Characters: Harry Dresden, Mira (OFC)
Word count: 2,489
Summary: Harry gets a look at what Miranda does for a living. And she, rather exepectedly, gets a look at what he does.
Author's notes: Written for the 'smile' prompt on my occhallenge table. Set in the mini!dresden's 'verse, pre-series and very early in Harry and Mira's relationship.
The first time I heard Mira play the violin was when I attended a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, about three weeks after we started dating. I knew that she was a professional musician, but we'd never gotten around to her showing off for me. Usually because we had other, less culturally enriching things on our mind.
I was in the last row of the upper balcony, in the corner with the obscured view. Even that cost me more than I could really afford. There would be a lot of mac and cheese in the blue box in my near future. I probably could have gotten a family/friend discount, but I wanted to surprise her. Not that she could even see me where I was.
I was so far up that I couldn't even decide whether she was the red-headed violinist on the left or the red-headed violinist on the right. Until a music aficionado next to me made a comment about the violas to her date, and I was able to figure out that the one on the right was not a violinist, but a viola...ist. Which is, like, a big violin or something.
Yeah, I know about music.
The performance was probably really good. I enjoyed it, anyway. I recognized some of the music, but not by name. They played the one that goes bum-bum-bum-bum-bum and the one that goes 'ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-da-dadum'. Music by composers and stuff.
Stop me if I'm getting too technical.
I went by the reactions of the music aficionado. She seemed to think it was very well performed, and she knew when to clap, which I didn't. I figured when the music stopped, you clapped, but sometimes the music just started up again. I don't know how people knew when it was a little break or a big break. Maybe the applause sign was one of the views my seat obscured from me.
After the performance, I circled around to the performer's exit, where I had picked Mira up for a date before. I waited, with my stupid bouquet of flowers, because, yes, I am that much of a cliché, and Mira came out a little while later, giggling with some fellow musicians. She beamed when she saw me, and my heart did a little flip-flop.
“Harry! I didn't know you were coming!” she said. She hurried over and gave me a hug.
“It was a surprise,” I said. I handed her the flowers and her smile lit up another kilowatt or two.
“That's so sweet!” she said. “Thank you! Did you enjoy it?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I liked the part that went 'ba-dum-da-dum-dadumdum'.”
She laughed and planted a firm kiss on my mouth, which went a little deeper than I think either of us was expecting. There were catcalls from other musicians. Mira rolled her eyes at them.
“Do you want to get dinner?” I asked. “No pressure. I can go if you're tired.”
“I would love dinner,” she said. “There's a good pizza place a couple of blocks down that's open late.”
“Sounds great,” I said.
I was pleased I wouldn't have to stretch my budget any further. Impressing girls is all well and good, but they don't find it impressive if you end up homeless and begging for alms in the street.
We walked down toward the restaurant. It had been starting to drizzle when I first came out of the theatre, and now the rain was getting heavier. Thunder rumbled in the distance, but too far off to be of concern yet. We had enough shelter from the buildings.
I offered to carry her violin, but that seemed to be sacred, so I ended up with the flowers instead.
“Don't know why...there's no sun up in the sky...stormy weather...” Mira sang, splashing in a puddle that had started to form. “Since my man and I ain't together... keeps rainin' all the time.”
“I object to that,” I said. “I'm right here.”
“Sorry,” she said. “You're right. Um... that ol' storm broke out and my love walked out and left me in the rain.... No, that doesn't work either, does it? Um... Raindrops keep falling on my head...”
“And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed...” I picked up, badly off-key.
She beamed. “I should've pegged you for a Butch Cassidy guy. Bet you had a cowboy hat and a toy gun when you were a kid.”
“A wand and a cape, actually,” I corrected.
“Can you rob a bank with those?” she wondered.
“Sure,” I said. “It just takes a little style.”
She wrinkled her nose in a smile and jumped in another puddle. "Put on my blue suede shoes and I boarded the plane, touched down in the land of the Delta Blues, in the middle of the pouring rain...”
“Know any Sinatra?” I asked.
