Firelight nestled like a bird in the lenses of askew reading glasses, flickering while the librarian, Ivonne scratched at parchment restlessly.
“Plague it,” Her voice rasped, unused for hours while she bend over this fragile book attempting to record the various tales and limericks drilling honeycombs from her head, extracting the honey of her sanity. She set the pen down with such force that it set into the wood of the writing desk.
Ivonne groaned and pushed away from the desk, rubbing her temples and rolling her wrists, slowly curling out of the unladylike hunch her back had dipped into.
As a librarian, it was her duty to watch over stories like children, or trap them should they run like hares lest they be lost to the chaos of the world. Many of these stories ranged from the tame fairy tales and lore told from cultures the world over to sleepy-eyed children who dreamed of stars, to the stories whose very existences were strung with blood and bound with skin, dark as introverted crows. Much of her time was simply spent monitoring their placement on shelves and their travels in the arms of their various lovers, but occasionally Ivonne had to pin down a story from one existence to another as one would a butterfly. This particular story was conceived through oral tradition and to save it from a death only stories would know, she had had to recall every single detail of the story as she had heard it from a stranger in a bar not but three months ago.
Ivonne very much dreaded the times spent leaned over a desk like this, thinking of the horrors of her posture being subjected to these monstrous hours and her well-endowed patience wearing thinner than the books that had yet to go under care and operation. But she was a woman of more ambition than a pretty figure or a quiet life. She certainly didn't get to her position preferring tea cakes over inkpots. A good story certainly required a fraction of the air in your lungs, vials of sweat from your brow, and if it was truly as worthy of being on the same shelves as the books Ivonne governed over, rivers if not entire continent-lengths of blood.
With only the candlestick and her pages as witness, Ivonne allowed her pale hair to pour over her shoulders as she freed it from the various pins and holds it had been prisoner in. Massaging her hair and temples once again, she sighed. The gentle melancholy of wind did not sway the tired girl from her moment of peace, nor did the strange cackle sputtering from a nearby book as it spit out an unused apostrophe that sunk into the floor with all the grace of chewing tabacco.
Only when a high-pitched wail pierced the silence of her alcove did she press her teeth together in further frustration.
“I swear, that damned cat. If he's tearing into the Princes again, I'll declaw him.”
What she swore was the grinding of her teeth minutes before became the soft purring of a shadow bleeding its' way across the bare pages. Just as she had begun to rise from her chair, she sat once more, her shoulders square and her back straight.
“Koschei,” Ivonne's tongue clicked. Her hand reached out to pet the observing cat as he climbed onto her chest and curled his tail against her neck.
Her fingers brushed away stray hairs that departed from their owner's body as she massaged and fretted over him. As he slunk into a satisfying hum, Ivonne's fingers scrunched up the scruff of his neck and the unassuming ebony cat found himself a few inches hovering from his resting place on her breast.
“If you bother the protagonists of the fantasy section again, you tricky beast, I will send you back to the poorly constructed, grammatically horrendous hell-pit you once called home.”
Koschei replied with a blinking of his mismatched eyes, politely disinterested in her complaints.
She shook her head, kissed his nose, and dropped him upon her chest where he resumed purring.
The two sat like that for quite some time, the librarian muddling over how to pin this story down and the cat swatting at her buzzy thoughts like after-thought prey.
It was in this comfortable blanket of silence that a book fell from a uncharted shelf. It fell on its' spine and cracked. Somewhere, a beast emerged from those bleeding pages, ink dripping from its' teeth and festering with dust and dog-eared with abuse and abandonment.
In a shuffle of pages, it roared.