The Adjustment Bureau

TITLE: The Adjustment Bureau (for lack of inspiration)
Author: ExcentrykeMuse
Fandom(s): Harry Potter / Adjustment Bureau
Pairings: fem!Black!Harry/David Norris, (past) fem!Black!Harry/Draco
Written: finished July 2018
Summary: Solaria Harrendora Black was the woman David Norris met in the men’s room that night he gave his concession speech … and she would fight against wizards who wanted her to be someone she wasn’t and an old love to be with him.

Warnings: sex, infidelity, angels, predestination, consanguinity

By the time she was five, Solaria Harrendora Black knew that there were strange people in this world.  Occasionally, oddly dressed men and women would come up to her, call her ‘Miss Potter,’ ‘Harryo,’ ‘Harryo Potter,’ or, strangely, ‘The-Girl-Who-Lived’, and then just bow to her before melting away into the crowd, even if there hadn’t been a crowd a second before.  Her Aunt Petunia would always be there, and Solaria would look up at her in confusion, and Aunt Petunia would just call them ‘freaks’ and ‘good for nothings.’  Then again, she called Solaria that, too. 

If Solaria asked a question, she’d be sent to her cupboard.  The one time she asked why James Potter, the drunk, was her father and yet her name was ‘Black’, her Uncle Vernon actually slapped her.

Of course, that all changed just after her eleventh birthday.  Solaria never understood why, but she was given Dudley’s second bedroom, was bought new clothes, and she was allowed to do well in school.  She soon was jamming to cassettes from the seventies, painting her nails twice a week, and had her room painted bright pink and baby blue.  Aunt Petunia despaired at it, but said she’d let Solaria keep it as long as she kept up her marks.  It was no surprise when Solaria got into Harrow, and it was with tears in her eyes that she hugged her aunt goodbye.

There were still those strange people.  She even told one of them to ‘get the hell away from me’ and another that she was ‘a fuckin’ Black not a Potter.’  Still, they would show up, and she just got used to it.

She went on to the University of Cambridge and then she got a PhD and became a bioterrorism expert.  When she was knighted, she hardly paid attention.  Still, there were those idiots in the street, who now sometimes cried about her being a ‘Squib’, whatever that was.  Then there was the day when she was made a Marchioness—of Pembroke.  The first to hold the title since Anne Boleyn.

It was the day after all the festivities with her friends and she was trying to decide whether to accept a prestigious fellowship in New York, when a man came in and sat down next to her.  He was old enough to be her father with dark hair, high cheekbones and gray eyes.  “You look like Reggie,” he said, drinking his beer.

“Pardon?” she asked, wondering if he was talking to her.

“Reggie-Regulus.  My brother.  You have our eyes.  Your hair is Lily’s, of course.  The fact that it’s straight is a bit perplexing.”

Uncertain why he was talking about some man she had never heard about and that he somehow knew her mother’s name, she just spit out her answer.  “It curls, but I straighten it each morning.”

“That would explain it,” the man said.  “I found my brother’s diary a few months ago.  I had no idea he even knew Lily or that he and Lily had an affair.  Merlin, I was godfather to my own niece—I thought you were my best friend’s kid.  But James was somehow out of the picture.  Lily and Reggie had an affair apparently,” he reiterated, clearly unable to believe it himself.

“Which is why those punters who bow to me in the street call me ‘Potter’ instead of ‘Black’,” she realized.  “I always knew James was a Potter.  Never could figure out why we had different names given the fact that Mum was an Evans.  Is my dad alive?”

“Murdered before you were born,” the man said.  “Otherwise he probably would have raised you despite—“  The man looked uncomfortable.

Solaria ignored him.  “Who named me then?”

“My guess is Regulus.  Blacks are named after stars and ‘Solaria’ means ‘sun,’ the closest star there is.  And, well, we have a tendency to use names ending in ‘dora’. You have a cousin named Nymphadora of all things.”  He swept his hair back and then took out a few photographs.

“These are of Regulus and a few have your mother in them.  I thought you might want them.”

“Who are you again?” she asked as she looked through them.

“Lord Black,” he responded morosely.  “I hate titles.  Sirius to my friends.”

Her boyfriend Draco, who still broke her heart when she thought of him, had an odd title that she didn’t quite understand.  Someone had addressed him as “Heir Draco” once and when she asked him about it, he pretended he didn’t know what she was talking about, but she knew what she had heard.

“I’m the Marchioness of Pembroke,” she said in commiseration, bringing herself back to the present, “as of yesterday.  Life goes on.  So, would that make my dad Lord Regulus Black if you’re a Marquis?  Or are you not, making him titleless.”

“No,” Sirius quickly said.  “You got it right.”

“Now I don’t feel so strange about accepting the title from the Queen,” she murmured.  “I was used to being Dame Solaria.  But this—Well, in America, I can confuse everyone by signing everything ‘Pembroke’.  What a laugh.”  She smiled at him wryly, having suddenly come to the decision that, yes, she did want to go to New York of all places.  Just to get away from it all.  To get away from Draco.  “How’d you find me, anyway?”

