College: Book 2
Clare K. R. Miller
Classes have finally started for
the girls, but Dawn gets a shock when she discovers that the faeries
aren't content to lurk in the woods and occasionally kidnap
students--one of them is teaching the magic class that she and Corrie
are taking. Professor Lal seems trustworthy, but is that even in a
Meanwhile, Edie makes a pesky new
friend and they notice the existence of mysterious statues around the
campus. The statues, which are all of women, have names on plaques,
but despite their searches there is no information available on those
To add to the confusion, another
mysterious scream occurs, and this time it has no connection to a
disappearance. Another girl on their floor, Roe, has just had a
frightening vision that involves Corrie, Dawn, and Edie, but they can
make no sense of it.
They discover that trust must be
earned, not given, and once again, that little at Chatoyant College
is as it seems.
(Chatoyant College, Book 2)
by Clare K. R.
Text Copyright ©
2017 Clare K. R. Miller
Shareable under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
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An Alarming Morning
Monday, September 1
Dawn woke up to the blare of what
was possibly the most obnoxious alarm she had ever heard: shrieking
at approximately the same volume as a rock concert and sounding
something like a cross between a car alarm and an angry cat. She sat
up blearily, feeling around for the alarm with her left hand. She
didn't find it, but the noise stopped anyway. By that time,
unfortunately, she was fully awake and aware that no, her alarm did
not sound like that at all. She looked around the room. "Naomi?"
she called carefully. "Was that your alarm?"
"Mm," said Naomi. She was
burrowed under the blanket. Dawn sighed and climbed out of bed. No
way she was going back to sleep now. She checked the clock. It was
8:15 in the morning; there was still more than an hour until her
first class started. She started to collect her things--might as well
have a shower. She almost jumped out of her skin, a minute later,
when the noise happened again. This time she saw Naomi's hand
reaching out from under the covers to smack at it. She apparently
missed, because the noise kept going, and Dawn heard a muffled groan,
then saw Naomi's messy blonde dreadlocks emerge from under the
"I can't believe I signed up
for such an early class," she mumbled. At least, that was what
Dawn thought she said. The alarm was still blaring. Naomi squinted at
it and poked at a button, and it finally turned off.
"You're going to wake up the
entire hall with that thing," Dawn said.
Naomi smiled apologetically. "Nah,
they'll get used to it. I can't wake up any other way." She
yawned. "Right, it's theater production, isn't it? Gotta go to
that. Mm. Clothes." She wandered toward her closet, obviously
paying no attention to anything around her. Dawn headed out the door
to the showers.
When she got back, Naomi was gone,
but she still had a while before she had to leave for her first
class. She sighed, opened the blinds, and booted up her computer.
Might as well check her webcomics.
She was more awake and feeling
decidedly more cheerful at nine, when there was a knock on her door.
She opened it and was unsurprised to see Corrie, looking as perky and
healthy as ever. "Hey!" she said. "Glad you're up.
Want to get breakfast before class?"
"I approve heartily of that
idea," Dawn said. "Just let me get my things together.
What's the weather like today?" She knew her skinny blonde
friend would already have been outside jogging whatever the weather.
"Gorgeous," said Corrie.
"Not a cloud in the sky. It'll probably be hot this afternoon."
"Glad I wore a skirt, then,"
Dawn said. She slipped her feet into sandals, picked up her messenger
bag, and stuck a notebook and a pen in it. She had no idea what book
they'd need first for this class, and didn't want to bother bringing
something heavy. Corrie had one of those tiny sack-type backpacks, so
it was clear she didn't have a textbook with her either.
"What time is Edie's first
class?" Dawn asked as they walked past Corrie and Edie's room
and further down the hall.
Corrie shrugged. "Later, I
guess. She's still asleep."
She nodded, sighing with slight
jealousy. "Naomi woke me up early with her alarm. I think it's
something I'm going to have to get used to."
They ate a quick breakfast at the
dining hall, then walked up the path to the magic building, which
wasn't very far away. It was an odd, hexagonal building, and all of
the outer walls on the first floor were glass. As they walked partway
around the building to get to the front door, Dawn could see that the
outer part of the first floor was some sort of extended lounge; there
were couches, a piano, a place with several computers set up, and
even a table with a coffee maker on it.
Corrie consulted her schedule once
they were inside. "We're in room 307, looks like," she
said. "I guess that's on the third floor." The stairs were
right by the door, and also clearly visible from the outside of the
building, at least on the first floor. They joined the crowd moving
up it, then turned when they reached the third floor.
Their classroom turned out to be in
the center of the hexagon. It was a large, amphitheater-like room,
with a hexagonal space in the middle and six aisles running between
sets of seats. The ceiling was higher than Dawn had expected. They
found seats on the second row of one of the sections and settled in
to wait for the teacher. Dawn took advantage of the time to look
around the classroom; unsurprisingly, there was no one she really
knew here, since Ever was gone and Edie and Naomi weren't taking this
class. She had hoped she might see Rico or even Duncan, but if they
were taking magic, they were in a different section.
The girl with long, wavy dark
blonde hair who sat down in the row in front of them looked vaguely
familiar, but Dawn couldn't place her. Mostly what seemed to be
filling in was the first three rows; people took seats in the rows
further back, but there weren't enough students to fill the whole
room. She looked up at the clock on the wall to her left. The teacher
wasn't quite late.
