He had given too much thought on how he was going to die. Death was always close for him, so close in fact that when he found that his death was inevitable he didn't even blink.
He spun around the ruined dance studio the smell of burning sweets clogging his nose.
Broken mirrors crunched underneath his feet. A dark smear of blood stained the dark floorboards.
Maybe if he had never come to Forks this never would have happened. He knew this wasn't his fault, not all of it but it felt like it was. But Harry found it difficult to regret the decision.
When life offers you an out, you take it. When life offers you a half-giant you follow him. When life offers you a new home and a ticket to Forks Washington you go.
When life offers you, love, you stay.
It's difficult leaving all you know and love behind regardless of how good the reasons are for doing so, Harry thought as he leaned his forehead against the cool glass of the car window. The cold didn't usually bother him but a thin black long-sleeved jumper and large dragonhide jacket did little to protect him from the uncomfortable chill that had settled into his bones.
The quaint little town of Forks was the type of place people stopped on the way to someplace better. A name on a gas station map with a population of under four thousand, perpetually dreary weather a perfect place for a reluctant Master of Death to hide.
A quaint little town surrounded by lush green forests…no wonder Andy worried about him becoming a recluse. Or even worse, a writer.
Not that he called it hiding. Only two people knew where he was headed, alright three but you try to hide anything from Luna bloody Lovegood, Andromeda, and his godson Teddy Lupin. It was to Forks that Harry now ran to escape the oppressive eye of the British Ministry of Magic.
Still, he worried for his godson in the ghastly political climate where laws on dark spells and restrictions on dark creatures were growing more stringent by the day. Harry had begged Andromeda to come with him or at the least allow Teddy to stay with him until it was time for him to attend Hogwarts but Andy was a stubborn woman and insisted on raising Teddy in his mother's childhood home until Harry had properly settled into his new place. Then he would have custody over his wolfy godson during weekends and summers. But Andy wasn't getting any younger, the woman had been through two wars and it was beginning to show in her poor health and the growing silver in her hair. It was obvious that the death of her husband and daughter weighed heavily on her and there was little Harry could do to help. Well, except summoning the dead but there was really no point. All the dead wanted to talk about was how great it was being dead. Lucky bastards.
Harry tried to convince Andy to move in with him. They had already been practically living with each other for the last year ever since Harry had him… stumble.
But Andy wouldn't hear of it and have you ever tried convincing a Black of something sensible?
Now, Harry loved Hogwarts. Loved the beautiful Scottish winters and the sheer majesty of the castle where he spent most of his youth learning magic but he also didn't want Teddy exposed to even half of what he had suffered at school. Even without a magical war brewing, there was still blood prejudice, bloody tension between houses, and ghosts in every corner of that school.
“Hogwarts is the best school on the Isle, Harry, I won't hear of Teddy spending time with those- those. Harry!” Andromeda exclaimed,” They learn wandless magic over there, blood magic,” She hissed in his ear as Teddy began to wail.
Harry barely resisted rolling his eyes,” I know wandless magic, Andy. It's a useful skill. And the Americans have more relaxed rules on werewolves. They can have jobs, go to school legally, they even get free wolfsbane over there. Everyone knows who Teddy’s father is. There's no guarantee that they’ll even allow him to attend Hogwarts at all.”
She didn't speak to him a whole week after that argument.
It frustrated Harry to no end just how determined Andy was to shield Teddy from his werewolf heritage but ultimately she was the boy's primary guardian and as long as her disquiet about werewolves remained quiet, he ignored her ignorance.
As for Teddy, the boy was growing up well adjusted though Harry was careful not to let Andy drown him in too many picture books and childhood stories about Dora. The house was already a shine, so much so that it made Harry uncomfortable considering the fact that not one picture on the wall contained his mentor and Teddy’s father, Remus Lupin. It was as if the woman was trying to erase him from Teddy’s life.
So it was up to Harry to regale Teddy with stories of his father and the other Mauraders. He even told the excitable child heavily edited accounts of his own adventures. Teddy looked like his mother with his heart-shaped face and cute button nose but his eyes were the warm gold of his father at least in his base form. Most of the time he ran around looking like a miniature, but the much cuter, version of Harry himself with wild black curls and eerily bright viridian eyes. It drove Andy mad, it did.
“Do you have to go?” Teddy had whined as Harry dragged his trunk next to the floo. His small alabaster hands grabbed onto the hoops of his jeans. Harry pressed one last kiss to his unmarked forehead and sighed.
“Yes, Teddy bear. But I’ll see you soon,” He reassured him. If it took more than a week or two to get settled in, he’d fly back on broom back if he had to.
Harry dropped his trunk and knelt down beside his godson,” Pinky promise?” He held out his smallest finger for Teddy to wrap his own around and held their combined hands up to kiss.
Teddy leaped at him, “I love you,” He muttered into Harry’s shirt.
“Love you too, pup. Be good for Andy, yeah?”
It was a miserable seven-hour long flight to America and a shorter no less terrible flight to Port Angeles where he found himself in the back of a cab on his way to Forks. If he never set foot on another airplane again he would be happy.
The goblins had been uncommonly kind in helping him abdicate the country. It made Harry wonder if his new home was cursed or had some nasty wards. Either way, Harry just knew he was going to have a hell of a time fixing up the house before the new school year.
