When he woke up again, the room was bright and someone was gently shaking his shoulder.
“Hey, good morning,” Holland said, “technically.” Today was the first time since they moved in together that they could remember Danny sleeping past seven thirty. It was almost eleven.
Rubbing his eyes, Danny pushed himself up in bed. “I overslept,” he mumbled thickly.
“Yeah, I didn’t want to wake you up but we can’t have you that far off EST. I made you coffee.” Holland indicated the mug on his nightstand.
Danny glanced at the coffee mug, then back at Holland, already fully dressed. Usually they were just waking up when he got back from his morning run. Usually Danny was the one bringing Holland coffee. “What time is it? Are we going to be late to meet your parents?”
“It’s eleven. And Saturday. So we won’t be late for another twenty-three hours.” Danny not knowing what day it was felt like a bad sign. Holland touched the back of their hand to his forehead. “Are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah. I’m fine.” Confused, about the time, day, and location, but otherwise he felt normal. “Hazards of international travel.”
Fatigue followed him all week as he worked at the Cirrus offices in Chicago. By Friday afternoon, when he was called to a meeting in the director’s office, Danny had just about adjusted to the more familiar jump of one hour between his home and workplace. Another week in the states, and then he’d be back in Europe for the next two.
“Danny, wonderful to see you,” the company director - and Danny’s grandfather - greeted him. “Excellent progress meeting this morning. It seems the Switzerland expansion is going well.”
“Very well,” Danny agreed. Taking American Quidditch brands into Europe had been a venture with inherent risks, but Leo Tallow’s research, export and marketing teams were up to the challenge.
“And you? Are you still enjoying the work?”
“Yes,” Danny answered, his unspoken ‘but’ hanging silently between them like a malfunctioning bludger. “I love the work,” he hurried to affirm, “but the travel… it’s hard to keep switching between being out there and over here. Sometimes I wake up and I don’t know what day it is or where I am.” Perhaps Danny wouldn’t share so much with another employee, but Leo Tallow had taken Danny into his home when everyone else had been finding him difficult to be around. Danny knew he could be completely honest.
“I can imagine,” Leo replied, not sounding the least perturbed. “That’s actually what I wanted to discuss.”
“Oh?” Danny tried not to panic. The traveling was grueling, but he adored his job. He’d worked in Armenia, Bulgaria and Switzerland - where he was currently co-managing the project - since he started at Cirrus three-and-a half years ago. He hoped his honesty didn’t relegate him back to Chicago full time; a career in export was distinctly less enticing if only the goods got to leave the country.
“The company is the strongest it's ever been,” Leo continued proudly. “We’ve decided to expand into France next year. We’ll need a member of staff there full-time who knows how to manage the project. Hammond thinks you’re ready, but he knows you have anchors here. I thought you might consider it.”
Panic had turned into a buzzing thrum of excited anticipation. Manage his own project, and in Europe? Danny couldn’t stop the smile already spreading across his face. “I’d consider it, yes. Definitely.”
His grandfather smiled back from across his gleaming polished desk. “Of course you’ll want to talk about it with Holland, and if you need more details about salary and benefits for our overseas managers then Hammond or I can draw up what a sample package might look like.”
Danny only refrained from gaping because he was grinning so widely. “I’ll talk to Holland.”
When he left the office half an hour later, Danny already knew that if Holland didn’t want to go, he’d turn down the offer. He wasn’t moving to France without them, and he knew emigrating would be a huge deal for someone who’d only been abroad for the first time last year. Still, Holland enjoyed the trip to Paris Danny organized last summer. It was a good start.
Before he Floo’d back home to Boston, Danny booked a table in the Japanese restaurant they’d discovered in the fall. Sitting across from Holland, waiting for their made-to-order sushi, he began, “So, I had an interesting meeting at work today. It turns out Cirrus might have a solution to my problem with time zones.”
“Is it ‘traveling less’?” Holland wouldn’t ask Danny to travel less any more than he’d ask them not to do fieldwork: it was one of the things Danny liked most about his job. But that didn’t stop Holland missing him when he was away. They missed making dinner with him while talking about their days, they missed studying with him (though admittedly they were more productive on their own), and they missed falling asleep in his arms. They had all but moved into Danny’s room last year, but when he was gone they slept in their own room: it was too weird waking up alone in the big empty bed.
“Yes.” Danny took a sobering breath. “The next expansion is to France. They need someone to manage the project onsite. In France.”
Holland stared at him. “Onsite in France,” they repeated.
“I said I’d need to talk to you, obviously.” He watched them anxiously to gauge their reaction. “It would mean moving out there in the summer.” Holland didn’t immediately respond, so Danny quickly added, “You don’t need to say anything now, we’ve got a while to think about it. I just thought, you know, you’ll graduate in the spring, and what better time to go spend a couple of years living in Europe?”
“Okay. Um. Wow. Yeah, I guess there’s never going to be a better time.” The idea of being that far from their parents seemed impossible. Holland had always assumed they would end up closer to Pittsburgh than they were now, not on the other side of an ocean. But they felt a rush of sparkling excitement at the adventure of moving to another country. “France is on Dad’s list.”
