Legal: The stories are mine, the setting and characters are lifted from "The Dresden Files" and the Harry Potter-series respectively. I make no claim to any part of The Dresden Files or the Harry Potter-series. They are the intellectual property of Jim Butcher and J.K Rowling, respectively. If you haven't read one (or either) of these series, I recommend them both. No infringement is intended, no profit made. Please do not distribute without written permission.
Setting: Slight AU for both –verses. For Dresden Files, Harry went on Larry Fowler a few weeks after the end of Summer Knight, instead of at the beginning of Death Masks. The events of Death Masks never happened. For Potterverse, the timeline is unchanged, but the ages of many teachers have been altered to reflect the longevity of Dresdenverse practicioners. On the "The Dresden Files"-timeline, this takes place just after "Summer Knight". For "Harry Potter", it starts at the same time as the school year in "Goblet of Fire", after the Quidditch World Cup.
Canon pairings, possibly some December-romance between MacGonagall and Ebenezer. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to include that in the fic proper or do a set of drabbles instead.
My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. Though I don't doubt for a single second these kids would try, just for kicks. Especially those two red-heads. Identical twins. At least I think there's supposed to be two of them…. I'll give them this much, though: That thing they pulled off with the black paint, the firecrackers and the flying broom was sheer genius. Not that I'd admit it. I can't, you see. I have to be responsible, and mature, and professional. I'm a teacher now.
Business was slow that month. Too. I was almost considering going back on the Larry Fowler show. Not that they'd have me back. Fowler, the spiteful little toad, was trying to sue me for the massive amounts of property damage that had occurred the last time I was on the show, which was just unfair. Mostly, at least. Stray magic makes machines, especially modern ones like TV cameras and mixing tables, go haywire, and I was doing my darnedest to stop something like what had happened from happening. My lawyer had assured me that Fowler didn't have a leg to stand on, but the legal fees were slowly but surely draining my meager savings. And yes, I did say magic. I'm a wizard. I'm the only openly practicing wizard in Chicago, maybe in the U.S.A, possibly in the entire world. I'm even in the Yellow Pages. For a living, I find things. Investigate occult disturbances. I do some work for the Chicago PD Special Investigations unit, when they need help taking down a rampaging troll or renegade sorceror, or run into some other variety of supernatural trouble they can't deal with. They hadn't had trouble in quite a while.
I was sitting in my office with my feet on my desk, sipping some coffee and reading another volume from my rapidly shrinking stack of unread paperbacks, when the phone rang. My heart skipped a beat, but I waited. "Don't let them see you sweat, Harry", I thought to myself. After the third ring, I picked up, trying to stay cool, polite and professional.
"This is Dresden.", I said.
A male voice, a deep paternal baritone, answered in the other end. "Mornin', Hoss."
I quickly took my feet down from the desk and almost jumped to attention. "Sir!" I nearly shouted. I could almost hear the old man on the other end smile.
"Take it easy, Hoss. I was wonderin' if you have time to meet today."
I frowned. The man on the other end was my mentor and former teacher, Ebenezer McCoy, recently appointed to the Senior Council of the White Council of wizards. I'd grown up on Ebenezer's farm outside Hog Hollow, Missouri, high up in the Ozarks, after I had run afoul of and killed my former master Justin DuMorne. DuMorne had first tried to enthrall me, to break my will to his own with dark magic, and failing that, had sent an Outsider, a super-demon known only as He-Who-Walks-Behind, to kill me.
I had defeated the demon and fought and killed DuMorne, only to be captured and sentenced to death by the White Council for killing another human being with magic, thereby violating the First of the Seven Laws of Magic. It was self-defense, of course, but I had no way to prove that. If Ebenezer hadn't spoken up for me and offered to take me under his wing, I'd have lost my head to a Warden's blade a month after my sixteenth birthday. I quite literally owed the old man my life. I knew that he very rarely left the farm for anything other than Council business or extreme emergencies. If he had come to Chicago on such short notice, it meant that this was big. I made a big show of looking around my office, checking my calendar and staring at the door to see if anyone was there. There wasn't.
"I seem to have a gap in my calendar, Sir." I deadpanned.
