Beta-Read by HauntedMemories.
Thanks to Menecarkawan on suggesting the stag being difficult to win over.
Freya was amazed. She had always read in books that centaurs didn't exactly get along with wizards and witches, but her great grandpa had told her that he had gotten along with the centaurs quite well. There was also the fact that both the magical and non magical worlds had merged and humans in general knew about the existence of all magical creatures. Freya wondered if it had been difficult for the Wizarding world to keep their existence a secret from Muggles. In her opinion it was better for both worlds to get along like they currently did. It appeared that after the battle where Harry Potter got cursed, the whole world inevitably learned about the existence of magic due to the horrid plague that almost consumed the world more than five hundred years before.
Daffodil had re-attached herself to Freya's jacket and soon they were entering the centaurs' village. Freya looked around, full of excitement, her eyes exploring every corner of the village and memorizing every detail even when it was nighttime. There were lamps hanging from lines and tree branches, illuminating the village. Lots of woodened houses were almost crammed together and the female centaurs started to hide in their houses after noticing a visitor in their midst. Some of the females had tiny baby centaurs in slings, the babies nuzzling against the chests of their mothers. The females had what looked like tiny tube clothing made out of fur covering their chests while the men had their chests naked. Freya found herself wondering if they were ever cold because it was winter.
The black haired centaur motioned for Freya to follow him and introduced himself as Aeron and his wife as Nimue. The couple invited Freya into their house, and she noticed that the house looked like it was mostly used to sleep. There wasn't any furniture except for what seemed like warm bedding made out of straw and fur. There were also vases and jars in a corner, a tiny table, and hanging on the woodened walls were bows and quivers full of arrows.
"You can rest here tonight, child."
"My name is Freya, but isn't this your house?"
"We have another house, so do not worry. Make yourself comfortable. Good night."
Aeron and Nimue left Freya inside the house. Clow remained next to the house and lied down on a straw bedding Aeron had quickly made for the horse. Daffodil removed herself from Freya's jacket yet again and lied down next to Freya, but Freya couldn't sleep. Out of curiosity, she peeked out from the frame that had a bone white cloth curtain instead of a door and was flabbergasted to see male centaurs looking at the stars. Some of them even took notes in parchments while others used instruments to keep gazing at the night sky. Freya listened to what they were saying.
"The Pleiades look very bright tonight," said a red haired centaur, swiftly moving his red tail. He kept gazing at the starry night with an instrument that Freya couldn't identify.
"Draco too. And it's interesting to also see Jupiter's most unusual intensity," added a blue haired centaur that looked younger than the others watching the sky.
"Perhaps the time has come for the world to change yet again, just like in centuries past. I can see it in Orion's great shine." A centaur with long brown hair spoke with a very deep voice that almost gave Freya a fright.
The centaurs kept speaking among themselves, always pointing upwards, but Freya had no idea what they were talking about. She then heard a centaur that looked very small and had a childish face, obviously a boy in a certain way. "I always enjoy gazing at Sirius in the constellation of Orion and it does look different tonight."
Freya stifled a laugh when the boy was suddenly scolded. "What are you doing outside, Chiron? Go to bed immediately!" There was anger in the brown haired centaur's tone and the boy centaur that was also brown haired fled to enter one of the houses while some of the older centaurs chuckled.
After staring a little bit more, Freya was suddenly yawning and decided to surrender and slumber at last. She carefully lied down, not disturbing the tiny Daffodil, and fell asleep.
It was very early when Freya woke up to the sound of voices. She blushed madly when she heard that they were talking about her and how she smelled. It was true that Freya never worried much about her appearance and sometimes even forgot about hygiene, but there was no excuse for not washing herself, or was there? It had been more than a week since her last bath. Her tanned face turned redder and redder as she listened to the voices of Nimue and another female centaur whose name was apparently Atalanta.
"I've never had any contact with human girls before so I definitely wondered about that last night..." said Nimue.
"Maybe humans don't like to bathe. It's funny as I always thought humans were smart creatures," replied Atalanta.
Freya felt awkward when she finally interrupted the conversation that had been going on. "Er, is there some way I can have access to having a bath in this village?"
Both centaurs paled. They suspected Freya had heard them talking, but Nimue, a centaur with a beautiful face and long dark brown hair, smiled. "Certainly! Come this way!"