“Magic,” he answered, taking a sip of his beer.  “Never fails.”

“Right,” she answered.  “Sure.  And I’m the Queen of Sheba.”  She went back to her Pimm’s and didn’t notice the horrified look on Sirius’s face.

They drank together in companionable silence before she pushed off her bar stool and found her messenger bag.  “Goodbye, Uncle.  Look me up next time I’m in the country.”  It was time to get away from the idea of Draco and if she needed to leave England to do it, then she would.

He looked at her in shock.  “You’re leaving the country?”

“Yep.”  She grinned over her shoulder.  “Wish me luck.”

And she thought no more about him.  The research facility was everything she could hope for and more.  She drove her assistants insane when she signed everything ‘Pembroke,’ going out of her way to introduce herself by the name. 

The night of some important election when she was attending a Biology Convention, she was being followed by some strange reporter from something called The Prophet and she ducked into the men’s room. 

For a moment, she thought she had seen Draco’s familiar slicked-back blond hair, but decided she might be crazy.  There was also the man in a suit and hat, but that didn’t bear thinking about.

In the loo, there was a man, calling out to see if anyone was there.  “Oh, beg pardon,” she said.  “There’s this strange woman who’s trying to interview me—and I just need to wait it out.”

The man cracked a smile, sitting on the sink.  “Whatever did you do?”

She shrugged.  “Top of my field?” she suggested.  “The Queen made me a Marchioness but that was months ago.  Maybe they figured out who my dad was.  His brother is a Marquis—so—well, really, who cares if he had an affair with a married woman thirty years ago?”  She sighed and just placed her head in her hands in defeat.  “At least she’s not one of those weirdoes who comes up to me in the street and shakes my hand or bows to me.  I’ve yet to figure that out.  They’ve been doing it since I was a kid.—It hasn’t happened here in America, yet.  What are you doing in a lavatory since you’re not using the facilities?”  She looked at the handsome stranger.

He looked self deprecatingly down before his blue eyes met hers.  “I’m practicing my concession speech.”

Apparently, that meant something.

She waited several moments.  “Pardon, but you’re going to have to be more specific.  I have no idea what you’re talking about unless you mean that election people at the lab have been going on about?”

“That’s the one,” he agreed.  “Judging by the accent, I would guess that you’re probably not a registered voter.”

She shook her head, the dark red of her hair catching the light.  “I sit in the House of Lords as a Conservative,” she offered.  “Does that help?”

He laughed and she sat on the sinks, across from him.

“I’m a Democrat.”

“Liberal,” she said, pointing at him to make her point.

He smiled at her.  “I won’t deny it.”  Now he was chuckling.  “How did I end up in a Men’s Room with a Conservative when a Republican just won?”

“Ah—“ Solaria told him.  “I’m not a Republican.  Were you aware that Conservatives share many ideas with Democrats and are occasionally more liberal?  We just, in addition, like hereditary rights, but that doesn’t exist over here.  You kind of had this little thing called the Revolutionary War.”

He was still laughing.  “Yeah, I think I remember something like that from school.”

She held out her hand.  “Pembroke.”

“Just Pembroke?” he checked.

“It’s a perpetual prank on the unsuspecting American public,” she whispered as she moved forward, her dress being just a bit too low, giving him a look at her décolletage.  Solaria noticed that he was a gentleman and didn’t look down.

“David Norris,” he offered, shaking her hand.  “Former Congressman and once-hopeful Senatorial Candidate for the Great State of New York.”

“Well,” she said, leaning back again.  “Don’t these things come back every two or four years?  You’ll have a chance again.  And—remember how I told you about weird people bowing to me for absolutely no reason since I was a kid?—I find it’s best just to be genuine.  Don’t take it in the gut.  Don’t let them do it, call you by the wrong name, just because it seems like that’s what is supposed to happen.  I am not Harryo Potter just because my mother was married to a man named James Potter.  I’m Solaria Black because my father was Lord Regulus Black and I will not be gift wrapped into something that is more ‘acceptable.’  Just because my father was wealthy and from a titled family and shouldn’t have been having an affair with a married woman from nowhere, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be proud of who I am, and that I shouldn’t for a second let another person dress me up to be someone else.  You may have lost because of that ridiculous prank in the papers, but why apologize?  It’s a prank.  It’s you.  Don’t be disingenuous.  Explain it for what it is; explain yourself for who you are, a hardworking public servant who hoped to represent this state for honor—fame—fortune—whatever your actual motives.  Am I rambling or does that make sense?”

He was smiling at her the entire time, his eyes a brilliant blue, and he just leaned forward and asked, “So are you ‘Solaria Black’ or ‘Pembroke’?”

She shoved him backward.  “You’re too cheeky.”

