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Harry woke with the dawn and slipped back inside the manor to wash up and take care of certain necessities. When he was finished, he helped himself to some bread and fruit upon the table and drank some water as well. Everyone else in the manor was asleep and he returned to Moon Fire, an apple inside his pocket. The horse seemed more alert and feeling better than yesterday. Harry fed him the apple, and when the horse took it out of his hand, he gently caressed the stallion's forelock.

Moon Fire shied, banging into his water bucket and spilling it.

Harry shook his head. "Now why do I get the feeling we've gone through this before?"

He unlatched the door, murmuring soothingly, and took the bucket away and filled it with clean water. While the horse drank thirstily, he talked to him, telling him who he was and that Moon Fire was not only a horse, but a wizard as well. "You had your memory erased by a spell, but I don't think it's permanent. It's got to wear off sometime. Meantime, you really ought to let me clean those whip cuts."

He fed the stallion, shaking out an Antibiotic Solution over the stallion's oats as well as a Calming Draught.

When Moon Fire showed signs of drowsing, Harry approached him again, with a wet cloth, and started to swab out the cuts. At the first touch of the cloth, the stallion whipped his head about, like a snake striking, and took Harry's shoulder in his mouth.

Harry froze. He dared not move, lest he frighten Moon Fire and make the stallion bite down. "Moon Fire, stop!" he ordered softly. "You know—I know you do—that I'm only trying to help you. Selene's Grace, professor, control yourself! You can do it. Remember who you are!"

He looked deeply into the stallion's eyes, willing the big Arabian to recall what they had shared. "I would never harm you, you silly stallion. Now let go of my arm."

Moon Fire met his eyes, and finally he released Harry's shoulder.

Sighing, Harry went and found another line and cross tied him with them, so he could not turn about and sink his teeth into the wizard. He gently washed all the weals upon the right side of the stallion, then he stopped and spent time petting the horse, telling him about escapades at school, things which he was sure Snape never knew. "I sure hope you don't remember this stuff once you come back, sir. Otherwise I think I'm going to be in detention for life."

The stallion's ears flicked back and he sighed, lowering his head. Harry was relieved he didn't seem inclined to fight and carefully applied salve to the cuts on one side. He waited another fifteen minutes before he went to the opposite side and repeated the procedure.

Moon Fire slammed his tail and his back hoof against the stall to show his displeasure at Harry's ministrations, but he didn't fight the ties or try and kick Harry. Harry patted his shoulder and said, "I'm sorry if I hurt you, but I have to clean out those cuts, they're infected and making you sick. It's for your own good." He carefully applied the paste to the whip cuts. "There! That ought to feel nice, huh? I could just beat that bastard Wormtail to death! He's worse than Uncle Vernon."

Moon Fire neighed in agreement. Once Harry was satisfied the stallion was as comfortable as he could make him, he started to leave and go to check upon Jasmine, for even though Draco had assured him he would see to the mare, the Arabian was his responsibility. But he had just started to approach the barn door when he heard the crunch of footsteps.

He quickly ducked into the tackroom, because despite the cloak, he could still be discovered if someone happened to bang into him or step on him.

The door swung to, and Draco entered followed by Lucius.

"How is the beast? Has he started to heal?" Lucius asked matter-of-factly.

"Yes, sir." Draco said calmly. "I gave him some potions and put some salve on him. He should be ready to fight at the end of the week."

They walked over to study Moon Fire.

Lucius offered him a slice of apple.

The stallion, who had been leaning his head over the stall door, drew back his upper lip and screamed at the elder Malfoy, spurning the treat.

"Vicious brute!" Lucius muttered and banged on the door with his cane.

The stallion kicked the door angrily, ears flat.

Takes one to know one, Harry thought angrily, though he longed to smile. Even without a memory, Moon Fire was smart enough to not trust Lucius.

"He's just skittish, Father," Draco said hastily. "Some stallions are like that."

"He looks thin, I want him bulked up more. Give him extra feed. I want him to be able to go at least a few rounds with the tiger before he ends up as cat food." Lucius said.

Draco turned his head away to hide the anger in his eyes.

Lucius dragged his chin about. "Not getting squeamish, are you, boy?"

Draco forced the anger down. "No, Father. It's just a horse."

"Right. The most important thing is pleasing the Dark Lord. For when he is happy, so are we."

