Disclaimer: It's all JKR's.

Author's Note: I wrote this for the Reviews Lounge August Ice Cream Challenge. There's a link to the RL in my profile- go check it out:D


They always ate ice cream together.

It was their special time. After dinner, he would scoop them both a bit of the delicious treat and they would sit at the table, laughing and licking at the melting dessert. Albus never joined them. He had better things to do, he said, than get himself all sticky and what not. So he disappeared to his room, while his younger siblings enjoyed the aftermath of their dinner.

Then it happened. He really didn't know exactly what it was, but he did know that it took the sparkle out of Ariana's eyes, and now she didn't talk right and hummed quietly to herself.

Maybe, he thought one day, and later he would realize it was the day his father went away, maybe if we eat ice cream together, it'd be just like old times. And we'll laugh and she'll say something funny and everything will be all right again.

So he went into the kitchen and pulled out two bowls. He scooped ice cream into each one, taking special care not to give his sister any strawberry, because she hated strawberry, and now when she got upset she screamed for long minutes and Mama had to quiet her down.

Carefully, so as not to trip and spill it on the soft carpet, he carried their ice cream to her bedroom. Ariana was sitting on her bed, just like always, wearing her pale yellow nightgown, just like always, and staring aimlessly out the window.

Just like always.

"Ari," he said softly, to get her attention. Her small body jerked unnaturally as she turned to face him, huge blue eyes boring into him, without twinkling or shining. They were just there, and with a jolt he remembered Albus reading him a passage from a book that said, Eyes are a window to the soul.

He could see nothing in her eyes.

"I brought you ice cream," he told her, sitting on the edge of her bed timidly and passing her the bowl. She took it, and he was grateful she didn't make a fuss.

"Try some," he prompted her when she simply sat the bowl on her lap and stared at it. He gave her the spoon he had brought. "Go on. It tastes good." Ariana nodded and dipped the spoon into the bowl, and he waited with bated breath. She would laugh and tease and he wouldn't even mind if she wrinkled her nose and said, "Abe, strawberry is yucky!" Because it would mean he knew that she was all right.

"Nice," she murmured, licking the spoon clean. "Nice."

Deflated and disappointed, he finished his ice cream in silence.

--

He tried again the next day. He was sure his mother noticed him bringing ice cream to Ariana, but she didn't say anything. Her eyes seemed to have gone out too, more so every time he or Albus asks where Dad is.

Once again his sister eats her ice cream, saying that one single word. "Nice. Nice."

He would kill to have her yell at him for giving her strawberry just one more time.

--

He promises himself he would only try a few more times. "Just once more," he reminded himself, scooping their ice cream into the happy, yellow coloured bowls Mama had bought. The chocolate and vanilla swirl together, and he adds a dollop of strawberry to make her respond. Anything to react!

When she takes the first bite, he watches closely. She'll spit it out, or grimace, or something.

"Nice, Abe. Nice."

--

He swears he will only try it for several more nights. "Just until the end of the week," he says, spooning their ice cream into the not-so-happy-looking yellow bowls. "Just a few more times."

He tells himself that for the next eight years.