Saturday, October 14
Annie had laid her head on the table between her arms. “I think I failed all my midterms. This sucks. I can’t concentrate without any sleep.”
Corrie reached out and patted her arm, hastily chewing her salad so she could speak. “I’m sure you didn’t fail every single midterm.”
“You’re really smart, Annie,” Edie said. “You did a better job than you think.”
“If nothing else,” Dawn said, “at least Ritual Magic doesn’t have a midterm. So you only have four midterms to have failed.”
That made Corrie and Edie laugh, and Corrie thought a weak chuckle emerged from Annie. After a moment, she straightened up. “I’m going to get some of that chocolate cake.”
“Good idea,” Edie said. “If nothing else, you can take your mind off your stress.”
Edie looked down as Annie walked off. Corrie looked between them, then at Dawn. Dawn gave her a tiny shrug. Corrie had noticed awkwardness growing between her two friends, and she didn’t like it. Had Annie confessed her crush on Edie and Edie turned her down? That would be terrible. They would make such a great couple—she wanted to see them both happy, as happy as she was with Charlie. No, happier than that—as happy as Dawn was with Rico. And she thought they could make each other happy.
If that had happened, though, at least they didn’t seem to have let it interfere with their friendship. Corrie wished Edie would tell her and Dawn about it, though. Maybe she was still confused.
Dawn sat up straighter and waved. Edie turned to see who Dawn was waving at, and caught sight of Roe entering the cafeteria. She waved, too, and Roe waved back at both of them.
Roe arrived at the table before Annie returned. “Hey, is that seat taken?” she asked. There was someone Corrie vaguely recognized behind her. Corrie would never have noticed the other girl if she hadn’t stopped at the same time as Roe—she saw her around often enough that she was just another student in the dining hall.
“Annie’s going to be back any minute,” Dawn said.
“Perfect,” Roe said, taking the seat on the other side of Annie’s. “Guys, this is Lin. Mind if she sits next to you, Corrie?”
“Of course not,” Corrie said, turning to her left. That explained the vague familiarity. “Hi, Lin, how are you?”
“I’m okay,” Lin said. “Corrie, right? And Edie.” She nodded at both of them—they’d had a few magic classes together by now.
Dawn smiled and gave Lin a little wave. “Hi, I’m Dawn. You’re Celeste’s roommate?”
“Um, yeah,” Lin said, raising her eyebrows. “You know her?”
“She’s in Ritual Magic with me and Annie,” Dawn said, gesturing as Annie sat down with two slices of chocolate cake and a glass of milk.
Lin’s eyebrows went up even higher. “Oh. This is the girl who set herself on fire, isn’t it?”
Annie’s cheeks went pink. “Uh, that’s me. Does everyone know about that?”
“Everyone Celeste knows might have heard about it,” Lin said apologetically. “It was a dramatic story. You’re okay now, right?”
“Yeah, Ginny fixed me up.” Annie touched her chest lightly.
“Lin is going to help us,” Roe said. “Or try to, anyway.”
Annie turned to her with a slight frown. “Really? How?”
“I’d rather wait to discuss that until we can go somewhere more private,” Lin said. “In the meantime, now that I’ve met all of you, I’m getting something to eat. Be right back.”
There was a brief silence after she left. “This is very exciting,” Corrie said, hoping to break the awkwardness. “And mysterious.”
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Roe said. “I’d better get something to eat, too. This is going to be a long night. Unless any of you had plans tonight? We don’t have to do this tonight.”
Corrie shrugged. Edie and Annie both looked down at their plates. “Well, I was going to go over to Rico’s,” Dawn said. “But if this is about helping Annie, he won’t be upset. In fact, he’ll tell me this is more important. It’s not like I never see him.” She smiled.
“Okay, good,” Roe said. “Be back soon.” She jumped up from her seat and headed the same way Lin had gone, toward the food.
Annie sighed, poking morosely at her cake with her fork. “This ridiculous school. Does everything here run on drama?”
“Maybe drama is just another word for magic,” Edie said. “And you can’t tell me you don’t thrive on it, just a little bit. You wouldn’t be back otherwise.”
Annie looked up and laughed. “You’re probably right about that.” Finally, she started to actually eat her cake.
When Roe and Lin returned, they kept the conversation light and superficial, mostly discussing their magic classes. Lin had heard from Celeste about Mardalan, the new faerie professor. She didn’t seem nearly as bothered by Mardalan as the rest of them, but of course, she didn’t have the history they did. Corrie was still baffled by Mardalan teaching. Hadn’t she wanted to get away from Chatoyant College? Why didn’t she do so, now that she could? But none of them could make any sense of it.
Finally, as Corrie’s curiosity about Lin’s potential assistance began to burn, everyone finished their dinners and they headed outside, into the cool evening. Students were still streaming in and out of the dining hall, as well as the dorms. Lin looked around with a frown. “Let’s go somewhere we won’t be overheard. Not inside Mary Thomas.”
“I know a good place,” Edie said.
Corrie shook her head. “Why don’t we all just go back to our room? It’s big enough to hold the six of us.”
“Yeah, that sounds good,” Dawn said quickly. Corrie was pretty sure they both thought that Edie was talking about the orchard kept by the environmental co-op students, but after all the time Edie had spent there with Leila last year, Corrie didn’t want to set foot near the place.
They all trooped up to the room. It was dim until Corrie flipped on the lights and pulled out her desk chair for Lin, who sat gingerly in it. The rest of them sat on Corrie’s and Edie’s beds, looking at Lin.