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Retribution

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It was late Sunday morning when Thomas finally showed up, missing all the heavy lifting. Not that there was much, more just a lot of big and slightly dusty boxes of my stuff needing to come up from the storage unit beneath the apartment. The stuff I had at Mom and Dad’s had kind of migrated back over to the apartment over the last few weeks.

Of course, he brought donuts and coffee, so he was immediately forgiven for shirking his duty in helping me move in. Or is it move back in, I don’t know what you call it when you move in with your boyfriend to the apartment you actually own.

The thought made me smile and my cheeks flush. My boyfriend.

“Sorry I’m late, but I thought best not to contribute any further to the corruption of the young,” Thomas proclaimed as he handed me a coffee and dropped the box of donuts on the counter. “How do your parents feeling about all of this Molls?”

Harry took my coffee from me and handed me a glass of ice water, which was all I was living off pre-noon right now, before grabbing himself a donut and taking a bite.

“Ok, I guess,” I replied, “I mean they think I should kick the squatter out of my apartment of course, but they are dealing.”

“Yeah, they aren’t happy that Mouse won’t leave,” Harry quipped as he kissed me with sugar covered lips. They tasted good, maybe I should attempt a donut. “He’s messy, never does the dishes and he’s not paying rent. It’s a real problem.” Thomas laughed, shaking his head.

“Yeah, Mouse is really their problem Harry. Really guys, I mean I ship this, you know I do, but it’s been what, a month, two at a push?” Thomas looked over at Harry questioningly. He had expected me to go all in, obviously, but it was an unusual reaction from Harry. I decided to risk it and grabbed a plain glazed donut, and took a bite.

“I hear you”, he replied, “but it just feels right Thomas. She’s always here anyway and it’s stability for Maggie...”

The donut had been a mistake. I could feel the wave of nausea coming and I only just made it to the sink in time to catch the torrent of vomit.

“.. and then there’s the fact Molly is pregnant.” Harry finished, as he came to stand beside me, holding back my hair.

Chapter Text

“Do we need to have a chat Harry, about wrapping up your package,” Thomas said, attempting a joke as we sat down on the sofa. Molly excused herself, going to brush her teeth and lay down for a bit, both of which generally helped with her morning sickness. It also meant I could talk to Thomas just the two of us, which I really needed.

“It’s a bit late now, Little Snowflake is here,” I replied, taking a large gulp of coffee.

“Snowflake?” He asked, “You mean?” I nodded and he let out a low hiss of breath and ran his hands through his hair. “Shit Harry, I don’t know what to say man.  Do you think Mab, I mean do you think she planned it.” I was way ahead of him with that one. 

“Yeah,” I had thought on this a lot and it was the only reasonable assumption, “Of course she did. Looking back Lea and Mab both kept making eyes at Molly, well before she came into her magic. Remember what Lea offered Michael the night we met? THEN right before the Nickleheads grabbed the Archive, Mab told me that you were her contingency plan if I continued to refuse the knighthood. Something definitely stinks. I don’t think she intended particularly for Molly to be the Winter Lady, but they wanted her tied to the courts, along with one of Margaret's boys as winter knight, to play Papa.”

“You think this is connected to Mom and Lea?” He asked. It was a fair question, we both knew our Mother was hardly the whitest of white. A piece of work was the phrase most often used to describe her, which I had always taken as the blunt truth. I was beginning more and more to think that was the polite version people told to her kid.

“Possibly, it would make a lot of sense. Whatever the plan is, there’s nothing we can do until it’s born. Molly certainly isn’t going to enter any more bargains with the fae so we are safe for another six months or so at least. Other than that all we can really do is research and plan and wait, which is killing me.” I ran my palm over my face, exhausted suddenly. It was good to finally talk to someone about this. I was trying to keep it together for Molly, but on the inside, I wasn’t doing a great job. In reality, I was fucking petrified.

“What about the other side of it, are you both. Are you both… ok about it?”  Thomas shoved my shoulder gently with his, which was his way of giving a brotherly hug of encouragement. I smiled.

“Yeah, we are,” I remembered Molly’s face when I told her what I had seen with my sight, then the waiting together for that tiny blue line. “Happy and scared, but yeah. It should pretty much be normal. The fancy scans won’t work of course, and then labour is a potential issue. It’s the difficult part of these things, but then it always is, I mean…”

“You mean like Mom,” Thomas’ voice was barely audible. “because she survived the odds with me, but not with you when they were supposed to be better.”

The words didn’t come, only the slow nod of my head told him he had it nailed.

“That was different Harry, my old man is a grade A dick.” I snorted at that, and I knew my brother was right; it was the entropy curse and not the normal risks of childbirth that killed our mother, but I was still scared for Molly. “Have you told Great Gramps?” he asked, changing the subject, “Maybe he has an idea about what Mab is up to?” I shook my head.

“Molly wants to tell Michael and Charity first, which we are doing later.” It wasn’t a thought I was relishing. Honestly, I thought they would kill me for dating her, let alone the living in sin. This might finally be the thing that finally pushes Charity into removing me from her daughter’s life with extreme prejudice.

“Ah, well, best of luck with that,” he clasped my shoulder as he spoke and then got up from the couch. “I’ve got to get going, but give me a call later ok? Or I’m going to worry Charity really has killed you. Remember I’m here if you need anything, even if that’s just a doctor after she kicks your ass.” I laughed, but my heart wasn’t in it. Maybe because I really was worried she would.

 


 

 

Once he had gone, I went into our bedroom to find Molly. I had expected to find her resting. Instead, she was methodically unpacking the boxes we had bought up from the basement, filling the empty dresser that was hers.

“I thought you were resting?” I scolded. She turned and rolled her eyes at me before heading on to unpack another box.

“I did, a little,” she said, slowly placing things around our room. “But I need to unpack and I know you needed time to talk to Thomas, so I stayed in here out of the way.” I smiled and came up behind her, wrapping my arms around her waist and holding her close, smelling her hair. She fit perfectly against me.

“What happened to the Molly who used to veil herself and eavesdrop on everything?” I asked, kissing the top of her head.

“She did it one too many times,” Molly’s voice was grave, but I could hear her smile. “I’ve seen things Dresden, things you would never imagine. Things that would curdle milk. That no one can see and stay sane.”

“Ah,” I replied in the same grave tone, “explains why you love me then. It drove you completely mad.”

I spun her around in my arms until she was facing me, and found her mouth with my own.

“Harry,” she murmured against my lips. “What are you doing?” I found the column of her throat with my lips, showering it with a series of nips and kisses.

Dating as a parent is a tough gig, especially balancing a kid who had lived through some serious trauma. We were lucky in many ways that Maggie positively doted on Molly, but it made it all the harder some times to get her to myself. Now, with a few hours to spare alone together before we headed over to the Carpenters’ to face the music and collect my daughter, I knew exactly how I wanted to be spending it.

“I’m making love to the woman I adore, in our bed,” I slipped my hands up underneath her t-shirt, and pulled it up over her head. My hands worked on the buttons of her jeans and slipped the fabric off her hips as my lips found her breasts, kissing the skin that swelled out of the lace cup. “After all, I expect to be dead this evening, and you wouldn’t deny me my dying wish.”

 “Oh Harry,” Molly chided me as she worked on my jeans, something she had gotten much better at, “Dad isn’t going to kill you when we tell them. He’ll drag us both down to St Mary’s first. Then he’ll kill you. Dad wouldn’t leave me a fallen woman, a widow is far more respectable.”  She teased.

My stomach flipped. Ok, that wasn’t a thought that had occurred but she was right. Michael and Charity would both be expecting me to make an honest woman of her. Was that what she wanted? No time to ruminate on that now. Molly pulled my t-shirt over my head as I stepped out of the clothing at my feet.

As she lay back on our bed, looking up at me as I pulled her tight jeans off her long legs, followed by the lacy panties she wore underneath. I was bowled over yet again that this stunning young woman was here with me. Her honey blonde hair tousled around her like a golden halo, and tattoos aside she could have been the model for a renaissance Venus. I had ignored it for years, to the amusement of many, but there was no denying it now. The beauty lying before me right now wanted me more than anything or anyone else, and it was most definitely mutual. 

I went to her, sinking into her arms. She smelled of spiced tea and mint toothpaste, and her hips rocked against me as her arms pulled me closer. It was as if she was trying to force the entirety of me inside the shell of her skin. My lips danced across hers, teasing, muffling the small whimpers she made as she ground herself against me. Pinning her with my lower body I began to kiss down her neck, along her shoulders, slipping off the straps of her bra with my teeth before removing it completely.

“Harry, maybe we should…” She barely got the words out before I found her nipples. Swollen and acutely sensitive now, she had needed to remove the rings. They sat on the perfect skin of her breasts, puffy and silken under my tongue, before tensing into hard peaks. When I nipped gently she cried out.

Her hands roamed my skin, tracing the sensitive lines of scars that crisscrossed my body, while she tried to sit up, to bring me back to her lips. Breathing labored, the low moans and whimpers came more frequently. I loved this, her, how vocal she was when I touched her. Even so, I returned to the sweetness of her lips, muffling her cries.

There is no way to describe the levels, the depth of emotion, Molly somehow was able to express when she kissed me. In truth I didn’t want to, I wanted to revel in that feeling. That one, and one other.

I slipped my hand between her thighs and found her sodden. Grasping her hair against the back of her head I covered her mouth completely with mine as I plunged into her. The cry ejected from her throat echoed in mine as we began to move in delicious tempo with each other. She was slick and soft, undulating around me as I thrust further, firmer, encouraged by the cacophony of sounds coming from Molly and me.

I could feel the pleasure, the bliss building within me when Molly began to pulse around me. Screaming my name, she arched from the bed, her body rising and falling, bucking in a wave I could only just contain as my own climax came racing after hers.

I lay there next to her as we recovered ourselves, both us caressing the other, relaxed and easy in the embrace. My lips rested against her hair, her head against my chest. I didn’t want to move from this place, this instant, but I knew in a few hours we would have to face the first of many battles I knew were coming. My hand finding the soft swell of her belly, I spoke tenderly into her hair.

“I love you Molly. I wish we could stay here forever, just the two of us.” I could feel her smile against my skin.

“I love you too Harry, I always have you know.” She replied sleepily, “and I really hope my Mom doesn’t kill you.”

Chapter Text

It didn’t help the overwhelming sense of foreboding I was feeling that the sky was black as we got to the Carpenters house.  The storm that was rolling over the city from Lake Michigan seemed like a perfect metaphor for what was about to happen. Molly squeezed my hand as we walked past the white picket fence, through the yard, up to the building that looked almost too wholesome to exist. I knew I was projecting, but then guilt will do that to you. Michael was the Uncle I never had, it had always made me feel like I must be doing something right when I had his approval. Molly had been right, talking to my shade in that Denny’s years ago, I didn’t want to lose it.

We headed to the back, by the kitchen, to avoid the onslaught of Jawas who would notice our arrival if we can in the front door. Charity was in the kitchen, chatting away with Alicia and preparing the dinner when we came through the door.

“Oh Molly, Harry, we weren’t expecting you for a while yet,” Charity barely looked up from the pots she was fussing over. “Maggie is in the den, but I thought you might stay for dinner as you missed lunch today?” Alicia was chopping salad, and eyeing us both suspiciously.

“Sure Mom.” Molly tried to sound confident but her voice wavered slightly, “Where is Papa?” Charity raised her eyes, taking in Molly, me, and our joined hands, and frowned.

“In his office,” she answered. Wiping her hands on a dishcloth she turned to Alicia. “Will you keep an eye on the dinner honey?” There was stony silence as the three of us entered the small study. Charity closed the door behind us, as Michael looked up from his desk, registering instantly what was happening.

“Molly,” he asked warily. “Are you alright? What’s going on?”  I squeezed her hand gently in mine. I’m here, it's going to be fine.

“Mom, Papa, I’m pregnant.”  She had been looking down when we came in, but as she spoke her head rose. You could have cut the tension with a knife. Michael’s face turned to stone.

“How long Molly?” His jaw barely moved as he spoke, voice strained. Molly smiled at him, but his expression didn’t change.

“The Doctor says it’ll be just after Christmas” I saw Charity close her eyes as Molly spoke, and Michael erupted.

“Oh, Molly no...” He words were hard, and he was barely holding in his rage, “you silly, stupid girl no.” Instinctively Molly turned away from him and buried her face in my chest, shaking. I had only seen Michael like this once before when Alicia had been taken.

“Michael,” I implored him gently. “Please, hear her out, it isn’t what you think.”

“Harry,” He glared at me, hissing. He kept his voice low, but still, the anger was palatable. “I have trusted you with my life and those of my family. It would seem it was an incorrect placement of my faith. You have taken advantage of that, and of my daughter. You have tried to make it appear as if this is a relationship, that it is love and yet my grandchild gives your game away. I didn’t want to believe you the cause when Molly returned home to this house distraught and broken yet again while you distanced yourself, but it would seem I was wro…”

“Michael stop,” Charity spoke, causing her husband to stop abruptly mid-sentence. Turning to face me she asked, “This is the price isn’t it?” I nodded. Molly still clung to me, and my arms tightened protectively where they held her close. 

“We didn’t know it, but yes,” I spoke clearly, and looked at Michael as I continued. “This was the price. It changes nothing about how I feel about Molly, that’s not a lie. I swear to you, both of you.”

“Charity what are you talking about?” Michael’s jaw was still clenched but his words were softer now, questioning. Charity went to him and took his hands in hers before she answered.

“Our daughter was freed from powerful magic, from a powerful hold over her life,” she reminded him. “That sort of magic has a price, Just like I was the price paid to Siriothrax, our grandchild is the price to be paid later.” Michael blinked at her before crossing himself and bowing his head in silent prayer.

“Not if I have anything to do with it Charity,” I countered. She sighed, her shoulders relaxing. I realised she had been scared, worried, rather than angry. I hadn’t expected that.

