Author's Note: And there I said I'd never write fanfiction. Ah, well- I'll let the note at the bottom do any explaining, as any attempt at explanation now would result in nonsense. (:
Disclaimer: I don't own The Dresden Files or any of its magnificence; I do, however, own an absolutely spiffy new leather duster.


I.

For innocence.

Heroism has an acerbic taste to it, he decides, copper wiring needled throughout in feverish bronze and crimson. He needs not dwell on it to move forward, to close his fingers around the frost in his palm and tuck it away with a bitter smile. It is with his left hand that he signs his death sentence- his Name, liberated at once of the mythicized veils they've all spun in fragments, spattered in ugly scarlet.

He already itches just to touch it, to learn its machinations in audacious fascination, cold metal and fire lancing into his bloodstream with a dark euphoria all its own. The silver at his side weighs as though it were gold- a passing fancy and all of a sudden he's suffocating, drowning in his own morality at her hand, and needs to escape.

He wastes no time on goodbyes.

II.

For all of his repulsion, he's grudgingly (yet irrevocably) captivated.

Her sigil is splayed across the surface like a web of ribbon, iron and altogether unimpressed by eternity's designs; over and over again his fingers flicker across the ripples and ridges etched into silver. There's a warm, sticky resurgence of pride in his gut when he marvels at its beauty; it's only when he realizes just how akin the feeling is to blood that he snaps out of his trance.

Sick, he casts her away, swearing to gods he doesn't believe in that her prison is eternal.

III.

She remains mum for a lengthy amount of time.

He blames Chicago for his troubles, treading wearily over quartz-laden sidewalks in gold-splattered midnight. For the first time in his life there's something concrete tugging at his core, a stark white thread coaxing him forward into thick, luxurious half-light. There's a promise, a request, a plead, but he holds back; ice water seeps into his veins, and try as he might he simply can't find a release. It's numb and cold, but he braces himself for farewells- it's purely professional, and a feeble ray of hope that his brother as skeptical of the lie as he should be (unbidden and unfounded)- and retreats back into his apartment, just barely across the line of asphyxiation.

All the while he can hear her orchestrations, and each night his dreams are soundtracked by symphonies of silence.

IV.

When she finally shows herself, she is not as resplendent as he had expected- she is more.

The molten twilight of his dreams falls around him in sheets when she appears, voice like honeyed obsidian. Amusement and seduction gravitate towards her, hang about her like motes of dust. She makes promises of all kinds that he knows beyond doubt she can keep, promises of wild, boundless power that could grant him misty seas of gold and dark violet, but he denies her; the quiet, choking restraint in her eyes is enough to put him off, to remind him that for all her glory she's ensnared in shadow. He drinks her in once more- opalescent eyes, hair like dawn unraveled- before announcing with ringing finality that she is dismissed.

He wakes with a start, stomach writhing; sighing, he tries to calm down, losing himself in the dappled amethyst and aquamarine cast from the luminescent city onto his floor. When he finally sleeps again, she does not venture to speak to him.

V.

Her assistance eventually proves crucial.

He is certain, of course, to make things as difficult as possible for her, the temptress, the web weaver. And so it is that every conversation, every negotiation, becomes a battle, a mission to steal her away from her fate as he gets what he needs (but doesn't want, never wants). The moment he feels her stuttering in his chest, a source of quiet, unrequested assistance, is the moment he understands that he can save her.

When she visits him that night, they speak of chess and city streets. He threads his fingers through her golden hair one last time for the night; she shifts, turning away for the briefest of seconds, and he wakes to a gilded morning.

VI.

They're beginning to wonder about him, his friends- of course, they can't see her. He feels pinpricks of guilt on his skin, growing more prominent, more lethal with every conversation he holds with Michael. It is for this reason that he ineloquently lets slip that he has her, that she- he stops himself before he can dig himself deeper into Hell, dreadfully measuring Michael's reaction as nightmares play out in violent detail in his mind.

There's something like hope in his chest when Michael says he knows; countless questions ribbon up in his throat, only to turn to lead when they reach his tongue; be manages to choke out, "What do I do?"

The reply he receives is not what he was hoping for.

VII.

Happy birthday to you...

Hmm?

Happy birthday to you...

Is it? He can't remember, can't think, sleep- he has to save her, has to save her...

Happy birthday dear Harry...

Her voice...

Happy birthday to you.

"I miss my brother," he chokes suddenly. The following silence serves as testament to his bewilderment; wrapped in truth and silver as it is, he's hardly sure where it came 's a slow, dull ache in his stomach as she murmurs that she knows, that he doesn't have to feel lonely anymore. He feels, within seconds, a small form burrowing into his arms, but he refuses to look down for fear of... what? He's forgotten what he's supposed to fear in her, what wickedness supposedly lies in her soul.

