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The mottled yellow and blue wyvern dropped from the sky like a fallen comet, talons outstretched to rend and tear the small boy who had dared to defy her and steal her rightful prey. She did not particularly care if she killed a human, even though the treaty the magical creatures had made with the White Lady so long ago still held and forbade the killing of humans. Anneska had been declared a rogue and outcast from her clan for nearly killing her leader's son in a duel over lair rights, and as a rogue she was denied hunting privileges, thus having to forage for food elsewhere. The pegasus stallion was the largest animal she had managed to bring down yet and she would be damned if some scrawny human was going to steal her kill. Especially not an apprentice mageling.

"Wizardling!" she screeched. "I shall flay you alive and eat your liver while your heart still beats!" Anneska detested the wizards who lived in the glen, for it was they who had declared certain places and creatures forbidden for wyverns to hunt and eat. She feared the elder black-robed one, but this young one was no threat.

Her talons slammed down into the glowing blue sphere, and the shield buckled under the force of the wyvern's strike, but it did not break. Anneska let out a sharp cry of rage and shot upwards, intending to dive once again upon the blue globe, perhaps if she threw enough weight and speed behind it, the protection would shatter.

Harry remained safely encased within the globe, the words to the Burning Hex upon his tongue. He had never cast the spell before, but he feared that tonight he would have to, and he was scared, scared of causing a wildfire and scared that he wouldn't be able to cast it and end up as a wyvern's dinner. Dad, where are you? I know you're out there, I'm sorry I made you so mad. Now could you please come back and help me?

The wyvern was diving again, he could see her silhouette against the rising moon. Sweating, he poured more of his magic into the Shield Charm.

Behind him, the stallion stirred, whickering, You should have run while you had the chance, boy. Still, I'm grateful for the assistance, even though you've doomed us both. It is a good day to die, as the Cheyenne would say.

Harry turned to look at the horse, who had managed somehow to get to his feet again. "Maybe so, but we're not dead yet."

The back door to the cottage slammed and Rellah came out onto the porch. "Master Harry? Master Sev? Are you there? What is making that awful racket?"

"Rellah!" Harry yelled. "Get back inside! It's a wyvern!"

"Stars and Shadows!" the woodkin cried. "Master Harry, where are you?"

"Here, in the meadow! Just go inside, Rellah, please!" The last thing he needed was for the woodkin to get killed trying to find him.

Then the wyvern slammed into his shield again and he could feel it start to unravel. "Damn, damn, damn it to bloody hell!"

Anneska tried to bite down on the globe, but it repelled her, and she growled and lashed her tail hard, its venomed stinger smashing into the blue shield over and over.

"Get away from my master, you poxy carrion eater!" shrilled Rellah, vanishing from the porch to reappear just in front of the garden gate. "It is forbidden to come and hunt here, by the treaty of the White Lady."

The wyvern swung her head about, streams of saliva dripping on to the ground. "I am a rogue and no longer follow any law save my own. Be off with you, tree hugger, before I use you as a toothpick!"

"Rellah, RUN!"

But the woodkin was glaring at the wyvern, her eyes burning and a look on her face that Harry had never seen before. "This is MY place, rogue! No one threatens my master, dragon kin! Take your smelly carcass away right blasted now, in the name of Diana the Huntress!"

Then Rellah thrust out her hands and what looked like a tiny glowing ball flashed from them.

The wyvern snorted. "Is that best you've got-AIEEE!"

The glowing ball smashed into the rogue, knocking the big beast head over tail, sending it flying halfway across the meadow.

Harry gasped. "Holy flaming hells!"

Rellah dusted her hands off on her apron. "That'll teach you. Even a wyvern isn't immune to a woodkin Repel Charm." She looked up and spotted the glowing blue shield. "Master Harry, are you all right? Where is your father?"

"Uh, he's . . .not here right now. It's a long story. And I'm fine!" Harry called back.

Across the meadow, Anneska was climbing to her feet, hissing and shaking her head to clear it.

Meanwhile, Wraith was pacing around in a clearing, trying to get a handle on his temper. He regretted raising a hand to his son while he was so angry, he had hit harder than he had intended. Not that Harry hadn't deserved it, but still . . .being angry when issuing punishments left the door wide open for possible abuse, and Severus had vowed long and long ago to never set foot on that road. Calm, Sev, calm. Find your center and let the anger go . . . Let it go . . .He exhaled sharply, allowing the pent up negative emotions to flow out with each breath, leaving behind only the sharp tang of regret and a firm resolve to choose his son's punishment fairly.

I think perhaps a two week grounding from his Animagus form and a few hours of laundry and scrubbing cauldrons should work . . .

"Wizardling! I shall flay you alive and eat your liver while your heart still beats!"