“I’m enchanted,” he argued, and then paused.  “Pembroke.”

Solaria smirked in her delight.  He got it right.  Grabbing his tie, she looked at it and said, “You really should throw this one out.  I wouldn’t let my cousin Dudley be caught dead in it and I’m not that fond of the idiot.”  Just as she meant to pull him forward, he grabbed the back of her head and then they kissed there—just barely, but enough.  Enough to make her forget for a moment.

There was the sound of someone clearing his throat.  Solaria pulled back, but kept hold of the horrible tie.  She looked back to see a man she’d never seen before.

“If you’re a bloody reporter, the answer is ‘no comment.’  My only plans to continue in public life is in the House of Lords, I’m a ‘Squib,’ whatever that is, and my name is ‘Black’ and not ‘Potter.’  I should just sue you for libel.”  She rolled her eyes.

“Actually,” the man said.  “I’m not a reporter.  I was looking for Congressman Norris.”

“Choose a better tie,” she suggested to David, finally letting go of it.  She slid down off of the sink and smoothed out the puffed out skirt that came down to her knee of her cocktail dress.

David was right beside her, fixing his tie rather badly.  She sighed and quickly put it to rights.  “I told you,” Solaria murmured.  “I have a cousin.  Who do you think got him ready for University and job interviews?”

“What does he do?” David asked, taking her hand and leading her out. 

“Dudley?” Solaria asked.  “Oh, he’s a barrister.  I never thought he was bright when we were kids.  When I began to get top marks, however, he started getting competitive.  Who’d’ve thought?”  She suddenly noticed that David was leading her somewhere and she had no idea where it was.  “David?  I was attending a function for biologists and I think I’m going the wrong way.”

“Biologists?” he asked, clearly interested.

“I’m the foremost expert in bioterrorism,” she told him.  “I’m here on a three-year fellowship.  The lab I work in has the most cutting edge technology.  I’m currently working on the ZIKA virus.  There’s a theory that it can be channeled—”  She didn’t have a chance to finish because David had turned and cupped the back of her neck with his free hand and kissed her lightly.  When he pulled away, they were smiling at each other.

“I think that will poll well in two years,” the man behind them said.

“Ignore him,” David told her before he continued to lead her down toward an auditorium. 

Then there were screaming supporters, lights, cameras, and David was loosening his tie and telling everyone that the most beautiful woman he’d ever met had called it ‘ugly’ despite what experts had told them.

At the end, he even brought her on stage and took off the tie and gave it to her and she threw it into the crowd, laughing the whole time.

“I’m not ready for the night to end,” he told her, late into the early hours.  The rally had broken up, the biologists had gone home, and they were just sitting in this high end cocktail bar.  Closing time was in five minutes.

“Well, Congressman Norris,” she told him.  “I’m not that type of girl.”  Solaria pushed her hair behind her shoulders before taking a sip of her Apricot Sour.  “I also have work in—“ she checked her phone “—three hours.  I think I have time for a shower and a brief nap.  Very brief.  Might be better just to power my way through.”

“Then,” he suggested, leaning forward, “let me take you out for coffee a half hour before you leave for work.”

Solaria smiled.  “Do you try this hard with all the girls or is there something about me?” she teased.  “You know, my aunt wouldn’t let me kiss boys until I had been on at least three dates with them.  She and my uncle had to meet him and then approve of him and his family.  I always kind of stuck to that rule even at University—until last night.”  Solaria had even stuck to it with Draco.  She pierced David with her gray eyes.  “What is it about you, Mr. Politician?”

“It’s the tie.”

She erupted into giggles and they walked out into the street and took a cab to her place.  Solaria realized that David was staring at it and she laughed.  “My father was rich.  I met my uncle a week before I flew here and he had all of this arranged for me.  I even have this massive trust fund.  Apparently, I get more money when I get married, of all things.  I suppose Dad was a bit traditional.  Strange since he had an affair with a married woman, though in his journal he calls Lily the love of his life.”

“What was he like?” David asked.

She shrugged.  “He died before I was born.  Mum and her husband died when I was a little over a year old and I went to live with my mother’s sister.  As the story goes, my father’s brother was in gaol for my entire childhood.” 

He looked at her and stroked her cheek.  “When should I come pick you up for coffee?”

Whispering in his ear, she pulled back and hopped out of the cab and ran up the steps to her brownstone.

The next day at work, everyone was reading about, well, her and David Norris.  She was with him on stage, holding the tie or throwing it to the crowd.  Suddenly they were a “power couple.”  They knew who she was (and they actually got it right), where she worked, how wealthy she was (well, they tried to guess), and the fact that she was titled and signed everything “Pembroke.”  There was even an insert of separate pictures of her mother and father.  Whoever this reporter was certainly did their research and all within a few quick hours.  She had to give whoever it was credit: A Steve Harris and Rita Skeeter.

