The calm acknowledgment broke the tension in the tidy, expensive-looking office. The myriad men in suits who sat in a loose semicircle behind the heavy oaken desk broke their stares and shifted uneasily in their seats, coughing or muttering to their neighbors. He wanted to laugh at their fear, but it would be a very bad start for the beginning of this meeting, and the mirth in the eyes of the elegant red-haired woman was enough for him. She acknowledged him where he stood to the side of the desk in a firm stance, hands clasped, with a carefully neutral nod, and then slid easily into in the chair provided for her, one woman facing a multitude. He knew she was fighting laughter at his sword-fighters' pose, one she herself had taught him, but he schooled his features to blankness as he moved to stand behind the one who had been his teacher and guide since before he reached middle school, placing his hands on the back of her chair. The man in the middle and in front, who was the leader of the group (or so the man had been introduced as), cleared his throat and sat up straighter, clearly ready to begin.
"Ah, miss, ah, Selenia, I presume? I am, as you probably already know-" The red-haired woman, hardly more than a teen, but completely decked in leather-made war-armor and with a stern look in her eye, frowned sharply, but her ears, pointed, slender, and almost a foot long, moved in their position lying nearly flat against the sides of her head, waving a few inches out, then back in. He knew she using these bureaucrats' ignorance against them, and turned his head slightly to hide his gentle smirk.
"I am Princess Selenia of the Minimoys, yes. Can we start those negotiations now? I was under the impression that these were highly important and not to be delayed." Had he not known her better than himself, or had he not devoted a good portion of his life's work to knowing all about the Minimoys, he would have not known that the tiny people twitched their ears in out and in, forward and back sweeps when laughing or teasing, and hers were poker straight from the effort of not laughing or wiggling them wildly, which might have alert the hastily apologizing man that he was being played with.
"-yes, yes, of course, well now, Princess Selenia, of course, of course, so sorry. Sh-shall we begin?" The man's wariness was palpable in the air, his animal fear at being faced with something which was so human, and yet, so foreign, stark in the room. Her strange, magical genetics could be seen in her three slender fingers, her long, pointed ears, her sleek grace and power. Otherwise, she was human, but the difference was enough that it made the bureaucrats and pencil-pushers of the Administration for Magical Relations nervous. He himself never quailed from her human-like form; indeed, he found it exotic and beautiful, perfect for the gorgeous woman he had loved since he was ten and she the same immortal she had been born as.
"We shall. I trust you received my request, Master Buckner, on behalf of the Minimoy and the Bogo Matassalai Nations?" She was still stern, and her trembles of laughter were still there, but they were slowly calming down as she settled into the true business at hand. Before, she may have been Nia, the woman he had known and loved, who was as loving and playful and powerful as a lioness with her mate (which he was), but now, she was Crown Princess Selenia of the Minimoy Nation, a woman equally powerful, but stern, diplomatic, and determined. As Head Embassy, not only to the AMR, but to every magical nation currently registered with the AMR and a few that weren't, Selenia had become a tacit, subtle, almost manipulative politician who could almost always get what best benefited her nation. He may have loved, and indeed, still loved Nia, diplomat Selenia out right scared him a little, with her cool connectedness, so unlike his passionate, fiery lover.
"Ah, indeed." The man, Buckner, leaned forward and collected a paper off the oaken desk in front of him, seeming to collect his wits at the same. Looking closely at the letter, he began to read in a much stronger, though still mild voice. "A large reservation of land, paid for and guarded from investigation by the government of the United States, for the use and residence of the combined nations of the Minimoy and the Bogo Matassalai, to be chosen and defined by the said combined nations. A permanent embassy post between the two nations and the AMR, representing the United States government as a whole. And finally, support and backing for the combined nations upon the forthcoming petition for entrance into the Nations of Magic Congress Collective." Buckner looked up over the paper at the calm red-headed teen, who was sitting very nicely on the other side of the desk with her forearms resting on the solid wood and her fingers steepled in a contemplative gesture. "Is that correct, Princess?"
