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Chapter Eleven

Healing the wing took next to no time after that.

With Harry and <sunonice>'s communication reaching new heights, Harry was able to direct the Ice Dragon on the best way to hold his wing while Snape ran the pink shell over it. With a slight sucking noise, the membrane sealed itself back together.

Now Harry and Draco were curled up on the bed together, Harry with one of Draco's books on Transfiguration, and the Ice Dragon snoozing with his eyes covered by that third eyelid Harry had noticed the human version of Draco possessing one night a lifetime ago on the top of Astronomy Tower. Everyone needed a rest, particularly Snape and Harry: Snape, because the wandless magic had drained him, and Harry because talking to the alien mind had given him the beginnings of a migraine. When he'd tiredly brushed his hand over his face Snape had asked what the matter was -- and upon hearing that Harry had just developed split vision, Snape had pulled out one of the endless series of vials from some pocket in his robes and made Harry swallow a spoonful of the green liquid. Although the Potion had had an immediate effect, the boy wizard was left feeling exhausted.

Snape had muttered something along the lines of Harry being lucky he didn't suffer from a coffee addiction, like some people in the room.

Considering Snape hadn't had his daily dose of caffeine, he was behaving quite civilly.

Harry also supposed the ortho should have been freezing to be in proximity to, but Snape explained that the magical shield that was part of the ortho's hide would stop the cold transmitting to Harry. When Harry ran his hand over the dragon's skin it felt like a soft combination of suede and tiny bubbles.

Snape was lying on the couch with his head in his wife's lap as she stroked his hair away from his face. After the effort he'd put into healing the wing, Snape needed sleep. Even the pooka knew to keep quiet, and had settled on a rug by the window where he could keep an eye on Snape and Helen. Harry noticed how Solly, although seeming to sleep, would blink occasionally, and those pale eyes would move around the room to check that nothing had changed.

What with the careful way it checked for any dangers that could threaten its humans, this was definitely a pooka that belonged to a cautious taniwha. Harry remembered how Snape had said to Helen recently that Grandmother Taniwha seemed to be taking a greater role in his life after Voldemort tried to kill him. It had been tricky getting her to agree to him coming back to Hogwarts. After Harry had told this to Ron, the red-head had suggested writing to the taniwha to ask her to order Snape home to New Zealand. Hermione had quashed that idea as she wanted Snape to be her teacher next year when she took her NEWTs. She had fallen behind quite badly, she claimed, due to all the time Snape had taken off work in the latter half of last year. Harry knew Snape had spent most of that time preparing for missions and recovering from his duties as a spy but it wasn't something he felt comfortable discussing, not even with Hermione. Still, Hermione thought Snape had somehow let the students down by not showing up for every class.

No accounting for taste, thought Harry, and stretched and re-crossed his legs.

The movement woke the Ice Dragon, who raised his head and turned to sleepily survey the room. After seeing nothing amiss, Draco yawned hugely, curling his tongue back like a dog and making Harry smile. Draco looked over at Helen and Snape and thought a question at Harry.

Harry must have made some sort of noise, and his face must have shown something quite alarming, because Helen asked, "What?"

"Um... Um, He -- Draco -- he asked if you and Professor Snape were our parents."

"Merlin forbid," drawled Snape without opening his eyes.

Helen tugged one greasy lock of hair just hard enough to make her husband wince. "I think it's a fine idea. We get two boys without having to change any nappies."

"Two teenagers, one of whom isn't human, and I have my doubts about Draco's parentage -- Ouch!"

Helen had yanked harder. "Don't be mean to Harry-chick."

"Look, they're both almost adults. I hardly think now is the time for them to be forced back into child status."

"I just want them to know they'll always be welcome at my -- at our house."

Snape sighed. "You know they are. They can come and stay as often and for as long as they need. Unfortunately."

"Don't worry," Helen replied acerbically. "I'm sure with your award-winning personality you won't have to put up with them all that often."

Snape opened his eyes. "What awards?"

Helen leaned down to kiss him on the nose. "All-Comers Grouch-a-thon."

Snape's eyes closed again. "I've already heard that one from Rona," he grumbled.

"Well, you've just been awarded it for the fifth year running."

"Helen," Snape said with the smallest possible grin, "your insults are slowly but surely improving."

Helen told him solemnly, "Thank you, Sensei."

After Harry assured Draco that Snape and Helen weren't their parents, the Ice Dragon grumbled a bit and went back to sleep for the afternoon.


Helen, who was meant to be on-duty with Madam Pomfrey in the Hospital Wing that evening, reluctantly made her excuses after the last sandwiches were eaten.

It took a nudge in the ribs from Snape's boot before the pooka got to his hooves.

Snape lifted his wife onto Solomon's back as Harry went to open the door. "You still don't know how he managed to get you here?" Snape asked.

"No," replied Helen. "One minute we were cantering out the front gates of Hogwarts and the next we were inside this house. Lucky the ceilings are so high." She grinned.

