Lord Scarlet

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As Zelda headed down the front steps of Lord Scarlet's Academy for Tinkers, she was more than ready to put halloween behind her, but an angry whispering stopped her short. Somewhere among the manicured gardens came the distinct sounds of an argument. Zelda would have ignored the noise, but something about one of the voices gave her pause. Something familiar. Zelda withdrew her wand from her coat as she ducked behind a topiary nearest to the whispering. Then she heard it. One of the voices was Madame LeBleu.

"Aurelie, I'm not getting involved," a man's voice said.

"But you can't just sit back and allow this sort of thing to happen. You can't just hide in this school of yours on a hill, Rafe. What happens in our country's governments affects us all."

Was she talking to Lord Scarlet?

"Enough with the dramatics," the man replied dryly. "You and your professors are making something out of nothing."

"Professor Weymouth foresaw-"

"Not that charlatan." Lord Scarlet stopped her short. "What will be, will be. My academy has weathered many a storm. A shift in the monarchy is nothing."

"For you and your financial backers, I'm sure," Madame LeBleu huffed.

"I think I've heard enough. I beg you won't criticize how I run my school and I won't criticize how you run yours," Lord Scarlet said with finality.

Zelda felt a sting of injury, wishing she could go to Madame LeBleu's aid and defend her beloved school, but she remembered she was just an interloper listening in on the conversation. She heard the rustle of feet on grass and from the shadows where she crouched behind the hedges she watched Lord Scarlet stalk back towards the mansion. He was a tall, lithe man she had seen very little of in her time in Erimount. The light from one of the mansion's many windows caught his face and Zelda recognized the headmaster's features. A sharp straight nose, a severe line for a mouth, silver eyes, and wavy grey hair that looked like it might have been blonde in his younger days. Zelda felt a small puff of air brush her head as Madame LeBleu poofed out of the garden. She was alone.

Zelda rose from the crouch, her knees aching, and steadied her grip on her wand. She checked her phone to make sure Leo would be in his room before she poofed herself there. When his text came in and she knew he was waiting for her, Zelda imagined his room and tapped her wand to her nose. Before her vision came to, her nose filled with the smell of old wood, expensive cologne and freshly laundered shirts. She must have been distracted when she poofed because she opened her eyes to find herself in Leo's spacious closet.

The door flung open and Leo stood in the doorway to his bedroom, a dimpled smile on his face. Without saying a word Zelda launched herself forward and threw her arms over Leo's shoulders. He laughed breathlessly before slowly, tenderly wrapping his arms around Zelda's waist. "I've been dreaming of this for days," he whispered into her hair.

Zelda let out a long, tremulous sigh.

Leo's grip loosened and his hands ran up her back to pull her arms from around his neck so he could look at her. "Are you okay?"

Zelda felt a knot form in her stomach. She would have to tell him about Dante - about what he knew. The knot tightened as Zelda wondered if Leo would be angry with her. Would he blame her?

"I just had a bad night," she offered, leaving out the part about Dante and the blackmail.

"What happened? And is there any reason you're dressed up like catwoman?"

Leo guided Zelda out of the closet and sat her down in one of the leather armchairs before the fireplace. It had quickly become her chair when she came over. Leo took the chair opposite as Zelda pulled the eared headband from her head. The magic was wearing off and the ears only twitched every so often rather than at every sound.

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