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Patience

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Harry scoops the water sprite up gently, the surface tension tickling his skin as he dips his hand into the scummy water of the overgrown pond. The sprite is bedraggled and covered with algae, but its light glows pale and sets off the dark creases of Harry's palm.

He comes into the kitchen, and as he is transferring the sprite into a piece of tupperware with holes poked in the lid, there is a polite knock at the half-open front door. Remus enters with the books he'd borrowed and the yellow summer light behind him.

'Good timing,' says Harry. 'I've got something for you.'

'Oh?'

Remus accepts the plastic container curiously and holds it up. Squints to see what's inside, and deep lines appear; Remus's face is older now, but Harry still feels like a boy when he looks at it.

'I thought you might want to keep it,' Harry says, 'because they don't let animals in your building. But nobody would know this was there.'

Remus looks at Harry with a kind of quiet startlement, as though he is seeing him for the first time.

Harry has been waiting twenty years for Remus to look at him that way.