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Ever since learning how to summon his Animagus form and transform a month ago, Harry discovered his sense of smell, sight, and hearing were amplified. Sounds were clearer and his vision, which had been excellent before thanks to the surgery, was now even sharper, especially his night vision. As for his sense of smell, that was improved fivefold from what it had been. His reactions and movement was changed slightly as well, he walked quieter and more gracefully than he had previously.

When he asked Severus about these things, the older wizard explained that most Animagi experienced a kind of "overlap" when it came to their animal form's senses, after they had been practicing for a month or so, their human senses became more acute and occasionally so did their movements. Now Harry understood better why Snape always seemed to hear the slightest whisper during class and how he managed to move like a ghost.

Though there were good points about his enhanced senses, Harry discovered there was a downside too, as he tended to startle at unseen noises now or abrupt movements, things which he wouldn't have registered two weeks ago were now quite distracting to him. The wind blowing through the trees now sounded like something screaming and he could hardly sleep at night sometimes. He could smell the dinner they had eaten last night still in the air and the whirl of a mote of dust was enough to make him jump if he saw it out of the corner of his eye. It was enough to drive him insane.

"How can I turn it off?" he asked Severus after they had returned from another ramble in the forest. He was rubbing his ear, for he could hear quite clearly the subdued roar of the Silmareen, even though the river was miles away from the house.

"You can't, I'm afraid. Heightened senses are an Animagus's gift. What you can do is learn to block most of the extraneous noise out." Severus said. "It's most acute when you first start shifting, then it fades a little, but your senses will always be sharper than normal."

"That's how you can hear people whispering in class without looking, right? And how you can move so quick without using magic."

"Yes. The snow leopard form gives me a heightened sense of smell, sight, and hearing and also grace and speed and I am somewhat stronger than a normal man." Severus informed him. "Come, Harry. I can teach you how to compartmentalize your mind, so that all the stimulus you're processing doesn't overwhelm you."

He led Harry into the den and walked him through the basic meditation exercises. Then, once Harry was centered and focused, Severus showed him how to take the sound of the Silmareen he'd been hearing and to put it in a small box in his mind, along with the other distracting noises. It took about fifteen to twenty minutes for Harry to do that and once it was done, he found the volume of noise and scents and so forth to be dulled slightly, enough so he wasn't startled all the time. It was a vast improvement.

"No wonder some Animagi go insane," Harry muttered, wiping a sheen of sweat from his brow, for it was nearing the middle of July, and even in these mountains, summer was swelteringly hot.

"And that is why a fledgling Animagus must always have a proper master to teach him," Severus said. "So things like that don't happen. Your mother and father were very lucky not to get themselves in serious trouble experimenting with their Animagus shapes."

"I wonder how they figured everything out on their own?" Harry mused.

"They didn't. I instructed your mother the way Professor McGonagall did me, and she in turn passed on my teaching to your father and his friends." Severus said, struggling to keep a sneer from his face as he recalled the rest of James's friends, the arrogant bully Sirius Black, whose Animagus form was a big black mutt, and the sly coward Pettigrew, whose form was a rat, and last but not least, Remus Lupin, who was a werewolf. "Had your father and his friends known where Lily was getting all her information, they probably would have dropped dead of shock."

Harry knew that Severus and his father had a somewhat checkered past, though he didn't know all the details and he didn't want to push Severus into telling him, since the memories were clearly unpleasant and Harry didn't want to ruin their summer dredging up things best left asleep. So, despite his curiosity, he kept his questions about his father's misspent youth to himself, resolving to ask Hagrid when he returned to school in the autumn. Hagrid had known all about James, Lily, and Severus when they were in school and would cheerfully share stories with Harry.

Besides getting extensive lessons on shifting, Severus also tutored Harry a bit more in certain defense techniques, teaching him the Burning Hex and its opposite the Quenching Hex. He lectured his son quite sternly about using the Burning Hex, stating that it was not meant to be used frivolously, and never as a prank, since it could easily create a wildfire and burn everything in its path. "You never use it to light a fire either. For that you use the Fire Spark Jinx-Pyro."

"Okay, Dad. I'll remember that when I need to light up a cigarette," Harry joked.

The look on Snape's face was priceless-a mixture of shock, alarm, and anger. "Excuse me?" he said in a soft deadly tone. "I had better never catch you smoking anything, young man. It's a filthy disgusting habit that will bring you nothing but grief and if I ever find out you have cigarettes, cigars, or heaven help you, marijuana stashed away, Harry James Snape, you will be the sorriest boy on the face of the earth."

