“What do you mean?” asked Dawn, as Edie’s shoulders slumped.
“My great-grandmother,” Edie explained. “I don’t know if she’s still alive or if she actually died. I mean, she’s a faerie, it seems like she must still be alive. But you’re right, Derwen. She’s probably the only one who would be able to tell me anything. And that’s the whole problem.”
“I’d tell you to forget about all this faerie stuff and focus on being human, but it would be pretty hypocritical of me,” said Derwen with a grin. She moved away to lean against the door again.
Corrie left the room and closed the door quietly behind her, not wanting to draw attention to the room. She didn’t want anyone getting curious and knocking on the door. But there was no one in the hall anyway, except one girl who lived a couple of doors down and was probably just going to the bathroom. She and Corrie exchanged nods of greeting, and then Corrie headed for the end of the hall, controlling her muscles so she wouldn’t break into a run.
It took Pru until almost the last day of the semester to find a four-leaf clover.
When she finally had a chance to search, it was easy. She plucked it hastily and tucked it away in the waistband of her skirt, where it touched her skin and would not fall; she had no pockets.
I stood up and paced around the kitchen, shaking my head. Dahlia was suggesting that my toddler son, Henry, could apport through time at will and had visited us as children. That was ludicrous. It just wasn't possible.
"It couldn't have been him," I said. "I mean, he was imaginary. Our parents would have noticed if a real kid was playing with us when we were make-believing Hank Henry."
Pru could not believe what she saw.
Through the stone with the hole in it, the walls of the building vanished. The tables vanished. Some of the people vanished, and far, far more of them changed.
It was three weeks later. Pru was awake in bed, but then she was usually awake, these days. Her classes were suffering. But every time she almost fell asleep, she would hear that eerie music.
It didn’t make sense. Her dorm was all the way across campus from where she’d seen the party. Maybe the music was moving… but no, it was just in her head. She knew it was all in her head, but no matter how much other music she listened to, no matter how much she tried to focus on her schoolwork or her friends or a new book she was reading, it was always in her head.
Her beer bottle hit a rock and shattered. Pru swore, freed her arm, and then began flailing around with her hands, seeking whatever had grabbed her.
Then there was a pale face in front of her in the darkness and narrow hands were holding her wrists. “What are you doing, human?” he growled—a man’s voice, if the face was indeterminate. “Are you stupid?”
Pru stared at him. “I just wanted to know what the music was.” Then— “Human?”
She was looking at him.
She was not entirely sober, but she was not high enough to be seeing things.
"Oh," I said, "One other thing. Did you ever tell Henry that you used to call me 'Cally,' at all?"
My sister scratched her head. "Not that I can think of, why?"
"When Bianca and I found him, he said he'd been playing with 'Dahlly' and 'Cally.' That's what we called each other, for ages. It seemed strange for him to invent that."
Dahlia leaned back in her seat and folded her arms. She stared off into space, as if thinking. I tilted my head, waiting for her to go on.
"You're thinking something, I can tell."
The party was in full swing. People were talking, laughing, dancing. Paper lanterns had been strung up between the trees. Beer and wine and joints were being passed around. A guy had his arm around Pru’s shoulders, and a girl had just offered to blow smoke into her mouth.
Pru was glad she’d found people she could get along with at Chatoyant College, and it had been nice of Jolie to bring her along, but she didn’t quite think this party was her scene.
There was a tiny tree growing out of Pru’s hand.
She stared at it, her open mouth getting bigger and bigger as the tree grew. Like a time-lapse image, the trunk moved upward, branches pushed their way out, leaves unfurled, roots spread seeking soil.
She’d done that. With magic that came from within herself.
“Good work, Pru,” said Professor Barrett, his big, bushy eyebrows going up and his beard twitching in his version of a smile. “I knew you’d be able to get this.”
“It’s so beautiful,” she whispered.