“Hey, Corrie,” Belinda said, waving and laughing. “You brought a whole escort just for me?”
Corrie laughed and waved back. “These are my closest friends. You know Edie.” She gestured at each of her friends as she said their names. “These are Dawn, Roe, Annie, and Rico.”
“Hi,” Belinda said, waving again at them all. “Do they all know about, uh… how we know each other?”
Corrie nodded. “Yeah, they know about my dad.”
“I’ve done my part,” Lorelei said with a smile. “Belinda, feel free to bring them up to your room, or whatever you want to do. I just wasn’t going to bring this group crowding up the stairs. See you all later.” They said goodbye to her, and she headed back to her own room.
“It’s kind of crowded here and it won’t be any better in my room,” Belinda said. “Should we go outside?”
“Sure,” Corrie said. Rico moved quickly to open the door and hold it open for them, and they all went back out into the warm afternoon.
“Now I’m wondering,” Corrie said to Belinda once they were a few feet away from the dorm, walking north along the path. “What are the werewolves doing? I mean, now that everyone knows about the faeries. You could be open, at least on campus.”
Belinda raised her thick eyebrows. “You didn’t talk to your dad about this?”
“It didn’t occur to me,” she admitted. “And it’s not like I talk to him all the time. It’s nice to get along with him and chat now, but I’ve always been really close to my mom, and I’ve only known him for less than a year.”
“Well, we decided to stay secret, at least for the time being.” Belinda wrinkled her nose.
Corrie grinned. “I’m guessing that means Sasha decided, and the rest of you have to live with it.”
Belinda laughed. “There was a little more discussion than that, but most of the adults were on the side of secrecy. I didn’t want to, but I guess everybody has to stay secret off campus anyway, so it’s easier if we keep that consistent.”
“Maybe when the story gets around that faeries are real,” Edie said. “If it gets around.”
Corrie nodded. They’d been worried, after the faeries had revealed themselves at the end of the previous semester, that the whole world would find out about faeries and there would be some backlash. But it seemed that the world didn’t want to know about faeries. She’d tried to tell a few people, and while her mother and grandmother had believed her, no one else had. She would have thought the news would have had stories about the deaths and the numbers of students leaving or transferring because of the faeries, but she hadn’t seen anything of the kind.
Of course, Chatoyant College seemed to have a way of keeping itself out of the public eye. Knowing what she knew now about the magic classes, she would have thought that a school that openly taught magic would have had millions of people trying to take the classes. But most people seemed to not take it very seriously. Even Edie, when they’d all started at Chatoyant College, hadn’t believed that they could really learn magic there. Only people who were previously inclined to believe in magic did so before they took classes—like her, with her pagan family, and Dawn, whose aunt had attended Chatoyant College and learned magic thirty years before.
“While we’re talking about faeries,” Belinda said, “do you have any idea what happened with the faeries I was teaching music to?”
Corrie shook her head, looking around at the others. “We haven’t had that much contact with those faeries, thankfully. I don’t remember seeing the cage, or Feloc or Siffyd, when Professor Strega marched us across the border…”
“I didn’t see it,” Dawn said. “That doesn’t mean it wasn’t there, but it could have been hidden or something.”
Belinda frowned. “I hope it wasn’t all for nothing.”
“Maybe they got so good at music that they were let out of the cage,” Edie said with a smile.
“What happened with that power Mardalan gave you over Feloc?” Corrie asked, remembering how Mardalan had given Belinda some kind of powder that gave her the ability to command Feloc.
Belinda winced, curling her right hand against her chest. “Nothing. I still have it, as far as I know. I try not to say anything that might be construed as a command while pointing this hand. I hope I’ll have a chance on Saturday to ask someone about taking it off. Surely one of the magic professors here knows what to do about it, right?”
“Why on Saturday?” Roe asked. “Classes start tomorrow, so if you’re taking Intro to Magic, you’ll have your first class.”
Belinda turned to look at her. “You didn’t hear about the special class? Maybe it’s just for freshmen. It didn’t say that, though…”
“What are you talking about?” Corrie asked, looking at her friends. Even Edie shrugged, and Corrie was sure that Edie would be the one to know everything about every class.
