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Cold Comfort - Priscellie's Livejournal
October 2012
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 07:10 am
Cold Comfort

So I uh, wrote fic. For the first time in six years. *hides*

Title: Cold Comfort
Author: Priscellie
Rating: *coughNC-17cough*
Fandom: Dresden Files
Spoilers: Through Proven Guilty. Plus, dude, if you haven’t read all the canon books yet, why are you wasting your time reading fanfic? Come back after you’ve read up on your Dresden.
Summary: Harry looks for comfort after the death of a loved one. Daaaark.
Disclaimer: Jim is the Great Creator and Owner of All Characters. It’s a credit to him how much fun I have dabbling in his world!
Word Count: 4160
Author’s Note: This is book-verse, not TV-verse. First person to comment saying “OMG UR STOOPID, CONNIE IS A BRUNET!” gets eaten by weasels.

I hung up the phone, feeling hollow. I hadn’t wanted to make the call. No one wants to make that kind of call. But if a woman I respected had to be told her daughter was dead, well, it was better coming from me than one of the faceless officers that swarmed the scene. It didn’t make it any easier to hear, though.

Or to say.

I felt her reassuring squeeze, just above my left wrist—she knew I didn’t get much feeling in my ruined hand. For an instant, I let myself look up into Murphy’s clouded blue eyes, red from crying, then quickly averted my gaze. Her face was pale and streaked with tears, but her cute, upturned nose was bright pink.

She was here now, but she hadn’t been there at the time. She hadn’t shown up until later, until after the body had been photographed and prodded and zipped into a nondescript black bag and toted off to the morgue. I’d stayed behind, watching mutely as a street cleaning crew arrived and began to hose the sticky, drying blood from the pavement. I felt a hand clasp mine, and we watched in silence as they finished their work. Their van pulled away, and I went home and made the call.

Her mother had trusted me to take care of her. Now somewhere in Chicago, that mother was gathering her many children together and telling them their big sister wouldn’t be coming home again.

“Harry,” she said, breaking the silence between us. She’d already known what had happened when she appeared at the crime scene, so there hadn’t been a need for words before. “Harry, I’m so sorry.”

“Not your fault,” I muttered, pulling my hand away and crossing the room to the kitchen. “Do you want anything?” I rummaged in the icebox for the first of what would probably be many bottles of Mac’s ale. I generally don’t have enough disposable income to get drunk, but tonight was a special occasion.

“I want you to look at me,” she said, standing. “I know you, Harry, and I know that look on your face. You’re blaming yourself, even though you know there was nothing you could have done.”

“She shouldn’t have even been there in the first place,” I argued. I sat down on the couch and opened the bottle. “I didn’t need backup, and it was Warden business. I only let her come this time because I wasn’t going to let her be there when I took the bastard down.” I sighed. “I should have known better.”

She sat down next to me. “She knew what she was signing up for, Dresden. It was her choice. Even if you tried to forbid her from coming along, you know she would have followed you anyway. You had no way of knowing Ellis would catch on, much less get to Stapleton before you.”

I stared at a small patch of floor the rugs didn’t quite cover. She was right, of course. It was supposed to be easy. Doug Stapleton and Clifford Ellis were a pair of middling-talent spell-slingers that ran an occult supplies shop uptown. It mostly catered to wannabe-witches and those like themselves with little actual magical talent, but nevertheless determined to dabble. Unfortunately, they reached a snag in their working relationship when Ellis decided to expand their clientele and started cutting up little girls for “parts.” Stapleton wanted out, so he came to me, offering Ellis up to the Wardens on a silver platter in exchange for general amnesty and our protection. When the Council says “jump,” I usually say “bite me,” but this was an exception. Bastard chose the wrong town.

Stapleton probably thought he was being clever and sneaky, and he probably felt that way up until the moment Ellis killed him. When we arrived at the designated meeting place, my companion and I found him dead, shot in the chest. We both launched into action—I went one way, she the other…

Then Ellis dropped the veil.

