Disclaimer: I own neither Harry Potter nor The Dresden Files. I'm just having fun with somebody else's work.
A/N: Please note that I'm pretty sure all of my characters are at least a little bit OOC in this story. I'm genuinely okay with that. Also, this story contains John Marcone/Harry Dresden, which is a slash pairing. I'm pretty okay with that as well. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Of Wands and Staves
As a rule John was not overly fond of London, or the countryside surrounding it. For one thing, it was a filthy, dreary place with little to draw his attention. For another, it wasn't his city. And yet, here he was, standing in the middle of an English suburbia, getting ready to find out just what it was that his dear distant cousin Vernon needed from him this time.
"You don't have to go in if you don't want to," Hendricks said, loyal as always.
And no, John supposed that he didn't have to go into the tiny, immaculate house before him if he so chose. But. But Vernon had loaned him a substantial sum of money when he had first begun his climb to the tops of the ranks in Chicago. And of course John had more than paid him back for the kindness, but Vernon was family. And that meant that he should be happy to do a favor for a family member, no matter what that favor may be. His whole operation ran on favors done for friends and allies, after all.
"Thank you for that, but I really do," he answered, and stepped up to the door. He rapped politely and waited for a response.
He didn't have long to wait.
He heard his cousin's son long before the door opened, thundering down the stairs like a particularly obnoxious herd of elephants. John fought to keep the sneer from his face, and instead smiled politely when the massive boy flung the door open. Dudley should be about six now, if his memory served him correctly.
The boy wrinkled his nose at him. "Dad! Your cousin's here!" he shouted, and then ran back into the house. Honestly, with as big as the child was, John was rather impressed that he could run at all, much less as quickly as he had.
Petunia, Vernon's wife, appeared in the doorway before too long. "Thank you so much for coming, John," she simpered.
John offered her the same polite smile he'd given to their son. "It wasn't a problem, Petunia," he said graciously. "Your husband sounded quite... distraught over the phone when we spoke."
Distraught was the wrong word, and yet, it seemed to be the only word that John could think of. Vernon had seemed agitated, upset, and horrified all at once. John had not a single clue what could have caused his incredibly boring cousin such an upset.
"Yes, well, we've a matter of a delicate nature that we wanted to discuss with you," Petunia said awkwardly, and ushered John and Hendricks into the perfectly normal house.
"John! You've made it! How was your flight?" Vernon asked, coming forward to pump John's hand.
John allowed it, and stifled his distaste. His cousin had a thick, meaty hand that was moist, likely with nerves. Whatever it was that his cousin wanted from him, it was making the man incredibly uncomfortable. "The flight was fine," John answered. "We hit a bit of turbulence, but nothing too terrible."
Vernon led them into the sitting room, then, and John settled onto the overstuffed, incredibly uncomfortable chair. Hendricks stood behind him, an imposing figure. Petunia served them tea, and John was privately amused to realize that Petunia's tea was every bit as bitter as he'd recalled it being.
He'd only just taken a sip when Vernon blurted out, "We've got a problem we need you to take care of for us."
John settled his teacup back in its saucer and set it on the table. "I'm quite experienced in dealing with problems, Vernon," he answered. "Tell me how I can help you. After all, we're family."
"You see, it's just that we've got this pest problem," Vernon began, shifting awkwardly on the couch. "We were hoping that you could... take care of it... for us."
John sighed. He'd assumed it was something of that nature. Why did his English relations all assume that he was in the habit of assassinating people? He was not a hired hitman, and he was getting a little bit tired of people assuming that he was. "Vernon, I don't really-"
"Please! You don't understand! He's a no good, dirty little freak, and we won't have his freakishness around Dudley any longer! He's a monster!" Petunia shrieked suddenly, her shrill voice making John cringe.
"If it's a matter of getting Dudley's school changed," John began.
He was cut off when Vernon shook his head. "The freak lives with us. John, we thought that we could deal with it, that we could somehow work the freakishness out of him, but it just isn't working! Please, you have to take care of it for us."
John was starting to get a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. "Show me," he commanded, not entirely sure that he wanted to be shown anything at all. He had a feeling that whatever he saw would only serve to make him very angry with his distant cousin.
He wasn't wrong. Petunia and Vernon went over to an unnoticed door under their stairs, and Petunia unlatched the lock. Vernon flung the door open and reached inside, and jerked out a skinny, waif-like child with messy black hair, a dark lightning-bolt shaped scar, and green eyes that were so despairing that they broke John's heart. The boy was dressed in what had to have been Dudley's clothing, which hung off of him.
"He's a monster, John, and we need him taken care of," Vernon said, holding the boy tightly by one arm.
John closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and counted down from ten. "I don't kill children," he said flatly, "But I'll make you a deal. I won't kill him, but I will take him from you. I'll bring him home with me." He didn't even stop to think about just how exactly he was going to raise a child in his line of work. It didn't matter. He wasn't going to leave the child here to suffer.
"You'll take him?" Vernon repeated, sounding as though he was actually considering the matter. The little boy whimpered and tried to pull away, and Vernon wrenched his arm viciously enough that John could hear the child's bones crack. He had to fight down the urge to get up and jerk the child away from his brute of a cousin.
"I'll take him," John said, and motioned to Hendricks. "Contact Ms. Carson and see who she recommends in England to handle this matter swiftly and discreetly," he commanded. Hendricks left the room, presumably already dialing her number.
After that, it didn't take long. What should have taken weeks, if not longer, to complete took only a matter of hours. It helped that the Dursleys as a family were quite eager to wash their hands of the waif, it helped that the waif himself, apparently named Harry Potter, had no desire to stay with his adopted family, and it certainly helped that John was entirely willing to throw money at the problem until it was swiftly resolved.
Six hours from entering the Dursley household, Gentleman Johnny Marcone left with a six-year-old boy's fragile hand held within his own, and an entirely new set of responsibilities to manage. But John was not one to walk away from a responsibility, and he was certain that no matter how bad a job he might do raising the child, he certainly wouldn't ever lock the boy in a cupboard under the stairs.