Title: Barging In
Characters/Pairings: Dresden, Fix, Marcone, Lara, Maeve, Lily, Ivy, Kincaid, France, England, random Denarian
Summary: The Accords meeting probably would have gone better without the party next door.
Author's Note: Happy Graduation, Qualapec! You once said that your Dresden muse had to deal with living down the hall from a Nations frat party. I thought I'd run with that :3
As far as Accords meetings went, it was going pretty well. Ivy had managed to talk Maeve out of stealing one of Marcone’s bodyguards, Carlos kept making Lily smile, Kincaid was asleep, Fix and I were keeping a score sheet on the insults batted back and forth between Lara and Marcone, and I hadn’t set the lone Denarian on fire yet. I was feeling pretty accomplished.
The only real problem was that the location we’d rented out was, in fact, a hotel ballroom--- a hotel owned by Marcone, and warded within an inch of its life, but still a hotel ballroom. There was a second ballroom next to ours, and although the walls were thick, there was a persistent bass beat that was slowly driving me down the road to crazytown. I was seriously tempted to walk down the hall and think real hard in its direction to see if I could short out whatever source of music someone was obviously operating as a torture device.
“Mr. Marcone, I would like to thank you for granting us such a peaceful venue for these negotiations,” Lara smiled, all teeth and faux sweetness.
“You’re quite welcome, Ms. Raith,” Marcone answered graciously with the same small, minus the packets of sweet&low. “I thought it appropriate for someone of your stature.”
“Zing,” Fix commented under his breath, making another small tic under Marcone’s name.
“You are all avoiding the topic at hand!” Stars, this creep’s voice was nasally. Mr. Fallen-from-heaven-and-tending-towards-
“It would serve you well to remember that your kind still declares Nicodemus as your ruler for the purpose of the Accords, whatever your private politics,” Lily observed, calm, fair. She was toying with her sleeve, and even though past events had kinda proven that I didn’t know her as well as I thought I did, I thought she seemed equal parts disgusted and trying not to show it. “Parties wronged by his recent betrayal are represented in this room to hear your request, but do not expect such allowances to mean agreement.”
The Denarian’s lips pulled back to reveal several rows of shark-like teeth in a snarl, and I felt Fix tense beside me as I focused on a bit of magic. Just because I was the Winter Knight didn’t mean I’d just stand aside and watch Lily get attacked. It was already taking me a whole lot of Zen not to kill the bastard on sight.
Maeve clicked bright purple nails on the table’s surface, diverting the Denarian’s attention to her. She was swaying in her seat in time to the audible music. Because of course what was annoying the daylights out of me was like candy to her. “Calm down, angelcake. What is it you’re here to ask for?”
“Our brothers and sisters,” he rasped, and my blood went cold with more than Winter frost. “Coins.”
I gritted my teeth. I could do a scary smile too; mine came with a sword and some fireballs. “Not happening.”
A finger, sharp as though the bone ended in a point covered in thin skin, was jabbed in my direction. “You have violated the terms set between the Denarians and the Fae! You have helped the Knights of the Cross capture and imprison my siblings. Reparations must be made.”
Carlos drew in a tight breath at my right, and my shoulders stiffened. I really hadn’t considered helping Michael after becoming the Winter Knight in that light. I’d just been going about business as usual and figured if I was doing something wrong, someone would tell me. Maybe he was bluffing. I had no real way of knowing. I’d read through the parts of the Accords applying to me, but there’s a difference between reading them and understanding them. I knew how to talk to the Fae, but I was a few decades away from learning how to wade my way through their written contracts.
“The coins you ask for are not in our possession,” Lara observed. “They would have been given to the Church.” She leaned back in her seat, arms and legs crossed, and everyone pointedly didn’t look at how the skirt of her suit slid up her thigh. “In short, this is pointless.”
Shark-guy’s snarl turned into a sneer; his teeth actually moved to accommodate it. “Then we demand that Dresden, as the Winter Knight, sign an amendment to the Accords saying he will not do battle with our kind.”
Silence sank in, thick and heavy, and I heard Marcone shift in his seat towards Ivy while simultaneously writing something in the margins of his notes. I hadn’t realized how still she’d gotten until I saw him move. Emotion wasn’t visible in her face, but I knew her. As the Archive, she would continue to deal with Denarians in the Accords, and she’d proved time and time again that she was so much more than just strong enough to. But the thought of me not being able to defend people that the Denarian’s targeted… There was something very protective in Marcone’s posture, in the set of his face. He met my eyes briefly and gave a minute shake of his head. He’d let me know if I needed to do something to get her out of there, but until then, he’d keep her grounded--- his hand was still writing, still feeding Ivy words I couldn’t see but could trust were well-intended. I picked up my own pen and scribbled down we’re right here, it’s okay, I’ll never stop fighting them.
Everything was quiet except for the repetitive bass beat coming from the next room and the soft sound of pens on paper.
“Of course,” Maeve said finally, and only an idiot would miss that note in her voice.
This Denarian was, conveniently, an idiot. His expression changed into something that clearly showcased how pleased he was with himself.
Maeve was wearing one of her smirks that matched perfectly with her slinky black dress, and she sent me a wink. “I’ll write the amendment myself.”