The bullet caught me at the level of my collarbone. It was excruciating, despite the protection of my duster, and it knocked me to the ground. Then the second shot rang out, followed by the sound of another body hitting the pavement, then footsteps, retreating at a run. I turned over, my shoulder in agony, and retrieved my dropped blasting rod. “Fuego!” I cried through clenched teeth, but he dodged handily, and the fireball missed him by a mile. I turned to my friend to make sure she was okay… and the adrenaline that had surged through my veins suddenly turned to ice. Blood—too much blood—gushed from the gory mess that was now the back of her head. I stared, unable to move, as the light faded from her clear blue eyes.


This wasn’t happening. She who’d faced down monsters—human and demon alike—couldn’t be bested by some lowly thug. She deserved better. If something nasty was going to take her down, it wasn’t going to be a talentless weasel like Clifford Ellis.

I guess it’s possible he thought she was a Warden as well, though unlike me, she wore no cloak. I’ll never know for sure. He wouldn’t tell me why he did it when I cornered him minutes later in another alley a few blocks away, and I didn’t bother asking him again. There wasn’t much of a point. Getting slammed into a brick wall by a garbage dumpster hurled with enough force to crack the foundation tends to hamper one’s ability to answer questions. The police would be scratching their heads over that one for months, that’s for sure.

Shaking with rage and pain, I returned to the body.

I’ve read Kemmler’s book—at least, Lasciel had. She could tell me what to do, just as she’d done when I reanimated the T-Rex two years ago. Sure, the White Council had looked the other way that time, but they wouldn’t again. Not with a human. But I had stood against the White Council before, and I’ve no doubt I would again in the future, and wouldn’t it be worth it to bring her back, even if the Council executed me for doing it? As I knelt there, holding a limp, cold hand and sobbing like a child, I seriously considered doing it.

It wasn’t realistic, of course. When the necromancer Kumori brought Marcone’s man back to life, he was still near-fatally wounded, still desperately in need of medical attention. Even if I could bring her back, I couldn’t heal her. I couldn’t undo the damage made by that unforgiving bullet as it penetrated her skull and bore a gaping hole through her brain. She would be a vegetable, at best. I couldn’t do that to her. She was really gone.

I leaned over her and ran my fingers through her hair, sticky and dyed red from the gore. She was wearing it shorter than usual, in an endearingly punkish sort of cut. I couldn’t shield her from harm, and I couldn’t save her.

That was when the first police car had arrived.

I tried to shake off the memory and return to the present. Murphy’s eyes watched me warily, concern evident in her features.

“I told her mother I’d take care of her,” I said, my voice tight.

“You did,” she assured me. “You prepared her as best you could. You told her the truth. You taught her about magic and monsters and fairy politics and things that go bump in the night. She was stronger because of it. You kept your promise, Harry.”

I let myself look at her then, careful as always to avoid actual eye contact. I wanted so much to believe what she said, to accept that I had made the right decisions and that there wasn’t anything more I could have done. My heavy conscience rebelled, knowing if I’d only been smarter or faster or more clever I could have avoided tragedy. It told me that even though it was Ellis with the gun, I was the one that killed her.

I felt as if I were drowning. With each breath, it became harder and harder to fill my lungs. I felt the dark claw of self-loathing clutching at my heart and wringing until it was fit to burst. I took hold of her hand and squeezed, as if the simple contact could anchor me to the here and now, and banish those images now seared into my memory as effectively as though I’d used my wizard’s Sight. I felt her reach up and brush my hair out of my face, making soft, comforting noises. She tilted her head, concern evident in her eyes.

“Oh, Harry, Harry…” I heard her say. “I’m sorry.”

She put her arms around me, and somehow, the pain lessened a little. Not by much, but it was enough. It was a tiny spark in the darkness, a physical reassurance that I wasn’t alone. Her presence eased the pain to a level I could function at, where I could process the world around me.

I took slow, shuddering breaths. While I knew I could never forgive myself, I was aware that I needed to stem the tide of guilt if I was going to be able to face the next day. And I needed her to help me. I reciprocated the gesture, wrapping my arms around her. The deep pain that clenched my guts began to move, starting low in my belly and radiating upwards, tearing through my insides and finally escaping as a low wail that sounded more animal than human. I clutched her tighter to my chest.

