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Questions of Chivalry for Cally
dresden
dresden_mod wrote in dresdenficathon
Author: sienamystic
Recipient: Cally (http://eldestmuse.livejournal.com)
Title: Questions of Chivalry
Rating: G
Word Count: 1800
Pairing/Character(s): Dresden/Sheila
Notes/Warnings: None
Short description: What if Sheila wasn't a manifestation of Lashiel? What might she be like?



It's not every girl who gets asked out on a date by a guy who recently rode a zombie dinosaur to stop a band of rogue necromancers from becoming gods on earth. So of course, when Harry Dresden asked me out, I said yes. I'd have said yes even if we hadn't so recently shared what was an exceptionally nice kiss or two, kisses that made me tingle in places where there had been no tingling whatsoever in a really long time. Zombie dinosaur aside, he kind of a dorky old-school gentleman, and I liked that about him.

It was two days after the averted apocalypse and I was at the tail end of my shift at the bookstore. I'd only been there for a few months, but it was a good fit for me. My eidetic memory makes me the ideal stock clerk, as unglamorous as that probably is. But good customer service makes people happy and that made Bock happy, and really, it makes me happy. Plus, the fact that I had a small talent of my own meant that our more unusual clientele saw me as one of theirs, not an outsider who needed to be kept ignorant. Not that we generally had people on the level of Harry walking through every day, mind you - but it was nice for the hedge witches and the minor magicians to feel that they were free to discuss their current research projects more openly.

Harry was definitely a little bit more...hefty than the usual. All of us on the margins of the magical world tend to be pretty uninformed about the upper ranks, but I knew a Warden's grey cloak when I saw one, and when Harry came to my door later that night to make sure I hadn't been caught up in the craziness that had engulfed the city, I had been startled to see the cloak hanging from his shoulders. When he hugged me, mumbling into my shoulder that he was glad to see I was unharmed, I could smell the acrid tang of smoke and battle magic rising off of it. I kissed him, just before he left, and he winced - his lip was split. He insisted on prolonging the kiss despite it, leaving me with a trace of his blood on my mouth.

I had mentioned the upcoming date to my boss. Bock grumbled a little, which was his usual style. "He's a lightning rod, Shiela. Craziness is attracted to him from miles around."

"That must be why I said yes, then!" I laughed at his sour face, and went to restock a cart of folk tales in a quiet corner. As I sat down onto a stool and pulled my cart next to me, I felt a twinge of regret for my flip tone. Honestly, Bock was right - Harry was not destined for a quiet life - and while that was a little intimidating, it was also exciting. But zombie dinosaur awesomeness aside, dating Harry Dresden would clearly not be easy. Did I want to date a magical police officer, with all the danger that surely was part of the package?

I began shelving the books, running my fingers along their well-worn spines as I did some thinking. I had read most of them, and as I put them in their proper places, I remembered the stories as I had seen them, mentally leafing through the pages of some that I had particularly enjoyed. They each had a different scent to me: green grass, snow about to fall, a garden of roses. I came across one that I now realized had echos with the Erlking's summoning poem - perhaps someone who had heard a scrap of it and worked it into a story about a Huntsman who chased the wicked across the sky with his pack of ghostly hounds. The story crackled in my mind like a thunderstorm. From what Harry had said, I didn't think the real Erlking cared much about whether his prey was good or wicked. I'd tell Harry about it later.

By the end of the day, Bock was counting down his cash register and biting his tongue. I put my hand on his. He meant well, even if his methods were a little overly paternal. "I'll be careful. And it's just one date."

Bock sighed, squeezed my hand, and went back to his counting.

Harry was punctual to the second, taking me to a little Italian place downtown. He was sort of sweetly awkward, throughout the meal, teasing back when I flirted with him but also blushing just the faintest bit, as if he wasn't used to the idea of it. We lingered over coffee and the remains of two cannoli, and I impulsively reached out and interlaced my fingers with his, smiling at him. "I really enjoyed tonight, Harry."

"Me too." He brought my hand up to his mouth and kissed my knuckles, sending a pleasurable tingle down my back which he definitely noticed. I laughed and suggested, "Coffee, my place? Or is that being too forward?"

He laughed with me, his voice warm. "It's definitely too forward, and since I'm a brazen hussy, I'll take you up on that offer. He rose, pulling me up with him, and slid his arm around my waist. He was warm, and I could smell the leather from his coat and a faint ozone of magic around him. It was a very comforting smell, and I snuggled up against him to enjoy it. We left the restaurant before we started kissing in public, but it was a close call.