Ebenezer laughed. "How 'bout MacAnally's at noon? We can talk over lunch." he said. After a short pause, he spoke those short, sweet words, the ones I love. "I'm buying"
MacAnally's tavern was just a few blocks from my office. MacAnally, the owner and bartender, provides Chicago's supernatural community with a home away from home, good steak and better beer. It's in an old building that has sunk a bit into the ground. Chicago is built on a swamp, so buildings here do that. That means that you have to have to walk down a few steps to get to the door, and if you're 6'9" like me, duck to get through it.
Inside, the tavern is a fair-sized but low room, the tobacco-, wood-smoke- and steak-smelling air turned by a few lazily spinning ceiling fans. Thirteen hand-carved wooden columns hold up the ceiling, thirteen tables are randomly scattered about the place and there are thirteen stools at the bar, all an attempt to disperse the negative energies that gather around hungry and grouchy supernaturals. A sign on the wall says "Accorded Neutral Territory". MacAnally's is neutral grounds under the Unseelie Accords, meaning that any supernatural that wants to pick a fight has to take it outside, or gets smacked down by the others.
Behind the bar stood Mac, the bartender, provider of sustenance for mind and body. Mac was a spare, bald-headed man of indeterminate age and was, as always, dressed in black trousers, a white shirt and a spotlessly clean white apron. "Hi, Mac", I said, and walked towards the bar. He grunted and nodded to me. Mac is a man of few words. "Laconic" doesn't even begin to describe it. Hell, Mac could probably make Leonidas look like a Southern Baptist minister by comparison. He moved his hand towards a bottle of beer, but I held up a hand.
"Something cold, Mac", I told him.
Mac glowered at me, but a little twinkle in his eye told me he knew I was joking and he was playing along. Mac is an "Olde Worlde"-style bartender and insists that brews like his should be drunk at room temperature. Don't get me wrong, Mac is a genius when it comes to beverages. All beer he serves is his home-brew, and it is the best beer in the world. No "probably" about it. However, it was hot outside, and I needed a cold drink.
Mac held up a pitcher of lemonade and arched an inquisitive eyebrow. "Please", I said, and he poured me a glass.
Mac makes his own lemonade, and he makes ice cubes from it too, so you can have lemonade that's ice-cold but not watery. I sipped at the lemonade. Cold, sour-sweet perfection. Bliss. I brought out my wallet, and looked through it, trying to find enough money to pay for that lemonade. I managed. It wasn't easy. I ended up paying in dimes and quarters.
I sat at the bar, sipping at my lemonade and wondering what was important enough to make Ebenezer travel all the way to Chicago on such short notice. Suddenly the door opened and… a large silver tabby cat walked in, followed by my mentor and one-time teacher, Ebenezer McCoy. He was short and stocky, powerful with the muscle of a lifetime of hard work, and slightly pudgy with age. He was bald, and had brown eyes, and was dressed in a flannel shirt and denim overalls. I rose and turned to greet my mentor, when suddenly, I felt the subtle tension of magical energy building up.
Suddenly, the cat blurred, shifted, grew, changed. In two seconds, the cat was gone. In its place stood a woman, maybe 5'4", wrinkled and grey-haired, but the way she moved suggested she was fit and had led an active lifestyle. She had clear sky-blue eyes and exuded the calm, collected confidence of age and experience. She wore a long, green dress, simple and conservative, but well cut and probably tailored to fit with a Cairngorm brooch on the chest, a brown, loosely-knitted cardigan over, a black cloak and, I swear to God, a wide-brimmed, pointed, black "witch"-style hat. I was almost tempted to laugh, and would have, had it not been for the sheer presence of the woman. Also, she had managed to shapeshift into such a small form, and keep her clothes. Definitely no mean feat by any standard. My shapeshifter friends, the Alphas, turned themselves into large wolves, and they had quickly learned to carry a pair of shorts or a sundress in their teeth.
Mac spoke. "Professor McGonagall. Welcome back. The usual?". The woman answered, her voice matching the rest of her, confident, cool and precise. She had a British accent, a fancy-sounding one at that. She sounded half-amused, half-incredulous.
"Mr MacAnally. It's been six years, and you can not only remember my name, but my drink order as well?"
