“Cold iron,” Leila breathed, staring at Corrie’s bracelets. “Like this stick.” Her head came up swiftly before Corrie could reply. Her green eyes bored into Corrie’s. “You created these as a weapon against me.”
Corrie swallowed. It was the truth, but she couldn’t say that. “We created them to protect ourselves. People keep attacking us—Edie and our other friends. Edie probably told you about Marlin?”
“Yes.” Leila made some gesture with the steel wire that made Tom jump back again. “But this wouldn’t be the first time you used iron to attack me.”
Leila squeezed Edith’s hand almost painfully hard as she whirled around to face her. “How do you know Mardalan?”
Edith shook her head, trying to clear it and figure out what the answer to Leila’s question was. “She was… in the woods? Oh! She kidnapped Annie. We went to rescue her.” She wanted to turn her face away, to ask Mardalan some questions, but her eyes seemed glued to Leila’s bright green ones. She hoped that looking into her eyes would at least convince Leila of her honesty. Why was she so upset about Edith and Mardalan having met?
“Nothing’s going on,” Genesis said quickly. “Why would you think something was?”
“You’re both acting really weird,” Edie said. “I don’t think you’re telling me the truth. When I saw you I thought we would all help the trees together, but now I remember Leila said that she needed me specifically. Right, Leila?” She turned to her girlfriend, frowning and uncomfortable. “You said I had special…”
They spent all day making bracelets and crafting. Edie had moved on from the bracelets, having made one for each of her wrists, and was demonstrating how to turn the heel on a knitted sock to Naomi when she realized what time it was. “I’d better go,” she said, quickly knitting up the last few stitches to finish the row. “I have to meet Leila.”
Corrie looked up at her quickly, frowning. “Are you sure you have to go?”
Corrie gulped and squeezed Edie’s hand even tighter. Edie must be seeing through Leila’s glamour. How could she do that with the steel bracelet, and Corrie couldn’t? Maybe she was touching her clover too.
Leila reached up to touch her ear, frowning. “There’s nothing wrong with my ears.”
Edie shook her head. “They look different.” She tried to pull her hand out of Corrie’s grasp, then looked down at it, frowning. “Corrie, let go of me, please.”
“No way,” Corrie said firmly. “We’re going. You don’t need to stand around talking to her.”
They made a little party of it, after dinner: the six friends sitting in Dawn and Naomi’s room, where Naomi’s jewelry-making supplies were, talking and making bracelets. Actually, Edie and Naomi were making bracelets, and everyone else was just talking. Edie had more success with the larger knitting needles she’d gotten out of her room, and she finished a bracelet first. She tried it on. Corrie watched her carefully, but she didn’t seem to have any discomfort with the iron against her skin.
Edie felt Leila’s hand on her shoulder, shaking her lightly. She opened her eyes. “Did I fall asleep?”
“Yes, dear. Are you feeling better?” Leila, kneeling beside her, smiled down at her. The angry red marks that had been on her cheek were gone, and her head nearly brushed the lowest branches of the tree.
“I am!” Apparently she had needed a nap. She hadn’t slept all that well the night before, had she? That would explain why she felt so woozy when she and Leila had left the orchard. “How about you? You look better.”
“Oh good, you’re here.” Leila sighed and shook her head, then pushed her hands over the top of her head as though smoothing her hair down. “It has been quite a day, I tell you. Shall we get started?”
“Sure,” said Edie. “What are we doing?” She was pretty sure they were doing the same thing they’d done last night, but she didn’t actually remember what that was. Then, as Leila turned toward her, she forgot her question. She gasped and ran towards her girlfriend, reaching out toward her face. “What happened to your cheek?”
Leila just smiled at Corrie, her expression calm, seeming to not feel any discomfort from being slammed up against the wall. “You see? You can’t even control your emotions. Useless.”
“If you think we’re so useless, what are you doing with Edie? Why don’t you just let her go?” Corrie kept her hands on Leila’s shoulders, her arm muscles straining to hold the faerie in place. She was too angry at Leila’s contemptuous treatment to do anything else. How could she say that humans were useless?
Leila’s smile widened. “Ah, you see, Edith is not human.”