Author's Note: I should've seen this one coming, really.
I reread pretty much all of the Harry Dresden books recently, during a creative slump that accompanied a lot of personal issues and physical pain, and this was the result. When life looks blackest, I tend to write fluff, which is one reason my other writing's suffered; it's hard to concentrate on serious work when the world itself is way too serious. So here we have it: fluff with bad words and a touch of smut. Sorry, world.
Spoiler warning: through the end of Ghost Story, natch.
Pairings: Harry Dresden/Karrin Murphy
Rating: R for minor smuttiness
Disclaimer: Harry Dresden, Karrin Murphy, and all associated characters and concepts are property of Jim Butcher, and I derive no profit from this. Please accept this in the spirit with which it is offered—as a work of respect and love, not an attempt to claim ownership or earn money from this intellectual property.
by Totenkinder Madchen
"Ever think about dyeing your hair?"
I cracked one eye open and aimed a baleful glare at my erstwhile bed-warmer. "Seriously, Dresden? Now?"
Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, grinned crookedly at me and raised himself up on one elbow. He, unlike me, had been blessed with lanky height—six foot eight the last time I'd arrested him, though he tended to slouch or stretch depending on how many people were trying to kill him—and even this simple action gave him an unfair amount of loom over me. The dim half-light of the bedroom cast his features into sharp relief and turned his wavy brown hair almost black, an effect that would've almost been spooky if it hadn't been for the grin. Few things in this world or any other could stop Harry from finding humor in the weirdest places.
And evidently he was finding it in . . . what? My hair color? I sighed and closed my eyes again. "All right, spit it out."
"I was just thinking." He idly twined a strand of my hair around one long finger. "Ever thought about going brunette?"
Reluctantly, I opened my eyes again. He was leaning almost over me now, his ever-present pentacle amulet a glint in the hollow of his throat. I searched his face for some sign of sarcasm or being set up for a straight line, but I didn't spot any.
"No," I said. "Blondes have more fun, remember?"
He nudged me. "Hey! I have plenty of fun."
"Your idea of fun, Dresden, is my idea of property destruction."
Harry dipped his head and kissed me, lightly and softly, a touch that sent a thrum through my body and settled in a gentle warmth in the center. I let him do it, wrapping my arms around him and returning the kiss—asshole, impossible, please don't leave—with a fervor that drew a small gasp from him.
Reluctantly, I pulled back just a little. If we got started on round three right then and there, neither of us would be good for anything by dawn. He made a small sound of protest, peppering kisses down my jawline and neck, but I shook my head and firmly detached him from me.
"That," I said, "had better not be a lead-in to a joke about other ideas of fun."
"Actually, it was just good old-fashioned libido," he said. "If you want a joke, I can do that too. 'There once was a girl from Nantucket-'"
A few years ago, I would have scowled and shut him down before he could go any further. Now, though, I just smiled serenely and waited for him to continue. The words trailed off and he frowned down at me. "Damn it, Murph, you're supposed to get offended now."
"So sorry for calling your bluff, Dresden." I shifted a little, rearranging myself on the rumpled sheets. "What a shock: Harry Dresden can't follow through on something. Do you even know how to-" He made a noise of protest. "-finish that rhyme?"
"Ouch," he grumbled faux-offendedly.
"You're a big boy, Dresden. Suck it up." He gave me a significantly filthy-minded eyebrow raise and grin at that, making me roll my eyes. "Pig."
"Oink, oink. Seriously, though, you'd look good as a brunette. Ever thought about it?"
"Hell, no. Brown shows gray." I tugged on his forelock. "Like on you. I'll stay blonde, thanks."
"I do not have gray," he said, pained. "Besides, it wouldn't be forever. Just for a little while."
I pushed myself up, settling against the headboard. The bedroom was still dark, but a stripe of light washed across the wall as a car passed by the closed curtains, temporarily illuminating Dresden's form. Aside from the pentacle, he was completely deshabille, as was I. The light slid easily over his scarred skin, but reflected for a moment from the pentacle—and the snowflake-shaped mark on the inside of his wrist. I think he saw me noticing: he pulled his hand back, tucking it under the blanket.
"Why the heck would I go brunette?" I asked, not commenting on the snowflake mark. Loving a wizard and a warden of the White Council was hard enough; if I let myself think the words Winter Knight, things would get uncomfortably complicated very quickly. Better to just stick with the sarcastic banter. "And what's brought this on, anyway? Bored with me already, and want to pretend you're sleeping with someone else?"
"Come on, Murph," he said, wincing. Ouch: I may have crossed the line from sarcasm to spitefulness there. I mentally kicked myself. "You know that's not it. I just had an idea, that's all."