He escorted me to his hilarious little car, all patches and dents, and was about to open the door for me when a figure stepped out of the shadows. It moved like an eel, like something greasy and sinister, and Harry shoved me behind him, turning to face it.

It was...humanish, but not. It wore a long coat that hitched unevenly over lumps and bumps that were definitely not right. And despite the streetlamp overhead, it's face was shadowed, and I was glad for it. It slid within a few feet of us, and Harry lifted his hand, which began to glow faintly.

"Hold. And state your business, or get the hell gone."

"Why, Mr. Dresden," the thing hissed. "Have you forgotten me so soon? After what you did to me, I feel like you should be more understanding." A tongue of green light whipped out from the thing's hand towards us, and Harry brought his hand up. I saw a vague, glittering circle of light cover us, and whatever was attacking us shattered against it. I could smell sewer gas, and the odor of something rotting.

"I remember you, all right. I think you're the one with the bad memory. Because the last time we met, I kicked your ass into the previous week, and told you to stay the hell away from me." Harry called out a phrase in what sounded like Latin, and the creature was flung upwards and back with startling force, careening backwards into the alley and colliding with what sounded like a collection of trash cans. Harry turned to me.

"In the car. Quick. I don't think he'll be back, but he may be desperate and I don't want you in the middle of this." I slid into the car, and braced myself as Harry sped off, deliberately not looking behind me to see if the thing had attempted to come after us again. My hands were trembling.

After a few moments, when we were safely away, Harry spoke, his voice strained.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. That was a...well, I guess we can call him an unhappy client. Maybe I should have given him a refund."

His attempted joke fell flat. He tried again. "Shiela, I..." His voice trailed off.

"It's ok, Harry. I'm not hurt. But I'm scared. Does this happen to you all the time? Wait, don't answer. It was a stupid question. I know you face dangerous things constantly. And my guess is that whatever that thing was, it doesn't even rank very high on the scale of dangerous stuff you face.

"I guess...well, that's pretty much true. He's a petty criminal from the wrong side of the NeverNever, and he doesn't have much magical heft. But he could have still hurt you. And I'm sorry for putting you in danger."

"You took me out for dinner, Harry. You didn't put me in danger."

His face froze. "The operative word is that I took you out. I. Me. I've got a thousand things gunning for me, Shiela. I think I don't have the right to drag you into the middle of that."

I put my hand on his sleeve. "Let me think about this tonight, Harry. Because I won't lie and say I wasn't scared back there. But I really, really like you. And I think I have the right to make the decision about what that means for me, danger or not."

"I can't let..."

"If you try to take my autonomy away by playing the paternal "It's for your own good" card, I swear to God, Harry Dresden, I'll call up my own zombie horde to slap some sense into you. I may not be in your weight class, but I get to make my own decisions. Anything less and you devalue me."

He started to say something, and abruptly shut his mouth. We pulled up to the curb in front of my apartment building in silence. He got out and walked around to open the car door for me.

"Harry...there's a coffee shop two doors down from Bock's. Meet me there tomorrow? I think we should keep talking about this. But I want to spend tonight thinking things over."

"I don't think there's much to talk about. I think tonight clearly proved that I'm too dangerous for you to be around, Shiela. It's not right for me to drag you into my life. People around me have died, I can't take the chance that I'd put you in danger."

I punched him in the arm, as hard as I could, and he yelped, probably more out of surprise.

"You don't get to decide for me, Harry. I have a say in this as well. So tomorrow, we talk. And we see what happens. And we take it slow. Will you meet me tomorrow, yes or no?"

He ducked his head and started at the ground for a few long seconds.

"Yes. Yeah. Ok. But..."

I put my hand over his mouth. "We can talk about "but" and "what if" tomorrow, Harry." I removed my hand and kissed him, long and slow and as emphatically as I could. When I released him, he swayed, and had a very satisfying dazed expression on his face. I stepped away from him, towards my front door.

"See you tomorrow, Harry."

I left him standing by his car, a forlorn shadow. But I refused to feel guilty. I had a lot of thinking to do.

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What an interesting premise. I really enjoyed seeing through your Shiela's eyes, and I always love seeing Harry's romantic side. Great story! Have a very happy holiday season!

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

This is awesome. Thank you! You got Harry just right :)

Thanks! It was a bit of a challenge for me, but I'm glad you liked the results.

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