She slept over fourteen hours and had to run out of her home the next morning to catch the bus.  The man in the hat was sitting on the street corner, but her mind was soon caught up in pleasanter things.  Solaria was happily surprised to see David there.  “Hello, Sleeping Beauty,” he greeted, handing her the same coffee order she had the day before.  “I figured you would need this.”

“Don’t you have work?” she asked.

“Not until Monday,” he told her.  “I would read the papers, but strangely it’s all about us.”

She looked at him in surprise.  “Still?”

“My campaign manager would actually like a sit down.”  He looked at her with a shy smile.

“Sit down,” she responded.  “The last ‘sit down’ I had was with my Aunt Petunia when she didn’t like the boyfriend I brought home from Cambridge.  She thought he was ‘the wrong sort’.  I still feel sorry for Draco.”

David laughed.  “No, nothing like that.”

She eyed him warily.  “I wonder if this has made it over the Atlantic.”

The bus arrived.

“May I?” David asked and she nodded as they got on.

“How are we a couple?” she asked in confusion.  “Usually there’s dinner or something like that.  We had a conversation and a kiss in the men’s room and then we were on stage, and I was throwing your tie.  I just work and I sleep and I work and I work and I work and I drink caffeine.”

As they pulled away, she thought she caught familiar gray eyes in the mirror, but put it out of her mind.

David placed his hand on her elbow and she looked desperately at him.  “Then let’s go to dinner—or breakfast.  Whatever you have time for.  I don’t think we’re a mistake or a moment of passion.  I think this could be something, Pembroke.  We can put off Charlie and just be us—whatever us is.”

“Okay,” she agreed.  “Just us.”

“Just us.”

And she mirrored his smile.

She wasn’t free until Sunday, but Solaria let her hair fall into natural auburn curls, took off her glasses and put in contacts like she had been wearing when she met David, and placed on one of her other cocktail dresses.  She tended to wear dark shades because of the strange color of her hair.  Her hair often clashed with lighter colors.  When David came to pick her up, he smiled at her and offered her his arm as they entered a cab.  Just before she was to get in, she felt a hand on her arm.

There, standing, was a man dressed in bright blue with white swirls on it.  No, she thought, it was one of them.  “Harryo Potter,” he whispered sadly, but Solaria and David could still hear him.  “I am so sorry you are a Squib and barred from our world.”

“I’m Pembroke,” she responded coolly.  “You must have me confused me with someone else.  I don’t know anyone by the name of Potter.”

She got into the cab and bunched her right hand in her dress.  David rested his fingers gently on it, and she turned toward him, tears in her eyes. 

“You’re safe,” he told her.  “He’s no one.”

“I thought they hadn’t followed me here,” she murmured.  “I’ve been here six months and now—“

“You’re Pembroke,” he reiterated, gently taking her into his arms.  “We know that.  The world knows that.  Now, come, we’re going out and will hopefully enjoy it.”

And she did.  They had dinner outside and there was a fire show.  The two of them smiled and split a bottle of champagne.  If they noticed the reporter who was taking pictures of them, neither said anything.  David kissed her on a small bridge that stretched over a pond and Solaria lost herself in him.  This felt right, she thought.  And he was an American of all things.

When she next saw him, after his first day of work, he looked a little shaken.  “Not what you were expecting?” she asked, slouching down into a chair at a local café.  She’d just gotten off herself even though it was nine at night.

“Someone had this—book,” he told her.  “He was planning his day and everyone’s schedule.  It was—strange.”  His blue eyes looked at her.

“Huh,” she answered.  “Maybe he was a bit anal retentive?  A touch of OCD?”

You were in it,” he added and her eyes went wide.  “Don’t worry, I told him if he put you in it tomorrow, it would come to blows.”

“That’s a relief.  Was I ‘Harryo Potter’, ‘Solaria Black’, or ‘Pembroke’?”

“Solaria,” he answered.  “Definitely not ‘Harryo’, though I didn’t quite get a good look at it.”  He reached out and ran his hand through her straightened auburn hair.  “You know, this is the first thing I noticed about you.  You were so beautiful in that dress with those legs,” (she laughed) “but your hair.”

“It is something, isn’t it?—Your smile, while charming, is shy.  I like that.”

“So,” she murmured, her hand resting on his upper torso, “have you talked to that sit-down-guy?  Are you running again?”

“I want to,” he told her honestly.  “He wants you as an asset.”

She laughed.  “I’m foreign and I’ll barely be here.  My visa will be expiring six months after the election!  Also, how can we look into the future that far ahead?”

He shrugged.  “We can’t—That doesn’t stop him from hoping.”

“When does campaigning start?” she questioned, looking at him.

David gave her one of his shy and honest smiles.  “Not for a few months yet.  It’s his job to be prepared for our image considering why we were defeated.  He hired a focus group when the news broke and they said that I needed to ‘look adult’ and we didn’t have enough time to do that.”

“And I’m adult.”  She sighed.  Her whole life was adult, except when she was rocking out to seventies music in the privacy of her bedroom.

