Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns everything related to HP. Some of the lines in this chapter leading up to the attack are taken directly from "Forbidden Forest" in Sorcerer's Stone. I'm sure you'll be able to tell which part is mine and which is J.K.'s. :D
Encounter in the Forbidden Forest
Sitting on one of the comfortable sofas in the Gryffindor common room, Harry Potter, a first-year Gryffindor, sighed dejectedly when he reread the note in his hand for the hundredth time. It was the same note that his fellow first-year Gryffindors, Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger, received as well at breakfast. It was all because of that no-good first-year Slytherin prat Draco Malfoy. He just couldn't keep his mouth shut. Only slightly did Harry feel better knowing that Malfoy also had received the same note that Harry currently clutched in his hand.
Your detention will take place at eleven o'clock tonight.
Meet Mr. Filch in the entrance hall.
Professor M. McGonagall
"We should start heading down, Harry," Hermione quietly spoke.
"Yeah," Harry replied sullenly. Oh, what he would do right now to punch that arrogant Slytherin in the mouth. However, he knew that it wouldn't do any good. They'd only be in more trouble with their Head of House. Harry and Hermione quickly inclined their heads towards Ron before making their way down to their funeral, well, the entrance hall. Neville followed closely behind.
Argus Filch was already waiting for the trio with Malfoy standing close by. Filch wore his familiar gleeful sneer as he gave them an once-over. Between Harry and Neville, neither boy was quite sure which one was worse, Snape or Filch. The caretaker just had that creepy look to him that made one suspect he was an axe-murderer or something in a past life.
"Well, follow me, brats," Filch snarled before leading the four young first-years outside.
As they made their way across Hogwarts' dark grounds towards the familiar hut at the edge of the Forbidden Forest, Harry's stomach clenched even tighter. At first, he believed it to be his guilt for disobeying his teachers. However, now he was rather convinced that it had something to do with the sinister forest looming up ahead. He didn't know how to describe it, but he just felt as if something horrific awaited him in there. Not wanting to become an even bigger disappointment, though, Harry strode forward with Neville and Hermione at his sides. After all, what really was the worst thing that could happen? This was Hogwarts, a school. It wasn't as if he'd be facing another life or death scenario.
"I bet you'll think twice about breaking a school rule again, won't you, eh?" the caretaker, Filch, said with a sickening smirk. "Oh yes. Hard work and pain are the best teachers if you ask me. It's just a pity they let the old punishments die out . . . hang you by your wrists from the ceiling for a few days—I've still got the chains in my office—keep 'em well oiled in case they are ever needed."
Those lovely remarks didn't calm any of the students' nerves. Neville was nearly in tears, while Hermione looked positively horrified. Harry couldn't see Draco since the blond was walking in front of him, but he did notice the slightly pause in the young Slytherin's step before he continued following. Harry, however, was likely the worst off. Filch's words never ceased their echoing in his head. He wasn't sure how much more remorseful he could be for his teachers, but he'd definitely try if it meant he didn't have to hang from the ceiling by his wrists.
"Is that you, Filch?" a loud, familiar booming voice suddenly yelled from the direction of the hut. "Hurry up, I want ter get started."
Temporarily, Harry felt his hopes rise slightly. If their detentions were with Hagrid, then it surely wasn't as bad as Filch made it seem. Hagrid was a gentle half-giant and one of Harry's first magical friends. There was no way he would allow anything bad to happen to young Harry, no way.
"I suppose you think you'll be enjoying yourself with the oaf? Well, think again, boy—it's into the forest you're going and I'm much mistaken if you'll all come out in one piece," Filch sneered with a malicious look in his soulless eyes.
Every bit of optimism in poor Harry vanished. He then noticed the others' reactions. Neville and Hermione were white as ghosts. However, it was Draco's reaction to the news that drew the most attention from Filch. The blond aristocratic Slytherins stopped instantly and paled even more than the Gryffindors.
"The forest?" repeated Malfoy as if he hadn't heard it or believed Filch's words. "We can't go in there at night—there's all sorts of things in there—werewolves, I heard."
"That's your problem, isn't it?" Filch replied with his wicked smile. "Should've thought of them werewolves before you got in trouble, shouldn't you?"
The horrible feeling in Harry's gut increased tenfold automatically. Trouble had always followed the young Gryffindor anywhere he went. In a way, he figured trouble was his middle name. After all, it was not that long ago that he, Ron, and Hermione faced down a fully-grown mountain troll, his broom did a bucking bronco impression high above the ground during a Quidditch match, and he met Fluffy, the three-headed dog in the third floor corridor on the right hand side. And that was just his few months in the Wizarding World, not including his Muggle world near-death encounters.
At the Dursleys' house, whenever something bad had happened, it was always Harry's fault. However, since age four, Harry was rather convinced that the Dursleys would blame the world ending on him if they could. Even then, he knew his relatives hated him. On occasion, they even had the nicety to inform him of their depth of hatred by sneering that they never asked whomever to saddle them with a whiny freak like Harry after his parents' deaths. Then again, the Dursleys, particularly Uncle Vernon, were no-good fat liars who needed a good kick in the arses.
"About time," Hagrid said with a crossbow in his hand and Fang, his dog, at his side. "I bin waitin' fer half an hour already. All right, Harry, Hermione?" he asked with his warm friendly gaze turned on them concernedly.
