Disclaimer: The Dresden Files is copyright Jim Butcher. This story is licensed under the Creative Commons as derivative, noncommercial fiction. Spoiler Warning: This is set sometime after Changes and the story Aftermath, and has spoilers for both.

After the Dresden Files

One: Unexpected encounter

Molly Carpenter sighed as she gradually came awake from a deep sleep, blinking as she realized that she was curled up beside another woman and only dressed in a t-shirt and panties. 'Oh hell,' she thought as she pushed her freshly dyed blonde hair back from her face while trying to remember what had happened to her last night.

She had been out with Murphy and the others, over at McAnally's Pub for the unofficial 'wake' for Harry Dresden. While no one there really believed that Harry was dead, the lack of a body had worn on them all as the weeks passed. Mac himself had organized the celebration of Harry's life, and to be honest Molly had been awed at how many people showed up.

Murphy and most of police's Special Investigations had been there, most of the Alpha pack of werewolves, Thomas Raith, Ivy and her guardian Kincaid, her parents Michael and Charity, Anastasia Luccio, Carlos Ramirez and a few Wardens, Lily, Fix, Father Forthill and so many others that they blurred in Molly's mind. Hell, even 'Gentleman' John Marcone had turned up, along with his bodyguards to share a drink and raise a toast to a respected enemy. Many stood and made speeches about Harry, told jokes and even sang songs. Fix's ditty about Harry and the Brothers Gruff nearly brought the house down with laughter.

'I remember now,' Molly looked over at the young woman beside her on the bed, 'she was there with Nick, from Harry's old job at Ragged Angel Investigations. They said Harry saved her.' She smiled to herself faintly, 'Well, that explains how I met her, but how did we end up here?'

"Hmm," the black haired woman stirred, eyes opening as she looked up at Molly sleepily. She blinked a few times, then her eyes widened a bit in alarm as she fully woke up. "Oh!" she blurted, sitting up and revealing that she was in a nightie.

"Hey," Molly looked around and realized she was in a strange bedroom. "You have any idea where we are?" she asked.

"My place," the woman confirmed after looking about. She seemed to be searching her memory then tentatively asked, "We didn't do anything, did we?"

"Beyond drinking too much of Mac's beer at the wake?" Molly asked with a sly grin and the other woman laughed.

"Faith Astor," the black haired woman introduced herself, smiling as she extended her hand politely to Molly.

"Molly Carpenter," she answered as she shook it. "This is the first time I've ever introduced myself after sleeping with someone."

"Me too," Faith laughed, getting up. "Want some breakfast?" she asked, "I make a pretty mean french toast."

"Thanks," Molly smiled, getting up and following her through the fine house, "any idea how I ended up here after the party?"

"I came with a driver," Faith admitted as they walked through the house, "I offered you a ride home but we were both too drunk, so I guess my driver dropped us off here."

"Makes sense," Molly admitted ruefully.

Looking around at the furiture and decorations it was obvious that Faith was loaded, though the Astor name was a big tip off to that too. The Astors were old money, a wealthy Chicago family well known in the society pages and occasionally the scandal sheets. In fact the name Faith rang a bell in the back of Molly's head...

"I think Harry told me about you," Molly admitted as they entered the neat kitchen, the young woman leaning on the counter, "he saved you from a troll?"

"That's the case," Faith agreed as she put the toast on and mixed up the eggs and continued, "My parents called him and his partner Nick in when I ran away from home, then stiffed the two of them on their fee."

"But I bet Harry helped you anyway," Molly guessed with a smile, knowing that Harry Dresden was incapable of abandoning a child in trouble.

"Yeah," Faith nodded, "got me to safety, even though my parents stiffed him and he had to kill a troll." Reflectively she added, "Hell of a guy."

"Tell me about it," Molly sighed slightly.

Faith gave her a thoughtful look as she dipped the toast in the egg mix, then began to fry them. "You had a crush on him?" she asked gently.

A blush colored Molly's cheeks, "It's that obvious?"

Faith chuckled gently as she flipped the toast, "Hey, I totally get where you're coming from. When I was ten, I wanted to BE Harry Dresden."

Molly laughed, "Yeah, I get that." She watched as Faith put two pieces of toast on each plate, a ring on Faith's finger shining. There was something magical about that ring, and a very familiar feeling too. "Is that ring...?" she hesitated.

"Harry gave it to me," Faith admitted as she lead Molly over to the table. "It lights up when I focus on positive things... helped a lot when my parents were being asses."

"He's a nice guy," Molly nodded.

Faith looked at her curiously as she noted how Molly used the present tense. Gently she asked, "You don't think he's dead?"

"No body," Molly answered promptly.

"Which doesn't mean anything, with the lake there," Faith noted as she ate. She shrugged slightly, "But I don't think he's dead either."

Molly found it felt good to have someone who shared her feelings, and ate with a good deal of gusto. The two women didn't have much other than Harry and a interest in the supernatural in common, but Faith was fascinated by what Molly could tell her about her cases and was a good listener.

