Disclaimer: The Dresden Files is the creation of Jim Butcher and adapted for television by the producers and directors of the SCI-FI Channel; as are the characters and concepts; they are not mine. Written for drewbeartx in the 2nd Round of the Multifandom Challenge Apocalypthon.
"The Red King's Dream" by Karen
Harry Dresden drove to the western edge on the outskirts of town, stopping only long enough to stop and fill his tank with several gallons worth of gas. He also had a few spare canisters on hand just in case.
Once more back on the road Harry Dresden kept driving, passing only the occasional vehicle also heading out of town.
The entire area surrounding downtown Chicago and a good portion of themselves surrounding suburbs, there had been systematic reports of large scale blackouts and unexplained phenomenon. The official reports and the news media were blamed it to nothing more than atmospheric disturbances or perhaps a power grid failure across the city.
Harry supposed it was perhaps a natural human response to disasters to have a nice comfortable logical explanation for when things like these happened. To Harry's way of thinking it had to be to simply too much of a coincidence that it had begun five weeks ago and had continued off and on up until no to have been due to natural causes..
So Harry had gone looking for the irrational and paranormal underlying cause of the disaster, for one thing, aside from the blackouts, technological and modern convenience had suffered from unexplained malfunctions, but it certainly had not done much in the way of affecting traffic on Chicago's busy streets.
So far no casualties had been reported, that anyone knew off, officially, so Harry supposed he could that as a lucky break.
Using his on and off association with the Chicago PD had garnered at least one good thing before the hammer fell. Harry had convinced Murphy to use her connections with the governor who in turn, declared a state of emergency.
As a result, all of the major and minor exits into and out of town had been closed off.
One the local units of the National Guard had been called in to provide additional man power as well.
Harry was stopped at one of the check-points Harry rolled down his window and offered a friendly and reassuring smile to the uniformed soldiers,. He pulled out his registered pass card and his identification before they would allow him pass by.
Harry had traveled only a good thirty or forty feet before he could feel the road beneath his jeep's tires become slippery from the accumulated rainfall of the past two days. Harry was forced to wrench the steering wheel sharply to the left to avoid ending up in the ditch.
Once Harry regained control he reduced speed, pulled over and stopped. Turning off the ignition, he figured he had put as much distance between himself and the farthest extent of the magical barrier to finally get an accurate feel of what else needed to be done and just how much time he had to do any of it.
Just then he felt his heart nearly leapt into his throat as he spun around long enough to register another presence seated in the passenger side of his jeep. "Damn it, Morgan, keep that up and you're liable to give someone a heart attack." Harry muttered Sucking in several deep calming, centering breaths to center himself and regain his focus and his equilibrium.
"Dresden, time is of the essence, and I must speak with you right away." Morgan announced with a deep bass rumble providing a counterpoint to the splatter of the rain on the roof of his vehicle.
"You only call me by surname when its something important, so what's up?"
Even before the disaster that had enfolded the entire downtown of Chicago into a protective barrier, Morgan's arrivals had more often than not meant something dangerous, dire, and usually unpleasant to come. The barriers, Harry thought, were a recent addition, and they only extended in and around the Chicago city limits.
'Oh, Sure, " Harry thought in the back of his mind, "Morgan is just being Morgan, the number one Enforcer of the Council. "Come on, give a wizard a break once in a while.'
Harry reached for his specially treated hockey stock that he had infused with a bit of his own magic, both protective and defensive.
For a brief moment, Harry, wondered if he was being uncharitable in characterizing Morgan in that light, but even before he had become more or less the resident paranormal expert of the Chicago PD, Morgan had always had a definite grudge against him.
"As you may or may not have noticed, the entire down town area of Chicago as well as several nearby suburbs have been enclosed in a protective barrier."
"It's more for their protection than it is for ours," Morgan said.
Morgan shrugged his broad shoulders, his sword sheathed across his back. "There are forces are moving, factions forming, and we, and by "we" I mean the Council need you to put aside your mistrust of us long enough to see this through."
"I really wish you wouldn't put in that way. What, it takes an end of the world scenario, last night on Earth, asteroid hitting the planet for you guys to finally start trusting me?" replied Harry with not a little ambivalence.
"We don't have time for this," Morgan growled.
At times Harry thought that deep bass rumbled almost but not quite sounded like the deep throaty growl of a panther at hunt, the dusky black skin of the older man also helped foster that image as well.
