They found themselves in a small clearing similar to that of their first meeting place.
“Is this the right one?” Harry asked. Layke looked around and bit his lip.
“I … I don’t know. There are a lot of clearings which look like this, and I can’t be sure whether or not it’s the right one.”
Harry sucked in his breath. “If you don’t know, then we must be in trouble.”
“Oh, calm down, Harry,” Layke said, not wanting Harry to get worked up into a frenzy. “I don’t know everything, you know.”
“You seem like you do,” Harry said quietly, looking at the ground. Layke looked at him, astonished.
“You always lead the pack, tell us what to do. I thought you were Waiye, once, when I had just gotten out of the dungeon.”
Layke’s eyes brightened and a smile formed on his lips. “Really?” Harry still looked at the ground, as if embarrassed.
“Yeah. And when you rescued us all, you seemed so heroic that I was sure you weren’t real. I thought you were a hallucination, really. So many years in the dungeon can do that to you.”
Layke had started smiling at first, but then his face froze. “Harry,” he said, making Harry look up at him, “exactly how many years were you in the dungeon for?”
“About...” Harry’s face scrunched up, “I don’t know -- three or four? I can’t say how many exactly. Every single year in the dungeon seemed the same.”
Layke stared at Harry as if he were a miracle. So many years in the dungeon … it was a great feat in itself that Harry was even sane right now. “I forgive you for asking all those questions,” Layke said suddenly. After all those years being trapped and insecure, it was no wonder why Harry asked so many questions. He was finally free, and he wanted to know what was going on around him.
Harry looked up, thoroughly surprised. “Sorry?”
“I forgive you for being so annoying,” Layke repeated. “You’re alright, really. If one gets to know you well, that is. After a few minutes you might start to get annoying again, but beneath that annoying exterior, your interior is … kind and helpful.”
“Excuse me?” Harry spluttered. “I am most definitely not annoying! Look at me, look closely Layke. Do you see the makings of an annoying person there?”
Layke nearly slapped himself. He probably shouldn’t have said that. “No, Harry, I don’t. I see a perfectly calm, sane person who enjoys not being annoying.”
Harry smiled, clearly satisfied. “I knew you’d see sense.”
“Me too,” Layke muttered. “Just not this sense.”
Luckily Harry hadn’t heard that bit, otherwise there’d be hell to pay. The conversation died off after that, and Layke focused on racking his brain for memories of their original clearing. After coming up with nothing, Layke turned to Harry.
“Can you remember anything about the original clearing?”
Harry grinned, nodding enthusiastically. “Yeah!”
“Great.” There was silence for awhile. “Well, tell us,” Layke added.
“Oh, right,” Harry said. “We-ell,” he stretched out the word, “I remember there was a bush right over there--” Harry pointed, “--and it was trampled. Remember how we thought it was a guard but we couldn’t find anyone so we assumed it was just an animal? Yeah. And there was a huge tree over there--” again, he pointed, “--because I stood under it while you guys were saying goodbye.” Harry thought some more, then shook his head. “That’s about all the easily distinguishable features of the clearing.”
Layke was impressed. “How’d you know all those things?”
Harry grinned. “I have a photographic memory.”
Maybe Harry wasn’t so useless after all.