Leila was silent for a long time, her hands no longer stroking Edie’s hair. Edie sat up—this time Leila didn’t try to stop her—and moved into a cross-legged position, next to Leila but at an angle so she could face her.
Leila was staring into space, or maybe up at the trees. She was very, very still—she didn’t even seem to be blinking.
Edie didn’t want to say anything; she was sure Leila must be thinking hard and didn’t want to interrupt her. So she sat quietly, just waiting.
Finally, Leila said softly, “So that is over.”
She turned to Edie and smiled as though their conversation had not just been interrupted. “So the treaty is broken, then?”
“Yes. I don’t really know what’s going to change, if anything. I mean, Elrath hasn’t been enforcing it for the last hundred years, or however long it’s been since Alaineth died.” Edie bit her lip, wondering if Leila would have an answer to that question.
Leila shook her head. “Things will not go back to the way they were before the treaty was ever signed. They cannot.”
“It was all faerie land, right?” Edie asked. “It’s been a week, and no one’s tried to kick us—the school—out. So it can’t be that.”
“Exactly,” Leila said. She gestured gracefully, taking in the whole campus. “The magic is here that claims this land for the humans. It could not be wiped away, not in a short time. And the world has changed around us as well. It would not be safe for the faeries to force the humans out; the government would get involved.”
Edie nodded. “So you don’t know what will change, either.”
“I think some things will change.” Leila frowned, letting her hands drop to her lap and looking down at them. “I know some things will change. I would believe that the reason you remember me is the breaking of the treaty, but you tell me that it has been longer than that.”
“That’s right,” Edie said. “Ever since we went into the forest to rescue Annie, and Derwen traded herself, we’ve all been able to remember everything that happens with faeries, even when no one else does.” Unless, of course, someone magically took those memories away. But she didn’t want to point that out right now, not when they were finally talking.
“But I do think some of that magic has changed. I do not think I will be able to rely on the magic to return me to campus, to act as though I have always been here. Last semester, I only attended two classes and spent the night off campus; no one realized that I did not live the same way they did. Now I will have to enroll myself as a student, play the part, if I wish to stay on campus and not be questioned.”
Edie’s heart leapt at the thought that Leila would be enrolling in school, but then immediately dropped again. Leila might not want to stay on campus. It might not be worth it to her. It might not even be possible right now—the middle of the semester was nearly here, and no one who enrolled in classes this week would have any chance of passing. The professors and administrators probably wouldn’t allow people to enroll.
At least Derwen was properly enrolled in classes now; Edie didn’t know whether she had been last semester, before she had traded herself for Annie, but it probably wouldn’t have worked out well if the magic changed while she wasn’t an official student. Were there any faeries on campus who weren’t properly set up as professors or teachers? She wondered how they were dealing with it.
She understood something a little better now. “Mardalan took advantage of the magic smoothing things over,” she said. “Last semester, when she had Siffyd on campus. She wasn’t enrolled in classes, just working in the library.”
“That’s right,” Leila said. “She would not need to enroll. Now, it will be harder to do such things.”
“That’s good,” Edie said. “And even before, because Elrath wasn’t doing anything, it was up to the professors to make sure faeries didn’t hurt humans. So that hasn’t changed. This is for the better.”
“For the most part,” Leila said. She reached out and touched Edie’s shoulder, resting her whole hand on it for a moment. “I must think.”
“To decide what you’ll do?” Edie asked, and Leila nodded, pulling her hand away.
Edie reached out and took Leila’s hand before it could make it back to her lap, holding it in both hands. She wanted to beg Leila to enroll, to stay with her, but there was a lump in her throat and she couldn’t speak.
“It will be well, Edith,” Leila said, turning to look at her again. She didn’t smile.
“How can you possibly know that?” Edie wanted to laugh, but it wasn’t funny.
“I don’t. I can only hope. You must hope, too.”
Edie nodded, thinking that Leila was right. She had to hope. She just didn’t know whether she could hope without fear.