“Karrin…” My voice was hoarse and desperate. “Karrin, she’s gone.”

“I’m here,” she said, holding me. “And I’m not going anywhere. You’re stuck with me, Dresden.”

“I’ll destroy you, too. You know I will.”

“Don’t be an idiot.” And she kissed me.

I was too stunned to react at first. I half wondered if she were trying to distract me or just shut me up, but I decided I could analyze it later. I let go of whatever pretensions I still clung to and surrendered to her kiss. Damn logic. And damn me, too.

Her skin was so warm against mine, her breath hot on my face. The sharp contrast made me realize just how cold and numb my body felt, and a spasm of raw need coursed through me. God, I wanted her. I wanted to crawl inside her, to be surrounded and enveloped by that warmth. I wanted to lose myself in her touch. I wanted to have one moment where I didn’t feel so damn guilty. I needed her. I needed Murphy.

With great effort, I pulled away.

“I’m sorry, this isn’t right,” I managed, breathing heavily.

“I know,” she breathed. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes downturned. “I just…” she began, then shook her head. She looked up at me, clear blue eyes searching my face. “Harry, you shouldn’t be alone tonight.”

“We’ve had this conversation,” I said, trying to convince myself more than anything. “It can’t happen.” I still didn’t move away, though.

“Just tonight,” she said. “It doesn’t have to change anything. I can see you closing yourself off, Harry, and it hurts me to see you like this. You need to let yourself feel something other than pain and loss and guilt.”

I could feel my resolve failing. The look in her eyes was so convincing. A treacherous part of my brain wondered how many men before me had been seduced by that look, but the rest of me didn’t care.

I reached out and twined a strand of blonde hair around my fingers, idly observing the way the golden strands caught the candle light. In my exhausted mind, I thought it looked almost like a halo. I remembered Murphy the way I saw her when I used my Sight: a guardian angel blazing with indignant fire, once-radiant white robes dimmed by the accumulation of smoke and blood and filth. And here I was, seeking salvation from a sullied angel. It was almost funny.

And then I was kissing her. Softly at first, but quickly becoming more heated. She responded immediately, cupping my face with her hands, then clutching at my back, my upper arms, my hair. I held her tightly, as though terrified she might evaporate in my arms. My collarbone, severely bruised by the impact of the bullet, sent a dull pain through my shoulder at this abuse, but I couldn’t allow myself to let go. I felt as though she was the only thing anchoring me to the ground, and only by holding on to her did I keep from pinwheeling dizzily off the face of the Earth. She grabbed the front of my shirt and pulled me down on top of her as she scooted backwards on the couch so we could both stretch out.

I buried my face in her neck, reveling in the feel of her rocketing pulse as it beat a tattoo against my lips. Rucking up her blouse, I laid my right hand on her ribcage, following the rapid rise and fall of her chest as it pressed against mine. I inhaled the faint smell of sweat and the distinct, strawberry-scented shampoo my tough-as-nails cop categorically denied using. Everything about her screamed life. I let my senses overwhelm my mind, trying to drive away the images of a mess of bony fragments and brain matter marring the back of my friend’s head, of lifeless eyes staring unfocused into mine, of someone I’d held dear to me lying in a widening pool of her own blood.

As if sensing the sudden turn in my thoughts, she captured my jaw with both hands and dragged my mouth up to hers. “Be here now,” she murmured between kisses. “Be with me.”

I complied, moving my right hand upwards a few inches and sliding my thumb beneath her bra, pushing it aside. She gasped into my mouth, arching her back into my touch. Her hands went to work unbuttoning her blouse and unhooking her bra to give me better access. As she did so, I traveled lower, greeting each newly-bared inch of pale, smooth flesh with my lips, my tongue, my teeth. She tangled her fingers in my hair, encouraging my progress. Below her left breast, I found a thin, puckered scar about two inches long, between two ribs. I frowned, trying to think of where it must have come from, eventually identifying it as the mark Lord Raith must have left when he stabbed Murphy on our mission to end his ritual entropy curses. So much pain, and all because of me. I kissed the mark and moved lower.

