D/C: All the stuff you recognize out the HP books is J.K. Rowling's. Anything you don't recognize is most likely mine.

Chapter 1

The Forbidden Forest

It was an ordinary night, if you could call any night in the wizarding world ordinary. The sky was its usual color of blue black and speckled with stars and shining planets. The only creatures that noticed the stars on a regular basis are the centaurs, for they are great astronomers and astrologers, or in Hagrid's words 'Ruddy stargazers.'

Firenze stood in a small clearing in the Forbidden Forest, gazing up at the stars, figuring out their secret meanings. There was Jupiter, beautiful as always though nothing much would affect him from that position in the sky. And Cancer was rising in the east. That wasn't anything major either. Now Mars, on the other hand, Mars was unusually bright. Again.

Almost five years ago, Firenze remembered Mars being the exact same way. It had been a time of danger. You-Know-Who had appeared at Hogwarts in the form of Professor Quirrell, and had been defeated by the young Harry Potter and his friends. This obviously meant that something bad was going to happen and people had to be warned.

But who? He couldn't go and tell Dumbledore. He would be too conspicuous. It was quite hard for a centaur to walk into the school and ask to see the Head Master without questions being asked. He would have to tell Hagrid. Hagrid would tell the Professor and everything would be fine. Just fine. Firenze turned his thoughts back to earth. He would go now, before his thoughts caught up with him and turned back to the stars.

Firenze listened to the quiet, cold night breeze. Yes, he had heard something. He turned toward the direction of where it was and peered cautiously into the dark shadows. Nothing. It was just his imagination. He walked onward alone towards Hagrid's hut.

The black shadow grinned menacingly as Firenze passed it unknowingly. Prey, it thought to itself. Prey that knows too much about what his Master was doing. The black shadow knew what the centaur had been thinking. It knew that Firenze had made the connection with the event that had happened only a handful of years ago. Cursed Stargazers! Why do the heavens have to know so much? The shadow let out an ear splitting howl that made every creature within the Forbidden Forest shake with fear even though they did not know what it was. The shadow began to stalk his chosen prey.

Firenze glanced behind him. Nothing, he told himself. Nothing was there. There were no other prints besides the ones made by his hooves. But the Howl! It was closer than he would have liked it to be. He hoped it was nothing at all. Maybe a wolf that lived near by and felt the need to disturb the Forest's peace. Yes a wolf. That was it. A wolf. Firenze steeled himself and continued on.

The shadow stayed a few paces behind. Far enough away to remain undetected yet close enough to keep in striking distance with his prey. The centaur unknowingly had chosen a path that went through a densely packed area of tall, thick trees. The black shadow knew a chance when it saw one. This would be the only chance it would have to get the centaur before its idea could be told to someone who could ruin its Master's plan. It ran a few paces forward to get in front of the centaur and leapt.

Firenze never saw the shadow come at him, but by instinct turned only slightly. This saved his life, for the creature had been aiming at his throat and hit only his heavily muscled chest. With all his strength, Firenze grabbed the creature, trying to pull it off. It claws had already sunk into his flesh searching for his heart. They wrestled. The shadow hoping to kill the centaur; the centaur hoping only to live. Firenze could feel the claws ripping through skin and muscle and sinew. He didn't have much of a chance to win the battle, but he wouldn't die without a fight. A scream of pain and suffering escaped his throat. The last thing that Firenze heard as he drifted into the blackness of deep sleep, or maybe death, was the twang of a crossbow and the slight "whump" of the creature falling off him into the no longer pristine snow.



{Author's Note: I know this is a short chapter, but more is one the way. I needed an intro of some sort and this is how it is going to be started. R & R please. I want opinions on my writing. This is the first time I'm letting people other than my close friends read what I write. I don't care if I get flamed or slashed or whatever. I just want ideas on how to improve. Thanks- Nataly Ravenlock}