The first phone call was just after Harry moved to Chicago.

"So soon, Hoss?" Ebenezar teased. "Homesick?"

"Just checking the phones work, Sir."

"Right, of course. You settling in all right?"

"Yeah," he could hear the grin in Harry's voice. "I'm somebody else's apprentice now. You're old news, old man."

"Ah. Just you make sure this Nick treats you all right. You get any cases yet?"

"Missing kid. Had to persuade the parents to give me some hair, which weirded them out, but I found the kid."

He could hear the pride and satisfaction in his boy's voice and he thought Harry was going to be all right.

"Morgan's a pain in the ass."

Ebenezar snorted. "Everyone knows that, Hoss. Even the people who like him know that. Any particular reason you're ringing to tell me?"

"They've got him following me."

"Hell's Bells, Hoss." Ebenezar couldn't speak for a moment. He knew the Council wasn't fond of Harry, but Morgan was the Merlin's personal attack dog. To set him on Harry was a little extreme.

"Any reason you think they've set Morgan on me? I know they think I'm the next Darth Vader, but Morgan."

"There's nothing been going on to make them think…"

"Stars and Stones, you know I wouldn't, Sir"

Ebenezar winced, "That was badly worded, I'm sorry. I meant things happening in Chicago that the Council would blame on you."

"There've been a couple minor things, but they've all been accounted for. I suppose if you were really paranoid you might suspect me of being the genius mastermind who would set up catspaws to take the fall."

"And we know Morgan is that sort of paranoid bastard."

"Of course, what Morgan hasn't taken into account is that I'm just not that clever."

"Want a pig for the farm?"

"Why would you have a pig to give me?"

"Idiot messed around with the Little Folk. Little Folk asked justice from the true Fae. He got off lucky as far as messing with faerie is concerned, but they're only Little."

"Not going to try and change him back?"

Harry's voice turned hard, "Believe me, he deserved it. Besides," Harry's voice was entirely too innocent to be believable, "I would never involve myself in the justice of the Fae."

Ebenezar snorted. "Tell me the whole story before I take this pig."

Harry did and he ended with, "And that was how I made friends with one of the Little Folk."

"Harry," said Ebenezar seriously, "what did I tell you about making 'friends' with faeries?"

"Toot's not dangerous. He likes pizza and has the memory of a goldfish. But he and his friends see everything. You know how useful that is? So occasionally I bribe him with pizza to keep a lookout for me or tell me what he saw. It's not like I'm making deals with Mab or Titania."

Ebenezar sighed. Harry was probably right. He's probably overreacting. But the deep fear that comes when he hears Harry call a faerie 'friend' is something he can't explain, not to Harry anyway. Because he never told him who Maggie LeFay truly was and how she got her name. Perhaps he should have. Perhaps he will, one day. It's still too painful.

Maggie LeFay was the faerie's friend.

"Good news, the Doom has been lifted."

"I heard, Hoss. What happened?"

Harry told him about Victor Sells and his little drug ring. He's a good storyteller and Ebenezar found himself on tenterhooks throughout, despite knowing the ending.

"So when Morgan finally figured out I was innocent the stubborn, self-righteous prick had to save my life. He's pretty pissed about it. Then he gave evidence to the Council showing that I was trying to stop the Black Magic, not participate. Of course, he gave me a nice warning that when I do inevitably turn to the Dark Side, he'll be there."

"You can say a lot about Morgan, but he's an honest bulldog. He wouldn't leave a man to burn."

"You know I support you, Hoss."

"You're the only one, Sir."

There's not much else to be said. He wanted to know what happened, but he's already read the report. He wanted to know what happened when the vampires imprisoned Harry, but Harry will never say, and he's not sure he wants to know, not really.

What Ebenezar wanted most of all is to point out to the Council is how the vampires tortured his boy to the point of distraction, put him in a corner, in a situation where there was no right answer, then blamed him for the outcome.

Harry was never the cause of the war. He was the excuse, but the Council will never listen.

Ebenezar listened. Listened to his grief. His guilt. His questions. The boy has many theories and, like old times, they swap them. But Ebenezar only has one answer.

There is no cure for vampirism.

Harry doesn't call anymore.

Ebenezar stared at the phone. He could've handled that better.

"How exactly did you end up with a debt to Mab, Hoss?"

"You're not going to like it."

"Tell me anyway."

Harry told him. Ebenezar cursed for five minutes straight.

"You never told me."

"You know I don't like talking about fighting DuMorne."

Harry wasn't telling him everything, but then, he has secrets from the boy as well. He can hardly throw stones.

The boy doesn't thank him for Ortega's death. That's not how things go. It's just as well. If Harry were to know the full truth of what he did it would ruin everything.

Harry doesn't phone. Ebenezar hadn't expected him to, which must be why he's sitting by the phone constantly, the Speaking Stone in his pocket, just in case.

He's desperate to phone Harry, which he knows would be the worst thing he could do. His boy was angry, desperate to lash out. From his point of view, everything he believed in has been betrayed.

Perhaps he's right.

The key is time. Patience. But Ebenezar has never been good at patience and memories of a thousand arguments with Maggie flash before him. He begs to whatever God may listen to not let him lose Harry the same way.

He couldn't keep his patient silence after Halloween. He heard about Harry being drafted into the Wardens, about Kemmler's disciples, and Harry riding a zombie T-Rex in order to stop the god-making ritual (he'd say the zombie T-Rex was just a outlandish story, except he knows Harry).

