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A Sort Of Fairytale

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Maia is very fond of his job. The library is a peaceful place, most of the time, quiet and orderly; to be sure, storytime can grow a little distressingly loud, but it is the noise of - for the most part - joyful children, and Maia does not mind it very much. He likes the calm certainty of having put the books in order and knowing they are correct; he likes the gentle routine of checking them out and checking them in again. But his favorite part, actually, is answering the truly bizarre questions which people bring to the reference desk, and finding them books which fill their needs. It’s rather fun, and about as much excitement as he really wants to have in his life.

“Good afternoon, may we help you?” he asks the next patron, a woman clearly of fully elvish blood with a spark in her blue eyes that tells Maia her question is going to be interesting.

“We wish to know the history of the sunblades,” she says, grinning. “Do you have any texts on the matter?”

Maia grins back - he can’t quite help it. “We most certainly do,” he says, and glances hastily at her hands to see if there is an oath ring there before adding, “osmin. Let me show you where.”

She follows him into the stacks eagerly, running her fingers over the spines of the books as they pass, and accepts the three thick tomes he finds with an impish quirk of her lips. “These will do very well, osmer,” she says cheerfully, and heads back to the desk where Csevet is waiting to take her card.

She’s back again the next week, looking for information on mountain cats, and the week after that, hunting for ancient dance steps. Maia doesn’t think he’s imagining that she looks first for him - on the fourth week he comes out to the desk a little later than usual, and finds her loitering in front of the new book display, only approaching to ask her question when she is quite sure Thara has gone and Maia is in place. Csevet teases Maia about it, gently - both her waiting, and the fact that Maia knows perfectly well that he was visibly glad to see her. But Csevet doesn’t mean any harm, and Maia teases back, just as gently, about Csevet’s pining over the handsome young officer who comes in on the night the library stays open late, and blushes every time he sees Csevet.

“What sort of books do you like to read, osmer?” Maia’s favorite patron asks while he leads her towards the history section one day about three months after her first visit. Maia blushes, glad it won’t show easily on his dark skin.

“We confess we are rather fond of folktales, osmin,” he replies.

“Would you show us one that you like?” she asks. Maia blushes harder, but he nods, and when he’s found the history books she wanted, he leads her back towards the folktales, selecting a slim volume of Barizhese stories his mother used to tell him.

“We are quite fond of this one,” he says, offering it, and she puts down the history tomes and takes the folktales with both hands, brushing a finger gently over the inlaid gold-leaf letters of the title.

“Then we suspect we will enjoy it a great deal,” she says, a flush rising high on her cheeks. “Might we - might we discuss it with you, when we have finished?”

“That would be very pleasant,” Maia says, and then, feeling very bold and rather nervous, “We are accustomed to take our luncheon around twelve of the clock. If you wished to discuss the tales over luncheon some afternoon -?”

“That would delight us very much,” she says, smiling, and then, “We have just realized we do not know your name, osmer.”

Maia can feel his ears burning. “My name is Maia,” he says softly, and watches her go quite pink in astonishment and delight at his use of the informal.

“And mine is Csethiro,” she replies. “It is a pleasure to meet thee at last, Maia. I shall read as swiftly as I may, that we may meet again the sooner.”

“I shall await the day,” Maia says hoarsely, and Csethiro ducks her head a little and snatches up her history books and gives him a brief, bright, delighted smile before she heads for the desk.

Csevet teases Maia unmercifully, but he also makes sure no one bothers Maia on the day Csethiro shows up just before noon with the book of folktales and a very hopeful expression, so Maia thinks his friend can be forgiven, just this once.