Goodbye, Zelda

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Zelda got nothing but stares from the other fourth years while she readied for class at the washroom sinks. She ignored the sideways glances as she brushed her teeth. It's not like she could deny the story. Every word they'd read had been true. The article had left out certain details from the journal like Leo's wish, but Zelda wasn't sure why. A headline like that would have gotten picked up by news outlets around the world. Perhaps the tabloid had sense to know the royal family would deny such a claim.

As she tried not to let the girls bother her, Felicity Dunn came sliding through the door to the washroom. Her eyes were wide and she still had her dark curls tied up in a tee-shirt. "Zelda!" she exclaimed. " Prince Leo! In the courtyard."

Zelda dropped her toothbrush in the sink and barely spared a second to rinse out her mouth before she and rest of the bathroom's occupants dashed for the door. Zelda got ahead of the crowd as the news that the crown prince of Olisand was in the courtyard of Madame LeBleu's was shouted through the halls.

She didn't care that she was still in the big-eyed teddy bear slippers that Imogen had brought her back from Korea. Zelda dashed out the door to their hall, through the common area, and out the front doors to the dormitory. She didn't even look back to see if the others had followed her out.

Security in their dark suits and glasses lined the walls and blocked the gates to Madame LeBleu's. The prince stood in the center of the courtyard. His wayward hair stuck out at wild angles and a tie hung limp around his unbuttoned collar. He looked up as Zelda approached and his eyes stopped her short. They were rimmed with red and full of a sadness that twisted Zelda's stomach into aching knots.

"Leo—" she began, but Leo flinched at his name on her lips and the gesture paused her voice.

His gaze traveled over her face while his jaw quivered on words that seemed lost behind his frown. "I trusted you... and you... How could you?" he cried, the words echoing off the stone wall.

"I didn't!" Zelda said. She crossed the space between them, but kept her distance. "Didn't you listen to my messages? It was my journal. Someone stole it and must have given it to a reporter."

Leo bit down on his trembling lip. "I've never seen you with a journal. Why didn't you tell someone it went missing? Why didn't you tell me?" His voice was hoarse and it made Zelda wonder if he'd been arguing with his father. He'd probably defended her until he actually read the article.

Zelda could feel tears well in her eyes all over again. "I didn't think – I thought it was a prank!"

Leo threw his hands in the air. "Exactly. You didn't think! That article... it leaves nothing to the imagination. I have no secrets left to myself. None. New Year's Eve. My tattoo... That was for you alone to know." He ran his hands through his hair then dropped them to his sides, defeated. "New Years Eve was my first time too. I bet you didn't think about that either."

"Leo." Zelda clutch her arms as tears made hot trails down her cheeks. "I love you — I would never. You know me! You know I wouldn't do this to you."

Then, before Zelda could say anything more, Leo closed the space between them. His hands grabbed hers and he held them tight to his chest. The he ducked head to rest his forehead against hers.

"I want to believe you." His voice quavered just above a whisper. "I want to believe you so much."

"Believe me," Zelda whispered. She trembled against his touch.

His eyes flicked to her lips and in reply, Zelda tilted her head up, eyes closed, to meet her mouth to his. Their lips brushed faintly and then Leo was gone — three paces away from her. The space made Zelda shiver.

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