Professor Strega jumped to her feet. “You knew of this all the time, did you not? And yet made attempts to interfere with my life?”
“No, I did not know,” Professor Lal said, frowning. “I did not know of Elrath’s part of the story. And I believe I am still missing a piece. Why don’t we all go upstairs, where we can sit and converse more comfortably?”
Edie wasn’t sure she wanted to do that. In fact, she was pretty sure she would prefer to leave Professor Lal and Professor Strega alone to work this out. But it didn’t look like the professors were going to give them a choice.
Edie saw that the sun was noticeably lower, but hadn’t set, when they left Elrath’s dorm building. Professor Strega would still be in the magic building, presumably. Without discussing it, all three lengthened their strides.
“Should I stay out here?” Corrie asked as they approached the magic building.
Elrath scowled at her. “Watch what you say, little half-breed.”
He clearly meant to insult Edie, but she ignored it. “Part of the treaty is that faeries are not supposed to harm humans. Isn’t that right?”
He shrugged. “I suppose.”
The puzzle pieces started clicking together in Edie’s mind. She felt as though she knew she’d been missing a piece of information all along, and this was it. Of course, she’d known that she didn’t have all the facts, but this one seemed to be the center of it all—everything had been arranged correctly, but only now could they be connected.
“You’re his heir, aren’t you?” she said. “That’s why you wanted to know about Mourith. She was older—or you thought she was older—so she would be his heir if she was alive.”
Elrath looked around the room, then sat down abruptly on his bed. Edie noticed that he didn’t touch the headboard or any part of the bed frame, even with his legs. Maybe it was made of iron after all.
“I would invite you to sit down, but I have nowhere for you to sit,” he said. “So you’re just going to have to go ahead and tell me your news.”
Corrie was true to her word, arriving where Dawn and Edie awaited her after only a few minutes. Edie thought she must have rushed out of their dorm room right away, not even pausing to get changed. “Did you really take a nap?” she asked as Corrie joined them.
“I did,” Corrie said. “I was asleep when you called, but when I realized who was calling I woke up right away. I thought something bad was going on. You never call.” She gave Edie a playful punch in the arm.
They reached Professor Strega’s office a few minutes later. Edie knocked softly on the door, which was slightly ajar, and the professor called for them to come in.
Sunday, April 9
Edie had been going out every day—most days she went at least twice—to the edge of the forest to look for Leila. She knew that she shouldn’t, but she couldn’t seem to help herself. One of these days—or nights—she would find Leila. One of these days, she would feel better.
However, it hadn’t happened yet. The leaves seemed to grow with agonizing slowness; they were still in the stage that Roe had described in her vision, and they didn’t seem about to leave it anytime soon. She had no idea how soon she would be able to find Leila.
Monday, March 27
Edie followed Dawn to the magic professors’ hallway, feeling a bit nervous. Ginny had just walked past them, going the other direction. She’d given them a friendly nod and smile, but Edie was sure that she had watched them even after they passed each other, wondering where they were going.
The forest around Edie didn’t look familiar—or at least, not familiar enough. She was sure she must be close to Leila’s tree now, but she definitely hadn’t reached it.
She turned around in a slow circle to get her bearings. She was sure that she should know where she was. She took a step to the side without thinking about it, trying to get the right perspective on her surroundings, and bumped into the barrier.