"Okay, okay, you know I had to put up a token resistance, after all you guys did help save all our lives when we were trapped by that dragon."
"Dresden, don't remind me." Morgan said. "I understand you had some inkling of events that were set in motion weeks ago now. They were persuasive enough to convince your associate, Detective Murphy, of the very real danger facing this city."
"We've got an almost complete lock down," Harry replied as he lifted his arm to check the time on his wrist watch. "Any minute it will be almost impossible for anyone or anything to get in or out of town."
Question: What exactly are these magical barriers? Who put them up and why? How far do they extend?
"Almost. By that I suppose you mean, anything ordinary will be unable to get out." Morgan sighed and then looked Harry straight in the eye and held onto the contact.
"We can slide back in, I just had to get away from it all, to figure out what my next move should be. I take it, you are planning to go back in?" asked Harry
"The Council has a working plan in place and you are going to be part of it, whether you like or not," Morgan stated.
"Now, now, Morgan, don't be like that, and we were making such strides in getting along with one another," Harry said.
"Fair enough, and please, you don't have to rub it in." Morgan paused as he stared out the misty fogged over windows. "Force of habit." He shrugged again. "In any case, we need to get moving. How fast does this clap trap you call a car go?"
"Up to eighty miles an hour, faster if I push it, why?"
"Because now would be a good time to leave," replied Morgan. "Our position has been compromised. We have company. Look. " Morgan pointed out of the window.
"What caused this to happen?"
"Someone was rummaging in areas of the Magical Arts that they should not have been," replied Morgan as he reached behind his back to be certain that his sword was still sheathed and ready to hand. Harry saw the gesture but said nothing about it, but tried to also make certain that his own magically-enhanced weapons: a hockey stick was ready to hand as well. .
They drove in a tense if not exactly uncomfortable silence for several miles, again bypassing the checkpoints by flashing his police pass and ID card, before Morgan suddenly spoke up again.
"I would like to believe it was sheer careless and ineptitude which caused this disaster, but I think I know better."
"You think? Oh, I feel so much better now," Harry muttered as he kicked the jeep into gear, grabbed the wheel and edged back out onto the road, increasing his speed with every mile that passed. He didn't need Morgan's veiled and roundabout warnings to know that they were being pursued.
Morgan did not rise to the barb because his attention was focused back in the direction that they had just come from, his hands were clenched over the hilt of his sword. "Faster, Dresden, they are closing with our position."
"Hell hounds. We can outrun them, and the barrier will prevent them from getting in. Once we arrive, cast your spell. We will only have a few seconds to get this right."
"Holy shit! Oh, and Morgan," Harry said once had recovered from the shock of Morgan's initial statement, "Remind me to nominate you for motivational speaker of the month for the Council's recruitment program."
"Harry," Morgan began, then stopped, and began again. "Once in a while you do manage to say the right thing. Just keep on driving."
Meanwhile inside the central office of the 8th precinct was a scene of organized chaos, 'Just another run-of-the mill day,' Detective Connie Murphy thought as she issued orders, reviewed the growing stack of documents that piled up on her desk.
So far, all of the reports and the accounts of the frightened civilians that had been trickling in for the past twenty four hours had corroborated one thing: fear was contagious. What was happening out in the streets of the Chicago was both dangerous and real.
Murphy often wished that she could be out there trying to pin down whatever was happening before it was just isolated case of a group of wackos either deliberately stirring up trouble for their own personal ends. It could be some criminal elements taking advantage of the situation.
She had been in law enforcement for a long time, and she certainly had not attained the position she had been with the department long enough to realize that if you followed the trail of coincidences far enough, something would eventually begin to make sense.
"I did a seeking spell," Harry began without much in the way of preparing Murphy with an explanation. "It's murky and not entirely helpful, the ether these days seems as about as fogbound as Interstate 90 on an autumn morning."
"Dresden, out with it. I don't have much patience at the moment with your roundabout explanations or lack of same as I might otherwise have," stated Murphy with a deep sigh.
Harry nodded. " I got a name, and a vague description. "The Red King. He turned to look at Morgan with a nod and grim smile. "Mean anything to you?"
"No, but I can check my sources," the one Harry had called Morgan replied.
"Morgan, is it?" Murphy said as she folded her arms across her chest and marched forward to stare the formidable stern-looking black man in the eye. "Look, this is my town and aside from my sworn to duty as a cop to server and protect.
