Edmund blushed, feeling foolish. He stepped out from behind the shelves, and walked over to Junapa, his hands clasped behind him. When he stopped a few feet away from her, she looked up at him, and Edmund saw a pale-blue sweet sizzling in her eyes.
“Mrs. Knittle,” Edmund said, greeting her as politely as he knew how. Her eyebrow jutted upwards in surprise.
“It’s been a long time since anyone in this family called me Mrs. Knittle,” she said, slowly. “Mrs. Junapa is appropriate for family.”
“Okay, Mrs. Junapa,” Edmund nodded. “What is that you are reading?”
Junapa closed her eyes briefly, as if pained, and then opened them, returning to her book.
“It is a book unfit for young children,” she said, turning a page. “I must say, I am not a little surprised to see you. I might almost say impressed. I knew I had locked the door when last I left, and I thought I was the only one who knew about the entrance to the Library.”
“I thought I was,” Edmund admitted. Junapa held up her hand.
“Don’t interrupt,” she said, firmly, as her hand lowered. “I can only assume you have been exploring Moulde Hall quite thoroughly; and effectively too, if you can open locks.”
“I was,” Edmund said, after a pause to make sure he wasn’t interrupting. “Then I found… I found the library, and got distracted.” He didn’t mention the Thing in the Tower, and decided now was not the time to explain how anything else he found in the Mansion simply wouldn’t be able to compare to the wonder of this massive room. Junapa nodded slowly, and turned another page in her book.
“And I presume you have told no one about this room?”
“I value my privacy greatly. It would displease me if anyone else learned about the library. Do you understand?”
“Very good,” she said, her faint smile returning to her face. “I should go back to your books, then. There is much here that can distract you.” Edmund didn’t move. After a few moments, Junapa looked up at him, her faint smile still plain though her eyes were cold. “Did you hear me?”
“Yes,” Edmund said, quietly. He felt clumsy, looking at her. Every movement was smooth and graceful with her. Her smile was simple, and polite, while her gaze was distant, and calculating. It was all a dreadful contrast to her sunken face and pale skin that made her look so ghostly.
Edmund shifted his weight, scratching at the back of his leg with his foot. He realized that he was a complete novice playing a game with a practiced master–he couldn’t hope to compete… but he’d come this far, and if Junapa could read his every intention on his face, than there was no point in not proceeding. He took a deep breath, and said:
“I wanted to talk with you.”