Jan 29, 2022 1:53 AM
Julian rescues Naima from Paris
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"Yes. Will your parents want to come as well? I assume they'd want to move here, if we're able to work something out."

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"Yes. Certainly to the city, even if they can't live in the enclave." 

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"We have people living in the enclave who aren't members. I would recommend it, if their children's training is happening here."

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"I'm sure they would appreciate that very much." 

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"So one reason we don't usually make arrangements like this is worries the kids can't keep up. The other is that our commitment is made, and set in stone, up front, and that puts us in an awkward position if you decide you actually want to devote your life to mosaic tiling. You can't put a price on this, and so we can't sue you for it. And we won't boot the kids, once they're in -- which makes us very reluctant to rush that. In general people get family slots for past services rendered, not future ones."

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"I understand. I'm willing to sign any kind of binding contract you can come up with that I'll stay in New York, that I'll keep working on the Scholomance expansion team, that I'll do enclave expansions  – wherever you think I would be most valuable." Signing away his right to choose his own projects would be a blow, but thankfully his affinity is narrow enough that he's likely to be most valuable doing exactly the kind of work he'd like to be doing. "Or I could expand the enclave myself before you let them in. I think with six months of preparation I could achieve a 30% increase in size. I'm prepared to for you to evaluate me to verify that I can do this." 

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Some glances are exchanged. Some murmurs are exchanged.

 

 

"Let's arrange to bring the kids over now," the Dominus says. "And I don't want to wait, with an eleven year old, to get her into classes and introduced to her peers, so let's say that she's in if we think that she can keep up. And for the younger ones - once you've achieved a 30% expansion, however long that takes you, and the only contract binding over future actions would be that the intellectual property produced while you work here is the collective property of the enclave. There'd be lots of details to hammer out, of course, but as an outline."

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They're going to go for it – which means he's in a position of strength. Don't let up. 

"The intellectual property clause – is that standard for all New York wizards?"

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"For work on the Scholomance and similar projects, yes. The details vary for alchemists who want to brew things in their basement."

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One day, Julian is going to make his own enclaves. But that day is far in the future – fifteen or twenty years, after the Scholomance expansion is done – and by then nobody will doubt his value to New York. 

"We can discuss the details when I've done the expansion." 

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He raises his eyebrows. "Thirty percent. Good luck, young man."

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He doesn't need it.

"Thank you. I'm looking forward to it." 

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That night, he writes a letter. 

"Dearest Naima,

I did it. They'll take the kids. If we're going to be technical about it, they're going to take Alice right now and the others if I can successfully expand the enclave, but we both know that won't be a problem. The negotiation was much easier than I expected; all I did was take a few deep breaths and pretend that I was you. It's all very strange right now, but I think in a few years when I've gotten fat and complacent I could really come to like it here. There are some truly brilliant researchers on the expansion project. I won't say they want to do right by all of wizardkind, but that's because they're not willing to give up one scrap of the advantage they've clawed together for their own kids – which I can at least respect." 

He picks up the pen. Thinks about writing, it might not be such a bad thing to have kids of our own here one day. Thinks better of it. 

"Julia took me shopping the other day and now I've got a closet full of bespoke suits. I won't tell you how much I spent – I don't want to add to your burdens. I wish I could take you to meet the tailor, though, I think you'd like him. I've never known a human being (besides you!) to have so many opinions about how to stitch a cuff. I had dinner with her family – Julia's, not the tailor's – and it was fascinating to see. Before you ask: no, they're not all like that. But I can see how they're related, especially her sister. Can you imagine she's a mundane college student? If I ever have to turn in another homework assignment I think I'll drop dead on the spot. Also, Triscuit is real and I got to pet him. 

Her father thinks you might have legal options we weren't previously aware of. I'm trying to find a lawyer who specializes in pan-European enclave law. I'll be busy with the expansion for the next six months, but after that we can seriously try to bring a case. I love you. I miss you. I'm still trying. 

Yours ever, 

Julian." 

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He does get a letter back, a couple days later.

Dear Julian,

That's great! I won't say 'incredible' because, after all, they do need you more than you need them, and I'm sure someone at New York is competent enough to notice it. But it's good that the kids are getting in as soon as possible, and will be as prepared as possible. It sounds like you're having a good time there, which I suppose is a good sign about the rest of your life.

Paris is... fine. Nothing horrible has happened. I arrived here the morning after graduation, got shown around a bit, and went over the contract. This time I was actually able to read it. Not sure whether my French has gotten better, or if I've just run into scarier things in the last four years. Back of the envelope math gives wildly different timelines depending on what I think people might pay for stuff from me, and it's not exactly easy to research what the real numbers might be. Paris enclave doesn't have internet, and I can think of about fifty ways for relying on Parisian intermediaries to go terribly. I did ask for some plants to grow for potion materials, and they said I could have them on credit, with the cost added to what I owe. They should pay for themselves unless something goes terribly wrong. Other than that I've been working on setting up another table lathe, like the one I had at school, since obviously I don't have access to enclave mana storage, and I'm going to have to make my own. I guess there are plenty of other things I could complain about, if I wanted to, but I imagine they'll sound sort of petty written out, even written to you.

