A Tragedy in Three Parts
In all her thoughts of the future, all her wishes and hopes and fears, she had never once considered that she might outlive him.
She should have, she can see that now. He has—had—so many enemies, such a propensity for rushing headfirst into danger without seeing who's coming up behind. She should have expected, or at least considered, that he might die first.
It took so much to let go, so much effort and wasted time. She'd had to come to terms with herself, first, with her past, her fears that she might drive him off like every other man she'd loved. Then to accept the fact that he would outlive her by hundreds of years, just by virtue of who and what he was...
...and then he died.
It shouldn't have happened. Such a sudden, stupid accident, on such a routine, easy case that he hadn't even bothered to tell her the details. "Easy money," he'd laughed. "Even wizards gotta eat."
It had been a quiet week, a quiet month, even. That should have been her first clue that something truly awful was about to happen. A drop in crime, all across the departments, not just in Special Investigations. He'd joked about it. He joked about everything.
Homicide had called her. He had no family that they knew of.
She shied away from the memory of that phone call, and the calls that followed. She had called Michael Carpenter, and Thomas Raith, and figured out how to get in contact with Ebenezar McCoy. It had to be her, nobody else knew as many of his friends as she did, but God, she'd had to relive hearing it, over and over again. Molly had cried. Thomas had gone stone silent. Ebenezar had hung up on her, then apologized at the funeral.
The funeral...God, she didn't want to remember that either. Thank God Michael had been willing to organize it. She didn't think she could have handled that, not without breaking down totally, anyway. She hadn't wanted to go, hadn't wanted to make it real like that, but she owed it to him.
Thomas had given her the pentacle amulet. He'd said nothing, just handed it to her as they stood by the graveside. It made sense, she supposed vaguely, touching it where it lay on her coffee table. Thomas already had one, Michael wouldn't want something so contrary to his faith, and everyone else had their own memories of him. Why would they want hers?
A shining light in a pit of darkness, a wolf roaring up above them and him, hand out, pentacle shining with silver light...protecting her, protecting Marcone. Protection, love, hope, faith.
Faith. It came down to faith. She'd had such faith in him, to come out alive in everything. And he did, every sticky situation he'd ever gotten in. He'd had so many guns pointed at his head, had so many curses directed at him, and in the end it had been a slippery section of the road and some failed brakes on a car overdue for inspection that got him.
The irony would have killed him if the SUV hadn't.
She'd even had to tell the damned talking skull.
Susan had been there. She didn't know how Susan'd heard, because God knew she didn't know how to get in touch with the Fellowship. But Susan had been there, and she had been crying, and she'd felt the need to apologize for not protecting him better.
Susan had looked at her as if she was an idiot.
"He's a big
boy," she'd said. "Was. Oh, God. Was a big boy. He knew the
risks. He knew what he was doing."
He didn't expect to get hit by a goddamned SUV while he was looking for evidence, she'd wanted to say. But she hadn't. She hadn't really said much of anything.
It wasn't much of a funeral. There were no eulogies, no flowers, and only two people openly mourning. What could they say? It was so pointless. It wasn't as if he'd died in battle or something. Made the tombstone even more ironic, really. He died doing the right thing. He died for no reason.
Actually, maybe that was why she'd always assumed he'd live forever. He could always get out of the tightest situations, or she could get him out. It was the stupid things, the pointless accidents that he couldn't guard against and she couldn't save him from. That was always what would get you in the end. The devil was in the details, in the inspection sticker on a car window and a little piece of cloth evidence stuck to the guardrail beside the highway.
The phone rang.
Oh God not again...
She reached out, picked it up, praying all the while. "Karrin Murphy."
"Hi, honey." Her mother. He'd been dead nearly a week and she was still expecting to hear his voice on the phone. "Just calling to see how you're doing."
"Hi," she replied, as neutrally as possible. "I'm doing...I don't know."
A brief pause,
then her mother asked, carefully, "Karrin? Are you all right? You
Was she all right? She let the phone drop from her ear, stared at it for a minute. Was she all right?
"Karrin? Are you there?"
She put the phone
back up to her ear. "Yes. Yes, I'm here. I'm sorry, Mom. It's
been...it's been a hard week."
"It sounds like it. Do you want to talk about it?"
That's right. She hadn't told anyone in her family. She hadn't had time, or the notion to call them. She should have. She should have done a lot of things. "I...um..." She closed her eyes against threatening tears. "Mom, you remember Harry Dresden?"
"Mm. Your tall friend who interrupted our family picnic? Yes, I remember him. What about him?"
She had to force the words out. "He's dead, Mom."
Another pause. "Oh, my God."
"He died on Monday," she continued, the words falling faster and faster. "The funeral was yesterday. They called me...he didn't have any family so they called me. Oh, God."
There was a new, urgent tension in her mother's voice. "Honey,
I'm coming over. Don't go anywhere."
"I won't," she whispered. Her mother hung up, and she held the phone tight in her hand. "I won't."