"I really don't need the addition of the arcane complicating matters anymore than they already are." She sighed again. "So, if you and Dresden have any idea, any idea at all about how we go about fixing things, you had best tell me here and now."
'Harry, you know the rules about involving a nonbeliever," Morgan stated. "Under the circumstances I might be inclined to let the rules slip a bit, but it is not a wise move."
"Yeah, I know. But we might not have a choice." Harry exchanged a significant glance with Murphy a wordless appeal that she apparently acknowledged but chose to not to comment on instead she said: "What is this, some kind of club initiation, is there a secret handshake that I'm not aware of?"
"Yes and no. It's complicated." Morgan glared around at the room in general. "You know, that I don't approve of involving her. It's simply too dangerous, and 'They" would not approve."
"Well, then, simplify it for me," demanded Murphy ignoring Morgan's comment for now but filed it away in a back corner of her mind for future reference, apparently this guy was acting under orders for someone else, that was an interesting tidbit of information.
"It's not that easy. Look, Murphy, I like you and I trust you, and I owe you for getting me this gig with the Chicago PD, but there are just some things that I can't tell you," Harry sighed.
"I've gone out on the limb for you more than a few times, Harry," Murphy began, "For the most part, it's worked out for the better, but promise me one thing…."
"Which is?" asked Harry.
"We're facing a major crisis in this city right now," she replied. "Whatever you and your friend here are into, you have very good reasons for not involving me?" Murphy sighed.
"You can help here, do whatever it is that you do, right?"
"Absolutely. Harry nodded emphatically.
"Then," Murphy looked at around at the activity and motion of her fellow police officers, then back at the two men, "What are we waiting for? Let's do it."
On the top floor of a old high-rise tenement building constructed over a hundred years ago as part of some well-intentioned governor's plan to refurbish the city. Behind an antique roll-top desk sat a middle-aged going over the final phases of his plan.
The man wore a deep cranberry red smoking jacket with its sleeves cut in such a way that they appeared to be flush with the length of his very long arms. The style went out fashion at the turn of the nineteenth century, but then man cared not a fig for current styles of dress, and was wealthy enough and powerful enough to indulge in more than a few eccentricities.
He wore a black skullcap on his head, the lines of his pale face were drawn and he appeared tired but resolute.
The man leaned forward in the chair with his arms resting on the surface of the desk, the fingers intertwined in the shape of a rough triangle. A small chime rang and he moved to answer it. "Yes?"
"Sir," his receptionist began, her voice sounding scratchy and a bit throaty through the intercom. "I just wanted to inform you that we've received delivery of the package. Do you wish to come claim it, or do you want me to bring it to you?"
"No, that's quite all right, Lucinda," the man replied. "I'll just be a moment." He stopped the the two-way exchange of the intercom.
The man allowed himself a small, quiet smug smile and took another step toward completion of his plans. After that he stepped away from his desk.
He crossed the office to the door into the reception area in several quick strides. He paused a moment to glance out of the windows at the city, and then went out to to speak to the staff.
He nodded to Lucinda and the other office workers, stepping over to where a rectangular-shaped package sat wrapped up in cardboard, all of which had been held in place by rubber bands and plastic.
He went over and began untying the wrappings and pushed them aside.
It took some doing to remove the coverings and underneath the packaging was a good- sized hardcover book bound in red and black leather. Printed on the cover in cursive golden characters were the following words: "The Grimorum Arcanarum. Mona Version."
He hefted the book cradling it in his arms as one would a small child.
"At last," he sighed."And to think, that after all these centuries, I at last have it in my possession.
At that moment one of the men working at another station across from the receptionist looked up. "Sir, if I may speak freely?"
""What? A bit startled out of his reverie, he realized that one of his staff had asked him a question. "Permission granted."
"I'm not entirely certain that it was a wise move involving the Third Race." the man said. "They have a well-documented reputation for being, well, unpredictable."
"Do not tell me that you are having doubts, not at this stage of the game?" replied the older man.
"No, Sir, not doubts, more like concerns. Forgive me, sir.' The young man paled visibly.
He had red spots of embarrassment showing up as livid contrast to the whiteness of his skin. "Forgive me, for seeming to instruct you, but The Red King, that's one thing I never quite understood.
The older man dropped his cross look and allowed a small half-smile to crease his lips.
