“Oh, I hope you don’t think I’m neglecting you. I didn’t mean to.”
Edie shook her head. “I’m sure it’s just as much my fault as yours. I guess I have been a little distracted, actually.”
“More distracted than in previous semesters? But everything’s so safe now.” Derwen rolled her eyes.
Edie grinned and relaxed a little. That was the Derwen she knew. “That’s kind of the thing. They didn’t tell us anything about ghosts in the protection class. Actually, they basically said that ghosts exist but are nothing to worry about, and that obviously isn’t the case.”
“Ghosts? Really?” Derwen pulled her legs up onto the bed, turning more toward Edie. Her grin was eager. “Where are you hearing about ghosts?”
“In the Mary Thomas dorm.”
Derwen’s face fell slightly. “I can barely even go into that building. I would have thought it was the safest dorm on campus, with all that iron, but obviously not after what happened to Elrath.”
Edie shook her head. “So it really is full of iron? I thought it looked like there was iron in the furniture, but then Elrath was living there last year. He always freaked me out, but that was a little freaky, too.”
“Right? I don’t know how he could live and sleep there. But I guess it is a safe place, since Gerlina didn’t kill him until he’d left.”
Edie nodded. “That’s right, he was found on the grass.”
“It’s not his ghost, is it?”
Edie took a deep breath. She’d never even thought of that possibility. Good thing, too, or she would have been even more scared earlier. “No, it’s the ghost of a girl who was a student a long time ago, as far as we can tell. We’re not sure yet how she died or why she’s haunting the building. You’ve never heard of the ghost?”
“It does sound kind of familiar.” Derwen’s eyes moved from Edie’s face to the ceiling as she thought. “What does the ghost do? Makes weird sounds and knocks stuff over?”
“Exactly. There’s a cold spot where she is, too.” Edie had felt it earlier today, though she had been too distracted to make the connection. “And she opens and closes doors, too.”
“Huh. I don’t remember hearing about that, but… yeah, a long time ago, I heard about the ghost.”
“How long ago?”
Derwen tucked her knees up against her chest, wrapping her bathrobe around them. Her eyes seemed bigger than before. “I’m trying to remember. It’s all a muddle, you know. It wasn’t last time, or the time before that. Maybe… a hundred years ago, or more.”
Edie nodded. “That makes sense. We looked in records of the last century and didn’t find her, though they’re not perfect. You didn’t know about her when she was alive? Or shortly after she died?”
“No. I mean… do you really think it’s real?” Derwen laughed, though she’d seemed entirely willing to believe that the ghost existed a few moments ago. “That there’s a person who died and she became a ghost?”
“Isn’t that where ghosts come from?”
Derwen shook her head. “No, Lal would know if there was a real person. This is just a story.”
Edie frowned. “A story that’s persisted for over a hundred years?”
“Stories have power,” Derwen said. She slid her legs out again and stood up. “Anyway, I have to get ready for my shower. I’ll see you in class, okay, Edie?”
“Sure,” Edie said, standing up and taking a step toward the door. “Maybe we can get lunch beforehand or something.”
“Yeah, sure.” Derwen walked to the door and held it open for Edie. “Have a good one.”
“You, too.” Edie left the room and watched Derwen close it behind her, totally confused. Derwen had seemed to believe in the ghost, then turn around and dismiss the idea that it could be real. Her focus seemed to be the fact that Professor Lal didn’t believe in it.
Was this a faerie thing? Was that why the magic professors dismissed the idea of the ghost—because faeries and ghosts didn’t get along or something?
No, Ginny was too smart to go along with a story like that just because it was what the other magic professors said. And she had dismissed the story, too. There must be something that the professors just weren’t seeing.
Or maybe something that Edie and her friends weren’t seeing. She couldn’t dismiss that idea entirely. Frowning, still confused, she walked back down to her empty dorm room.