Dresden Files/Time Traveller's Wife Chapter Five

I woke up feeling like someone had filled my mouth with sand over night. I reached out of bed to shake the many cans near my bed, but not one had a single drop of liquid in it.

"Damnit," I said, kicking my way out of bed and padding into the kitchen. I poured myself a glass of water and downed it in one, but my mouth still felt dry. I didn't even know what time it was.

"Dresden," bellowed a voice. It's safe to say that I crapped myself. I dropped the empty glass on the floor, but it survived the fall, somehow, and rolled off until it hit the wall.

"Er, hello?" I croaked. I couldn't see a single thing, and yet the bellowing had sounded so... close. I crept out of the kitchen and let out a pained sigh.

Morgan was standing in my lounge – well, he was actually standing on the door that he had knocked down.

"You know, I hope you're going to fix that. I know for a fact I've done nothing wrong this time."

"I have word that there was time travel in this very room."

"Christ, Morgan, that was yesterday. Busy day at the office, or were you just too lazy to get here straight away? No, it can't be laziness, because you look for any excuse to have me executed."

"Do not mess around, wizard."

"Look, I didn't do any time travelling. Okay? I don't know how, and I'm pretty sure if you do some investigating you will see that I've not made or drank any potion that could enable me to do so. Although, I'd rather you left the investigating part out because I can see you turning this whole place upside down, even if you don't think you'll find something at the end of it."

"If you didn't time travel then who did? You know fine well-"

"Yes, yes, it's against the Seven Laws, Thou Shalt Not Swim Against The Currents of Time. She wasn't using magic, though, and she can't alter the past, and I'm pretty sure that breaking the law is when you use magic to change the past."

Morgan looked a teensy bit stumped; I was jubilant.

"I'm going to need to go to the Council about this," Morgan said.

"Go, do. They can't touch her, because she's not part of our world... our community, whatever. Plus, I'm going to say it's a genetic disorder because her father was one too. Funny how you never hunted him down? Or her, before now? It's almost as if you've got me under constant supervision, in a desperate attempt to catch me breaking a law in the minutest aspect and getting me killed for it. Don't you think?"

Morgan frowned, but his eyes said it all.

"Maybe I'll go to the Council and complain about being scrutinised so... what's the word? Excessively?"

"There's no need for that."

"There's no need to go tattling on my friend, either."

"We'll be keeping an eye on you. The slightest whiff of you attempting time travel, I will be here to crush you like the vermin you are," Morgan said, storming out.

"Aren't you going to fix my door, you idiotic brute?" I shouted, but there was no reply. I cursed under my breath, and set about putting my door back on its hinges.

I was startled when the phone rang, and then I remembered that two women had promised to call me in the morning. I knew which one I wanted it to be; I knew which one it would be.

"Hello, Murphy," I sighed.

"What's gotten into you, Harry? This woman seems to be making you miserable."

"She's not. You are. I'm expecting her to call me and I'd rather you weren't on the line so I didn't miss her."

"Are you in love with her, Dresden?" Murphy exclaimed. Too loud. Ow.

"No, Murph, I'm not. Who knows, maybe she is the one, but right now I would like you to hang up the phone and leave me be, since I just spent fifteen minutes reattaching my door to its frame, so I'm kind of tired."

"Harry – what? Your door?"

"Shush, Murph. I'll call you at, I don't know, one. Okay?"

"I gue-"

"Okay, bye," I said, hanging up. I didn't want to be rude. I just didn't want to miss the call.

The time trawled by. I sat in partial misery and partial ignorance, looking vacantly at one of my books. I started to wonder if Murphy was getting at something... love isn't something I know very much about, but... I don't know, love is a woman thing, right? They know all about it... they read books about it, watch films about it, like songs about it... they even follow the lives of people falling in and out of it, in the media.

The phone rang. I leapt up, then I paused. If I answered too quickly, I might seem desperate.

Then again, waiting too long might seem like I don't care.

I lunged at the phone and snatched it up.

"Hello, Harry Dresden speaking," I said autonomously.

"I'd certainly hope so," said the silky voice.

"Alba?"

"Yup. I did say I'd phone, right? That did happen? I mean, I know I was a bit tipsy but surely I wasn't that dru-"

"No, I know, it did happen. Amongst... other things."

"Yes, I know. I do remember, I just... ugh, I'm verging on rambling so I'll get to the point. I want to see you tonight."