Wraith stiffened, for those words had been snarled in the hoarse cough of an enraged wyvern. He recalled Ebony's warning of the rogue wyvern and felt his heart go cold within him. An instant later he was racing through the trees, heading back towards Malachite Cottage. He was only two hundred feet from the meadow, but it seemed to take ages to reach it. Harry, I'm coming! Merlin help me, let him be all right.

The great snow leopard was a blur as he bounded over the ground, entering the meadow just as the wyvern got to its feet, slightly stunned from Rellah's Repelling Charm.

Wraith crouched low, a silent intruder, unseen and unknown even to the wyvern's keen sense of smell, for the wind was blowing the leopard's scent away.

In the next instant, Wraith was airborne, springing in one mighty leap atop the serpent-like creature, striking with all four sets of claws. No one hurts MY son! The great cat yowled, digging into the leathery hide and raking hard.

Anneska screeched, the fiery sting in her back and shoulders was terrible, and she writhed and jerked her head around, trying to dislodge the six hundred pound cat atop her.

Wraith clung, his jaws biting down hard on her neck, trying to sever her spinal cord. But the wyvern's neck was the best protected part of her, armored with overlapping hard scales that resisted Wraith's jaws. He gnawed down with all of his strength, but couldn't administer a killing bite quickly.

"Dad! Her tail! Watch for her tail!" Harry warned, seeing the wyvern's whip like tail with its bulbous stinger snap back and then forward.

Wraith released his hold and tumbled off the wyvern just in the nick of time.

The stinger crashed down onto Anneska, and the enraged female keened sharply. She was immune to her own venom, but the stinger had stabbed her in a delicate spot at the base of her neck. She flapped her wings hard, trying to fly up and attack her opponent from the air, but Wraith sprang at her again, his claws catching her across the snout and opening red wounds.

"You will pay for that, leopard-wizard!" spat the wyvern, and she snapped her head down and bit the furious leopard on the shoulder.

Wraith shrieked, as much from fury as from pain and pulled away, leaving a good bit of his fur and a long strip of skin in her jaws. The leopard circled, limping slightly, blood trickling down his foreleg to stain his snowy pelt crimson. But he snarled defiance nevertheless.

Come on, hellbeast! Try and finish me, you gutless piece of shoe leather! growled Wraith, referring to the practice some wizards had of making footwear out of wyvern skin.

Anneska saw red at the insult and lunged at the cat, who danced back out of the way, taunting the big lizard. "Your hide will be decorating my lair, cat-mage! And I shall sleep upon it and be warm!"

Harry felt sick at the sight of his injured father, and the wyvern's last comment broke something inside of him. "Eat this, you overgrown bat!" Then he pointed his wand and shouted, "Incendio!"

Fire blasted from the end of his wand and struck the wyvern full on.

Unlike her dragon cousins, Anneska was not immune to fire and Harry's spell, cast with all the force of his magic, fueled by guilt and love, caught her off guard. Before she could fly or jump away, she was engulfed in golden and white flames.

Her dying scream echoed into the silent night as the wizard fire reduced her carcass to ash.

Wraith quickly transformed into Severus, who pointed a finger and cried, "Aguamenti!" quenching the worst of the blaze so it would not burn out of control. But the majority of the wyvern carcass was still burning. Severus coughed, for the reek of burning wyvern was most unpleasant.

Harry stared at the smoldering remains of the wyvern, only then realizing he had actually killed something intentionally. Then the scent of roasted wyvern hit his nostrils and his stomach rebelled and he was violently sick. He threw up everything in his stomach, which wasn't much, then spent the next minute or two retching.

When he at last looked up, he found Severus beside him, one arm hanging limply, bleeding sluggishly from the wyvern's bite. Harry wiped a hand across the back of his mouth and cried, "Dad, your shoulder . . .!"

"It looks worse than it is, I can fix it," Severus reassured him softly. "Are you hurt, Harry? Did she get you, son?"

Harry shook his head. "No, but I thought she was going to . . .that's why I cast the Burning Hex . . ." He threw his arms about his father's waist and all of a sudden he was crying, sobbing hoarsely into Snape's chest. "I'm sorry . . .it's my fault you're hurt . . .!"

Severus put his good arm about the slender shoulders, holding Harry close. "There now, son. It's all right. I'll live." He patted the child on the back, but Harry continued to cry, fear and guilt combining into a hard ball in his stomach, babbling apologies inbetween sobs. "Harry, really, it's not a mortal wound, God help me, there's no need for you to make such a fuss."

Severus coughed awkwardly and ran his hand through his son's midnight hair, staring out at the pyre that was all that remained of the rogue wyvern. He was astonished that Harry had managed to cast such a powerful version of the Burning Hex on his first attempt. Most apprentices could manage a fire the size of a campfire their first try, but Harry had started a bonfire hot enough to roast a wyvern. Then again, seeing your father nearly getting eaten by said wyvern was probably a great motivator, he thought wryly.

