Characters: Harry, Bob
Spoilers: Bad Blood, What About Bob?
Word count: Just about 950
Summary: Harry and Bob get a new home. PRE-SERIES.
Author's notes: Set a few weeks after Morningway's death. Spoilers for all of that area of Harry's backstory. Written for the 'new/old' challenge @ dresdenflashfic.
“All right, Bob, you can come out,” Harry announced.
The skull tucked under his arm lit up and the ghost emerged in a flash of golden light. Harry was still getting used to that again. Once, Bob popping in and out had been a normal, everyday affair, but it had been a long time since ghost and wizard shared a residence. These days, Harry tended to jump when Bob suddenly appeared.
Bob stood with his arms crossed, surveying his surroundings, critically. “It needs some work,” Harry said, hastily. He looked over the empty bookshelves, the plain walls, and the boxes strewn across the floor. “Obviously.”
Bob nodded and spun in a circle. “It is hardly spacious, Harry,” he said, with a faint tone of distaste.
“There’s only two of us, Bob, and technically, you don’t take up space,” Harry pointed out. “I don’t think it’s too bad. There’s a cellar thing, under the hatch there. Good place to hide things. I might set up my lab down there. And there’s a loft, where I can sleep.” He pointed as he spoke, feeling a bit like a tour guide. “And...It’s what I can afford at the moment.”
Bob walked away, looking around the kitchen. Harry hastily took a few steps forward when the ghost was jerked back by the metaphorical chains on his wrists. Both men ignored the moment.
“I don’t understand why you couldn’t have kept the money you received upon your uncle’s death,” Bob said, studying the sink and waving a hand through the faucet experimentally. Harry wondered if Bob could tell whether there was mould in the walls and whether that would be an insulting thing to ask. “We could be living in a much more elegant arrangement.”
“I couldn’t keep that money, Bob,” Harry said, running through the argument for the hundredth time. “I got it by...you know.”
Bob shook his head. “After what he put you through, Harry, you should have looked on it as recompense.”
“It’s blood money,” Harry said, firmly. “And now it’s doing some good. The Big Brothers, Big Sisters people were thrilled and that orphanage is getting a new kitchen. That’s more useful than what I would have done with it.”
There was a flash of a smile on Bob’s lips that Harry almost missed. It had something of his old teacher to it. Bob used to give that smile when Harry was doing the exact opposite of what his uncle wanted him to do. Harry was never sure if it was amusement or approval or something more sinister, but it was nice to see it again. The two of them were stuck together, now, and Harry didn’t like what he’d seen of what the ghost had become in the years he had been away.
“What is down there?” Bob asked, pointing down the hall.
“Just more living space,” Harry said. “But...”
Bob rolled his eyes. “Don’t leave hanging sentences, Harry,” he scolded. “It’s exceedingly annoying.”
Harry grinned. “Sorry. I just...I was thinking about setting up my shop up there,” he explained, rather in a rush.
“Your shop?” Bob said. “I was wondering how you planned to make money. What are you selling?”
“Me,” Harry said. That didn’t sound right, so he clarified with “my services.” That sounded even worse. “As a wizard, I mean.”
“You mean, potions and charms and such?” Bob asked, looking skeptical. “I really don’t think yours are so first rate as to be sold, Harry, if I remember correctly.”
Harry grinned again. “Thanks Bob. But I was thinking more...my help, you know?” he explained. “People run into supernatural trouble all the time. Normal people, people without magic. When I was traveling, I saw it everywhere. That’s how I got money to keep going, a lot of the time. By helping people out.”
“And you think that people are just going to show up at your door, begging for help?” Bob asked.
“Well, I’ll have to get the word out first,” Harry said. “You know, advertise.”
“You can’t march down the street handing out flyers, Harry,” Bob said. “The mundanes aren’t supposed to know about our world.”
“Nobody stopped me when I was travelling,” Harry said.
“It is one thing to run into those in trouble, it’s another to ask that they seek you out,” Bob insisted. “Besides, you were not on the Council’s watchlist back then. Warden Morgan will be keeping a weather eye on you.”
“Well, they could look at it as plausible deniability, really,” Harry said. “I mean, you ask ‘are there such things as wizards?’ and you could say ‘if they were real, would we really let them advertise in the Yellow Pages?’”
“I doubt they’ll find that a persuasive argument,” Bob said, skeptically.
Harry frowned, because he knew that Bob was right and he didn’t want him to be. His uncle hadn’t prepared him for any other job than being a wizard. A rich, snobby, wizard elite with dangerous ideas. He didn’t even have a high school diploma.
“Well, I’ll think about it,” he said, after a moment. He knew he wouldn’t, though. He had his mind made up. This was what he was supposed to do. It might help make up for what he’d done in the past. “Do you like the place, at least? Enough to be happy?”
Bob looked surprised. “Happy?”
“Yes, Bob, it’s a pleasant emotion one experiences when things are to one’s satisfaction,” Harry said, mimicking Bob’s accent. He supposed Bob hadn’t been asked that question often in his years as a ghost. “You know. Happy.”
Bob glared at him a little. “I suppose so. If you have decided this is where you are going to settle down, I have little choice, do I?”
“Sure you do,” Harry said. “That’s why I’m asking.”
Bob looked around the room again. “It will do, Harry.”
“Good.” Harry grinned. “Then, welcome home.”