Harry didn't know what drew him back to New York.
Maybe it was because, even more so than before, there was nothing left for him in Britain. Maybe he suspected there was a reason he ended up in the city. Maybe a higher power was guiding him. Regardless, he found himself following this powerful urge to return, so he went back to the so-called city of dreams. Once there, however, he didn't know what to do.
If he was right about this being another reality, it was possible that he was the only person in a population of over seven billion that had magic. He had yet to completely lose hope that magical societies could still be found in this reality. Perhaps they were hidden differently? But… he didn't even know how to start looking for them if they existed… and it seemed like such a waste of time to search for magic without anything to go on.
Harry realised he needed to establish himself in this world. After reading some history and culture books in a public library, Harry was reasonably sure this world was very similar to his in almost all aspects. Twenty one years made a huge difference however, and he was amazed at all the muggles had accomplished in that time. The technological advances were astounding.
He spent some time acquainting himself with the basics of computers at said public library. He was somewhat familiar with computers, what with Dudley owning one, but he never got to use it; and these computers were much more advanced, so he was a little lost. Thankfully, a friendly young man around his age saw him struggling and offered his help. The lad seemed to think he was Amish. Harry didn't know what that meant but it seemed to excuse his lack of knowledge so he played along. He was quite amused when, after being taught how to Google, he looked the word up.
'You're not that far off,' Harry found himself thinking as he read about the peculiar nature of Amish people. He would have thought the British accent would be a clue that he wasn't Amish, but if it worked, it worked. He also managed to grasp the basics of smartphones from watching some muggles use theirs - and Merlin help him if those things weren't more impressive than most of the magic he could do.
For the past few days he'd been living in hotel rooms. He was ashamed to admit to using magic to manipulate muggles into letting him use the rooms without having to pay or provide an ID. He essentially skipped through every part of the normal procedure. He stayed there for a night, then erased their memories the next morning as he left. The problem was that Harry by nature wanted a place to call home, and this arrangement, while functional, did not please him.
The young wizard knew he'd need an identity, a bank account, an educational background, and more. Those things were valuable in the muggle society of his world, and their value had only increased in this one. The problem was, he didn't have the slightest clue how to go about getting those things. The muggle world was vast and complicated, he couldn't just walk into a ministry building or a Gringotts and have it all sorted for him.
He did try to research the topic, but it all seemed so complicated. He either had to travel to some third world country, assume an identity there with liberal use of bribery, and then make his way back to the states by marrying a citizen; or he had to commit some sort of identity theft. While his magic would make certain tasks easier, Harry didn't believe he had the depth of knowledge to be able to pull off either option, especially with the many levels of bureaucracy involved.
The whole situation was incredibly frustrating, which is why Harry found himself in Central Park, off the beaten path and away from all the people wandering around. The young wizard found himself a large tree to sit under, leaning against its sturdy trunk. It was August, so summer was starting to make way for a gentle autumn breeze. The rustling of the leaves, the scent of grass, and the scattered beams of sunlight made for a peaceful atmosphere, which Harry was grateful for after the recent upheavals in his life.
As he leaned back on the tree with his hands behind his head, Harry considered his situation, and desperately wished for a solution to make itself known.
He did not expect for one to appear right there and then.
The startled wizard jolted forward as, with a small wisp of darkness that he only just caught sight of, he felt something drop onto his lap. He couldn't believe what he saw as he took in the soft silvery material of his invisibility cloak folded neatly on his lap.
With hands that trembled slightly, Harry picked up the cloak and began to unfold it, trying to take in the sight of his family heirloom. The wizard was also a little stricken at the fact that another hallow had made itself known to him, but for the most part he was just so very glad to have his father's cloak back. As he unfolded the cloak and held it up, Harry noticed a thick envelope on his lap - evidently it had been covered by the cloak.
He put the invisibility cloak to his side, and reached for the envelope. There were no markings, stamps, seals, or any signs of who had sent it. It was unsealed, so he opened it up and pulled out its contents.
Harry couldn't believe it.
"Bloody fucking hell…" he breathed out. "What? H-how?"
In his hands, he found everything he needed to start a life in this world. There was an ID card, a debit card, a credit card, a copy of a birth certificate, educational records, bank records, and more.
They all belonged to a Harry James Potter, born on July 31st, the year 2000. Skimming through the documents, he pieced together that this identity was that of a recently emancipated 17 year old whose aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursley, had recently passed away in a car accident. Their son Dudley was with them in the car and had perished too, leaving Harry with everything.
'How? What? What is this? This can't be real… Merlin, is this some spell? A terrible prank?'
Setting aside the first set of documents, Harry picked up the next set and found records from the estate of… James and Lily Potter!?
'Or maybe I'm in St. Mungos dreaming all of this up. That would make more sense whatever the fuck this is.'
