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Of Longing In Libraries

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No one — no one — shushes more formidably than Paris Geller.

And considering the constant stream of noisy idiots who romp through her library, well, she always has the opportunity to put her shushing skills to use. Not to brag, but she’s made children cry. A lot. A few grown-ups have gotten suspiciously teary, too.

That’s what you get for treating your local library like a Viking mead hall.

There’s only one regular library visitor that Paris hasn’t harbored secret dreams of pushing a bookshelf onto: Rory Gilmore. (Paris knows her name because of her library card. Not that Paris has stared at that library card for a weirdly prolonged amount of time. She didn’t ogle the library card; she processed the information on it, that’s all. Yeah, all right, so Paris has the ability to read. So she read a name. So what? You shut up.)

Rory Gilmore is around Paris’s age; she has long brown hair and cheerful blue eyes and an impressive collection of not-quite-stylish but very comfy-looking sweaters. She comes into the library at least a few times a week, and every time she does, her ritual is the same: she wanders the stacks for at least a good half hour and doesn’t stop until the stack of books in her arms is so tall that it might topple at any second. Then she settles down at the table in the corner and looks through each book, a giddy little hint of a smile on her face — like the books call out to her so irresistibly that she can’t even wait to get home to dive in.

Rory Gilmore never really says anything besides “Hi!” and “Bye!” and “Thanks!”. She respects The Library Shushing Code … but she doesn’t look at Paris like Paris is Librarian Grendel either. Sometimes if Paris is passing by with a book cart, Rory will look up from whatever she’s reading and give her a brief, distracted smile. Like she’s been pulled out of the world on those pages just long enough to give a little happy ‘what’s up’ to the fact of Paris’s existence.

Whenever Rory checks out books, Paris makes sure to give her a free bookmark. She’s not sentimental about it or anything. It’s a free bookmark. It’s not a trip for two to Venice. It’s not an engagement ring. It’s just a little token of ‘I appreciate you for having the basic decency to shut up at the library.’

Once, around Christmastime, the bookmark is shaped like a snowman.

"That’s so cute!" Rory Gilmore says, and beams at Paris as she tucks the snowman bookmark into Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart: Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna. 

"Most people don’t know that the first known writer in history was a woman," Paris says, unable to resist the title. "It’s all ‘ooh, ahh, Gilgamesh,’ but does the Norton Anthology ever take a minute to mention Enheduanna? Hell no. When it comes to ancient lit, we get bread crumbs. Fragments of Sappho by translators whose foremost priority is ‘no homo’."

"Stupid patriarchy," Rory says, shaking a fist in good-humored feminist outrage. Then she grabs her formidable stack of books and heads out the door.

Paris stares after her for longer than she means to.

"She raged at the patriarchy. You should ask her to coffee," Madeleine says, swooping in like the grim reaper of irrational dating advice.

"She’s totally come hithering you with those baby blues," Louise adds, suddenly at Paris’s other side. "It’s very ‘naughty librarian, I’ve been bad!’"

"Don’t you have Gossip Girls to shelve?" Paris snaps. "I wasn’t aware I hired you to stand around talking like you’re in a porno." 

"Seriously," Louise says, undeterred. "Ask her."

Paris glares at her.

But maybe entertains the idea just a little.