Not His Usual Type

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"I still can't believe you get to go to a state dinner," Imogen said as she put the finishing touches on Zelda's makeup. "I admit I don't really know what goes on at an event like that besides brushing elbows with the money, but Leo will be there, right?"

"Yeah, he'll be there."

"And his parents?"

Zelda nodded.

"Have you met them before?"


"Wow," Imogen said. She swiped blush across Zelda's cheeks. "Are you nervous?"

"I'm not sure. I'm trying not to think about it too much," Zelda replied, hoping that saying as much would make it true. Imogen gave her a look that suggested she didn't believe a word Zelda had said.

"Come on. You can be honest with me. I hear you tossing and turning all night long. I just covered up some massive dark circles under your eyes and even when you don't have raccoon eyes, you look like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Now what is going on? It can't be pure coincidence that Madame LeBleu chose you as the ambassador." Imogen thrust a pink, cat-shaped hand mirror into Zelda's hands for her to check her makeup.

Imogen's handiwork was flawless. Zelda put the mirror aside and crossed to her bureau to

pull out the dress she'd made for the occasion. She pulled off her robe, tossed it onto her bed and stepped into the dress.

"Madame LeBleu knows. I met Leo when he made a wish and Madame LeBleu and Professor Weymouth didn't want me to grant that wish," Zelda offered. She turned her back to Imogen so she could help her with the halter of the simple, black silk gown. "They seemed to think I could convince him... to keep his crown."

Imogen turned Zelda around. "He wanted to decline his right to rule? And our headmistress wanted you to get close to him."

"That's pretty much all that's going on."

"Zelda!" Imogen exclaimed, her tone scolding. "You have to be careful. It sounds like they might be trying to use your relationship with the prince."

"They're not the ones trying to use my relationship with Leo," Zelda said, folding her arms and feeling suddenly defensive of the special mission Madame LeBleu had entrusted her with.


"Dante recognized me in the photo and he thinks he can use that info to blackmail me or something like that."

"Zelda!" Imogen threw her hands in the air. "I'm your best friend! Why didn't you think you could tell me these things?"

"Listen," Zelda said, putting her coat on. "I will tell you everything when I get back tonight, okay? I have to go!"

"You'd better. And you'd better think about me doing magic theory homework back here while you're sticking your tongue down the prince's throat in the wine cellar."

Zelda exchanged a familiar smile with Imogen before she tapped her wand to her nose to poof outside the castle gates.

Every window of the castle glowed with light for the dinner. As Zelda approached the towering gates where security checked invitations, she caught sight of a long row of reporters and photographers behind a red velvet rope. She tried not to think about them as a security officer looked through her bag. He paused at her wand but seemed to find it innocuous enough to let her through with it.

The pounding of her heart in her ears started up as she approached the line of photographers. She had deliberately chosen a different hairstyle and cut of dress from the photo that had been snapped outside Madame LeBleu's to prevent any suspicion. But it would only take one perceptive photography intern to make the connection. She hurried up the castle steps and was thankfully upstaged by the foreign dignitaries entering before her. While they paused for photos and interviews, Zelda slipped past them and into the safety of the castle walls.

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