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17 June 2007 @ 01:30 pm
Dresden Files: Simple Gifts  
Title: Christmas Quartet: "Simple Gifts" (Part 1)
Characters: Harry, Murphy, Anna (Murphy's daughter)
Spoilers: None.
Rating: G
Summary: Murphy makes a Christmas Eve visit to Harry.
Author's Notes: I started writing this for one of the prompts at dresdenflashfic but it ended up moving away from the theme more than I wanted. I decided to go with something else instead, but figured I should finish this one up as well. Out of season, but what the heck? Murphy's POV and a bit of Murphy/Harry.

"Behave yourself," I told my daughter, after rapping on Harry Dresden's door.

"I always behave myself," she replied, primly. "Even for the crazy wizard guy."

"He's not crazy," I said. "Exactly..."

Harry came into view and gave me a wave as he came to the door. Anna was sticking her tongue out at me, but it was quickly put away when the door opened and she replaced it with a gloriously innocent smile instead.

"Hey Murph," Harry greeted me, warmly. "Merry - " He caught sight of Anna. "...Christmas?"

"You too," I replied. "This is my daughter, Anna. Anna, this is Mr. Dresden."

"Nice to meet you," Harry said, offering his hand.

I could tell Anna liked that. A lot grown-ups treat kids like kids. It drove Anna crazy. She shook his hand firmly. "You too."

"C'min," he invited us, gesturing backwards. He rubbed his hand on his sweater, removing the water transferred from Anna's glove. "It's cold out there, yikes."

I pushed Anna ahead of me. Her eyes went this way and that, observing all the weird stuff Harry decorates his place with. The usual candles were everywhere, this time with a festive green and red motif. They let off a little heat which was nice. Harry closed the door behind us before the wind blew out any of the flames.

"You want some hot chocolate or something?" He asked. His eyes kept moving from one of us to the other, comparing. "I have some in the kitchen."

"We're just here for a minute," I declined. "We're about to hit the road."

"Yeah? Where ya headed?"

"It's a surprise," Anna said. "But I know it has a pool because I had to pack my swimsuit."

For some reason, in that perceptive way he has, Harry instantly understood that this was an extremely important detail. He looked suitably impressed. "Very cool."

"We go every year," I explained further. "Just the two of us."

I got Anna for Christmases in the custody settlement. I don't have family to go to and it seemed a shame to be holed up in my little, not very clean or well-stocked apartment. Anna didn't mind being in an hotel for the holiday (provided it had a pool, she swims like a fish) and was always excited about the surprise. She acts far too grown-up for her age (who does that remind me of?) and its one of the few times I see her go back to being a kid again.

"Well, you'll need hot chocolate for the road," Harry declared. He gave me a lopsided grin. "I have marshmallows."

"Well, if there's marshmallows," I agreed, with a smile of my own. I squeezed Anna's shoulder. "What do you say?"

She tilted her head back to look up at me. "It's cool."

"Perfect," Harry said.

It suddenly occurred to me, rather guiltily, that Harry didn't have any more family to spend Christmas with than I did. He didn't even have an Anna.

We got rid of our winter gear and followed Harry down the hall. He was moving slowly.

"How are you?" I asked, concerned.

The real reason I'd dropped by, aside from dropping off the present I had in the pocket of my jeans, was to check on him. He'd been shot in the back last week, with a bullet meant for me. He'd been home for a few days now and I wanted to make sure he was functional before I went somewhere he couldn't call me for help.

"I'm okay," he dismissed it.

He was such a liar. I could see a pillow and blanket on the couch, and a pile of clothes I'd grabbed from his room, telling me he hadn't been upstairs yet. When we arrived in the kitchen I saw the bottle of prescription painkillers he'd been given was half empty. I didn't press him, though. I wouldn't want him pressing me. I turned off my detective's eyes and pretended everything was fine.

"Whoa," Anna said.

She made a beeline to the skull sitting on the counter. I swear that skull moves every time I'm at his place and I honestly hope it's just because he dusts it regularly or something, because I really don't want it to be because he carries it everywhere with him.

"Is that real?" Anna demanded, poking at it.

"Anna," I warned.

"It's okay. It's real," Harry confirmed.

