Characters: Harry, Murphy, Bob, Miranda (OFC)
Prompt: Ups and Downs
Word count: 2319
Summary: Nothing is normal when you date a wizard. Not even being stood up.
Author's notes: Done for the 'Ups and Downs' challenge at dresdenflashfic. It's from the POV of Miranda, who is the mother of Fay and Mal in my mini!Dresdens stories. This is set pre-them, however, when Harry and Mira have been dating for a few weeks.
I’ve been stood up. If it was by anyone other than Harry Dresden, I’d be furious. I’d break up with him. I certainly wouldn’t be waiting outside his door with take-out, hoping that he comes home soon. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) it is Harry Dresden who’s stood me up and I’m leaning against the door to his shop, waiting while the food gets cold. My name is Miranda Faintree, and I’m addicted to Harry Dresden.
Not really, of course. I have more self-control than that. I could totally get by without seeing him tonight, or even for the rest of the week. I am a strong, capable woman who does not need a man to justify her existence. I look down at my watch and sigh. I’m so pathetic.
The thing about getting stood up by Harry is that you know there’s a good reason for it. He’s not the sort of guy who forgets he has a date just because he’s a guy who forgets things. He’s a guy who forgets he has a date because he’s been running all over town tracking down bad guys and getting bullets shot at him, or worse. Because, don’t tell anyone, but my boyfriend is a wizard. A real one. Magic is real and my boyfriend can do it. How freakin’ awesome is that?
So I stand and wait for Harry to return with an excuse like ‘there was this giant rosebush attacking these school children and it kidnapped me and took me to its leader in Candyland and that’s why I have all these thorns in my arms’. I mean, how do you really get angry at that?
I’m about to give up and call a cab to go home. It’s almost too late to be standing by yourself on a Chicago back street. I pull out my cellphone just as a car pulls up and a tough looking woman gets out. I know she’s Murphy, just by looking at her, even though we haven’t formally met. Any insecurity I have about my relationship with Harry stems from Murphy. I know he thinks she’s awesome and I sort of have this feeling like she’d be a better match for him than me. She can help him kick bad guy ass. The best I can do would be to carry along my violin and provide action sequence music.
“See Murph, told’ja s’fine,” Harry’s voice slurs from somewhere. Murphy opens the passenger door and Harry half falls out onto the pavement, saved by his seatbelt. He frowns at it and tugs, then points a finger purposefully and jabs the button to release it. “’Sides, Bob’ll worry.”
“I’m sure he will,” Murphy says, in the same voice mothers use when their daughters ask for extra cookies for their imaginary friend. “C’mon Harry, let’s get you inside.”
“Alright, Murph,” Harry says, agreeably.
Murphy helps him out and gets him on his feet. He sees me (“Hi!”) and lurches over, planting a wet kiss on my lips. My spine tingles a little, even though it’s hardly the most romantic kiss I’ve ever had. I catch him as he overbalances and pull him up again.
“Harry!” Murphy scolds, rushing after him. She pulls him away from me and steadies him. “Sorry, he gets very affectionate when he’s drugged.”
A little twinge of irrational jealousy hits me that she knows how he is when he’s drugged, but is quickly replaced by the worry that he’s been drugged and apparently not for the first time. I help her keep him on his feet.
“Is he alright?” I ask her. “Did he do it to himself?” Harry doesn’t seem like a heroin addict to me, but I suppose I really haven’t known him that long.
“No, no,” Murphy says, quickly. “No, a client of his did it, I think. We found him in a warehouse by the docks.”
“Fairies,” Harry says, spitting out the word with vigour. “It was a fairy, Murphy. I toldja.”
“Right Harry,” Murphy soothes. “A fairy drugged you.” She looks to me again. “You must be Miranda.” I nod a confirmation. She smiles a little. “He talks about you a lot.”
My heart does a little flip-flop.
“S’Miranda,” Harry explains to Murphy, apparently just joining us. “She carries Band-Aids in her purse.”
