More Time

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Susan St. Germain turned and her mouth fell open at the sight of Zelda. Zelda held her wand up in a defensive stance, but Susan didn't make a move to lift her own.

"What are you doing here?" Susan sputtered.

"Is he in there?" Zelda said, anger surging through her veins like fire. She raised her wand higher.

Susan's eyes flicked between the stairs and Zelda's face. "I told you to stay away. It was for your protection! These are dangerous people, Zelda!"

"I'm here for Leo," Zelda exclaimed. She took a step toward Susan. "I used my one wish to get here, and I'm not leaving without seeing him so move aside."

Susan shook her head. Her eyes were red and glassy with unshed tears. She looked utterly broken as she held her own wand limp at her side. "Fairies get a wish too?"

"Yeah," Zelda said, bewildered. It was not what she had expected Susan to say. "We get happy ever afters too, and mine is in there, so if you have any compassion at all you will let me pass. I have enough magic for one spell and I'm saving it to undo whatever your father and Lord Brockford have done to him. Let me through and I'll make sure you get a wish of your own."

Susan looked at Zelda for an agonizingly long moment. Then she finally took out a key from the breast pocket of her sweater. "I don't know what you'll be able to do for Prince Leopold. My father will be back soon." Her hands shook as she fumbled to put the key in the lock.

Zelda took it from her. Susan's hands were cold and pale. "Your father has been stealing your magic hasn't he?"

Susan's eyes fell closed and she gave a shallow nod. "I'm sorry for being horrid to you. He wanted me to take over the Olisand territory so he could keep me close."

"And what do you want?"

"To be as far from here as possible," Susan said. Her eyes fell on the door. "You'd better hurry. I don't think he's faring well."

At this Zelda shoved the key into the lock and turned. She burst into a musty attic. Bare bulbs dangled on wires from the exposed rafters. Her sudden movement into the space made the hazy dust motes swirl violently through the beams of light.

Leo kneeled on the hard floor, sitting back on his heels. He leaned forward, spine curved, head lowered and hands tied behind his back. Zelda was lifting up his face to look into his eyes before she even realized she'd crossed the room. His eyes were marred with dark circles and it took a few seconds before recognition dawned in them.

"Leo," Zelda breathed.

"Zelda," he said dreamily. A smile pulled up his lips on one side. He wore a black tuxedo tailored to suit him incredibly well, but he'd clearly put up a struggle recently. The white shirt was open to reveal the bare skin of his chest, the buttons missing as it had been torn open.

"What's going on? What are they doing to you?" Zelda asked. She moved and began to work the knots loose that bound his hands together.

"Magic," Leo replied. His head lolled to the side to rest against her shoulder.

Zelda grunted as her fingers tore at the rope. "I love you, darling, but you'll have to be more specific." She got Leo's hands free and he gave a low groan as he rolled out his shoulders. From the red marks on his wrists it looked like he'd been bound that way for a while.

"This," he said, touching the compass tattoo on his chest.

Zelda moved around so she faced Leo again. She leaned in closer to look at the tattoo inked over where his heart was. There were faint red marks on the skin where something had pierced him. Whatever it was, it seemed to have aged Leo a year in the span of an hour.

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