A.N. - First Dresden Files fan fiction and it will be Harry/Bob romance eventually...please give me your thoughts on how to proceed!


Chapter 1

"Bob!"

At hearing Harry's usual dulcet tones, the ghost stuck his head through the wall of the lab and looked out into the apartment, from where he'd heard his master's voice emanate. He was hesitant to come out, recognizing the aggravated tone, but sighed to himself and decided to simply get it over with.

He came completely through the wall and walked down the hall to find Harry in an almost frantic state, pacing the floor of his main living area.

"Harry? Is something the matter?"

At hearing Bob's voice, Dresden's eyes snapped up and he immediately stopped pacing.

"Oh thank god, you're here…I, uh, have a problem."

"Since when do you not have a problem," the blonde ghost muttered under his breath, deliberately making it loud enough so that his master could hear.

The wizard glared at him and then quickly tried to explain.

"Our wards…" Bob raised an eyebrow at that and Harry amended his statement. "Alright, my wards have been weakened and nothing I'm doing has helped it at all. So, I got curious, cast a couple of diagnostic spells…and I still got nothin'…"

He looked at his old mentor and let out a sigh.

"…And I thought you might see somethin' that I missed. I've been up for a couple of days, so I'm a bit out of it. So…could you? Please?"

It was the last word that made up the deceased necromancer's mind, so he nodded in the affirmative.

"Of course. Just, do each diagnostic spell when I ask for it, and I'll tell you what comes up."

Harry nodded and cast the first spell. Bob walked around the room, looking at each of the runes along the beams of the ceiling and along some of the supporting wooden columns. Nothing was out of place, so he simply nodded and motioned towards Harry, so he cast the next spell.

Bob began to do another circuit of the room, but he suddenly stopped.

"Harry," he said, his tone one of exasperation. "Come here, please."

Feeling once more like a wayward student at the tone in his old mentor's voice, he walked over next to Bob, giving him a slightly confused look. Bob motioned his hand towards the beam that he had stopped under and then used the same hand to cover his face, as though in shame.

Harry looked up at it.

"What? What am I supposed to be seeing here? Everything looks fine to me."

At hearing that, Bob groaned.

"Good god, you are tired, aren't you? If you were in your right mind you never would have missed it. Quickly," he asked, "what direction does that wall face?"

Without hesitation, Harry said, "East."

Bob nodded. "Very good, my young apprentice," he said, his voice slightly mocking as well as disappointed. "Now, if that wall faces east, then where is the rune for "East" on that beam, hmm?"

At that, Harry paled and his eyes dropped to the floor as he sat himself down on the couch. He put both of his hands over his face and leaned forward so that his elbows were on his knees and he let out a loud groan of what Bob guessed to be a mixture of frustration, exhaustion, and anger at himself for missing something so glaringly obvious.

From behind his hands, he muttered, "Are all the compass runes missing, Bob?"

Quickly, Bob looked at the glowing symbols on the four beams around the room and he nodded.

"Yes. They've most likely worn down. Which means, for all intents and purposes, that you are vulnerable to all effects of the ley lines in the surrounding area, instead of being protected from them."

At hearing this, Harry threw his head back and shook his now clenched fists towards the ceiling, while Bob tried not be amused by his protégé's exasperation. Though his absentmindedness was amusing, the lack of the runes was not. Those runes kept the ley lines from interfering with the magic in the lab…and they needed them back on.

But, of course, therein lay the problem.

Gently, Bob said, "You do realize who we need to call...right?"

Harry lifted his head from the back of the couch and nodded.

"Yeah, yeah, I know…I'm just trying to think of anything else that we can do instead." Bob chuckled and Harry looked at him and gave him one of his lopsided grins. "You know that she's going to try and make me pay up from the last time, right?"

Bob nodded and let out another chuckle.

"Oh, yes…and I'm sure that she'll be, uh, creative about it."

"You can count on that."

Harry pushed himself off the couch and Bob watched as he stretched and heard a pop in his back. The ghost winced slightly at the sound and at that moment desperately wished that he was corporeal simply so he could ease Harry's tension. He was a master of shiatsu and seeing the man in pain was not easy for him.

It was times like this that it hit him very hard that he was quite ineffective and practically useless.

He missed being able to simply reach out and touch something, like a wall. There had been times when Harry was a child that he'd simply wanted to reach out and hold him, to reassure him through physical touch that he would be okay.

Bob instead followed behind him as Harry walked into the other room and grabbed his jacket.

Realizing that Dresden was about to head out, he let out a long sigh.

"I'll go get in my skull," he said morosely, but was surprised when he saw Harry slip into the lab and come out with his eternally damned cerebral habitation.

"Oh no," said Harry, putting the cranium into a pack that he slid over his shoulder. "You're coming with me."

"I…I am?"

Harry nodded, and then motioned for Bob to follow him to the front room and then quickly explained as he grabbed a few extra things that he would need for the drive.

"Oh, yeah. She tolerates me only because I pay her and I help her out from time to time." Harry gave Bob a pointed look as he emphasized his next sentence. "However, she actually likes you, likes you. Like, a crush-on-you type likes you. Which means, if you come along, she'll be in a better mood and might forget that I owe her."

"She…she has a…a crush on me?"

Harry turned his head and gave his ghostly mentor a reassuring smile.

"Yeah, and why not? You're a likeable enough guy. And, I guess, according to her, crushable."

Bob couldn't help but smile at that and then say, with a bit of amusement in his tone, "Ah, well, at least you're finally planning ahead. My, how you've grown. So, what's the rest of the plan?"

Harry gave him a half smile as he stuffed one last thing into the bag alongside the skull.

"I don't know…I haven't thought that far ahead." He pointed at the cranial cavity and raised an eyebrow at him. "Now, get on in."

Though Bob was inwardly thrilled at being brought along, he rolled his eyes and turned to his usual black ash and red sparks and slipped back into his mobile home, where he then said…

"Did you have to put the motherwort next to me? I won't be able to get the smell out for weeks."

Harry grinned and walked out to his car, a slight spring in his step. Though he was decidedly not looking forward to the meeting that he had to go to, he was glad that he had Bob along. He'd discovered that he actually enjoyed the snarky, smart remarks and the sarcasm of the deceased wizard.

Not that he would ever tell him that.

It took about an hour and a half, but they were there.

Stepping out of the car, he slipped the dark brown canvas bag over his shoulder and walked up to the house. It was on thirty acres of land and it was overrun with-

"Ughh!"

Cats. And dogs. And a lot of other animals.

He looked down to see what he had nearly tripped over and saw that the perpetrator this time was a cat. A large brown tabby…actually, if he wasn't mistaken, it was the same one that he had nearly killed himself tripping over the last time that he'd been there.

He scoured his memory…

"Osiris."

The cat meowed in response and walked in front of him, indicating with a twitch of his tail that he should follow. Harry did as the…cat…asked, and soon was up the front porch, and watched as Osiris disappeared through a partially open window.

Before he could even raise his hand to knock, the door swung open.

Standing in the door frame was a five-foot-three, long-haired British brunette with hazel eyes and a temper to rival any hellion.

"Harry Dresden…long time, no see."

He gave her a broad smile and started to take a step forward and was suddenly stopped by a fierce slap across his left cheek.

"That's for not paying me last time."

He rubbed his jaw and gave her another smile, this one full of genuine surprise, as well as a hint of humor.

"Good to see you, too, Elizabeth."


Part 1/?