Did you ever wonder about the baker from chapter 6 of Time To Say Goodbye? Well, here's a story about that particular incident. Enjoy! Oneshot

Merry Christmas! I've been working on this as a little present for y'all :) I'm gonna be away for a bit and as much as it hurts, I won't get to post for a little while. But on the bright side, I will still be writing! It's character development gaa! Those muses are evil. They start out light and sweet, then they turn on you in a foreshadowment of irony and anguish!

Don't get scared! I started on this pre-iPod loss so it was laying dormant for a bit and things changed from how I'd originally intended, that's all.

Pent up creative energy only hurts people. Don't, I say DON'T ever try "Saving up" or "Storing" creativity. It's doesn't work that way. It will only give you heartache (as well as headache).

Oh! And surprise, surprise! I'm writing in third person! ;p


"Rhiannon! Hurry up! If we don't get there first, all the good stuff will be gone." 14 year old Silvius yelled to the little girl trailing behind him. Rhiannon gave a pout. She frankly didn't care: it was too early to be running around, even if it was for a tasty cause.

The band had arrived that night, and was camped right on the outskirts of the town. They planned to be there for a while, since a few of the women had given birth, and needed time to rest before moving on. It was a sigh of relief for everyone: a time to take a break and relax a bit. Well... For the grown-ups anyway. For the children it was a chance to have fun, to break rules, and to explore! And at this point: to get their hands on the baked goods thrown out from yesterday.

It was a pattern followed in every town with every baker. Especially in the fancy ones where quality was of the upmost importance. There would be all kinds of yummy foods! Being stale was hardly an issue to children who never had the fresh thing, and wouldn't even care. They would be happy enough to have what would be to them a variable feast!

"Sil'! Come on! I can't go too fast, I'm tired." Rhiannon's face was that of an irritated child -one who would rather be safely tucked in bed-.

"Rhi..." Silvius bent down in front of the little girl, putting his hand on her shoulder. "I know you don't mean that. I remember how fast you jumped out of bed on festival day, and how fast you ran that you beat Jacob in getting there! Come on girlie, I know you want sweets just as much as I do. They may have apple tarts..." He taunted. Rhiannon's eyes lit up at the mention of apple tarts. Because of the way they were baked, apple tarts were thrown out way before they actually went bad. And she loved the way the cinnamon and sugar tasted baked with a nice sweet apple, wrapped in a buttery little crust. If there were apple tarts...

"Sil' we need to go fast! I want to see if they have apple tarts!" A sad little look came on her face as she gasped. She whispered in her innocent little voice: "What if we get caught by the baker? Then we can't have any sweets." Tears started to well up on her round little rosy face.

"Ah, Rhi! No crying. You're a big girl now. We'll not be getting caught, I promise." He smiled brilliantly before hoisting the little girl up on his shoulders. A delighted squeal escaped her pink lips, as she grasped onto his black curly hair, looking up over the top of his head.

It didn't take long to reach the town itself, and even less time to reach the bakery. At this point, Silvius put Rhiannon back on the ground.

"Now Rhiannon. You remember that you must be very quiet. Bakers get up very early to bake, and they get rid of all the old things early too. First the old rolls, then the breads, cookies, tarts, puffs, and other sweets. And if you are lucky there make be a cake. And later, if you are very, VERY lucky, the baker may burn something and throw it away. Now, he can't sell burnt things because they are ugly. And people don't like ugly things. But we gypsies, we know to look deeper. And if you do..."

Little Rhiannon didn't miss a beat , "It's still good underneath!"

Silvius smiled and tapped her on the nose. "That's right! Fresh things, all because people like pretty things. Now... I'll go first Rhiannon. If the baker has already thrown everything out and is not there, I'll give you the signal once. If he's thrown it out, but still baking, twice. If he hasn't thrown anything out, you'll hear it three times. And no matter what you aren't to utter a peep. Got it?"

Her hair bounced up and down as she shook her head to say yes. With that, the older boy slowly and silently went to scout ahead. Around the corner, there was a trough filled with a variety of discarded foods. Most were in decent shape. A few of the more delicate ones were damaged, but none were rotten. A testament to the fact that this baker tended to good quality in his store. A batch of slightly burnt sugar cookies was thrown across the top, a lemon cake with orange-zest frosting was laying haphazardly to one side, and best of all, under the day old stale rolls were ruffly two batches of apple tarts! A few egg shells, apple corks, lemon rinds and other kitchen-related waste products were also mixed in, but they were easy enough to avoid, and it was hardly anything to be picky about.