Professor Marie Lal
Dawn jumped when all six doors to
the classroom closed and audibly locked at once. A woman--obviously
the teacher--stalked in from one of the aisles to take her place in
the center of the classroom. "I hope everyone is here," she
said dryly. "I don't tolerate lateness."
Several people around the room
giggled, including Corrie. Dawn couldn't: she was too busy staring at
the woman. When she'd walked in, Dawn had only gotten a vague
impression of cinnamon skin and a mass of curly dark hair. But now
that she was standing in the middle of the room, turning slowly to
survey the students, Dawn could see her clearly. And what she saw
surprised her more than almost anything that had happened to her at
this school so far.
Her body shape was ordinary enough,
from what Dawn could see under her skirt, tall boots, and dark
blouse. There was no tail or misshapen legs. But there were long,
delicately pointed ears sticking through those curls; the fingers
were unnaturally long, ending in dark points; and when she turned and
faced Dawn's direction, her eyes were nothing but a huge expanse of
black, the tiniest bit of spark shining in the center. She tried not
to show her shock, but the teacher raised one eyebrow, then smiled
slowly before turning away.
Dawn looked around the classroom
wildly. Had anyone else seen what she just had? They looked
interested, but not surprised or frightened. She forced her breathing
to slow and her heart to stop racing. So far, the teacher didn't seem
to be any threat, for all that she'd locked all the doors with
seemingly no effort. If there was any threat, she knew how to go
about dealing with it, at least.
"Welcome to Introduction to
Magic," the woman announced. "I am Professor Marie Lal; you
may call me Professor Marie or Professor Lal, whichever you're more
comfortable with. As you can see, I know what I'm doing, and I don't
have patience with those who refuse to learn. If you're taking this
class, you had better be prepared to do what is needed." She
smiled, softening her hard visage. "Now, why don't you all
introduce yourselves to me? Start here," she slapped one of the
desks nearest her, making the thin, pale boy seated in it jump, "and
go around in an increasing spiral. Tell me your name and why you're
taking this class."
The boy cleared his throat
nervously. "My name is Brian," he said, "and, well, I
want to learn magic." Several people laughed, which seemed to
give him confidence; he smiled. "It's a really unusual skill and
I think it would be more helpful in the real world than most other
The introductions went on. Just
like when the people living in Gilkey had introduced themselves, Dawn
found it difficult to keep track of them all. The blonde girl sitting
in front of them was Roe, and Corrie whispered that she lived down
the hall from them. That would be where Dawn had seen her before,
She and another girl, Lin, who was
Asian and had very short, shiny black hair, had something unusual in
common: both were taking the class, and indeed had made the decision
to come to Chatoyant College, because they had magic talents that
they hoped would be trained here. Roe said she had random prophetic
visions; Lin shifted uncomfortably in her seat and asked if she could
talk to Professor Marie about it later. She nodded agreeably at both
of them and told them that the college could certainly help them, and
they'd receive as much training as they wanted.
Dawn wondered whether she should
tell about her Sight when it came her turn. But she decided against
it. The professor surely already knew that she could see her true
self; no one else really needed to hear about it. Besides, the
question was why she was in the class, and she'd signed up for it
long before she even knew faeries existed. "My name is Dawn,"
she said when the introductions reached her, "and I'm in this
class because my aunt Pru went here and learned magic, and she loved
it. She's an artist and her magic helps her with her work, so I
figure I can learn something useful, too."
Professor Lal's eyebrows shot up
when Dawn mentioned Pru. She nodded slowly. "I believe I knew
your aunt when she was a student here. Hmm. Would you also speak to
me after class, Dawn?"
Startled, Dawn could only nod,
though her stomach churned in anticipation of the discussion that was
to come. Professor Lal, not seeming concerned at all, nodded to
Corrie to go next.
Magic is Hard
"Well, I'm Corrie,"
Dawn's friend said, smiling her usual cheerful smile, "and I
want to learn magic because I grew up knowing about it and believing
in it, but not really having any idea how to make it work." That
surprised Dawn; she knew Corrie had mentioned her mother and
grandmother doing spells, but she hadn't known Corrie just believed
in it. That made her think of Rico, and she wondered why he wasn't in
this class. Maybe he didn't care to learn more about magic, thinking
it was only for witches. Then again, this wasn't the only
introductory magic class.
When the introductions were over,
Professor Lal looked up at the clock and nodded. Then she began
speaking again. "I'm glad to hear none of you took this class
because you thought it would be easy. Then again, you wouldn't have
said so if that was the case, would you?" She paused, smiling
wryly, for most of the class to laugh. "But if that is the case
and you just didn't admit it, let me tell you right now you should
drop out." She turned as she spoke, seeming to catch each
student's eyes in turn. "Take another class. Communications is
good if you just want a few easy credits. This is not an easy class.
There's a lot of reading, a lot of work, and a lot that you probably
didn't even know existed before."
She produced a pile of papers from
the lectern in the center of the room and dropped the stack onto
Brian's desk. "Syllabi. Pass them around." While the pile
went around the circle, she continued speaking. "The first half
of the class, up until mid-semester break, is pure theory. I hope
you've all purchased your books from the bookstore; if not, go today,
as there's reading to do for Wednesday's class. Thankfully, some of
our readings are so old that they're not under copyright anymore, so
they're available online. If you don't have your own computer, you
can use the library's. Only print them out if you feel you need to."
