One Month After Leaving
Harry wasn't sure what he expected when they set off to find a new life. They traveled the muggle way to several different destinations, then took an illegal portkey to a few more before finally arriving in states and settling in Texas.
They used a duplication spell to create enough money to buy a small house that needed some repairs. It was set out in the woods on around ten acres, their nearest neighbors out of sight.
They were only a fifteen minute drive however from a small town of around fifty thousand called Lufkin.
Black had wanted to go to New York, but Remus had insisted it was too dangerous being the magical capital of the country. Harry had wanted to go to California for the sunshine, but Remus pointed out the cost of living there.
None of them had wanted to go to Texas so Harry still wasn't sure how they ended up there but alas, here they were.
It was not what he had pictured it to be, where they were tall pine trees were surrounded everything and the land was rolling hills. Not that he had been particularly knowledgeable about it but he had always had a vague notion that Texas was a flat red desert filled with cowboys and indians.
He had been sorely disappointed to find out no one rode their horse to the muggle school he was attending. In fact most of them apparently didn't even have a horse.
Most of them did however like country music which he wasn't entirely fond of.
He was pushing the cart as they strolled through Brookshire Brothers, the grocery store, as Remus tossed in things to cook for dinner that night. Remus had faked employment records so he would be hired and worked in General Electric plant in town.
Harry had been going to junior high for a couple of months now. It was rather boring compared to learning about magic but he did admit it was nice to be smiled at and not accused of murder.
He continued to learn about magic after school and on weekends from Remus and Black, his 'uncle,' and 'father,' as anyone who asked was told.
Having to call Black, 'Dad,' in front of one stranger to sell the deal was one of the most awkward things he had ever done.
They checked out and made their way to the parking lot, shopping cart in tow.
"Hi Harry." Harry looked up, it still surprised him to hear people address him nicely.
One of his classmates, a boy he thought might be named Shawn but he wasn't sure, was passing by he and Remus on his way into the store with who Harry was sure must be his mother.
Harry gave a weak smile back, still learning how to interact normally.
"Friend of yours?" Remus asked kindly.
"Um…not really." Harry replied, he hadn't spoken but maybe a few words to him in one of the classes they shared.
Harry had never had the experience of going to school as a normal child. With the Dursleys he was abused by Dudley and his gang with little aid coming from the teachers due to the lies Petunia would tell them. Then at Hogwarts he was feared by almost the entire student body and staff.
He wasn't exactly popular now, being new to the area and still painfully unsure how to actually make friends. He had mostly been keeping to himself, something that after the first week when the initial interest and questions about England died down, was easy to do.
He helped Remus pack up the groceries and then they began their trip home. "How is school going?"
Remus waited a moment before prompting. "Do you have a favorite class."
"How are they all going then?"
Remus tapped his fingers on the steering wheel and sighed.
"Have you made any friends."
Remus glanced at him out of the corner of his eye, a concerned frown gracing his face.
"Are you having any problems, are they treating you well?"
In fact Harry was surprised how nice it was when people hadn't been preconditioned to hate you. His failure to reach out meant he wasn't drowning in friends but yet neither was anyone unkind to him.
Remus sighed again, "You've got to give me something to work with here Harry. You barely say anything these days! I'm—I'm worried about you."
"Please find a different word to use."
Harry sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"What do you want me to say? That I'd rather be here than Hogwarts?"
Remus glanced at him again, "I just want to know if you're happy—"
"Well I mean I'm not in Azkaban anymore so I guess theres that." Harry bit out sarcastically before he could stop himself.
Remus flinched a little and Harry immediately felt guilty.
"Look…I really am fin—okay. It's just, it's actually nice. People are here are nice. Everything is fine."
"It's not where you belong though is it?" Remus asked quietly.
Harry sighed, "Yeah well, we tried that. You saw how it went."
Remus nodded tiredly. "I wish you could go to Hogwarts. I wish we could live in that world so badly, but—"
"I know, I know. I'm not stupid Remus, I don't want to go back or anything. It's just hard to go from learning charms and potions to geometry and the history of the Alamo."
"There, finally, you tell me something you're learning." Remus said, grinning in mock victory.
It was quiet a minute before he went on, "Are Sirius and I not teaching you enough?"
Harry shook his head, "No, no, you're doing a great job. I'm probably learning more than I would've."
He didn't exactly enjoy the tension present anytime the two of them were in the same room but he hardly wanted to bring that up with Remus. Harry still felt uncomfortable around Black who still spent most of his time with a deep scowl on his face plotting Pettigrew's murder. Really it was Remus who had been teaching him mostly.
Harry thought Black had actually been more fun around the dementors. He then immediately felt guilty for thinking it, but at least in Azkaban he had just been crazy and sad not bitter and angry.
They pulled off the road and into the drive to their little house, it was a long winding gravel road through the trees until they actually reached the house.
With an armful of groceries each Remus and Harry went inside.
Black was sitting on the couch, his chin held up in his hand as he stared at the wall in front of him. The TV was off and the lights were out until Harry switched them off as he came in. He often found Black like that which only further supported his theory that Black had gone mad in prison.
"I bought chicken and pasta for some alfredo and steak and broccoli, which would you rather have tonight?" Remus asked Black who as usual ignored him.
When he didn't ignore him he replied with an icy sneer and usually a sarcastic comment.
Harry wasn't sure why Remus even tried anymore but clearly Remus was eaten up with guilt over the whole thing. And though believing Black guilty was enough for Remus to feel badly about, Harry was certain there was something else there that he didn't know as well.
At any rate despite the many times Harry thought telling Black to get over it be part of there here and now was necessary, Remus never did. Remus never stood up for himself either, always just disengaging when Black was in the mood to goad him.