I reached the waist of her pants and hesitated, unsure of how far we were going to take this, but her gentle tug at my hair and low murmur of “Dresden, don’t even think about stopping there” were all the motivation I needed. She kicked off her shoes and lifted her hips accommodatingly, and I reverently bared the muscular length of her legs. She hooked one over my shoulder, and I kissed the inside of her knee before slowly working my way up her inner thigh.

She gasped, hands clenching and unclenching at the edges of the couch. “Hold on there, Galahad,” she said breathlessly, tugging at my t-shirt. “It’s hardly fair, me being so naked when you’re still wearing all those clothes.” I ignored the protests from my bruised collarbone, pulling the shirt over my head and tossing it aside, then I ran my hands up her torso, closing my eyes and relishing the tactile sensation of her hard muscle and feminine curves. The tiny metal shields of my bracelet skipped across her skin, making her wriggle beneath me. Ticklish? That was certainly interesting. I leaned forward to kiss her again, bringing more of my body within her reach. She gently ran her short nails up my flanks, learning the planes of my back as I took in her throat, her jaw, her earlobes, her brow. I tasted the saltiness of our mingled tears on her cheeks. Then I looked down and was struck by the sight of at my deformed, discolored left hand on the pale, smooth skin beneath her breasts, shaming the exquisite symmetry of her body. I balked at the sight.

She followed the direction of my gaze, and realizing my plight, she sat up. She touched my face, gently forcing me to look at her, and kissed me soundly on the mouth. Then she took my left hand in hers and brought it closer to her, turning it around slowly to inspect every inch. She frowned at the small, round scars on my wrists where Lea had taken my blood over a decade ago, but said nothing. I forced myself to relax.

“It’s looking better,” she said. She gave me a sad sort of smile, then looked back at the hand. “You’re getting more sensation now, though,” she observed, and her smile became slightly wicked. “Let’s see how much you can feel.”

She brought my hand to her lips and kissed the knuckles, waxy and deformed to my eyes, then turned my hand over and gently nuzzled the inside of my palm. She found the three strips of healthy skin that made Lasciel’s sigil and kissed their center. I strained mentally, willing ruined nerve endings to come to life and record every sensation, desperate to feel her even her slightest touch. It was a bit like feeling through a thick glove—I had vague impressions of warmth and pressure—but the sight alone was undeniably erotic. I wanted more.

Lasciel, I thought, hating my weakness. Would you…? I couldn’t finish the sentence, but I didn’t need to. In response, I suddenly felt the full force of touch I had previously been denied. I moaned, my eyes rolling back in my head as three years of alternating numbness and pain in my ruined hand gave way to rich, tactile euphoria. When she drew my index finger into her mouth, I nearly went insane. I wrapped my good arm around her waist and pulled her in closer.

She climbed atop me, straddling my legs. I leaned down to kiss her, and she stretched up to meet me—a movement that did very interesting things to her breasts and showed off the length of her neck and torso. We slowly removed our remaining clothing, she patiently amused as I fumbled one-handed with buttons. Naked, she arched her body into mine, and I felt our hearts pounding. God, she was beautiful.

We came together that way, our difference in heights somehow irrelevant. We moved as one, our hips tracing slow circles, rhythmic and intense. I wanted to memorize every inch of her body, all feminine power and strength. Her lips moved beneath mine, tantalizing, her small breasts pressing against my bare torso. It felt so right, so real, so perfect I wanted to cry out.

This wouldn’t happen again. I wouldn’t let it. I’d come to terms with the fact that Murphy and I had no future. Tonight was an aberration, a fluke. A bit of cold comfort in the wake of a loss that made my soul ache. Like alcohol, it would dull the pain for the moment, but it would hurt all the more in the morning.

So I put it all out in the open. I took all my devotion, my respect, my attraction; I took the feelings of despair from the rejection in that damned elevator last year. I took the unwavering loyalty and the quiet companionship that had carried me through darkness so many times before. I took all my love for Karrin Murphy and put it into that kiss. I would never have her, but for one moment I could at least pretend.

