Just One Date

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From her room in the dormitory, Zelda could hear the endless stream of giggles from the common area. It was Friday night and she performed the same charms over and over, trying to work the surges out of her system. Time and again she guided her magic to tie the same ribbon into a bow then pulled it loose.

It worked well until Imogen burst into the room. "Come quick!" she said, snatching the white ribbon from midair. "Susan is on TV with Prince Leo. Life is so unfair."

Imogen dragged the unwilling Zelda into the common area where all the fourth years had gathered around the television. They squeezed together into an overstuffed armchair near the screen.

Zelda had never seen St Germain's Shoe factory but that wasn't really why she had allowed herself to be pulled away from her drills. Leo's dimpled, smiling face appeared on the screen and several girls collapsed into giggles. The prince and the media entourage were somewhere outside the city limits of Erimount amid rolling green foothills. The factory, an old tudor style building, itself didn't look large enough to house such a massive production but Zelda had heard rumors that most of the factory ran underground.

The prince gave the gathered crowd a graceful wave before he followed Susan and her father into the factory. The cameras moved in tight as Leo said something to Susan that made her laugh. Zelda stomach sank as he offered Susan his arm and they ascended the steps to the factory doors.

She wanted to look away but couldn't. Watching Susan flip her hair around and make eyes at the prince was in it's own way sickening, but then there was Leo. As they walked through the main factory and the workers eyed the cameras nervously, Leo went to each and shook their hands, asked questions and nodded his head along to answers in a way that seemed to make each worker relax. Leo had made her feel the same way. When they entered a dazzling showroom at the end of the tour, Leo gave an impassioned speech about labor rights that made Zelda's chest swell with pride. She had to laugh at the look on Susan's face as the prince spoke amid cases of specially crafted footwear. Something about the glassy eyed smile she wore said she was imagining an engagement ring rather than labor laws.

When Zelda returned to her room, she found a message on her phone from Leo.

LB: Tuesday. Pont De Leon. 8pm. I'll be there. I'd like to see you.

ZR: Is this a date?

She sent the text. At first it seemed like nothing, but as she waited for his reply her lungs forgot how to draw breath.

LB: Of course! And it'll be the best you've ever had.

LB: That is if you show up.

She knew that bridge. It wasn't far from Madame LeBleu's but Zelda hardly knew what to reply, so she didn't. She'd promised she'd consider it if he did his assignment, and he'd already fulfilled his end of the bargain. She fully expected she'd uphold hers.

She agonized over whether she should go every hour until Tuesday came around. In that time she could only envy Leo for knowing exactly what he wanted. He didn't want to be prince... and he wanted her. She tried not to let the flattery of the situation say her.

It was a clear and crisp fall day, perfect for secret meetings. Imogen was blissfully unaware of the dilemma as Fletcher this and Fletcher that consumed most of her attention. Zelda would have been mad, but it was her own fault she had taken up some secret mission with the headmistress. She was also the only one to blame for forming a very confusing crush on the prince.

Professor Weymouth was kind enough not to ask questions when Leo didn't call during their time on the hotlines. Instead he assigned Zelda a call from a pet shop owner who was terribly allergic to dogs. It was an easy wish to grant and the woman thanked her by giving her a kitten of her own. Zelda tried to refuse the little black cat, but the woman was insistent. She wasn't even sure cats were allowed at the school but the room erupted in shrieks of joy when Zelda returned to the classroom with a kitten in a wicker basket. Professor Weymouth didn't say anything about the cat when he dismissed her, so Zelda figured it would be fine.

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