She leaned against the lectern, the
tiny glints in the centers of her eyes flickering from side to side
as she watched the syllabi go around the room. "The second half
of the semester will focus on the practice of actual magic. Only the
basics, of course; that's what this class is for. You'll learn the
basic procedures that make magic both possible and safe." She
paused to let that sink in for a moment. "Another warning: you
will have different levels of natural ability to use and control
magic. Like some people have greater or lower levels of artistic
ability, it can be trained to be better, but the more natural ability
you have, the further you will able to go. However, unlike art, when
it comes to magic, not everyone has ability. As long as you honestly
try as much as you can, you will not fail this class for a lack of
natural ability. However, you won't be able to take any other magic
classes for credit. There's no point in trying to train people who
have nothing to train."
Dawn glanced through her syllabus
as she passed the diminishing pile on to Corrie. Sure enough, there
were no fewer than two different readings for each class prior to the
midterm, and it looked like most of them added up to a hundred pages
or more. She gulped, thinking of all the classes she had signed up
for. Would she be able to squeeze it in with her social life as well?
She had always been a quick reader, but she had to admit, if only to
herself, that when she had signed up for as many introductory classes
as had caught her attention, she'd had no thought she would have
actual friends, not to mention a boyfriend. Fitting all this in was
going to be tough. Then again, if Naomi's alarm was going to wake her
up every day, she'd have those mornings to catch up on her reading.
"Everyone has a syllabus?"
Professor Lal asked. "Good. Take a moment to look over the
classes, the rules, and the grading rubric. I don't care if you eat
in this class for the most part, but on some of the practical days
I'll have to ask that no food be in the room--in fact, there will be
a few days when I'll ask you not to bring anything. It can get
dangerous in here with so many partly-trained students. Also, we may
be moving to a different classroom, depending on how many people
drop, so if you're staying, watch for an email from me. Any
A heavy, droopy-eyed girl raised a
hand. Professor Lal nodded at her. She hemmed and hawed for a moment
before speaking. "How dangerous will it get, Professor Lal?"
she finally said. "I'm not afraid of hard work, but I don't
think my parents would like it if I was injured in class."
The professor nodded. "A valid
question. I can probably prevent anyone from getting too badly hurt
by throwing up a shield--I'm just less likely to react quickly when
it's things that are threatened instead of people. But just in case,
I make sure either Professor Agnew or Professor Rook is aware and
available during each dangerous class; they have healing skill and
can reverse an injury if it's caught quickly enough. So there's no
serious danger. Anyone else?"
There were no other questions.
Professor Lal smiled. "All right then, you're free to go for
today. Do your readings and be on time on Wednesday. Dawn and Lin,
stay behind for a moment?"
Dawn slowly took out her notebook
and put the syllabus in it. She did not want to stay and talk to
Professor Lal, but it didn't seem she had much choice. Around her,
papers were rustling, people were chatting and laughing, and almost
everyone was getting up to go. "Hey," said Corrie's voice
beside her. She looked up to see her friend's confident smile. "I'll
stay at the end of the hall and wait for you, okay?"
Dawn nodded and smiled back. It
helped to know that her friend had her back. "Thanks," she
said, then realized that Corrie probably didn't know the real reason
she had to speak to the teacher. She probably thought it was really
about Aunt Pru. "Corrie, she's--"
"Dawn, come here, please?"
the teacher's pleasant but powerful voice interrupted her. "This
will only take a moment. Lin, wait at the end of that hall and we'll
talk more privately in my office."
Dawn gulped and picked up her bag.
Corrie squeezed her hand, then moved down a different hall from the
one that Lin had been instructed to take. Dawn walked slowly to the
center of the room, where Professor Lal was leaning casually against
the podium. At least, her pose would have looked casual if it weren't
for the eeriness of her black eyes. Dawn looked down at her feet.
"So," said the teacher
softly when Dawn had stopped, a pace or two away. "A student
with the Sight. That happens every once in a while." She paused
for a long time. Dawn continued looking down at her feet. "And
you're not surprised to hear that term," she mused. "You've
met with some of my... colleagues, I suppose?"
Dawn didn't think she was talking
about the other magic professors. She licked her lips. "Yes,
m-ma'am. In the woods."
"Why are you--" She
stopped abruptly, then chuckled quietly. Dawn dared to look up. She
was smiling, and despite the eyes, had a friendly expression. "It
was Mardalan, Feloc, or Belara, wasn't it?"
Dawn shook her head slowly, not
sure if the teacher was talking about the same faeries she'd met. "I
don't know those names."
"Of course not. Mardalan...
you would have seen their true appearances, of course, not their
glamours, but Mardalan always has red hair, pale skin, and is the
most human-like of the three."
"Yes... that's the one. There
were others, but she was the leader."
Professor Lal raised her eyebrows,
as though surprised, but continued speaking. "Well, then, it's
no wonder you're nervous. I suppose she threatened you. But you don't
need to worry--there's an agreement. The faeries who accept the
protection of the school are not permitted to harm students."
Dawn raised her head completely and
stared into those black eyes, shocked. "Not permitted to harm
students?! But they kidnapped Annie!"
The professor tsked. "Yes,
they do that. It's not technically considered harm."
Dawn couldn't believe how casually
Professor Lal was taking this, but then, she was a faerie. Maybe she
could get some information out of her. "Do--did you know Ever?"
She closed her eyes, as though
thinking. "Perhaps. What does she look like?"
