Title: Centaur Childer
Author: InferiorBeing
Main Pairing: Harry/Draco… eventually…
Side Pairing(s): to be updated as side pairings show up
Rating: PG-13 or T
Warnings: homosexuality/heterosexuality, human body transfiguration, implied relationship between a Centaur and a human (eventually), copious references to Greeko/Roman mythology (explained in footnotes for those who need them), and copious usage of Latin
Disclaimer: Insert witty sentence about how I lay no claim to owning anything owned by JKR here…
Summary: Hagrid refuses to leave Harry with 'those' muggles, but there is an accident when bringing Harry to Hogwarts which results in Harry being raised by Centaurs.
Additional Author's Note: Please read, you guys know I only write these for important reasons!! Not in this chapter, but most likely starting next chapter there will be A LOT OF LATIN! Like spoken Latin, not just Latin spells. As always, for those of you familiar with my stories, I will place a literal (sometimes figurative) translation next to the Lain in parenthesis for those who need it. In an effort to justify myself, I am a Chemistry/Latin double major in college, so I do know what I am doing. However, I will admit that I haven't yet taken the dreaded "Latin Prose Comp" class, and I am human, so I will most likely err a few times in my composition. If you are also a Latin fanatic like myself, and you see an error, please let me know and I shall be happy to take it into consideration/argue grammar with you/fix it. Please though, if you are going to make such a comment, be aware of whether I've given a figurative or literal translation… I've had people attempt to behead me for a figurative translation… let's not do that again, ok? It's for the glory of the Roman language, not for my ego. Other than that, please enjoy my forays into what I consider the most beautiful language ever spoken.

Chapter One: The Childer

"Magorian, he is dying."

"No!" Magorian's reply was more forceful than physical assault would have been, as he cradled the dark-haired body in his arms. The torso twitched and thrashed wildly in his hold, slick with sweat, moaning pitifully as the mare body below the torso struggled to give birth.

"Please, Magorian," Firenze tried again to plead with the head of the herd. "Bane will die, too, if the foal is not removed. The foal is already dying. There is nothing we can do."

Bane's own head shook back and forth as Magorian struggled to hold him steady. "Don't… let them," the mare Centaur's whisper was harsh against the muted sounds of the Forest. "Please…"

Firenze looked away as the stallion Centaur's face grew clouded. There were too few foals born to Centaurs that each one was precious. It was not as it had been, when Centaurs had ravaged the countryside – no longer could they procure mothers for their race from among humans. The wizards had seen to that. Now they could only rely on those of the herd born with the trappings of a mare to produce new generations. But there were few of those; most Centaurs were born geldings. Just as the birth of a stallion brought Centaurs great joy, so was the birth of a mare in these times.

Yet, to throw away a foal was a great loss, mourned more than the death of a fully grown Centaur. And this would be Magorian's foal that they would allow to die. Bane himself would rather die than allow that to happen.

For once a mare Centaur failed to give birth, that Centaur would never be fertile again. Bane would sacrifice his life - without a thought - for this foal, because without it he would be worthless to Magorian.

He was a fool, Frienze had often thought, if he could not see that Magorian treasured him much more than just as a father for his foals. But Bane had never been able to see just how much the stallion Centaur did care for the mare Centaur that he had fought for and won so long ago.

"Firenze." Magorian's voice was thick with sorrow, even as the stony features refused to allow any emotion upon their countenance. "Kill the foal."

Bane wailed and thrashed at the words, but Magorian was unmoved, watching with fathomless eyes as the foal was birthed quickly once dead. The mare's movements grew still – too still – as the umbilical cord was cut from the corpse.

"He would have been a gelding," Firenze said at last, into the stillness. Neither parent responded. Gelding or not, it was the loss of a foal. And not only one foal, but any and all foals that Bane might ever have birthed for Magorian.

