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Chapter Nineteen

After eating and digging a hole in a corner of the cave for taking care of what Aunt Petunia and her hand-me-down Victorian sensibilities referred to as "the business we do not discuss in this house," Harry was feeling restless.

The storm was still blowing, so they weren't going anywhere. Now that his head had cleared enough to truly appreciate the fact that they'd been flying through winds of hurricane speeds, Harry was appalled at how reckless they'd been. Had he really been that unhappy with life?

A tiny part of him replied that yes, that pebble in his heart had been growing steadily without him even knowing it had been seeded.

Harry gave grateful thanks to whatever -- be it fate, God, Merlin's ghost, Ice Dragon instinct, or good old-fashioned dumb luck -- had guided them through that safely.

He was alive and it was good.

A thin trickle of fresh air came in through the tunnel. When Harry crouched down to see what was happening out there he found that most of the entrance had been covered by snow. He crawled a little way along and flattened some of it into grainy crystals that crunched under his gloves, just to make sure that he and <sunonice> would keep getting that fresh air. After weighing up the pros (seeing what was out there) and the cons (getting lost in what was out there, especially as the storm was still quite loud) of going outside, he decided against it and crawled back into the crook of the Ice Dragon's leg to curled up against the shoulder. "Hey," he whispered.

<sunonice> didn't answer.

Harry was worried. Only those third eyelids were covering <sunonice>'s eyes and the effect was like looking at a corpse.

He reached out with hands and mind, taking the Ice Dragon's head and cuddling it to his chest the way he'd done when they'd first come here. After the last dream there was something in his heart that was new-born and fragile, a little like Fawkes after a burning day, and he wanted <sunonice> to know what it felt like. <sunonice>, he called softly. <sunonice>.


It was faint, but Harry was encouraged. At least the ortho wasn't in a coma. <sunonice+handsonclay=safe>

The reply nearly made Harry's hair stand on end:

<so sealburp what?>

The clarity and the despair rocked Harry. Had <sunonice> discovered the power of human speech just in time to say he was giving up?

He hugged <sunonice>'s head tighter. <so WE goforward>

There was a snort that swept ice crystals around the burrow.

<sunonice> didn't give any more words, just a feeling: <...tired...>

He wanted Harry to let go and go away, leave him to his nothingness, leave him to the ice and the cold.

<sunonice=friend>, Harry told him firmly, wanting to give <sunonice> that same sense of peace that had found him in that bottle green sea. <I=stay>


Harry squeezed his eyes shut, reached into that new calm within, and concentrated until each word hung almost solid in the gloom: <YOU ... DID ... NOT ... FAIL>


The question was one of quiet desperation.

<sunonice≠fail> Harry told him; gently but insistently, willingly giving the last of his new peace if that was what it would take to heal <sunonice>. He didn't know where he'd found it or who had given it to him, but it was something wonderful he needed to share.


<sunonice> couldn't comprehend Harry's words. Harry saw that he had the same pebble in his heart Harry had had, and it would kill the Ice Dragon if it grew much more. But if Harry gave away his new peace of mind would the pebble begin to grow again in his heart? He hugged <sunonice>'s head, rocking it, wishing there were more options than simply to give or not to give.

But Harry had only one real choice: with a sigh, he gave.

It took no more than the decision. The shimmering rainbow magic Harry had been given some time when he was dreaming was mixed in with some of his own power now, and together they flowed up from his chest and along his arms until it tickled the skin of <sunonice>.

There was a second where the Ice Dragon hesitatingly accepted this transmuted magic.

Then the taste of it came through. The peace Harry had found was too vast for <sunonice>. It stung with memory...

It was like meeting <handsonclay> and being <curious+happy> for a small moment before being <ATTACKED> then <BROKEN&PAIN+PAIN+PAIN>

The Ice Dragon's mind rose like black clouds blotting out the sun.

There was lightning.

Thunder rocked their minds.

Hailstones the size of Harry's fist smashed into him: if it had been the physical world Harry's bones would have smashed.

It was not the physical world. Harry simply held his mind open, not fighting, simply bending with the gale and waiting with the humble patience of river rushes; surrendering all if it meant he could give <sunonice> the same healing he'd been given unawares, waiting for <sunonice> to understand the depth of the gift Harry had been given and now wished to pass on to someone who needed it. Quietly, Harry willed <sunonice> to understand and embrace it and become whole and unhurt.