They ended up making the alfredo that night. Remus as usual made a huge plate for Black which he just pushed around listlessly, barely eating a third of it.
Harry wanting to get away from the tension went to his room early using homework as an excuse.
There he read one of the more interesting books on jinxes and counter jinxes Remus had gotten him. He wondered, like he had often over the past few weeks, when this would end? Would he go on the rest of his life in the muggle world, his magical heritage and ability rendered useless? Would he ever be able to rejoin wizarding society anywhere?
6 Months After Leaving
"…wit his promise of reconstruction projects and other social programs to relieve the burden caused by the depression—"
The bell rang interrupting Harry's history teacher's monologue and everyone quickly sprung from their seats, their bags already packed in anticipation of seventh period letting out.
"Alright, alright. Have a good weekend, and don't forget to read chapter eleven!"
Their teacher shouted out to them as they all packed through the door. They were only a week away from summer break and nearly everyone was tired of doing homework.
Harry listened as his classmates talked around him about their weekend plans for the next weekend, several were leaving to Dallas or Houston to meet with extended family, others would be going to the couple of church cook outs held locally.
He shuffled through the crowded halls until he finally reached the front where the circular drive was packed with cars of waiting parents. Harry kept walking around the school until he reached the back where the busses pulled up.
Stepping onto his bus he sat near the front, pulling out his history book with a sigh he figured he might as well get the reading over with. The other children began to fill in and after fifteen minutes or so the bus pulled out.
Over an hour later Harry finally got off at his stop and began his half mile walk up his road before turning and walking another quarter mile or so down the long drive way that led to the little log house.
He walked in slouching with his hands in his pockets and tossed his back pack onto the couch before throwing himself on it. Sighing he looked up at the ceiling and was contemplating finishing the history or procrastinating and watching some TV when he got the sense he wasn't alone.
Sitting up alarmed he spun around and saw to his relief and disappointment that is was only Black.
Black a few months before after realizing they were struggling with only Remus's income had gotten a job as a grocery store stocker. Working nights he had been sleeping most of the day and Harry was surprised to see him up.
"Harry…" He said quietly, his voice still rough with disuse. The weight gain and being out of the rags of Azkaban as well as being clean had done wonders for Black's appearance but there were still hollows in his face that made him appear to the muggles as if he had spent years on crystal meth or cocaine.
Harry nodded back at him awkwardly, he hadn't spent hardly anytime with Black where Remus wasn't also there and when Remus was there Black's brooding silence was only broken by the occasional derisive comment aimed at Remus.
Black looked down and rubbed the back of his neck, "So…um—how was school?"
Why was that always the go to question? Harry wondered.
"It was fine."
Black hesitated for a moment, clearly debating something before he walked around the back of the couch and sat in the chair across from Harry.
The furniture of the little house was quite sparse. They had one worn leather couch with an arm chair across from it. In view from both was a little wooden table with a small outdated television set resting on it. The kitchen was also small and had a bar that opened into the little living room.
A hall way led to the two bedrooms, the master which had it's own bathroom with the other bathroom in the house being right beside the other bedroom.
Remus had offered Black the main room but he had instead chose to sleep in the garage on a little cot beside the washer and dryer.
Harry watched him warily as he folded his hands in front of him clearly waiting for Harry to say something which Harry wasn't obliged to do.
"I saw you practicing your patronus yesterday."
Harry scowled, it was one charm he desperately wanted to learn after Azkaban and he had been having no luck with it so far.
Black grinned at him and Harry felt his irritation rise, "Oh don't look so put out. It's a difficult charm, I didn't learn it until my seventh year."
"I'm never going to learn it," Harry muttered frustratedly.
Black looked at him thoughtfully, "It would be tough for you, I don't imagine you have all that many good memories to choose from."
Harry frowned but didn't correct him.
"It was hard for me too, not because I didn't have good memories but because so many of the good ones even were tied to…well—not so good things."
"Like what?" Harry asked curiously. Black shrugged, "My first try I remember I tried to use the memory of my first night at Hogwarts and meeting James, Rem—anyway I thought that would be happy enough. And it was but it also reminded me of worrying that night about my parents feelings towards my sorting and of the letter I got from them the next day."
Black smiled again wryly, "Not such a happy memory."
"Your family was all Slytherin?" Asked Harry.
"Every last one. Well except for my cousin Andy."
"I was in Slytherin."
Black nodded at him, "You do remind me a lot of Lily."
Harry let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding, so many in the wizarding world seemed to hold his sorting against him.
It was quiet for a moment between them before Harry found the courage to ask, "What memory finally worked for you?"
Black answered without hesitation, "My first successful animagus transformation."
"That's a completely happy memory?"
"It used to be."
The door creaked open then and Remus walked in. Black's expression abruptly closed off and he rose from the coach and went out through the door to the garage.
Remus sighed warily and hung his coat on the rack by the door. "How was your day Harry?"
Harry opened his mouth to reply but before he could say anything Remus held his hand out.
"No wait, let me guess. Fine?"
Harry met Remus's eyes and smiled begrudgingly, he supposed he would get tired of that answer too after a while.
Remus chuckled, "Well I have steak for dinner tonight, I guess that will be fine with you?"
"I don't feel like this is as funny as you think it is." Harry groaned with an eye roll for good measure.
"It's fine if you don't like it."
A few reader have informed me that Nine Inch Nails actually originally did Hurt, not Johnny Cash. Which I blame my brother for the misinformation, either way sorry for the inaccuracy.
As some of you realize, I tried to post this a couple of days ago but despite several attempts it would only upload as source code. Not sure why.