The look he gave Harry then wiped all traces of mirth from the boy's face. "I . . .I was only kidding, sir. I've never smoked a cigarette."

"Don't start. Ever." Severus ordered crisply. "Otherwise you'll regret it, and not merely because of my punishment. It ruins your health, is very addictive, and you have no reason to take chances that way, considering what you're up against."

"Yes, sir. It was just a joke."

"Humph. In poor taste," snorted the Potions Master. Then he relented at Harry's abashed look and said, "Take it as a warning. Now, I believe we were discussing defensive spells. Another classic spell is the Disarming Charm, incantation Expelliarmus! Properly cast, it will knock an opponent's wand out of their hand, but it can be blocked, and if you're fighting a duel to the death, I would advise you not to use it, since most wizards know the counter, it's a standard taught in most dueling clubs and academies."

"There's such a thing as dueling club? Does Hogwarts have one?"

"They used to, when we had a competent Defense Master. I shall suggest to the Headmaster that we begin one again, when we return to school for the new term. Considering the threat we may be facing, we might need to teach more than Ministry approved spells." Severus said darkly.

"Will you be teaching it, Dad?"

"That is up to the Headmaster. I could do so, but he will most likely select the current Defense teacher to do so, though I will volunteer to be his assistant, that way if he is a complete dunderhead, I can teach the basics without too much trouble. There is nothing worse than a poorly tutored Defense student, they are a danger to friend as well as foe." He drew his wand, they were standing in the meadow just beyond the garden gate. "Let us practice the Disarming Charm. On three . . ."

* * * * * *


After the somewhat intense Defense lessons, Harry was glad to relax for a bit, flying on his Nimbus or shifting into Whisper for a romp or two in the woods before supper, or just reading in the den. He had read most of the novels in the library, for he found them relaxing, and when he wished, he could devour books as quickly as Hermione. He found several mysteries in there by authors he had never read before, like Steven Saylor, Peter Ellis, and Michael Jecks. Those were like sweets to him, and he gulped them down evening after evening, reading companionably with Severus. Contrary to popular belief, Severus was not always reading potions journals, he too enjoyed a good novel on occasion, and was currently reading an old Sherlock Holmes tale.

But some evenings, Harry was restless and could not settle down, and it was then that he wished he was allowed to roam the forest alone in his Animagus form. The night was in his blood, for leopards, like most cats, were mostly nocturnal and nothing made his heart race and his blood quicken like a good stalk in the moonlight.

Wraith had begun teaching him how to hunt, and he had caught his first mouse a few nights ago, and was eager to try to hunt bigger prey, like a rabbit. Not only that, but Ebony's kits were also roaming the forest during the evening hours, and Whisper loved playing with them. The foxes were lively and mischievous, full of tricks and cunning, and the little leopard always learned something new when he was with them, such as how to catch frogs with a paw in the shallows of the river, or how to disguise your scent by walking backwards through running water.

The onyx foxes were magical in nature and the kits could blend in with any patch of shadow, remaining hidden in plain sight from all but the cleverest hunter. Not even a wyvern could find an onyx fox that didn't wish to be found. The midnight foxes were allies of the woodkin and often served as sentries to the woodkin holts, warning the forest dwellers when danger was near by a special high-pitched bark.

Our dad, Swift, is sentry for the woodkin clan Woodberry, Glisten, the oldest female kit, told Whisper one evening. That's why he's almost never at the den, because he patrols the forest. There have been reports of a rogue wyvern, one who broke with her clan and now hunts where she should not, preying on anything she can catch.

Her brother Shadow trembled. Mama says that's why we need to stay close to her and not wander off, because the wyvern loves the taste of young fox.

Whisper mewed in distress. Does it like to eat snow leopards too?

Starmist yipped an affirmative. Yes, I'd say so, Whisper. Dad says a wyvern will eat whatever is slow and easy prey, and that includes snow leopard cubs.

After that, Whisper had scurried off to crouch beside Wraith, shivering and imagining he felt the wyvern's eyes upon him from above. Wraith had calmed his frightened youngster with his tongue and purr, reassuring that no wyvern would dare attack a fully grown leopard, especially not one as large as Wraith. And it would have to go through me to get to you, cub, so there's no need to fear. Wyverns prefer easier prey, they don't like to fight for their dinner.