"I heard about what happened. How are you, Hoss?"

"I'm fine."

Harry was probably beaten to within an inch of his life and then some, but sure, he's fine.

"You know you don't have to work for the Wardens if you don't want to?"

"I know. But Luccio made a pretty good argument."

The awkward silence was painful. He wanted to beg forgiveness – anything – but neither of them can cope with that. Besides, he can't apologise for something he won't change. He is the Blackstaff and will continue to be the Blackstaff. Either Harry comes to terms with it or he won't. Those are the consequences of his choices.

He sighed. "Happy Birthday, Hoss."

There was a short silence followed by a small click.

Halloween had always been difficult. As much as he had tried to remember Harry's birthday all he had ever been able to think about was Maggie's death, so they had never really celebrated the birthday on the farm. Harry hadn't minded; his birthday had never been celebrated much throughout his turbulent childhood, so it wasn't much of a change.

Ebenezar couldn't remember the last time he had wished Harry 'Happy Birthday'.

"I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know why I thought I could teach."

"Buck up, kid. You're the only hope Molly's got."

"Well then, she's doomed."

They talked about lesson plans and teaching methods. Ebenezar gave him advice and Harry complained about rebellious apprentices who never listen even when it's for their own damn good. Ebenezar tried to feel sympathetic. Honestly, he did. He's not laughing. Really.

"Boy, what did I tell you about playing politics with the White Court?"

"I wasn't playing politics. I was confronting them about the murders of our minor practitioners. Explosively."

Ebenezar wanted to be reasonable about this, but he's not capable of being reasonable about the White Court, especially since Lara Raith seems to have her eye on his boy. They argue. It doesn't end well.

Later, Harry sent him a short note about Cowl and his fears of Black Council involvement. There's no postmark and his address isn't registered anyway.

Ebenezar grumbles. He can only presume Harry's little faerie friends were at work. Well, at least the boy took steps to make sure only he saw the note.

He burnt the note and contacts certain people. Then he left out milk, bread and honey. It's not like there's a pizza place nearby. Besides, he's fond of the old traditions.

He doesn't like faeries, but he supposed if they're working for Harry they couldn't be too bad.

Ebenezar phoned as soon as he heard about the Knight's injuries. He knew Michael and the boy were friends. Ebenezar knew Harry would be blaming himself; Harry had a bad habit of taking every single thing on his shoulders, not caring if his back would break in the process.

"Hoss, what happened?"

There's silence and Ebenezar wondered if something has gone wrong with the phone line until it all comes tumbling out. Harry's barely coherent, but Ebenezar listens.

Maybe it's his fault Harry has a guilt complex? Maybe he had emphasised personal responsibility a little too much? All he had wanted was for Harry to not fall to the previous influence of DuMorne and the Black Magic instilled in him. He hadn't realised then that Harry was already too much of a good person to do so.

More likely it's the damn Council telling him he's evil incarnate just waiting to happen his whole life. Has to have an effect on a boy's psyche.

Whatever the reason, Ebenezar thought, somebody has to convince Harry that he is a good man or it might just break him.

They didn't talk about the new 'Grey Council' they've formed over the phone. It's too dangerous.

They did talk about Thomas Raith. He trusted his boy's judgement, trusted it implicitly, but he couldn't go through this again. He's heard it all before, heard it from Maggie.

He's different, I can handle it.

His only consolation is that the Raith bastard didn't seem to be feeding of Harry, but he knew what the White Court was like. All it would take is one taste, and Harry, for whatever reason, seemed to be vulnerable to whatever lies Raith had told.

He couldn't do this again, he couldn't lose his child, his – he shook. He'd never even told Harry the truth.

They argued and Ebenezar felt history repeating itself.

The message, when it came from the Council, was cold, uncaring.

Warden Dresden shot. Body unrecovered. Assumed dead.

A million conflicting emotions and questions hurtled across his mind at once.

If they haven't recovered the body, then how do they know he's been shot?

Then he found himself laughing, the desperate, manic laughter of someone beyond all feeling, all coherent reason. Because somehow it was incredibly funny to him that someone in the Council had done the courtesy of making sure he knew (because, despite having previously been Harry's mentor, he wouldn't be on the need to know list) but couldn't be bothered to go through the normal caring bullshit of at least sending someone to tell him personally, or making the message a little … kinder. Or at least using Harry's name, because Harry had never been a Warden, not really, he had never wanted to be a Warden. He had been dragooned into it. Ebenezar didn't know why that mattered so much.

Then he grew angry. At everyone and everything. He couldn't even think about the mysterious shooter without things exploding (it was like he was as bad as Harry at control, and wasn't that a sad thought). But most of all he found he was angry with himself. He'd been talking to Harry just hours before. If he'd stayed a little longer, perhaps Harry would be alive. It wasn't logical, but remembering Harry sitting, alive, holding Maggie the Second, his daughter (his great-granddaughter) asleep on his lap, just hours before, stirred so many feelings he couldn't really identify them all.

And now Harry was dead.

The things the Blackstaff did that night were wiped from the history books.

Ebenezar worked on his farm. He didn't leave it much these days. He'd heard the news, but he hadn't gone looking. He wasn't ashamed to admit he was afraid. Some things weren't meant to happen.

His boy had come back, yes, but what was left of Harry? He had decided that if Harry was still Harry, then Harry would come to him. If that made him a coward, and it probably did, then so be it.

Footsteps approached. Ebenezar didn't look up.

"Hello, Sir."