Chapter 1: 1
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
I knock on Harry's door and try to huddle as close to the wall as possible. Even at the bottom of his stairs the wind is terrible, rain coming down in sideways sheets and and trashcans are rolling along the street and crashing against cars. This is the last favor I'm doing for Molly for a long time, she owes me big time for this. I could be almost home by now if she hadn't begged me to stop by here on my way home from practice.
"Alicia?" Harry finally opens his door, staff in his hand and a frown on his face. He looks surprised to see me, which isn't a surprise since I've never been to his house before. Before I can explain why I'm there a huge bolt of lightening slams into the transformer up by the little parking spot at the top of the stairs and it explodes in a ball of blue fire. I don't even realize I'm screaming until Harry yanks me into his apartment and slams the door behind me. Embarrassed I clear my throat and glare into the candlelit gloom of Harry's apartment. Shaking the water out of my hair I note an odd collection of mismatched furniture and a crackling fire in the hearth, despite the somewhat warm evening.
"Uh," Harry's voice pulls my attention back to him, "You ok?"
"Yeah, I'm good. Just a little deaf now."
Harry leans his staff in the corner behind the door without taking his eyes off of me and then crosses his arms, raising an eyebrow is silent question.
"Guess you're, uh, wondering why I'm here?" I say. "Apparently my sister left a shirt here the other day that she just has to have tomorrow and asked me to pick it up on the way home." I try looking him in the eye but can't keep his gaze, I've always been kind'a nervous around him. Despite my dad's admiration for him, and assurances that I can trust Harry if anything ever happens, and the fact that I know he's saved Molly from some kind of trouble she got into, I'm still not comfortable around him. The flickering candlelight and shadows make his face look harsh, cold. There's a twisting in my gut when he doesn't answer right away.
"I think all her clothes are by her desk." Harry's voice isn't quite as low as my dad's but it's enough to make me jump a couple of inches when he speaks. Harry notices and chuckles, breaking the mood and my fear vanishes. "Come on, I'll take you down."
I follow him through his living room and into the kitchen where Mouse is laying next to an open hole in the floor. Mouse thumps his tail when he sees me, probably remembering all the cookies I fed him secretly last time Harry brought him by the house. Harry doesn't check his gait when he gets to the edge of the hole, stepping down into it and out of sight. I however, pause at the top and stare down into the dark.
"Watch your step," Harry's voice floats up to me, "The light is better once you get down here."
I take a deep breathe and step down into the dark. I'm relieved when I get to the bottom without tripping and breaking my arm, his steps are steep and narrow. Harry's basement is crazy crowded, candles are scattered around stacks of books, boxes and bags are labeled in a jagged scrawl and a huge model city on a table takes up most of the floor space.
Harry points at a basket sitting by a small desk by the wall, I can see my sister's Floggin' Molly shirt laying on top on the stack. Digging through the pile reveals more than one shirt with a mysterious stain or hole, and a pair of pants that looks rather chewed on one leg. What does my sister get up to over here? In fact, why does she often end up out of her clothes anyway? I finally find the one she wants, a black lace thing with more holes than fabric, and shove it into my purse.
Turning around I see Harry leaning on a counter and tracing the pages of a large, dirty book with one finger, silently sounding out the words as he moves down each line. Judging by the open books piled on every available surface this is what he was doing when I interrupted him.
"Find what you were looking for?" He asks without turning around, making me jump again. How does he do that?
"Yep, good to go." I head back toward the stairs and Harry straightens to follow. "Oh, don't worry about me, I'm sure Mouse can show me out." I grin back at him.
"Sure he can," Harry says. "But he can't lower the wards on the door, which means you can't open it." He smiles, "So unless you want to spend the night-"
"Oh, my mom would kill you." I hear him snort in agreement behind me as we head up the stairs but I have to say I don't feel comfortable with the idea that I might be trapped here, if Harry decided to not open the door.
When we get back to his front door Harry holds his hand out and stares for a second, almost like he's looking through the door, then takes the handle and turns it, pulling the door open. His back is between me and outside but instead of stepping out of my way he slams the door shut and re-locks it. When he turns around I giggle without meaning to, he looks more annoyed than anyone should just from glancing outside.