He took her hand and kissed it.  “Not if you don’t want to be.”

She sighed in frustration.  “I don’t know how to do this.  The only good thing I had going was with Draco Malfoy in Uni and with micro-organisms.  All Draco required was hair gel and Aunt Petunia sent him packing.  Something about his mother being Father’s cousin—they had a loud argument about it.  I had no idea until they met.”

David looked at her sympathetically.  “Did you ever—?”

Solaria scrunched her eyebrows in confusion until she realized—“Heavens, no!  I’m not married, David!”

If she had turned around, she would have seen the shocked look on David’s face that morphed into one of pleasure.

“Tell me where you’d like this to go then,” he told her, taking her hand and kissing the back of it.

“I’d like to fly Aunt Petunia over for Christmas, but unfortunately I’m popping over there for goose and gravy.  Dudley’s just got engaged and I can’t justify staying away even if I can get her to come over and scare you to death.”

He gave her a winning smile.  “Is this fiancée’s name as singular as yours?”

“It’s worse,” she moaned.  “Someone actually named her Myrtle.”

What she hadn’t been expecting was for Uncle Sirius to arrive half an hour before a dinner date with David, her last before she was flying out in three days.  “Oh good, the old place doesn’t look half bad,” he said as he came into the brownstone.  “I’d never actually been here.  I think Tonks was here for a few weeks for work.”

“Tonks?” she asked as she put in her earrings.

“Your cousin.  Well, second cousin—Nymphadora Tonks.  She’s with MI-5.  A suspect led them here and I let her team have the run of the place as long as they cleaned up when they were finished.  The government could have put them up, but really this was nicer.”

“I think you’ve mentioned her.”

“I have,” he agreed.  “Anyway, came to see how you are and invite you for Boxing Day.  I suppose you will be at your mother’s sister’s for Christmas.—Petunia, right?”

She looked at him as she was getting her lipstick ready.  “I’d love to, Uncle.  London, right?  Jot down your address next to the telephone in the hall and your number and I’ll give you a ring when I’m back in England.”

“Will do.”  He leaned against the wall.  “Lily used to like pale blue.”

Solaria looked over her shoulder.  “Really?  It’s the first time I’m wearing this color.  I thought I’d surprise David.  He’s going to be with his campaign manager’s family for Christmas.  I feel a bit sorry for him so I thought I’d give him a good memory.”  She smiled at him.

Sirius smiled at her slyly.  “The Black spirit.  Bringing him here then?”

“Here?” she asked in confusion.  “What?  No!  Aunt Petunia brought me up better than that!—I meant seeing me in a nice dress and kissing him senseless.  He knows I was brought up to wait until marriage.”

Her uncle looked at her skeptically.  “And he’s stayed?”

She stared at him hard and long.  “I’m getting dressed, aren’t I?”

“This man of yours must really be falling for you,” Sirius murmured.  Louder, he suggested, “Bring him along, to England.  I’d like to meet him.  Anyone who’s captured Reggie’s little girl’s interest must be interesting.  Spend the night.  I’ll have a bash, invite some of the kids your age who went to the Black alma mater.”

“Eton?”  She was now on her mascara.

Sirius didn’t quite look at her in the mirror.  “Something like that.—Can I crash the night?  I’ll grab one of the rooms before I go my merry way.”

“Sure.  If you go out, lock up behind you,” she laughed, air kissing his cheek so she wouldn’t ruin her red lipstick and then grabbed her booties that would look sexy with her sheer black polka dot tights.

When David saw her, his breath caught.  He had been talking in low undertones with a black man in a suit and hat, but the man had tipped it to her and walked away.  “Campaign?” she asked.

“Never mind that,” David said, letting a hand slide down one of her arms.  “You’re stunning.  What am I going to do without you for two weeks?”  He kissed her softly and she smiled.  For once she was only thinking of him, and that was alright with her.

They were at a steak house that had mistletoe above every doorway and roping up every partition between booths and it was unlike anything Solaria had ever seen before.  “This is lovely,” she said before looking at him.  “Uncle Sirius stopped by.  He’s spending the night.—He,” she bit her lip.  “I haven’t asked Aunt Petunia, and it really rests on her since I’m over there for most of the time, but Uncle Sirius invited both of us over for Boxing Day.  Suggested we spend the night.  Apparently he’s having a bit of a to-do.”  At David’s stunned expression, she continued, “I could show you the House.  The Government will be shut down, but I have keys.  It might be an interesting news item for Charlie.”  When he wasn’t saying anything, she tried not to bite her lip as she didn’t want red lipstick on her teeth.  “Bad idea?  Bad idea.  Right.”  She picked up her menu.

“No,” he hastily told her, grabbing her wrist.  “It’s a wonderful idea.  I’m just—stunned that you want to take me home to meet your family.”

“All right,” she began carefully, “I’ll call Aunt Petunia tomorrow morning and then if it goes well, I’ll text my flight info.” 