"Hmm. Hogwarts has an anti-Apparating barrier around it. I suspect Grandmother has achieved the same with the spell she put around this room."

Helen shrugged as she toyed with a tuft of Solly's mane. "It felt weird coming in the door, that's all I can say about it."

"Not so weird that it will put you off returning tomorrow morning?"

Helen's smile turned sultry. "Tomorrow morning? Not sooner? Anyone would think you don't care about me."

Snape blushed. "You shouldn't be travelling in the dark. Even with Solomon looking after you."

"Oh, all right." She gave him a quick kiss. "Tomorrow morning it is, then. Draco, you be a good Ice Dragon. Harry-chick..." She winked at Harry who was still standing by the door, pretending he hadn't seen Snape blush and even if he had seen it it wouldn't be funny... "Make sure my husband doesn't do anything stupid. Even though I'm already pregnant I still need him."

Harry couldn't trust himself to say anything that wouldn't get him killed by Snape as soon as Helen was out of sight, so he just nodded and stepped out of the way.

There was that odd flicker around the edge of sight as Helen rode the little white horse through the doorway.

And into a trap.

"Hey!" she squawked, as a man in golden robes grabbed her arm. "Let go!"

The Auror had arrived outside the door soundlessly; there were plenty of spells for that. He yanked Helen off the pooka and in the next second had his wand jammed in her throat. Harry, about to leap forward, froze.

"One movement out of place," he snarled, "and the bird gets it." Then he grinned at another man who entered Harry's line of sight on the other side of the door. He too was wearing Auror's robes. "Always wanted to say that line, Jasper," said the man holding Helen.

"Yeah, good one," said Jasper, keeping his wand trained on Solomon.

"Solly, stay!" barked Snape.

The pooka, which had been about to wheel around and let fly with its back hooves, pranced uneasily on the spot with its ears flat back.

"Very good, Professor Death Eater," sneered Jasper. "I see you know this game. But from what side, I ask myself?"

"Let her go!" shouted Harry. From behind him he could hear the rumbling growl of the outraged Ice Dragon. Harry didn't pause to wonder where Snape was -- he could see from the images Draco was slipping into his mind that the man was behind Harry with his hand raised to keep the Ice Dragon from leaping forward and attacking the Aurors. Yes, Harry had to agree: it wouldn't help matters if Draco went charging out there.

His eyes flickered nervously over Helen.

She was a little pale and had one arm crossed over her belly, instinctively protecting her unborn child. When Harry realised this, it was like a red mist came down over his eyes. "I said, let her go," he snarled, trying to blink away the rage. "What's wrong with you? You're Aurors -- why do you suddenly need to go around attacking pregnant women?"

"Pregnant, is it?" Helen's assailant sneered. "As for attacking pregnant women, do we go around doing that, Jasper?"

"No, Gordon, we most certainly do not," Jasper replied, still smirking. "But Gordon, is this or is this not the abomination that Professor Death Eater here has been claiming as his wife?"

"I do believe it is, Jasper. And in that case I most certainly am not a person who attacks pregnant women. Because this is not in actual fact a woman."

Harry was shaking. "Let her go!"

"What is it that you want?" asked the cool voice of Snape from somewhere in the left of the red mist. Only someone who knew him well would have noticed the slight tremor.

"Ah, now," said Jasper in a way that suggested he thought he was quite the wit. Harry decided he was half-right, at best. "Well, apart from world peace, I guess I'll be wanting that there dragon of yours locked up in a cage."

"That's not an option."

Helen gasped as the wand dug into her throat and a few sparks hit her ear.

A floorboard creaked behind Harry and he turned to see the murderous expression on Snape's face quickly hidden behind his customary look of cold disdain. It would have been a more effective disguise if Snape's hands hadn't been trembling.

"I think you'll be finding that it's your best option today."

Snape folded his arms and, coincidentally, hid his hands in the folds of his sleeves. "It is not in my power to cage this dragon."

"He's telling the truth," Harry spat out.

The three men ignored him.

"We've heard about its little trick of eating spells," breathed Jasper.

"And we're thinking you could just break a few of the bones in its wing again," said Gordon, ignoring the outraged gasp from his captive. "That's all we need -- that, and a hole in this spell you've got around the room here." He grinned. "Just think -- all you need to do is a little mindless violence -- c'mon, Professor Death Eater Snape, it'll be just like old times."

Snape's face could have been chiselled out of marble for all the warmth it gave out.

It was ridiculous -- they'd defeated Voldemort and proved themselves on the side of Light and now the people whose side they were meant to be on were threatening them... "Just let her go," Harry said as calmly as he could, although he wanted to start screaming Unforgivables. "She helped defeat Voldemort. And she's a pregnant woman."

"It's not a woman, it's the Transformed beast that's whoring itself to the Death Eater that got away," snarled Gordon as he gripped Helen tighter, and Harry wondered just how sane he was. "And if I cause it to abort its spawn I'd be doing the world a favour."

He smiled in a way Harry definitely didn't like.



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