Harry tuned out Hagrid and Filch's gentle bickering. He had nearly lost his lunch and dinner twice now, and the waiting was only making it worse. He swore the next time he, Hermione, or Ron wanted to sneak out, they wouldn't. Suddenly, he felt eyes on him from the direction of the Forbidden forest. His bright green eyes glanced towards the sinister trees, but he saw nothing.
"I'll be back at dawn," said Filch coolly. "For what's left of them," he added nastily, fixing all four students with his horrific smirk before briskly walking back towards the castle.
"I'm not going in that forest," Malfoy spoke with an edge of panic in his voice.
"Yeh are if yeh want ter stay at Hogwarts," said Hagrid fiercely. "Yeh've done wrong an' now yeh've got ter pay fer it."
Once again, Harry tuned out the conversation. He was definitely certain something was watching him now. However, every time he glanced in the direction of the eyes, he saw nothing. It got to a point where he was seriously questioning his sanity. Something was watching him. Something just had to be because he couldn't rid himself of the creepy feeling in his gut.
"Right then," said Hagrid, "now, listen carefully. Cause it's dangerous what we're going to do tonight, and I don't want no one takin' risks. Follow me over here a moment." The half-giant brought them over to the edge of the forest. "Look there," he instructed, pointing at the liquid coating the ground. "See that stuff shinin' on the ground, silvery stuff? That's unicorn blood. Summat hurt a unicorn in there badly. This is the second time in a week. I found one dead last Wednesday. We're going to try to find the poor thing. We might have ter put it out of its misery."
"And what if whatever hurt the unicorn finds us first?" said Malfoy with a hint of fear in his usually calm and collected voice.
"There's nothin' that lives in the forest that'll hurt yeh if yer with me or Fang. And keep ter the path. Right, now, we're going to split inter two parties and follow the trail in different directions. There's blood all over the place. It must've bin staggerin' around since last night at least."
At first, the groups were Hagrid, Hermione, and Harry. However, due to Malfoy being an idiot and scaring Neville half to death, Harry later was stuck with the prat and Fang. His urge to punch the Slytherin had increased greatly. Though, he wasn't going to . . . yet. So far, after a half an hour of walking, they only found more blood, but soon they found the poor dead beautiful creature.
Harry stared at the disgusting yet oddly beautiful sight. A noise near him, however, made him and Draco stop in their tracks. Something was in the bushes. As Harry remained staring at the quivering shrubbery, light prickling in his lightning bolt scar very slowly reached his senses.
The feeling was rather peculiar because it had only reacted this way before once, and that had been during his Sorting Ceremony. At that time, Harry convinced himself that it was just a coincidence that Snape was glaring at him. However, in horrifying comprehension staring at the dark figure in front of him, his green eyes widened. Snape was out to kill him!
"HELP!" yelled Malfoy as the dark figure stalked towards them, growling sinisterly. When the black robed figure suddenly leapt towards Harry, Malfoy screamed at the top of his lungs, "POTTER!"
Suffering under a wordless and wandless casting of Petrificus Totalus, Malfoy was positively helpless to watch what he knew had to be a wizard brutally attack the small Gryffindor. His gray eyes soaked in every horrific injury the figure inflicted on Potter. He heard every scream, which Malfoy screamed just as loud inside his mind. No one deserved that, no one!
Fighting harder against the magic, the young Slytherin tried to think of every countercurse his godfather had ever taught him during their times together. After all, someone had to help Potter, and it sure as hell didn't look like it'd be Hagrid since the gamekeeper had yet to arrive. Trying his best to ignore the heart wrenching noises coming from Potter, he continued running through his list of countercurses. In the back of his mind, he could hear Potter's pleas for his life as the attack raged on. It only made Draco more frantic to find that stupid countercurse. After all, there wasn't a single area on his once-archenemy's body now that didn't have the sickening thick crimson cover it.
After the fiftieth utterance, Draco finally fell forward. He finally found the right countercurse. Drawing his Hawthorn wand as fast as humanly possible, he yelled the one spell that he knew would cause the most damage. Hatred fueled his casting. He wanted nothing more than to kill this monster.
"CONFRINGO!" screamed Draco, putting every ounce of his magic behind his casting. When the jet of light slammed hard against the figure, he nearly cheered. That was until the unnatural red eyes darted towards him. The blond Slytherin bit the inside of his cheek to keep from whimpering.
Suddenly, though, something whizzed past Draco. It took the Slytherin a few seconds before he realized that it was an arrow. He whirled around and nearly collapsed in pure ecstasy when he saw the half-giant wielding the familiar crossbow and firing numerous arrows at the dark robed figure. Soon the sinister figure retreated into the darkest reaches of the forest. They were going to be all right, Pot—NO!—Harry and Draco were safe. However, safe was a subjective term.
Slowly, the blond walked to his bloodied classmate who lay limply on the ground. He dropped to his knees and gently picked Harry up. His fingers trembled, but Harry's pulse was there, just barely.
"Back up to the castle with ya. Gotta . . ." Hagrid then sniffled in efforts to act calm, "get Harry up ter see Poppy." Tears streamed down the giant's cheeks, which was similar to the other students.