For the first time since they had sat down, Leila was not calm. Her eyes widened, and she jerked her head back, as though to get a better look at Edie and everything around her. Her hand jerked a little in Edie’s, too, but neither of them let go.
“Elrath is going to do what to the magic?”
Edie tightened her grip on Leila’s hand a little. “He says he’s going to change it back so that—so that things are better for him. He doesn’t like that people think he’s weird—he got used to the magic smoothing everything over so no one would think about him being a faerie.”
Leila shook her head slowly. “He told this to you?”
Edie nodded, wanting to make sure Leila understood what was going on. “Me, Corrie, and Dawn. He thought it was our fault that people have started to notice him.”
Leila’s lips thinned and she straightened again, still staring at Edie with wide eyes. “Tell me exactly what he said.”
Edie tried to remember the conversation exactly. “I might not get it perfect. This was a few days ago.”
“Hmm.” Leila gave a single nod. “Please, Edith, tell me as best you can remember.”
“Okay.” Edie took a deep breath. “He found us on the path and accused us of telling people about him. I figured out that people were talking to him and asking about the strange things he does because the magic has changed.” She told Leila how the three of them had explained what they’d observed, and what Leila already knew, to Elrath: that the campus magic made people forget the things faeries had done, like kidnapping Annie, or arriving on campus to play the part of students. It had been doing the same thing all along for Elrath without him apparently understanding it.
She remembered that Elrath had said something about Alaineth, but not exactly what. “I think maybe Elrath thought that Alaineth was the one doing that, on purpose.”
Leila nodded. Her eyes had relaxed somewhat. “Yes, that makes sense, I think. Alaineth liked to give the impression that he controlled everything that happened in the Chatoyant College area.”
“So after we convinced him what was going on, he asked us what he could do.” Edie shook her head, remembering it. She had no idea why he thought they would have some answers for him. “Dawn and Corrie told him that the best thing to do would be to act as normal as possible, but that it might be too late, because people have already noticed how strange he is. I wanted him to go away, so I told him I had an idea for what he could do, but that he would have to bargain for it.”
“I suppose he didn’t like that. Clever.”
“Thank you.” Edie smiled. “You’re right. He said he had bargained with us enough and that he would fix the magic on his own. Corrie asked—I mean, she just said what he’d told us, that it couldn’t be fixed unless there was another agreement, which I guess there can’t be, since there isn’t a king anymore.”
“What did he say to that?”
“Nothing, he just left. So I guess it worked.”
Leila snorted and most of the tension left her body, her grip on Edie’s hand relaxing. “He did not give any specifics, nothing has changed though it has been several days, and he did not tell you how it might be possible for him to fix it, even to convince you that he is right and you are wrong. No, I do not believe it can be done.”
Edie took a deep breath. Again, she wondered whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, but then she realized that if the magic couldn’t be fixed, Leila would leave. Was there any other way to keep her here?
She couldn’t think of any. She wasn’t sure she was trying hard enough.
“Why would he say that if it couldn’t be done? We did wonder whether he was lying then or before.”
Leila shrugged. “Perhaps he was trying to brag. Perhaps he was not thinking, and did not realize what he seeks is impossible until Corrie reminded him.”
“Are you sure Corrie is right?”
“Yes.” Leila squeezed Edie’s hand lightly. “The magic cannot be brought back to the state it was under the treaty unless another king or queen rules over all of us. That would require agreement, and I do not think it can be done.”
Edie was reassured, but not entirely. “But what if he’s trying anyway? He has his own magic, right? Maybe he can do something to the campus magic.”
Leila frowned. “It is possible that he could make some change, even if it is not permanent. I could, perhaps…” She trailed off, staring into space, then finished her sentence with, “Speak to him.”
“Would he talk to you?”
“It is worth a try. Does he—he must live on campus?”
“Yes, he’s in Mary Thomas, on the second floor.”
Leila’s frown deepened and the skin between her eyebrows wrinkled, then she shook her head. “I will find some way to speak to him. Look for my next note under the stone.” She finally let go of Edie’s hand and got to her feet.
Edie sighed and stood up, grabbing her backpack on the way. “I will.”