“The warlock. I think it’s Morgan.”
Eventually, they make their way back to the main part of the cave. Zoe has pages and pages of notes and half a lunchbox stuffed with glowing mushrooms and impossible flowers, and they’re so busy arguing over whether or not she should take them home (“What if your mom finds them, Zee?”) that neither of them notice Widow Adeline until they’ve all-but run into her.
“School’s out for the day, is it?”
Eli yelps, which comes out as a kind of strange bark, and his immediate instinct is to rear up on his hind legs and spread his wings to try and hide Zoe. As if Widow Adeline hadn’t seen them coming from yards away.
“I assume I don’t want to know,” Adeline says. Then, tilting her head to the side as if to peer around Eli’s wing: “Good afternoon, Miss Chung.”
Zoe, bravely, steps out from behind Eli. “Um. Hello, Ms. Desmarais,” she says which, actually, Eli thinks is the first time he’s ever heard someone call Window Adeline anything other than “Widow Adeline.”
“Desmarais, darling,” Adeline says. Correcting Zoe’s pronunciation, Eli assumes, although he can’t hear the difference.
“Oh, well, I mean. It’s Chung, not ‘Chung’”—that difference, Eli can hear—“but, yanno . . .” Zoe shrugs.
“Touché. I see Elias has let you in on his little secret.”
Zoe looks between Eli and Adeline, brows arching, and Eli says, “It’s okay. She knows. She’s been helping me.”
“Attempting to teach you the language and history of your ancestors, yes. And you, Miss . . . Chung”—better, this time—“I hear you’ve also been indulging in some extracurriculars.” She gestures at Zoe’s lunchbox, brimming with flora.