As soon as they reached the orchard, Leila sat down, her back to a tree trunk. She looked tired—were those dark circles under her eyes? Edie had never seen her looking anything less than perfect.
Leila gestured at another tree, the one she was facing. Edie hesitated. She had good memories of this orchard—but bad ones, too. And the bad ones had been hidden from her for a long time. She didn’t know how to feel about this place, and she knew even less how to feel about it with Leila there with her.
In the whole time Leila had been away, in Faerie, Edie hadn’t gone to the orchard once. If anyone had asked her about it, she would have said that she had no reason to go there, but she wasn’t sure if that was her only motivation. She never wanted to go there without Leila, because the two of them had spent so much time and energy there. But the energy spending hadn’t always been her choice, and the end result hadn’t been good for either of them.
“Edith, you are the one who wanted to sit,” Leila said, an edge in her voice.
Edie crouched down, then sat cross-legged, not touching a tree. Her memories were not clear, but she knew that Leila had used her to feed the trees’ energy by touching them, and she didn’t want to risk that.
She was pretty sure it couldn’t happen by accident; she probably couldn’t accomplish it if she tried. But she still wanted to be careful.
“What do you remember?” Leila asked.
“Everything,” Edie said, staring at the dirt. Then she forced herself to look up and meet Leila’s eyes. “I really mean everything. When you left, all the memories you hid from me came back. It was a little scary, to be honest.”
Leila’s green eyes blinked at her, showing no other emotion. “It is because you are part faerie. And your friend Dawn, she has the Sight.”
Edie shrugged, spreading her palms. “Corrie remembers you, too. And Lorelei. Our friends Annie and Roe, as well. How are you going to explain them? Roe is psychic—she has visions of the future. Corrie is half-werewolf. But as far as I know, Lorelei and Annie are just ordinary humans.”
She wondered if that was really true. Was anyone at Chatoyant College really just a human? They had to be; there couldn’t be that many part-humans in the world. But something had attracted the court faeries to Annie in the first place.
“But Chris, Donna, Zoila, Genesis, they have forgotten?”
“Yes. That’s the way the magic works. If you don’t know the whole truth, you don’t get to keep it.” Edie frowned, wondering again whether what she said was true. Just a few weeks ago, they had discovered that one faerie was holding the magic together. He was the reason the treaty wasn’t enforced by the magic and the thing tying the faeries on campus together. And the same day they’d found that out, he’d broken it.
She didn’t know what repercussions that would have. Maybe Leila’s friends’ memories had returned. But if that was the case, why hadn’t they sought her out before now? They remembered being friends with Edie, but not why—and if they suddenly remembered that their friend and Edie’s girlfriend had disappeared, she would expect them to have questions for her.
She hoped that wasn’t the case. She hoped she was giving Leila the right explanations.
“Why did you never tell me that the magic did not work the same way for you?”
“I didn’t think of it. I never thought you would leave.” Edie felt a lump rising to her throat; her vision wavered.
Leila lifted one knee and looped her arms around it. “I am not one to stay in one place.”
“Then you knew you were going to leave? Why didn’t you tell me?” But as soon as Edie had spoken the question, she understood the answer. “Because you thought I would forget.”
“Exactly,” Leila said, nodding. “I thought it would make no difference to you.”
Edie shook her head, swallowing hard. Her tears hadn’t fallen yet, but her heart was aching. Hadn’t Leila cared about her? “Even if I’d forgotten, how could you think it would make no difference to me? The months we were together were the best of my life. I would always miss you, even if I didn’t know what I was missing. Did you think you could come back and everything would be exactly like it was before we met?”
She realized, for the first time, that Leila had been gone for longer than they had been together. It felt like such a long stretch of time, the fall semester, her and Leila… but it hadn’t even been the whole semester, and now it was April, more than four months since the fall semester had ended.
“Edith,” Leila said. She had lifted one hand and was gesturing toward Leila, her long, white fingers curling. “Come here. Come sit with me.”