"Marcus, my boy, is that all that is troubling you? Then I shall explain. It's a delicate balance, and as for the nickname, I merely thought it was appropriate under the circumstances. I have the final pieces in place for my endgame."
"Yes, Sir," the younger man subsided back into his chair. "Why the Red King?" I thought in chess all the pieces were black and white."
"Marcus, I think by now it's not that simple," the older man smiled. "The Red King has a much nicer ring to it, wouldn't you agree?"
"As you say, sir," Marcus replied.
"Well, instead of allowing that to happen, I intend to change the ending of the game. I intend to win," the older man said.
"Of course, sir." the younger man whispered. 'Damn, he has a creepy smile, thought Marcus in the silence of his mind.
"If that's all," the older man said, glancing around at everyone in general, "You have your assigned duties. Please, Carry on." He then turned and went back to his inner office with the book in his arms. "Oh, by the by, do you have the date?"
"Oh, October thirty first, sir."
"Perfect, the self-titled Red King replied. "Right on schedule."
5 hours later
The alley Morgan had directed them to was located in one downtown Chicago's seedier neighborhoods. One that had long ago been on the city council's docket to renovate, but had somehow been forgotten in the shuffle. Harry could not help giving Murphy a little good-natured teasing about thought. "You take me to the nicest places, or something along those lines, after all, some had to be the one to take some of the pressure off.
The high rise tenement projects were about five-stories high and dilated to the point where they stood shoulder to square shoulder up against each other like so many drunks supporting each other on the way home from the bar.
Morgan indicated that they should fan out, while he discretely performed a location spell, Probably, seeing if any beasties or nasties stole a march on us, and beat us to the punch," thought Harry as he also did the same. "Nothing, but almost the entirety of his life Harry had had preternaturally attuned senses to the presence of the paranormal and the arcane, and right now those senses were kicking into high gear.
Nothing immediately dangerous or threatening was jumping out at the three of them, but the lingering residue of magic, black magic, had been and gone. "Lovely, Harry thought, 'why can nothing be that easy, well, I guess if it were, I'd be out of a job.'
Harry held a copy of Grimmorum Arcarnarum,, and in the back of his mind, Harry wondered ."I wonder just how many arcane copies of these supposedly lost text the Council has its in library vaults. I know Morgan won't tell me, even if pressed, so it's pointless to ask, but it does bear thinking about. '
Harry held the text of the red and black leather bound spell book in his hands, Harry, wondered for the first and most definitely not for the last time,
'How in the world do I manage to get myself into these kind of messes? If I were to allow myself the luxury of being that self-pitying I might just think there were some kind of cosmic force that has singled me out for a weirdness magnet.'
Harry shook his to clear it of the inevitable distractions and thought, 'Nah, gotta stop thinking like that.'
He had to keep his attention focused on the words printed in bold black type of the off white pages spread open before him.
The task was made even more difficult by the fact that the words were not in the commonly used languages for working magic, whether the magic happened to be good, bad, or indifferent.
Instead, the language was an archaic version of Celtic. It just happened to be one of the more obscure versions; it pre-dated the Roman invasion and conquest of Ireland.
"Dresden, any time now," prompted Morgan in an undertone. "Time is of the essence, the magical barrier is weakening as we speak."
"I'm trying, I'm trying, okay?" griped Harry.
"Not that I wish to rush whatever it is that you're doing, but could you work a little faster," encouraged Murphy from her position by the eastern point of the protection circle.
"Why do we have to use the same kind of magic they used to create the original spell?" asked Harry as he began to feel a bit of nausea in the pit of his stomach.
"Magic is magic, whether created by science or sorcery," replied Morgan in a distracted tone. "I suspect that much of what we believe about magic may have its roots in common origins. Now, if you would get on with it!"
"Right, then, no pressure or anything," Murphy muttered in mingled frustration and wishing she had some damn clue about why magic and the paranormal kept on complicating her life, and by extension those she cared about, and the people of Chicago.
A mist began to form up at the far side of the alley and also at the entrance where the alley touched on the street. At first the mist was amorphous but gradually if three gathered in the protective circle squinted forms and figures that were vaguely man-like could be glimpsed.
The figures moved out of the mist and deeper into the alley, coming towards their position.
Murphy glanced at the two men, Harry cradling the book, Morgan holding his sword at the ready, and she licked lips suddenly gone dry and swallowed to bring moisture back. "Why do I let you get me into this things, Dresden?" she muttered under her breath, her fingers curling into a tighter grip over the barrel of his standard police issue .38 caliber gun.