One last thing before getting Rhiannon. Silvius crept to the door, looked through the window, and listened for any signs of the resident baker. Nothing: He must have been out on an errand. With nothing left to check for, Silvius let out one quick bird-whistle in the direction of the street. Rhiannon quietly dashed to where Silvius was waiting, and let out a silent little gasp. Her eyes were wide and mouth gaping as she observed the plentiful bounty.

The delighted sparkle in her eye said all that her mouth could not. She reached forward with her little hands to grab as many tarts as the hands of a child could possibly hold. In relative terms, that's not a lot. But to Rhiannon, it was a treasure trove. Nothing could rival or spoil her joy, as she savored the warm, spicy flavors on her tongue. Then, she noticed a crushed cake in the corner. It was dark, with white stuff all over it. The white stuff looked like it had something shredded in it. She, being curious and adventurous by nature, decided to try it. It was like nothing she'd had before! Rich, exotic, soft, and sweet! It was a bit mashed up, but it became the only thing she was interested in quickly.

Silvius was a bit more practical, and had brought a clean little burlap sack, and was stuffing some of the less messy foods into it. Rolls, cookies, dry foods. No cakes unfortunately. But that didn't stop him from taking a good bit out of that lemon cake! Best of all for that, the citrus kept it well preserved. So it still tasted as it might have a little while back. It was turning out to look like a good day, and a good town.

Yet nature has a funny way of putting the sharpest thorns on the most fragrant roses. And so, before much really could be done about the marvelous feast, a sharp, almost high-pitched voice yelled out towards the two gypsies. "Get away from there you urchins! Keep your grimy hands off my desserts!"

A round, shorter man -wearing a white bakers coat with a red and blue striped scarf around the neck- was running as fast as he could down the little incline leading from the woods behind the bakery, wielding a wickedly glinting knife above his floppy-topped head. As comical as he was, his weapon and words certainly were not. So the children had no choice but to turn tail and run; leaving the magnificent spread behind them, and dropping the sack which spilled it's contents on the dirty ground.

Silvius grasped Rhiannon's hand tightly, almost dragging her through the streets as they dashed away from the angry baker and the awakening town. In fact, there were plenty of townsfolk already up and at the day's work. The blacksmith's hammer rang through the quiet, cobble-paved streets, the Market in the square was just starting to stir with merchants setting up their wares for the day. Smoke rose from chimneys while doors opened and windows creaked. It was a dangerous place for the young gypsies. For if they were found out, even though their crimes were only of being born under a wagon roof and being hungry enough to eat another's trash. This would be enough to get them any number of punishments. All of which would be better avoided.

Finally they were safely out. They hid behind a rocky formation just beyond the trees that made up the edge of the forest, and collapsed panting on the ground. They were both unharmed, if not a little bit frightened. And as far as common knowledge went they had probably been unseen by the townspeople. Hopefully, no one would stir up the villagers and drive them out... Or worse.

Silvius looked over to Rhiannon to make sure she was alright. She had chocolate smeared on her chin and some white creamy stuff, but the biggest change was probably the huge frown gracing her features. "Rhi? What's wrong? Did ya eat something bad, or are you hurt?!" Silvius became concerned at the thought of Rhiannon being hurt in any way.

The little girl looked up at him with her large green eyes, and shook her head no. He immediately felt better, and inclined his head to rest a bit. Rhiannon had no family. No blood relations that were alive. She had Jacob, who had in a sense adopted her, and treated her as good as-if not better than-his own son. There was Lombardo, who became the instructing, loving-and secretly doting- uncle. And then there was Silvius. Whatever had drawn the two together, no one knew. From the day the child had come to the band, they had been almost abnormally close. It had been an instant understanding between them that they were meant to be together, and so it had always been. An 8 year difference was apparently no barrier to them, and they loved each other better than many actual siblings could ever hope to boast. It was pure, selfless love. And at times it was the only thing that kept either going on.

Suddenly Silvius' head snapped up. "Rhi? You still want more of that cake?" Rhiannon shyly nodded yes. Silvius grinned as a mischievous light glinted in his eye. "Well then how about having breakfast with me tomorrow?"

Rhiannon clapped her hands and smiled. "Yes! Yes! But won't the scary baker chase us away?" The hope shining in her eyes seemed to fall away.