For one moment, pretending would have to be enough.

I tried to lose myself in the warmth of her body, her solid form compact but lithe and deliciously flexible, with the powerful core muscles of a black belt in Aikido. Time seemed to stretch and compress in strange ways as my hands traced the contours of her flesh, caressing her flat stomach, her muscular thighs. Our pace accelerated: my thrusts deeper, her movements atop me wilder and less controlled. She suddenly shuddered, her entire body clenching then releasing the tension in a wave that traveled the full length of her form, taking me with her over the brink.

I don’t know how long we stayed locked in that position afterwards, just holding each other. Her breath was warm on my skin, our still-rapid heartbeats racing in and out of sync. But inevitably, the dark knowledge hovering at the borders of my mind filtered back into my consciousness. She gently brushed her hands across my cheeks, and I realized I was crying.

She climbed off my lap, and we lay down together on the couch. I drew her into my arms, wanting to feel the full length of her body pressed against mine, willing it to be enough. It wasn’t.

“Karrin,” I whispered, feeling my heart constrict painfully as I said her name.

“I’m here.”

“No,” I said. “You’re not. Not the way I need her. We both know this isn’t real.”

She looked wounded. “Do I not please you, my host?” she murmured, nestling her head beneath my chin.

I closed my eyes tightly, clinging to the false perception of warm flesh against mine, but knowing what I’d see if I dared use my Sight. One haggard, broken man—beaten down and red-eyed—was lying naked and alone on a now-stained, lumpy couch: his legs twining with nothing, his arms holding empty air.

I felt my throat tighten with an indefinable emotion, part shame, part disgust, part self-loathing, unified by the most crippling feeling of loss I’d experienced since my father’s death when I was a child.

“Well?” Lasciel said, meeting my gaze with borrowed eyes. I’d avoided them before—partly out of habit, partly out of a desire to pretend—but the fallen angel had no soul to gaze upon. Murphy’s eyes were clear and bright, and they shone with a fierce intensity I had only been allowed to see for the briefest instants at a time. Apparently that had been long enough for Lasciel’s photographic memory to reproduce them flawlessly. This was the first time I’d really looked at them. This was the only way I’d ever be able to see them again.

I would have given anything, would have done anything, for them to be real.

“I can help you,” she murmured. “I can make it stop hurting. I can give you the strength to protect those you love, to keep them safe. I can give you the power to destroy your enemies., just as I did against Ellis. Take up the coin, my host. Do not let your Sergeant Murphy have died in vain.”

Lasciel the Temptress whispered into my ear, and I found myself unable to reject her words.

Murphy. Yang to my yin. Short where I was tall, fair where I was dark. Even in her death, why would I expect it to be any different?

I descended the ladder and hefted the excavating pick I had used only once before. I had to respect the balance.

One soul for Heaven, one soul for Hell.

Crossposted to harry_murphy. Hope they don't set me on fire. :D

Massive love to my beta, Kat, who truly went above and beyond the call of duty. In addition to her edit-fu, she cheered me on over a period of months and wrote round robin Harry/Murphy pirate AU cracksmut with me and Becky and Choco to get my brain in gear. She also called me a “SNEAKY HOR!” frequently, which was a great boost to my ego. This was my first attempt at writing sex, as well as the first fic I’ve written in six years (and before that was only one short vignette), so big heaps of credit and love and fresh pastries go to her.

Comments are encouraged, death threats even more so! I’d also love to know how many of you end up reading the story again immediately afterwards to make sure I didn’t cheat. *grins* Go on, do it!

Tags: ,
Current Music: "Blues," Zemfira


Angelic Eye for the Gendered-Species Individual
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 02:23 pm (UTC)

You are twisted. In what I think is overall a good way, but this blew my head off enough that it will be a while before I can form a more coherent reaction.

Glinda the Good: Officially!
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC)

*laughs* Thanks!

ReplyThread Parent
April a.k.a. Shiggy
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)

This was amazing. You really threw me for a loop. At the end I had to rethink how you'd phrased things...you did a great job of being specifically obscure. (oxymoron, I know).

