Edie took a deep breath. Leila didn’t appear happy or excited to see her, but that might not be anything bad. She was just confused. She’d been away for months, and there had been a lot of changes on campus. She’d returned to a world that was different from what she remembered.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s me. I’ve been waiting for you to come back.”
Leila shook her head slowly, lifting her hand with her fingers pointed toward Edie’s face, but letting it drop before she had any chance of touching her. “How can that be?”
“I don’t understand.” Edie was trying to be calm and patient, but inside she was shaking. “Do you want to come in to the dorm? We can sit in the common room and talk.” That wasn’t something she could ever remember doing with Leila before, but it was all she could think of. She wanted to explain why they couldn’t go into the woods to talk, couldn’t go sit by her tree like they normally would, but she didn’t want to overwhelm Leila with too much information, since she seemed to be confused just by Edie coming to talk to her.
“I don’t understand why you’re here,” Leila said. She didn’t respond to Edie’s question. That was probably for the best—they should focus on one thing at a time.
Like the fact that they were both completely confused by each other. “What do you mean? Did you think something had happened to me?”
Maybe that was why Leila had left. Maybe she thought Mardalan had done something to Edie, and it wasn’t worth staying on campus anymore. Could it be that easy?
But Leila shook her head. “No. Something happened to me. I left. You should not remember. Does this—does it have something to do with that wall?”
Edie’s heart sank. Leila had thought that, when she left campus, people forgot who she was. It seemed to happen with faeries who came to campus and then left—no one had questioned Derwen’s disappearance when she had swapped herself for Annie. Her roommate didn’t remember having had a roommate for the few days they had all lived on campus. Her memory had been changed when Derwen left to make her think that there had been a mix-up and she’d never been assigned a roommate.
Almost the same thing had happened when Annie was kidnapped. Her roommate, Salome, had remembered her briefly, but Dawn and Lorelei had been the only ones to really remember who she was, what she looked like, and when she had disappeared.
Dawn had remembered Annie because she had the Sight, and though the ability had seemed to come upon her gradually, the power to see past faeries’ glamours also kept her mind from being affected by the campus magic that smoothed over their presence. Lorelei had remembered Annie because, as an RA, she had been trained to deal with the faeries. Now, Annie, Edie, and many of their friends who were aware of the faeries’ existence remembered every faerie encounter, everyone who had been on campus and disappeared whether because of the faeries or because they were a faerie.
Sometimes other memories went missing. But that wasn’t important right now.
“The wall is new,” Edie said. “I remember you because I know about you—about faeries. Your other friends, Chris and the others, they forgot about you like they were supposed to. But it doesn’t work the same way on me, because—well, I don’t know how it works.” She shrugged. She was shivering a little. “But it seems like if people really know about the faeries and how they work, they don’t forget.”
Leila took a sudden step forward, onto the sidewalk, her hands coming up. She grabbed either side of Edie’s face, holding it very still, and looked into her eyes. “No,” she said.
Edie’s heart was pounding as she tried to step back, to get her face out of Leila’s grip. She’d wanted Leila to touch her—but not like this. This felt forceful and cruel, and she’d never known Leila to act that way to her.
Or she’d forgotten.
Leila’s grip tightened, not letting Edie get away, pulling her head forward when she moved her body back. “Leila, stop!” Edie cried, her voice muffled by the way her cheeks were pressed against her lips. “Let go! You’re hurting me!”
Leila let her face go as though it had burned her, and Edie took a few hasty steps back, her heart pounding and her stomach churning. She’d lied—it hadn’t hurt. It had only frightened her. But she’d lied to Leila for the first time that she could remember, the first time she knew about, and she didn’t like it.
She had to swallow before she could speak again, but Leila, lowering her hands slowly, didn’t look likely to speak. “Let’s sit somewhere and talk,” she said, gesturing to Gilkey. “Please.”
Leila looked at her. Her expression didn’t change. “The trees,” she said flatly, pointing to the little orchard that the environmental co-op kept, and Edie reluctantly followed her there.
1 thought on “Chatoyant College Book 12: Chapter 3: Never Before”
Poor Edie… *hugs her*
I wonder if Leila really wanted her to forget and not remember her – or if she just expected it as a side effect…
…did she want to erase Edie’s memory again? 😮