"When she was being human, she
had blue hair and an oak leaf tattoo. When she... turned into a
faerie, when she went back to them, she kind of looked like a giant
plant, with cat eyes."
Professor Lal's eyes popped open.
"I know of whom you speak. She joined Mardalan, did she? I would
not have expected that." Dawn was at a loss for words. The
teacher smiled again. "Well, I'm glad to know what you know.
Don't worry. I take my responsibilities as a professor seriously,
human or not." She put her hand gently on Dawn's shoulder, which
would have been more comforting if that hand hadn't been so bony and
inhuman, and turned her toward the corridor where Corrie was waiting.
"Go, leave with your friend. I hope you will not drop the
class." She let go, and Dawn walked down the hall, feeling
strange and numb.
Corrie, of course, had no idea what
had just transpired, but her smile faded to an expression of worry as
Dawn approached. "What happened?"
"I didn't get a chance to tell
you before," Dawn said in a low voice as they walked out the
door and down the hallway, looking around to make sure no one was
watching them. "But she's a faerie. I could see." She shook
her head in disbelief. "She was so... casual about it."
Corrie simply stared. "A
faerie in disguise? Like Ever?" she said finally.
"I guess so," Dawn said.
"I must be getting better at the Sight, because I recognized her
right away. She didn't look at all strange to you?"
Corrie shook her head. "Maybe
next class I'll make sure to bring my keys and hold them."
Dawn grinned, relaxing. "You're
staying in the class, then?"
"Are you kidding?" her
friend exclaimed. "It sounds like the best class ever! You won't
drop it, will you?"
"No. It does sound like an
awesome class, and even though the professor freaks me out, I'd
rather have her where I can see her than know she's there but not
know exactly where, you know? Besides," she smiled as they
walked out the door into the warm sun, "as long as I have a
friend with me, I'll be fine."
Edie had not really been sleeping
when Corrie left to go get Dawn for breakfast and Intro to Magic. She
had been hiding under the covers, trying to sleep, but having a hard
time because she was so nervous. She was always nervous when school
started. It turned out to be unfounded every time, because she was
smart and an excellent student, but knowing that didn't help.
Besides, this time was completely different from every time before.
This was college. The standards were higher, and the classes were
different. She didn't know what to expect.
Finally she threw the covers off
with a sigh and got dressed. There was no point in trying to sleep
any longer. Maybe she should go get some breakfast before her first
class. It was nice, at least, that French 103 was so late in the
morning. She could sleep if she needed to. After washing her face to
freshen up (and try to get rid of the bags she knew were under her
eyes) and running a comb quickly through her curls, she fit a
notebook, the French textbook, a pen, and one of the Goddess books
that Corrie's mom had given her into her backpack.
She was out of breath again by the
time she reached the dining hall. At least her shoulders didn't
hurt--the books were much lighter than what she had grown used to
carrying in high school. She started to reach for sugary cereal for
some quick energy, then stopped herself, thinking. She hated being
fat. That was an undeniable fact. She didn't like the way she looked,
and she really didn't like getting so tired and out of breath just
walking from place to place on campus. Sure, she would probably lose
weight just from walking up and down the stairs to her room, but
sugary cereal for breakfast wasn't going to help. It was probably
only going to hurt.
And here she was, at college,
starting a brand new year. There would be no better time to change
her habits. And her mother wasn't here to nag her, to make her feel
guilty and pressured and want to rebel against whatever she said.
Whatever eating choices she made were her eating choices. If nothing
else, she could be more aware of them--she certainly knew what
different foods did to her body.
Edie turned and purposefully walked
away from the cereal. Yes, she could have some kind of granola, but
that didn't sound appealing and anyway, she wanted to keep herself
away from the sugary cereals while she developed the willpower to
resist them. It was after the regular breakfast time, so there wasn't
any hot food out, but there were some good things to eat. Fruit salad
and yogurt. Yes, that looked good. She frowned down at her plate for
a moment, then added a couple of slices of toast. Now it was a
substantial breakfast. She poured herself a cup of black coffee, then
sat down at a table with her new breakfast and her book.
The breakfast wasn't bad, though it
also wasn't as filling as she was used to. She was more alert than
she had expected to be, but that could have been the coffee, bad as
the dining hall coffee was. Still, it was time to get to class, and
she'd stay awake through it, certainly.
She passed the magic building on
her way to the building where her French class was, making sure to
keep on the path. The building, though its oddness was clearly well
within the realm of possibility, gave her a chill as she passed. She
didn't want to believe in magic. Much as she loved fantasy books,
magic was something that belonged firmly inside them. Despite the
fact that she'd now seen magic in action, her subconscious resisted
it, and it still didn't feel real. Even when reading the book
Corrie's mom had lent her, which talked about magic (specifically,
witchcraft) as though it were a perfectly natural part of life, she
didn't feel as though she got it. In fact, the book was more like
fiction to her; she suspended disbelief, but couldn't think of it as
something to apply to the real world. Maybe the next book would be
Thankfully, the French classroom,
though it had plenty of windows, did not face the magic building, so
all Edie could see when she sat down was another building and a
glimpse of the woods. She took a seat in the front row; most of the
other seats were already full, and she didn't really care to sit next
to a stranger--a quick glance around the room told her that she had
met none of her fellow students. They were mostly sophomores, anyway,
finishing up their language requirement. She took her French things
out of her bag, opened the notebook to the first, fresh, blank page,
and immediately got started defacing it. She doodled flowers most of
the time, smooth, round strokes that looked pretty without taking up
any brainpower, so she could still listen to whatever her teacher was
Edie's Classes are Boring
"Hi, mind if I sit here?"
came an unfamiliar male voice from beside Edie.