Bane was listless in Magorian's arms, his breathing slow and ragged. However, with attentive care, he would live, and Firenze did not need to tell Magorian that. He suspected it was all Magorian could think of at the moment.

An ominous sound, like thunder, rolled through the clearing, coming from the east. Magorian was alert in an instant, but he did not move from his spot on the hard ground.

One of the scouts burst into the clearing. "Something approaches the Forest. It flies low to the treetops."

Not for the first time, Frienze saw Magorian torn between duty and what he personally wished to do. But duty to the herd had always stood between Magorian and Bane, and tonight would be no different.

"Firenze, you will remain here. I will return shortly." Firenze moved to sit in Magorian's place, to keep Bane's head off the hard ground beneath him, as the leader of their herd stood and quickly headed towards the east.

The clearing quickly became silent – as silent as a clearing in the Forbidden Forest could be. Firenze almost thought that Bane had fallen asleep, but his breathing was not quite regular enough for that. If the mare wished to pretend such, however, Frienze was not going to stop him.

He was a bit surprised when Bane spoke, though when he heard the words he was not surprised that Bane had said them. "He will need a new mare now."

"He will not want one." The reply was easy – anyone in the herd could have told Bane that. Bane would not have believed any of them.

"I am useless now-"

"Magorian did not fight for you because he viewed you useful," Frienze cut him off. As one of the few from their herd who had been there when Magorian had fought off six other stallions for Bane, Frienze could state that with certainty.

Bane scoffed. "Magorian leads the herd. It would be wrong for him not to have foals."

"Magorian has enough 'young' to take care of among our younger warriors and the other foals of our herd. I assure you, he will not feel slighted." Bane started to protest but Frienze stopped him. "The sadness Magorian feels now is that he could not give you a foal, Bane, not that you could not give him one. The strongest among us, who has lead us for centuries, and yet he still could not save both you and the foal. It is his own failure that he feels, not yours."

Bane fell quiet, listening to the sounds of the Forest, and pondering what Frienze had just said.

Magorian stopped in the center of the circle of Centaurs who stood on the eastern ridge of the Forbidden Forest, listening as the sounds of thunder grew louder.

Only it was no thunder; it was nothing of nature's make. It was of humans made.

"How dare they bring such a monstrosity to our Forest," one of the warriors snarled, his fingers tightening around his bow in an obvious wish to use the weapon.

"It comes to the castle, not to us," another, older, warrior rebuked the younger.

"Strange for it to approach from this way," Magorian spoke, and the others fell silent to listen. "The foals arrive at the castle from the west and avoid the Forest all together."

"Then this is no foal," another warrior jeered.

The rumbling grew louder and louder as they waited and, upon the horizon, a black form appeared. Instantly, all the warriors lifted their bows, aimed at the… thing… that might intend harm to their Forest.

It was black, and made a truly horrid sound as it flew, leaving a stench behind it on the wind that Centaurs normally associated with muggles and not wizards. Strange, then, that it must be a wizard using it; Magorian was certain that the muggles had not yet designed one of their horrid replacement horses for flight.

It flew low over the treetops, frantically, as if the rider was barely keeping control of his beast. It bounced and hopped as it hit the tops of the trees more than once.

"Is the rider not the half-giant who often visits our woods?" one of the older warriors asked, lowering his bow slightly to get a better look.

"So it appears," Magorian murmured, stepping closer to the edge of the cliff. What was the fool thinking, doing such? He was obviously not skilled at riding that particular muggle-made beast.

The black beast jarred once more, heavily, against a massive branch, as it neared them, and something fell from it. Magorian almost ignored it as the beast hurried past them, making a wide arc towards the castle, but then another sound drifted over the treetops as it fell.

A wail. The wail of a newborn.

Several warriors cried out in shock as Magorian cantered into the Forest, towards where the bundle fell. They could not understand his haste, and he did not bother to explain, as he raced into the clearing underneath the wailing bundle.

It was a near thing; he almost didn't catch it before it dashed upon the hard roots of the Forest floor.

