As they all headed back out to campus, Dawn’s cell phone rang. She hastily dug it out of her pocket, glancing guiltily at the ID screen before answering. Sure enough, it was her mom. She took a deep breath before answering. “Hi, Mom. Are you guys on your way?”
“We’re here,” her mom said. “We’re just coming in through the front gate. Will you meet us outside your dorm?”
“Um, I will meet you there,” she said, since if they were already at the front gate there was no way to avoid meeting them on her way back to Gilkey. “But I’m not quite ready to go yet. Sorry about that. I have to finish packing.”
“What are we supposed to tell our friends and family about why we might not be going back to school in the fall?” Dawn asked. She knew she would tell her aunt Pru the truth—Pru had, after all, been a student at Chatoyant College and known a faerie herself—but she had no idea what to say to her parents or the few friends she had from high school. She’d been keeping the information about faeries from them for good reason.
“That is up to you,” Professor Lal said, her lips thinning. “The truth is an option.”
“You could also just tell them that there was a killer loose on campus and the school may be closing because of that,” Professor Rook said. “Use the truth, but not all of it.”
The noise level in the auditorium rose quickly as the stage lights went down. Everyone else seemed to be hurrying out as quickly as possible while discussing what had just been announced, but Dawn wasn’t ready to get up from her seat just yet—and neither, it seemed, were her friends.
Corrie leaned forward and spoke to Dawn past Edie. “Do you think they’re really going to make it safe?”
“I don’t know,” Dawn said. “If they can find a way to put the magic back the way it was… why wouldn’t they just do that?”
Corrie nodded grimly. “Of course, if they could do that, why haven’t they done it already?”
Dawn noticed that Dr. Everson was returning to the stage. Had she known ahead of time that this announcement was being planned? She must have—but Dawn wondered whether she had known about the existence of faeries before the announcement was discussed. She might well have just had the biggest shock of her life. She was perfectly composed now, though.
Professor Lal was still speaking. “We believed we had done everything possible to keep you safe. It is clear now that we had not. We understand if you are angry or afraid. We understand if, knowing that the college has participated in this deception, you do not wish to return.”
Dawn looked behind her to see what other people’s reactions were. Naomi had actually turned all the way around in her seat and was clutching the back of it while kneeling. Was there something back there? Dawn couldn’t see anything interesting, except for other people staring, their facial expressions varying from shock to fear to anger. Some of them had even gotten up out of their seats.
She leaned over to whisper to Rico, who seemed just as startled as anyone else. “I missed something.”
“You didn’t—“ Rico turned to her, confused, but then his expression suddenly changed to a grin. “Of course not. Professor Lal just dropped her glamour. So now we can all see what you’ve been seeing all along.”
Dawn finished her lunch and sat with her friends until they’d finished theirs as well. Then the three of them started meandering toward the auditorium. They were fairly early, and it wasn’t a particularly nice day out—the sky was gray and drizzly—but Dawn could easily compare the weather today to weather they’d had on campus at other times and be more than satisfied with this.
“Do you think they’ll tell us what they did with her?” Edie asked, sounding worried.
Dawn didn’t have to ask who she meant. “Not at the assembly. If they wouldn’t tell us what their plans were last night, I doubt they’re going to make a school-wide announcement.”
Two hours later, Dawn was much more packed but feeling slightly harassed and panicked. She knew she was doing a haphazard job of packing, but she seemed to have so much more stuff than she remembered. Hadn’t she just done this a few months ago?
No, she hadn’t. Because for winter break, she hadn’t needed to pack up all her bedding and every last thing in her room. She’d been coming back. But she wouldn’t be returning to this room again—thank goodness. She, Corrie, and Edie had a room in Sayer that wasn’t up five flights of stairs.
She just hoped they would be able to fit all their stuff.
Monday, May 29
It was their last day on campus. Dawn didn’t really remember that until she was on her way back from breakfast. She’d gotten up at her usual time and gone to the dining hall for breakfast as though she were going to class, even though she knew she’d already taken her psychology exam and the class was over.
But she didn’t have psychology class—or trance or sociology, like she had all the rest of the semester. All she had to do today was finish packing (okay, do all her packing, since she’d spent all day yesterday with Rico instead of packing) and go to the assembly.