"Yes, sir." Draco kept his eyes down, to hide his contempt for his father. He hated the way Lucius groveled before the monster that had once been a human being. "Father, I've been thinking . . .since you allowed the . . .Mudblood out for breakfast, maybe I could use her in the stable this morning? To muck out the stall and help me brew more potions."

"Are you saying you're incapable of doing this on your own?" Lucius asked sharply, then he clipped his son on the ear with his cane.

"Ow!" Draco cried out before he could stop himself. "No, Father, I just thought she could make herself useful . . ." He sucked in a breath as the cane smacked the backs of his thighs, but that time he didn't yell. A Malfoy was supposed to endure pain stoically.

Harry winced and felt his hatred of Lucius and all the Death Eaters increase a thousandfold.

"I let the little Mudblood out for air, so she wouldn't waste away inside," Lucius cut in sharply. "Don't be foolish and think I would entrust her to your watch, my son."

Draco nodded. "Forgive me, Father. I missipoke."

Nice try though, Draco, Harry thought sadly. Too bad Lucius wasn't as stupid as Wormtail or as arrogant as Bellatrix.

"Next time think before you open your mouth. Don't behave like a ruddy Gryffindor."

They continued staring at Moon Fire for a few more minutes, then Lucius said he needed to go and feed the winged tiger—the leshae. "Make sure the animal is fit for the arena or else it will mean your hide."

"I understand, Father."

Lucius turned and walked out, leaving Draco alone with the stallion. "He's in a damn mood," the blond muttered crossly, rubbing his thighs and his ear.

"Draco?" Harry hissed.

"Potter? Where are you?"

"Over here, inside the tack room. I was just going to check on Jasmine. How's Hermione?"

"All right now that Father won't give Aunt Bella permission to torture her anymore." Draco said shortly. "You fix him up like you said?"

"Yeah. But he's still hurt and he doesn't remember me too well."

"Well, I hope you can have him back in form before the end of the week. You heard my father."

"He should be well enough for me to ride in another day or so."

"I'll let Hermione know," Draco promised.

"Do you know where her wand is?"

"Probably in one of their rooms, in the lockbox."

"Is there a spell on it?"

"Well, duh! Of course there is! But don't sweat it, Potter. I know how to break it. But I'll wait till Moon Fire's healed before I remove it, just in case it sets off an alarm."

"I'll get Hermione out before you do it." Harry said.

"All right. Let me know when you're ready to move," Draco said.

"I will." Then he pulled up the hood of his cloak and vanished.

After seeing that Jasmine was all right, and petting her, Harry decided to see if he could find out where this winged tiger was kept. He had not gotten the chance to see many magical creatures close up and he was curious. He whispered a Four Points spell and his wand fixed upon Lucius' magical signature and pulled him along the pathways into the back of the manor.

He walked down several overgrown hedge-lined paths until he came to a large grove of larches. Inside a huge cage with glowing bars and a peaked roof was a gigantic white tiger with brilliant blue wings folded against his sides. The tiger was lying down, flexing his massive claws and making a soft hough-hough noise.

In front of the cage stood Lucius, his cane tapping the ground. "Soon, my lovely one. Soon I shall stop feeding you dead deer carcasses and let you feast upon live prey."

The tiger growled and lashed its tail. It looked up, licking its lips.

There was a well-gnawed thighbone between its paws.

Harry shuddered. The winged cat was beautiful, but also a deadly predator. Those claws could easily tear Moon Fire to shreds.

He had to get all of them out of here before it was too late.

After casting the lazing tiger one last look, he hurried back up the path, resolved to find the trigger to Moon Fire's memory or die trying.

HPSSHPSSHP

Moon Fire dozed and in his dream he recalled running through a vast forest, accompanied by a few golden foals with small horns atop their heads. Unicorns. They tried to race him to the center of the vale, but always he outran them. The unicorn mares watched them indulgently, as did the herd stallion, who Moon Fire regarded as a friend.

Amicus. You are Amicus.

He had no trouble recalling the names of the unicorns, not even the foals. He knew them the way he did his own name . . .Except his name was not only Moon Fire. He did not know how he knew that, but he did.

Once he had had another name . . .but he could not recall it . . .

Remember . . .remember . . .

He woke with a start. It was dusk, night had fallen at last. He shook his head and breathed in the comforting scents of hay, oats, the odd sharp scent of the medicine the boy had rubbed upon his skin, and lastly, he could smell the boy himself, sitting in the straw in the corner of the stall nearest the door.

He blew in and out softly. For some odd reason, he found the boy's scent comforting, the way the breeze was comforting, or the moon when it shone down from the midnight sky.