"Magorian, what is it?" one of his warriors called out as they all joined him in the clearing.

"Why is it making that noise?"

"What are you doing?"

"Silence." At his word, they immediately fell silent – all except the newborn, who continued to cry. "It is a human foal."

There were sounds of disapproval. Some called for him to dash it upon the rocks or leave it where it had fallen. Others reminded him that this was not as it had been, that humans would soon be after their missing foal.

But that did not matter. "The foal was abandoned as a newborn," he stated, turning back towards the cliff. "Under Old Law, it is ours if we wish to raise it."

"Raise a human foal?" one of them called out in disbelief.

Magorian ignored him and the others who called after him before the older warriors told them to be silent. It was Old Law, the Rite of Childer, and though it was archaic, even wizards would obey it. Their new modern laws could never overrule the Old Law.

Magorian would not have cared even if they did. He had failed to give Bane one foal; he would not fail again. The Gods were always the ones who influenced humans to abandoning their young, it could not be a coincidence that this one had been abandoned mere minutes after the death of Bane's only foal.

Perhaps even he had begun to doubt in the Gods, who seemed so weak in the face of time and the works of humans. He would not doubt again.

Bane had drifted into sleep, only to awaken in an instant, as the heavy hoof-falls, which could only be made by Magorian, drew near.

Firenze, moving away from Bane now that his coniunx (lit. spouse) was approaching, stalled upon seeing the strange bundle in Magorian's arms, carried carefully as if it was something infinitely precious.

Magorian settled slowly by Bane's side as Firenze moved away from them, careful not to jar whatever it was he was holding.

"What is it, coniunx?" Bane asked, his voice heavy with sleep.

"A Childer," Magorian responded softly.

Bane started in amazement as Magorian carefully placed the small creature in his arms. "No human has resorted to the Rite of Childer in centuries," he breathed.

"No. But perhaps Juno(1) has more influence upon humans than even they believe," Magorian murmured, drawing both his coniunx and the newborn he held into his arms, "that she sends you a foal when Dis(2) has taken yours.

Firenze waited until he was sure Bane had fallen asleep, cradling the human foal, before he spoke. "You know who that must be."

Magorian nodded. "I have read the stars. I know who this foal is."

"Then you cannot be truly thinking of-"

"The Rite of Childer has been invoked," Magorian's words were low in volume, but harder than the strongest warrior's hooves, "No one, human or otherwise, can claim him now."

"You will raise him as a foal? He will soon grow into his own abilities."

"Then he will grow. But he shall be one of our foals."

"They will want him to go to that school."

"He will never be so far out of reach that we cannot bring him home."

Firenze decided he would not press Magorian further. He had already overstepped his bounds more than once, and though Magorian appeared not to have taken offence from his statements, one could never be truly sure. Besides, he reasoned as he left the pair and their new foal alone, Magorian was their leader – the wisest and the strongest of them all. If he said he understood who the foal was, he would understand the problems that would arise from adopting the foal into the herd as per the Rite of Childer.

Loud sobs radiated from one corner of Dumbledore's office, where Hagrid sat weeping uncontrollably. Many of the teachers in the office ignored him as they spoke in low voices, but Madam Pomfrey sat by him, holding one hand and telling him in a hushed tone that everything would be all right.

"We should head into the Forest and retrieve him immediately, Albus," the worried Transfiguration professor spoke. Her tone implied that she was surprised it hadn't already been done.

"I would wager, Headmaster," the Potions professor drawled, "that if Potter even survived the fall into the Forest, he has most likely been found by something already."

The sobbing spiked louder by a few decibels at his words and Dumbledore waited until their gamekeeper had quieted down again before speaking.

"His name is still written in the Book of Enrollment, Severus. Harry Potter is, for now at least, alive. But it is strange…" The Headmaster turned the huge tome he had been looking at towards the two professors. "Look at his name. He is no longer registered as 'Harry Potter', but just as 'Harry'."

