Tuesday, April 18
Edie was in a good mood as she left her French class. They were having a two-part midterm this week, but she knew she’d done really well with the written part today—it had been about half multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions, and half a short essay. She wasn’t sure her grammar was perfectly fluent in the essay, but she was sure she’d gotten every single one of the questions right. She would do pretty well on the midterm even if the speaking part didn’t go as well.
“That wasn’t too bad,” Zip was saying as they walked out together. From the way she was talking over the test, quickly and repetitively, Edie surmised that Zip had been very nervous about it. “I think I remembered most of the questions. I’m not sure how well I did on the essay, though. You probably aced that part.”
Edie smiled. “I’m not sure. I mean, I did okay, I think. But it’s harder to remember what goes where when I’m actually trying to create a whole sentence that makes sense.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean. I’m pretty nervous about the conversation portion.”
Edie took a deep breath as they walked out into the open air. At least the beautiful weather, which was still in effect, helped calm her a little bit. “Me, too. That’s always the hardest part, trying to come up with something to say while also saying it out loud. I’m sure you’ll do better than me—you’re more fluent when talking.”
“Are you accusing me of talking a lot?” Zip said with a grin.
Edie was about to say something jokey back when the crowd leaving the building parted a little bit and she saw a head of bright red hair. Was that—? She stopped in her tracks and waited for another gap in the crowd. Yes, Leila was standing out on the grass, looking around. Her stomach did a flip.
“I’ve got to go,” she told Zip. “See you later.”
“Sure,” said Zip, waving as she walked off toward her dorm.
Edie was relieved that she didn’t have to explain what she was doing to Zip. Who would she say Leila was? If she said she was her girlfriend, Zip would probably want to know when they had started dating, because no one but Edie and her closest friends remembered that Edie had a girlfriend.
Still, she was happy to see Leila, and happier yet when Leila smiled as she approached and took her hand when she got close. It seemed she actually had been looking for Edie. That was promising.
“Hi, Leila,” she said. “What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to talk with you, Edith,” Leila said, squeezing her hand gently. “Can we go somewhere that is less crowded?”
Edie swallowed. She wished Leila wouldn’t call her Edith—it reminded her too much of her family. But she’d met Leila before she was completely comfortable with the nickname Edie, and she remembered agreeing to be called Edith, because Leila had been so complimentary about it.
She wasn’t going to argue now, anyway. Right now she was trying to persuade Leila to return as a student, so she had to avoid any argument. None of that, however, had anything to do with the fact that she didn’t really have time to talk right now.
“I only have a few minutes,” she told Leila. “I have to meet Derwen to study. Can we talk later? This evening? I’ll come out and meet you.”
Irritation flickered across Leila’s face. “Derwen? What are you studying with her?”
“She’s in my Intro to Magic class. She seems like she’s having a hard time with it, because it’s not the kind of magic she’s used to using, so I’m trying to help her out.”
Leila gave Edie a fond smile, but the skin around her eyes seemed tight. “So good of you to help a friend. Can you not step away from it for one afternoon?”
Edie shook her head reluctantly. “I really can’t—not today. We have our midterm tomorrow, and I need the time to study, too. Plus, another girl, Darcy, is joining us today. It wouldn’t be fair to let them down.”
Leila frowned, looking away, and let go of Edie’s hand. But after a moment of silence, she said, “All right. Will seven o’clock do?”
“Seven sounds great,” Edie said, feeling her shoulders relax. “Where do you want to meet?”
“Where will you be?”
“After the library, we usually get dinner. At the dining hall.” She gestured toward it.
“Then may I meet you at the dining hall?”
“Of course. Do you want to have dinner with us? I can pay for a guest on my card.” She wasn’t sure if Leila would be interested—or if her friends would be happy to have her around—but she was hardly going to let Leila go hungry.
Not that she knew whether Leila needed to eat.
Leila shook her head. “I will meet you outside.”
“Okay,” Edie said. “Sounds good. I’ll see you later, then.” They let go of each other’s hands, and Edie walked away, looking over her shoulder until she couldn’t see Leila anymore.