Corrie sat back and stretched, rubbing her eyes. She’d filled half the page with carefully sketched cubes. That had to be enough for now. The assignment was to fill the whole page, at least two rows of cubes one inch on a side and two rows of cubes a half inch on a side, but she had time. She didn’t have Design Fundamentals again until Tuesday afternoon.
Anyway, right now she felt like if she drew another perfectly straight line she was going to break her pencil in half and throw the pieces out the window. Since it was a mechanical pencil, that would be really difficult. So, relaxation time it was.
She looked around the room, frowning. The other bed and desk were empty. She remembered Edie saying something about being right back; she’d assumed her roommate was going to the bathroom or something. But that had been a long time ago, hadn’t it?
Corrie checked the time on her phone’s clock, but it told her nothing. She didn’t know what time she’d started drawing, so she had no idea how much time had passed. She definitely didn’t know when Edie had left the room. Most likely, she’d just been so focused on her work that it felt like she’d been in it for a long time.
She took a break on her computer, answering an email from Charlie (one of the building’s RAs, whom she was casually dating) and catching up on her webcomics. Then she looked around again, confused. Edie definitely had been gone for a long time. Maybe she was having a shower.
Moments later—before Corrie could get too worried—she heard a key in the lock and the door was pushed open. Edie was frowning as she came in, the skin of her forehead wrinkled. Her lower lip was even pushed out a little.
Corrie jumped out of her chair, worried by her friend’s appearance. “Are you okay? What’s going on?”
“I’m okay,” Edie said, looking up at Corrie and slowly closing the door behind her. “Leila’s back.”
Corrie took in a quick breath. She wished she’d had a little warning for this—though admittedly, they’d been told a few times that Leila would probably return, and their friend Roe’s vision had told them she would return around this time. But Corrie hadn’t been expecting it, and it startled her.
She didn’t like Edie’s girlfriend. She had a lot of reasons for that, but the main one was that Leila had removed some of Edie’s memories, memories that had only returned when Leila had vanished without warning or trace.
And now she was back. Edie didn’t look excited, so it couldn’t be as straightforward as she might have hoped. Corrie would have to keep an eye on Edie and make sure she wasn’t having her memories stolen again. If she suspected that was happening—or anything like it—she would tell Edie straight out.
“You look worried,” she finally said.
Edie nodded and sat down on her bed. “She says that the way the magic has changed, she won’t be able to just add herself to campus like she has before. If she decides to stay, she’ll have to go through the normal process to enroll.”
“Oh.” Corrie bit her lip. Edie had said ‘if,’ so Leila wasn’t certain that she wanted to stay on campus. No wonder she looked worried.
Corrie sat down next to Edie on the bed but didn’t touch her. “Well, at least she’s back. You’ll get to see her, right?”
“Right. I am happy to see her again.” Edie lifted her head and smiled faintly. “Not as happy as I would have thought, though.”
Corrie nodded. “I guess you can’t be as happy now as you would have been before she left, because you know about the memories she hid from you.”
“I guess so. I still thought I’d be happier.” Edie shrugged.
“Is she staying anywhere?”
“She’s going back to her tree to think. She can go through the barrier from inside—she got in by using the gate.”
“So it doesn’t treat her as a student. I guess that makes sense—if she still wanted to be treated as a student when she left, people wouldn’t have forgotten about her, and her friends who didn’t know about faeries would have freaked out that she disappeared.”
Edie nodded. “Yeah, it sucks, but it makes sense. At least there’s a way to get in and out.”
Corrie didn’t know what else to say. She would have preferred if Leila had never returned, but she would be supportive of her friend. “Well, if she needs a couch to sleep on or something, um, I’ll ask Charlie if she can use the common room.”
Edie gave her a real smile this time. “Thanks, but I don’t think she needs it. She doesn’t like being indoors all that much.”
“I guess not. That makes sense.” Corrie stood up. “I think I’ll get back to my cubes. You sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. At least right now.”
Corrie shrugged. “I guess that’s all I can ask for.”