“That is something at least,” She coaxed Molly from my arms and hugged her. “I think you and your father need to talk Molly. I’m going to wait with Harry on the porch alright?” Molly smiled at her mother and nodded. I followed Charity from the room, closing the door behind us.

We sat on the porch in the two rocking chairs Michael and I had often relaxed in, sharing beers as he imparted his wisdom to be. I feared that part of our relationship was over. The anger in his voice, the hurt. I’d seen him lose his temper before, but this was something different. This was betrayal from someone close.

“Michael will be fine once he understands Harry,” Charity broke my reverie, replying to my thoughts as if I had been speaking them aloud. “He loves you like a brother, you don’t need to fear for your friendship. Although it may be less awkward for him to think of you as more of a son now.”

“And you?” I asked, looking at her. Her expression was one of resignation and calm, like someone for whom the other shoe had finally dropped.

“I understood what my daughter kept from us when she told us you had freed her” she spoke softly, “If a maiden’s mantle is broken, it is fairly obvious to a former maiden how it was done. Fathers don’t like to think of these things.”

“I do love her Charity, I swear to you that is not a lie.” I could hear the movie the kids were watching, the very edges of voices from the study, but not the words. Charity didn’t speak for a few moments either. She too was worried about what was happening with her husband and daughter, but this was a fight that was theirs, not ours.

“Oh trust me, I know,” she laughed eventually, breaking the tension a little. “Otherwise I would have killed you already for the things you’ve put her through. She loves you, and it’s only because I’ve always known you care about her just as much that you have gotten away with being as stupid as you’ve been.”

I snorted and smiled at her.

“Tell me something I haven’t worked out already.”

Chapter Text

I don’t think I had ever seen my Dad like that. He was always so full of calm strength and faith, the guy who Showed Up. Even after his injury, he would still Show Up, support us, be there for this children no matter what.

But then he looked at me like that.

It wasn’t just disappointment in his face, that wouldn’t have been new; it had definitely been there when I got busted. It was a lack of belief in me, a loss of faith.  He trusted me to at the very least acknowledge when I had done wrong, broken a trust or failed myself in some way. Standing in front of him, pregnant, unwed and unashamed, I’d doubled down. I admitted brazenly that the baby was older than our relationship, and it shattered the image he had of me.

I was either too stupid to see that I was being used or worse, not the daughter he thought I was.

After Mom and Harry left the room, we stood in silence, neither of us willing to make the first sound, the first concession. The tension grew, his prayer finished and still, he didn’t speak. In the end, I broke the silence.

“I know what you think Papa, but it wasn’t like that” I spoke softly, and as he looked at me, I placed a hand on my belly. “This little one was conceived in love. I know you have your doubts, and I know it doesn’t seem like it’s possible, but it’s true. I’m your daughter, trust in me, in my judgment.”

“Molly” he sighed, “how can you know that? How can you be sure? Men lie, Harry has lied, and you are a beautiful woman. It would not be impossible for you to mistake a man’s desires for love. Your mother tells me you have had a crush on him for over a decade. Can you honestly say that Harry would never for a second think to take advantage of that for his own satisfaction?”

Well shit, Dad just laid down his gauntlet. If he wasn’t Michael Carpenter, Knight of the Cross, I’d swear he looked slightly smug. He thought he knew better than me how Harry and I felt about each other. He seemed so sure that he couldn’t be wrong, that I had been deceived.

All my fear of him being ashamed of me, disappointed in me, boiled into anger.  He wasn’t even prepared to admit he might be wrong. I took a deep breath, held my chin high and answered him

“Yes, I can Papa” I was calm, but there was no disguising how angry and upset I was at the accusation. His eyes softened a bit, I could almost hear the oh my poor deluded girl in his head. I took a deep breath and countered with my own gauntlet.

“I’m sure because I know him, I have been in his head and seen his soul, and I know he is not capable of what you say. I know because when I fainted the morning after we made this little one, when Thomas caught me, his hands were burnt by my touch. Only love does that Papa. And I know he would never take advantage of me because the night he took me on as his apprentice, I stood in front of him naked and willing, but he said no and bought me home to you and Mom. Now please, go and apologise to the man I love for thinking so badly of him.”

He shook his head, processing what I had just said. He came out from behind his desk and hugged me tightly. Even still, I could tell he still wasn’t totally convinced.

“I’m sorry Molly,” he said when he finally let me go. “But tell me honestly, did he refuse you like you say. I cannot quite believe that of you. Are you entirely sure of him” I laughed.

“I couldn’t quite believe I did it either, but yes, he did.” I shivered a little at the memory. “I’m sure Papa, I swear.” He looked me over, thinking before he nodded slowly.

“Never tell your mother that story,” he ordered me quietly.

“Never tell Harry I told you,” I countered, and he smiled then.

“One last thing Molly, and then I will go apologise as you asked,“ he promised, ”Has he asked you to marry him?”

“No Papa and I don’t want him to. Not now.” I took hold of his left hand and rubbed the wide gold band on his finger. “I am going to live, we both are, for a very long time. I want a marriage like yours and Mom’s, and if he marries me now I will always wonder if it was only because of the baby, and not because of me. Do you understand?” My father nodded solemnly.

“I do Molly.” He hugged me again, kissing my forehead. “Thank you for making me a grandpa for Christmas sweetheart, now let’s go apologise and eat. Can’t have you missing dinner now can we.”

We found Mom and Harry on the porch, and apologies were made. Harry visibly relaxed now the news was out and smiled broadly as pulled Maggie aside before dinner.

She clung to Mouse as we sat in the now abandoned den. Mom had rounded everyone up to give us time to talk to Maggie, and she was obviously nervous and unsure about what was going on.

“Hey Maggie there’s nothing wrong, I promise,” I told her, holding out my little finger. “Pinkie swear?” She smiled and gripped my finger with her own. Harry held his arms out for her and she let go of Mouse to go in for the hug.

“So Punkin,” Harry started as he hugged his little girl, “Molly and Me have something very special to tell you. You’re going to be a big sister.”

Maggie let go of Harry as he spoke, and I saw his face drop. Poor Maggie had been through so much, I know he worried that she was going to feel abandoned all over again.

She ran back over to me and nearly knocked me over as she hugged me tightly.

“Really Molly, you’re going to have a baby?” she asked excitedly. I gave her a tight squeeze and nodded.

“I am, and you’re going to be a big sister,” Harry was smiling at us, as was Mouse, his mouth wide in a doggy grin. “it’s a big job, but I think you can handle it.” She nodded happily, escaping from my arms to go back to Mouse.

“Can I tell Hank and Hobbit?” she looked at Harry for the answer, and he looked at me.

“Of course,” I told her, and she raced off to find them. Mouse lingered and nudged my belly with his big furry head before he followed her. 

“Well. I’d say she’s happy about the baby,” I said as Harry kissed me softly.

“Yeah, she is,” we could hear whoops of joy coming from the dining room as Maggie told everyone her happy news. We headed to join them but were stalled by a knock on the front door as we passed it. Opening up the door, Father Forthill was stood there.

“Ah Molly, lovely to see you, and congratulations,” he said. “I got your Dad’s message and came straight over. He wanted to see me about organising the ceremony.”

Somewhere behind me Alicia was positively cackling with glee as Harry looked ready for the floor to swallow him whole. Bitch.

Chapter Text

Last summer had been hard, but that year it was filled with something like hope. Maggie continued to be excited by her impending new sibling, and the news added a bright point to the otherwise dark days of the anniversary of the peace talks for us all. It was still hard to think of all the goodbyes, the funerals, of the year before; but new life has a habit of bringing light to that kind of darkness.

Christmas crept up on us, the crib that Michael had made stood waiting in the corner of our bedroom, draped in the quilt Charity had sewn. I had helped him with the woodwork, carving all manner of protections into the wood he had used. They had both become the doting Grandparents that they were always going to be, and I was happy. Working together on the crib had restored the parts of my friendship with Michael that had strained when Molly and I got together.

A week before the day itself, I woke early and found myself watching Molly sleep beside me, her back to me. She had taken to braiding her hair for sleep, and it fell in a rainbow dipped blonde rope, allowing her face to be fully illuminated by the warmth of the sunrise. One hand lay under her head and the other cradled her distended stomach, exposed beneath my shirt that she slept in. She really was glowing, her full lips flushed red and inviting. I listened, and heard nothing beyond the soft doggy snores coming from Mouse, sleeping at the foot of Maggie’s bed next door.

I leant over her, pressing myself up against her back. I slipped my arm next to hers and caressed her belly as I tilted her jaw toward me and kissed her softly.

“Molly,” I murmered into her ear quietly, “wake up.” She wiggled backwards against me grumbling.

“Why?” she sighed as I kissed her neck. My hand moved lower on her belly, finding the place where the smooth skin met soft blonde curls. I pushed against it with my palm, pushing her back against me, my growing erection slipping in between her thighs, stroking the silken skin there.

“Because everyone else is still asleep” I replied, lifting her gently so I could slip my other arm around her, snaking underneath her breasts to hold the soft curves of them, holding her against me. I rolled by hips as I held her, sliding back and forth against the growing moist heat.  Groaning quietly she pushed her hips back against me, matching my pace, rubbing herself against me.

The hand under the bump slid down further, exploring in the soft folds I found there. Her breathing quickened as I found the spot I was searching for, and teased, twisting it gently with my scarred fingertips. We continued to move together, deliberately and achingly slowly as I continued to run my lips over the soft skin on her shoulders and neck. I hated not being able to kiss her lips as we touched, feel her whimpers and groans in my own throat.

A deep low groan escaped her lips and I moved the hand on her breast to her lips, silencing her with my palm

“Shh love” I scolded, “or do I need to leave this here now?” She nodded, another groan escaping into my hand as I changed the angle of my hips against hers. I could feel her opening against the very tip of me. I kissed the back of her neck as I pushed deep inside her.

My hand muffled her cry, but even still it rang out in the silence of the room.  I quickened the tempo of our movements, holding her tight against me as she shivered and gasped under my touch. The fingers of my left hand kept up their delicious friction as they continued to play in the drenched space where our bodies met.

We moved, smothered in our need and passion, climbing together until I felt Molly begin to quiver around me. The feeling of her muscles tightening against me threatened to send me over the edge but I held back, thrusting harder against her, pulling her closer to her climax. As she screamed into my hand I felt it over take her, clamping down on me as I slipped into my own abyss.

As I relaxed my arms around her, she turned her head around to find mine. Claiming my lips with her own, we kissed until our pounding hearts calmed. I lay back and held her as she turned over and curled up against me, head on my chest, snuggling together waiting for the inevitable pounding of feet to rouse us from our nest.

“I miss kissing you when we make love”, she said into the skin where she lay against my chest. “I’m too big now to be able too, but I guess that means you don’t have to look at me like this either.” Her hand idly traced the scars on my chest as she spoke.

“Oh shut up Molls, you’re gorgeous,” She huffed and I frowned. “I mean it Molls, you are gorgeous. I can’t get enough of you.”

“Good, because there is loads of me,” she laughed at her own joke. “Oh Harry don’t mind my grumbling. It’s the hormones. I remember Mom giving dad a horrendous time with Hobbit and Hank.”

“Oh, I thought that bad mood down to me,” I laughed along with her.

“So,” she asked finally. “Edinburgh today?” I sighed. I’d been back and forth to the White Council Archives for months trying to find anything that might clue us in to what Mab had planned. Of course I wasn’t about to tell the council Molly was pregnant, so it had been a mainly solo, and highly unsuccessful mission.

“Not today no,” I told her. “I need to go and check on Demonreach. I’m going to head straight out and look around, but I’ll be back quickly I promise. I had better go now before it gets any closer to time. What about you?”

“Well Georgia is picking up Maggie after school for therapy, so I thought I would take the day and do some nesting, maybe visit Mom.” She lifted her face up to look at me, and smirked, “sleep without being interrupted by my insatiable boyfriend.”

“Hey.” I retorted, leaning in, hovering my lips above hers. “It’s not my fault you are irresistible. Especially wearing nothing but my shirt. Or wearing nothing. Especially wearing nothing…”

She shut me up by kissing me. I opened my mouth against hers, deepening the kiss. My hands rose to caress her breasts, as she slowly moved to sit astride my hips.

The clattering of Mouse jumping from Maggie’s bed, and his soft woof caused us to part. I swear the dog knew everything that was happening in the apartment. Molly dismounted, sighing, and pulled on a pair of loose shorts.

“I’ll get the coffee on, you take out the dog,” she mumbled as she threw my pants at me.

Domestic bliss, nothing like it. I should have known it was doomed.

 


 

 

The visit out to the island was uneventful, nothing was amiss and the Guardian was unbothered. Still, I thought, it had been best to check on it before Molly’s time came. I wouldn’t want to be out in the middle of Lake Michigan when she went into labour after all.

The snow had started falling again, and it was hard to see through the thick curtain of white flakes as I got back to our apartment. I barely noticed Daniel Carpenter waiting outside, pacing impatiently. I certainly didn’t see his face, and not recognising him I had ignored him until he shouted at me.

“DRESDEN!” he shouted, catching my attention, “WHERE THE DAMN HELL HAVE YOU BEEN!” I turned to face him, still unable to make him out well through the snow.

“Daniel what’s wrong?” I asked, concerned by his tone, but not too much. Molly’s brother had a short fuse, especially with me. “Is it Molly, is she in labour?” Then he got close enough that I got a good look at him, and his face made my blood run cold. He held out a manilla envelope.

“We’ve been looking for you all damn day Harry,” as he spoke I took the envelope and reached in to pull out the object inside. “Someone dropped this off at Saint Mary’s. Forthill didn’t see who.” I pulled out the contents; it was a braid of golden hair, with a rainbow dipped end. Stroking the blended, bright colours I remembered watching Molly and Maggie paint them with dye only days before.

Someone had Molly, and by sending the braid they wanted me to know that magic or not, there was nothing I could do about it.

