatoes from under the earth after having placed the strawberries from before in a basket. What her mother had said didn't matter for she felt within her heart that the story was true and that the boy that had been turned into a stag was still alive and waiting for someone to save him.
The Weasley family indeed belonged to the magical folk, but the remaining magic and spells were not as powerful as they had been hundreds of years before. There was no more wand production so the wizards and witches had to learn how to wield their magic wandlessly for most of the remaining wands from the past disappeared with the passing of years, but it was so difficult and tiring to accomplish magic without wands that the wizards and witches of the present time were used to doing everything like the Muggles did. For the wizards of the present, the use of wands was something long forgotten from a past they never knew, but the knowledge of the magic residing in their bodies kept being passed on in the Wizarding families. Still, it wasn't exact as some of the descendants could be Squibs or better said, sons and daughters of magical folk, but without any real magic in their veins, believing they were wizards and witches too.
In the case of Freya Weasley, she was sure she was a witch even when she had hardly done any magic in her life. She had managed to make a few things float and once when she was angry she had caused some porcelain china to fall and break in the kitchen.
Two more years passed and Freya still longed for the day she would venture into the wild by herself. She wanted to explore and even meet magical creatures. She only knew about many magical beings from books, but so far the only creatures Freya had seen were house pests like doxies in the house, gnomes in the garden, and mokes and bowtruckles on trees. She was sure she had seen a mooncalf during a full moon once and in the morning there had been strange marks on the earth. Her great grandpa Ron told her that non magical folk from centuries ago had believed those marks to be caused by aliens from outer space. Freya had a good laugh at that. Once in the Weasley house, there was a racket because one of her brothers had found what looked like green fungus with eyes. Freya had learned then that it was a bundimun and her parents had gotten rid of it immediately. An infestation would have destroyed the house, she was told.
At age fifteen Freya still didn't look much like a woman. She had always been a tomboy and had developed strength from working in the fields. She had callused hands, tanned skin, and still wore her hair very short. Freya wasn't fat, but she wasn't thin either. Her body seemed well built due to her hard work, but it still looked like a straight line even if she wasn't skinny. Freya did have a very healthy weight and didn't worry much about her physical appearance. Her sisters were always complaining about their waists not being small enough, but Freya didn't care about that nor did she care about her slightly low bulging belly or slight love hangers in her still developing hips.
The Weasleys lived in the same territory where the Burrow had been standing centuries before. It had been leveled down during the evil magical plague that had destroyed buildings and killed many Muggles. Now the rural area was full of Weasley houses. The Weasleys were always composed of big families so they had built many houses for all the families to be together.
Even though Freya was already fifteen years old, she still fought a lot with her siblings. She wasn't the youngest, but she was the youngest girl and the child before the last. After her was ten year old Talos, who was truly the youngest in their family.
Freya was a very strong girl. Being raised with too many brothers had made her become a fighter and she could easily be a match for most of her brothers, except for the oldest three. Her sisters didn't approve of her fighting or her grubbiness, but ever since little, Freya had preferred playing with her brothers rather than with her sisters. She had always thought that dolls were boring so she had preferred the woodened toy cars her father built. Freya hadn't seen a great variety of cars as there were too few in the present, but enjoyed pictures of them from books. She was almost a bookworm, spending many hours reading and studying every book that fell into her hands. Freya and her siblings were also home schooled. Every family had the responsibility of helping their children learn in their time.
Five months had passed since Freya's fifteenth birthday when one winter night she was lying on her favorite purple towel on the roof gazing at the stars. It was one of her pastimes and she especially loved to notice shooting stars and the speed with which they traveled. Her great grandpa Ron had always told her about wishing upon shooting stars, but Freya had only one wish- that was the wish she always murmured or thought whenever she saw a shooting star, found what she thought was a four leaved clover, or when it was her birthday. Freya's wish was for the black stag to be saved some day, for Harry to be free of his curse. What had been but a fairy tale in the opinion of every single Weasley was slowly becoming an obsession when it came to young Freya.
