Mac hears anyway, pauses where he's bent over something that sloshes. He says, and the liquid noises resume. For once Harry obeys without comment. Wakes again a little when Mac places a warm, damp washrag above his eyes. Movie medicine. It steams when it touches his skin, unnaturally cool, and Mac curses without energy.
Chapter 1: When Harry Met Harry
Harry Dresden stood on a sidewalk in midtown Chicago, looking at the door to a building. Glancing up, he took a moment to read the sign that hung above the door, which bore the words McAnally's Pub in simple lettering. The spring air still had a chill to it, prompting Harry to pull the black duster he wore closer around himself. Sighing, he stepped forward and opened the door before walking inside.
Directly beyond the door was a short staircase that led down to the floor of the pub. On one side of the room was a bar that looked like it had been constructed out of a single piece of long, warped wood. The rest of the room was occupied by thirteen wooden tables scattered randomly about. The ceiling itself was supported by thirteen wooden columns that were also spread throughout the room without any clear rhyme or reason. Each of the columns were carved to depict scenes straight out of a fairy tale, from knights fighting dragons to a giant ransacking a village. Thirteen ceiling fans hung from above, each spinning lazily just a few inches above Harry's head.
Scanning the room, Harry found it to be mostly empty. Behind the bar stood a plain looking man in a white button-up shirt and brown slacks. He was completely bald and his brown eyes lifted from the spot of the bar he was polishing with an old rag to focus on Harry.
'Mac,' Dresden greeted with a nod, which the bartender returned silently before he resumed polishing the bar.
Looking away from the bartender, Harry turned his attention towards the one occupied table in the room. Harry's eyes immediately focused in on the giant man first, marveling for a moment at someone who looked as though he stood a full head taller than Harry himself. Harry briefly wondered how he had fit through the front door.
Tearing his eyes away from the mountain of a man, Harry glanced at the two boys who were sitting opposite one another at the table. The large boy was sullen and looked as though he had spent most of the previous hours crying. The smaller boy appeared quieter, and he glanced hesitantly at Harry as he approached the table. Following the smaller boy's gaze, the large man stood up as Harry walked towards them.
'Harry Dresden?' the large man questioned, stooping to avoid hitting his head against the ceiling.
'That's what it says on my business card,' Dresden replied as he offered his hand to the large man.
'Rubeus Hagrid,' the large man replied as he wrapped his massive hand around Dresden's, though the tall man noticed that he did so gingerly, as if afraid of crushing Harry's hand. The small jolt of energy that ran up each of their arms was expected by both men.
'Do you prefer Rubeus, or something shorter?' Dresden questioned.
'Hagrid is fine,' the man replied.
'Alright,' Dresden stated with a nod before he turned his attention towards the larger of the boys, 'I'm guessing you're Dudley.'
'What do you care?' the larger boy snapped as he glared up at Dresden.
'I care because I'm the guy who's going to be looking after you two for the next couple of days,' Dresden explained.
'What?' Dudley questioned, 'Why should I go with you!? You people have barely told us anything! Why am I in the States instead of with my aunt!? Why am I stuck here with him!?'
Dudley finished the sentence by pointing an accusatory finger at the other boy, who, for his part, didn't react. Dresden glanced between the two boys before turning his gaze towards Hagrid, who could only offer a helpless shrug in reply, prompting Dresden to let out a sigh.
'Well, those are all excellent questions,' Dresden commented, giving Dudley a forced smile as he did, 'None of which I will be answering at the moment.'
With that, Dresden fully turned his attention towards the other boy.
'Now, who might you be?' Dresden questioned though he already knew the answer.
'I'm Harry,' the boy answered as he offered his hand, 'Harry Potter, sir.'
'Hi, Harry, I'm Harry,' Dresden replied with a smirk as he took the boy's offered hand, 'Harry Dresden, to be exact.' Bartender program for mac download.
As their hands gripped, a jolt of energy passed between the two of them. The feeling caused Harry's arm to jerk in surprise and he looked at Dresden with confusion. The tall man, however, only smiled enigmatically back at him, his brown eyes meeting Harry's green ones for a brief moment before he pulled his gaze away and focused on the scar on Harry's forehead.
'It's uh, good to meet you, Mr. Dresden,' Harry said as he pulled his hand back, which he flexed experimentally, 'Though I also kind of want to know why you're here?'
'You want the truth?' Dresden questioned rhetorically as he sat down across from Hagrid, 'You're here for your own protection.'
'Protection from….' Harry paused uneasily and shot a glance at Dudley before continuing, 'From what killed my aunt and uncle?'
