Characters: Harry, Fay, Mal, Anna, Murphy, Bob, a couple of new OCs
Pairings: Harry/Murphy, Anna/OC
Word count: 2,617
Summary: Fay comes home from university, and Harry's odd little family get the tree decorated.
Author's notes: Yeah, this is a big time leap. Since I've finished my occhallenge table, I don't think I'll been doing much more with my Dresden folks in the future. I'm not ruling it out entirely, but I'm a little low on ideas. So, I thought I'd write out what I did have left in the idea bank, which is for several years in the future, and leave it in a nice place. It's a bit of a Harry Potter-style epilogue of sorts. Mal is about fifteen, Fay is eighteen, and Anna is twenty-nine.
Set in the mini!dresden's (not-so-mini!dresdens?) 'verse. Last of the Christmas fic spam. I think.
“Mal, could you play something a bit more lively?” I asked. “This is supposed to be a Christmas thing. You know, good cheer and all that.”
Mal looked up from his sheet music and sighed. “But, I'm composing,” he said. “I have to get it down before it's gone.”
“Well, when Fay gets here, could you try to play something less dirge-like?” I said.
“It's not a dirge,” Mal said. “It's a ballad. I think. I don't know yet. But...yeah, okay. I got nothing. It sounded good when I started, but I can't get out of this major key and it's really ominous sounding now. Cheer activating.” He picked up his guitar and began a merry rendition of 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer'.
I gave him a thumb's up and went back to trying to get the tree together. Fay was due home soon, and she wanted to decorate the tree up. It was her first semester at university, and even though she was well-within easy commuting distance, I think she was a bit homesick. I thought we should be giving her a nice, normal Christmas. But when your partner is out protecting the city from crime, and your son is fifteen and somewhere between being too cool for Christmas, but totally not too cool for it, and your ghost is the living (well, deading) embodiment of Scrooge, it's hard to get things rolling. Hopefully Anna would be by soon with Flynn. A toddler could liven things up a lot.
Bob came through the wall, frowning. “What happened to the music? I was enjoying it,” he said.
“Okay, yeah, probably dirge-like,” Mal conceded to me.
Bob looked around, surreptitiously.
“She's not here, yet,” I said.
Bob feigned innocence. “Who?” he asked.
“She'll probably be here on the next El,” I said. “I think she was going to drop Kade home, first, and say hi to his family.”
Bob scowled. “I don't like that boy,” he said, and walked through the wall once more.
Turns out that ghosts? Actually very good at parental worrying. I mean, seriously, I just delegate to him. He has all possibilities covered, even things I didn't think could be a factor. Though, I was fairly certain Kade was unlikely to be a plague carrier. I thought we could safely cross that off the list.
Kade's really nice, actually. Completely unflappable, very polite, thinks Fay is a goddess. I can't ask for much more. Bob has higher standards than me, though. No one is good enough for Fay.
I continued my assembly with Mal's musical accompaniment, and, right on time, the front door opened and Fay arrived home, carrying a load of laundry in her arms, and dragging another one behind her.
“How did you get home like that?” I asked.
“Kade's mom drove me,” she said. “I said thank you. Like, a lot.”
“Did you bring any actual, clean clothes?” I asked.
“Uh, no,” she said. “Just the one's I'm wearing.”
She dropped the laundry in a pile, and jumped into my arms. I consider myself pretty lucky to have two teenagers who still like to hug. Even if Mal prefers his in the privacy of his living room, with the curtains drawn.
I was knocked into from behind by a small horse, and released Fay to allow Mouse access to her. I think he and Bob are probably equal in who misses her the most. I mean, I miss her because I love her, but I recognize that she's leaving the nest and growing up, which is sort of what I've been working on all these years. Like, that's the ultimate destination. Bob would rather she stay put, I think. I have no clue what Mouse thinks or worries about, but I think he likes it when we're all in a pack and he can keep an eye on us.
Fay bent down and wrapped her arms around his neck, laughing as he licked her face all up. Bob formed an orderly queue behind them, and I left them alone so he could be sentimental without witnesses.
“Fay's here,” I said to Mal.
“Wait, I know I have my excited face here, somewhere...” he said.
Apparently sarcasm is genetic. You have no idea how annoying it is to have kids that are just like you. You can't even blame them for it.
“Hey, jerk,” Fay said, when she arrived in the living room.
“Hey, loser,” Mal replied.