Mac already had a full glass on the counter. "Gin, lemonade, elderflower cordial. Garnish with lemon balm leaves and a twist." he said. No, he didn't ask. He said it, like he was saying water was wet.
The cat… lady… Professor's eyebrows looked like they were going to leap off her face and into low orbit. She hung her coat and hat on one of the pegs on the wall, and walked over to the bar. Mac opened a bottle of beer for Ebenezer and took our lunch orders, and we took our drinks over the table nearest to the back of the room. I noticed that Ebenezer held out Professor MacGonagall's chair for her.
We drank in silence for a few minutes. I spoke first. "Sir, what's going on?".
"What, can't a man want to see his prize pupil over lunch every once in a while?" he answered.
"Not that I don't like seeing you, Sir, but the short notice made me think it was probably something important."
Ebenezer turned to his right. "Minnie, this is Harry Dresden, my former apprentice, currently a police consultant and private investigator", he said gesturing to me. He then gestured to the woman "Hoss, this is Minerva McGonagall, Professor of Transfiguration at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She is the one who has a job for you."
"Yes", Professor MacGonagall said. "Wizard Dresden, Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry needs someone to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts for the next year, at the least. We want you to take that position."
I managed to not spray a mouthful of beer over her, but God alone knows how. "Me?!" I blurted out. "Teach?!" I tried to calm down. Professor MacGonagall regarded me calmly.
"Yes. You. Teach." she stated.
"Where is this 'Hogwarts' place, anyway? Come to think of it, what is this 'Hogwarts' place?" I asked.
MacGonagall glared at Ebenezer, who looked suitably abashed. "Your first question is easily answered, Wizard Dresden. It's a castle in Scotland, the exact location of which I cannot divulge at the moment. As for the second, the answer is more complex. Hogwarts was founded as a place for the young in the wizarding community of the British Isles to learn the skills and control necessary. It is the finest institute for lower magical learning in the world."
Ebenezer snorted. "I bet the Beauxbatons Academy faculty, not to mention the fellas at Durmstrang, would love to dispute that." he stated flatly, earning him a magnificent glare from MacGonagall.
"Okay", I summarized. "You want me to go to Scotland to teach the kids at Hogwart's Academy for Gifted Children how to beat up shagnasties of various stripes for at least a year. And you have found your teacher…" I took a wild guess. "… about four weeks before the term starts?".
MacGonagall looked surprised, but nodded. I thought for a moment, then asked:
"What happened to your previous Defense teacher?".
MacGonagall looked like she was going to say something, but I held up a hand.
"Four weeks before the term starts is a mite late to start looking for new faculty members, I'd say, and if the previous teacher had resigned you'd have been able to start your search for a replacement during the term and I'd have gotten this job offer about six weeks ago. Also, if you're asking an American to accept a teaching position in the UK, it means that you're either short on talent across the pond, or no-one wants the job. The first I know isn't true, so that means the second. If Hogwarts, as you say, is the best school around, you should be crowded with applicants. Hence, it stands to reason that something happened, which makes people not want the job.". I leaned back, with a smug smile on my face.
MacGonagall stared at me. "Minerva… may I call you Minerva?" I asked and received a nod in reply. "I'm a private investigator. I may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but please give me credit for knowing how to do my job."
She seemed confused by my statement, but she regained her composure a bit. "Our previous Defense teacher was publicly proven to be a werewolf, and was forced out of the faculty by a group of concerned parents."
She said the last two words with enough ice to cover a building. I wondered idly what was going on behind the scenes. "Okay", I said. "Next question: Why me?"
Minerva and Ebenezer both chuckled. Ebenezer spoke up "Hoss, I don't know if you realize this, but you're famous, son." Everyone's heard about how you killed that loup-garou, defeated a trio of Hecatean hags and how you faced off against all of Faerie and won last year. You've seen more fightin' than most wizards three times your age, and you've always come out on top.".
That was true, I knew that. I had gone in against several things way above my weight class, and managed to walk away, usually through a mix of good allies, raw willpower and dumb luck. But famous…. I was taken slightly aback.