“Every time it rains, it rains...pennies from heaven,” she burst out, promptly. She caught my hand and swung it between us in a gentle rhythm. “Who doesn't know Sinatra?”
“I dunno. The Amish?” I offered. “My dad once opened for Sinatra.”
“Wow! Be sure to drop that around my mother if you ever meet her,” she advised. “She loves Sinatra. Do you know how many times I've seen On the Town?” I shook my head. “Me either, but I'm pretty sure many hours of my youth were squandered away watching that movie. It's probably the reason why I still don't know my times tables. I'm more of a Gene Kelly girl myself.”
“Didn't he dance with that cartoon mouse?” I asked.
“Yes. Your knowledge of that pleases me,” she confirmed, narrowing her eyes at me in curiosity.
“I watched a lot of TV in hotels when I was a kid,” I explained. “And my dad liked old movies.”
She smiled happily like I'd just told her something wonderful. I'd noted that she seemed to do that. She seemed to be pleased with random things I said or did. Things I didn't think about beforehand. Usually girls were pissed off at me. It was like dating the Twilight Zone.
I could see the pizza sign flashing at me from up the street. Mira danced her way down toward it, humming something that I didn't recognize, but assumed was rain related.
Then, suddenly, we were both on our asses on the ground.
It came out of nowhere, as though the pavement had flash frozen. One second we were up, and the next we were down.
“What—?” Mira started to say, then her eyes widened in horror. “Oh my God.”
I turned to look where she was looking. In the alley next to the pizza joint, there was a figure lurking. An extremely creepy looking demon with a Joker-like smile on his face.
“Get into the restaurant,” I said. “Can you get there?”
“I don't... I think...” she stammered.
I was already on my feet and gathering up a shield around me. The demon kept grinning, moving his hands around. A blast of wind hurtled our way, dispersing around the shield and pushing a car parked on the street right up onto two wheels. It crashed down again.
“Mira?” I asked.
“I'm trying,” she said. “My foot...”
I changed tactics. If I couldn't get her to safety, I had to protect her. So, I had to be on the offensive. I didn't have my wand with me which meant that my energy was unfocused. It was the difference between water coming from a hose and water coming from a waterfall. I just threw it at him and hoped it would work.
He tumbled back and hit the end of the alley, crumpling into a heap on the ground.
He got back up again like I hadn't even hit him.
I ran towards him because running toward danger is pretty much what I do. I gave him a bigger boom this time. It coincided with a clap of thunder and made me look cool. He hit the back of the alley again and got back up. But he looked a little dazed this time.
I tried again and again. Every time he looked a little less focused but nowhere close to being beatable. I was getting tired, and he was just starting. A big blast of wind hit me and threw me back to the mouth of the alley. I managed to pull a shield up to break the impact, but I lost all sense of where I was in the universe for a moment or two.
I tried to find my footing, but I couldn't seem to figure out how my legs worked. The Smiler came for me, grinning like a maniac. I still couldn't get my head together to do anything.
The Smiler stopped for a moment, shaking his head clear before continuing.
I looked for the source of the sound. Mira had crawled over to a big garbage dumpster and was banging her violin case against it, making a metallic, echoing crash each time she did.
The Smiler didn't seem to like it. He changed his trajectory, his smile dimming somewhat. He went straight for Mira.
But I'd had enough time to recover myself now.
“Forzare!” I snarled, and threw every last thing I had at him. It's amazing what you can pull out when you're trying to protect someone you care about. Maybe even love.
The Smiler was thrown back again, but this time he went into the wall, leaving a cartoon-like dent in it. Mira kept up her dumpster banging—a sort of symphony for violin and wizard—and I got to my feet.
“Begone, Demon,” I said, gathering up more energy in case I needed it.
He was holding his head and howling.
“Begone,” I repeated, starting to walk towards him.
“Thrice I say and done, begone,” I said. A big ball of fire was growing in my hand. I was reluctant to use it because of all the trash around, but I was willing to risk it if it meant staying alive.