Swallowing back my laugh I ask, "So, you going to let me leave now?"
"That could be a problem." Harry isn't smiling and now neither am I.
"What is it?" My mom's monster attack plans come flooding back, holdovers from the days of drilling on how to quickly and effectively get into the safe room. Does Harry even have a safe room? "What's out there?" My voice is tight with fear.
"What?" Harry asks, then he seems to actually notice me. "No, Alicia, it's ok. There's nothing supernatural out there." He gives me a quick smile, "We're perfectly safe in here. We would be even if something was out there, my house has withstood more than a couple of attacks." He puts his hand on my arm and directs me back toward the kitchen, "But we do need to make a phone call."
In the kitchen he has one of those old back and white cat phones hanging on the wall, the old rotary kind with the tail that swings back and worth. "Where did you get that?"
"Murphy thought it suited me." Harry's lip quirks up in amusement.
"Who am I calling? In fact," I pull away from him and cross my arms, "Why am I calling someone instead of leaving?"
"You're calling your parents and you're telling them that you're here with me and you're staying for supper and not to worry about you."
"What? Why?" I try to protest, "I need to take a shower, homework-"
"You remember that lightening strike as you came in?"
"It brought down the whole pole, there's a couple of lines laying across the stairs. You aren't leaving till the city comes out and cleans up, and they aren't going to be doing that until this storm dies down a little." Harry points at the phone, "Call."
I make the call, hoping that Dad will just come pick me up or something. I mean, Harry is fine but really... Unfortunately, my Dad agrees with Harry. Insists that even if the lines weren't down I should stay, apparently lights are out all over the city and the roads are flooding. Before I hang-up Harry waves at me and motions for the phone so I hand it over.
"Uh huh, no problem." Harry shakes his head, "She's fine here," he glances my way, "I'll keep her here till things straighten out, I'll have her call before she leaves so if you don't hear from us don't worry." Harry listens for a minute and grins, "Ok, night."
I lean against Harry's counter with my hands in my pockets, feeling awkward. I'm stuck in a gloomy house with my sister's creepy magic teacher and his huge dog until who knows when.
Chapter 2: 2
Supper wasn't as awkward as I thought it would be. Harry's not a bad cook, not that many people can mess up spaghetti, and he knows a ton of awesome stories about wizards and faeries and stuff. I have no idea how much was true and how much was him pulling my leg, I have a lot of trouble believing that Santa is real and lives on Winter's side of the NeverNever (whatever that is), but does it matter? After we washed the dishes Harry found some blankets and a pillow for me, I'm afraid to ask why he has a pink pillowcase with a daisy on it, and tossed them on the couch. He also lite a few more candles for me, which was pretty awesome since all he had to do was speak to them. Offered me use of his shower too but since he apparently doesn't have hot water I think I’ll pass, if he's going to trap me here he really can't complain about me being dirty from practice.
Seems he's right in the middle of some important research project and needs to work on it tonight, told me to make myself at home and if I got tired to just go ahead and go to bed because he probably wouldn't be back up till late. When I reminded him that I might be leaving he just smiled and went downstairs.
This is not my idea of a sleepover. On the up side things aren't as awkward as they could have been. On the down side I'm bored out of my mind.
No computer. No TV. No radio. He has this old looking record player but I have no idea how to use it, it looks like a museum piece. I spent the first hour wondering around staring at his knick-knacks. They range from funny to weird to scary and I'm pretty sure I shouldn't mess around with them. Then I spent a hour watching the fire and petting Mister before he got tired of me and ambled off. Now I'm ready to climb the walls. My homework is in the car, of course, and Mouse does not look inclined to play fetch.
Wandering over to the bookcase I skim across the titles till I find a stash of cheap scifi paperbacks, the kind with the cheesy aliens on the cover. Not my thing, at all, but I'm desperate. Selecting the least ridiculous looking one, not that that's saying much, I toss it in the chair closest to the fire and pick up a candle, heading toward where Harry pointed the bathroom to be earlier.