Fay ruffled up his very gelled hair, and he elbowed her in the stomach. I smiled, because it's nice that my kids love each other. Fay flopped down on the couch and Mouse hopped up to try and crush her.
“How's school?” I asked, in a fatherly fashion.
“Fine,” she replied, in a daughterly fashion.
“Good fine or bad fine?” I asked.
“Good fine,” she said. “I'm enjoying myself, and I've only broken one laptop since I last saw you, so new record.”
“Awesome,” I said.
Finding a profession for Fay had been tricky. Technology is not her friend, and wizards aren't really good for much in terms of regular employment. We all sort of end up as wardens or teachers or living in caves and shunning society. Since I didn't want Fay to take on the family business, we had to find a way to combine her skills. She's pretty artsy, and she's made jewelery for years, and discovered that she could actually get a degree of sorts in jewelery arts from the arts college. She thought she could sell them for a bit of money, and maybe put a spell or two on them as healing jewelery or protective jewelery. So, taking on the family biz a little that way. I thought it would it least give her a source of income, and we've never lived lavishly, so she knows how to stretch a dollar. I'd rather she be doing something that made her happy, anyway.
“And things are still good with Kade?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said, with a blushing smile. “I like him a lot. He's good people.”
Kade's an architecture student. They met on campus. I don't know how much architects make, but I fell in love with a starving artist, too, so I can hardly begrudge her that.
“Dad,” Fay said, casually. “When did you tell Mom you were a wizard?”
“She knew off the bat,” I said. “It was on the door.”
“Yeah, but when you tell her you were a wizard,” she said. “And not just...crazy.”
“Oh. Well, after a Smiler attacked us on a date,” I said. “There wasn't a lot of point in denying it after that.”
Fay frowned. “How do you know if you should tell a person?” she asked.
“I dunno, kiddo,” I said. “I've never been able to figure that out. I think when you need to, for their safety, or because you think it's not fair any more. If he's really good people, he'll stay.”
“I don't want to freak him out,” she said. “Or have Morgan on my ass.”
“You send Morgan to me,” I said. “I'll set him straight.”
She smiled. “I can handle him,” she said. “He still gets nervous when I cry.”
“Maybe I should try that,” I said. I made sad puppy dog eyes, and she laughed.
The front door opened again, and little feet pattered along in the hallway. I went out to greet the new guests. Flynn jumped up and down as Anna tried to get him unwrapped from his snowsuit.
“Hi, Gamps,” he said.
“Hey, buddy, how are you?” I asked.
“Fly, Gamps!” he said, holding up his arms. “Fly!”
I obligingly lifted him above my head and swung him around a little while making airplane noises. He screeched with joy.
“Where's Mom?” Anna asked.
“Kicking ass, taking names,” I said. “She was going to try to be here later on, though. Where's Declan?”
“Kicking fire, taking names,” she said. “He's off in about an hour, so depending on how busy his shift was, he's going to try and come.”
Anna married a very nice, very Irish fellow. He does some sort of computery stuff--I'm not good with any of that. I think he programs...programs. He's also a volunteer fireman, which means I see him a lot when he does his shifts. There's always a lot of fire around me. I think I've managed to convince him I'm not an arsonist, now. Which might be a bit of a lie.
“Bob!” Flynn said, reaching out his arms behind me. “Hi!”
“Hello,” Bob replied, politely. “Hello, Anna.”
“Hey, Bob,” Anna said. “How's it going?”
“Very well, thank you,” he said. “Yourself?”
“Flynn's decided he doesn't want to sleep in his own bed, again,” Anna said, cheerfully. “I was up six times last night. I'm tired and grumpy.”
“I see,” Bob said. “I don't expect either of those things to improve during your time here.”
“Do you want some cocoa?” I asked.
“Hit me with a double,” Anna said.
I put Flynn back on the floor, and he toddled to Bob.
“Yetters, Bob!” he demanded.
Bob wrote some golden symbols in the air and then poked them, letting them fall over Flynn's face. He giggled and jumped up and down, and Bob smiled. He's way more relaxed with the grandkid than he was with mine. I think he's realized that we're on to him now, and know he does have a heart.
I went and started to pour out the cocoa from the pot on the stove. I dropped a few marshmallows in--peppermint flavor, for the occasion--and carried as many cups as I could handle out to the living room. Anna had joined Fay on the couch, Mouse was patiently allowing Flynn to 'pet' him. Mouse is great with kids. I even used him as a baby-sitter once, for about fifteen minutes when I had to deal with something. I came home and everything was exactly as I had left it, although apparently he'd taken my instructions to 'not let them move' very seriously, as Fay informed me he nosed her back to the chair every time she'd got out of it.
