Chapter Two: Moonsong At Morning

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II

A violent wind of autumnal passion swept over a cluster of flowering witch hazel shrubs, stirring the fleshy star-shaped petals. The horizon darkened into a smoldering, pewter sky—the landscape something of a moody, fatigued dream. Debris and dry leaves got swept up and twisted in spirals, plunged and tossed and soaring. A ragged damp gust wrapped around Camilla, her rain-coat snapping and fluttering against her legs. The wind slapped against her face, a low, gritty perception of depth, endlessly algid and bitter.

The library was sitting ominously at the end of a long, winding path that was fixed between a phalanx of clotted Syringa reticulata. When the first raindrop fell on the tip of Camilla's nose, she began to really run, as though she was faster than the rain itself.

Tumescent clouds merged and split wildly across the firmament like a demented amitosis. Camilla swung open the door, a massive Victorian walnut monstrosity from a bygone era of gothic revival, the faces presenting deeply carved pocket panels with linenfold design and arched tops. 

The librarian, who appeared overly occupied with something on the computer, her desk spread with pots of ink and yellowing papers and old books, did look up at Camilla and greeted her warmly, handing her an aeruginous brass key to the small Encyclopedia sanctum. It was the best spot for reasons entirely aesthetic and superficial, but it was a beguiling room nonetheless—charming, entirely secluded and hidden. Students had to fawn on the librarian, bring her donuts or coffee or rare literature, and the hope was that she'd let them study in the locked room; only five allowed inside at a time.

Camilla slunk inside, spotting Nathan at one of the shadowy tables, an open laptop in front of him. He was leaning on his elbows, his hair wild and windswept, falling in eyes. She walked closer, setting her bag quietly on the chair across from his. 

Nathan looked up at Camilla then, and his eyes had this particular way of widening, as though he couldn't quite believe she existed. It was always awe. It was always devastation.

"Hi," she whispered.

The lights above their heads began to flicker and wink, artificial stars sepulchered in dust that made Camilla's head swim, an early storm starting to rage outside.

"They'll cancel class tomorrow if the power goes out," Nathan said happily. "This is why I love going to an old ass school."

Camilla reached across the table and stole half of her boyfriend's sandwich from a brown-paper bag that had gone soggy. "I had the best class today, I loved it."

"Yeah?" Nathan's gaze went bright. He always seemed to be most excited when Camilla was telling him things. "What happened?"

She smirked. "It was a normal class but we talked about Fae. Fae, Nathan. It was so cool."

"Fae," he repeated, intrigued. "What did you learn, Cam?"

Camilla hid her smile, her mouth was full of limp lettuce and moist bread. "Basically, I learned that they're pretty scary, sort of violent, and manipulative."

"They sound cool," Nathan replied, playing with a strand of Camilla's hair. "Aren't they like elves?"

"There's humanoid Fae and they look most like us, I guess," she explained. "Except they're much more beautiful. Actually, I think the word my professor used was terrifying. Terrifyingly beautiful." Camilla rested her head on a pile of tattered textbooks. "How were your classes?"

"Boring," he told her. "I missed you a lot."

"I missed you more."

They sat quietly in the library to attempt their homework as the earth seemed to crack and shutter around them. Wind and rain battered the windows flagrantly, taping on the glass like a dyspeptic lover, and the library was closing in ten minutes.

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