<???> thundered the storm, outraged by this betrayal. <→sunonice=DEAD???>

<no> Harry replied, as quietly as he could. In his mind he was on his knees with his head bowed, holding out his hands and offering the rainbow tears pooled within them. <→sunonice=alive>

The storm held its breath to listen to the quiet voice of Harry Potter.

Harry had no words for what he wanted. He opened his mind and invited the storm to see what he was offering: it was the biggest and the best thing Harry had ever owned and now he wanted his friend to have it.

The storm trembled.

In the eye of the storm on a grey plane of thunder the Ice Dragon was standing before Harry and he bent his serpentine neck and drank from the bowl of Harry's cupped hands.

Harry raised his gaze, expecting to see the calmness he'd felt in himself upon waking. The look of agony in <sunonice>'s eyes nearly ripped him apart.

The mental image of the Ice Dragon staggered on the grey storm-plain as if he had been poisoned.

As he fell he never broke gaze with Harry.

So Harry saw the moment when this new magic tore through that of the Ice Dragon, and the two powers combined and ignited.

In his mind and in his ears he heard <sunonice> scream. It drowned out his own howl.

Would it be too much?

Harry opened his eyes and came out of the world of <sunonice>'s storm to then ice burrow, where <sunonice> was lying very, very still. Lightning crackled over his hide, which was the colour of thunderclouds.

He wrapped his arms around the Ice Dragon's head as <sunonice> shuddered and fought to find a balance between what Harry offered and what he could accept. Too late, Harry realised that the magic of the peace was too close and too integral to what the Ice Dragon was. It was a tiny fraction off true.

Some bone-deep memory rose to the surface on feathers of flame and told Harry that <sunonice> wasn't old enough to fully accept the altered magic. It was too much.

Although the healing had come from <sunonice> originally in the tears he had unwittingly given to Harry, it had been altered in the giving and the Ice Dragon could not take back this magic. His form would not accept it. His body was too young, these energies were too wrong for it... they would poison the young Ice Dragon.

Harry splayed his fingers across the bridge of <sunonice>'s nose in desperation as he looked for the poison. With the too-late realisation of the Ice Dragon's youth came the first sense of his own contribution to the healing magic: Harry could feel the taint of phoenix tears and the fire was burning through <sunonice>. Phoenix tears were poison to a creature of Ice.

His fingernails scrabbled, unconsciously mimicking Snape's last struggle to stay on the broken ice, but, like Snape, Harry could get no grip.

<sunonice>'s mind cleared briefly, desperately arrowing in on a way out of his <pain&fear>. <where = silkthatcuts?!? where??> The ortho's mind tumbled in search of Snape. <silkthatcuts> would know how to make things right... he would cure the poison... <sunonice> had to find <silkthatcuts> and he had to find him now.

There was only one possible direction. <goodbye> said the Ice Dragon.

"Oh no," Harry whispered. "Don't --"

<sunonice> shattered.


In a crystalline blizzard, the world stopped.


Oh, God; what have I done? Did I kill him?

"No." Harry refused to accept it. He clenched his hands into fists and bowed his head.

<sunonice>, he called.


<sunonice>, he called for the third time. <comeback>

And the world began again.


It started with tiny motes glittering as they picked up stray flecks of light. The dim burrow filled with them and for a brief moment of time they hung.

One question from the fractured mind threaded through them.

An answer was found.

There was a decision.

Harry could see it in his mind as a microscopic crystal seed. A shape had been found. It should prove sturdy enough to contain the new magic.

Then, in swirling opalescent rainbows, the motes coalesced into the only other vessel the Ice Dragon had ever known.

And Harry found himself holding a shaking, shivering, human Draco Malfoy. "I can't find him," whispered Draco. "He's nowhere..."

Harry wrapped his arms around the other boy, feeling Draco's arms clench tight around him in response, and rocked him slowly as Draco shut his eyes against all the unsolved riddles of the world and buried his face in Harry's shoulder.


It was a while before Draco (no, not Draco) -- it was a while before <sunonice> stopped trembling. He looked up.

No, Harry saw then; he wasn't human. Up close it was easy to see he was something else. It wasn't simply the third eyelid that blinked in puzzlement at Harry as the Ice Dragon tried to make sense of this new perspective, and it wasn't the silver sheen to his grey eyes. Nor was it the expression of non-human intelligence on his face that combined with the most piercing stare Harry had ever come across without it being rude.

It was all of these and more.

This pointed, fine-boned face was Draco's, as was the wiry form wearing Hogwarts robes. There was even a Slytherin badge, but it was blurred a little as if the costume had been cobbled together from the memory of a dream. But the face and body crackled noiselessly in the aether as they strained to contain something wild; something that should never have been forced into human flesh and bone and society.

