Angel of Contents

Mother Goose had tried to be patient, she really had. There was a new bookstore in town- well, sort of new. She thought. Because although A. Z. Fell and Co, with lovely, hand-painted copperplate lettering and cobwebby coated windows, blended perfectly into the surrounding shops, the goose could not recall ever once setting foot in there.

So it had to be new.

Perhaps antique bookshops just came with their windows painted shut?

In any case, the opening hours as posted made no sense and after a week of causally/borderline obsessively popping by, it was clear she had no choice but to break in. I mean, hello, there were unread books in there! What was Briar supposed to do, just visit a different store? HA. HAHAHA. That'd be CRAZY!!!

Much better to pack a satchel of light snacks, a sturdy flashlight, and poof inside!

 

    • Aziraphale
      Aziraphale

      “Poofing” inside was super effective. Some rare book dealers just didn’t know a thing about magical security.... or they weren’t afraid of whatever might be “poofing” in the night. 

      Let us ponder which one this owner was for just a moment.

      Mother Goose would find herself in one of the many dark corners of the store (there were so many) eye level with a batch of books about etiquette. Nearby there was a rustling a sort of clacking sound. Animal like and very near. Guard dog? Spectral mountain lion? A crab with knives taped to it’s claws?! 

      Well no. None of those things hopped into sight and wiggled it’s nose at her in silent judgment. Francis the rabbit watched her with the dark eyed hyper focused stare of prey animals everywhere. 

      “Begging your pardon, I’m afraid we’re closed at present.” Said a slightly confused voice behind her.

       

      Aziraphale was seated on a small cleared off section of windowsill, cup of tea in hand and a very old pile of books sitting (nearly as primly as he was) beside him. 

      • Mother Goose
        Mother Goose

        "Bunny!" If this place was trying to be unwelcoming, it was failing! Mother Goose immediately started trying to tempt the guard rabbit closer for cuddles, pulling out a cress sandwich. "Awwwww, c'mhere, you precious lil babey- oh!"

        Surprised, Mother Goose gave the traditional response of the Startled Customer. "I'm just looking!!" she said, turning to face the voice. "And... no, you aren't?" the goose bluffed. He looked like a creampuff doing his best to be a real bird, all soft and plump and vanilla-scented. But there something about him that didn't quite fit that, something that she felt deep in her magic, if she concentrated she could probably figure it out...

        "Oh my goodness, is that a signed copy of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe?!?! May I?" Mother Goose exclaimed instead. This wasn't a question, because she was already shaking out archival gloves with one hand, handing the sandwich to the bemused book-keep with the other. "Wow," she breathed, gently tracing a finger over the inscription (To My Biggest Fan, Aziraphale, All My Love Clive Staples).

        • Aziraphale
          Aziraphale

          He had barely a moment to make that nasally hum of the beginning of the answer to her question when the arrival of hand gear gave him pause and he was presented with some finger food. 

          Aziraphale glanced at the rabbit who, because he was a rabbit, just sat still waiting for a reward for existing instead of doing something clever like shrug or say 'dames' in the tones of a grizzled Noir antihero. 

          "Uh-" he rallied eloquently as he blinked at the sandwich and because well... Francis was indeed still existing and it didn't appear to be poisoned, broke off a corner and tossed it to the bunny who felt that this was, of course, the only logical outcome to this scenario. He peered at the page she was admiring and smiled to himself at the memory. "Quite the eccentric old Jack. A bit touch and go for a while there, but he came around in the end." A tricky little conversion if he did say so himself. Atheists. What cynical little darlings. "Ah he was-" He paused, rewriting the narrative before he inadvertently let his age show. He was rubbish at this when he got excited. "-he was very impressed by the lovely first edition of the private publication of The Tale of Peter Rabbit with a delightful little drawing of the titular scamp by the authoress that is in-" eh. "-The Collection." he motioned to the shop at large. "Would you like to see it? You're already wearing the required accessories."

          Archival gloves! What a delight to see someone with some sense and respect for-well not normal operating hours obviously, or doors... or... Come to think of it.

          "Before that though I feel I must ask your name and how you managed to materialize in my shop and with what intentions?" 

          • Mother Goose
            Mother Goose

            "YES, yes please!" the goose said delightedly. Where was the book? There were so many books, all arranged by some private organizational scheme, possibly designed to create maximum frustration in the average browsing customer.  

            "Oh, how rude of me- I was just so excited at all the-" she gestured at the collection, clearly overwhelmed with joy at the density. "I'm Briar Grimm," Briar said, shaking the other bird's hand politely. "I'm a literal witch. Well, not a literal witch, I mean, I am literally a witch but I meant more I'm literary witch, as in I specialize in literature-based magic, especially children's fiction, for various crimes and..." This was getting pretty rambling, oh dear. "I'm a former librarian?" Mother Goose concluded.

            • Aziraphale
              Aziraphale

              Aziraphale nodded and frowned as he tried to follow the roundabout introduction. One word in particular ringing like a gong each time it was spoken. 

              Witch.

              Where was a pin when you needed one?

              "A literary magic caster, what a novel idea." Ohoho. Puns. "It is a delight to meet you Ms. Grimm, former librarian. I am Aziraphale, this is my shop and this is Francis. He is a rabbit." Just in case there was any confusion. He replaced The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe on it's shelf and regarded her for a curious moment before shrugging slightly and waving her on to follow him. "Come along, it's in the back room.  I would like to request that you don't cast any fire spells in the shop, we are a no smoking establishment since 1708." Well... they had been, and that had been a very unpopular stance during certain time periods but Aziraphale still found himself heartbroken over the senseless loss of the Library of-oh well she had been a librarian perhaps she-? "No point in tempting another Library of Alexandria is there? Tragic. Absolutely wretched loss of so many priceless writings." He sighed morosely, still too soon? Forever would be too soon for the book loving angel.

              He lead her to the small back room where his curated collection was much more neatly organized as, this was a private stockroom of sorts and there was no chance that a customer would wander back here uninvited. With great care he offered the promised book to her. 

              "I am afraid I have depressed myself." He admitted somberly. "I am going to boost my spirits with a bit of spirits. Wine specifically, a very fine Château Margaux 1957, would you care for a glass? It's got lovely spice and plum notes, a little Earthy, I think you might enjoy it. Of course you'd have to abstain until you're done looking at the-" He motioned toward the book, on the title page a little doodle of Peter happily munching on an apple was accompanied by 'To my Dear Mr. Fell, stay out of the garden! All my love, Beatrice.' "-stock." 

              As she decided he'd pull a bottle from a wine rack situated in this catch all of a storeroom and set about uncorking it. 

              "As a matter of curiosity, what brings you to my shop? Not looking to steal anything I hope?"

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