Stepping through the door I realize I'm in Harry's room and step back out, I really don't want him to come upstairs and think I’m snooping. But after looking back in the kitchen I realize this is the only door he could have been pointing at so I venture back in, feeling nervous. The light of the candle isn't very strong but I finally walk far enough in to see a door to my left. After I get done I tell myself I have to go straight back to the living room but really, did he expect me to just walk through and not look around at all?
After sticking my head out to make sure the coast is still clear, which draws Mouse's attention, I walk back and check out his room. Not very large, mostly just a bed and a dresser, and another set of bookshelves. This guy has a thing about books. There's a closet on one wall and a quick glance finally turns up something interesting. He's got a big gray cloak, and a set of black robes. Looks like something off a Harry Potter set. I grin and try to imagine him wearing either one when I here a snort behind me.
Whirling, heart pounding at being caught, I gasp, “I'm sorry, really! I was just-”
My words die in my throat as I see not a pissed-off wizard behind me, but Mouse. He's sitting in the doorway staring at me, frowning. I didn't even know dogs could frown.
“Ok, ok, I'm leaving right now. I was just curious.” I take a step toward him and he lowers his head and growls, pulling his ears back.
Uh-oh. “Hey boy, it's ok. I didn't touch anything.” He doesn't quit growling but he does move into a crouch. My heart speeds up and my mouth goes dry. Mouse is huge and in the dark he looks like something I would have imagined living under my bed when I was little. One of those monsters I made my dad check for in the middle of the night. Actually, I would really love for my dad to deal with this one right here but since he's not around I try again, “Mouse, you know me. Even if you rat me out to Harry there's no need to be like this.” His ears flick, then he lowers his head and the growl deepens. I see the muscles in his leg twitch and I step back into the closet, panicking. “I'll tell him myself, please-”
I scream as he lunges at me, hitting my legs and almost knocking my off my feet. I catch myself on the closet door frame and try to move away from him but he's pushing against my legs where I can't take a step. I feel the urge to slap at him, to fight, but I hold back when I realize that I'm still on one piece, no holes. In fact, he has wiggled past me into the closet and is shoving against the back of my legs, pushing me toward the door Happy to oblige the crazy beast I bolt but my foot catches on the rug and a hit the wood floor, hard, knocking the wind out of me. Between my fear and the floor I'm gasping for air, the side of my face pressed against Harry's rug, I set the candle I'm still gripping in my right hand down by my face and try to breath. Mouse is standing somewhat over me, still growling, and I have no idea what might set him off. Or if he'll actually come after me next.
That's when I notice movement under the edge of Harry's bed. Squinting, I move the candle a little and pray it's not a roach. Spiders I can handle, snakes and toads are part of having brothers, but roaches are my personal nemesis and I really can't handle any more hysterics tonight.
It's a pompom. Maybe an inch across at the widest point it's a sickish green-gray and it's fuzz is plastered into spikes and and tangled dreads, maybe a half inch long, sticking out all over it. I don't know why I thought it moved-
Crap! It moved again, and now it's looking at me. Two tiny black bead eyes and a mouth as wide as it's body filled with rows of tiny needle shaped teeth.
It's looking at me? I scream and it vanishes back under the bed. Shoving myself onto my hands and knees I feel the skin on my palms burn as a scrape it off but that doesn't really matter at the point, I have got to get out of this room and fast. As I push onto my feet I see more of them, five or six, skitter out from under the bed and toward the closet. Mouse snaps at them as they go past but they're small and fast I don't think he grabs one. Whirling to bolt for the door something looks off about Harry's bed and I pause just long enough to glance back. I would faint, except then I'd be eaten alive. There are at least a hundred of the little things crawling over his bedspread and along his night stand, and they look like they want to crawl on me next.
Dashing toward the door, my candle forgotten behind me, I yell, “Harry! Harry Dresden!” Running through the living room and into the kitchen I hit the trapdoor with both feet, stomping on it. “Harry, get up here! Monsters!” I yank at the door with no success, either he's locked it from underneath, or there's a trick to it I don't know, but the door doesn't budge. I swear I can feel the creatures on my and I swipe at my back and hair, sure I'm about to be bitten. I can't find one but that doesn't actually calm me any.
