Nico (vilakins) wrote,

Ficlet: The Selfish Hermit

For last week's b7friday fairy tale challenge, although it's not strictly one; it's based on an Oscar Wilde story.

The Selfish Hermit

Once upon a time, there was a selfish hermit. He was very rich (because he had been very clever) and he lived in a large house in a large garden surrounded by a large stone wall. He had it built to keep people out, because he had said long ago that he wanted to be so rich that no one could touch him, and he was.

However, while he was away once--checking up on some investments because he didn't have any friends he could visit--the local children discovered what a wonderful garden he had when one of them happened to climb the wall to get her radio-controlled pursuit ship back. So he returned to find his garden full of laughing, playing children, and it seemed to him that there was one in each tree, shaking the branches and eating his fruit. Now, it wasn't possible for him to consume all the delicious, golden peaches in his garden, but it was his garden, it had cost a lot to have it landscaped by the best designer on Gauda Prime, and he had no intention of sharing it. So he went outside and shooed all the children away.

He worked hard all the next day, setting up a force field so that they wouldn't be able to get in again.

It worked.

It worked a little too well, because after that, it was always winter in his garden. This was because the force field, which covered his house and garden like the dome over the city he was born in, kept too much sun out, and it was dark, cold, and covered in snow. Much like his heart.

One day though, he woke up to hear birds singing in his garden, and the laughter of children again. He went to his window, and his trees were full of children, as bright as flowers, even though there was no fruit. The snow was melted and tiny green leaves were already unfurling on the bare branches.

The force field was down.

The selfish hermit bared his teeth and was about to run downstairs and outside to threaten the children with the pump-action shotgun he kept by the front door, but then he saw a little boy, standing under a tree and crying. Something about the little boy looked very familiar. The selfish hermit's breath caught in his throat and he ran downstairs and outside and over to the child.

"Why are you crying?" he demanded curtly.

"Because I'm too little and I can't reach the branches."

"That is obvious, and crying will hardly help." The selfish hermit looked at the boy's big brown eyes and his pointed pixie eyebrows and his fine blond hair, sighed, and picked him up and set him on a branch. The child smiled down at him like the sun coming out from behind a cloud, and his smile reminded the hermit of something he'd rather forget, so he turned without another word and went inside.

The children were back the next day, but though the selfish hermit looked carefully from his window, he couldn't see the little boy he had spoken to. He went outside and asked the other children, but they said they didn't know him, Finally, one of them admitted that the little boy's father had forbidden him to come back.

"Who is his father?"

"I'm no tattle-tale," the girl said, and ran off with her toy spaceship.

Every day, the selfish hermit looked to see if the little boy was back, right though summer and winter, until it was summer again. He felt very tired and sad and thought a lot about things that had happened years ago, and he came to see that being rich wasn't not all it was cracked up to be, and neither was not being touched.

Then one day, the little boy was there. He was standing under the same tree, and he was still too small to reach the lowest branches. The selfish hermit ran down and lifted the boy up in to the tree, and was going to ask him who he was, when he heard a familiar voice.

"Well, well, I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with me own eyes."

The hermit looked up and there was a man there, with his elbows on the wall and his chin on his hands. For a moment, the hermit didn't speak, then he said, "He takes after you, Vila."

"Yeah, Soolin says so too. He's got her hair, mind."

"I assume it was he who got through the force field."

Vila grinned. "He's a clever lad."

The hermit looked at his feet, cleared his throat, then said, "Would you care to come inside? I have rather a nice port in the decanter."

"Don't mind if I do," said Vila, and climbed down.

After that, you couldn't really call Avon a hermit, or selfish. Well, not as much, anyway.

Tags: crossovers
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