Perhaps ♝ for E/R?


♝ – Reading something together.

Fournier, venerable librarian, was on her last nerve. All through last week
someone has been playing some sort of prank on her and – while it wasn’t all
that funny to begin with – it was getting very old very quickly.

It wasn’t
even anything outright harmful or offensive – just a misplaced book. A
constantly, wilfully misplaced book. That somehow got misplaced during the
night when the library was locked and the alarm was up.

And that
was the mind bogging part, wasn’t it? That some hooligan would go through the
pain of unlocking the doors, switching off the alarm, find the book (always the
same, a copy of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables), place it on one of the reading
tables, neatly switch the alarm back on and lock up the building. A devious
mind indeed.

Well, a
devious mind with way too much free time.

Mme Fournier’s first idea was to blame scatter-brained colleagues who forgot to
fully tidy up, but after a couple of days when she locked up herself, and made
sure that she was the last to leave she was forced to discard this theory.

Which left
her only with the former, pointlessly absurd alternative.

Well, if
the other wanted war, then there shall be war!

This was
how one fine June evening found the valiant librarian hiding among the shelves
armed with an electric torch and one of the metal bars she used to prop the
windows with. She found a nice place where she had a clear view of the table
the mysterious offender always left the book – but, come night, she would be
hard to spot herself.

with her plan and equipment she settled in for the wait. And wait she did, for
hours and hours. Maybe the fact that she didn’t turn the alarm on tonight
warned the prankster off? Entirely possible. But now she was here she wasn’t
about to budge. She looked down on her watch, straining her eyes to make out
the time. She didn’t succeed so she looked up again, frustrated…

And stared.

Well then.

Two young
men were sitting at the table, huddled close together, reading a book. No,
actually reading the book, the same
worn copy of Les Misérables that kept being misplaced.

contemplated jumping out on them right then, but quickly decided against it.
Let’s assess the situation first, let’s not be hasty!

The most
prominent thing about her culprits was their odd clothing. It looked like they
got lost on their way to a dress-up party, their attire fit more with the book
they were reading than with the modern world. Coat, vest, cravat – they had
everything a real XIX th century gentleman would need.

On a second
thought though, maybe only one of them was a man? Well, sure they were both
dressed like men, but the one – he, if it was indeed a he, looked more like a
woman, with his smooth face, soft, fine features and long blond hair.

Ah well.
Maybe he was just very young.

companion was of a heavier build and had a rougher appearance. Well, ‘rough’ was
putting it nicely. The pretty blond didn’t seem to mind in the least though. He
allowed the other to rest his chin on his shoulder as they progressed with
their reading. They made no sound whatsoever, except for the quiet rustling of
the turning pages.

Fournier, remembering her quest, drew a deep breath, meaning to march over and
tell them off, when the blond boy made a sudden movement with his head,
accidentally throwing off his friend. Full lips contorting into a contemptuous little
pout he tapped his finger irritably on the page – presumably indicating an
offending passage. His companion leant over to look at it – then sat back, his
whole body shaking with soundless laughter. The blond one rolled his eyes and
shook his head, obviously thinking his friend impossible.

The bigger
man finally settled down and, taking the other’s hand with infinite care and
gentleness, brushed a small, apologetic kiss over his knuckles.  This seemed to have done the trick: while the
pretty blond didn’t outright smile his expression softened as he gazed at his
companion (lover? partner?) fondly.

Lovely as
this tender display was, Mme Fournier supposed it shouldn’t be happening in a
locked up library, at arse-o-clock in the night and so she decided to finally
step up and put an end to it.

She stood
up, straightened her clothing and stepped forward…

The young
men were gone.

There was
no sound and no movement save for the wavering of the book’s pages in the slight

She was