"Albus!" Professor McGonagall gasped, pointing to the page.

The Headmaster leaned over the page as a scrawling script began to appear next to Harry's name. It was rare indeed that the Book of Enrollment – created by the founders from a book in Rowena Ravencraft's library – ever added a footnote to a child's name. But it did happen, when there was something about a child which the Book knew Hogwarts itself should know, in order that the child be taught most effectively.

Harry, Centaur

Dumbledore gave the words a long look before a slow smile spread across his face. "So, the Rite of Childer has been invoked."

"Albus, surely that cannot be! The Rite of Childer is so old-"

"It is Old Law, Minerva," Dumbledore nodded, popping a sherbet lemon into his mouth. "And, as such, it surpasses our modern additions."

"I am surprised the Centaurs even wanted to raise a human," Snape sneered, looking almost disappointed that the Potter boy had not met some gruesome end.

"You cannot be thinking of leaving him to be raised there, Albus," Pomfrey called from the corner.

"Even if he has been adopted by the Centaurs, he is still a wizard. He must be raised by wizards," Professor Sprout agreed.

Dumbledore seemed not even to have heard them for a moment as he sat back in his chair. He thought for a moment of Harry Potter's relatives, the ones that he would have had to entrust Harry to. Then he thought of what he knew of Centaurs, and his eyes began to twinkle. "I think it would be best for Harry to grow up with his family."

The women in the room relaxed, while Snape raised an eyebrow. "And which family are you referring to, Headmaster?"

"Why, his only family, of course, Severus!" Albus replied gaily. "The Rite of Childer is very specific. The muggles are no longer his family. I'm sure they would be very relieved to know that."

McGonagall looked positively ashen. "But Albus-"

"Yes, he is not a Centaur, Minerva, but they chose to raise him. All Centaur foals are brought up with the utmost care, and cherished beyond even what our standards of love can provide. And who knows, almost anything is possible with magic. It will be Harry's choice what he will become, which is more than he would have had raised among we humans."

Dumbledore slowly got to his feet and popped another sherbet lemon into his mouth as he headed for the door. "I believe we could all use a good night's rest. Harry's new parents will want to spend some time with him, I think, before they will be willing to speak with someone about his future. I will visit them tomorrow."

That a raven was tapping furiously at the window of Lucius Malfoy's study was no rare coincidence. That one would do so at two in the morning – well, that was something different.

Lucius idly wondered what could possibly be so urgent that Severus Snape would be writing to him at this time of night and ordering his bird to give the letter to him so urgently.

Lucius almost didn't open the window. He was exhausted; there had been Ministry officials combing the Manor all night, looking for proof that he had been dabbling in the Dark Arts and a Death Eater by choice. They hadn't found anything, but it had been hell on Lucius' nerves, to watch them poke and prod at things they had no right to touch.

Yet, with the death of the Dark Lord, what else could he do but clear his name and bear with their idiocy in the process? Hopefully, Severus' message wasn't about that. Lucius had enough of smooth-talking and lying for one night. He wanted to rest, safe in dreams where the Dark Lord had not just been defeated by a mere child. And then tomorrow he would begin again to assure the Malfoy's place in society.

But the raven was most insistent, and Severus would have taken into account how Lucius would feel, being interrupted like this at such an hour, so Lucius wearily accepted the letter and sat down at his desk to read it.

All traces of weariness fell away at Severus' crisp, explanatory words. He read the short letter through twice, before letting it fall to the desk and reaching for his wand. He cast a quick silencing charm upon the room before he allowed himself to lean back in his chair and laugh.