Freya followed Nimue to a well kept area of the village where they had another small house with what looked like a giant black cauldron inside it. It was full of water that had been already warmed with a fire underneath it that had already been put off. Freya quickly undressed and entered the strange bath that already had bubbles in it. It made her wonder what kinds of soaps the centaurs made. The bath had a spicy scent that made Freya dizzy, but soon she was clean and was surprised when after drying herself she noticed that her clothes had a lovely scent and were freshly laundered. It had been too fast to clean her clothes, which was something that got Freya into considering the possiblity of centaurs being able to perform magic, but she suddenly received the answer to her unvoiced question.
"I took the liberty of cleaning those for you with some of the magic I have," a tiny, pride filled voice spoke.
"Thanks, Daffodil," Freya blurted, embarrassed.
On that day Freya went out with two centaurs, while Daffodil was attached to the left side of her brown fur jacket yet again, but this time Clow stayed behind in the village. The centaurs were to show Freya the areas where the black stag was usually seen. Freya knew it was most unusual for centaurs to be so helpful after what she had read about them in many books, and she dwelled upon the possibility of it all being because of what they had seen in the stars. It was well known that centaurs made predictions based on the stars, their position, their brightness, and other aspects regarding the luminous celestial bodies. If they hadn't predicted anything regarding her, she was sure they would have never indirectly helped her. That made her wonder if she would at least be able to see the stag, and as if in answer to her questions, a black shadow quickly moved in front of them.
"You're blessed, child. It's been months since I last saw it and it's actually around!" exclaimed Aeron.
The other, a very strong looking black centaur whose name was Odysseus suddenly stated, "Just like it has been predicted. The time must have come at last for the world to shift again. I thought at first it would be one hundred years from now."
Freya admired how positive the centaurs were, but she was frustrated. She had only seen but a quick shadow and nothing else. "But where is it?" she asked, feeling foolish.
"Maybe you should check in there?" reacted Daffodil.
"We will leave you now. To find your way back, simply follow the trail," said Odysseus and both centaurs started to leave.
"W-wait! What am I supposed to do?" But Freya's words were carried off by the wind as the two centaurs had left at a fast gallop and couldn't hear her. They hadn't been that helpful after all, but at least they had led her to the area where the stag was usually seen.
Not really knowing what she was doing, Freya penetrated the area to which she thought the shadow had moved. She took a deep breath and slowly paced towards a clearing and she gasped as she saw the black stag in front of her, but it looked furious. Freya could almost imagine smoke coming from its nostrils as the obsidian animal's eyes fell on her. From where she was standing, petrified Freya could see that the stag had bright green eyes that definitely didn't belong in a stag. "H-Hi!" she stuttered nervously and feeling very stupid all of a sudden. "I-I'm Freya Weasley. Are you Harry Potter?"
Freya screamed when the stag bellowed furiously and lunged towards her with its antlers. Soon enough she was on a race with the stag after her and she hastily climbed a tree. The stag started to kick the tree with its hind legs with such force that the whole tree shook and Freya had a hard time keeping a strong hold on the branches she had managed to grip. Daffodil was screaming and muttering that they were going to die, but Freya completely ignored the fairy. She had other things to worry about, like how she would accomplish approaching the savage animal.
Two hours passed with Freya on top of a thick branch and the black stag bellowing from time to time and walking in circles around the tree. It came to Freya's attention that perhaps Harry had lost all humanity. After all, he had been an animal for more than five hundred years... As two more hours passed Freya started to think about her mother and her whole family. Maybe she had been wrong to leave them and maybe there was no salvation for the black stag, but at least she would be able to tell her great grandpa Ron that she had seen the creature, if she ever got down from the tree.
Night came and Freya was terribly cold, hungry, and in desperate need of certain human basic needs that usually require a bathroom, but the black stag was still walking in circles around the tree. 'Doesn't he get tired?' she thought baffled. As in answer to her prayers the stag started to leave, and Freya watched it disappear through foliage. Still, she waited at least half an hour more before finally climbing down, afraid that the stag would be only waiting for her to come down to stab her with its dangerously looking black antlers.
With a tormented soul and full of disappointment Freya managed to somehow get back to the village with little Daffodil illuminating the path with her magic. Her head was bent low, but the centaurs didn't ask her any questions. Instead, Aeron escorted her to the same house she had slept in the night before and provided her with fruits. Freya went outside and hid for her physical needs, ate a little later, and dropped onto the warm bedding. She then removed her jacket, covered herself, and fell asleep with Daffodil next to her, just like the night before.