I relented a little. "Okay, Dresden," I said, scootching a little closer and making myself comfortable against him. One long arm wrapped around my shoulders, pulling me closer, and I molded my curves to his hard flat angles and relaxed a little. I dropped a quick kiss on his collarbone, drawing a gratifying shiver from him."So you've got a sudden brunette fetish. Give me a good reason why I should dye my hair, and maybe I'll consider it."
"Well, my birthday's coming up." He tried and failed to give me the puppy-dog eyes. "Indulge me?"
"Your birthday is Halloween. Is this your way of asking me to get dressed up for you?"
" . . . maybe."
Ah, Harry. A wizard wielding the forces of nature, an emissary of Queen Mab herself, the man who singlehandedly began and ended a war with a now-extinct court of vampires . . . and at heart, a complete and utter dork. I resisted the urge to smile fondly: I was, after all, supposed to be the sensible, level-headed one in this relationship. "Continue."
"Just once, I promise," he added hurriedly. "I mean, it's either dye or a wig, and the wig wouldn't be comfortable for you. Although it would be more accurate. You don't really have the right length of hair for buns . . . "
The light dawned, and I did smile, although it quickly turned into a sigh of put-on exasperation. "Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden," I said, rolling out the syllables of his full, true Name in a way that only I was allowed to do. "Are you asking me to dress up as Princess Leia for your birthday?"
" . . . maaaaaybe."
"Geek." I smacked his shoulder lightly. "And you'd be the Han Solo in this equation, right?"
"You betcha. It fits perfectly! Battered good looks, a big gun, hunk of junk transportation that still kicks ass—or did before the Reds trashed it. Plus a furry co-pilot and the heart of the beautiful but scary princess." He nuzzled the side of my head, drawing a small yelp from me. I might be kind of ticklish. "And we make fun of each other all the time. Do you know how long I've been waiting to say 'excuuuuse me, princess?'"
"I stand corrected. Megageek."
"C'mon, Murph," Harry wheedled. I refused to look him in the eyes: it took him a little while to get the gangly-cute look going, but once he had it revved up it was lethal. "Just once? For my birthday?"
I sighed again. I knew how this one was going to end, unfortunately: I'd say no, and he'd try to persuade me in that stupid endearing way of his; then he'd wind up saying something that I'd misconstrue and snap at him for, and I'd feel so guilty about it that I'd wind up agreeing to do it. That path could only lead to the Slave Leia costume, and God damn it, I still had some pride.
"Okay," I said. "Under protest."
Then I hooked my leg around his, pushed off from the mattress, gave a twist, and landed neatly astride him with my rear resting on his hips. Now it was Harry yelping, and one hand automatically reached for his shield bracelet before he remembered he wasn't wearing it. Megageek? Yes. Veteran of a hell of a lot of nasty fights? Also yes. I rocked a little, settling myself more comfortably and giving him my cool Face of Authority.
"Ground rules," I said. "These are non-negotiable. Got it?"
He nodded mutely, apparently having trouble paying attention. We were both very naked, after all, and Dresden was nothing if not honest about his thought processes.
"Rule number one: no Slave Leia. This is especially non-negotiable." I shifted my hips a little, and his pupils dilated. "Hey, Dresden, if you're not going to pay attention, you don't get to live your nerd fantasies."
"Now that's just unfair," he grumbled, but focused on me. Reluctantly. "Fine. No Slave Leia."
"Second, if we're going to get dressed up, we're going out. Find a Halloween party or something—some legitimate reason for us to be dressed like Star Wars characters. With our luck, somebody's going to find out we had these costumes no matter what we do, and I need to have a reason that won't get me laughed at by my old coworkers."
Harry nodded at that. "Michael's? He and Sanya are hosting a party."
I blinked. "Knights of the Cross throw Halloween parties?"
"Yep. Obviously no one's dressed as Satan or anything, but Michael's kids like it. And Sanya says that these days, any excuse for a party is fine by him."
" . . . he's not going to be Star Wars too, is he?"
Harry's brow wrinkled. "If you think my fantasies include Sanya, Murph, then we clearly aren't meant to be. He's going as Tywin Lannister."
"Oh, God, you're both geeks."
"Says the woman that knows who Tywin Lannister was."
I frowned. "I caught Game of Thrones in reruns, okay? Stop trying to change the point. Third: if you try to be in character for more than thirty percent of the evening, no sex. I don't know if I can last a whole party with you constantly calling me 'your worship.'"
"Deal. Even my prodigious powers of sarcasm need a rest occasionally."
"In that case . . ." I went back over the terms in my mind, making sure I hadn't left any potential land mines of embarrassment. Satisfied, I held out my hand. "Do we have an accord?"