He leaned forward and kissed her senseless.  Solaria breathed out through her nose and they only pulled apart when the waitress came, blushing, to take their drinks orders.

“A bottle of champagne!” David ordered.  “We’re going to England for Christmas.”

They meandered through the streets late into the night until Solaria realized it was seven a.m. in Little Whinging.  The call was placed, permission granted, and then David was swinging her on the pavement.

“You have to sleep in the living room,” she warned him.  “Myrtle has the spare bedroom and there’s nowhere else to put you.”

“I hardly care.  I’ll buy a bottle of whiskey in London for your family and chocolates for Myrtle.  Would that be appropriate?  I thought I’d come over with a simple carryall.  Jeans and some sweaters.”

“Perfect,” she told him.  “We’re rather informal.  Just bring a suit with a decent tie” (he laughed) “in case we go somewhere.”

“A little more than a carryall then.”  Next he was kissing her then before they got in a cab and he took her home.

The man was waiting outside her home again when she returned—the one in the hat with the dark skin.  Solaria looked at him questioningly as David dropped her off.  “I’ve seen him somewhere before.”

“Really?” David asked, clearly trying to sound nonchalant.  “I think he hangs out on this block, sketching.”

“Of course,” she answered, turning back to David.

The plane ride went smoothly and Solaria enjoyed watching David as he’d never been on a plane before.  When they arrived at Gatwick, Uncle Vernon was there to pick them up, and he shook David’s hand before taking some of Solaria’s suitcases.

“I think he likes me,” David whispered into her ear.

She leaned in toward him.  “Well, at least he shook your hand.”

Aunt Petunia was all a flutter but she immediately took David aside and closed the door.  Solaria rolled her eyes.  She knew that David was being interviewed for the position of her boyfriend and there was little she could do about it.

Running up the stairs, she shouted, “Dudley!” and saw her hulking whale of a cousin come out of his room.  She used to call him “a pig in a wig” when they had been children, but he’d really filled himself out with his boxing at Smeltings.  She threw herself at him into a hug and he picked her up.

“Sol,” he greeted, throwing her around.  Setting her down, he just looked down at her.  “I hear you brought back an American.”

“I hear,” she argued, “you have a fiancée.  I leave for four months and you pull one on me!”

Laughing, the two cousins went downstairs for some eggnog, Solaria looking at the closed door longingly.

She was getting ready for bed when she noticed it.  The man who sketched on her street in New York City was in Little Whinging.  It was definitely the same character.  Same suit, same hat.  It was rather astounding. 

Waiting until all the house lights went off, she snuck down to the living room to find David awake and reading a book.

“Hello,” he greeted happily.  “I didn’t know I’d be seeing you what with the ‘English Inquisition.’”

“David, not now,” she whispered hurriedly.  “That man from New York is in the street.  I swear it’s the same one.”

His eyebrows creasing, he was quickly out of bed and looking out the window.  He was squinting into the snow and just looking for a second before he swore under his breath.

Solaria was trying not to bite her nail in worry.  “Should I get Dudley?  He boxes and is rather intimidating.  Or should I call the police?”

“No,” he stated, going over to his bag and pulling out a hoodie and grabbing his slippers.  “I’ll take care of it.”  David then opened the front door and hurried into the snow, Solaria watching from the window.  She looked out at them for several moments, and then just couldn’t take it anymore. 

Grabbing a coat from the coat tree, she went out into the street.

“Hey!” she shouted at the man, charging him, only to have David grab her around the waist.  “Get away from my aunt’s house!  Are you stalking me?”  A ribbon of fear ran down her spine as she looked at the man in horror.  “You’re stalking me—you’re one of those weird people who think I’m Harryo Potter!”

“I know you’re not Harryo Potter,” he assured her calmly in an American accent.  “You’re Solaria Black.  I’m just—trying to keep the peace.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” she demanded, grabbing at his book and taking a look at it.

It was the strangest thing she had ever seen.  On it were lines that were pulsating and moving horizontally.  One was labeled “Solaria Black” and another “David Norris.”  Downward was a sketchy line labeled—“Draco Malfoy?” she questioned.  “You have been following me—for years!  You bloody bastard!”

David grabbed her and pulled her back.  “I think they’re angels,” he whispered in her ear.  “I’ve been trying to keep them away from us.”

Solaria looked up at him with wide eyes.  “Is this the book you’ve been talking about?”

“Yes,” he agreed, stroking her hair lovingly.  “They’re obsessed with the three of us, and I don’t know why.  I just want to keep you happy, keep you safe.  Let them do their strangeness—they’ll blend back into the New York crowd once we’re home.”

Home—home—what an odd concept for New York.  Her only home, really, had been Harrow, and it had really only been a school.

“What do they want?” Solaria asked with wide eyes.  Again, she was lunging at the man in the suit.  “What do you want?”

