Edie gasped. She should have known that the story would have a tragic ending, since they were talking about a ghost, but the idea that this striving scholarship student had died by suicide still really struck her. She would have guessed that the student had been killed by a faerie or some magic gone wrong. But then, there wouldn’t be a well-known story on campus about a student having been killed by a faerie, would there?
Of course, she hadn’t heard this story before. It could have easily been suppressed by the magic that kept people from noticing the strange discrepancies that having a campus filled with faeries produced. And she thought if that were the case, the only reason it could have resurfaced was if there was really a ghost.
“So she haunts the building?” Corrie asked. “What is she supposed to do?”
“People say they see her, standing in the hall or on the stairs,” Sam said. “Or there are strange noises.”
“Like knocking?” Annie asked. “Or crashes, like something is getting knocked over?”
Edie looked at Annie, frowning. Was she talking about the noises she’d heard that were waking her up at night?
Sam shook his head. “I don’t really know. I haven’t heard it or seen anything myself. But it’s a good story, right?”
“It is a good story,” Edie agreed. “Do you know anyone who has heard or seen the ghost?”
Sam shrugged, spreading his hands wide. “I don’t know. The person I heard it from didn’t come back this year, actually. I guess faeries are scarier than ghosts.”
Troy laughed. “I really can’t blame them.”
Sam and Troy were paying attention to each other again. “Come on, guys,” Dawn said, smiling, “let’s go get dinner. I’m starving.”
They followed Dawn out the door, leaving Sam and Troy behind.
“Do you think it’s the ghost that’s been bothering you?” Edie asked Annie as soon as they were outside.
“I can’t really be sure.” Annie glanced back at the building. “I mean, they told us there weren’t any ghosts on campus. And if this story’s been going around for a hundred years, the professors should definitely know about it. But it might be worth asking around to see what other people have experienced.”
“I did have a thought,” Edie said. “I know the story Sam told didn’t have anything to do with faeries, but if they were actually involved, then the campus magic might have been suppressing it. So maybe the story only surfaced recently.”
“But it’s from a hundred years ago,” Corrie said.
“Sure, but if the ghost is real…” Dawn mused.
“Right,” Edie said. “If there’s really something going on, some kind of haunting—or something else strange that people can’t explain, but doesn’t seem to be obviously a faerie—then the people who experienced it after the campus magic broke would have come up with a story to explain it.”
“I don’t know,” Corrie said. They arrived at the dining hall, and the conversation paused while they swiped their cards and went to separate food lines. When they gathered again at a table, Annie prompted Corrie to finish her thought.
“Right, what was I saying?” Corrie twirled her fork idly in her spaghetti as she thought. “Um, the story, right. It seems like a pretty elaborate story for people to have come up with just because they think there’s a haunting.”
“I’ve heard way more elaborate ghost stories,” Dawn said.
“Okay, it’s not that complicated, but it’s really specific,” Corrie said. “A scholarship student? Did Chatoyant College even have scholarships a hundred years ago? And even if they did, how would you learn magic and then go make money doing it? Magic has been a secret.”
“So you think there’s a real person behind the story?” Edie asked.
“I don’t know,” Corrie said. “I guess we should find out more.”
“If that’s the real story of some person, maybe there’s a record of it in the library, like in one of the old yearbooks,” Dawn said. “If someone in a class died, they would probably put a memorial in the yearbook.”
Edie nodded. “I remember seeing one when we were looking at those yearbooks last year.”
“So, back to the same yearbook fun?” Corrie said, grinning.
“I don’t know if I could look through all those yearbooks again,” Edie said, shaking her head.
“Why were you looking through yearbooks?” Annie asked.
“We were originally looking for the girls in the statues,” Corrie said. “You know, Vertiline Gravette and all of the others. I can’t remember how we knew they were students.”
“Because of Marlin,” Edie said. She still shivered a little when she remembered it. It had been almost a year ago now, but they’d learned that Marlin, a faerie posing as a student, had turned previous students into statues—when he’d tried to do the same thing to Edie. She’d only been saved by the timely interference of Professor Lal, who had turned Marlin’s own magic back on himself.
“No, we didn’t know he had anything to do with it until later,” Dawn said. “We were just trying to research the statues. I think we looked in yearbooks because we figured there would be something about the subjects if they were famous at Chatoyant College. We didn’t know they were students at first.”
“Right,” Corrie said. “But then we saw Professor Lal and Derwen and a few other people we knew in yearbooks, at various times going back through the years. That’s how I originally figured out that Professor Drehmer was a faerie.”
“Oh, I think you did tell me about that,” Annie said. “You don’t remember any death announcements?”
“It wasn’t what we were looking for,” Edie said.
“I would have noticed if they’d said Vertiline Gravette or Professor Doreen Lal had died,” Corrie said. “But there wasn’t anything like that.”
“How do you even remember that name?” Dawn asked her.
“What, Vertiline Gravette?” Corrie laughed. “I just like how it sounds. It’s very mellifluous, don’t you think?”
“Where did you find the yearbooks?” Annie asked.
“Oh, they have a big collection in the library,” Dawn said. “I’ll show you if you come by on Monday or Wednesday afternoon, during my shift.”
Annie nodded thoughtfully, smiling. “I just might do that.”