Chapter 1: How It Started to Matter
Music Recommendation: Paranoid by Black Sabbath
Harry had never liked Justin Finch-Fletchley much since his second year. They had not even spoken much in later years, but two months after the War had ended, they had met at that memorable gala. The one with 'Hey, they're giving us Order of Merlins!' and 'Hey, is that Malfoy and Granger?!' and 'Hey, one of our classmates came out of hiding!'. The classmate had of course, been Justin.
Harry had almost accidentaly ran into Justin that day – he was trying to escape Skeeter if he remembered correctly – and Justin had talked to him like they had been best friends before the War. As much as Harry had grown to hate that kind of behaviour, Justin's was a pleasant distraction because of the circumstance.
That conversation was why he remembered that Justin's father lived in California and was a police officer, and that was where Justin and his mother had gone for hiding. His parents had decided to live together again so he was going to spend some time in America itself, leaving the Wizarding World behind after that last gala.
So when the time came to finally make his move – after all the lies were told and the false trails were laid – Harry had contacted Justin at once. He was, after all, the only person he actually knew well who lived in the States. There were others but they were rather… supernatural in nature, so he had avoided disturbing them.
Justin's family was welcoming, and not only that, they were co-operative as well. They never mentioned to anyone that he was living with them, for the two months that he did, trying to figure out his life after the big move.
Justin's grandfather had been a respected soldier during the World War ll – part of a group called 'The Howling Commandos'. They had apparently been very active in the War and operated under Steve Rodgers or Cap, as Justin and his father called him. Harry to search about 'Cap' later on, only to find that it was none other than Captain America – the super soldier. James Falsworth was an esteemed part of the Captain's team and it was one of the reasons why Justin's family had a small amount of military funding.
His father Admon Falsworth, or Flinch, as everyone called him, was a very calm and collected man, though he had the air of a man too tired for his years. Sometimes, Harry felt like there was more to the man than meets the eye, but his doubts were glossed over due to the man's gentle nature. He worked quite diligently, never missing a day and always leaving and reaching home on time.
Mrs. Falsworth was also a generous host to him, if a bit arrogant at times. Most of the times, she almost forgot he was Harry Potter, and sang praises of how her son would soon get quite high up in the American Ministry if he kept working hard. The fact that she forgot about him while praising her son was more endearing than irritating, and it bothered him greatly that there was a lump in his throat every time that happened - it reminded him of Mrs. Weasley in fifth year – calling him her son.
He was still unsure about his decision to leave – half his stuff was still unpacked, even when he moved two months later. He had only opened trunks he needed to use daily – clothes, broom and books. Every other belonging and bag he had packed half of Grimmauld Place in, was sitting unused and unopened, taunting him about his decision.
There were nights that he lay awake – thinking what they would be doing now? How soon would they realise the trail was fake and what was actually going on? Ron and Hermione already knew, and so did Kingsley, to an extent – would they have told the others? He hadn't even said a proper goodbye. Mrs. Weasley would hate him, but Ginny - Ginny would killhim. Even so, that he could handle - it was Hermione to whom he had said unthinkable things. In the the end though - he always soothed himself with the thought that it would probably be best if she hated him.
He stayed with the Falsworths for two months – exploring California, looking for a job in the muggle world. He grew close to Justin during that period, along with his father. They were good people and he was sorry to say goodbye to the family when he finally decided to move out. After two months of researching and basically realising that he was worth nothing in the muggle world without a valid degree or knowledge, Harry decided to do the only thing he knew best about the muggle culture – cook.
Kingsley was probably tracking his bank transactions so he would find out pretty soon that he had bought two properties – one in a marketplace just outside Santa Monica and the other in a secluded place off the Coast highway. The house he had bought was somewhat old and rotting, surrounded by a garden on all four sides. Harry had a hunch that the house was magical - at least the various plants in the back garden indicated so. He spent a month in the old house he had bought – setting up things, finally unpacking everything. By the time he was done, the house looked pretty thoroughly Potter – like he had been living there the whole time.
The living room was decorated with pictures he had brought from home. The fireplace had a huge photograph of the Weasley family over it – the one from Egypt, the one with Pettigrew. But Harry didn't care – Fred was in it. On top of the fireplace were pictures of everyone from that one gala where everyone wanted to look their best to receive their Orders of Merlin. It was the only time he remembered Luna dressing like a normal person. There were pictures of everyone separated – Harry and Ron, Harry and Hermione, Hermione and Ginny, Harry and Ginny, Ginny, Ron and Hermione, George, Harry and Ron with Mrs. Weasely, etc. There were about fifty of these and the whole living room walls were covered with them from top to bottom.
The sofas were a plush Gryffindor red, the carpet a pretty bronze. He didn't care if his interior decoration hurt others' eyes – he wanted the house to look as much like his old home, or Hogwarts, as possible. The table placed in the centre was an ancient one, but it held a compartment for books and coasters underneath it – so Harry liked it quite very much. There were two sets of sofas on each side of the long table, along with armchairs, mismatched cushions and beanbags thrust in between them. One side ended with the fireplace and the other with a huge LED and speakers. TV had been one of the muggle things Harry was still very fond of.
