Dawn resisted the urge to look at Edie, to make sure her friend was hearing the same thing she was. Of course she was hearing it. There was nothing wrong with Dawn’s ears.
It just didn’t make any sense. Who could stop Professor Strega from leaving? Who would want to?
“Who told you that?” she asked cautiously. Maybe it was Tom, or one of the other tricky faeries, playing a prank. Maybe it was Mardalan or one of the faeries from her court being cruel. If so, this would be easy enough to clear up, though it still didn’t make sense that the professor would want their help.
After dinner, Dawn, Corrie, and Edie went back to Corrie and Edie’s dorm room to work on their homework. Dawn kept anxiously checking the time. She was having a hard time concentrating on her homework, but for once, that didn’t really bother her. She would have plenty of time to finish—none of it was due tomorrow, since she’d already done her Academic Writing homework and Professor Lal’s class didn’t have any real homework.
Finally, at fifteen minutes to eight, she closed her book and stood up. “Are you guys ready to go?”
When it was their usual time for dinner, they gathered a group of their friends at a table together to tell them about what Professor Strega wanted—Roe, Annie, Rico, and Duncan. Derwen was nowhere to be seen, which Edie seemed to be disappointed by, but Dawn was oddly a little relieved. She thought that Derwen might have things to say that she wouldn’t like. She had always seemed fairly close to Professor Lal; she might share the professor’s apparent dislike for Professor Strega.
Dawn had no response for a moment. That wasn’t at all what she had expected Professor Strega to say—that definitely wasn’t anything she would have expected any faerie, especially a professor, to say. Why would she want their help?
The answer came to her even as Corrie actually voiced it. “Why them?”
Professor Strega didn’t speak for the rest of the class. Evidently, she didn’t see any need to give them further instructions. Dawn just sat there, feeling the connection between her and the earth. She could tell that she would be able to extend it if she wanted, make it go deeper, but she was a little nervous to try. She remembered when she’d tried using this kind of magic to create wind and it had gotten out of her control. She didn’t want that to happen again, even if she wasn’t actually doing anything with the magic.
Monday, February 28
Dawn walked into Trance class and automatically stowed her bag and coat under the bench. Most of the other students, including Corrie and Rico, had stopped carrying bags to class at all, but she came directly from her History of Psychology class, so she didn’t have time to drop off her things. Professor Strega always had them put their things where they wouldn’t get in their way, so she’d gotten used to it.
She spoke to him, before he was forced to leave. She asked him why.
All he had were excuses. He didn’t have any real reasons; he didn’t even know his reasons. But it was the excuses she was interested in. It was the excuses that told her his true feelings.
She found another to speak to; one who had left and then returned. She asked why she would have chosen such things. Her stories were interesting, but in a different way than she had originally anticipated.
Edie was very relieved to see which door was open—it was Professor Lal’s.
Not that she was entirely thrilled about the prospect of talking to Professor Lal, of course. Ginny was much easier to talk to. But she thought Lal would be able to give them better answers, and even though she didn’t always like to explain things to them, she would at least understand why they were asking.
Corrie walked up and knocked on the open door. “Professor Lal, are you busy?”
The meeting broke up noisily. Edie didn’t say anything. There was nothing she could say—certainly not anything she wanted to say in front of all these people. She grabbed hold of Corrie’s hand; Corrie squeezed, showing that she understood. Accompanied by Dawn, Derwen, and Rico, they made their way out. Edie thought she saw Charlie’s mouth moving, trying to talk to them, but she couldn’t hear him over the noise everyone else was making, and they already had momentum. Anyway, she didn’t particularly want to talk to him.