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The Bargain by HarlequinR
Format: Short story
Chapter 1: What cost?
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''The prophesy complicates things, we are outside the circle and so cannot influence it. We could protect him from nearly anything else you might mention, but not fate. One way or another it will come to pass.'' The voice was coming from just past the edge of her peripheral vision, a whisper in the ear from leagues away. She shivers though the night is mild.
''But there must be something you can do, anything. Can you make it turn out in his favour then? The least gift that would let him survive, please.'' Nothing else she's heard of or researched came close to doing what she wanted. It struck her all of a sudden how desperate she was that trying to contact Them was an option. Movement, always where she couldn't catch more than the edge of a glimpse, like a shifting crowd. Voices she could never quite hear, whispering or laughing.
''We could give him the chance to make it happen in his favour. But what does it matter either way to us? Your kind are no friends of ours.'' It was coming from right in front of her now, and it took all her will to keep her eyes on the ground. The circles of salt and iron seemed so frail all of a sudden. Especially with her wand on the far side. ''Do you think we would even have bothered to answer you're call if you weren't what you are?''
''I will give you anything you name if you will do this thing.'' It felt like the world dropped away as she said it, the knots in her stomach turning over themselves in the sudden stillness.
''Anything is a very generous offer. Are you really sure that is what you are willing to give us?'' It sounded breathless, edged with excitement. The air felt like a storm in potential, chains ready to break.
''I am a mother,'' she says, the steel of her conviction rising, ''there is nothing worth so much that I would not offer it to protect my child.''
''Then let us say, in return for anything, we will give him our attention for all the years until he is an adult, and can make his own choices on where he wants to go from there.''
Lily stays where she is for long minutes till she is sure They are gone, removing any evidence of what she had been doing.
- - - - - - - - - -
The wizard should not have tried to interfere with things that weren't theirs. Frosty ash and a tattered soul escaping into the night are all the proof needed of that.
Amidst a ruined house the shadows cast by the fire look crawl off the wall and look down at a crying child. It has moonlight skin and midnight eyes, sharp teeth smiling from a gaunt face. 'Anything' she said, as it tugs away an illusion with a sharp nail to reveal the lightning heraldry of its court on their new guest. A wailing creature of twigs and leaves disguised with glamour is left behind as it slips away, cats hissing and shrinking back at its passing.