Danny grinned. “I know. And we could have our own place, just the two of us.” Whatever they decided, they would decide it together, but there was no point in trying to hide how he felt. “And I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding work when you’re qualified. And I’ll be lead on the project, which would be incredible!”
“It would be.” It was hard not to smile back at Danny when he was this excited. “I need to do some research but I’m sure there’s work for cursebreakers in Europe. They’ve stolen enough artifacts.”
The discussion paused while their enthusiastic waitress brought their meals to the table and topped up their water glasses.
“I know it’s a big decision,” Danny resumed. “We can talk about it, and you can take some time to decide, but I think it’s a great opportunity. We could stay for Claudia’s wedding, and then just drop pureblood society for a while. Move away; take a breather. Live our own lives.”
“You mean we’re not going to try to revolutionize French pureblood society?”
He laughed. “We can if you want. I thought you might prefer a period of peace but I’m game to keep fighting if you’re driven to tackle international prejudice, too.”
Tackling domestic prejudice was not going as well as one could hope. It was painstakingly slow; most purebloods Holland encountered continued to be as rude and bigoted as ever. “Some peace could be nice,” Holland admitted. “And I liked France. But it’s really far.”
Most magic users wouldn’t be concerned by the distance, but of course Holland wasn’t only thinking of themself. “Yeah, I know it’s far for your dad,” Danny acknowledged, “but we can portkey back, or even Apparate, any time you want to see him. And of course he could come and stay any time.”
The words warmed Holland all the way through. Even in the few hours Danny had known about the post, he’d thought of how to make it work for Holland. “Dad might not like you as much if you move me to another continent,” Holland warned jokingly.
“I’m aware,” Danny nodded. “I think he’ll forgive me eventually.”
He was right, of course. “Okay, it’s not a yes yet,” Holland said carefully. “I need to see what my work options would be.” Their advisor might have some contacts in France she could point Holland toward. “But it’s not a no.”
* * *
“You’re really okay that you’re not in the wedding party?”
“I’m relieved. Thrilled, even. I’d much rather spend the ceremony next to Holland, watching you and Nathaniel from a safe distance, than rup there with you, drawing all the attention in the wrong direction.”
“As if you’d draw any attention away from me,” Claudia answered scathingly. “Tell our mother, won’t you? She's fretting that you’ll feel left out.”
“I can stand it,” Danny assured his sister.
“I’ll be relieved when the whole debacle is over with,” she professed.
He believed her. This was the first time ever she’d asked him to take her out for a drink because she had to escape everyone else’s nonsense (the need for Claudia to escape everyone was familiar, but she didn’t usually turn to Danny for help. She must be desperate). “Not long now,” he consoled her.
“It’s only March,” she said dryly. “The wedding is in June. That’s an eternity.” She drained her glass. It instantly refilled itself. “So you’re actually moving to France?”
“I won’t miss the wedding.”
“My world does not revolve around you. Try to focus on my question.”
“Yes, I’m moving to France. Holland is coming over with me next month to house hunt. I want somewhere with outdoor space and a good view. They want separate bathrooms.”
“It’s still disorienting when Holland and I have something in common.”
Danny grinned. “Did you and Nathaniel agree on a place?”
“Yes, we have purchased a home. No, it’s not ready for visitors yet. Yes, I’m sure he’ll invite you when it’s finished.”
“Are you holding your wedding there?”
“No,” Claudia sighed, “and not the reception gathering afterwards, either.” She winced and took a sip of her replenished drink. “I finalised the guests for the after-party,” she frowned around the words as though her drink had left a bitter taste in her mouth. “The wedding is just family and that’s enough to make me want to elope, but I decided to invite friends to the second part of the celebration,” Claudia whined. She took a long drink that caused Danny to raise his eyebrows and check his watch (two o’clock in the afternoon) before expelling, “I invited all of my RMI friends. The whole mis-matched lot of them, because I had emotions or something.” She looked like she regretted the experience itself, as well as its consequences. “So Marley and Nolan, and Remy and Connor, and Darlene and Kit.” Danny’s sympathy for his sister - albeit mingled with amusement - increased with each volatile pairing. “Thank Merlin for sweet Alena.” Claudia took another drink. “Not to mention Nathaniel has invited all his cousins, which means Kaye Packman will bring that morally depraved narcissistic troll into the same room as our darling Dubois grandparents.” Claudia drained her second drink.
“Okay, I’m cutting you off.” Danny pushed away the glass as it refilled for a second time.
Claudia pouted. Then sighed. “It’s fine. It’ll be fine. I’m going to look breathtaking in bridal robes, marry Nathaniel, leave the Dubois name behind me, and you’re running away to France, so that’s the end of our excruciating family embarrassment. The end is in sight.”
“I’m not running away,” Danny corrected, although the appeal of leaving this society drama behind him for a few years was strong. “It’s a great opportunity to progress my career and live in another country for a while.”
Claudia made a sound suspiciously similar to “Pffffft.” She patted Danny’s shoulder. “Okay. Enjoy your career and your freedom. You’ve earned both. Now give me my drink before I curse you.”
Co-written with Sophia