(1)Juno – I'm using the Roman names for the Greko/Roman gods because they correspond with the planets that the Centaurs read. I figure if the Centaurs have a religion (and in my story they do) they'd have to believe in the gods of myth that they themselves come from. Juno(Hera) herself is used here specifically because she – especially to the Romans – was the goddess of marriage and childbirth.
(2)Dis – This is another name, used by the Romans, for Pluto. It comes (directly) from their word "dis" which means "wealthy". They figured that, since all the gold and jewels and stuff are in the ground – i.e. the underworld – that Pluto was the wealthiest god, thus he gets a name to show that. I like using this name better than "Pluto" (if I'm sticking to Roman names and thus can't call him "Hades") because when I say Pluto I think of a dog… ah the legacy of Disney…

Additional Notes: (in which I try to anticipate questions from reviewers)
1. Centaur reproduction – Ok, this will be a rather long one guys, so bear with me please. And also please do not take offence if you love Grecko/Roman myth and therefore have already come to the conclusions I am going to explain for those who aren't as familiar. Traditionally, Centaurs were, in the Greek myth that they originate from (that the Romans then stole…) all male. I'll reiterate: there are NO Centaur females. Disney – in Fantasia – got it wrong, folks. They were animalistic and lustful, the perfect antagonist for the Greeks who valued order and control. As if to add insult to injury, one of the main "crimes" of the Centaurs were that they kidnapped and raped young Greek maidens – which I presume is where more Centaurs came from. This gave Greek males an excuse to exhibit their male prowess and fight/kill the horrific Centaurs. Mmkay? OBVIOUSLY, JKR has made her Centaurs a bit more G-rated… But this leaves us with a problem, doesn't it? If the Centaurs don't or can't (for reasons unstated but assumed) rape women anymore, how the devil do they reproduce? Well… what you see above is my answer. Centaurs are all "male" in that the human part of them will always be male. But as to what's below the human part… well, I'm not a horse rider or anything like that, but in our (admittedly) muggle society you have three types of horses: stallions, mares, and geldings. The third is made such by us for our own petty reasons, but for the sake of the plot which I have constructed, I'm making it so that most Centaurs are actually born that way. I mean, they aren't rampantly reproducing, which is what would obviously happen if there were only mares and stallions… and it sets up the scenario which I had in mind for Harry's adoption.
2. Harry – Centaur or no Centaur? In the VERY far future… like, say in at least ten chapters or so, Harry WILL become a Centaur. I hate to give a spoiler like this, but I feel it MUST be stated now, so that when I come to that point I don't upset anyone who would be squicked at it. Why might you be squicked? Well, read the point below.
3. Harry/Draco – Yes, as you will shortly be seeing, Harry/Draco is coming once they're of age (or something like that). I can't say anymore as it will destroy some of the plot which is coming in chapter two. Harry will, as per my explanation in point two, become a Centaur (through transfiguration skills and such which I haven't really worked out yet). But I don't write sex of any kind, as anyone who has read other stories of mine knows. I'm sorry, I just can't. However, as anyone who has read 'Stigmata' or 'Demon Rising' knows, I am not squeamish. I'm a Latin Major here – Romans fucked anything they could (and then some)! Or, at least, they and their Greek counterparts wrote stories about it. If you are familiar with Greeko/Roman myth (the birth of the minotaur, Ovid's 'Metamorphosis', and any/all of Jupiter's "conquests" come to mind), then this story won't surprise you in terms of what I'll eventually imply. But I shall never write it explicitly, so if you want to pretend that Draco and Harry cuddled for a particular scene, go for it – I won't be disappointed. Harry WILL be a Centaur, Draco WILL still be hopelessly in love with him… in my normal PG-13 way. If you can't handle that, please don't force yourself to read it. (But, is this really a surprise? I know most of my readers will have read 'Black Truth', 'Stigmata', and/or 'Demon Rising' first… I like creature fics. I like them a LOT. So is it really a surprise to my wonderful readers who have read my works before that I've progressed to this? I would hope not.)
4. I will (hopefully) NEVER have another 'Additional Notes Section' this long again…

status: beta'd by Ayeshah Harvey-Lomas