Edie looked up, startled, her
flower gaining a petal that looked half-torn. The boy standing next
to her was tall, and had longish, black hair that was falling into
his eyes. He looked vaguely familiar. "Uh, sure," she said
uncertainly. Well, she certainly wasn't going to stop the guy from
sitting wherever he wanted to, though she didn't see why he would
want to sit next to her when there were still empty seats.
He sat down and swung his bag to
the ground, offering her a friendly grin. "You live in Gilkey,
Ah, that would be the mystery. She
smiled a little and nodded. "That's right. That's why you look
He stuck out his hand. "I'm
She shook it. "Edie. Are you a
"Nope, sophomore," he
said, raising one eyebrow. "You're a freshman taking 103? Pretty
"Really?" She'd thought
it was unusual, but not impressive. "It's just what I tested
into. I was actually hoping to skip the basic classes and go right
into conversational or literature, but I guess I didn't do well
enough." She shrugged. It was a little disappointing, but she
could get into the higher-level classes next semester, so it wasn't
"Wow." Marlin shook his
head. "I took AP French and still only tested into 102. I guess
you're planning to be a French major."
She nodded. "That's the plan,
anyway. Nothing's set in stone, especially not here."
"That's for sure," he
chuckled. He looked like he was about to say something else, but then
the teacher walked in the room and told them all, in sweetly spoken
French, to sit down and shut up.
The class went as well as Edie
could have hoped; all they did was some review, but the teacher
obviously didn't expect her or either of the other two freshmen in
the class to have any idea what she was talking about, and was
pleasantly surprised when Edie and Joy, one of the other freshmen,
were not at all lost. She also praised Edie's accent, which was a
nice change--her teachers in high school had been very tough on that
aspect. She hoped that it wasn't that the teachers at Chatoyant were
less exacting--she wanted to speak French as much like a native as
she could, especially if she was going to be a major.
She did leave the class in a very
good mood, especially since the teacher had also said that their
textbooks would mainly be used for homework assignments and they
would rarely have to carry them to class. Plus, she seemed to have
made a new friend in Marlin. He walked out of the class with her.
"Where are you going next?"
Edie checked her watch. "I
have about twenty minutes until my next class--it's the FYE class. I
just figured I would hang out in the lobby and read until then."
"Oh, that's cool. I was going
to go grab lunch with my roommates." They were in the lobby (the
FYE class was in the same building as the French class) and he stood
there awkwardly for a moment, looking from side to side. Finally he
shuffled his feet and said, "Well, I guess I'll see you later,
"Sure," Edie said. "We
live in the same building, after all."
"Right. Well, see you."
He finally walked away and out the
door, standing at least a head above most of the other students
moving in and out of the building. She wondered if he played
basketball or something.
Edie sat down on one of the hard
wooden chairs in the lounge and opened her book. It was,
unfortunately, difficult to concentrate; there were people walking
through all the time, not to mention the ones sitting in the other
lounge chairs, all of them talking and laughing. She wished she'd
brought her knitting instead--that was easier to concentrate on when
there was noise, especially when she didn't have to think much about
it. She made a mental note to start bringing her knitting with her to
French and FYE.
After ten minutes, she decided to
wait in the classroom instead of the lobby. It was empty, and she
again took a seat in the front--might as well look like she was eager
to learn. She had no idea what the class would be like, but it was
required for all freshmen.
This teacher arrived early to class
and spent five minutes chatting cheerily with Edie and the others as
they trickled in. Edie would have been much happier to be left alone
with the book, but at least the teacher seemed to like her. Once
class started, the woman passed out syllabi and explained the class:
it would introduce them to the campus and to college life, teaching
them about the dangers and joys of living campus as well as how to
organize their time. Edie barely resisted rolling her eyes. She
doubted that the class was going to teach them about the very real
dangers that she and her friends had already experienced, and if she
didn't know how to organize her time already, she wouldn't have done
well enough in high school to get into this college. She resigned
herself to one very boring semester. At least it was a short class.
Those were the only two classes
Edie had on Mondays, and she wasn't sure what to do with the rest of
her day. She didn't know where Dawn and Corrie were--she made a
mental note to suggest they all swap schedules so they could find
each other if necessary. Since they'd had an emergency before classes
even started, being able to find each other quickly might be
She decided she might as well walk
back to the dorm; she could read or knit in peace there. When she
reached the path close to Gilkey, she saw a familiar head of hair
that made her speed up. "Lorelei!" she called. "You're
Lorelei turned and grinned when
Edie caught up with her. "Hi, Edie! Yeah, they let me out when
they couldn't really find anything wrong. They did give me an inhaler
Edie nodded. "That's good. You
don't know when you might have another attack."
Lorelei shrugged. "I'll
probably just avoid talking about, well, you-know-what, but it's nice
to have an inhaler just in case." Edie held the door open for
her as they entered Gilkey--it was polite, and anyway, the RA might
still be weak. "So how did it go?" Lorelei asked.
"What do you mean?"
Lorelei frowned at her. "You
know what I mean. Did you get Annie back?"
"Oh!" Edie shook her
head. "It was weird... but yeah, we did. They kicked us out, but
then Ever sort of... traded herself, I guess."