Harry had seen glimpses of this right before the human Draco Malfoy had disappeared. He had seen it full and undisguised as the Ice Dragon in flight. He hadn't seen it seeking peace.

That was what he saw now.

"I'm sorry," he said sincerely. "I didn't want to hurt you."

"I know," said <sunonice>, and his grey eyes, now shining silver-blue with ortho-magic, widened as he marvelled at his own voice. "And you didn't."

The eyes closed as he leaned against Harry, and Harry realised that he could still feel the Ice Dragon in his mind. So he knew the exact moment when <sunonice> slipped into the first deep sleep the Ice Dragon had had since Harry dropped a chunk of ice on his head.

And he heard a faint chuckle from the Ice Dragon as Harry tried to hide that guilty memory.

As Harry tucked himself more comfortably around the human form of <sunonice> and drifted off, his last thought was:

Oh, Merlin's beard! He knew all the time that it was me who brained him with the ice!

Hope he doesn't hold a grudge like a Malfoy.


When Harry looked around for the whale he saw it hanging motionless above him. He swam up to it.

It wasn't moving. Its tail flukes drooped and undulated slightly in the eddies sent down from the waves up above.

Harry's chest clenched, and it was lucky he wasn't already breathing because he didn't think he'd have been able to had he so wanted.

Was it dead?

Then the whale stirred slightly and eased into movement, gliding up like warmed oil to the surface.

Harry watched a silvery stream flow out from the top of its head and then the whale hit the surface, bobbed down a little, rose again as it exhaled another stream of bubbles, and broke the surface for the second time.

When I was a kid I drew a whale that had a fountain of water coming out from the top of its head. Maybe I was meant to draw a cloud of air. Is this how whales breathe?

The whale dived to a depth of a few meters where it stilled again.

The fins relaxed.

It's asleep.

Harry swam closer. Now he was so close he could see the ridges in its pectoral fins and the slight roughness to its skin. He tried to think of how seaweed would feel to a whale, and reached out.

Maybe his fingers felt like seaweed to a dreaming whale, because it didn't move. Harry smoothed over the rubbery black skin with the palm of his hand, his heart thundering, and grinned like a maniac at the presumption of being close enough to touch an animal in the wild.

He was on the whale's right side, as in the last dream, and could see the deep ravines carved into the flesh of the whale's flank. The skin along the scarring was gnarled to the touch and the phoenix Animagus in Harry told him that it was long past the point of healing.

He sighed a few bubbles.

The tail twitched.

Harry froze, suddenly realising that he was in a very dangerous position indeed. Last time the whale had whacked him so hard he'd ended up with a blood nose. How much healing could his Animagus supply? If the whale cracked Harry's head like a coconut would -- ?

The whale didn't seem to notice. Harry knew it was stupid to the point of suicidal, but as the whale slowly glided forward he swam forward a little faster and hooked his hand over the fin on the whale's back.

If the whale noticed that, it didn't mind. It went up for another two, three breaths of air, towing Harry with it, and then it dived.

Harry held on.

He was the ultimate tourist. The whale was content wandering around the bay, nudging at the bottoms of the icebergs and every few minutes going up for air.

Harry decided he preferred being underwater. Sometimes they would run into a seal, which would turn on its tail and shoot off like a torpedo. After seeing them out of the water Harry was astonished at how fast they were in it. All their clumsiness transformed into a balletic grace. It wasn't just fish and seals they saw: it took a few encounters with some of the smaller underwater bullets before Harry realised those were penguins. The storm was still blowing up above, and the submarine environment was a calmer place to be. Clunks and cracks came from chunks of ice jostling against each other as the waves broke up the larger sheets of ice. Once when they were investigating a particularly large blue iceberg, the whale turned and moved away at a speed that nearly made Harry lose his grip.

Not a moment too soon.

The iceberg shuddered and shed a giant spearhead of ice that crashed down into the water where Harry and the whale had just been.

Harry's jaw dropped as he looked back over his shoulder. It was the Bludger to end all Bludgers, and it had nearly chopped off the whale's tail. If he'd been the whale and sensed that coming, he would have moved a heck of a lot faster!

With a groan the iceberg toppled.

What it looked like from above Harry could only guess, but from underwater it was fabulous. Sheets of bubbles turned the sea into a fizzing lake of champagne and the succession of shocks from the ice planes hitting the interface between water and air thumped Harry in the chest like the hands of angry giants.