That conversation had taken place yesterday evening, and once Harry had transformed back into a boy, much of his instinctive fear had vanished. Now he was very restless and eager to go out on another evening ramble. Severus was reading and showed no signs of wanting to go into the woods, but Harry could not settle and ended up pacing up and down.

By the fourth time the boy had walked back and forth in front of the fireplace, Severus could not take it and lowered his book to his lap and said irritably, "Is there a reason you're pacing like a trapped leopard in a cage, Harry?"

Harry halted. "Uh . . .I just can't seem to sit still tonight. I feel all . . .I don't know, jumpy and I want to run and run until I'm tired." He gazed at his father pleadingly. "Can we go and hunt, Dad? Please?"

"Harry, I'm tired and don't feel like stalking anything tonight," Severus demurred. "You've had a Defense lesson already and flown your Nimbus, you ought to be ready to spend the rest of the evening quietly, meditating perhaps?"

The eleven-year-old huffed a sigh. He didn't want to be calm, he was itching to prowl in the moonlight. "C'mon, Dad. We can hunt for an hour and then I promise I'll go home without a problem. Or if you don't want to hunt, can we at least go and visit Ebony and her kits? You could take a nap and I could play games with them or whatever." Harry persuaded, turning the full force of his emerald eyed gaze upon his father.

Snape was not immune to it, much as he tried to pretend otherwise. He frowned, thinking that he should just tell the boy no and that would be the end of it. He indulged the boy too much, he thought irritably. And yet, he could remember what it was like when he had first discovered he was Wraith, how he had longed to run and jump and play in the moonlight every evening, no matter how many classes he'd had that day or how much the Marauders had tormented him. Becoming a snow leopard had been a kind of escape from being Severus Snape, outcast of Slytherin. I must have driven poor Minerva utterly mad, asking to shift forms all the time. It's a wonder she didn't dose me with a Sleeping Draft or smack me upside the head for being such an annoying little brat. Yet he could never recall McGonagall being short with him, she had been patient with her newest Animagus, and Severus had worshipped her for that small kindness. He supposed it couldn't hurt to follow her example, and so he agreed to his son's request.

Harry punched a fist in the air and grinned like a maniac. "Thanks, Dad! You're the best."

Snape rolled his eyes. I can't believe I'm doing this. I'm becoming a pushover. "Remember, one hour and then we go home. No arguments. You owe me one, Mr. Snape."

"Whatever, Dad. I'll grind mallow root or something for you tomorrow, okay?" Harry was so excited he was practically dancing. He turned and raced out the back door, startling Rellah, who was polishing some silver candlesticks.

"Where are you going in such a hurry, Master Harry?"

"To hunt, Rellah."

"Good, bring me back a nice plump coney that I can braise in some red wine and pepper."

"Will do, see you later," Harry called over his shoulder, jumping down all the porch stairs at once and landing lightly on his feet. He waited impatiently for Severus to come outside, for the one iron clad rule Snape had for shifting was that Harry was never to shift without adult supervision for the first two months. If he ever caught Harry breaking that rule, he would ground his son for a month and not allow him to shift for the duration of the grounding, as well as giving him a couple of good whacks. Harry had no wish for his father to carry out that punishment, and so he controlled his impulse to shift immediately and waited until the professor had appeared on the back porch before exchanging fur for flesh.

Snape just shook his head at the happy cub frisking about his ankles, and walked across the garden, Whisper gamboling at his side, and through the gate and across the expanse of meadow before blurring into Wraith's form.

He was immediately assaulted by an overexcited little leopard, who jumped up and licked him under the chin before spinning about and trying to catch his tail. Whisper whirled in circles three times before falling over in a heap, his blue-gold eyes gleaming with delight. Dad, we need to catch a rabbit for Rellah. She asked me to. 

Oh? Then we shall have to find a large enough one for her rabbit fricassee. Wraith purred. But we have time for that. First, let us pay our respects to Ebony and her family, they ought to be down by the Silmareen, hunting crayfish and frogs.

Wraith led the way to the Silmareen, which was home to a delicate freshwater crayfish that the onyx foxes loved, and he was fond of also. Sure enough, the three kits and their mother were fishing, standing paw deep in the rushing water, peering intently into the depths.

Suddenly, Ebony darted her head beneath the water for an instant. Then she emerged triumphant, a silver and red crayfish in her jaws.

Yay, you got one, Mama! cheered Starmist. She had yet to master the art of catching a crayfish, but she could catch frogs sometimes.