"Hey, fella." Harry whispered. It was dark inside the stable, but he had lit up his wand and stuck it upright in a hay bale he had dragged inside the stall to sit on. He had inadvertently dozed off after Draco had brought him some supper, saved from his own plate by sleight of hand. Harry could have gone without, he was used to fasting from his days with the Dursleys, but it was foolish to turn down food when offered.

"Look what I saved you. A donut. Remember how I fed you these back at school, before I knew what you really were? You loved them." He held out his palm and Moon Fire dipped his head and lipped the sweet treat off his hand. Harry smiled. "Always the gentleman, eh, even when you're a horse and not a man."

Moon Fire shook his head and his forelock fell forward to cover his crescent. He nuzzled at the boy playfully, then turned to drink, one ear flicked back to listen as the boy spoke.

"All right. I'm going on instinct here, and you always told me to trust my instincts, and right now they're telling me to just . . .talk to you and hope to Selene that something triggers a memory of your real self. I had a dream one night, Selen came and told me that love is memory. I don't have a clue what the hell that means, but I need you back, Severus. We're trapped here on the Riddle estate and Lucius is going to feed you to some winged tiger in a gladiator arena game for Unholy Moldy's entertainment unless we get you out of here. But first you've got to get well and I want . . .I need you to come back to me. . ."

Moon Fire's tail swished rhythmically as he squashed pesky flies, but Harry could tell somehow that the great horse was listening.

"Okay . . .we'll start with the basics. You're an Animagus and a wizard. Your name is Severus Tobias Snape and you're the Potions Master at Hogwarts. You're my professor, Head of Slytherin House, and I'm your student, Harry Potter . . .Once I thought you hated me and were out to kill me . . .but I couldn't have been more wrong. You saved me from my stinking relatives when nobody else cared . . .you gave me a home and showed me a side of you that you never have to anyone else, I'll bet . . .You can be a strict pain in the arse bastard sometimes, but I've come to realize it's never really without cause . . .You were my mum Lily's best friend and Selene's Chosen warrior . . ."

Harry talked on and on, telling Moon Fire all about his life as Severus Snape and how he had taken in one orphaned wizard and made him his apprentice and changed his life. He told Moon Fire of how Severus was a spy and a member of the Order of the Phoenix. He spoke of Snape's childhood, and how he had hated his father because his father was a drunk who despised magic and beat him.

"And that's how, I guess, you knew what I was hiding about my own relatives. Because you'd been there too. Nobody else, except Hermione, ever even suspected there was something wrong, 'cause I learned to hide it all by the time I was six. I had to, or else . . .I'd have been thrashed to bits . . .and the one time I tried to tell, the school called my aunt and uncle and they said I was lying and guess who the school believed? So I learned not to speak of it. Like you. I don't know what spell you got hit with trying to rescue Hermione, but it should be wearing off now, right? I know you're in there somewhere, Professor Snape. You're hiding right now, like you used to do when you were small and your dad was looking for you . . .but you don't have to be afraid anymore . . .it's safe . . .You can come out now . . ."

The stallion swung his head and looked at him. There was a flicker of awareness in his eyes that had not been there before. Harry began to hope. "Please remember. Please. You're the only one who can help us now."

He stood up and picked up a currycomb he had put in his pocket and forgotten after he had groomed Jasmine that night and turned her out in a far pasture where no one could see her. He moved very quietly over to the stallion and began to groom his mane, untangling the snarls patiently and running the comb through the silky dark strands.

"You told me once that Selene is always with you, even in the darkest places. I hope She's with you now, Severus, because you need Her really bad. And so do I." He leaned his cheek against Moon Fire's silken hide. "Now I wish I had paid better attention in potions, instead of goofing off with Ron or getting into spats with Malfoy. Then maybe I would know how to brew a potion to restore your memory. If that was possible." He started grooming again.

Moon Fire was still, he was half-asleep, but at the same time not.

He was seeing strange things now, a black pot with an odd greenish liquid in it, but not something to eat, it was being stirred and stirred . . .he saw a number of boys and girls wearing black robes all looking at him . . .he was annoyed at a few of them . . .then he was among dark trees standing in a ring where a tall man wa speaking, he didn't like the sound of that voice, it sent chills up his spine and made him want to trample something . . .he saw a snake, huge and terrifying, rip out a woman's throat . . .then he was scolding an impudent boy in a too-large robe with huge green eyes that glinted insolently . . .