“We want you to remain romantically involved with David Norris and not rekindle your relationship with Heir Draco Malfoy.  Congressman Norris will be President in twelve years with you by his side.  Otherwise, the country—”

“What!” she screamed, barely breathing.  “Get out of here!  If I ever see your face again I’m calling the police!”

David hauled her away from the man and she began to cry.  David was holding her closely, his hand threaded in her auburn hair, not judging, just being there.  She felt herself crumpling and he picked her up and carried her back to Number Four, Privet Drive. 

She wasn’t even aware of someone laying her down in her bed or pulling the covers over her.  Solaria’s fingers reached out when the source of warmth left and then there was the slide of skin as her hand was taken.  An indent on the mattress and she was no longer alone.  Falling against the warmth, she fell asleep—only to wake up to the imprint of a head against the pillow beside her.  She rested her hand against it, feeling that it was still warm, and got up to get dressed for the day.

Solaria never slept alone again.  David would sneak into her room and hold her before sneaking back out before her aunt and uncle would wake up again.

“I know what you’re doing,” Dudley began one morning over eggs.  “Strange thing is, I can’t hear anything.  Now, Myrtle and I are staying in our separate bedrooms to keep Mum happy—and are sneaking around when we go out to tea—but you’re just sleeping with your Congress-thingy.”

“What of it?” Solaria asked.  “People sleep.”

Dudley looked at her for a long moment.  “True.  People do.  If I were you, I would do more than sleep.”

She threw a piece of toast at him.

At least Dudley was quiet after that.

On Christmas morning, Solaria woke up in David’s arms and kissed him gently.  He stirred in his sleep and pulled her closer, mumbling something in her ear that she couldn’t quite make out.  For the first time in over a week, or perhaps since she was snogging him under the mistletoe back in New York, she looked at him—really looked at him.

His hair was wonderfully short.  Solaria liked to pull her hand through it and feel the tips of it against her hand.  The color defied description.  It wasn’t quite brown, and definitely not blond.  His face was quiet and calm and self-deprecating.  It really was a peculiar face for a politician, she thought to herself.  Usually they were smug or self-satisfying, but not her David.

She leaned forward and kissed him and when she pulled away he was holding her closer, his beautiful blue eyes looking at her.

No, she wasn’t letting David go—especially for Draco Malfoy, a half-shadow of a person who was.  What was it with that “Heir” bit?  It didn’t quite make sense.

David made sense to her.  And she needed that, so she pushed herself against him and snuck her leg in between his, feeling that hardness between his legs and just pushing a little so that he gasped, closing his eyes in wonder.  Loving that she had such power over this man who she had chosen in that toilet just a month ago, she rocked against him once again. 

His lips caught hers in a sensuous kiss as he began to rock with her. 

Solaria smiled into the kiss and they danced together at four in the morning until he fell apart against her, swallowing his moan against her shoulder as she held him to her. 

Trying not to laugh, she whispered in his ear, “Happy Christmas.”

His blue eyes looked up at her as he murmured, “You minx,” before he rolled on top of her and captured her lips in a half kiss, his fingers roaming down her clothed breast and tweaking the nipple, causing her to whimper.  It was such a foreign sensation.  Solaria rarely touched herself and certainly never imagined anyone—the one time she tried to envision Draco had been a complete failure, so she gave it up for lost.

However, his hand skated downward to unbutton her pajama top so he could reach her smooth stomach and splay his hand out against it.  David, though, didn’t stop there.  Instead, he continued his path down until his fingers were dipping into her panties and down into her nether curls, all the while placing little kisses on her lips, just there, teasing. 

Seizing up, Solaria tried to push David away and he immediately removed his hand. 

“What’s wrong?” he whispered in her ear.  “I know you’re a virgin.”

Her frightened gray eyes reached his and he was immediately shushing her, his hand stroking the side of her face, and then he was kissing her again, this time more deeply.  His tongue swiped against the line of her lips and she gratefully accepted it, letting him lead her in the kiss.  It was strange, considering neither of them had brushed their teeth, but the taste of David was so terribly real and honest

Then David’s hand was on its quest again, this time drawing circles on her breast and squeezing it lightly.  This time when he reached her pajama bottoms, he did not dip into them, but instead fell down between her legs, cloth separating skin from skin.

Solaria broke the kiss and looked up into his eyes, feeling terribly vulnerable.  However, she only saw safety and comfort there.  After a moment, she nodded, not certain what to expect, but it wasn’t David searching for her folds through her pajama bottoms and when he found it looking for the peak at the top.  Then he was slowly circling it and Solaria felt small sparks of pleasure and she was grabbing at his back, her head thrown back.  His lips descended on her neck, and wasn’t that just wonderful?

He grabbed her mouth just as she was about to cry out her joy with the strange pleasure-pain which was so incredibly raw with her pajamas creating friction.  His finger continued to circle that nub until she fell down from the high and was panting out against his lips and he was whispering, “I love you, Pembroke,” again and again in her ear until they just lay in each other’s arms—lovers at last.