He stirred a pot that was already on the oven rimmer. It had a chocolaty smell coming from it. Figures he would make his hot chocolate from scratch. Maybe his kettle explodes if he uses a mix. I took a seat at the kitchen table.

"How old is it?" Anna wondered.

"Very," Harry answered.

"How come somebody wrote on it?"

"Dunno. Maybe they didn't like'm much."

"Whose is it?"


"Why do you have it, then?"

Harry gave me a look over his shoulder that clearly told me he thought she was just like me. I have to admit she has a real future as a police interrogator. I shrugged and he grinned a little.

"I got it from my uncle," he explained.

"He must have been weird," Anna decided.

"Anna," I said, again.

"He was nuts," Harry confirmed. "But I like the skull. It's got character, don't you think?"

Anna considered this for a second. "Yeah."

"Sit down, Sherlock," I told her, pointing to a chair.

She made a show of coming to join me. Harry was stifling laughter, I could tell even with his back turned to me. He gave me that look again, over his shoulder and I had the urge to smack him. Instead, I ended up laughing. He served the hot chocolate out in a set of mugs that didn't match and looked like they'd been picked up from the Salvation Army store. Anna's had Mickey Mouse on it, mine was from Florida and his might have said '#1 Grandma' if all the writing was still there.

Harry easily got Anna talking about school and karate lessons and our cups emptied quickly. He seemd to know just what questions to ask and what to be shocked by and what to be impressed by, without being patronizing about it. I was mostly silent, watching the two of them interact. Anna's mouth was going a mile a minute and Harry managed to keep up, most of the time with just a twitch of eyebrow or quirk of his lips. After about half an hour, he started to look worn-out and I knew it was time to leave him to rest and for us to hit the road. I rinsed out our cups in the sink for him while he walked Anna to the door, relating some tale involving a Christmas tree and an old tutor of his named Bob. I joined them a moment later.

"I brought you a present," I told him, feeling somewhat awkward. Anna's eyes watched as the present came from my pocket and changed hands with Harry. "I saw it in a shop, and I thought you'd like it." I didn't add that it was the 10th shop I'd looked in and was owned by a man who looked just like Gandalf the Grey.

"Thank you!" he said, turning it over in his hands. He looked thrilled. "I have a present for you, too, it's in the back. Hold on a sec."

He got up and left the room. Anna looked at me with suspicious eyes.

"Is he your boyfriend?" She demanded.

"Shh! No!" I hissed, quickly looking over to make sure Harry wasn't in hearing range. "He's just a friend."

"Does he not have electricity?" She gestured to the cluster of silver candles on the nearby table.

"Shh!" I laughed, swatting at her. "I can't take you anywhere."

"He makes good hot chocolate," she allowed.

I agreed and plopped her hat down on her head. Down the hall, I thought I heard whispering, but decided it was just the wind outside. It was heading towards a snow storm, and I silently hoped that we'd be out of the city before the worst of it hit.

"I didn't have time to wrap," Harry announced, as he entered. He handed me a wooden box and smiled one of those great sheepish smiles he has. "And, even if I had, it would probably look about that good."

"It's okay," I assured him. "Thank you."

"And, for you," he turned to Anna. He pulled something from his pocket. "Because every kid should have one of these, and Santa doesn't make'm."

"I'm too old to believe in Santa," Anna declared. She eyed whatever he was holding with great fascination.

Harry turned to give me a look that was wryly aghast, if that's even possible. "Murphy, what are you teaching this kid?" He shook his head and turned back to Anna, crouching in front of her. I thought that must be killing his back. "Chin down." Anna obediently lowered her head and he hung something around her neck. She lifted the pendant to stare cross-eyed at it.

"What is it?" She asked.

"It's amber," he explained. "And it'll keep you safe."

His hand closed over hers and something in there began to pulse with a bright golden light. Anna's eyes lit up like, well, like a child. There was utter delight on her face. It was beautiful.

"What did you do?" She whispered.

"Magic," he replied.

He removed his hand and the glow stopped, but Anna kept staring at the pendant. So did I. After a moment be both snapped out of it.

"Thank you, Mr. Dresden," she said, genuinely.

"You're very welcome," he replied. He leaned in and whispered something to her that I couldn't hear. She nodded, with a small smile. He straightened up again.