You rock.

Glinda the Good: Officially!
Sat, Mar. 31st, 2007 01:11 am (UTC)

Thank you! "Specifically obscure" is a good term for what I was aiming for. :D

ReplyThread Parent
‫‬‭‮‪‫‬‭Dark Puck
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 04:32 pm (UTC)

You are win and love.

And a sneaky hor, but we knew that. :D

Major Major Major Major
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC)

ZEMFIRA?! Teh fu?

Glinda the Good: Officially!
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 11:01 pm (UTC)

I don't know where I picked up the song and I don't know what the words mean, but I like the sound of it. :D

ReplyThread Parent
Major Major Major Major
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC)

Zemfira is pretty good, a frequent visitor of my iPod. I've been following her from the start when she was a loud obnoxious rock'n'roll girl. "Blues" is from her latest record, she's much more mature there. Really did not expect to see her outside the Russian-writing part of my friendlist ^_^

SNEAKY HOR ^_^ Don't you have teh_maid for stuff like this?

ReplyThread Parent
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC)


...Seriously though, nice smutfic, even *if* that wasn't *actually* Murph. ><; But poor Molly. ;_;

Glinda the Good: Officially!
Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 11:44 pm (UTC)

Mwaha, thanks!

But you did get that Molly isn't the dead one, yes? :D

ReplyThread Parent
Tue, Apr. 17th, 2007 02:17 pm (UTC)


That was...

Damn. Are you sure you're not the dark half of Mr. Butcher himself....or a female clone, or something? That was the most in-character, first-person fic I've read yet! And for being your first fic in six years, whatever "touch" you had before is still there. I'm meming this and recommending it to some friends. I'm the new co-mod over at Dresden Daily Newsletter, and I see that my fellow co-mod made this story his Editor's Choice for the first issue. I now can see why!! You get a 10 on the heart-wrenching scale. :)

Glinda the Good: Officially!
Tue, Apr. 17th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC)

My face is currently the color of your screenname. :D Thanks for such high praise!

ReplyThread Parent
Fri, Apr. 20th, 2007 12:37 pm (UTC)
Really love this fic!

I re-read this fic a lot, hoping to get past my own writer's block: mine is about 12 years going now. Bad me. I love your fic though-a lot!

Emotions that simmered a long time, struggling to escape and manifest into something satisfying and accomplished made their presence known in this fic.

I feel you over-came a real hurdle. You are a real writer with plotbunnies - fanfic and original - that simply drive you to distraction. Tell me if I am wrong!

I added you to my friends list-don't worry, I don't post very often due to my writer's block....:)

Looking forward to more fic!

Glinda the Good: Officially!
Sun, Apr. 22nd, 2007 12:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Really love this fic!

I'm thrilled that this story affected you so strongly as a writer!

You're definitely right about me overcoming a hurdle. Since that one fic six years ago--which actually got great reviews even though I detest it now--I've just given away all my plotbunnies, believing that I simply wasn't a writer. But this one kept nibbling at me, and eventually I just started writing it.

Of course, this fic has been so glowingly received that I'm now terrified that none of my plot bunnies will live up to this standard I've set for myself, so I'm in yet another bind. :D

ReplyThread Parent
Sun, Apr. 22nd, 2007 06:21 am (UTC)

Oh, fabulous!

I've been trying to hunt down decent Dresden fanfic and finally found you. Hurrah!

I've enjoyed your posts on the forum. Congrats on your upgrade :)

I go by Courser over there.


(no subject) - (Anonymous)

(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Glinda the Good: Officially!
Thu, Sep. 24th, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic praise! I'm delighted you think so highly of my work.

Unfortunately, NC-17 material is not allowed at fanfiction.net, so I can't post it there. I'm certainly not hoarding it, however! I've posted it in a number of Dresden fic comms and at The Archive. :D

ReplyThread Parent
Fri, Oct. 9th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)

...Y'know, I'd honestly think that would be the one thing that would have led Harry to accept the coin. I applaud it D:

ReplyThread Parent