Of course, Dudley kept on looking at her suggestively as they opened presents.  At the end of it, she just winked at him, hoping that would get the smug bastard to leave her alone.  Naturally, he just began to smirk at her.

Solaria and David took the train to London on Boxing Day, and she was never so happy to get away from somewhere before.

They had one bag between them as they were only spending the night.  They had quietly agreed that they would share a room, as there was really no point pretending and Aunt Petunia wasn’t going to be there.

“What did she ask?”

He blinked for a moment.  “You don’t know?”

“No,” she answered slowly.  “What does she ask?”

“Income, religion, my intentions, last time I had sex, how long it took between meeting my last girlfriend and sleeping with her, whether I was willing to move here, if I knew what a ‘Muggle’ or a ‘Squib’ was…I was a little lost on that one.”

“I hate those words,” she admitted.  “I’ve heard them my entire life, but I don’t know anything about them.”

“Well,” he told her, snaking his arm around her, “obviously they don’t matter.”

Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place was an absolute disaster.  Uncle Sirius met them at King’s Cross and took them back and they entered the house to balloons and a bit banner reading, “Welcome Home, Harryo!”

Solaria stood and looked at it in horror.

“Get that out of here,” Sirius demanded, waving his hand.  “Whoever is responsible, get out!”

David placed a hand on her back, and she took in a deep breath before entering the house and noticing how dark it was.  There were new faces everywhere, all smiling, and she moved into David as much as possible. 

They were immediately shown to their room—which had belonged to her father, Lord Regulus, or “Reggie”—and Solaria sat down and took a deep breath.  “David,” she whispered, absolutely terrified.  “They’re here.  In this house.  The strange people who bow to me.”

He came down and sat down next to her in his pullover and jeans and took her hand, kissing it.  “Do you suppose,” he murmured, “that your parents made love on this bed?”

She looked at him incredulously.

“I’m just saying,” he said with a half-cocked smile, that she loved so much.  “I’m saying we should have a repeat of yesterday morning in this bed—I think your dad would appreciate it.”

Leaning into him, she murmured, “Do you now?”

“I do,” he agreed.  “He liked illicit affairs, and your aunt Petunia would consider it illicit, wouldn’t she?”

“Dudley knew.”

“Dudley was next door.”

They laughed a little together. 

He pulled her out of the room and the unfortunate banner was gone and someone was passing out some drink called firewhiskey, which certainly had a kick to it, and everyone was chattering away.

“It was so sad you couldn’t come to Hogwarts,” a young woman named Hermione was saying.  She had bushy brown hair and buck teeth.  “I mean, I know you were a Squib—”

David accidentally spilled his firewhiskey on her and led Solaria away so she wouldn’t have to deal with her.

About four hours in when the party was finally winding down, a wet Draco Malfoy appeared.  “I swear!” he demanded from the door.  “Cousin Sirius!  What is wrong with you?  You invite me to a party and then do everything to prevent me from getting to it!”

Solaria looked down and her heart stopped for a moment when his grey eyes caught hers.

He was immediately rushing up the stairs, his hair slicked back away from his forehead, which was covered in rain water, and he grabbed her in an open mouthed kiss even though she was firmly within David’s grasp.

It was absolutely wrong.  Solaria hated it and she pulled back immediately and pressed a hand against Draco’s chest.  “Have you met my boyfriend?” she asked sweetly.  “Congressman David Norris.”

Draco looked him over and dismissed him in less than a moment.  “Solaria—I’ve been trying to reach you in America.  Now that your Aunt Petunia isn’t in the picture—”

Her heart lodged in her throat.  “Really?” she squeaked.  “I’m afraid it’s too late, Draco.”  It hurt her to say it, but wrapped warmly in David’s embrace, she honestly couldn’t imagine being with anyone else.  He was the one for her—she couldn’t say if it was going to last, if she was going to stay in America for his political campaign or not, or if she even loved him, but he was her “right now” and she wasn’t going to give that up for anything.

As she moved away from Draco to go get what was called a butterbeer, she looked out the window and saw the same man in a suit and hat who sketched on her street in New York.  He nodded to her and walked away.

She never saw him again.

It was election night and Solaria was now a joint citizen with America.  “Well, Congressman Norris,” she said as she fixed his Solaria-approved tie.  “I think that might pass muster.  Do you have your speech?”

“All right here,” he said, pointing to his head and kissing her lightly, “Mrs. Norris.”

“Pembroke,” she chided.  “I’m Lady Pembroke.”

His shy smile fell onto his face.  “How could I forget?”

“Let’s go accept your election to the Senate,” she whispered against his ear, “and then do something my father would heartily approve of.”

“We have the wrong bed,” he warned.

“Oh well,” she murmured back.  “I’m sure Uncle Sirius will send it if we asked.”

And then, holding hands, they walked out on the same stage where they had first met two years earlier.


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