Of Mice and Fae

(A Magical Midlife Librarian story, featuring Wallace the hob and Agatha the dragon)

Wallace found the mouse cage empty for the third day in a row.

That would have been all well and good if there hadn’t been a mouse roaming the Library of Atlantis, but the chewed-upon books on the first floor suggested otherwise. They’d been trade romance paperbacks instead of magical scrolls, but still, it ruffled Wallace’s refined sensibilities. As the hob who cleaned the library, he was supposed to take care of such things.

And now the mouse cage was empty not only of mice but off the piece of cheese he’d placed inside. Wallace had no intention of killing the dreadful thing, but he wanted to trap it before it invited more friends to eat books.

“Blasted rodent,” he grumbled, studying the cage for defects. “How is the little bugger avoiding activating the pressure lever?”

Before Wallace could solve his conundrum, Rosalind approached him between the first-floor stacks of books. He quickly hid the cage behind his back. As the Librarian of Atlantis, he could have asked her to access the magic within Yggdrasil, the sentient tree of life, to get rid of the rodent, but he was a professional. He could handle a small mouse problem.

“Hey, Wallace,” Rosalind greeted. “I’m going to Oregon to visit my brother. You need anything?”

“No,” he sniffed, trying to act nonchalant.

“Really? Not some new broom or bleach or heavy-duty paper towels…?”

“I’m quite fine, thank you,” he cut her off.

She shrugged. “Okay, suit yourself. I do have a favor to ask you though. Can you feed Agatha while I’m gone?”

Wallace grimaced. “The dragon? Can’t she take care of herself?”

“She can for the most part, but I promised her a special salmon snack for lunch. I can’t leave that out like dry food without stinking up my entire apartment.”

“So you want to stink up downstairs instead?” he asked, appalled that Rosalind would bring her subpar hygiene into the library proper.

Rosalind rolled her eyes. “No. That’s why I’m asking you to feed her around noon. Just tap on any nearby wall and Iggy will bring it out for you.”

He still bristled. “The dragon can’t eat downstairs.”

“Not inside the library proper, but she can eat in the hallway.” Rosalind put her hands on her hips. “C’mon, Wallace, do me this one solid.”

“All right, all right,” he grumbled. “Just remember that you owe me one.”

“I always do,” she said, walking away. She’d made it halfway across the atrium before she called over her shoulder, “Are you sure you don’t need anything?”

“Absolutely not,” he grunted, and with that, she finally left him alone.

She also left him with the problem of what to about the mouse. He rubbed his chin while he tried to figure out what else he could use to lure the rodent out of hiding.

As it turned out, he didn’t need to do anything. Something squeaked nearby, then scurried beneath a shelf.

“There you are!” Wallace ran after it. He scared the mouse, chasing it between a few shelves and noting its small size. No wonder it wasn’t activating the cage. It was one of the tiniest mice he had ever seen. It probably didn’t weight enough to set off the cage.

He lost sight of the mouse soon afterward, and his spirits fell. The thought of vermin within the library walls set his nerves on edge. He tried to get his mind off it by doing his normal chores—polishing the atrium for the second time this week and wiping down the entire library’s table surfaces—but his mind kept wandering back to his mouse problem.

By lunchtime, he’d all but forgotten about the dragon until Agatha scared him by sneaking up behind him as he scrubbed a desk on the second floor.

“Egads, dragon!” he screeched. “You nearly gave me a heart attack.”

It was hard to tell given her serpentine face, but Agatha seemed to grin at him as smoke burst out of her nostrils.

“Don’t you dare light any fires around here,” he scolded with a crooked finger. “Even Yggdrasil won’t stand for that.”

But Agatha ignored the hob. She whipped her head around, staring at a little reading nook with a plush armchair and standing lamp.

Wallace followed her gaze. “You are far too large for that armchair. Don’t you dare—”

Agatha leapt like a cat, talons spread, to attack the chair.

“Stop, you scaly beast!” Wallace yelled, raising his broom to smack Agatha. “You’ll ruin the upholstery!”

But Agatha could have cared less about upholstery. She landed on the armchair, her scaly tail thwacking the neighboring lamp aside to expose the shivering form of the elusive mouse.

Agatha peered down at the mouse, fascinated. The mouse tried to run away, but Agatha had her cornered. Every time the mouse darted forward, the dragon was just a little faster, batting it gently with a talon so the mouse couldn’t escape.

Wallace saw an opportunity when he saw one. “Wait here!” he yelled behind his back as he ran as fast as his stubby legs allowed to the nearest staircase. “I’ll be right back!”

Wallace quickly returned with the mouse cage, half worried that Agatha would have grown bored with her mouse toy. But the dragon had spread her body out on the floor to further entrap the mouse as the poor rodent squeaked around in circles.

“Now see here,” Wallace said, reaching over the dragon’s ebony scales. “You don’t need to torture the thing. I just need to put it back outside where it belongs.”

He laid the cage where the mouse could reach it but realized he hadn’t reset the trap with cheese. He wondered how he’d be able to entice the mouse inside, but the mouse was no fool. The mouse recognized an opportunity to escape and fled into the cage.

Wallace manually closed the trap and looked inside the mesh at the shivering mouse. “All right then. Off you go.”

Agatha huffed, irritated that she’d lost her source of amusement.

“I haven’t forgotten about you,” Wallace said. “I’ll feed you as soon as I get back.”


Rosalind came back a bit earlier than expected. Her brother hadn’t been home after all, so she’d just done some light shopping and returned to the Library of Atlantis. Even though the hob hadn’t asked for anything, she’d brought Wallace some new lemon-scented detergent as a thank you.

To her surprise, she found Agatha eating a bowl of salmon on the atrium floor, not far from the Grimoire.

“Agatha!” Rosalind scolded. “You’re not supposed to eat in here. Wallace will throw a fit if he finds out.”

“No, he won’t,” Wallace announced right behind her. “I told her she could eat there.”

Rosalind jumped in surprise. “Don’t get in the habit of jumping out of nowhere like Henry. And what’s the deal with letting Agatha eat inside the library?”

Wallace shrugged. “It’s fine.” He spied the lemon detergent in her hands. “For me? Thanks.” He yanked it from her hands and wandered off.

Rosalind watched him leave with a puzzled look on her face. “I’ll never figure out hobs. Not as long as I live.”


Read Curse of the Fae Library for more cozy fantasy fiction.