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I was still half asleep when I felt someone washing me with warm water. It must have been more than one person, really—it felt like a lot more than just one or two hands scrubbing my fur.

I was vigorously rubbed dry with a rough cloth, which irritated my still-tender nose, but being clean now I felt better than I had in a long time. The heat of the air was fading to wonderful coolness, but I was startled into full wakefulness as I felt someone running a brush through my tailfur, pulling out knots.

I looked up at my mysterious groomer. As my eyes focused I could see it was a tiger, but such a tiger as I’d never met before.

“Ah, you are awake…”