"Ever did what?"
"She offered to join them so
they'd let Annie go. Apparently she was a faerie."
Lorelei stopped and stared for a
few moments. Then she shook her head slowly. "Well, that's...
not what I expected. Are Corrie and Dawn around?"
"I don't know. They were in
class when I left but I've been away for a while. You want to come up
with me to see if they're there?"
They were quiet as they walked up
the stairs. Edie wasn't sure what to say. She didn't really want to
think about what had happened on Sunday any more than she had to. And
there was no reason she should have to. They'd had a happy ending,
right? Annie was back. Ever was gone, but it had been her fault in
the first place that all that had happened. And she was back where
she belonged, right? If she was a faerie, it was only right that she
should live with the other faeries. She had certainly seemed to want
to, even if it had only been so Annie could go back.
When she tried her door, it was
unlocked, to her surprise. That must mean Corrie was home. She pushed
it open. "Hi guys!" she said, seeing both Dawn and Corrie
inside. "How have your classes been?"
"Completely weird," said
Dawn. "We had Intro to Magic, and--oh, hey, Lorelei!"
"Mind if I come in?" she
"Of course not!" said
Corrie, waving her inside. Edie dropped her bag on the foot of her
bed and joined them at Corrie's computer as Lorelei did the same.
"I'm glad you're back from the hospital," Corrie continued.
Lorelei grinned. "Me too. And
I'm glad to hear you got Annie back. What are you looking at on the
computer?" She leaned in closer. "Is that a list of all the
Dawn nodded. "I wanted to see
if I could tell if any of the others are faeries. I guess I can't see
anything from pictures, but at least I know what Professor Lal is
supposed to look like now."
"What are you talking about?"
both Lorelei and Edie asked at the same time. They all laughed. "You
mean your Intro to Magic professor is a faerie like Ever?" Edie
continued, leaning on the back of Corrie's chair.
"I'm totally confused,"
said Lorelei. "How do you know Ever is a faerie? And what do you
mean about Professor Marie?"
Dawn turned around to look at
Lorelei, frowning. "I thought you knew she was a faerie. You
sure seemed to know more than we did."
Lorelei gestured at her throat.
"Well, I can't really talk about what I do know. But if there
are any faeries on campus, I didn't know about it. Edie said Ever
traded herself for Annie..."
Dawn chewed on her bottom lip. "We
saw Ever turn back into a faerie after she went back to the faeries.
And in class this morning I saw something completely different from
the professor whose picture is here. She really has these creepy
black eyes and long, pointy ears. She knew I could see her, too, and
asked about the faeries from the woods."
"So if you don't know much
about faeries, how did you know about the ones in the woods?"
Lorelei grimaced. "I had a
run-in with them once."
"Do you think this faerie took
over the professor's job?" Edie asked, looking at the picture up
on the screen. She saw a pretty but ordinary-looking Hispanic woman.
But then, she wouldn't see anything unusual in the photograph,
especially if Dawn couldn't.
"I hadn't thought about that,"
Dawn said slowly. "It seems unlikely. She looks a lot like the
picture except for the eyes, ears, and hands. She really made it
sound like she's just a professor who happens to be a faerie."
"Hiding in plain sight,"
Lorelei said. "How many others could there be?"
"That's exactly what we were
wondering," said Corrie.
On Our Side
"I guess you better keep your
eye out for more faeries, Dawn," Edie said.
"I will," she said
thoughtfully. "Though I think it depends on how good their
glamours are--I couldn't see through Ever's, at least not
"It might be good to make a
list or something," Lorelei said. "It would be harder to
write down students if you don't know who they are, but I guess you
could just put descriptions..."
"You're really worried about
this, aren't you?" Corrie asked.
"Of course! Faeries are
dangerous. If they're trying to infiltrate the campus, who knows what
they could be up to?"
"Calm down," said Edie.
She could hear Lorelei's breathing becoming more labored, and that
worried her. "Just breathe. And, uh, try not to say anything
more about faeries."
Lorelei nodded, taking a deep,
gulping breath. Dawn looked at her with concern, but said, "I'm
worried too, but I don't think they're planning anything. Professor
Lal said there's an agreement that faeries can't harm students. That
makes sense, since the queen in the woods--or whoever she was--looked
like she was about to kill me but then the leaf creature reminded her
about the agreement."
Lorelei coughed. "This doesn't
count as harm?" Her voice was strained.
Dawn shook her head, her brow
wrinkling. "I guess not. She said kidnapping Annie didn't count,
"Creepy as that is, I don't
think faeries are capable of thinking the same way as humans,"
said Corrie. "Though I'd really like to see the text of that
agreement, if it's written down."
"Me too," Edie said. She
had a feeling it wasn't, though.
"Oh, I'm not saying you're
wrong," said Dawn. "I completely agree. I just get the
feeling that Professor Lal is on our side, if anyone is."
Lorelei nodded slowly. Her
breathing had calmed down. "I was really surprised to hear what
you said about Professor Marie--she's really popular and I like her a
lot. So maybe she's different from... the others."
"I hope so," said Dawn.
She looked up at the clock on the wall. "I have to get to class.
Do you guys want to meet for dinner later?"
"Sure," said Corrie. "I
have class in half an hour, but we can go when I get back."
"Works for me," said
Dawn, picking up her bag. "See you later."
