Madam Lobellia tried to pace her office at a respectable speed. Her mother had taught her that a lady should never rush, but, then again, her mother never thought her daughter would work with dragons. Lobellia picked up speed and wrung her hands. She was outraged. This wasn’t the first time The Dragon Academy of Remedial Knowledge (D.A.R.K.) had interrupted her schedule.

Oh yes, she had a schedule. She had every moment of Interference lined up like a row of targets she never missed—unless D.A.R.K. got in the way.

D.A.R.K. was the only dragon organization that acted as though they suspected the existence of humans, yet didn’t want confirmation of that existence. Ever. Their purpose at the library was as vague as the reasons they gave for their programs and hall-closures. They spoke of remedies and safety, but never specified what needed remedying or why dragons needed protection. Yes, they knew something they didn’t want to know.

Lobellia knew she shouldn’t be Interfering with dragons. But with D.A.R.K. causing confusion, Interfering had become a necessity, like air and water to her. She didn’t do it for the thrill of breaking rules or defying death. As Head Librarian, she alone could make herself known to the beasts, so she alone had the power to keep a small bridge between their worlds. If previous librarians had taken more care, she wouldn’t have to be such the renegade. And why hadn’t they taken more care?

Maybe none of them had watched a dragon like Prestor. Lobellia stopped pacing and smiled faintly at her pin-board covered in sketches of the scholarly dragon. She had had plenty of time to draw him as he sat in his study, reading about humans. Prestor made her want to tear the veil between their worlds in two. And so her Schedule of Interferences was created. Using stories of humans throughout history, she would slowly, carefully, lead the dragon in the direction of her world.

But D.A.R.K. had to be dealt with first.

Lobellia paced again. Interfering with one sympathetic dragon was one thing, Interfering with an entire organization of hostile dragons was another. She’d need help on this venture. Without looking up from the floor, she called, “Darcy!” and within moments a girl of about nineteen with frazzled red hair and wide, eager eyes came bursting into the room holding a fountain pen and a pad of paper.

“Yes, Madam? What is it? Oh—I brought the wrong pen, I use the blue one for note taking, if you could wait one second, you don’t mind? I’m sorry, it’s just the wrong pen, you understand,” and she disappeared as quickly as she came.

Lobellia looked up at the ceiling. Why had she hired this girl? The young apprentice was far too excitable. Which is why she had hired her. You don’t find too many people excited for the chance to commit their entire lives to a library for dragons.

Darcy rushed back into the office, knocking over a wastepaper basket in the process. “Sorry, so sorry, Madame.” She righted the basket, threw her hair out of her face and donned a most serious expression, pen poised. “I’m ready, Madame.”

At first, Lobellia made no sound or movement. If she started this war, there would be no undoing whatever damage it caused. Finally, she said, “We’re going to investigate D.A.R.K.”

Darcy wrote down two words and then looked up. “What? What do you mean? Doesn’t that mean we’ll have to…get close?”

Lobellia blinked away to the pin-board, letting the sketches fill her with hope, then flicked her eyes back to Darcy and grinned. “Very close.”

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