Instead he keeps his eyes glued to the ceiling, where tales are playing out in the shadows wrought through candlelight.

VIII.

"They have no right-"

"Harry, calm down-"

"He doesn't understand, no one does-"

"Harry!""They said I couldn't save you, Lash! Don't you-"

"Maybe they're right."

But looking at her, he knows they aren't- her frame, bitterly strewn across the floor of his little House, is partially veiled by ribbons of dusky gold, opalescent eyes cast downward in humility. When he looks at her, he sees epiphanies ignored, fires left unattended that faded into pixie dust when shown the light of morning. She is eternal, this deity of lore before him, and he refuses to accept that their adjoined efforts can be diminished by anything.

IX.

It takes merely a moment.

His thoughts, those that remained so focused on battle, are all at once lost in a mist of shattered diamonds, lingering on ideas but never on names. Words coax and touches promise, featherlight brushes of lips on skin that he regrets letting escape fully unfulfilled. There's a symphony, a roaring din that threatens to plunge him into the violet throes of insanity, and all at once nothing- the silence reverberates in his mind as her absence fills his head like crimson water.

Her words echo I his head, feeble scraps of her that he nonetheless clings to until they've gone, dissipated into oblivion like smoke in the wind.

He doesn't understand. Redemption through death, purification through sacrifice, none of it makes any semblance of logical sense, none ease the gaping chasms in his make-up. He doesn't understand.

...Lash?

No, no, no, she can't be gone, no...

She can't.

...but then, she is.

X.

Bob says he now has soulfire.

He doesn't want it.

He doesn't want any of it. Doesn't want the moral clarity, doesn't want the iron ability to stay strong, doesn't want to just move on. He doesn't want life without her.

He'd take Hell instead.

He looks to Murphy as a last resort, a vague discussion that lies primarily in the realm of shellshock and confusion. He feels, somewhere, the lingering remnants of something deeper, feelings that he attempts to revive with as much electricity as possible before ultimately accepting failure. In a moment of weakness, she looks away, a shallow beam of light glancing off her...

With a trembling hand he pulls back her hair to see blue eyes, beautiful and glimmering with something distant in the midday sun. The soul of his best friend, his most loyal ally, one of his favorite people in the world... but not the ones he wanted to see. Guilt pools up in his stomach as she looks at him in piqued curiosity, and he makes his final decision in a spur of fury. As gently as he can manage, he lays a kiss to her forehead and murmurs a goodbye before driving back to his apartment as quickly as he can.

XI.

Twelve days, sixteen potions, seven sent letters of explanation and apology, and a multi-day flight and he finds him, stirring up trouble (or so he assumes) in Spain.

There's something poetic about his situation, he's sure, ribboning through Barcelona. The city's patrons treat him to a wealth of looks, from polite but confused curiosity to unadulterated disgust, but several years and and as many faded copies of Yellow Pages have built up his resistance to disdain like castle walls. He finally makes it to the hidden underground (much nicer than Chicago's, which is a true injustice) by the time that dusk arrives, nebulous strands of night stretching up from the horizon.

Nicodemus smiles as he approaches, a serpentine but all too serene expression that causes scarlet to play across his vision. A small army of Fallen surrounded him, as per usual, fanned out around their King in some grotesque display of loyalty.

Honor among demons. He doubts it.

The resulting bloodbath is glorious, viridian sparks and golden explosions taking flight above the now frenzied crowd. He doesn't see how many his death curse kills as he plummets to the ground, nor does he have time to realize that he's effectively exterminated the entirety of the Fallen Angels, saving millions of lives in the process- no, he's long gone before the White Council hears of anything, long gone by the time Harry Dresden is declared a hero.

XII.

He falls, falls eternally and without grace into shrouds of gray, sinking into smoky mists and floating with them for a moment before gaining his footing and taking off across the shore, silken swirls lapping at his feet. He calls her name, calls it until he's reached the Pearly Gates and his throat has gone raw. He's ushered in before he receives an answer.

He falls to his knees and breathes again, burying his face into hair the color of dawn.


Thank you so much for reading! This is the first time I've ever written fanfiction (or written anything at 3 AM while plagued by insomnia), so I hope it lives up to expectations. (:

Needless to say, this is an Alternate Universe- primarily from Blood Rites, but there are minor changes from Death Masks, as well. I'm not quite sure where this came from- I got a sudden urge to write Harry/Lash (though really, my pairing of choice is Harry/Murphy), something sad but with a happy ending. Naturally, the happy ending became much more bittersweet, but I suppose that's to be expected.

Completely and utterly a sole effort, as I'm a bit too shy to ask anyone to beta for me, so if you have any constructive criticism or errors to point out, I'd appreciate it! Reviews would be fantastic, but I won't pressure or venture into all caps. (:

Passez une bonne journée!