The memories were coming fast and furious now . . .he shuddered in their grip.

"Hey, easy. You're safe with me." Harry soothed. "Never thought I'd say that to you ever. But then, I've always been lousy at Divination, can't even predict tomorrow's breakfast." His hands began to untangle a knot, unaware of the struggle waging within the stallion's brain.

More memories came flooding back . . .himself hiding as his father chased him up the stairs . . .the sharp crack of a whip upon his tender flesh . . .his mother yelling and crying . . ."Tobias, stop! Leave him alone, he can't help it! If you want to hit something—hit me, damn it!" . . .The green eyes of a girl named Lily whom he had cared for oh so much . . .Hanging upside down while a boy that looked like the one here with him laughed and mocked him, waving a stick . . .Helpless, rage and pain intermingled like poison in his blood . . . A night with no moon, and a searing brand pressed against tender flesh . . .He screamed . . .and a silvery voice whispered, Never fear, my Chosen. You shall belong to him in name only, never in truth. He felt her cool touch upon his brow, and it froze the fiery burning until faded away to nothing . . .Running in the meadow behind the castle, his one freedom from the duty that lay heavy as a mountain across his shoulders . . .Weeping into his hands over a grave, guilt nearly overwhelming him . . .Tending the boy who had burnt his hand . . .holding that same boy in his arms beneath a tree . . .

"You have to remember . . .because if you don't, I'll have no guardian anymore and Dumbledore will make me leave our home and . . .well . . .I don't know what'll happen after that, assuming I'm still alive . . .You promised my mother you would protect me, you can't just forget about that promise now." Harry made his voice sharp and angry. "Otherwise you're . . .you're nothing but a . . .a coward, Severus Snape! What do you say to that, huh?"

Moon Fire whistled sharply in anger.

"Don't like that, do you? Then come back to me, dammit all! Remember who you are! You're my professor, my friend, my guardian and I . . .I . . .love you . . .!"

Unbidden, tears fell from his emerald eyes to drip upon the stallion's silken mane. Harry buried his face in the thick mane and let more tears soak into the ebony coat. He hated when he cried, his nose got all stuffed and his eyes sore and he didn't know why the hell he was bawling like this, except that he was sick and tired of trying to be strong and he wanted someone else to help him and he missed Snape's quiet efficient presence the way he did nothing else . . .

Love is memory.

I loved Lily. Loved her laugh and the way her hair glimmered in the light of the moon. I loved how she smiled and the way her eyes lit up when she saw me . . .He has her eyes . . .Slowly, the mists that had surrounded his memory began to lift, as the spell that had enchanted him faded.

Love is memory.

Remember, Chosen, remember.

Horse and boy were so intent upon each other that they failed to hear the soft creak of the barn door.

Failed to hear the soft pitter-patter of worn-soled shoes coming down the aisle.

Failed to smell the sour stench of beer and unwashed skin.

It was not until he was right on top of them that Moon Fire recognized Wormtail.

"What the bloody hell is this?"

Harry gasped, jerked around, and saw the smarmy mean-spirited wizard standing there, wand raised. "Wormtail!"

"Potter! Well, don't this beat all! I come to check on the bastard devil horse and find a sneaking prowler instead. Won't Malfoy be tickled to death!"

"Go bugger yourself!" Harry spat. He darted for his wand, but Wormtail snarled a spell that knocked him off his feet.

He hit the end of the stall hard, and saw stars.

"Naughty, naughty, Potter! No trying to get away!" Wormtail laughed, then he levitated the groggy Harry over the top of the stall.

Moon Fire saw red. He knew this putrid smelling sack of manure. This was the man who had trapped him with magic and then beaten him savagely. He owed this man several kicks with his hooves.

Harry landed on the ground, groaned and whimpered, "Severus! Don't let him . . .take me . . .!"

Moon Fire reared up and smashed the stall door with all of his might. His rage eclipsed anything he had ever felt before and gave him a surreal strength far beyond that of a mortal horse. The wood splintered and shattered. He tore the lead ties from the rings on the sides of the stall, screaming in rage.

His eyes were dark with fury and hate and recognition. At last he remembered.

Pettigrew, get away from him! Get away from my Harry!

He whirled about, moving like a black flame, and gave the broken door two hard kicks with his hind hooves.

The door split apart and he was free.

Screaming a battle cry, the restored Moon Fire lunged at the cringing Pettigrew.

Okay, he's finally ba-a-ack! Who says Peter's going to be one dead rat soon?

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