Harry looked at his newly-decorated house in satisfaction. He felt, for the first time in his life, that this was a place that was HIS. He’d felt a connection to Hogwarts that he assumed was how most people felt about their childhood homes, but his new house was his responsibility and he didn’t have to share it with anyone.
That last thought brought a sense of grief that was all too familiar at this point, so he put it firmly aside for the moment and resolved to properly enjoy his moving day.
His new house was nothing spectacular really, he didn’t have much sense for aesthetics, but it felt very safe. It was, obviously, under a set of heavy enchantments to protect him from external threats, but the more subtle threats had also been addressed by him. Harry had only ever experienced housing that was so aggressively non-magical (the Dursleys) or places like the Burrow and Hogwarts, where magic was present in the extreme. Both types had become so uncomfortable for Harry that he could never make his home in places like that. So, when moving his belongings in and buying new ones, he had taken care to make every room have at least one obvious magical item (though ones that would be overlooked by visiting muggles) and muggle items that were all not quite matching to avoid the catalogue look.
After he got ready for bed and turned out the lights, his thoughts were inevitably drawn to the circumstances which had drawn him to this unexpectedly lovely home.
Harry always started by thinking of that one glorious, naive night. It was bittersweet in so many ways. He could remember the taste of victory and heartache. He had defeated Voldemort and he’d known that the war was over and it would all get better from then on. The relief had been tempered by the sight of the rows and rows of the dead, too many familiar faces among them.
He’d gone to bed, exhausted, only to wake up a few hours later in something of a trance, with no control over his limbs. He had started robotically walking to his things and picked up his invisibility cloak. He had put it on, then silently walked through the deserted halls to the Headmaster’s office where he’d hidden the Elder Wand until it could be replaced in Dumbledore’s tomb. Harry had looked on as his hands picked it up and his legs turned him and then continued on the the Forbidden Forest where they had unerringly walked in a slightly diagonal path for a while before he had bent down and picked up the Resurrection Stone from underneath a fallen leaf. As his hand had closed around the stone, he had realized with a jolt of horror that they wouldn’t allow him to leave them behind. His legs had carried him back to his bed where he had fallen asleep again after realizing he had no precedent for the events of the past hour.
The two years following that night had proven exactly why Harry should never even think of the words “it’s over”. The few Death Eaters left, led by Lucius Malfoy, had begun a quiet and brutal revenge campaign within months. It had begun with subtle assassinations, written off at first as people having sustained worse injuries than had been previously thought, involving mostly the combatants of the Battle who didn’t have much standing. Dennis Creevey, Lavender Brown, and Seamus Finnegan had possibly been some of the first. It had quickly, but no less silently, moved to include the more active members of the resistance and lastly moved to political figures. Ron, Hermione and the other Weasleys had all fallen victim to the same explosion in the second round, and Kingsley and McGonagall had been in the third. Harry had of course been instantly suspicious through his grief after the explosion, but he had foolishly decided, after an investigation, that none of his suspects would ever think of using a muggle bomb.
As it turned out, Lucius Malfoy was something of a strategic mastermind, one who had been overlooked by the Dark Lord’s horcrux-induced insanity. He had been using ingenuity and logic that most witches and wizard just weren’t capable of. In this way, he succeeded in killing every member of the Order of the Phoenix and the DA in two years while remaining above suspicion from even Harry. In the end, Harry had been basically the only one left, and Lucius had come for him with a small army. Harry was disarmed and bound while asleep and had woken up just in time to watch the killing curse come for him. He was, therefore, awake to see the killing curse hit him and do nothing but cover him in his cloak, place the stone in his left hand and the elder wand in his right. Although monumentally confused, he wasn’t stupid, so he had dissolved his bindings and stunned his closest captors. During the precious few seconds he had had, he cast the packing charm that he had learned sometime during his fifth year after watching the pitiful attempt by Tonks and grabbed the beaded bag, which he’d been given by Hermione. The bag, now filled with his belongings, was shoved in his pocket and he had apparated to the Forest of Dean, where he had spent a day thinking over the deaths and the proof that Lucius must have been the cause.
He had decided that he wasn’t safe in the British wizarding community anymore, so he had apparated to one of the small nondescript towns he had encountered on the horcrux hunt and summoned a few hairs from the first muggle he found. He had taken to always having a supply of Polyjuice, so after preparing a dose, he went to Diagon Alley under his invisibility cloak where he went first to Gringotts. At Gringotts he had withdrawn his entire vault contents, converted a considerable amount to pounds, and then taken the Polyjuice. From there, he had gone to Flourish and Blotts, where he bought as many practical books as caught his eye. Then he went to the Apothecary to buy a few potions and ingredients, as well as a potion’s kit like Slughorn’s. The entire trip took a few hours, but Harry felt confident in his decision to leave.
He had elected to leave Britain, so he apparated to the airport and eyed the departures with interest. There were so many options he felt slightly dizzy, so he just went to the ticket sales counter of the nearest airline and asked the man at the counter which flights were leaving within the next few hours and picked the cheapest one.
After his terrible flight to Seattle, Washington, he took the first bus and wound up in Port Angeles. He had booked a night in a hotel then used their lobby computer to search for rental listings and found a small house in a town that looked close to Port Angeles, named Forks. He’d had to stay in the hotel for a week until he could move. Once he had, he quickly discovered that he didn’t own enough things to properly fill a bedroom, let alone an entire house. His two years of living at Hogwarts while he helped with the extensive repairs meant that he hadn’t ever needed to buy furniture or kitchen utensils. A few days of shopping, and a day of decorating later, and he was in a home that was unique for him and waiting for the next day, when he would be beginning his new job.
In the morning, Harry stumbled out of bed and somehow became clean, fed, and dressed through a combination of magic and muscle memory. He didn’t know how to drive, so he had to walk to his new job for the time being. The walk in the lightly drizzling air served to wake him up properly and he was fully alert by the time he walked into the administration office at Forks High School.
“Hullo, are you Ms. Cope?”
The receptionist looked up at his words and smiled
“Yes, you must be Mr. Potter”
Harry nodded and took the last of the paperwork he had needed to complete out of his briefcase and passed it over to her. She glanced over it and then quickly filed it away before turning back to him.
“Right, if you’ll just follow me, I can take you on a quick tour of the school and show you the gym, your office and the staff lunch room.” She stood while walking and led him on a tour that was laughably simple when compared to the layout of Hogwarts. She left him in his cramped new office with an hour to go before start of school.
He set his briefcase down and let out a deep breath. He could do this.