crazy bookstore

13. Things you said at the kitchen table

A reader on AO3 asked me to write some fluff to atone for my sins with regard to yesterday’s piece.  I decided to make it Harry Potter-themed, because why not?

i. April 2007

“Hey, Scully?”

“Mmmm?” She looked up from her laptop and the piles of notes spread out before her on the kitchen table. Mulder was standing at the window, peering through the drapes into the sunny backyard.

“What’s Will reading?” She leaned back in her chair and peered past him, through the window, to the distant form of their son reclining in the hammock, a pastel-colored book propped on his thin chest.

“Harry Potter, I think,” said Scully, returning to her journal article. Across the kitchen, Mulder turned to look at her, eyebrows raised. “What?”

“Isn’t that a little advanced for a six-year-old? Like, shouldn’t we be reading it with him?”

“I tried,” said Scully. “He said I was going too slowly. Said he was never going to get through all of the books before the last one comes out at the pace I was setting.” Mulder chuckled.

“Sounds about right. Your kid through and through.” She glared at him over the top of her reading glasses. “What? I mean his advanced reading level, not his impatience.” She looked skeptical. “Honest. You gonna tell me you weren’t reading at a fourth grade level when you were in kindergarten?”

“Fifth,” she said grudgingly, returning to her work. Mulder smirked, then returned his gaze to his son, relaxed and absorbed in his book.

“You know those books are completely inaccurate, right?” he said. “Completely off the mark when it comes to established practices in witchcraft.” She sighed, rolling her eyes.

“Mulder, are we really going to go through this again? Do you remember what happened when we tried to watch E.T.?” She shook her head. “It’s a children’s book series, Mulder. They’re fiction. They’re cute. Let it go.”

“Where’d he get them, anyway?”

“From my mom,” said Scully. “She bought them for Matthew, but Bill won’t let them in the house. Says they promote witchcraft.” Mulder snorted.

“Of course he did.” He watched his son for another moment, then glanced back at Scully thoughtfully. “He seems pretty absorbed.”

“He’s barely looked up all day,” Scully agreed.

“Seems like it’s unlikely he’ll look up anytime soon,” he said, crossing to stand behind her. “Don’t you think?” The corner of Scully’s mouth turned up slightly.

“I’d have to agree with that assessment,” she replied. He bent, brushing his lips against the side of her neck, feeling her inhale sharply. “Did you have something in mind? Something more pressing than this article that’s due in a week?”

“I think I do, yes,” he murmured into her hair. “Can I see you upstairs for a brief consult, Dr. Scully?” He headed for the stairs, and she got up to follow.

“Brief? Mulder, he’s on book three of six. He’s gonna be in that hammock the rest of the day. You make this brief, and that same hammock is exactly where you’re gonna be sleeping tonight.”

ii. June 2007

Scully trudged down the stairs, bleary-eyed, the pre-dawn light leaking in through the curtains, and stopped short when she saw Mulder sitting at the kitchen table, a dark green book open in front of him.

“Mulder?” He grunted, not looking up. “Have you been sitting here all night?” He grunted again. “Mulder, I have to be at work in an hour. William’s going to be up soon. Are you going to be able to look up long enough to make him breakfast?”

“I can scramble eggs while I read,” he said.

“The book’s not going anywhere. You can take a break.” Mulder shook his head.

“I want to talk about it with Will when he wakes up. Last night he was disappointed I hadn’t finished yet.” Scully shook her head, smiling in spite of herself.

“Fine,” she said, pouring herself some coffee, taking the eggs from the fridge to make her own breakfast. “Just don’t forget the to-do list I left, okay? You said you’d get to it two books ago.” Mulder grunted, lost in the book again, and Scully rolled her eyes.

iii. July 21, 2007, 6:30 AM

I’ve gone way too soft, Scully thought to herself, rolling over and looking at her alarm clock, which had rudely awakened her after barely four hours of sleep. When I told them they’d have to wait until after breakfast for their books like a normal person, I should have stuck by my guns.

She had been up until nearly two in the morning, picking up Mulder and William (clad in matching Ravenclaw robes) at the bookstore in town, where they had waited for hours to buy two copies of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” the moment it was released at midnight.

Copies. Plural. They had bought two copies of the same book, to be brought home to the same household, so that neither of them would have to wait even a day to read it.

Scully rolled out of bed, slid into her slippers, tied on her bathrobe, and trudged downstairs to drink as much coffee as she could hold before she was due in at the hospital. At the kitchen doorway, she paused, leaning up against the wall and smiling at the scene before her in spite of herself.

Mulder and William were both asleep at the kitchen table, their heads pillowed on their bright orange books. Mulder’s was closed- clearly he’d finished and had gone to sleep right there, rather than coming upstairs- and William’s was open, about two-thirds of the way through. Scully took down Mulder’s green alien coffee mug from the cabinet, filled it to the brim with coffee, and placed it next to his hand. She rubbed his shoulder gently.

“Mulder,” she said softly, stroking his shoulder. “Wake up.” He stirred, blinked once, settled again. “Come on, Mulder, I need you to carry Will up to bed.” Mulder opened his eyes again, sat up, and stretched with a groan.

“What time is it?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.

“Quarter to seven,” she said. “I need to leave soon. What time did you fall asleep?”

“Sometime around four,” Mulder said, reaching gratefully for his coffee and taking a long gulp. “Just didn’t have the energy to drag myself up when I finished.”

“So your theory was right, huh?” she said, settling at the table with her own mug of coffee. “About Snape being a good guy all along.” Mulder smirked.

“Scully, you should know by now not to doubt my theories. How often have I-” He froze, mid-sentence, staring at her. “Hang on, Scully, how did you-”

“The Gunmen,” she said. “E-mailed you a pirated copy two weeks ago, but I intercepted it. I thought they’d try to send you one… and I knew you’d be tempted. But I also knew you’d want to save the experience to share with Will.”

“But you read it?”

“It was either that, or stay up all night reading a third copy- not really an option the night before surgery- or eat dinner in a different room tonight to keep from being spoiled while you and Will discuss every single chapter in detail.” Mulder pushed his chair back and carefully lifted William from his seat.

“But reading a pirated copy, Scully?”

“Relax, Mulder, it’s not like I asked the Gunmen to send it. And it’s not like I paid them for it. I deleted it as soon as I was done.” Mulder grinned.

“Admit it, Scully,” he said. “You were just as anxious to read it as the rest of us ‘crazy’ people waiting in bookstores at midnight.” She opened her mouth to challenge him, then abruptly changed her mind.

“Yes, I suppose I was,” she conceded. Mulder shook his head, still grinning, and leaned down to give her a kiss before carrying William up to bed.

“You do keep me guessing,” he said. Scully smiled.

“Always.”