I hope it goes well with the kids. 

Yours,

Naima

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Julian is having so much fun. 

Enclave design is a tedious process. You have to map all the magical terrain for miles around and painstakingly alter all the relevant spells to suit local conditions and sit through endless meetings with the architects and the maintenance crews and the guy who does the illusory weather because some aspect or other of your design interferes with some key process or other even though they all swore up and down it was really final this time. He loves all of it. He can see exactly what he wants to build, in his head, and turning it into structure and line and verse is the most intuitive thing in the world. He had no idea that magic could be this effortless; it's like he's spent years swimming through molasses and only just now broken through into pure, clear water. He's even starting to enjoy the awful sessions where he presents his plans to the enclave council, because he can tell they're having trouble following some of it and he does like being the cleverest person in the room. 

He writes to Naima every week. She responds – less frequently, and less effusively. He's not sure if she's busy, or genuinely less interested in him than he is in her, now that they're not trapped together in an awful death school. Sometimes he wonders if the powers that be in Paris are holding her letters back – but since that's the explanation that flatters his ego most, he tries not to put too much stock by it. If she wants space, she can have all the space she needs. 

He's ready in a little under six months. These things are usually done in stages, but he thinks he'll get better results with a 36-hour long continuous casting. He's not worried about it, he's stayed awake for longer in school and New York has better drugs. It's happening tomorrow, and he's never been more excited in his life. 

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Julia has been spending the intervening time bar-hopping and shopping. She has plans to go to a tropical resort but it involves a lot of logistics and hasn't happened yet. Once she flirted with a cute guy on Tinder but then when she went home with him he tried to push her up against a wall and she kneed him in the gut and barely restrained herself from gouging his eyes out. This was, she freely concedes, entirely on her, you have to tell people about your trauma if you want them to accommodate it. But she's not interested in the kind of interactions you can have that start with explaining your tragic backstory.

 

She's okay. She says 'tragic backstory' but no one she liked is even dead. She looks for Naima on Instagram to add but when that doesn't work she figures Julian will tell her when the legal stuff is all sorted.

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Julian hasn't taken a real weekend since November because if he stops working for too long his stomach tightens and he feels like he's going to die, but other than that he's doing great! 

There's nothing like singing a new space out of the void. It's better than his first breath of fresh air after graduation, better than seeing the sun, better than real food, and almost certainly better than sex (not that he has any personal experience to speak of). The spell goes off perfectly, of course. He knew it would. He can feel the mana flooding over him and through him and into the blueprint he's spent so long constructing in his mind. After a while, he drops the reviser and starts filling in the details manually with improvised snatches of Cantonese. When it's over, he collapses, and even though he's practically dead on his feet he doesn't even feel tired.   

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New York has interviewed the kids. They will still push pretty hard about IP, especially on Scholomance-related projects, but other than that there's not really a lot to argue about. The enclave gets a boardwalk, winding over two small parks all the way over to the London entrance, fragrant and beautiful and full of growing alchemical herbs. 

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Julian mainly cares about retaining the right to do whatever he wants with his own spells. If that's restricted to non-Scholomance-related work, he'll live. 

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They can agree to that.

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Oh good. Now that that's out of the way, he can ask Mr. Sanderson about finding that pan-European enclave lawyer. 

(Julian hasn't been without a project to work on in – as long as he can remember, actually). 

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Mr. Sanderson doesn't know anyone who works on the pan-European enclave arbitration project but he knows a bunch of lawyers who know people and eventually Julian can be set up with someone who charges a stunning hourly rate and wants a copy of Naima's contract first thing so they can see what they're dealing with.

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Well, Julian can write to Naima asking for a copy of her contract, but he's not optimistic. 

He didn't, actually, ask to be paid for the enclave expansion so right now his budget is the standard $8000 a month. Is he going to need to get a salary? He has no idea how to go about getting a salary. 

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"That should cover, like, some hours of lawyer? I think even the fanciest lawyers only charge like a thousand dollars an hour. And I can pitch in too, obviously. If you want a salary I think you go talk with HR about formally getting hired as a researcher, which will not be hard."

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"I think this is going to take more than eight hours a month of lawyer, so, yeah, I should talk to HR. Uh, do you know what researchers usually get paid? It's not that I think they're going to lowball me, but when I imagine myself taking an offer without negotiating I have this mental image of Naima flying across the Atlantic ocean to chew me out – " 

If only. 

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