Images in Mind
Chapter 11: What is Magic?
It took a week before Ron, Ginny, and Katie got used to their early morning routine with Harry, they had yet to make laps around the lake but they weren’t as tired after it was over. They had also convinced Demelza, Ritchie and Jimmy to join which meant it was the entire Quidditch team, half of which gawked the first time they joined in at how much work they did and at Harry’s combat drills. It seemed like it would be a regular thing, and if that was true then Harry had no problems scheduling fewer actual practices. Once he knew everyone’s schedules he decided that Tuesday afternoons would be their time on the pitch, they only needed it once a week and could spare it for the other teams without a problem.
Harry was gaining a rhythm with his own work load. During his free periods he did his actual homework and finished what was left after classes were over for the day, that usually left an hour or two before bed for his own studies. Ron and Hermione had asked him more about his lessons with Dumbledore but Harry hadn’t heard anything from the headmaster since his first lesson. It seemed that there wouldn’t be regular lessons with the old wizard but that made it easier and freed up more time for Harry to focus on other things; other things like his mysterious potions book.
Even though Slughorn remained very impressed with Harry in class, Ron and Hermione were less than happy at his outstanding record. The notes from the potions book were very useful and Harry had learned a lot, he even shared it with Ron and Hermione, though she remained loyal to what was published. Regardless of what anyone thought, the notes helped Harry a lot with his homework and that was the most important part, he didn’t want to spend hours on a single essay if he didn’t have to.
“Hey Harry,” Ron was quiet so as not to wake anyone else.
“Yeah?” They had only been in bed for a few minutes.
“Can I start practicing combat with you again? You were teaching me over summer and I’d like to try again.”
“I don’t know, the others are going to be there and they’ll want to learn too, I can’t teach so many, I’m not even that great at it myself, I only know the basics.”
“But I already know the simple things, and I’m sure you can find some excuse not to teach them. And to be honest, we watch you a lot and some of them think they can figure it out on their own if they watch you enough.”
“And by some of them you mean Ginny.”
Harry had kind of guessed that this would happen, he knew Ron was getting restless with just tossing a quaffle and if he was honest, it would help his reflexes for Quidditch.
He won’t take no for an answer.
No one ever seems to take no for an answer anymore, teach me this and teach me that. I don’t have much of a choice with Ron though, I was already teaching him.
“Alright, but I still think it’s a good idea to practice with the others and the quaffle sometimes.”
“I can figure that out later.”
“Get some sleep, we’re getting up early.”
Harry rolled over and heard a muttered thank you before he drifted off, his feet a little too warm with Prongs curled around them.
I’ve decided that I’m not much for mornings. When the war is over, I’m never going to wake up before noon ever again. Harry complained as he led the others on their run towards the lake.
Somehow I don’t believe that.
Prongs wasn’t trying to walk on air today, he was keeping pace with Harry but he hadn’t once given an awkward leap.
What’s on your mind Prongs, you’re not leaping today.
What is magic?
The question caught Harry by surprise and he slowed to a stop, motioning for the others to continue as he knelt down and looked at Prongs.
Why are you asking that?
Why aren’t you telling me? The fox was very serious about his question and it was more than obvious that he wouldn’t tolerate any of Harry’s usual dodges.
Magic is everything. It lives in the earth, in people, in every creature you could name. Magic is what makes things move forward in time, the seasons change with magic, the earth shifts with it, even the weather comes and goes because of magic. All magic can be used, muggles can’t get in touch with it but witches and wizards have more magic in them than muggles and they can use the extra magic in them to do great things. That’s why some people are better at magic than others. When I became a mage, I realized all of this, and I realized that I didn’t have to use the magic in me, I could use the magic in what was around me. That’s why mages are so strong, they can borrow magic from outside of themselves. It’s also why magic is so dangerous, the body can only handle so much magic at a time; if a mage pulls in too much magic or tries to do something too great, they’ll die. Mages have the knowledge to stop the seasons, quiet the earth, and adjust the weather, and in some cases, they can. But if they try too big a task it destroys them. That’s why I won’t teach anyone to be a mage, because magic can be dangerous and I don’t want anyone I care about to overreach themselves and get hurt because of it.
