Roe insisted on carrying the bag of food as they all walked back to the building, and since splitting it up would have meant the food would cool off faster, Corrie didn’t argue. Anyway, arguing would have taken more time, and now that the sun was down, the evening was cooling quickly. Corrie wanted to get back inside.
She even sped up as they approached Gilkey so she would be the first to reach the door, where she swiped her ID and held the door open for the other three. That meant she missed the beginning of a conversation, but she heard Roe’s response to what seemed to be a question Annie had asked.
“He has some important business to do tonight,” she was saying. “I don’t know why it had to be now, but I wasn’t going to argue too much. I have him almost every Saturday night, so it would be selfish of me to complain.”
“Who, Link?” Corrie asked, stepping in as the door shut behind them. “What is he up to? You said important Djanaea stuff.”
“If it’s something we’re not supposed to know about, don’t tell us,” Edie said quickly.
“Oh. Right.” Corrie grinned guiltily. “If he wants you to keep it a secret, you do that. But if not, I want to know. What could possibly be so important as to take him away from you?”
Roe shook her head, laughing a little as they started to climb the stairs. “I’m not that clingy. And I don’t think it’s a secret. He didn’t say not to tell people.”
“If you want to ask him first, I can wait,” Corrie said. “If it’s Djanaea business, he probably doesn’t want you spilling it all over the place.”
Roe shrugged. “It’s not a big deal. I can tell you. We should just wait until we’re in private, because I don’t want other people overhearing us.”
Corrie raised her eyebrows. That just made her more curious. Why did she think it was okay to tell them, even to talk about Djanaea openly in the stairwell—there was no one else in it, and all the fire doors seemed to be closed as usual—but not let others overhear?
They climbed the stairs quickly and got back into Corrie and Edie’s room, then were distracted for a few minutes by getting each person her food and sharing out the utensils and sauces. Corrie told herself she wouldn’t bug Roe again about what Link was doing, but Roe brought it up herself.
“I didn’t want people overhearing us because it’s not just about him, it’s about the faeries,” she explained. “Remember how the Djanaea have a separate agreement with them?”
“Yes,” Corrie said, sitting straight upright in her chair and almost spilling her fried rice. She’d forgotten about that, but now the memories came back. “I remember that Troy couldn’t come help us when the court faeries had Edie, because there would be a lot more trouble if he was hurt by the faeries.”
“Or if he was hurt at all,” Roe said. “The Djanaea have an agreement with the faeries that they won’t let their princes come to harm.”
“Uh, that sounds really difficult to do and even worse to enforce,” Annie said.
“I think it might just be in the woods,” Roe said, picking at her dumpling. “Or something like that. Link did say he would be practically out of a job if they actually did it all the time, but part of his job is to keep Troy out of trouble on campus.”
“You said the agreement is about the princes,” Edie said. “So it doesn’t apply to Link?”
Roe grimaced. “Unfortunately not, which is why I tried to get him to take Troy with him today as insurance, but he wouldn’t listen. He thinks protecting Troy is his most important job, and he’s probably right.”
Corrie leaned forward. “Okay, now I’m really interested. Is he dealing with the faeries? Did their agreement somehow get screwed up when ours got broken?”
“No, that’s why it’s stupid.” Roe shrugged. “I told him what you guys told me, because he and Troy could tell something was different with the magic on campus. And now word gets back from his bosses, the king, I guess, that he has to go make sure the faeries understand that their agreement is still in place.”
“But it was two weeks ago,” Edie said, half through her bite of noodles. She swallowed. “If nothing’s happened, why wait until now?”
“That’s how long it took to get word back to and from their home. Link said he had to do it right away.”
“But nothing has happened, right?” Annie asked. “They just want him to make sure it doesn’t.”
“Right,” Roe said with a nod. “They think the faeries might decide they have freedom of everything now that the agreement with the humans is broken, but they don’t. The Djanaea agreement is totally separate.”
“Right,” Corrie said. “I think Leila said she was there when they made it, so it would have to be different. They didn’t just make it with one king, they made it with everybody, I hope.”
“I didn’t know that,” Edie said.
“Exactly,” Roe said. “So he has to go around to all the faeries he can find and remind them of the agreement. To be honest, that’s a big part of why I wanted to hang out with you guys tonight—to distract myself from worrying about him. I really hope the faeries aren’t giving him trouble.”