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Tear Jerker / Skin Game

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Par for the series in general, there were quite a few ridiculously sad moments in this installment of The Dresden Files. WARNING: Unmarked spoilers below!


  • Maggie quietly asking if Harry is mad at her. It's the only reason she can think of to explain why he's not around. The entire scene is one of the most poignant, emotionally moving scenes in the entire series. The heartache just keeps building as Maggie shows Harry her room, lets him tuck her in, and tell her a story before bed. In only a few pages, it manages to convey just how badly little Maggie wants her Daddy, and just how badly Harry wants to be there for her. Here Harry has been avoiding Maggie for her own good (he thinks), and not considering that so far as Maggie would see it, she must have done something terribly wrong for both her parents to be avoiding her.
  • Harry's other daughter, the "parasite" inside his head. As Mab's charm is freezing her, she apologizes for all the pain she's caused, but she can't help it.
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    • The fact that Harry's subconscious knows about her, and the implied terms of her deal with Mab and Demonreach from Ghost Story, suggest that the little spirit has been aware of what Harry feels about her all along. And all his conscious side has been feeling about her, up to then, has been 1) wishing his migraines would go away, or 2) horrific fears about skull-popping Alien-style gore.
  • On the whole, it sometimes seems Harry gets a fair amount of love/respect/consideration from people (and Sidhe, and others) whom he doesn't always understand or appreciate (e.g. also, Leanansidhe and Mab could have just held to the letter of their agreements with him, but have really done a lot more for him than that despite his attitudes to them in this and earlier books.)
  • Butter's brutal What the Hell, Hero? to Harry, showing how much the latter has become a Broken Pedestal those who had faith in him and detailing why he thinks Harry has come back wrong. It's absolutely heartrending in that both sides have valid arguments here—Butters has seen horrible things that Harry may have been able to stop (and, from his point of view, that Harry has refused to stop), but Harry is only human, not a superhero, and has limits just like anyone else.
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  • Oddly, when Nicodemus kills Deirdre. It's obvious that he doesn't want to — and, conversely, that she's willing to do it for him.
  • Nicodemus, of all freaking people, gets one when Harry finishes mashing on his Berserk Button regarding Deirdre. For someone so reserved, his reaction shows that every single barb that Dresden hit him with sunk home.
  • In hindsight, Tessa's desperate attempts to stop Nick's plans, including being willing to kill Harvey, Harry, and anyone else who is needed for it to go forward. She's just trying to protect her daughter.
  • After Butters resigns himself to die but planned on giving the cavalry a few minutes to arrive and save everyone, Butters looked at Harry and said, "Don't worry, Harry. You've done enough. I got this."
    • And Harry starts to cry when he realizes his friend is going to his death and he can't stop it.
    • And imagine Andi, though not seen, likely saw Bob's return to the primary skull and heard Butter's message and learned what happened. For those brief moments before he could get word out back to her, she likely believed Butters was dead. And after losing Kirby to the forces of darkness and now Butters, would likely be shattering to her mind.
  • To protect Butters and Harry, Murphy battles Nicodemus with a Sword of Faith. Nicodemus seemingly surrenders, but goads Murphy into attacking him with the sword. The sword shatters, then Nicodemus brutally beats Murphy down as he delivers a cold Hannibal Lecture about why Murphy's not worthy to be a Knight of the Cross.
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    • This is made harsher in hindsight when one remembers that, near the beginning of the book, Murphy vowed that she would not be the cause of the unmaking of a Sword of the Cross, making her failure all the more poignant and personal.
  • The scene in which Harry arrives at Michael's door: "I think I need help, I think I'm lost."
  • Harry's confession to Michael is absolutely heartbreaking. Michael just sits and listens to him while Harry spills his guts out after having an untold amount of guilt ride him for years, which reduces the normally snarky Harry Dresden into a sobbing wreck. Michael then responds with his usual understanding and emotional support. Which of course makes Harry even MORE of a wreck because even after all the tragedy and loss, Michael STILL has his back.
  • The parasite's true nature provides a retroactive one: during Changes, she was fully conscious and aware of everything going on note  but completely powerless. Her father killed himself and she could do nothing to stop it.
  • A small one, but when Harry tells Molly that he accidentally gave Michael the impression that they're sleeping together, that has got to have hurt a little.
  • In a way, Nicodemus's final Redemption Rejection in the vault of Hades after Michael tries one last time to get him to change, pointing out that all he's done in the service of Hell has only caused suffering for him, Deirdre, and everyone else. And it's pretty clear that, even if he turned it down, for once Nicodemus might have actually been thinking about what Michael said - but his Pride and his belief in himself have been so twisted that in the end even having to murder his own daughter for his cause wasn't enough for him to have a Heel Realization.
    Harry: Lucifer must have looked exactly like that, right before everything went to Hell.
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