Prongs was quiet as he stood there and he looked at the others still running ahead.
Do you think I can use magic?
I think you already do. It’s been over a year since you were born and you’ve grown quite a bit, but you haven’t gained a single pound. And most of the time you eat even more than Ron does. If I’m right then you use magic to keep yourself so light. I think you do it by instinct and you’re not even aware of it.
Can I use it to walk on air? Can I use magic like a wizard would and walk on air?
I don’t know Prongs, but I do think it’s worth trying.
Prongs sighed and started walking towards the lake, picking up pace when Harry set off again. It was obvious the fox was distracted and trying to figure out what to do. Once they caught up to the others at the lake he stopped even as Harry continued around for his laps.
“Is Prongs alright?” Ginny asked when Harry finally finished his laps. The fox was out on the pier laying close to the edge and staring at the water like it would share a secret.
“He’s just trying to figure things out. Walking on air will be harder for him since he doesn’t have his family to teach him. Once he can learn how, then he’ll be better than ever.”
Harry set to the last of his exercises and the others started with the quaffle. After Richie and Jimmy had joined Harry had conjured them bats to practice with, mostly it just helped their accuracy but it was still good for them. Once Harry was ready for his combat practice, Ron joined him and no one questioned it. At first Harry took it easy on his friend but after a few minutes he pushed him to be faster and stronger, testing him and how much he remembered from a few weeks ago. Prongs remained on the pier for the rest of their time at the lake and he trotted along with them back towards the castle in silence.
“It’s too bad you won’t let us learn combat with you,” Richie complained as they passed through the corridors.
“You’ll survive without it.”
“I think it’s perfect just the way things are,” Ginny declared. “Harry and Ron need to work on teamwork less than the rest of us. If Richie and Jimmy keep improving their accuracy then they can tip the quaffle away from the other teams, no one would expect the beaters to do something like that. Maybe you can even use the bludgers to knock the quaffle away from them!”
The whole team shushed her, they were still out too early and would get in trouble if they were found out, though Harry knew they wouldn’t get caught, at least not that morning.
Throughout the day Prongs remained lost in his thoughts, he didn’t eat much, which concerned Harry and he was so quiet it worried Harry even more. By lunch Harry was in the owlery sending a letter away to Sky asking if familiars had abilities that others of their kind didn’t have. If it would help Prongs, Harry was willing to try anything.
“Are you sure he’s alright?” Ginny asked quietly. She was curled against Harry as they worked on their homework, Prongs hadn’t eaten at all during dinner and Harry had tried talking to him but was ignored.
“I don’t know anymore, I know he’s not sick but if he’s not going to eat then that’s enough reason for me to worry.”
Harry didn’t get as much of his work done as he should have, when the others went to bed he knelt down beside Prongs who was still curled by the fireplace.
It’s time for bed, let’s get some rest.
The fox turned to look at Harry.
How do I know if I can use magic? Even if it’s there, how do I find it? Harry was on the receiving end of a very heavy sigh. You go, I will stay here tonight.
Don’t be ridiculous Prongs, come to bed, you’re tired.
I don’t want to! What good am I to you if I can’t even do what others of my kind can do?
Harry was shocked, he had never heard the fox sound like that, he had always been the better one of them, the one who was true and fearless. To hear him speaking like that was terrible.
“Prongs, you have been more useful to me than you will ever know. I don’t care if you never learn to walk on air, I don’t want to hear you say something like that again.”
The fox turned away and curled into a tighter ball, hiding his head under his bushy tail. Harry could tell he was a little ashamed, but at the same time he couldn’t shake the feeling of uselessness and it was eating at him the way things had always eaten at Harry.
It was Harry’s turn to sigh. If you want to stay down here, that’s ok, but I’ll leave the door open for you.
Prongs didn’t reply and Harry went to bed alone. He should have known better, after so long with the fox curled against him at night it was impossible to sleep without him. Instead Harry lay awake listening to Ron and Neville snore, the door was cracked open but it soon became clear that Prongs had no intention of coming up, he was too embarrassed.