"Freya?" The girl was startled by someone calling her name, but was relieved to see her great grandpa on the ladder that led to the roof. The relief didn't last long as Freya realized that it was her great grandpa on said ladder.
"Oh my! Great grandpa! You shouldn't climb the ladder to the roof!"
The bald old man laughed. "Do you mean to tell me I'm too old?"
"That's not what I meant, but it's true, you know? At your age you shouldn't try things like that!"
In support of what Freya had just said a voice came from below. "Grandpa! You shouldn't be there! What are we going to do if you fall?" Freya's mother looked very nervous. Great grandpa Ron was actually her husband's grandfather, but Mrs. Lorelei Weasley was used to calling her husband's grandparents and parents like her husband did as she considered them her family all the same.
"I am not going to fall! I am not that old!" grumbled the very old man. "Plus I am a wizard! Don't you forget, Lorelei! Nor you, Freya!" He had turned to his favorite great granddaughter.
"There you go with that nonsense of you being a wizard, great grandpa Ronald! Even if there's magic in our blood it's not something we see every day so drop that silly excuse of yours! You can fall all the same! Or are you going to tell me that you can fly?" The woman looked mildly angered.
Mumbling about meddlesome hysterical women Mr. Ronald Augustine Weasley started to climb down the ladder, but not before whispering to Freya: "I want to speak with you as soon as you have the time." He even winked at her, and Freya was shocked by that.
Taking one last glimpse of the stars, Freya also climbed down the ladder and looked for her great granddad from her father's side. "What did you want to talk to me about?" she asked closing the door to his bedroom behind her.
"Do you remember the stories I've told you?" he asked as he lit a light woodened pipe he had made himself.
"Of course! How can I forget? You told me everything about the boy called Harry Potter! How he stopped the evil Lord Voldemort from taking the philosopher's stone, how he discovered the Chamber of Secrets in that school where he studied... Hogwarts! You also told me about how he saved an innocent man called Sirius Black in his third year of school, how he was put in grave danger in a Triwizard tournament, how he bravely fought in the Department of Mysteries due to a prophecy, and lastly how he defeated Lord Voldemort, but so many things went wrong... You always told me that all those stories were in a very old journal that belonged to your great great great grandmother Hermione, whom you never met of course."
"Do you think they are fairy tales, Freya?"
"If they were in a journal I have to say I consider them true!"
The very old man gave Freya a smile that was bitter and sad. Like her, when he had been very young he had wanted to venture into the world and find Harry Potter, but... "There is something I haven't told you, Freya."
Freya looked worried and she knelt in front of her great grandfather, who was sitting on his bed, and grabbed his hands. "What is it, great grandpa?"
"When I was eighteen I ventured into the world out there to look for the black stag. I looked in many forests, Freya. And you know what? I found it, but it ran away from me. No matter how much I tried to catch it, it speedily fled and glided through the woods, almost like a ghost would. After one whole year of trying to speak to it I gave up and returned here. When I told everyone that I had seen the stag they all laughed at me and spoke about what a vivid imagination I had. I am one hundred and ten years old now and I know I won't live forever, Freya. Please treasure this book as I did and pass on the story of the black stag. Perhaps one day one of your own descendants will break the curse."
The girl named Freya stared at the tattered book in her hands. Even though it was so old, she knew her great grandpa had taken good care of that diary. Out of curiosity, Freya opened the book and read aloud: "My Best Friend's Story, by Hermione Granger, soon to be Hermione Weasley. May it never be forgotten." Freya then glanced at her great grandfather and with teary eyes said: "Thank you. I will take good care of it, but just one thing, great grandpa. In which forest did you see the black stag?"
There was a glint in Ronald Augustine's eyes when Freya asked that question. "Do you believe me then, Freya?"
"Of course I believe you, great grandpa!"