Anna opened the door and slipped out before I finished with the buttons on my jacket. She skipped a little in the falling snow and then jumped with both feet into a pile of it that had collected by Harry's door.

"You didn't have to do that," I told Harry, watching her little dance.

"I got a bunch in the back," he dismissed it. Another lie. "She's a good kid, Murphy."

"Yeah," I smiled. "She is."

"She has your mouth."

I glared at him. "Shut up, Dresden."

He laughed at me and I started laughing with him. Weird how that happens. I turned my gaze from his smile and looked up at the sky, judging the weather patterns. The clouds were broken up enough for me to just make out the North star sparkling through them. My eyes caught something in the doorway.

"Is that mistletoe?"

Harry blushed and gave me another sheepish smile. "It keeps the fairies away."

I shook my head. "Of course it does. Fairies are terrible this time of year."

He shrugged, his eyes twinkling in the light of the candles. Those of eyes of his make me nervous sometimes, but tonight they just looked content. I realized it wasn't a look a saw from him often.

"Drive safe," he said.

"I will," I promised. "Try to rest."

"I will."

I glanced up at the mistletoe briefly and then stood on my tip toes to give him a gentle kiss on the lips. He was too surprised to kiss back, but it didn't matter. When I pulled back, he had the same look of delight on his face that Anna had when he made her necklace glow. Magic.

"Merry Christmas," I told him.

"Merry Christmas," he replied.

I left, closing the door behind me. The cold seemed more severe without the warmth of the candles. Anna skipped over to me and immediately made a kissing face at me. I scooped her up and threw her over my shoulder, carrying her back to the car as she giggled wildly.
Human Collaborator Flunkie Pool!fic Muse: Harry/Murphy - kissjoyfulfeather on June 18th, 2007 05:57 pm (UTC)
*twirls* Whee! That made me so happy, you have no idea. I love how you write them! All of them! Anna's perfect, and exactly what I'd imagine from Murphy's daughter. I love all of this -- that Murphy and Anna are together for Christmas, that they stopped by Harry's, that Harry took a bullet for Murphy (!!!) and is pretending to be fine but isn't, and especially the sweet little kiss at the end. Lovely! A little bit of Christmas in June is just the thing. :)

BTW, I'm not stalking you, honest! I just read the dresdenflashfic friends list, and saw this and had to read (and comment). Out of curiousity, what challenge had you started writing this for?
The Writer They Call Tay: Dresden: phoneawanderingbard on June 18th, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
I started writing it for the 'Light' challenge, actually. Light immediately made me thing of Christmas and I was trying to work the candles in and it wasn't working, so I dropped it. But I liked it so I decided to finish it up anyway. And stalk all you want, dear, I'm honoured. :-)

Thanks for the wonderful comments! I feel all glowy inside.
(Deleted comment)
The Writer They Call Tay: Dresden: wandawanderingbard on June 18th, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
_medley_: up to something by dream_mender_medley_ on June 18th, 2007 06:37 pm (UTC)
Aww, this is sweet and wonderful and better than hot chocolate. Loved it!
The Writer They Call Tay: Dresden: walking skullawanderingbard on June 18th, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you kindly. :-)
lifeinsomniac on June 18th, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
My god this was good! Your writing is really descriptive while also being wonderfully concise. I could feel the frigid Chicago winter temperatures, despite being stuck in sweltering New York summer heat weather.

