Lucien rarely finds dreamers in the library. When he does he escorts them through the stacks with a firm but gentle hand, shell-shocked and wide-eyed barely noticing him. He lets them go like so many balloons, to bumble their way to the edge of their own personal Dreaming once more and finally awake. Even before Lucien had the library to look after his work was a constant if irregular stream of bookkeeping and managerial tasks his master felt unsuited for. He hardly has the time for entertaining.
There are places in the library Lucien does not think about. The neglected books of which he refrains from running his fingertips over the spines when his path leads him through their stacks, and he spares only a cursory examination of their titles when they become lost.
It starts slow. The Dreaming is running smoother than it has in an age and Morpheus's mind always seemed exactly like it was - in infinite places at once, as large as the entire Dreaming - but Daniel almost smiles when he looks at Lucien, like he's thinking about one thing in particular.
"I believe it is nearly past time for another census, my Lord," Lucien says, steering Dream back to the everyday. He feels uncomfortably like a puzzle under that gaze, one close to being cracked and discarded like so much superficial contrivance. Daniel is no longer uncertain and in fact even less likely to flinch than his predecessor, but now Lucien is beginning to feel that way.
"I took one myself just recently, Lucien, thank you," Dream says calmly.
Lucien knows Dream can feel his surprise and is pleased by it.
"If you wish to visit the outer dreaming you need no permission," Dream tells him.
Even after Lucien has left, he feels Dream's new eyes on him and in him changed and intimately familiar. Nothing of the Dreaming is hidden from its own lord anymore. Certainly not Lucien's own mind. As his hands daily take up pieces of the Dream King and coax them into delicate order, he is never alone. The air breathes around him softly.
Lucien has been finding himself in the library with nothing more to do more than he ever had before Morpheus died. But he is the librarian, Mervyn will be quick to remind him. No one is ever in the library as much as Lucien is. He thinks about Daniel visiting every door and cave and dwelling-place in his land, sharing Abel's tea and soothing the petty nightmares' fears in every dark corner. He thinks of Daniel gently guiding the dreamers - lost in the shifting castle-labyrinth for ages that are only minutes in their own world, whose eyes ask for things Daniel will never grant and he sends them home with none of it.
It's only mercy what he does. He finds them reading, clear-eyed and unwilling to leave. They fall asleep in the stacks with tear-streaked cheeks and clutching books that will disappear on waking. He sends them back into the Dreaming wild. He removes the titles from their sleeping fingers and frowns at the breaking lines between their eyebrows. For an acute moment, he feels observed and he turns slowly to miles upon miles of closed covers, silent but for the dreamer's tranquilized breathing.
There are aspects of Dream Lucien cares not to know; places in his library he doesn't often go. This fledgling Dream is just as great and terrible as the last, and more terrible for his heart-wrenching beauty. His kindness. For long, uninterrupted time-periods, Lucien wanders the unmappable rows and piles. In his normal order, he would find strays along the way, balancing them in his arms to be returned to their proper rows and fill the empty spaces. The leatherbound volume that creeps along the ground scrapes itself on the floor. Its pages are mussed and fraying, it rubs its ink onto the stone with every determined inch and Lucien's heart breaks to touch it. It's more than he can bear.
He's still standing when a hand reaches down, lifting the book like it's the most precious thing. Daniel smoothes its paper conscientiously, uncreasing each of its corners with patience and closes it carefully. There's newly bled ink on his fingers. He touches Lucien's cheek. Lucien feels the cold mark it leaves and takes the book out of Dream's hands. It drips black ink tears down the hallway and his wrists as if emptying an ocean doomed to be replenished each step of the way.
Lucien's chronically stained fingers are dry when he empties a space on one of the shelves - in the pristine and sterile historical section - uncontaminated by the one which has bled all over his fingers and marked his hot cheek. It's spine opens eagerly between his hands and the ancient words swim in front of his eyes until he puts it back.
The dreamer in front of Lucien says he'll never go back. He paces up and down to keep from falling awake. The book, he says, is the book his wife always talked about writing, but the one she told only him about. Other people need to know about this book, he says, holding it to his chest like the most precious thing. He stares up at Lucien from flat on his back on the floor with wild eyes. Lucien watches him for a very long time. Did you ever read something so true that putting it into words seemed to tarnish it, the dreamer whispers. He is half awake already.
Lucien thinks of Daniel and his bright eyes and ink-wet fingers and his library. You are not the only one, Lucien answers the lost dreamer's first question. I promise.
The dreamer leaves like they all do and there is nothing special about the book abandoned on the floor to be seen. Lucien doesn't top the tower of heavy volumes he transports in his arms with the tiny rectangle, but tucks it in his coat pocket. It is a warm weight above his ribs after he returns the last to its place. The library is silent and his and upstairs the light is perfect for reading.