"—I think you’re far too eager to find an excuse to reprint books than you are to simply rebind them. Admittedly, both processes are a lot of work, but you clearly prefer ink to glue."
The red-headed woman chided him almost coyly, her hushed voice furtive as she leaned casually against Alana’s desk, the Librarian clearly walking the stacks with a visitor else the pair would have found themselves under her scrutinous gaze. If Caius at all noticed the color that teased under the freckles on her cheeks, the young Gawyne was enjoying playing ignorant far too much for his own good,
"No. You can only rebind a book so many times, no matter how talented you claim your sewing may be."
She was staring—was there ink on his face again? There was probably ink on his face. He smirked, "Parchment may hold up for a few decades of regular use, but the wear of the seasons’ turning over the cycles eventually makes it brittle while waxed string stays strong."
"Is that so—oh! Bogs!"
Penelope jumped at the sound of someone dropping a far too many books, raising a hand as if to put it on Caius’ arm in surprise, only she refrained. Standing, the restoration expert smoothed her dress with both hands instead, "I should go assess the damages."
She grinned wryly, nodding to the books the blond noble had in his stained hands, "I’ll leave you to your studies, then, Caius."
Penelope refused to refer to him with the expected terms of respect, aware of his last name, and it was probably because he talked shop with her like a commoner. Or it was because she was aware he didn’t care. He flashed her a smile and watched her retreat toward the stacks where someone had either dropped an entire armful of books or tipped the contents of a shelf onto the floor. Either, of course, was a pain in the arse the young Gawyne was thankful he didn’t have to deal with.
The library was far warmer than was comfortable, Vhalar still too young to be refreshing and cool. The young Gawyne felt the lingering heat of Saun’s passing when outdoors, and inside with the still, dusty air of the library was no better. The northerner looked forward to the shifting of seasons, warm blooded and eager to welcome the chill of the cold cycle, especially now that he’d tasted Viden’s frozen temperatures. With an impatient sigh, Caius realized he’d come to actually do some work for class and not just discuss the finer details of when to rebind a book and when to reprint one.
The two books his ink-stained hands held were interesting enough: required reading for the season’s classes. Blue eyes scanned the various tables occupied by others studying and visiting the library, and the noble printmaker chose a table without children, occupied only by another young man with a stack of books and a snack. Some bread.
Had he never been in a library before?
And he was still touching the pages!
Caius gently but obviously thumped his two relatively smaller books down for emphasis on his impending presence, sliding into one of the leathery seats and leaning bony elbows on the table as he leaned forward. For a moment, it seemed as though the young Gawyne was about to share a prophetic secret, so serious was his pale, aquiline expression,
"If Alana the librarian catches you eating in here, she’s liable to revoke your privileges."
Caius’ delivery was deadpan, his tone so flat it was hard to tell whether he was teasing or telling the truth, but then his eyes warmed to appear near green, his mixed heritage obvious, and the slightest hint of a lopsided smile creased its way onto his face, "You’d best tuck that away before someone sits here just with the hopes of sharing an entire meal with you instead of reading a book."
Caius was not