I run to the cabinet by the sink and pull open the top drawer. Grabbing the largest knife of the bunch I head back toward the trapdoor. Just as I get to it it swings open and Harry pops out, his back to me.
“Alicia? Alicia, what's wrong?” he yells. Thankfully he turns as he does so because I'm moving too fast to stop and if he hadn't grabbed my hand I'd likely have stabbed him in the head. And if he hadn't wrapped his arm around my waist I'd likely have gone headfirst into the basement.
“Are you ok?” Harry's is staring at me from only inches away, holding my wrist in a painful grip. Not that I blame him, I almost scalped him just now. He settles me on the stairs above him and loosens his grip on my waist. “What's wrong?”
“Um, there's things and I didn't mean to snoop and then Mouse came and I thought, anyway, he was growling and I panicked, so-”
“Did Mouse hurt you?” he asks, clearly doubtful.
“No! He was trying to warn me but I thought he was attacking me so I ran but I fell and then I saw them-” I shudder, skin crawling. I swear I can feel little things moving on my skin and I use my free hand to check the back of my head again.
Harry immediately catches my chin in his hand and turns my head, running his hand up the side of my face and across the top and back of my head.
“I don't feel a knot. Did you-”
“No, I'm ok.” I pull away, as far as I can and take a deep breath. “There are things, monster things, in your bedroom and they are probably headed this way. Mouse tried to warn me.” Another breath, “I'm not kidding, there's like a hundred of them in there!”
“In my bedroom?”
“Yes!” Frustrated by the slowness of the conversation when our lives could be on the line I step back and up, pulling away further. “Come on, hurry. There's, like, an army of them. An army of tiny, evil pompoms.”
Harry's grip on my hand holding the knife tightens and flick my eyes down, then back at him.
“Careful now,” he says. Letting go of my hand he lets me pull back and step up onto the kitchen floor. Turning to watch the door for any sign that they have followed me I feel him step up beside me. Mouse is also on alert, staring at the door intently.
“Don't,” I feel tears building up in my eyes, “I'm not joking.”
“Ok, it's ok.” Harry puts his hand on my shoulder and rubs it in gentle circles. “Mouse, what's up? Trouble?”
Mouse flicks his ear closest to Harry but never takes his eyes off the door, then he growls and lowers his head, raising his hackles. My heart is racing as I try to figure out how to convince Harry of how serious this is, when I see he's gone still and hard. This is the Harry I've always been afraid of but this time he's stepping between me and the monsters so he can be as scary as he wants.
“Stay here.” Harry heads for the door.
“No way!” He turns his head but before he can say anything I continue, “What if they are hiding in here too? Or followed me? I want to stay as close to you as I can get.” I swallow hard and stare at him, “Please don't leave me in here alone.”
He looks at me for a moment, then says, “Fine. But stay behind me, do as I say, and do not stab me in the back with that knife.”
I have to rush to keep up with him and remembering what almost happened I turn the knife so it is pointing down and the edge is toward me, instead of holding it out in front of me like a sword. I can just see explaining to the 911 operator that I need an ambulance because I ran a knife through my sister's teachers spleen, in the middle of the night, when we were under attack from some craft supplies.
Harry holds his right hand up and his staff flies across the room and hits his palm with a thwack. I jump and yelp, I didn't know he could do that. At the same time he shakes a bracelet on his left hand and then holds that arm out in front of him, muttering under his breath. Mister yowls and jumps to the top of the bookshelf, crouching and swishing his tail. Creeping behind Harry now that he's slowed down I watch my feet, suddenly wishing I had time to put my shoes back on. I really don't want to step on one of these things.
As Harry steps into his room he mutters and all the candles sitting around flare up, brightening the place and revealing movement along the edges of the room and furniture, and his bed is still covered in the monsters. Harry stiffens and his hand tightens on the staff he is carrying, then he leans forward-
There's no fear is his voice and as I watch he relaxes, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his left hand. Mouse is still growling but it's more of a grumble, and he looks up as his owner with question in his eyes.