"We have an accord." Harry took my hand but, instead of shaking it, trailed a series of lingering kisses across the skin of my knuckles. He raised his head to do it, bracing himself with his free arm and pushing up from the mattress, the slight strain of the motion making the lines of his throat stand out and pooling dark shadows in the hollow of his collarbone. His tongue flicked, serpent-quick, against a ridge of scarring on my knuckles—relic of some fight I couldn't even remember, probably of his instigation—and my breath came a little faster and more shallow. In the half-light, he was a sumi-e painting, a poster for a film noir they couldn't release in the United States, Kurosawa's ideal subject if Kurosawa had been born and raised in Manitoba.
I'd dated or married cops, FBI agents, and professional assassins. Evidently I should have been focusing on scruffy consultants and megageeks.
"God, Harry," I breathed. Almost unconsciously, I let myself slide down to cradle my hips against his. But though it was easy enough to detect my jackass wizard's current mood underneath the covers, I could also feel the rumble of a laugh beginning in his chest. I glared at him, and he valiantly stifled it as best he could, turning what could have been a full-on belly laugh into a strangled chuckle. "What's so funny, Dresden?" I growled, poking him just below the collarbone.
"I was just thinking," he said, grinning again as he flicked a strand of blonde out of my eyes. "After going through so much together—nearly dying, Bolshevik-muppet-solution vampire hunting, your family reunion—we still know we've touched something deep because we're suddenly on first-name terms."
"Hey, don't you go reading anything into it," I said, giving him another poke. "You caught me with my guard down."
"For a minute there I thought you were going to say 'pants down.' Because, technically-"
"And there it is again."
I sighed. Evidently he was in a good mood now, so even though sex was likely to happen, there would also be sarcasm and supposed wittiness. Time to break out the big guns.
Bracing my hands on the mattress, I leaned low over him, giving him my best serpentine smile. Harry's eyes widened, just a little, as the peaks of my breasts brushed across the hard flat plane of his chest. I let myself uncoil, almost gliding up the length of his body, until we were eye-to-eye.
"Harry," I murmured in his ear. He tensed a little, seemingly knowing what I was planning, breathing coming faster. And, soft as silk, I let the words slip out from between my lips. "Harry. Blackstone. Copperfield. Dresden."
Not just a name but a Name, the truth and substance of him and all that he was. Spoken with intent and strength and a lover's tongue, there in the still cool air of the bedroom we shared, it was more powerful than anything else. He shuddered underneath me, thin wiry muscles rippling as something like a spasm rolled through him. He kept control—barely. But for an instant, I had his soul itself in the palm of my hand, and that's a magic even Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden himself can't entirely fight off.
I half expected him to grab hold of me, go for broke or try one of the judo rolls I had been teaching him. Many of my past lovers would try to take the upper hand now: it was a guy thing, or maybe just a 'guys I dated' thing. But Harry Dresden just drew me down to him, pulling me into a kiss that was a little clumsy all the same but warmed me through and through.
"Hell's bells, Murph," he whispered hoarsely against my lips. "Dirty pool."
I could have made some kind of 'very dirty' joke, but screw that. I was all wrapped up with my sonofabitch wizard lover and I didn't want to let the moment end, especially not with another round of wisecracking. Instead, I dropped another kiss on the corner of his mouth, unfazed by the stubble. "Scruffy nerf-herder."
His lips twitched. "Stuck-up politician."
"I don't know where you get your delusions, laser-brain."
"I'm only trying to help, your worship!" he protested, but not very sincerely. His left hand, still a mass of scarring after all these years, cupped my chin as he rose up to kiss me again.
"Scoundrel," I managed to say. I was running out of Star Wars quotes pretty quickly.
That got a grin from Dresden. "Scoundrel? I like that."
"Goddammit, what have I gotten myself into?" I murmured. This time, the lack of sincerity was all on me. He did roll now, gently easing me onto the mattress, his pentacle swinging down to rest on the curve of my left breast. He kissed it there, drawing a shiver from me, damn him.
"You like me," he said softly, "because I'm a scoundrel. Because there aren't enough scoundrels in your life."
Only one more quote was left. My heart clenched at the thought, all of me wondering if this was a good idea. Technically . . . no, it wasn't. Not in the world we lived in. But . . .
"I love you," I whispered as I kissed him again.
He knew. He knew it now, and he knew he could complete the line any time he liked. All he had to do was acknowledge it, use two little words to fulfill every Star Wars geek's dream. But Harry Dresden never did anything by the book.
"I love you too, Karrin," he said softly. "I have for a long time. Do you know that?"
Turned it back on me, damn him. But I did, and I wrapped my arms around him as he slipped into me, breath coming faster. The dark brown eyes stared into mine, unafraid of soul gazes, and I looked back and feared nothing in them.