The Smiler scowled at me and disappeared, leaving a slimy mess of ectoplasm in his wake. I looked down at the ball of fire in my hand. It was hard to get rid of that sort of energy in a safe manner. I probably should have thought of that before I started. I managed to absorb the majority of it and threw the smaller ball onto the bouquet of flowers that had fallen on the ground when I did. They blazed up, and I stamped on them until the fire was out.
I went to check on Mira, still catching my breath. She was sitting next to the dumpster, her eyes wide. I crouched down.
“You okay?” I asked. She nodded, dumbly. “Uh, thanks for the noise thing.”
“I-I noticed it didn't like the thunder and I...thought... I couldn't really help, so...” she stammered.
“You were great,” I said.
“I hurt my ankle,” she said.
I helped her up, and we limped into the pizza parlor. As I passed the threshold, I felt the unmistakable energy of a ward parting for us. This place had magical security on it. Huh.
The restaurant was empty of customers, and all the employees seemed to be in the back. I put Mira in a chair and knelt down to take a look at her foot. It was black and blue and starting to get swollen, but it wasn't broken as far as I could tell.
“I cannot believe I'm one of those girls who sprains their ankles when they're fleeing from danger,” she muttered. Some of the color was coming back into her cheeks, but she was shaking and her teeth chattered a little. I took my coat off and put it around her shoulders. “I always ha-hate that in movies. How hard is it to freaking run? But, now I'm one of those girls.”
“To be fair, you hurt it before I asked you to run,” I said.
She nodded. “So...th-that was real,” she said, after a moment.
“Yeah,” I said.
She hadn't really gotten a chance to see what I did for a living either. I mean, she knew, academically, that I called myself a wizard and maybe I was kind of weird, but I don't know if she knew until that moment what she'd gotten herself into. Not really.
“I'm going to get you some ice,” I said.
“Okay,” she said.
I went looking for someone to help me. There was joyful shouting coming from the kitchen area. All the employees seemed to be gathered around a television, where a soccer game was playing. I cleared my throat a couple of times and got the attention of an older guy who looked like the owner.
“Ah, I'm sorry,” he said, in a thick Italian accent. “Italy, she plays the football. It is very exciting! I send someone out to serve you right away.”
I thanked him, told him about Mira's ankle, and then went out on a limb and told him about the Smiler. He grew very serious and pulled me to one side. He explained that the Smiler ('Il Sorrisore') had followed him over from Italy. His great-grandfather had pissed someone off, and that someone had sent the Smiler for him and all first-born children for ten generations.
“Whoa,” I said. “Someone holds a grudge.”
“This is the way in Italy,” he said. “I keep him out with the runas, but he waits for when I leave. I drive him away with this—” he pulled a whistle out from under his shirt, “—but he always comes back. It is his job, they say. He stays until it is complete. He usually only tries for me. I do not know why he would attack you.”
“This is the way in my life,” I said.
“I'm very sorry,” the man said, sincerely. “I give you free pizza, always. For you and your girl, yes?”
I am never one to turn down free food, though I wasn't sure this was really a fair trade for nearly being killed. I shook on it anyway, and he gave me some ice for Mira. I wanted to see what I could do about getting rid of Il Sorrisore for good, but I couldn't do that tonight. I needed to look after Mira first.
She was carefully examining her violin when I returned. She'd stopped shaking but still looked a bit off.
“What's the verdict?” I asked.
“He'll live,” she said.
“He?” I said.
“His name is Oliver,” she said.
“Ah,” I said.
I made her put her foot up on a chair and balanced the ice pack over the more swollen area. I took a seat across the table from her.
“So,” I began. “Uh, we should probably talk about... you know... that.”
She nodded. “Yeah,” she said. “Um...yes.” Her eyes were wide, and there was fear there, but she was staying put. “Let's order, and you can... tell me about it. Okay?”
Most girls I'd been with would have run by then, hurt ankle be damned. Most girls I'd been with would have been hysterical and in denial and calling the police to have me arrested for drugging them. Most girls I'd been with would not be asking for dinner after nearly being killed.
But I guess Mira wasn't most girls. It was like dating the Twilight Zone, and I loved it.
And maybe even her.