“It's ok, I know what these are. And they aren't dangerous. Inconvenient, annoying, and expensive...” His voice trails off and he crosses his arms, staring into space. A quick turn and he brushes past me, headed back toward the kitchen.
I rush after him, “Harry, what are they?”
Chapter 3: 3
I sit on a stool in the basement and watch as Harry piles odds and ends assorted items on the table next to me.
“My dad did not fight demons with chalk, string, an old t-shirt, and apples. Are you sure about this?”
“I have done this before, believe it or not.” I mus not have looked convinced because he adds, “These aren't even really demons anyway, not that sort. It's just what they’re called. And, I think this is everything.”
“How did they get in your bedroom to start with?”
“Who knows.” Harry sighs, “A few years ago they got into my car, chewed it up pretty badly before I figured out how to get rid of them.” He turns away and slides a couple of boxes onto a shelf and hear him mumble under his breath, “I bet this never happens to Luccio...”
Scooping up the pile he heads toward the stairs and adds more loudly, “You can stay in the living room if you want, or come watch me. It’s up to you.”
Stomping up after him I have to say that living here must keep him in good shape, I'm getting tired of these steps and it's only been one night.
“Oh no, I want to see you kill the suckers.”
“Violent.” Harry pretends to be surprised, “Where did that come from? They aren't eating all your stuff.”
“They're eating your stuff? Not just hiding in there?”
“Yeah,” he says, stopping at his door and looking back at me, “I doubt there’s much left of my room. They are mold demons, they make things mold.” I roll my eyes and he continues, “It's how they eat, and reproduce. Judging by the numbers in there it's the second they are focused on right now.'” Harry sighs, “I'm going to be wearing whatever clothes I had in the washer for awhile.”
I feel a little bad for him before the feeling is chased out of my mind by the sudden realization of what he said.
“Wait, so it's not an army of evil pompoms intent on mauling me in your room, it's an orgy of horny pompoms getting it on in there?”
Harry raises an eyebrow, “That's one interpretation of what I said.”
I trail behind him as he goes to the middle of the room and drops his gear. Grabbing some chalk he starts by sketching out a large star, then adds a few a few little pictures and wiggles. Then he surrounds the entire thing with a circle. Sitting back on his heels he stares at his work, biting his lip. Suddenly I see why Molly used to blush whenever mom brought Harry, up, he's actually kind'a cute. Creepy, but cute.
I stand out of the way and as close to Mouse as I can get. The mold demons are everywhere, the more I look the more I see. But they seem to be staying clear of Harry and none are getting anywhere near Mouse so I only jump and twitch every few seconds, instead of fainting with stress.
“Ok, this will work.” Harry stands up and brushes his hands on the pants, “All I have to do is get them into the circle and trap them, then I can banish them.” He points to the shirt and apples, “Hand those here?”
I comply and he sets them in the center of the star then turns toward me. “I'm going to use a spell that will make that,” he points at the sad little pile, “seem like the tastiest meal they have ever seen. When they all get in the circle I'll raise it and lock them in. Got it?”
“Yeah... But what if they-” I stop myself, realizing that I am questioning him, again, about his job. I feel a blush creeping up my neck, “Sorry.”
Harry just gives a clearly amused look and walks over to the edge of the circle and holds his hands out over the pile. He starts speaking some language, I think Molly said they use Latin, and then, nothing. At least for a minute or two. Then all the little demons start coming from everywhere, running out from under the dresser and the bed and out of the closet. Rushing across the room and mounding up in a wiggling mass of nasty, musty fuzz. So gross. After about 30 seconds the stream slows down, and the last few stragglers join the group. Harry bends down and touches the circle with one finger and I hear a soft pop, and the air around the circle shimmers.
“There. That will hold them until I banish them.” Harry heads for the door.
“Wait, now what?”
“Now, I get a drink of water. Want some?”
“Uh... sure.” I step closer to the circle, “And they'll stay in there?”
“Yep,” Harry's voice floats in from the other room. “Just don't cross that circle.”