From the chair opposite Fix, Lily let a small hum of a laugh that could be mistaken for consideration get free.
I’m not slow, and I kept my grin internal. I didn’t blow up and get in the Denarian’s face because I knew that Maeve was going to riddle that amendment with enough loopholes to last me a lifetime. And I had Ivy there to watch and make sure she didn’t throw in any extra that could do me harm. Nicodemus must be doing pretty badly for himself if he sent someone dumb enough to ask a fae to write a contract.
“I can’t think of a better person to do it,” Carlos beamed, slipping into something good-natured and suave; his acting skills had taken a serious turn for the better since he replaced me as the Council’s liaison. Molly had been giving him lessons. “I’d be happy to volunteer my services as a witness.”
“As will I,” Ivy offered, her voice betraying nothing. Her mouth curved into a very brief smile, first to me, and then to Marcone at her side. Someday I hoped to get half as strong as she was. I was notoriously bad at facing my past, my fears. It didn’t matter how old she was, there was a hell of a lot I could learn from her.
Maeve started to speak again, but a loud, screeching crash as something buckled against the wall interrupted her. I got an impression of bending metal and breaking glass and a large object hitting the floor.
Fix and I were on our feet in an instant, and Carlos’ expression lost its playfulness. Marcone’s bodyguards tensed at the collision, and some hands disappeared into jackets. Kincaid stirred from where he’d dozed off in a corner chair.
“That will be the chandelier, I believe.” Marcone sounded contemplative.
“Marcone…” Lara’s tone was conversational, but there was a dangerous edge. “Who are your other guests, pray tell?”
“A group of wealthy exchange students with an apparent affinity for alcohol,” he answered noncommittally. He was doing that passive nonspecific thing I’d started to be able to pick out.
Lara put on her Sunday finest in relation to smirks. “And you could not tell them to book a different night than the one our meeting fell on beca---”
The door to our ballroom slammed open, the wards buzzed, flickered, and promptly died in confusion, and a young blonde guy almost got shot. “So sorry about the noise my darlings!” His accent was French, his smile bright and white, his deep purple collared shirt unbuttoned and tousled in a purposeful way, and I was immediately reminded of Thomas. “Pardon the interruption, but could you spare some wine? We’ve, ah, nearly run out, and I simply refuse to dirty my palate with this American beer.”
Right about the time we were all blinking at him and trying to find out how in the hell the wards hadn’t turned him crispy, he seemed to catch sight of Lara.
His blue eyes widened, transfixed, and his smile went up a notch. He bowed, eyes never leaving hers. “Pardon me, ma cheri, but you are simply beautiful.” His eyes caught on Lily and Maeve next. “Oh, I’ve obviously been at the wrong party.”
“Dammit, Frog, we’ve already made enough of a mess without… you…” Another guy showed up beside him, and froze at the sight of us. “France…” he said in a low tone of warning that was recognizable in any voice. “It’s time to leave.”
France swatted him away. “Angleterre, you have no manners.”
“What are they…?” Lara asked with a small amount of wonder, a predator presented with a new flavor of prey.
“France, listen to me. Those people are not safe.” Angle--- wait, Angleterre was England, right? England pulled at France’s arm. “We need to leave. Now.”
“Don’t leave on our account, Lord Kirkland.” Maeve was smiling like I’d never seen her smile before; I’d been Winter Knight for over a year, and I don’t think I’d seen an expression on her face that I wished I’d never see again as much as that one. And her voice. It was cold, and for once, it was comparable to her mother’s.
“Lady Maeve,” England-or-Kirkland greeted curtly. The guy looked elegantly panicked. I empathized… or at least I would have if my mind wasn’t working at a mile a minute to figure out what the hell was happening. The wards were set to kill anyone who interrupted, so how did they… “Forgive the intrusion. We will be leaving.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” It was practically a coo, but it set my hairs on end. “You’re a signatory. You’re perfectly welcome here.”
Ivy straightened in her chair, facing away from the door, but did not turn. “Yes, but all those present are not permitted to be involved in his dealings. I move for them to be allowed to return to their party without hassle.”
“I agree with the Archive.” Lily’s head was bowed, her smile soft. “Let them return to their friends.”
England, as if he sensed his own freedom, smiled crookedly and gave a slight nod. “Thank you, Miss Ivy. Goodnight. I hope the rest of your meeting goes well. I’ll attempt to keep my… friends under control.” With that, he turned on his heel, suddenly much more polished than he’d been when he entered, and grabbed France by the crook of his arm. “Listen to me, idiot, you are very drunk and nothing just happened.”
Their voices trailed off as the door closed behind them.
Everyone else in the room seemed to be very busy looking at anything and everything but us. Fix coughed into his hand, and then fiddled with his sword hilt.
“Well?” demanded the Denarian.
“Shut up,” I, Carlos, Marcone, and Lara answered in unison (although, to be fair, Marcone actually said please, do shut up, because he has some kind of compulsion to say things fancier than he has to).
Kincaid gave a lazy sigh and rested back in his chair, arms going behind his head as the Denarian made a big deal about being insulted. “Sorry, bud,” he sneered, all sarcasm. “I think you just got uprooted as the point of interest.”