"Oh really?"

"Don't toy with me, Dresden. I can come pick you up at seven again, or earlier, if you like."

"You can come to mines, and I'll cook you dinner."

"You're going to cook for me?" I was asking myself the same question. Damn you mouth, and your inability to ask my permission before you blurt things out.

"Of course I will... I can't promise you on quality, but-"

"No, don't worry, that sounds lovely. I'll come round at seven?"

"Yeah, sure," I said. As we said farewells I was fumbling for shoes, my duster and some money to go buy some ingredients for what was likely to be a car crash of a meal.

At five to seven I was running around the kitchen like a headless chicken, as they say. I can't imagine that chickens with no heads would really feel like running around, but hey.

I was cooking bolognese, and while it smelled alright, I wasn't so sure about it. The spaghetti was overcooked, slipping around the plates like fat, juicy worms trying to escape, and no doubt going cold. I tipped one heap wiggly heap onto the other and put the plate into the microwave to heat them up a bit, while having a quick taste of the meaty saucy part. A little bit more salt... grab the pasta out of the microwave...

A delicate, firm knock on the door. Alba was here. I suddenly realised that maybe dinner shouldn't have been served the second she came in, but there wasn't much I could do unless she wanted to eat it cold.

I dove at the door to let her in, hoping she didn't notice the smudges of bolognese sauce on my shirt.

"Hello, Dresden. Something smells delightful," she said, stepping around me and waiting patiently for me to close the door. She had removed her coat and was holding it, looking around for some place to put it.

"Let me take that; you grab a seat in the kitchen. I don't really have a dining table... long story..."

"That's alright," she said, dancing off towards the smell. I went through to my room, snatching a coat hanger from the floor and hanging her coat from the back of my door.

She was standing over the hob when I went to the kitchen, gently spooning the bolognese onto the spaghetti.

"You didn't have to do that," I said, standing beside her.

"I know, but I didn't want it to burn or anything." She finished dealing out the bolognese, and pushed the plate holding slightly more towards me.

"Forks are already out, just grab a stool," I said, twisting myself awkwardly to sit against the counter.

I watched her out of the corner of my eye while I ate to gage her opinion. She didn't seem to love it, but she didn't spit it out in disgust either.

"It's not bad," she said. "Maybe a little bit salty?"

"Sorry. I guess not bad's a compliment for me..."

"Oh, I hope you're not offended! I just meant... well..."

"Sh, it's okay. So um, what did your Mom want last night?"

"It's, ah, complicated," she said, looking away.

"Please?"

"Well, because I time travel involuntarily most of the time – the intentional travelling is a recent skill, but I can't actually stop myself sometimes. One of my... was it past? No, no, it was my future self. She didn't say where she was from, but she's not too far away."

"Oh... and?"

"She – I – was passed out on my Mom's doorstep when she went to take the rubbish out. Covered in, er, blood. She panicked at first, thinking it was present me, but she realised that I – she – was naked, and figured it was me from another time. She called because she was scared to move me... her..."

Blood? Passed out? What the hell's going to happen to her? And what if it's... my fault?

"Was she – were you – are you – alright?"

"Yes. Mom and I were with her all night. Until around two am, and then she left. She didn't say much... I don't like to warn myself. She said your name an awful lot though." Alba stared intently at her spaghetti, twisting it around her fork over and over and over again.

"What... well, your Mom? What did you tell her, about... me?"

"That I'm dating you," she said, so casually that I nearly choked on thin air. She heard the splutter and swivelled in her seat to look at me. "Think about it. 'Well, Mom, he's trying to figure out how to stop me time travelling'. That will make her worry, because she'll think you... you do something to me directly. Whatever it is that will cause me to be like that. Now, if she knows I'm dating you – which I am – then she will assume that, say, we're in a relationship in the future, and I'm saying your name because I want to see you. Don't you think the latter is better for her?"

"I get it... not lying, just not telling all of the truth."

"Exactly," she said. She reached out to touch my hand, poking her fingers through mines. "You're worried. Don't be. I swear, there is nothing you can possibly do to change what will happen. Don't try to rethink things to prevent anything. Okay?"

I nodded in agreement, but there wouldn't be any way for me to not reconsider everything I said and did. Every thought that passed my mind, I'd be thinking about the consequences.

We finished the spaghetti in silence, fingers still entwined.

"So about your repayment..." Alba said.