Chapter Text

I wasn’t entirely sure how I ended up in the odd room I woke up in, but I definitely knew why. Whoever had taken me had prepared well, the room was sparsely furnished; the kind of portable toilet you found in hospitals was in one corner, along with a table and there was a proper god’s honest bed. There was even one of those long pregnancy pillows. Level to the table there was a slot in the wall, which I assumed was for food. There was no obvious door, the walls and even the ceiling were totally smooth, nothing for me to exploit as an exit. A dull, steady light illuminated the whole space, not bright enough for more than simple navigation around the furniture. Whoever or whatever was behind this had planned carefully. I knew that before long before I realized the reason they had cut off my long braid of hair. 

 

Whoever had arranged this knew what they were doing. More importantly, they knew me, knew about Harry, and they knew enough to have taken steps to stop him from finding me. My guess was my hair was a taunt sent to Harry to say we have them, and you won’t be able to find them, wizard. 

 

When I first woke, I tried to reach out of the room, open a way, everything I could think of to get out of my cage. I exhausted myself until I slept, then repeated the cycle over and over again before I realized it was futile. Some form of circle obviously protected this place at the least, and I thought I could hear running water. My power was trapped inside the room, and I was fairly certain there was no way Harry would be able to see through the defenses. This was a meticulously planned abduction.

 

The long and the short of it was I was screwed. 

 

I hadn’t even gotten out of the neighborhood that morning, the last thing I could remember was walking towards the L on my way to St. Mary’s to chat with Fr Forthill and meet Mom. I’d not even made it a block before the world went black and I ended up in this box. I waited for whatever or whoever had taken me to speak. I lost track of time, it had little meaning in this place, the light never darkened and while trays of food had been pushed through the slot in the wall, but I knew better than to assume that they followed any sort of normal schedule. No doubt they wanted to disorientate me. 

 

“Good evening Ms. Carpenter,” a voice finally spoke, its owner unseen. “I do hope you find your accommodations comfortable. Unfortunately, it will be necessary for you to stay here until after you give birth, so if there is anything you need or crave please do make us aware of it. We want you to have everything you could want while you are our guest.”

 

I wrapped my arms around my belly, afraid for the little snowflake growing inside me. The idea that people would be after our child was something that Harry and I realized early on and been thinking of protections and safeguards for after the birth. It was pure arrogance that we hadn’t even considered someone would take me to try to take it at birth. That was going to happen over my dead body, probably Harry’s too if I thought about it. He had a track record of turning genocidal when his kids were at stake. That thought made me turn cold, surely they must know that? What was making it worth the risk?

 

“You need not worry Ms. Carpenter,” the disembodied voice spoke again, attempting to be soothing, but failing, ending up just sounding like he needed cough syrup. “It is not my intention to take your son from you. I only wish to aid you in negating the influence your former queen will have on him, and by offering my own protection. I wish to be of service, to offer my protection to both of you.”

 

I couldn’t help it, I laughed at that. At the same time, my heart lurched. Was I having a boy? Thanks to my magical talent, ultrasounds didn’t want to work around me, and we had been unable to find out what our baby was. Had this guy, with his meticulous plan and obvious knowledge of how I had conceived, been able to tell. A boy would be nice, we already had Maggie after all, and I’d love to give Harry a son.

 

“Right, because a sidhe bargain is the worse option to the madman I don’t know, who kidnapped me,” I snapped. “You won’t ever lay hands on my baby, I’ll kill you first.” There was a soft chuckle before he spoke again, now sounding a little like Emperor Palpatine, come to the Dark Side Molly. Not a chance! I shouldn’t, I couldn’t trust this guy.

 

“Oh Ms. Carpenter, I only want to help you and your son. There are so many things that you both need to be protected from. You will understand in time. Even his father is a threat to your son, all I am offering is the power you will both need to protect him, to protect each other. I see many things, past and future. I can show you, then you will understand soon the dangers that are facing you and your boy, Ms. Carpenter. You will understand how much you need my help. In time you will ask for it. You are both so very vulnerable. I see who has and who will betray you.”

 

With those final words, the room was again silent. All I had to distract me from my increasingly irrational thoughts were the movements of my little snowflake. 

Chapter Text

Molly had never made it to her Mom that morning, and no one had seen or heard from her after Maggie and I left for school. Fr. Forthill had found the braid about noon, and then the search had started, for both of us. Andi and Butters had already checked the usual haunts, while Daniel staked out the apartment trying to catch either one of us. The paranet had been contacted before Daniel found me, and we were currently at St Mary’s waiting for the Alphas to get back from yet another scent search. I’d summoned Toot, who was out looking with the guard, and I’d called Fix, who had confirmed no official faerie involvement. Butters was on the phone to Thomas checking if the Lara had dug anything up. No one knew anything and it was killing me.

“Are you going to actually go and find my sister, or just sit here and let other people do it?” Daniel was growling at me from where he stood by the window, watching for the return of the Alphas. I was sat on the edge of one of the cots that were near permanently set up in Forthill’s study, trying to think if there was any source, any stone I hadn’t turned over looking for them. Daniel glaring at me wasn’t helping my mood.

“Yes Daniel,” I sighed, “Of course I’m going to find Molly when I know where to look. Right now I know no idea where that is, so I’m trying to figure out how to find that out.”

“It’s obvious isn’t it?” Daniel was close to losing it, his temper short at the best of times. “Your boss has taken her, so why don’t you just call her, or that faerie godmother of yours, and get my damn sister back.”

We were all strained, waiting for Andi to get back, hopefully with news this time. Even when the Red’s took Maggie we had somewhere to start. We had no news, and Daniel was spoiling for a fight. Honestly, so was I, just hopefully not with him. All the rage I was feeling at being unable to do anything to find Molly was itching to be let out, and Daniel insinuating I was doing nothing wasn’t helping me rein it in. I turned away, standing up to go outside, calm down and stop this from escalating further.

“Running away Dresden?” I heard Daniel mutter as I reached the door. “I thought you loved her.”

“Daniel,” Butters had finished on the phone and was now positioning himself between us. At any other time, it would have been funny, the small curly-haired M.E. standing between two tall men used to brawling, but not now. “Quit it. Go check on your folks and Maggie.”

“No,” he was staring at me now, arms crossed. “Not until Dresden answers me.”

“Hells Bells Daniel, you think I wouldn’t tear this city apart if it would help me find her? You really think I don’t love her?” I never got an answer, as it was that moment Andi and Marci got back. Marci had a much better nose than the rest of the Alphas, and luckily this time she had found something.

“Fix was on the level Harry, the faeries are clean,” she told me. “I could smell minor magic, my guess is hired muscle, specifically to take her. Not the kind of power that could keep her hidden but enough to get that part done. Whoever took her knows you both Harry, and outsourced it to cover their tracks.”

“Damnit,” I muttered under my breath, realization dawning, or maybe it was just the hope that had blinded me dying.

It wasn’t some sidhe breaking Mab’s decree to gain some kudos. It wasn’t about getting me or Molly. There was only one reason someone would have planned something this meticulous to go down at this moment. They were after the baby.


"Leanansidhe show yourself!” I pushed out my will and summoned my godmother, in no mood to be polite. As much as I hated to admit it, Daniel had been right in a way, Lea was the source I hadn’t tapped. More than that she likely knew in some way what Mab had planned for the baby. If I could get that info out of her, I might be able to find them.

“My dear godchild, you should be more polite to your elders,” she appeared in front of me, her full mouth twisted in a sly smile. “As I have missed you these past months I shall forgive you your tone. What do you require from me godchild, you have been avoiding me have you not, what has changed?” Well, that was new, straight to the point, but I wasn’t about to argue that.

“Someone has taken Molly,” I informed her, watching her expression closely for anything she might give away. “I need to know why.” My godmother shook her head, her smile turning into a smirk.

“She is no longer my Lady,” she told me, her voice teasing. “Why should I know of threats against her. No threats come from within our court, Mab demands it.” I calmed my anger. This was the game, she wasn’t saying she couldn’t help but the invocation of Mab’s name was a reminder she may not be able to directly speak of what I needed.

“But Lea, it is not just her that’s gone, is it. Lea, they have taken her while she is with child, a child you no doubt you know about. Tell me, why Mab wanted that to happen, what interest does she have?” Lea’s expression didn’t change as I spoke. “Whoever took Molly did it for a reason, so why don’t you tell me what everyone except my child’s parents seems to know Godmother.” Lea shook her head.

“I cannot child,” her voice was soft as she replied, her slit pupils intent on me. “Your mother’s promise holds me to care for you because she knew the importance of you. You are starborn, and the line of Merlin. I cannot help you with what you ask, even if it is a risk to all within the gates. Despite Winter’s pledge to protect existence at all costs, I cannot break Winter’s law and tell you the secrets of the unending war.” She bowed her head at me before disappearing.

I headed back into Chicago, to HQ, in the Munstermobile. I thought over what Lea had said. Obviously, she hadn’t been able to answer directly, which I was guessing was a decree from Mab, but what had she actually managed to say. I had been told, and the mothers and Rashid had shown me, the reality of the war for the outer gates when they had explained the outsiders and the nemesis contagion to me. There was a lot more cryptic bullshit that time too, Sidhe never did like to speak plainly. Only the Gatekeeper had been blunt and to the point with me, whereas expected Mother Summer was all riddles. Thank God he had been able to clear things up for me.

Stars and Stones, Lea you sneaky bitch.

She hadn’t been able to tell me anything, but she had pointed me, or rather my thoughts, in the right direction. I pulled over and rummaged in my pockets for the fire-rounded obsidian that worked like a magic cellphone. Concentrating, I did my Roman phone impression waiting for my former mentor to pick up. Finally, I saw Ebenezar McCoy appear in my mind's eye.

“Hoss,” he took in my strained expression. “What is it, did you find something?” Ebenezar was the only person who I had confided in about my search through the archives in Edinburgh. He had helped when he could, as a member of the Senior Council he had access to things I didn’t. He also had a vested interest in helping me out, being snowflakes’ Great Grandfather.

“I need to speak to Rashid, and it needs to be now,” He shook his head, scowling.

“Hoss it doesn’t work like that…” he started before I lost the little calm I had left and interrupted what I was sure would be another lesson in council politics.

“I don’t care,” I snapped. “It works like that now. Someone has Molly, and the only damn lead I have is to do with the outer gates. So I don’t care how it works, this is Molly and our kid. I want to see Rashid. Now.”

“Aye,” He said with a firm nod, realizing it would be useless to argue with me. “I’ll do what I can Hoss, Godspeed.”


When he broke the connection, I started up the car again, heading back to Michael’s. I really needed to hug my kid, and this time there really was nothing I could do until people started to get back to me. Michael was waiting for me on the porch.

“Any news?” He sounded hopeful, but it faded from his eyes when I shook my head.

“Where’s Maggie?” I asked. “She OK?” He sighed and motioned to me to sit in the chair next to him.

“She’s in her old room with Mouse, she didn’t want to sleep until she knew you were coming back but she finally dropped off in the den about an hour ago so we carried her upstairs.” His unspoken message was obvious, I know you need to see Maggie but don’t wake her, and don’t leave before morning. I nodded, and when Michael put his hand on my shoulder, the tears I had kept in all day welled to the surface.

“Oh god Michael, what if I can’t find them?”

Chapter Text

“Don’t worry snowflake, Daddy will come for us soon,” I murmured, stroking the taut skin where the hand, or maybe it was a foot, was pressing out. It was so hard to stay awake in the dim shadowy light of the room. My mind kept wandering, thinking about the last time I saw Harry, how he had woken me with a kiss, making love tenderly. I held onto that image, reminding myself that he loved me, that he would come for us.

“He may indeed, Ms. Carpenter,” the voice spoke, startling me. I hadn’t been expecting it, scolding myself silently. Of course, I was being listened to. “What do you imagine will happen when he does? Your son may currently be his priority, but you? Tell me, if your son is born before he finds this place, will he risk his life for both of you, or just his son?”

I didn’t respond, ignoring him. After a few moments laughter rang out, the sound reverberating around the room.

“I told you Ms Carpenter, I see everything,” he was attempting soothing again. “I saw your son’s conception. Do you know how Mr. Dresden really felt about the event? Do you know how adamant he was that he would never touch you in that way?”

I again tried to ignore the voice, concentrating on stroking the place my boy was tapping against my skin.  An image was building in my mind's eye, Thomas shutting the door on me before turning on Harry, laying him out with a right hook.

“Do you know what they spoke of?” He whispered over the image solidifying in my mind. “Would you like to see?”

 

 “How fucking dare you Harry,” Thomas was livid, shouting at Harry as he picked himself up off the floor after the punch. “Do you have a fucking clue what you’ve done to Molly?”

“What I’ve done?” Harry wiped his bloody lip, “Hells bells Thomas, she’s just a kid. How could you?”

“How could I what exactly Harry. Go on... if you want to know, ask for it.” Thomas was goading Harry, trying to make him lose his temper. I remembered Harry telling me how he thought Thomas had lost control as they fought.

“It’s Molly, she’s not some girl you pick up in Zero then bring home and fuck. She’s not food. She’s a fucking child Thomas, are you that far gone you involve kids in your twisted sex games.” Harry glared at his brother.

“She’s not a kid anymore Harry,” Thomas’ anger matched Harrys as they fought. Harry had told me about the argument, about how Thomas had knocked sense into him. It all seemed just like he had told me. “As for how could I, well it was real fucking easy baby brother. See when someone I care about comes to me crying, begging for help to take away her pain and give her back her future, I’ll do it. Whatever I need to do to make it happen, I’ll do it. Same way I’d stay with her, saving her life when she’s shot in the leg. I’m not the asshole that uses the fact she’s devoted to him to take away EVERYTHING from her then abandons her. I didn’t seduce her Harry, I am trying to help her. She’s in this mess because of you. I know you didn't intend to but this is all still on you. You manipulated her into helping your little suicide attempt because you couldn’t bear to be a monster, and now she's turning into one. What did you think would happen when you were gone? The Ragged Lady wasn’t the only fallout on her from that little stunt. When she came here her hands were raw and bleeding from trying to scrub away Ramirez’ blood. She is losing herself to Winter, turning cold. She won't be Molly much longer. You did that to her, not me.”

