Monday, September 18
Dawn walked into Ritual Magic to find Annie already in her usual seat at the back, staring into a very large coffee cup from the coffee stand in the humanities building. She sighed and walked over to sit next to Annie. “Still having trouble sleeping?”
“Mhm,” Annie said. She made a face, wrinkling her nose, and took a large sip of the coffee. “I don’t like coffee. I ordered a fancy drink with sugar and steamed milk and stuff, but now it’s too sweet.”
“Maybe just a coffee with cream and sugar next time,” Dawn suggested.
“I’ll try that. But some caffeine is better than none.” Annie took a bigger gulp of the drink, then leaned over to speak quietly to Dawn. “Did you ever talk to your aunt!”
“Oh, yeah, I did! She had heard the story, too, but… that’s about all she could tell me.”
“Huh. That’s still interesting. So I guess the story wasn’t being suppressed by the campus magic that made everyone stop thinking about faeries.”
Dawn nodded. “I don’t know what difference it makes now, though. Except that Pru couldn’t tell us a name or anything else helpful. Have you been looking in yearbooks?”
“Yeah. No obituaries that I can tell. I did notice Derwen and Professor Lal, though.” Annie trailed off as Celeste arrived and sat next to Dawn, giving them both little waves.
“Hi, Celeste,” Dawn said, giving her a welcoming smile even though she kind of wished she hadn’t shown up so Dawn and Annie could keep talking. “How was your weekend?”
“It was okay,” Celeste said. “I went on a date, but I don’t think it’s going to work out. Which is unfortunate, because she’s in one of my other classes.”
“Yeah, that could get awkward if you still see each other all the time,” Annie murmured.
“How about you guys?”
“Not very fruitful,” Dawn answered.
“How so?” Celeste asked, frowning.
“My friends are trying to figure out a way to help me sleep better,” Annie said. “We’re not having much success. But I do better when I can get a nap in during the day.”
“Naps are the best,” Celeste said, grinning and giving a thumbs-up. “How’s your boyfriend, Dawn?”
“He’s great,” Dawn said, smiling. “We spent most of the day together, actually. Why do you ask?”
“Just interested in your life,” Celeste said, shrugging.
Dawn wasn’t going to go into detail about her day with Rico, either. Some things were private. She’d told him earlier about her attempted spell to look at the future of their relationship—after telling him the important part of the day with Annie’s injury, of course. He’d thought it was very sweet that she would use her spell-casting time in class to think about their relationship. Of course, she hadn’t had any success learning anything.
Mardalan finally entered the classroom—she was several minutes late, but as usual, she didn’t seem to know or care. Her gaze traveled over the class, lingering briefly on Annie before moving on. “Today we will be studying the magical properties of the crystals used in candle magic,” she announced. “Take this handout.” She thrust a stack of papers toward Dale, who was in the first row, and he cheerfully began to hand out the papers, as he usually did.
They had not actually tried practical candle magic since Annie’s injury last week, even on Wednesday when Annie had stayed out of class. Instead, Mardalan had them studying theory. Dawn could hardly complain, though she was curious if this had been Mardalan’s idea or an instruction from the other magic professors.
Mardalan stood at the front of the class with her arms crossed, not saying anything, so when the stack of handouts reached Dawn, she took one, passed the rest to Celeste, and tried to devote herself to studying it. The handout was several pages stapled together, each bearing what looked like a photocopy from a book. The pages were square, much smaller than the sheets of printer paper they were printed on (she could see bits of shadow around the edges from the copier), and had photos of the crystals along with a couple paragraphs of description. Dawn suspected the photos hadn’t originally been in black and white.
She read a couple of the pages, then glanced at Annie, who was sucking down more of her coffee with a determined grimace. If anything, it seemed like the ghost had gotten worse since she, Corrie, and Edie had tried to talk to her—which made sense, considering how mad she had seemed. But what else could they do? Maybe she would calm down again soon.
Dawn turned back to her handout. She wished she’d brought a notebook and pen to take some notes. She didn’t usually expect to take any notes during magic classes, now that she was past the introductory class and they’d moved beyond basic theory, but now she wanted to take some notes to help herself remember the descriptions, and maybe to come up with spells that she would like to do with the stones.
Finding a way to make the theory personal would probably help her remember the descriptions, too. What kind of spell would she like to do? She liked the small but practical things knot magic had allowed her to do. What could she do with candle magic that she wasn’t able to do with the other kinds of magic she had already learned or was in the process of learning?
Well, there was figuring out how to help Annie. But she didn’t think that was something that candle magic was likely to help her with.
But then… maybe candle magic could help her protect herself and her friends. That was certainly something they could always use more of. She bent her head again to the handout and began looking through the crystal descriptions with a renewed sense of purpose.