The next day Juliet is absent from school. And the day after that, and the one after that too.
Nat cuddles into her girlfriend, beaming at her.
"Right. I forgot you two have no humanity. Fine. Expect me to turn you into vegetables the next time I have to slam an emotion barrier up."
Anders slides into the seat next to Lorie. "Eden and some football mates are covering Flo, so, magic talk on. I assume Lorie read you the riot act about not making Flo cry?"
Seo kisses her girlfriend. "Miss Hawthorne gives the best lectures."
"Wow. Sometimes I wonder at your emotional control. And then I remember neither of you have emotions."
Anders shakes himself. "Right. Lorie? You picked anything up?"
"You remember how I felt some distress from her after swim practice?"
"Seem to recall you feeling the same from me."
"Find me a time I don't." Lorie nudges Anders. "But that feeling? Almost entirely localised around her house."
"You know where she lives?"
"Yeah, I uh-" Lorie tucks some hair behind her ear. "Sometimes the emotions...they call real strong and I can't not follow them. I'm working on not responding."
Nat scoffs. "Denying your magical gift is tantamount to giving it up."
"Maybe in the Realm, Nat, but here? You get fucking arrested for it. Not that it ever mattered to you," Lorie says tiredly, gesturing at Seo.
"My girl would never keep a secret from me. That I couldn't figure out, anyway."
"Not for lack of trying," Nat purrs into Seo's throat.
Anders' head thuds onto the table.
"There is a GIRL MISSING and we are THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO GIVE A SHIT."
"Fuck's sake, Lorie, you're so dramatic," Nat says, rolling her eyes. "We have no evidence that it's anything other than an emotional breakdown, and in that case, Flo and Anders are like, the most capable of handling it. You want someone brainwashed? Their blood to boil? You want a thrall? Then involve me."
Nat mutters a few more swears under her breath.
She pets both Nat and Anders' heads. "I'm working in the office fourth period today. I'll print out her official records. Before you go storming into the girl's home."
"I don't think that's a good-"
Nat presses one finger to Lorie's lips. "No one will even know Seo is there. She might not be magic, but she's magic."
"It's hardly the first time I've done it. How did you think I got dirt on that eleventh-grade loser last term?"
Lorie leans back. "Wait...that was you!?"
"Holy shit, Seo..." Anders sounds in awe.
"He had it coming. And nobody suspected a thing."
"Seo, please, stop describing the ways you utterly destroyed him or I'm going to have to drag you into the nearest shadowy corner."