Chapter 11: One Step Forward, One Step Back

She'd learned many things the last few days; Derek was isolated with the task of preparing the wonderful anniversary ball for Odette, taking many trips and writing many letters to his mother to aid in his organization, inviting everyone across the land to make up for his mistake from so many years ago; or so he thinks. This was good, for the other thing she learned was that Odette was all too well rounded and good for her; too perfect and too heavenly in her actions. It did her hard to resist her own evil temptations, but on the other hand Derek had been so busy not many of her mess ups had been noticed. And luckily she'd had magic on her side. It wasn't until they noticed something that she really was grateful for her magic. As soon as Odette was gone, she didn't have to worry about convincing Prince Charming that she was Odette; she could be a new and improved Odette…more or less.

"Odette, is it just me, or does that cat follow you around like you are its owner? It has taken quite a liking to you. " Rogers eyed the black charcoal cat suspiciously; he never liked cats much.

"Well I guess I am now Rogers." She smiled at him, tilting her head.

"Oh ignore him Odette; he's just an old fool. We all know how much you click with animals, after being a swan and all." Bromley smiled.

"Yes, and we all know how much of a lovely experience being a swan was for Odette." Rogers gritted with sarcasm to Bromley. Bromley sunk in his chair slightly.

Veronica couldn't help but smirk to herself. The real Odette was a swan, far in the woods, likely attempting to come back to the castle. It was a two days distance in flight at the least that she'd been sure of. She'd make it back barely for the third, and by that time, she'd have this Odette stuff down and Derek would be making his infamous mistake again; choosing the wrong girl for the love of his life.

"Oh speaking of which where is that frog and turtle you always have with you? You know they're not exactly becoming animals for a princess?" Bromley attempted to change the conversation away from his faulty comment.

"And you're not becoming at all and we don't complain…" Rogers muttered under his breath, and then regained his stature. "Or that rare puffin, you know you really don't see those birds in these parts."

"Well…" She felt her cover being blown, not that they'd know or even guessthat she was a fake; I mean as far as they were concerned, all the dark magic in this world was destroyed, not to mention Veronica was long gone…or at least they thought. She was clever she'd get this. "I believe they've had their own agenda for the past few days. I have a sneaking suspicion that they seem like they might have a surprise for me for the ball…I can't imagine what it would be?"

And like that Erebus jumped onto her lap, giving her the eye of approval for her well played lie. She smiled; things were going well, almost too well, as she felt her gaze lead out onto the long miles of forest, almost expecting to see the persistent bird and her animal friends emerging for the sake of ruining a perfectly good plan.


"How far are we puffin?"

"I can see the castle…or I think it's the castle…" He squinted flying higher then Odette.

"For all zee bird knows, we could, be looking at a few far off treez that take the shape of a castle…Odette; do you really trust this imbizile?" Jean Bob yelled up from the forest as Speed rolled his eyes.

"No, I see it. Let's keep going!" Odette flew higher.

"But Odette, the night is getting cold, and without the sun, we'll never know if we're going in the right direction. Far off places will blend into the black of the sky. It's best if we set up camp." Puffin rationalized.

"Plus, maybe if you're lucky, her spell was like her father's and you'll turn back into a princess at night?" Speed said hopefully.

"I'm not sure. I don't think she'd give us that much lea-way." Odette flew down to her friends. "But it's worth a try."

"I do not know about you, but zere is a nice little pond off of zee lake over there. I would not mind resting my weary feet and maybe we could…"

"You were on my shell all day Jean Bob?" Speed looked over to him, skeptical of his "weary feet".

" A Prince should not be standing on his feet! He should be on a throne!" He walked away on his typical prince rant to the pond.

"Don't worry Odette, we'll make good time." Puffin consoled the princess.

"I know…but if we can't talk… if I can't even change back… how will he know that it's me?"

"Maybe its not that he'll know that it's you, maybe it's that he'll know she isn't?" Speed added.

"And zee turtle makes no sense." Jean Bob rolled his eyes, missing the point.

"I hope so…" Odette, who understood, tried to be hopeful, but curved her neck; her beak looking solemnly down to the ground.

"Go see if the curse will wear off at night! Remember Odette, no fear!" Puffin gave her a quick shove to the water.

As the moon fell onto the lake, she looked. Already it was a solemn moon, not full yet, but not yet gone. She didn't feel like magic could help her. She didn't feel like a transformation was waiting. But she swam, with a gulp of her breath silently prayed that she would turn to a human, if just for the night.

The moon hit her wings and she felt a spark. Of magic she didn't know? At first she thought it was the water flying around her like it did before in sparks of blue, purples and yellows, but instead it engulfed her. Danced around her, she waited to turn, but instead the colors turned to haunting reds and greens, and the water turned to a black like bird which hovered over her like a black swan. She couldn't move, as it clashed down over her like a nightmare, erasing her from the world.

"Odette?"

"Huh?" She opened her eyes to see her friends around her, before coughing up some inhaled water.

"Strange waters were having here?" Puffin said looking over to the now still water.

"What zee heck was that?" Jean Bob asked. "It was like a big cyclone went whoosh, all around Odette and then it waz like bam on top of her, and zen looked all like evil magic and zis other stuff and then we zought you drowned and…"

"So basically you can't turn back into a human?" Speed asked ignoring his babbling.

"I'm afraid not. It's like the magic stopped me from turning into a human; like a great big black swan dived over me to smother me…"

"A swan in the water? A swan as water? Odette you're not making any sense, are you sure your not water logged girl?" Puffin asked.

"No, I think her magic changed the old spell into a new one. I think the black swan represents the fake me…and maybe…" She tried to persist. She had to be open minded. If Veronica's spell was like Rothbart's there was a catch, just like when Derek had been caught up on the idea that it was "not what it seems"…something about this spell had to do with a Black Swan.

"Uhm excuse me, but although I would hate to interrupt zee water magical swan party, I think we are not zee only thing in zee woods?" Jean Bob suddenly tugged on Speed's head, prying it from Odette and Puffin over to a shady spot in the woods near the clearing they were standing in by the pond. Suddenly two eyes emerged from the darkness, yellow and glowing, following with two hairy dark black furred wolves out for a late night snack.

"I think for once, the frog was right…" Puffin admitted, in a fearful voice.

"If somebody says 'No Fear' I will kill zem…" Jean Bob threatened as they all backed up slowly away from the evil dog-like eyes.