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  For Jennifer, who always had an extra lightsaber

  CONTENTS

  Title Page

  Copyright Notice

  Dedication

  Fall Semester, 2011

  The Simon Snow Series

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Spring Semester, 2012

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Acknowledgments

  Also by Rainbow Rowell

  About the Author

  Copyright

  FALL SEMESTER, 2011

  The Simon Snow Series

  From Encyclowikia, the people’s encyclopedia

  This article is about the children’s book series. For other uses, see Simon Snow (disambiguation).

  Simon Snow is a series of seven fantasy books written by English philologist Gemma T. Leslie. The books tell the story of Simon Snow, an 11-year-old orphan from Lancashire who is recruited to attend the Watford School of Magicks to become a magician. As he grows older, Simon joins a group of magicians—the Mages—who are fighting the Insidious Humdrum, an evil being trying to rid the world of magic.

  Since the publication of Simon Snow and the Mage’s Heir in 2001, the books have been translated into 53 languages and, as of August 2011, have sold more than 380 million copies.

  Leslie has been criticized for the violence in the series and for creating a hero who is sometimes selfish and bad tempered. An exorcism scene in the fourth book, Simon Snow and the Selkies Four, triggered boycotts among American Christian groups in 2008. But the books are widely considered modern classics, and in 2010, Time magazine called Simon “the greatest children’s literary character since Huckleberry Finn.”

  An eighth book, the last in the series, is set to be released May 1, 2012.

  Publishing history

  Simon Snow and the Mage’s Heir, 2001

  Simon Snow and the Second Serpent, 2003

  Simon Snow and the Third Gate, 2004

  Simon Snow and the Selkies Four, 2007

  Simon Snow and the Five Blades, 2008

  Simon Snow and the Six White Hares, 2009

  Simon Snow and the Seventh Oak, 2010

  Simon Snow and the Eighth Dance, scheduled to be released May 1, 2012

  ONE

  There was a boy in her room.

  Cath looked up at the number painted on the door, then down at the room assignment in her hand.

  Pound Hall, 913.

  This was definitely room 913, but maybe it wasn’t Pound Hall—all these dormitories looked alike, like public housing towers for the elderly. Maybe Cath should try to catch her dad before he brought up the rest of her boxes.

  “You must be Cather,” the boy said, grinning and holding out his hand.

  “Cath,” she said, feeling a panicky jump in her stomach. She ignored his hand. (She was holding a box anyway, what did he expect from her?)

  This was a mistake—this had to be a mistake. She knew that Pound was a co-ed dorm.… Is there such a thing as co-ed rooms?

  The boy took the box out of her hands and set it on an empty bed. The bed on the other side of the room was already covered with clothes and boxes.

  “Do you have more stuff downstairs?” he asked. “We just finished. I think we’re going to get a burger now; do you want to get a burger? Have you been to Pear’s yet? Burgers the size of your fist.” He picked up her arm. She swallowed. “Make a fist,” he said.

  Cath did.

  “Bigger than your fist,” the boy said, dropping her hand and picking up the backpack she’d left outside the door. “Do you have more boxes? You’ve got to have more boxes. Are you hungry?”

  He was tall and thin and tan, and he looked like he’d just taken off a stocking cap, dark blond hair flopping in every direction. Cath looked down at her room assignment again. Was this Reagan?

  “Reagan!” the boy said happily. “Look, your roommate’s here.”

  A girl stepped around Cath in the doorway and glanced back coolly. She had smooth, auburn hair and an unlit cigarette in her mouth. The boy grabbed it and put it in his own mouth. “Reagan, Cather. Cather, Reagan,” he said.

  “Cath,” Cath said.

  Reagan nodded and fished in her purse for another cigarette. “I took this side,” she said, nodding to the pile of boxes on the right side of the room. “But it doesn’t matter. If you’ve got feng shui issues, feel free to move my shit.” She turned to the boy. “Ready?”

  He turned to Cath. “Coming?”

  Cath shook her head.

  When the door shut behind them, she sat on the bare mattress that was apparently hers—feng shui was the least of her issues—and laid her head against the cinder block wall.

  She just needed to settle her nerves.

  To take the anxiety she felt like black static behind her eyes and an extra heart in her throat, and shove it all back down to her stomach where it belonged—where she could at least tie it into a nice knot and work around it.

  Her dad and Wren would be up any minute, and Cath didn’t want them to know she was about to melt down. If Cath melted down, her dad would melt down. And if either of them melted down, Wren would act like they were doing it on purpose, just to ruin her perfect first day on campus. Her beautiful new adventure.

  You’re going to thank me for this, Wren kept saying.

  The first time she’d said it was back in June.

  Cath had already sent in her university housing forms, and of course she’d put Wren down as her roommate—she hadn’t thought twice about it. The two of them had shared a room for eighteen years, why stop now?

  “We’ve shared a room for eighteen years,” Wren argued. She was sitting at the head of Cath’s bed, wearing her infuriating I’m the Mature One face.

  “And it’s worked out great,” Cath said, waving her arm around their bedroom—at the stacks of books and the Simon Snow posters, at the closet where they shoved all their clothes, not even worrying most of the time what belonged to whom.

  Cath was sitting at the foot of the bed, trying not to look like the Pathetic One Who Always Cries.

  “This is college,” Wren persisted. “The whole point of college is meeting new people.”

  “The whole point of having a twin sister,” Cath said, “is not having to worry about this sort of thing. Freaky strangers who steal your tampons and smell like salad dressing and take cell phone photos of you while you sleep…”

  Wren sighed. “What are you even talking about? Why would anybody smell like salad dressing?”

  “Like vinegar,” Cath said