The day after Freya's first encounter with the black stag she had no luck. That day she was to go and try to find the spot by herself instead of accompanied by centaurs and she certainly did, only thing was that there was no stag. The day after was the same, but on the fourth day Freya saw the stag grazing and hid. She broke a branch full of green leaves, which was rare when winter hadn't ended, and tried to approach the animal little by little. The stag turned and stared at Freya. It also stared at the branch, but ignored it and kept grazing. "Look! It has nice leaves! You can eat these too!" Freya tried to get the stag's attention, but the animal raised a bored gaze and went back to grazing yet again. The girl then started to shake the branch a bit too wildly and she did get the stag's attention, but it seemingly glared at her and bellowed angrily before starting to launch itself at her. Freya found herself screaming like the first time and climbing the nearest tree. The black stag went in circles around the tree for a few minutes and then went back to grazing.
During the rest of the day Freya kept trying to make the stag approach her. She even rolled on the earth, dirtying herself quite nastily, but the stag didn't care one bit. Freya tried singing to it in a very horrible voice for she was no singer and only managed to anger the stag yet again, ending on a tree once more. She wasn't sure if she would ever befriend the animal and felt down.
As the days passed, Freya grew more and more frustrated for the stag didn't like her at all, or so she thought. She had even gotten to the point of trying to act as a deer herself, placing her body on all fours and trying to bellow in a way that sounded more like she was howling, but the stag kept attacking her.
One month later Freya punched a tree until she made her fists bleed, ignoring Daffodil's shouting against hurting delicate hands. She was still depending on the charity of centaurs and she hated it so much that she had started to work for them. She didn't want to feel useless and sometimes she fetched water for them, helped female centaurs in the making of pottery which was something Freya had never done before, and even learned how to make bows. When making bows, she hurt her hands and face many times, but she was used to slashes. Only Daffodil kept screaming that Freya, who wasn't a really pretty girl, would only manage to scar her face.
Slowly, Freya made a balance between working with the centaurs and trying her luck with the black stag every single day, and spring came in all its glory with the stag being as savage as always.
On an unusually warm spring day Freya was again trying to cheer the black stag's spirit. She believed that there had to be a little bit of humanity in the stag, even if that bit was extremely minuscule. That day Daffodil preferred staying behind.
Freya started speaking to the stag in a soft voice that almost came in whispers. She didn't have a feminine voice, but at least she could try not to sound too rough. For a second she thought she had succeeded that day, only to find herself running towards the nearest tree, but instead of staying quiet on the tree's branches, Freya kept speaking that day.
"Look, I'm not here to hurt you. As a matter of fact, what I want to do is help you! Would you allow me to help you? Please?" Freya found herself weeping as she remembered that her great grandpa had told her he had tried approaching the stag for a whole year and failed. So far she had tried for two months and feared reaching the term of one year like the old Ronald Augustine Weasley had without any getting any further than angering the stag. All of a sudden, as she cried, Freya heard the stag emit a different sound, like some sort of call. She wiped her tears and looked at it, but to her astonishment the stag fled.
The day after the stag's strange behavior Freya didn't find it, nor did she find it the next day. In fact, she didn't see the stag for nine days in a row, but on the tenth day the stag was grazing at its usual spot. Freya, who had left Daffodil in the village once again, made her presence be known by the stag, but didn't try anything. She simply sat down and observed it. Three nights before Aeron had reminded her of something that she had almost forgotten. The black stag had evil sealed inside it and that evil had to be destroyed. Freya had no idea how something like that could be accomplished, but she was a fighter and she was going to try her best.
Freya woke up all of a sudden, and a sensation of fright encompassed her when she realized she had fallen asleep with her back against a tree while staring at the grazing stag, but what surprised her the most was what had awoken her. There in front of her was the stag's face and Freya swallowed hard, her whole body shaking involuntarily. For a moment she thought that the stag was going to kill her when it lowered its head, giving her a good view of its antlers, but then relief washed over her. The black stag was bowing! Not knowing why she felt tempted to do so, Freya tried to touch the animal and the moment was destroyed. Right when she lifted her right hand the stag leapt back and fled. Freya cursed herself many times for her awful mistake, but there was no use in dwelling on it, so once again she returned to the village.
Since very early the next day Freya went again to find the obsidian creature along with Daffodil, and they did find the stag, but it ran away from them. Freya wondered if the stag was still frightened of her wanting to touch it and kept coming every day, gaining the same reaction from the stag. Nimue sat one night with Freya and asked her how she was doing. Freya blurted everything and Nimue asked her a very odd question. "What was different on those two days that the stag seemed closer to you?"
