Characters: Harry, Bob, new!Dresdens
Spoilers: None that I can think of
Summary: Sometimes history repeats itself. And it sucks.
Author's Note: Done for the 5th Challenge @ dresdenflashfic. The prompt word was 'Morningways'. I've obviously taken a few liberties here and created my own little future for Harry. Bit of a character whumping, thou art warned.
I checked the clock on the wall. 10:34pm. Way past the bedtime of the toddler who was now jumping up and down in the crib in front of me. I rubbed a tired eye and watched him jump, a look of utter glee on his face.
"Mal," I said, after a moment. He didn't bother to stop jumping to listen. "I know that you want to jump, I don't blame you. Jumping is fun, I get that. And, years from now when you're in psychotherapy and the shrink asks you where you think all your problems come from, you'll probably say it was because your dad didn't let you jump enough as a kid. I swear, I'll have suitable guilt. But right now, just for tonight, it would be really great if you could just lie down and go to sleep. Please?"
He stopped jumping and looked at me, grabbing one of my fingers with his hand. He gave me a broad grin, one I've no doubt I gave to him and made a kissy face at me. I leaned forward and he pecked my nose, then sat down in the crib. I smoothed his hair, which was sticking up on end (I'm pretty sure that's from me too) and he gurgled sleepily, before lying down.
"Thank you," I said, gratefully. "Love ya."
"Moo," he agreed.
I went to the window and ran my finger tips over the protective runes carved into the sill, making sure the window was locked tight. Call me paranoid, but I don't want any faeries sneaking in to steal my children while I'm asleep. Satisfied the room was secure, I headed for the door and flicked the light off.
"G'night, Mal," I said, before closing the door. I placed my palm on the shield symbol painted on it and it glowed briefly, locking in place under my Will.
I rested my forehead against the door and closed my eyes to take a moment to myself. I was exhausted and I still had one more visit to make before I could tuck myself in. Not that I would sleep, I hadn't done that in a long time.
"Are you alright, Harry?" Bob asked, after manifesting himself behind me.
His voice was concerned and I knew if I could see him he'd have that worried look on his face. He'd sported it ever since Miranda died and my insomnia kicked in. I forced a smile at the door and then turned my face away from it to aim it towards him.
"Just tired," I said.
He nodded, not believing me. "Fay is asleep."
I raised a surprised eyebrow. "Really?"
"Yes. She is under her bed, however."
I nodded. That was more what I was expecting to hear. "Could you keep an eye on Mal, please? He's jumpy."
"As you wish."
He walked through the door to Mal's room.
I couldn't really tell you how I ended up married. Mira should have been a one night stand, and probably would have been if she hadn't dropped her cell phone in her haste to get out of my place the next morning. Then she was at my door and she was in my bed again the next morning and still there when I woke up. Then she had a toothbrush and a drawer and a key. Then one morning she shook me awake and said 'Harry, get up, we're going to city hall and getting married' and I did and we were. That was it.
Bob didn't really like Miranda at first, like a kid who's jealous of his new baby sister. He took to Fay like a duck to water, however. He's her godfather. Not legally, of course. You can't name a guy who's been dead for hundreds of years to be your next of kin. But in spirit (no pun intended), he looks after her like he looked after me. Looks after me, he's never really stopped.
I opened the door to Fay's room and looked around. I saw a small foot peeking out from under the bed skirt and lifted it up to find her underneath the bed, tucked under a blanket and snoring softly. I decided not to move her. I did my usual check of the windows and shielded her door up. Then I went down the hall to my room and flopped down in the middle of the bed. The middle is a great place to sleep, I've found. If you sleep on one side only, you remember who's supposed to be on the other.
My brain was messed up from the endless highway of the four hour drive I had undertaken on very little sleep to retrieve Mal and Fay from my mother-in-law's house. She takes them regularly to give me a break and let me 'work on your cases, dear'. Considering her daughter brought home a wizard as a husband, Katie isn't bad. She steadfastly ignores any indication of magic, but she doesn't run from it either.
My eyes closed. I didn't sleep. I don't really sleep anymore. The nightmares are too bad and the expectation of them is even worse. I only ever sleep when I collapse from exhaustion. It isn't healthy and I know I should probably see someone about it, but I don't know how to explain it to anyone. 'Since a vampire killed my wife in an assassination attempt meant for me, I've been having nightmares where she comes and bites me and our kids and then sucks all our blood out. Got any meds for that?'
Sometime later my door creaked. I opened an eye and glanced at the clock beside my bed. About two hours, pretty good for Fay. I opened the other eye and sat up, lighting the candles around my room with a quick spell. Fay climbed onto the bed and crawled over to my lap. I wrapped my arms around her and she snuggled into my chest, wearily.
"Hey cutestuff," I said. "What's up?" She shrugged. "Gramma said you slept good at her house."
"Gramma doesn't got monsters," She said.
"We have monsters here?" I asked. I looked around. "Hmmm, I don't see any."
"They might come later," she explained, fearfully.