"Last question", I said, trying to regain my metaphorical balance. "What happens to Chicago? I have friends here. Also…" I filled my voice with all the venom I could muster "… I don't know if you noticed, but there's a war on. There's nothing the Red Court would love more than to tear my town to shreds and turn the people I care about into monsters like them after what I did to Bianca.".
I had gone up against the local leader of the Red Court a few years ago. Things had gotten messy. The Red Court headquarters had been burned to the ground, along with a large number of Red Court vampires and their thralls. The Red Court had gone to war with the White Council over it.
Minerva sighed. "That's exactly why we need you to teach our children how to fight, Harry." she answered.
Ebenezer chimed in. "I can coax Captain Luccio into dispatchin' a few Wardens to keep the Reds out. The White Council will pay the rent on your office and apartment, provided you let your replacements use them. They'll help your lady friend in Special Investigations too. 'Sides, Chicago is a travel nexus both in the real world and the Nevernever, and one that you… cleared… of Reds. We can't let them take it back."
The Wardens were the White Council's combat specialists and enforcers. A group of them would probably be better able to protect this city than I was. I sighed. I was going to lose my office and apartment in a few weeks if I didn't get paid anyway so…. Hey, maybe a year's sabbatical in Europe was what I needed. See the Scottish countryside. Change of scenery. Change of air. Just then I heard MacAnally put three plates down on the counter. Mac doesn't have waitstaff. Like I said, he's an "Olde Worlde"-guy. He firmly believes that if you're hungry enough to order food, you're hungry enough to pick it up at the bar yourself.
"Where do I sign?" I asked, before going to pick up lunch. I was going to be a schoolteacher. Hell's bells.
I went home. There wasn't much else to do. I had a job now, so staying in the office was kind of pointless. Besides, if I was leaving for Europe, I had to get my affairs in order. There were a million things to do. I had to take care of my bank accounts, set up some way for people to get in touch with me, get the paperwork for closing down my business done, say goodbye to Billy and the other Alphas… but first of all I had to talk to Bob.
I live in the basement of an old boarding house. I think that some urban developer somewhere is rubbing his hands and waiting for my landlady to die, so he can tear it down and smack up some huge expensive concrete monstrosity instead, but until then, it's home. Living in the basement has it's perks. I get the sub-basement too, so I have plenty of space for both my living space and a lab, and I pay less rent for twice as much space as the people with whole windows do. All in all, it's a pretty sweet bachelor pad. I went down, unlocked my door, deactivated my wards and went in. I headed for the lab immediately. I moved one of my rugs, opened the trapdoor and headed down into the lab.
My lab is a mess. It has reams of paper, scribbled with my neat but semi-coherent notes, lying in stacks on tables along the walls. There are shelves, holding a huge number of Tupperware containers, jars, boxes, tins and other containers holding everything from eye of newt and chewing tobacco to depleted uranium dust and the pickled scrotal sac of a lion. Don't ask. There is also a chemistry set, which I use for brewing potions, and a shelf containing a batch of assorted romance novels, a Victoria's Secret catalog, and a yellowed, rune-covered human skull. I picked up a pencil and tapped the skull.
"Bob! Bob! Wake up!" The eye-sockets of the skull started glowing orange. Bob yawned.
"Morning, Harry. What's going on? New case?".
"Not exactly. New job. I'm becoming a teacher.".
"Good. I almost thought you had you the who what now?"
"You heard me, Bob. I'm going to teach at a British boarding school.".
"Ooooh!" Bob leered. "Will there be nubile young women in school uniforms? Those short skirts and stockings?"
"Bob!" I snapped. "I'm teaching at Hogwarts, not St. Trinian's! Get your mind. OUT. Of. The. Gutter!".
Bob isn't really a skull. He's an air spirit with a portfolio relating to intellect, who happens to be bound in a human skull by powerful runic enchantments. I salvaged the skull from the burned-down remains of Justin DuMorne's home, and over the years, Bob has been my go-to guy for the heavy intellectual lifting. There are laws of magic, much the same way as there are laws of physics, but unlike the laws of physics, the laws of magic constantly change. Bob can keep track of those changes, and helps me optimize sensitive spells in the new circumstances. He is also a repository of knowledge of a kind unknown to the world, and has never forgotten anything. Bob is also, as you may have noticed, completely obsessed with women. I keep him happy and co-operative with romance novels and the occasional Victoria's Secret catalogue.
