Corrie and Edie had collected Dawn, Roe, and Annie for dinner, and had a good time eating and talking. Edie told them all about her first practical magic class, including something strange that had happened to her, where she would touch the flame of her candle and it would go out. Corrie couldn’t remember anything like that happening in their class, and neither could anyone else—but they all readily admitted that they could easily have missed something that happened to other people, since they were so focused on their own magic.
As they headed back to Gilkey, enjoying the long spring afternoon, Edie suddenly darted off the path. “I have to check something,” she said, going around the side of the building.
“Should we wait for her?” Roe asked, stopping and looking around.
“She’ll catch up,” Corrie said. She continued on to the door, swiping her ID to unlock it. She was sure Edie was checking the rock where she and Leila swapped notes; she’d gone down there earlier this afternoon to leave her own note. But Corrie didn’t want to explain it, because Edie hadn’t done so, and she thought maybe she didn’t want Annie and Roe to know.
Sure enough, Edie caught up with them on the stairs, but didn’t say anything. Corrie had to wait to find out what had been under the rock until after Annie and Roe had returned to their own rooms and it was just the three of them in the hallway.
“I got a note back from Leila,” Edie said quietly. “I didn’t read the whole thing, but it does say something about Elrath.”
Corrie opened the door to their room and ushered Edie and Dawn inside. “Let’s find out what it says.”
Dawn sat down on Edie’s bed while Edie and Corrie sat in their own desk chairs, Edie turning hers to face the room, Corrie simply sitting backward in hers. She watched as Edie unfolded the note (which had a bit of dirt on the back) and looked over it, her eyes moving rapidly over the letters.
Then Edie cleared her throat. “She says she spoke to Elrath. He seemed frustrated and unhappy. He wouldn’t tell her how he plans to change the campus magic or exactly what he intends to do with it, but he’s been working at it for a week and hasn’t had any success so far. She doesn’t think he has any actual plan or way to do it, so we shouldn’t worry about him.”
Dawn nodded. “That’s good, then.”
“But if he keeps trying, what if he messes something else up?” Corrie said.
Edie folded the note back up. “Well, the magic teachers have their eyes on him, right? There’s nothing else we can do about him.” She still looked miserable, with lines around her mouth.
“I guess you’re right,” Corrie said. “So it’s the best outcome we could hope for, right?”
Edie looked at the floor. “I think the best outcome would be to put the magic back the way it was, so Leila would stay. But maybe that’s an impossible request.”
“Do you think she’s going to leave?” Corrie asked. She tried to keep her voice gentle and sympathetic, even though what she really wanted was for Leila to leave Edie alone.
“Yeah. Probably.” Edie pulled the note into her lap. Corrie wondered if there was something in it that Edie didn’t want to read to them. Well, if it was private, she wouldn’t ask.
“Hey, she’ll be all right,” Dawn said. “Leila knows how to take care of herself, and anyone else she wants to. I think we’ve seen that from the way she went after Mardalan.”
Edie lifted her head a little with a half-smile. “Of course, she hated Mardalan.”
“That’s true,” Corrie said, “but if anything tries to attack her, she’ll probably go after them in the same way.”
“Yeah, probably.” Edie shook her head, lifting it the rest of the way to look at the ceiling. “I think she is going to leave. It’s like… I already miss her.”
“You’ve been missing her for a long time,” Dawn said. “She was gone for months.”
“I know, but this is different.” Edie shrugged. “I guess it might just be an extension of the same thing. But when she was gone over the winter, it was like I was searching for her the whole time. Now it’s more like I know where she is, but it’s out of my reach, and I have to live with that. I think I can live with that.”
Corrie got up out of her chair and hugged Edie. She was really happy to hear that Edie felt like she could live without Leila, but more importantly, Edie needed comfort right now, and she could give it.
“You’ll be all right,” she told Edie. “I promise.”