“You’re not looking to well,” a soft whisper floated through the room from the doorway,
Harry sat up at once and found Sky peeking through the door. He quickly got up and went to her, escaping into the hall without waking the others. When he turned to ask her all of his questions, Sky was holding out a hand to him, waiting for him to take it. Without a word, he did.
“Where is this place?”
The big house was in the middle of nowhere, Harry couldn’t sense any other humans but the handful inside.
“This is my home, well… my mom’s home. This is where we grew up.” Sky led the way inside and back to a big kitchen.
The phoenix Tao was asleep on a perch in the corner but Tarragon didn’t seem to be anywhere around and everyone else Harry sensed was asleep.
“Are you hungry?”
“No, thank you.”
“You asked me if familiars are able to do things that others of their kind aren’t. I think you already know that they can. A familiar is born from magic, they aren’t born like other creatures, they don’t have mothers or fathers, they just come to be. The mage is the only family a familiar will ever need or want. Prongs is still young, and he may show interest in others of his kind but it won’t take him long to move past those feelings.”
“What do you mean they just come to be? I don’t understand.”
“You know that magic is everything, it keeps balance in the world. In order to compensate for a mage, the world creates a familiar for them, I don’t fully understand why it’s necessary but the world will conjure a creature for the mage. Because of this, there’s nothing in the world with more magic. A familiar holds within itself more magic than anyone or anything and a mage can draw from them without harming them at all.”
“Can the familiar use that magic?”
“Of course. His magic works the same as all other magic, the same as the magic in you. Familiars can use spells the same as their mage, all they need is the knowledge and that’s something that they can easily learn. Prongs knows almost everything that you know, you just have to teach him to put that to use.”
“So Prongs can cast spells the same as I do?”
“Not quite, the theory is the same but that means all the criteria are the same. Prongs is a mage, he can learn but he will have the same consequences as we would. It’s best if he only learns a select few spells, ones that aid him and his natural abilities. You may have the concentration for great magic, but Prongs probably doesn’t and might never have that strength of mind.”
“Sky, where is your familiar?”
She was quiet for a moment and then she smiled. “I don’t have one.”
“What? But you’re a mage and you said…”
“I’ve been a mage for a long time Harry, ever since I was a kid and I didn’t know the consequences back then. Even for the mages in this family, I was too young. I thought I could do anything. Mages have severe limits Harry and I didn’t listen to them. I tried to do something that wasn’t meant to be done and I suffered worse consequences than most. In order to save my life, she sacrificed hers, as a result I can extend the bounds of human magic, I have the same limits that she had because she gave it all to me. But in return, I’m only half of myself. I think Reiji explained it when we met, I’ve been dragging him and Tarragon around the world for years and I can’t stop. If I stop moving, if I stop looking, then I’ll have nothing left.”
“What was she?”
“Her name was Cam, she was a little bit of wind given into a little body. She was small, the size of a small cat and white with little wings that did her no good at all and ears longer than her legs. There was a little horn on her head that was deadly sharp. Cam could turn into the wind when she wanted, she could be here one moment and anywhere else in the world the next. She knew me better than I did, and she could see the future I think, she knew what I needed and that was hard for me to realize.”
“So that’s why you keep looking, because she could be in the wind?”
“No, Cam is gone, I’ll never get her back. But she was selfless and always wanted to help. If I stop helping people then what did she save me for?” Sky smiled and for the first time, Harry realized that her smiles were only sincere because she was empathic and could change her own emotions. If he could sense her, he was sure that she would be empty, the way he would feel if he ever lost Prongs, the way he felt when he lost Sirius. It was how she could understand better than anyone the losses that he had suffered, she had lost so much more. “Go back to Prongs, he needs you to teach him.”
“Sky… I’m sorry, I…” Harry wasn’t quite sure what to say, he suddenly understood why no one was comfortable around him over the summer.
“Go.” Sky flung out her hand and Harry found himself in the Gryffindor common room.
“Capable of great magic exceeding human bounds,” Harry muttered, he had never realized that she was so strong, she had never seemed like it before.
Prongs was curled up by the dead fire where Harry had left him, he had fallen asleep with his head still under his tail. Harry settled on the floor with his back to the chair, he was supposed to teach Prongs spells that would help his natural abilities, but what kinds of spells were those?