As they all headed back out to campus, Dawn’s cell phone rang. She hastily dug it out of her pocket, glancing guiltily at the ID screen before answering. Sure enough, it was her mom. She took a deep breath before answering. “Hi, Mom. Are you guys on your way?”
“We’re here,” her mom said. “We’re just coming in through the front gate. Will you meet us outside your dorm?”
“Um, I will meet you there,” she said, since if they were already at the front gate there was no way to avoid meeting them on her way back to Gilkey. “But I’m not quite ready to go yet. Sorry about that. I have to finish packing.”
“Dawn, you’ve had all day.”
“Actually, I was just at an assembly for, like, an hour.” She grimaced at Rico, who shrugged. Neither of them had any idea how long the assembly had taken. “It was really important, actually. I’ll tell you about it on the way home.”
Her mom sighed. “Well, I hope you’ll hurry and finish packing. We have reservations at six.”
“For dinner. There’s a nice restaurant I’ve been wanting to try that’s only a short bit out of our way home.”
“Oh.” Dawn tried to hide her disappointment, but of course her mom heard it.
“You don’t want to go out for a nice dinner?”
“Well, I was kind of looking forward to having Dad make some food.”
“Dawn, it’s a long drive home. Dad’s going to be tired, and we’ll all be hungry.”
“It’s okay,” she said quickly. “Maybe this weekend. It’s not like I’m not going to have any more opportunities for Dad food this summer. And now I can see you.” She waved at her parents, who were walking up the path toward Gilkey. They stopped and turned, then waved back at her.
Dawn hung up the phone and jogged to catch up with them, then gestured for Rico and the others to go ahead without her. “Do you want to come up with me, or wait downstairs while I finish packing?” she asked her parents.
“We can wait,” her dad said. “Unless you need help.”
She shook her head. “I hope not. It’s just a matter of cramming the rest of the stuff in. Here.” Rico and their friends had gone inside, so she swiped her ID card to unlock the door and held it open for her parents. “You guys can wait in the common room. There are couches.”
“Don’t be too long,” her mom said.
“I won’t,” Dawn promised. As soon as they had gone into the common room, she ran for the stairs and began taking them two at a time.
She caught up to the others at the fourth floor. Rico smiled and held his hand out to her. She caught it and squeezed it. “I have to hurry. Do you guys all have my phone number and email address? Who knows what’s going to happen this summer. We have to keep in touch.”
“Absolutely,” Corrie said, nodding. She opened her phone and pressed a few buttons. “Yeah, I have them. Wow, it’s crazy to think after what a year this has been that we might not actually be together next year.”
“We’ll find a way,” Edie said. “We’re all friends, right? Even if the school is closed, and we live far apart from each other, we’ll keep in touch and see each other. Maybe we’ll all transfer to the same school.”
“That’s right,” Annie said. “I refuse to lose touch with any of you.” She smiled and looked from Roe to Edie.
“But hopefully the school will be open next year,” Roe said. “It would be awful to lose it. I’m okay now that I’ve had a year of lessons with Professor Strega, but I don’t know what I would do, or what people like me will do, if there’s no magic school to go to.”
Corrie nodded. “That’s why I offered our help. Clearly they need it sometimes, and if there’s anything we can do, we’ll do it.”
“I’ll let you guys know if I have any useful visions,” Roe said with a grin.
“Okay, I’d really better hurry,” Dawn said with a sigh. “My parents apparently made dinner reservations.”
Rico squeezed her hand. “I’ll help you pack.”
“I have to get packed up, too,” Edie said. They all climbed the stairs together. Dawn watched each step as she went up. This might be the last time she climbed these stairs.
And as long as she got to climb the stairs in Sayer next year to the triple she would be sharing with Corrie and Edie, she was just fine with that.