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Chapter 2: Recovery and Determination
Images in Mind
Chapter 2: Recovery and Determination
Harry walked into the kitchen with Prongs just before lunch. The current occupants of the Burrow were gathered around the table with the exception of Mr. Weasley, who was away at work.
“Harry!” Ron greeted him with a big grin and a wave. “We thought you were going to sleep all day!”
He seemed happy, but Harry knew otherwise, he was worried and a little sad beneath that, but he was determined. Prongs yawned at the same moment Harry did and he sat beside him when he fell into a seat.
“Good morning Harry, or afternoon I should say.” Mrs. Weasley set a plate of food in front of him and a bowl of fruits on the floor for Prongs.
“Thank you Mrs. Weasley.”
Harry barely ate half of the food on his plate before deciding it was enough but Prongs finished off his meal for the first time in a while.
You must be feeling good today.
We’re around good friends, I like being here.
Harry yawned again and leaned back in his chair.
“It’s a good day for Quidditch, why don’t you come out and practice with us for a while,” Ginny urged.
“No thank you Ginny, I’m tired today.”
Harry left for the family room and stretched out on a couch.
“Why don’t you talk to him Prongs?” Ginny said teasingly. Prongs had lingered in the doorway with the others but at the joke he looked up at her with sad eyes. “Already tried did you? Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be alright.”
Prongs rubbed against her as he went to the couch and curled up on the floor near Harry’s head.
“Let him sleep you three.”
“But Remus, doesn’t he get enough sleep as it is?”
“I wish he did, maybe then he’d be doing better by now.”
“What do you mean?”
Mrs. Weasley intervened. “It’s too nice a day to spend it in here, you three go on outside, but stay close to the house,” she said as she practically pushed them out the back door. “Remus?”
“Prongs can watch over him, there’s no need for us to worry.”
“It’s been a month now Molly, Harry can’t escape the nightmares, but Prongs has done more for him than I ever could.”
“Is that why you let him sleep all the time?”
“Yes. I think he’s trying to escape to anywhere that he can, there are only reminders of Sirius here, but in his dreams he can leave them all behind, if only for a short while.”
“But he can’t keep running forever.”
“He’s not. Sirius meant a great deal to Harry, he was the first person to do everything just to be with him. He faced dangers and punishment worse than death just so he could be at Harry’s side. No one had ever done that for him before. When he’s ready, he’ll come to terms with it, until then, I’ll be happy just to be here every time he wakes up.”
Remus headed out to the yard and watched with Hermione as Ron and Ginny practiced.
When the werewolf checked on Harry he wasn’t on the couch and Mrs. Weasley pointed towards the stairs. Remus went up to the room he was sharing with Harry and he opened the door to find the teen holding a small mirror as if he was going to throw it against the floor, but he didn’t. The mirror was lowered carefully into its owners lap and tears splashed against the polished surface as Harry cried. This was a common occurrence now for Remus, he would see or hear Harry call Sirius’s name into the mirror and when he received no response he got angry and he made to destroy the small mirror, but could never do it.
The boy jumped and looked over at Remus before quickly wiping the tears away. Even though Harry could sense those around him, it wasn’t uncommon these days for him to get distracted and not notice when people were approaching.
“Remus, I thought you were outside with the others.”
“I came to see how you were doing.”
“You still don’t have much of an appetite, Prongs ate more than you did this morning.”
The fox looked to be sleeping at the foot of the bed, but his ear twitched at sound of his name. Remus sat beside Harry and looked at him.
“What are you thinking about right now?”
“Harry, I’ve known Sirius far longer than you and I know for certain that he wouldn’t want you to keep going like this. He would want you to be happy again.”
“I know, but it’s hard. It’s not fair, I miss him Remus.”
“So do I Harry.” Remus put an arm around Harry’s shoulders and the boy started to cry again. Normally Harry wouldn’t cry in front of him, he thought it made him seem weak, but every now and then he would break down a little when Remus was there.