"It is. What is your reply?" Her eyes were icy and cool, and he pressed his fingers against her shoulder in a soothing motion, reminding her to be welcoming to these men, and to not loose herself in the frigid persona of her diplomat face. He could feel her shoulders ripple with tension, and then relax slightly, a silent assurance between them. The men met each others' eyes, and a decision was reached, one wrought by the communication of a long friendship, or at least a long acquaintanceship. Though she didn't move, he felt Selenia's breath hitch slightly through her shoulders.
"We accept your, ah, proposal, Princess Selenia, and shall begin immediately upon the choosing of a suitable, ah, reservation, if you or one of your queenly advisers would be so kind...? As heir to the throne, we expect you will be highly influential in this decision." For the first time, Selenia allowed the men to see her small smirk of wry, mocking amusement, her ears twitching in laughter.
"Gentlemen, you mistake me for my brother, King Betameche. I am not in line for the throne currently, as his children hold that honor." The men exchanged startled glances, and Buckner turned to face Selenia with a slightly puzzled look. He grinned. He always did love this part, when Nia explained why she wasn't going to be queen officially, so that he could later retell the unofficial reason, which most back home knew to be true and kept around as a running gag on the couple.
"But...we believed you were the first born child of the...former king and thus, the future queen. Were we mistaken?" Here it came... He smiled out right, catching the eye of one of the gentlemen
"Not at all. It was decided that my brother was better suited than I for the throne, and that I could better serve my people in the world at large, by becoming a diplomat, as all of my non-heir nieces and nephews shall one day come to do." In his mind, he was grinning; outwardly, he was solemn, if with difficulty. She couldn't be doing much better than he, but both resisted laughing at the frustrated, horrified, and annoyed faces of the AMR representatives. His love continued without a courteous pause for their shock, her ears swinging slightly with amusement she'd never show out loud.
"Now, I assume it will take some time for you to create a list of suitable sites. The specification are, as you should know, within the documents we sent you. We shall schedule another meeting at convenience once you are ready with the list and we, ready to pick and survey. Good day, gentlemen. Parting is such sweet sorrow." And with that she rose in a single, fluid motion, turned, and was out the door. He bowed a trifle mockingly at the awestruck men and vanished after her before the bureaucrats could comprehend this indignity. Walking out of the fine building, it wasn't until he and his mate were safely in their chauffeur-driven car and speeding away that their masks slipped and they felt free to laugh uproariously and smile at each other with the mischievous grins of long companionship.
"So..." he began once their giggles had subsided, "You weren't telling the whole truth back there." Nia didn't turn, only straightened slowly and watched him mischievously out of the corner of her eye.
"Oh, is that what you think, hm?" the red-haired woman said archly, as though her high noble-born dignity had been offended. He was not fooled. Any unwarranted snootiness in her had been weeded out long ago, by war and trial, in their youth, he knew. This was play, tinged sharp with an edge that made his awareness jitter and his heart leap. But his face was serene with a mysterious and lofty smile that was belied by the spark in his eyes.
"Why don't you tell us the truth, O Princess Selenia of the Minimoys, once heir to the throne of her father? Why did you give up the throne?"
The response was immediate and rather startling for the uninformed. But he did not even flinch, as with a smooth and predatory motion the woman launched herself at him and pinned him against the seat, hands somewhat above his head. He grinned as he stared into her eyes, and she returned the favor with a wicked smirk.
"To marry you, bugbrain. Can't have a human king, after all," she said a low, teasing voice, eyes twinkling brightly. His only response was to lean forward and kiss her, allowing the pleasure to weaken her muscles until he could slip free from her hold. And her only response was to keep kissing, until neither of them could think straight.
In the front of the car, the chauffeur, a man in a dark suit with long, pointed ears, rolled his eyes after the human fashion and tried very hard not to listen to the various noises being made in the backseats behind him. Routine as usual then. The meeting must have gone well. Princess Selenia and Prince Arthur always did this, and after three years of working for the Minimoy and Bogo Matassalai embassy service, he felt a little informality was well deserved around these two.
He was just glad he didn't have to stick around for what came next.