“It’s not your fault,” Edie said, confused as to why Leila would suddenly want to leave. It obviously bothered her that the professor thought Edie was crazy, but that didn’t have anything to do with Leila. At least, not with her specifically.
“Perhaps not,” Leila said. She was still frowning.
Edie had a sudden, scary premonition. “You’re not going to do anything to Sol, are you? It’s going to be fine. We’re halfway through the semester anyway.”
“It’s Sol, is it?” Leila looked up and smiled. “I never liked him anyway. No, Edith, I won’t bother him. But if I choose to do as you suggest and attend a theater class, I will avoid his.”
“That makes sense,” Edie said, relieved—Leila’s peaceful smile made it obvious that she was telling the truth.
“But I still think that it is time for me to go, and time for you to return to your dorm. It cannot help your reputation to be seen spending time around a strange woman, correct?”
Edie sighed. “I suppose. Is there anything else you want to see before you go? Any questions for me?”
Leila walked over and joined her by the books, looking down on them. “No, I think not. This is all mildly interesting, but before my time.”
Edie nodded. This stuff would probably be a lot more interesting to someone who knew—or cared—about what had happened at the beginning of the college. Had Elrath ever seen this, she wondered?
They walked back out of the basement room, though the quiet library floor, and out the glass doors. A cold breeze blew past them as they opened the door; it was so cold that Edie’s fingertips were immediately frozen, and she swallowed, uncertain whether she would be able to actually make it back to Gilkey. Maybe she should borrow a coat from someone at the library—she could get her own coat from her dorm room and bring back the borrowed coat within twenty minutes.
But as Leila frowned and lifted her face to the clear, starry sky, the wind died. The air was cold, but not so cold that Edie didn’t think she could keep herself warm by walking quickly.
“Come on,” Leila said, striding down the path toward Gilkey. Edie almost had to jog to keep up, but she was grateful.
“We should set up a plan for when we want to talk to each other,” Edie said. “Some way to pass messages. You could always… wait a minute.” She was half out of breath, but she had remembered something from last semester. “You used to call me on the phone. What happened to your phone?”
“Ah,” Leila said. “I apologize for that deception.”
Edie expected further explanation, but when it didn’t come, she had to ask, “What, were you using magic to call my phone or something?”
Leila looked at her and laughed. “No, certainly not. I simply borrowed a phone from Genesis when I wished to call you. I allowed you to believe it was my phone because that supported the illusion that I was an ordinary, human student.”
“Oh.” And Leila couldn’t do that anymore, because by leaving campus, she’d lost her friends—they no longer had a memory of her. Edie thought for a moment of turning the conversation to Leila returning as a student—maybe that way she could get her friends back—but that seemed unfair at the moment.
And she wasn’t even sure if Leila cared to get her friends back.
They reached the door of Gilkey, and Edie remembered why the phone had come up in the first place. “Why don’t we pick a spot where you can leave me notes? And I can leave you notes in the same spot. That way no one has to hang around looking for the other.”
Leila frowned, then looked down and sighed. “You’re right. Especially if I wish to avoid judgmental people seeing us together. Is the orchard acceptable?”
“Won’t the co-op students see the notes? They’re probably working in there a lot, now that it’s spring.”
Leila pursed her lips. “I will find a large stone and place it against the wall, under your window.” She gestured toward the building. “The notes can be hidden there—but I have nothing to write with.”
“I’ll get you a paper and pencil. I can run up right now and be back in a few minutes.”
“Throw it from your window,” Leila said. “I will wait there.”
“Are you sure?”
Leila patted Edie’s shoulder. “That will work quite well, and save you the need to run up and down the stairs. I do not wish to inconvenience you.”
“Well, all right. I’ll see you in a few minutes.” Edie wanted to kiss Leila goodbye, but she hesitated, then decided to just go in and head up to her room. If Leila wanted to kiss her, she would let her initiate it.
Corrie wasn’t home, so there were no questions as Edie found a small blank notebook and a sharpened pencil. She worked the pencil into the spiral binding of the notebook so that it wouldn’t become a pointed projectile, then opened, with some effort, her window and screen.
Leila was standing there below her, looking very small and pale. She waved, but Edie couldn’t tell whether she was smiling.
Edie waved back, then held the notebook as far out as she could and dropped it. Leila reached out and caught it with no apparent effort—she must have used some magic. She waved it at Edie, then turned and walked toward the woods.
Edie shut her screen and window again, blocking out the cold night air, and sat on her bed with a sigh.