"It is not too far, my child. There is a forest in Scotland which is said to be the enchanted forest that was forbidden to students in the school once called Hogwarts. They used to call it the Forbidden Forest and it is mentioned in that diary I gave you. I didn't think the stag could be there at first. That's why I went through every enchanted forest I could find in my travels until I reached the forbidden one, but..." Freya's eyes were wide and full of intense curiosity. "What used to be Hogwarts is now but more of the forest. You see, the forest expanded itself with the passing of years and centuries, probably through magic. There are many dangerous creatures in that forest, Freya."
"How did you survive?"
"I am a wizard, Freya, even if the whole family makes fun of me whenever I mention it. I also befriended the centaurs in that forest and that helped. They were the ones to tell me to give up on the stag because the time wasn't right according to their predictions."
"I've read about centaurs, but I've always read that they are not very friendly!"
"That was far in the past, my child. Ever since what happened, all beings had to unite a little more, or at least all the beings capable of proper thinking." The old man winked at his great granddaughter. She knew very well what he meant. The annoying gnomes in the garden were some of those creatures that seemed incapable of proper thinking and the same applied to the doxies.
"Thanks, great grandpa," said Freya before placing a kiss on his left cheek and leaving the bedroom with Hermione Granger's journal on her best friend, Harry Potter, in her hands.
That night in her tiny bedroom with blue coloured walls that were adorned with pictures of the whole family, some moving and some static, Freya couldn't sleep. Instead, she submerged herself into reading the journal her great grandpa Ron had given her. All of the stories her great grandfather had narrated for her even since she was a small child were recorded word for word in that ancient book. To Freya, Hermione's book of recollections was a genuine treasure that she would cherish till the day she died.
Soft rays of sunlight bathed Freya's face and she awoke with a start, the book she had been reading falling on her lap from where it had been lying on her chest as she sat. Freya grumbled and placed her right hand over her eyes as a shield from the morning light. She lied down again and stayed on the bed for a few minutes more before finally getting up to start a new day with a good breakfast to then work on the field. Freya quickly showered and dressed in brown heavily mended trousers, a long sleeved gray shirt that had also been repaired several times over a long sleeved t-shirt, a brown jacket made out of fur, and black boots.
Freya had read the whole book last night and had even cried when she perceived the emotions Hermione had locked in that book as she wrote about Harry's demise. Freya could easily figure that her ancestor had loved Harry Potter very much and had been heartbroken when she had realized Harry had been cursed to remain as a black stag for all eternity, but that wasn't what had caught Freya's attention the most. What she had found extremely interesting was the fact that Hermione had actually been present in Harry's final battle and had witnessed its outcome. The book hadn't finished with the recollection of the last battle. Hermione had also depicted how she tried to figure for years how to break Harry's curse, unable to find an answer. Hermione had struggled searching for a way to free her friend along with her husband Ronald, but they were never able to save him.
"Freya! I'll deal with the plantations today! Can you help dad fix the roof?" a man in his late twenties with sandy hair, brown eyes, and a freckled face had yelled in Freya's direction.
"Sure, Perseus! I'll go help dad!" Freya had just come out of the house after breakfast and quickly headed to the ladder she always used to climb to the roof to watch the stars. She spent all morning with her father, a red headed man with some gray streaks already showing on his hair named Jason. Freya helped seal some areas of the roof due to recent leakings they had after some rainy days.
In the afternoon Freya spent some free time studying the journal again and reached a decision that could be easily labeled as crazy. She was going to look for the black stag like her great grandfather had done in his youth. Full of resolve she prepared food and everything she needed for a long travel, and went to her mother. "Mum?"
"Yes, dear?" asked the chubby woman who had been folding the clean clothes she had recently taken down from cords outside.
"I'm going on a journey. Can I take one of the horses?"
Lorelei Weasley seemed disturbed. "Freya, what in the world are you talking about? You can always use the horses, but why do you say such a thing of going on a journey?"