Ebony crunched the hard shell of the crustacean, killing it swiftly, then she trotted to the bank and set it down. They would feast upon it later, when there was enough for all. She lifted her head at the snow leopards' approach. Welcome, Wraith and Whisper. The crawfish are running tonight.

Hi, Ebony! Hi, Shadow, Glisten, and Starmist. Whisper cried, frisking up to the elder fox and nuzzling her so hard he nearly knocked her over.

Easy, young one. You're a bundle of wildfire tonight, aren't you? Ebony remarked, keeping her feet through experience, for her kits often attacked her en masse to play.

Whisper, behave! rebuked the elder leopard. You know better than that, young one!

Sorry, Mistress Ebony, the cub apologized, embarrassed at being scolded so smartly in front of a guest.

No harm done, young cub. Why don't you go and help Misty, she hasn't caught anything yet and I think she's becoming discouraged.

Okay! Whisper padded down to the bank and after a moment's hesitation, stepped into the water.

Unlike most cats, the leopards did not mind water, and would swim in it if they had to, and Whisper trotted over to where the smallest onyx fox was fishing and hissed, Need a paw, Misty? 

Yes, thanks. Can't manage to snag one of the dumb water bugs tonight, the kit yapped, sticking her muzzle into the water and then shaking it when she came up empty.

Together, Whisper and Starmist watched the water, the Silmareen flowed gently here and they could see down to the bottom, amid the small rocks and mud where the crayfish dwelled. Several minutes passed before Whisper caught a glimpse of a crayfish claw and pounced, using a paw to scoop up the crustacean.

Starmist yipped and attacked the crayfish, biting it swiftly behind the head and killing it before it could pinch either of them with its claws. Nice one, Whisper. Toss it over on the bank.

Whisper did so, and soon it was joined by four others, plus a bunch of unwary frogs.

Then Ebony called the cubs in and together they feasted upon the river's bounty, offering some to the two cats first, though neither was hungry and they declined politely.

Whisper began to lick himself dry while the foxes enjoyed their meal, listening to their soft growls of contentment and the soft crunch of shell as they tore into the crustaceans. Soon all that remained was a pile of crayfish shells. Sated, the kits bounded up to Whisper and invited him to a game of tag.

The little cub looked questioningly at his father, who nodded, and then he joined his friends and they tore about the clearing, running with the boundless energy only a young animal had.

Ebony padded up to sit next to Wraith, wrapping her bushy tail about her feet. You look a bit tired, old friend. The cub wearing you out? 

Tonight, yes. He was too restless to stay in our den and convinced me to come here. I feel like taking a nap, the big leopard yawned. He lay down and curled his tail, which was almost the entire length of his body, about his face.

Go ahead, I shall watch the younglings.

I appreciate it, Ebony. Wraith shut his eyes and was asleep in seconds. But though he slept, he did not sleep deeply, and his ears were ever alert for any strange noise or sound, and he could wake at a moment's notice.

Some fifteen minutes later, he was awakened by Ebony barking angrily, Children, where do you think you're going? You know you're not to leave the river without asking. Come back here this instant! 

What's happened? Wraith cried, instantly alert. He sprang to his feet, looking about for his son. He saw neither cub nor kits in sight. Where are they?

Run off after a rabbit or something, I believe, the fox snarled. One minute they were wrestling, the next they were bolting after the rabbit quick as blue lightning. Just wait till I find them! They'll be feeling my teeth in their rumps, sure as the moon's round.

I take it my son is with them?

Ah, yes, I think he was leading them, he mentioned something about a rabbit for dinner. Ebony snapped exasperatedly.

That foolish little idiot! I told him we would hunt the rabbit together, growled the snow leopard. His tail lashed in fury. When I catch up with him . . .I just might give him the smacking of his life. He knows better than to wander away like that.

Don't worry, we'll find them, Ebony soothed and sniffed the air. She could smell the scent of all three of her offspring, plus Whisper. They went this way, Wraith. She trotted off into the woods, her small paws making no sound over the ground.

Wraith stalked after her, silent as a shadow on the wind, gritting his teeth. This would be the last time his son ever pulled a stunt like this one, he vowed. Especially now, with a rogue wyvern sighted somewhere nearby.

Meanwhile, Whisper and the fox kits were in hot pursuit of the large hare that had come down to the river to drink and had not seen the cub or the foxes until it was too late and they had already spotted him. Then he had bolted as fast as his furry feet could take him into the underbrush, with the pack of foxes and one large snow leopard cub hot on his trail.

He went this way, I can smell him! whined Glisten.

No, really? I thought he might have flown up a tree. Shadow barked mockingly.