The whale rode it out.

"Wow!" exclaimed Harry, still clutching the whale. "Can we go back and have a look?" Then he realised that the whale couldn't have understood him even if it could hear him.

To Harry's disappointment the whale didn't seem to think this was a safe place any more and began to swim away from the rocking mountain.

But Harry decided to go back, and let go of the whale's fin. Maybe he could swim back and climb on top of the ice? This was certainly the best dream he'd had in ages -- much better than his old ones where he'd had to watch Voldemort torture and kill. But those were in the past. They were over, and now remembering that those things had happened didn't have the same sting.

Harry kicked his legs and headed back.

A sharp, angry buzz stopped him.

Still clicking and buzzing, the whale swam around between Harry and the iceberg.

It did not seem happy about something. In fact, it seemed very annoyed.

It turned head-on to Harry and, as he caught a glimpse of its sharp teeth, he realised: Oh, damn. It knows I'm here.

His heart sank. Wake up, wake up, wake up, he chanted, willing himself out of this dream that suddenly had the makings of a nightmare.

Then the whale blasted him with those sounds that were too high to be heard. Harry only knew the whale was shouting at him because his bones were vibrating. Even his vision was going blurry and his whole body was threatening to come apart at the cell membrane level.

Swiftly the whale moved the focus of the sound up and down Harry's body, sending the noise-beyond-noise out from the front of its head while it moved its lower jaw -- why, Harry didn't know and didn't care. Then it repeated itself, but at a different depth and frequency until all Harry's teeth and bones and even his tendons were itching. Harry had the oddest feeling the whale was looking for something.

Whatever it thought it was doing, the whale stopped. Just in time, too. Any more and Harry thought his body would have exploded.

Harry stared at the whale.

The whale stared back.

Then it lunged forward.

Harry was sure it was going to try and eat him and tried to curl up in time to kick it.

But the whale merely bumped him with its nose. It was determined to move him away from the iceberg and kept nudging Harry until the boy turned and began swimming in the desired direction.

Harry's body went limp with relief. As the whale swam past he grabbed the dorsal fin. It was an obliging fish, Harry thought as it carried him away from the rocking iceberg. It didn't mind having passengers.

"I'm not a fish," the whale told him haughtily as they cruised past another ice floe. When Harry looked up he thought he could see penguins looking down at him from it.

Harry wasn't sure he'd heard this correctly -- actually, he wasn't sure he'd heard anything at all. If the whale had lips they hadn't moved. But: "I'm sorry?" he replied, trying to be polite at least until he worked out what new magic was going on here.

"Whales are not fish. They are mammals. Honestly, does Hagrid teach you nothing in those classes of his?"

Harry's jaw dropped, which was a lot more than the whale's had done. "I... he... he teaches us about magical animals. Not un-magical ones."

The whale sneered. Harry couldn't hear it, he couldn't see it, but he would bet his life that this bloody great fish has just sneered at him.

"That's 'bloody great mammal,' you daft boy. And I see you still haven't bothered learning any respect."

"Sorry, sir," said Harry, the shock still catching up with him that this whale knew Hagrid. Oh, and could read his mind. That was potentially pretty nasty. "But... what's a mammal?"

The whale's horror nearly froze the ocean. "He didn't even teach you that? Never mind," it muttered quickly. "Suffice to say that mammals are all warm-blooded, breathe air, and feed their offspring with milk. As general rules they have external ears and hair, and don't lay eggs."

"Oh. Yes, sir. So cats and dogs and seals and humans... and whales, of course, we're all mammals?"


"I see." And Harry did see. He was swimming in a polar sea with a homicidal whale giving him a biology lesson. Harry hadn't seen many movies, but he had seen Silence of the Lambs (and had nightmares after it) and Red Dragon (ditto, expecially as the bad guy with the tatoos looked a bit like Voldemort), and he was beginning to have a sneaking suspicion that he was swimming with the aquatic version of Hannibal Lecter.

"It's taken you long enough to come back," the whale grumbled.

"Well, you hit me pretty hard last time I was here," said Harry, trying not to sound too heated.

"What do you mean?" snapped the whale peevishly.

"You hit me so hard with your tail that I had a bloody nose when I woke up."

The whale exclaimed with a rasp. "I hit you? When and in what possible universe did this happen?"

"Well, not exactly hit... it was more like you turned around so fast I think it was the pressure of the water that knocked me out."