I would have loved to tell her there were no such things as monsters. She knew the truth though, she'd seen them. My abilities didn't manifest until I was near 10, and the jury's still out on Mal. He does have a remarkable way of making things he wants happen, though. He has time to develop and if he didn't inherit it, it won't matter to me. He'll probably be safer. But Fay, I knew with her the moment she was placed in my arms. In fact, the combination of my delight with her and her dislike of being away from Mira brought down three rooms of medical equipment in the maternity ward. I wasn't allowed to visit after that. Fay has magic in spades and sometimes, when I hold her like I was then, I can feel both our energies humming in counterpoint. She doesn't know what to do with it yet, but she can see what I see. She sees the monsters in the closet.
"You know," I told her. "That I wouldn't let any monsters get you."
"They got Mommy," she whispered.
I blinked back sudden tears and the surge of guilt in my stomach. "I know they did, sweetie. But Mommy didn't have anyone with her to protect her." My fault, I should have gone out with her. "And you've got me and Bob and Gramma and Lt. Murphy." My dysfunctional, messed-up little family. "And we're all looking out for you. Plus, you've got this - " I tapped the pentacle around her neck and made it glow a little. "And it scares the monsters away."
"But Mal doesn't have a necklace," she fussed.
"He's too little, he might try to eat it," I explained. "But Bob is watching him and I have spells in his room to make sure he's safe. Nothing's going to happen to him or you."
She looked up at me with big eyes. They're brown, like mine. Mal has them too, though his are still in transition from baby blue. Bob says they're Morningway eyes.
I kissed her on the top of her red tresses. "Promise."
Fay was small, even for a kid. She had been born premature and fought very stubbornly against everyone advising us that there would be complications to her health. She never did catch up on size though. That's why she's Fay. Her full name, Julianna Margaret LeFay Dresden seemed very large and fancy for such a little person. One of the nurses thought LeFay was 'such a totally awesome name' and she took to calling her that. Fay stuck.
"Can I stay with you?" She asked, hopefully.
She cocked her head to one side and gave me a charming look that was all Mira. I can't refuse that look. It might have been the reason I ended up married.
I stifled a sigh of sheer exhaustion and nodded. "Just for tonight. Tomorrow you have to try in your room again, okay?"
She nodded solemnly and rolled off me, onto the bed. She stole my pillow and snuggled into it, scootching her legs under the blankets. I found another pillow, reclined and waited until she was asleep. I wondered how many nights I'd spent in my father's room after my mother died. How many nights had he spent talking to me, calming me down, telling me stories about her? Did he find me as much of a comfort as I find Mal and Fay? I was getting ready to put out the candles when I heard little, unsteady footsteps out in the hall.
"Malcolm," Bob's voice scolded.
I waited expectantly and a moment later Mal appeared in the doorway, toddling along with wobbly, but proud steps. Bob was right behind him, hands outstretched to either side as though that would be of any use if he fell.
"I'm sorry Harry, he began to jump and would not listen to reason," Bob said, apologetically. Bob wasn't very good with anyone too young to tell you what they wanted or to understand what you wanted. "Then he escaped again. He climbed over the side of the crib. He clearly has your daredevil instincts."
"S'okay," I told the ghost, with a smile. Bob was such a mother hen. "Hey kiddo."
Mal carefully made his way over to the bed, falling once but getting right back up again. I don't know if that's my stubbornness or Mira's positivity. He lifted his arms up towards me once he'd made it to my side.
"Daddy. Sleepy," he complained.
"Well, then why are you up?" I asked him. I pulled him up onto the bed with me. "Silly."
"Silly," he repeated, matching my tone. He yawned and kicked his legs a little. "Moo."
"Moo," I agreed.
He smiled another big smile at me and curled up on his side, head in my lap. I smoothed his hair for a bit, until he was asleep, thumb firmly in his mouth. I should have gotten up and taken him back to his room. I should have, but I didn't.
"You should probably move him to a proper bed," Bob said, still standing in the doorway. Does being a single father count if you have a ghost for a nanny? "Before he hurts himself."
I nodded. "Katie told me that too. I'll put down the side of the crib tomorrow. Or...today, I guess." It was 1am.
Fay stirred next to me and rolled into my side, tugging at the pillow behind my back. She's such a pillow hog. She gave up after a few tries and pulled her pillow over to her. She settled down again, hands curled up by her face like a baby. My kids are adorable. I may be biased, but that doesn't change simple facts. My kids are cuter than your kids. So there.
I carefully wiggled myself down to lie on my back, pillow under my head. I pulled Mal up to lie on my stomach, out of the way of the sheets and rubbed his back. He squirmed briefly, positioned himself comfortably, then fell asleep again.
"Is all well now, Harry?" Bob asked.
I smiled a tired half smile. "Yeah, Bob. Thanks."
He bowed his head a little and smiled back. "Goodnight then."
He blurred out in a flash of light that floated away down the hall. I closed my eyes, not to sleep, just to rest. Fay was pressed against my side, snoring and Mal was a warm presence on my chest. Dresden piggy pile. I smiled a little, in spite of myself. My dysfunctional, messed-up, wonderful little family.
Author's Notes pt. the Second: I didn't want to kill Murphy and that's the main reason why she and Harry aren't together. Just be glad I didn't kill Harry, that was one of my other ideas for the challenge. :P Mal's full name, if you're curious, is Malcolm Jonathan Hrothbert Murphy Dresden. LeFay is Harry's mother's maiden name in the books and I've always thought that it was pretty cool. I also, clearly, have thought way too much about all this and I'm going to shut up now. :P