Thomas slumped against the wall, running fingers through his hair. They stood in silence until Harry broke the awkward silence.

“You hit like a girl” Harry muttered, grabbing two beers from the fridge and handing one to Thomas.

“Molly broke that arm earlier today, I should have used the other,” Thomas smirked as he spoke, and Harry winced.

“So what is it we have to do to save her exactly,” Harry asked, “and why do you need me?”

“I need you because I might kill her if it’s me,” Thomas took a big gulp of his beer. “Look I know you see her as a kid but I need you to do this. She’s a virgin Harry, I’ve never been with a virgin and NOT killed her.”

“Hang on, you want me to have sex with Molly?” Harry sounded incredulous, shaking his head as he spoke. “Hells bells Thomas, no. Just no. She’s like my little sister or something.”

“You think I don’t know that, but it has to be you, Harry. I can’t risk losing control of the hunger” Thomas punched Harry lightly on the arm. “It’ll be fine brother, I’ll help. Just close your eyes and think of playboy bunnies.”

 

“Mr Dresden loves you Ms. Carpenter, that much is true,” the voice sounded sad, and I couldn’t help thinking how that was just how both Harry and Thomas had told me it had happened. Did the voice really see and know these things? “But it is the love of an uncle toward a niece, or between good friends, rather than that of a lover. Should he come for you here I would not stand in his way, but I am not the only one with an interest in your son. Would Mr Dresden risk not being there for his child in order to save you? I told you I wish to protect you, I have your best interests at heart.”

Tears rolled silently down my face as I wrapped my arms tightly around my belly, around my son.

Chapter Text

I woke up and couldn’t feel my legs thanks to the walking carpet that had decided that me sleeping on the mattress under Maggie’s bunkbed meant he got to sleep on my feet. One of these says Mouse is going to realise he isn’t a tiny puppy anymore. Probably when my feet fall off.

As I slowly came to, I realised Maggie was cuddled into my side. The night before slowly came back to me, Maggie screaming herself awake from a nightmare, insisting mouse and I sleep next to her. Looking down at Mouse I noticed he was awake, his head tilted in a silent question.

“No Buddy,” I whispered to him, “I’m not going to disturb her if I can help it. Do you think we can get her downstairs without waking her? I need to get working on finding Molls.”

Mouse chuffed and moved to Maggie’s side, nuzzling against her until she rolled over and cuddled him, releasing me so I could get up. Waiting until she settled again, I headed out to the bathroom, showered and dressed, before gently picking her up and carrying her downstairs.

When Michael spotted us, he motioned toward the den, so I placed Maggie on the sofa there, Mouse joining her like a giant soft toy. Charity came in with a blanket and tucked it around the pair, while Michael handed me a coffee before sitting in one of the armchairs with his own mug.

“Did you manage to sleep Harry?” He asked softly. I looked over at him, ready to let loose with some snark, but his expression stopped me. Genuine concern was there, and I remembered he must be as worried about me and Maggie as he was Molly. Family stays, Charity had told me, and she was right. Family also worries.

“A bit,” I admitted, “ It’ll be enough. Any news, any messages?”

“No,” he shook his head sadly. “Nothing from the Paranet. Is there anyone you haven’t tapped for info? Anyone from when… “ He trailed off, but looked over at Maggie. He meant anyone from when the Red Court had taken Maggie, from the last time someone had tried to get to me through my family. Then I had called in every favour, but that was partially responsible for the mess we were in now.

“What about the Archive?” I’d forgotten Charity was even in the room before she spoke. I shook my head.

“I’ll put the call in, but its unlikely,” I spotted someone’s discarded homework and stole a sheet of paper to hastily write a message to Ivy. “Even if she didn’t have to stay neutral, I mean whoever the big bad is, he’s pretty organised in hiding trails, the muscle might be a way to track him thou, they wouldn’t know to hide, even if they were told to I doubt they’d be too worried.”

Just as I finished writing “I don’t expect help but call me if you have any ideas please Ivy” I realised there was another option open to me. If it was hired muscle that took Molly, then it was time to find out what I could about who took out the contract. At worst it would occupy me while I waited to hear from Rashid. While Ivy might know who hired them, I knew from experience she would just point me elsewhere for the answer.

I headed to the kitchen and picked up the phone. I called the last man I wanted to see.

 


Marcone refused to talk on the phone, as expected, so an hour later I found myself in his office at Executive Priority Health. Usually I wouldn’t have been up for meeting on his turf, especially after Justine had told me about his wizard killing room. The Executive Priority was a bit more neutral ground than any of Marcone’s other businesses. For a start, it was one I was able to walk in and out of whenever I liked thanks to my platinum membership. I also had dirt on the manager, Ms. Demeter, AKA Helen Beckitt, that she wanted to keep from Marcone, and vice versa. Add in that they were sleeping together and the weird tangled web we three found ourselves in would have been funny if the truth of the circumstances weren’t so fucking tragic.

When I got to his office, Marcone was sat behind the large desk as Helen gestured for me to take the seat opposite him. She took a seat in the corner, and I noticed Hendricks was there, eyeing me, and I nodded to him before I turned my attention to Marcone and spoke.

“Some human hired muscle with magical knowledge has kidnapped Molly Carpenter, John,” I met his eyes, a soulgaze not being an issue. “We both know nothing like that is allowed to happen in this city with out you knowning, so I want to know everything you know. Otherwise I’m going to get tetchy.”

“Dresden your lost girlfriend is not my concern,” his voice was smooth, his dollar-bill coloured eyes giving away nothing, except that he confirmed he knew about my relationship with Molly.

“Someone kidnapped a pregnant woman in your city,” I pointed out, smirking at him. “Seriously John, that’s a real liberty someone has taken. I thought Chicago had a no kids rule.”

“Ms Carpenter is not a child Mr Dresden,” he replied frankly, a smile formed on the edge of his lips, “and I would hope you knew that, given your involvement in her current condition.” From his chair in the corner, Cujo snorted.

“If this was about taking Molly, why wait until shes 9 months pregnant. I thought you’d be smart enough to figure that out without me spelling it out,” My voice was shaking, I was getting tired of this game. Marcone narrowed his eyes at me and nodded, dropping the smile.

“Oh I did, I just wondered if you had yet,” he gestured toward the door, and picked up the telephone on his desk. “I will make enquiries. Ms. Gard will liaise and leave word at the Carpenter residence when we have any information. I assume they will know where to find you. Is that acceptable?” Standing up, I nodded and walked to the door. Before I opened it I turned back to face him.

“Hey John,” He looked up as I spoke, “Thank you.” He looked me up and down, realising I was being sincere. He might be a tiger, but he understood this. The same way I understood the root of his shame.

“Good luck Dresden,” He replied as I walked out of the door and headed for Mac’s.

Chapter Text

It was much later when the voice spoke again. 

“I am concerned about you Ms Carpenter, you have been in bed all day. you need to eat. I am sorry if I have upset you, I only wish to show you the truth.” I laughed.

“It’s not the truth, you see what is said, but you do not know the emotions, the feelings behind the actions,” I snapped, sitting up from where I lay. “Harry would never hurt me.”

“How can you be so sure? He has caused hurt to other women he has loved. Elaine, Karrin, Susan.” The voice emphasised the last name, and I shuddered, recalling her fate. “Can you be so sure you will not become another victim of the love of Mr Dresden?”

“I will not be a victim, Susan was not a victim!” I spat into the shadows. The voice might believe that what it said was true, I was picking that up, but it didn’t mean it was actually true.  Again, images swirled into focus.

I  waited for a few moments after the door closed, making sure neither Susan nor Martin could overhear.

“Well. That was stupid of you both.” Harry frowned, but I kept going. “Call it like I see it, you know she has trouble controlling her emotions, her instincts. She shouldn’t have been all over you. And you shouldn’t have kissed her back. Someone could have gotten hurt.”

I’d pissed him off, his expression darkened as he rubbed at his lips, but that didn’t stop me. Maybe he thought it was jealousy talking, but it was more than that.

 “I get it, I do. Look. You care about her, okay. Maybe even loved her. Maybe she loved you. But it can’t be like that anymore. As messed up as that is, it’s still the reality you have to live with. You can’t ignore it. You get close to her, and there’s no way for it to come out good, boss.”

I spoke half from wanting to protect him, half from the fact I loved him. As much as I was jealous that even now, he wouldn’t push her away, that wasn’t why I needed to speak out. I tried to hold it together, but as he stared at me I was suddenly afraid. His anger was coming off him in waves, and he warned me off. It scared me, but I stood my ground. He needed to understand that I was as scared of what would happen if she lost control. Not for her, and not because if he died the suspended death sentence I was under would be, well unsuspended. Because he would die, either as her victim or from the guilt of it all. I knew it had already come close once, after she was first turned. I’d always known, little eavesdropper that I was. I could still hear Mom in my head, exasperated and sleep deprived as she nursed my baby brother, scolding Dad.

“Well of course you think that Michael, but the truth is she wouldn’t have been at the party if it wasn’t for Harry Dresden. I’m just thankful that you managed to get out without becoming one of those monsters yourself,” It was late so she whispered, thinking all us kids were asleep. The rest of them were but I was sneaking. Eavesdropping was a skill I cultivated way before magic.

“It wasn’t like that Charity,” Dad spoke in his normal level, calm tone. “She snuck in, Harry did what he could.” I heard Mom huff loudly before she replied. 

“She still wouldn’t have become one of their victims if it wasn’t because of him,” she was grumpy, and mumbled the last comment. “I can’t believe you convinced me to name the baby after him.” 

“He saved your life my love…”

“You’ve always known what happens to the women who love him Ms Carpenter,” again the voice was grave, sad but soothing. You have already been his victim, have you not?”

I sat beside him, wiping what soot I could from his face. He was crying, his spirit broken along with his spine. 

When he told me his plan, I broke too.

I broke again when he apologised to me, for not staying, for not loving me. When he kissed my fingers I wished it was my lips, but even as he asked me to help murder him, he wouldn’t cross that line. He couldn’t give me that. 

Later, as we fought back to back, lights dancing around us, I felt the bullet enter my thigh. Harry’s strong sturdy frame against mine steadied me, even as I felt the damp, sticky pool of blood spreading across my leg. I said nothing, fighting onwards. We would save Maggie, I knew this, and then I wouldn’t have to see a world without Harry in it. His was the last face I saw before my eyes rolled back in my head and it all went dark, and I was glad.

 

Chapter Text

 

MacAnally’s was empty when I got there, but given it was barely lunchtime on a Thursday, and still snowing outside, it wasn’t too surprising. Mac was wiping down the bar as I walked in; a task forgotten when he noticed me. He reached under the bar and took out a dark bottle I had only seen once before. He might not say much, but the man could read a mood.

“You heard?” I asked, and he nodded, reaching into his apron for a bunch of notes, which he handed over before grabbing a glass from by the sink. Some were from yesterday, everyone looking for me, a couple from Thomas and Michael that morning and one from Carlos. Call McCoy was all it said, and I wondered how much the old guy had told him. I mean, I hadn’t exactly been open with Carlos about everything, it was a rather awkward conversation that hadn’t happened yet. I might have been avoiding it, just a bit. We talked, but now I knew what had gone on between him and Molly I tried to stay away from my personal life. If I found it weird that he'd nearly screwed my girlfriend I didn't want to think how weird it was going to be for him.

Mac grunted, pulling me back to the moment, and I realised he was gesturing at the bottle. I nodded and sat at the bar and he poured me a shot of the familiar amber liquid, before taking a seat at the bar himself. For Mac, this was like giving me a bear hug. It felt good, I hadn't realised how much I needed it. 

“Molly?” He asked as I drank down the burning liquid. I shook my head. 

“No, still not a clue who or why,” I replied quietly. He motioned again to the bottle, but I shook my head. “Just a beer please Mac, and can I use the phone?” He grunted and headed back around the bar. Handing over the old rotary phone, putting it where I could reach, he turned to put away the dark bottle and fetch me one of his microbrews. 

“Have you heard anything?” I asked as he went for the phone, “I know you keep neutral, but please…,” Mac put the beer in front of me and shook his head sadly, cutting me off.

 “She’s good people,” he said, his implication clear. He’d tell me if he knew anything. He nudged the phone and went back to his polishing, moving out to the tables to give me some space.

Ebenezar picked up almost immediately. 

“Hoss, where are you?” He asked. “I’ve been trying to get hold of you, where’s your stone boy?”  

“Sorry, left it at Michaels this morning by mistake,” I mumbled. “I’m at Mac’s I got a message from Ramirez to call you.” There’s something about being chastised by Ebenezar that always turns me into a teenager again. I really don’t like it, messes with my smart ass mouth, and that's my superpower. I don't like being without it. "Did you talk to the Gatekeeper?"

“Aye Hoss, stay there. He is here with me now, just leaving, he will be with you soon,” he told me, and then I heard him take a breath. “How are you and little Maggie? Any news?” His authoritarian tone was gone, replaced with concern.   

“Not yet, still working on it,” I didn’t like thinking about what might be happening to Molly right now, I ignored his other question. “Did you find out anything? Did Rashid mention anything to you.”

 “Aye, he did,” he confirmed. “The details I’ll leave to him, he’ll be there soon enough. Sounds personal, there’s no gain in it otherwise. Whoever it is Hoss, I'd say he wants to you to hurt first and foremost. Maybe he also wants to watch the world burn, but Hoss, who hates you that much.” I blinked, ok so that was new.