Meanwhile, the forms had solidified enough where they could clearly make out what they were up against.
Very tall man-shaped figures clad in outlandish looking armor, wood polished to the point of translucency so that it shimmered in the diffuse moonlight seeping into the alley. Their faces were long, narrow, and their eyes were almond-shaped. Murphy might have found them beautiful to look were it not for the hungry, cold, and remote look in their eyes, and the sharp, deadly look of the weapons they carried, ranging from swords, daggers, and what appeared to be Medieval-looking maces.
To the right of where she stood, Murphy both hear and saw Harry heave a deep centering breath and begin chanting the first syllables of the runes on the page,.
Harry tried to ignore the unmistakable sounds of the harsh breathing of the creatures on the other side of the magical barrier, the sounds of the rapid retort and reload from Murphy's police-issue gun, and Morgan's looming presence at his left hand side.
Meanwhile Morgan focused his attention on their opponents that kept moving with the ebb and flow as the barrier either weakened or strengthen at certain key points.
To Morgan's way of thinking, it would have been better if they were facing the demonic or just the paranormal, not dark elves.
"Murphy, Dresden," Morgan said, 'These are flesh and blood beings that we fight here. The fight, they live, they die."
The only significant difference between themselves and those they sought to protect was that they had significantly longer lives, and the blood they shed was a paler shade of red.
"What the hell are they?" demanded Murphy.
"The Third Race. The Scots called them dark elves."
"Right, bad elves, gotcha," Murphy nodded encouragingly, as if she got the entire concept of the difference the right and wrong sorts of elves.
In the back of her mind she suddenly realized that as difficult as being a cop in Chicago sometimes was, life had been so much more sensible and straightforward before Harry Dresden had come into the picture and then into her life.
As Murphy mulled over this idea she could hear and see Morgan prowling about the edge of the pavement in front of the alley where the trio had chosen to make their stand.
In the back of her mind Murphy found herself disjoint thinking about all the childhood stories she had heard her Irish grandmother tell her, about elves, good or bad, and wondered just what the hell she was doing there, armed only with her sidearm and all the wits and skills that she possessed.
Turning to Harry, she asked. "Harry, assuming for the sake of argument that we're up against dark elves, if they really do exist, answer me this" Are they vulnerable to iron?"
Harry had a mingled puzzled but sort of distracted look on his face before he answered her question. "Yeah, but how did you know that?"
Although Murphy could not see the barrier, she could sense when began to fail, it was more like a sensation of a tingling at the back of her neck. That flight or flee instinct that every good cop developed as a matter of professional habit.
"It does not matter. Here they come," Morgan interrupted.
The dark elves came closer, hefting weapons, the entire time they had kept eerily silent, as if the entire fight were taking place in a dream, but once the barrier fell, Morgan and Harry realized that would soon change.
Morgan thought "While it might not be dark magic at work, whoever or whatever had made bargains with such as these had much to answer for."
Harry fumbled through the text his voice haltingly slow at first, but as gaining in confidence as he continued, until he reached the last verse in the incantation.
The pages began to crinkle and smolder as he uttered the last syllable, forcing Harry to drop the spell book and he blow on the palms of his hands that been burnt by the heat. A green fire sparked from the spread open pages and the red and black binding, and Harry watched as the book was consumed in its own green fire.
"It didn't work," said Murphy sounding as if she had expected it to work.
"Give it time," Morgan replied.
Morgan broke off whatever else he might have said when one of the armor-clad opponents broke off from the main body and ran toward where he stood, with his own sword upraised to meet his own. Morgan countered with a blow of his own, the impact of steel on steel making a loud, discordant ringing in the cold night air.
Morgan rocked but managed to stand his ground and Murphy realized that something had to give soon, because she was rapidly running out of bullets.
Harry had his magically enhanced hockey stick at hand so their opponents mass for a sustained rush, risking a brief reassuring look at Murphy before he turned his attention back to the immediate threat.
Oddly enough the had begun to mill around and shuffle their feet, as if whatever force had both motivated and caused them to manifest and motivate their attack had begun to lose its hold. They eyed each other uneasily, and make only half-hearted attacks.