The whale paused. Harry sensed shame. "I... don't recall. You were here before? Swimming?"

"Yes," said Harry in bewilderment. "I thought that was what you meant when you said that it took ages for me to come back to you."

"No," the whale mused. "That wasn't what I meant. But several hours ago something did touch me and give me a hell of a -- and startle me a little. Was that you?"

"Yes," said Harry, trying not to let the whale know it had slipped up and nearly admitted he'd given it a fright. It seemed the haughty whale didn't like that. Harry couldn't help smiling a little.

There was a break in the conversation during which the whale went up for air. When they were swimming under the arch of a hollowed iceberg the whale said, "Then I hope you were not seriously harmed."

It sounded sincere. So much for the Hannibal Lecter scenario, thank goodness. "I'm fine," said Harry. "I heal quickly."

"Are you safe where you are?"

"I... seem to have landed on my feet," Harry said with care as he was getting suspicious of where this line of questioning might be going.

The whale muttered something that sounded like, "Why am I not surprised?" and frightened the whiskers off a passing seal with a carefully aimed burst of sonar.

As he watched the seal disappear into the shadows, Harry asked, "What did you mean?"

"I mean I've been trying to contact you for the last three days," said the orca testily. "At first I tried directly but you were too emotional and I feared I was adding to that. Your mind was in a terrible mess," it added as if that was Harry's fault. "I've been trying through your dreams, mainly; I would have tried the way that worked back in Malfoy Manor, but the young Ice Dragon's mind has been absolutely frozen to me. Is he safe?"

"Yes," Harry whispered, a new and painful hope kindling inside him.

"Good. There's still the link there, of course, which is how I managed to call you here in your sleep."

"Professor Snape?"


But Harry couldn't say what he wanted to say. And when he tried, he found out that whales aren't designed to be hugged.

Nonetheless he tried.

And laughed when he felt the whale's -- no, Snape's -- embarrassment. He settled for patting the whale on the nose. The whale snarled a series of clicks and rasps. Yes, that was definitely Snape in there. The whale twitched and would have swum away but Harry grabbed hold of a fin.

"Sorry," said Harry (not that he was), "but we thought you were dead."

The whale radiated surprise. "I... well, I'm not."

Harry turned his face towards the surface so the whale couldn't see his expression. "Sunonice will be glad to know you're alright. He was absolutely devastated when we lost you. He kept trying to find you -- what happened?"

"In a nutshell, I used to think my Animagus form was impractical. But when I fell into the water I had just enough energy for one spell and this was the only one that... happened." But Snape sounded a little puzzled about it. "I was so cold I couldn't think properly but perhaps instinct or something kicked in. Whatever happened, it worked. As the Muggles say: 'Ta-dah'," he finished dryly.

Harry chuckled. "I see. And to think I thought -- never mind."

"What did you think?" the whale asked in that cool silky tone that meant trouble if a (correct) answer was not given.

"Um... I thought you might be a flightless bird like a dodo."

"I see."

"Hey, you were the one who called it impractical. I think a killer whale is pretty cool."

"Yes. Well. And if you didn't know it was me why did you try talking to a killer whale? And I prefer the term 'orca' as 'killer whale' implies some sort of homicidal Moby Dick rather than the largest member of the dolphin family. Don't you know you shouldn't talk to strangers?"

"I thought you were a big talking fish and... okay, that was pretty strange as strangers go, but I thought it was just a dream."

"I'm not sure how much of a dream it is," said Snape. "Knowing you, a dream is probably life-threatening."

As if on cue, in the distance was a mighty crash as the iceberg rolled again.

Harry gripped that fin tighter as the shockwaves rolled through them. Thankfully Snape didn't point out how dumb Harry's idea of swimming around it had been. But he did ooze smugness, which was worse.

At least Snape wasn't angry over the dodo remark any more. Another thing to be thankful for. "Did you -- was that you who... um... kind of... got rid of Warder Dibbles?"

The face of an orca is set in a permanent Mona Lisa smile, but Harry felt the chill from this smile seep through the waters, dream or no dream.

"Oh," said Harry. Severus Snape, the last of the Death Eaters... Oh, Merlin! Don't let him have heard THAT! He felt like smacking his forehead and tried to think of something to say that would make it alright again.

The moment stretched out between them far beyond any length of redemption and in it Harry thought he must have sweated enough with sheer shame to raise the sea level a fraction.

"Don't worry, I shan't make a habit out of it," said Snape in his chilliest voice after it became clear Harry wasn't going to say something more. The clean lines of the orca form thrummed like a harp string and Harry could sense him getting ready to move away.