"I... I meant what I said, mum. I will explore the world for a while."
"But Freya! Why do you want this all of a sudden?" the mother asked alarmed and confused.
"Because I want to... I want to..." Freya stopped herself knowing that if she spoke the truth her mother would consider her mental.
"Don't tell me that that great grandfather of yours has been filling you with wild ideas again!"
"Mum! He has nothing to do with this, all right? It's just me."
"The world isn't safe, Freya. You are safe here with your family. Why would you want to explore on your own? Not even your brothers have come up with such things!"
"I'll be fine, mother. I can take care of myself."
Lorelei knew that no matter what she said, if she didn't let Freya go Freya would run away. She was aware of her daughter having an adventurous spirit ever since Freya was very little, and as the girl's mother, Lorelei preferred Freya to leave in good terms rather than escaping from the house in anger. "You may go, but take Clow. He will protect you."
Freya gasped incredulously. She couldn't believe her mother was telling her to take their best horse. Clow wasn't a common horse. He could understand English perfectly and sometimes it seemed as if he were a person. Great grandpa Ron had always said that Clow was part magical and even though most of the time the family treated the old man as if he were a complete lunatic they knew he was right about many things. Just the fact of Lorelei wanting Freya to take Clow was evidence that the woman believed that the horse was truly smart for an animal.
Everything was ready for Freya's departure and she saddled Clow. She then mounted the horse and whispered in his ear: "We're going to Scotland, to the biggest magical forest there. Do you think we can find it?" The horse neighed and almost nodded before all of a sudden started racing, catching Freya completely off guard. She almost fell from the black and white horse that almost reminded of a cow by his colours.
Nighttime arrived while Clow galloped as fast as he could with Freya holding a very firm grip on the reins. She wondered when the horse would stop running, but it didn't seem like it would happen anytime soon. It was almost midnight when Clow softened its pace, allowing a tired Freya to doze, and by the early hours of the morning Clow stopped close to a spring that was surrounded by miraculously green pastures. He ate in tranquility while Freya ate some bread and fruit, and later had a drink from the clear spring. Freya was washing her face with the very cold water when she suddenly heard a tiny voice calling for help. Freya gazed around looking for the source of the barely audible screams and walked in the direction of the frightened voice. She saw a tree and raised an eyebrow as she wondered if she was simply imagining things when she saw a large spider web and quite a big insect trapped on it. Freya was startled when she discovered that the insect was in fact a tiny girl screaming in her direction. "Help me! Please help! I don't want to be eaten!"
The young girl stood agape for a few seconds, but reacted and started to climb the tree for the web was quite high. Freya carefully removed the tiny woman from the web and noticed that the woman was dressed in what appeared like magically kept fresh leaves and flowers. The tiny being also had a flower cap over a long mane of light blue hair. She had almost insect like eyes, but was very pretty. "Are you a fairy?" asked Freya.
"Well, of course I'm a fairy! What did you expect me to be? A troll?" After a moment's pause, she said, "Thanks for saving my life, human girl! Can you release me to test my wings, please?"
"S-Sure!" Freya freed the fairy and with insect like wings the very little woman started to fly. "What's your name?" Freya asked out of curiosity.
"It's... You would never be able to pronounce it, but you can call me Daffodil," replied the fairy as she checked her body. "Ooh! Still full of that disgusting web!" Daffodil fought to get rid of the remains of the threads and then headed for the spring to wash herself.
"Daffodil?" The fairy's violet eyes fell on Freya. "I've always read in books that fairies speak between themselves, but are not capable of human speech!"
Daffodil rolled her eyes. "Humans always consider themselves so superior! Those books you read must be ancient! Ever since the almost destruction of the world, fairies started to learn how to communicate with other creatures. I am fully bilingual. I can speak the fairy tongue and the language spoken by humans, centaurs, and other creatures in this country. They call it Eeeengliiish, right?"
Freya laughed and said, "Saying English is just fine. You don't have to over pronounce it."