'Yeah,' Dresden replied with a solemn nod.
'So, you're some kind of bodyguard?' Dudley questioned.
'In my spare time,' Dresden replied with a shrug before he glanced between the two boys, 'Look, I'm sure you've both have got a lot of questions, and I'm willing to answer them, but first I need to get you somewhere safe.'
'You've got a safehouse?' Dudley asked.
'Well, I've got a house,' Dresden answered, 'I mean, I've got an apartment. Look, it's the safest place we could take you at the moment.'
'Safe from what?' Harry questioned, 'What was it that killed my aunt and uncle?'
Dresden glanced at Harry for a moment before turning his gaze towards Hagrid.
'I'm starting to think you can afford to tell them something before you go,' Hagrid stated with a shrug, 'They deserve to know something.'
Dresden sighed as he glanced between Dudley and Harry again.
'Your aunt and uncle were killed by magic,' Dresden explained.
This was followed by a quiet moment as the two boys stared at Dresden in surprise.
'That..That's stupid!' Dudley replied, 'There's..there's no such thing as magic!'
'A lot of people think that,' Dresden countered, 'A lot of people are wrong too.'
'Oh yeah!? Prove it!' Dudley demanded, 'Prove magic is real!'
Dresden paused for a moment as he seemed to consider the challenge. Then, with a solemn nod, Dresden sat up straight in his chair. Holding out his hands, Dresden rolled up the sleeves of his duster before presenting both sides of his hands to the boys, showing that he was hiding nothing from them. He then propped his right arm up on the table.
'Flickus Bikus,' Dresden muttered as he snapped his fingers, causing a small plume of fire to erupt from his fingertips, the flame dancing in midair for a second before quickly guttering out. While Hagrid remind largely impassive towards the display, Harry and Dudley immediately leapt from their chairs and rapidly backed away from the table, wild and frightened looks on both their faces.
'W-What was that!?' Dudley demanded.
'Magic,' Dresden said simply, 'A low level fire spell, to be specific.'
A silence fell over the bar as Dresden looked at Dudley for a moment before shifting his gaze to Harry.
'Is that enough proof for you?' Dresden questioned.
'Why is all this happening?' Harry asked.
As Dresden continued to look at Harry, their gazes met for a brief moment. As they did, Harry felt a strange tugging sensation, almost as if something was pulling him down. Not down towards the ground, but down into Dresden's gaze. Just as Harry felt he was going to be physically pulled off his feet, Dresden looked away from him again, a smirk on his rugged face.
'Why?' Dresden parroted, 'Because you're a wizard, Harry.'
Harry looked back at Dresden in stunned silence.
'I'm a what?' Harry questioned after he had regained his wits.
'A wizard,' Dresden repeated before he twirled his hand in front of him, 'A mage. A spellcaster. One of the wise ones. You're getting the gist, right?'
'I-I know what a wizard is,' Harry replied, 'B-But I can't be a wizard. I'm….I'm just Harry.'
'Sure you are,' Dresden replied with a snort, 'And I'm the queen of France.'
'You're a guy,' Dudley observed.
'I can see that nothing gets by you,' Dresden said as he snapped his fingers and pointed at Dudley, 'Now, shush. The wizards are talking.'
Dudley glared at Dresden in response but offered no argument.
'I-I can't be a wizard,' Harry argued weakly.
'And why not?' Dresden inquired with a quirked eyebrow.
'Because….because magic isn't real,' Harry stated, sounding completely unsure of himself.
'Flickus Bickus,' Dresden intoned as he snapped his fingers again, causing a small tongue of fire to shoot up from his hand for a brief moment, startling the two boys again.
'Look, I can do that one for awhile, but I think eventually I'm going to set off Mac's sprinkler system, and I really don't want to pay for the water damage that would entail,' Dresden said as he glanced up at the low ceiling wearily, 'So can we move past the whole 'magic isn't real' part of the conversation?'
'How'd you do that?' Dudley asked as he stared at Dresden.
'A lot of practice,' Dresden replied with a snort as he leaned back in his chair.
'So anyone can learn magic?' Harry questioned.
'Yes, and no,' Dresden answered with a look of chagrin.
'A question can't be yes and no,' Dudley stated as he glared at Dresden.
'That would be one of the many things you're wrong about,' Dresden replied with a smirk before he turned his attention back towards Harry, 'Basically, anyone can learn to do magic, but some people are better at it than others. Think of it like basketball. You can teach someone to dribble a ball, but you can't teach someone to be seven feet tall.'
'And I'm one of those people who are naturally good at magic?' Harry questioned, his brow furrowing, 'That's what you meant when you called me a wizard, wasn't it?'
