Useless

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When Zelda woke, she found herself looking up at a paned glass ceiling. It took a moment for her brain to catch up, but she soon remembered the nurse's ward at Madame LeBleu's had a glass ceiling. Her mind lagged as she took in the rows of beds around the empty room. Stringing thoughts together felt like sifting pudding through a sieve — slow going. Her limbs felt even slower, the muscles trembling at just the thought of moving.

She felt a strange heaviness on her legs then realized someone had pulled a metal chair over to the foot of her bed and had fallen asleep. Leo's head was nestled into his folded arms and he hunched over to use the empty space near her feet as a pillow. Zelda watched the slow rise and fall of his shoulders until she finally figured out how to make her mouth work again.

"Leo," she croaked. The words sounded distant, strangled.

She moved to sit up. The movement tugged at the blanket beneath Leo and roused him.

He looked up at her, bleary eyed. "Zelda," he gasped. His eyes were rimmed in red and from the wrinkle of his suit and his lack of a tie, it looked like he'd spent the entire night at her bedside.

"What happened?" she asked. She felt like she'd run a marathon. Other than the ache of her body, she couldn't shake the feeling she'd forgotten something.

"The nurse said not to move too much," Leo said, getting up to stand at her side when she tried to lift her head from her pillow. "Your body was put through a great ordeal." He hesitantly lifted a hand to brush the hair that was matted to her forehead.

Through the inky blackness of her memory, the last bit of their act for the follies came to mind — and then the pain. She'd passed out almost instantly. "What happened to me?"

"I'm not as familiar with magic as your nurse, but she says that the contraption you used to transfer Imogen took all of your magic."

"WHAT?" Zelda sat up quickly, the movement made her head feel like it was about to split down the middle.

"Not permanently, from what I understand," Leo added, sensing her panic.

Zelda flopped back onto her pillow, her energy spent. How had this happened? Specs had been so sure... "And Imogen? Is she okay."

Leo nodded. "She made it fine. Your other friend, the magician, has been in and out."

"Specs," Zelda said.

"Yeah. I think he feels bad about what happened. He looked pretty shaken up when he was in here. The nurse gave him a calming tonic to help him stop trembling."

Zelda looked up at the blue sky behind the glass ceiling. She had that lethargic feeling in her gut that she'd been asleep a long time. "How long have I been asleep?"

"Three days. The nurse says you're rebuilding your supply of magic and it takes a lot of energy since no fairy can naturally dwindle her entire store of magic on her own," Leo said. His hand was on hers, his thumb tracing hypnotic circles over the soft skin.

Zelda smiled. "Leo... how long have you been here?"

His blue eyes cut to gaze at the frayed edges of the blanket. "Just since Friday. I've come and gone a few times, but I wanted to be here when you woke up to make sure you were okay," he said. "I can go if you don't want me to be here."

"No," Zelda said, wrapping Leo's hand tightly into hers. "Please stay." Her heart restarted its thudding as Leo's smile finally reached his eyes.

Leo heaved a sigh and lowered his head to rest against hers. "I was hoping you would say that."

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