Author's Note: My first DF fic, written for the one who introduced me to the Dresden Files - Musafreen. I hope you like it.
Set between White Night and Turn Coat.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Dresden Files. All my fanfic writings are non-profit. Tis all for fun.
The Two Carroteers.
I paused for a moment and looked around.
I was standing in the Carpenters' back garden, engaging in strenuous combat against a tenacious foe. Molly stood a few feet away, using all her skill with garden implements to combat our enemy.
Which happened to be a horde of marauding carrots.
I frowned as I ducked a kamikaze vegetable, and stomped down as a brave carrot tried to wrap around my ankles.
I knew how I'd ended up here, in one way. In another way, I didn't have a freaking clue.
It had begun earlier in the day, not long after lunch…
I sighed as my last client closed the door with a crash. Mr. Saw was a real old-timer: seventy years old, greying hair, and still running the carpentry company that had been in his family for three generations. He'd come to me when a new batch of wood had shown a tendency towards aggressive and unstoppable attack whenever he tried to saw it up into sticks. It had turned out that the timber had been enchanted by a young practitioner with a mischievous sense of humour. I'd managed to track down the guy, and I'd doled out some preventative justice.
"Listen up, grasshopper," I'd told the kid. "You've got power. A lot of power. But you can't go around pulling pranks like this. Sooner or later you'll land yourself in trouble with the White Council. So keep your head down. Got it?"
The kid - his name was Loptr, which was a damned stupid name if I'd ever seen one - had nodded and smiled.
Or maybe he'd smirked. I wasn't too sure, and anyway the guy was a bit creepy, with his black hair and pale face.
I'd decided to beat a hasty retreat, and I'd come back to Mr. Saw. I disenchanted the wood, made out my bill and finished the case. Mr. Saw dropped the money around in a little envelope.
Like I said: old-timer.
So there I was. Another case over, and I found myself with a long afternoon and nothing to do except read another paperback.
I picked up the book of the day - The Three Musketeers - and relaxed in my chair. I had no cases on the boil, no bills to be paid. Molly was at her parents' for the day. All was quiet. For once, I was going to have some rest and relaxation.
Then the phone rang.
I stared at it.
It kept ringing.
I continued to stare at it.
It kept on ringing. It had a freaking gleeful tone to it.
I debated blowing the phone up. It wouldn't take much magic, and I could always repair it…
My conscious took that moment to remind me that it could be someone in serious trouble. Hell, it could be the Council.
"Hell's bells," I grumbled. I sighed, and snatched up the phone.
"Harry?" Molly's panicked voice rang out, so loud that I had to move the speaker a little away from my ear.
"I'm here, Molly. What's wrong?" I said, sitting upright in my chair and tensing a little. If something had happened to the Carpenters…
"Er, I'm okay," she said, lowering her voice a little. "I sort of have a problem."
Now I stood up. "What is it? Is your family safe?"
"Everyone's fine," she said quickly. "They've all gone out. I'm at the house on my own. I, uh. I was practising a spell and it went wrong."
I groaned, rubbing my forehead with one hand. Molly was an ingenious practitioner, considering her experience. She was a little too ingenious for my liking. She liked experimenting now and then. This wasn't the first time one of her plans had gone wrong. Nor was it the tenth time.
"Please, Harry," she said, adding a pleading note to her tone. "They'll be back in a couple of hours, so I can get this cleaned up, but only if you come."
I paced about the office. My old mentor, Justin DuMorne, would've gone, but only so he could make things worse. Even Ebenezar McCoy wouldn't have gone. He'd say, "It's your mess, you have to clean it up."
Me? Well, I was a soft-hearted fool.
"I'll get there as soon as I can," I said, trying not to sound too helpful. "But you'd better have a good explanation for this!"
With that, I put the phone down. Then I went about getting ready - putting on my coat, grabbing my staff, and checking my gun. Sighing again, I opened my office door, and made my way down to the Beetle.
I drove as fast as I could. There wasn't too much traffic, as lunchtime was well over and most people had gone back to the grind of their jobs. I arrived at the Carpenters' in good time, and I parked outside. Glancing up at the front door, I saw a note had been stuck to the clean wood.
I walked over and plucked it off the door. It read, "Come around to the backyard. Have your staff ready. -Molly."
I crumpled up the note and stuck it in my pocket. Trying not to feel like a 24-hour, on-call magical repairman, I began to creep around to the backyard.
