Madame Lobellia parted a few of the twigs in Prestor’s toy province and maneuvered her way through them, careful not to snag her violet, taffeta dress. She’d wrapped her ring of keys in strips of velvet so that they wouldn’t clink and give her away. She picked her way over the spongy moss, keeping her eyes fixed on the dragon. When he flipped his tail, she froze, waiting to see if it was a precursor to him shifting his entire body around. When he didn’t move, she walked backwards a few steps and leaned against one of the cold stones Prestor had laid across his toy province to represent the Angor mountain range.
The longer Lobellia watched him, the more her muscles relaxed and her gaze softened. She shouldn’t be this close to one of these creatures, or at least not this exposed. If he turned only a little, he would catch her in his peripheral. With any other dragon, this prospect would have scared her, but not with Prestor. She had a weakness for him. He was the only dragon (that she knew of) who truly believed in humans. He’d been reading the autobiography of C.S. Lewis, but it was slow going. There weren’t any copies of it in the library, only torn fragments. She’d managed to sneak some of them into his view when he was perusing the archives, but it was a meager offering and she wanted to do more.
Of course this was against the Agreement. Humans were not to tamper with a dragon’s knowledge regarding human existence, or risk exposure in any way. This was written in ancient ink on sacred parchment and Lobellia had signed that document herself, the latest signature in a long succession of librarians. Lobellia lowered her chin and narrowed her eyes. Yes, she’d signed it, but she also knew how to go over and under and around it—and not break it.
Across the room lay a stack of books Prestor had gathered on Lewis. The second one to the bottom was the one he’d need to understand what the children’s author had been trying to communicate through his toy garden experience. What she would do next would be a risk, but Prestor was worth risks.
Summoning up her Gift of Retrieving, she threw her hands in the direction of the book and instantly felt its words on her fingers, some velvet, some rough. She grabbed them—all of them—and yanked them forward. The book slipped out from under the rest of the stack, making the entire pile topple over onto the stone floor. Then, in one last flurry, she thrust the book toward him so that it stood out from the jumble of spines and crumpled pages.
A dragon’s ears are sharp, and Prestor had already turned his head toward the table before the book had barely nudged out of the stack. He saw the entire thing happen, but by the time his glance landed on his toy province, Lobellia had vanished. There was more than one exit to Prestor’s study. She knew this because she had created it.
When Lobellia arrived back in her own study, she shut its door and leaned against it. A smile crept across her face. Prestor would learn the name of Lewis’ spell tonight.