'Yep,' Dresden replied with another nod.
'How does that work?' Harry asked.
'Sometimes it happens kind of randomly,' Dresden admitted with a shrug, 'But most of the time, it's because one or both of your parents could do magic too.'
'So my parents….' Harry began to say, a look of understanding dawning on his face.
'Were two of the greatest wizards of their age,' Hagrid said with a broad grin.
'What?' Dudley asked in confusion, 'I always thought they were druggies or something.'
'James and Lily Potter? On drugs!?' Hagrid exclaimed, looking scandalized by the thought, 'I don't think I've ever heard something so absurd before!'
'You knew my parents, Hagrid?' Harry questioned in surprise.
'Aye, that I did,' Hagrid confirmed with a smile and a nod, 'Good, kind-hearted people they were, despite what others might say.'
'What about you, Mr. Dresden?' Harry asked as he looked back at the tall man, 'Did you know my parents?'
'Can't really say I did,' Dresden replied with a shrug as he looked away from Harry, not noticing Hagrid looking at him with a furrowed brow.
'Wait a minute,' Dudley spoke up, a pensive look on his face as he turned his gaze towards Harry, 'You can do magic because your parents could do magic. And the guy who….who killed my parents, you said he used magic too.'
'Look, kid, I know what you're thinking,' Dresden said, holding up a warding hand as his eyes went wide, 'But I don't think-'
'My parents are dead because of you!' Dudley screamed as he lunged towards Harry and wrapped his hands around the smaller boy's neck.
His eyes going wide with fear, Harry grabbed Dudley's wrists in a vain attempt to pull the larger boy's hands away from his throat.
'None of that!' Hagrid exclaimed as he grabbed Dudley by the back of his shirt and easily pulled the boy off of Harry, 'None of that!'
'He got my parents killed!' Dudley snapped angrily as he tried to pull himself free from Hagrid's grip.
'The person who got your parents killed is the one who murdered them,' Dresden said sternly, 'And they're still out there, probably gunning for the both of you. Is your cousin really the one you want to be fighting with right now?'
Dudley didn't answer as he sat back in his seat, rubbing at his now tearfilled eyes as Hagrid released his grip on the boy's shirt.
'Dudley's right though, isn't he?' Harry spoke up, bringing Dresden's attention back to him, 'Whoever killed my aunt and uncle, they did it because of me, didn't they?'
Dresden glanced at Hagrid as he drummed his fingers on the table nervously.
'This isn't your fault, Harry,' Hagrid said as he looked down at the boy, 'But it's very likely that whoever did this was trying to get to you.'
'I knew it!' Dudley shouted as he moved towards Harry again, 'I knew-'
Dudley was silenced as Dresden pointed a finger threateningly at the boy, causing him to meekly settle back into his seat.
'I-I don't understand,' Harry said, a shocked look on his face, 'Why would….why would someone want to kill me? Is it….is it because I'm a wizard?'
'Not….quite,' Dresden answered pensively.
'You should know that, around the time you were born, a warlock was terrorizing the world,' Hagrid explained, a nervous expression on his face, 'A warlock named….named….'
'Voldemort,' Dresden said simply, watching as Hagrid flinched at the sound.
'Voldemort?' Harry repeated, prompting Hagrid to flinch slightly again.
'What kind of name is that?' Dudley asked incredulously.
'A scary one if you say it to the right person,' Dresden replied as he eyed Hagrid.
'Who was he?' Harry questioned.
'Like Hagrid said, he was a warlock, a kind of dark wizard,' Dresden explained, 'His real name was Tom Riddle, but he styled himself as Lord Voldemort.'
Seeing Hagrid flinch again, Dresden paused before continuing.
'That name carried a lot of fear with people,' Dresden continued, 'And fear can be a powerful thing. So people took to calling him He Who Should Not Be Named and You Know Who.'
'That sounds ridiculous,' Dudley sneered.
'True,' Dresden agreed with a nod, 'But that didn't make him any less monstrous. Voldemort and his followers hurt and killed a lot of people. Including your parents.'
'Voldemort….he killed my parents?' Harry asked in shock.
'He did,' Dresden confirmed with a solemn nod, 'He was going to kill you too. But something went wrong, and somehow you killed him instead.'
'How could a baby kill a wizard?' Dudley questioned in confusion.
'Nobody really knows for sure,' Dresden replied with a shrug, 'Though, safe to say, magic was involved.'
Hagrid gave Dresden a confused look, receiving only a pointed look in reply.