Yes, I know. Even though the chance of serious danger was minimal, I still crept. Old habits, etc.
I turned the corner and faced into the yard, and found myself staring at a sight of—
No, I decided. That couldn't be right.
I squinted. I stared. I debated using my Sight. In the end, I had no choice but to believe the truly insane sight that my eyes were sending to my mind.
Molly stood a couple of paces away from the tree, holding a large garden rake in one hand, and a spade in the other. Around, on all sides for several feet, were carrots. Rabid, animate carrots. They were crawling on the ground like big orange worms, and their green leafy parts were swelled to large proportions. The leaves were moving and twisting like strange horticultural tendrils. Some carrots were big, some were small, and some were tiny, but all of them were united by one goal.
They were all trying to get to Molly.
One carrot flew up towards her from the morass, by what means I knew not. Molly whacked it away with the spade, and then swiped the rake across the ground in front of her, spearing a number of root vegetables. Then she leaned down and started smashing carrots up with the spade, but they kept on coming.
It was too much. I bursted out laughing.
My roars of laughter attracted Molly's attention, and she glanced over at me. Her expression brightened when she saw it was me, but she scowled when she realised I was laughing at her situation.
"Harry!" she cried out, swatting away another commando carrot. "Don't stand there laughing. Help me!"
I got control of myself, and hurried over to her. I surveyed the chaos with a bemused eye, and said, "Want to tell me how this happened?"
She kicked away a few crawlers. "I was experimenting," she said.
"Really?" I said drily.
She gave a look which was two parts embarrassment and one part frustration. "It just got out of hand!" she exclaimed. "I was trying to multiply one carrot into ten or so."
I shook my head. "That never works."
"I didn't know that!" Molly snapped. Realising she sounded overly impudent, she quickly said, "But, uh. I'm sorry. Now can you help me please? The spell went wrong, and they multiplied, and they came alive. "
I sighed, and took a few more steps towards her, right to the edge of the demonic army of vegetables. I watched as she fended off a carrot with dreams of flight. Then I said, "You need to draw a magic circle to shut them down."
She nodded. "Yes, I know. Can you do it?"
"Nah," I said. "You can do that."
Even in the midst of pitched combat against vegetables, she managed to roll her eyes. "You're not making this easy," she muttered.
"Life—" I started to say.
"Isn't easy," she finished. "What if you come over here and hold them off while I make the circle? I think they want to get into the treehouse."
I nodded, and, with a couple of long strides, went to her side. I shook off a couple of resilient carrots who'd latched onto my coat. I tugged the shovel out of Molly's hand, and gestured at the grass beyond the carrots.
That was how I found myself battling demonic carrots in the backyard of a Knight of the Cross.
"Go on, Padawan," I said cheerily, turning my attention to the vegetables. I lifted up my staff, drew in my power, and cried out, "Fuego!"
I didn't use much magic, and so just a small jet of flame shot out. I scorched the carrots for several feet, clearing a path for Molly. She ran down it, and set about carving a large circle with the garden rake. I stopped the fire, and focussed on keeping the carrots away by means of blunt force.
It was curious. Every time I broke or mangled a vegetable, another one pushed its way out of the ground. Molly must have planted a carrot and then cast the spell, but she'd poured too much magic in, and thusly we had the Army of Unstoppable Vegetables.
A few feet away, Molly completed the circle. She knelt down, took a deep breath, and sealed the magic circle.
The effect was immediate. All the carrots died, going limp and inanimate. The vegetable that had been making a leap for my shoulder dropped out of the air with a comic thud.
I brushed the remains of a few brave vegetables off my staff, and looked up at Molly.
"Hey, it's funny," I said.
She gave me a wary look.
"Before you rang, I was going to read a book for the afternoon," I mused. "But I'm kind of glad this happened. It's fun!"
I trudged over to her, crunching carrots underfoot. I came to the edge of the circle, and made to step across.
"Hold on!" Molly said abruptly. "They won't come to life again if you break the circle, will they?"
I shook my head. "No. The energy of the spell which created them," I gave her a mock-serious look, "is broken. So it's fine."
I took the step, and broke the circle. I stood next to Molly and gazed down at the mess of vegetable.
"The book I was going to read," I muttered. "It was 'The Three Musketeers'."
"Yeah. But we're kind of like the two carroteers now," I said solemnly.
She gave me a sidelong look. "What?" she said, trying not to laugh.
I nodded, very serious.
"Oh yes," I said. "All for carrots, and carrots for all!"