"No! He won't. Rhiannon, I am going to teach you a few things tomorrow. And then we shall have the feast of our lives! But you need to do a few things for me..." He leaned forward and began to whisper his plan into the ear of the little girl. Several grins and a few giggles later, the pair headed back to the camp, waiting for the time they would put their plan into action.

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The baker sat full and slightly tipsy at his dinner table. He had eaten a large meal, accompanied by a decadent dessert. He let out a contented sigh before leaning back in his big, comfy chair. He was really quite pleased with himself, the new raspberry tea macaroons had been a smashing success! Sir Ramsey had requested a substantial order of them for his next party, so now our baker was contented in both the here and now, as well as the near future.

And yet one thing still bothered him: those gypsy rats digging around in his trash that morning. His food was too good for the likes of them, even in it's final stages before becoming pig food. Gypsies, however, ranked far below pigs. So all argument could be halted there. He sneered at the memory and groaned at the thought of them feasting on HIS pastries! Yes, he COULD just bring his food directly to the pigs, he could even just keep it inside the door, and nothing was stopping him from simply chasing them off again.

But that was not good enough for him. He needed to teach those little vagabonds a lesson! And so he decided that instead of simply chasing them off, he would take care of the problem permanently.

With that happy thought, he raised his glass to his lips. Only to realize too late that it was indeed not his glass and was in fact an ill-placed little oil lamp. Which just happened to not be lit. He could tell you quite accurately the taste of kerosine from that point on, though he would never admit how he knew.

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The next morning, Rhiannon crept as quietly as possible down the little alley next to the bakery. She was hungry, and even though Silvius was supposed to take her, he wasn't there. So there she was: little Rhiannon all alone. No friends, No protectors. No one who would show compassion on a child of the devil-or so they were called.

She made her way timidly straight towards the trough, when she saw it...

There, sitting oh-so seductively in the rosy light filtering through the morning sky...

Was a slice of FRESH cake on a little porcelain plate-the same kind she had eaten yesterday! The white shreds looked like fluffy snow on rich soil, and the aroma was too tempting for the poor child to resist.

A shaking hand reached out to pick up the little treasure, and trembling lips closed around every morsel she brought to them. She ate at a feverish pace; the little food she had gotten hold of the other day was not enough for a growing girl. Not to say that she didn't eat, but she didn't eat as well as many children did. They complained of eating things they didn't like or of something being too plain. There was little she wouldn't have given in those days to have half of what they did.

Before the small confection was even fully down her throat, meaty hands seized her by the shoulders, and a rough cloth was forced into her mouth. Her child's form was hardly a match for the man now dragging her out into the streets. A weird laugh filled her ears, as the voice of the baker started to cackle with glee: "You are going nowhere now you freakish disease! I caught you stealing fresh product from me. If it won't be good enough to simply whip you, I'll sell you! There are plenty of Lords who would LOVE to have you in their service."

Rhiannon felt her heart, the heart of an innocent little girl, start to panic. She would never get away, and no one knew she was caught. Even if they did, what could they do? Nothing. If they tried to take her, they might as well just ask politely for a floor spot in a prison, or a time slot for a visit with Madame La Guillotine.

The town square was bustling with activity: A fair was in progress, and everyone in the small village was celebrating with games and songs, ribbons and flowers, cakes and roast meats! The children wore their finest clothes and laughed at the puppet show happening at one of the booths. The girls coquettishly stood in little groups, batting their eyelashes at their sweethearts, while the boys made sport of trying to impress them by winning as many games as they could. Men tried their hands at contests of strength and skill, and women shopped and chatted gayly with their companions. It was a joyous affair for all!

The baker walked proudly along, dragging his prize behind him towards where he knew he could sell her for at least a few franks. It would be better than nothing, because she WAS a gypsy. He'd be lucky to get anything for her!

"And to think," He thought, "They would get the same use outta' her if she was just a normal girl! Maybe if I don't say anything and take off the earrings, at least I may be able to pass her off as just an orphan..."

Suddenly a loud shout, clear and strong, rang through the area. "Look there! Someone's stolen the baker's laundry! There they are on the flag-pole!" Everyone turned to look and started laughing at the strange sight!

In the middle of the square, a pole was standing. It was to hold the flags for the festivities, but now served as a public place of humiliation. For all the baker's underwear, nightshirts, and trademark scarves were fluttering majestically in the breeze. Shamelessly flaunting themselves before the mocking eyes of the villagers. Well, not so shamelessly for the baker...

