Give Us Some Figgy Pudding*

Presumably, my characters do not celebrate Christmas as they do not exist in the "real world", lol. But this is something I imagined—like a sort of Christmas-themed Epilogue for my (as-yet-undisclosed) story. Enjoy!

I stop walking a minute after we pass the last shop, and he halts, half a step behind me. "Fisher, it's okay … just tell me what you want. I'll get it for you. I want to buy you something—please."

He stills. I half-turn to face him. He's hunched in on himself, dark uncut hair shading his eyes.

The dust of the street swirls around us, and we are both sweating, and I'm tired.

I wait, tamping down my impatience.

Finally he mumbles, "No. No, really, Meg. I'm—I'm all right. I don't need anything." He doesn't look at me.

I don't clench my fists, because that will make him nervous if he sees, but I press my lips together to hold in my sigh. His eyes are still slanted at the ground.

"I saw your face when we were at the bakery, Fisher," I say flatly, dodging the urge to sound sympathetic and instead regulating all the emotion from my voice. It's easy for me to do—harder to appear friendly or trustworthy, especially with my pointy, pinched face and cold blue eyes.

Yet he trusts me.

He peeks at me from behind his fringe, grimacing. "I don't need anything … I—I don't, I can't." He ducks his head away, lips thin and pressed together.

Ask for it, he's saying. He can't ask for it. He can't want; all those years with Darryn (I won't call him his father, no matter that he himself still does, whether through custom or fear, I don't know), all those years living lonely in that house—it taught him to take only when he was given, and never ask for more. Don't cause trouble; don't speak unless spoken too; don't look anyone in the eye; just don't ask.

He touches me on the arm, delicately, with a finger, bringing me back to where we are on the path, to the present. "Can we just go home now?" he ventures.

"No," I say, ignoring his almost imperceptible flinch. As if I wasn't before, I am angry now. Not at him, but he won't know that.

I have to do this.

I head back down the street, knowing he is trailing behind me, soundless, and I cringe inwardly at the thought that this is how it has been his whole life. Following people. Trapped by his fear—by Darryn, by Kristopher … and now me.

I swallow the lump in my throat, tell myself it's not the same, and say to him, softly, "What did you want?"

We stand in front of the bakery window, where bread, cakes and everything else flaky and sugary and wonderful is displayed. He chews his lip, and his eyes dart to one particular slice displayed in the window.

I point to it and keep my voice low. "That one?"

He doesn't respond, though a little shiver runs through him despite the heat, and he grasps his elbows and hugs them to himself, sending me an uncertain look with those brown doe eyes.

I march through the store door and say to the lady at the counter, "I'd like that fruit loaf in the window, please."

I pay for it, and she takes it out and wraps it up in paper. I turn around.

Fisher is hovering with wide eyes, almost as if he cannot believe what I have just done. He's seen me buy things before, even food for us to eat, good food. But this is different. This is unnecessary, and, to him, sinfully superfluous.

I hold the bread out to him, warm, smelling crackly and sweet even within its layer of paper.

"Here. It's for you. Take it." I want him to believe it.

He receives it, slowly, and then I lead him back out of the shop.

I turn around when we're out; he takes a step back, clutching the bread, face still open and a tiny bit hopeful.

"Do you want to eat it now?" I ask him.

"All of it now?" His eyes, impossibly, seem to widen more.

My grin feels weighed down by the sadness I feel in my eyes. "If you want to. We can get more later. Where do you want to eat it? Here? Or back at home?"

He tilts his head and looks at me from under his lashes. "Here," he breathes at last, and I'm sure that's all the direction I'm going to get from him, so I lead us to a nice shadowy tree and we sit down underneath it and I let him unwrap the bread. Although I have a knife in my sock, he just hands me a generous broken-off piece before I can think of taking charge again.

I want to cheer.

It is crumbly and crusty and soft, embedded with sultanas and other assorted dried fruits.

He's watching me.

I raise an eyebrow at him. "Are you going to have some as well? I'm not going to put any of this near my mouth until you have a taste."

He swallows, and taking my words as the permission he needs, quickly tears off a hunk and we watch each other put the bread away.

He closes his eyes, savouring the fruity goodness.

It's not too sweet, and not too rich either, which I don't mind. He doesn't seem to mind at all.

"This is good," I say, and he opens his eyes and looks at me with a shy grin on his face.

"Good?" I ask, when he doesn't say anything.

He smiles, his brown eyes sparkling. "Good. You—d'you want some more?"

So we slowly end up eating half a loaf of fruity bread, as the sun sets (the sky a dreamy swirl of peach, orange and pink clouds with little, solitary patches of blue), backs set against warm tree bark, solid and real.

And I think he'll be all right.

*this name. Just cracks me up. I hate that verse of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" and that's the only reason it's there. Yeah, it doesn't make sense with the story because they're not even eating pudding… But without further ado—Merry Christmas, friends.

Original characters: Fisher, Meg, Darryn, Kristopher - Note: Names are changed for this story.

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