We chatted and caught up and listened to Mal's music and played with Flynn and drank our cocoa. We were waiting on Murphy to start decorating, but after an hour, I decided we better go ahead. She wouldn't be offended. Declan arrived as the garland was being untangled.
“Hey, Harry,” he said, when I opened the door. “Have I missed the craic?”
Craic is an Irish word generally meaning 'fun, good times, banter, hilarity'. It is pronounced exactly like 'crack'. This was very much a bone of contention the first time Anna brought him to meet Murphy, as he complimented her on her daughter's ability to 'have the crack'. Which did not go down well with a police officer. I think he uses it still as a sort of joke, which makes me like him, because I do appreciate someone who annoys people on purpose.
“The craic is grand,” I said, which is the appropriate reply. “And ongoing.”
“Misses and the babby in, then?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “Walk on through.”
I got him some cocoa and joined them all in the living room. Declan looked like it had been a long shift, and he stretched out on the couch with his cocoa while the rest of us went at the tree. Flynn had to take out each ornament and examine it, and bring it to Declan to show it to him before one of us was allowed to place it. Mal used to do that, too. Fay was always more of 'go at it with a running start' type; not as thoughtful as Mal. She's my daughter, she can't help herself. Mal was lucky enough to inherit Mira's good sense.
We had the tree mostly up and running by the time Murphy came in, and were working on setting up the nativity scene (it was Mira's, and Fay had always been insistent that it be set up each year), and getting all the knick-knacks and candles and garlands up around the house.
“Greetings Dresden-Murphy-Keller-McGill clan,” she said. “Looks I like I missed all the fun.” She intercepted Flynn as he made a running leap at her, and swung him up into her arms.
“We saved some craic for you, Connie,” Declan said, and Anna kicked him in the shin.
“We left the star for you,” Fay said. “And your policeman ornament. And the snowman family still needs to be set-up.”
“And there's cocoa,” I said.
“Well, there go my plans to be offended,” Murphy said.
“Don't worry, we'll find something for you to be offended about,” Mal said.
“Awesome,” Murphy said. “Let's get that star up, huh? Do you wanna help, Flynnster?”
I went for the cocoa, pausing to received a kiss on the way by, made less romantic by Flynn grabbing at my hair.
Murphy and me just sort of happened. I don't think either of us expected it, or were even trying for it. But, one day, it was there, and we decided to give it a go, and we've been together since. It's been a while now--like, years--and I should probably make an honest woman of her, but neither of us has ever talked marriage. We're fine like we are. Even Mira's family is cool with it. 'It's about time, dear,' were Gramma Katie's actual words when I stammered it out to her. 'Mira will understand.'
Besides, it's not like my family has ever been conventional. We've always been the odd, messed-up, perfect little group, and that's how we function. So long as we keep functioning, I think we'll do.
Fay tackled me back into the kitchen when I tried to leave. “We're turning on the lights,” she said. “You and I have to stay back.”
“Oh, sorry,” I said.
“Okay, boring people, hit it,” Fay called.
Fay and I peered around the doorway into the living room, and watched as the lights went on. Our tree is not even close to themed, or matching. We don't have a set of balls, or plain, but striking white lights. It's a mess, just like us. But gorgeous, all the same.
“Looks good,” I said.
“This is the only time I really, really hate it that I explosify everything,” Fay said.
“Well, technology is catching up,” I said. “Maybe by the time you're my age, you won't interfere anymore.”
“That's forever!” Fay said.
I pulled down on her ponytail. “Watch it,” I said. “You know my lifespan, I will still be around when you're my age, and I will mock you mercilessly. Wizards never forget.”
“Is that from something?” Fay asked.
“Um, I dunno, I forget,” I said.
She swatted at me. “Okay, we're coming back in,” she called.
The lights went off again, and I brought Murphy out her cocoa. Mal had taken up position at the piano, and tinkled a lovely rendition of 'Silent Night'. Murphy and I squeezed ourselves into the chair-and-a-half, and Fay got down on the floor with Flynn and Mouse. Bob came out to listen to Mal play. Anna and Declan stretched out on the couch together. Everyone was here.
My odd, messed-up, perfect, functional, little family.