Hush, you two, I'm trying to concentrate, snapped Starmist, who had the best nose out of them all. She cast about into the wind and then tore off to the left, yelping, Here he went, this way, c'mon! Yip-yip-yoo!

Whisper followed, his large paws making no sound, his pupils wide so he could see in the darkness as if it were brightest day. He could not only smell the hare, but he could hear it as well, it's breathing harsh as it ran full out, searching for a place to hide.

But the fox pack was clever and soon they split, Shadow moving around in front and driving the stricken hare back towards his sisters and Whisper. The hare had led them in a wide circle and now ran back towards the river, hoping to elude the hunters that way.

Only it had forgotten that the two adult predators were there, having just started tracking their disobedient offspring.

The hare ran full tilt into them and before it could gasp, Wraith had seized it by the throat and shook his head hard, once, breaking its neck mercifully. There's your rabbit, Rellah. Now I just need to find my son and then I can go home.

He set the dead hare down inbetween his paws, and sniffed the breeze. He could smell the scent of excited fox upon it and also one very naughty leopard cub. They're coming this way, Ebony. 

I know, I can hear them, the onyx fox growled, scuffing her paws in the dirt. They didn't have long to wait, for in about five minutes three foxes and Whisper burst into view, panting and yipping.

They skidded to a halt when they caught sight of their parents, glowering at them in extreme disapproval.

Uh oh, whimpered Shadow. I think we're in big trouble.

Whisper gulped and assumed a repentant expression. Boy, am I ever, he thought uneasily, eying his father, who looked mad enough to chew him and spit him out. Head lowered and tail tucked in, he walked over to where Wraith crouched over the dead hare, guilt written in every line of his body.

Uh, hi, Mama. Glisten whined.

Ebony growled angrily and nipped all three of her kits hard, making them yelp. Back to the den, all of you! What do you mean, running off like that into the forest? Anything could have happened to you. There's a wyvern somewhere around here and you just decided to wander off like three fluff-heads!

We're sorry, Mama, sniffled Starmist. We just wanted to catch the rabbit.

No excuses, you all know better. If I've told you once I've told you a hundred times . . . Ebony snarled. Just wait till your father hears about this . . .all of you are grounded until further notice . . .She herded her cringing offspring down the path to their den, barking a quick farewell over her shoulder to Wraith, who was glaring at his son with a look that could have frozen a fire.

Whisper trembled, for he had never seen the bigger cat so angry. Dad? I . . .I'm sorry. I didn't mean to run away, I just wanted . . .Owww!

He yelped sharply as Wraith's hard paw smacked him on the rump. It stung terribly and the cub immediately started bawling. Sorry . . .sir . . .oww . . .I forgot . . . 

You forget too much. We'll discuss further consequences at home. Come, his father ordered, lifting the rabbit in his jaws and pushing his sobbing whimpering son ahead of him.

They crossed the woods in silence, Wraith's disapproval hanging over Whisper's head like a dark cloud of doom. They had just reached the edge of the woods when Wraith halted and blurred into his human form. "Change, Harry. Now."

Whisper looked up at him forlornly before changing back into Harry. He hung his head, unable to meet Snape's gaze. "I didn't mean to run off, sir-"he began.

"Save your breath and the excuses," Severus cut him off. He thrust the dead rabbit into Harry's arms. Then he took his son by the shoulders, shook him hard, turned him around and smacked him twice. Harry yelled, for Snape had swatted him harder than usual, much harder. "Go straight to your room, young man, and wait for me. I'll be back after I've calmed down enough so I won't throttle you."

Harry nodded, wincing, tears in his eyes. Then he started back towards the twinkling lights of Malachite Cottage, sick with shame and apprehension. Merlin, but I am so dead. He's going to beat me senseless this time, I just know it.

He glanced back over his shoulder to see Severus blur into Wraith once more and stalk off into the trees, fighting to control his flashfire temper.

Harry walked slowly across the meadow, holding the hare by its feet, and sniffling. He halted to rub the sting out of his bottom, wondering uneasily if he was going to find himself over Severus's knee later on that night. He had never seen the man so furious, not even after the battle with Quirrell. Well, okay, maybe it had been equal to that time, but still . . .

He was so intent upon his own misery that he almost didn't notice the large shape lying in the grass in the middle of the meadow.

"Huh? What the bloody hell . . .?" he cried, coming to a halt in front of what looked like a gray horse, badly bruised, slashed, and bleeding. "How did you get here?"