"I should go, too," said
Lorelei. "I missed a couple of classes while I was in the
hospital so I've got to track down the teachers, explain, and get the
"Good luck," Edie said as
"So how were your classes,
Edie?" Corrie asked, closing the window with all the pictures of
Edie shrugged. "Decent. The
French class looks like it's going to go well, but the FYE class is
"Really?" Corrie made a
face. "That's what I have later. Well, every other student has
lived through it, so I guess we will too."
Edie spent the time waiting for
Dawn and Corrie to get back from class reading, knitting, and
starting her French homework. It wasn't due until Wednesday, but she
might have more work to do for her Tuesday/Thursday classes, and she
didn't have anything else urgent to do. It seemed she had a lot of
free time when she had nothing to do, but that was a good thing; she
would certainly have more and more challenging homework to do in the
future, and she would be happy to take this time to do it. She
thought back to how anxious she had been that night and morning and
smiled to herself. As she'd predicted, there had been nothing to be
anxious about. Of course, she had other classes tomorrow, so she
might well pass another sleepless night. She told her mind firmly
that there was nothing to be anxious about and everything would be
"I return victorious!"
came Corrie's cry from the doorway.
Edie held her knitting needles
still, so she wouldn't drop them, and looked up, grinning. "Did
your class go well?"
Corrie nodded, tossing her bag on
her bed. "Well, I survived it, anyway. The teacher is really
nice--and he is super cute--but it does look like it's going to be a
very boring class."
"Well, you can pass the time
daydreaming about him," Edie teased. She finished the pattern
repeat and put her sock away. "Ready to go to dinner, then?"
"Yeah. Let's just see if Dawn
She was, and on the way down they
collected Duncan, Rico, Lorelei, and Charlie. They staked their claim
on one of the long tables in the dining hall, each of them putting a
bag or ID card on one of the spots. When Edie returned with the
mostly-healthy dinner she'd managed to convince herself to get (it
involved a big salad that actually looked quite tasty), there was
another ID card claiming the spot next to hers--they hadn't taken up
the whole table. She put her dishes down and bent to look at the
card. That was a familiar face. Marlin. His last name was,
Edie had sat down and was
discussing the joys of Goldfish crackers with Dawn (that was the
not-quite-healthy part of her salad) when she heard a shy voice
behind her. "Hey, mind if we sit here?"
"Of course not!" Dawn
Edie turned and grinned, seeing
Annie and Salome behind her. "Please! Um, the seat next to me
appears to be taken--I don't know if you know Marlin, he lives in
Gilkey too--but you can sit on his other side or over there."
She gestured at the other side of the table.
"Great!" They moved
around the table, Annie sitting across from Edie, Salome next to her,
across from Marlin's spot.
"Who's this Marlin fellow?"
Corrie asked, leaning over Edie to look at his ID card. She sounded
"He's in my French class. He
seems like a nice guy. I guess he wants to sit with us."
Moments later, the boy himself
appeared. He grinned at them. "Hi, Edie. I hope you don't mind
me staking out a spot next to you."
"The more the merrier,"
she grinned. "I think everyone here lives in Gilkey--have you
He looked around, frowning slightly
and pushing the hair out of his eyes. It immediately fell back into
its former place, but she supposed moving it even momentarily helped
him see. "Well, I know Lorelei and Charlie, of course, and I
think I've seen some of you around, but I don't know everyone's
So she introduced around the table,
realizing as she did just how many people were actually sitting at
the table with her, theoretically her friends. She made a quick count
in her head. Nine, besides her. The number made her a little dizzy.
At least the table was set up in such a way that she couldn't really
talk to or socialize with everyone; she wouldn't be able to hear them
all! That was a small relief; she wouldn't have to feel pressured to
actually socialize with anyone. It was strange to have this many
people she felt more or less comfortable around, though.
It didn't take long for her to
finish off the salad she'd created, and while it was fairly tasty, it
did not leave her feeling full. She stared down at her plate
mournfully. Should she go get more food? What was there to get? She
had to--or wanted to--eat something healthy, but portion control was
probably important, too.
Annie, apparently, noticed her
frown. "What's wrong, Edie?"
She sighed. "I want to lose
weight, so I'm trying to eat healthier, but I'm still hungry. And I
probably shouldn't eat anything else."
Annie looked like she was going to
say something else, but Marlin interrupted. "You're on a diet,
Edie?! That's absolutely ridiculous! You don't need to lose any
weight. You look great the way you are."
She sat there blankly for a moment,
unable to come up with anything to say. Her mind was totally empty.
How did you respond to that? It was like a compliment that was
criticism at the same time. "Uh, thanks," she said finally.
"I'm not happy with my weight, though. Maybe I'll get, um... a
"I recommend them," said
Dawn, around a mouthful of one. "Not the best I've ever tried,
"That settles that, then."
Edie pushed away from the table and took her plate to the burger
station, glad to be moving away from the table for a moment. True,
she was now surrounded by strangers, but at least she didn't feel
pressured to say anything other than "Veggie burger, please"
for a little while. She stuck a brownie on her plate on the way back.
The burger was edible--better than
it might have been, certainly, but not as good as a real one. Then
again, she hadn't been expecting it to. The brownie was much better.
They walked as a mass back to Gilkey (though she couldn't help
noticing that Dawn and Rico were a little separate from the rest of
the crowd). Marlin parted from them along with Lorelei and Charlie,
on the first floor, with a "See you later."
