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Royal Negotiations

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Magnus went alone.  Despite what his Alexander thought the choice wasn't about him lying about the soul sword. Despite what Lucian and Raphael thought, the choice wasn't about his broken heart. Going to the Seelie Queen was about survival.

Lucian and Raphael balked at the idea of depending on the Seelie Court because they were both painfully young.  They had grown up in a time when mundanes no longer played the games the Seelie Queen did.  Vampires and Werewolves had their own hierarchy and traditions.  Warlocks, though?

Most Warlocks had grown up in times when courting favor with royalty was common. When the wrong game meant life or death or heartbreak.  They would be able to teach the younger ones how to play the games.  How to court favor and make deals.  They would have learned anyway - if they survived long enough.  Because among the demons that they all shared blood with was a similar culture. Greater Demons.  Princes of Hell. It bled into all aspects of Warlock culture, even in the present day.

He had also known that it would be a harder deal for him than another representative. Maybe he should have sent someone else to the Seelie Queen.  Someone with no title of their own - someone who didn't have the power to stop Valentine with… other methods.

"Your Majesty."

"Magnus Banes. I'm most curious who you are approaching me as." The Seelie Queen did not rise from her throne.  "The High Warlock of Brooklyn? Or the Crown Prince of Edom?"

He'd known that was coming, and he managed not to flinch at her mocking. "The High Warlock, m'lady.  I wish to discuss the terms of protection of my warlocks and I."

"Of course.  The rose has not yet wilted, so my offer of protection still stands."

"Indeed.  However, should Valentine raise the angel and we are forced to seek refuge in your realm… in what manner will we be welcomed?"

"Whatever do you mean, High Warlock?"

"Will my warlocks be… your subjects?"

"Are you suggesting that would be a bad thing?" The Seelie Queen's voice hardened.

"Not at all, your Majesty. To serve one such as yourself can only be seen as an honor.  However, many Downworlders are young.  They do not understand the fine details of courtly behavior.  I fear some may… misstep should they attempt to learn the ways of your court overnight."

"You make a fair point." She ceded. "The mortal realm has grown so lax. They do not understand proper behavior.  They aren't born royalty like the two of us are."

She was certainly twisting that knife today, wasn't she? "Then you see my dilemma."

"Fear not, High Warlock. Downworlders seeking refuge shall be welcomed as loyal guests.  Therefore allowing for… some missteps."

"That is most gracious of you."

"Should any wish to join my court at a later time, though, I am sure we will all be amenable."

What a damn loophole that was.  The Seelie knew how to coerce a wish better than any. "Should any have such an honest desire in their heart, I would not stop them from seeking it."

The Seelie Queen's smile was predatory.  "You are all about following the desires in your heart, are you not, High Warlock?"

Tread carefully now, Magnus.  "In most cases, Your Majesty."

"I was saddened by your most recent broken relationship.  It promised to be such a romantic story. The Shadow World's own Romeo and Juliet."

"Romeo and Juliet were of the Shadow World." Magnus reminded her.

"Ah, true.  But even their story might be said to pale to a romance between a Prince of Edom and a Nephilim.  I suppose spending eternity apart is better than death by poison and dagger in the end, though.  Is it not?"

Right now, Magnus was wondering if the poison or dagger weren't better, but held his tongue. "If that settles the terms, Your Majesty, perhaps I should speak to my fellow Downworlders."

"A moment, Prince of Edom.  The terms are not yet settled."

Magnus felt his heart sink, especially with her mocking use of a demonic title he truly had no claim on. Any claim he might have once had he'd given up when he banished his father centuries ago.  Still, he'd suspected that his ties to Asmodeus would cause her to make more demands.  "I see. Was there more you required?"

"I must admit to being curious why you of all Downworlders would ask of me this favor."

"For the safety of my fellow warlocks."

"And yet you do not need this court to save them, Prince of Edom.  Valentine may be cunning, but in the end he is but one Nephilim. Certainly no match for your father, should you request his aid."

Magnus felt his skin crawl at the mention of his father, and the Seelie Queen's sharp smile did little to aid his growing unease.  "It merely seems to me, Your Majesty, that allowing a Greater Demon loose to stop one Nephilim is a tad… excessive."

"More excessive than asking your Warlocks to seek refuge with my people while a madman destroys the rest of the Downworld?"

"In my father's case, we would merely be trading one source of destruction for another."

"I suppose he may still be upset about being banished to Edom by his son." The Seelie Queen seemed to contemplate the idea as if it were a fascinating possibility. "However, you always were your father's favorite child, Magnus Bane.  To have you by his side may be worth the death of one Nephilim."

He'd thought about it - of course he had. The possibility of asking his father's aid. Just what he may ask in return.  Was saving the entire Downworld not worth his own eternal life spent miserable in Edom? Angry Asmodeus might be, but stopping the angel from rising would be in the bastard's own best interest.  Yet, here he was, asking the Seelie Queen's favor instead.

"Oh!" The Seelie Queen clapped her hands. "I see!  Even now you are optimistic about your romance with the Nephilim."

"What does Alexander have to do with anything?" Magnus gave a hard smile of his own.

"Your Shadowhunter lover may forgive a deal with me.  But not with a Prince of Hell."

"You might be surprised. Alexander is a progressive thinker." Magnus offered, even as his mind whirled.

Was it true? Was that why he was set on this path?  Was he so selfish as to place his own life above the entire Downworld? Should he be summoning his father instead?

The Seelie Queen's laugh sounded through the grove, and she stood to approach him. "Do not look so disquiet, Little Prince of Edom.  We are royalty.  Selfishness becomes us." She circled him, slowly. A predator who smelled blood.  "That is why, for me to aid you and yours, I must ask you not interfere with any other games I may have afoot."

"An eternity without games between us? Surely that would be boring." Magnus countered.  "Shall we say instead that, during the hunt for Valentine, I shall be far too busy to concern myself with other games?"

"And after?"

"Come now, Your Majesty.  We are immortal. What would our lives be without games?"

"Truer words could not be chosen.  Very well, I find that an acceptable term." She continued to circle him.  "Now, as for these council meetings, being under my protection means I and I alone speak for the Downworld.  I have no doubt your jilted lover shall attempt to speak to you directly.  You are to hold your tongue on matters involving Shadowhunters and Downworlders.  I have full say over what is and is not acceptable between us and the Clave so long as you and yours are under my protection. After all, the only way to protect you all properly is to be in complete control of the situation."

She stopped in front of him, her smile amused and her eyes triumphant.  "What say you, Magnus Banes?  Are my terms acceptable?"

"You are most thorough, Your Majesty." Oh, how the next meeting would suck.  He could practically feel Alexander's eyes on him directly, as if he was to blame for it all. He wouldn't be completely wrong to think so, either.  Still, most of the terms affected him more than Lucian or Raphael.  She was asking he tie his hands - but she wasn't asking the same of them. He could only hope they would be up to the task of battling whatever other games she had going.

"I am a Queen, Little Prince.  I must be thorough."

"I find your terms acceptable."

She reached up a hand to caress his face, and it took a lot of willpower not to yank away. "I do so enjoy negotiating with you.  I shall see you at the next council meeting.  Be sure to stay close to my side. Dismissed."

"Your Majesty." Magnus bowed, and retreated from the grove.  Even as he downed a drink in his apartment a few moments later, the sour taste of defeat remained.

Fini