Aug 17, 2022 2:39 AM
Julian rescues Naima from Paris
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" - hmmmm? She's - okay, right? She texted that she survived!"

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"She's okay, but – I guess she wouldn't have told you about her contract with Paris." 

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"No, she mentioned she was in Paris! It's not far, it's, like, a three hour train? Mom, how long does it take to get to Paris?"

 

       "The train's a little less than three hours but you'll want to allow three and a half, the enclave entrance isn't very near the train station."

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"I mean – she's not an enclave member, it's an indenture. She signed the contract before she ever got the Scholomance. I don't know a lot about the exact terms – she didn't – but I'm not sure if she's even allowed to leave the enclave. ....That's the other reason I want to start working right away." 

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"They can't not let her leave, that's, like, kind of kidnapping? Is that legal in France? They can, like, sue her, if she's doing work on the side for other people -" Julia looks at Annaka, who would know more about this.

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"I get the sense Paris enclave's present leadership is courting some kind of eventual reckoning," Annaka says neutrally.

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"She should sue in the European pan-enclave arbitration committee," says Julia's father. "I'm not sure how it'd shake out but it's embarrassing for them for it to go to commission at all, I'm sure they'd make some strategic concessions..."

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"That's a thing? How do you do that? Does she need a lawyer? Are there wizard-lawyers? Could we start putting together a case if I can't actually get in touch with her? I have to assume they're monitoring her communications – "  

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"If she can't be communicated with you can absolutely put a case together about that! And of course there are wizard-lawyers, there are people making twenty year, thirty year commitments like your friends' for an enclave seat or a Scholomance slot or a spell trade, they've got to have lawyers. I can ask Marc for a referral to someone who handles European pan-enclave, it's not my area -"

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"We should sue everyone," says Julia passionately, flopping on a couch.

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"Thank you. I would really appreciate a referral. And –" ugh – "I can promise that I won't make this New York's problem."

He would love nothing more than to make this New York's problem. If he thought he could get away with it, he'd ask New York pay off the debt on the spot – but he knows exactly how much he can trade on skills he hasn't yet proven he has. So –  "I know I'm already asking the enclave to take on an unusually high share of my personal obligations." 

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"It is a big ask," Julia's father says. "There's a reason we don't generally offer it. But it makes sense to me that you'd hold out for somewhere that will, and given that, we'll just have to figure out if there's a way to make it a good idea."

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It's a good idea for you because in about ten years, I'll be able to do things nobody else even dreams about. The problem is convincing them of that right now. 

"I understand. I do hope I'll be able to make things work with New York." 

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"I hope so too! Honestly I'm optimistic. But I'd be doing you a disservice if I said it's all squared away, it's not. We're hoping we can figure it out, and that's where we're at."

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They're going to put him through some kind of test, and you don't get to be valedictorian if you don't test well. He's not too worried. 

"I appreciate your transparency. And thanks, again, for having me over." 

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"Our pleasure."

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"Give 'em hell!" yells Julia from where she is flopped on the sofa. 

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You know, of all the enclave kids he could have dragged through the graduation gates, he's glad it was her. 

"I will."   

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They set up the discussion about family membership for two days later, in a conference room on the fake-roof. It's very classy; the illusory sky holds up well, up here, and there's a New York skyline in the distance in all directions, as if they're really atop a mid-sized building in the middle of the city. Though without the street noise. 

 

Everyone is, as Julia promised, wearing suits so he knows they're serious.

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Julian is wearing a suit too, thank you Julia. He makes the mental motion of taking a deep breath without giving any external indication of being ruffled, which is something he's practiced a lot over the past four years. He's never been good at negotiating. There's a reason that was Naima's job, and everything he knows he's learned from watching her. First lesson: don't let them think they have all the leverage. 

"Thank you all for agreeing to meet with me. I think you should know, before we start, that this isn't something I'm willing to compromise on." 

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New York's current Dominus is Fred Mandel; he's coming up on a hundred but really doesn't look it. His grandchildren have graduated. "We wouldn't expect you to," he says. "Of course your top priority is the safety of your family. And in the same spirit - one of the commitments we make to our members - including to you, if you become one - is that we will not compromise our children's safety for outside politics. If we believe that adding in additional students will put their cohort in greater danger - well, you can't pay us enough to do that. So one conversation we need to have is who they are, what they've learned so far, and whether there's a way to do this safely. If there is, then we can discuss why it serves New York to make a massive exception in this case."

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"Alice is eleven. Her affinity is very near term divination – on the order of hours to minutes, the shorter the time the more accurate the results. Andrew is eight and Margaret is six; we don't know their affinities yet. All of them are native speakers of English and Cantonese and fluent in Mandarin, all of them are spell-competent or approaching spell-competence in at least one other language. All of them are academically advanced for their age. They are physically healthy, reasonably diligent, and have no signs of emotional or mental instability. All of them currently attend mundane school, although Alice is probably going to have to leave in a few months; Alice and Andrew are both studying for the Scholomance entrance exams as well. Their curriculum is naturally more focused on the Chinese spell tradition but I imagine quite a bit of it is transferable. All of them have age-appropriate experience in a well-stocked alchemy lab. I was raised in similar conditions and there's no reason to believe that my academic preparation was inadequate."  

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"We'll need to interview them."

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"Of course. Andrew and Margaret should be able to travel safely – would you able to arrange protection for Alice?"

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