'So, do you think that this has to do with that?' Harry questioned, 'Someone killed my aunt and uncle because I killed this….Voldemort?'
'That seems to be the long and short of it,' Dresden confirmed with a nod.
'That's why we have to get you both somewhere safe,' Hagrid explained, 'At least until we find whoever did this and stop them.'
'That's where I come in,' Dresden spoke up, bringing the boys' attention back to him, 'You'll be shacking up with me for the time being.'
'Why you?' Dudley questioned.
'Harry Dresden is a skilled wizard,' Hagrid explained, 'Albus Dumbledore trusts him, and that should be good enough for anyone.'
'Who's Albus Dumbledore?' Harry asked in confusion.
'Why, Albus Dumbledore is the greatest wizard of his age,' Hagrid replied, acting as though this was the most obvious thing in the world.
'Don't let the Merlin hear you say that,' Dresden commented with a snort of amusement.
'Why?' Hagrid replied with a chuckle, 'He knows the truth as much as anyone.'
Seeing the confused looks on Harry and Dudley's faces, Dresden sighed and shook his head.
'But I'm sure you kids don't care about political crap like that,' Dresden said as he rose to his feet, 'You kids got your stuff?'
'What little they let me bring,' Dudley replied with a pout as he indicated towards the two bags sitting next to the table.
'Alright, well, grab them and follow me,' Dresden said as he motioned towards the door with his head.
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As the two boys stood up and began to gather their things, Hagrid also rose to his feet and offered Dresden his hand.
'Thanks again for doing this,' Hagrid said as he smiled at Dresden.
'Well, you know how it is,' Dresden replied with a smirk as he shrugged his shoulders and shook Hagrid's hand, 'Dumbledore tells you to jump and you say 'Why are you doing this to me, you manipulative jerk!?'
Dresden's smirk fell away as Hagrid looked at him in confusion.
'Er, I mean, you know,' Dresden amended with a nervous laugh, 'Happy to help.'
'Right,' Hagrid replied with a dubious expression, before he handed Dresden a folded piece of paper, 'Anyway, I'll be staying in town for the duration in case you need any help. Here's the number you can reach me at.'
'Thanks,' Dresden replied as he took the number and stuck it into the pocket of his pants before turning his attention to the boys, who had gathered their things and were looking at the wizard expectantly, 'You two ready to go?'
When both of them nodded in reply, Dresden nodded in return before motioning for them to follow him.
'Have a good one, Mac,' Dresden said as he waved at the bartender, who nodded back at him as the wizard made his way to the door.
Stepping out onto the sidewalk, Dresden waited for the others to exit Mac's before walking towards an old Volkswagen Beetle that was parked by the curb. The car had clearly seen better days, as while it was mostly blue in color, it's doors had been replaced with mismatched green and white ones, while the hood was red.
'Alright, give me your bags,' Dresden said as he popped open the hood of the car, which Harry was surprised to see held nothing but storage space beneath it.
'Is this your car?' Dudley questioned in disgust.
'Yep,' Dresden confirmed as he proudly placed his foot on the cars bumper, which groaned ominously under his weight, 'This is the Blue Beetle, stalwart crusader against the forces of evil and alternative fuels.'
'It's a hunk of junk!' Dudley accused as he gestured at the car.
'Yeah, well, they said the same thing about the Millenium Falcon, but it worked out for Han Solo,' Dresden grumbled as he took his foot off the bumper, 'Now, how about you give me your stuff and we can get out of here.'
As Dudley brought his things up to Dresden, Harry turned his attention towards Hagrid, who had joined them on the sidewalk.
'Will I see you again, Hagrid?' Harry asked as he looked up at the giant man.
'Of course, Harry,' Hagrid assured him with a friendly smile, 'Like I told Mr. Dresden, I'll be staying in the city for the time being. He has the best way of contacting me if you need me.'
As Harry looked at Hagrid with a worried expression, the giant man leaned down and rested one of his giant hands on the boy's shoulder.
'Everything will be alright, lad,' Hagrid assured him with a smile, 'You're in the best hands.'
'Why is the inside all messed up?' Dudley questioned as he looked into the Blue Beetle through the now open passenger door.
'Because my cat's a jerk and interiors are expensive,' Dresden replied with an annoyed tone as he gestured aggressively at Dudley, 'Now get in the car!'
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After seeing this scene unfold, Harry looked at Hagrid with a dubious expression.
'Well,' Hagrid said as gave Harry an awkward grin, 'He comes highly recommended at least.'
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A/N: Hey, so I finally got around to updating this one! Hope you all liked it! As always, feedback and critiques are always welcome, so please review! Later!