I have to admit that this has actually turned into an interesting night. Stepping closer to the circle I shudder a little, they are still creepy and nasty, but it's also pretty cool. After watching them bounce against the circle for a minute I convince myself that Harry is right and squat down to take a closer look, moving right up to the edge.
I scream in fright and try to lunge away as I hear Harry start to laugh behind me. As I jump up I lose my balance and fall back, kicking out with my right foot and crossing the circle drawn on the floor. Suddenly all the demons come rushing toward me, chittering and snapping their teeth. Screaming louder I scramble back as they run up my legs and toward my face. A pair of hands grab me firmly under my arms and pick me up, knocking most of the monsters off and into the floor where they keep running. I keep struggling, knocking the rest of them off and I feel my left heel connect against something behind me. There's a sharp intake and I hope it hurt.
“Ok, ok, calm down.” Harry says, and sets me on my feet. I whirl around and hit him as hard as a can in the stomach. I play softball and I'm in better shape than I look, Harry gasps and coughs, trying to catch his breath. I hit him again but he manages to deflect the worst of it, and backs up.
“Alicia,” he gasps, “Stop.”
“”You, you-” I'm too angry to even get a sentence out. How dare he? I stomp toward him again.
“I'm sorry,” Harry holds both hands out in front of him. “Really sorry.”
I stop and cross my arms, waiting.
“I was just going to scare you. I didn't think you'd freak out on me.” Harry looks around, “And now I have to start over.”
“Do you honestly expect any sympathy whatsoever?”
Half an hour later and the demons have been recaptured, and banished. It was rather anticlimactic, just more muttering for a few minutes until a tiny gray swirly place appeared in the center of the star and sucked them all down, like water in a drain.
“Did you kill them?”
“No,” Harry says, “I just banished them back to the NeverNever.”
“Really? With Santa?” I am beginning to feel like the NeverNever is a very convenient conversation-ender for wizards.
“You know he needs all the help he can get this time of year.”
“March is a big time for Santa?”
“You know,” Harry reaches over and starts tugging the blanket off his bed, “Prototypes need to be made, tax forms filled out, insurance paperwork-”
“Shut up.” I step to the other side of the bed to help him but the blanket isn't really a blanket anymore. It's more a collection on holes loosely held together with string. The pillows are no better and as I'm standing there I hear bits of clothes falling off in the closet. Harry looks a bit lost, standing in the remnants of his room, and I make a decision.
“Can you get us some better lighting in here? At least more of it?”
“Yes...” Harry drawls, “But it's late. Just go lay down and I'll deal with this tomorrow.” He glances at his watch and amends, “Later today.”
“Nonsense. There's no way I'm going to sleep now, I'll have nightmares about being swarmed by monsters,” I drag out the last few words and stare at him. Harry has the decency to look sheepish as I continue, “And this will take forever by yourself. Get us some light and I'll find the rest of what we need.”
I poke around the kitchen until I find what we need and return a few minutes later to a rather well lit room. Harry has found a good dozen candles of several sizes, plus a couple of oil lamps. Of course, the light only reveals the damage but what's done is done, as my mom likes to say. No use wishing things were different. I drop my armload of cleaning supplies and shake open a large garbage bag, “Here, shove that blanket in here.”
Harry doesn't move and give me a look I can't decipher. I squash down the nervous feeling I immediately get, Harry has been nothing but patient with me tonight, explaining everything he's done and making sure I felt comfortable. Even if he is mad at me for taking charge he isn't going to turn me into a toad or anything. At least, I don't think so. Not permanently.
Thankfully that train of thought is broken by the wizard in question shaking his head and doing as I told him, rolling the scraps of bedding up and putting them into the bag. His sheets followed, then pillows. We rip the scraps of fabric and fluff off the mattress frame and then Harry uses a hammer to pull apart the corners, tossing the pieces of wood into the living room by the growing mound of trash bags. I take down the pieces of curtain that are left and hang put the empty rods back up. Then we tackle the closet, each item has to be carefully examined for damage because Harry says he has to use a spell on each spot damaged by mold if he wants to keep the item, otherwise it will keep spreading until it consumes the entire thing. We're about half way done when Harry looks over at me and then immediately turns his back.
