“She was so beautiful,” said Andre. “She was so smart and so clever and so, I don’t know, cool. Everyone thought she was great. I of course promptly fell in love with her.”
“And she fell in love with you?” asked Lilah.
Andre almost burst into tears, but bewilderment seemed to keep his eyes dry. He croaked out, “I don’t know. I actually, don’t, know.”
“Okay. Just start from the beginning. When you first met Lucy of Endweith. You took this class.”
“I took the class,” said Andre. “I was seventeen, I turned eighteen that year. Classes ran for a full year, well, ten months, at the Institute in Olaren.”
“It was quadmesters at Valantoniu,” said Annelise. “We only took two classes at a time.”
“We had semester classes,” said Zinnia. “Or so I’m told.”
“So anyway,” said Lilah, “your history with Lady Lucy.”
“I took three years of alchemy classes with her. She was this amazing sort of natural technical alchemist, if you know what I mean. She lectured without notes, she wasn’t dramatic but you couldn’t look away, I couldn’t look away. The third year, we had a one-to-one lab relationship, we worked together every day in the lab by ourselves, or in her conference room by ourselves, or we’d walk in the woods looking for ingredients. I, um, really fell for her. She was thirty-five, I was twenty. We talked about everything. She was unfulfilled, she felt she should be doing something important and she wasn’t. And we agreed on everything about politics, about culture. Finally I just couldn’t help myself. I asked her to abandon her post and come with me and make a difference.”
“By blowing up major banks,” said Rob.
“So did you have a sexual relationship with her?” asked Lilah. “Wasn’t she married to Henry at that time? At, um—that would be at Endweith, or some other place? It’s fine, I just need to know.”
“No, I did not. Yes, she was,” said Andre.
“And you asked her to leave with you?”
“I swear this. She was in love with me as I was with her. Yes, she was married to Henry. Yes, she was 35 and I was not quite 21. I am telling you, she would have gone with me, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave him.”
“So,” said Rob, “you hang about her dinner parties at Whistler because she chose to stay at Endweith.”
“I don’t know, you see. I remember all this happening at the Institute in Olaren, or at Endweith, but here you find me at, you say, Whistler Hall.”
“Yeah,” said Lilah. “How did you get there anyway?”
“I don’t know,” said Andre.
“Well, you have all the memories you’re supposed to have, except how you ended up at Whistler. Do you have any other memories?”
Andre clouded up again. After a few moments, he said, “I remember when I last saw her. It was in their garden at Endweith. Henry was out, at a conference, and she, she invited me over for dinner.” The others made noises of sympathy. “But it was because it would be the last time. We hardly touched, well, we kissed, she said ‘I love you,’ but it was clear she was declining my offer and I would be forced to leave alone.”
“And you left,” said Rob.
Andre took a long drink, then refilled his glass. “I don’t know,” he said. “But I had a dream or something that I met her when we were both 21, and she went with me, and we fought the powers that be across the Universe.”
“You dreamt that everything worked out,” said Zinnia.
“No, no,” he said, sitting back as if fading a little. “it really was, she really did run away with me.”
“When you were 21, and she was 21,” said Lilah.
“Interesting,” said George to Annelise.
“Yeah,” said Andre, straining his mind to think about it.
“And you didn’t time travel?” asked Annelise.
“I don’t know how to time travel,” said Andre.
“You didn’t know how to time travel?”
“I don’t. I don’t have the spell, I don’t have an item, I don’t time travel.”
“Then how the hell—?” asked Lilah. “The other one time traveled, surely, that’s how he got to the bank at Adari.”
“The bank,” said Andre. “Adari.” But he had no more to say on that and finished by raising his eyebrows.
“You were there, for sure? At Adari?” He nodded, but uncertainly. “How did you get here, from there, and from there? You’re how old?”
“Twenty-two,” said Andre. He looked puzzled, and added, “I think.”
“And which thing happened to you? You fell in love with 35-year-old Lucy and she turned you down, so you ran away with 21-year-old Lucy. And ended up at Whistler, where none of the aforementioned Lucys lived, at a dinner party hosted by Lady Lucy, age 97 or something. How did that all happen?”
“She lives to be over a hundred,” said Andre. “Two hundred, I think. She has great great great grandchildren. She and Henry.” He wiped his eyes.
“So how could this happen?” Lilah looked at Zinnia, holding a pale green gem.
“You were right,” said Zinnia. “He is a sort of ghost.”
“His time trace was blurry,” said Annelise.
“He wasn’t entirely there,” said Zinnia. They looked at him, and he looked back at them. “But he’s entirely here, because of my spell, and also because of the way the city is.”
“Well, we’ll have to find him a room,” said Lilah. “But what is he!”