Theft of Heart
Summary: Elena only agreed to go to the ball as a way to help her family. She only stole because it was necessary. She only agreed to meet him again because he wouldn't leave her alone. And she only fell in love with him because he was her own Prince Charming.
Written for Drop of Romeo's A Latte Thinkin' challenge (although it probably won't be done early enough to count for the challenge). More specifically the Twist on Traditional Fairy Tales/Midnight Thief challenge: A family of thieves gets invited to a grand ball thrown by Prince Charming. The family friend, a master of disguises, helps the youngest daughter to doll up as a beautiful princess. She attends the ball with the intention of picking the Prince's pocket/stealing the Queen's jewelry but falls for Prince Charming instead.
"Elena?" The incredulous tone was insulting, but only to the point of amusement. The truly insulting part was the way that my sister eyed me in obvious disdain. "And why should Elena get to go to this ball, may I ask?"
"Because everyone from here to the Black Forest has seen your ugly mug," my brother said with a smirk. Ana's face lit up with a sudden burst of fury, but my mother smacked the back of his head before Ana could reach him.
"While there are better ways to phrase that," Mother said, shooting Dominik a glare before turning back to Ana, "there is some truth to it. You know that this is a highly delicate matter, and that means not trying to sneak someone into the ball that we know they have seen before. Elena fits that description."
"And, more importantly, she doesn't look like any of us," Dom said with a grin.
"But she's never done a job like this before," Ana argued. "Besides, we agreed that it's Josie's turn to go on the next mission."
"You and Josie are near identical," Mother said shortly. "Sending her in would only ensure that she would be caught for your crime. No, Elena is the only choice."
"Well, let us hope that Uncle Leo is capable of cleaning her up," Ana said with a sniff before flouncing out of the room.
Dominik grinned. "Well, that went well." Mother gave him a look before sighing and heading back to the kitchen to finish preparing dinner. He turned his grin to me. "I only wish I had a good excuse for making Ana that angry."
I managed a smile for him. Truth be told, I wasn't exactly happy about taking Josie's place either. Ana had always been our distraction. She was the tall, blonde, curvy, vapid girl that only had to sigh in the right way to have everyone's attention. But she was also not overly good at stealth, and after being seen on our last job, we needed a different distraction. While Josie had originally taken the job because she had more practice with staying in the shadows than Ana and was equally as pretty, Josie was all but Ana's twin.
"You're the better one for the job anyway," Dominik said, his grin fading slightly when I didn't immediately respond. "Truly, this job needs more… finesse. I've been trying to get Brigit to change her mind about sending in Josie. We don't really need someone that will stand out anyway. The last thing we need is this new prince actually picking one of you out as his wife."
Which was my brother's way of saying that he knew I wasn't as pretty as the other two, but I had more skill than the two of them put together. Backhanded compliment that it was, I knew that he meant well.
"I'm not sure how much Uncle Leo will appreciate having to completely redo the dress that he's been making for Josie," I said, looking down at myself in consideration. While Ana usually pretended to faint to distract everyone in the area, I usually snuck into wherever it was that we were sneaking because I was so good at simply being unnoticed. I had long ago given up on wearing skirts and dresses because pants were so much easier to move around in. I was covered in mud more than I was clean. Whereas Ana and Josie had the body types for distraction, I had the body type for stealth.
"I imagine he'll be somewhat annoyed, but he'll find someone else to sell the dress to," Dominik said, shrugging. "Or perhaps he could just save it for Josie until she's able to wear in public for a reason other than stealing."
I rolled my eyes without thinking about it. If this job paid like it was supposed it, it would be the last job we had to perform. Possibly forever. But just because we didn't have to steal didn't mean that we wouldn't steal, particularly Dom. "I don't think Josie was too excited about going anyway."
"No, but Ana wanted her to go," Dominik said with a grin. "Any excuse to make her angry is good enough for me."
I rolled my eyes again. "It wouldn't kill you to stop bothering her all of the time."