Freya stared at the beautiful centaur and replied: "I don't know. It was the same as always!"
"Are you sure?" asked Nimue and Freya gasped.
"I was alone! On both times I was completely by myself!"
Daffodil seemed hurt and infuriated at Freya's realization. "But I thought I made you prettier! That's a dreadful stag if it can't appreciate my beauty! I was making you a favor!"
"I didn't meant it that way, Daffodil, but perhaps the stag wants me to try getting close to it by myself, alone," Freya said sympathetically.
Daffodil turned her face angrily, ignoring Freya completely, but Freya didn't mind and turned to the female centaur instead. Nimue smiled at her and nodded. It had been Nimue's intention to help Freya realize what she could be doing wrongly. Centaurs didn't like being direct, but to Freya, Nimue had been brilliant.
Freya felt incredibly happy and anxious at the same time as another day arrived for her to try getting to the black stag. She held a breath when she encountered the animal and it glanced at her without fleeing, studying her. "Hello!" she said when she finally breathed. "Is... Is your name Harry? Is there a way to help you?"
The stag walked backwards, but stopped, its eyes fixed on Freya the whole time. "Look, I know all about the evil inside you. I... I truly think there is a way to destroy it." Freya bit her lower lip when she saw the creature walk backwards a little more. "There must be a way to destroy it without releasing it upon the world yet again!" The stag stayed still, staring at her. "Would you let me try to help you? I want to do it. I really want to because... Because..."
She almost imagined a voice asking her 'why', but she didn't have an answer. Why did she want to help the stag? Why had she obsessed about it? Why did she leave her home to come all the way to an enchanted forest in Scotland? Was she mad? Why had she done all that? The stag seemed to be expecting an answer, but Freya seemed to have lost her train of thought and the black stag left. Freya dropped on her knees and wailed, her breathing coming in difficult gasps until she was wheezing. For one whole hour she cried, but recovered and went back to the centaurs.
Two days passed without Freya bothering to go to the stag, but then after that she regained her courage and on the third day she went, full of resolve, to try again. To her amazement the black stag seemed to have been waiting for her and Freya hardened her gaze. Bright green eyes locked with hers and she felt the question within her soul again, but with more words. "Why have you come here? Why do you want to help me so bad? Why haven't you given up on me?"
It took great effort for Freya to open her mouth, but she did. "I don't know. Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe it's just that I... Maybe..." The black stag left once again and Freya kicked the nearest tree.
Summer came and Freya always encountered the black stag, but never had an answer to why she was even there. She was furious with herself, angered at her stupidity, but something was different that day. Her heart was beating fast and she had a feeling that she had her answer at the tip of her tongue. Once again questions invaded the depths of her mind. "Why do you want to break the curse? Why do you want to free me when you don't even know me?"
Freya screamed the words, not even knowing if what she was doing was right. "Because I care! I've done everything because I care! I have this book, you see?" Freya showed the stag Hermione's journal that had been underneath her shirt. It has your whole story and many nights I cried thinking that you needed help. Ever since I was six years old I shed tears for you, for the wizard that was cursed when he tried to save the world. It's horrible that nobody tried to save you!"
"I didn't save the world. I killed but one wizard and millions of people died because I slayed that dark lord. For one death too many innocent lives were lost. I deserve my curse and I deserve to die."
"It wasn't your fault! You tried to do what was right! You couldn't have possibly known he would release that plague upon the world, plus he had already cursed you! You did everything you could to save humanity and in the end you sealed the evil and many lives were spared. To this day many Muggles live in tranquility thanks to you! You cannot dwell on that past! What's lost is lost, but life goes on!"
Freya started to walk towards the obsidian stag, tears running down her cheeks. The black animal was petrified, not moving one inch. In only a minute Freya was in front of the creature. She didn't care that it smelled like all animals do. She didn't care about whether touching such a wild animal was hygienic or not, she simply cared about the fact that the stag had once been a young wizard and that he needed to be saved, perhaps not only from a terrible curse, but from himself. Freya embraced the stag's neck, bathing it with her tears. At that moment the stag started to fight a little to free itself from the girl's arms, but she didn't let go and after a while it stopped moving. "Come with me," Freya said. "Come to my home. I'll take good care of you. Please?" The stag didn't make any gesture, but after Freya freed it, it followed her towards the village of the centaurs.