The horse picked up its head and moaned, trying to get to its feet. It was then that Harry saw the wings, folded along its sides, badly torn and crumpled. The animal's eyes were wild and frightened, it was badly injured yet still fighting for life.

"Easy, fellow. I won't hurt you," Harry whispered, putting out a hand to stroke the winged horse's muzzle.

It snapped at him feebly.

Harry drew away. "What the hell did that to you? A person or an animal?"

The gray pegasus did not respond, save to tilt its head towards the sky, as if searching for someone.

Harry was at a loss. He wanted to help the poor thing, but Severus had told him to go straight to his room and he didn't want the older wizard to be any angrier with him than he already was. The horse was eyeing him warily now, Harry could see more blood and slashes along its side and on its rump, and blood soaked the ground beneath its hooves as well. It was probably in a great deal of pain, and Harry could not stand to see anything so badly mauled or whipped or whatever without trying to help. Dad's gonna kill me regardless, so I might as well go in for a pound as for a penny, whatever that means.

"Listen, horse, I won't hurt you. I only want to help, you're bleeding really badly and I can stop that with a spell if you'll let me, so don't kick my head in, okay?" he drew his wand and chanted the incantation to the Blood Halt spell, which Severus had taught him in case of an emergency.

The blood slowed and then trickled to a stop. Harry breathed a sigh of relief.

Then the winged horse rolled over, trying to gain its feet. It struggled hard for a moment and then was up, swaying on its hooves, but standing. Its head was higher than Harry's shoulder and now that it was on its feet, Harry could see the extensive damage done to its wings and shoulders. He felt his stomach churn, for the poor creature looked as though someone had literally flayed strips off it.

"Oh Lord, you're a mess. I don't know how you're still breathing. You need my dad, he's better at this kind of thing than I am."

The winged horse swung its head around and looked into Harry's eyes. To his astonishment, Harry found himself staring into a pair of indigo irises, and then he heard a soft weary voice in the back of his head say, There is no help for me, young one. All I ask is that you make my passing swift, for I cannot bear to never fly again.

"You can talk!"

Only to those who have the wit to understand me. You are more perceptive than most, boy. The winged horse dropped its head to its knees, breathing harshly. It's a pity I meet you now, when the Pale Horseman has summoned me to his side.

"The Pale Horseman?"

Otherwise known as Death. Quickly, boy. Do what you must, for I'd rather not be aware when the wyvern returns to feed.

"What wyvern?"

The one that hunts these mountains, that attacked me as I flew searching for a likely place to rest. Suddenly the winged horse stiffened, nostrils flaring. She returns, boy! In the name of Equus, Lord of Horses, make it quick!

Suddenly Harry understood what the pegasus was asking of him. "Dear God, you want me to . . .kill you . . .No! I can't!" he backed away, horrified. "That's wrong . . .no . . .!"

The injured stallion, for it was a male, let out a sharp neigh of despair. Please, I beg of you . . .she will tear me to pieces slowly, at least grant me a peaceful end . . .

"Who will?" Harry practically screamed in frustration. "There's no one here but us."

It was then that he heard the unmistakable sound of huge wings flapping.

Harry craned his head towards the sky, and bit his lip, the blood freezing in his veins.

For there, coming in fast from the northwest, was a gigantic blue and yellow mottled wyvern, similar in shape and size to her dragon cousin, only with two limbs instead of four, claws outstretched and mouth gaping wide, keening a challenge.

The pegasus stallion shrieked in terror and made as if to run, but his injured left hind leg gave way and he crumpled to the ground. Run, boy! Save yourself, it's me she wants.

But Harry remained stubbornly in front of the pegasus. "We'll see about that." He raised his wand, chanting the Shield Charm. "Protego!"

A brilliant corona of blue light burst from the end of his wand and covered both himself and the dying pegasus.

Harry concentrated hard, summoning all of his will and power, and thrusting it into the Shield Charm. He only prayed it would hold against the wyvern's strike.

The wyvern hovered, her huge yellow eyes burning with hatred. "Thief! Steal MY dinner, will you? I think not!"

Then she shrieked a battle cry and dove towards the wizard and the crippled stallion, talons outstretched, death come to claim her own.


Chapter End Notes:

Get ready for a battle next chapter! Sorry for the cliffie.

Oh and in case you were wondering, Harry can practice magic in the glen because Severus lives there and it is a known wizarding residence, which means the Ministry expects any underage magic performed there to be strictly monitored by the adult wizard and kept to a minimum.

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