“That’s great, Harry,” Murphy tells him, affectionately. “Where are your keys?”
He shrugs helplessly and I start to rummage through his pockets. He takes the opportunity to kiss my forehead. I’m somewhat dreading what he might say or do in regards to me feeling him up, but he stands placidly and lets me work. His eyes watch me, sharp even through the haze and he smiles on and off, as though remembering something pleasant.
“Here we go,” I say, pulling them from his jeans’ pocket. “Which one opens the door, Harry?”
I hold them up one at a time. He squints at them and rattles off their purpose, ‘car’, ‘locker’, ‘bank’, ‘not telling’, ‘house’. I stick it in the lock, but he grabs my wrist with startling quickness and stops me.
“No,” he says, firmly. “Me.”
“Okay,” I allow.
He reaches around me and turns the lock, a look of concentration on his face. I can hear the click and he pushes open the door, overbalancing forwards from the effort. Murphy grabs his jacket and pulls him back on his feet again and we all go inside.
Harry reaches out his hand and opens his mouth. I know he’s going to do that thing where he says ‘flick ‘em, Bickus’ or something and all the candles light up. I put my hand over his mouth because: a) he’s stoned and in no condition to play with fire and b) as far as I know, Murphy isn’t in on the whole magic thing. He mumbles into my palm and nothing happens.
“Shhh,” I tell him, softly. “No magic.”
“Booooo,” he says, grumpily.
I smile and help Murphy light a few candles to maneuver Harry around by. We get him to the couch and he flops down. He looks between me and Murphy, smiles and pulls us both into a group hug. I lose my balance and twist to land on the couch beside him. Murphy looks like it would take a small bulldozer to knock her down.
“I took him to the hospital,” she tells me. “They said it just has to run through his system and he wouldn’t stay overnight. They said he should be watched and woken up every couple of hours.”
“I’ll stay,” I offer. “I’m sure you have something better to do. Don’t you have a kid at home?” She looks surprised. “He talks about you, too.” She smiles.
“She’s not with me this week,” she explains. “But I do want to try and figure out who did this to him. Harry? I’m going to leave you with Miranda okay? I’m going to try and find your client. Do you remember what her name was or what she looked like?”
He looks thoughtful. “She was hot,” he decides, after a moment.
Murphy and I roll our eyes at each other.
“Alright, Harry,” Murphy says. “I’ll check on you tomorrow.”
He gives her cheek a fond pat. “’Kay Murph.”
“Nice to meet you,” she says to me.
“You too,” I say.
I walk her to the door and when I return, Harry has slumped over sideways, half asleep. I sit down on the coffee table and pull his shoes and socks off, then help him swing his legs up onto the couch. He pats the space in front of him, wanting me to lie down too. I shake my head.
“Not right now, Harry,” I say. “In a bit, alright?”
“Booo,” he says, again. This time it’s with even less energy.
He pillows his hands under his head and closes his eyes. He looks sort of adorable. I give him a kiss on his brow and run upstairs to grab a pillow and blanket for myself, plus his alarm clock so I can wake myself up to wake him up every couple of hours. I head back downstairs and stop halfway down, with a start. There is a man coming out of the hallway. My mind runs through a billion possibilities of who or what he could be in the space of a few seconds. I try not to move, but the stair creaks under my foot. He turns to look at me and has the expression of someone caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar.
“Ah,” he says, vaguely apologetic. “I thought you would be longer up there.”
“Who - ?” I begin. “Wha -?...Huh?”
“I am Bob,” he replies. He says this in a matter of fact way and I note that he sounds British.
“Bob...” I repeat. It’s a common enough name, but... I think for a moment. I dismiss my immediate thought as not possible. Then I remember who I’m dealing with. “Harry...Harry had a teacher named Bob. He’s talked about him.” The man nods. “But he’s dead. Harry said he’s dead.” The man nods again. “So...you’re...?”
“A ghost, yes,” Bob fills in, pleasantly.