Many centaurs stared at the boyish girl that arrived at the village with the mysterious black stag behind her, but none uttered a single word. The next day Freya gave her thanks to all the centaurs before bidding them farewell, mounted Clow, allowed Daffodil to attach herself to her white t-shirt this time as it was summer, and left. She had received plenty of food for her trip from the magical creatures that were registered in Wizarding books as beasts, but to Freya, centaurs weren't beasts at all.
During the following days Freya was in high spirits. Every once in a while they had breaks and ate and at night they slept together. If anyone had seen them, such a person would have thought he was imagining things as a horse, a black stag, a fairy, and a human girl peacefully sleeping together had to make a very strange sight.
The day arrived when at last Freya was close to the land where her home was. During the last days she had spoken more to the stag than to Daffodil, annoying the fairy badly, but Freya felt that the stag needed her the most. She gave plenty of hugs to the black animal even if it couldn't hug her back. On their way, being only kilometers from the Weasley houses, the stag stopped in its tracks all of a sudden, as if recognizing where they were heading to. It started to walk backwards looking afraid. "What's wrong? What's wrong... Harry?" Freya immediately climbed down from Clow.
The stag looked at the girl. So far she had never called it directly by name until now. "I can't go there," were the words that stormed into Freya's mind.
Freya realized then that Harry remembered what the Weasley land had been called before. She had almost forgotten that Harry had been Ronald Weasley's and Hermione Granger's friend. "Oh, Harry... It's all right. Harry, it's been so long. They are long dead, you know?"
"I know, but still..." The stag walked backwards a little more.
"Harry! The Burrow is no more! It's only houses, Harry! It's only Weasley houses put together!"
The black stag seemed to consider for a few minutes and then moved forward to Freya's relief, but it suddenly fell to the ground convulsing. "Harry! Harry! What's happening?"
"Maybe he's dying?" suggested Daffodil. "He is quite old, you know?"
"No!" Freya cried and she embraced the shaking creature. "Please! I promise I'll take care of you! I'll never leave you alone! I will love you, always! You will be part of our family!" Freya placed quick kisses on the animal's fur as she wailed.
The stag stopped shaking and Freya kept crying loudly with her eyes closed. She ignored Daffodil, who was trying to tell her something, but then she opened her eyes and screamed. She wasn't holding a stag anymore, but a bespectacled young man in tattered wizarding robes from centuries ago. Freya let go of the boy and this time, she was the one to step backwards. "You... You... Harry?"
Harry was kneeling on the earth and looked at his hands, then at Freya. "It can't be," he said in a throaty voice. "What happened to the evil?" He suddenly stood with difficulty and looked desperate. "It's been released! It will kill people again! The seal has been broken!"
"No, Harry! There is no evil! Look around you!" Freya exclaimed, although full of doubts herself.
"We fairies know that when the evil was originally released it started to destroy many things in its path, the heavens went pitch black, and there was an eerie howling wind. I don't see any of that," Daffodil stated proudly. She felt she was being a great help as she was so full of knowledge in her opinion. She thought Harry and Freya were almost simpletons.
Harry looked around, perplexed. "But how?" He then remembered his headmaster from Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, who always said that the most powerful magic of all was love. "You broke it!" he said in realization. "Because... You loved me even when you didn't know anything about me."
Freya's tanned face turned crimson. It wasn't love like in the case of her parents, but she had truly cared about the black stag. She had even planned to build it a small house beside the stables, but now... "I guess I loved you, but..." She turned redder when Harry's arms hugged her back for the first time. He had been unable to do it when he had been a stag.
It was evening when they arrived and the whole Weasley family was surprised by what Freya had brought home. Her mother was stupefied and her siblings and father had the same reactions along with her grandparents and other relatives. The only one who really rewarded Freya with a smile was her great grandpa Ron, and he cried afterwards.
Some days later the great grandfather didn't wake up one morning. He died full of joy for he had seen the boy that had been a stag, the boy he was never meant to save, but at least he was able to see the one who broke the curse in the end. Everyone mourned the once jolly old man, especially Freya, but with Harry by her side supporting her she was stronger than ever. Daffodil, who had also remained with them, tried her best too in making Freya feel better. As the days passed, Harry became part of the Weasley family and he recovered little by little from the sense of guilt he still had inside his heart. He became Freya's best friend and magic started to return to the world with the sudden revelation of an Ollivander descendant who realized the secret of how wands were made; and not only that, but Muggles started to create technology like centuries before as if the knowledge had suddenly returned. Three years later the Weasley family celebrated an unusual wedding, the wedding of a girl named Freya Weasley and a young man named Harry James Potter, a man that for many years had been the legendary cursed black stag.
For love is the greatest magic of all.