Feeling lightheaded, Harry had to stop reading and take a few steadying breaths. In, he took a deep breath. And out, he exhaled. In. Out. In. Out. Again and again until he felt settled enough to continue.
He dug deeper into the records, putting together more of his apparent background.
He was seemingly a British and American dual citizen, but he lived in the USA currently. Looking over the records of his so-called education, he was supposed to have one year of schooling left, and was currently taking a year off following the death of his 'family'. Finally there was a business card for a law firm, one hired to serve as executors of his family's estate.
Harry didn't know what to think or say about this identity that had fallen in his lap. He was speechless.
These documents were everything he needed. He didn't know how, but he'd magically been given a new identity that seemed to be built on his own truths. And strangely, he was confident that anyone who looked into it would find plenty of evidence that his 'family' had existed. This was much too detailed for the background not to have been made as airtight as possible. He honestly didn't know how to feel about the fake family he'd been given.
He could almost see them in his mind's eye, a version of the Dursleys looking so very similar to the one he'd known but with small differences.
It wasn't real of course. Or was it?
He wondered what kind of magic did this. Was it his own magic? Was it the product of whatever brought him here? Had he simply assumed the identity of an existing Harry Potter in this world? And how was the invisibility cloak involved?
He had so many questions.
If only he could get some answers.
But for now, he settled for getting in touch with that law firm.
It took Harry half an hour to find the law firm. He only had the address and a terrible map of the city he'd snagged from a news stand, so he'd just been apparating all over looking for it. It was only when he gave up and decided to just walk and ask random muggles for directions that he found it.
Mortimer & Coles LLP.
Harry stepped into the building, not knowing what to expect. He was greeted by a secretary who, on finding out his name, took him in to see the lawyer currently contracted to act as executor of the Potter estate, and executor of the Dursley's will.
The man, who introduced himself as Malcolm Coles, was polite but seemed strangely curious. Following a few probing questions, Harry gleaned that Malcolm thought he had dealt with Harry only a few months ago. The man considered his business with Harry mostly done, so he was wondering why Harry came in asking for details he should already know about. Harry had to use a confundus charm to trick him into thinking it was a normal procedure to go over everything again in such detail.
Malcolm proceeded to explain that Harry had inherited his aunt and uncle's assets, but the Dursleys had been in debt, so everything they owned had been sold off to pay their debts, leaving him with nothing.
That still left his 'parents' estate, which Malcolm explained was worth several million dollars - around the muggle value of Harry's vault at Gringotts, to Harry's surprise. His 'parents' assets had been liquidated after their death, and the money had been in the care of a fiduciary that had grown the fortune extensively over the past sixteen years through investments. It was a lot of money; enough for Harry to be considered well off even in New York, though not obscenely rich. Unfortunately, the estate wouldn't be released to him until he was eighteen years old - which according to his fake identity was in a year, when in truth it had already happened.
His emancipation complicated things, as it gave him the right to inherit property and large sums. Malcom suggested the possibility of filing a suit to obtain his full inheritance at his current age, but he didn't think it was likely to succeed, due to how stringent the wording of the will was.
That left Harry with an annual stipend of 130 thousand pounds paid out from the Potter estate. Previously it had gone to the Dursley's to pay for his care, but with their passing and his emancipation, it would be transferred directly to his bank account.
There were other details that Harry sorted out with the man, and questions he had answered, but after the initial discussion the meeting turned into a review of paperwork. It was important, and Harry respected how thorough the man was, but when he walked out of the law firm an hour later, he felt like a dementor had tried to suck out his soul.
Stuck sorting this new life out, Harry decided to get some other errands done.
A trip to an electronics store had him getting his own smartphone. Then, following the store clerk's recommendation, he followed it up by getting a sim-card and signing up for a mobile network. That second stop was a confusing mess that required liberal use of the ex-Amish excuse. Again, no one questioned his out of place accent, though there were a few ladies who complimented it - which Harry did find strange.
By this point it was late afternoon, and after stopping by an automated teller machine - which Harry was proud to say he figured out with ease - he decided to end his day out with some food. Finding himself starving, the seventeen year old wizard decided to grab some strange chicken wraps from a food cart, before finding a hotel to spend the night at.
Later, as he magicked his way into staying into another hotel, he decided he'd dedicate the next few days to finding a proper place to live.
It was amazing what money, determination, and a little magic could get done.
When Harry inspected his bank account, he found it contained exactly 130 thousand pounds - or rather 162 thousand dollars - as provided by the estate he'd seemingly inherited. That was a great deal of money, but by the end of his first day of house hunting he knew there was no way he could afford to buy a house anywhere in the city, nor was he willing to pay the absurd rents in Manhattan - a year was a long time; one never knew what unexpected expenses might come up. It was best to be responsible with the money.