"Still, you can't deny I can speak your language fluently and flawlessly. You see, human girl, we fairies are perfect beings with incredible beauty attributes. Don't you think I'm beautiful?"
"Yes, you are very pretty," Freya said unsure. "My name's Freya, Freya Weasley."
"Are you magical or non magical, Miss Freya?"
"Just Freya, and I believe I'm magical. I haven't done much magic in my life, but enough to know that I don't belong with the non magical folk."
"Good!" Daffodil studied Freya for a few seconds before saying something that Freya found very strange. "You are not very pretty... Maybe if you had long hair... You almost look like a boy and your voice is somewhat boyish... You also have a somewhat dirty appearance, plus you smell a bit, but I can make you look nicer! Can I be your badge for a while?"
"My badge?" Freya reacted confused.
"Yes! I can use your jacket's left part and stay pinned to make you look nicer. You see, I'm very beautiful and I'm sure I'll make you look better, plus I'll be able to exhibit my looks! Can I?"
"I guess so..." Freya answered. She was already considering that even if Daffodil was capable of human speech the fairy was still very odd.
In less than a minute Daffodil had magically attached herself to the left side of Freya's brown jacket and seemed quite jolly there, which was very amusing for Freya.
During half of the day, Clow napped and Freya didn't dare wake him. He needed to rest too, but after a few hours he was ready and made a signal with his head. Freya mounted Clow like the day before and the horse started with a fast and steady gallop once more.
For seven days Freya traveled with Clow and Daffodil. Daffodil made a nice companion after all, for Freya had someone to talk to that was able to talk back, even if most of what Daffodil said were complaints here and there; that the pace made her dizzy, that Clow was suddenly too slow or too fast, that the trip was tiring, and things like that. Still, Freya had never spoken to Daffodil about where they were going. Freya also spoke with Clow on several occasions, but even though the horse could understand her, she felt awkward most of the time whenever she addressed him.
During two of the days of their trip it was snowing and Freya was grateful that her jacket had a hood, but it was still too cold. During those chilly nights she managed to make a fire for them to sleep and she slept with her body against Clow's to feel warmer. Daffodil, who always had a say about everything, spoke neither about the cold nor the snow.
On the eighth day, Freya had finally reached Scotland and Clow was trotting in a direction that Freya didn't know by instinct. Several times Freya wondered how the horse knew where he was heading, but she considered that it was something she would never figure out.
"So? Where exactly are we going?" Daffodil finally asked the question Freya didn't want her to. "I hope it's a palace with a great garden!"
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Daffodil. I don't know any palaces... We are heading to a magical forest that's supposed to be in Scotland." Freya hadn't realized that they were already in Scotland for she knew nothing about that territory.
"And what are you going to do there? Magical forests are not exactly safe and cozy places, you know? There might be horrible creatures like Acromantulas! You rescued me from a spider, but I don't want to end up in the stomach of a spider of an even bigger kind!"
Freya realized something then. She had no idea what kind of creatures dwelled inside the magical forest where the black stag was. She certainly hoped that if there were creatures roaming the forest they weren't too dangerous. "I'm going to look for the black stag," Freya said in answer to Daffodil's question.
"The black stag? For real?"
"Have you heard of it?" Freya was in disbelief. She never considered anyone else knowing about the black stag and she was curious about what Daffodil knew about it.
"Of course I know about the black stag! All the magical creatures know how a very cruel dark wizard turned the boy who defeated him into a black stag before dying!"
"Then do you believe the story is true, Daffodil?"
"Of course it's true! Everyone knows it's true even if the events in which the boy got cursed happened over five hundred years ago! But I wonder... Is that black stag alive? It's been centuries, you know? If it's alive it must look dreadful and extremely old! I've certainly never seen an ancient stag before..." said Daffodil thoughtfully.