“It was in our email,” Belinda said. “There was an email telling us all about how to check in at the administrative buildings, get our ID cards and room keys, and other stuff about our first day on campus. And it said that this Saturday, there’s a special class that’s mandatory for everyone to take. They’ll teach us how to protect ourselves from faeries.”
“Wow,” Corrie said, feeling her eyes widen. That was further than she thought the professors would go.
“So that’s their plan,” Dawn said slowly. “I think I like it. It doesn’t really seem like enough…”
“It might be enough,” Annie said. “Depending on what they teach. We know a few ways to protect ourselves from faeries, but do we really know everything?”
Corrie grimaced. “That’s a good point.”
“Are they really going to teach everything?” Edie asked. “I wouldn’t think the faeries on campus would be too happy about that.”
“Yeah, but they seem to be changing their entire attitude,” Dawn said. “It started with revealing themselves. We knew that wouldn’t be enough for people to protect themselves, but maybe this will be.”
Corrie shook her head. “The things we know wouldn’t have been enough to protect people from Gerlina.”
“Link protected Troy from Gerlina,” Roe said. “He used—um, a special kind of magic. I don’t know if we can learn that, but if we can, it would be useful. I’m sure there’s something like it we can learn.”
“Elrath must have known every possible way to protect himself from faeries,” Edie said.
“But he didn’t think he had to,” Corrie said.
“Uh, you guys are scaring me a little,” Belinda said.
Corrie gave her an apologetic smile. “Sorry. Elrath was an arrogant jerk, though, so hopefully not being an arrogant jerk, plus whatever they’re about to teach you guys, will be enough. Anyway, it hardly ever happens that faeries try to kill students, and I’m sure that’s even less likely now.”
“Hardly ever,” Belinda said, rolling her eyes.
“The other werewolves have your back,” Corrie said. She knew her reassurances weren’t that helpful, but considering everything that had happened to them last year, she couldn’t be that reassuring. “You definitely don’t have to worry.”
“Yeah.” Belinda looked over her shoulder, back toward Gilkey.
“Maybe we should go check our email,” Dawn said. “I know I haven’t looked at my school email yet. I need to be sure to do that today because I’m expecting an email from the new student library supervisor about schedules.”
“Oh, is Emi gone?” Corrie asked.
“Yeah, she graduated.”
“It was nice to meet you,” Annie said to Belinda. “I hope you’re settling in here okay.”
“Yeah, you too,” Belinda said. She smiled, but Corrie wasn’t sure it looked entirely genuine. To be fair, Corrie had descended on someone she didn’t know all that well with a group of five friends.
They all turned and walked back down the path, then parted ways when the path did. Corrie waved to Belinda as they turned away.
Her thoughts returned to what she’d said to Belinda about not being an arrogant jerk. That was clearly the main key to survival from faeries; three of the four people who’d been killed last semester had been arrogant jerks. If Payton and Elena, the leaders of the pagan group on campus, had listened to Meg, one of their members, instead of continuing with their abysmally foolish attempts to magically bind the killer, they almost certainly wouldn’t have been killed. Elrath… she wasn’t sure what he had been doing, but they knew he was an arrogant jerk.
However, then there was Sean. She hadn’t known him very well, but he had seemed like a nice guy. He’d been killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time—the only reason he was dead was that the killer had been targeting Troy, and the two of them had spent time together. Was there any magical way to make sure you weren’t in the way of someone else’s target? She doubted it.
Anyway, it wasn’t as though Troy had done anything wrong, either. He certainly was neither a jerk nor arrogant. He was being targeted because of something one of his ancestors had done. There was no defense against that.
She looked around at her little group with a grimace. Edie had also been targeted because of something one of her ancestors had done—namely, be a faerie. Annie had been targeted because she was good at music. Dawn had been something of a target mostly because of what her aunt had done, which was to collect a magic faerie ointment and use it on her niece so that she had the power of Sight, allowing her to see through faeries’ glamours and view their true forms.
Corrie had only been targeted because she messed with faeries, as far as she knew. Other people could protect themselves by not messing with faeries. Maybe it had been arrogant of her to try to stop faeries from hurting people, but it had been worth it to help Annie. She could live with that.