 “Are you seriously quoting the dark knight at me right now?” I asked, trying to suppress a laugh. If Ebenezar was using pop culture references maybe the world really was going to burn. 

“Boy I’m serious,” he growled a little, his voice hard, and I focused again. “People like the Red court, it was personal but they wanted to see the other side of the battle. They wanted to win, and end up with control and power. Whoever is messing with you now, I’m not entirely sure they do.”

“Sir, what exactly do you mean?” Something wasn’t right. Ebenezar sounded almost scared, what exactly had Rashid told him?

“Not on the phone Hoss, the Gatekeeper will explain,” and with that, he was gone. Putting the phone back in its cradle I shook my head, taking a big gulp of my beer. Whatever was going on was bigger than just me and Molly making a kid, way bigger than I could imagine, and I wondered exactly how screwed we were. That could wait, the priority was getting them home.

Silent and alone in the bar, I nursed my beer for a while, while Mac worked around me until I heard the door open again. Looking up I saw a tall man in a grey hood looking around the room. Mac nodded at him, and Rashid turned the lock on the door behind him, before coming to sit beside me.  

“Harry,” he greeted me warmly, lowering his hood. His missing eye glinted like cold metal, but I knew from experience it wasn’t. He looked very much like he had the last time I saw him, although his weathered skin now looked pale and more drawn against his long angular face. He was worried, looking older than I recalled ever seeing him.

“What is it, what wouldn’t McCoy tell me on the phone,” I asked, impatient and I'll admit just a bit scared. “What do you know?"

“Nothing outside of the parameters of my work. I’m sorry I do not know who has them,” he looked genuinely upset as he spoke, patting my shoulder softly before he continued. “I only know who does not, who would not risk your child. The war is getting harder Harry. Since Nemesis, more make plays for the gate. In my long life, in my time as Gatekeeper, I have not seen the like. We keep them out, the Winter Queen and I, but we need more strength. Merlin’s strength is rare in wizards these days.”

 “Wait,” I stuttered, “the Merlin has something to do with this?” Rashid sighed.

“Harry you make the same mistake again,” he sounded almost amused. “The Merlin is not who I speak of, but Merlin, your ancestor, who’s strength carries on in your line.” 

“What now?” I tried to take another glug of beer but it was empty, so I shook my head trying to comprehend what Rashid was saying as he continued speaking, but I was getting more confused by the minute. 

“Wizard McCoy has the journals of those before him not only because he inherited them from his mentor, Harry.” Rashid was calm as he continued to explain, “Just like he taught his own child magic, so did his forebears. The journals should have gone to Margaret Le Fay before they went to you, from you they will go to your children. This is why you were wooed for the knighthood. The fight for the outer gates is an important one to many factions. While Winter provides the army, all provide aid and support, none would risk a breach of the gates, not now. A strong knight helps that cause.”

“No one wants the world to burn,” I murmured, and he nodded.

“Indeed,” he confirmed. “Without the world, there are no kine for the vampire courts, nothing for those with power to fight over or reach for. Even Queen Winter, as much as it annoys her that I am not subservient to her, would never endanger me. A wizards’ lifespan is long, and the job of Gatekeeper is not one passed on lightly, or often. Just like with the post of Blackstaff, the senior council has no say as to who wields it. The position of Gatekeeper needs strength to fight as well as subtlety. For all the strength in battle the Blackstaff has, for example, he would not be a suitable candidate. As well as the ability to fight, a delicate touch is needed.” Recognition and understanding sparked in my head.

“Oh hells bells.” I stared into his good eye, “Are you seriously saying what I think you’re saying?” He smiled and placed a gloved hand on my shoulder.

“Your child has an extremely interesting pedigree,” he looked back at me, both eyes examining me for a reaction. “He is of Merlin’s line, the child of the starborn, of the warden of the well. He was conceived during an act of pure love. Molly is the descendant of the king known to legend as Merlin’s protégé, her father the fist of god, the wielder of amoracchius, the sword of love. Did you never think of the coincidence that leads you, with all your connection to the Merlin, to Michael and to Molly, scions of Charlemagne? Plus, I like you both Harry. It will be an honour to have your son replace me as Gatekeeper.”

“Mab knows this I assume?” I asked through gritted teeth. I was getting the distinct impression I had been played, and I liked it less than Ebenezar making me feel like a teenager. We had been played that was for sure, from the moment I was warned about a warlock in Chicago. 

“Of course, it is why you and Molly have been, shall we say, manipulated as you have been. As leader of the armies that currently protect the gates, Mab decided to aid in the, shall we say, recruitment of my successor.” He smirked at me as he continued. “Fated is a word overused by the romantics of the world, but in this case, it is oddly apt, even if you were helped along. 

“As to the current situation, I know no more that may help as much as I wish I did. When you find them Harry, I will come to your aid, but I can do no more than that. As I told you before, the council knows as much as it needs to about the task, no more. Some things are best not spoken about openly, and better kept to grey places, and family.”

His eye, again appearing like steel, bored into me. So, it seemed that while Mab and others might know about the kid, the council was in the dark, and should be kept that way. I had no objection, it's not like I trusted them BEFORE I realised there was a Black Council, or intended to tell them anyway.

“So, how did you put it my every action has resulted in a series of well-placed thumbs in the adversary’s eye?” he chuckled, recalling our much earlier conversation as I continued. “So whoever has Molly, you’re saying I know them, I’ve dealt with them before? Could it be our dark friends?” 

“Indeed, they are a possibility, as are others with whom they may or may not be affiliated,” he nodded, “But Harry, think hard, who have you really pissed off that wouldn’t mind the world ending?”

 


 

When I got back to the Carpenters I was still dazed from my conversation with Rashid. It was early afternoon and for once the house seemed quiet. Charity was out, I assumed on errands or ferrying the kids around. I found Michael at the kitchen table, nursing an impressively large mug of coffee

“Sigrun called,” Michael said as I joined him at the table, “Marcone pulled up nothing, but she said they are still looking. She also reminded me if you want to talk to her boss sooner rather than later is good. She said He gets busy, but it sounded like she was joking. Is it worth asking him.” 

“Yeah, but probably not until we know who or where we are looking.” Michael sighed, but nodded his understanding as I continued. “First things first, I spoke to Rashid. I've called Thomas, he'll be over in a bit and then we all need to talk." I rubbed my palms against my forehead, running over everything in my head. Outsiders, why was it always outsiders. 

"Harry, you look exhausted," Michael said quietly. "Go, catch some sleep. I'll wake you when he gets here." I looked at him, his expression was full of pain and concern. I mumbled agreement and got up from the table and headed toward Maggie's room. 

What worried Michael at that moment wasn't Molly, it was his friend who was slowly unraveling in front of him. Life was confusing at times, I had spent years thinking that if I left myself acknowledge that I was interested in Molly, admit that I wanted her, that I would lose Michael's friendship. It was such an important thing for me, and yes it had been a rocky at the start. Just like with the coin, we weathered that storm just as we had this one. Perhaps there was something in his constant assertion that God had a plan, that the almighty was somehow guiding everything.

What was it Rashid had called it? Fated.

If he did, if this all was, I hoped this time that everything was going to come up Dresden. 

Chapter Text

I had cried myself to sleep remembering Chichen Itza and the look on Thomas’ face when I woke up on that navy ship, when he told me Harry was missing, most likely dead. Even now I couldn’t decide what was worse, hearing his stupid plan had worked or the look on Thomas’ face when he told me, holding off his own grief so he could “do the Harry thing” and look after me. Memories continued into dreams, memories of clinging to Mouse, telling him everything as I used him as a giant Kleenex, of hearing what happened when they reached the Altar.

In my dreams, I made it there, just behind Harry. I was in the corner, veiled and trying to get to Maggie while Susan killed Martin, while Harry carried her, almost dragged her from the body and pushed Maggie from the altar. I watched when he silently placed her down on the stone, and as he callously drew the blade across her throat, I turned my face from the spurting blood. I looked down at the base of the altar, at Maggie. It wasn’t Maggie sitting there now, it was a small sandy-haired boy, long-limbed and gangly. His eyes were screwed shut and he whimpered the same two words over and over, and blood dripped down from the altar over matted blonde hair to pool by his feet.

“No Daddy”

I startled awake and was surprised I was not alone. A doorway stood open in the seamless wall and I could see a shadow there. “Harry?” I whispered softly.

“I’m afraid not my dear,” the voice was the same that had spoken before. “He has not come. I was just attending to your needs while you slept. I am sorry to have woken you.” I tried to sit up in the bed, to go to the doorway, but my belly slowed me and too soon the doorway was gone.

“Please let me go home,” I begged the void, “please I can’t have my baby here!”

“Your son will be fine Miss Carpenter,” he replied, “We are prepared for any and all eventualities. I am being honest with you when I say I wish no harm to either of you. You are safe here, you would not be outside.”

“That’s insane,” I cried. “Why would I be in danger? Even if I do believe your bullshit it doesn’t mean I’m in danger, just that maybe my baby daddy doesn’t love me. So what, let me go!” He had to be messing with me, trying to Stockholm syndrome me. It wasn’t going to work. I wasn’t going to let it.

“Love is a wonderful thing,” the voice sighed, “it protects us from so much. It would be a protection for you, it makes following the mission harder if it requires you to sacrifice love. But then, if love is the mission you should never have to.”

“You’re making no sense you psychotic asshole,” I spat back, not wanting to think about his implication, even though a small voice was telling me to listen. 

“Shall I start over then?” He sighed and paused before he did. “You doubt that I tell the truth. How did you say it, I do not see the feeling behind actions? This is true, you are the mind reader not me. I only see. What I see in your future scares me Miss Carpenter. I am trying to get you to understand that I have seen these true things, and how they have come to pass. Perhaps I am mistaken in the motivation behind them, but whatever that may be, it is important that you be protected. I will let you go when I am satisfied that you will be.

“Those you love will not protect the child of Winter; once he comes into his power they will fear him. Like all he can chose his own destiny, but his father will fear the worst. It is his way is it not? What if your son displeases his Queen, if he stands against her. Do you doubt that she would order his death? Do you doubt that Harry would not carry out such an order, from Mab, or the Council or any others to whom he holds allegiance? Do you doubt that anyone in the way of the mission, be that mission war against the red court, or the black council, or the Sidhe, would be sacrificed so that it succeeds? He wished to marry Susan, and yet she was sacrificed for the mission. He could have taken another of the Red Court to the altar and delivered a deadly blow, but by sacrificing her he could end the war. Look at the consequences of that act, not only did he murder a woman he loved, but the havoc that was wrought in the aftermath hurt so many people. This is why I wish to help you, why I wish to protect you and your son.”

I listened as he spoke, and I hated that I could feel the truth in his words. I hated that I was helpless and alone in a damn box, that who knows how long had past and there was still no Harry. I hated that I was scared for the little life that was currently tormenting my bladder, and that increasingly it was not of what the man holding me in this place might do to him.

Chapter Text

Susan lay on the altar, looking up at me with her lovely dark eyes. Despite the craziness around us, I could hear no sound except our breathing. Without saying a word, I drew the blade across her throat. As I did, her dark hair faded to blonde, and her dark eyes were now clear sapphire blue.

I looked on in horror as blood spurted from Molly’s throat, as I watched the light die behind her clear blue eyes. Dark and dim, I could still see the absolute trust for me reflected in them. I felt the power of the ritual rushing outward, knocking me backwards. I saw her blood puddle on the floor by a small boy, his lips moving in a murmured prayer as he tried to block out the horror all around him…

No Daddy..

Daddy

“Daddy!” Maggie launched herself at me, wrapping her arms around me. Groggily I came to and noticed the sky outside was now dark, it was obviously much later in the day than when I arrived.  

“Ooof!” I cried exaggeratedly as her small body clung tight to me. “That’s some bear hug Maggie, you been working out?” She giggled, releasing me so I could sit up. Mouse was in the doorway behind her, and I could swear he was giving me the once over, checking for injury.

“You missed dinner but Mr Carpenter said I should let you sleep,” Maggie informed me. “Uncle Thomas is here thou so its time for you to wake up.” Her dark eyes were watching me intently, worried and questioning. Hells bells she looked like her mother when she gave me that look.

“Thanks punkin, I think he was right I needed the sleep,” I told her, her expression staying the same. “Have you done your homework?”

“Dad!” she grumbled. I was happy to say the look she got from her mother was replaced with the scathing look she got from me. “I don’t have school tomorrow. It’s Christmas break.” I got up from the bed and grabbed my boots, pulling them on before I followed her out of the door.

“That’s not an answer,” I told my daughter as we headed down the stairs.

“I did some of it,” she mumbled, “but then Hobbit.. “

“Distracted you?” I teased her, ruffling her hair. “It’s ok Maggie, but tomorrow ok? Get Bonnie to help you rather than Hobbit.” She looked up at me, finally smiling, just a little.

“Ok Dad,” she said, and she lead me into the kitchen. My brother sat at the Carpenters’ kitchen table, a mug of coffee in front of him, making small talk with Michael and Charity who were there too. When they noticed us, they stopped talking and watched as I slipped into an empty chair.

“You took your time,” as I addressed Thomas, Charity stood and grabbed me a coke and a plate of leftovers from the oven. When she placed them infront of me I noticed for the first time how tired she looked. I grasped her hand quickly, and she squeezed mine back. Despite the years of arguments between us, right now we were both worried about Molly and that came first.  

“The lead I was following up took some time,” Thomas explained, sighing as he continued. “Not that it was much use.” No one commented, remaining quiet as I fell on the plate of food in front of me. While I ate,. Charity grabbed snacks from the cupboard and headed to “keep the kids occupied”, taking Maggie with her and closing the door behind them.

“So what did Rashid say?” Michael finally asked, breaking the silence. “I assume he had some idea, or knew something.”