Freya hadn't considered such a thing either. Her great grandpa Ron had told her that the stag was immortal, but did it age? Freya shook her head. The curse of the stag had to be similar to vampirism in her opinion. Just like a vampire didn't age Freya thought that the stag didn't either. It had to look the same as in the day it got cursed by Lord Voldemort.
That night Clow stopped by the entrance to what definitely looked like a forest. There was a 'Beware' sign posted in front of it and Freya felt a little scared, but she wasn't going to lose heart. That night they wouldn't enter the forest, though. They were to wait until morning came for Freya was sure that entering any kind of forest at night was dangerous and in the case of magical forests it was worse, much worse.
With dry logs and summoning little bits of magic Freya managed to build a fire like in previous nights. As usual, it took her two whole hours to develop a flame. On the first night Freya attempted to make a fire; Daffodil thought that perhaps there was no magic in Freya's veins, but after that, the fairy was convinced of Freya's magical heritage, although she thought it was very pathetic how long it took Freya to simply create fires. Daffodil learned then that wizards and witches had indeed lost much knowledge after the war of five centuries before for some reason.
In the morning they had breakfast, with Freya giving breadcrumbs to Daffodil. The bread was not fresh, but still edible and Freya was glad she had brought plenty of food, but wasn't sure if she was going to have food for the return home. Anxiety crept through her as she wondered if she was going to at least get a glimpse of the black stag. She certainly didn't visualize herself actually bringing the stag to her home on her way back, but at least wanted to see it just like her great grandpa Ron had.
Freya penetrated the forest cautiously, being followed by Clow. She had decided to enter on foot and the horse calmly followed her without needing her to pull his reins. Many strange noises filled the atmosphere of the place that was the natural habitat of creatures that Freya had probably never seen before in her life and never dreamt of observing. She noticed movements in trees and even thought she saw a very small blue speckled bird that could have been a Jobberknoll, but she wasn't certain about it. They walked all day without encountering anything out of the ordinary, but as night fell they heard the familiar sound of incoming horses. Freya started to wonder if there were other horses in that forest, but was surprised when their camp was surrounded by creatures that looked like men from the waist upwards, but like horses from the waist downwards. She immediately knew they were centaurs and she could have almost beamed if it hadn't been for the harsh tone that one of the centaurs used as he spoke.
"You should leave this forest at once. This is no place for a human foal and her pets," said a blonde centaur, glancing from the horse to the fairy attached to Freya's old fur brown jacket.
"What do you mean by pet?" retorted the tiny fairy in a very aggressive tone. "I'm no one's pet, you foul and ugly looking creature!"
The centaur ignored Daffodil's outbursts even when she abandoned her place pinned to Freya's warm garments and started to fly in circles around Freya complaining. The young witch didn't seem scared of the centaur, but felt a bit intimidated by his tone of voice. "My home is quite far so I will remain in this place for a while, Mr. Centaur."
"What do you intend to do here if you are far from your home, human foal?" the centaur asked, softening his manner of speaking as if perceiving Freya meant no harm.
"I came searching for the black stag. It is in this forest, right?"
There were murmurs between the centaurs that made Freya uncomfortable. They kept speaking in whispers amongst themselves, and Freya started to feel completely ignored and nervous at the same time. "How did you know about the black stag roaming these forests?" a centaur with black hair asked.
"I heard it from my great grandfather. He came here many years ago and told me he saw the stag."
"The stag hides from every creature, child. Any attempt to approach it will be futile. I would advice you to just leave this forest and go home. There is too much evil sealed inside the black stag and it has to remain like that forever."
"No! It can't remain like that! Someone has to free it!"
"Do you really think you can accomplish such a task? A child like you?" This time the centaur speaking was the blonde one from before.
"I... I'm not sure! But at least I can try! Not even trying is worse than trying and failing!"
There was more murmuring among the centaurs and a black centaur turned to Freya: "You are very brave to come here by yourself. We will invite you to our village. There are dangerous creatures that roam these woods and crave human flesh. You cannot camp here by yourself."