The case, dated 1902, was still marked as open. The thought of being missing for over a hundred years made Zelda shiver. There were a few tintype photos of the gold spools and a ring of mushrooms found in the woods outside the mansion, but the case didn't offer much help in their search for elves.
Down another row, between more shelves of folios, Zelda found a shelf of ancient looking books. A folio marked the start of a row and Zelda quickly realized that folio's were spread between long rows of the ancient tomes. The bindings were frayed and faded beyond recognition. She tried the folio first. In it was a piece of ancient looking parchment with a handwritten list.
The Confiscated Titles of Lord Rafe Scarlet II
Zelda's heart shot to her throat as she picked up the first title: Thaumaturgy for the Novice. From what she could remember about the school for tinkers, Zelda thought she'd heard somewhere that the current headmaster's full title was Lord Rafe Scarlet IV. If the book Specs had was any indication, the Scarlet family had built their collection back up.
She flipped through the first pages, but like the book Specs had, it was mostly equations. There were other book confiscated from other citizens of Olisand, that followed after the books of Lord Scarlet. Zelda picked up a book bound in black leather that had belonged to a cobbler whose name didn't have any meaning to her. Finally, words. And pictures. The paper felt brittle in her hands as she turned the pages. Her fingers stopped at an illustration, and for a moment everything went numb. Even the sound of the creaking floorboards under Leo's feet as he inched down the opposite aisle faded away.
In the illustration a man with a wicked grin stood over a fairy with a pair or scissors in one hand, and the fairy's clipped wing in the other. The one-winged fairy's face contorted into a scream as she writhed at the man's feet. The touch of a hand on her waist made her jump, and the book fell to the floor with an echoing thunk.
"I'm sorry," Leo's voice came from behind her. "Didn't mean to startle you."
Zelda bent down to pick up the book and several of its pages that had gotten dislodged in the fall. "It's fine," she said, though her pulse hammered loud in her ears.
Leo looked at the cover of the book. "Thaumaturgy? That's outlawed by the ICG isn't it?"
"Yeah. These were all confiscated from citizens of Olisand."
"But why are you reading them?"
Zelda then explained her theory that George St. Germain was using the methods of Thaumaturgy to hide the elves who worked in his store. "It's the only explanation I can think of right now that would explain why your inspectors couldn't find anything." Her voice grew tighter as she spoke.
Leo shrugged. "I don't know much about Thaumaturgy but you could be onto something."
Zelda shoved the loose pages into the foul book. The illustration of the fairy ghosted in her mind and made her breath catch around a sob in her throat. She could tell she was going to have trouble sleeping after that.
"Hey," Leo said, his voice deep and soothing. He wrapped his arms around Zelda's middle. "We'll catch them."
"But look," Zelda said between shuddering breaths. She opened it to show Leo the illustration. His brows pushed together in concern, then he snapped the book closed.
A sympathetic grin pulled at his lips. "I have something that will make you feel better."
Three aisles away, Leo had discovered precisely what they had come to the archives to find. He pulled out a file whose location he had marked by turning the folio on its side so it stuck out from the seemingly endless row of others. Zelda took the folio from his outstretched hand.
She scanned the contents and her mouth fell open.
Leo watched with her a self-satisfied look and a lopsided smile. "Fifty years ago, a man with the surname of St. Germain applied for a labor permit to employ elves in what was then, a hole-in-the-wall cobbler's shop."
"It says here, he was denied," Zelda said.
Leo folded his arms, looking pleased. "Even more reason to hide his work force."
Finally, Zelda had her proof. Her smile grew so big, it bubbled up into a laugh. In a moment of unbridled joy, she threw her arms around Leo's neck and planted a kiss square on his mouth.
"Don't celebrate yet," he said once they came up for air. "We still need to find the elves... but I also found something that can help us there."
Zelda followed Leo again. He stopped in the back corner of the archives that looked like it hadn't seen a visitor or a dusting in fifty years. Leo lifted a small green book from shelf and handed it to Zelda.
Zelda read from the title page: "The International Magical Relations Committee Inspector's Handbook to Magical Beings: From Sprites to Warlocks with a special forward from International Council of Godmothers founder Brigitte LeBleu." She looked up at Leo with an open smile she hoped conveyed her silent thank you.
"Turn to page twenty eight," was his only reply.
Page twenty eight had a neatly numbered list of all the steps it took to find and capture elves.
It was Zelda's turn to give Leo a pleased smirk. "George St. Germain isn't going to know what hit him."
A strange smile crept over Leo's cheeks.
"What?" Zelda asked, hitting him in the shoulder with the book.
Before she could protest, Leo wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off her feet. "How is it even possible to be in so in love with someone that you're actually mad with it."
"You're mad with love?" Zelda asked. Her heart sputtered as Leo pressed her up against wall opposite the bookshelf.
Leo smiled and shook his head. "You're going to think I'm crazy."
"I already think you're crazy."
Leo's smile fell as he considered his words by working his lower lips.
"You can tell me anything," she clarified, seeing that something turned over in his mind.
"When I think of us... I don't know... something about it, this, feels like forever." On the word "forever" he moved his mouth to Zelda's jaw to whisper it against her skin.
Her heart kicked into overdrive. Forever? She'd never heard a more beautiful word. "I like that idea... forever." She tasted the word for herself while wrapped in Leo's arms.
Yes, she could deal with forever.
Thank you all for reading! Your comments and votes mean so much to me. This chapters is a quiet one, but it's one of my favorites, so I hope you've enjoyed it! Someday I'll get around to writing a short story about Lord Barnabas and his gold spinning goblin! Did you pick up on what fairytale inspired it?
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I Wish I MayFantasy
Fairy Godmother in training, Zelda Ravensdale is starting her fourth and final year at Madame LeBleu's school for godmothers. She hopes to earn the title of First Fairy and graduate at the top of her class, but there are forces working against her...