“He did,” I confirmed, “although its not so much helpful as, well, incendiary.” So I told them, laid it all out. I had already known about Michaels connection, having made Molly investigate her family tree for me early in her apprenticeship. I’d never gotten around to telling Michael, but it seemed Molly had, as he didn’t really react to the news. Thomas however, was a different story

“So let me get this straight,” he said, “ Mom was decended from the original damn Merlin. Not only that but Michael is not only descended from Arthur but actually wielded Excalibiur. Making your kid some kind of superhero?”

“Not exactly but yeah, close enough,” I thought about correcting Thomas on the superhero thing but honestly, he wasn’t far off when it came to it. “Also, it’s a boy apparently.” As I said those words, my mind flicked back to the dream Maggie had woken me. I remembered the small boy by the pool of blood, and I shuddered. Was that my son, was the dream trying to warn me that I was going to be the death of Molly, just as I had been Susan’s? Thomas coughed, breaking my trance, bringing me back to the room.

“So what Rashid is saying is its gotta be outsiders?” Michael spoke, and I nodded in agreement. Michael looked grave. He was out of the fight now, but this was still his daughter and grandson. Knowing what we faced, and that he couldn’t help must have been killing him inside. I remembered how he had lost control when facing the man who took Alicia, I could only imagine what he was feeling now.

“Are you sure it couldn’t be anyone else?” Thomas asked, sounding hopeful, wishful. Hells bells I think we were all wishing it was anyone but outsiders. Rashid had been clear, the only faction that had anything to gain from taking Molly and the kid were the outsiders. The kid’s power over the gate made him a target, hell it was the only thing that made him a target. He wasn’t born yet he didn’t have his own enemies.

“He said they’re the only ones who would mess with the kid,” I confirmed, and Michael sighed. “I mean who else would be insane enough to mess with the outer gates?” Thomas snorted.

“Or risk the fate of the Red Court for fucking with your kid?” my brother quipped, earning him a look from Michael for cursing. I ignored the interruption and carried on.

“We never did find out how far the infection of the adversary went. I’m figuring black council have their fingers in this pie, but who exactly I have no clue. Could be Cristos, Kumori is missing in action and whoever else we don’t suspect yet,” eyeing my brother I continued. “We know Summer and Winter aren’t involved in this, but what about the vampire courts?”

“Well black court is anyone’s guess,” he admitted with a shrug, “but white court? No chance.” His blanket refusal to even entertain the idea of the White Court being involved wasn’t really a surprise. Thomas could be dumb when it came to family. As he thought her in the same way most thought about the Third Reich, Lara was still family, and had protected Justine for him.

“Are you really so sure?” I asked, “I know you trust Lara but..”

“That they wouldn’t plan it, no,” he cut me off. “But to get anywhere near this organised without Lara picking up on something would be hard. After last time, the coup, she has everyone on watch. Scarily so. Aside from this, I know she would rather become a Nun than allow anyone to even smell like they are working with outsiders. She knows that some things need to be kept out and forgotten.” He smiled to himself as he finished, looking right at me for reaction.

“Ok what about a cats paw?” I asked. “Someone who doesn’t know why they don’t want to mess with this while the puppet master is far enough away.” Thomas shook his head and took a sip of his coffee.

“Harry,” he spoke slowly and confidently. “Any family not under intense scrutiny turns up in town I’d know it. It’s not white court. No one in my family is messing with that kid.”

“What aren’t you telling me Thomas?” He wasn’t meeting my eyes anymore so I knew he was hiding something. His eyes flicked toward Michael, confirming there was something and that obviously neither I or Michael wasn’t going to like.

Unluckily for my brother, the Carpenter’s doorbell rang at that moment and, as he was already on his feet getting more coffee, Michael headed out of the kitchen to get the door.

“What is it Thomas?” I asked as soon as the door closed on Michael’s back.

“So, the family might have gotten the idea the kid is mine,” he admitted smirking at me.

“How?” I groaned.

“Oh well you know, Molly spent a lot of time with Justine and me figuring the thing out, then the repairs to the apartment and well, to me after she broke my arm,” the smirk was becoming a shit eating grin as he continued.” Then you avoided her for weeks after where as I was around. It’s not a stretch, I mean it wasn’t like I wasn’t in the room at the time.”

I knew why he’d done it. Same reason he’d let Lara believe the bloodline curse might affect the Raith’s, extra protection. Didn’t mean I didn’t get to give him shit about it, especially as Michael had left the room.

“So what else does Lara think?” I asked, my voice hard. “I mean am I aware of the truth or am I completely in the dark. Does she think we’re a family that shares?”

“Harry…” he looked awkward, which was what I was going for. “Come on. It’s.. it’ll be protection..” 

The kitchen door chose that moment to open again so Thomas shut up. I smirked at him and he relaxed for a second, realising I was joking, before he noticed who was behind Michael.

“Empty Night,” he sighed. “So I’m guessing its not the Black Court either?”

I turned to look where Thomas did, and almost immediately turned back and dropped my head to the table, bashing it a couple of times as I muttered a fountain of profanities. I was a bloody idiot. It was so damn obvious now. How had I not seen it. Personal, my grandfather had said. Well, I guess this was as personal a motive as it got.

“Hello again Thomas, ready to concede defeat and admit I’m Legolas, or is it straight down to business?” 

Chapter Text

My back ached, and I was exhausted. Curled around the long pillow I tried to block it out, tried to stop that it was all making sense.  I didn’t want the see the the sandy haired boy tormented by Lea’s lessons, fighting Harry or with his head covered by black cloth. I felt sick, all I could see when I closed my eyes was horrible images of my son in pain. I didn’t need to see more of the future, it was already burnt onto the back of my eyelids.

It didn’t stop, for hours he continued to tell me what he saw in my future, and send more horrific images. In the end I couldn’t take any more and I screamed into the shadows, begging it to stop, and then collapsed sobbing into the pillow.

I’m not sure how long I lay there crying, but suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. Startled, I stiffened, but found I was too scared to turn around. The hand moved down my spine, stroking the ache in my lower back. It was nice, comforting and my sobbing calmed to crying.

“Miss Carpenter,” he started, then paused. “Molly, I am sorry. I went too far in trying to convince you and I am sorry it upset you so. I shouldn’t have been so intense, not with your current condition. I am just scared without showing you I cannot convince you.”

“Why is it so important to you?” I asked him. The apology confused me, it all confused me. He really was being sincere, but I had no idea why.

“Too many innocents have been caught in this crossfire already,” he lamented. “Those with the greatest power manipulate us all and don’t care about us or our pain. My goal is to give us back our choices. You didn’t choose to become the winter lady, just as you didn’t choose any of the things that resulted from it. I want to give you back your free will. I do not want you to feel the pain I have, of losing your child because of their power games.

“You remind me of my beloved daughter so much, your spark is the same. I lost her, both of us having been manipulated by the plots and games of others. In my grief I did things I’m not proud of, and I want to atone. I do not want you to suffer the same fate.”

I listened to him, and the raw emotion, raw pain behind his words was obvious. By now, my crying had stopped. I felt a hand wipe the last tears from my cheek, before soft lips kissed my head, and his hand stroked my hair. It felt so alien, to be comforted and feel compassion that I started to cry again. The hand stroking my hair felt nice, unexpected. In the same way I found myself believing him. He sat next to me, consoling me until I felt myself start to fall asleep again.

“I will leave you now Molly,” he said, slowly withdrawing his touch as I drifted off. “Rest, I will wait now until you are ready to talk to me. I’m sorry I upset you.”

As the empty room faded from my consciousness, I found myself waking up on the couch in my apartment. Boxes were everywhere, it looked like it did when I first let Harry move in.

I wandered the rooms, remembering picking out the furniture, setting up the place for Harry to come back. He’d originally been so freaked out that he had a room it was almost funny. It would have been, if it hadn’t hurt so much how totally anti the idea of us shacking up he was. My eyes flickered over the boxes of worn paperbacks Harry had picked up over the last year on Demonreach and noticed no bodice rippers. I’d spent ages trying to work out that shelf in the lab as his apprentice, reading the steamy books and imagining how he felt, hell what he didwhile he read them.

The front door thudding open shocked me out of my thoughts, and I watched as Harry fell through the doorway, Murphy in his arms, lips locked together. I stepped behind a tower of boxes and watched as Harry kicked the door shut and headed toward his room.

“I’m liking this side of you Dresden,” Karin mumbled between the increasingly passionate kisses they shared. I didn’t want to look but I found I couldn’t look away, determinded to see how he touched her, how it differed from how he was with me.

 His hands were all over her, crushing her into his chest, under her shirt, tearing at her clothes. It was animalistic, fuelled by lust and need. He growled as he dropped, almost threw, her onto his bed, before they pulled off their clothes and he buried his head between her legs. She moaned, gasping as she shivered while Harry tasted her. I wanted to look away but I couldn’t, I was welded in place.

“What about Molly?” she whispered as he pinned her hands above them, his mouth on her breasts. He kissed his way up her body until he looked her in the eye.

“She’s not here Karin, and I don’t want to think about her right now,” he growled, slipping his hand between then, positioning himself. “I might be her Knight but I told you, I don’t want Molly. I want to fuck you, only you.”

I couldn’t help but sob as I watched him thrust into her.

Chapter Text

The arrival of Sanya resulted in a many calls and much self-flagellation over my complete failure to even thinkthat Nicodemus could be behind this. While Thomas got Sanya up to speed, Michael went to phone Gard and Butters to inform them of the recent development.

Fuck Marcone, that son of a bitch, and fuck Mab for forcing me into their little revenge scheme. I’d already killed two faerie queens, if anything happened to Molly I’d be going for the trifecta.

I went over everything in my head. How could I have not seen it, it all came down to revenge. The heist had been revenge on Nicodemus, and this was his revenge for screwing him over with that one. It was the ultimate revenge plan, retribution squared. In one move he took from both me and Michael exactly what we took from him. Nicodemus would get his revenge and take a child from us both. Take the kid Mab had spent so much effort to manipulate into being. Break Marcone’s number one rule, in a way that would ensure I made him pay. It was almost fucking biblical, but there was no grand scheme, no conspiracy with outsiders. It was a simple case of you took from me, so I take from you.

“Harry, is there anyone else we can contact, now we know?” Thomas asked finally. “Going up against Nic is usually not my show, do you have any sources you can hit up?” I shook my head. Sanya took out his flask and slipped it to me. The vodka burned my throat, but it was a good shout. My brain was still screaming obscenities to itself at regular intervals. 

“No, in this case its usually a they-find-us deal,” Michael returned from his office as I took a second gulp before handing Sanya back his flask. “Is Butters on his way?” Michael nodded.  

“Yes, so is Andi. She volunteered to stay here on watch. Ms Gard will pass on the request to her boss, but she say his help may be unnecessary.” Michael rested his hand on my shoulder as he continued. “Apparently since the kidnapping, Marcone has kept a discrete eye on certain accounts and holdings. Increasingly so since the vault. She said she’ll have some names and addresses with us by morning.  Looks like we have a houseful overnight, I’ll help Charity set everyone up.” A quick pat on my shoulder and he was gone, leaving Sanya, Thomas and I alone in the kitchen again. They looked at each and Sanya shrugged.  

‘Ok, what is it,” I asked, “what didn’t you want to say in front of Michael?”

“Harry I hate to say this,” he gave me a level look, “but if it was simply taking your kids why didn’t he just kill Molly? I think that’s part of it but…”

“He wants her to take a coin, that’s why she’s still alive, I know.” Thomas sighed and shook his head.

“Perhaps, that is one option,” Sanya chimed in. “The new gatekeeper and a child of a knight under the influence of the fallen would be quite a victory. Enough maybe to repair the blow to his reputation. But it is not what worries me.”

“Empty Night,” Thomas burst in, obviously frustrated that it was taking so long to get to the point. “Look what we’re trying to say is… Deirdre wasn’t just Nicodemus’ kid was she Harry? “

My stomach lurched as I recalled watching them kiss, but Thomas was still talking

“And Molly isn’t just Michael’s daughter is she. She’s your lover. You told me Nicodemus makes big plans, but with little victories…”

“Shut up Thomas,” I growled. “You think I he wants to replace Dierdre I get it, but shut up ok. I… I can’t think about that ok. Not now”

“Ok, we won’t mention it again,” it was Sanya’s turn to speak now. “But Harry, what will you do if she does take up a coin?”

“Help,” I replied instantly. “I fought it, So did you. We just need to get them home safe. Everything else we can fix.” Thomas opened his mouth to speak, but at that moment Charity reappeared and the subject was well and truly dropped. If talking about this in front of Michael was awkward for them, delving into the more icky nature of Nic’s relationship with his daughter with Charity wasn’t something anyonewanted to do.

“Maggie is dead on her feet, you should go tuck her in Harry,” Charity ordered me, with that authoritive tone that only a mother has. “Waldo will be a while in this weather.”

Maggie was dozing off on the soft, curled up against Mouse, fingers buried in his fur. I picked her up gently and carried her up to her old room, thankful that despite all this she couldsleep. She had come so far from the scared little girl we bought home from Mexico, she was amazing

“Daddy,” she murmered sleepily as I pulled the blankets around her. “Will Molly be home for Christmas?” She didn’t open her eyes as she rolled and snuggled in further, but her little hand came looking for mine.

“I hope so kiddo,” I said, squeezing her hand gently. “But if she misses Christmas we’ll just make up for it when we do get her home yeah?” Maggie looked up at me then, dark eyes open.

“She iscoming home though right Daddy?” her bottom lip trembled as she spoke, and I kissed her forehead and sat down next to her.

“Of course she is punkin, now sleep.” She closed her eyes as I continued to stroke her hair. “Mouse will be here, and I’m just going to be downstairs for a little longer. If I have to go, I’ll come wake you before I leave ok?”

She nodded and curled up under the blanket. I sat with her, letting her know I was there, until her soft breaths turned into snores. I popped the stuffed gorilla I had gotten her at the zoo in beside her, and turned to t he wooden skull I had carved out on the island that was sitting next to her alarm clock.

