Edie, Corrie, and Dawn managed to have dinner by themselves—except for Rico, who was perfectly understanding when they reached a fork in the path and Dawn told him she had to go meet with the magic professors with her friends and he wasn’t invited. Edie actually felt a little jealous as he gave Dawn a kiss on the cheek and walked cheerfully back to Gilkey on his own. They were so sweet together, and Leila had never been that understanding, even when she had claimed to be.
But Leila was gone now. That was probably for the best. Edie missed her, but only because she’d been the first person to have a real romantic interest in her, at least who was actually a woman. She didn’t want that relationship back.
The three of them walked back over the paths to the magic building. It was still light out—the sun wouldn’t set for more than an hour—so people were still around, walking between the different dorm buildings, the library, the dining hall, and occasionally the academic buildings. Edie saw a whole group of people who appeared to be approaching the arts building.
The magic building, on the other hand, was empty—or so it seemed from outside. The three of them walked through the glass-walled lobby quickly and followed the stairs to the second floor.
Edie could see the four magic professors through the door of the lounge as they approached it. Professor Strega was sitting stiffly in one of the old, worn chairs; Professor Lal leaned over the back of a couch, facing Professor Strega, while Ginny and Professor Rook were standing by the kitchen counter area, making coffee.
As Corrie pushed the door open, Edie reached for the clover in her pocket and gave it a brief touch, just to make sure everyone was who they said they were. Sure enough, the reassuringly human Ginny appeared to be standing next to a huge black bird, while lizardlike Professor Strega had her tail curled around her in the chair and Professor Lal’s sharp teeth gleamed in the light. They looked frightening, but at least she knew who they were.
“Hi,” Corrie said. “We’re here.”
“We’re glad you could come,” Ginny said, turning and giving them a warm smile. “Do any of you drink coffee? We’ve made plenty.”
“No, thanks,” Corrie said, turning to look at Edie and Dawn over her shoulder. They both shook their heads.
Professor Lal straightened up, removing her elbows from the back of the couch. “Why don’t you choose a seat?”
Without consulting one another, they all went straight for the couch opposite the one where Professor Lal was standing, putting Professor Strega on their left and the kitchen behind them. Professor Lal came around her couch and sat, accepting a cup of coffee from Professor Rook, who came to sit next to her. Ginny took the remaining chair. Edie noticed that no one brought Professor Strega a cup of coffee; perhaps she didn’t drink it.
Edie, Corrie, and Dawn were a bit squeezed together on the couch, but Edie preferred it that way, and she was pretty sure her friends did as well. They waited quietly to see what the professors would have to say.
Professor Lal took a sip of her coffee, then was the first to speak. “As I’m sure you’ve guessed,” she said dryly, “this is about the deaths on campus. I believe you knew both victims.”
Dawn nodded. “We all knew Elrath, unfortunately, and I know Sean from Elementalism. Knew. I don’t think either Edie or Corrie had met him.” Edie shook her head.
“But he was a friend of a friend,” Professor Lal said.
Edie frowned, wondering how they knew that. Corrie said, “Yes, we’d heard that he was friends with our friend Troy.”
Edie suddenly wondered if the professors knew about Troy and Link. They had to, didn’t they? Surely the administration knew when they had a mermaid prince on campus, and it would be quite unfair of them to not share that information with the magic professors, the only ones who might be able to help Troy if something went wrong. Other than Link himself, of course.
“Have you spoken to Troy?” Ginny asked.
“No,” Corrie said. “We haven’t seen him today. I’m sure he’s really upset.”
“Yes,” Professor Rook said, “perhaps more than you know.”
Edie felt Corrie tense beside her. “What’s going on?” Edie asked. “Does Troy have something to do with the deaths? I know he wouldn’t hurt anyone. He’s really sweet.”
“We feared so at first,” Professor Lal said. “We sensed Djanaea magic in the area last night, shortly before or around the same time as it appears Sean was killed. But we’ve already spoken to Troy and Link.”
Edie took a deep breath, relieved that the professors knew about the Djanaea—and apparently knew that the three of them knew, as well. “Were they able to tell you anything?”
“A little,” Ginny said. “But we’re confused. That’s why we’ve come to you.”