Chapter 36: Human Magic
“Well…” Edie shifted against the tree, trying to stand somewhere that snow wouldn’t drip down onto her nose, and taking the time to formulate her thoughts. “My friends who are taking magic classes say that there are two ways to get magic. One is the magic inside you, and the other is the magic that’s in everything else, and you have to do a sort of meditation to use that magic.”
Leila was gazing out at the falling snow, not looking at Edie. “Yes, I understand that to be the case for humans.”
It wasn’t a very helpful answer. Edie frowned. “Okay… so, when we were healing the trees, which kind were we using? I don’t remember doing any kind of meditation, but I didn’t find magic in my own body or soul or whatever, either. I know you were doing most of the work, but you were using my magic, weren’t you?”
Leila frowned, turned her head, then lifted her hand and gently touched Edie’s forehead. Her finger was ice-cold. “We were using magic in a different way. I could not risk using the earth’s magic when I did not know, and had good reason to believe, that the magic in this area was poisoned as well as the trees themselves.”
Edie shook her head. None of that made any sense to her. “Why did I get so tired and hungry after we healed the trees, though?”
Leila raised her eyebrows. “You remember that?”
“Not really.” Edie frowned. “I’m not sure why, actually. But my friends told me about it…”
“It’s all right,” Leila soothed. “You don’t need to remember. The answer is that I was using your energies, which is not exactly the same as using the magic you would find within yourself if you were doing human magic.”
“What do you mean, human magic? What other kind of magic would I be doing?”
“It is possible, though unlikely, that you could use glamour.” Leila shrugged. “There is no need to worry about that. Why are you asking about your depleted energy?”
“Today Dawn did a bunch of magic.” Edie held up her mittened hand toward the sky and caught a few snowflakes in it. She brought it down to show to Leila. “Apparently she made the storm come early. But it made her really tired and hungry, which magic hasn’t done before. So I wondered if she was doing the same thing I did.”
“Of course not,” Leila said, glancing at the snowflakes without much interest. Edie shook her mitten to drop them to the ground. “She was doing her own magic, using either her own magical energies or those of the land,” Leila continued. “I do not know… actually, wait a moment.” She knelt suddenly, dug through the half a foot of snow at their feet, and touched the bare ground. Then she brought her fingers up to her nose and sniffed.
“What are you doing?” Edie asked.
Leila stood up and brushed off her wet hands on Edie’s coat. “Testing the magic. I thought that it seemed somewhat different this evening. I believe that some of your friend’s magic has entered the field that surrounds this land. That would take away some of her energy and make her feel tired.”
Edie stared at the patch of bare ground, quickly becoming covered over with fresh snowflakes. “How does she get it back?”
“It will return on its own.” Leila kissed Edie quickly on the cheek. “Farewell.”
Edie turned, but before she could respond, Leila was striding through the snow, apparently unimpeded by its weight or dampness. She tried calling after her, but Leila didn’t respond.
Shaken and confused, she made her way back to Gilkey. The wind had died down somewhat, so at least it was no longer driving snow into her face. She was still panting by the time she got into the building, though, and she had to take off her hat and coat to shake the snow off of them before she could go past the entryway.
When she opened the door to the common room, it was nearly just as she had left it; Roe and Talia were gone, but the others were still sitting around, nibbling on pizza, and talking. The light and warmth were extremely welcome.
“Edie!” Corrie called as she walked in, grinning. “Didn’t think you’d be back tonight.”
Edie shrugged. “We, ah… well, the snow is too much.” She didn’t seem to remember why exactly she and Leila hadn’t spent much time together. Leila probably needed to rest. She was a dryad…
“Scootch over, Annie,” said Corrie. They made space for Edie on the couch, and she sat between them gladly. It was so much warmer in here.
“What were you doing out there, anyway?” Dawn asked.
“Trees,” said Edie. “Helping the trees. It doesn’t matter. I’m glad I’m back.”