And I like your Anna. She's a fine balance of a precocious kid without toppling into the realm of annoying. And her relationship with Murphy is really wonderful.
The Writer They Call Tay: Dresden: Harry Magicawanderingbard on June 18th, 2007 09:41 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you for the lovely comments! :-)
tigerkat24tigerkat24 on June 18th, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC)
Butbutbut what did they give each other for Christmas? And why was there no snogging?
Anyway. Anna is adorable, Harry and Murphy even more so, your writing is brilliant with no mistakes I can see and you, in short, rock. Well done. *memorie'd*
tigerkat24tigerkat24 on June 18th, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC)
Additon: Who made your default icon? It makes me to go "guh." Something about Paul Blackthorne and his hands...
(no subject) - awanderingbard on June 18th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - tigerkat24 on June 19th, 2007 12:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - tigerkat24 on June 19th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - awanderingbard on June 19th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - tigerkat24 on June 19th, 2007 04:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - awanderingbard on June 19th, 2007 09:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - awanderingbard on June 19th, 2007 09:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - tigerkat24 on June 19th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - tigerkat24 on June 20th, 2007 06:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - awanderingbard on June 20th, 2007 09:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rodlox on June 20th, 2007 02:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
luthorienneluthorienne on June 18th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
I liked this very much. I thought the characterizations were excellent -- and it's good to see something nice happening in Harry's life.
The Writer They Call Tay: Dresden: walking skullawanderingbard on June 18th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree. Harry needs more happy. Thanks for commenting!
AngiePen: DF Harry -- Jennaangiepen on June 18th, 2007 10:48 pm (UTC)
OK, I liked the whole story, but this:

"Of course it does. Fairies are terrible this time of year."

got me giggling out loud. Fun stuff. :D

The Writer They Call Tay: Dresden: doorawanderingbard on June 19th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! :D
rogue equestrian: DF:: Harry/Murphy kissageelvinborn on June 19th, 2007 02:55 am (UTC)
Figures he would make his hot chocolate from scratch. Maybe his kettle explodes if he uses a mix
no idea why I love that so much, but I really do

and I love the detail of his mugs.

the necklace was awesome. I want one too! ;)

"Is that mistletoe?"

Harry blushed and gave me another sheepish smile. "It keeps the fairies away."

I shook my head. "Of course it does. Fairies are terrible this time of year."


and then a kiss at the end that was awwwwwww.

love this. :D
The Writer They Call Tay: Dresden: walking skullawanderingbard on June 19th, 2007 03:42 am (UTC)
Thanks! I have an unhealthy obsession with the magical protective jewelery concept, lol. I think it's awesome. I read that amber is supposed to give protection to children, so I thought it would be appropriate.
I refuse to give up my obsession: Dresden smiling Harryendlessdeep on June 19th, 2007 03:57 am (UTC)
Aw, this was so wonderful. I totally forgot about being curious about what they gave each other when Anna got her present from Harry. I'm thinking he told her what to say to make the amber work. Very wonderful. :)
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on June 20th, 2007 09:35 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! :)
Tiger Lily: Dresden Filestigerlily0 on June 19th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
Aw, that was very sweet. I love the interaction between Harry and Anna. I hope they get to meet on the show sometime.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on June 20th, 2007 09:36 am (UTC)
Re: sweet
Me too. I'd love to see mother!Murphy in action. Thanks for the comment!
(Deleted comment)
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on June 20th, 2007 09:37 am (UTC)
Sequels are on they're way, methinks. Thanks for reading and commenting!
ksl2025ksl2025 on June 19th, 2007 04:29 pm (UTC)
Most holiday stories end up being...well...sappy. This, though, was delightful. Not a let's make it all right and have a wondrous moment...but rather something genuine, real and brimming with honest affection. Very nice.

I am curious about what Murphy gave Harry, and what Harry gave Murphy. I'd love a sequel to this...or even a companion piece from Harry's POV. Cause I'm curious what Bob had to say when Harry went to get Murphy's present and had to find something suitable for Anna as well. Cause I know there is a story there. :-) Has to be.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on June 20th, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)
Re: Awwww.
I'm working on writing different angles for this now, as people seem interested. I think I might have to write something from Anna's POV :D. Thanks for reading and commenting!
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The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on June 20th, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)
Wow! Thank you very much!
rodloxrodlox on June 20th, 2007 02:20 pm (UTC)
excellent. a fine look at Murphy's family life.
though now, for some reason, after reading your story, am imagining Bob babysitting Anna.
The Writer They Call Tay: Dresden: doorawanderingbard on June 21st, 2007 10:41 am (UTC)
Heehee. I bet that would take some explaining on Harry's part, though I could see there being an emergency and Murphy and Harry having to leave her there with him. Thanks for commenting!
Glinda the Good: Officially!: Dresden Files:  Kung-Fu Wizard Babiespriscellie on August 3rd, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
Just read all four parts, and they were wonderful! I have warm fuzzies all over. I hope you'll continue to write more with them!