"But it would take a lot of enjoyment out of my life," he said easily. "I've got to finish some things up outside. Brigit probably has some things she would appreciate you doing." He headed out the door, whistling to himself along the way. I could only shake my head as I joined my mother in the kitchen.
"Elena, hand me that spoon," Mother instructed without looking up from her pot on the hearth. I grabbed it as passed it, used to her odd awareness of who was in the room at all times. "Thank you, dear," she said, taking the spoon from me. "Has Dominik gone out to finish his chores?"
I made a noise of agreement, leaning over to try and see what was in the pot. "He said he's been trying to convince you to let me go to the ball for weeks."
"So he has," she agreed a little wryly. "I believe his loyalty to you comes from the fact that you're the only blood family he has left, but he is correct in saying that this particular job requires more craftiness than most." She gave the pot one last stir before turning to me with a slight frown. "I know this isn't the role you typically take, but—"
"It's fine," I interrupted. The last thing I needed was another backhanded compliment. "Ana's unhappy, but she would only find something else to be unhappy about otherwise."
"Perhaps she will have fewer complaints about the disguise this time," Mother suggested dryly. "Although she has no room to complain, seeing as she did it to herself. You need to pay a visit to Leo tomorrow so that he can measure you. I imagine he won't be happy, but there's nothing we can do."
I nodded. Uncle Leo would certainly be annoyed, but he would benefit from the heist, and well he knew it.
The heist itself was, in theory, relatively simple. After the three sons of the current queen died in the last war, the queen had decided to name her nephew as her heir. Since his own family ruled another country to the east, the coming ball would serve as his introduction of sorts into our own country. With all of the confusion and expectation over the new heir, no one would notice that the crown jewels were missing until a few days after the ball.
"What is Ana so upset about?" a soft voice asked from the doorway of the kitchen. Mother and I both turned to face my sister Josie. For all that Josie looked like Ana, they differed completely in personality. For some reason though, they got along wonderfully.
"Elena is taking your place at the ball so that you aren't arrested for Ana's crime," Mother said calmly.
Josie's eyes widened as she turned to me. "Oh, Elena, is that alright?"
I smiled slightly. "I don't mind, Josie."
She frowned slightly. "Well… it really was more Ana's thing than mine. I don't think I could be very good at the job anyway."
I smiled. Josie probably would have made an even better distraction than Ana because she was genuinely shy and therefore the kind of girl that men would feel the need to take care of. If she fainted, every man in the room would have stopped what they were doing to help her. She certainly would have done a better job than me at the distraction part of it.
"Oh, this is going to completely change the plans, isn't it?" Josie asked, her eyes widening again. "Uncle Leo will have to make a completely new dress and we'll have to make all new plans and—"
"And if we sent you in there, chances are that you would never come back out again," Mother interrupted, smiling slightly to soften her statement. "Elena doesn't look like any of you, so she will be safe when you and Ana wouldn't be. It won't take much to change the plans to better fit Elena's abilities, and Leo is more than capable of making a dress in a limited amount of time, especially if Elena helps him."
I smiled wryly, picking up on the part she was leaving out. By having me work with Uncle Leo, I couldn't contest the plan they made for me until it was too late to change things. Which meant that I probably wouldn't like what they wanted me to do in this particular situation. I managed a real smile for Josie. "Don't worry, Josie. It will all work out in the end."
She smiled at me, reaching out to squeeze my hand in the typical Josie way. "Well, if you're sure, I'm sure everything will be fine." My smile widened at her complete faith that everything would work out. If only we were guaranteed that everything worked out as cleanly as Josie thought it would.
Author's Note- I know, I know. It's not Grasping at Straws. But it's something new, which means I'm at least actually writing again, which is at least the beginning! (And I really do plan on eventually posting another chapter of that, I swear. Sometime in the near future, I hope. Just... not now.) So if you could, you know, leave a nice little review, it might encourage me to keep up the good work. ;)