"Lumos," Abed and Troy said in unison as they began trudging through the Forbidden Forest, wands raised. It was well past midnight.

The two boys stepped over moss-covered logs and protruding roots, squinting and unsure as to where they were headed. It was windy, so Troy raised the hood of his jacket to avoid the chill.

"This beats potions class, that's for sure," Abed commented. "The professor's humorless wry demeanor in combination with the fact that the classroom's a dungeon is almost too cliché to handle."

Troy chuckled. "Snape," he muttered. He began to dance around goofily. "Oooh, look at me! I'm Professor Snape! Mmmm, potions! Formality! England!" He stirred an imaginary cauldron and turned up his imaginary collar.

"You're killing me," Abed said, not laughing but one hundred percent sincere.

They continued walking.

"What did you think about charms?"

"Now that was cool. Wingardium leviosa," he said to the nearest pebble with a swish and flick of his hybrid birch-carbon polymer wand. The rock wobbled back and forth as if readying for take-off, but never left the forest floor.

Troy threw him a sympathetic look. It was his turn now. Wingardium leviosa. A fallen fir branch slowly levitated to their eye level, synchronized with Troy's wand movement. Abed raised his eyebrows, clearly impressed.

"Watch this. Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee r! Whooooosh. Guhguhguhguhguh." Troy maneuvered the branch through the air like an airplane, completing barrel rolls and loop-de-loops. Abed watched in fascination.

"Anyway," Troy deflected, crashing his branch into a tree trunk because he didn't want to seem like a showoff. "Why's this place off limits?" he gestured to the forest which now surrounded them. They had ventured so deep into the woods that the school was indiscernible when they looked back. "There's nothing here."

"Ten minutes have elapsed with nary a nocturnal beast-sighting," Abed commented. "I would have thought that by now we'd be running for our lives or kidnapped or caught by Deaneldore. This is disappointingly un-cinematic."

They continued onward, eyes on the lookout for anything strange. Abed stifled a yawn as he nimbly skirted a bog of some sort, leaning on a trunk for balance. The bark beneath his fingers, the soil beneath his feet—everything was so ordinary. There was nothing magical at all about this Forbidden Forest. Nevertheless he put one foot in front of the other, lost in thought.

"Ouch!" Troy blurted abruptly as he stubbed his toe on a particularly gnarly root. He kicked it with his other foot in frustration. It was really hard to see by wand light alone. He stooped down to tie his left shoe, muttering to himself at how uneventful this night had turned out to be. No confrontation with a giant or a werewolf, no discovery of hidden treasure, no actual flying squirrels. Ugh. Make one bunny ear, then the other. Tie into knot. Double-knot for good measure.

When he looked up, Abed was gone and the forest was pitch black save for his own illumined wand.


Troy immediately panicked. "Abed?" he whispered intensely. "Abed!" He was running now, looking in every direction.

"Abed! I'm serious! This better not be a dumb trick!"

An owl swooped down and nearly sideswiped him.

"God! Move, you stupid owl! My friend's in danger!" He swatted crazily. And then he saw it: the faint glow of a wand in the distance. It wasn't moving.

"Nox," he muttered, not wanting to give his position away as he moved toward the light as quickly and noiselessly as possible.

He got closer and closer, tiptoeing until he was only 30 feet away. The light was still as stationary as ever. Something was definitely up.

Troy crouched down and waddled forward, careful to avoid stepping on dry fallen branches. He squinted. The man holding the lit wand was none other than Professor Snape.

"What…the hell?" Troy remarked inwardly.

Snape was talking animatedly (for him, at least,) with someone—something— Troy had never ever seen before in his life.

Centaurs. Now that's more like it.

This centaur, however, wasn't at all how he'd imagined. He wasn't regal in the slightest, his flanks and upper body were quite flabby and he was, well, Asian. What was he doing talking to Snape?

This is the weirdest night.

Snape at this point had begun to storm off toward the school, but the male centaur followed him, his cloven hooves clopping on the forest floor. He was imploring Snape about something, but Troy was too far away to distinguish the particulars of their conversation. He was just as confused as ever—and still hadn't the foggiest idea where his friend was. He waited in his crouched position, just in case Snape and the mystery centaur dude returned.

"Psssst! Troy!" a voice whispered intently. Troy looked about himself wildly.

"No, Troy. Up here!" the voice whispered again.

From the branches above him, Troy spied the silhouette of Abed's skinny legs dangling lazily in the limited moonlight.

"Jeez," Troy sputtered in relief, already beginning to ascend the nearest tree to join his friend. "I thought you were dead. Let's invest in walkie-talkies."

"—or their magical counterpart."

"Whatever… Just—don't do that again!"

"Snape showed up and I had to hide. But this gave me a great idea."