The noise level in the auditorium rose quickly as the stage lights went down. Everyone else seemed to be hurrying out as quickly as possible while discussing what had just been announced, but Dawn wasn’t ready to get up from her seat just yet—and neither, it seemed, were her friends.
Corrie leaned forward and spoke to Dawn past Edie. “Do you think they’re really going to make it safe?”
“I don’t know,” Dawn said. “If they can find a way to put the magic back the way it was… why wouldn’t they just do that?”
Corrie nodded grimly. “Of course, if they could do that, why haven’t they done it already?”
“Just because they don’t know how to do it now doesn’t mean they won’t find a way to do it in the future.”
“I think they mean what they said,” Edie said. “If what they really want is to hide the existence of faeries like it used to be, they could have made this announcement much simpler and less scary to the students. They could have just said that the killer was caught, but the school is still going to close over the summer because it isn’t safe, and they’ll let us know if they meet safety standards well enough to reopen in the fall. They could have done it all by email, but they went to the effort to have the assembly and show everyone that faeries exist.”
“I hope you’re right,” Corrie said. “But it might be good to go talk to the magic professors and make sure they’re doing the right thing.”
Dawn raised her eyebrows. “What, you want to walk up to Professor Lal and accuse her of lying to the whole school?”
Corrie smirked. “It’s nothing we haven’t done before. You don’t like the idea?”
“No, I do.” Dawn grinned. “I just wish we weren’t in such a hurry. Edie and I have to finish packing.”
Corrie stood up. “Well, let’s go, then, and try to catch them before they leave.”
“Are they even still here?” Edie asked.
“We’ll see.” The auditorium had mostly cleared out, and Corrie dashed out of their row, running down the empty aisle to the stage. Edie, Dawn, and Rico followed her as quickly as they could, with Roe, Annie, and Duncan trailing behind.
Corrie went up the stairs to the stage and disappeared into the wing where the professors had gone. When Dawn and the others caught up to her, they found her facing Professor Lal with her arms crossed. Professor Lal was smiling.
“I’m glad you liked it,” Professor Lal said. “We wanted to show the students—at least, those of you who knew the truth already—that we were serious.”
Dawn glanced around. Dr. Everson and Professor Drehmer were gone, but the other faerie professors were all here. Unfortunately, Professor Lal was the only one of them whose expression Dawn could easily understand. Professor Strega’s expressions were difficult to follow, Professor Rook’s bird face never seemed to have any expression, and Professor Cantrell’s face was so covered in her downy feathers that Dawn couldn’t even tell whether there was a mouth under there.
“So you really meant it?” Corrie asked. “You’re not going to just try to fix the magic so that people forget faeries exist?”
“I suppose if anyone was going to ask that question, it would be the group of you,” Professor Lal said, looking at them all and nodding. “To be perfectly frank, if I believed it were possible to return the magic to the state it was in before Elrath broke it, we would be working on that solution now, and this whole circus would not have been necessary. But I do not think there is any way to do that.”
“Do you all agree with her?” Dawn asked, looking from Professor Rook to Professor Strega and finally Professor Cantrell. “Will you be working to make campus safe, not to make people forget about the faeries again?”
“I will not,” Professor Strega said. “I agreed to assist with this demonstration, but returning to my home is what I will do.”
“There’s certainly nothing stopping you now,” Professor Lal said.
“It may be for the best,” Professor Rook said, bobbing his head. “After all this, we will likely have far fewer students in our magic classes. We may well have no need for as many professors as we have had. But to answer the question, yes, I agree with Professor Lal. There is no way to return the campus magic to the state it once had.”
“I do not think that would be advisable even if it were possible,” Professor Cantrell said. The feathers on her face fluttered as she spoke. “I believe I have some ideas on how to keep campus safe, and I very much look forward to being open with the students about our true nature.”
“Professor Drehmer has not agreed to assist us yet, but I think he will,” Professor Lal said. “And Ginny has already promised to join us to make whatever contribution a human can—I am certain her knowledge of healing magic will be useful somehow.”
Dawn liked Professor Cantrell. She would have to find out what classes she taught and take one in the future.
“Do you really think there’s a chance the school won’t open in the fall?” Edie asked.
Professor Lal looked her in the eyes. “I do not like to think so little of our abilities, but yes, I cannot deny that there is such a chance. I assure you, we will all be working to save the school and our jobs.”