“I wonder if any of the faerie professors who are currently here knew her,” Corrie said. “If she worked with the professors, then they would have known her. At least the magic professors. I could ask Professor Lal.”
“I thought we weren’t going to talk to them. What would you say if she asked why you’re asking about a long-dead student?” Annie asked.
Corrie shook her head. “I’ll think of something. Knowing she was a magic student makes it more important to talk to them. Edie, have you talked to Derwen?”
Edie shook her head. “I haven’t seen her. We don’t hang out as much anymore.” She was privately a little relieved. She liked Derwen, but spending a lot of time with her was, well… it was a lot.
“Okay, I’ll look up the Mary Thomas scholarship,” Dawn said. “Edie will talk to Derwen. Corrie will talk to Lal. Annie will think of more questions, because she’s good at asking questions. And Roe… I guess your job is just to be the go-between with Lin.”
Roe grinned. “I like this division of labor.”
“See you guys later, then.” Dawn headed out the door, Corrie right behind her. Edie hurried to follow them.
Corrie glanced back at her on the stairs with a grin. “You aren’t going to stay behind and chat with Annie?”
Edie swallowed, her throat suddenly feeling tight. Corrie’s grin faded, and the three of them were quiet on the walk back to their dorm room.
That ended as soon as they shut the door to their room. “What is going on with you and Annie?” Corrie asked, putting her hand on Edie’s shoulder in a comforting manner.
“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Dawn said.
Edie shook her head. “No, I…” She sighed and sat down on her bed. “Maybe I should talk about it. I don’t know what to say. Annie asked me out—“
“Yes!” Corrie interrupted.
“But I haven’t given her an answer, and I don’t know what answer to give,” Edie finished.
Dawn pulled out Edie’s desk chair and sat on it. “How long ago was this?”
“It was…” Edie tried to think, then sighed. “Over a month ago. I know, I’m awful.”
“You’re not awful,” Corrie said. “You’re just confused. Is this about Leila?”
“Yes. No? I don’t know. I keep thinking about Leila, but it’s not like I think Annie is going to treat me the way Leila did.”
“You didn’t think Leila was going to treat you the way that she did, either,” Dawn pointed out.
Edie nodded, her mouth twisting into a half-smile at the mirroring of her own thoughts earlier. “But it’s silly, right? I just fell into a relationship with Leila without knowing anything about her first. Annie is obviously different.”
“Do you like her?” Corrie asked. “I mean, as more than a friend?”
“I don’t know,” Edie said miserably, hiding her face in her hands. “I want to.”
“If you want to, then you don’t,” Corrie said.
“Then you should probably say no,” Dawn said.
“I thought you guys were going to tell me to date her,” Edie said.
“Well, obviously I think you two should date. But if you’re not all in for it, it doesn’t make sense.” Corrie touched Edie’s shoulder again. “You know her well enough by now to know whether you’re into her, so you don’t have to date her to figure that out. And she’s liked you for so long, you don’t want to get things started unless you’re ready for something serious.”
There was a lump in Edie’s throat again as she remembered how clear and serious Annie had been about her feelings. She swallowed and nodded. “So you think I should say no.”
“I hate saying it!” Corrie threw her hands in the air.
Dawn smiled and pushed Corrie a little. “But despite what we may have been hoping, the most important thing is to do what’s best for both of you. And yeah, it’s probably best if you say no. You don’t want to keep her waiting for an answer that may never come.”
Edie put her elbows on her knees and rested her forehead on her fists. “I wanted to tell her yes. I wanted to make her happy.”
“Better to make her sad now and get it over with than stretch it out,” Dawn said.
“I agree with Dawn,” Corrie said. “Even if you do decide someday that you want to date her—I’m not ruling it out—you don’t want her to be waiting around for you to change your mind. You should both be living your own lives.”
Edie lifted her head to wrinkle her nose at Corrie. “How are you this obsessed with me dating Annie?”
“You’re perfect for each other!”
Dawn rolled her eyes. “Until now she’s only had me to talk to about it. I admit, I kind of thought you two were meant to be together for a while. But I think the fact that you didn’t immediately say yes to her proves that this is not the time. The time may come, or it may never come, and that’s okay.”
Corrie put her arm around Edie’s waist and rested her head on her shoulder. “I’m sorry if I’m stressing you out. You’re making a smart decision. I’m the one suggesting dumb decisions. But dumb decisions seem to work out for me. Look at Charlie.”
“I think that was a smart decision.” Edie tilted her head so it rested gently on Corrie’s. She decided not to mention the arguably dumb decision Corrie had made in dating her ex, Paul, who had turned into a stalker. “You’re right. Thanks for talking through this with me. Now I just have to break the news to Annie.”
“That, you’re on your own for,” Dawn said.
“It would just be mean to bring my other friends to tell her that,” Edie said. “Even if I was giving her a different answer.”
She actually felt a little bit better now that she’d made the decision. She had probably known that this was going to have to be her answer all along—maybe Annie had even known it, too, but hadn’t wanted to push her. She’d just been trying to find a way to change her answer. Now that she’d given up on forcing herself to do something she knew was wrong, she felt relieved.
She just had to actually give that answer to Annie. She was dreading it a little, but she would get it over with soon. Whenever she could find a few minutes alone with Annie, she would do it.