“Look down,” he says.
I look down at my chest and clearly see my bra, the entire left side of my shirt is threadbare and filled with holes. Little bits of broken string twist in the air currents. For further embarrassment I can see little holes forming in my bra as well, up by the strap. And there's a spot on my knee. And down by my other ankle. Great. I feel my face heat, Harry's going to get a free strip tease at this rate.
“Go grab some of Molly's stuff from the basement and change, then bring that stuff back up and we'll see if it's salvageable.” Harry pulls another one of his shirts from the closet and holds it up to the light, I notice he is making sure his back is to me. I feel embarrassed enough to die, and then I notice something.
“Why didn't they eat your clothes too?” At least from this angle I can't see any damage.
“”Probably because I didn't let them run all over me,” he says.
“Let them? Really? Who's idea was it to act like an 8 year old tonight?” My temper is on the rise, I love these jeans and if his mold demons have destroyed them- my internal rantings are cut off as a piece of shirt the size of my hand falls off and floats to the floor like a leaf in fall.
“Oh, never mind.”
After finding something of my sisters that I can actually make work I decide my shirt is a lost cause, and stuff it into one of the trash bags The jeans can be saved, I'm not a fan of the distressed look but it's popular and I'll make it work. The bra is a little harder. It's not in bad shape at all, a can fix those little holes up in 2 minutes with my moms sewing kit, but that means I have to hand it over to Harry for him to work his mojo on it. Beyond humiliating. I stand in his living room with it in one hand and my jeans in the other for a couple of minutes when the decision is made for me. Harry steps out of his room with a cardboard box of musty, decaying books.
“You keeping those?” He holds his hand out with clear expectation.
“Sure,” I clench my jaw and will myself not to blush any further. A useless wish, I know, but a girl can hope. But Harry is cool about it and doesn't hesitate, holding his hand over each place and speaking softly. When he's done he tosses both items in the chair behind him and I warm in appreciation when I see he's made sure the jeans land on top.
His cool black robes have to go and I hear him gripping to Mouse about how much they cost but his gray robe is completely unhurt. He says something about being pretty sure it would survive a nuclear holocaust and since he looks abnormally put-out, and I can't tell if he's joking, I let the topic drop. The rest of the night goes by quickly, hauling out books and sweeping. Harry cleans up the marks he had written on the floor and I mop, then we do a final look-over.
There is a pile of trash head high in the living room and his bedroom looks like it's moving day, almost empty except for the furniture and an alarming number of candles. Harry waves his hand and puts them all out, steering me into the living room. I feel groggy and a little dizzy, it's near sunrise and my body is protesting my lack of sleep. And food, my stomach grumbles in reminder.
Harry pulls his door open and looks out, then walks half way up the stairs. I follow him and breath in the warm, muggy air the storm left behind. I didn't realize how stale the air in the apartment had gotten. The predawn light is enough to see by, sometime during the night the city must have come through and cleaned up the lines, there's nothing keeping me here anymore.
“Guess I should head home,” I say. Well, I try to say. It sounds rather less like English since half way though I yawn hard enough to make my jaw ache. I'm about to repeat myself when Harry answers.
“Do you like pancakes?”
“Yes...” I'm unsure of where this is going.
“Me too,” he says. Turning to look down on me he smiles and says, “Grab your stuff and come on, anyone who spends an entire night cleaning my house deserves IHOP on the way home.”
“But I have school, I'm dirty, I-”
“No arguing with the wizard.” Harry pulls a mock stern glare and shakes finger at me, “Come and eat pancakes with me and then I’ll take you home. There won't be any school today and you're too tired to drive, your dads truck has spent more than one day here and isn’t in my way.”
When I waver he continues, “Chocolate pancakes. With whip cream. And-”
“Ok, ok, you win.” I laugh and jump down the stairs, “I'm coming. But when I get home I'm telling my sister she can run her own errands from now on. Her life is just too weird for me.”
Secretly though, I'm pretty happy that I got a chance to see what Molly, and Dad, see in this man. Harry's pretty cool. For a creepy old guy.