His eyes bulged as a strangled screech emitted from just below his pencil-thin mustache. Forgetting completely about Rhiannon, he let her go and ran frantically towards the shrine of his social ruin. Ranting angrily as he pulled hard trying to retrieve the articles of clothing. It only served to shake the pole, however, and attract the attention of more and more people. Who felt no remorse in mercilessly mocking him and jabbing remarks at him like a rain of misery upon the baker, now boiling over in a tantrum of great proportion. (Which, obviously, only made them laugh harder.)

Rhiannon felt herself pulled gently into a hug, as the cloth was carefully removed from her face. She looked up into the smiling face of Silvius. "Sil'! You found me!"

He laughed in his voice that was ever like a church bell, bringing comfort to the frightened gypsy girl. He took her in his arms and started to walk away from the very preoccupied crowd of people.

"Of course I knew where you were Rhiannon! I always knew. While the baker was distracted with capturing you, I was going through his drawers, grabbing his drawers. Under-drawers, that is. As well as a few other little things I found along the way..." He pulled out a pouch full of gold, and tossed it up and down in his hand.

"Next I strung his clothes on a rope, and with some help from a few of my buddies we hoisted them up on the pole! Then I grabbed you and here we are!" He stopped in front of the door to the bakery.

"And now my lady, I believe I promised you breakfast. Shall we?"

Rhiannon was shocked. They were about to walk in the FRONT of a store! They were standing in front of a store, and no one was yelling or throwing things at them! Going inside... Would be a miracle all it's own.

But miracles do happen, and so the beautiful painted glass and wood door was pulled open, and a world of wonder laid inside.

A warm air-smelling of cinnamon, sugar, and delicious baked things-rushed to envelope Rhiannon as the door was opened and she walked inside. The colours were too numerous to name, yet nothing was loud and demanding of the eye. It was a invitation of sight and smell, a harmony of the senses.

A whole table filled with little platters and towers of tarts was on one table. And when Rhiannon took a bite of an apple one, a whole symphony played out on her tongue! They were still warm from the oven, and the crust seemed to melt like butter with the soft, gooey apple. Mmm's and ahh's escaped her mouth as she tried the different things. She had especially noted a food that had a little paper sign reading "Raspberry Tea Macaroons".

Silvius' helpers-three boys about his age-were already there, going around tasting and stuffing foods in sacks. They were not loud and shouting, though inside they probably were. Everyone was not only distracted by the baker's distress, but were at the fair anyway. Still, should someone pass by, wise boys knew better than to draw unwanted attention. But it did not put a damper on anyone's joy. They would have plenty of things to eat, and bring back to share.

Rhiannon had just finished trying a cheesy bread with pieces of meat in it, when something white caught the corner of her eye.

A full cake, flakes catching the sunlight coming in the glass windows, seemed to gleam on a little cake pedestal sitting on a counter in front of the windows. She turned to take a fork from the table next to her, and walked slowly towards the one food that had caused her the most trouble (yet she could not resist).

The silverware smoothly sunk into the soft cake. Chocolate that was melty and warm seeped out slightly as a slice was formed from the cuts Rhiannon made. With eyes closed, the cake was lifted reverently to rest inside on her tongue.

To Rhiannon, nothing could possibly be better on a tongue than what was at that moment. It was even better than the first time she had it! The flavours were stronger, moister, creamier, richer. When she took a breath, it felt like breathing in a melting joy. It was hard to believe, but there were desserts even better than apple tarts.

"Ah Rhi! Did you find a new favourite?" Silvius asked as he came to stand beside her. She only had the presence of mind to nod dazedly. He laughed, then leaned forward to read the little paper label.

"'German Chocolate Cake.' Sounds delicious! Mind if I try some?" For a moment a look of conflict passed over her face, but it passed and she allowed him to share the cake with her.

And so there they were. Two hearts beating happily, without fear nor anguish of any kind. For a moment, life was simply a child's dream. Bliss that to an innocent little girl could seem to last forever. She wasn't worrying about bakers or villagers. She couldn't imagine her heart ever being broken. And she was too young to understand about fateful events and how life is always connected. No, she was just a kid. And her name was Rhiannon. She was 6 years old, had dark brown hair and green eyes. Her favorite cake in the world was German Chocolate and her favorite person was Silvius.


Fin!