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In Pursuit of Peace

Chapter Text

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.

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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.

Chapter Text

Harry rather enjoyed his first class. He had chosen to forge the paperwork to become a teacher for a few reasons. The first was that he wanted to subtly further his muggle education without having to attend class himself, and the second was that he wanted to occupy his days in a way that would involve people.

His first group of students were freshmen, and they were, for the most part, easy enough. True, most of them didn’t put in any effort at first, but once they were exposed to his easygoing teaching method and young face, they loosened up enough to get into things.

He had loved coming up with a muggle version of Quidditch and Quodpot, and tried to get them all moving without resorting to laps. He noticed a few people seemed to be self conscious, so he slowly separated the large groups into smaller ones that took some of the pressure off.

By the time the bell rang, he spotted quite a few falling faces. It seemed he was at least partially successful.

His next group was the junior class. For them, he held a large brainstorming session in which their favourite activities were suggested and he allowed them to take the reigns. They had time to get in a quick game of faux-Quidditch before they went off to get changed for lunch.

In that class he had noticed something very odd. There were two students, Edward and Alice Cullen who appeared to be the very picture of health and fitness. They were also exceptionally beautiful. In fact, he briefly wondered if they were veela, because no human could be so symmetrical, but he soon dismissed the idea. They had no noticeable allure, and their colouring was wrong.

The odd thing about them, apart from their extreme isolation from the other students, was that neither had contributed to their team. Harry considered, at first, that they were too shy, but then he saw how supremely confident they were. He also wondered if perhaps they weren’t as fit as they looked. They disproved this idea for him when he noticed that neither of them so much as breathed faster, let alone sweated.

He didn’t have enough time to try out techniques of motivation on them, due to the brainstorming session earlier in the class. He resolved to encourage them properly next class, they were both too well-built to let their fitness waste away. Alice, he noticed, had the exact right build for a seeker. (Idly, he noticed that Edward had made a strange expression just as he was thinking this - the first one besides boredom he’d seen on his face)

 

Over the lunch hour, he stopped briefly in the Cafeteria for his food and then went to the staff room that he had been shown earlier. He had noticed while he was waiting for his lasagna portion that the two Cullens were part of a larger group of five, each looking remarkably similar yet different.

When he was seated in one of the uncomfortable chairs, he quickly became the subject of intense interest. The rest of the teachers were slightly divided, he noticed. Some, like Mrs. Goff, were friendly to the point of flirtatious, and others were almost hostile. The less friendly ones had either been good friends of Coach Clapp, the previous gym teacher, or looked down on him for the subject he taught.

They hadn’t, of course, come out and said it, but he had caught the look exchanged between the calculus and biology teachers. It annoyed him slightly, but he had been the subject of far greater contempt before, so he ultimately just ignored it, and them.

A short while into his interrogation, (he’d been giving almost exclusively false answers) the topic changed to students. He learned of a few troublemakers to watch out for, and that the Cullens were all adoptive siblings fostered by a doctor in town.

He was confused by this, because he couldn’t see how they could all share the same incredible beauty if they weren’t truly related. In the end, he thought that it could be due to some strange medical treatment, or maybe even they had a wizard or witch for a parent, one that had enhanced their beauty through a ritual or spell.

After the end of lunch bell rang, he made his way back to the class and prepared for his sophomore class. He decided that fifteen or sixteen was still young enough to play some of the more childish games, but old enough to be responsible. Therefore they were split into groups and given a choice of fun games to play.

Though the teenagers had at first judged him for daring to say they should play something as babyish as freeze tag, the permission he gave for them to play their own music on the gym’s speakers won them over. He saw a number of giggle fits from the games erupt before the period ended.

Harry’s final class was the senior group, and he was rather excited. It was the group closest to his age, and he had decided that he would be joining in their activities as more of a participant than a teacher. As they filed in, he took a closer look at the three older Cullens.

The biggest one, Emmett, he thought, was frankly intimidating despite the jovial expression on his face. He looked older than Harry, and Harry was a bit worried that he might try to test his limits.

The next one was a stunning blonde that Harry thought could have taken on Fleur in a beauty contest on equal footing. She had a mostly blank expression, but Harry caught hints of disdain in her eyes as she looked over the other students. Harry remembered that she was true siblings with the other blond and that their names were Rosalie and Jasper Hale, not Cullen.

The last, Jasper, had a grimace on his perfect features. He had the wiry look that Harry recognized from his own body. The types of muscles that came from training regularly, not the thick body-builder like muscles of Emmett.

He quickly explained the rules of Quidditch and looked for signs of recognition from the Cullen and Hales - there was none. He was soon disappointed by the poor work ethic of the mysterious students. Like their two siblings, they seemed to stand more than run, and Jasper hadn’t even attempted to come close to another student. Still, the students looked like they had enjoyed having a teacher so close to their age, so he counted the class a success.

One of the nice bits about being a gym teacher was that he probably wouldn’t have to stay after the end of the school day often. Being such a small school, there was only a football team, and even that was student run.

