Professor Strega didn’t find anything at the last door, either, and Dawn thought the whole thing was finally over and she could go back to work, but then the professor asked to see the room where the books were kept. Mrs. Reed had to get the key from Dr. Dunford, but seemed perfectly happy to bring them downstairs.
“Wait,” said Professor Strega as Mrs. Reed reached toward the door with her key. “I would like to test this door, as well.”
Dawn was grateful that the weather had been warming up, because they stopped outside the library without going in at all first. Professor Strega seemed to be moving a bit slowly, though. Was she really as cold-blooded as her appearance seemed to indicate? Belara was a snake-woman, and she had never seemed to be affected by the cold.
Dawn kept thinking through the conversation as the two adults continued drinking their coffee. Mrs. Reed was obviously impatient, but had no recourse other than to try to drink her coffee quickly. She looked around the room, sipping the coffee, then asked, “I hope this isn’t a rude question, Professor Strega, but what brings you to campus on a Sunday? Very few other professors are here, and I see that none of the other magic professors are.”
Dawn bit her lip and stayed silent. She knew what the treaty was about, and why someone might wish to keep it secret, and she was sure Professor Strega knew it as well. Was she going to explain it, tell Mrs. Reed all about faeries? Or was she fishing for an alternative explanation?
“I never thought about it quite that way,” said Mrs. Reed. “You make a good point. We had been assuming that Alienor Chatoyant had hidden the treaty herself—the only piece we found, and the pieces we suspect were found, were all in books belonging personally to her.”
Dawn let Professor Strega lead the way and Mrs. Reed follow; she knew where she was going from a previous meeting with Professor Lal up there, but she didn’t want to seem like she was taking charge. She didn’t really want to seem like she knew too much, either. Hopefully, she wouldn’t have to say anything else.
Dawn hadn’t even had a chance to take her coat off when she came in, so there was nothing for her to do but follow Mrs. Reed outside. It was cold again, and she pulled her hood up quickly to protect her face from the wind.
Mrs. Reed was walking quickly; she obviously knew where she was going. She glanced back once, as she pushed the library doors open, to make sure that Dawn was following, then just kept moving toward the magic building.
As they approached, Mrs. Reed called over her shoulder—Dawn couldn’t quite keep up with her—“Do you know why I asked you to come along, Dawn?”
The librarians looked at one another. Dawn was relieved to see that; it seemed that the possibility of someone looking for the treaty had already occurred to them. Now, what was she allowed to tell them? She didn’t think she should tell them anything—at least, not about faeries specifically. Just get them to talk to one of the faerie professors. It was up to the faeries to decide who got to know about them.
When Dawn got to work later that afternoon, she could tell right away that something was wrong.
It was quieter than usual. Quiet wasn’t so odd in a library, but there was usually a background bustle—librarians and workers rushing from place to place, a copier chugging, a computer or two being overheated. And there was still a bustle, but it seemed hushed somehow.
“She didn’t tell you?” Edie asked, somewhat alarmed. Then she realized—“Or are you just being dramatic again?”
“Well, let me tell the story in order,” said Derwen, wrinkling her nose. “I shouldn’t have said that, it’s confusing. Anyway, when she asked for my help, the first thing I said was that she was the one who messed up the book in the library. She actually said that it wasn’t her, but she wasn’t exactly surprised. She must have told someone else to do it.”
Edie and Corrie went two floors down to where Derwen lived. Edie knocked on the door. It seemed to take a while for any response, and Edie worried that they were waking up Derwen or her roommates, or that they were all still asleep and no one would want to answer. But eventually the door opened, if slowly.