Harry had to install thin wooden separators so that the kitchen was hidden from view of the living room, in case he ever had a guest. The kitchen was almost the same size as the living room, so he had to move the Wine Cellar next to a window just next to the entrance, to make space for his experiments. For a month Harry practised with various foods, baked goods and drinks mostly, to see how he could merge magical ingredients into muggle ones and create new recipes and food products. The kitchen got burned down twice, the oven blew up five times within two months and in the end, Harry had to cast several wards around the kitchen itself to protect the rest of the house. There was a cupboard in the kitchen, running from ceiling to floor, that held all his experiments with food and everything that he had discovered. It had a few strong charms on it that would prevent it from harm in every possible scenario, he was proud of it.
A door to the right of the kitchen led to a rather small guest room, attached with a glorious bath – one that Harry sometimes preferred to use instead of his personal one. The bathroom was designed like a forest – he didn't know where the owner had gotten that idea but it made the place look like heaven. The bath tub was surrounded by plants and a mirror on one wall, one that gave the room an amazing structure. The dressing room attached to it held all of Harry's old clothes – robes, dress robes, school robes, quidditch robes, quidditch gear, and even his new Firebolt 2000.
The cupboard in the kitchen covered a small door that lead to the basement – it had been a gym but Harry had converted it into a defence practice room. Everything important that was useful to him during the War was stored there. The basement was also sealed with all the protection spells Harry could think of because the material inside it requisitioned such care - there were the books on Hocruxes, the two Hocruxes, even the replica of the Sword of Gryffindor Malfoy had later provided him with. All other sentimental artifacts he had relating to the war there too – the Marauders' Map, Sirius' mirror's shard, along with the other mirror Aberforth had later given to him, seeing no use in keeping it – even his beloved old Firebolt, which he had recovered from Dudley two years after the War. Sirius' bike lay there unused as well (even though it was repaired and working, thanks to Mr. Weasley) and the only thing Harry kept on him was the Invisiblity Cloak.
It was upstairs in his bedroom, which could be accessed from the spiral staircase that stood next to the entrance to the left. Just because he could, only and only because he could – Harry had a slide to come down from. Because he could.
The bedroom covered the complete upper floor – it was mostly empty – except for the half library that formed the other half of the floor. Harry had knowingly packed half the Black and Potter Library with him, simply so that Hermione couldn't research on thattopic. His bedroom was a pseudo library for all of those books, and the bathroom and closet covered rest of the half. The bed was a pretty large one – thrust up next to the window, with two armchairs and a desk on the other side of it. The floor was always strewn with papers, books, quills, clothes and even some wayward potion ingredients. He could hardly see the green carpet that was supposed to be there. The rest of his potions equipment was stored in the kitchen, and he had already brewed some, in case of emergency, and stored them in the basement.
The walls of the bedroom were covered with pictures from his Hogwarts years, from the summer holidays to the snows in Hogsmeade, and to every picture in Hagrid's album, which he had soon made multiple copies of. There was even a picture of the Dursleys there somewhere near the bottom, and also the one with the old Order of The Pheonix.
The setting up of his shop took less time than he had anticipated - but it had turned out perfect. The walls were painted a happy purple, with pictures of many of his desserts and biscuits and shakes he had taken himself, decorated on the walls. The counter was up on one side of the wall and a narrow hallway led to to storage rooms. A rickety staircase led to his small office upstairs - a small room which he used to keep the paperwork. There was a spacious bathroom attached upstairs, and since Harry had always hated public restrooms - hell, he had hated public places - so he had tried to make his place look the best and homeliest he were mostly beanbags and armchairs around settees with a large number of cushions all over the place. There were only five tables in the place, for those who wanted to work, however, there were no proper chairs.
It was comparatively quite small, but it was also on the busiest roads of California, one that ran to the outskirts of LA so he expected his business to flourish well. As a matter of fact, his house was on the same highway so it was a pretty good spot to work at. He had to spend the second month doing job interviews and looking for potential candidates to work in his little setup. He finally hired a pretty brunette called Caramel Hardon, as his second in command – which was code for the fact that she would look at accounts and everything managerial for him, while he cooked his way through the restaurant. He had high demands in the moral section for whoever worked for him - no matter the qualification. But the rest of the staff turned out to be pretty easy to get a hold of with Caramel's help – she reminded him of Hermione with that trait. Sometimes it scared him how similar their bossy tone of voice was, so he decided to maintain his distance. He couldn't afford to have a normal relationship with any of them anyway.
As the second month of his preparations came to a close, the tenth month of the year 2007 in general, his anticipation grew. This cafe idea was completely a shot in the dark. It didn't matter that he could survive seven generations' worth with the money he currently owned – eventually, seven generations would pass and he would need to earn more.
Sooner than he wanted, the first of November arrived, his first day of business. Time to open The Maraudering Matters. (It was Caramel's idea… partly.)