As he walked out of the parking lot, he was passed by a shiny silver Volvo, a much fancier car than the other ones in the lot. He looked inside and saw that it belonged to the Cullens. He wondered if they all had part-time jobs, even on a doctor’s salary, five teenagers must have been expensive to raise. Maybe the mother of the family held a high-paying job, he hadn’t heard anything about her.

When he got home, he threw his briefcase onto his small desk and collapsed into the depths of his couch. He wasn’t all that tired, so he decided to go to the grocery store and see what they had to offer. He’d been living on preserved meals for far too long and he missed cooking.

Harry briefly wondered what Kreacher would think of his new home. The old elf hadn’t made it far past the Battle of Hogwarts, but he had been utterly devoted to Harry, all the more after he finally defeated the cause of Regulus’ death. Despite this, he never did warm to muggles or their material goods.

His final words had been to politely request to Harry that Hermione leave him alone.

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Harry walked into the grocery store ten minutes later and started to buy his favourite ingredients. He took his time, and used the opportunity to observe the residents of Forks. He thought he recognized the cashier from his senior class, and also a quiet girl from the junior class along with two younger boys who must have been her brothers.

As he was rounding on the canned goods aisle, he saw a beautiful woman who couldn’t have been anyone other than the Cullen matriarch. He smiled at her as they passed each other and she gave a warm smile back. He decided he quite liked her. His instincts tended to be good about such things.

Chapter Text

The next two months passed easily for Harry. The peaceful woods of his home allowed him to rest and begin to heal. He felt his nightmares lessen and he started being able to think of his friends with happiness instead of crippling sadness. He started to put up the stilled pictures of his friends, and found that they made his house feel even more like a home.

Harry had settled in nicely at his job. He was very popular with his students, who found him approachable. He had a bit of trouble with girls who kept asking him to correct their form or some excuse to touch him. He was also struggling to motivate the Cullens.

It was so frustrating, he felt like he was failing them, and he couldn’t understand how to help them. He'd tried putting them in groups, in pairs, alone, in charge, and separating the individual siblings, but nothing worked. He was thankful that they at least didn’t get worse, but he hated watching their potential be so wasted.

So, when the notices went out to the teachers of the upcoming parent-teacher interviews, he decided to have a word with their guardian.

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Carlisle Cullen pulled into the parking lot of his adoptive children’s school and prepared to hear stories of how brilliant his children were and how they were having trouble making friends. He opened the door for Esme, his dear friend and fake wife.

Esme always posed as his wife, but she was actually married to Edward. Their age gap was too noticeable for them to be publicly married, but they were quite happy together.

The hour passed quickly, and both Carlisle and Esme were flirted with extensively. They spoke with most of the teachers and graciously accepted the praise heaped on their children. Both of them always felt vaguely guilty, because it wasn’t through their doing that their kids were so intelligent, and they felt that attention was stolen from the bright human teenagers.

They found their children after the meetings and started walking back to the parking lot. The lot was almost deserted, most parents had needed longer meetings than them. They were close to the car when they heard footsteps approaching.

“Pardon me, are you Dr. and Mrs. Cullen?” asked a smooth voice from behind them.

Carlisle turned and saw a pair of intense green eyes and then everything seemed to explode and freeze all at once.

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Harry hadn’t needed to conduct any real interviews with the parents, but he had to be present for questions. The evening passed slowly and Harry quickly grew bored.

He spent some time daydreaming and so he almost missed the Cullens. When he saw the distinct bronze hair of Edward Cullen heading in the direction of the doors, he got up and followed him. He was delayed by Jessica Stanley’s mom who seemed to be the source of Jessica’s flirtatious behaviour, so by the time he extracted himself from the building they were almost to their car. He had to run to catch them and then called out to get their attention.

When the blond haired man turned at his name and caught his eye something changed inside of him.

The world froze as his mind and magic were torn from his body and he could do nothing but watch as his body collapsed and began to glow with a powerful internal light. The Cullens were still frozen, but Carlisle also took on a faint glow.

While he felt his body start to change – become more solid, he could feel his magic unleash itself and multiply. It took on the feel of a winter night, of the height of the sun, of the dew on grass, and of the breeze through a graveyard. It destroyed its boundaries and annihilated its limits. He felt it become eternal – endless.

His mind also changed, assimilating strange knowledge and expanding. He wasn’t sure how he knew this, but he knew that the bounds of his mind were now as limitless as his magic.

All of this took place for an eternity and for an instant. When he was finished changing, his mind and magic both returned to his body – and he knew that it was only thanks to the different body that they even could return.

He lay on the ground for a moment, utterly overwhelmed, while the Cullens, and the world, restarted. Carlisle, the man who he now knew was his mate, crouched down beside him immediately.

Harry reached out with a shaky hand and grabbed Carlisle’s hand. It was cool, and smooth to the touch. He could tell that to any other person, the hand would have been hard as granite, but his new body was just as hard. To him, the hand was incredibly soft, and he’d never felt something as wonderful. Harry then proceeded to pass out – and thoroughly alarm the Cullens.