"I get the feeling you're editing out a lot," Faith noted later as they sat on a couch in the living room, trading stories. It seemed Faith had kept in touch with Harry via letters over the years, and had used what she picked up to get herself into some trouble too.

"Other people were involved," Molly said honestly, dressed in a skirt borrowed from Faith while her clothes washed, "their secrets aren't mine to tell."

She was dressed in the borrowed skirt because, honestly, not much of Faith's other stuff could fit her. Molly wasn't vain about her looks, but even she knew she was built like a valkyrie, tall, busty and with nice 'baby carrying' hips. Faith, on the other hand, was built on a smaller, more elegant model than the one Molly had.

"I understand," Faith nodded. She looked out the window, her expression thoughtful as she mused, "I wonder what will happen now?"

"Hmm?" Molly looked curious.

"Chicago has been pretty lucky to have Harry Dresden as a protector," Faith mused, "even if people like Larry Fowler disagree."

Molly snorted softly with amusement over the TV host that had been trying to sue Harry for years due to damage caused when Harry was on his show.

Faith flashed a smile, then sobered as she asked Molly, "What will happen now that he's gone?"

Molly met Faith's eyes as she said frankly, "Well then, I guess the rest of us will just have to take up the slack."

Faith nodded, her expression serious as she said, "If there's anything I can do to help, let me know." She smiled suddenly, "Maybe I can actually do something useful with my inheritance!"

They talked for awhile longer, then Molly figured she'd better get back home before her parents had a total cow. She loved them both dearly, especially after nearly losing her dad, but they were a bit clingy at times.

"You don't have a cellphone?" Faith asked, amused, as they exchanged numbers while walking out to the waiting car.

"The magic messes them up," Molly looked mournful, "I haven't even been able to use the internet since my powers fully manifested."

"That's gotta suck," Faith lamented, even though she was smiling slightly. As Molly climbed in the car she said, "Call me, okay? I need someone around who isn't scared of the Astor name."

"Will do," Molly promised as she was driven off.

Molly's parents weren't happy about her being gone overnight, but they took it better than Molly had expected. Michael had always been the softy of the two of them, and like any daughter Molly could wrap him around her finger, but even Charity had relaxed a lot over the years. Even though she was still living with them both parents accepted she had grown up, at least mostly.

As Molly was still a apprentice wizard, she needed a new master until Harry returned and had initially dreaded who the White Council might choose. However in a burst of common sense they had asked Ebenezer McCoy to watch over her, and he had 'reluctantly' agreed. As far as Molly could tell he had actually arranged it all, but he had to look like he disagreed with the idea, to decieve his enemies on the council.

"Is the politics around the council this bad all the time?" Molly had asked quietly.

"Sometimes," McCoy admitted, the old man sighing, "and you and Hoss are gonna have some of the same problems."

"I still can't get over how he calls Harry Hoss," Molly related to her mother, chuckling.

"Might explain those funny western coats he wears," Charity smiled, eyes a little sad. She shook herself, "Karin Murphy called, asked that you call back."

"Oh, thanks," Molly got up from the table where she had been briefing her parents on the busy last few days and hurried over to the phone.

"And where were you young lady?" Murphy asked, sounding amused once they exchanged the usual hellos.

"Flat on my ass because of Mac's beer," Molly admitted and Murphy chuckled. "What can I do for you?" she asked curiously.

"We're getting together for a meeting of what Will insists on calling the Justice League of Chicago," Murphy said wryly, "can you make it this afternoon?"

"No problem," Molly nodded then asked, "have we figured out where we're going to be meeting regularly?"

"Still working on it," Murphy said, "I'd like to open a detective agency, but office space ain't cheap, even in a economic downturn."

Molly looked thoughtful as she remembered a certain conversation, "You know, I think I might have a line on that."

"Oh?" Murphy asked, and Molly quickly filled her in on Faith Astor. "That may not be what she meant by helping," she cautioned.

"Can't hurt to ask," Molly answered, "and I have a good feeling about her." She grinned, "Maybe we can even get that Hall of Justice that Will wants."

"Don't even start with that," Murphy sighed. "I'll see you later, okay?"

"Will do," Molly agreed.

To be continued...

Notes: Faith Astor is from the short story Restoration of Faith, recently printed in the book Side Jobs. Chronologically it's the first Dresden Files case, as well as the first meeting between Dresden and Murphy. Going by the time line on the official Jim Butcher site she'd be about Molly's age, so I thought it'd be interesting if they met.

Wizards are tech-banes, but we don't know how much that applies to Molly and I don't know if it's been covered much in the books. I recall one instance where Harry kept Molly out of a hospital room in case the electronics failed, but we haven't seen her short out stuff much. I'm assuming she has the same problems Harry does, but if I'm wrong tell me.

I'm not sure how much of a continuing 'series' this will end up being, instead I think it will likely be one-shots set in the Dresden universe. I have the rough idea for a Faith Astor one shot, and I'm also banging around a flashback set just after Turn Coat. After that, we'll see.