Corrie pressed her lips together
until they were white. Edie frowned at her. "What? Is something
She shook her head. "I'll tell
you when we get back to our room." Her eyes were sparkling.
Dawn stopped at the fourth floor.
"I'm going to watch TV with Rico for a bit," she told Edie
and Corrie. "See you guys later?" They nodded, then
continued up to the fifth floor, saying goodnight to Annie and Salome
at their door.
Once the door was shut behind them,
Corrie burst out laughing. Edie stared at her, momentarily taken
aback. "What? What's so funny?"
Corrie just laughed, throwing
herself onto her bed. Eventually she took a deep breath and started
falling down. "Marlin!" she cried. "Oh, it's
"Huh?" Was she making fun
of his name? It was an unusual name--some kind of fish, she
thought--but not so that it would provoke this kind of laughter. And
Corrie wasn't the kind of person to laugh at something so
inconsequential. She sat down on her bed, waiting patiently for
Corrie to explain.
Her roommate picked up her head to
look at her, grinning. "Did you seriously not notice?"
Edie shook her head slowly. "Notice
what?" She couldn't think of anything unusual. Did he have a
weird tic or something?
Corrie sighed and let her head fall
back on the bed, still giggling. "Oh, Edie. You're so cute and
naive. He was flirting with you like crazy."
"What?" She thought back.
That would probably explain the weird compliment. Otherwise, she
didn't get it, but she shrugged and smiled. "I guess you would
know better than me. Geez, why did you take so long to tell me? If
you'd said something while he was still around, I could have
explained and saved him the trouble. Poor guy."
She snorted. "He'll figure it
out soon enough. It's obvious that you had no interest in him
whatsoever." She pushed herself up, leaning on her elbows.
"Maybe I'll steal him away from you, anyway. He's cute. Nice
Muscles were something else Edie
hadn't noticed, but it didn't matter. She didn't care whether or not
he had muscles. She finally laughed, mostly at Corrie's expression.
"Well, he's all yours."
10: Relying on Books
"Excellent," said Corrie.
"Now we just have to work on you. Any girls you've got your eye
on? I could probably help you out."
Edie shook her head slowly,
thinking back over her day. She felt a little awkward trying to tell
someone else about finding girls she liked, but Corrie was genuinely
interested, and she really appreciated the offer of help. Then again,
she couldn't think of much to tell her friend. "There are
certainly plenty of cute girls on campus, but none that I
particularly noticed, and certainly none that I thought were anything
other than straight. I was really focusing on classes today; I didn't
have much chance to notice the people around me. I only noticed
Marlin existed because he went out of his way to talk to me. Which
was probably flirting." She felt bad that she hadn't noticed
him. She would have to tell him she was a lesbian the next chance she
got, probably in class on Wednesday--she didn't want to seek him out
to tell him, because that would seem like a nasty rejection, but she
couldn't leave him dangling, either.
"Damn," Corrie said,
looking thoughtful. Then she brightened. "I know! You should
join the Rainbow Alliance! Then you'll be sure to find somebody."
"What's that?" She hadn't
heard the term, though it sounded new-agey.
"It's the club on campus for
queer people. I remember reading about it in, uh... some pamphlet."
Well, that was much better than a
new age group. "I don't know," she said, feeling awkward
again. "I'm not that great at meeting people..."
"Which is why a club is
"I don't know how to join,
Corrie shrugged. "There's a
club fair or something like that going on later in the week. They'll
probably have a table and you can find out then. See? College makes
Edie shook her head with a laugh.
"And here I thought college was for learning things."
Corrie gave a dismissive wave of
her hand, laughing. "You have the rest of your life for that.
College is for having fun! And making friends!"
"That part seems to be working
out well," she admitted. "I think I have more friends after
a few days at school than I had throughout the entire course of high
school. And I think I have you to thank."
"Me?" Corrie looked
astonished. "Don't sell yourself short, Edie. You're a great
person--you can and have easily made friends on your own!"
Edie shook her head. She didn't
agree, but she would leave it at that. If nothing else, Corrie had
given Edie a fresh start with her new nickname. That had given her
just enough of an extra boost in confidence that she could talk to
people without tripping all over herself every time she opened her
mouth. But if Corrie wanted to give Edie all the credit, she wouldn't
argue. Instead, she changed the subject, picking up the first book
that Corrie's mother had given her, which she'd finished reading that
afternoon. "I wonder if there's a pagan or Goddess sort of club.
That would be interesting to join."
"Oh, yeah?" Corrie
finally sat all the way up, an eager smile on her face. "You
like the idea, then?"
"I do." She flipped
through the book slowly. "I'm not sure I believe any of it at
all, but I really like, well... the feminism of it, I suppose. I
never went to temple all that often, but when I did, it bothered me
that God is always 'him.' Even though we had a female rabbi for a
while. It just seemed unequal, you know?" She closed the book
and put it aside. She also had a vague sort of sense that something
was out there, some sort of deity, and that she should find out what
it was, but she didn't know how to express that to Corrie. It would
probably just sound silly, anyway.
Corrie nodded quickly. "Yeah,
I totally understand. I mean, I never went to church or temple or
anything, but I talked to other people about religion, and it seemed
weird to me that their god was always male. Then again, I grew up
with the Goddess, so that's probably just what was normal to me."
"I should probably read more
books before I make any kind of decision, though. I mean, just one
book probably doesn't have all the information, right?"