Prongs stood suddenly and Harry looked up, a far away look in his eyes. Remus let go when Harry jumped up, he half threw the little mirror on to the bed behind him and he and Prongs nearly ran out the door, leaving Remus to follow quickly. When they arrived downstairs Molly was at the door and Ron, Hermione, and Ginny were at the kitchen door.
“Oh, Harry! Do you know someone named Tarragon?”
“Yes, you can let him in, I trust him.”
Mrs. Weasley still didn’t seem to like the idea, but she opened the door to the young man on the other side. He was tall and lean with tan skin and messy bronze hair. Tarragon was a very handsome guy and Hermione and Ginny put their heads together at once. Although, with the bright phoenix on his shoulder, it was hard to tell what they were whispering about.
“Tarragon, I wasn’t expecting you.”
“I’d be surprised if you were. Walk with me.” He motioned for Harry to join him outside and Remus put a hand on Harry’s shoulder at once.
“It’s alright Remus.” Prongs reached the other man first and Harry closed the door behind him when he left. They didn’t go far, a few yards from the house at most and they started to circle around.
“Any guesses why I’m here?”
“Sky sent you.”
“Yes, she’s dropped by a few times to see how you’re doing but she knows that she can’t help you. This is Tao by the way, he is my familiar.”
“I’ve met a phoenix before, Dumbledore has one, his name is Fawks.”
“Yes, I know, he and I are gifted with phoenixes for very different reasons. I’m very lucky to have Tao, like me, he will never die.”
“You’ll never die?”
“I have the gift of healing Harry, you know this. My payment is health, I cannot die, my body heals on it’s own, it even heals my aging.”
“That sounds more like a gift than a payment.”
“In time, I will be forced to watch everyone I care about grow old and die and I will remain the same. It might sound nice to be immortal, but those of us who are live lives that we never asked for.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.”
“Don’t worry Harry, for now I will enjoy the company of my friends and family. But I didn’t come to talk about me, I came to talk about you. You have to move on.”
It was easier talking to Tarragon, he knew how strong Harry was, he knew he was a mage, no one else in his life did. “I will, it’s just that Sirius meant a lot to me and I’m the reason he’s dead. If I had just stopped hiding, if I had Jumped out of there when I had the chance, he’d still be here.”
“No Harry, he would still be gone by now. You know full well that Sirius was my father, I met him shortly after you left for Hogwarts last year. He was already dying, his soul was rotting from his time in Azkaban and it was something that even I can’t heal. My gift can only heal the physical body, the soul is beyond my reach. He wasn’t in pain and his body was healthy, but he knew his time was running short. I admit to not knowing my father very well, no more than the stories my mother told me as a child, but I do know that he was not the kind of man who would just fade away. He died protecting the person he cared about most in this world, he gave his life so that you could live and I don’t think this is what he would have wanted.”
“He was dying? Wouldn’t I have been able to tell? I should have seen that right?”
“No, the soul is a difficult thing, there are few creatures that can sense it, fewer even that can touch it. My gift allows me to sense the soul, that’s all it allows.”
They walked in silence for a while, finishing their first lap around the Burrow in the process.
“My visit here is not only to tell you about my father Harry.” He waited until Harry looked up at him. “In one week I will return here and I will challenge you to a Mage’s Clash.”
Harry froze mid-step and Tarragon stopped and looked back at him. A Mage’s Clash was not very different in concept than a Wizard’s Duel, but it was between mages, which made it far more dangerous and Harry had been told that people often died in them. He had never been challenged to a Clash before and hadn’t expected to ever be.
“You need to get stronger Harry. You cannot allow yourself to fade away, people have hope because of you, if you are not strong then how can you expect them to be? It’s true, Sirius was killed in a situation you could have prevented, but he was not the only person you care about. There are people inside this house that love you and if you want to protect them, then you have to decide how strong you want to be. I learned a long time ago that strength comes from the bonds we share.”
“Are you sure you don’t have Empathy too?” Harry gave a half hearted smile that faded quickly.
“I’m sure, but I’ve lived with an Empath for long enough that I know quite a few tricks of my own. Words are a great weapon, but they will not do all of the work for you Harry. Go back inside, spend time with your friends, make a few decisions, and be ready in one week when I return.”