Oh Merlin, he nearly forgot that Andy registered him for muggle school. She tried to frame it as a well-meaning attempt at a favor citing that he looked not a day over seventeen and hardly that and no decent muggle adult was going to ignore the fact that he lived alone without even going to school.
No doubt in revenge for when he pointed out that her hair was more silver than black these days.
The experience was sure to be awful. What was he going to do being surrounded by muggle teenagers all day? He hadn't understood teenagers even when he was a teenager. Girls, hormones, bloody maths, Gods! Kill him now.
He could almost hear a wild cackling, hollow and ominous like a dead man's last breath…
Harry made his frustration at his predicament known. He wasn't happy about having to catch up on many years of several nearly new subjects in less than three months but he manned up and dealt with it. Part of him was even excited. Morgana knew Harry never had a chance at receiving a normal education. He had been one of the students that never went back to Hogwarts after the war and instead jumped right into the new and improved Auror training program quickly rising up the ranks. Turns out he loved reading when his life wasn't on the line. Who would have thought?
Harry mentally wrote up a list of tasks to complete once he settled in. He had no idea about the constructional damages done to the place but still had an idea of what he wanted his home to look like.
He wanted someplace unlike Privet Drive, the Burrow, or even Andromeda’s seaside home. He wanted a beautiful garden full of fruits and vegetables and colorful flowers. He wanted to paint the walls blue or maybe even sage green and charm the ceiling to show the open sky. A big kitchen was a must and a whimsical bedroom for Teddy.
He wanted the home he never had.
Soon the cabbie stopped at the end of a street nearly submerged in the forests surrounding it but still slightly visible from the road. There was a sparse amount of houses, each separated by great backyards and fences so he didn't need to worry too much about his privacy. Harry handed the cabbie a few big bills and trudged up to the quaint victorian style house that was on a bit of an incline.
Once he reached the door he reached down and dug around in his pockets for the keys. Keys, keys, there they were underneath his passport and his wand permit. He pushed open the door and had a look around.
To his surprise, the house had actually been very well maintained by the wards though a thick layer of dust lay on everything. Harry admired the arched windows, dark wood floors, and high roof. In some places, the roof had clearly broken through and the floor was warped by water damage and the paint of the walls was peeling but all in all, it wouldn't take much to fix up the place and get some new furniture sent over from his vaults.
Harry hadn't brought many things. His winter wardrobe far surpassed his summer clothing but he felt no need to fix this as outside his windows the rain fell in sheets. Harry thought he might like to build a porch or a patio with a swing set for Teddy as this clearly wasn't a place that allowed for many outside activities.
The wizard hauled his trunk up to the second floor where he bypassed all the other bedrooms until he reached the master suite and kicked open the door with his foot.
He didn't waste much time analyzing the frilly bed covering and snake motifs before dropping his trunk next to the bed and walking to the connecting bathroom. He hadn't showered in what felt like days and he felt disgusting.
After he showered, brushed his teeth, and got dressed in his bedclothes he didn't sleep. Instead, he got started cleaning up the house, shrinking or vanishing furniture as he went. He stripped the walls of paint and vanished mold from the water-damaged sections of the house.
A few hours later he wasn't tired from all the magic he used but he was becoming bored so he picked up a muggle history book reluctantly and settled down on the floor next to the floor-to-ceiling windows and looked out at the rain.
Green, green trees, green moss creeping up the wide trunks, green grass. In Britain, everything was more grey than green but Harry thought this foreign land was quite beautiful. He hoped Teddy appreciated the space to run. He never wanted to trap Teddy in a lifeless neighborhood like Privet Drive.
Harry realized that for the first time in weeks he was entirely alone. Alone in a new place, in a new house, in a new bloody country without his friends, his family, his George.
He did his best not to dwell on this fact and continued to study the bewildering history of the Americans. He had a mere month before school started and he wanted to be somewhat prepared for the workload.
Forks was already a ridiculously small town and the school showcased this. Harry knew that Forks High School had a mere fraction of the number of students at Hogwarts and this comforted him a bit. It was inevitable that he would be stared at, being the new kid and all, but he had suffered the attention of an entire country before. He could handle the stares of a few nosy brats.
Still, he thought of the scars littering his face, his skin, everywhere. He imaged his tawny skin would paint him as an outsider just as it had back at the Dursleys in this sunless wasteland. At Hogwarts there was diversity. In a small town isolated town like Forks Washington where the majority of people were white all except the literal reservation of Native Americans who lived on the opposite side of town? Not so much.
He was so not looking forwards to being stuck in a concrete building for hours without end. Harry was an active person, he needed to be up and doing something. Merlin, what was he thinking going to muggle school? He wasn't a muggle! He’s going to be mad by the end of the first week.
He might have looked seventeen but he was closer to twenty. A war veteran in a child's body. Even his friends that went through many of the same experiences as he had couldn't understand him.
Those that were still alive, that was…
When he stopped it was closer to the morning than night and thick fog was clouding up the windows. The last thing he did before going to sleep was set up the floo connection and sent a letter through to Andromeda and Teddy. Hopefully, he would have a response waiting for him in the morning.