Length: 913 words
Book or TV verse: TV
Characters: Murphy, Anna (Murphy's daughter)
Summary: After she makes a Christmas Eve visit to Harry, Murphy opens her gift and does a bit of reflecting. (Murphy's POV)
Author's Notes: The third part of the series, following Simple Gifts and Christmas Spirit.
I watched the snow gently falling outside the hotel window. There had been a few dicey moments when we were on the outskirts of the blizzard, but we'd made it out of the city safely and the rest of the drive was a snap. Anna was in full 'Harry' mode for the whole trip. Was he really a wizard? Did I like him? Was I going to date him? Isn't he nice? He seemed to have entranced her with that charm of his and I suspected I would be hearing nothing that wasn't about him until Anna and I made another visit. Maybe on the way back we could check on him again.
Anna was asleep now, in one of the large hotel beds. Our room was very nice. Not too small and not decorated with too much pink and frills. Neither Anna nor I were pink or frilly girls. She hadn't taken her necklace off and had been fiddling with it for the entire drive. I think that she was trying to make it glow again, but it remained unlit.
The box Harry had given me sat on the little table in front of me. I hadn't opened it yet. I wanted to be by myself when I did, in case it was something...weird. My own skull to carry around the apartment with me, maybe? My own personal supply of ant vomit? I couldn't even imagine what Harry might have picked out for me.
The box itself was quite pretty. It was smooth, red wood and smelled like a log cabin or firewood. It had intricate little designs carved into it and a small silver clasp holding it closed. I took a deep breath, undid the clasp and lifted the lid. There was a card right at the top. 'Murph' read the envelope. The card was what I would have expected from him. Irreverent and enough to make me snort, with the same kind of humour as Harry's own. The kind that has me laughing in the face of death, despite myself. Under the punchline was his familiar, left handed and eccentric scrawl: 'Thanks for putting up with me.' I smiled and set the card aside, then looked into the box to see what was underneath. I gave a little gasp and lifted the present out gingerly.
When I was a kid, I used to visit my grandmother a lot. She had this huge collection of those little Russian stacking dolls, Matryoshkas, and I loved to play with them. I'd take them all apart and line them up all over the basement floor, conducting military maneuvers and ordering them around.
Inside the red box was a Matryoshka, painted in perfect detail as a cop. She had a beaked cap and her hair was pulled neatly into a bun underneath it. Her uniform had all the right buttons. She was beautiful. I cracked her open and took out the dolls inside her. Each one was just as detailed, right down to the smallest, which was shorter than my pinkie.
My stomach did that floppy thing it sometimes does around him. Like when he gave me that look when he saw me dressed up for the opera, or when he kissed me to activate the weird ant vomit stuff or sometimes when he smiles at me or when I wake up from one of my nightmares when he saves me instead of being the one I need saving from. Total, pathetic, squee-he-likes-me moments that I always firmly kick myself for afterwards. I am not fourteen years old and he is not the cute quarterback who has his locker next to me. We're Murphy and Harry, partners in crime.
I couldn't remember ever telling him about the dolls. It was like one of those things he just knew. Then it came to me. Shortly after I started working with Harry, which seemed like a million years ago now, we had ended up in an antique shop which had a bunch of the dolls. I think that I had mentioned off-handedly how much I'd loved them as a kid. He teased me, saying he didn't pick me out as a girl who would play with dolls. It was ages ago and I couldn't believe he remembered that. I barely remembered that.
Anna stirred in the bed nearby and mumbled something about sheep. I carefully stacked the dolls inside one another and put them back in the box, replacing the card on top. I got up and opened one of our suitcases to set out the presents on the dresser top for when Anna woke up. Some from me, some from her father and his new blonde wife (of whom, I reminded myself, I was not jealous). His were bigger than mine, but I think that I'd trumped him anyway. I'd given her a wizard. Beat that.
I changed into my pajamas, took a pill and crawled into the big, comfy bed next to Anna's. She muttered something else about sheep and turned over to curl up in a ball. I smiled and reached to turn out the light over my bed. I could have sworn that I saw her necklace glow for a second. I shook my head and decided it was time for sleep.
"Mmm'gic," Anna muttered.
I agreed with her. It was all kind of magical. Not that I believe in that stuff.