“Hey Bonnie,” I whispered, the empty eye sockets glowing with greenish light as she woke. “When I go I’m going to have to take Mouse with me. Andi is going to be here and she’ll need your help watching the perimeter ok. Do you remember the shield Bob taught you, you know what to do right?”

The green light glowed brighter, and one blinked out as she winked at me.

“I know the plans boss, I’ll look after Maggie I promise. If she starts having nightmares again I’ll sing to her. She likes that.” I smiled, trying to imagine what Bob would have done if I asked him to sing a lullaby.  

“Thanks Bonnie, that’s sweet of you.” I told her. Her green lit eyes dimmed to a faint glow, and I headed downstairs.

Butters and Andi showed up some time later, and again everything was laid out and general plans made. All three swords were coming to this fight, Thomas would take up Amoracchius, in a move so ironic that any other time I would have been unable to stop my mouth from running away with itself at my brothers expense. Andi and the remaining alphas would protect the Carpenter house from anything “the guys on the roof” were unable to. Charity fought, and won, the right to be the rear guard. She pointed out rightly that she had given birth to seven babies and we didn’t know what condition Molly and the baby would be in. No one was going to stop her anyway, deep down we were all more than a little scared of her.

With nothing more to do until we heard from Gard, Charity herded us all to the various beds made up throughtout the house. As usual, I was sharing the mattress of Maggie’s floor with Mouse. When I got to her room, he stood up from where he was sprawled asleep and curled into a tighter lump, giving up half the mattress.

“Thanks,” I whispered, patting his head. Maggie was still asleep, but she had obviously stirred while we talked downstairs as she was now holding on to the stuffed gorilla I got her at the zoo. I kissed her forehead softly again, before I curled up next to my dog and slept.

I fell through the open door into the apartment, lost in the feeling of soft lips on mine. Kicking the door closed behind us, Karin and I stumbled around the piles of boxes toward my room. I held her short, muscular body against me as we continued to kiss, feasting on each other.

“I’m liking this side of you Dresden,” Karin mumbled as we broke apart to breathe. I remembered this day with her, back in the start when I needed to touch every part of her body, overcome by animalistic want.  

We tore at our clothes, desperate to feel skin against skin. I tossed her on the bed, burying my head in her sex. In the dream she tasted as sweet as I remembered, writhing and releasing breathless moans as I explored with my tongue, drawing her closer to her climax.

I left her on the brink, kissing up her body until I fell on her breasts. Teasing her, I grasped her hands and pinned them above her head. She whispered, worried we weren’t alone, that the Winter Knight wanted Molly. Back then I’d refused to acknowledge my attraction to her, but Karin had known.

“She’s not here Karin, and I don’t want to think about her right now,” I growled as I slid a hand between us. I teased her, feeling the slippery heat between her thighs. “I might be her Knight but I told you, I don’t want the Lady. I want to fuck you, only you.” Karin smiled against my lips, slipping her tongue into my mouth in a passionate kiss, as I thrust into her. She felt as good as I remembered.

I felt Karin groan into my mouth at the same time I heard a soft sob from behind us. That was new, alarmed I turned my head, and saw Molly watching from the doorway.

Her hair was chopped at her shoulders and hung in lank waves, otherwise she looked exactly as she had the last time I saw her. She clutched at her swollen belly, anchored to the spot.

"Molly?" I asked, and when I saw her eyes react I leapt up, rushing over to her. “Oh sweetheart where are you? We’ve been looking for you for days. Sanya is here and we’re coming I promise.” I held her face in my hands, and moved to kiss her, but she pulled back, blinking at me.

“Harry?” she looked confused, but that slowly turned to horror, and she pushed me away. “Oh god, Oh my god, I’m in your dream!” I tried to reach for her again, but she slapped me.

“You’re dreaming about fucking her, telling her I mean nothing to you. I'm missing and you're thinking about HER, ” she yelled hysterically at me. Until that moment I had forgotten the dream I was in. The moment I saw her it had been forgotten, but now I was painfully aware I was naked, and she had just seen me balls deep in my dead ex. “I bet you’re happy I’m gone now, no need to worry about what our son might turn out to do. You don’t have to pretend to give a shit, to love me, just because you knocked me up.”

“Molls, please just listen to me…” I pleaded, but she turned her back to me, and then she was gone.

Chapter Text

“I’m ready to talk,” I finally spoke into the shadows. “What is it you want?” 

I had woken from the shared dream and just laid there, thinking. I found myself going over all of it; my whole relationship with Harry, Murphy, the things I had been shown in the last few days. Even how my Dad reacted now seemed to make more sense – dating was ok because maybe it would get Harry out of my system, but pregnant that was never going to happen. He knew Harry was still in love with Murphy, he knew Harry would never feel that way about me. I had been a fool, a silly child ruled by my emotions. No more.

I cradled my swollen belly and waited for the answer to my question. He was right, whoever he was, I needed to protect myself and my son. I still might not trust him but hell, I’d been the Winter Lady I could negotiate a deal, I could seek out loopholes and make sure it was ironclad in my favour.

“I’m ready to hear your offer,” I repeated, my voice emotionless. The doorway opened again, and he stepped through. As it closed behind him, the lights in the room became brighter, and I saw his face clearly for the first time.

He was around my height, and classically handsome. Dark eyes complimented his silver streaked dark hair and looked at me with open sorrow and regret. He lifted a small velvet pouch from the pocket of his suit jacket and dropped it on the table.

It was at that moment I noticed the noose, and realised finally who he was.

“You?,” I asked, incredulous, “why?” Nicodemus’ eyebrows shot up as I spoke, then chuckled softly.

“The reasons I told you before are the truth Molly,” he said evenly. “Too many innocents have been caught up in Mab’s grand schemes and through Harry’s interference. It isn’t his fault, Margaret chose for him when she made Lea his godmother. Malcolm was a mere man, and unable to pull against that influence. My beloved Deirdre was taken from me thanks to the Queens’ schemes. Nothing stands in her way, not even her own children.”

“And my Mother?” I spat, “my brothers and sisters? What were they?” Nicodemus looked away.

“A mistake, a moment of utter grief,” he spoke softly and that sadness was in his tone. He sounded contrite. “Tessa knew your Father and Harry had been part of the scheme that killed our child. I knew they were pawns, but in my grief I allowed her to sway me toward revenge. You have yet to hold your child in your arms, but can you say that in a moment of total devastation at the loss of your child you would not lash out? I am sorry for what I did that day. Your siblings are not willing combatants in this fight, which is why no further attempt was made on them. It is also why although I have bought you here, I would not harm you, or indeed keep you once you have considered my offer.”

“I am sure you understand what it is I placed on the table. It is an offer, a chance for you to potentially access the power to protect yourself and your child from becoming a casualty like my darling daughter.”

“Bullshit! You just want a foot soldier like Sanya.”

“Not at all,” he said as he stepped toward me, moving as if to hold me, comfort me again. Seeing my stony expression he stopped, and a wave of sorrow hit me. “The coin I offer was Deirdre’s. She has always shared with her host equally. Deirdre’s spirit was never lost to the fallen, they gave each other strength. It was true symbiosis. The shadow will wait, and it will keep the power ready for you, at hand for the moment you should need it. If you have no need of it, you can remain like Harry was in the first year of your apprenticeship. You know as well as any that the coins can easily be given up should you wish.  All I offer is a failsafe for you and your son. Power, to be there as you need it.” Reading his emotions I could sense he meant it, it felt like a genuine offer. The room was silent for several minutes as I considered his words.

“What’s the catch?” I asked finally.

“No catch sweet girl,” he said, returning to the doorway. “I do not even expect an answer now. I do not want a hasty response. Think. I will wait for you to decide. I don’t want to force this choice on you.” He stepped over the threshold and the door sealed up behind him.

I was more confused than ever. I had heard so many tales of Nicodemus over the years, and yet his words, his psychic energy, was different to what I expected. Not a complete one-eighty, but more like I could see the reason, the pain behind them. Dad always said that his job wasn’t like Harry’s, he didn’t kill the monsters he helped them save themselves. If that was true, maybe I could believe Nicodemus. Maybe he did want to help. I knew I didn’t have to take up the power of the coin if I didn’t want to, I knew I could still be me if I did.

My son kicked out at the hand that cradled where he lay inside me. The velvet pouch was still sat on the table, awaiting an answer.

Chapter Text

“Look Dude,” he told me, “I know I said before they’re all me, but this time it really wasn’t.”

My double looked contrite, if that was even possible. I mean I know it’s possible, after all he is me, my subconscious, my id, my inner jerkface. It was just very bloody unusual. I rubbed my palm over my face for a second, trying to figure out what he was on about before it dawned.

“So you’re trying to say all my dreams are you except that one?” I arched an eyebrow, and he shrugged. As usual he was dressed all in black with a snowflake pin the shirt. He was stroking his goatee and not in the Jafar-plotting-evil kinda way, then he smirked

“Hey, I said before you were repressed, I didn’t say you were totally fucked up. Well, not in that way. I mean seriously, you took so long to actually make a move on Murphy because of Molly. I put so much effort into trying to make you see it that I wonder if you only did to prove me wrong which is all kinds of screwed up. I’m not going to fuck up all my hard work by letting her see that.” As he spoke, I flashed back to look in her eyes as slapped me, the way she looked at me before she turned her back.

“So, if it wasn’t you, who was it?” I asked him. He laughed, throwing his arms up in the air.

“I don’t know,” he spoke in a tone that was half explaining to a small child, half exasperation. “If only there was someone obvious. Someone who has a really close friend who can watch whoever he wants from the shadows.Someone who might have a vested interest in getting between you and Molly.”  He walked over and flicked me in the forehead.

“Our Molly is a tough one,” he continued. “Physically I mean. She’s a lot like her Mom, and when have you seen Charity fall to pieces. You idiot, Nick is breaking Molly through you!”

 

  

“Harry?” Thomas was shaking me. “Wake up or I’m going to have to pour a jug of water over your head.” I bolted upright at that threat. I was alone, Maggie was already up and who knows where with the younger Carpenters. I looked over at her clock, it was mid morning. I turned back to glare at Thomas

“Don’t give me that look, there was no reason for you to be awake until we had news. We all agreed to let you sleep, you needed the rest. Butters is on the phone with Gard now.” I turned away from my brother and huffed.

“I wouldn’t call it rest. Hells Bells, I saw her Thomas, we shared a dream,” I told him. He looked at me, shocked, as I explained. “It happened once before when Bonnie was still in my head. I was… it was a memory of Karin and suddenly Molly was there watching.  I tried to talk to her but she wouldn’t listen. It… it wasn’t the best memory for her to see.”

“That kind of memory?” he smirked, the pervert.

“Yeah, one of those and worse,” I told him and the smirk dropped. “Back when me and Molly were the only ones who didn’t realise I loved her, Karin… well there were a few times we were together that I had to… adamantly…that I didn’t wish she was Molly.”

“Empty Night Harry, you don’t do things by halves,” he shook his head , then made toward the door. “C’mon we best get down to the others. Charity has a pot of coffee on the go. Let’s find out what Gard had to say. Butters should be off the phone by now.”

I noticed the house was silent when we walked down the stairs. The door to Michael’s study was closed, a muffled voice behind the wood, but otherwise there seemed no life in the house. As we stepped into the Carpenters kitchen Charity handed me a full mug of coffee with a slight smile. As she put on another pot I sat down at the table where Michael and Sanya sat silently. Thomas helped himself to a beer from the fridge and joined us.

“Butters still on the phone?” my brother asked Sanya, who nodded in reply. I looked across to Michael who was watching me.

“Where are the kids?” I asked him. He took a sip of his coffee before he answered.

“Father Forthill and Andi have them at St Marys. You can drop me off and pick up Mouse on the way,” he told me. Michael may have been out of the fight, but he could still help defend his family. “After last time Charity got nervous about them staying here while you get Molly home.” I nodded in understanding, remembering the confrontation with Nicodemus that occurred just outside the walls we now sat in.  

All eyes turned as the door opened again, falling on Butters. He sighed as he noticed the attention and grabbed a mug from the collection on the tabl

“So we have an address. Charity do you have map, one that covers into Indiana?” she nodded and left the room. Sitting down at the table Butters continued to relay what Marcone had found.

 South of the city, down by the steelworks in Hammond, Nicodemus had some property. It wasn’t technically in Chicago, or even Illinois, which seemingly made Nick think it was safe from Marcone influence and detection. It wasn’t, and a few subtle inquiries confirmed someonewas currently holed up in the warehouse with about half a dozen hired thugs protecting it. Whomever it was, they were keeping their face well hidden, further strengthening the argument that it was the man himself.

Thomas pulled me aside as the others left to deal with the final preparations. He held me back as the others left the kitchen, waiting until everyone had left before he spoke.

“I figured it out, the dream. That’s what he’s doing isn’t it? Showing her things out of context and turning her against you.”

“Yeah, that’s my best theory,” I answered. “I figure he’s showing her things that happened, but with just enough changes, and it’s all part of his plan. Who knows what else he’s said and done, but you can guess he’s turning her against me and Michael. He’s had her days now Thomas, I’m going to need you with me when we find her.”

“You think he won’t have bothered mess with her good opinion of me,” he said, nodding that he understood. “Should I feel insulted that he doesn’t see me as a threat? I mean why not ruin her belief and trust in me?”

“Well you can’t ruin what doesn’t exist,” I told my brother, smirking as I did.

 “Fuck you little brother,” he laughed, “I’m a fucking hero remember.”

Chapter Text

I tried to concentrate on the breathing like Mom had told me, but it wasn’t helping. About an hour ago I realised the back pain that was plaguing me was actually the start of my labour. The last few rounds I’d managed to keep control, but this time it was too much and I cried out as it took hold.

“Miss Carpenter?” I looked up and saw Nicodemus standing in the open doorway. “Is everything alright?” He headed towards me concerned, pausing when I shuffled myself away from him.