Bob had now gone completely and uncharacteristically silent.
"Harry", he asked carefully "Which subject are you teaching?"
"Defense against the… Dark Arts, I think they call it.".
Bob sucked in a breath through his teeth, which was pretty darn impressive for someone who didn't have lungs. "Harry, I think you should stay away from this one.".
"Why?" I asked, suddenly curious. Teaching hadn't sounded so bad, after I had thought about it a bit.
"Harry, you do realize that you will be Hogwarts' fourth Defense against the Dark Arts teacher in four years, right?"
"WHAT!?", I yelled. "
Yep." Bob said cheerfully.
I sat down on a stool. "I heard about the last teacher. Werewolf, right?
"That's right", Bob confirmed.
"What happened to the previous ones?" I wondered.
"The one before that was a warlock. Tried to mess with one of the students' minds. Spell backfired and wiped his."
I shuddered. I knew all too well what that felt like, having a teacher you trusted betray and try to enthrall you. I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my palms and looked down. I had apparently, with out realizing it, clenched my fists so hard I dug my fingernails into my palms. Now each of my palms had four small red marks, and blood had slowly begun to trickle out. I did my best to pull myself back together.
"And the last one?"
"This is the bad one, Harry, and I have to give you some background."
"Shoot." I said. Bob began.
"Hogwarts was founded in the 10th century by four wizards, Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin."
"Holy alliteration overload, Batman" I mumbled. Bob continued, unfazed.
"They began taking students, took all comers, except Slytherin. Slytherin was afraid of witch-hunters, afraid that students with vanilla-human parents would turn on the others, and refused to take any student who didn't have parents with magical abilities. After Slytherin died, his followers began to interpret Slytherin's insistence on magical heritage as a sign that they were superior to all others, that pure-blooded magicians were better than others, a master race, if you will."
"That's insane!" I snarled. I was one of the most powerful wizards on the planet. Not very skilled or focused, compared to older wizards who had a hundred or so years of practice on me, but I could match most of them for raw power, and my father had been a vanilla mortal.
"Humans aren't a rational bunch on the best of days, boss." Bob replied. "Anyway", he continued, "this whole affair came to a head about fifteen years ago, with a wizard named Tom Riddle. Riddle considered himself "The last true heir of Slytherin", whatever that's supposed to mean, and began a campaign of intolerance against non-pureblood wizards. It plunged the supernatural communities of Britain into civil war."
"So, what happened?"
"Well boss, details are a bit vague, but it seems that there was a prophecy about a child who would kill Riddle, or Voldemort, as he called himself"
"Voldemort? Seriously?! Do these guys go to Melodramatic Name School or something?!" I erupted.
Bob hushed at me. I settled down. "Riddle went to a cottage in the village of Godric's Hollow, belonging to Lily and James Potter, attempting to kill them and Harry, their newborn son. Riddle never came out. No body was found. Both Lily and James were found dead. No marks. Harry survived, but had a bolt-shaped scar on his forehead."
"What happened to Voldy?" I asked.
"My best guess is that he was disintegrated by Lily's and James' combined death curses. Riddle was strong, and skilled, but nobody's strong and skilled enough to repel the death curses of two full wizards at the same time." Bob replied.
I whistled. A death curse was the most powerful spell a practicioner could cast. It basically consisted of focusing your internal energies, your life force, if you will, into a single spell, usually a curse against a hated enemy who had defeated you. Hence the "curse" part. Of course, expending your life force on casting a spell meant you died. Hence the "death" part.
"But what happened three years ago?".
"Short version" Bob said, "Young Harry Potter enrolled at Hogwarts. Riddle's spirit turned out to have survived somehow, possessed the Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, attempted to use him to kill Potter and retrieve an unknown something from the school."
I pulled my hands through my hair. A kid with a prophecy on his head. The spirit of a warlock powerful, intelligent and ruthless enough to cheat death on the loose. And me, smack dab in the middle, trying to teach kids how to not die from all of it. Hell's bells.