The green fire that had consumed the spell book did not go as Harry had expected it to, instead it grew in size and heat and intensity. It spread, but not in the manner of a natural man-made fire. Instead, it raced along in a long serpentine manner and began to lick at the feet of the dark elves, consuming them as it had the spell book.
"I can't watch this," Murphy whispered.
"You don't have to," Harry replied, placing his free hand upon her shoulder reassuringly.
A screech and a long-drawn out wail rose up from the gathered opponents, then in a crescendo of heat, noise and light, and an explosion of green fire they quite literally disappeared.
When the trio could see and hear again, Harry turned to Morgan, "I guess you gotta see it to believe it, huh?"
"This just does not happen by chance, too much of what we have experienced was calculated," Morgan said.
"So, you think the counter spell worked. It sent them back to wherever it is they came from?" Murphy asked.
"Yes." I still would very much like to know who this Red King is, but might be a mystery for another time," replied Morgan."
"Is he always like this?" asked Murphy.
"Yeah, pretty much.," Harry quipped.
Morgan glared at him. "Just once I would appreciate if your attitude could reflect the gravity of the situation."
Harry chuckled. "I know, I know, Morgan, maybe that's why I do it, just to find another way to get your goat, now and again. Hey, a guy can't be serious all the time."
"Boys, I just can't take you boys anywhere," Murphy half-complained and half-joked.
"Murphy's right. The important thing is we're still all here, more or less and
the city and its people are safe and sound, so let's go home."
Once more back at Harry's apartment, the two men went into the living room where Harry and Murphy sat on the sofa. Meanwhile Morgan staredout of one of the windows as the familiar and ordinary sounds, scents, and sights of a busy autumn in downtown Chicago filtered in through the glass panes and curtains.
Murphy had taken a seat on nearest the door.
"Please, I don't need any more reminders, " Morgan just take the damned Grimourum Arcanarum and go," Harry said.
"Very well, if there is nothing more that you require of me." Morgan paused in the doorway his hand hovering only a few feet above the red and black leather bound text.
"It is just me," Murphy began, or did anyone else feel like the past few days felt like something out of funky acid trip or dream sequence."
"Felt more like a nightmare," Harry griped.
"Indeed," Morgan nodded, his equanimity and calm resolve once more intact, now the the disaster had been averted. "I should have realized the significance of the date."
"Huh?" Harry asked, who had not really been paying close attention.
"The language the book was written, I believe you identified it as ancient Celtic, correct?"
"Yeah, so?" Murphy prompted.
"Think, Dresden," Morgan continued ignoring the police detective as much as he could.
"The barriers between worlds fall on Samahin, according to the old lore, allowing things from the other side to seep through into our own," Morgan added.
"It reminds me of that proverbial saying, 'if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, did it really happen?" Harry asked.
"Exactly," Morgan said.
"So tell me if this end of the world scenario game was concocted by a rogue faction of sorcerers, as a test…." Harry trailed off.
"I have several workings theories, " replied Morgan, and that troubles me, because it would appear the Council is not the only with powerful resources in this cit
"Damn, I have a headache," Murphy interrupted.
"Somehow, Morgan," Harry muttered. "I am going to need a little bit more than that.
"What about the uhm defensive plans we had in place, are those gone. They had a short shelf life. They should have disapated when the spell was invoked." Morgan replied not entirely unhelpfully. "Better?"
"Much, thanks," replied Harry.
No sooner than he had uttered his parting words, Harry turned to reply to Murphy's questioning look in her eyes and when he looked back toward the front door Morgan had disappeared
"Did that guy, Morgan, isn't it? Did he just pull off a vanishing act on us?" demanded Murphy.
"Dresden, in the past seventy two hours or more, I have put up with panicked citizens, bureaucracy like you wouldn't believe, and enough craziness and the size one could successfully drive a truck through." Murphy heaved a deep breath. "So I would appreciate if you could provide just a little bit of logic to all of this."
Harry nodded and smiled.
"What are you grinning about?" demanded Murphy.
"The world as we know it may almost have come to an end, but it's nice to know that some things will always remain the same," Harry said.
"Oh and what's that?"
"Bully for me then," Murphy muttered as she sat back down on the sofa cushions, rubbing a hand through his tangled hair.
Until now, when it was finally over she realized just had very exhausted she really was. "Suddenly, I really don't want to know exactly how magic works, just file it under widespread unpredictable phenomena and let's all try to move on with our lives, agreed?"
"Agreed. " Harry smiled.