The alarm clock falls from my hand and bounces down the stairs noisily. At the bottom, it rolls a bit. Directly through the man’s foot. I sit down on the stairs heavily and stare at him for awhile. He stares back with polite interest. He’s got white hair that suits him and unnerving pale blue eyes. He’s dressed sort of like Hugh Hefner if Hugh Hefner were a vampire count.
“So...you’re real?” I ask, after a bit. It sounds very stupid in my mind. “You’re not, like, a hallucination or something?”
“No, I am quite real,” he assures me.
“Well, that’s what you would say,” I reason. “If you were a hallucination.”
He chuckles softly. “I suppose so.”
“I could be having a psychotic break. You could be a manifestation of my inner psyche. Apparently the nattily dressed British part.”
“I suppose it doesn’t help my cause any, but I think you’re quite sane,” he says. “In fact, in comparison to some of the other maidens Harry has dated, you’re perhaps the most level-headed of them all.”
“Thank you,” I reply. “If you are a hallucination, you should stick around. I like illusions that say nice things about me.” He chuckles again. “So...if you’re really this Bob guy. Harry’s teacher. Why are you here? I mean...I don’t know much about ghosts and things, but wouldn’t there be other people to haunt? Did he really piss you off or something? Glue you to your chair, shoot spitballs at you?”
“I am not haunting Harry,” Bob replies, in a patient tone. “He is in possession of my skull. I am bound to it and, thus, him.”
I’m not sure my mind could come up with something like that on its own, so I tentatively decide that it’s probably real. “Have you always been here? I mean, for as long as I’ve known Harry.” He nods. “And you just stay hidden?”
“I am not something most people are permitted to see,” he explains, gently. “Harry doesn’t speak of me not because he chooses not to, but because he is compelled to, it is...safer that way.”
“But he does talk about you,” I point out. The ghost looks surprised. “Well, he didn’t say you were bound to a skull in his apartment, but he said you were his teacher. He said you taught him everything he knows. He said you were dead. I guess that wasn’t a lie.” I slap a hand to my forehead, remembering. “He said you’d worry about him. Earlier.”
“I am sorry to spring all this on you,” Bob says. “Especially while Harry is indisposed. I merely wished to check on him, to see if he was alright. I assumed you would be upstairs for longer than you were.”
I note that the ghost does indeed look worried. “He’s okay. He’s been drugged.” Bob rolls his eyes. “Lt. Murphy says he just needs to sleep it off.”
Bob looks relieved. “Thank you, milady.”
I blush at the title and smile at my feet. God, my life has become so weird since I met Harry. A ghost just made me blush. I stand up and my knees feel shaky, but they hold. I gather up the pillow and blanket and continue the rest of the way down the stairs. Bob steps out of my way. I pick up the alarm clock, which has stayed intact, amazingly. We walk over to the couch together.
“He said you looked after him,” I tell the ghost, looking askance at him. “When he was younger. He said you watched out for him. Do you still do that?”
Bob smiles. “I suppose I do.”
“Good,” I decide. I set Mickey Mouse’s arms on the clock for an hour from now. “Someone should.”
I lift Harry’s head and move the pillow underneath it. He stirs and opens his eyes, blearily.
“Bob?” He asks. I am exceedingly relieved Harry can see him too. “Dizzy.”
“It’s alright, Harry,” Bob says, soothingly. “Just rest.”
“’Kay,” Harry agrees. He reaches for my hand. “Come.”
I oblige this time and sprawl out in the space in front of him. He’s skinny, we both fit. He slings his arm over my hip and pulls me in close to him. I throw the blanket over us. Bob inclines his head to me and disappears.
Harry breathes softly on the back of my neck and I watch the clock tick the seconds off, contemplating what just happened. Only while dating Harry Dresden could a girl get stood up and wind up meeting a ghost. I am totally addicted. I wonder if there’s a programme for girls who are addicted to wizards. Not that I would go. This is way too much fun.