"Master Sev, Master Harry, are you okay?" Rellah cried, running across the meadow to clutch both wizards in a hug. "Don't ever scare me that way again, y'hear!" she scolded, then she burst into tears as well.

Christ on the cross, two of them! Severus groaned inwardly, and tried to comfort the woodkin as well, patting her on the head.

After a few moments, Harry got control of himself, and drew away from Severus. "You sure you're okay, Dad?"

"Yes, my shoulder hurts like hell, but I'm not going to keel over and die from it. It's stopped bleeding now," he indicated the way his sleeve had stuck to the cut, forming a crude bandage.

"I shall see to it once we are inside, young master," Rellah promised, dashing away the last of her tears and eyeing her master severely.

Severus sighed and muttered, "As you will, Rellah."

Harry swiped a hand across his eyes, feeling his cheeks flush, but he was too relieved his father was alive to feel horribly embarrassed at overreacting like that. An instant later he recalled the injured pegasus and said, "Dad, you've got to come and help this poor pegasus, he got attacked by the bloody wyvern and she was coming back to finish him off when I found him."

He pulled the Potions Master over to where the gray pegasus stood, maimed and bloody. The stallion lifted his head and neighed softly. Thanks to you, wizards, for slaying that she-beast. I wish I could repay you fully but I fear I am not long for this world.

Severus cast a diagnostic and shook his head. "You've lost a great deal of blood and those lacerations are infected and your wings are badly damaged, but I think I can mend the worst of the damage."

"Dad, you can understand him too?"

"Yes, this is a Silver Arrow pegasus, and his breed has a limited telepathy, meaning he can speak to those who also are sensitive to mind magic."

Such as you and the boy. The stallion stared intently at Severus. Can you truly restore me to full health, wizard? Including my wings? For if not, please grant me death's mercy, for a pegasus who cannot fly might as well be dead. 

"You can save him, can't you, Dad?" Harry asked, and in his voice was the utter conviction of a child who believes his parent can do anything. "I'll help you."

Severus examined the stallion again. He could tell, even injured and half-dead, that the pegasus was a magnificent animal, a product of the finest breeding program, most likely, and possessed an incredible will to live. It seemed a terrible waste to have to put the winged horse down. The Potions Master's jaw firmed.

"I'm going to try my damn best, Harry. Fetch me a cauldron of hot water, soap, cloths, a small bowl, Pain Reliever Elixir and my quick-healing salve." He paused, then turned to Rellah and ordered, "I'll need several green sticks for splints, a roll of bandages and my suture kit, Rellah. I can mend most of the damage with potions and spells, but some of those membranes might require a few stitches."

"Coming right up, Master Sev," Rellah bowed and vanished.

Harry cast Summoning Charm after Summoning Charm, for that was the quickest way to get Severus the items he needed.

Meanwhile, the Potions Master rolled up his sleeves and cast a Disinfecting Charm over his hands and arms.

The gray stallion watched and neighed softly, Best see to yourself, wizard, before you work on me, I don't want you fainting on me.

"The name's Severus Snape, and I'm fine. I can wait, you can't."

That's a matter of opinion, Severus. The Pale Horseman rides away from me now, I think. Equus Horselord bless you for giving me aid. My name is Boreal, of the Silver Arrow lineage, late of Dublin, Ireland though I was born across the sea in Kentucky, in the United States. My sire was Firefox, two-time winner of the Skybolt International Championship, and my mother was Freedom, a wild pegasus who was never tamed.

"Huh? What's that mean?" Harry asked, puzzled.

"It means he was once a racing pegasus, Harry," Severus answered. "Sired by one of the greatest flyers in the history of the sport."

Indeed, my sire was unbeatable, he could outfly any pegasus ever foaled, declared Boreal proudly. Once I had hoped I could match his record, but now . . .He turned his head to gaze sadly at the wreckage of his wings.

"Don't give up, Boreal," Harry said, laying a hand on the gray stallion's shoulder. "My dad can heal mostly anything, he saved my life four times already. You'll fly again."

Boreal nuzzled the boy's shoulder. I pray to Epona, Mother of Mares, that it will be so. My wings are my life.

Rellah appeared with the rest of the items Severus had requested, and the Potions Master turned to his patient and his son and said, "Harry, cast Lumos Maxima for me, I'm going to need plenty of light. Now then, Boreal, we shall see if I can restore you to flight status. Rellah, give me the Pain Reliever Elixir first and the small bowl."

Harry chanted the Great Light spell, his wand lighting up like a searchlight, so Severus could see everything clearly, and watched as his father attempted to save the gray stallion.


 



Chapter End Notes:


What do you think of Boreal?

And how should Severus punish Harry for his latest escapade? Some consequences were mentioned, but I'm open to other suggestions.

Next: Severus attempts to live up to Harry's expectations and save Boreal.

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