“So,” Layke said, after being impressed with Harry for far longer than necessary, “onto the more important things. According to your memory, we’re in the wrong clearing. Is that right, Harry?”
Layke had put on a brisk, business-like tone, making Harry feel as if he were obliged to do everything that Layke asked him to. He nodded quickly.
Layke vaguely wondered where the ‘sir’ had come from, but brushed it away; it wasn’t important.
“Meaning we have to try and find our way back to the original clearing, before we get even more lost.”
Layke was expecting a certain; “Yes!” from Harry, but what he got was a shaking of the head.
“What? You don’t agree?”
“Why not?” Layke was sure he’d thought of a fool-proof plan. There was no way that anyone could disagree with it. Was there?
“Because that way it’d be even easier to get more lost. Anyway, isn’t this the new rendezvous? It’s a bit further away from the original clearing, we know that for sure, because we came such a far way and doubled back, reaching this point. Wouldn’t at least one other pair reach here too? Then we can meet up with them, and four is better than two.”
Layke stared at Harry in astonishment, who seemed oblivious to Layke’s wondering stares. What had come over the boy to make him so … so thoughtful, so smart? Layke slowly shook his head. “What’s happened to you, Harry?”
“What? What happened to me?” Harry had gone back to the normal Harry again. Layke massaged his temples. Maybe he was just imagining things. Was he? It was quite likely that Harry could become like that under the influence of him. Maybe he just hadn’t shown his true side for their whole journey.
“So about my idea … do you like it?” Harry asked Layke with large eyes. Suddenly he seemed so small, so vulnerable. Layke felt an urge to protect him that made him feel strange. What was this urge? Did parents feel it when they had children?
“Your idea seems fine,” Layke said, still half-lost in his world of thoughts. He suddenly snapped back to reality, and nodded with confidence. “Yes. Your idea was much better than mine. Makes more sense. Yes.”
“We stay here then?”
Layke nodded again. “And wait for the others.”
Harry sat down and got comfortable. Layke stayed standing, not really wanting to sit and feel that they were unprotected. It was much too easy for someone to sneak up behind them and stab them when he was sitting down, because he couldn’t snap around fast enough to meet them.
Harry looked up at him and scrunched up his face. “What are you doing, Layke? Why don’t you sit down?”
Layke smiled down at him. “To make sure no-one stabs us in the back, of course.”