This fills my “Matchmaker” square.
“He’s a brat. A bastard.”
“We’re all bastards here, Sabine. Almost all.” Querida’s correction came fast on the heels of a glare from George.
Sabine added her own glare to the mix. “That’s not what I meant and you know it. The little shit is either going to end up cy’Fridmar or cy’Drake, and neither way is it going to be my problem. “
“Oh, come on, Sabine, you know that it wouldn’t be that bad if you had a collar on him.”
“Why are you pushing this so hard, George? I’d have figured you’d be, i don’t know, against Keeping.”
“A Keeping, done properly, is not inherently sinful. I have faith that you would treat the boy properly, and, considering what he’s going to end up with otherwise…”
“Now that’s just fighting dirty. What’s more, it’s fighting dirty and I’m not going to take it.”
“She’s a bitch. She’s a terrifying bitch and I’m not going there with anyone, much less her.”
“I understand, Holles. However, for all that Sabine can come off as a ‘bitch’ to you, I think you need to consider the possibility.”
“I told you, I have no intention of giving into this stupid shit for anyone, much less that bitch.” He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Professor Valerian. “And why do you care, anyway? You’re not my Mentor, you’re not her Mentor…”
“Shira Pelletier sees the way things might be. I’m not that good. What I can see, sometimes, is how people might click.”
“Your innate power is matchmaking?”
“No. But I have developed a skill in it.” She was implacable. Professor Valerian outside of class was often like that – terrifyingly direct and utterly immovable. It was like trying to argue with some old oak tree. The tree might not hit back, but it was going to win.
He had to try, anyway. “There’s no way. Nobody trapped me on Hell Night; I’m home free. Can we drop this now?”
“Hey, look, it’s Bible Boy. Does your religion allow you to play pool?”
“Cillian. Tzefira. Donahue.” George nodded to each of them in turn. “I’m here to make a deal.”
Holles didn’t dare hope. He didn’t dare anything, even watch, but he couldn’t really stop himself from listening.
“A deal.” Donahue took over the conversation. “We were just playing a lovely game of pool.”
“You were hustling the young man after Tzefira got him drunk. It’s not hardly a fair game.”
What? Well, he was a little tipsy, but it was just a game of pool. The stakes hadn’t been for real… had they?
Yeah… yeah, they had. And he was losing pretty badly.
“And what of it? There’s no rules against cheating, or we’d all be having quite a different life.”
“Of course there isn’t. But, considering the particular interest certain people have taken in this kid, maybe you might want to think about this deal before it lands on your head.”
“And what are you going to offer me that’s sweeter than his squirming panicking self and the things he will do to get out of a bad situation?”
Querida stepped forward around George. “We have some ideas.”
Sabine stared at the boy. She was uncertain why Querida and George had bound his hands behind his back, except that it added more than a little force to the words they were saying.
In this situation, she could’t, or at least wouldn’t, say I told you I didn’t want him. Not when they were passing him over collared and bound.
“This is an interesting solution,” she said instead.
“He was going to end up under Donahue for a year, and neither of us thought that was a lovely idea. Besides, almost walking himself into a trap has softened him up a little bit.” Querida patted Holles on the shoulder. “Mind you, I’m not saying he’s not still a brat. But I think he’s a brat you can work with.”
She didn’t have that many choices. “All right, then. Holles…”
“You’re still a bitch, too.”
“Of course I am.” Nobody else would put up with you. “Come here.”
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