He couldn't think of anything clever or wise, so he blurted out the first thing that came to mind: "Well when it comes to people trying to kill me or Sunonice or Helen I can't complain," said Harry, willing Snape to read his mind and find out just how sincere Harry was.

Maybe he did. The orca relaxed marginally.

"Was... was that you trying to get though to me up there on the ice?" Harry asked. "I -- it was like I suddenly knew things I shouldn't have known. There were words I've never used and... and I suddenly knew how all the little wheels drive the Ministry..." It all made sense, now.

"When you were shouting at Charlie Weasley? Yes. You drew me in there sometimes -- not entirely willingly, I might add. I'm not sure what you were saying but I got the general gist of the emotions."

"I wondered if I was feeling your emotions," said Harry quietly.

The orca turned pensive and Harry lost all sense of what it was thinking.

"I wasn't sure if I was possessed or having a nervous breakdown," Harry confessed, bracing himself for Snape's sneer.

"I'm afraid it was a bit of both," the whale replied quietly, and sent out a harsh series of clicks at a crab crawling out from under a rock. The crab shot back at a sideways gallop, waving its claws.

So this was how whales glared, Harry decided.

"I'm very sorry," said the orca.

"I..." Those were words Harry had never expected Snape to say -- maybe they were in Hell and it had frozen over. Given the scenery it was entirely possible. It's alright," he said. "I know what you were trying to do and... and..." Harry trailed off. "I'm glad you're still here," he whispered.

The semi-smile took a hint of warmth. "I promise I will never tell either Black or your Weasley friend you said that."

Harry managed a wobbly grin. "I appreciate it."

"Now that you know I'm alive do you think it will be possible to keep in touch via Dra- Sun On Ice?" Snape asked, carefully spacing out the individual parts of <sunonice>'s name.

"If not I'll just go back to sleep," Harry said, glad that they were back to practicalities. "Do you think you can call me back here?"

"Yes. Now that your mind has cleared." There was something ominous about that but Snape continued before Harry could query this. "It's a wandless magic I can perform simply by concentrating long enough and hard enough, although three days straight has never been documented, and never in Animagus form. When we get back I may submit an article on it... on second thought," Snape mused, "I think not. I would prefer my Animagus form remains unknown."

"Oh. Does Dumbledore... Hang on. Did you say three days? I've been asleep for three days?"

"I wouldn't know. It's hard to judge without a proper sunset. But this storm has been blowing for what feels like three days now... ever since you left, in fact."

"I went to sleep not long after it started, I guess, but... Wow." He paused. It should have been impossible to stay alive for so long in such a hostile environment without food. "How about you, sir? Have you had enough to eat?"

"Mainly fish. But the occasional seal has wandered my way. Don't worry, Dibbles is food for the crabs. I prefer penguin."

Harry winced at the mention of the warder. He hadn't thought about what would happen to the corpse but Snape's information was a bit much. "What about all the feathers?"

The whale smirked. "If you shake the penguins hard enough you can rip off their skin and that takes care of the feathers problem. Of course, sometimes the bird falls to pieces and you have to go looking for --"

"Ugh. Sorry I asked. But I'm sure you'll be able to have some delightful reminiscences with Sunonice."

"How is he?"

Harry smiled. "He'll be a lot better when he hears you're not dead. I can't wait to tell him you're the whale that frightened the scales off him."

"Orca or dolphin, if you please," said Snape. "'Whale' makes me sound fat."

Harry couldn't stop the snigger. "So... if I get to call Sirius 'Snuffles,' does that mean I can call you 'Flipper'?"

Fish, whale or dolphin -- it didn't matter after it smacked Harry with its tail flukes just hard enough to wake Harry up with his eyes spinning and laughter bubbling up in his throat.


Telling <sunonice> the good news was one of the highlights of Harry's life. The Ice Dragon in human form didn't say anything, but his eyes shone. Then they closed and Harry had the oddest feeling of being alone in the burrow as <sunonice> sent his mind speeding out over the frozen wastelands to a bay where a certain cetacean was hunting penguins.

Harry sighed and pulled <sunonice> closer. He could feel the happiness radiating out from the slender form and he took a little pride in being the catalyst for it. Plus <sunonice> made a good pillow.

When he slept again, it was to see the Ice Dragon perched on an ice floe while a killer whale circled it. There seemed to be some sort of animated conversation going on.

Harry left them to it.

He had his own dreams to explore.


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