Characters: Little!Harry, Malcolm Dresden
Word count: 752
Summary: A little look at life on the road.
Author's notes: Done for dresdenflashfic's 12th challenge. The prompt was 'observation'.
Four-year old Harry Dresden sat cross-legged on the hotel bed, munching dutifully on what his father had presented for supper – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and carrot sticks. Harry had looked around for a place to hide the carrot sticks so he didn’t have to eat them, but couldn’t find one. He made faces as he gnawed on them and observed the TV in front of him. An old Fred Astaire movie was on. He wasn’t sure he liked the movies where people dance and sang, but his dad seemed to like them, so Harry was inclined to try to like them too. His dad must know what was good to like.
Every so often Harry’s eyes would wander over to Malcolm or, more rightly, his shadow. Malcolm was in the small bathroom, practising his tricks. Harry wasn’t allowed to watch Malcolm practice since he hadn’t taken the Magician’s Oath. Harry thought this was quite stupid.
“I’m trustable!” He told his father, on more than one occasion. “I’not going to tell nobody.”
“Anybody,” Malcolm would inevitably correct. “And it’s the principle of the thing, Harry.”
Malcolm seemed to have a lot of principles of the things. The principle of the thing was the reason they couldn’t eat from the buffet at parties Malcolm played at (“we didn’t pay for the food”). It was also the reason why Harry had to learn to read and write, even though he wasn’t going to school. He didn’t mind that, so much, though. He liked books and writing was useful for making sure people knew which stuff was yours. A wobbly ‘HARRY DRESDEN’, all the R’s backwards, was written on all his Most Important Things.
Harry picked up a carrot stick and tried to mimic the shadow’s movement. He watched his dad’s wand flying around and then did the same thing. Nothing happened. It never did. Harry thought it was because he didn’t know the magic words. He always practised though, just in case, and sometimes, he’d get a tingly feeling in his hands, like he had magic in them that didn’t know where to go.
“Don’t play with your food,” Malcolm called from the bathroom.
Harry always wondered how his dad knew what he was doing, when he couldn’t see him. It was magic, of course, but how did it work? Harry quickly popped the carrot stick in his mouth and chewed.
“Mmmry,” he called back.
He turned his attention back to the movie, where Fred Astaire was guiding some lady around the dance floor. Malcolm said girls liked to dance around like that and that Maggie, Harry’s mother, had liked to very much. Harry always paid extra attention when he remembered that, because he missed her and he liked to think of her dancing like that.
His eyes darted back to the shadow after a bit, though his eyelids were starting to feel heavy. Dinner was late that night, as it often was. Harry bunched up his pillow with the Spider-Man pillow case on it (one of his Most Important Things) and lay down to watch his father some more. He soon dropped off into a light sleep. He was awoken again when his father lifted him up and turned him around to be at the head of the large bed. He set Harry’s pillow down and put Harry on top of it, then pulled the sheets up over him.
“Ate all the carrots,” Harry mumbled, noticing the empty plate in Malcolm's hand.
His father smiled at him. “Good job, kiddo.”
“Where’r we goin’ t’morrow?” Harry asked.
“Baltimore,” Malcolm answered.
“Very nice, you’ll like it.”
“Mmm,” Harry said.
Malcolm smiled again and patted his head. He adjusted Maggie’s picture on the bedside table (another Most Important Thing), then shut the lamp off and moved to the end of the bed, sitting down to finish watching the movie. Harry could feel his warm presence on the bottom of his feet. Malcolm hummed softly with one of the songs.
“I’m almost five,” Harry murmured, sleepily.
“A couple of weeks, yeah,” Malcolm agreed, turning back to look at him.
“When I’m five, can I be a magician?” Harry asked.
“Maybe, Harry,” his dad said. “We’ll see.”
Harry smiled and snuggled into the covers. A little while later, his father planted a kiss on his forehead. Harry’s nose twitched in his sleep and Malcolm returned to the bathroom to keep practising, away from the curious eyes of his son. His shadow danced on the wall and onto the bed Harry slept in. Harry roused briefly, glanced at the wall and fell back asleep, feeling very safe and loved.