So he decided to get professional help and hired a rental real estate agent. She helped him set a budget, narrow down his search, and then came up with a list of apartments he could check out. Three days later and over a dozen apartments inspected, Harry finally found a reasonably priced, relatively spacious apartment he liked at 15th Street, Queens. It wasn't anything special on the surface, but something about the place felt right - like an unexplainable resonance that drew him in.
From there it was only another three days to meet the building manager, fill out an application, get an expedited background and credit check, and sign the papers. Admittedly there was a little magic used to get things moving.
It was a Saturday morning he had started looking for a place, and it was the next Saturday afternoon that he ended up moving into the partially furnished, two bedroom apartment on the 7th floor.
The door clicked shut as the manager left the apartment in the hands of its new tenant, still slightly baffled by the speed at which the teenager moved in. He was just about to walk down the stairs when he almost bumped into another tenant, the beautiful May Parker.
"Oh sorry 'bout that May," he apologised. "Wasn't watching where I was going."
The friendly woman waved his apologies off, "Don't worry about it Jerry, nothing happened."
Walking to her apartments' door and pulling out her keys, May wondered what brought the building manager here.
"So what brings you up here?," she asked Jerry, worry creeping in. "Rents not overdue is it? I'm pretty I gave you the cheque already, didn't I?"
"No, no, you're all paid up. Don't worry," Jerry replied with a reassuring smile. "Actually, I was actually settling in a new tenant. His name's Harry Potter and he just moved into that flat right across yours".
He pointed at Harry's door, just opposite the Parker's door.
"Oh boy. Do we have anything to worry about with this one?" May asked with some trepidation, remembering the aggressive musclehead who lived there last.
"I doubt it. He seems like a decent guy. He's young too, maybe a little older than your Peter," Jerry replied. He frowned moments later though as he considered, not for the first time, the implications of an emancipated teenager living alone. "He's legal though. Doesn't seem to have any family from what I've seen."
A sympathetic grimace passed over May's face.
"The poor kid… He's living all alone? Does he even have any furniture? I didn't see any moving trucks the last couple days…"
Jerry shrugged. "He's got the basics, but that's it. Didn't bring any stuff with him. Hell, I didn't even see him lug any bags or boxes with him… but I'm sure he's at least got some shit. He has the dough for it."
"Hmmm," May made a thoughtful noise, mulling the information over.
Jerry took that as an end to the conversation, and made to leave. "Anyway, I've gotta get goin' May. Take care, and say hi to the kid for me." He waved goodbye and made his way down the stairs.
"See ya Jerry," May said goodbye in kind, before turning back to her apartment door to unlock it. The woman was about to step inside when she made her mind up and turned, marching to her new neighbours door and knocking.
*knock* *knock* *knock*
Harry was meditating on the floor of his living room when he was startled by the knocking. It was something he picked up in the weeks after the war to help clear his mind, maintain his occlumency barriers, and keep his emotions at bay.
He got up and went to open the door, expecting to find Jerry. Perhaps he'd forgotten something? Instead he was greeted by an unknown. She had long brown hair and dark eyes; she was older than him - in her 40s perhaps? He wondered if she was a fellow tenant.
"Hello," he greeted her. "Can I help you?"
The woman smiled at him, radiating an aura of friendliness, and stuck out her hand for him to shake.
"Hi! I'm May Parker, I live in the apartment just right across."
"I'm Harry Potter," Harry replied, shaking her outstretched hand. "Pleasure to meet you."
"Harry huh? Nice to meet you too. I heard you just moved in, and I wanted to invite you over for dinner later tonight. Say…" she trailed off, tilting her head in thought for a few seconds. "Hmmm. Peter should be home at seven, so how about dinner at eight?"
He certainly wasn't accustomed to this brand of friendliness. God knows neighbours on Privet drive were never so welcoming to new people. He gave it a few seconds though before nodding, giving May Parker a friendly smile.
"Thank you for the invitation," he responded. "I'd love to come. Is there anything I could bring over?"
"Oh god no, don't you bring a thing except yourself," she scoffed, though not in a mean way. "Oh, I live with my nephew Peter. He'll be there too obviously. He's sixteen, and a great kid, so don't worry you won't just be stuck talking to this dinosaur."
Harry chuckled at May's little dig at her age. He was glad she didn't seem like any of the stiff house frau's on Privet Drive, Harry thought as he nodded to the exuberant woman. "Alright, I'll see you in-" he pulled out his phone to check the time, "in four hours."
"Great. See you then," May beamed, before turning away and walking into her apartment, leaving Harry to do the same.
'Well then… my first dinner with muggles that don't hate my guts. This should be fun.'
AN: Well that's chapter 2, It's not the most exciting chapter but it needed to be written. I hope you liked it!
Thank you to everyone who favourited, followed, and or reviewed the fic! I was astounded by the response, and I loved reading all the reviews. I look forward to more of them :D
And yes, Gary = Stan Lee! It was his Spider-Man Homecoming cameo's name. Well done those of you who guessed right!