Tarragon ruffled Harry’s hair in the same way that Sirius always did and he walked away, past the apparition barrier, and then he was gone. At first Harry didn’t move, only when he sensed Remus leaving the Burrow did he turn back to the house and meet the man.
“Who was that?”
“Tarragon, he’s Sirius’ son.”
“Sirius’ son? I didn’t know.”
“No one does, I’m sorry Remus, I need to be alone for a little bit.”
Harry passed everyone on his way back to his room and he closed the door and fell onto the bed.
Are you okay?
I don’t know. Tarragon made a lot of sense, and if Sirius was going to die anyway, I know he would have wanted to go the way he did, but still, it’s strange to think that he would have been gone no matter what I did. And the Clash, I’m no condition to fight Tarragon, I’m not as strong as I was last summer.
Perhaps you should start training again. And think of it this way, even if he beats you half to death, at least he can heal you after.
Prongs was sitting there was a funny looking grin and Harry just laughed, he couldn’t help it, the thought was very funny to him, even more so when paired with the fox’s grin. He laughed for a few minutes and when he finally calmed his sides were sore.
“So be it, four in the morning we start training again. And don’t think that you’ll get out of it, Familiars are important parts of a Mage’s Clash, you need to be strong too.”
The door opened at once and Remus stood there with a wide eyed look.
“Mage’s Clash? You’re no Mage Harry.”
“Yes I am, and I have been for a year. In one week Tarragon is coming back to challenge me to a Clash and I have to be stronger than I am now if I want even a small chance of holding my own.”
“I didn’t want anyone to know Remus, so I didn’t say anything and I continued magic the way I was used to, the way I was expected to. If no one knew, then I could protect everyone by surprising anyone who would hurt any of you. I failed Remus, I could have saved Sirius, he could have been here longer. I can’t keep hiding, it’s doing more harm than good. Tarragon knows it, he’s trying to teach me the same lessons that his sister tried to teach me last summer. It’s not about being the same anymore, it’s not about blending in like I’ve always tried to do. Do you understand?”
“You’re really a mage aren’t you?”
“Yes, Prongs is my proof, every mage has a familiar, he is me and I am him. We share our thoughts and our personality and our determination. He is everything that makes me who I am and he lies about it far less.”
Remus seemed like he was going to say something, at the same time, he couldn’t seem to find the words.
“Remus, it’s okay, I knew that I would have to say something eventually and I know you still want to protect me, but I don’t need protection anymore. In some ways I am that scared little kid you met three years ago, but in a lot of ways, I’m not. In the morning I start my training, promise me you won’t interfere.”
“Why would I interfere?”
“Promise me Remus.”
He hesitated but agreed in the end. Remus was worried and Harry knew that. Even though he was talking more than he had all summer, he still wasn’t quite the person he was. Harry left Remus in the room and joined everyone downstairs.
“So, how do you know that guy?” Hermione asked.
“He did me a favor not too long ago and his half brother and foster sister are also friends of mine. They’re good people and I would trust them with my life.”
“I don’t remember seeing him at Hogwarts, he seemed only a few years older than us.”
“He was homeschooled.”
“You wouldn’t know if he’s single would you?” Hermione asked.
Harry wasn’t surprised, neither was Ginny, the two girls had probably been gossiping the whole time Tarragon had been there. Ron on the other hand, seemed extremely offended.
“I wouldn’t know, but I do know that he’s not the type to make attachments, outside of his family I don’t think he really cares about anyone.”
“He seemed to be your friend.”
“I’m his siblings’ friend, he came because he was asked to. He might like me but I don’t think he would call me a friend.”
“Strange guy,” Ron mumbled.
“He has his reasons.”
“I don’t care,” Ginny declared. “You seem to be feeling better since he came so I don’t care who he is.”
What was left of the afternoon Harry spent with his friends, they did most of the talking after a while and they were fine with that. Remus didn’t come down until dinner and even then he was quiet, though he tried to mask it. Despite having slept all morning, Harry turned in shortly after he finished his meal, if he was going to start training in the morning then he would need whatever rest he could get.