Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey Read Online (FREE)
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THE LIBRARY AT OSTHORNE ACADEMY for Young Mages was silent save for the whisper of the books in the Theoretical Magic section. Honeyed sun poured through two tall windows onto rows of empty study tables, which still gleamed with the freshness of summer cleaning. It was a small library—each section took up only a row or two of tall metal shelves—but it was big enough to hide in. Sunlight from the windows along one wall of the library spilled between the shelves, casting long shadows. None of the students had come to linger, not in the first week of school—they’d dashed in and then out again, looking for friends or for classes they’d never been to before. Now they were all downstairs at the welcome-back dinner, an all-staff-all-students meal that marked the end of the first week of classes. They’d joke there about house-elves and pumpkin juice—or at least the freshmen would. By the time they were sophomores, that vein of humor was worn beyond use.
Mrs. Webb was not at the welcome-back dinner, and neither was Dylan DeCambray. One was hunting the other, a familiar pastime for both of them. Dylan was hiding in the stacks—specifically, in the Poison and Theoretical Poison section. He had tucked himself into the shadow of a returns cart, his legs cramping as he listened to Mrs. Webb’s measured footfalls in the next section over: Electricity, Theoretical Electricity, Electrical Manipulations.
“Mr. DeCambray, let’s not have another year like this. You’re a senior now. I’d have expected you to be more mature than you were as a freshman.” Her voice was thick with age. The condemnation of immaturity might have moved another student to self-immolation, but Dylan had a higher purpose. He would never let an authority figure stand in the way of that purpose, no matter the depths of their misunderstanding.
Mrs. Webb rounded the shelves into the Poison section. She moved slowly, deliberately—she’d often told students that hurrying was a fool’s errand. If you need to hurry, her oft-repeated saying went, you’re already too late. The early-evening shadows cast by the drooping sun should have deepened Mrs. Webb’s wrinkles, but, as she turned, the golden haze that made it into the stacks hit her profile just right, illuminating the young woman she once had been. In that moment, only white hair, sculpted as always into a perfect bouffant, belied her eighty-six years. A few more steps, and her face was in shadow once more. Mrs. Webb was just a short distance from the returns cart, close enough for Dylan to inhale the faint powdery smell of her perfume.
Dylan took a deep breath, then cupped his hands and blew into them. He waved them in front of himself, a mime smearing grease across the inside of his invisible box. Mrs. Webb walked a few feet in front of him. Her sensible black clogs brushed across the industrial gray carpet tiles with a steady, rhythmic shush-shush-shush. She peered around the returns cart over the top of her red horn-rimmed glasses, looking straight into Dylan’s face. He could have counted the black freckles that dotted her dark brown skin. She hardly had to stoop to be at eye level with seventeen-year-old Dylan; when he stood at his full six-foot height, he towered over the tiny woman.