"He would not go without his father's word; that father, faint in death below, his voice no longer heard." -Felicia Dorothea Hemans
Disclaimer: If I owned “The Cape,” or “The Dresden Files,” they’d each run for six seasons and a movie.
1982, somewhere off the coast of Costa Rica
Scott Morganson, the ship’s cruise director, knocked on the cabin door. Moments later Lisa Breit, their aerialist, opened it.
“Scott? What’s wrong?” the brunette asked.
“It’s Dresden,” the blonde man replied. ‘The Amazing Dresden’ was halfway through his three-month contract with the cruise line.
“Is he sick?” Lisa demanded.
“No. Malcolm’s dead. The doctor says it looked like a heart attack.”
“Oh my god,” Lisa covered her mouth for a moment, stunned. Malcolm was dead? But he was so young! She’d seen him earlier that day. He’d seemed so healthy, so happy to be with his… Oh god!
“What about his son? Where’s Harry?”
They found the eleven-year-old sobbing in his cabin, the lights flickering alarmingly before blowing out. Malcolm’s death left Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden an orphan. Lisa, who had a soft spot for children, tried to comfort the boy while Scott inquired about his next of kin.
“The only one I have left is Uncle Justin,” Harry informed them, doing his best to dry his tears (and reign in his magic). “Justin Morningway,” he elaborated. “I don’t know him that well. Dad didn’t get along with…” he trailed off, his large brown eyes tearing up again.
Breit embraced the child as Morganson excused himself to go make arrangements. Word would have to be sent to Morningway. And a new magician would have to be flown in.
Lisa had recommended one called Max Malini.
“You can come here, kid,” Max called to Harry. “I don’t bite.” The twenty-six-year-old had been rehearsing for his show when he noticed the boy lingering near the stage of the auditorium.
“Malini,” the African American supplied. “You must be Harry Dresden.” The child nodded. “I heard about your father. That’s a rough break.”
“He was all I had.” Harry chewed his lip. “Mom died giving birth to me, so it was just me and him. I don’t know if Uncle Justin’s going to want me to live with him or if I want to live with Uncle Justin. I’ve never been to his house before.”
“Where is his house?” Max asked.
“The Chicago suburbs,” Harry replied.
“Ah. I spent some time in Chicago. I’m sure you’ll like it there.”
Harry shrugged. Max wasn’t quite sure how to act around children. He wasn’t ready to settle down and have any of his own yet.
“At least you have fond memories of your father,” Max said. “I never knew mine.”
“Really?” Harry asked.
“Really; my mom raised me. I’d say she did a pretty good job, too.”
“I should go,” Harry said, shuffling his feet. “I don’t want to distract you from your work.”
“Nonsense; magicians can’t work alone,” Max smiled. “How would you like to be my assistant? I bet you helped your dad.”
“Actually, my dad didn’t want me to help him. He didn’t want me getting involved with magic.” Harry’s gaze dropped down to the floor.
“Oh,” Max wasn’t sure how to reply to that. He didn’t see any harm in working with illusions, but he didn’t want to imply any disrespect to the deceased man.
“Harry, there you are!” Lisa strolled down the aisle towards the stage. “I see you’ve met Max.”
“Yeah,” the young wizard thought for a moment, trying to come to a decision. His dad hadn’t wanted him practicing magic around mortals. He’d been afraid that people would discover what Harry could do. But what Max did and what his father had done, that wasn’t real magic. Maybe he could pick up some sleight of hand without falling back on his gifts. “Uh, Mr. Malini—”
“Max,” the illusionist corrected him.
“Max, maybe it would be okay if I helped out a little?”
Max frowned, reading the obituary of Harry Dresden. According to the Chicago Sun Times, Dresden had been shot on a boat over Lake Michigan, the body never recovered.
He raised a glass and toasted the memory of the child he’d met in the eighties. They’d become friends, though they had only known each other a few weeks before the boy’s uncle finally came to collect him. Max hadn’t heard from Harry since. The article listed Dresden’s profession as ‘wizard’ of all things. It didn’t mention him leaving behind any family. Such a shame, Max thought.
It would’ve comforted him to know that Harry was not, in fact, dead, but that possibility wouldn’t enter Max’s mind for another year—not until a funeral would be held for a cop supposedly killed in an explosion. Only afterwards, with Vince Faraday standing in Max’s tent, debating whether to call his wife and let her know that she wasn’t a widow after all, would the magician wonder about the reason Dresden’s body hadn’t turned up.
Author’s Note: I originally wanted to use Raia as the aerialist, before I realized she’d be younger than Harry.
Story title is from a poem by Felicia Dorothea Hemans entitled “The Boy stood on the Burning Deck.”
Fun fact: The Cape’s Max Malini was named after an actual magician, a Jew born Max Katz Breit.