“My contractions have started,” I told him. He nodded, and I noticed he let out a breath he hadn’t been holding. Was it relief? Relief that it was my labour and nothing worse. This man was such a contradiction. He sat at the table where the coin still lay in its pouch, resting his hand over it.

“Are they close together?” he asked me. I shook my head, and he smiled sadly before he continued. “Good, then everything will be as it should. A father should not miss the birth of his child.”

“Harry’s here?”

“Not yet, but he is coming,” he slid the pouch toward me. “Take it Molly, keep it hidden. If you decide to give it to the church, so be it. I swore that I would not stand in his way if he came, and I won’t.” Nicodemus looked away, then stood up.

“I won’t ask you to believe me Molly. The other side believes in blind faith, but I’ve never been a believer myself.” He walked over to me and reached for my face. I wanted to move, to react but somehow I couldn’t. “All I ask is that you question, that you doubt. The original sin was knowledge, use yours, judge what I have shown you and what you know and decide for yourself. I have done all I can, all that I will to persuade you.”

I did doubt, I doubted everything. I doubted my own sanity when I didn’t recoil when he lent down and kissed me softly. I should have reacted then, pushed him away, but I didn’t. Instead I found myself struck by its tenderness, and the concern radiating from him.

“Keep the coin safe until you are sure of your decision,” he pleaded. Releasing my face he turned to the door to this strange chamber and passed through it. Once he was at the otherside he turned, and looked back at me where I sat on the makeshift bed.

“Be Safe Miss Carpenter, and protect your precious boy,” he said, bidding me farewell, and then he was gone.

Chapter Text


There were a couple of things that seemed off to me about the warehouse that Nicodemus was supposedly using as a hideout. It had taken us nearly an hour to find the right one and scout it out, but it was definitely the place, as much as it really didn’t sit right that it would be the unassuming building in front of us. It wasn’t so much that it didn’t scream “secret hideout”, more that a couple of things set off my spidey-sense.

The first thing was thanks to the sun was setting behind it, it looked like it was on fire. The low midwinter light was red, and it glinted off the corrugated steel building in a way that looked like rippling flame. Which, given my propensity for setting buildings on fire was not the best omen. Thomas snorted when he noticed it, but kept his mouth shut, which was new. Must have be an early Christmas present.

The second was the distinct lack of movement from inside the building. Yeah I know, secret hideouts are supposed to look empty and abandoned, but not like this. There were a few guys roaming around outside in a disordered fashion, the distinct air of rent-a-cop about them, but otherwise it was quiet, but not in an eerie way, just quiet. Butters had headed over to talk to the rent-a-cop guys; the fact he was barely over five foot always worked in his favour when he played “lost and looking for directions”. His scouting confirmed it was just these guys, and they weren’t likely to give us any trouble.

“They’re standard security guards Harry,” Butters told us when he returned. As much as it was my suspicion he confirmed, it still confused me even further. “Definitely not Nicodemus’ guys. It should be easy enough for me and Charity to distract them out here while you guys head inside and get Molly out.”

“How exactly are you going to do that?” my brother asked, as always curious as to how Butter’s actually managed his side job. He might have a working lightsabre but he was still Waldo Butters after all. Thomas still hadn’t quite gotten past the idea that protecting “cowardly” Butters was going to get his little brother killed. Guy stands down psychotic bastard with a broken sword, its still not enough to turn off Thomas’ big brother gene.

“Easy, loud fight over who got the directions wrong,” Butters quipped in reply, pushing his glasses back up his nose. He then turned in my direction and opened his mouth to speak when Mouse began to whine, his ears pricking up, alerted to something in the warehouse.

Then we all heard the scream.

Stars and Stones, it was horrible. Guttural and sharp, and most definitely from Molly, it turned my blood to ice. I heard Charity gasp next to me as my legs started to move, running on their own free will towards to scream.

Before I knew it, I stood in the warehouse, Thomas beside me and Sanya close behind, baring the door behind us. I could hear Charity and Butters trying to waylay the guards who had obviously witnessed me running like a madman into the warehouse toward a loud scream. It was only a matter of time now before they came in after us, probably with a few of the PD’s finest along for good measure. We needed to find Molly before that happened, because there was no doubt that Rudolph would be with them the minute he heard my description over the radio.
Once inside, I realised the scream had stopped. Making our way through the corridors and offices we searched in hurried silence, aware that whatever had made Molly scream could be lurking, waiting to ambush us. After a few minutes we reached the main factory area.

In the middle of the large, cavernous room, sat a box, similar to an old shipping container except smooth, and covered in glyphs and runes. The area around it had been cleared of old machinery and general junk to make way for something that could only be described as a moat. It wasn’t much of one, but it was a circle of running water surrounding the smaller one carved into the floor just inside its borders.

“Low tech, but I guess it works the same, da?” Sanya asked me, and I nodded. It was a bizarre little set up, but it had certainly worked in keeping us from finding it. Listening I could hear panting coming from inside the box.

“Molly?” I called out tentatively, heading towards the weird little moat, careful incase of any boobytraps. It was all seeming too easy and very unlike Nick. On the far side of the box from where we entered I saw a door cut in the side.Breaking the circle, I raised my voice and tried again. “Molls?”

“Harry?” Came a questioning reply, following by a groan of pain. Blasting rod at the ready I made my way through the door, and straight into a shield.

“Molly, It’s me, it’s Harry,” I said softly. “You can drop the shield love, its ok.” I looked over at where she sat, drenched in sweat on the tiny camp bed. Her clear blue eyes blazed with pain and fury, and I was again reminded that Molly Carpenter had the capacity to be very scary.

“No,” she snarled, “Keep away from us! I saw…” Her voice trailed off into a groan, her shield flickering as she struggled through the pain. No one was here, no one made her scream, I realised. Molly was in labour. Despite the pain of her contraction, her defences held and kept me away.

“Molly Honey please, drop the shield. I need to get you to the hospital.”

“Stay Away!” She cried. “I SAW you Harry. I didn’t want believe any of it until that, all the things he told me, but then you… and you didn’t even try to deny it. Why should trust you, why should I believe a DAMN THING YOU SAY.”

“Please,” I begged, “Molls you know what Nicodemus is, what he tried to do to your Mom and the Jawas. To Maggie. He put that in my head and made you see it. Please trust me, I love you.” I held my hand up to the shield, probing it hoping to find a way to take it down, but it held strong. I could here Sanya and Thomas behind me, confirming that we were alone in the warehouse.

“Trust you? You left me, you ignored me for WEEKS until Thomas made you talk to me again. Is that love to you? Hell Harry, he had to bully you into touching me in the first place. Did he work out I was pregnant? Is that why you told me you loved me? You said you saw him with your sight but it was Thomas wasn’t it, he could tell and he told you. That’s the only reason… Oh God Papa was right, I’ve been such an idiot.” She buried her face in her hands and sobbed, curling up around herself as much as her pregnant belly would allow.

“I’m telling you the truth,” I pleaded. “Hells bells yes, I admit that I fought how I felt for years because of your age, your Dad, lots of stupid reasons but I’m not fighting it anymore. I’m a dumbass yes, but I’m telling you the truth. I love you.” I could feel Mouse beside me, and Thomas’ presence behind me, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her tear-stained face looked up at me, and I saw hate alongside the pain. Hells Bells what had he done to her?

“Liar!” She screamed, the force of her will knocking me back a step. “ I saw you and Thomas talking. He was worried his hunger would kill me, so he talked you into it. If you loved me, if you really had been fighting feelings for me why would he have to do that. Why couldn’t you bring yourself to kiss me when you asked me to kill you? If you gave a damn about me at all why couldn’t you give me that one thing before I was going to lose you forever? I’m just the annoying little kid who loves you that you accidentally knocked up. Admit it Harry, you’re only here for the baby. What I don’t know is if because you care about him, or if Mab made you come.”

“Molly.. I.. “

“Molly,” Thomas’ voice stopped us both from talking, and Molly snapped her eyes to his. “I don’t know what you think you saw but honey, I never said I was worried I would kill you. Don’t you remember, me kissing you, letting my hunger sedate you when you were laying on me. If I couldn’t control myself enough not to kill you feeding, I certainly couldn’t have done that. The reason I... well look if I hadn’t bullied Harry into getting over your age and your Dad, do you think he could have EVER gotten over the fact his big brother was the one who took your virginity? I think we all know Harry finds my willingness to share just a bit creepy.” He flashed her a smile and chuckled, an expression mirrored in Molly as Thomas pushed me further back, stepping in front of me.

“Molly love, forget Harry. I’m here, I’ve got you. Did you see anything that made you doubt me? You know what I am, you know I’ve lost control with you in the past, but you I also know I’ll always look after you. Remember in the Helicopter? Remember on the boat?” As he spoke, he lazily petted Mouse, drawing Molly’s attention to him. The big fluffy fool just smiled at her with his doggy grin.

“We looked after you then didn’t we, me and Mouse? Let us look after you now. Sanya is with me and your Mom is outside, let the shield down and we can take you to her, take you home and make sure you have my little nephew somewhere safe. I need to make sure you’re both ok. We can deal with the idiot over there later but right now we need to take you out of here.”

“I wont lower it while he’s here,” she whispered.

“Harry,” he said firmly, not moving his eyes from her. “Go, get Charity in here.”

“I’m not leaving her.” I replied, making him turn towards me. His eyes were silver, flashing anger at me.

“Harry, I’m not asking. Send in Charity, go bring the car out front. You need to drive.” He dug into his pocket and tossed the keys at me. Catching them, I turned to look at Molly as another contraction hit. She screwed hey eyes shut, groaning through the pain. I paused, before Sanya pulled me away.

“Harry, Go, NOW.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Michael Malcolm Thomas Dresden was born as the sun rose after the longest night of the year, continuing the family tradition of birthdays on high holidays. After Maggie’s premature birth on All Souls Night, I had suspected some sort of manipulation, now I was certain. Margaret Le Fay yet again continued to manipulate us all from beyond the grave.

Father Forthill baptised him in the font at St Mary’s, just as I and all the jawas had been. The only difference was Michael was baptised on Christmas morning just before mass, and two Knights of the Cross stood as his godfathers. Butters hadn’t wanted to, pointing out he wasn’t Catholic, or even Christian. Harry told him it didn’t matter, and he would only accept a refusal if he convinced Uriel to stand in his place, so he gave in.

That morning, at the baptism, was the first time I had seen Harry since our son was born. I spent my time until then in my old bedroom at home with my beautiful boy. When Harry and Maggie came around, I stayed hidden, trusting Sanya to look after little Michael, who he called Mischa, while he saw his father. I wasn’t ready to see him, but I wasn’t going to deny Harry his son, or Maggie her brother. I knew how much Susan’s decision to keep them apart had hurt them both. That Christmas morning found us finally together, our strange little family all sat together at the front of the Church. Maggie, ever the diplomat, sat between her father and me. That little extra distance changed nothing, I could still feel his sadness, it almost overwhelmed me. It was a relief when Mischa began to fuss and I could escape to Forthill’s office to feed him.

My boy was so beautiful, which I know every Mom says about her kid but he really was. He had so much soft, downy hair, all white blonde and angelic. His eyes were light too, definitely taking after me rather than Harry in that, but already he was long. Longer than I remembered any of the jawas being as babies. He was going to get his father’s height, I could tell. As I held him close to feed I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I found myself softly stroking his head and humming as he fed.

“Is he ok?” Harry said softly. I hadn’t noticed him coming into the room. Looking up now I saw he leant against the doorframe, his eyes gazing adoringly at us. The heat in his eyes made me blush, and I looked back down at the little blonde head laying on my chest.

“He’s fine, just hungry,” I said quietly, not wanting wake Mischa. “A few minutes on my boob and he’s blissfully sleeping suckling on my nipple in his mouth. I think it’s a family trait.” I smiled up at harry and he smirked back at me.

“They are magic breasts,” he agreed, visibly relaxing as he stood and moved closer. “Look Molly I…”

“Its ok,” I told him as he perched on the cot next to me. “I know. Thomas … corrected me. I’m sorry Harry. I know it was lies but it was so real, it felt true. It’s going to take me some time.”

“Come home Molls, we miss you. I miss you. I’ll give you all the space you need but lets work this out as a family yeah. I don’t want to miss... I mean I want to help with Michael, I want to be there.”

I sighed, letting my head fall to rest on his chest, as he lay his hand over mine where it held our boy.

“I never wanted to keep you from him, you know that right?” I asked, closing my eyes to listen to his heart. “ It’s never been about keeping you from being part of his life, I’m just scared.”

“I know,” he said, pressing a soft kiss to my hair. “I’m going to get back out to everyone. I just wanted to check on you, let you know the service is over so we’re heading back to your folks when your ready.” He shifted, causing me to lift my head and allow him to stand. I looked up at him, and made a decision.

“Wait”, I told him, stroking Mischa’s cheek until I was able to hand him to his father. “Take him with you, give me a few minutes to tidy up and I’ll be out there. We can get Mom and Dad’s over with before I get too tired and we have to go home. He has me up every couple of hours in the night you know, your son does not like letting me sleep.”

I watch his face light up as he bends down and kisses me on the mouth, cradling my face with his free hand. It’s a soft, quick kiss, but afterwards he rests his forehead against mine and we just look at each other for what feels like hours.

“I love you.”

“I know,” I reply, and wink at him. He laughs, and I can tell he knows what I mean. We both speak fluent Star Wars and I’m coming home. That’s all that matters really.

When the door closed behind him, I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. It was hard to deceive Harry, much harder than lying to Mom and Dad. I had years of practice at the latter, but I think I had a handle on myself now. I was ready to go home, I could manage, and things needed to appear to go back to normal.

Digging in the diaper bag for my cream and fresh nipple pads, my let my fingers brush against the small velvet pouch hidden at the bottom. I needed to check it was still there, the untouched coin still inside, ready and waiting for when I needed it.